Monday, March 31, 2008


Showbiz moment. Ran into Jeremy Paxman last week when I was out to lunch with a delightful and generous friend. Paxo knew my friend, he vaguely recognised me. I explained that I had been on his show last year having an argument with Paul Murphy and the ISC about a 7/7 Inquiry. He was lunching with Matthew Fort from the Guardian and TV's Great British Menu; he had to rush off but Matthew came over and joined my friend ( who he knows very well) and I afterwards for a gossip and some rhubarb sorbet.

Now Newsnight have just called up and asked me to be on the programme again tonight talking about Hassan Butt, a previous spokesman for al Muhajiroun, who later changed his mind and now speaks out against terrorism. The only snag is I'm at the ballet ( Carlos Acosta, superstar dreamboat). But I think I can cab it over to White City afterwards. Anyway, we're checking whether it is possible.
UPDATE: Yes it is, so I will be on. P.S: Running into Paxo last week is nothing to do with this - just a bizarre coincidence. I'm on with the nice Patrick Mercer, who sits on the Home Affairs Comittee. I'm always ending up on things with him.

I thought this was going to be a busy two weeks and it looks like I'm not wrong. And so it begins....

Tonight we are talking about The Mysterious Case of The Repentant Jihadi. Read this. See what you think. Then say whether you think he should be nicked anyway - even though he is now trying to turn his ex-fellow jihadists AWAY from terrorism.

Theological reference for those that way inclined: Luke 23. Questions I'm asking myself: is justice restorative and redemptive, as well as retributive? Do we want hearts and minds or pounds of flesh? How are our interests as a country best served in this case? On a purely practical level re. combating terrorism - is this man better out than in? Or should transgressions always be punished, even after they are repented of?

UPDATE: Report here
Programme can be watched here until this evening, Hassan Butt is 18 mins in
Bloggage and comment - Little Bulldogs, Pixelisation, hat tip to both for pointing me in the direction of the the Nick Cohen piece,
Hassan Butt in The Times
Me writing about Hassan Butt last year

UPDATE: New Statesman

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Blogger Calamity Jane said...

Never mind meeting Paxo, I'm jealous of the rhubard sorbet

March 31, 2008 7:27 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

Hmm. Charming.

On the subject of repentant jihadists, I'd be wary of them until I was sure they were actually repentant *ideologues*, since swapping one ideology for another really doesn't help anyone. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are people in the world who crave loyalty to ideology above the actual nature of the ideology itself, and these people aren't to be trusted even if they're apparently on your side at the moment.

March 31, 2008 8:43 pm  
Blogger Old Fogey said...

Is justice restorative and redemptive, as well as retributive? Answer: Yes. If the law is not seen to punish those who commit evil acts, what faith can we have in it? It we lose faith in the law we descend into tribalism. But our law is based on Judaeo-Christian values. The sinner repentant is a powerful symbol that no-one is beyond redemption. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". Our justice permits the transgressor to be restored to the community once just retribution has been paid.

March 31, 2008 9:10 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

( Tom's 'Charming' comment was referring to a particularly obvious troll, who has been removed for their own good)

April 01, 2008 1:36 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Good points. The journalist who has been on the story for 3 years thinks he is genuine so that is where I jumped. But there is a case for either side.

April 01, 2008 1:37 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

watched you on newsnight. Glad that you made a case to believe him. Still can't decide where I stand on this.

April 01, 2008 1:47 pm  
Blogger Old Fogey said...

I caught you on Newsnight and you came over as concerned and genuine, with your clear priority to stop the bombs. The dilemma over Hassan Butt is difficult. My inclination is to think that a change of mind on this issue(if genuine) may mitigate any penalty he might suffer for earlier criminal acts but it should not excuse him from prosecution. The Conservative MP seemed to be on automatic pilot

April 01, 2008 7:42 pm  

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