Not going to be posting again for the next week or so. In the meantime here's another open thread.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The Court of Appeal has overturned an earlier ruling that a court order was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case revolves around an unidentified man who is considered by the Security Services as a recruiter for a terrorist organisation. There isn't enough evidence to prosecute the man but he poses a threat to our national security. As such a control order was put in place to prevent the man from organising terrorist attacks.
In February the High Court ruled that the restriction breached his human rights and overturned the order. They also argued that there was enough evidence to mount a successful trial based on evidence from a Belgian court.
The Court of Appeal, though, overturned that ruling and reimposed the control order, arguing that the restrictions did not contravene his human rights.
A small step in the right direction, or an anomaly?
A local paper is reporting that an airline worker was stopped by anti-terror police on his return from Pakistan. They questioned the man for 45 minutes and checked his luggage. One of the questions was why he had taken such a long flight for just a few days.
The man worked at the airport and had a security pass but this didn't prevent his questioning. He also had a friend who works for Special Branch at the airport who didn't stop the questioning. This is as it should be, if the flags are raised then questioning shouldn't be stopped because the man has a 10 year old security pass, or because a friend can vouch for him. The security services have a job to do and they should do it properly.
However, what might turn this into a national story is the man's claim that:
Part of my job relates to aircraft and passenger security and I know for a fact they stopped me just because I have a beard. To be treated in this way because I have a beard is absolutely staggering.How does he know this as a fact? Has he seen any orders demanding that people with beards be stopped at airports? Wait for the inevitable claims of Islamophobia, that this innocent man was harassed only because he was a Muslim. Don't be surprised to hear the phrase "racial profiling" and then claims that the security services are unfairly targeting Muslims. And all based on an unfounded claim that "my beard got me stopped".
A total of 19 men are appearing today, at the Old Bailey on different terrorist charges. 13 of them are regarding the plot to destroy aeroplanes flying from Britain to the US. 28 charges are expected in that case.
The other six are in relation to fund raising for terrorist activity abroad. These six are the Al Muhajiroun men arrested a few weeks ago.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Dhiren Barot has had his sentence cut from 40 years to 30. The court of appeal said that the longer term was for, "the terrorist who has been convicted, after trial, of a serious attempt to commit mass murder by a viable method."
The defence had argued that the plot to murder hundreds or thousands was far from completion at the time of arrest. And, it would appear, that the judges agreed.
The Lord Chief Justice also said:
A terrorist who is in the grip of idealistic extremism to the extent that, over a prolonged period, he has been plotting to commit murder of innocent citizens is likely to pose a serious risk for an indefinite period if he is not confined.Why then did he cut this man's sentence? Do we have to wait for him to actually kill thousands of innocent civilians before we can keep him locked away? With judges like this how are we to fight an effective war against Islamism?
A review of the new book "The Islamist" appears in The Telegraph. In short, the book explains that Islamism is not driven by foreign policy, nor ignorance or poverty. It is driven by an ideology that demands the total domination of a radical, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
The book also explains that being a religious Muslim can stop Muslims being indoctrinated into the Islamist cult of death (my words). The author claims that his religious devotion during his time as an Islamist was just a show and that he was actually not keeping his faith at all.
The book thus reiterates what has been said here many times before: the war is between Islamism and the West and is not against Islam.
The trial is currently underway of three men for terrorism offences. One key aspect of the case is Islamist material designed to incite hatred and encourage murder and terrorism, that was posted on the Internet.
The judge, however, stopped questioning yesterday because he doesn't understand what a website was or Internet forum is. He told the prosecution that their expert should, "keep it simple, we've got to start from basics."
Isn't it ludicrous that any judge can get away with this? And in a serious case it's even more serious.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The German Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has said that Islamist terror is the biggest threat "to the security and stability of Germany." For those that have forgotten, Germany have not taken part in the war on Iraq, nor Afghanistan. Yet, they are on the receiving end of Islamist terrorism. Can people still argue that this is caused by our foreign policy?
Former MI6 head, Sir Richard Dearlove, told a conference that Muslims are best placed to root out extremism in Britain. He said:
At the moment it is very easy for al-Qaida to recruit its foot soldiers. The most effective way for Muslim communities to police the al-Qaida influence in the UK is to do it themselves. Community policing in the UK has failed in this specific area.Would this failure have to do with the government and media giving all their attention to groups run by extremists and Islamists. A group who's head threatens Britain with 2 million home-grown terrorists is not a group that will tackle terrorism. A group that boycotts Holocaust Memorial Day is not a group that will oppose extremism. A group who's leaders call for non-cooperation with police and who support Hamas and Hezbollah is not a group that want to stop Islamism.
By giving these groups all the attention, the moderate majority are effectively silenced and ignored. Instead the debate about Islamism is skewed because we take the opinion of Islamists as mainstream. The government must lead on this by completely ignoring such groups. If we stop shining the spotlight on the extremist groups we might start to find the moderate groups out there.
The wife of Mohammed Siddique Khan, her brother and a third relative were released without charge yesterday. They had been arrested in connection with the 7/7 attacks. A fourth man, Khalid Khaliq is still being questioned.
The lawyer for Ms Patel told the BBC News:
Those in her community are incredibly angry at the way the police have approached this. In my view, if their intention in this case was to destroy what relations they had with the Muslim community, then they have done that.A police spokesman pointed out that:
In all operations some people may be released early without charge while others may remain in custody for further investigation. This is not unusual and is to be expected in large and complex criminal investigations.The Muslim leadership in Britain is directly responsible for creating a situation in which any police action involving Muslims apparently creates anger. Instead of supporting the police wholeheartedly in their difficult job of rooting out the extremists amongst the Muslim communities, the likes of MCB, MAB etc have denounced them. They have made unfounded claims of police bias against Muslims and told their communities to stop cooperating. They have tried to make the police into the enemy.
And the reason? Because the Muslim groups who are given media attention are run by Islamists and extremists. They are not representative of Muslim opinion. Channel 4's survey last year showed that only 4% of Muslims said that MCB represents them, and only 1% said it about the MAB. Yet, these groups of radicals are the ones the media goes to.
Is there really anger in the Muslim communities? To what extent? We won't really know as long as the media let the extremists tell us what is going on. The media need to stop talking to the loudest voices and assume that they are representative; they aren't. Let's start having truly representative people on the media. How about an MP or two?
Abu Hamza begins his fight against extradition to the US today. In February he was sentenced to 7 years in prison and, if extradited, will be tried in the US, returned to Britain to finish his sentence here before going back to America to serve whatever sentence he has there.
One thing to remember, the British government only arrested and tried Hamza after America sought his extradition. If they hadn't done so, he would still be inciting hatred freely outside Finsbury Park Mosque with police protection.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Two stories have emerged from a meeting in Venice of the six largest EU members. The first is that security officials have backed a plan to profile mosques across Europe to try and prevent Islamist clerics from radicalising young Muslims. The increasing threat from home-grown Islamists has shown that more needs to be done. Just one example would be the Finsbury Park Mosque where Abu Hamza was allowed to preach hatred for years before anything was done.
The second piece of good news is that John Reid has called for a changing in the Human Rights Laws to reflect the nature of the war with Islamists. He said:
We need to work to modernise the law - still protecting human rights and still providing equity and justice - but reflecting the reality of the conflicts and struggles we now face.
The right to security, to the protection of life and liberty, is and should be the basic right on which all others are based. Now, more than ever, it should be the fundamental starting point of all our principles and practices across Europe.
With John Reid stepping down next month, let's hope his successor will act on his words and reform the Human Rights Laws so that our rights to safety and security are treated with at least as much importance as the "right" of criminals and terrorists.
In this struggle, we have to work with allies around the world to make sure they up their game on human rights because terrorism is being bred in countries which have the worst human rights records.Obviously, Ms Chakrabarti doesn't watch the news and has failed to spot that many Islamists are being bred right here in Britain. Unless, of course, Liberty think Britain have the worst human rights records.
And here's something for all the BBC bias watchers. Note how early the BBC chooses to quote Ms Chakrabarti's comments. Even before quoting what John Reid had said (which is what the article is actually about) three paragraphs are devoted to Liberty's response. Why place the response before the actual statement? Surely it isn't to ensure that people read Liberty's point of view before that of John Reid? Surely it isn't to ensure that Chakrabarti is above the fold?
A few weeks ago six men were arrested for financing terrorism abroad. At the time we revealed that each one was a member of Al Muhajiroun, except one man, Rajib Khan. New research would imply that Rajib Khan was a spokesman for Al Muhajiroun who used the name Abu Omar. Below is a photograph taken from two different Islamist websites both run by Ahlus Sunna Wal Jama'ah (the new name for Al Muhajiroun). The one on the right is identified as Rajib Khan, and the one on the left was identified as Abu Omar.
The picture also appears on the website of Trinity College Dublin's Philosophical Society. It was taken at a debate in 2005. Other Islamists at the debate, judging from the photos, include Anjem Choudary, Abdul Rehman Saleem and Umran Javed, all well known members of Al Muhajiroun.
In 2003 a spokesman for Al Muhajiroun using the name Abu Omar described the 19 9/11 terrorists as "magnificent" and said that any Muslims who argued were "apostates".
And, lest you think that this is the opinion held by neo-Nazis or whatever the Islamists will say, the poll also found that 50% wanted to ban the consumption of alcohol in shopping centres. Hoodies were opposed by 31% and offensive t-shirts by a measly 13%.
In an open country like Britain, covering the face is bound to unnerve others. Even ignoring the security problems of not being able to identify who is behind the veil, British culture is one of openness. The veil signifies closeness. And while we can understand why some Muslim women would want to wear it, they should understand how uncomfortable it makes everyone else. Should the majority be made to feel uncomfortable to accommodate the minority?
Friday, May 11, 2007
The leader of the opposition (and possibly future PM) has spent a few days living with a regular Muslim family to find out what it's like. He makes some conclusions which are cause for concern.
He says that, "Every time the BBC or a politician talks about “Islamist terrorists” they are doing immense harm." But goes on to say that, "Of course it’s impossible every single time to say “terrorists who are following a perverted strain of the true religion of Islam” but if we’re going to use shorthand we have got to do better."
There is a contradiction here. On the one hand he seems to appreciate that the terrorism stems from an ideology and that that ideology is based on an extreme interpretation of Islam. Yet, at the same time, he wants us all to use a different word that would hide that link between the violence and Islam. If we hide the link then we prevent ourselves from understanding the cause and therefore we cannot deal with it.
Any new word will still mean the same thing and therefore is there any point inventing a new word? We should be making clear exactly what "Islamism" means. It is because so many people excuse terrorism as a reaction to foreign policy that the term "Islamism" is not understood. If we were honest in saying that the cause of terrorism is an ideology called "Islamism" and we discussed Islamism openly then there would be no misunderstanding of what the term means. It is precisely because we won't tell it like it is that the term is worrying for Muslims.
One other statement that is cause for concern is the following sentence: "My final thought yesterday was that integration is a two way street." Cameron then went on to explain that Britain has many social problems that are putting people off integrating. Hopefully, he simply means that the social issues need to be addressed because they present problems for Western culture. But, the phrase implies that he might mean that we need to address these issues because some of those who have chosen to immigrate here demand it. The latter would be a boon for the Islamists who would see yet more evidence of the weakness of Western culture and how quickly it will back down if you shout and demand loud enough.
What this country (and the West) needs is strong leadership. We need a Prime Minister who will stand up to Islamist pressure and make it clear that the West will fight for its values and will not be dictated to. David Cameron's statements indicate that he might not be that man.
An interesting piece by Christopher Hitchens in next month's Vanity Fair entitled "Londonistan Calling". Worth reading if you have time (it's quite long).
Two main points that he makes. Firstly that Islamist terrorism is not about Iraq or foreign policy but about an ideology. Secondly, that the government has not done anywhere near enough to tackle this problem. One of the points he makes is that the government regularly tries to "engage" with the Muslims in Britain but always seems to pick out people who have Islamist ideals.
The reason is fairly obvious; they shout the loudest. But the government (and media) need to stop holding these Islamists (from the MCB and MAB and others) up as examples of Muslim opinion. These guys are not representative; they are the problem.
The IHRC has released a press statement regarding the kidnapping of Alan Johnston. Johnston was kidnapped on 12th March but this statement from the IHRC was only produced on 9th May, almost two months later. And what is the purpose of the statement; to express concern about the demands from the kidnappers. The statement says:
The Islamic Human Rights Commission is very concerned about claims on al-Jazeera news that BBC journalist Alan Johnston’s kidnappers are demanding the release of Muslim detainees in Britain in exchange for his release.The point of this statement was to try and remove the link between the kidnapping and the "plight" of Muslims detained in Britain. Why? Well, because the IHRC spends a lot of its time working towards having Muslims released from British prisons, including Abu Qatada who's name was mentioned by the kidnappers.
IHRC calls for the release of British journalist Alan Johnston and condemns any attempt to link his plight to that of Muslim detainees in Britain.
The IHRC wouldn't like to be seen to be campaigning for the same goals as terrorists. But, that is what they are doing. And this statement will not be able to remove that fact.
Much discussion has been given to Blair's legacy. Particular focus is put on the Iraq war with the majority of the media and leftist commentators telling us that Iraq will ruin Blair's premiership. However, the truth is far from that.
In our war with Islamism there are two eventual outcomes; either we win or lose. If we lose then Iraq will not matter. If we win, though, Iraq together with Afghanistan will be seen as the first stirrings of the West. For decades we in the West have backed down to Islamist pressure and in many cases still do. This has been seen as weakness and emboldens the Islamists. Iraq bucked that trend.
Ask yourself the following simple question; since Saddam didn't have WMDs why did he play around with the inspectors? He knew this would give the impression that he was hiding something. Giving full cooperation with the inspectors would have undermined the cause of going to war and he'd probably still be there.
The answer is that he assumed that the West wouldn't act against him because he assumed that the West is weak. And, looking at the millions of people marching through the streets in support of a murderous tyrant, who can blame him for thinking that. So, our invasion of Iraq showed that the West isn't quite so weak.
In this context Iraq will be remembered as the West's first major step to fully confronting Islamism. It is a milestone on our road to being able to stand up for ourselves and being prepared to do what it takes to ensure the safety of our citizens, culture and civilizations. Iraq will indeed be Blair's legacy and it will leave him standing as one of the best PMs we've had alongside Churchill.
The Sun is reporting that Khalid Khaliq, who was arrested this week in connection with the 7/7 attacks, was a bigamist. Deborah Cummings claims that she married Khalid and had three children with him before discovering that he was already married. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, he brought his other wife to live with them in the same house.
Does this ring a bell? Back in September we revealed that Abu Izzadeen was seeking another wife or three. The story was later picked up and confirmed by the Daily Mail. Is bigamy popular amongst Islamists?
A Home Office and Treasury report calls on the Charity Commission to work more closely with the police and security services to prevent organisations abusing charity status to raise money for terrorism. Home Office Minister, Tony McNulty, said, "Disrupting the flow of funds is a key part of the global effort to combat terrorism".
One case in point is the Iqra bookshop in Leeds. It was raided in 2005 because it produced and sold Islamist propaganda encouraging terrorism. It was frequented by Mohammed Siddique Khan and Shezad Tanweer. Just this week Khalid Khaliq a worker there was arrested in connection with the 7/7 attacks. Still, Iqra remains a registered charity despite these revelations. (see here and here)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tony Blair has just announced his intention to stand down as Labour leader and Prime Minister on the 27th June. In his speech he described Britain as the greatest nation on earth.
As there won't be any posts today this will be an open thread to discuss Britain and Blair.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The Muslim Association of Britain is an Islamist organisation; a British branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group is influential in the Stop the War Coalition and organised the "pro-Hijab" campaign to prevent the banning of the Islamic veil. They have wide support amongst liberal groups who ignore the MAB's connections.
These two articles deal with the MAB's Muslim Brotherhood connections and make it clear that this is an organisation that is far from mainstream Muslim ideas.
Two key players to keep an eye on are Dr Azzam Tamimi, and Osama Saeed. Tamimi has expressed his desire to become a suicide bomber as well as supporting Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) and Hezbollah.
Saeed is often quoted as a spokesman on Muslim matters in Scotland. Saeed is normally discreet although he did tell Muslims to not cooperate with the police.
The police have arrested four more people in connection with the suicide bombings 2 years ago. Those arrested are:
Hasina Patel - wife of Mohammed Siddique Khan
Arshad Patel - brother of Hasina
Imran Motala - related to Hasina and Arshad
Khalid Khaliq - worked in an extremist Islamic bookshop frequented by MSK, and lives on the same road as Shehzad Tanweer. He was a close friend of both MSK and Tanweer.
The Islamists who kidnapped the BBC's Alan Johnston have released a tape with their demands. The tape didn't show Johnston only his ID card leaving the question of whether he is still alive.
This tape reveals, yet again, that the cause of terrorism is Islamism. The demands were for Muslim prisoners to be released. Not in Israel, the country that we're told is the target for Palestinian terrorism, but British prisoners. Part of the statement was:
We say to all of them [Western countries] - free our prisoners or we will do the same to you. We won't make an exception for anyone. If you need money to release our prisoners we will give you all you need up to the last dirham we have.So, it isn't about money either. And, if further proof were needed that the cause of this is Islamism, the tape included readings from the Koran. Can we now start to realise that changing our foreign policy will not stop Islamist violence against us?
In the aftermath of the fertiliser bomb plot trial it was revealed that Al Muhajiroun, run by Omar Bakri, was at the centre of virtually all British Islamic terrorism. The Sun is reporting that he is still recruiting people to spread his hatred over the Internet.
Neil Doyle has found numerous videos that have been uploaded to the Internet preaching hatred of non-Muslims. He estimates that 20 people are in Britain preaching this hate and trying to radicalise more Muslims.
UPDATE (09/05/07 15:49): Omar Bakri has tried to refute the claims made against him. He told London based newspaper Asharq Alawsat that he was "too pre-occupied with my work in the library learning about and researching Daawa in Lebanon to know what is going on in Britain." he also claimed that "I am not in touch with them and I do not know anything about them."
Bakri is, naturally, lying. Every night he gives lectures via the Paltalk chat room. These lectures are advertised on Al Muhajiroun websites. Of course he knows exactly what is going on here and still has a big hand in orchestrating events.
An article appeared today in The Scotsman revealing that nearly half of police forces in Scotland do not keep proper records of religious hate crime. Most of the article is absolutely fine, except this:
Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "There is a climate of fear of Islam and general tension about the international situation. Until you know the scale of the problem, you can't tackle it."
He said there was a "communication gap" between the Muslim community and police, and expressed concern that some officers were treating crimes linked to religion as racially motivated.
Mr Saeed would know all about the "communication gap" because he has helped create it. In November he told a public meeting that the police must "lay off" Muslims, and that Muslims "need to be stronger in our defiance" of the police and that they must "resist" what he perceived as police erosion of civil liberties.
Why is the Scotsman quoting this man as if he was a mainstream Muslim working for a mainstream organisation? He has called for non-cooperation with the police. His organisation's leader, Azzam Tamimi, has supported Hamas and Hezbollah vowing to become a suicide bomber himself if he had the opportunity.
It's about time we opposed the media's love-affair with radical Muslims. They shouldn't be given the opportunity to spread their message, and definitely shouldn't be quoted as if they represented the mainstream Muslim opinion. If the MSM cannot find Muslim spokesmen and organisations that do not support terrorism and oppose the police, then don't quote anyone.
UPDATE (17:05): For those coming from Islamophobia-watch please read this post in which Osama's response is exposed as merely semantics. He argued that the word "non-cooperation" never crossed his lips but ignores the fact that he did tell Muslims to "resist" and be "stronger in their defiance."
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
MPACUK have reiterated their claim that all Islamic terrorism stems from our foreign policy. In fact, they claim that only the blind cannot see it. And, once again, this is simply not true; MPACUK and most of the Muslim leadership are conflating two issues.
The Iraq war has certainly served to politicise British Muslims. They are far more aware of events around the world and want to do something about it. However, politicised Muslims do not carry out terror attacks and aim to kill non-Muslims, radicalised Muslims do.
The terrorists themselves produce videos stating that they die for Allah, that they will enter heaven, that their religion compels them to act. The only people who cannot see that at the root of Islamic terrorism is a version of Islam are the people who do not want to see it.
This insistence that Islamic terror is because of foreign policy makes it impossible for Muslims to oppose it. By convincing themselves that terrorism is a result of foreign policy opposing it becomes opposing opposition to foreign policy, and they can't do that.
Now, while MPACUK and the British Muslim leadership and the liberals shout that it's foreign policy, Hamas have stated clearly today that it's an ideology based on religion. Ahmed Youssef, an aide to Ismail Haniyeh, has said this clearly in discussion over Alan Johnston's kidnapping. The Scotsman reports:
"It's on the way to being resolved. It's being addressed religiously and ideologically," he said, but would not say whether he expected Mr Johnston to be released in days or weeks.
Mr Youssef said negotiators were trying to convince the kidnappers that the extremist Islamic ideology they used to justify holding westerners is incorrect.
Here we have an Islamic extremist himself telling us that this terrorism is the result of an ideology based on Islam. Any questions?
Monday, May 07, 2007
A post last Friday mentioned some of the aims of this blog and it became apparent that these aims had never been clearly stated and explained. This post shall do just that.
There are three main aims:
1) To encourage Muslims to publicly oppose violent extremism.
There are two reasons for this aim. First, and foremost, it is because Muslims alone can solve the problem. The root cause of Islamic terrorism is an ideology that interprets Islam as requiring Muslims to kill non-Muslims in an attempt to create an Islamic Caliphate. While many Muslims have become politicised by the Iraq war, those in Britain who become suicide bombers or who aid and abet them, have done so because of the ideology that they have been introduced to. Therefore, since the cause is an interpretation of Islam, the only people who can stop that are Muslims themselves.
Secondly, even if publicly opposing extremism, through demonstrations and ostracising the radical preachers, doesn't have any effect on extremism (which is highly unlikely) it will have a major effect on the British population. The radicalisation of some Muslims in Britain is having a radicalising effect on some British people. The result is that all minority groups are suffering and will suffer. By openly opposing extremism the Muslim community will allay the fears of the British public and will ease the pressure they are under as well as improving the relations of all parts of British society.
2) To fight against racism against Muslims
As has been mentioned, the radicalisation of some Muslims has been mirrored by some Brits. The result of that radicalisation has been the spreading of lies and scare-stories about Muslims and the effect is now seen with increased opposition to all forms of multiculturalism and religious activity. As a blog that deals with Islamic extremism it is likely that people who may already be or heading towards that form of radicalisation will be reading this. Therefore, hopefully, we are in a position to help fight that form of racism too.
NB: The use of the term racism is in its more general sense to include discrimination against identifiable groups of people. It is used as a short-hand for religious discrimination which is just as serious.
3) To highlight and discuss other interesting topics that come to hand.
Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, suggested that the real figure for the number of terrorists in the UK could be as high as 4,000. MI5 said last week put the figure at 2,000.
Lord Stevens went on to say that the security services were "still too underfunded and undermanned to cope with the task they face in the decades to come. And that's how long this will last."
Two points to note. This will last for decades because this isn't about foreign policy. If Islamic terrorism were caused only by our foreign policy then they would stop the moment our policy changed to be in accord with them. And, equally, would not stop any sooner. However, once we note that their cause is an ideological one, then we will be in this fight until that ideology is defeated, and that will take decades.
Secondly, it is very important to realise that 4,000 amounts to just 0.25% of the Muslims population in Britain. While many Muslims have become politicised over the last decade or more, only a tiny fraction represent a threat to Britain and our values. We must always keep things in perspective.
Professor Ted Cantle, a government advisor, has said that political correctness is preventing a proper debate over so-called "white flight". The statement comes because BBC is due to air a Panorama documentary tonight about the issue in Blackburn. (read full story here)
The producer of the Panorama programme said:
We found a great nervousness - people didn't feel able to speak openly about their unease about the way things were changing and about the gulf between the two communities. We were very struck by that. They struggled to find a way to say they didn't want to be taken over. They had no way of expressing it. They were afraid of saying the wrong thing and coming across as racist.A Home Office spokesman said that the laws only banned speech in which the speaker deliberately intended to cause hatred.
The problem here isn't the laws themselves; it is the perception of them. The climate of political correctness has become so ingrained that people no longer feel able to express their opinions. This situation must be tackled. We need our MPs to be brave enough to speak frankly and openly. Not only will that openness allow others to be open but when people see their politicians being honest and open it may even improve the level of trust between MPs and the public.
However, this requires true effort. When Jack Straw dared to speak openly about the veil he was vilified and many of his colleagues refused to back his right to say what he said. In the end, though, he forced it through and there was some proper debate on the topic. And, what's more, the subject is no longer taboo.
We need more MPs with that courage to talk about other issues.
Lord Falconer addressed the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers in Bournemouth yesterday. During his speech he told head teachers that they shouldn't worry about being prosecuted under the Human Rights Act if they make a reasonable decision to ban the veil.
He referred to the recent ruling that defended Denbigh High School after it banned a student from wearing a jilbab. He said:
The case showed how uniform can be a difficult issue and one where head teachers and the schools' governing bodies have to think extremely carefully. But more than that it showed that common sense and human rights are entirely in line with each other.
In Gaza, Islamic extremists attacked a UN-run school which was hosting a sports festival that they considered to be un-Islamic. Extremists had earlier held a protest outside the school before returning with guns and bombs. One bomb was thrown into the school and a security guard was killed. (see here for more)
Is this newsworthy? Not if you ask the BBC. Not a hint of this on their website.
Why not? Would it be too cynical to suggest that it is because this is a case of Islamic extremism in Gaza that cannot be blamed on Israel?
Friday, May 04, 2007
In an interview with a German paper, Tony Blair, reiterated the point we try and make here often; it's them not us. He said:
The first point touches onto the issue of changing our basic values of justice in order to tackle extremists. The second point is one that is still not appreciated in Britain. It's a point that this blog is partly designed to make, namely that Islamic terrorism is based on an interpretation of Islam.
We must show the Muslim world that we let our values apply to everyone. That's why Guantanamo (Bay) is an issue for people.
But we are also on the defensive because we are not energetic in contradicting the opinion of radical Muslims who want to convince us that terrorism somehow has something to do with our behaviour.
For too long the MCB, MPACUK and practically every other Muslim body in this country, aided and abetted by the Lib Dems (and others) and, to some extent, by the MSM, have tried to tell us that Islamism is a result of our foreign policy. And worse still, they have tried to convince us to surrender our foreign policy to the terrorists by acting as they dictate.
For as long as this view continues another key aim of this blog will not be fulfilled. One aim for this blog is to try and convince the Muslim community in Britain that it is their responsibility to stand up to their co-religionists. Ultimately, it is only mainstream Muslims who can kill off the Islamist ideology that puts us all at risk.
However, while they continue to be in denial of the cause of Islamist terror they will not act. While they continue to convince themselves and others that it isn't about Islam but rather about our foreign policy they will not stand up to the likes of Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri. And until they do, they will continue to live under suspicion and we will all continue to live in danger.
In the final instalment of our assessment of political blogging, we will attempt to answer the last remaining question which is why blogs are able to influence the MSM. In part 1 we examined the ability of blogs to directly influence people. The conclusion was that (relative to population) British blogs had a greater ability to directly influence than American ones.
In part 2, though, we showed that the blogs wielded their power by influencing the MSM. In America the MSM is quote open in quoting from blogs whereas in the UK they are not. It is likely that even in Britain blogs do indeed influence the MSM but since no recognition is actually given to them it becomes hard to measure successes. This analysis raised the question of why MSM journalists read blogs and become influenced by them. This is what this part will deal with.
There are three reasons that could explain this. The first is that some blogs are essentially single-issue. This means that the blog becomes a store-house for more specialised information on a particular issue and also means that the author/s may be more knowledgeable in that field. For a journalist who cannot know everything in detail these resources provide an easy way to access information and do some background research into an issue.
Another key reason is the structure of the blogosphere. There are a plethora of small blogs and a small number of large blogs. When a small blog uncovers an important piece of information it will normally be passed up the chain to the bigger blogs. This movement happens very quickly and so this information, uncovered by one individual somewhere, can quickly be told to many thousands. And, since it reaches prominence quite quickly, the MSM can pick up on it and report it while it is still relevant. In this way the blogosphere acts as an investigative organisation that can uncover information and bring it to the attention of the MSM. It is in this capacity that the blogs are hailed for their ability to scrutinise everything, because it only takes one person to spot a mistake and there are thousands looking.
The last reason also stems from the structure of the blogosphere. In the blogosphere, some stories can be kept on the front page. The MSM might lose interest in a story very quickly because they feel it to be unimportant. However, if the story remains strong on the blogosphere then this is an indication that the public consider it important. Thus the MSM can use blogs to gauge public interest.
Based on this, blogs are only useful if they can fulfil one of these three criteria. They must either be specialised, investigative or large.
There is one exception; the blog written by an already well known commentator. This type of blog has influence because the person who writes it has influence. If the author were to pick up the phone he could directly influence the MSM that way, but instead complements that form of influence with a blog. In the case of MPs the blog is designed purely to be a PR exercise and acts as a steady release of press statements.
A bus company in Scotland has produced new guidelines about veiled passengers. The guidelines state that if a passenger is attempting to use a travel card they must identify themselves either by lifting their veil (to match their face to the photo-card) or by producing a driving licence or passport. The aim is to prevent people from using another person's card.
The BBC quotes from two Muslim spokespersons who both claim that this rule is unnecessary for two reasons; 1) hardly anyone wears the veil and 2) people aren't going to put on a veil just to avoid paying for their bus fare. Both these points argue that the rule is a waste of time. But being a waste of time is a problem for the company, if it wants to waste time, let it.
One of the spokesmen, Sohaib Saeed, events co-ordinator at Edinburgh Central Mosque, was at least honest enough (after giving his fake reasons for opposing the rule) to let us know his real objection. "This rule is intrusive and it's singling people out."
Wrong and wrong. Seeing someone's face is not considered intrusive in this country, and the women do not even have to show their face, they only need to identify themselves. That can hardly be considered intrusive. As to singling people out; they have singled themselves out.
Once again we see this attitude that people should be free to make a decision and expect there to be no repercussions. If a woman chooses to wear a veil she must accept that that comes with consequences. She should be free to make that decision, but then don't expect (or insist) that others alter their behaviour to accommodate your decision. Like everyone in this world, they must live their life with the consequences of their decision.
However, the drivers are unhappy, and with good reason. As one told the Scotsman:
It seems unnecessary and puts drivers in an awkward and potentially dangerous position. We risk being branded racist.Their complaint is valid and just exposes the sorry state of our society.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
On Monday night, Inayat Bunglawala appeared on Newsnight. He was asked by Jeremy Paxman why the Muslim community didn't do anything to stop Abu Hamza and the like. He answered that there was nothing they could do.
Well, Inayat, that simply isn't true, is it. Just for you Inayat, here's how a religious community responds to members of their community who spread ideas that are abhorrent.
Back in January Iran hosted a conference for Holocaust deniers. Some Jews from a group called Neturei Karta attended. Their presence, obviously, enraged the Jewish community around the world. Here was a group of people claiming to act in accordance with the Jewish faith but, in fact, acting against the interests of all Jews. One of their leaders lives in Manchester. What did the Jewish community do to oppose his views?
He was completely ostracised. Local Jewish shops refused to serve him. He was banned from synagogues. He was told that he would not be buried by the local Jewish community (a big thing apparently). The local rabbis signed a statement declaring him not to be a proper rabbi. There were repeated demonstrations outside his home.
That is a how a religious community acts when one of its members perverts its religion and becomes its enemy. So, if the Muslim leadership really wants us to believe that they detest that actions and statements of the likes of Abu Hamza, let them respond in a similar way. Until then, we will all be left wondering whether or not they really oppose their views.
The MCB has jumped on the bandwagon of those asking for a public inquiry into 7/7. The Muslim Council of Britain claims that:
The MCB’s support for a statutory judicial inquiry is a demonstration of its unequivocal support for effective measures to counter terrorism.This is what is commonly referred to as a lie. Earlier in the press release, Dr Bari is quoted as saying:
It is of crucial importance that we find out in an objective manner the reasons that led those young people to perpetrate their atrocity. We cannot begin to address this phenomenon unless we know its causes.Those calling for a 7/7 inquiry want to know that MI5 and the security services were doing their job properly. The MCB want an inquiry, not about the effectiveness of our security, but about an entirely different topic. They want an inquiry into the causes of Islamic terrorism.
Of course, the MCB have their own politicised idea of the cause of Islamist terror; our foreign policy. Last September, the MCB rejected John Reid's calls for Muslims to be watch out for signs that their children are being radicalised by declaring that the government was, "continuing to ignore the damage that some of our foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East, have done to our national security".
The MCB is well aware that any study into the causes of terrorism will inevitably state (as is the case) that invading Iraq and Afghanistan has contributed to extremism. It was always known that it would and no one has disputed that it has. The MCB will shout to the rooftops that we must change our foreign policy to prevent terrorism. Or, to be put it more simply, we must accept the demands of the terrorists.
However, the MCB are also aware that Islamist terrorism is not caused by our foreign policy. Islamist terror may be exacerbated by it, but it is caused by an extreme interpretation of Islam. Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, wrote an article in The Times yesterday pointing out, again, that it is not our foreign policy that is the root cause of Islamic terrorism. That article is worth reading.
The terrorists themselves acknowledge that foreign policy is not the cause. Their statements show this time and again. Sure, they link their attacks to Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya etc etc. But underlying all of that is their statements about Islam and a Caliphate.
Here is an interesting quote with regards to the kidnappers of the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza:
Money is not the issue. The issue is an incorrect understanding of Islam, how to deal with foreigners in general, an incorrect understanding of Islam among some.Who said that? Ahmed Youssef, an aide to the Palestinian Prime Minister. He ought to know. The MCB wonders why it is being ignored by the government, but it is quite clear. It is because the MCB refuses to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism stems from Islam and rather continues to tell the government to surrender to terrorists.
Continuing our look into the world of political blogging, it is appropriate to link to a post by Stephen Tall. His article focuses mainly on blogs written by MPs or candidates and the effect they have. He makes the same point that we made in part 2; blogs work by influencing the media.
However, he makes the mistake that we exposed in part 1 by using hit rates to measure the power of blogs. He concludes, inevitably, that the American ones are the "über-bloggers" as he puts it. As we showed in part 1 the American giants are (relative to population) not so powerful in their ability to directly influence the masses. In his defence, though, Stephen does point out that the MSM are still the "big boys".
Overall, an interesting article, even if it doesn't address the key issue (which we will deal with soon) of why blogs have any influence with the MSM? Stay tuned for that.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
In part 1 we introduced a sensible measure for calculating the power of blogs, namely CI (measured in minutes/day) "capacity to influence". At the end of the analysis I made a bit of a howler by dividing the CI's of the American blogs by 3 instead of 5. In actual fact, the British blogs have CI ratings that are relatively higher than their American counterparts.
One blog, EUReferendum, has a CI rating of 6489CI. Adjusting this for the American population and using the average time per visit of Daily Kos would give that site over 970,000 hits per day!
So, if British blogs actually outperform the American ones on the basis of their capacity to influence, why do American blogs have, in reality, more influence? The answer lies in understanding the actual influence the blogosphere has.
Using the CI rating we see that even the top blogs would have a CI rating of no more than around 7,000CI. Compare this to the CI rating of a national newspaper in Britain and it becomes apparent that blogs are powerless. Take the Daily Telegraph, for example. They sold 2,219,000 papers between April and September 2006. This works out at 12,060 a day. Assuming that each person who buys a paper reads it for 10 minutes this gives a CI rating of 120,600CI. Astronomically huge compared to any blog. Clearly, the power of blogs does not come from being widely read.
The power of blogs comes from influencing the right people; the MSM journalists. There have been many stories on the blogosphere some which make an impact in the real world and some which don't. Let's take two examples from last Summer's Israel-Hezbollah war (thanks to Natalie Solent for reminding me of this). During that war it emerged that Adnan Hajj was faking photos for Reuters, he was subsequently sacked and his pictures removed. At about the same time "Green Helmet Guy" was all over the blogosphere apparently manipulating the media, especially at Qana. The latter case had no apparent real life consequences.
What was the difference between the two? The MSM. A Google news archive search for "adnan hajj" returns 681 hits. "green helmet guy" returns 14. Taking another example of a successful blogosphere story; Rathergate. That term returns 733 hits on the archive. While not an exhaustive study, it would seem to indicate that the blogosphere stories have an impact only when picked up by the MSM. And this is the key difference between America and Britain.
In America, the MSM journalists often seem to quote the blogs and many bloggers make regular appearances on current affairs programmes. Again using a Google news archive search we find that "Daily Kos" returns 2,800 hits while "EUReferendum" returns only 156. (I am very much open to hearing new evidence if you have any).
The final question, for part three, is why do MSM journalists use the blogosphere? Stay tuned.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Five of the Al Muhajiroun members arrested last week were remanded in custody last night. However, two of the men, Omar Zaheer and Shah (Shal) Jalal Hussain, were released on bail.
This is very disappointing. Al Muahjiroun are behind virtually all of the home-grown terrorists in this country. Our judges should be clamping down hard on them. Releasing these men on bail sends the wrong message.
Last year, after the Danish cartoon protest, Anjem Choudary was charged with holding the rally without getting proper permission. He was fined just £500. At the time MP Andrew Dismore said:
He should have been given the maximum sentence possible. £500 is a ridiculously small sum given this man's appalling track record. But the real issue is why the Crown Prosecution Service and the police have chosen to prosecute him on such a minor charge.Once again we find ourselves asking why our own judges (and therefore the CPS) seem unable or unwilling to come down hard on these people. It's just not good enough.
A number of people who were found guilty of soliciting murder and/or inciting racial hatred at the Al Muhajiroun Danish cartoon protest are due to be sentenced soon. Let's hope that the sentences actually reflect how serious the threat from Al Muhajiroun really is.
With the revelation that Al Muhajiroun are behind virtually every home-grown terrorist in Britain, it is appropriate to look at what the Muslim groups have done to stop them.
The MCB has not released a statement about yesterday's events. However, Inayat Bunglawala appeared on Newsnight last night claiming that there was nothing Muslims could do about the likes of Abu Hamza. He claimed that the Muslim community had informed the police about him but that they themselves could do nothing.
This is, of course, rubbish. Why weren't the proper clerics brought in to counter his vile? When he was preaching in the street where were the Muslim leaders to oppose him? Why wasn't he excommunicated by the Muslim community for perverting Islam?
But there's more. In 2003 Bunglawala claimed, "In the long run, it is surely that lack of balance in some of our policies which represents a greater challenge to relations between Islam and the West than the sorry antics of al-Muhajiroun." And in Feb 2006 the MCB dismissed Al Muhajiroun as "mischievous elements".
Do the MCB now accept that they were wrong? Do they accept that they could and should have done more to stop this group from radicalising Muslims?
Let's move on to another favourite of the media; the Islamic Human Rights Commission. Again, not much by way of condemnation of this group. The only thing that this group had to say about them was to oppose calls for their prosecution after the Danish cartoons protest.
Finally, we have the very vocal MPACUK. In a piece today they blame our foreign policy for radicalising young Muslims (something which we know not to be true because most of these Muslims were involved with Al Muhajiroun pre-9/11). They also blame the Mosque leaders for not doing anything. At least we can agree on the latter.
However, MPACUK haven't exactly done much themselves. After the Danish protest they said, "it's wrong that we Muslims have not dealt with them once and for all." Did MPACUK then go on to deal with them? No. In October they suggested that Al Muhajiroun were government agents! Then in February the head of MPACUK told Sky News that Izzadeen "isn't really an extremist" (watch here with thanks to Kasper).
So, we know that the Muslim community isn't chock full of random people waiting to become terrorists. We know that there is a group of identified people who are radicalising Muslims. We know that up to know the Muslim leaders have pretty much ignored them or worse. Will we now see a change in attitude to Britain's Al Qaeda?
We reported yesterday that playing a seemingly central role in the radicalisation of British "home grown" terrorists was Al Muhajiroun. Last night Newsnight confirmed this and went further. They revealed that Al Muhajiroun had set up training camps in Pakistan where these terrorists were sent. (Watch the Newsnight report here, or here, and read the more detailed report here).
The implications of this are huge. We now know that the home grown terrorists are not just random, angry, young Muslims. They are people who have been selected and groomed, radicalised and trained by a known organisation; Al Muhajiroun. As we wrote yesterday, "If they are completely shut down we may be one large step closer towards making Britain safe from the home-grown radicals."
Some serious questions, though, are raised by this. The so-called "covenant of security" between the security services and Al Muhajiroun has been exposed. When did it end? As far as Al Muhajiroun are concerned it clearly ended some years ago, but have our security services stopped too?
In August 2005 the leader of Al Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri, fled Britain for Lebanon. By this time the security services must have known all the connections between himself and all the home-grown terrorists. Yet, they let him leave. He was subsequently banned from Britain. He is now free to continue preaching his hate over the Internet, an activity he carries out every night. Furthermore, many of his followers are still free to radicalise British Muslims.
The enemy has been clearly identified for almost 2 years, and yet little has been done to round them up and stop their radicalising of young Muslims. Are the security services still operating under this "covenant of security"?
We, as a country, are close to paying a serious blow to the threat of home-grown terrorism. The targets are known we just need to act. Let's hope that those in the position of authority will shut Al Muhajiroun down for good.