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Friday, March 13, 2009

Protest against UK troops : Has everyone gone mad?

Fri, 13 Mar 2009 12:46:40 GMT | PressTV

A group of about 20 Muslims in Luton protested against British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, who were parading in the town after coming back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Tuesday March 10.
The world must have gone crazy while I looked the other way.

In recent days the British establishment, media and public have roundly condemned a group of about 20 Muslims who peacefully (if provocatively) protested against British soldiers who were parading in the town of Luton.

Yet the British army - which has invaded and occupied two sovereign nations in the last decade, killed and tortured innocent civilians, and has been complicit in secret rendition - was hailed as heroic.

The Muslim protestors outraged the nation when they carried placards with slogans including "Butchers of Basra", "cowards, killers, extremists" and "British government terrorist government."

Gordon Brown and MPs from all parties spoke out against the protest. The prime minister summed up the national mood when he said, “The whole country is proud of our brave servicemen and women who serve their country with great distinction and courage.”

Radio phone-in shows were deluged with outraged callers who labeled the protestors unpatriotic traitors who wanted to create a medieval Islamic state. References were made to their “menacing” Islamic dress, and the general consensus was they were the enemy within and should be booted out of the country.

Escorted by police, British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion parade through the town of Watford, England, Wednesday March 11, 2009.
Mainstream Islamic groups feebly indulged in damage limitation, saying the protestors were inciting Islamophobia and did not represent ordinary Muslims. They said anger over the war on terror should be directed against politicians, not soldiers who were only obeying orders. Others with more forthright views have been cowed into silence.

Although I admit mine is a minority view in the UK, all of this strikes me as illogical and highly hypocritical.

A majority of British people, of all religions and none, think the war on terror has been a disaster and has unleashed the gates of hell in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also believe that far from protecting the British public against their enemies, the war on terror has incited terrorism and made the British mainland a target.

And while it is true that the politicians are primarily to blame for taking the country into these wars, surely the soldiers cannot be completely absolved of responsibility. After all, they are the ones who pull the triggers, or in the case of British soldiers in Basra, kick innocent Iraqis to death.

Moreover, soldiers are not robots. They are human beings with critical faculties who can refuse to fight if they believe they are involved in an unjust war. We know that many British soldiers don't believe what they're doing is right, yet they continue to pull the triggers nevertheless. Surely that makes them unscrupulous killers.

Don't forget the Nazis argued at the Nuremberg Trials that they were “only obeying orders.” That lame excuse has been rightly discredited forever.

So perhaps it's time for those Britons who opposed the Iraq and Afghan wars to face up to their own hypocrisy.

And perhaps it's time the British establishment, media and public reserved their righteous indignation for the right target - those who start illegal wars as well as those who carry them out.

The truth is the Muslim protestors offered an easy target - a weak minority who think and dress differently. Yet let's get things in proportion - all they did was wave a few banners around. They harmed nobody.

I wish I could say the same about the British army.

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