Saturday, 4 July 2015

Syria: Let those people go!

For weeks the news has been full of stories of people leaving the UK to live in the "Islamic State". Each time there's great anguish and calls for the government to stop them. Apparently every such departure is a failure by our police and security service.

But why?

Most are adults. They've decided that they don't like our liberal, tolerant, democratic society. They think they'd prefer a theocratic tyranny where they'll be free to follow their Caliph's interpretation of the Koran, to hate Jews, Christians, atheists, gays and cartoonists and, if male, to buy slaves - but not, if female, to choose their style of dress. It's choice I don't understand and never will. But why do we want them to stay?

They don't fit in here and we and they know it. So they should go.

Just one thing. They should renounce their UK citizenship and rights of residence on the way out and surrender their UK passports. They want to be citizens - or do I mean subjects? - of Islamic State. Then let them. They won't need their UK passports will they? And they won't be coming back.

We're not threatened by the departure of a few hundred intolerant hotheads for Syria. We might be threatened by the return of a few score battle-hardened militants with military training. So this is should be a one-way street.

This policy is honest, it respects fundamental rights and it protects us. And maybe some of those offered a one-way route to Syria will think a bit harder about their choice if they know its irrevocable.

PS. On July 7th the Guardian carried a report that Robert Quick, former head of counter-terror at the Met, had advocated the same policy.  He said:
“You have to think how do you confront it, if you have hundreds or thousands who want to go [to Islamic State] and live that life? We should try and convince them not to go. If they want to go, you have to ask the question, are we better off, if they surrender their passports and go? It’s better than them festering away here. “Should we say we’ll lay on charter flights to Syria; turn up with your passport and if you are over 18, if this is the life you want, then go?”

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