Yesterday the Home Secretary could be accused of grandstanding when he used the Sun newspaper to tell Muslims to watch their children.
Today he stepped into a mosque. He was given a fairly heated reception during the Q&A, though Muslims really must learn about the art of questioning. Heckling came from the Anjum Chowdhury/Abu Izzadine axis. I do wonder who invited them. Visits like this are not publicised in advance. Who told them? George Galloway puts it thus:
The man who harangued you - Abu Izzadine - is a well-known and violent extremist from an organisation your own government has proscribed. Yet he was allowed within punching distance of the British Home Secretary. How ? Why ?
... There are only two conceivable explanations as to how this man, at this sensitive time, was allowed to hijack your Potemkin Village performance today.
Either our police and security services are so fantastically incompetent that Bin Laden himself might have slipped in to beard you at your podium. Or someone somewhere wanted to engineer precisely this confrontation to show you in a certain light and to portray the Muslims of Britain in the most aggressive violent and extreme way possible, as a justification for the utterly counter-productive policies you are following.
Reid did take it all in his stride. He's a smooth public performer, and I doubt anyone else in the government would have been able to pull that off. Totally unflappable. What the headlines tomorrow will all be about though is the insinuation that Muslim youth are planning terror outrages, and their parents aren't doing anything about it. As such this is libellous.
Every few weeks now, the government pop up with some new way to spin the call for the Muslim community to do more. They were caught on the hop by the letter from Muslim leaders in August calling for our foreign policy to be sorted out, and they're not going to let that happen again. The narrative has to be about what Muslims must do, not what the government must do.
The reality on the ground though is that Muslim parents are not allowing their kids to get involved in any political activity. This is repressive enough, but is also dangerous. Muslim youth care about war and occupation in Muslim lands. There are two outlets for this anger: engage politically or go down the extremist path. The former obviously needs to be promoted and bolstered.
Indeed we saw in the build up to the Iraq war, just that happening. However, as police harassment has increased in the last few years, Muslim parents are reluctant to let their kids take part in demos, or partake in anything vaguely political for fear of them ending up being questioned or landing themselves on a CIA watchlist. Let me repeat, the outlet of political expression and dissent needs to be there for Muslim youth. The home secretary and his police forces are clamping down on this.