Comment: Written by Harriet King.
In light of the four terrorist attacks the UK has experienced in the recent months, anti-terror should be prioritised across the political spectrum. It’s becoming increasingly evident that our current initiatives and policies to combat extremism are unstable, and we need to rethink the way we address terrorist organisations.
Last month,in the weeks leading up to the general election, I have met an array of politically diverse individuals and members of the public while canvassing for my constituency’s Labour party candidate. Some voters told me they will be voting UKIP because “we’re over flowing with foreigners” (despite having one of the lowest immigration intakes in Europe), some said they’re voting Conservative because “they would rather gouge their eyes out than see Jeremy Corbyn as our Prime Minister,” and others have said they are refusing to vote until “spies in white caps stop taking over the world,” – yes, that was a genuine response from one non-voter.
Nevertheless, the most interesting conversation I held while “door knocking” was with an ex-veteran. He had served in Afghanistan, and was proudly British through and through. Although he liked a lot of Corbyn’s policies and fundamentally agreed with the majority of the Labour parties manifesto, he refused to vote for the party due to Corbyn’s relations with the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah.
I listened to his reasons and could understand why someone who had served in the British forces didn’t want to vote for a leader who he believed had relations with terrorist organisations.The gentlemen repeatedly said he had watched friends and colleagues die before his eyes in war, through acts of terrorism, and couldn’t see why Corbyn refuses to condemn the acts of Republic terrorists.
However, after some back and forwards debate, he began to see how Corbyn’s human-to-human approach towards creating world peace could be a step in the right direction. I suggested a different perspective:
On the 22nd of May, Britain experienced one of its most brutal terrorist attacks – the senseless killing of innocent children at a pop concert in Manchester. The news devastated the entire country, and left us all feeling confused and shaken.
The attacker, Alman Ramadan Abedi, was reportedly an ISIS sympathiser and committed the act in support of the Islamic caliphate linked to the extremist group. Abedi, who went to school in Manchester and studied at the University of Salford, was indoctrinated both in the UK and abroad while fighting in Libya.
Yet people were so quick to jump the gun and blame immigrants, refugees, and “Syrians.” The Manchester attack proved that the current terrorism epidemic the West is experiencing isn’t emanating from from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen or Libya – but is happening in our own country, in our own neighbourhoods, among our own people.
With this in mind, schemes such as the “Prevent Agenda,” introduced by a Conservative government, are unlikely to de-radicalise those already living in the UK. “Prevent” targets young Muslims in educational institutes, and is more likely to isolate the religion and influence those already indoctrinated.
Corbyn has repeatedly stated that the prevent anti-terror scheme must change and emphasised that only targeting the muslim community within the scheme is “wrong.” He believes the scheme is “counter-productive and casts suspicions on all Muslims.”
In strong agreement with Corbyn, I told the gentleman that I believe isolating a faith or religion and labelling them as terrorists will cause a divide among communities and heighten xenophobia and islamophobia – an unacceptable regression in the 21st century. If we want to abolish terrorism in the UK, we need to work united with all communities, faiths and religions.
Jeremy Corbyn’s political career has been underpinned by his relentless campaigning to address the link between terrorism in the UK and the wars supported by its government in countries such as Libya and Syria. The former “Stop the War” chair believes peace processes should be dealt with face to face, in a manner that encourages negotiation on a pragmatic level.
A new, practical and democratic approach such as face to face negotiations – contrived by a sound-minded individual – could combat increasing levels of online indoctrination, British nationals migrating to war zones to fight for extremist causes, and terrorist attacks happening across Europe.
Evidently, launching air strikes in Syria and troops on ground in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to nothing but the loss of innocent lives. Time and time again we’ve seen politicians agree to bomb terrorist groups and kill their leaders, however, removing ringleaders alone will not extinguish the extremist ideologies of their supporters. In order to stand a change in fighting the war on terror, we must tackle these doctrines at their roots.
If anything, Corbyn’s track record with groups such as the IRA should prove his capability to progress, employ and materialise peace agreements. His future plans of a trident-free, war-free and terrorist-free Britain should inspire political generations across Europe. It’s time to stop fighting an honest politician with trivial smear campaigns, and to start paying attention to his powerful and logical approach to one of the most paramount issues of this decade – combatting terrorism.
With more police on the streets, a reformation of the prison system, working alongside UK intelligence services, a decrease in Western intervention, and an anti-terror strategy that resonates with the public and outperforms the governments past adventurism, Corbyn may have already begun paving the path to peace.