Gregor Macgregor’s Letters and Press Releases

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

The Editor, Derby Evening Telegraph

Don't Let Taliban See We Are Weak

Dear Sir


            The Reverend Willis’s letter, arguing for a pause in the bombing of Afghanistan for Ramadan, needs a reply because it shows up a dangerous ignorance of how wars are fought. It also shows up the chink in our armour. It gives conviction to those who argue that The West is unable to defend itself, because we have become so decadent.


            It is correct to say that the Allied bombing has caused civilian casualties. This is a cause for concern, but the likelihood of civilian casualties should always be considered BEFORE any bombing ever starts.


            To proceed with this type of action one must be absolutely sure about the morality of what is being proposed. One must have assessed the chance of success and one must have measured the effect of the proposed actions on opinions in other countries.


            During the four long weeks after the September 11th terrorism, all these considerations would have been made. This action has been embarked on to wipe out the most barbarous terrorist group the world has ever seen. It is also designed to free the Afghan people of the most reactionary regimes the world has ever seen.


            This regime claims to practice Islam, but their version would not be recognised by many. Islam respects women; the Taleban make them hide behind an all covering “gurka”, the Taleban makes educating females a crime. Islam demands that the poor are helped; the Taleban made it almost impossible for the aid to get through, and then stole food intended for the refugees.


            Finally, Islam demands that international law be respected; the Taleban have harboured Osama Bin Laden, the man who now admits to bombing the World Trade Centre, killing hundreds of Muslims in the process.


            The success of these actions is now becoming evident as the first city is captured. With the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif there is a real possibility of creating a humanitarian relief corridor, right in the heart of Afghanistan. Further advances will soon see Kabul relieved and other cities should follow soon after. Relief for the starving will follow these victories.


            So we must not let ourselves be fooled by those who do not have the stomach to finish what has been started. A pause now will alienate a few Muslims, but it will give the evil Taleban regime just the time it needs to regroup. It will make the job more difficult to achieve.


            War is a terrible thing. On Remembrance Day we should not forget this. Evil is succoured by the good doing nothing. We must continue the fight.


            Yours faithfully,

            N Gregor Macgregor


Dr Willis Wrote:


09:30 - 10 November 2001


It is essential that the bombing of Afghanistan is brought to an end before the Muslim season of Ramadan starts on November 17.


Serious questions can be asked as to whether fighting so far will have reduced the likelihood of international terrorism or increased it.


To continue bombing an Islamic nation, such as Afghanistan, during such a sensitive time for Muslims would be to risk severe unrest amongst Muslims, not least among our neighbours here in Derby.


I write as the Rector of the largest Church of England parish in Derby, one in which 20 per cent of the population is Muslim, and over 40 per cent have overseas roots.


I live in the area I serve, New Normanton, Rose Hill and Pear Tree, and count my Muslim neighbours as friends.


At the moment we have good relations and are thanking God that, despite the problems in northern towns this year, troubles in Derby have been small and largely brought about by the boisterousness of young people.


We must do all we can to keep this calm, and it means that we need to exercise a very great sensitivity to the feelings of those of other faith communities and racial groups.


Few of any faith would excuse the atrocities of September 11.


But what lay behind them?


Anger about the situation in Israel and Palestine, and the perceived wealth, arrogance and bullying of the Western nations.


There is every reason to seek out those responsible and to bring them to genuine justice by legitimate means.


But the long-term route to a lower risk of violence lies in bringing peace with justice in the Middle East, and in acting with great awareness of the viewpoint and sensibilities of other nations and groups.


So far the Western response has shown a lack of intelligence about the likely reaction of Islamic and other Asian nations.


To continue the attack during the Holy season of Ramadan would be a very gross violation of those feelings.


It would underline the belief of many that this is an attack by Christian nations on the nations of Islam.


That is not an accurate analysis, but actions will speak louder than words.


Muslim communities need to be aware that many active Christians are deeply unhappy about the present campaign, and share the implications of the slogan "Not in my name".


It is good that Tony Blair has made visits to the Middle East in recent times. We must hope that he has heard what has undoubtedly been said to him in private.


Now is the time to stand back from the military action, take stock, and listen carefully to the way other nations see things.