Just to follow on from James Macintyre’s post yesterday, I wanted to praise the brilliant and strident speech that David Cameron delivered in Ankara today. He was right to say that the British government must remain the “strongest possible advocate” of Turkey’s membership of the European Union and that it is “wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent”.
My favourite part of the speech was when the Prime Minister tackled, head on, the “prejudiced” argument of Islamophobic opponents of Turkey’s entry into the EU — or, as he put it, “those who don’t differentiate between real Islam and the extremist version”.
They don’t understand the values that Islam shares with other religions like Christianity and Judaism that these are all inherently peaceful religions. Nor do they understand that Turkey is a peaceful country, with a long history of religious tolerance.
I will always argue that the values of real Islam are not incompatible with the values of Europe. That Europe is defined not by religion, but by values. The EU is a secular organisation. And Europe welcomes people of all faiths, or none.
UPDATE: I should also add that I completely agree (surprise, surprise!) with every word of this paragraph from Dave’s speech as well:
Let me be clear. The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu, we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.
I’m not quite sure why Peter Hoskin over at Coffee House objects to the PM’s use of such “provocative language” on the Middle East. You don’t have to be a Hamas supporter to recognise that Gaza is indeed an open-air “prison camp”, cut off from the outside world, and that the prison guards are the Israelis and their Egyptian allies.