This is a guest post by habibi
Sometimes it seems that the government is in a blind panic about terrorism. It wants to be tough, which is certainly fine by me and, I believe and hope, a crushing majority of the British people. But, more importantly, as far as I can tell, it wants to be seen as tough. So measure after new measure is rolled out, only to be greeted by hissing from civil liberties campaigners and moans from people of all sorts who see Labour as “authoritarian”.
The latest 42 days fiasco was a fine case in point. If measures die in Parliament as well as sparking all sorts of legitimate criticism outside of it, is all of this legislative activism not, in that understated British political term I like so much, “unhelpful”?
This is what I think HMG should do: calm down and think harder.
The counterterrorist machinery is working. Look at the string of plots that have been foiled and the high number of convictions. Look at the successes of infiltration, electronic surveillance, and tailing of suspects by security officers who, as far as one can know, have not been spotted by their targets before the handcuffs snapped shut.
Indeed, some of the voices raised against 42 days hail from the upper ranks of the police and spookery. Now that’s damning for HMG.
If there is a truly pressing case for new powers and resources, it must be better presented, and not suggest to people that politicians are looking at polls rather than actual threats.
However, the atmosphere is so sour right now that it may be best to let the professionals get on with the job under current rules even if there is a good case for new initiatives.
What the government does need to work on is Islamist politics. There are terrorist supporters in Britain who are not materially involved in operations and careful enough in their public pronouncements not to fall foul of the law in a way that could lead to a successful and (in my view and I guess others’ too) tactically sensible prosecution.
The “RESPECT” party is one such group. Last night, according to a post on “Socialist Unity”, George Galloway said this in a meeting at the Birmingham Central Mosque:
George drew his speech to a close with an emotional account of how the grieving mother and father of a Soldier killed in Afghanistan had approached him recently at the end of public meeting. He explained their anger and confusion how they blamed the Taliban, and with pride how their son had died with a “picture of the Queen in his breast pocket”. George said how difficult it was to tell them that the “Queen didn’t have a picture of their son, didn’t attend his funeral” and they should blame the government that sent their son to his death not the people of Afghanistan who have a right to resist the occupation of the country.
This is an open expression of support for the terrorists who murder Afghan army soldiers (Muslims down to the last man, I believe, all fighting for the legitimate government of a Muslim country), Afghan civilians, coalition soldiers, foreign aid workers, and so on, with sickening abandon. Their British victims are already numerous and the scum want yet more blood.
Never mind prosecutions. How about some public and specific rejections of this kind of jihadi politics at home in Britain? Perhaps the government considers Galloway not worth bothering with. Well, if so, what about his audience of 250 or so people in a mosque in Birmingham? Shouldn’t they be reminded of how awful and wrong this kind of talk is?
Here’s another place where the government could make a public difference: the “Global Peace and Unity” event, where many of the speakers are divisive and nasty Islamist figures, as extensively detailed in this HP post and thread. If you have not read it yet, please do so. We are dealing here with some very sick people.
Stephen Timms and Sadiq Khan are also scheduled to speak at this event. Why? Islamists crave legitimacy, and even a hint of the ministerial variety should not be offered in this case, not least because it will secure HMG little or nothing: these fanatics are not for turning with “dialogue”, after all. I thought the government had learned that lesson by now, no?
There’s no need for a purely negative fuss. I’d prefer something positive as well as tough, perhaps along these lines:
British citizens enjoy freedom of religion, speech and assembly. This is a wonderful achievement. If people many of us do not like take advantage of that freedom, it is their right to do so, within the law of course. They should be allowed to go about their business.
However, the government opposes bigots and people who sympathise with the terrorists who are murdering its citizens. They are free to assemble and speak, but it is not appropriate for officials to appear at their events.
In fact, most Muslims do not support Islamists. If the government is with any Muslim side, it must be the former rather than the latter.
If the last two points are too much, just stress the first and plead “scheduling problems” for withdrawing from the GPU. That would at least be a start on getting the political response to Islamists back on track.
I love Britain deeply. It has offered me so much since I came as a young man. I’m a head-down, get on with it, work hard, be discreet type, with a soft spot for religions. As such I am almost reluctant to speak up. But the time has come for more of us to raise our voices. Islamism is about bitterness, division, anger, hatred, terrorism and war. I’ve seen enough of all of those elsewhere and would like to see Britain spared any more than it has already suffered itself.
Isolating Islamists – letting them wail themselves into obscurity, with no official company – will surely help that cause.
Well, Messrs Khan and Timm?