UK Conservatives undermine counter terrorism efforts by forming Conservative Muslim Forum lead by Islamists
October 25, 2007
Conservatives for Terror?
By Nile Gardiner
National Review Online
October 23, 2007, 0:35 a.m.
As Britain fights a global war alongside the United States and other key allies against Islamic terrorism and its state sponsors, it is hard to believe that elements within the British Conservative Party are actually working to undermine it. The world's oldest political party, once led by Winston Churchill, recently established an official body called the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF), appointed with the aim of providing "the Conservative Party and the UK with a voice which represents the overwhelmingly moderate majority of British Muslims." Its statements and policy positions are however fundamentally at odds with Britain's approach to combating the threat posed by Islamic terrorist organizations as well as dangerous rogue regimes, and are distinctly lacking in moderation.
The CMF is headed by Lord Mohamed Sheikh, who was made a life peer in 2006 and is the Chairman of the "Conservative Ethnic Diversity Panel." Lord Sheikh has been an outspoken critic of Israel, and claims that Israeli actions in Lebanon as well as British involvement in the war in Iraq are responsible for the radicalization of young Muslims in the U.K.
The Conservative Muslim Forum recently unveiled a strikingly frank policy document, first reported by the London Daily Telegraph, that projects a worldview that is thoroughly divorced from traditional British conservatism, and openly appeases Islamic radicalism as well as the Iranian regime. The paper is a response to the Conservative party's National and International Security Policy Group report released in July.
It condemns Britain's s traditional support for Israel, opposes the banning of fundamentalist Muslim preachers from entering the U.K., sympathizes with Iran's nuclear ambitions, rejects any association between militant Islam and terrorism, and calls for a significant rewrite of the British history syllabus in schools. The Forum also defends the standing in the Muslim community of the highly controversial Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric based in Qatar, who has been dubbed the "Theologian of Terror."
The CMF document is a massive embarrassment for the Conservative party at a time when it has regained momentum in the polls, and is mounting a credible challenge to the Labour-led government of Gordon Brown. It is an Achilles heel that, if not challenged and strenuously rejected by the party's leadership, will seriously undermine the Conservatives' credibility as a government in waiting.
Here are some of the document's controversial statements:
While acknowledging that a future Conservative administration "should continue to oppose Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions," the document makes clear that
Rewriting British History
It is extremely difficult to see how such extreme remarks fit with a political party that stands for the rule of law, the defence of the West against rogue regimes, the centrality of the Anglo-American Special Relationship, and support for key allies such as Israel.
The support which the Conservative Muslim Forum gives to the Iranian dictatorship, at a time when British soldiers are still dying at the hands of Iranian backed militias in southern Iraq, should draw public outrage in the U.K. There is no mention of Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism, its systematic violation of human rights, or its threats to wipe Israel "off the map." In addition, the CMF's defense of the rights of preachers of hate to come to Britain to spread their seditious and anti-democratic message to young impressionable Muslims, plays directly into the hands of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, who use such imams to recruit young Britons to their cause.
The establishment of the Conservative Muslim Forum is a dangerous flirtation with Islamic extremism that should be brought to an end, as well as a dangerous step towards ethnic and religious balkanization within the party. It closely parallels some of the same mistakes made by the Labour government, which has all too often lent credibility to Muslim groups claiming to be moderate, such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Indeed there is a huge vacuum in terms of truly moderate leadership within Britain's two-million strong Muslim community, as witnessed by last year's extraordinary act of disloyalty by 38 British Muslim leaders calling on then Prime Minister Tony Blair to change U.K. foreign policy or face more terror attacks.
The unveiling of the CMF's policy prescriptions follows in the footsteps of the hugely controversial appointment in July of Sayeeda Warsi as the Conservative party's Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. Warsi has been a fierce critic of British antiterror policy, stating that anti-terrorism legislation had turned Britain into a "police state." She also urged the British government to engage with Islamic extremist groups just days after the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, welcomed the election of Hamas, and defended Kashmiri separatist groups as "freedom fighters".
The Muslim Forum document and the appointment of Sayeeda Warsi both raise serious questions regarding the Conservative party's commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism. There can be no room for appeasement at a time when Britain and her allies are engaged in a long war in the defence of the free world. Cameron should act immediately to condemn the CMF's statements and disband the group altogether. The Conservative party should not be giving a platform to a body that defends the rights of those who seek the destruction of British democracy, and which openly sympathizes with a barbaric terrorist regime like Iran that calls for the extermination of an entire nation.
— Nile Gardiner is the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.