UK Muslims Bristle at Foreign Policy

British Muslims have blamed Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy on Iraq and Lebanon for fueling extremism around the world and putting the life of civilians at risk.

UK Muslims Bristle at Foreign Policy

"It is our view that current British government policy risks putting civilians at increased risk both in the UK and abroad," said leading Muslim leaders and politicians in an open letter to Blair cited by the Guardian on Saturday, August 12.

The Muslim letter said that Blair's government has extensively focused on drafting laws to fight extremism at home.

"While some of this will have an impact, the government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy," it added.

Tarique Ghaffur, Britain's most senior Muslim officer, has said British laws were alienating the sizable Muslim minority and were running the risk of criminalizing ethnic minorities.

The letter was signed by three Muslim MPs and 38 organizations including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

British authorities on Thursday, August 10, arrested 24 terror suspects on charges of plotting to blow up a number of US-bound flights.

Britain named 19 of those arrested, who were aged from 17 to 35, and ordered their assets to be frozen.

British media said the suspects were mostly British-born men of Pakistani origin, three were converts to Islam and one was believed to be a security guard at London's Heathrow airport.

Friends of those arrested said the men had led ordinary lives and had jobs such as being a taxi driver or pizza delivery man.


The Muslim leaders said that Blair's policies on Iraq and the Israeli offensive in Lebanon were playing into the hands of extremists.

"The debacle of Iraq and the failure to do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East not only increases the risk to ordinary people in that region, it is also ammunition to extremists who threaten us all."

"Attacking civilians is never justified," they averred.

"We urge the prime minister to redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism and change our foreign policy to show the world that we value the lives of civilians wherever they live and whatever their religion. Such a move would make us all safer."

A report by the British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said on July 2 that international conflicts, such as the situation in Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories, were breeding feelings of injustice in the Muslim world which can boost support for terrorism.

A report commissioned by Muslim leaders following the London attacks said that the British policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East were fanning the flames of extremism.

Some 52 people were killed and hundreds wounded when four British-born Muslims detonated bombs in their rucksacks in coordinated attacks on London's buses and underground trains on July 7, 2005.

British Muslims, estimated at some 1.8 million or nearly three percent of the population, had denounced the grisly attacks, saying there was no justification whatsoever to take innocent lives.

Unfair Policy

"We simply cannot ignore the fact that our country's foreign policy is being used by charismatic [figures] to tell British Muslims that their country hates them," Khan said.

Labour MP Sadiq Khan said Blair's reluctance to criticize Israel over its onslaughts in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories were exploited by terrorists.

"We simply cannot ignore the fact that our country's foreign policy is being used by charismatic [figures] to tell British Muslims that their country hates them," he told the Guardian.

"Current policy on the Middle East is seen by almost everyone I speak to as unfair and unjust. Such a sense of injustice plays into the hands of extremists."

His fellow Labour MP Shahid Malik agreed.

"where you forget about right and wrong, where you think two wrongs equals a right ... those events are diminishing my ability to put forward arguments against extremism," he said.

MCB secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari echoed a similar stance.

"We hope the government will do more to ensure its policy doesn't allow people to believe that the lives of some civilians are worth more to it than others," he said.

Joining his ally US President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair has failed to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli attacks in Lebanon, which killed over 1,000 civilians, third of whom were children.



Jim Sheridan, the parliamentary private secretary to the defense minister and his deputy, has quit his post at the Ministry of Defense in protest at Blair's stance on the Israeli war on Lebanon.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16