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Nick Cohen
Thursday 8th October 2009
War Crimes and the British Establishment

When Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, went to the East London Mosque, to argue that there was nothing wrong with imposing Sharia law on British citizens I wondered whether radical Islam was allowing the more reactionary elements of the establishment to revert to type.Even in the law, you cannot discriminate against white-skinned women in Britain without running into trouble. But right-thinking, left-leaning multi-culturalists will applaud if you propose that misogynist laws should be imposed on brown-skinned women, and men can find a new and politically correct way of playing a very old game.

Perhaps I am being unfair; perhaps the silly man did not have the faintest idea who he was playing with. For his Lordship's information, the mosque is a centre for Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the most extreme of the sub-continent's clerical fascist parties. It is, needless to add, somewhat unreconstructed on the issue of female emancipation. The Lord Chief was not alone in making the pilgrimage to Whitechapel. Prince Charles toured the mosque. Ken Livingstone and many others on the pseudo-left formed alliances with Jamaat supporters, while the Muslim Council of Britain has many Jamaatis on board. It is not only progressives who flirt with the party. Only the other day Boris Johnson was in the mosque paying his respects.

Writing in the Guardian Delwar Hussain describes what Jamaat did during Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

As negotiations between both sides broke down and Bengalis launched a campaign of civil disobedience, the Pakistani army launched Operation Searchlight in March 1971. Up to three million Bengalis were murdered in the crackdown and more than 200,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted. To escape the genocide, 10 million people crossed the border into India.

Atrocities were committed by the occupying Pakistani soldiers and their Bengali collaborators. The latter, known as razakars, were against the break-up as it was contrary to their vision of building an Islamic khilafat, or state. Thus the idealism of a secular identity, based upon Bengali nationalism as articulated by Mujibur Rahman was abhorrent to them. The razakars were in the main members of Islamist parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which is allied to Wahhabism and to the fundamentalist Deobandi sect.

Using local knowledge, they perpetrated the worst brutalities and massacres of the war. They rounded up and executed people who they thought were colluding with India to divide Pakistan. This included members of the Awami League party, intellectuals, guerrilla fighters who were involved in skirmishes against the army and Hindus. In reality, much of the killing was indiscriminate. The carnage of those few months has been collected in rooms full of black and white photographs in the Liberation Museum in Dhaka.

They depict chilling images of mass burial pits with decomposing bodies, the remnants of the slaughter of entire villages.


Hussain says that there may be Jamaat war criminals in Britain and that the Bangladeshi government is keen to prosecute them. British solicitors tell me that they are keen to help on a pro bono basis.

Who knows, one day we might see the new friends of the Lord Chief Justice, Prince of Wales and current and former Mayor of London standing in the dock facing charges of crimes against humanity.


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October 12th, 2009
7:10 AM
Alan, it wasn't the cake of separation into states that marks the Israel/Palestine vs. India/Pakistan splits; it was the eating of it in the aftermath! India did not, and never did afterward, attack Pakistan for merely being Pakistan, much less for being a Muslim State as opposed to a Hindu State. IMHO India could have CRUSHED Pakistan anytime it chose to do so, until Pak got the A-bomb, but India, as a country, stood emphatically aside during the Pak-Bangla conflict. Not so the Arab/Muslim countries from 1948 till the present.

October 9th, 2009
9:10 PM
Well, if the accuser knows about all the genocidal crimes in the world and still plumps for an anti-Israel position as the morally overriding choice. Well, that would clearly indicate an anti-semitic agenda.

alan stoddart
October 9th, 2009
3:10 PM
Just found the answer to my question:
The Muslims aren't interested in Muslim violence on other Muslims....
From CiF:
qartil: 'As a prominent member of the muslim community, what is your take on the 1971 war? Do you actively seek bringing justice to muslims in then East Pakistan? Should your own organisation carry extensive research on its members in case some of them commited crimes such as genocide?'
Bunglawala: I was born in the UK and am not Bangladeshi, so to be honest, I very rarely think about the 1971 war. I reckon it is of much more import to those of Pakistani/Bengali backgrounds than to me.
I do nothing whatsoever to bring justice to Muslims in East Pakistan. I have enough on my plate here in the UK.
If you have any evidence of any MCB members having been involved in genocide then as I said earlier take it to the police. It is for the proper legal authories to action. It is regrettable that these smear campaigns still continue in the absence of any actual proof of wrongdoing whatsoever.

alan stoddart
October 8th, 2009
2:10 PM
Where are the protesters who denounce Israel? Pakistan was created in exactly the same way as Israel... as a homeland for Muslims. Compare the way Pakistan has acted over the years to Israel's actions..israel has been under attack for 60 years whilst Pakistan has been has more than 200 terrorist training camps inside its borders, it has 3000 madrassas in the NW region alone, radicalising its youth, it created the Taliban and invaded Afghanistan, it attacks India regularly and sends in terrorists to carry out that work. It has spread nuclear technology around the world...and yet who do people want to boycot? Is it ignorance or anti-Semitism?

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About Nick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom (Fourth Estate) and What's Left? How The Left Lost Its Way (Harper Perennial). Living With Lies, a collection of his writing for Standpoint, is available as an ebook. 

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