I have to admit being quite cynical about politics. I am also skeptical about the motives of ostentatiously religious groups like ISIS; they strike me as inspired more by Seneca than by Muhammad. The rise of aggressive, authoritarian religion leaves me alternately depressed and angry. I am caught in Popper’s paradox of tolerance as people who are clearly intent on setting up a religious dictatorship hide behind the Enlightenment values of free speech, democracy, equality and human rights. Then I read this article by Robert Verkaik.
I have often wondered why the security services in the West have tried so hard to stop people intent on joining the jihad in Syria. If they want to leave the decadent West for the glorious Caliphate, surely they should be allowed to do so? Indeed, in my darker moments I have suggested that the UK government should lay on free flights for those who want to go to Syria, with the only proviso that they never return. Robert Verkaik is more subtle than me and suggests that it is time for a more radical response to the growing problem of homegrown Islamist terrorism.
Verkaik writes the policy of stopping people going to Syria has presented…
“its own domestic security issue as hundreds of Muslims now find themselves trapped in the UK, frustrated that they can’t travel to Islamist and rebel strongholds and perform what they regard as their religious duty.”
This leads to a situation where…
“Britain’s zero-tolerance policy on Syria has filled our prisons with young jihadists already marginalised and isolated inside mainstream society. In jail they associate with like-minded Muslims which only helps to radicalise them further. “
The trouble with allowing these sad wannabes to travel to Syria is we are exporting our problems to the non-Islamist people of Syria. I’m sure the Kurds and Yazidis would not thank us for sending more religious fanatics to create their special kind of mayhem in their part of the world.
Therefore I propose the following solution. For every British jihadist sent to Syria, the UK will accept three (properly vetted) refugees from persecuted minorities in return. An elegant solution – everyone gets what they want. The wannabe jihadists get to fight for their imaginary friend, the refugee advocates get to help genuine refugees and the foaming racists can console themselves with getting rid of some of those pesky Muslims they so despise. The only condition would be that the British jihadists can never return to the UK. Simple, eh?