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Hypocrisy all over again

Below is the text of an editorial by Common Sense editor Sahib Mustaqim Bleher for issue 27 on the topic of political hypocrisy and double standards.

Hypocrisy has been raised to an art form, and double standards have become the only standards applied to public life. Revelations of immoral conduct are no longer a reason to step down. But whilst there is institutionalised racism in the police force, and not only the Metropolitan Police or Greater Manchester Police, there is also an institutionalised hypocrisy when it comes to dealing with Muslims.

The government machine and the media establishment were working on overdrive when trying to help the nurse Lucille escape Saudi justice, insisting that she could never get a fair trial in that Muslim country. She has since been convicted of theft and forging references in a Sheriff's court in Scotland, and the circumstances of the theft are remarkably similar to that of a victim's bank card in Saudi Arabia.

Contrast this with the lukewarm assurance of support given to British Muslims arrested in the Yemen whose confessions to having been involved in terrorist activities were extracted under torture. One might be forgiven to think that they were the price the British government paid to get the Yemen government's assistance in the release of a non-Muslim Britain from his kidnappers.

An equally striking example of such double standards operating on the international scene is the leniency displayed by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (alias Maria Jama Korbel, born a Jew, baptised a Catholic, now an Episcopalian, and brought up in Serbia) when engaged in endless talks with Serb butchers about the status of Kosovo. No such leniency when it comes to US bombing raids against Iraq for alleged non-compliance with UN weapons inspectors.

The American justification of their brutal genocide contains two major lies: Firstly, the UN did not authorise the US bombing of Iraq. Secondly, since the resumption of weapons inspections on November 17, 1998, there were 427 inspections, 128 of them at new sites, with a total of five obstructions. Those obstructions were a 45-minute delay in one case, the rebuff of the suggestion that inspectors should be allowed to interview all of the undergraduate students in the science department of Baghdad University, the demand of justification for an inspection of the headquarters of the Baath party, and the insistence in the case of two inspections on a Friday, that, as per agreement, inspections carried out on the Muslim holy day, when all establishments are closed, were to be conducted with the accompaniment of Iraqi officials. Those five minor disagreements are the justification for dropping thousands of pounds of explosives onto the civilians of Iraq, as less than half of the so-called smart bombs hit their allegedly intended target.

American punitive actions against Iraq are nothing to do with keeping the destructive capability of a dangerous country in check. They are about controlling a country with contains 10% of the world's known oil reserves. As Edward Said put it, America is a country which has, along with Israel, "flouted more Security Council resolutions, has more unpaid UN bills, and has refused to sign more international conventions (including those against chemical and biological weapons) than any other".

In fact, the destruction America has unleashed over Iraq, is worse than the worst chemical warfare nightmare they try to warn us about in their propaganda. During the gulf war, one million rounds of bullets tipped with uranium were fired. Since then, three times more children are being born with congenital deformities, including children without or with an unduly enlarged head, with stumpy arms like those of a thalidomide victim, with two fingers instead of five, with missing ears, etc. We were not going to be told about these horrific crimes, if it wasn't for the fact that gulf war veterans in Britain and the United States were coming forward with reports of sick and dying children. And forget the fuss about genetically modified soya – due to the use of radioactive war heads in Iraq, produce growing there is altogether abnormal. According to the Department of Defence in the United States at least 40 tonnes of Depleted Uranium were left on the battlefields of southern Iraq.

As if this wasn't enough, a most inhumane regime of sanctions is killing at least six thousand Iraqi children per month. This is why the chief humanitarian co-ordinator of the UN and former assistant secretary-general, Denis Halliday, resigned in August 1998, because he could not, in his own words, any longer "be identified with a United Nations that is maintaining sanctions programme which kills and maims people through chronic malnutrition, and continues this programme knowingly… that is in fact killing and maiming the children, and the next generation of Iraqis. This is a disaster for the Iraqis and a disaster for the UN."

Of course, we are not meant to know too much, nor try to register our disapproval. New laws are brought in rapidly to stem the free flow of information, particularly through the internet. The pretended fight against racism and anti-semitism is being used to justify the infringement of civil rights. The European Union, for example, is laying the foundation for an agreement which will allow law enforcement officials to eavesdrop on internet, fax and mobile phone conversations whilst forcing the communications provider to foot the bill. The plan, known as Enfopol 98, was tabled behind closed doors by the European Justice and Home Affairs Council in December. Its alleged purpose is to combat serious crime, such as drug trafficking, child abuse and terrorism. It will enable police to track and record email and mobile phone calls across international boundaries without specific prior authorisation, and internet service providers must give police forces access to their computer systems. Is it too far fetched to assume that the police, suffering from institutionalised racism and prejudice against Islam, will target particular groups of people selectively?

What Western strategists fear more than so-called Islamic terrorism or the alleged capability of mass destruction to be unleashed from a Muslim country is the power of Islam to convince, especially in an age where Christianity has given in to secularism with the Catholic Church redefining the existence of the devil into a vague concept of evil and the inter-church body Churches Together In England drawing up a millennium resolution which does not make mention of either God or Jesus. This is why secular countries take to desperate and fanatic measures, as France, which has again denied school girls the liberty to wear headscarves.

Nabil Matar's new book "Islam in Britain" shows that this fear of the convincing message of Islam dates a long way back. In the 17th century Muslim technological superiority at sea led to the capture and sinking of large numbers of British vessels. Between 1609 and 1616, it was reported that 466 English ships were attacked by Ottoman or Barbary galleys, and their crews led away in chains. By May 1626, there were more than 5000 British captives in the city of Algiers, and a further 1500 in Sali, and frantic arrangements were being made in London to redeem them "lest they follow the example of others and turn Turk", i.e. convert to Islam.

What was more worrying still were reports that some of these raids against British vessels were being led by Englishmen who had converted to Islam, for example, in September 1645, seven ships "from Barbary" landed in Cornwall and were led inland "by some renegade of this country". Large numbers of British captives were converting to Islam, and while some of these conversions were forced, most were clearly not, and British travellers in the East regularly brought back tales of their compatriots who had "crossed over" and were now prospering in Ottoman service.

"Indeed, Brits were constantly popping up in the most unlikely places: one of the most powerful Ottoman eunuchs during the late 16th century, Hassan Aga, was the former Samson Rowlie from Great Yarmouth, while in Algeria the 'Moorish King's Executioner' turned out to be a former butcher from Exeter called 'Absalom' (Abd-es-Salaam). When Charles II sent Captain Hamilton to ransom some Englishmen who had been enslaved on the Barbary Coast his mission was unsuccessful as they all refused to return: the men had all converted to Islam... In a great many cases, the Englishmen who converted to Islam were not slaves, but free merchants or servants of the Crown who were attracted by what they saw." Sir Thomas Shirley had warned that "conversation with infidels doeth much corrupte", and in 1606 even the British consul in Egypt, Benjamin Bishop, converted and promptly disappeared from public records.

Today's political and military leaders and their media tycoon propagandists seem to have learned little from history. Brute force cannot, ultimately, keep people from the truth, and "only the truth will set us free."

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