Contempt for democracy

Anas Altikriti“The weekend response of the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells to a letter from British Muslim leaders that says the prime minister’s policies share the blame for the threat and reality of violence may have sounded clever to him, but the letter is a reflection of the anger and frustration spreading in the community. Among the signatories were those who had previously argued that there was no link between domestic terrorism and foreign policy.

“John Reid also attacked the letter, arguing that it is for the democratic process to decide our foreign policy, not terrorists. He is right, but most people in Britain, and the government’s own security services, believe that policies of war and occupation in the Middle East and wider Muslim world are fuelling the threat we are facing.

“Anyone in the Muslim community attracted to violence as a way of changing those policies needs be persuaded of the necessity of engaging in democratic politics – as most British Muslims have been doing. But the prospects of bringing them on board are not helped by the contempt for democracy and for the people’s views that the Blair government has demonstrated. In the interests of us all, the government must listen and change course now.”

Anas Altikriti in the Guardian, 15 August 2006