David Cameron gives warning on Islamist extremism

The former Prime Minister said it wasn't good enough just to refer to extremists in general without 'recognising, understanding and challenging the reference they make to religion'.


Britain needs a clear understanding of the nature of the extremist Islamist terrorism threat, David Cameron has warned

The former Prime Minister said it wasn't "good enough just to refer to extremists in general without recognising, understanding and challenging the reference they make to religion".

Speaking  at a charity dinner in aid of the Community Security Trust in Manchester on Monday, Mr Cameron said: "The world is up against an extreme ideology that  believes Jews, Christians and others can`t live together and that Muslims can only live one way, in some sort of medieval barbaric caliphate and that it is right to kill those who question it. We must defeat it together."

He added: "There are no opt outs for combating extremism, not for schools, aid organisations, not for campuses, or governments . If this is the greatest challenge we face, and it is, we need to be more focused on combatting Islamism extremism in all its forms."

In a wide-ranging speech to an audience of more than 400 people which included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, at Lancashire Cricket Club, Mr Cameron hailed the work of CST and expressed his ongoing admiration and support for the Jewish community.

He also explained why he felt such affinity for Anglo-Jewry. 

His grandmother`s grandfather was a German-Jewish banker who settled in Manchester in the 1850s - although Mr Cameron was unaware this part of his ancestry until he was in his 40s.

The support he offers the Jewish community, he said, was therefore learned not inherited – made concrete when he first visited Israel and inspired by Jewish friends such as Gerald Ronson, founding chairman of CST, and JC columnist and Conservative peer Lord Finklestein, who were all in possession of a "Jewish kop" offering wisdom, advice and solutions rather than problems.

There were moments of humour in which Mr Cameron reflected on the change of his circumstances, having stepped down as Prime Minister in 2016 after the Brexit referendum. "I’m lucky these days to get to the opening of my own shepherd's hut never mind an entire dinner in my honour," he joked.

Commending the humour in the Chief Rabbi's speech, he quipped ruefully: `It's always good to have a second career."

Looking back at six years in  Downing Street he said he was proud of the things he had achieved  in response to the needs of the Jewish community, including more Jewish free schools, a stronger relationship and economic partnership with Israel, extra funding for community security and the promise that shechita should be protected.

"We saw off threats to your traditions and we should do so in every year forward," he said.

Among his proudest moment was setting up first ever UK Holocaust Commission, he revealed.

"I want every child and adult to learn and remember – adults need educating too. That`s why we need a Holocaust  memorial and learning centre next to heart of our democracy [next to Parliament] to say to people and the world we will never forget lessons of the  past and will teach those lessons again and again."

But he said much still needed to be done, including speaking with absolute clarity when condemning racism and xenophobia. 

"We won`t win fight if we let extremist preachers come and preach hatred, run schools or tolerate organisations that, even if they  don`t support violence, support the thinking that leads to violence," he said.

As for his post-Downing Street life, Mr Cameron  said he didn’t regret holding the Brexit referendum - defeat in which prompted his resignation. It was time to embrace new opportunities and challenges, he said.

Britain needed its Jewish community more than ever, he assured the audience.

"We need your values, your belief in strong families, resilient communities, family, belief in the service of others, of hard work, knowledge that nothing is gained without effort and understanding what it is to integrate and keep faith."

A stirring message finished with a shana tova which drew the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.

In his speec,h the Chief Rabbi thanked the former Prime Minister for his stand against antisemitism, and the creation of the Holocaust Commission.


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