In the wake of the Paris attacks, political and religious leaders of all faiths have been right to repeatedly remind us that the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving and opposed to terrorism. This is certainly true. However, there has been a reluctance to draw attention to the fact a significant number of Muslims in Europe have some sympathy with the aims of Islamist terrorists. One Muslim acquaintance of mine with a knowledge of security believes up to 10,000 people in the UK alone may hold dangerously radical views. As well as contributing to efforts to destroy ISIS, we must do more to ensure Islamic faith schools and mosques are imbuing people with British values.
The government is continuing to help the innocent victims of the conflict. Aid money is spent on providing safe shelter in refugee camps in the Middle East and 20,000 of the most vulnerable will be resettled in the UK. What we must not do is encourage the chaotic free-for-all that is going on across mainland Europe. Millions are arriving illegally with many millions more eyeing up their chances. Some are genuine refugees. Many, I believe most, are economic migrants. Amongst them will be a small number of terrorists but the majority will hold very different views to our own on issues like gay rights, women’s rights and the importance of separating religion from politics. They are not going to change their beliefs simply because they have arrived on European soil. We need to get this exodus under control and fast.
On Wednesday (25 November) I will be leading a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament about the case of Mr Shaker Aamer. He recently returned to the UK from Guantanamo Bay and is now, apparently, in line to receive up to £1m in compensation. Mr Aamer is a Saudi citizen who had been given permission to reside in Britain. In 2001, he decided life would be better under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Whilst living there, apparently working for a charity, he was captured by Afghans and imprisoned by the US who believed he was a member of Al Qaeda. I have no idea whether he was or not. But I cannot for the life of me see why British taxpayers should stump up £1m for him. He chose to live in a war zone and is lucky to be alive and well – and looked after once more by the UK. If he wants compensation, his expensive team of lawyers should sue someone else.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 23 November 2015*