Paris and its aftermath have prompted a flurry of emails from constituents which fall into two broad, but very different categories.
Islamophobe: emails denouncing Islam as inherently violent and evil and that we need to constrain or remove the Muslims already here; or those who believe that we already have too many Muslims in the country and that we certainly mustn’t let any more in -including Syrian refugees;
Pacifist: those who don’t want us to get any more involved with fighting Daesh (ISIL), but who want us to take many more Syrian refugees than the 20,000, to which we have agreed.
I disagree with both.
Daesh kills vastly more Muslims than it does of all other religions put together. Its whole ideology is based on the demand for Muslims to cut themselves off entirely from wicked infidels – with our democratic and ‘decadent’ liberal way of life. Those Muslims who fail to obey this demand are as deserving of death as any infidel.
Daesh would be delighted if we rejected all Syrian refugees: the notion of generous western democracies giving sanctuary to Muslims, runs counter to their entire narrative.
Overwhelmingly, Muslims are appalled by Daesh’s perversion of their religion into a fascist death cult. There is no escaping however, that the terrorists claim to be the only truly faithful Muslims. Destroying Daesh will require victory both in the use of force, and in the force of argument. It is vital therefore, that many more articulate Muslim scholars step up to the task of showing exactly how the terrorists have misinterpreted and perverted the true meaning of Islam.
Daesh is an armed military occupation operating from the territory it controls, and from which it exports terrorism. Daesh’s territory straddles Syria and Iraq. It ignores the border between the two countries. Currently we are prepared to attack it in Iraq, but not in Syria where its principal strength is concentrated. This strikes me as absurd. If we are to crush the serpent, we have to crush it wherever it appears.
As to the question of admitting even more Syrian refugees than the 20,000 to which we have pledged, this takes too little account of our main effort, which has been to provide relief to the 4 million refugees in the countries surrounding Syria, where our money goes so much further. We are the second largest donor to this crisis, spending £1.2 billion – more than we have spent on any previous humanitarian relief effort. Those who – like the bishops and the judges – have plucked numbers from the air, in their demand that we accommodate more, have no idea of the complexity and difficulty of finding homes, livelihoods, and support for the 20,000 to whom we are already committed. I believe that we are maintaining the right balance between the needs of the millions of refugees in the region surrounding Syria, and accommodating the only most vulnerable cases here in Britain.