You’ve Got Mail
So there’s this letter from what the BBC calls ‘Muslim groups’. It’s bizzarre.
Prime Minister, As British Muslims we urge you to do more to fight against all those who target civilians with violence, whenever and wherever that happens. It is our view that current British government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad. To combat terror the government has focused extensively on domestic legislation. While some of this will have an impact, the government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy.
The government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy – and then what? Tell itself that unless it obeys (obeys whom?), hundreds or thousands of people will be murdered, and therefore decide to obey (obey whom?) and – um – withdraw all its troops from Iraq (thus no doubt triggering a bloodbath) and send its troops to impose a ceasefire in Lebanon? Is that it? Is that what obedience (to whom?) would be? Or is it something else the government is supposed to do? But if so, what? Who, exactly, is issuing the instructions? Who is delivering the extortion notes, and what do they say? What exactly is the government supposed to do in order to mollify people who are eager to kill hundreds or thousands of people and cause them to decide not to murder all those people and to be good peace-loving citizens instead? Do the people who wrote that stupid letter know? Does anyone? There are those suicide tapes, of course – are they the instructions? Is that it, will that do? The government should study those tapes and do whatever Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer tell them they should have done? Except of course that was before the Lebanon problem – Tanweer said attacks would continue ‘until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq.’ So would it be okay if the government pulled its forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq but did nothing about Lebanon, would that work? Well, is there anyone the government can ask? Not Khan and Tanweer, obviously, so…who? The suspects maybe? They probably know. But maybe they wouldn’t say. Maybe they’d say the wrong thing, and the government would do that, and then somebody else would murder hundreds or thousands of people anyway, and leave a suicide video saying ‘Ha ha, fooled ya, that wasn’t what you were supposed to do, ha ha.’
In other words what the hell do the people who wrote and sent that stupid immoral letter think they’re talking about? And since when do mass murderers get to decide what a liberal democracy’s foreign policy should be? Since when is it considered reasonable and responsible to look about and say ‘Oh, there are some loathsome thugs bent on killing a lot of people, let us hasten to find out what they want us to do and immediately do that in order to reward them and persuade them not to murder us after all.’
In fact the more you look at that letter, the more presumptuous and (yes) offensive it seems. I beg your pardon? You’re chastizing Blair for not guessing at what a bunch of murderers want and then doing that so that they won’t murder anyone?
Kim Howells and some other people find it irritating too.
Mr Howells denied there was a “rational connection” and said “no government” formulates policy based on a perceived risk from terrorists…”I think it is very, very dangerous when people who call themselves community leaders make some assumption that somehow that there’s a rational connection between these two things.”
And not just self-proclaimed community leaders but also a couple of MPs and three peers.
MP Sadiq Khan, who signed the letter, said British foreign policy was seen by many as unfair and unjust…The letter was also signed by MPs Shahid Malik (Dewsbury) and Mohammed Sarwar (Glasgow Central), and peers Lord Patel of Blackburn, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham and Baroness Uddin. Other signatories include the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, British Muslim Forum and the lobby group, the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.
Another MP summed it up well.
Liberal Democrats deputy leader Vince Cable agreed there were links with foreign policy but voiced concerns the letter’s message might “give some comfort to the kind of people who say: ‘Well, change your foreign policy or we’ll blow you up'”.