Tuesday, September 26, 2006

john reid's speech to muslims

John Reid

The address by Home Secretary John Reid to Muslims in East London last Wednesday was always bound to be controversial, with his call for Muslim parents to be vigilant over signs that their children are being “brainwashed” by extremists.

But after Reid was heckled loudly and at length by a well-known extremist, Abu Izzedeen, there were accusations from some quarters that Reid’s team had “engineered” the interruption so as to enable the Home Secretary to say it showed how dangerous the views of extremists are.
In his address Reid said: “There is no nice way of saying this. These fanatics are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, for one thing: to kill themselves in order to murder others.” He told Muslim parents to “look for the tell-tale signs now and talk to them before their hatred grows and you risk losing them for ever.”

Izzedeen, a Jamaican convert whose original name was Trevor Brooks, interrupted to ask how Reid dared “come to a Muslim area when over 1000 Muslims have been arrested. You are an enemy of Islam and Muslims, you are a tyrant. Shame on all of us for sitting down and listening to him.” Izzedeen was escorted out of the meeting by police, whereupon his associate Anjem Choudary stood up and said: “Muslims do not need British values. We believe Islam is superior, we believe Islam will be implemented one day.”

There was anger among some Muslims at the amount of coverage the media subsequently gave Izzedeen and Choudary, both of whom are marginal, fringe figures, while moderate mainstream Muslims struggle to get their voices heard.

The Respect MP George Galloway wrote in a letter to Reid that Abu Izzedeen is “a well-known and violent extremist from an organization your own government has proscribed. Yet he was allowed within punching distance or the British Home Secretary. How? Why?”

The organization to which Galloway referred is the Al-Ghurabaa group of which Abu Izzedeen was a spokesman and which has been banned under anti-terror legislation. Galloway said Abu Izzedeen is the same man who led “a group of fanatic thugs in the brief ‘hostage-taking’ of myself and my daughter and several innocent members of the public during a general election meeting last year. This is well known to the Special Branch and senior police officers in East London – the very people in charge of your security today.”

Galloway noted that Abu Izzedeen praised the terror attacks of 9/11 and those in London July 7 last year. The MP claimed there were only two conceivable explanations as to how he had been allowed to “hijack” the meeting. Either the police and security services are fantastically incompetent, or “someone somewhere wanted to engineer precisely this confrontation to show you in a certain light and to portray the Muslims of Britain in the most aggressive violent and extreme way possible, as a justification for the utterly counter-productive policies you are following.”

Reid’s call for Muslim parents to monitor their children upset many in the Muslim community. Ahmed. Versi, editor of the Muslim News newspaper, claimed in a press release that Reid was calling for parent to “spy on the behavior of their sons as suspected terrorists” and “trying to divide Muslim families”.

There was widespread outrage when Abu Izzedeen was invited onto the BBC Radio Four Today program on Friday to be interviewed by presenter John Humphrys. He was given a 12-minute interview in the 8.10 am interview slot, which is normally reserved for a cabinet member or other top politician. The decision of the BBC to give Izzedeen such a prime slot to expound his extreme views was condemned by many newspapers and commentators.

Susannah Tarbush
Saudi Gazette 26 September 2006