Main menu:

Recent posts

Categories

Archives

Donate

To help keep HP running

 

Or make a one-off donation:

Shiraz Maher on Daud Abdullah

Shiraz, who sometimes guest posts here, and who wrote the excellent study Choosing our Friends Wisely (pdf) on engagement with extremists, has a post up about Daud Abdullah at CiF:

The state is entitled to impose, and expect, a basic set of standards when it engages with others. By tacitly endorsing attacks on British soldiers and glorifying terrorism abroad, Abdullah has clearly overstepped the mark.

Blears was right to sever links with the MCB. Abdullah has betrayed his country and the very constituency he claims to represent – ordinary British Muslims. His position is untenable. He must resign – and resign now.



Obama commits to Aghanistan

The details are out on Barack Obama’s rethink of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the news today of 4,000 extra US troops to help train and bolster the Afghan National Army and police as well as civilian development. The other main planks of the Obama strategy focus on increased aid to Pakistan, and setting strict standards for measuring progress in fighting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

One Washington Post columnist called Obama’s decision on Afghanistan as “gutsy and correct” as the President resisted the tempting calls from supporters and some of his advisers who favour a rapid exit or a “minimal” counterterrorist strategy in Afghanistan. Gutsy sounds about right to me. It is I thought also refreshing after the hard slog and lost ground over the last couple of years as Afghanistan went onto the back burner in favour of sorting out Iraq.

The dual emphasis on Afghanistan and Pakistan is also welcome as it is absolutely apparent that sorting out Pakistan is the key to sorting out its neighbour.

In his speech Obama said: “the future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan … For the American people, this border region (in Pakistan) has become the most dangerous place in the world”.

This was echoed by the Afghan government which said it welcomed “all [Mr Obama's] major conclusions” and in particular the regional aspect of the problem in Afghanistan and specifically recognition that the al-Qaeda threat is mainly emanating from Pakistan”, according to Reuters .

The troop number increases are not large, but the hope obviously is that the ANA will step up faster if there is a larger emphasis on getting it trained and out into the field.

Interesting, this morning that Obama seems to have persuaded  Gordon Brown to commit another 2,000 troops despite much Ministry of Defence muttering that no more than a couple of hundred extra would be sent. This would take the UK to 10,000.

That commitment is likely to be confirmed at the Nato 60th anniverary meeting, according to the Times, next week where Obama will ask for more troops from other members of the “alliance” .

In his speech Obama did not sugar coat the what needs to be done and he reminded people that it is these people, al-Qaeda and its allies, tucked away in the mountains and the lawless out of control areas of Pakistan/Talibstan, who were behind the 9/11 attacks.

“This is not simply an American problem. Far from it,” Obama said. “It is instead an international security challenge of the highest order.”

In its story the BBC was also saying that in an interview before Obama’s speech, with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was “ready to participate in the efforts directed at putting things in order” in Afghanistan.

“It is impossible to rule Afghanistan with the aid of the alliance; it is impossible to rule Afghanistan from abroad. Afghanistan should find its own path to democracy,” Medvedev said. He should know. How that will pan out is anyone’s guess. Although in his speech Obama did reference Russia as part of a larger contact group.

“And finally, together with the United Nations, we will forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan that brings together all who should have a stake in the security of the region — our NATO allies and other partners, but also the Central Asian states, the Gulf nations and Iran; Russia, India and China.”

Obama also issued a coded warning to Afghan president Hamid Karzai who is mired in corruption charges (which he, of course denies) to clean up his act and that of his allies.

“I want to be clear: We cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption that causes Afghans to lose faith in their own leaders. Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.”

However, while saying the US will not blindly stay the course, what he didn’t do as the Washington Post pointed out “meet his own standards. As he said in a CBS News interview just a few days ago, “There’s gotta be an exit strategy”. As it did not come up. Let’s hope there is one.


Hazel Blears -v- The MCB

On Harry Hill’s TV Burp, it would be settled by a fight. But in the world of politics, such public battles are conducted by means of press release.

Hazel Blears has just issued the following statement:

STATEMENT FROM COMMUNITIES SECRETARY HAZEL BLEARS

We welcome the efforts made by parliamentarians to work with MCB in resolving this serious issue.  The statement resulting from their meeting by the senior officers of the MCB and Parliamentarians, personally signed by Dr Daud Abdullah, provides some clarification of his rejection of the articles in the Istanbul declaration which called for violence against civilians and British forces.  This is a positive sign that the organisation has recognised the serious issues at hand.

However, we continue to believe that the Istanbul declaration does call for attacks on foreign warships – potentially including the Royal Navy – and also advocates violence against Jewish people and their supporters around the world.  In light of Daud Abdullah’s other public comments about the Istanbul declaration, we will need to build on the parliamentarians’ statement to gain greater clarity on his views.

We have not sought to intervene or interfere in the running of the MCB; it is an independent organisation that must make its own decisions.  However Government must take a clear stand against violence and hatred that can cause harm and sow division in communities. Nor can we, as Government, take lightly anything that might increase the threat to our forces deployed overseas.   And in recent months we have seen a deeply worrying rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Public statements that assert that attacks of this kind are not only acceptable but an “obligation” cannot go unchallenged.

There are some who wish to promote a wholly mistaken view that government is attempting to curtail free speech. That is absolutely not the case. It is a strength of our democratic system that people can express their political views to government on issues that matter to them, including foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East. But when those views cross the line into advocating violence or hatred we will not hesitate to challenge them. We all have a responsibility to work together to build safe, strong, cohesive communities.

The parliamentarians’ statement is a helpful first step.  We now need further dialogue with MCB on where its stands as an organisation and where Dr Daud Abdullah stands personally, on the articles in the declaration itself and on engaging with us to build the strong communities in which we all want to live.

There are certainly some people who have formed the view that the Muslim Council of Britain has, with this endorsement of jihad, taken one step past the point of no return.

However, if the Muslim Council of Britain is genuinely concerned to play a part in defeating the pernicious racist and terrorist ideology that Daud Abdullah very publicly signed up to, this should be its very last chance to do so.

Hazel Blears proposes further dialogue with the MCB and with Daud Abdullah, with the purpose of clarifying its position on the Istanbul Declaration.

Here are the questions that she should be asking, and conditions that test whether the MCB is ready for engagment, in any form: not simply by government, but by anybody who cherishes true community cohesion, security and anti-racism:

Questions and Conditions

1.       Paragraph 7 of the Istanbul Declaration reads:

“The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.”

(a)     Daud Abdullah must explain, in detail, what he understood the words “the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity” to mean.

(b)     It is imperative as a condition of re-engagement that the MCB condemns, without equivocation or limitation, terrorist threats against such persons, countries or individuals.

2.     Paragraph 8 of the Istanbul Declaration reads:

“The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.”

(a)     Does Daud Abdullah accept that this statement treats “foreign warships” in “Muslim waters” as a “declaration of war”. Will he explain why he signed a statement calling for “the Islamic Nation” to fight “by all means and ways” such a ”declaration of war” .

(b)     As a condition of re-engagement, the MCB must condemn, without equivocation or limitation, the assertion that the presence of “foreign warships” in “Muslim waters” is a “declaration of war” against “the Islamic Nation”.

3.     The MCB must also make it clear that it does not regard this religious ruling as a statement of the “obligations” of “The Islamic Nation”, and condemns any person who asserts that any Muslim should treat it as such.

4.     Daud Abdullah must explain why he signed this statement. He must apologise for having signed this statement, publicly withdraw his name from it, and explain clearly why he is doing so.

5.     The MCB must promise that neither Daud Abdullah, nor any other MCB member or affiliate, will participate in the so-called “Global Anti-Aggression Campaign“, or in any other conferences substantially led by Hamas, Hezbollah, or any other terrorist organisation.

6.     The MCB must make it clear that any person or constituent organisation who does participate in such a conference in the future will be expelled from the MCB.

7.      It appears that a number of members of bodies affiliated to the MCB have also signed the document. If any of them have signed it, they must publicly take the same steps to distance themselves from the Declaration as Dr Abdullah, or be expelled from the MCB.

This is a hugely serious matter. It is essential that Daud Abdullah and the Muslim Council of Britain be asked to answer these questions fully as a condition of re-engagement. On its face, a senior member of the MCB called for jihad against the Royal Navy, and against people, institutions and countries.  Instead of apologising, Daud Abdullah twisted and turned, the MCB was triumphalist and defiant, and the pro-Islamist cheerleaders on the extreme Left sneered  and jeered.

The MCB has a choice. It can either speak out with absolute clarity against jihadism. Alternatively, it can go its own way, and cement its reputation as an extremist fringe body, which no social democrat should have anything to do with.

Care must be taken not to fumble this opportunity. Extremists are usually very careful about what they say in public. The MCB will not make this mistake again. The worst possible outcome is if this affair is treated by the MCB as an object lesson in the importance of covering their tracks.  The Government must not allow itself to be fobbed off with fine words.

It is imperative, therefore, that we have absolute clarity on this issue.

UPDATE

I should also add that the Istanbul Declaration rejects the Arab Peace Initiative as a sellout and states its preference for jihad. Can the MCB clarify its position on this provision, as well?


How to fight the BNP: the case for a civic multiculturalism

This is a guest post by Garvan Walshe

International terrorism and the economic downturn have created a perfect storm for the BNP. The mainstream parties, and independent campaigns like Hope not Hate are doing battle with the fascists  in the upcoming local and European elections. Their work is crucial: a seat in the European Parliament can multiply the resources available to a small party.

But it is not enough.

The BNP is trying to evolve into something closer to a continental far right party. Out go the messages (though not the reality) of racial discrimination; in come nationalist identity politics and hostility to immigration – ideas, unlike racism, that echo across the political spectrum.

Both main parties sound ever-tougher on immigration. They point out that the most recent wave of immigrants came from Eastern Europe – it’s not racist to oppose immigration, we’re against white immigrants too!

The Prime Minister’s ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ slogan has given ugly economic nationalism untold legitimacy. Meanwhile the Conservatives, still supposedly the party of the free market, insist that Whitehall bureaucrats can divine the ‘right’ number of immigrants to let in. Those that do squeeze in are loaded with extra imposts.  We have a ‘migrant surcharge’ that raises very little money but makes the Government look ‘tough,’ and an ‘Australian-style’ points system: foreign policies for foreign workers.

Asylum seekers fare as serfs in this hierarchy.  Banned form working and given benefits so derisory that many have to survive on less than £1 a day while their cases are ‘processed’ by a bureaucracy of Soviet efficiency.
 Newspapers grow rich denouncing them as spongers and tax evaders. Defenders of these tough policies, if sometimes uncomfortable about their content, protest that they need to draw the sting of the BNP, just as Sarkozy did with the French National Front.

They may have drawn the sting of the old far-right, but have legitimised the discourse of the new.

A NATION-STATE NO MORE?

The days of the Hegelian nation state, based on the three unities of land, people and language are over. International travel is now so inexpensive and communication so downright cheap that it’s far easier for immigrants to stay in touch with their families, their culture, and the politics of ‘the old country’ than that German philosopher could have imagined. Nor is it the same permanent journey. Leaving the Russian Steppe after the latest pogrom, or fleeing poverty in Connemara, you knew that your journey working passage to Ellis Island was final. Even thirty years ago a plane ticket from New Zealand to London cost as much the average Kiwi’s annual salary. But now you can check up on the family crops in Sylhet with a webcam, or watch the same TV as your brother in Bogotá.

This matters.

Dual loyalty used to be an accusation levelled at Jews. Now it’s a fact of life for millions of people living in Western countries. We need to get used to it. People with close ties to other countries have always carried their
politics with them; now those links are even stronger.

Much of the indigenous population gets increasingly nervous at this – they react with outrage to opinion polls that reveal this or that percentage saying they are ‘Muslim first’ rather than ‘British first.’ (That question
itself is mad –perhaps they should poll the men who used to work on trading floors: ‘are you a man first or a banker first?’)

Britain’s minority population has been growing. But the vast majority of the country is still white. Quite a few live in towns, or areas of towns, where they mainly see black or brown faces on TV. They only occasionally visit
multiethnic metropolitan Britain, and more often than not they hear only second-hand tales of this ‘foreign land’.

If they talk about race or immigration they know they’ll be censured for overstepping the boundaries but don’t really know where the metropolitan elite has drawn them. To many of this group, Nixon would have called it the ’silent majority,’ ‘multiculturalism’ means they have lost what they thought was their country. Now, during the recession, people who live in districts taken for granted by the mainstream parties, who feel abandoned by a national elite culture that comes across as  ‘political correctness gone mad’ (how many times do you hear that phrase while canvassing!), may begin to look elsewhere.

CORPORATISM AND IDENTITY POLITICS

Meanwhile the form that British multiculturalism has taken has encouraged minority identity politics too. Though they never institutionalised Netherlandish ‘pillars,’ the British state and political elite easily adopted a kind of informal corporatism. Minorities were divided into ‘communities’ and ‘community leaders’ would represent them. This had advantages – it was certainly better than just demanding assimilation and elevating the occasional darker-skinned or foreign-accented token to a public role; it was cheap; it didn’t require busy politicians and officials to develop detailed knowledge of one community or another; and it gave opportunities for ambitious and energetic members of ethnic minorities to set themselves up as intermediaries between their community and the state.

But it has led at best to fragmentation, and at worst to those parallel lives about which Ted Cantle, surveying the riots in Burnley, Bradford and Oldham in 2001, despaired.

Then once in a while there emerges a major political issue. One so large that the normal relations between government and community leaders are overwhelmed by the larger calculations of mainstream politics.

Normally, the Government can  ‘deliver’ for the community leader in those relatively limited areas when the public as a whole – which frequently holds a rather different view  — doesn’t notice. Government Ministers wouldn’t be human if they didn’t over-promise, and so they find the people they had so assiduously cultivated often resent them when mainstream politics intrudes.

This befell Mike O’Brien, then a Minister, who, writing  in Muslim Weekly in the run-up to the 2005 election, explained how the government had ‘delivered’ for Muslims by producing a bill on incitement to religious hatred. The Muslim Council of Britain – a grand name expressing hope more than reality of communal representation -  had hoped that the Muslim religion would be treated in law like a race, and that it would become criminal to attack it.

But religion is not like a race – you can choose which religion to follow and in a free society religious belief should be subject to argument. The new law generated so much opposition from artists and writers, comedians and
lawyers that even a Government with a majority of more than sixty lost the vote. That law would have overturned a fundamental principle of British political society. The Government could have explained that ‘freedom of
speech is a fundamental principle of our parliamentary democracy and a core value of the Labour party so we are afraid we will not countenance your proposed law,’ but instead tried to sneak the change in on grounds of
 ‘preventing terrorism.’ The MCB’s followers (actually only a small proportion of Muslims) felt betrayed; while many non-Muslims saw their ignorant prejudice, that Islam and liberal society were inherently incompatible, bolstered.

We see this happen almost every time a Muslim-related story appears in the press. It is as if Anti-Muslim and Islamist fanatics had concluded a secret pact. Just last month, the Daily Express led with the story ‘Muslim
Schools Ban Our Culture’ feeding both anti-Muslim bigotry and  a sense among many Muslims that theywere under siege from an Islamophobic media.

Immigration policy has fallen into a similar trap. In reality, immigrants have the same economic effect as a new child born here: they add a new person to the workforce – except that another country has already paid to
educate them.  If immigration damaged a country’s economy, the United States wouldn’t be the richest and most powerful country in the world.

This is a hard case to make. Instead politicians ask too much of border controls. As long as differences in wealth and political conditions are so large, and travel so cheap, there is little a free society can do to stop people overstaying their visas or smuggling themselves into the UK.  Tough immigration controls probably do reduce migration at the margins (they can’t affect migrants from other EU countries or foreign students, without which higher education would collapse), but are expensive as well as harsh.  They divert income away from the immigrants (who if legal could be taxed) towards criminal people-smuggling gangs (who cannot). Yet too many politicians would rather pander; and insist that they can deliver ‘British jobs for British workers’ or set a limit to immigration.

When this, inevitably, fails, the BNP just needs to say – ‘they won’t reduce immigration; we will.’

WITCHES’ BREW

The BNP combine fears about immigration with scares of foreign cultural domination. They stir. Then add a generous helping of paranoia about Islam to the mix.

How should we stop them? There are some who say, in effect, that we must destroy multiculturalism in order to save it. ‘If you come and live here you must accept “Britishness”  – not primarily because it’s good, though we
think it is, but because that’s the way we do things here.’

I don’t think that’s quite a fair demand – not least because nobody seems to know what ‘Britishness’ is, but also because in a democracy you can take part in changing the system, and so in deciding what Britishness should be.

Instead we need to be clearer about the values on which our liberal society is based, and build a ‘civic multiculturalism’ to deepen engagement with all Britain’s communities based on the values of liberal parliamentary
democracy. We need to persuade people to share them, if possible because they believe them, if necessary because that’s the best way to have a peaceful, multi-ethnic society. A lot of this won’t be about making laws,
but about establishing a consensus of civil identity. What should its core be? I don’t propose to come up with an answer here but I think several questions arise.

Tolerance and respect for differences are important: what do we mean by them? Can it be more than a kind of armistice – that I live my life and you live yours; as long as we all obey the law what I do is none of your business? We live  in a democracy, so you could be expected to try to change the law to make it more hospitable to your way of life and less to mine. The BNP, for instance, want to ban interracial relationships. They say they will limit themselves to democratic methods.   Some religious groups call for the extension of the blasphemy law to cover all religions and demand that it should be strictly enforced. Others suggest that sexist religious courts (which would also look askance at interreligious marriage) should adjudicate marriage and divorce between members of the same religion. How should we oppose such ideas? If abiding by the law is not enough, how should we persuade people to adopt these fundamental values of a liberal society? How much cultural autonomy can equality allow? How do we ensure that nobody is seen to get ‘special treatment,’ provoking resentment in others?

In a country – and particularly in cities like London – where many citizens have strong cultural and family ties to other states, what does it mean to be British? Even people who don’t actually have more than one passport often feel they belong at least partly to more country. Britain hasn’t quite got the same handle on hyphenation as the United States. There you are civilly ‘-American’ even if culturally also something else.  Would that work here, and what are the alternatives?

Finally how will it play in Pontefract? For too long a liberal elite has been contemptuous of ‘Middle Englanders who cling to their Daily Mails and pints of Carling’ – how should the case for civic multiculturalism not fall
into that trap?

Comments please!


Teenagers as the purveyors of porn

Legislation to control the activities of paedophiles, is catching teenagers.

A 14-year-old girl has been accused of child pornography for posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.
[..]
The teen was charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

She was released to her mother’s custody.

If convicted of the distribution charge, she would be forced to register with the state as a sex offender under Megan’s Law, said state Attorney-General Anne Milgram.

She also could face up to 17 years in jail, though such a stiff sentence is unlikely.

More discussion at Wired.

Critics say the criminal charges against minors, under laws that were meant to protect them from adults, is the wrong way to address the issue of teens exploring their sexuality. Law enforcement’s reaction effectively turns victims into perpetrators, they say.

“The problem is that the child porn laws were really designed for a situation where an adult abuses a minor by forcing that minor … psychologically as well as physically … into taking these pictures,” said Mark Rasch, a former federal cybercrime prosecutor. “But when the person takes the picture herself or consents to the picture being taken, it turns the whole statute on its head.”

They also note that a child who retains nude pictures of themselves as a child past the age of 18, are putting themselves at risk.


Dear Geoffrey, You’re Wrong About Blears

In his blog on CiF yesterday, Professor Geoffrey Alderman had this to say of Hazel Blears’ intervention in the Daud Abdullah affair:

“All that she has achieved by her ill-considered letter is to give publicity to a document, crafted in Istanbul, that might otherwise have been consigned (along with numerous similar declamations) to the dustbin of history.”

I can’t agree with him. Hazel Blears’ action was both appropriate and necessary. 

I follow the MCB and Daud Abdullah very closely. Both have been working hard to  promote Hamas and other genocidal antisemitic movements, and to make support for these terrorist groups, a  uncontroversial and central part not only of its own  politics, but a sine qua non of a “Left wing” and “progressive” politics. 

They have been very successful. 

We are already at a stage in which a blind eye is turned to illegal fundraising for Hamas. Indeed, Hamas supporters are being put forward – and accepted – as interlocutors for the British Muslim community. 

There is, in fact, a battle going on between anti-racists in the Cabinet, and pro-Islamists. The anti-racists have won. One of the reasons that they have won is that it has now become clear that the “voices of moderation” at home are in fact frothing nutters and terrorist supporters the minute they leave the UK. 

This Istanbul Declaration was not low profile. It was absolutely all over the Islamist internet. It was presented in the form of  a religious ruling. It was a direct incitement to terrorism, aimed at an audience of terrorists. It speaks in terms of “The obligation of the Islamic Nation”. To put it bluntly: a jihadist Muslim, reading this Declaration, will take it as an instruction to engage in terrorism. That is a hugely serious matter. 

Very many nice concerned liberals might, mistakenly, have thought that Daud Abdullah was a champion of the oppressed, rather than a vicious bigot and supporter of terrorism. But now we have all seen the Istanbul Declaration, and can see what Daud Abdullah truely stands for. It is important that faux-moderates be exposed, and the publication of the Declaration, bolstered by the Government’s robust stance, has ensured that this has happened. 

The Government should not dictate to the MCB as to who it has as officeholders, certainly. However the MCB cannot expect to be treated as an interlocutor with Government if it has an officeholder who declares his support for terrorism. That is all Hazel Blears has said, and I applaud her for saying it.

Geoffrey Alderman raises, as an example of the bad consequences that might follow from Blears’ decision, the following hypothetical:

“Campaigning is presently under way for the presidency and other offices of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Are we to take it that Blears will not engage with anyone who has expressed support for Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, which the UK government regards as illegal?”

I also regard those settlements as illegal. I would not support anybody who argued otherwise. I would strongly oppose such a ’spokesman’, and make it very clear that they did not speak for me. 

There is however a very clear line to be drawn between agreeing with a particular policy of the Israeli government,  and signing a declaration which directly calls upon Muslims, as a matter of religious duty, to commit acts of terrorism. 


Le Pen, Tard

I have a post up on CiF.


Daud Abdullah Twists and Turns

So, Daud Abdullah is on CiF, trying to get himself out of trouble.  His line is that this statement:

7. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.

does not call for attacks on Jews, as Hazel Blears has observed it does. 

Come off it, Daud!

The Istanbul Declaration was a product of a conference, organised by Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood, which deliberately echoed and amplified Hamas’s threat a few weeks earlier:

 “They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people.”

It isn’t just a threat against Jews: it is a threat against anybody, any institution, and any country who a terrorist believes is “standing with” Israel. 

Then there’s his attempt to sidestep this paragraph:

8. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways 

What is Daud Abdullah’s defence?  Sophistry, that’s what:

I did not call for or support attacks on British troops anywhere in the world. As a British citizen, I have the right to criticise and campaign against government political decisions that embroil young British soldiers in illegal occupations and interventions. One of the reasons I joined the demonstrations against the war in Iraq was to prevent the sacrifice of young soldiers in an illegal war. For this reason I was the first to go to Baghdad in 2004 to seek the release of the British hostage, Ken Bigley, despite threats to my life in Iraq and here in the UK after I returned. This move was welcomed by the government at the time, but it seems some have a short memory.

2. Unlike his predecessor, prime minister Brown has promised that any such future intervention would only be carried out after it is endorsed by parliament. All the assertions made by the secretary of state are based on conjecture and totally hypothetical scenarios.

In other words, because British troops are not yet in “Muslim waters”, the situation is merely “hypothetical”. Of course, he doesn’t address the question of whether he’d rescind his support for the declaration, once British troops are deployed in peacekeeping operations in the Med. 

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to discover that Daud Abdullah had the courage of his convictions, and actually stood up for his beliefs, rather than squirming and wriggling pathetically, like a lugworm on the end of a hook? Why didn’t he simply write a single sentence response:

I’m a traitor – so what?

At least that would leave him with an element of dignity.


Of smoke and fire

When Muslims are arrested and investigated, we’re told by Galloway, German and co, that they are just guilty of simply being Muslim – innocent victims of a paranoid ‘war on terror’. And when some are acquitted, this is cited as further evidence of mindless state victimisation…

A case in point. In January 2002, the BBC reported that 37-year-old Faisal Mostafa and a co-defendant were charged with “plotting to cause ‘terrorist’ explosions in the UK.”  Six weeks later, the Manchester Evening News reported that Mostafa had been acquitted. According to The Guardian, he “sobbed in the dock as he was acquitted”. But he was also convicted, according to the same story, to four years “for illegal possession of a pistol with intent to endanger life”.

Remarkably, this wasn’t Mostafa’s first brush with the law. “As well as being acquitted of the 2002 charges, Mostafawas cleared during an earlier trial 13 years ago of conspiring to cause explosions,” the Guardian revealed yesterday.

But yesterday, according to a Bangladesh News story – Militants’ ‘ammo factory’ busted - a terrorist training camp and arms cache masquerading as a madrassa was uncovered, and… “Faisal Mostafa, a Bangladeshi expatriate in London, has been financing the madrasa.” Upon his release he got a job community manager at the Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Sparkbrook. (Quite how a convicted felon gets a job like this is a mystery.)

But soon it appears he was back to his old tricks. Apparently he tried to take a gun onto a plane last year, was arrested and received a suspended sentence.

And despite all this, he still managed to head up a charity – the Green Crescent. From the Guardian:

A spokesman from counter-terrorism thinktank the Quilliam Foundation added: “If the Green Crescent charity has indeed been involved in militant activity, this will reflect very poorly on the Charity Commission, particularly given that Mostafa, the head of the charity, had previously been put on trial twice for terrorist offences. Ineffectiveness by the commission in identifying and tackling extremist charities leads to the British taxpayer directly subsiding militancy and extremism.”

But a Charity Commission spokesman said the reported activities said to be run under the auspices of UK charity Green Crescent Bangladesh UK raise “very serious concerns”.

ITN News say the charity received £60,000 last year. The Charity Commission says it will investigate.  I wonder if it is up to the job.

His parents are protesting his innocence. So is he? Is it possible that lightning has struck this unfortunate chap four times,  creating a little smoke but no fire?


Dangerous thinking

Two highlights from President Obama’s news conference Tuesday.

QUESTION: Yours is a rather historic presidency, and I’m just wondering whether in any of the policy debates that you’ve had within the White House, the issue of race has come up, or whether it has in the way you feel you’ve been perceived by other leaders or by the American people. Or have the last 64 days been a relatively color- blind time?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy, and that’s — affects black, brown and white. And you know, obviously, at the Inauguration I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day. And you know, right now the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged, and that is, are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe?

QUESTION: So on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage [on the payment of bonuses to employees despite a federal bailout]?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I –

QUESTION: It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak. (Laughter.) All right?

That kind of dangerous thinking could put radio talk-show hosts, cable TV talking heads and bloggers out of business.