The three Bradford sisters and their nine children have passed into Syria, according to a people smuggler on the Turkish/Syrian border. As the BBC reporter has just said on Radio Five Live, ISIS won’t ever set them free. That, I’m afraid, is that.
We have discussed this before but you do wonder what has possessed them to go, knowing, as they must surely will, the reality of life under ISIS. Children married off at the age of nine, mass rape, slavery, suicide murders – this is the life they can look forward to. Over-dramatic? I don’t think so.
Let us be clear: the sisters are adults. We know that their beliefs reflect a particularly conservative form of islam. There is nothing to suggest they were stupid, gullible women. They have chosen, as the free citizens of one country, to join the islamic fascists of another country in the full knowledge that their hosts have carried out mass beheadings, amputations and have burned people alive and one must assume that the sisters are content to live with them. It simply is not good enough to suggest they are themselves just victims, like Moath Kassassbeh, Alan Henning, Steven Sotloff and everyone else who were brutally murdered in such chilling circumstances. Unless they have lived such incredible sheltered lives – and the fact that they have been able to plot their own removal to another country, seemingly with ease, suggests they didn’t – nothing they will find will be a surprise.
I hear the siren calls from the media and politicians, imploring people to not join up with ISIS, but the reality is there is only one group of people who can help stop this: muslims. The reality is simple: this is a muslim issue. There are no groups of atheists, secularists or even agnostics queueing up to join ISIS, as there is no one from followers of other religions.
I hesitate to sound like a Ukip/Britain First/BNP spokesman but we do need to be very clear that this is not a society that embraces any of the hate ideology of islamic fascism. Put simply, we need to take religion, all religion, out of the state. People should be free to believe in their god of choice, but within the laws and customs of the land. No exceptions, no privileges. If this means no more religious schools of any kind, so be it. And the removal of bishops from our parliament, then bring it on. That is not an attack on anyone who has a religious superstition: it is the acceptance that we are all free to believe in what we want to believe but with the proviso that no religion should have influence over everyone else.
I do not think we will defeat religious terrorists until we address the main cause of religious terrorism which is religious belief itself. Whilst we cannot and should not ban religion, there must be a debate as to whether any of it is actually true. People will always believe in gods for all sorts of reasons. That’s fair enough but why can’t those of us who are sceptical, to say the least, question the evidence, or rather the lack of it?
Above all, we must end the proselytisation of children, often very young children, who adopt their parents’ religions long before they can make an educated choice in life. It is as absurd to talk about muslim, jewish and christian children as it would be to talk about muslim, jewish and christian monetarists or Keynsians.
There is sadness about the three Bradford sisters entering Syria because of what we know will happen to them, but it is what will happen to their children that disturbs me more. The women’s decision to head there must surely have been taken with that in mind and that, I am afraid, fills me up not so much with sadness as contempt.