David Cameron's speech on extremism was surprisingly, refreshingly on point. And like any other liberal, it makes me a bit uneasy to say I've agreed with so much of a conservative politician's speech.
But as I discuss more and more often on Twitter and in real life...it seems politics is becoming less about the dichotomy of liberal vs. conservative, more about who's willing to address specific issues. I could never identify as a conservative...but I identify less and less with 'liberals' now too. There are so many things they have failed people like me on.
Being a minority within a minority group, I'm often overlooked by those who defend the faith I was born into (Islam). They prevent us from progressing, they are roadblocks to our reform, our betterment, our enlightenment...because they don't allow any real discussion about the role of Islam in Islamic terrorism. In their misguided attempts to shield 'the minority', they do it a great disservice.
Maajid Nawaz, an ex-extremist himself - someone with the exact lived experience we need to look at, had a hand in helping with this speech. It was thrilling to hear Cameron get all the terminology right. Carefully differentiating between Islam and Islamism, making a point to be very inclusive towards Muslims....looking to them as an important part of Britain, an important part of the solution.
The speech was well balanced between honestly calling out the issues and the ideology of Islamism (political Islam), it's link to the religion (which is becoming undeniable) while also trying to build a bridge with Muslims... who are indeed diverse - and the primary victims of Jihadists and Islamists.
To me as an ex-Muslim who is very much steeped in the culture....as someone who has a liberal Muslim family I care about immensely, it was a wonderful, moving speech.
I can only hope that my country, Canada, looks to the UK for examples of what it's gotten wrong with its brand of multiculturalism. Britain has its own shariah courts and modesty patrols ffs, it has a few far right 'anti-Islam' nationalist groups in existence. All very problematic results of cultural relativism.
I would like Canadian politicians to take a page (not every page) from Cameron's outlined strategy to combat extremism (apart from the 'Extremism Bill', which sounds a bit like our Anti Terror Bill that has been causing legitimate fears of curbed free speech, mass surveillance, etc).
In my not-so-important opinion, I think that legislating and curbing speech is never the answer. Speech that incites violence definitely...but drawing the boundaries for hate 'speech' is a difficult task and a slippery slope. Some people feel persecuted if others talk about marriage equality. Many Muslims feel it's hateful towards them to draw cartoons of a person they've never even met.
Calling things out, changing the narrative, holding everyone to the same moral standards, no longer being afraid of 'offending' certain cultures - this is what needs to happen. To me, it's offensive that someone will defend misogyny and 'bagging' women because they assume it's a part of my culture. No. Misogyny is only a part of my culture because everyone stands by and lets it continue. So join me in opposing it, or stay out of the conversation.
Canadian liberal media is cringeworthy with it's inability to recognize soft Islamism. Under the guise of tolerance and acceptance it promotes such principles as universally 'Muslim', it fails to hear from people within the Muslim community who value secularism, free speech and equality. In this way, it's not just the Fox News types but also liberal media that's responsible for creating a one dimensional narrative as far as 'depicting Muslims' goes.
Below are some quotes from Cameron's speech which I thought were important (you can read the entire transcript here):