THE entire civilised world has recoiled in horror at the news from Nigeria where 284 girls were abducted from their school by Islamist extremists who are now threatening to sell them into sexual slavery for £8 each.
David Cameron caught the mood in the Commons this week when he condemned the kidnapping as “an act of pure evil”.
What other description can you apply to a gang of bigoted fanatics who believe slavery and the sexual abuse of children is condoned by their religion?
The Prime Minister went on: “This is not just a Nigerian issue, it is a global issue. There are extreme Islamists around our world who are against education, against progress, against equality and we must fight them and take them on wherever they are.”
Fine words, but I am afraid they have not been backed up by action over recent years.
Let’s get the caveats out of the way at the start. I have had the privilege of working alongside devout Muslims over recent years and invariably found them to be thoughtful and considerate colleagues.
And I am aware that the same thing could be said of the millions of Muslims around the world who follow what they fervently believe to be the “religion of peace”.
But there is no point in trying to sugar the pill – Islam has a problem, and it is not confined to a few Nigerian gangsters.
There is a virulent strain of political Islam – Islamism – that preaches hatred of enlightenment values such as equality and tolerance and has declared jihad on the West. And far from fighting this political Islam, as Mr Cameron suggested we were doing, our government is complicit in encouraging it.
For example, the kind of bloodthirsty nihilism we see in Nigeria is actively promoted by our so-called ally Saudi Arabia, which uses its petrodollars to export this evil ideology around the world.
The same violent rhetoric is inculcated into impressionable young people in the madrassas of Pakistan, which receives billions of pounds in western aid.
In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, suicide bombers are treated as heroes and children recite racist tracts from school books paid for by British taxpayers.
Islamism has little to do with spirituality – instead it is all about political control. For example Boko Haram, the terror group that has abducted the girls in Nigeria, carries out attacks on children because it says they shouldn’t be educated.
A knowledgeable Muslim friend tells me there is nothing in the Koran that says girls should not go to school. Neither is there any requirement for women to wear a burka – the Koran says only that they should dress modestly.
But the antediluvian brutes who run these Islamist organisations clearly find uneducated women, cowed and covered head to toe, easier to control and manipulate.
Bizarrely in the West Islamist extremists have made common cause with the far Left – so you will often see radical feminists sharing a platform with men who treat women worse than cattle and who support such barbarous practices as the genital mutilation of girls.
The only thing they have in common is that they both hate the freedoms that come with advanced Western capitalism.
Both here at home and around the world, from Nigeria to China taking in the entire Middle East, Islamism is a very real threat to liberty and equality.
It would be comforting to believe that Cameron is serious when he says we will combat the extremists, but he and his fellow Western leaders have not shown much enthusiasm to take the fight to the enemy thus far.
Money well spent?
The couple who won £161m on the Lottery have been criticised for donating money to the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign.
Chris and Colin Weir, who scooped the jackpot in 2011, said accusations that they had been bullied into giving the money were wrong and that some of the attacks on them have been “downright nasty”.
Their aim, said the couple, is to improve the chances of an informed debate before September’s referendum.
Fair enough. It is their money and they can do what they like with it. But I wonder if they will be so keen if in a couple of years’ time their taxes start shooting up under the left wing government of an independent Scotland?