"Abu, Abu Qatada, I wanna reach out and grab ya"

So what are we to make of the deportation of these 10 individuals who, claim the government, pose a “threat to national security”? On the one hand, I find the ideology of these people utterly repugnant. On the other hand, it’s a sign of our status as a sophisticated democracy that we can tolerate and contain them, no matter what they think. Then again, why should a democracy that prides itself on its tolerance put up with those who would seek to destroy that? People that would advocate, support and even involve themselves with the murder of innocent people in the name of their “cause”?

Amongst the ten is “radical cleric” Abu Qatada, also described as “Al Qaeda’s spiritual ambassador”. He fled Jordan in 1993, accused of acts of terrorism, came to Britain claiming asylum and has lived here ever since (residing at Belmarsh prison from 2002 to March 2005). He is a known preacher of hate and has been linked with Al Qaeda operatives. Now he’s going to be extradited back to Jordan where he faces imprisonment. Human rights lawyers, meanwhile, are mounting a challenge in his defence claiming that his safety cannot be guaranteed in Jordan – not exactly the birthplace of citizen’s rights. This is probably going to drag on for years, at enormous expense to the taxpayer.

This is a real liberal dilemma. I don’t doubt at all that Abu and the rest of this mob are a threat to national security (or at least would be, given the chance) but at the same time, we have to uphold the rule of law – and they haven’t actually been convicted of anything yet. I’m not comfortable with Britain compromising a single one of its democratic ideals, no matter how vile the person in question. I see that as capitulation: we would be cheapening our credentials as a civilised nation and moving towards that which we are resisting (just like Guantanamo Bay, which has tarnished America’s reputation in many quarters). Could it be the thin end of the wedge? Would there be another group targeted next? Should we just trust the government on this one? At the same time, the “ideals” of these people simply are not compatible with our own, and I’m certainly not personally concerned with their welfare, to be perfectly honest.

Oh, does anyone have any answers?!?


Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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17 comments on “"Abu, Abu Qatada, I wanna reach out and grab ya"
  1. Anonymous says:

    Yea I have answers and they seem obvious to me. We have theives here. I guard the perameter and when I approach a snooping asshole I am always put on the defensive. I won’t explain how or why as that is also obvious. The point being that any trouble that ensues will reflect bad on me as I am the asshole creating a confrontation with a person that has a right not to be bothered. If the suspect is a sharp and competent liar his word is as good as mine to the police. He gets his confidence from his theiving peer group and the eneffectiveness of the police and courts emboldens him. Theives could now literally carry a banner stating that they are ‘theives’ as there is no law against being a theif, just against getting caught in the act. Terrorists cannot do likewise yet have indirect spokesmen and cronies. The point being that we should have a right use property rights and rights of assoiation to make life difficult for antagonists and adversarial culturalists. They may not leave but I am sure they won’t invite their friends anymore. (already know the counter arguement and it is a utopian wishing well dug with blood and tears of Patriots under the supervision of Liberals and it’s water tastes like nihilism

    (you guys are not Liberals) dw

  2. Laura says:

    did anyone else have trouble following that?

  3. Citizen Sane says:

    I think dw’s saying that criminals of all variety hide behind laws that should be used to prosecute them, not protect them. And that our requirement to demonstrate guilt is greatly abused.

  4. Laura says:

    Can I also just say that the title of this post is inspired?

  5. Dark Horse says:

    I really like this blog- you people not only have brains, but know how to use them! Keep it up.

  6. Anonymous says:

    According to a recent national survey, the vast majority of consumers want an online experience that is highly personalized.
    Wow! You have a distinctive blog. I’ll bookmark you for sure.

    I have a more energy site. It pretty well covers more energy related stuff.

    Please check us out.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think that must be the first time the Liberal Elite has been spammed!


  8. Google Adsense says:

    Hey, just blog surfing and found you. Nice blog… I might come back again.

  9. Citizen Sane says:

    DA – unfortunately not. See also the first 2 comments on the Galloway post. Fecking spammers!

    Ms Jones – thanks. Wasn’t too sure if it worked or not. I think I missed my calling as a tabloid sub-editor. Unfortunately for me I had that song in my head for the whole of Friday afternoon. . .

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanx Citizen Sane wish the hell I could find a simplier way to make a point. I lump all bad guys together as havimg a common nature and believe my British brothers have the many of the same problems we have yet your perspective is not as hostole as ours (or mine). I will just read for a while as you guys are interesting. And I would apologize to Amie if she will accept. dw

  11. Dark Horse says:

    And for the record, I’m not a spammer- I’m just a groupie.

  12. Citizen Sane says:

    Thanks dark horse. Didn’t think you were a spammer actually. Groupies always welcome.

  13. mAc Chaos says:

    “I see that as capitulation: we would be cheapening our credentials as a civilised nation and moving towards that which we are resisting (just like Guantanamo Bay, which has tarnished America’s reputation in many quarters).”

    Hmmm, and what would that be? Taking tougher actions against terrorism? And if Guantanamo is considered “tough”, that’s a rather low bar to set, with the pampered treatment they receive there.

  14. Citizen Sane says:

    You can be tough with terrorists without creating the utter PR disaster that was Guantanamo Bay. Imprisoning people without charge and without access to legal counsel would be considered routine in Syria, Saudi Arabia or Iran. When it’s perpetrated by the United States (which, for all its faults, is meant to be a beacon to the world) then we have a problem.

    Sit back and look at it objectively just for one minute: can you see no contradiction whatsoever between the ideals that the USA is meant to uphold and its behaviour in locking people up indiscriminately? And before you start, I know the arguments already: “These people are terrorists, these people are murderers”. Fine. Then charge them and get it dealt with. Oh, by the way, if they’re all so dangerous, then why have so many been released without charge?

    We’re democracies: we prove people guilty first, don’t we? Any deviation from that ideal is cheapening our values, and that is the point I was trying to make. You either hold these things sacred or you don’t. I guess you don’t.

  15. mAc Chaos says:

    I would submit to you that the conditions in Guantanamo Bay are much milder than conventional wisdom would lead one to believe.

  16. Citizen Sane says:

    I’m not saying it’s like a Stalinist gulag, and trite stories about colour TVs and Harry Potter books on camp do not interest me in the slightest. But I AM saying that locking people away indiscriminately, without charge, without explaining to them and to the rest of the world (after all, they’re not only a threat to the USA are they?) why they are there is NOT the behaviour one would expect of a civilised democracy.

  17. mAc Chaos says:

    The problem posed by fully explaining all the information which led to their capture and incriminates them is that much of it is borne from intel and other work on the ground that is highly sensitive and would be compromised by being revealed in public. As such, when the government does try to actively prosecute a terrorist in Court, which is meant for civilians, by the way, they cannot bring to full bear the information they have against him. Treating the problem as if it was just another justice system issue in this instance does not seem to be the proper approach. Our system isn’t quite set up for it. Furthermore, the terrorists already received a trial before a military tribunal, which is what they are entitled to.

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