Paisley and al Hamza…

HAS Tony Blair ‘done a McAleese’ by comparing ‘Protestant bigots’ with Islamic extremists? Are Ian Paisley and Abu Hamza really two sides of the same coin? In a major speech on foreign policy, Blair was making a point about how religious extremism can lead to terrorist acts, but the specific choice of analogy at this delicate point in the peace process might not be seen as the most helpful or balanced by unionists. Nationalists might also ask if such loyalist terrorism was not at times encouraged by the British Government – an analogy that would also hold true for certain Western democracies that have supported foreign extremist groups in the past… groups which sometimes come back to haunt us, such as the Taliban.Blair clearly believes that there is a connection between terrorism and “extreme” religious beliefs – and how he defines this can be seen in the recent Terror Bill, in which he promoted the “closure of a loophole” that would allow the arrest of people openly encouraging terrorism or “glorification” of terrorism.

Concerns had been expressed here at the time by some Protestants that had the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill passed, it would have prevented a certain style of preaching in Northern Ireland, which might then be regarded as illegal. This claim was rubbished, but there was a story a while back IIRC in which Iris Robinson claimed that this law basically existed in Northern Ireland already. (Will check later.)

Regardless, does Blair have a point, as Sir Reg Empey seemed to hint in the Tele in a more nuanced response than the other politicians who’ve been quoted today?

Even if it wasn’t made well, I think the answer has to be ‘yes’, based on the evidence, there’s a point in there somewhere. Former loyalist terrorists have claimed to have been strongly influenced by hardline Protestant preachers, and some have singled out Paisley for particular attention (describing him as the Grand Old Duke of York, for example), though others, such as Clifford Peeples, have sought to stir up an anti-Catholic frenzy at times. Some people are more easily persuaded or gullible than others, and religion is a powerful influence on some people – but not everyone.

If the PM believes that manic street preachers are the significant factor in persuading Protestants or Muslims into a life of terrorism, I think that would be a facile assumption to make. There are many others, most of which will never be legislated for, but which Blair will also have to deal with at some point.

  • Newton Emerson

    It’s less than a year since Blair’s chief advisor and secretary of state facilitated four murders and 15 attempted murders by ‘protestant bigots’ to tidy up the loyalist landscape.

    It’s a great pity that the English media, or English Muslims, won’t pick up on the hypocrisy of Blair’s pompous little lecture. The number of loyalist murders his officials and advisors have allowed must be comparable to the death toll from the London July 7th bombings.

    Still, I suppose it’ll keep the fenians happy.

  • micheal

    Mr. Bliar doesn’t mention wether or not the ‘Protestant bigot’ in question was acting as an agent of the british state at the time.

  • Newton Emerson

    Yep, they’re happy.

  • shamo

    As a republican (which I presume to refer to with the anachronistic term Fenian), I am not happy with Blair’s comments. Like many others, I find it hypocrtical when a British Prime Minister lambastes the very people his intelligence services armed, trained and deployed. Blair is, as ever, trying to draw a parallel between his activities in Ireland and the Middle East, which goes roughly thus: “I’ve tamed the bigots in Ireland, so my CV shows I can do the same in Iraq”. Of course, this logic is flawed, and re-enacts the old imperialist mantra of blaming the colonised and waging war by proxy through native supporters of the regime.

    The sad thing is that tribalist unionists can’t bring themselves to criticise this with any directness; they resort to the comfort of tried and tested methods – blaming the Fenians, identifying Lundies, wallowing in their own self-pitying exclusion from the rest of modern Ireland and Britain. I would expect more of an erudite writer. Why not just face facts Newton, British politicians have never had, and never will have, your best interests at heart.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Your sarcasm is wasted around here Newt.
    Shamo, try not to forget that polticians only ever have their own best interests at heart.
    The real question is here is what Blair is up to.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Why do they waste time and effort making tripe like Dry Your Eyes when we can just tune into the news for things like this to laugh at?

  • Crataegus

    Blair’s statement is obviously due to direct experience with Bush and his supporters.

  • Jacko 92

    “Are Ian Paisley and Abu Hamza really two sides of the same coin?”

    As I ask on another thread where Linfield is casually associated with racism: who moniters the moniters?
    Not only is the above ad hominem but probably in the full context of what is written and the conclusion reached, actionable as well.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    I just loved what Blair had to say …as the PM of the uk…he stated in a major speech that protestant bigots responsible for the murder of Catholics were/are TERRORIST!!!!! It works for me….and it’s the truth…now the protestants have to deal with the fact…their PM state there are TERRORIST in their ranks. And these TERRORIST are murders of Catholics in northern Ireland.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    if the british pm can state in a speech to the world that some protestants are big ots then why can’t we type big ots on the slugger board without getting all the #########? Isn’t that some of the problem….people are afraid of speaking the truth because it gets the protestants upset…..if the pm can say some of them are big ots and ter rorist….then we should be able to report it in those words on this board.

  • Ken A. Biss, Sweden

    I hate to defend Mr. Blur (as Gerry Adams aptly calls him), but he only referred to “Protestant bigets”, not Protestants, in which category I suppose I could be said to belong. As in “Muslim fanatics” as oppesed to Muslims. I can’t understand why so many people in Northern Ireland are having a hissy fit, unless of course the cap is sitting comfortably on their head. Then again, what do you call a Protestant preacher who was booted out of this country for demonstrating against an ecumenical conference and once famously said: “I hate God’s enemies with a perfact hate”?

  • Ultonian Scottis American

    If you want to see big0try in action, check out old news clips from the 1970s in Irish Catholic areas of Boston where they attack black school children being bused in to desegregate the schools there.

  • observer

    no mention of those bigotted catholics and there “war” to wipe out protestants and british citizens from NI, but of course that would upset cherie

  • Slartibuckfast

    Damn those Boston Irish Catholics!

  • ingrammartin


    I for one would call Willie Frazer a protestant Biggoted pig. That said he is a nice man and I would be confident he would not hurt a fly. The Prime minister in contrast is the chief paymaster to all the Protestant biggot killers whom we run called Agents.

    The Prime minister has no room to talk on this subject and he should be ashamed of himself.He defends a system which has killed more individuals than any finger prodding or Biggotism has ever done.Before he preaches to anyone let the Finucanes have their Public inquiry and not the biggoted closed shop he wants.


  • Jill Robinson

    “Blair clearly believes that there is a connection between terrorism and “extreme” religious beliefs”

    Mr. Blair clearly made the speech before news reached him of Abdul Rahman, the guy in Afghanistan who faces the death penalty for the crime of deciding that Islam, the set of “extreme religious beliefs” which his parents chose for him at birth, was not really for him.

    Oh, and I’m deafened by the protests against this made by the “moderate” Muslims we heard so much about in recent weeks.

    But hey, we can’t accuse the entire judiciary of a nation of bígotry, can we?

  • Reader

    Blair: no more true to their faith than the “Protestant bigot” who murdered Catholics in Northern Ireland.
    Well, that’s the rest of the “true to their faith” Prods off that hook, then, isn’t it?
    Now, about the murders at Kingsmills and Darkley – does Blair think the killers there were being true to *their* faith? And if not, shouldn’t he say so?
    (Kathy_C – shouldn’t you challenge him on that chilling omission, rather than congratulating him on explicitly dividing Prods into goodies and baddies?)

  • aquifer

    The whole ‘Croppies lie down’ ethos of militant orangism is clearly terrorist. It sanctioned the political coercion of catholics and leftists through fear.

    Faith can suppress respect for other persons, cultures, and for worldly law and order, so can be very useful in supporting and complementing the practice of violent coercion or insurrection. Lets not pretend that this is a mystery to us.

    It is fanciful though to expect that a modern British state will be suckered into intimidating its own citizens because of their religion.

    Protestant Unionism is a busted flush.

    Despite the ritual squeals of outrage, what are they going to do? Look what the americans dropped on the last bunch of ethnic cleansers in the Balkans. In this shrinking world, self pitying aggressors are a contradiction too far.

  • Mick Fealty

    Before I start, doesn’t anyone find Newt’s prescience a tad unnerving (embarrassing)?

    Re the big-ot thing. Clearly people can get round our none too subtle ‘trap’ if they think about it for a moment. If that’s what you want to say, then maybe you should say it. But I would just request that you take a second look at the quality of your argument before you hit the ‘submit’ button.

    I only banned it and its varients not out of moral outrage but from boredom: mostly from ‘listening’ to seemingly endless verbal bloodfeuds over nothing much at all.

    Bi-got, or big-oted or big-otry seemed an emanently predictable marker of when people were going into reflexive mode, ie abandoning thinking as the red (or rather more usually green) mist came down. So when we got the new software that allowed me to do it, I banned it. I also banned skum and ver-min at exactly the same time since they’d got some of our early Unionist commenters into hot water.

    Now just to finish, the term bi-got according to Interestingly, for a term used in semi racialist terms almost exclusively about Ulster Protestants, it seems to have originated in France as a term of abuse against a certain female Catholic lay order:

    Big·ot One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

    [French, from Old French.]

    Word History: Big-ots may have more in common with God than one might think. Legend has it that Rollo, the first duke of Normandy, refused to kiss the foot of the French king Charles III, uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English equivalent of our expression by God. Although this story is almost surely apocryphal, it is true that big-ot was used by the French as a term of abuse for the Normans, but not in a religious sense.

    Later, however, the word, or very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines, members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. From the 15th century on Old French bi-got meant “an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.” Bi-got is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense “a superstitious hypocrite.”

    Thank you, and goodnight!

  • Jill Robinson

    Well, since we’re exploring Old French, how about this as a riposte to those who felt personally hit on by Mr. Blair’s speech: Honi soit qui mal y pense.

    He could have referred to the bígots of ETA, but he dipped into a hat full of bígots and pulled out the Protestant bígots of Ulster.

    Are we saying they don’t exist, or, like the ETA, are going out of business?

  • Thomas

    The truth is indeed the truth.

    And the truth can hurt.

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s an air of unreality has crept into this conversation. Mostly because we’ve stepped smartly from a very specific statement by the British PM and from a very specific argument by Gonzo, to clash over a bunch of ready made shibboleths.

    Indeed as Sinn Fein’s North Antrim MLA Phillip McGuigan has observed of general Unionist reaction, the reaction here has been hysterical at times – and most certainly not confined to Unionists either.

    PM’s words firstly:

    “There are those – perfectly decent-minded people – who say the extremists who commit these [ Islamic] acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And of course, they are right.

    “They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant big ot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian.

    “But unfortunately he is still a Protestant big ot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.”

    Now the last line of Gonzo’s argument:

    “If the PM believes that manic street preachers are the significant factor in persuading Protestants or Muslims into a life of terrorism, I think that would be a facile assumption to make. There are many others, most of which will never be legislated for, but which Blair will also have to deal with at some point”.

    Now does anyone want to get down to specific brass tacks?

  • Rory

    While it is perfectly understandable that Ulster protestants might well feel peeved, or even hard done by, by Blair’s remarks, I fear they are going to have to get used to it. This is the new line and is how it is going to be played out as long as Loyalist gangs continue to operate and hinder the rehabilition of everyone’s favourite girl, good old “Laura Norder”.

    It is interesting to note, this side of the pond, how readily Blair’s remarks were understood and accepted even, and maybe especially by, yer saloon bar pundits. Converesly, since the London bombings whenever the IRA are mentioned in comparison with Muslim bombers the comparison seems to be, “At least the IRA always gave warnings” and “At least the IRA had a recognisable cause with recognisable demands”. And this is also the sentiment not only among commentators, but also down among the hoi-poloi.
    The general understanding is that the IRA have ceased to engage in warfare, that they have disarmed and that an agreement has been reached.
    People are quite annoyed to find that Loyalists are “still at it” and wonder “What the hell do these bonzos think they’re up to. They got what they wanted, didn’t they?”.

    The repeated “no, no, no” refrain simply will not wash as a clear demand and any sympathy with them has worn threadbare. They will find none in Britain apart from natural allies in the BNP, and even that avenue is fast closing as Griffin goes for “respectability”.

  • Mayoman

    “But unfortunately he is still a Protestant big ot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it.”

    Was this a thinly-veiled swipe at Ian Paisley et al (but not all Protestants)? It was certainly a religion-based extremism that drove IP and the early incarnations of 1960s UVF. Is this what he is getting at? The preacher preaches hate — the over-exuberant, small-minded follower over-reacts, the preacher stands back and says ‘not my fault gov’. In this sense, it is an IP ‘Protestant’ ‘strain of extremism thing and not an equal Catholic/Protestant thing as there was no massly-popular Catholic preacher equivalent of IP? Just a thought.

  • RmC

    “Was this a thinly-veiled swipe at Ian Paisley et al…”

    Naw I don’t think Blair was targeting Mr Ian Parsley. As far as Blair is concerned IP is yesterday’s man. He hasn’t been a danger for a while now. I reckon Blair is just waiting for Parsley to go gently into that good night.

    And when he does, every half-way decent person like Blair will be glad.

    I also believe that Blair didn’t target the NI Protestants specifically, it was just their turn. After all he always strongly condemned Republican violence and mayhem.

    The squeals from the usual suspects are amusing and hypocritical. If Parsley jr and the others are the fairminded peeps they always claim to be, how come they nevvah protested when Blair was *only* attacking Republicans?

    Is it because they is [insert banned word here].

  • Doctor Who


    You are missing the point here. Curiously if you read over your own post you will find the point.

    Of course Tony Blair has condemned Republican violence, that is terror perpetrated by paramilitary groups with a Republican agenda.

    Notice the non referral to Catholic violence.

    By referring to similarities between Protestant biget$ and Islamic extremists as being non representative of those religions, he is drawing attention to a perception that the murders committed by Loyalist paramilitaries where done in the name of Protestantism.

    This is of course nonsense as never once have any of the Loyalist paramilitaries shown a penchant for Protestant fundamentalism, (save the God and Ulster slogans) their campaign was reactionary to that of Republican terror.

    It is I beleive an attack on the DUP who amongst their ranks can count numerous Protestant fundamentalists, but many of these same people have been unequivocal in condeming Loyalist violence. Hence the up-roar from that quarter.

    Mr. Blair should retract the comment as soon as beacause what he is also suggesting is that only Catholics where killed in the troubles. People when thet tally up the victims of this disgusting conflict, tend to only count civillians as victims. Hence if you are a relative of a janitor murdered for cleaning the toilets of a Police Station, well to Blair you are not a victim.

    I also would have thought the most blatantly anti religion murders in the conflict where the murders at Darkley in a church and at Enniskillen at a memorial service. These as well as being brutal attacks on ordinary folk, where also attacks on the Protestant religion and traditions.

    This of course something Blair neglects to remember. Just like his promises on the eve of the Yes/No vote on the Good Friday Agreement.

  • RmcC

    “You are missing the point here. Curiously if you read over your own post you will find the point.

    Of course Tony Blair has condemned Republican violence, that is terror perpetrated by paramilitary groups with a Republican agenda. ”

    Sorry I don’t know who posted this but anyway. Not sure I agree that I’m missing the point. All I said was that Blair had to throw out an example of religion gone mad, abused etc.

    He *could* have mentioned say the massacres in Croatia and Kosovo, done not out of fundamentalist fervour but nationalist fervour. He also could have mentioned the IRA/Catholic terror but he’s done this before. He clearly reckoned it was time to remind us that Ulster Protestants have not been angels either.

    Is it wrong to say this? Is it not true? Why should he retract it then? The DUPers are calling for an apology too. But since they never accept apologies anyhow (McAleese/Reid) what would be the point?

    What would you have preferred, that Blair was even-handed? “I know the prods were bad but the taigs were too.” The old formulaic “I condemn all violence” is surely the tired sort of language the DUP are (in)famous for.

    Parsley and the rest of the patch should accept now that Blair is fed up to the eye teeth, not only with them, but with the whole sad mess north of Louth and east of Donegal. There’s only so much idiocy a sane Englishman can take.

    PS That Peter Hain is a tough mf ain’t he? No prisoner-taker he. Well needed.

  • What makes Blair, a neo-crusader, a proper Christian?

  • RmcC

    “What makes Blair, a neo-crusader, a proper Christian?”

    Er, baptism?

  • Baptism of fire, shock and awe!

  • RmcC

    If you say so, manfarang, though I think you may be confusing him with the Americans.

    Blair believes in Scripture, all that stuff that teaches us to love our enemies, forgive them etc.

    This is completely different from the Koran, where on every other page the faithful are commanded to slay non-Muslims (who are all condemned to hell anyhow).

    Big difference, as we notice all the time with Islamic madness. Islam is a death cult.

  • The Koran is Scripture and from it comes the Sufi teachings.

  • RmcC

    And this makes it a message of love and compassion does it?

    It’s dangerous nonsense mate. We can see every day how dangerous it is.

  • Please don’t confuse the Qutbist movements with true Islam.

  • RmcC

    “Please don’t confuse the Qutbist movements with true Islam.”

    Where’s the confusion? I’m reading this from the copy of the “holy” Koran right here next to my PC. Unless yours says something different?

    It’s drivel and it’s dangerous drivel.

    On a related topic, full marks to Camilla Park-Your Balls for wearing trousers and not covering her gorgeous head when meeting the Saudi gang. This really shows up the cringemaking Mary McAleese for what she is.

  • 48:14 Allah is Forgiving Merciful

  • RmcC

    “Allah is Forgiving Merciful”

    I’m sure She is, manfarang.

    It may have escaped your notice but you and I are the only ones still constributing to this thread. Everyone else has moved on, which is what I think we should do too.

    This topic (Islam vs Sense) has been debated elsewhere, better and by better minds than ours.

    I wish you well in Indonesia or whatever part of SE Asia you seem to be posting from.

  • Now that Tony Blair is in Indonesia I will conclude with the words of Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Indonesia’s State Secretary,”It is important to counteract misunderstandings about the religion (Islam).It is true that there are hardline elements,but their number is insignificant compared to those moderate and conservative.”

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    manfarang, Interesting comment by Mahendra. I wonder what percentage he feels are Muslim ‘hardline elements’? Maybe a real conservative 1 % or maybe even more? There are 1 billion muslims and if just 1 % is considered hardline that makes……10 million hardline Muslims….. I guess it just matters how one looks at numbers.

  • Claudy

    What is to complain about? The vast majority of British and Irish citizens would consider such people to be bigots driven to kill due religious fanaticism. It is fact, how can anyone deny it? There is nothing wrong with the PM stating this!

  • Kathy C

    Maybe 0.001%