James Forsyth

The importance of teaching British values in schools

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One of the websites that the young Muslim woman, Roshonara Choudhry who stabbed Stephen Timms MP mentioned in her police interview was RevolutionMuslim, which now appears to have been taken down. Charles Moore turns his attention to the site in his column today:

'After Choudhry’s conviction, I had a look at RevolutionMuslim. It has put up a list of all MPs who voted for the Iraq war, details of their surgeries and even a link to a supermarket website where you can buy knives. I watched its video, in which a young man praised Choudhry for “taking the matter into her own hands”, and attacked Muslims who collaborate with the infidel. A similar-looking young man featured in press pictures of demonstrators outside the Old Bailey. In court, after the verdict, his comrades hurled insults at a Muslim female juror. That woman was bravely upholding what the Liberal Democrat manifesto calls “our hard-won freedoms”. The strong suggestion of the website is that she should be made to pay for doing so.

Also on RevolutionMuslim appears a sermon by al-Awlaki, illustrated with scholarly scenes of bombs going off and veiled, armed horsemen galloping under the flag of Islam. The video is called “The Final Battle is Coming”. Be a martyr, says al-Awlaki. The martyrs are blessed – “their skulls towers of honour”. According to al-Awlaki, “jihad” does not mean, as is sometimes argued, struggling for good, but “fighting only, fighting with the sword”. He has produced a super-scholarly video collecting all his useful tips, called “44 Ways to Support Jihad”. All over the website is a huge “DISCLAIMER”, saying that the organisers of the site are not advocating violence.'

The question that we need to grapple with is why was an educated young Muslim woman like Roshonara Choudhry swayed by this kind of guff. I think the answer is, at least in part, that we have been unwilling to talk sufficiently about British values. To teach everyone, through the education system, about how we became the liberal democratic society we are today. Everyone should know how the rights that we all enjoy in this country were won.

We must ensure that the first time people reflect on what kind of society Britain is, is not in response to the ravings of some preacher of hate.