Joan Smith: Murder is always wrong, and has nothing to do with faith

Related Topics

When Roshonara Choudhry was jailed for life at the Old Bailey last week, she was said to be the first person to have attempted an al-Qa'ida-inspired assassination of a public figure in this country. Her target, the Labour MP Stephen Timms, survived being stabbed twice in the stomach by the student, but an Islamist website urged other British Muslims to murder politicians who supported the Iraq war. The US-run site, since taken down, published a list of targets, expressed the hope that Choudhry's crime would "inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad", and suggested that MPs be tracked down at their advice surgeries, offering a link to a supermarket website where knives can be bought.

These people are dangerous and delusional. Despite their medieval props – robes, symbols, beards – they belong to a long line of modern fringe organisations that strut, pose and romanticise violence, including ETA, Baader-Meinhof, the Brigate Rosse, the IRA, the Black Panthers and white-supremacist organisations in the US. No matter how elevated their rhetoric, murders, rapes, robberies and kidnappings are their stock in trade. Remember heiress Patty Hearst toting a gun after she joined forces with her kidnappers in the Symbionese Liberation Army. And ETA has murdered more than 800 people in Spain in pursuit of its demand for an independent Basque state.

Today's Islamists display a familiar sense of grievance, self-aggrandisement and contempt for democratic processes. They're also risibly inconsistent: Choudhry refused to recognise her trial because it wasn't conducted under sharia; she also cleared out her bank accounts before stabbing Mr Timms, to prevent the hated "state" seizing her assets. But Choudhry's rejection of the brutal British state was selective; she had no scruples about benefiting from a state education, including a degree course at one of London's most prestigious universities. Two male supporters who shouted abuse at the court turn out to have similarly elastic values, relying on state benefits to support themselves and their families.

Attempting to murder someone is wrong, regardless of their faith. Mr Justice Cooke's unfavourable comparison between Choudhry's religion and the Christian values espoused by Mr Timms are a gift to angry young Muslims who relish the notion that they're victims of a Christian conspiracy. Nor, since Choudhry hid her knives under her black robe, was it the ideal moment for Cherie Booth QC to dismiss critics of religiously-inspired forms of dress. "We use the appearance of women as a metaphor of our fear of a supposed Islamic threat," Ms Booth claimed to a journalist from El Pais, two weeks after her half-sister Lauren Booth announced that she had converted to Islam.

At best, the more extreme forms of Islamic dress are ideological garments, expressing the puritan notion that women's features are too disturbing for public display; at worst, they've been used as cover by Islamist suicide-bombers and escaping terrorists. They are discomforting on both counts, but most of us are too polite to suggest that they be banned here. The horrific details of the 7/7 inquests are proof that Islamism is a threat, even though its ideas are a half-baked combination of religion and ideology. Roshonara Choudhry is the latest young person to be taken in, and the result is simultaneously ridiculous and tragic.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most