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A little too late Mr. Blair! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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No doubt Prime Minister Tony Blair, a liberal and enlightened leader, regrets having to finally relent and swallow the poison when he announced new measures to curtail civil liberties and declared the rules of the game have changed drastically. Blair must realize that he is acting to safeguard freedom from being hijacked by criminals who will harm it no end; he is also protecting British Muslims and Muslims worldwide from evil perpetrated by a minority of their co-religionists.

Let me recount to Mr. Blair a true story that occurred in a freedom-loving Arab country that has yet to experience terrorism. In a neighborhood mosque, every Friday, the imam encouraged the crowd to practice jihad (holy struggle) and kill non-believers. After worshipers objected to his extremist sermons, two police officers paid the imam a visit on Friday and asked him to prepare his bags as he was going to leave the country. “Where to,” he asked? “You are going to Iraq where you can freely engage in jihad. After you say your goodbyes, you will be taken aboard a ship leaving for Um Qasr, all expenses paid.” Faced with the threat of being seperated from his loved ones, the imam relented and ceased discussing jihad in his weekly sermons.

Just like you Prime Minister, we do not wish to prohibit intellectual activities and we loathe having to prevent preachers or journalists from expressing their views. Nevertheless, principles need to be upheld, especially in cases where mass killing is a likely outcome. No one is forbidding individuals from opposing a war or obliging them to support those they disagree with. The line needs to be drawn, however, when murder and terrorism are concerned.

The British government has acted, at last, and shut the doors of the last bastion of tolerance in our world. The days of tolerance and acceptance have come to an end after terrorists have attacked the capital. Blair’s speech last week marked the end of the last free society of our times. The authorities have publicly stated that action will be taken to limit certain freedoms in order to stop murders from roaming the streets.

Freedom in Britain has meant criminals were punished after committing their crimes whilst they were allowed to plan their actions as they pleased beforehand. Similarly, drugs were sold out in the open, in the name of freedom, yet addicts were punished. This attitude cannot be applied where terrorism is concerned. Indeed, terrorists have been allowed to publicize their cause, promote their ideology, organize their cells and plan their attacks only for their young exploited victims to be arrested and tried. Surely, the authorities ought to have prevented students and refugees who supported terrorism from migrating into its shores. This would have prevented dozen of extremist leaders from living freely in Britain and spreading their evil ideologies to thousands of youths who have only recently been introduced to terrorist and extremist ideas.

This article is the first part of a two-part series examing the anti-terror measures announced by British Prime Minsiter Tony Blair in the wake of the London bombings.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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