In a speech at the Foreign & Commenwealth Office in London yesterday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain would not “disengage” from the Muslim world.
In his address Johnson said Britain should celebrate the role it played in defeating ISIS in Raqqa in Eastern Syria. The UK was America’s junior partner in providing air support to Kurdish forces on the ground which forced ISIS to abandon their capital.
In his speech Johnson also said:
– British foreign policy is not to blame for the chaos in the Middle East although the Iraq war was a mistake.
– Britain should not stand aloof from the Muslim world.
– “Islamist terrorism” is not an existential threat to the UK.
– The government will persist with the Prevent counter terrorism programme.
– It’s wrong that “Islamists” exploit freedom of speech in this country to pursue their ends.
– Elements of the Muslim Britherhood excuse terrorism but the group not be proscribed in the UK.
– The UK will support human rights groups, women’s groups and journalists in the Muslim world.
Reacting to Johnson’s speech advocacy group CAGE said the Foreign Secretary was attempting to whitewash British foreign policy.
CAGE said that armed groups and those imprisoned for political violence cite British foreign policy as a key grievance. And before he left office President Obama admitted that the creation of Islamic State was an “unintended consequence” of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its subsequent dismemberment.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, director of CAGE, said: “Mr Johnson’s comments give air to right-wing groups and follow on from his earlier statements on Brexit which have inspired a narrow, insular nationalism, the consequences of which are being felt not only by Muslims, but all right-minded people concerned with justice.
“Mr Johnson makes no mention of the swathe of evidence testifying to how the rule of law has been consistently and brutally eroded by the ‘War on Terror’ both abroad and at home. Not acknowledging this as a root cause of violence that needs to be tackled urgently, is quite simply a denial of reality, if not an outright deception. As such, it takes us further from solutions and simply reinvigorates an already failing approach.”