The London Blasts: Media
EIGHT: 15 July 2005
1) Small victories
2) The Pakistani perspective
3) Deporting preachers
4) Who's a good enough
5) Today's Top Denier
6) Today's Top Realist
Alexander got a letter about the Extremism
Report into the Telegraph
on 15 July:
Sir - Downing Street called Charles
Kennedy "naive" for suggesting that the Iraq war
had fuelled terrorism (News, July 13).
But Young Muslims and Extremism, a
report commissioned by Tony Blair and produced by the Home
Office and Foreign Office, stated: "The war on terror,
and in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all seen by a section of
British Muslims as having been acts against Islam."
So the Prime Minister's office brands
an opposition leader naive for suggesting something its
own experts said is true.
H.A.L. Alexander, London SW6
THE PAKISTANI PERSPECTIVE
'Above all, there is a
political battle facing the government, which needs to do
more to counter the view prevalent among some Muslims that
Britain is engaged in some kind of western
conspiracy against Islam.'
' “What has happened,”
says one Downing Street figure, “is that, for too
long, we have put up with a situation in which people go
on making this argument about a conspiracy and getting away
with it. What Tony believes at heart is that we need to
confront that harder.” '
'The US and
UK invasion of Iraq may have helped to fuel the argument
about a western conspiracy against Islam – but that
needs to be countered harder. “There is certainly
a legitimate argument to be had about the decision to go
to war in Iraq,” says one Blair aide. “But we
have allowed a connection to be made between legitimate
critiques of the war and mad critiques that the toppling
of Saddam Hussein was about being anti-Islam.”
(We commented on this in yesterday's
More has been discovered about the two critiques by journalists
in Pakistan, tracing the movements of one of the four bombers,
Shehzad Tanweer, who spent three months in Lahore at the
end of last year, studying in an Islamic school or 'madrassa'.
Hussain visited Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s
leading institutions of Islamic learning, for The
Times. He met a Pakistani MP who is a teacher:
' “The bomb attacks in London
are the reaction against the British Government’s
support for America’s war against Muslims,”
said Maulana Samiul Haq, a fiery, black-turbaned cleric
who is head of the seminary. He is also an MP in Pakistan.
“The loss of innocent lives is regrettable, but the
British Government should think why it all happened. It
is time to review its policy on Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Peter Foster visited Jamia Ashrafa,
one of the largest Islamic schools in Lahore, for the Daily
Telegraph, and encountered a rather more wholeheartedly
condemnation of the atrocities, alongside a similiar analysis
of the root problem:
Mullah Fazl-ur-Rahim, the head of the
Jamia Ashrafia in the Pakistani city, said: "It is
injustice that is the source of all conflict. We
condemn such attacks unreservedly but the West -
and Mr Tony Blair and the people of Britain - must ask themselves
honestly about the reasons for it."
The news that one of the bombers, 22-year-old
Shehzad Tanweer, spent three months in Lahore at the end
of last year, studying in an Islamic school, or madrassa,
fails to deflect Mullah Rahim.
"Show me a single madrassa that
teaches students how to use a Kalashnikov or strap bombs
to themselves," he said. "You cannot, because
they do not exist."
Foster visited another establishment,
and received a similar view:
Another madrassa owner, Mullah Riaz
Durrani, who is also leading spokesman for the Jamiah Ulema
Islam (JUI), one of Pakistan's traditional Islamic political
parties, said: "It is not speeches in madrassas that
make these young men into suicide bombers.
"That job is done by the
Americans and the British themselves, by Fox television
and CNN, who broadcast the outrages of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
"Britain should ask itself why
a young man from Leeds, educated in a British school, not
a Pakistani madrassa, should decide to become a suicide
This view is supported by a Pakistani
Arif Jamal, a journalist from Lahore
who has studied the madrassa phenomenon for five years,
believes the West can win the war on terrorism only when
it grasps that it is fighting a war of ideas, which Pakistan's
madrassas are prosecuting vigorously.
fact that Shehzad Tanweer decided to go to Pakistan to take
up an Islamic education indicates that he had already decided
on which path he would take," he said.
"Perhaps what he heard in
Pakistan might have reinforced those views, but ultimately
the process of radicalisation and indoctrination must have
begun at home."
All of which casts an
interesting light on the British Government's proposals
to bar "Islamic extremists" from entering Britain,
and to deport suspects and "troublemakers". The
Under human rights laws
Britain cannot deport anyone to a country where they might
be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment.
The Cabinet agreed that it was vital
to secure agreement with North African nations such as Algeria,
Tunisia and Morocco. Whitehall sources said that any agreement
would have to be at the highest level to satisfy the Government
and judiciary that deportations would not lead to any risk
of inhuman treatment.
Mr Clarke is also looking at ways of
tightening controls on asylum-seekers and those with “indefinite
leave to remain” in Britain, including prohibiting
encouragement of terrorism. Those who breach conditions
would lose their right to stay.
Under existing laws Mr Clarke can deport
any people given indefinite leave to remain in Britain if
their presence is not in the “public interest”.
A person given asylum can be kicked out if convicted of
a serious crime but cannot be sent to a country where there
would be a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment.
Blitz in the FT comments:
'Downing Street was talking yesterday
about how it would seek to get agreements with north African
countries to take back asylum applicants to the UK –
on the promise they would not be tortured. We could be forgiven
for wondering whether such agreements would stand up in
a UK court hearing a deportation appeal.'
And how much protection
would they offer to the deportee?
"Muslim extremists" who have not committed any
serious crime is merely going to add to the sense of injustice
and alienation in Muslim communities. It amounts to censorship
by immigration laws. If someone commits a crime, they should
be prosecuted for it. The new proposals are there to punish
people where there is no evidence of illegal action, only
evidence of speech that the majority of people find unacceptable.
Recall that the Government's
report on Young Muslims and Extremism concludes with these
government must make a more concerted effort to persuade
the Muslim community that it is trusted and respected.
That requires a change of language. Public
challenges to Muslims to decide where their loyalties lie
Sensible analysis, contradicted
WHO'S A GOOD ENOUGH MUSLIM?
An interesting light on
the Charles Clarke proposals (probably Tony Blair proposals
in origin) comes from two articles in The
Times on the same page. One story explains the proposals
as described above, leading with the revelation
Islamic extremists denied
entry to the United States would be banned automatically
from Britain under anti-terror measures outlined by the
Cabinet yesterday. Charles Clarke plans to prevent Muslim
figures such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tariq Ramadan entering
the United Kingdom if they have been barred from the US
or European Union.
Tariq Ramadan, who is
barred from the US is of course shortly to be here in the
UK on a visit part-financed by
the Metropolitan Police and the Association of [British]
Chief Police Officers as part of a community dialogue.
The accompanying article
reports that Zaki Badawi, the chairman of the British Council
of Mosques, was prevented from entering the United States
after flying into New York on Wednesday.
Dr Badawi, The
Times notes, 'has been awarded an honorary knighthood
and attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace for President
Bush’s visit.' Last Sunday, 'Dr Badawi joined other
British religious leaders at Lambeth Palace to condemn the
London bombings. He appeared with the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Rowan Williams; Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster; David Coffey,
the Free Churches Moderator and Sir Jonathan Sacks, the
If people like Dr Badawi
are going to be banned from the US, not a lot of Muslims
are going to make it through Charles Clarke's automatic
Incidentally, Dr Badawi
was visiting the US because he had been invited to speak
at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, where
he had planned to give a talk entitled The Law and Religion
in Society. 'He said that he had received no explanation
from the officials who denied him entry. The US Immigration
and Customs Enforcement offices in Washington and New York
City had not returned his calls on the matter.'
TODAY'S TOP DENIER
JNV runs a page
tracking some of the people in the British press who either
accept or deny that the bombings in London have some connection
to British foreign policy.
Today's top denier is
Baker of The Times,
who deserves extensive quotation.
Attacking the 'sizeable
chunk of serious, influential British opinion, from across
the political spectrum, who act in a way that suggests they
honestly think this country is the principal author of the
bad things that happen to it', Baker presents this
Suppose we’d never invaded Iraq, and terrorists
had blown up London in pursuit of their cause, what would
the apologists have said about last week’s attacks?
In fact we know exactly what they would have said because
many of them did say it after al-Qaeda attacked the US on
September 11 — long before any American or British
soldier set foot in Afghanistan or Iraq.
They said it was because of our support
for Israel and its “brutal occupation of Palestinian
territory”, our complicity in the victimisation of
Arabs from the Balfour Declaration to the ascent of the
Jewish lobby in America.
if there had never been an Israel and instead a Palestinian
state existed peaceably in the heart of the Middle East,
and the terrorists had still attacked us? What would the
apologists have said then? They would have said, of course,
that we were to blame for having abused the Arabs and Muslims
generally for decades through our colonial ambitions and
economic exploitation of Arabia and the broader Middle East.
if there had never been a British Empire and British
occupation of Arab lands, and terrorists had still attacked
us? Then it would have been the Crusades, and the long-standing
ill-treatment of Muslims at the hands of deplorable Christian
what if there had never been a crusade, and they’d
still attacked us? I’m stumped at this point to confect
an answer, but I can guarantee that whatever it was that
would have been said it would have been Britain’s
It's hard to find words
to describe this kind of thinking.
What Baker has done is
precisely to highlight the
significance of the war on Iraq (and the war on terror
in general) in triggering al Qaeda-type terrorism against
Britain. The shift to from 'passive oppression' to 'active
oppression', as the Young
Muslims and Extremism report puts it.
Let's turn Baker's 'what
ifs' into historical realities and check the record. What
do we find?
Before the war on
Iraq, terrorists from a Muslim background did not blow up
Before the existence
of Israel, and the 1967 war, terrorists from a Muslim background
did not blow up London.
Before there was
a British Empire, terrorists from a Muslim background did
not blow up London.
Before the crusades,
terrorists from a Muslim background did not blow up London.
Osama bin Laden, the figurehead
of al Qaeda-type terrorism, declared war on the United States
and Israel in 1996. Those he inspires did not bomb London
until over two years after the invasion of Iraq
Sayyid Qutb, the founding
father/theorist of al Qaeda-type terrorism, died before
the 1967 war. Those he inspires did not bomb London until
two years after the invasion of Iraq.
What does this chronology
TODAY'S TOP REALIST
Malik, Labour MP and one of four Muslim MPs in the House
of Commons, has a piece in today's FT repeating his message
that the Muslim community must not merely 'condemn' but
also 'confront' extremism in its midst. He also says, more
importantly, in his penultimate paragraph:
We know what drives these
young men: the feelings of isolation and disaffection, the
political anger at what they see as the double standards
of the west in relation to international Muslim areas of
conflict, whether that be Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan,
Iraq or Chechnya, and, the hatred propagated by domestic
extremists such as the BNP. But none of this can ever justify
or excuse terrible criminal acts such as we witnessed last
week, and we must make this clear to our fellow Muslims
in our words and deeds over the forthcoming weeks and months.
JNV welcomes feedback.
This page last updated 15 July 2005