Theresa May, Your New Islamophobic Prime Minister?

A quick Google news search for “Theresa May and “Abu Qatada” reveals over 2,000 mainstream media articles in the last three days combining both. This is hardly surprising, as in her speech announcing her candidacy for Tory leader (and thus PM) May dwelt on her deportation of Abu Qatada as evidence she was qualified for the job. The May supporting Tory MP who was put up for Sky to interview immediately afterwards managed to say “Abu Qatada” three times in a two minute interview.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a powerful symbol – but not the symbol he has become, a hate figure. He should rather be a symbol of the hate-filled and intolerant place Britain has become, and the dreadful injustice meted out to individuals both by the state and the media.

Abu Qatada spent, over a thirteen year period, a total of nine years in jail in England despite never being charged with any crime. It is not just that he was not convicted. He was never charged. Nine years, think about it. In all that time, neither he nor his lawyers were ever permitted to see the accusations or evidence against him.

Britain has draconian anti-terrorism laws that would make a dictatorship blush. It is an offence to “glorify” terrorism. It is specifically “terrorism” for me to write, here and now, that Nelson Mandela was justified in supporting the bombing campaign that got him arrested. I just knowingly committed “glorifying terrorism” under British law. It is specifically “terrorism” to deface the property in the UK of a foreign state with a political motive. If I spray “Gay Pride” on the Saudi embassy, that is terrorism. We also have secret courts, where “terrorists” can be convicted without ever seeing the “intelligence-based” evidence against them. We have convicted young idiots for discussing terror fantasies online. We have convicted a wife who “must have known” what her husband was doing (at least that one was overturned on appeal).

Yet even with the bar so low it is resting on the ground, from his first arrest in 2001 to his deportation in 2013, through innumerable arrests, police interviews, wiretaps, computer seizures and searches, no evidence against Abu Qatada was ever found which would stand up in court. It is worth noting that if almost any of the vast number of accusations the tabloids made against him had been true, for example if he had actually said in sermons the things he was stated to have said in the UK press, he could have been charged and convicted. But investigation by the police and security services found every single one of these claims to be false.

It is true that Theresa May did succeed in deporting him. To Jordan, where he faced charges of association with terrorist groups. In two trials, one before a military tribunal, Abu Qatada was found not guilty of association with terrorism and all other charges. It should be very plainly understood that the Jordanian monarchy is no friend at all to Palestinian salafist clerics like Abu Qatada, and he had good reason to fear being deported there. But even they found that the evidence Abu Qatada is a terrorist does not exist.

Now I have never met him, though I have met his lawyers and doctor. Abu Qatada holds views with which I do not agree; I dislike the bigoted in any religion. But his main crime appears to have been to be a Palestinian cleric with a perfect comic opera appearance for the right wing media to make up quotes and hate stories around.


This picture is taken from a hilarious Daily Telegraph article in which that author complains that Abu Qatada had “fooled us again” – by the dastardly expedient of not actually committing any crimes.

So if you are proud of a world in which people against whom there is not one shred of court-worthy evidence, who have never been charged, can be detained for nine years and then deported, vote for Theresa May as PM. I expect the Tories will, happily.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a symbol. He should be a symbol of the deepest national disgrace of unjustified imprisonment and of the foul place the United Kingdom has become under successive far right Labour and Tory governments. And I say far right with deliberation. In what other kind of country could the story of Abu Qatada happen?

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  • Brockland A.T.

    You’d think Tony Blair ducking Chilcot consequences (Chilcot now appearing to be used instead to intimidate Tommys with stories to tell) would be more newsworthy than some whats-her-name Tory leadership wanaabe.

  • El Sid

    I think this blogs needs a bit of cheering up.

    How’s about a slice of Jonathan Pie

    “What’s that coming over the hill? The Tories”

  • animalogic

    Here is the money shot, for me:
    “Abu Qatada should indeed be a symbol. He should be a symbol of the deepest national disgrace of unjustified imprisonment and of the foul place the United Kingdom has become under successive far right Labour and Tory governments”
    I’m old enough to remember when a story such as this would have been near inconceivable.
    I now feel humiliated I could have been so naive.
    The descent into structural corruption and anti-democracy (what used to be figuratively known as secular evil) has been so fast…at least to me.

    • cstahnke

      It has been fast for all of us and we are, largely, the cause of the problem by seeking “security” over freedom. And I don’t just mean security against terrorists and so on–I mean in general–we fear everything. This started for me when the intellectual class, the information media, decided to become a servant of the State rather than independent forces watching over society. Their role was not to cause power-shifts but merely to make an attempt to describe the truth about things as best they could find it or publicize the debate of what is the truth about any given matter.

      In the U.S., at least, this degeneracy started with the infiltration of the knowledge sector by CIA operatives (ongoing today). Thus in 1963 a President was assassinated by a cabal where the evidence accumulated is so overwhelming against the official story that it is impossible for any person who claims to be reasonable to assert the official story is correct. The 1968 assassinations were even more obvious, particularly that of RFK, where the Coroner’s Report clearly exonerated Sirhan in the murder–he could not have possibly delivered the fatal shots to Kennedy. Yet, this clear fact about something so central that dramatically changed the entire course of not just the history of the U.S. but the world, does not exist in the official Narrative nor the fact that thirteen shots could come that rapidly out of an eight shot revolver. This is beyond absurd. To put it another way, the media and the universities have created a conceptual framework that is as illogical and absurd as the world view of Cargo Cultists.

      So the repressive regimes in place who are “protecting” us against a made-up fictional “terrorist threat” fulfilled to perfection what Orwell intuited. Without reclaiming history and looking directly at the evidence of the assassination of the 60s or the events surrounding 9/11 and other phenomena there is no way out of this mess. The fact the liberal class whether they are mainstream leftists or followers of Chomsky don’t even want to examine the facts surrounding those events and pretend that none of the problems of physical evidence even exist shows the intellectual bankruptcy of the intellectual class and thus there is no way they can act to counter the police state we are living in on both sides of the Pond.

      • animalogic

        You are completely correct re our “fear” — our complacency. Our agency for today’s ugliness…
        But, often not mentioned, is fact that terrorism in the UK/ Europe is …OLD. Remember the IRA ? Barda-Meinhof etc ? JFK, RFK, MLK as well…? Yes, the rot of State sponsored corruption set in then….but, the “Police State” was not the “rush-to” option.
        Now, any “political” violence (ie “terrorism'” ) is immediately exploited to garner any cheap survailance/repressive benefit for the Government/elites.
        In retrospect I don’t think I realised just how revolutionary the neo-liberals (Thatcher, Reagan, Pinochet etc) actually were. Their revolution was to engineer nothing less than our reduction from citizens to subjects (ie “consumers”).
        The conspiracies noted have been symptomatic of this shift to an ever growing impatience with any “democratic” means and ends…(even appearance)