Corbyn’s Defence of Britons Who Join ISIS

In an extraordinary Commons debate last year Jeremy Corbyn argued that we should not “make value judgments” about British citizens who join ISIS and appeared to compare people travelling to fight in Syria with Nelson Mandela. Speaking about British-born terrorists in Syria, Corbyn claimed:

“There are an awful lot of contradictions surrounding how we decide who is a good fighter and who is a terrorist; who is struggling for liberation and who is a terrorist. There was a time when people involved in Umkhonto we Sizwe in South Africa were known as terrorists; they were later welcomed to this country as freedom fighters. Things can turn full circle.”

On whether we should allow ISIS fighters to return to this country, Corbyn said:

“None of what I am saying is intended to give any succour, comfort or support to ISIS, but I feel that we should think about this rather more carefully and avoid the knee-jerk reaction of saying, “These are bad fighters and those are good fighters, so we will ban these and allow those in.”

Corbyn then admitted meeting Britons who were sympathetic with ISIS and said they had a legitimate point about the Iraq War. Corbyn blames ISIS on “the consequences of the war on terror” and extraordinarily claims we should not make “value judgements” about people joining ISIS:

“I have encountered young people who have been attracted to what ISIS is doing. They say that what the West did in Iraq and Afghanistan was appalling, and was questionably legal in the case of Afghanistan and definitely illegal in the case of Iraq. We are living with the consequences of the war on terror of 2001, and if we continue to try to create legal obstacles and make value judgments about people without considering the overall policy we are following, we will return to legislation such as this again and again, year after year.”

Corbyn also defended people who support ISIS as having a “political view” which is “important in a democracy“:

“I have no support for ISIS whatsoever, and obviously that should apply to someone who has committed crimes, but we should bear in mind that expressing a political point of view is not in itself an offence. The commission of a criminal act is clearly a different matter, but expressing a point of view, even an unpalatable one, is sometimes quite important in a democracy.”

For full context, read the debate in full here. Voting has now closed, wonder if this would have changed anyone’s mind if it had emerged earlier in the summer…




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