Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 30 May 2013


The tragic and despicable killing of drummer Lee Rigby has focused the mind once again on religious extremism in the UK and our proper response.

I have had several angry e-mails expressing outrage demanding a strong response. There has been violence in parts of the UK against the Muslim community. The Prime Minister has set up a taskforce to explore what more we can do to crack down on hate preachers in our midst.

I share the outrage, and recognise the need to respond.  But first, we must be absolutely clear that Islam is not in itself the problem, it is the corruption of that religion by some fanatics that is the problem. A proper response in the UK is not to attack Islam. We must focus on the extremists.

As a Christian, I consider Islam to be a false religion. Others will doubtless take a similar view to my own conviction that Jesus is the only way to God. Fine. We do not have to agree with each other, we only have to respect one another's right to religious freedom.

Our response to the atrocity must be to draw close to the UK Muslim community, and not to alienate it. They have rightly condemned the killing and are as appalled as anybody. With their support we must crackdown on the extremists.

I hope the task force comes up with some robust proposals. Surely we must stop hate preachers radicalising young British Muslims at British Universities. Muslim clerics with a track record of sedition should be monitored more closely. If they are stirring up hatred against our country or armed forces, they should be prosecuted. When our secret services have suspicions they should act.

Some worry that Muslims want to take over our country. This is nonsense. With the exception of a few hotheads, third generation Muslims are becoming westernised and British. They are becoming more integrated and we must encourage this process to continue. The main gripe of their religious leaders is that their young people are becoming too westernised and have turned their backs on the faith.

We have several Muslim MPs at Westminster. One of our 2010 intake and already a minister could well be our first Muslim Prime Minister this country has. Great. He is as British as I am.

So respect the religion and deal with the extremists. But don't imagine that the sky is falling in our heads. It is not.

posted by Gary @ 09:39