The desire to impose religion over society is otherwise known as theocracy. Being veterans of the struggle to push back against fundamentalist Christians, American liberals are well acquainted with the pitfalls of the neoconservative flirtation with the religious-right. How ironic, then, that in Europe it is those on the left—led by the Guardian—who flirt with religious theocrats. For in the UK, our theocrats are brown, from minority communities, and are overwhelmingly Muslim.
Islam is a religion like any other. Islamism is an ideology that seeks to impose any version of Islam over society. When expressed through violence, I call it jihadism. It is obvious to an American liberal that Christian fundamentalism must be made to respect personal choice. Likewise, it is as plain as the light of day to me—a Pakistani-British liberal Muslim—that any desire to impose any version of Islam over anyone anywhere, ever, is a fundamental violation of our basic civil liberties. But Islamism has been rising in the UK for decades. Over the years, in survey after survey, attitudes have reflected a worrying trend. A quarter of British Muslims sympathised with the Charlie Hebdo shootings. 0% have expressed tolerance for homosexuality. A third have claimed that killing for religion can be justified, while 36% have thought apostates should be killed. 40% have wanted the introduction of sharia as law in the UK and 33% have expressed a desire to see the return of a worldwide theocratic Caliphate. Is it any wonder then, that from this milieu up to 1,000 British Muslims have joined ISIS, which is more than joined the Army reserves. In a case that has come to symbolize the extent of the problem, an entire family of 12 recently migrated to the Islamic State. By any reasonable assessment, something has gone badly wrong in Britain.