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Muslims, like the Irish, are Long Overdue an Apology

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The Queen made a historic visit to Ireland last week, the first monarch to do so in 100 years. The visit sparked riots by many who opposed it. There were fears of terrorist attacks from dissident republicans, with a “viable” explosive device being discovered. The strong feelings displayed by many Irish stemmed from Britain’s bloody past. From the Battle of Boyne to the Great Famine, right through to Bloody Sunday, there was a lot to protest about. Britain’s colonial past had neither been forgotten nor forgiven.

It was with this in mind, the Queen acknowledged Britain’s uneasy relationship with its neighbour, Ireland. In her speech at Dublin Castle, she spoke of how it was “impossible to ignore the weight of history”. She said “The relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.” Though she did not apologise for Britain’s crimes, she certainly reached out to the people of Ireland when she said “We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

By recognising the injustices committed against the Irish by the British Government, the Queen took a bold step in the right direction, with a sincere desire to strengthen relations between the two countries and to continue bringing them closer together.

But just as the Queen recognised the suffering of the Irish at the hands of the British, when will Muslims receive the same acknowledgment by a senior head of state? Muslims have also been victims of injustices and crimes committed against them. Muslims too have suffered immensely due to British greed.

We must never forget how under the Balfour Declaration the British Government awarded the state of Palestine to the Zionists, thereby making the native Palestinian population homeless and foreigners in their own land. Palestinians have since fought Israeli aggression in a genuine attempt to re-claim their land. This conflict has claimed countless lives and even today no end appears to be in sight.

We must neither forget how Britain colonised India for 200 years and raped and pillaged its lands. Any uprisings by the Indians were ruthlessly crushed. When Britain finally quit India in 1947, it left behind division between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Where these people once lived side by side as one, this has been replaced with conflict and mistrust between these groups.

The Suez invasion, the involvement of Britain’s M16 in helping to overthrow the Iranian Government in order to continue its occupation of Iranian oil, scape-goating Afghanistan for September 11 before invading it, falsely claiming Iraq had WMD’s before bombing it and now the invasion of Libya disguised as a humanitarian war, are all examples of Britain’s aggression and bloody history.

The Muslims, like the Irish, have genuine grievances against Britain. On a recent trip to Pakistan, David Cameron said Britain was responsible for so many of the world’s problems. He also recently admitted to propping up highly controlling regimes to ensure British stability. This translates as: to safeguard Britain, it is wholly acceptable for millions elsewhere to suffer and perish.

But despite recognising why Muslims around the world might feel aggrieved towards Britain and seeking to address Britain’s unjust foreign policy, David Cameron instead chose to tell European leaders earlier this year to wake up to Islamist extremism within their own borders.

The Queen understood and formally acknowledged Britain’s painful legacy. She was aware why her visit to Ireland had sparked a strong reaction by protestors and she expressed hope for the future where past divisions might be bridged. It is time that high ranking British officials equally recognised and formally acknowledged crimes committed against the Muslim world by successive British governments. The Muslim world is long overdue an apology for enduring centuries of suffering and bloodshed. Muslims and Muslim lands are not for exploitation. This mal-practice needs to cease and a genuine desire must arise to put right that which has been wronged.

Peace and security are basic human rights not just British rights.

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