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Galloway praises Iraq 'martyrs'
from BBC News
Entered into the database on Thursday, August 04th, 2005 @ 11:28:00 MST


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Mr Galloway was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war

MP George Galloway is being accused of putting UK troops at risk after calling insurgents in Iraq "martyrs".

During a tour of the Middle East, Mr Galloway spoke of "poor Iraqis" using the most basic weapons to write the names of their towns "in the stars".

The Respect MP accused the UK and America of "raping" Baghdad and said the US was losing the war.

Labour MP Eric Joyce said the comments endangered UK troops "in a small way" but Mr Galloway held little influence.

Mr Galloway's Respect party stresses that it and the Bethnal Green and Bow MP condemn suicide bombings, whether in London or the Middle East.

Any loss of civilian life is profoundly wrong, says the party, but it blames the US-UK coalition for turning Iraq into a war zone by their invasion.

Mr Galloway claimed the insurgents were ordinary Iraqis defending their country against "foreign invaders".

"It can be said, truly said, that the Iraqi resistance is not just defending Iraq. They are defending all the Arabs and they are defending all the people of the world against American hegemony."


In one speech, the MP said: "These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.

"We don't know who they are, we don't know their names, we never saw their faces, they don't put up photographs of their martyrs, we don't know the names of their leaders."

Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party over his outspoken remarks about the Iraq war.

He told Syrian Television: "Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners - Jerusalem and Baghdad.

"The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will.

"The daughters are crying for help and the Arab world is silent. And some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters."

Troop dangers?

Mr Galloway said Tony Blair's idea of a "war on terrorism" was absurd as terrorism was a tactic, not a strategy.

"It's not the Muslims who are sick. It's Bush and Blair and Berlusconi who are sick. It's not the Muslims who need to be cured. It's the imperialist countries that need to be cured."

Falkirk MP Mr Joyce said Mr Galloway was trying to maximise his infamy in the UK with his latest comments, which would not impress people in the Middle East.

"It clearly puts British troops at greater risk in a small way and that is a pity," he said.

Mr Joyce said the words would at least be seen as encouraging resistance in Iraq and would upset troops' families in the UK.

But he said Mr Galloway was now a "marginal" figure who had limited influence.


John Rees, national secretary of Respect, told BBC News the Iraqi resistance would not be encouraged to attack UK troops by what British politicians had said.

"Respect and George Galloway have made it plain on a number of occasions that we believe that the people who are putting British troops at risk are the people who have sent them to occupy someone else's country," he said.

Mr Rees said troops' families were often the most vociferous opponents of the Iraq war.

Labour MP Bruce George, former chairman of the Commons defence committee, said UK and US troops would leave Iraq if there was an end to the insurgency waged by remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and religious fanatics.

The UK wanted to see Iraq's democratically elected government succeed, he said.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw this week said the UK was part of the security problem in Iraq and things are "not good" in the country.

He said an agreement on the new Iraqi constitution would be a step to reducing UK troops in Iraq.