Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saddam's MP: Part II

Tony Blair and the Labour Party did win Thursday's UK elections, though with a substantially reduced majority. Unfortunately, the pro-totalitarian demogogue George Galloway was successful in his bid for the east London seat of Bethnal Green and Bow, winning election by a mere 823 votes. Galloway, who has openly mourned the demise of Soviet communism and slavishly supported the regime of Saddam Hussein, celebrated his victory by vowing to have Tony Blair tried as a war criminal:

"It is one of my first missions to bring him [Tony Blair] in front of a court in The Hague and behind bars."

Galloway, whose open support for Saddam during Operation Iraqi Freedom and after bordered on the treasonous, was expelled from the Labour Party in November 2003. He founded and heads a new political party called Respect, a bizarre coalition of radical leftists and Islamists united only by their hatred of Israel and America and a shared desire to destroy Western liberal democracy.

The spectacle of seeing such a man continue to hold a seat in Britain's Parliament is frankly revolting. To hear someone who prostituted himself to a genocidal mass murderer like Saddam Hussein call Tony Blair a criminal is beyond sickening. Unfortunately, the impact of Galloway's victory could go well beyond simply having a repugnant crackpot serving as an MP. Galloway won the election thanks partly to the support of Bethnal Green and Bow's large Muslim community. He won many of their votes by repeating the same conspiracy theories heard in radical mosques or on Al-Jazeera, and by openly playing the race and religion cards. Stephen Pollard analyzes the disturbing implications:

The Bethnal Green and Bow result is the single most damaging threat to race - properly, religious - relations since Enoch Powell's river of blood speech and the rise of the NF in the 1970s. Those of us who seek to show that Muslim extremists are the exception, not the rule, and that mainstream Muslims pose no threat to Western democracy, have been dealt a severe blow.

Until Galloway's result - based on demagoguery and the idea that there is indeed a fundamental split between the Muslim way of thinking and that of non-Muslims - it was possible to argue convincingly, as I have sought to do, that maintream Muslims had nothing in common with the extremists.

But the Bethnal Green and Bow result makes that argument very difficult. Galloway did not win because he was supported by a small number of Muslim extremists - those who clearly pose a threat to the West and have to be imprisoned. He won because of support from precisely those mainstream Muslims whom I, and others, have argued did not support their militant brothers.

I cannot bear to think this, since the repercussions are so frightening, but what if that view is wrong? What if - as the vote seems to show - it is not just extremists but mainstream Muslims, too, who have views which are incompatible with Western democracy? Respect/SWP supports the right of terrorists to murder Iraqis. And Respect/SWP has now won the support of maintream Muslim opinion in Bethnal Green and Bow.

If the conclusion is that there is indeed a split between mainstream Muslim opinion and western norms, then the repercussions for community harmony and race relations are likely to be dire. It will give right wing extremists such as the BNP powerful ammunition.

I too hope Pollard's fears are wrong, but sadly I'm not optimistic.


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