Socialist Worker

A failure of leadership

Blair is using the London bombs for political gain—and some Muslim leaders have shamefully capitulated, writes Bilal Patel

Issue No. 1961

 (Illustration: Tim Sanders)

(Illustration: Tim Sanders)


On Tuesday of last week Tony Blair met up with self-appointed leaders and representatives from various Muslim communities in order to discuss and tackle what he calls the “evil” within these communities.

Muslims in Britain should totally reject this approach and take no part in it. The conduct of the prime minister is part of the problem, not part of the solution, and unelected community leaders who associate themselves with him will also be seen as part of the problem.

Our communities should reject any lessons on morality or evil from politicians and commentators who make constant excuses for the tens of thousands of Muslims killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

It is a mark of the prime minister’s double standards that our communities are asked to account for bombs which killed over 50 people in London, and yet we are asked to turn a blind eye to the huge number killed in Iraq when he led this country into that disaster.

Unlike the prime minister, we should say unequivocally that the bombs which ended innocent Iraqi lives, which he is responsible for, are every bit as evil as the bombs which exploded in London.

Neither should we believe that Blair has the remotest interest in pursuing a solution to prevent further terror attacks. He ignored a recent foreign office report which stated that there would be an increased likehood of terror attacks because of policies pursued by this government in Iraq.

Any discussion on finding a solution for preventing terror attacks must include an acknowledgement that Iraq is an issue. But the prime minister refuses to make such an acknowledgement.

In fact the government is actively discouraging something that could prevent future attacks—dialogue with young Muslims. Progress can only come from open and honest discussion and debate of all views, without rejecting them in advance as “extreme”.

The government has already alienated a large section of the population through existing anti-terror legislation. Now it is trying to further silence genuine grievances by pushing through tougher laws, further curtailing civil liberties and boosting police powers.

Last Friday we saw the deadly results of this policy course—the killing of an innocent man by the Metropolitan Police, an act of wanton terror every bit as disturbing as the recent bomb attacks against Londoners.

This killing was a direct result of the hysteria and climate of fear whipped up by the government and the media. I cannot see how this will encourage the Muslim community to cooperate with the security services. After all, one of us could be the next victim of a shoot to kill policy.

Meanwhile, our unelected Muslim leaders have comprehensively failed to represent the interests of our communities, or to articulate the real anger and frustration of Muslims in Britain today.

It is utterly contemptible that not a single community leader has challenged the hypocrisy of politicians who sanctimoniously preach about good and evil as the rest of us suffer their policies.

Apologising and issuing fatwas is all well and good, but not at the beck and call of people who arrogantly tell Muslims what sort of Islam they must practise, when they themselves are responsible for the lethal oppression of Muslims the world over. Where were the fatwas when thousands of Iraqis were being killed?

Much of the British public realises that bombings happen because some people are driven to kill, irrespective of whatever race or religion they are. But politicians and their friends in the media have nevertheless repeatedly tried to make the link between Islam and terrorism.

This is a diversionary tactic and it helps the politicians get away—literally—with murder. In the face of all this we need Muslims who can stand up and argue their case. We don’t need apologists who think that everything can be cleared up by going to see their friends in parliament.

I found it extremely embarrassing to watch members of the Muslim community being lectured to by Blair. Simply by attending they legitimised every insult he has thrown at our community and every lie he has uttered. And I am angry that this was done in my name. The Koran enjoins us to do good and forbid evil. By capitulating to people like Blair, they have eschewed their responsibility and allowed injustice to flourish.

Individual Muslims must now take the initiative and argue their case without apology. We should not be afraid of stating that the continuing British support of the US-led “war on terror” has made this country an enemy of those who previously saw it as a friend.

Blair’s aim is to deflect criticism from his policies at this crucial time. He will not succeed. We shall continue to remind him of the truth that the disaster which befell London recently is in no small part due to him. He is part of the problem—and he should be held to account for it.

Bilal Patel is an activist with the civil rights ­campaign group Stop Political Terror. He writes here in a personal capacity. To sign his petition calling on British Muslims to reject Blair’s agenda go to www.petitiononline.com/Ummah


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Sat 30 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1961
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