Grantham Journal column: We must act to root out extreme ideas in which this terrorism feeds
A lot of us will spend some time in the next few months lying on sunloungers somewhere on the shores of the Mediterranean.
We will go there with a spring in our step and a smile on our faces, and no intention of troubling ourselves with abstract questions of politics or religion. We will travel with simple goals: to relax, have fun, visit a few local sights, and spend a bit of money on local restaurants and tourist tat. And when we have done so, we will expect to return home, a bit sunburned, and a little bit fatter, but otherwise no worse for wear.
That is what the victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia were planning as well. They had no quarrel with Islam, no thoughts of exploiting local people or converting them to Western ways. Parents, grandparents and children, boyfriends, girlfriends and friends, they just wanted to enjoy themselves for a few precious days with the people they love and then come back home to get on with their lives. But for at least 15 of them, and maybe more, there will be no return to these islands, to our regular diet of summer showers and sporting defeat. Their lives were cut short, brutally and wickedly, by a fanatic and for their families and friends nothing will ever be the same again.
As the Prime Minister said on Monday in the House of Commons, the threat posed by an extreme and twisted interpretation of Islamic ideology is the challenge of our generation. In the 15 years since September 11, 2001, it has murdered thousands of innocent people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – many of them themselves devout Muslims. It murdered Lee Rigby. It murdered 52 innocent people in the attacks on London’s public transport system on July 7, 2005.
The Prime Minister was right. We should not cower in the face of such evil, or change our way of life. We have stood up to evil ideologies in the past and prevailed. We will do so again. But, to do so, we must recognise that this is not just a job for the security services. Everyone in contact with young British Muslims must act to root out the extreme ideas on which this terrorism feeds and through which it recruits - whether they are teachers, neighbours, parents, imams or friends. And the rest of us must support the overwhelming majority of peace-loving law-abiding citizens within the Muslim communities of the UK and reassure them that we will stand with them when they challenge extremist ideas and confront those in their midst who promote them.