FeaturedMiddle EastNews

Opinion: The Saudi Crown Prince is Visiting London, This Should Be The Most Incredible Protest in Britain’s History

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. But it won’t be.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. But it won’t be.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain.

A record two million people marched on 15th of February 2003 to stop the Bush-Blair adventurism in the occupation of Iraq. 400,000 marched against austerity in March 2011 as did the same number in October 1983 against Nuclear Weapons. Heck, even those supporting the hunting of animals could scrounge together 400,000 people in September 2003.

To many, these are partisan issues; they divide opinion. You may have believed the ‘Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction’ lie and so didn’t participate in the demonstration against its invasion. Or you may not like the idea of dogs ripping apart animals after a gruelling chase and so abstained from joining your Tory friends in trying to keep this illustrious tradition going.

ISIS, however, is not a partisan issue. Neither is Wahhabism, the ideological source from which Daesh, Al-Qai’da and Jabhat al-Nusra borrow the idea of radical Takfirism, the violent excommunication of anyone who does not uphold their persuasion, that drives terrorism to be performed in the name of Islam. Nor is stopping the financial funding for ISIS and its ever-mutating list of copycat organisations. And neither is the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster being played out in the form of collective punishment in Yemen. There just aren’t two sides to these.

In the politically, economically and racially divided time we live in, Britain finally has something we can all come together on. With our memories still searing from the images of Syrian civilians lined up in orange jump suits awaiting another mass beheading, children fleeing in all directions from the concert bombing in Manchester and the malnourished babies of Yemen begging for food, it is truly shocking that the architect behind them all – and chief purveyor of infinitely more – Mohammed bin Salman, ‘crown prince’ of Saudi Arabia, is being given a prestigious three day state visit by Prime Minister, Theresa May starting today, rather than being lead away in handcuffs and flown to the Hague.

So which groups on the UK spectrum should be horrified at bin Salman’s state welcome? All of them. Everyone has their own stake in this.

If you are a supporter of Britain First or its ilk and your raison d’être has been to raise a light on extremism in the Muslim community, protesting the de facto head of state that exports militant Wahhabism should be your number one cause. If you are a Christian and watched the massacres of fellow worshipers in Syria, Egypt and Iraq, Wahhabi supremacist theology is a threat to you. If you are a feminist or member of the LGBT community and are distraught at the sex enslavement or throwing of gays off rooftops, Salafist interpretation of Islam would no doubt be appalling?

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain.

Saudi state terror and sponsorship of fanatical groups has materially changed the landscape of the Muslim world

And what if you are Muslim? Saudi state terror and sponsorship of fanatical groups has materially changed the landscape of the Muslim world and the condition of Muslims in the West.

As for the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and former Defence Minister bin Salman was at the centre of the regions’ being turned into ashes. Awash with verve and hope at overthrowing the gaggle of Middle Eastern dictators, the Arab Spring turned into a frenzy of killing from the mélange of militia and criminals descending onto Syria turning it into the inferno of mayhem it is today.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden summarised the plot entirely stating, “Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks, the Saudi’s, the Emirates etc, what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shi’a war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight. Except that the people who were being supplied were Al-Nusra and Al-Qa’ida and extremist elements of Jihadi’s coming from other parts of the world.”

These maniacs soon crossed the non-existent border into Iraq joining the overthrown Baathist party of former dictator Saddam Hussein, expanding Islamic State across two countries.

In Bahrain, as the democratic revolution reached its height in 2011, the monarchy called out to Saudi Arabia for protectionism. The Saudi government responded by sending hundreds of tanks, soldiers, weapons and spies to crush the revolution through arrest, torture and exile.

The Yemeni revolution faced a far graver reply. As rebels finally displaced the Saudi backed leadership after decades of trying, Saudi began a three-year aerial bombardment and economic blockade on what was already the poorest country in the Middle East. Today, Yemen is the world’s foremost humanitarian disaster, with recent Saudi arms purchases from British and American dealers having reached over $100 billion.

Lebanon too was not spared the arm of Saudi sabotage and destabilisation. In a most unprecedented political event, Saudi forces surrounded the jet of Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri in 2017, confiscating his belongings and forcing him to resign at the gaze of international amazement. I haven’t even gotten to its instalment of the dictator in Egypt, its war on Qatar or it’s relationship with Israel.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain.

The perilous cocktail of Saudi Wahhabi ideology and hyper-weaponisation of the Middle East has long affected Britain. Much of mainstream Islam has been reshaped and substituted for Salafism; Saudi sponsored Mosques and Madressas are now battlegrounds of ideology as opposed to a house of spirituality. Sectarianism has spiralled out of control.

After the years of sustained terror attacks, Muslims have experienced the rise of suspicion and hatred; Far Right groups and anti-refugee sentiment have resurfaced; laws and commissions targeting Muslims have been established and subsequent fear-mongering and regular denigration in the media is common. It is not difficult to trace back.

So why is Mohammed bin Salman so welcome despite overseeing everything the West claims to revile and confront about extremist Islam?

It’s more than just about oil. Saudi Arabia has always been a client state of the British even since the West envisioned it as a rival Caliphate to the Ottoman Empire (1). Not only has it been a marionette for Western hegemony in the region, Saudi placation of Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and aggression toward Iran must be heavily rewarded. And that comes in the form of Saudi freedom to do as it pleases, no matter the human consequences.

Bin Salman is also here on a marketing scheme. Now that women can drive and are allowed to attend football matches, these giant ‘reforms’ cancel out the “hundreds of millions of dollars” Saudi Arabia funnelled to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. Essentially, bin Salman is to be paraded as the smiling face of change in Saudi Arabia that the West has managed to negotiate and so Britain’s weapons sales to the ideological home of ISIS is somehow legitimised.

Thirdly, in the post Brexit scramble for trading partners, who better to rely on to prop up the British economy than those who owe the British the greatest debt? Moreover, Saudi’s shift from oil to a technology-based economy and the sell off of Aramco is a grand gamble, one that requires the support of Britain, not for a decade, but the next one hundred years. If the NHS is being sold off to Trump’s friends, then Britain’s moral standing will be auctioned off this week to Saudi corporations.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. The foremost individual responsible for the rise of terror groups in Syria and Iraq, the massacres, displacements and refugee crisis that followed; the human catastrophe of collective punishment and mass starvation as a political weapon in Yemen; and the head of the country that is the primary exporter of extremist Islamic ideology is coming to Britain today.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. We’re not falling for the cosmetic surgery and the lies about Saudi reform whilst it violently suppresses the democratic revolution in its own country and others. And especially not whilst Yemen is obliterated. And we’re certainly not falling for empty gestures of tackling extremism without evidence, no matter how much the BBC try to sell us them.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. But it won’t be. At 5 pm today, Wednesday 7th of March until Friday, civil society groups including the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), British Quakers and concerned citizens will join hands outside 10 Downing Street to protest the presence of someone on almost super-villainry proportion.

Sadly missing will be the media, politicians, business leaders, schools, Mosques, Churches, women’s groups, LGBT organisations, the Right Wing that claim to be opposed to extremist Islam and many others. This is why it won’t be. Because we didn’t pay attention or organise or care enough.

And so long as the British public continues to tolerate its country’s strategic and economic partnership with Saudi Arabia, any hope for a peaceful Middle East and an Islam that truly reflects the beauty and prosperity of its tradition are impossible. So long as the British public continues to tolerate the Saudi regime, Wahhabism will always have a home in London.

This should be the most incredible protest in the history of Britain. Even if it’s not, your participation can make it a catalyst for change.

(1) See Islam in Liberalism, Joseph A Massad, pg’s 63-67

Advertise on TMV



Advertise on TMV