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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

The Fight Against Jihadist Islamism

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

We live in one of the most tolerant, prosperous and free societies in the history of mankind.

If we wish to convince others that our ideology is superior, then firstly we must understand its concepts and its roots, and secondly we must live its truth.

Our liberties are based on certain rights which have been developed and refined over many centuries. These include our rights to free speech; to our religious and political beliefs; to choose our friends and associates, and whom we may marry; to choose our occupation; to choose where we may live; to choose what we may eat or drink or wear; to choose our entertainments; to private property - to retain the rewards from our work and to dispose of them as we see fit; to form voluntary associations; to equal protection under the law; to habeas corpus - not to be detained unlawfully; to be able to enter into legally enforceable contracts; and so on.

These are what distinguish us from the totalitarian regimes which deliver poverty, destroy trust among their citizens, and terrorize, censor and imprison or kill those who disagree with the party line.

Today, jihadist Islamism presents us with a clash of ideologies. Whilst we may attempt to combat this militarily and politically, the real battle will be in the realm of ideas.

Tomorrow on your train to work there may be a stranger with a suicide vest. Or when you meet a friend for coffee, a stranger may enter the café with an AK47 and shoot you and your friend and all the other pagans. Paris on Friday 13th November 2015 stays with you forever. You live in fear.

Your government promises to protect you. They bomb Raqqa. They close the borders to refugees. They equip police to intercept everyone’s phone calls and search their homes without a warrant. Security checks at airports become more thorough and take twice as long.

But the stranger does not come from Raqqa. He is not a refugee. He is unknown to police. He is just a guy who believes passionately in jihadist Islamism. He yearns for a theocratic caliphate. He believes that all States should conform to sharia law and that all people should convert to his version of Islam. He believes in the use of force to spread his views.

Whilst the stranger is Muslim, that alone does not define him. Most Muslims are peaceful citizens who can and do participate productively and peacefully in society. The stranger is hard to identify; his distinguishing features are inside his head.

Our wonderful, free and prosperous society is being threatened by ideologies, from within and without, that compromise the reasons for its success. If we are to succeed in our battle with competing ideologies, then we need to acquire an appreciation of the legacy of our Western Civilization and be determined to live up to its ideals.


This is the final essay in my book Liberty at Risk.

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