A Nottinghamshire council official appointed by the Queen has provoked outrage after declaring the bloodthirsty Taliban should be given the “benefit of the doubt”.
Musharraf Hussain, the deputy lord lieutenant of Nottinghamshire County Council gave his unguarded views to a BBC reporter, pointing out that the fanatical Muslim group has “made it absolutely clear that they will respect women and they will ensure that human rights are abided by,” in spite of reports surfacing soon after the fall of Kabul that individuals were being targeted and snuffed out.
However, some of Mr Hussain’s comments will have struck a chord with no-nonsense Brits infuriated by the political establishment’s outcry to house a large proportion of the 500,000 Afghans expected to flee their country over the next twelve months.
Afghans “are not fleeing for their lives as such really,” Hussain told the BBC’s Frances Finn.
“They are economic migrants as such as it’s an opportunity for them to escape the poverty of the country,” added the Muslim community leader and author of the Majestic Quran, a plain English translation.
He pointedly added that there was a huge pull factor to go with the Taliban push (which he was shamelessly playing down).
Afghans “are not fleeing for their lives,” he repeated. “They are actually taking an amazing opportunity that is being provided to get asylum in the West.
Tory MP for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith reacted angrily to Hussain’s comments, telling the Telegraph: “Deputy Lieutenants are expected to have a strong commitment to our democratic values, the rule of law and human rights and I would hope that this commitment is upheld by all those taking up the office.
“I think it is deeply inappropriate to refer to those who are most vulnerable, and those who have helped the UK and our armed forces as ‘economic migrants’.
“Perhaps Dr Hussain should speak to my constituent who came into my office yesterday in floods of tears and in desperation over the safety of her family members.”
In his BBC interview, Hussain, a former chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools and – bizarrely he was also previously, the chairman of the Christian Muslim forum – said: “ I think a very important thing in our relationships is to actually trust people, give them the benefit of the doubt.
“On the other hand, our conflicts and our wars and our problems all begin when we mistrust people, when we don’t take their word.
“It is really important that we give the benefit of the doubt to them. “I’m really pleased to hear that even our Prime Minister said we’ve got to just see how they keep their word.”
Finn highlighted Afghanistan’s medieval rule under the Taliban before they were ousted by NATO forces at the beginning of the century.
Defending the brutal Muslim group, he said: “Well, first of all let me make it absolutely clear that they are not the same people as in the 90s. Those were obviously very belligerent and foolish actions…
“They have made it absolutely clear that they will respect women and they will ensure that human rights are abided by.”