Britain Needs Islam's Finest

To rid their communities of closet terrorists, Britain's two million Muslims must do more than just hang up new banners.

"A New Beginning" reads one banner outside a Finsbury Park mosque in London, which was once home to a preacher of hate toward the very society that protected his freedom.

In many ways since the July 7 bombings, Britain's Muslim leaders have raced to show that their followers embrace the rules of a secular society and abhor such violence. They, like others in Britain, were shocked to find that four or more young men born and raised in their country had adopted a warped view of Islam and killed at least 52 innocent people, some Muslims, during the morning commute.

That's why words aren't enough to smoke out these kinds of homegrown terrorists, or prevent them from acting. "Moderates" can't be moderate in outing terrorists.

Islam itself, as a religion of peace with more than a billion peaceful followers worldwide, must be tapped to energize its followers in Britain and elsewhere to reach its young adherents and instill tolerance and understanding toward those of other faiths, those with no faith, and even those Muslims with differing views of Islam.

A sense of compassion at the core of Islam, as well as an acceptance of Britain's secular traditions must be implanted more deeply in mosques and Islamic neighborhoods.

The privilege of living in a free society permitting religious diversity comes with an obligation to promote the very ideals of individual freedom that derive from great religions like Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

With one foot in Western religious traditions, Islam has the basis for its followers to embrace such rooted legacies as civil liberties, respect for law, and government by representative democracy.

And indeed, many Muslims are now serving in Parliament and helping police find would-be terrorists. Many Muslim groups are also working with Scotland Yard to keep track of any incitement to violence and ties to foreign terrorist groups. One former Islamic radical, Egyptian-born Prof. Tariq Ramadan, is giving talks to Muslim youth in Britain, sponsored by the police.

Free societies don't need to be havens for terrorists if the terrorists can't find fertile ground for their views. Police action can go only so far to prevent such attacks as that in London last week. Defenders of Islam should be driven by their faith to overcome the arguments of radicals and, if not, then expose them.

That very freedom to act on Islam's finest teachings is Islam's best defense against those who would abuse it.

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