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.