Joan Smith: Lord Tebbit didn't go far enough

Share
Related Topics

Anyway, there Tebbit was, on Friday morning's Today programme, suggesting that last month's terrorist attacks on London might have been avoided if we had only listened to him in 1990. He has learned to moderate his tone in the intervening period and his question for British Asians, as he framed it last week, could sound innocuous: are they looking forward or rooted in the country from which they've come? Of course, by this stage in migration patterns, the country from which many British Asians come is not Pakistan or India but the UK, a point which demonstrates how out of date Tebbit's thinking is. And as his argument developed, it quickly became clear not just how confused he is but how much he has in common with the Muslim extremists who have failed, in his vocabulary, to integrate.

Lord Tebbit denounced modern culture with as much spleen as the most committed Islamist, even going so far as to sympathise with Muslims whose moral code is offended by the "depravity of our inner cities". This isn't surprising, for Tebbit is a puritan whose attacks on homosexuality in the House of Lords are savoured by connoisseurs; last year, on the Today programme, he even accused the Government of doing "everything it can to promote buggery".

His position on multi-culturalism seems to be that on the one hand it's a bad thing, but on the other it's not very surprising if Muslims don't want to assimilate into a society where homosexuality and single motherhood have been made compulsory by a succession of wildly libertarian home secretaries. Now I am going to take a charitable view and assume that he doesn't have the faintest idea what he is talking about, for as tonight's edition of Panorama demonstrates, the alienation of some young Muslims in this country has its roots in a vicious, separatist theology that goes far beyond characterising Tony Blair's ministers as unpleasant pinkos.

Last year the East London Mosque, whose chairman Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is also deputy general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, invited a prominent Saudi cleric to be guest of honour at the opening of a £10m Islamic centre. Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais came to London and talked about tolerance but on other occasions he has denounced the "enemies of Islam" - a predictable list of Jews, Christians and secularists - as monkeys, pigs and rats.

Some faiths and ideologies are inherently opposed to respecting difference; the position of extreme Muslims is not just that some aspects of British culture are objectionable, which is the bit that appeals to Tebbit, but that Islam is superior to any other belief system. It's no more possible to build a multi-cultural system with the Wahhabis or followers of Jamaat-e-Islami than it would be with the Taliban, which is why the influence of such movements in this country is so frightening.

Lord Tebbit's cricket test addresses trivialities, the kind of difference I am happy to live with, when the urgent question thrown up by the London bombings is this: do we all share a set of values which includes the obligation to report a suspected terrorist to the police, regardless of his or her religion? That is where tolerance quite properly draws a line, and tonight's Panorama suggests that we have yet to acknowledge the extent to which extremists have successfully promoted hatred of British culture among young British Muslims.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Liberal Democrats leader says efforts need to be focused on cracking down on the criminal gangs  

Nick Clegg: We should to go to war on drugs, not on addicts

Nick Clegg
East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall in front of the Brandenburg gate on November 11, 1989  

Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, Hungary’s PM thinks it is Western capitalism that is in its death throes

Peter Popham
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes