Tuesday, December 05, 2006 

Bringing it home.

There's little surprise that the government has reacted so dismissively to an in-depth, well-worth reading in full report by the Demos think tank, which heavily criticises the government's attempts so far at "engaging" the Muslim community. Not only does it take on the government's mendacious two-faced nature, with its attempts at wooing organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain while in private and public briefing newspapers that Muslims need to do more to tackle extremism themselves and "spy on their kids", it also launches attacks on the wretched Very Scary Spice:

The government has also been cautious about being seen to be close to those groups that might have some understanding of al Qaida, fearful of the types of attacks mounted by commentators such as Melanie Phillips. These are groups that are radical and fundamental in their outlook (but not violent), whose religious roots are closest to those of al Qaida, and who therefore tend to come across recruiters and activists in their mosques and community centres. (p 27)

Demos' main six points for pushing forward are:
  • enhance the lives of Muslims by tackling poverty, low
    attainment and discrimination
  • strengthen community infrastructure
  • improve leadership, both by the government and within
    the Muslim community
  • open up the foreign policy-making process to greater
    scrutiny and provide opportunity for input from all parts
    of British communities
  • divert youth from extremism
  • put communities at the heart of counter-terrorist
    intervention and policing, as an integrated part rather
    than an add-on or an afterthought.

All of which should have been common sense and implemented in the first place. Instead since 7/7 we've had the government suggesting that multiculturalism isn't working, setting up panels which it then doesn't bother listening to, relying on turning the real terror threat into a party politicial issue, lecturing Muslim parents to spy on their kids for signs of brainwashing and government ministers commenting on issues such as a school-teacher suspended for wearing the veil when they should have kept their mouths shut. This isn't to mention Jack Straw's initial comments on the veil, which although perhaps well intentioned, led to 2 weeks of hysteria thanks to the way the tabloids jumped on Straw breaking the "taboo".

Rachel North points out how often the government had been warned that foreign policy was causing radicalisation. There were even more warnings than ones she has linked to. In October 2003 the Institute for Strategic Studies warned that the Iraq war had strengthened the ranks of al-Qaida and its sympathisers, as well as "galvanising" its will. In August of that same year the Foreign Affairs Committee said that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein had not diminished the terrorist threat to Britain, even suggesting that war in Iraq may have impeded the fight against terrorism. Before and after the war, the well-informed Guardian security affairs editor, Richard Norton-Taylor wrote that MI5 and senior Whitehall officials were concerned that the threat would increase if Iraq was attacked.

Despite all of these reports and everything that has now taken place, the government still refuses to admit that the Iraq war has increased the threat not just to the UK, but also to the world. Phil Woolas, who did his best to inflame the row over the wearing of the veil, had the nerve to accuse Demos of sensationalising the issue. The rank hypocrisy and irony of such a comment, when this government has so sensationalised and ramped up the threat in order to force through draconian new legislation is insulting.

The combined efforts of the New Generation Network and Demos are providing a way forward. The government desperately needs to drop its contempt for any view over than its own prevailing one. The consequences of not doing so are huge.

Labels: , ,

Share |


  • This is septicisle


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates