In advance of the Home Secretary’s speech today the Conservative party issued an advance briefing of its ‘new strategy for tackling extremism’. It was gratifying to see that a huge chunk of it credited a piece of mine from four and a half years ago. It is always gratifying when the political consensus catches up with you. So in my self-anointed role of prophet, let me highlight something which, four and a half years from now I will expect another Home Secretary to say.
Because although there were many things to admire in Theresa May’s speech there was also one horrible, glaring and nearly unforgivable error. That is that the Home Secretary chose to speak about religion – indeed to lecture the hall, and the nation, on religion. And one religion in particular. Many of us would like to think that the Home Secretary’s job – if occasionally dull – is very important because it relies on enforcing the laws of the land as well as looking out for circumstances where the law may need tightening or fine-tuning. But how strange to see a Home Secretary getting into the pulpit – and one with which she is clearly so wildly unfamiliar.
Here is Imam May on the terrorist group Isis:
‘This hateful ideology has nothing to do with Islam itself. And it is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Britain and around the world. The Quran says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other.” It says: “let there be no compulsion in religion.” So let the message go out from this hall that the extremists will never succeed in dividing us. Let the message go out that we know Islam is a religion of peace and it has nothing to do with the ideology of our enemies.’