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Thursday, September 21, 2006 

Why were they there in the first place?

Before we get serious, let's get the amusing stuff out of the way. The above cartoon has to be Steve Bell's finest in a long time. Also, Harry's Place does have its occasional uses: one of the commenters there seems to have found a online posting by Abu Izzadeen looking for a second, third or fourth wife. Obviously, it may well be a fake or just a simple coincedence, but let's have a giggle anyway. Izzadeen considers his most attractive physical feature:
(my beard doesnt grow beyound a certian limit so its not really long)
Words that describe him are:
Passionate, Bold, Protective, Witty, Sensitive
What he'd must like to change in the world:
to see Islam dominate the world
and in social settings, he considers himself:
The life of the party

Well, he certainly was for a few minutes yesterday at least. Along with that other favourite hothead moron Anjem Choudrary, they interrupted and heckled John Reid, who handled them remarkably well, it has to be said.

The conspiracy theories are of course, already up and running. The aforementioned HP has jumped on George Galloway for questioning how the artist formerly known as Trevor Brooks got in and then started mouthing off, but the question is sound. Both Izzadeen and Choudrary are well known to the police - Choudrary was at the protest against the pope's comments at the weekend for God's sake. Choudrary was also involved in the organising of the demonstration outside the Danish embassy back in Feburary, where protestors chanted "Britain Britain you will pay 7/7 on its way" along with other delightful slogans.

The Guardian states:
The Home Office said the audience had been invited by the council and it was an open community meeting which others could attend.
It seems doubtful that the al-Ghurabaa adherents were invited, so presumably they had heard in advance from someone along the line about Reid's visit and subsequently gate crashed the event. If this is what happened, why did the police and security guards there not stop them from entering in the first place? While it could be argued that they had every right to take part in the debate at the end, those in charge of the event should have known full well that they would most likely attempt to disrupt it, which is indeed what happened. In any case, they and some others continued their protest outside, which is where they should have been made to stay.

As could be expected, the Sun's leader column is outraged at what they see as a double standard, considering the treatment that was meted out to Walter Wolfgang after he heckled at last year's Labour conference. They claim that this is appeasement, but rather it's a softly softly approach that is probably the best option the police have. They know full well who the most outspoken extremists in this country are, and they no doubt have them very closely monitored, which makes you wonder whether cases over time are being built up against them. While the Sun decries the treatment of the protestors, the police have been photographing and identifying those who have taken part, intelligence led policing which is far removed from the brutal way in which the raid in Forest Gate was carried out. Would the newspaper rather that more innocents were shot in ham-fisted operations, or that those stirring up hate are dealt with properly? Yesterday's outbursts if anything helped John Reid's cause, giving the lie to his claims that extremists are out to brainwash Muslim youths. The Sun's claim that they breached the peace isn't helped by Ian Blair's comments that no law appeared to have been broken. We should be more worried about why they were let in, rather than what they said once they were there.

The sad thing though is that the softly softly treatment of these men has given them much more attention that they deserve. Anjem Choudrary continues to be asked to appear on debates and television shows; he popped up again on last night's Newsnight, as the radical voice against the moderate. The BBC should really know better than to give men such as Choudrary an outlet on which to air their rage, as it continues to make the public as a whole think that men such as him have widespread support: they don't, never have and never will. This whole episode just reinforces the case for why the extremists need to be shut out to the sidelines. We need to know what the real moderates think, without the likes of al-Ghurabaa being there to drown out their message. At the moment all that's happening is that the extremists are almost becoming part of the mainstream. This has to be stopped.

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You said "Would the newspaper rather that more innocents were shot in ham-fisted operations, or that those stirring up hate are dealt with properly?"

This is the Sun you're talking about... the answer is the former as they'll say it "prevents terrorism".

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