Ban The March!

January 4, 2010

Below is a platform piece I have written for Conservative Home on the proposed march by islam4uk through Wootton Bassett:

The decision by the extremist group Islam4uk to plan a march through the streets of Wootton Bassett is an act of deliberate provocation not designed, as alleged, to honour "innocent Muslims" killed in the conflict in Afghanistan – but simply to antagonise people who have had the decency to regularly honour returning soldiers killed in battle.

The proposed march is distasteful propaganda which all right-minded people, regardless of the religious affiliation, will abhor. And on this occasion, the Home Secretary must exercise some of the numerous powers at his disposal and prevent it from taking place.

Islam4uk is a marginalised and potentially dangerous group of Muslims led by the notorious Anjem Choudary which, among many things, attacks the “polytheistic anathema that is democracy” and declares  Muslims who actively participate in the democratic process as out of the fold of Islam. Its members, however, are more than happy to live within such a system and enjoy its benefits including the right to protest.

The organisation is a platform for the global front Al-Muhajiroun and its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Islamist radical and former head of Hizb ut Tahrir in the United Kingdom which allegedly had numerous links with would-be terrorists and Al-Qaeda operatives. Islam4uk’s aim is to "propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law" and advocates "complete upheaval of the British ruling system, its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari’ah in Britain" – in other words to introduce and implement Sharia Law according to its warped definition in the UK.

Perversely, Islam4uk wants its members to be allowed to walk through the streets of Wootton Bassett chanting political slogans and displaying their tasteless placards by relying on the principles of democracy which give people the right to voice their opinions wherever they choose – no matter how unpalatable these opinions are; yet at the same time it believes that democracy and secularism is apostasy as it is man-made and not by God and should therefore be rejected by all Muslims. Islam4uk seeks to remove democracy as a system of governance, but in order to achieve that goal is nevertheless content to use the philosophy and values of the democratic system.

Mr Choudary and his associates are either short-sighted or don’t have any qualms about adopting such a hypocritical stance, but the vast majority of Muslims in this country and elsewhere will see through this deceit and find the proposed actions of Islam4uk to say the least, utterly obnoxious. There are other places where the killed “innocents” could be remembered but to attempt to do so in Wootton Bassett is a cynical and feeble attempt by Mr Choudary to use the deaths of these “innocent” people to publicise the propaganda of his group and of course have another day in the media spotlight.

Allowing this march to take place has the potential to damage community relations in many parts of the country by, for example, giving far right groups as well as others the opportunity to lump all Muslims together with Islam4uk and show it as their representative. More importantly, it is disrespectful to the soldiers (and their families) killed in Afghanistan who have passed through RAF Lyneham. While ideally, as James Gray MP has said, we should "ignore it, treat it with disdain, contempt, or even mild humour", the reality is that the press and media will not allow this to happen and will give the marchers the oxygen of publicity they seek.

Islam4uk and others of their ilk need to understand that democracy has its boundaries and provocatively marching in a place synonymous with caskets containing bodies of soldiers killed in conflict is undoubtedly crossing these boundaries, for which there should be severe consequences. For these reasons the Home Secretary should act firmly and decisively and not allow the march to take place in Wootton Bassett.

Shame on the Chinese

December 29, 2009

The execution of Akmal Shaikh by the Chinese authorities should be unreservedly condemned and our Government shouldn’t accept the nonsense from the Chinese that ‘no one has the right to comment on China’s judicial sovereignty.’ That right can only be removed when its judiciary starts to act like one instead of behaving in the appalling manner that it has done in this case.

Mr Shaikh was mentally ill and delusional, but was treated in the same way as a normal person without any consideration being given to his state of mind and his illness. The behavior of the Chinese has been disgraceful and confirms the stereotype of a country that sticks two fingers up to the human rights of not only its citizens but of those belonging to other countries as well.

Our government has made public statements only recently and we have to ask what it has been doing for the past two years when Mr Shaikh was first arrested and found guilty. The EU has recently been collating as much power as possible from nation states regarding foreign policy – so here’s its chance to do something useful for a change.

The Afghan Problem

November 4, 2009

The tragic death of five British soldiers today has once again ignited the debate relating to the aim of the mission in Afghanistan on the same day Kim Howells MP, chairman of the intelligence and security committee and former minister advocating the removal of British troops.

As things stand I don’t support the idea of removing our troops as this would be a massive fillip to the Taliban and its allies and would lead to a surge in Taliban fighters coming into Afghanistan from the border region of Pakistan, once again destabilizing the country and undoing the work that has been carried out by allied troops to date. This would also quite simply be disastrous for Afghanistan, Pakistan and India not to mention the UK. The removal of allied troops would lead to the Taliban and its allies again setting up terrorists training camps specifically training would be terrorists to target the UK and the west which would mean once again taking some sort of military action to deal with these camps in the near future.

Having said that what is unclear is the strategy that we are currently employing in Afghanistan and what the clear goals of the current operation are. There is a great deal of ambiguity about the current operation and while keeping out the Taliban is the obvious aim, the Governments of the UK and US have allowed their initial strategy to drift to the extent that members of the public have no idea what is being done and when the end is likely to come for this operation or when the troops are likely to be pulled out. Alternatively, if the intention is to stay in Afghanistan for a period of say twenty years then this should be categorically stated so that the continued discussion which must be demoralizing for the troops and their families of whether we should pull our troops out each time we sustain casualties is avoided.

I hope that with an incoming Conservative Government there is a clearer strategy and a better explanation of the aims of the mission in Afghanistan.

Obama U-turn

September 17, 2009

President Obama is to scrap the European missile defence shield which is a major break with the Bush administration and a feather in the cap of Russian intransigence diplomacy. The scrapping of the defence shield is a major triumph for the tough stance the Russians adopted and will give them renewed confidence in any future military/NATO dealings. The Czechs and the poles have been left in limbo and will feel that their defence is not the same priority under President Obama as it was under the previous administration. They will also now have to deal more cautiously with a confident and aggressive Russia.

And perhaps the most important factor in this is the impact of this decision on the Iranians. What should we read into this policy reversal as far as the Iranian nuclear issue is concerned? Does this decision indicate that Washington doesn’t think Iran will in the immediate future acquire a nuclear weapon or does it mean that it is inevitable that the Iranians will acquire a nuclear weapon but that it will leave it to others at a regional level such as the Israelis to contain and deal with? If it is the latter then this is a seriously significant shift in US foreign policy.

Lockerbie Fallout

September 2, 2009

The duplicity of the Government in dealing with the fallout of the release of al-Megrahi continues to unravel. Its starting position was that it had nothing to do with al-Megrahi’s release which has now shifted to one where it didn’t want him to die in prison.   

It would have been far better for the Government to have been honest and simply say that they returned a dying man to his home country in exchange of several lucrative business contracts which would benefit UK businesses – that is most likely the reality of this situation and presumably what everyone believes anyway and to try and suggest otherwise is to take the public for fools.

Clerics Challenge Ayatollah

July 6, 2009

The death of Michael Jackson knocked the situation in Iran off the main slot in the news media. At the time, the police were restoring their control after the mass demonstrations and once control was regained, we started hearing noises from the Clergy and others that the demonstrations were treasonous plots to overthrow the Government and those involved should be tried for treason. It sounded very familiar and with the foreign media being monitored and restricted in their movements we expected a firm crackdown by pro government militia and the Police.

However it is being reported that that the Clerics in the city of Qom who are regarded as the most influential of all Clerics in Iran have declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election to be illegitimate and have condemned the crackdown against those protesting. This is highly significant and is akin to a direct challenge to the authority of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and will no doubt be a huge fillip to those who are claiming the election was rigged. Whether the Clerics in Qom are able to do anything more than make a statement is debatable. I doubt if their comments will lead to a recount of the votes or a new election but their statement is significant and may ensure that the expected crackdown against those demonstrating isn’t brutal and that any future elections will be fairer and more closely monitored. It’s a small step but nevertheless very significant.

Another Whitewash?

June 16, 2009

The announcement that the Iraq war inquiry will be held in private is regrettable to say the least. David Cameron has rightly described it as ‘an establishment stitch-up.’ Holding the inquiry in private will mean that its findings will be viewed with the same suspicion as the previous reports/inquiries into the Iraq War and doubts will remain as to whether access to all relevant documents is granted and adequately scrutinised. And to state from the outset that no blame will be apportioned is just ludicrous. How can a serious recommendation be made if a mistake isn’t acknowledged and identified?

This inquiry should be held in public or not at all as this Government’s record on transparency on this issue is non existent. It has previously defeated Conservative proposals to force a public inquiry and vetoed the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings discussing the legality of the war; and the Hutton and Butler inquiries raised more questions than answering them.

But the biggest cop out of all is that the inquiry will only report its finding after the next general election when many of the cabinet/elected members who should be held accountable have been re-elected or have retired or have lost their seats! By delaying the inquiry the Government has ensured that no one will be held responsible or accountable for the deceit in taking this country to war.