May 22, 2008

Support Shiv Malik's book

On August 1, 2006, the then U.K. Prime Minister, Tony Blair, delivered a major foreign policy speech on the Middle East to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. In the speech he called for a “complete renaissance” on foreign policy to combat reactionary Islam. “Whatever the outward manifestation at any one time,” he said,

it is a global fight about global values; it is about modernization, within Islam and outside of it; it is about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appealing that it beats theirs. Islamist extremism’s whole strategy is based on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other.
This is not just about security or military tactics. It is about hearts and minds about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for.
[italics mine]

Why to recall that speech now? Because what Tony Blair meant, in a way, is illustrated in the book—only just published by Constable and Robinson—freelance journalist Shiv Malik has been writing on former jihadi, Hassan Butt, who renounced radical Islamism two years ago and has since been working (and putting his life on the line) to pull Muslim youth out of the British terrorist network. All good, you’d think? Well, it was, until at 7:50 am, March 19, 2008 … What happened?

This is how Karrie and Mimi—respectively Shiv’s best friend and wife—tell the story in a page set up on Facebook (Support Shiv Malik's book):

[T]he Greater Manchester Police came to Shiv’s London flat, and served him with a production order for the research materials related to his book, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Manchester Crown Court has upheld the police order, but Shiv is appealing the decision. The week of 19th May, he will stand before the High Court in London, where the Attorney General herself will be asked to explain why it is that terrorism law is drafted in a way that so blatantly conflicts with our basic civil rights.

This hearing is incredibly important in protecting journalist’s and writers integrity, freedom of speech and the confidentiality of their sources. Thus it is no surprise that the journalistic community has rallied in support of Shiv (Hurrah!). The Sunday Times, The New Statesman, The Observer, The BBC, English PEN, Index on Censorship, and the National Union of Journalists have all given their advice and financial support and he is eternally grateful for their help.

The plea now is this – thanks to everyone’s support, the legal fees, which are lofty, are almost paid. But Shiv had to act quickly to fend off the police and the fees added up before financial help could arrive. We are looking to raise a few thousand pounds so that he can pay his lawyers in full, and get this book out to the public, where it needs to be!

We are planning a fundraising party as it is well known that in times of need, booze and boogying always helps. Hopefully we’ll have it organised in the next few weeks before his hearing on the 19th May, and we’d love you all to come. In the mean time please join this group and have a read of the articles attached below. Send this to anyone and everyone who you think would be interested.

Thanks Everyone, we really appreciate your support.

Karrie and Mimi.

Today, the judges of the Manchester Crown Court said they expected to make a decision by mid June. Despite press freedom fears (see here and here), according to Andrew Edis, QC, counsel for Greater Manchester police, “the force was not asking Shiv Malik to reveal confidential sources” but “wanted material on Hassan Butt,” and Shiv Malik should hand over his notes connected to the police investigation.

Perhaps this is not the best way to fight the battle of which Tony Blair was talking about on August 1, 2006, at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.


  1. A very good post, Rob. I will only comment on one aspect where we probably are of different opinion.

    This complete "renaissance” on foreign policy to combat Islam fanatics, seen as a global fight about global values … mmmmm, nice talk indeed. Tony Blair is a valuable man in many respects and is not deprived of some greatness. I admired him for example in his last day as a prime Minister, where he showed dignity and courage.

    But let us face it: how can Mr. Blair think he/we/the West can win this battle for values? Which where the values that provoked the Iraq war? Finding (non existent) mass destruction weapons? Everybody now has a clearer idea why that war was started: for power in the region and for oil. Ok, it is real-politik. Every power plays its game in the world chessboard. None the less, I am asking myself, are we especially entitled or do we have any special chances to win such a battle on global values? Isn’t there instead a lack of values in the West? Isn’t Blair’s talk you quote hypocritical to a large extent?

    This war has provoked the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (the number of US casualties being instead irrelevant). The Italian Berlusconi government joined the so to say happy bunch, my only consolation being that the VAST majority of Italians were totally against that war.

    Best regards,

    Man of Roma

    Not that I think the Islamic fanatics have better values. But are we sure our set of values is really much more “robust, true, principled and appealing” that it is so clear that it can beat theirs?

  2. Good post and thoughtful response from MAR.

    But, was the above (specifically regarding our values versus terrorists) a defense of moral equivalism?

  3. … And yours is a very good comment, Man of Roma. At the present moment I am so terribly hurried that I am forced to delay answering your questions, which deserve “special attention.” Anyway, I agree/diagree with you, because these are very complicated and contradictory issues (War on Terror, values, freedom Vs islamofascism, etc.). Let me just say that Berlusconi’s government “joined the so to say happy bunch” after the Iraqi war was over, and essentially with humanitarian goals (which I appreciated very much). As for Tony Blair, his attitude towards Iraqi war was not so enthusiastic, even though he took his responsibilities with dignity ...

    All the best

  4. I hope you don't mind if I built my last post on this debate.

    Best regards


    I will update it with the last comments

  5. @The Commentator
    >was the above ... a defense of moral equivalism?

    I hope not lol. Replying randomly, what I meant is that the wheel is turning, other powers / civilizations are surfacing, and we must not give it for granted that our Western values are morally superior or in any case globally exportable in ALL countries (democracy, for example). Plus, ok, terrosists are repulsive killers, but wasn't the Iraqui war a terrible slaughterhouse as well?

    Being hypocritical in any case does not help, the world public opinion being much sharper than we think, I believe.

    All the best