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Dr Nile Gardiner is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the The Heritage Foundation in Washington DC and Sally McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs for the Thatcher Center.

The appointment by the Conservative Party of Sayeeda Warsi as shadow
minister for Community Cohesion sends the wrong signal at a time when
Britain is fighting a global war against Islamic terrorism and
extremism, both domestically and internationally. Mrs. Warsi has been a
fierce critic of British anti-terror policy, stating that
anti-terrorism legislation had turned Britain into a “police state”.
According to The Times, in a 2006 article for the Asian newspaper
Awaaz, written while serving as vice-chairman of the Conservative
Party, Warsi described the Government’s anti-terror proposals as
“enough to tip any normal young man into the realms of a radicalized
fanatic.” She also wrote that “if terrorism is the use of violence
against civilians, then where does that leave us in Iraq?”

In a BBC-reported press conference outside Downing Street in 2005 just
days after the 7/7 bombings, Warsi urged the British government to
engage with Islamic extremist groups:

“We must engage with, not agreeing with, the radical
groups who we have said in the past are complete nutters. We need to
bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as
we exclude them and don’t hear them out, we will allow them to continue
their hate. It may not achieve results immediately, but it may stop the
immediate violence.”

Warsi also dismissed the idea that pressure should be placed upon
British Muslims to root out extremists within their midst, commenting
that “when you say this is something that the Muslim community needs to
weed out, or deal with, that is a very dangerous step to take.” She
also urged a public debate over the possible linkage between issues
such as the American Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the Iraq
war, and the 7/7 bombings: “Although the government may not accept that
these were the causes for 7 July, to go into denial mode is not the way
forward.”

Sayeeda Warsi has been highly critical of the war in Iraq, and called
upon former Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologise for the war, an
extraordinary statement at a time when thousands of British soldiers
are putting their lives on the line every day.  She has also made a
series
of other controversial foreign policy statements in recent
years, on issues ranging from Hamas to Kashmir. In a January 2006 BBC Any Questions?
debate, Warsi welcomed the election of Iranian-backed terrorist
organization Hamas, a brutal movement officially proscribed as a
terrorist group by the British Government. Hamas murdered 377 Israelis
in 425 terrorist attacks between September 2000 and March 2004,
including 52 suicide attacks.  Despite Hamas’s track record, as part of
the BBC panel Warsi told her audience:

“I think what’s happened in the Middle East with the
election of Hamas is actually an opportunity and I think that’s the way
we’ve got to see it. When groups that practice violence are suddenly
propelled into power through a democratic process they get
responsibility and responsibility can be a tremendously taming factor.
And I think that Hamas, when it realizes that it wants a safe and
stable and prosperous Palestine for its people, will realize that the
way to deal with that is through dialogue and democracy and not through
violence… I actually think that Hamas has been given a mandate and I
think it will now hopefully adopt a responsible position because that
is the only way.”

Warsi has also entered the fray over the highly sensitive issue of
Kashmir and, according to the Press Association, suggested in a July
2005 BBC One Politics Show interview that new anti-terror laws should
not prevent support among Britons for “freedom fighters” in Kashmir.
Comparing Islamic rebels in the disputed province with Nelson Mandela
and the ANC, Warsi observed that:

“We have a community in Britain, a Pakistani and
Kashmiri community, who holds a very, very strong view about Kashmir
and the scope of freedom-fighting in Kashmir. It would concern me if…
the definition of terrorism was to cover maybe (the) legitimate
freedom-fight in Kashmir.”

It should be noted that Britain currently outlaws no less than six
Kashmiri terrorist organizations
: Harakat Ul-Jihad-Ul Islami,
Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen/Alami and Jundallah, Harakat Mujahideen, Jaish e
Mohammed, Khuddam Ul-Islam and splinter group Jamaat Ul-Furquan, and
Lashkar e Tayyaba.  It is hard to see how such extreme views will
actually enhance “community cohesion” in Britain’s inner cities, and it
is difficult to think of a more explosive issue than Kashmir in
fomenting tensions between British citizens of Pakistani and Indian
origin.

As Britain faces a mounting terrorist threat in the coming months from
al-Qaeda linked Islamic terrorist groups, it is imperative that leaders
across the political spectrum unequivocally condemn all forms of
terrorism, whether it be in London, Kashmir or the Palestinian
territories. At the same time they should refuse to engage with or
appease radical groups that have sympathies for terrorist groups and
the use of violence. If Britain is to win the war against Islamic
terrorism, there must be a united front in defeating the greatest
threat to national security since the Second World War.

***
ConservativeHome has offered Sayeeda Warsi a full right of reply to this piece.

161 comments for: Statement by the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom on the Appointment of Sayeeda Warsi, as Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion

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