X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Rod Liddle

Bearded maniacs deserve justice, too

21 January 2012

1:00 PM

21 January 2012

1:00 PM

I’d like, this week, to draw your attention to the United Kingdom’s unjust treatment of some bearded maniacs. I realise, in writing this, that bearded maniacs may not be near the top of your list of stuff to worry about at the moment, or perhaps ever. Indeed it may even be the case that you think the world is an unjust place per se and that you would be very happy if its most egregious injustices were directed largely towards bearded maniacs, rather than the rest of us. In which case what follows may annoy you, for which apologies.

Bearded Maniac No. 1 (BM1) is the ‘radical Muslim cleric’ Abu Qatada, who has just won his appeal against deportation from this country at the European Court of Human Rights. We wished to send him to Jordan, where evidence obtained through torture would be used to incarcerate him for the rest of his life and quite probably he would be tortured himself. He was arrested in London in 2005 and has been held in prison, without charge, ever since, save for a brief period when he was allowed out on bail. If the government decides to appeal against the latest ruling it is likely he’ll spend a few more years inside. Never charged with anything, remember. It is alleged by people that he is or was a senior member of al-Qa’eda and has been involved in terrorism; in which case, find the evidence and charge him and, if he is convicted, send him down for as long as the law allows. But far from being charged, he has not even been spoken to on a single occasion by police since he was first banged up. Nor has MI5 dropped by to say hello. It is a simple case of internment.

[Alt-Text]


I don’t have much doubt that he’s unpleasant and would make a less-than-perfect dinner guest, especially if you had gay people or Jewish people over. He’d be querulous, picky about the food, wouldn’t drink and might suggest that your guests will burn in hell for eternity. Not much different from my mum-in-law, then. However, BM1 is of an unquestioning absolutist, oppositional mindset and wishes to see western civilisation destroyed and superseded by a caliphate. He is, then, a bearded maniac. But we should not have held him in prison these past six years, and we should let him out unless we can find something to charge him with.

BM2 is my old friend Sheikh Abu Hamza al Masri, the hook-handed cleric, who once remarked to me in passing, holding aloft a copy of the Daily Telegraph: ‘Rod, I see your government has reduced the age of consent for homosexuals to the same as what it is for human beings.’ A hardliner, you have to say, ol’ Abu. He was banged up for seven years for having said stuff — you can imagine the sort of thing, jihad needed, destroy the western infidels, 9/11 bloody good thing etc. Seven years for saying things with which we fervently disagree, at which we might take offence. He was due out two years ago but is still being held in the hope we might be able to extradite him to the US on some trumped-up charge. He has been wanted by the Americans because a man called James Ujaama named him as being interested in setting up a jihadi training camp in Oregon, despite the fact that no camp really existed and Mr Ujaama — a bit of a con man, by all accounts — blagged Hamza’s name as part of a successful attempt to get his own sentence cut from 100 years in prison to two.

Various courts have already ruled that we can’t extradite Hamza, but he is still here in prison, for reasons which escape me. We even changed the law precisely so we could stitch him up by introducing a clause which allowed the government to remove someone’s British citizenship if it ‘is satisfied that he has done anything prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom or a British overseas territory’. I am not quite sure what Hamza has actually done to qualify for this special treatment, other than being not very pleasant. It was the first time anyone had been so denuded of their citizenship since William Joyce, aka Lord Haw Haw.

It was New Labour which twisted the law so that BMs 1 and 2 — plus scores of others — could be banged up on newly invented charges or no charges at all. It was part of Tony Blair’s imbecilic, Manichean division of Muslims into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, the ‘bad’ category expanding by the week. This was in part a consequence of a sudden re-thinking occasioned by 9/11 — the left in general having previously, for complex and fatuous reasons, made common cause with Muslims until it began to realise that Islam was about the least left-wing ideology the world has ever seen, with the possible exception of Rastafarianism. But this government has cheerfully continued down the same path. Aside from banging up people without charge or trial, we now have new categories for imprisoning and fining Muslims who do not share our point of view. They can be imprisoned or fined for burning poppies, or insisting our armed forces are killers, or that homosexuals will burn to death, and so on. We connive in this process because the people bearing the brunt of it are either unpleasant or stupid or both and we dislike what they have to say. But in doing so we lose any possible claim to the moral high ground; we reduce ourselves and our arguments.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close