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If you’re thinking of making an off-colour joke in modern Britain, you’d be off better joining ISIS

16 June 2015

11:46 AM

16 June 2015

11:46 AM

Should we feel sorry for people who join barbarian jihadist groups like ISIS? I ask because I had always assumed that people who volunteered to join gangs which specialise in rape, decapitation and ethnic cleansing should be looked on with opprobrium. But the ground is, it seems, shifting.

Everybody needs to be a victim in modern Britain. And even people who want to make real, actual victims more numerous are potential recipients of our apparently unending potential for pity.

For instance we had the three horrible London schoolgirls who went to Syria earlier this year to become rape-brides to war criminals. Every part of the British state, so far as I could see, did a sort of ‘come back; nobody’s going to be angry with you; we’re all better together’ act. I suppose there was the tiniest bit of justification there because the appalling girls were still at school. But I assumed that the response was also rather patronisingly predicated on the fact the girls were, well, female.


Yet this barbarian-pity is now being extended to men too. Thomas Evans was a British man who converted to radical Islam and became Abdul Hakim. He went to join al-Shabaab, got a 13 year old bride and died the other day, aged 25, during an attack he was taking part in in Kenya.

Well good, I say. And I suppose for once the ‘racist’ card can’t be played against those of us who say so because Thomas — aka Abdul — was as white as an NAACP leader. Here was a man who went from a comfortable life in Britain and decided to kill people in Africa.

But now his mother is saying she feels ‘let down’ by the authorities. And the BBC is understandably asking what our attitude to all this is in a piece titled ‘ISIS recruits: victims or criminals.’

It’s all very strange. Our country can’t forgive, say, a Nobel scientist for making a joke about women in the lab. But we have the potential to be endlessly understanding if someone decides to go off and rape and pillage in the name of jihad. My recommendation for anyone even thinking of making an off-colour joke would be to keep quiet and join ISIS or al-Shabaab. Then you will find understanding from the modern British state.


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