The disgusting news that a French soldier was stabbed in the neck in a copycat attack in Paris yesterday is a sign that there are those whose views and actions take them beyond the pale in a democratic society. At the same time there have been a small number of minor attacks on Mosques in the UK in "revenge" for the atrocity in Woolich.
A number of people have been arrested for "hate" messages about Muslims/Islam on social media, twitter in particular. Whilst people should learn to control their "inner-rages" on the "twitter-sphere" (something Sally Bercow learnt to her detriment yesterday in an unrelated court case), their treatment does stand in contrast to the continuing freedom of extremists like Anjem Choudary who remain seemingly "untouchable" in their campaign to spread Jihadist hate messages.
As I wrote a couple of days ago the law must be applied equally to all, regardless of race, religion or colour. Prosecuting a handful of angry tweeters whilst allowing the preachers of hate a free-hand to continue corrupting the weak-minded and vulnerable into acts of barbaric violence will fuel mistrust between the communities and possibly inflame the situation.
As a democracy we have to allow free speech, but such rights come with responsibilities, the latter the proponents of "rights" sometimes forget.
No one has the right to spread a message inciting violence, racial or religious hatred that could or actually does result in someone getting hurt or as in this case killed. Enough is enough.
Blaming a whole community as some are trying to do is reminiscent of the Kristalnacht in 1930s Germany. We must condemn the attacks on places of worship and the ordinary Muslims like the couple in a fast food take-away recently (by men of Romanian origin for some odd reason).
There are 2.7 Million Muslims in the UK and only a tiny proportion of these are involved in the extremist circles that undertake terrorism. We didn't blame all the Irish community for the actions of the IRA and the same must apply here and now as well.
The Security Services must be allowed to do their jobs in monitoring and dealing with the criminals who perpetrate these acts, but it will take a political and cultural campaign by those of us who believe in democracy to undermine the communal base from which they spring. There is a precedent for the type of campaign needed.
The Hope not Hate campaign has proved hugely successful in opposing and undermining the neo-Nazi far-right over the past few years, so that groups like the BNP are now in total decline. In recent times they have begun focusing on the Islamist extremists, but are currently focusing on the rise of the UKIP which I consider to be a major error on their part.
UKIP (for all it's faults and yes they are legion) is not an inherently racist party and is certainly not fascist in shape or form. Yes there are people within it that need to be exposed from time to time, but the vast majority of UKIPs base is simply the more traditional anti-European Tory types that are disillusioned by David Cameron and fret about immigration in general.
Hope not Hate should focus its resources on combating the Islamist extremists that are simply fascists of a clerical nature. Rather than organise consultation about what should be done about UKIP (as they are planning at the moment), Nick Lowles and the others must change their direction to taking on the real fascist threat that is arising on the fundamentalist Islamist front.
Their website is beginning to tackle the issues arising out of the Woolich tragedy but more remains to be done otherwise the far-right in this country will start getting a boost that it should not do if we are up to the task. Evidence of this was seen yesterday as 1500 (three times the number expected) EDL supporters turned out on the streets of Newcastle.
British Muslims must do more to combat the rise of extremism within their own communities. Dare I say that some if not many will have to re-adjust themselves to accepting that they are living in a secular society and the attitudes of many will need to change especially on such issues as the rights of women and gay and lesbian people.
Tolerance works two ways. If we can get people to accept this then we are part of the way to reaching a solution.
The Hope not Hate website can be found here: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/