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Brave stance: Sara Khan, founder of Inspire, a pro-Prevent organisation, provokes rage from her Islamist critics (©Joe McGorty/Inspire)

The good news is that the number of terrorist attacks around the world fell last year for the first time since 2012, partly because Islamic State is being beaten back in Iraq and Syria. The bad news is that this will increase the risk of bloodshed in Europe.

“There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we have never seen before,” warns the FBI Director James Comey. The recent mass slaughter attacks in France and Belgium may be just the start of violence on European streets lasting years.

By 2015, UK terrorism arrests were up 35 per cent from 2010. The police are removing more than 1,000 pieces of terrorist-related content from the internet every week.

The IS menace has also provoked a growing right-wing backlash. British — or as some MPs now prefer — “universal” values of tolerance and equality are under attack from extremists “operating at a pace and scale not seen before”, says the government.

Its programme for reducing both Islamist and neo-Nazi extremism is called Prevent. Foreigners who promote extremism are stopped from entering Britain, while citizens here assessed as being vulnerable to radicalisation are offered help. Some 15 per cent of Prevent interventions now relate to the far Right but since the threat to national security remains overwhelmingly from Muslim extremists, the focus has been on them.

Since Prevent was launched in 2006, an expanding and influential network of Islamic organisations have campaigned relentlessly to have it scrapped — even though they have said they oppose IS. Leading them is Cage, the jihadist prisoner lobby group (Facebook following: 27,035, despite describing the IS cutthroat Jihadi John as having been a “beautiful young man”). Prevent is “destructive”, says Cage. “It harms communities from top to bottom.”

The version of Islam that dominates this anti-Prevent network can be summarised as Salafi-Islamist. While its activists diverge on the extent to which Islam’s religious texts should be literally interpreted (as Salafists argue), both factions harbour a visceral grievance that the West has declared war on Islam. Many oppose gender and sexual equality and support hudood — capital punishment in Islamic countries for adulterers and apostates (Muslims who leave Islam).

Their primary loyalty is to the Ummah — what they see as the global nation of Islam with its supremacist overtones. They believe that a caliphate (properly constituted as distinct from IS’s so-called caliphate) is superior to the nation state, although there is much debate about their preferred kind of caliphate. Overall, what distinguishes this politicised version of Islam (Islamism) from its more orthodox ancient tradition is that it is an ideology. Judged against the most basic of universal human rights, the Salafi-Islamist worldview is reactionary and highly regressive.

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October 28th, 2016
9:10 AM
The extent of deliberate disinformation is very disturbing and is reminiscent of the practice of tayiqqa - lawful deception in Islam. The author is to be congratulated for such a thorough documentation of the evidence. May many more join the ranks of Khan, Deen in their courageous stand.

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