Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Britain and France
The Situation, MSNBC
Translations of this item:
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Most Americans think of Great Britain as America‘s stalwart ally in the war on terror. And they are, but how tough are they on terrorists living in their own country? That is a subject open to question. I‘m going to be discussing that tonight with Daniel Pipes, he is the director of the Middle East Forum. He joins us live tonight from Philadelphia.
Doctor Pipes, thanks a lot for joining us. You made the point recently that Great Britain is less vigorous about rooting out terrorists in its own country than France is.
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: I will go even further than that and say that in the Western world Britain is the least capable, competent, vigorous about rooting out terrorism and France is the most, more than the United States, more than any other country.
CARLSON: How does that work? You listen to Tony Blair talk and he sounds like death on terrorists. I mean, he sounds very, very tough. In what ways is Great Britain not tough enough?
PIPES: Well, everybody talks a good game but it is what the law enforcement are doing, what the prosecutors are doing, what immigration authorities are doing is what counts. What we find in Britain is for about 15 years now an infrastructure of radical Islamic groups, some of them overtly supporting terrorism, have developed. And the British authorities have done virtually nothing about it, even post-9/11.
Whereas in France, to the contrary, they are tough. There was a case, for example, about a year ago when an imam near Lyon gave an interview to a magazine in which he supported a man‘s right to beat his wife. And within days he was expelled from the country and that isn‘t even terrorism, that is just sort of, you know, anti-French customs. The French are very tough about this. And the British are extraordinarily lax.
CARLSON: I know the French have laws against inciting religious hatred and, of course, the British don‘t. Tell me other reasons you think the British are not as tough as the French.
PIPES: It is not so much the laws. For example, the British have a law in the works now that would prohibit any criticism of religion, which is basically an attempt to shield Islam, or Muslims, from any criticism, which is an amazing law that has not yet passed, it looks likely to. The government is supporting it.
It is less a matter of laws than perhaps a sense of what it means to be French or what it means to British or what it means to be American, Australian, whatever. And the British seem to take very little pride in what it means to be British, and the French do take pride, the Spanish take pride.
I‘m not really able to explain it, but I can certainly point out to you the manifestations. Let me give you another example. In France there‘s a law against girls wearing the hijab, the head scarf to public schools and universities. In Britain, everything goes, including in one case, in one school, what is called a jilbab, which is an outfit that covers the woman from head to toe with the exception of hands and face. And what is even more striking is that the lead lawyer, at the appellate level for the girl who brought this case against her school, was none other than the wife of Tony Blair, arguing that a Muslim girl can wear virtually totally encompassing clothing to school. This with be absolutely prohibited in almost every Western country except Britain.
CARLSON: Now, you have written recently that up until this past Thursday some analysts considered Britain safe from terrorist attacks simply because the country has been so liberal in dealing with Islamist elements within it. Do you think that is fair?
PIPES: Well, it is actually not analysts. It is that some of the leaders of radical Islam, in Britain, have explicitly said they have what they call the covenant of security with Britain. In other words, so long as they are allowed to act freely and do planning against other countries they will leave Britain alone. Then in about January of 2005, a couple of leaders of radical Islam in Britain said the covenant is over, that due to British actions, laws, foreign policy, they considered the covenant over. And Britain is now fair game. So it was just a matter of time until Britain would actually be hit. And what is so striking here—
CARLSON: Tell me—
PIPES: It appears that the people who carried out the operations a couple of days ago, are domestic, are from within Britain itself. And what is even perhaps most striking—yes, go ahead.
CARLSON: I‘m sorry. I just would like it know what you think of Tony Blair‘s recommendations today that the war on terror be fought against the root causes of terror, which he described as poverty, lack of democracy in the Muslim world and the Palestinian conflict. Do you think a Palestinian state would reduce the incentive for young men to become, say suicide bombers?
PIPES: Well, they might have a—no—if a Palestinian state replaced Israel, if Israel were destroyed I think the war would be over there. But simply creating a Palestinian state would not in any way reduce the violence against Israel. Far less would it have an effect against buses and underground trains in Britain. That is not about a Palestinian state or about Israel. That is about a grievance against the existence of a non-Islamic law state in the United Kingdom.
They want to bring Islamic law to the United Kingdom. So no, it has nothing to do with poverty. Has nothing to do with a lack of democracy because Britain is a democracy after all and these are British subjects who are engaged, presumably in these activities. No it has to do with a sense of being a Muslim and being upset that the world today is not finding Muslims in very good state, and wanting to change that in a radical, total way by bringing Islamic law everywhere.
CARLSON: All right. Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, joining us from Philadelphia. Thank you very much.
PIPES: Thank you.
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