By MP John Hayes
John Buchan, author of the Thirty-Nine Steps, wrote that while we might think a ‘wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass.’
Buchan’s words ring true now in considering the threat of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) Muslim fanatics, spreading their barbarism across the Middle East.
The shocking images of an American journalist beheaded by a British national reminds us that the events in Iraq are not just a distant struggle between opposing Muslim factions, but a fight against an evil that poses a direct threat to our security and our values.
Those who share our Christian values are facing great peril in Iraq. While the terrible plight of followers of the ancient religion of Yazidi has been widely reported, Iraq’s sizable Christian minority has also been persecuted by advancing IS forces. Earlier this month, 50,000 Christians were forced to flee the city of Qaraqosh. Other Christian towns have been largely abandoned as residents are presented with the vile choice of fleeing their homes, converting to Islam or execution.
There is no comfort in the fact that these appalling events are taking place thousands of miles away.
We have learnt to our cost in the past that the fight against extremism is a battle for hearts and minds as much as for territory. As the Prime Minister said ‘we are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology.’ IS is already an established terrorist threat in Europe, which is why we are acting now to prevent the spread of this evil.
Britain is upholding its duty to support the crusade against barbarism in Iraq through both a concerted humanitarian effort to aid the Christians and Yazidis displaced and hounded by IS, and by supporting American airstrikes vital to averting full-blown genocide.
We are also acting now to fight this evil force here at home. We have already introduced a power to deprive naturalised British subjects of their citizenship if they are suspected of involvement in terrorism. The Prime Minister has made it clear that anyone displaying IS banners or attempting to recruit people to their wicked cause will be subject to arrest.
The threat posed by ISIS reminds us that the means of peace; the price of civilisation itself, is constant vigilance.