THERESA MAY’S acknowledgement that it was “wrong” of US President Donald Trump to share online Islamophobic videos posted by the Britain First fascist group marks a step forward — but only a baby step.
It provides some clarification after Brexit Minister Lord Callanan danced on eggshells, trying to distinguish between Trump and the office he holds.
Callanan’s response boiled down to condemnation of Britain First while drawing a veil over presidential responsibility for spreading its hatred to his 43.6 million Twitter followers.
Even his cack-handed attempt to square the circle of government desire to woo the Trump administration despite awareness of the president’s support for white supremacy and Islamophobia was too much for Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
She simply had nothing to say in the absence of guidance from the Prime Minister.
Callanan suggested that Trump might not have heard of Britain First as though his ignorance justified his action, but this doesn’t diminish his culpability for watching the provocative — and probably falsified — videos and choosing to disseminate them.
Doing so is fully in line with his consistent record of spreading hatred against minorities in US society — Muslims and Mexicans — and defending white supremacists as good people.
Britain First leaders are largely irrelevant in this saga. Trump’s virulent national, racial and religious prejudices and our government’s willingness to treat them as trivial to avoid unpleasantness with the White House are what count.
Brendan Cox, whose MP wife Jo Cox was murdered by Britain First advocate Thomas Mair, is spot on to denounce Trump for having “legitimised the far right in his own country, now he's trying to do it in ours.”
May insists that Trump’s planned visit to Britain next year will proceed as normal.
Proceed it might but not as normal, since all anti-racists must mobilise to tell this bigoted clown that he is not welcome here.
The wrong apology
LABOUR MP Tulip Siddiq has apologised to Channel 4 producer Daisy Ayliffe for mentioning her pregnancy during a public exchange, but her apology shouldn’t have been the only one.
Channel 4 News ought to have expressed regret for gatecrashing Siddiq’s event to highlight the ongoing incarceration of her constituent Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.
Its justification was that the Labour MP should contact her aunt, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to demand answers about the alleged abduction by state security forces of British-trained barrister Ahmad bin Quasem.
“Just one telephone call” was the constant, disingenuous refrain from reporter Alex Thomson and the lawyer’s family as though heads of government jump immediately into action on being contacted by a British relation.
Viewers might not know that Ahmad bin Quasem’s father Mir Quasem Ali was the main financial backer of the Jamaat-e-Islami jihadist party who was hanged last year for war crimes.
Jamaat-e-Islami opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, taking part in many atrocities, after which Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led the freedom struggle, was assassinated in a military coup.
Opposition forces in Bangladesh, with Jamaat-e-Islami to the fore, have also deployed terrorism against Sheikh Hasina’s government and faced state violence and trials of dubious legality in return.
C4 concern about the actions of Bangladesh’s politicians, armed forces and judiciary should be directed to Dhaka not to a Labour MP representing her constituent languishing in a Tehran jail.
Ayliffe, Thomson and C4 News, where is your apology to Siddiq and the Zaghari-Ratcliffe family?
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