Speccy backs Bright

“Governments come and go, but there still is such a thing as the British official mind. From our colonial days comes a Foreign Office belief that in any tricky situation, especially one involving religion and politics, one must make friends with the extremists and find, like needles in a haystack, the ‘moderates’ in their midst. This was the strategy that led us to encourage the Arab Higher Committee in pre-war Palestine, under the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Nazi-supporting Haj Amin al-Husseini, to ‘deliver’ Muslim opinion. The concept achieved apotheosis in the approach towards terrorism in Northern Ireland, which systematically broke all the genuine moderates Terence O’Neill, Brian Faulkner, David Trimble and the SDLP and advanced Sinn Fein on the grounds that it held ‘the key to peace’. Now the two biggest parties in Northern Ireland are Sinn Fein and the Paisleyites, so extremism is seen to pay off and the Province’s sectarian divisions are as a great as they have ever been.

“Sorry to praise the New Statesman in these pages, but its political editor, Martin Bright, has just produced an excellent pamphlet for Policy Exchange, the think-tank of which I am chairman, called ‘When progressives treat with reactionaries’. It is about how the British government has sought to deal with Muslims in this country (and abroad) by flirting with Islamists rather than helping empower the unfanatical. The pamphlet reprints a dozen leaked official documents which promote the oxymoron, expressed in one of them, of ‘moderate Islamist tendencies’. The Foreign Office has as its adviser a young man called Mockbul Ali, who wrote, after September 11, about how the ‘non-white world has been terrorised in the name of freedom’. He is revealed advising the Foreign Office to support the admission into this country of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the religious leader who supports Taleban ‘jihad’ against British troops, the execution of homosexuals and female genital mutilation. He also wanted Hossain Sayeedi, a Bangladeshi MP, let in. Sayeedi thinks our troops deserve to die for opposing the Taleban and has compared Hindus in his own country to excrement.”

Charles Moore in the Spectator, 15 July 2006