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Thursday, October 05, 2006


Leak and spin

The news sources are full of the story that a ‘Muslim’ officer was excused from guarding the Israeli embassy during the recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

I have two questions.

First, who leaked this story to the press, and what effect did they hope to produce?

Second, why are news sources concentrating on the fact that the officer was a Muslim?

It seems to me that the important feature of this officer’s identity was not that he was a Muslim, as did not ask to be excused from guarding the Israeli embassy prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and once the Israeli bombing of Lebanon ceased he returned to full duties. He was excused from guarding the Israeli embassy during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon because his wife is Lebanese.

This is perfectly sensible. Indeed, one would expect that the officers responsible for assigning duties within the diplomatic protection group would have a full, in depth file on each of their officers. It astounds me that a police officer was asked to guard the embassy of a nation that is bombing and invading the nation to which his wife belongs. This has nothing to do with the officer being Muslim, but rather that his personal, familial connection to the conflict ought to have resulted in the officer being ruled out of guarding the embassy, just as an officer would be ruled out of investigating a crime in which he had an unusually personal stake. He should not have had to ask to be excused. The officer should have been given other duties for operational reasons.

The only way that, in this story, his Muslim identity trumps his Lebanese familial connection is that, as a Muslim guarding the Israeli embassy during the time concerned is that he and his family may have been especially at risk from attack by violent Islamist groups. If this is the case, then being excused from this particular duty on welfare grounds is perfectly reasonable.

Of course, this all brings us back round to my first question. And we may now reframe it. The questions of who and why can be combined into a single question. Who is determined to paint Muslims as disloyal, unBritish, and subject to preferential treatment? Well, that sounds like the standard Melanie Phillips line, in other words, the line of the rabid anti-Muslim racist, unreflexively redeploying the standard anti-Semitic arguments but replacing the subject of their hateful stories with the modern bogey religio-ethnic group.

Someone within the police, presumably occupying a senior position, is an anti-Muslim racist. This person is presumably riding on a significant amount of support from police officers who are either stupid dupes or fellow anti-Muslim racists. Is it really that unreasonable for Muslims to withdraw from co-operating with the police?

Or even withdraw from co-operating with the British state on a much wider basis. When John Reid delivered his ‘grass up your kids’ speech in East London he was heckled by Abu Izzadine. This heckling was seized on by news sources and John Reid himself to demonstrate the inherent violence and unreasonableness of Muslim opponents to current British government policy. And this painting has worked. Abu Izzadine’s interjection prompted a rash of letters to newspapers. Taking The Mirror as an example, the October 4th edition included the phrase ‘an evil cancer spreading in this country’ and calls for deportations. This kind of rhetoric has been seen before.

But the point is that this story is almost certainly not what it seems, unless it seems to you that this story was a carefully stage managed event. As George Galloway points out, Abu Izzadine is a well know violent Islamic extremist. The security services will have known all about this man. How did this man get within a few feet of the Home Secretary and take a place among in a small, controlled audience? The only reasonable explanation, excepting such fantastic levels of incompetence that we should all withdraw from co-operating with the police and certainly should oppose any increase in police powers, is that Abu Izzadine was allowed into the meeting in the knowledge that he was very likely to aggressively heckle John Reid.

In other words, someone was keen to paint Muslims opposed to current government policies as aggressive and unreasonable. In other words, someone is stage managing speeches by government speakers in such a way that the result aids the anti-Muslim racists.

That this kind of propaganda also helps John Reid to cement his political ambitions is, I am sure, entirely co-incidental.

Minor quibble, from the BBC news story you cite:

"Now the conflict is over, ... Pc Basha had asked to be excused from his duties..."

But this doesn't change the thrust of your argument, which is very good.
From what I have read and what I have heard on television news this morning, I think that the BBC article is badly written.

That quote comes amid:

"During the summer, when Israel was involved in a month-long conflict with Lebanese militants, Pc Basha asked to be moved from the Israeli embassy because he felt uncomfortable and unsafe.

Now the conflict is over, the Association of Muslim Police Officers - which is speaking on his behalf - said Pc Basha had asked to be excused from his duties because he felt "uncomfortable and unsafe"."

The first paragraph is about his request to be removed from the specific duty of guarding the embassy during the conflict. The part in the second paragraph which reads, 'Now that the conflict is over', is intended to indicate not the timing of his request, but the timing of the announcement made by the AMPO.
Regarding Abu Izzadine, we can't have it both ways. If he had been detained from the meeting, on the basis that he was a known troublemaker, that would have been seized on as some kind of draconian measure, no? "Reid can't handle criticism, uses police to silence protesters" etcetera.

If you think members of the public can just walk into a meeting being addressed by the Home Secretary you must live on another planet.
Your analysis of the story is the best I have read. It's a pity that the BBC gave so much attention to the stor - headline news all through the morning, lots of coverage on Today - while giving scant coverage to the disturbing news that a Muslim dairy in Windsor has been firebombed on a third night of attacks by a mob.
Nice article, Andrew.

There's a little more on the curious case of Abu Izzadeen, one of many Islamic 'converts' with a habit of putting in 'timely' appearances when required, here.
I don't doubt some people are out to smear Muslims as a whole, however it is worth noting that Omar Brooks (Abu Izzadin) lives in the Leyton area. I've seen him around, on occassion. It is not inconceivable that word of Comrade Reid's arrival got to him.
On the subject of the firebombed Muslim owned dairy. Have a look at how it was covered by the not-usually that-sympathetic-to-Muslims Sun:,,2-2006460324,00.html

And contrast it with the coverage in the Daily Mail:,,2-2006460324,00.html

When even the Sun can report a story as an unjust attack against Muslims, there's something wrong when it's reported as the Muslims' fault.
FCC, the link to the Daily Mail story is:
thabet - Izzadeen might have got wind of the event, but is it feasible that he could have entered the invite only event with all the attendant security that Dr Reid would command? And then be ejected by the world's smallest policeman?

Watch the footage on the BBC web site, you can see the lone mini-policeman awaiting his cue from the suited gentleman holding a radio at the back of the room.
What a load of crap.

PC Basha is employed to uphold the law in this country - he should follow the orders that he is given.

Would a Roman Catholic PC be excused from guarding an abortion clinic because it went against his religion and people may make threats against his family if he were pictured there?? Of course not, he'd be told to stop moaning and get on with his job.

If PC Basha can't follow the orders he is given I suggest he leaves the police and takes a job elsewhere - preferably in Lebanon.
cracking post
Contrast the helpful, convenient way that Reid, and his former cabinet colleague Peeping Jack, fuel the moral panic about Muslims, with the deafening silence about this. Will the street where the explosives were found be sealed off and become a media goatfuck? I doubt it.
"during the time concerned is that he and his family may have been especially at risk from attack by violent Islamist groups".

I thought that was why we paid policemen to do the things they have to do, and possibly why "the policeman's lot is not a happy one".

They should sack him for stupidity as well as cowardice.

As for your worry concerning who or why some-one leaked the story, are you now suggesting that teh news be censored?
An insightful post, that I've linked to.
For fuck's sake Duff, are you really that dim? What goes in or stays out of the news is based on deliberate decisions, by real people. It doesn't just happen by accident.
Thank you, John, I see it's impossible to hold back the teacher in you! I'm quite aware that the news that appears is subject to many pressures from different directions but happily with a free and *competitive* media what one outlet might wish to suppress, another is sure to publish. Another example of the benefit of competition!

But you miss my point (again), I was asking our host if he wished to join the myriad censors that do lurk in the bushes.
Duff enquires "As for your worry concerning who or why some-one leaked the story, are you now suggesting that teh news be censored?"

I don't know about Andrew, but my position is rather the opposite - the person who leaked the "news" - which seems to have been a malicious and dangerous lie - should be identified, sued for defamation and dismissed from the police.
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