No one yet has yet asked what responsibility Western drug culture bears for the radicalisation of young Islamist fanatics. No one has yet investigated the possible role played by drugs – cannabis in particular – in warping the minds of the young men recruited to the cult of death and psychopathy that Michael Burleigh reports on so graphically here.
It needs, in my view, to be part of the more thorough-going investigation of the (often second generation migrant) urban gang cultures “that generate so many of these losers”, Burleigh advocates.
Instead of such soul searching we had, in less than 24 hours, the political class switching its attention from ‘Je suis Charlie’ emoting over free speech (whatever that is in today’s modern rights culture) to the PM’s plans for mass surveillance, a snooper’s charter and new counter-terrorism measures.
Yet it has to be apparent to anyone with an ounce of imagination that neither this, nor requiring universities to ban extremist speakers, nor ever more classroom promotion of ‘British values’ are going to stem the fanatical Islamist cult of death in our midst – or integrate Muslim immigrant communities into British society – which is what is needed.
To start with indigenous Brits no longer know what British values are. So it beats me how children growing up in what are effectively Muslim ghettos are meant to, let alone be persuaded of their virtues.
Of course, over the last few days we’ve heard a lot of pontification about tolerance and how this is a great virtue of British society.
But set against these platitudes is the actual experience immigrants have of British society. Yes, we may well be tolerant of mosques and burkhas, but we are also unashamedly tolerant of, and open about, bad, louche and law-breaking behaviour. We put two fingers up to the very rule of law that drew so many immigrants to come here in the first place.
We do not bother to assert or apply a clear ethical system of our own. Neither Anglican clergymen nor politicians, apart from Nigel Farage, have taken a stand. No one else seems up to defending or valuing our unique Judeo-Christian heritage – let alone imposing it. .
It is hard to think what young Muslim boys make our lack of propriety, such as the media’s favourite celebrities making money from accounts of their drug exploits; casual and remorse-free confessionals about sex and drugs excesses that are the order of the day for BBC-presenting vicars and Daily Telegraph columnists as well as celebrity actors.
Our open and unashamed drug culture, a source of much amusement for celebrities and journalists alike, is on display as one that the authorities have all but given up on, despite its grimmer side.
Yet it is this other side of it – street drug and gang crime – that children of immigrants get drawn into, whether over here or in the 19th arrondissement in Paris, which was where the Kouachi brothers, Chérif and Saïd, the orphaned sons of Algerian parents, moved as teenagers and were ultimately recruited by a jihadi network.
“There’s a lot of unemployment here but not that many young people are out looking for jobs,” a reporter for the Daily Beast was told by a couple of local Algerians.
They told the reporter that many young men in the banlieues prefer the easy money they can get from selling drugs rather than seeking what is likely to be boring, poorly paid employment in Paris. And according to a Daily Mail report, this was how Cherif lived his life as a drug user, “…as a hashish-smoking pizza deliveryman, who used all his money to buy drugs, who, though repenting of his crimes, was arrested again just a year later”.
He and his brother were said to have cast off their life of drug dealing, crime and rapping for radical Islam. Whether either were high at the time of their murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo we don’t know; nor do we know the extent to which their brains had already been warped by cannabis. It is unlikely to have had a benign effect.
What we do know is that cannabis use is a causative factor in triggering schizophrenia, and that for anyone with a prior mental health condition it is an aggravating factor as far as violence is concerned.
Cannabis was a factor in the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby. It later became known that the Boston bombers also dealt and smoked dope.
It seems blind not to examine the role of dope or explore the role of urban drug culture in recent terrorist or fanatical attacks – the collision between Western drug culture and orthodox Islam
It is as key to investigating how the seeds of radicalisation are germinated here as is the clash between Muslim male authority and the reality of young male emasculation and unemployment, that is a feature of Western feminised society. No wonder the rehabilitation and radicalisation offered by radical clerics offers such an attractive prospect to already damaged minds.
Though the result maybe a “hollow religiosity”, as Mouhanad Khorchide, a professor of Islamic pedagogy at the University of Munster in Germany described it to The New York Times last week, it is no less dangerous.
“They would say, ‘Islam is really important for me,’ but they had just dealt drugs,” Khorchide said. “They had a Quran in their backpack and said, ‘With the Quran, I am strong’. But if you asked if they had read it or knew what it contained, they said no.”
Such contradictions in these young men’s lives reflect not just an existential moment for Islam but for Western ‘tolerance’ and ‘values’ too.