Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Tony Blair’s Shiite Sister-in-Law | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

At a time when the Iranians were waiting for a respite from their political and economic distress, Lauren [Booth] has appeared to declare her conversion to Islam. She is the sister of Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Iran’s arch enemy. Lauren announced her conversion to Islam following a visit to the holy Iranian city of Qom. After less than six weeks of learning about Islam, she has become a spokeswoman, advocate, and philosopher in Islamic affairs, having only read – as she herself acknowledged – sixty pages of the Quran.

Whilst converting to Islam is a personal right that nobody can object to, what is objectionable is that the relative of [Tony] Blair seems to be more supportive of the Iranian regime than the people of Iran themselves. Perhaps she has been influenced by her environment, as she is now working for “Press TV” in London. Press TV, of course, is Iran’s state-owned English language global news network. Lauren Booth has spoken of the impact of what she saw in Iran on her, and has claimed that the people there are eager to endure hunger and sanctions, in solidarity with the Palestinian people! Of course, we understand that becoming a Shiite Muslim is a personal conviction, but we can object to Booth becoming a spokesperson for the Iranian people, and an expert on the Middle East. Less than 18 months ago, three million Iranians demonstrated in against [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad; against his policies and electoral fraud. These demonstrators were suppressed! However now we see Tony Blair’s sister-in-law lecturing us about how the Iranians are eager to endure sanctions, in solidarity with the Palestinians. The suffering of the Iranian people has nothing to do with the Palestinians.

Tony Blair is in no position to correct his sister-in-law for he himself embraced Catholicism just days after he left office, whilst prior to this he was a Protestant like the majority of the English people. However shifting from one sect to another within Christianity is no less problematic than changing from Shiite to Sunni or vice-versa in Islam, for this has its own sensitivities and social issues. So, Lauren Booth was not the first member of the family to “break the mould”, as Tony Blair already did so by becoming a Catholic. Whilst Cherie Blair, a prominent human rights lawyer in Britain, has represented Muslims in British court.

The British media reaction to Lauren Booth’s conversion to Islam ranged from astonishment to ridicule. It is natural that the British have become more sensitive, as they have had enough of news about Muslim extremists, especially after British tabloid newspapers have enjoyed printing the statements and insults of Muslim extremists against British society. Negative news about radical Muslims and extremists almost fill the pages of British newspapers today, where these figures appear inciting religious hatred and expressing their support for Al Qaeda. These extremists also attempt provoke the country’s national figures, for example calling on Britain’s Queen to convert to Islam, and even publicly insulting Britain, for example one Muslim extremist famously described Britain as being “like the inside of a toilet.”

Unfortunately for Muslims, Lauren Booth – who now that she is a Muslim has become a matter of interest – is in no position to defend Islam, nor does she have a respectable track record that could convince society to believe what she is saying. She is an ordinary woman that has become attracted to Islam thanks to her surroundings, namely her employment at the Iranian television station. She has become fascinated by the activities of the worst regime in the Islamic world, namely the Iranian regime, and has defended it and its policies.

However, British tolerance is well known for following the policy of not judging others. Therefore anybody who wants to denounce Lauren Booth’s conversion to Islam is free to do so, but nobody is able to take away her freedom to believe in whatever she likes, or denounce her as an infidel.