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, 10 December 2015


Just when you thought Donald Trump, a contender for US President (can that really be true?) could not get any more ridiculous, he comes out with his dumbest comment so far. In the wake of the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, he calls for a total shut-down of Muslims entering the USA.

I cannot think of a more dangerous and ludicrous response to recent terror attacks than to pick a fight with the whole of Islam. It is the very reverse of what we now need to do: namely to understand that these jihadists are perverting their religion and do not represent the rank and file of Muslims. Recent events are an opportunity to draw close to followers of Islam, not to alienate them.

Mistakes have been made.  In the UK we have been too slow to encourage integration since many Muslims came here in the 1970's. That requires more attention and action. We have been too slow to spot the dangers of radicalisation in Mosques, prisons and universities, but we have an increasingly robust focus on this. Over the years, the Muslim community has been too slow to condemn the terror attacks, but this is changing and Muslim leaders now speak out powerfully about Islamic State (Da'esh) atrocities. I went through the lobbies last Wednesday with four Conservative Muslim MPs, all of whom support air strikes against these murderers.

The main domestic threat to our children's peaceful futures is to stir up enmity between different religions at home and abroad. 

Our response to Islam should be to find out more about it and seek the company of some of its followers. People in this constituency could do a lot worse than pop down to the Shapla Balti restaurant on the Ridgeway in Plympton, enjoy a tasty meal and have a chat with Ali, its proprietor. He is one of the loveliest men I have ever met and about as likely a terrorist as my mother. 

Ignorance breeds fear. Many of my constituents who e-mail me about this subject seem genuinely fearful that all Muslims want to take over the country and destroy the western way of life. This is partly because they do not know any Muslims, the vast majority of whom are slowly being assimilated into the British way of life, often much to the chagrin of traditional elders. This trend will increase as Britishness grips the younger generation. 

Friendship, not alienation, is the way forward. 

posted by Gary @ 08:12