Extremism in Britain's House of Lords

In 1998, Nazir Ahmed became the first British Muslim to become a life peer in the British upper chamber, the House of Lords. This week, he was suspended by the Labor Party.

According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper, while Ahmed was in Haripur, Pakistan, he said, “If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the captor of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of 10 million pounds on President Obama and his predecessor, George Bush.” Hafiz Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group suspected of perpetrating the 2008 Mumbai massacre of 166 people.

(Ahmed denies using those words, and while the Express Tribune has since clarified that “he never mentioned the name of current US President Barack Obama or the word ‘bounty,’” the paper has verified that Ahmed “made an ‘offer’ for bringing to justice former US president George W. Bush and former UK prime minister Tony Blair for what he termed to be their war crimes. Likening the two cases, he said that if the reward for Saeed was OK, then his offer for Bush and Blair was also OK. ... Lord Nazir even added that he would arrange the ‘offer’ at any cost even if he was left with the option of selling all his personal assets, including his house, or even begging in Haripur and across Pakistan for the funds.”)

Ahmed has form. In 2005, he invited the anti-Semitic writer “Israel Shamir” to speak on “Jews and the Empire” at the House of Lords. Shamir is also known as Jöran Jermas and has been associated with neo-Nazi groups in Russia and America. According to the journalist Stephen Pollard, Shamir’s speech included these gems:

  • “All the [political] parties are Zionist-infiltrated.”
  • “Your newspapers belong to Zionists … Jews indeed own, control, and edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of imperial thinking.”
  • “In the Middle East, we have just one reason for wars, terror, and trouble—and that is Jewish supremacy drive … in Iraq, the US and its British dependency continue the same old fight for ensuring Jewish supremacy in the Middle East.”
  • “The Jews like an empire … This love of empire explains the easiness [with which] Jews change their allegiance … Simple minds call it ‘treacherous behavior,’ but it is actually love of empire per se.”

Back in 2005, Pollard challenged Ahmed directly to condemn these comments, but Ahmed said, “I am not even going to speak with you” and put the phone down. Pollard asked the Labor Party to act. It did nothing. One is reminded of the (surely apocryphal) story of the preacher who warned his flock that when the sinners descended to hell, they looked up and said, “Oh Lord, we didn’t know, we didn’t know.” The Lord, in his infinite mercy, looked down and said, “Aye well, you know now!”

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