EXCLUSIVE: David Seymour’s thoughts on Islamic Immigration

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With overseas terror attacks and mass migration of un-vetted refugees into Europe, many people are concerned about the connection between Islam and terrorism, along with the social unrest that can accompany large-scale migration.  While New Zealand has been relatively insulated it would be incredibly naive to think we are immune to the challenges faced by Europe and the US.

Too often, the left labels those raising concerns as racists or bigots – a cynical attempt to shut down debate through name calling. Debating the ideas and beliefs of any religion shouldn’t be forbidden and the practical difficulties of integration, especially where there is a clash of values, should be openly discussed.

All immigrants should accept the most basic values of New Zealand society: namely freedom of speech, equality of gender and race before the law, that spirituality is a private matter of personal conscience, and that LGBT people should be allowed to express themselves.

If they don’t like or agree with the most basic of rights, they can find somewhere else to go.

Fundamentalist Islam is incompatible with New Zealand values.  We need to focus our efforts on protecting ourselves from these individuals who share such incompatible views. These values tend to accumulate into dissent and eventual violence, and have no place in New Zealand.

A Pew Research poll showed that while most Muslims in Western countries do not share Daesh’s extreme views, a substantial minority do.  Another from 2013 showed worrying beliefs on moral issues from many Muslims in non-Western countries (although answers in such polls are likely somewhat skewed when governments do not ensure religious tolerance and free speech).  Through Western eyes, it’s not easy to distinguish lines separating radical and peaceful Muslims.  This is the challenge for Western politicians.

My suggestion that all immigrants to New Zealand should sign up to values of tolerance and freedom is an attempt to differentiate those who accept our way of life from those who do not.  It is difficult to hold people to account for values they never signed up to.  Opponents, depending on which side they’re from, say the idea is either too harsh or doesn’t go far enough.  On such a sensitive topic, extremes in opinion are inevitable, and in my view, equally misguided on both sides.

When looking at refugees, choices get harder.

I believe New Zealand should take its quota of refugees and we shouldn’t simply bar refugees from certain countries or with certain faiths.  Not only would that make us like the people we opposed by making religion a state concern, and probably be impractical, it would be unfair on the majority of Muslim immigrants who are just as horrified at Islamic terrorism as the rest of us.

As David Kilcullen, an Australian counterinsurgency expert who has spent years in Iraq points out, the peak of the Syrian exodus occurred after Daesh beheaded one thousand conscripts of the Syrian army.  Syrian men refused to join an army that couldn’t defend itself let alone them, and as a result they became a target.  Events like these also explains why so many of the refugees are young men – they are not part of a plan to invade Europe, they’re understandably terrified.  Should we exclude such people from the refugee quota?

The answer from many will be yes, that there is too much at stake, and that it’s not worth the risk that some of these refugees may become terrorists in New Zealand.

But putting up walls probably wouldn’t make the difference that people think, because terrorism has changed.  Until recently, terrorism followed the model of the 1972 Munich Massacre.  As with IRA terrorism and 9/11, a group of terrorists trained, planned, entered the target country in a clandestine manner, and then carried out an attack.  Now it is quite different.

Technology makes terrorism much easier to carry out.  It allows the aggrieved to feel they are part of something bigger, giving misguided meaning to their lives at mortal cost to others.  Terror acts are carried out by a spectrum of people from the disturbed to true believers.

Putting up walls fails to get at this root cause and would be counterproductive. People who want to hurt us are no longer engaged in conventional terrorism.

Vetting people for religion at the border is akin to carrying out state-sponsored persecution of an entire religion, and would play into the Daesh narrative that there is a clash of civilisations and that there is something noble in dying for Islam.

To remain safe and free, we need to promote our values first and foremost, then invest in the best possible counterterrorism to deal with the minority who wish to do us harm.

Becoming a mirror image of those we seek to be safe and free from isn’t the answer.

David Seymour MP


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