Foreign Office Appeasers
Martin Bright, writing in the News Statesman before his documentary "Who Speaks For Muslims" was broadcast on Friday:
I won't hold my breath though.
Over the past three months I have been working on a documentary for Channel 4 about the government's relationship with representatives of radical Islam. Using a series of leaked Foreign Office documents, many of which were first published in these pages, I have attempted to show that a strategy of engagement with Islamist groups abroad (such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt) has been allowed to seep into the government's dealings with Muslims in Britain.The Foreign Office's top mandarin Sir Michael Jay failed in his censorship attempts (nice one Channel 4 - I've criticised them before but credit where it's due) but he may be more successful with his efforts to stem the flow of leaks which have been exposing the FO's pro-Islamist agenda. Nick Cohen writes in today's Observer:
Last week, the Foreign Office wrote to Channel 4 to ask for cuts to the programme, supposedly to protect a member of staff who had received death threats, although it gave no details. Further cuts were demanded over references to a controversial Bangladeshi politician.
As we go to press, Channel 4 has been admirably robust in resisting such a crass attempt at censorship. It is essential that the media not be prevented from airing the concerns expressed, mostly from within the Muslim community, about the government's insistence on engaging primarily with representatives of a narrow, austere version of the faith, rather than reaching out to the full and diverse range of Muslim opinion.
The civil war within the Foreign Office about its policy of appeasing the Islamist far right has produced its first casualty. All I can confirm is that officers have arrested a civil servant under the Official Secrets Act.Sir Michael retires at the end of this month. This would be the ideal time for a wholesale clearout of all the appeasers of radical Islam within the FO.
I can't get his name or find out when and if the Crown Prosecution Service will take him to court, but what is clear is that the pro-Muslim Brotherhood faction in the FO is now out of control.
After I mentioned last week that leaks showed Angus McKee, of the Middle East and North Africa Desk, had said that 'consideration might be given to channelling aid resources' to Islamist groups, the BBC found that public money was indeed being spent on the Brotherhood.
British taxpayers paid for Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the supporter of the judicial murder of homosexuals and Muslims who freely decide to abandon their faith, to attend a conference in Istanbul. The Foreign Office put up the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood and his wife in the five-star Ceylan InterContinental Hotel.
It sounds a rather self-indulgent place for militant puritans to stay - but apparently the Qaradawis didn't complain.
At the same time we heard that Mockbul Ali, the Foreign Office's adviser on Islamic affairs, had overruled the protests of British Muslims and encouraged his superiors to give a visa to the ultra-reactionary Bangladeshi MP Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, despite his rants that Britain 'has it coming' because of its part in the downfall of the Taliban.
This is the way it goes with the Foreign Office. Provide the religious justification for murder, and it will get you a five-star hotel. Support the Taliban, and it will get you a visa.
Speak out against its mandarins, and it will get you arrested.
I won't hold my breath though.