Just two days before the arrests of the alleged Toothpaste Terrorists in August, UK Home Secretary John Reid made a speech about sacrificing civil liberties in support of national security. The suspects had been tracked for several months, so the timing of Reid’s speech was deeply manipulative; emphasising an urgent, imminent threat that simply did not exist.
More recently Reid has insinuated that a letter of protest from prominent British Muslim (including three MPs) was tantamount to treason and called on the parents of British Muslim families to literally inform on their children. This takes place in the shadow of Blair’s legacy as the PM who ‘broke’ privacy.
Reid’s assertion that foreign policy cannot be ‘shaped under the threat of terrorist activity’ is almost laughable when it’s clear that foreign policy is driving terrorist activity!
There’s a sharp lesson here for British Muslims – if we wish to affect foreign policy, we must exercise our democratic will; the first generation of Muslim immigrants patiently changed the nature of British politics to embrace equality in law, we must now patiently assert our disgust at foreign policy on every part of the political spectrum. Violence will not change anything 7/7 and the recent arrests prove this – democratic change may be slow and take generations, but it worked before and we must at least try to make it work again.
In the United States, AIPAC ensures that every US politician understands that support for Israel is crucial to national electoral success. As Cameron, Brown, and potentially Reid himself, position themselves to lead Britain, British Muslims must organise a non-partisan lobby that sustainably ensures that all British politicians understand that an ethical, just foreign policy is essential for British electoral success and successful governance.
UPDATE – Though the EU-US talks on sharing passenger data collapsed today, the British government has a ‘patch’ in place to make sure they could continue to inform on their own citizens, despite its illegality in other EU nations. Why don’t we go the whole hog and issue disembarkation cards for Gitmo at check-in…just in case.