Britain's terrorism watchdog, Max Hill QC (Queen's Counsel), recently told a parliamentary committee that it is "fundamentally wrong to attach the word 'terrorism' to any of the world religions," and suggested that the term "Daesh-inspired terrorism" should be used instead of "Islamist terrorism" to refer to attacks carried out by Muslims ("Daesh" is the Arabic acronym for ISIS). His recommendation comes despite the fact that Hill himself, whose official title is Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, referred to the "threats from Islamist terrorism" in his first report, released in January. In that first report, Hill also argued that "what [Islamic terrorists] claim to do in the name of religion is actually born from an absence of real understanding about the nature of the religion they claim to follow." How impressive that he knows more about their religion than they do, despite the fact that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, received a PhD in Koranic Studies from Saddam University for Islamic Studies in 2007.
Although Hill's statements ostensibly put him at odds with Prime Minister Theresa May, she too has mystifyingly called terrorism "a perversion of Islam."
There are two problems with this expression of political correctness. One is that although the Quran and Sunnah contain inherently contradictory texts, most jihadi leaders and ideologues follow and act upon the most extremist and violent interpretation of them. Therefore, constantly apologizing for the religion is worse than counter-productive: it is incorrect. The other, related, problem is that British policy is forged and implemented on the basis of ideas; so when those ideas stem from a fear of offending Muslims, the policy is necessarily flawed.
In October, for instance, Hill told BBC Radio that Britons "possibly [brainwashed] in their mid-teens... who travelled [to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS] out of a sense of naivety... and return in a sense of utter disillusionment" should be spared prosecution upon their return home.
"Really," Hill said, "we should be looking at reintegration and moving away from any notion that we are going to lose a generation from this."
Meanwhile, also in October, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker delivered a speech in London, during which he talked about the threat of Islamist terrorism. He said that jihadists are increasing the speed at which they plan and carry out attacks, many of which security services have thwarted. In 2017 alone, there were four ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in the UK.
Hill's skirting this issue impairs his ability to carry out his highly important and sensitive role, which is to review terror legislation for the British government and the public. His aim to ban the term "Islamist terrorism" indicates that political correctness is more important to him than strengthening Britain's counter-terrorist efforts.
A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.