Bringing it home
Today: 'UK policies aid Muslim extremism' ( BBC) Read the report Bringing It Home' in full. It is extremely readable and I applaud it.
- ''British Muslims are being driven into the arms of violent extremists by official attempts to engage with them after the 7 July bombs, a study claims. Policies since the attacks in London have "driven a wedge" between Muslims and the wider community rather than isolate extremists, the report says. The study, by think tank Demos, accused ministers of failing to engage Muslims over British foreign policy in Iraq. It called for "community relations to be at the heart of security policy". ( from BBC summary)
June 2005: A month before the July 7 bombings, security and intelligence officials working from inside M15 HQ warned that in the June JTAC report that "events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK". The report's findings were published in the New York Times but not the UK.
2004: A year before the July 7 bombings, a link between the government's foreign policy and disillusion among young Muslims - strenuously denied by ministers - was also made in a paper prepared for Tony Blair on the orders of the home and foreign secretaries.
The paper, Young Muslims and Extremism, ( please read, is is so prescient, it makes me sad) which included input from the security services, said British foreign policy "seems a particularly strong cause of disillusionment amongst young Muslims". The war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan were all seen by a section of British Muslims as being acts against Islam. "This disillusionment may contribute to a sense of helplessness with regard to the situation of Muslims in the world, with a lack of any tangible 'pressure valves', in order to vent frustrations, anger or dissent," said the paper.
Reapeating things at least three times is meant to be the optimum way of ensuring your audience really understand and remember your points.
Blair was told a year before the attacks that his foreign policy was a recruiting seargeant for home grown terrorism. He was told the same thing a month before the attacks. The ISC report published after the bombings stated the development of a home-grown threat and radicalisation of British citizens were "not fully understood or applied to strategic thinking". Well, after July 7th they damn well should have been grasped.
But it seems the Government STILL won't listen. It only pretends to listen and it will only talk on its own terms. It absolutely won't talk about the effect its own policies are having in increasing resentment and the growth of extremism. So the ''debate'' it pretends to be having is not honest, nor helpful. It is in fact, counter productive. It is not a debate at all. It is a sham, a trick, and a lie, and lying to people makes them more angry and more distrustful. And easy prey for extremist messages.
As we see today in the report from Demos today.
If the Government is too frightened to face up to an uncomfortable debate on whether its own policies have contributed to the growth of extremism - indeed, still denies it outright after having been told at least three times that yes, there is a link - then the Government is comprised of craven cowards who do not even have the guts to stand up for the policies they make.
Why so scared, Mr Blair, Mr Woolas and co? It's not you who gets blown up. Here or anywhere else.
To criticise foreign policy isn't to suggest that the terrorists have just cause or that the Government is somehow complicit. But the fact is, the policies HAVE bred resentment, and some - horrible minority - have taken that resentment and made it murderous. And many more are angry at the inconsistent and panicky official responses to the murderous few, which alientates many and are often unfair and ill-informed and which also feeds resentment, continuing the cycle.
You still want to have those policies, okay, then defend them. You were told the were risks, you were told that
- they would likely contribute to the rise of extremism ( a year before 7/7)
- that they were contributing to the rise of extremism ( a month before 7/7)
- and that they did contribute to the rise of extremism ( official reports after 7/7)
- (Oh, and Mr Blair was also told that invading Iraq would raise the risk of terrorist activity a month BEFORE he invaded Iraq)
If you still think they are still good policies, that they make us safer, and the overall benefit to the public is worth the unfortunate side-effect of the rise of extremism, and the anger and alientation of large swathes of the population ( and I don't mean only Muslims) , can you please come out and say that? Then we might be able to have a debate about whether your belief in your policies is reasonable and justified.
Can you please, however, stop denying the link between Government policies and the growth - not the cause - the growth - of extremism, because we are not stupid. Thank you.