Mr Abu Qatada, who spent twelve or thirteen years fighting extradition to Jordan where he faced criminal charges, and was finally extradited, has been tried in Jordan and found not guilty. the gentleman has been the focus, perhaps unnecessarily so, of the British Establishment, and the British media, who have defined him as a supporter of terrorism and responsible for many crimes. the courts in Jordan have found him not guilty of any charge, and so the narrative about Mr Abu Qatada now changes.
Mr Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, had always defined the one armed cleric as being at the centre of terrorist activities in Britain. Astonishingly, even though this was the official line Mr Qatada was never charged with being involved in terrorism in Britain, but the British Government sought to extradite him to Jordan to face similar charges. Mr Qatada, resisted deprtation on the grounds that he would not get a fair trial in Jordan and after long negotiations with The Kingdom of Jordan, the laws of Jordan were changed to exclude evidence obtained by torture. Only then did the Supreme Court allow Mr Qatada to be extradited to Jordan.
Mr Blunkett has commented that “the case he (Abu Qatada) made against extradition was that he wouldn’t receive a fair trial in Jordan and he clearly has.” This is rather hypocritical of Mr Blunkett as well as being actively misleading. At the time Mr Qatada had extradition proceedings started against him by the Department of which Mr Blunkett was in control, Mr Qatada would not have got a fair trial in Jordan, as understood by the principles of the English law.
I do not know whether Mr Qatada is a good man or a bad man; he certainly seems to have done his best to stir up religious hatred, whether intentionally or not, and proved to be a convenient hate figure; such figures are beloved of the media and politicians because it provides them with news and publicity but being a hate figure is not against the law.
It is fundamental that people accused of crime get fair trials, whether we agree with what they say or not. We must respect this and attempt to put prejudices aside when trying people for criminal offences. We must also focus our attention on the ideas that people espouse, rather than the people themselves. Hitler is less important than Nazism and Christ much less important than Christianity.