The Blog

Pass the Mic! Muslim Voices: From the Extreme to Moderate

Expect a change of gear and tack in our 'fight' against extremist ideology in the UK. Last week, at a school in Birmingham, the PM took the opportunity to set out his new approach and explain the Extremism Bill.

Cameron began by listing the four reasons young people are drawn to extremism - a good starting point. One: radical doctrine that Cameron believes to be "energizing". Two: being sucked in slowly, he affirmed that most don't start out with a desire to be violent. Three: the Islamic extremists drown out moderate Muslim voices and Four: to create an identity for themselves. He went on to address each cause, proposing ways to de-glamourize and stand-up to extremism.

Setting this particular challenge in context, Cameron blamed our liberalism and fear of causing cultural offence when speaking about the slowness with which we tackled FGM and forced marriage. He doesn't want the current radicalization of young people to be another horror we don't confront head on and in time.

"Our strongest weapon is our liberal values," said Cameron - essentially saying, we must always be proud of our greener, more liberal grass. This is a fantastic point though not a formed tactic to act out as such. He went on though to introduce intervention methods such as using people who have, from experience, come to understand the brutal realities of ISIL to speak to and inform young people. These are bold new moves that could have a profound effect in schools and colleges across the UK. Cameron also spoke of "specific de-radicalization" strategies; getting Internet companies to clamp down on extremists sites for example. Most importantly, the PM proposed the government's plan to "actively encourage the reforming and moderate [Muslim] voices". At present, without this intervention, Extremist Islamic groups have power and money to ensure theirs is the strongest Muslim voice in the extremist debate. This is exactly what needs to be turned on its head.

Without a figure head like the Archbishop of Canterbury or Chief Rabbi to counter the extremist narrative, and without a reformation to speak - of in which religious texts have been reinterpreted and transposed - the moderate Muslims of 2015 are of massive importance. Theirs are the voices challenging the scriptural basis on which the extremists claim to act. This is why, although of course the extreme ideology isn't true Islam, we can't deny the link between extremism and the religion itself. To do this would be to disempower the moderate Muslims who are engaging with the extremists and their ideology.

Although much of what Cameron said in this speech has been said before, the freshness of approach in calling on the media to extend a platform to moderate Muslims as opposed to always being enticed by the drama of the extreme is exciting. DC wrapped up by saying, "This is a significant shift in government approach - and an important one." I look forward to seeing the new vehicle in action.