Criticising foreign policy is not ‘radicalisation’
London, UK, November 10 – Following the speech by the Director General
of the Security Service, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, at Queen Mary's
College yesterday, the focus has again fallen on allegations of
"radicalisation" in the Muslim community. Dame Eliza warned that the
threat of terrorism was "serious" and "growing". The speech was
approved by ministers and Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of 'poisonous
propaganda' warping the minds of young people. The false implication is
always that there is an endemic problem in the Muslim community caused
by a distorted Islamic ideology held by imams, mosques and school.
We would like to make the following points in relation to the debate that is occurring:
1. In a similar manner to the head of the British army, Sir Richard Dannatt, Dame Eliza linked the foreign policy of the government with the motivation of those who engage in violence. She said it was clear from "martyrdom" videos that suicide bombers are motivated in part by "their interpretation as anti-Muslim of UK foreign policy, in particular the UK's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan". This is in contrast to the Government which has repeatedly said that linking terrorism to the government's foreign policy is absurd.
2. It appears that concerns about foreign policy shared by an overwhelming majority of the population – Muslims and non-Muslims – are now being portrayed as "radicalisation". When Muslims point out the link between foreign policy and violence and instability, as has been done even by senior Cabinet officials, this is seen as evidence of "radicalisation". Anger in the Muslim community at horrific television images of human suffering in Iraq and Lebanon is portrayed as 'radicalisation'.
3. The Muslim community in Britain may be incensed by the carnage it sees in Iraq and the intransigence towards Israeli aggression, but it has unequivocally denounced acts of terrorism and Muslim groups will continue to channel this anger, created by government foreign policy, into political work. We want our community to be politicised and to speak out against unjust policies.
4. These pronouncements, whether by Government or the Security Service, only serve to create a climate of fear and mistrust in the wider society and further the alienation of the Muslim community. We wonder what further draconian measures this Government may introduce to exploit this climate of fear and mistrust it has sought to perpetuate and wonder if this is meant as a buck passing exercise following the meltdown of public opinion in the USA for the Iraq war.
5. The fact that this speech, approved by ministers, was made by the head of the Security Service, is evidence that politicians are not trusted by the public after the manner in which intelligence was utilised to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. Dame Eliza even said, "It is right to be sceptical about intelligence."