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March 16, 2004


Peter Bocking

A simple march with placards reading "Not in My Name" would suffice.


You say of the poll result,

" I do not doubt that they are unrepresentative of British Muslims"

Can you explain why? Are ICM ignorant of polling methods?

Oliver Kamm

Matthew - Hoist by my own petard - almost. ICM are entirely competent in statistical sampling, and I was criticising Mr Sacranie for implying otherwise. They find that a substantial minority of British Muslims hold views of the type that I have described as abhorrent.

What I was trying to say was that the 28% who are either unable to criticise mass murder or are undecided on its moral character are not representative of majority opinion, because by definition 72% of the survey respondents don't hold those views. I believe that the 72% abhor terrorism - certainly those British Muslims I know well do so, though you would be entitled to point out that a self-selecting sample (i.e. those who choose to converse with me) is not a random one.

In short, I wasn't trying to issue soothing bromides rather than face the unpalatable truth directly; I was merely getting into a tangle making a trivial numerical observation.


I don't doubt that there is still a considerable reluctance on the part of some British muslims to accept the reality of al-Quaida and to persist with the idea that it is all some part of a "legitimate" struggle against "Western imperialism" (and this thinking has more roots in simple racism than some people, liberals especially, would care to admit). To be honest, I think that sort of thinking might be with us for a few years yet. Thankfully, I *do* think that Islamist extremism is still a minority movement amongst muslims in this country.

Regarding Thatcher, I don't think we should be fooled by any apparent "humanism" in her response to 9/11. I still recall with disgust her dismissing of those murdered by the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (with whom she had a very unashamed friendship - remind anyone of a certain Glasgow MP?) and her excusing, at the time of his (more than rightful) arrest, of political murder. I have no time for her dwelling on humanistic issues - she has discharged herself of that right.

David Duff

Obviously if the sampling was done correctly, a fair proportion of the respondents would have been young men and my guess is that they would have been as full of bravado as most young men are, particularly in the face of an interviewer. But talk and action are two different things!

On the other hand, just half a dozen young bombasts prepared to practice what they preach, are capable of Madrid-style massacres. That is why I wish we could see and hear more from the British Muslim leadership in outright condemnation of such acts - but I'm not holding my breath!

Not that such equicocation is solely Muslim. The atrocities committed by the IRA, which fouled for ever the not dis-honourable longing for a united Ireland, were met with similar evasions by most of the Catholic leadership (with a couple of very rare, brave exceptions) and a size-able percentage of the population.

Recent events indicate a pathetically low calibre of leadership in our police service and I can only hope that these buffoons are not allowing PC considerations to hamper targetted surveillance of all Muslim communities.

David T

When I was at school in the late 1980s, I remember a good friend of mine telling me that he wanted to join the Muslim Brotherhood: a comparatively innocuous islamicist outfit. He had been brought up in a conventional, professional, british muslim household, and became a doctor.

A decade later, was lecturing at a well known English university. In my classes were a significant minority of intelligent, articulate radicalised muslim students, some of whom were members of groups such as Hizb'ut Tahir. They were thought by their fellow muslim students to be boorish show offs. Some of these students, I am told, disappeared from the UK and - so their fellows thought - went to train in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Those who went to train for jihad were a minority, of course. And those who join islamicist political movements in a small minority of all british muslims.

Moreover, most of these students embraced islamism in the way that some students join the SWP: its all chat and no action. But some clearly planned to take things further.

Khadr junior, interviewed on Radio 4 this morning, claimed that he had met 200 British jihadis during his own Al Qaeda training. I very much hope that we know where these 200+ British jihadis are now.

Phil Jackson

"I have no time for her dwelling on humanistic issues - she has discharged herself of that right."

Then perhaps no one has the right to take a "humanistic" (humane?) view of anything.

Putting aside the political illiteracy of those who think that Pinochet is comparable to Saddam, let us delve briefly into the history of the Guardian, the principle mouthpiece of the sanctimonious left in this country. We find that:

(a) it supported - in an editorial column no less - General Jaruzelski’s imposition of martial law and suppression of Solidarity in 1981;
(b) its Latin American correspondent, Richard Gott (later exposed as a Soviet agent), approved the Argentine military coup of 1976, the advent of a regime which was to engineer the disappearance of at least three times as many dissidents as Pinochet’s;
(c) and, worst of all, it holds the dubious honour of being the last mainstream western paper to lend succour to the Khymer Rouge, its correspondent Malcolm Caldwell filing sycophantically pro-Pol Pot copy until the day he was himself murdered by a KR splinter group.

And we may remember that if that paper had had its way both Milosevic and Saddam would retain power, and Kuwait would be a southern enclave of a Ba’athist republic.

But should we insist that Rusbridger & co. hang their heads in collective guilt and shame, and desist from any kind of moral stance? Should we demand that frothy left-wing anti-Thatcherites shut up until they start to read decent and truly "humanistic" newspapers? And thereby "discharge" themselves of their own hypocrisy? It seems a little severe.



You have lost me here.

You "do not doubt that they (the 28%) are unrepresentative of British Muslims" not because you "expect the Muslim institutions to which they nominally adhere to express an unambiguous judgement. None, apparently, has been forthcoming." but because 72% said otherwise (your response to Matthew).

Would you have a doubt as to their representativeness if moslem institutions of Britain positively supported the views of the 28%? Or would the 72% still leave you without doubt?

You write well and my guess is that you don't drive a cab or work in a factory, please correct me if I'm wrong. I imagine that the Moslems you talk to, on a meaningful level, would be educated, sophisticated and nuanced in the ways of the English, again correct me if I'm wrong.

I suggest you hang around a working class mosque for a while and you may have a different view of what a representative moslem view is.

In 1997 BBC News indicated that there were 1.5 million Moslems in Britain. That 28% represents 420,000 British Moslems who are either unable to criticise mass murder or are undecided on its moral character.

I have a high opinion of President Bush but he is wrong in expressing admiration for Islam.
It is a despicable religion.

David T

By contrast with the UK, 65% of pakistanis in pakistan support ObL


So the surprising thing is that the percentage of support for islamicist terrorism among british moslems - who are significantly pakistani, bangladeshi or indian - is so low.

Oh, I know, when they say they support him, they don't actually mean they support him - they're just expressing frustration with the ... antiimperialist struggle ... israel ... hypocrisy ... blah blah blah.


"An overwhelming 80% say Britain and the US should not have launched the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein"

Interesting that British Muslims are more pro-war than the general population of Spain.


Obviously if the sampling was done correctly, a fair proportion of the respondents would have been young men and my guess is that they would have been as full of bravado as most young men are, particularly in the face of an interviewer. But talk and action are two different things!

But there are signs that not all of them are full of bravado:

The shoe bomber Richard Reed.

The British suicide bombers in Israel.

The hundreds that went through Al Qaeda's training camps, some of whom are thankfully in Guantamano Bay. (One of whom was found in the flat of Al Qaeda's second in command).

The 3rd year medical student from Birmingham University on the Al Qaeda recruitment video.

That said I suspect the real threat is from foreign nationals, who may or may not be getting local support.

Barry Meislin

All very interesting, that.

I suppose one doesn't have to try very hard to excuse the astonishing absence, all things being relative, of Moslem expressions of outrage over mass murders committed by Moslems in the name of Islam.

(And actually, "astonishing absence of outrage" may be even rather a humourous way to put it.)

After all, one understands quite well that oppressed groups prefer not to hang their dirty laundry out in the public purview; or perhaps one can understand the utter desperation of the bombers, even if one can't really fully justify it, no not really; or perhaps those whom the bombers bombed really had it coming to them.

And have it coming to them.

The whole slippery slope, kit and kaboodle.

And how many thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands are being spoken of by the polls, as being "either," "or," or somewhere in between?

But then, how many does it take to cause mass murder, mayhem, and destruction?

(Keeping in mind that to be labelled a racist in today's enlightened world is a thing far, far worse than to be a mass murderer....)

Andrew Ian Dodge

I agree with Lady T's post-9/11 words and was rather peeved at IDS for cowardly scurrying away from them.


Ok Oliver, I see your point. Thanks for clearing it up.


Interesting - apparently Al Qaeda are "supporting" Bush's re-election. Bluff or dare?

'The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom... Because of this we desire you to be elected." '


Ironic (and hypocritical, of course, but neverthless correct) that Al Qaeda deems Bush foolish for dealing with matters by force.

Peter Bocking

Pollster, " Do you support the death cult which has murdered thousands of people accross the Globe"
Reply, " Do I look stupid enough to say yes to that question in public?"


Another wonderful piece of analysis, but Oliver surely the problem is the assumption that others share our 'basic moral distinctions' when quite clearly they don't?

This is just an empirical fact it would seem, emerging from this and other cases. Just what it means is not clear.

Isn't it rather frightening that there seem to be no shared universal human values?

I suggest that Conrad sketched such a view in Heart of Darkness, and elaborated the point in his other books.

The obvious conclusions would seem to be Hobbesian, yet some seem to need a Hobbes world more than others...



I would like to associate myself with Phil Jackson's comments, and add this:-

Any mature individual who understands childhood innocence and the right to life will feel intensely for the young victims of that September day. Mrs Thatcher is such an individual and she, like anyone, has the right to express the pain it occasioned her. The liberal-left does not have sole rights to human emotions. It cannot select who may or may not express natural sentiments according to its own political sensibilities. Grow up. Become a parent. Hold your own child in your arms and talk less rot.



Do you have to drag on about welcoming a polyglot society and celebrating our cultural and ethnic diversity, as though these were gifts of inestimable value? Have we really not got beyond the point where everyone has to flop down in worship of the great god of Political Correctness?


"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" - Koran
"O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed" - Koran.
Muslims who support islamic terrorism are simply following the teaching of the Koran. That is why other muslims will never protest against them.


According to another blog (Harry's Place) I think the Muslim Council has called on a rally of Muslims in condemnation of terrorism.

For those who objected to my comments about Thatcher and her approval of political murder and wish to be associated with one of it's practicers - one thing I have always believed is that killing people for purely racial or political purposes is evil and those who not only excuse it but actually speak of it approvingly are enemies of humanism and liberty. That goes for George Galloway, supporters of the "Iraqi resistance", communist-apologists in the Guardian, and Margaret Thatcher.

Sorry to sound pompous but it is something I feel quite strongly about and is the reason I agree with Oliver about the need to fight tyranny and terrorism in the way we do.

Bravo Romeo Delta


If one of the coup attempts in Nazi Germany had been succsessful, would it have been evil? Conversely, any of the legitimate resistance movements during the 20th century caused a whole lot of folks to pay their portion of the butcher's bill. Do you think that the Iraqi soldiers who were delievered munitions addressed "occupant" were not, somehow killed for political purposes?

Even though I agree with your general sentiments expressed here, to start trying to look for an external moral justification for conflict to protect that which you hold dear leads you into tricky and dangerous precincts, indeed.



You exhibit all the fatal partiality of the far left. Pinochet saved his country from marxism. The times - and his methods - were what they were. But given that marxism in its economic form is now understood as the gravest crime against humanity and productive of far more murderousness than any political creed in history, you might try to balance the books a little better.

For example, dragging down Margaret Thatcher because she repaid Pinochet for crucial help during the Falklands War is simply wrong-headed and utterly typical of the left's studied myopia. Mrs Thatcher played a key role in bringing down the Soviet empire and, thereby, in bringing economic marxism everywhere to an end (up to and including the class war here). Do you really not see how pathetically your moral posturing stands up besides such a giant contribution?


"Pinochet saved his country from Marxism".

Where is your proof of this? What do you mean by "Marxism"? Do you know anything about Chile?

Answers pending:

a) I have none.
b) Dunno.
c) I eat it with rice. Usually.

The fact remains that Allende was elected, according to the laws of the country at the time, as the head of state of Chile. The fact that he was a left-wing social democrat - Tony Benn would be a modern equivalent, no faults removed - with some marxist economic ideas only impinged on Chile's prior money cow, America - primarily during the Presidency of Nixon. It had little, if anything to do with some great upswell of the "communist hordes". Allende, not having an electoral majority, would have had to rely on a coalition to govern and this would have tempered any of his more extreme views - and he did have them, let's face it.

So why the support of Thatcher's position on this? I suppose you could argue, in the case of the Falklands, that she needed all the help she could get - bearing in mind that Reagan remained studiedly neutral and Mitterand basically told her to stuff off - but this only makes sense if she had had no prior working relationship with Pinochet. Alas, like so many regimes, of both Orient and Occident, she couldn't resist throwing her lot in with whoever would throw their lot in with her, no matter their stripe.

How perfectly vile.

As for Oliver's original post - Thatcher is clearly right to say what she said.

And keep up any abuse of encrusted liberals who think the Khmer Rouge were a misunderstood outgrowth of the Amish community (or something.................)

Peter Bocking

So ignoring whether Margaret Thatcher was right or wrong,you are saying that once someone has made a morally questionable decision,all decisions taken thereafter are morally invalid.
No room for atonement,restitution, they are damned forever.That's most of the World's major religions down the tubes then.

Pinochet as murderous despots go was fairly minor league and way down the list,Stalin,Hitler,Mao,Pol Pot,are those that spring to mind,but there are, sitting in the UN, despots with unenviable track records in murder,corruption and oppression.

Of 192 countries in the UN only some 60 are democracies a large number of the rest are dictatorships,kleptocracies and downright gangster states,but we have to work with them! Why? Because they are there,just saying "You are bad,I am not having anything to do with you until you become good",is infantile,they don't care,no engagement,no power ,no influence.We have to deal with the World as it is.


"Allende, not having an electoral majority, would have had to rely on a coalition to govern and this would have tempered any of his more extreme views"

My understanding is that Allende did not have a coalition giving him a majority, and instead used some highly questionable tactics to govern.

The elected parliament passed a resolution which could be read as an invitation for an army coup.


Interesting to see so many people here making excuses for Pinochet's murder of innocent people ("saved his country from Marxism" - a classic example of people putting ideology before human life). His country had an elected Marxist minority government who were not murdering people and he overthrew it with force and started murdering people. Sorry, but I tend to look at the basic human facts rather than the posturing of people who read too many books on political theory. See also Orwell's attack on the "comfortable professors" who excused Stalinist murder with exactly the same nonsense.

I personally believe that the deliberate killing of people for political purposes is absolutely wrong and those who do it are the worst kind of criminals and should be treated as such. Pinochet, by all rights, should be either in prison for the rest of his life or hung from the neck until he is dead. Nothing, not claims that it was for a "greater good" nor any support he gave this country in the Falklands war, could possibly change that. I've heard the accounts of the relatives of the "disappeared" from the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships and I wouldn't take any opinion that would deny them justice against the murderers who killed their loved ones.



Nobody is making excuses for Pinochet's regime. His methods were vile and not excused by the infinitely worse political crimes committed elsewhere. But he aligned Chile with the west and gave it a modern economy, and helped this country against its own, larger neighbour in the moment of our need. Would that every South American military dictator had such a positive side to his record. I can't think of one.

The question is: why does the British left care so passionately about Pinochet? Doesn't it have enough to protest in the infinitely greater evil from its own side(communism, Nazism, modern cultural marxism in the west)? And why do you, Matty, have such a powerful need to deny Margaret Thatcher her humanity?

It's all extremely fishy and suggests a certain inequilibrium.


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