Iraq

Begg to differ

So, after their very own tchotchkyite entryist, Yvonne Ridley, called on British Muslims to stop co-operating with the British Police, going as far as saying

“We should enforce non-co-operation.”
(Really, who is going to do the ‘enforcing’, Yvonne?)

… we now have the rest of her party holding a rally to cause even more mischief and mistrust.

“Newham residents plan protest over police raids” says a press release posted on Indymedia. (Note the plural “raids” – as far as I can tell, there has only been one, and only one is referred to in the text.)

What is most interesting is that the keynote speaker is one Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner.

Despite Respect spokesperson John Rees being quoted in the press release as saying…

“There is no simple police solution to this problem, and there is no simple policy solution. It comes from the mighty engine of the Bush war machine, which Blair has chosen to support.”

… Mr Begg’s rhetoric offers contradictory bravado:

“We are a serious, articulate community who know what the problem is.”

So, Moazzam, perhaps inform Comrade Rees, because he seems confounded.

However, Moazzam Begg – even though he ultimately was released without charge from Guantanamo Bay – is hardly the best poster boy for a complaint againts the supposed paranoia of the security establishment.

In an interview with Channel 4 (and a follow up) Mr Begg admits to having suspiciouly appeared at wartorn hotspots – from Afganistan to Bosnia – with no credible explanation other than ‘curiousity’, and admits to having been at two military training camps several years apart. His answers are evasive and the details he supplies (including about his time in Guantanamo Bay), sketchy and speculative at best. So, he is hardly the model for an ‘innocent man’ stitched up by paranoid authorities.

Begg says in the press release:

“If you ask people in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib if this is a war against Islam they would tell you they think it is. They may be wrong – it may be about oil or power – but that’s the perception.”

So that explains why Respect are now involved. In persuance of their communalist politics, it is in their interests to promote a paranoia of a different sort.

In a related Respect press release, the party expresses concern that young Muslim men are subject to stop and search six times as great as their white counterparts. (This ‘fact’ has previously been challenged by journalist Kenan Malik, but let’s go with it for argument’s sake…). Isn’t it obvious why this might be the case? To put it bluntly, which demographic is blowing people up? For most people it is a complete no-brainer.

[Incidentally, I have concerns about demographic profiling with regard to stop and search – I think it has fatal flaws – but I’ll save that discussion for another time.]

So, Respect, predictably, is using every opportunity to generate more communalist paranoia and to provoke an increasing polarisation. The Muslim community is being used as the punishment battalion foot-soldiers for the SWP’s political ambitions and George Galloway’s ego – well, that’s the way I see it.

And the use of Begg, a Guantanamo Bay alumni, is also cynically motivated for it emotive quality. Perhaps someone should ask Begg at the meeting if being caught at a training camp for Kalashnikov and RPG handling in remote Afghanistan doesn’t suggest a legitimate line of enquiry for the security services.

If the two men from Newham are as ‘innocent’ as Begg, Respect’s poster-boy for ‘innocence’, then the police have nothing to answer for, in my opinion.

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