Dr Nile Gardiner is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the The Heritage Foundation in Washington DC and Sally McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs for the Thatcher Center.
The appointment by the Conservative Party of Sayeeda Warsi as shadow minister for Community Cohesion sends the wrong signal at a time when Britain is fighting a global war against Islamic terrorism and extremism, both domestically and internationally. Mrs. Warsi has been a fierce critic of British anti-terror policy, stating that anti-terrorism legislation had turned Britain into a “police state”. According to The Times, in a 2006 article for the Asian newspaper Awaaz, written while serving as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, Warsi described the Government’s anti-terror proposals as “enough to tip any normal young man into the realms of a radicalized fanatic.” She also wrote that “if terrorism is the use of violence against civilians, then where does that leave us in Iraq?”
In a BBC-reported press conference outside Downing Street in 2005 just days after the 7/7 bombings, Warsi urged the British government to engage with Islamic extremist groups:
“We must engage with, not agreeing with, the radical groups who we have said in the past are complete nutters. We need to bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as we exclude them and don’t hear them out, we will allow them to continue their hate. It may not achieve results immediately, but it may stop the immediate violence.”
Warsi also dismissed the idea that pressure should be placed upon British Muslims to root out extremists within their midst, commenting that “when you say this is something that the Muslim community needs to weed out, or deal with, that is a very dangerous step to take.” She also urged a public debate over the possible linkage between issues such as the American Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the Iraq war, and the 7/7 bombings: “Although the government may not accept that these were the causes for 7 July, to go into denial mode is not the way forward.”