**For Immediate Release** Thursday 28th January 2016
Byrne speaks at Council of Europe on combating extremism, as Daesh accused of genocide
Liam Byrne urged a new multi-faith fight against the extremist ideology fuelling terrorism in a speech to the Council of Europe today.
Mr Byrne was contributing to two ground-breaking reports in which the Council of Europe – representing over 800 million people – agreed to crucial resolutions confirming ‘States should act on the presumption that Daesh commits genocide.’
The Assembly heard fresh evidence that between 30,000 and 35,000 criminals from 100 different countries have joined Daesh – with up to 4,000 from Western Europe. These criminals may now face charges of participating in genocide.
Byrne called on the 47 nations of the Assembly to unite in a coordinated push to defeat the ideas that fuel extremism.
Mr Byrne said:
“Despite their imperial ambitions, Daesh is today a criminal insurgency. And what we’ve learned fighting insurgencies is that you cannot kill your way to victory. Victory needs politics and to win in politics we must win the battle of ideas.
“That’s why we have to combat the ideology that believes there’s some epic fight between Islam and the West. The truth is different. The truth is we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who want nothing more than the quiet miracle of a normal life and the freedom to worship who and how they please.”
The Council’s Parliamentary Assembly concluded that ‘under international law States have a positive obligation to prevent genocide, and thus should do their utmost to prevent their own nationals from taking part in such acts.’
1) Mr Byrne’s speech can be found below:
Mr BYRNE (United Kingdom) – I want to welcome these reports from the bottom of my heart; they are well tempered and well timed.
The reality, as we have heard all week, is that we are facing the surge of the century: a record surge in fighters pouring out, a record surge of families pouring in, and a new surge of incitement online. We will win – the only question is how fast and at what cost.
The ideas in these reports will bring victory closer. However, I want to underline one recommendation where I say ― in all candour ― to the Assembly, we must do more, and do it faster, and that is creating the counter-narrative to hate. Our opponents want to build an empire of intolerance that stretches from Portugal to Pakistan, but despite their imperial ambitions, they are today an insurgency, and what we have learned fighting insurgencies is that you cannot kill your way to victory. Victory needs politics, and to win in politics we must win the battle of ideas. We can beat them theologically, because they are heretics who, like all heretics down the ages, claim to be “holier than thou”. The key battleground is, however, political, and here we must expose the horror of their political project: a project to roll up 67 countries, beautiful in their diversity and home to a billion Muslims of many different Islamic traditions, in order to create a 21st century totalitarian theocracy run on 7th century values, where they end all freedom of thought, conscience, and religion―all the rights enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Around this truth, we can and must reframe our argument. There is not a clash of civilisations between Islam and the West. This is a clash within a civilisation: the civilisation of the Middle East. It is a clash between a tiny minority of warped, heretical theocrats and those who want to be free. So let us commend these reports. But in the months to come, let us stop talking about the need for a counter-narrative and let us start writing it down. It is a story as old as this Assembly―a story about how we stand shoulder to shoulder with those who want nothing more than the quiet miracle of a normal life and the freedom to worship who and how they please.
2) The Council of Europe Resolution on Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq can be found here: http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=22482&lang=en