Sorry David Cameron, but how exactly do you know that Muslims are 'quietly condoning' Isis?

And what does that look like – this?

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The Independent Online

Can you trust your Muslim neighbour?

Sure, they may seem nice. I bet they probably come across as well adjusted, friendly, perhaps even "normal", but are you sure you can trust them? Are you sure that behind closed doors they aren’t tacitly supporting violent extremism? Perhaps sitting in silence, drinking a coffee, they mull over how wonderful it would be to force you to convert to Islam.

It sounds ridiculous, but it’s this guilt-by-association and constant suspicion that David Cameron is peddling. In a speech today he announced that some British Muslims are “quietly condoning” the ideology of Isis. How do you even prove that? Or disprove it?

The problem with quietly condoning something is that, well, it tends to be quiet. The speech comes in the context of a wider strategy of disengagement by the Conservatives with British Muslims that has only served to dampen the counter-extremism work that is taking place.

It would be nice to imagine that Cameron’s speech could be criticised as being ill-worded and nothing more. But the words of the Prime Minister carry weight.

On their front page today The Daily Mail carried their reading of Cameron’s speech: “PM: UK MUSLIMS HELPING JIHADIS”. Which only helps fuel the suspicion and distrust of British Muslims that has already resulted in attacks on mosques, murders on the street and put Muslims at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder in terms of employment opportunities. The link between coverage of Muslims and subsequent anti-Muslim attacks is well-documented.

However, what is most frustrating is that Cameron’s speech will do little to actually address violent extremism or radicalisation, which has a lot less to do with ideology than the Government seems to think. Ultimately it has more to do with peer groups, disenfranchisement and religious naivety than an extremist ideology being “quietly condoned”.

As Dr Suraj Lakhani, a researcher on radicalisation, puts it: “[Radicalisation] is not just about the eternal rewards people mention when talking of 'jihad' [...] It is also about those involved with these types of activities feeling special and significant; it is about them tapping into the perception held by certain people that extremism is cool; and it is a chance for them to be able to demonstrate their masculinity and define a distinct identity for themselves. It gives them an escape from their potentially normal and predictable lives.”

Today Cameron’s speech will be welcomed by racists, the far-right and perhaps most worryingly of all, violent extremists themselves. After all, it is violent extremists who profit from telling British Muslims that Britain will never be home, and the Government will never trust Muslims. Cameron has simply added fodder to their rhetoric.

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