Monday, February 09, 2009

In Defence of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Again)

I'm going to make a plea. I know whenever I mention Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on this blog, that it can provoke a furious reaction, but on this occasion I urge you to watch this two minute video clip, and tell me you aren't ashamed at what our country has become when a middle aged muslim woman of Asian descent can be treated like this. She was questioned at length by plain clothes police officers who never once told her who they were or why she was being questioned. They frightened her so much she wet herself.

Draper's crowd should be proud of themselves. They rail against imagined racism, yet introduce laws which allow muslim women to be traduced like this. In the video, Yasmin says she loves this country. Hearing how this country treated her, I could forgive her if she had had other thoughts.

Yasmin and I agree on virtually nothing. Where she is right wing (and on some social issues she is) I am not, and where she is left wing I am not. So whatever your opinions of her writings and opinions, I hope you will agree with me, that when this sort of thing happens, for no apparent reason, it is grounds for us all to be concerned about what is happening to our liberties.

You may even be provoked into attending the CONVENTION ON MODERN LIBERTY on February 28th, which I am speaking at, along with Yasmin, DD, Helena Kennedy, Henry Porter, Shami Charkrabarti, Nick Clegg, Nick Cohen, Caroline Lucas, Peter Oborne and dozens of others.

To watch the video, click on the image and then scroll down the page and click play. Unfortunately, The Guardian doesn't let you embed its videos, something they ought to rectify.


Faceless Bureaucrat said...

"They frightened her so much she wet herself."

That's what happens when you are too close to the PM - you start copying him in so many ways...

Unknown said...

Hyperbole. Without more information, of which she provides precious little, if any, her diatribe is useless.

All the video shows is 2 minutes where she bitches about Britain and how bad it's got, then all she says by way of actual information is say that there was a mix up with her ticket, she was questioned by plain clotes officers in a separate room, and she pissed herself because she was frightened.

There are so many questions that need answering before anyone even tries to be able to pass judgement or come to a conclusion it's unreal.

This is a complete non story and non issue in it's current form.

When she actually details what happened to her, then we'll talk.

Colin said...

If what she describes actually happened, for no reason other than the fact that she's a muslim, no wonder she was terrified and outraged.

That said, I travel very regularly, so I have some experience of the boneheaded, arrogant and condescending approach often taken by the "security" agencies at UK airports. The point being, bad as things are, I'm very surprised that she's been subjected to the level of degradation, intimidation and outright fear, she describes, on the basis of a simple ticket mix up.

Are we sure that there aren't some pieces missing from this particular puzzle?

A case of "do you know who I am" perhaps?

Just asking...

Johnny Norfolk said...

Labours police state.
Its here now.

Everone should listen to David Davies.

He understands what is happening. Muslims need to vote Tory.

The Editors said...

It's hard to feel too sympathetic to Alibhai-Brown who was, until recently, parroting the New Labour party line on everything, once infamously suggesting during a BBC debate with Dr. Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance, that "the white majority in this country is so seething with hatred and discontent that it is only restrained by law from rising up and tearing the ethnic minorities to pieces". The fact that she's recently fallen victim to the rapidly encroaching Police State just shows that no-one's safe any more.

Plato said...

Hmm, just watched the video clip and can't work out why she doesn't say what happened.

I assume this will be a story for another day to stretch out its legs.

Just one thing makes me wonder about this - her body language and expressions/eye movements made me disbelieve her account.

Swivel-eyed springs to mind which would be a great shame if she was as genuinely distressed as she says. No serious/DYKWIA merchant would pick peeing yourself as self-puffing.

*gets more popcorn and waits for main feature*

Unsworth said...

Well I've watched this a few times now. Frankly it raises many questions, but it is also clear that this lady seems to be tailoring her description of events to suit a particular position. For example, she declares that recent legislation has been anti-muslim. Which laws are these? She says she was questioned by two men who did not identify themselves - did she not think to ask who they were and by what right she was detained?

Then her comments about the 'mix-up' with the tickets show that she simply doesn't understand that if suspicions are raised it's in her (and everyone else's) interests to clarify the position. What she wanted to do was to go to one destination, whilst her ticket clearly showed another. She seems to believe that this incident occurred because she is a muslim. At what point in the discussions did her religion become a topic for consideration? Did either of these two men raise it?

This lady has chosen to portray herself as some defenceless little old lady. Does that ring true? Despite her protestation that she loves this country, that love seems to be entirely conditional and to be only on her terms.

That said, yes I am deeply ashamed of what our country has become, and deeply angered with those who have made it so. Our liberties have been ravaged over the past decade.

John said...

I'm not influenced to sympathy one little bit, if she is only finding out now that liberties have been curtailed then where has she been living.

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't matter whether she exaggerates. Iain is grown-up enough to ignore the ideological differnces he has with her. For myself, I instinctively adopt the reverse-Alibhai as my default mode, and it rarely lets me down. Nevertheless, the laws are there, as is the artificial climate of fear which this loathsome government has generated.

And we are routinely told, by the tin Hitlers who want to control every aspect of our lives, that if we have done nothing wrong we have nothing to be afraid of. What 24-carat drivel that is.

Will the Toires hold true to their apparent promise to scrap ID cards, or will they wriggle out of it? Will they act swiftly to circumscribe the abuse, by councils and others, of anti-terror legislation for social control? Will they really be more liberal than the the current lame-duck government? The track record of the previous Tory administration is hardly reassuring.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dick the Prick said...

What if she'd been white? Is she saying it wouldn't have happened?

Jabba the Cat said...

Alibaba Brown should have been deported a long time ago to Gaza or the West Bank, where she could commune with here Palestinian brothers and sisters, and, spare the rest of us the ear ache of having to listen to her unending drivel.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The video is short on facts and long on indignation.

She identifies herself as a "Muslim Woman" and however disingenuous that is, and it is disingenuous, she must realise that White Christian Women do not blow themselves up and kill and maim others, and that she is a legitimate cause for concern - or did I miss the facts on the terrorist demographic? Whatever, she certainly plays the "I am just a poor old woman" card for what it's worth, when in public, she is the first to scream "sexism".

How does she suppose the rest of us feel when we are faced with nasty little public officials? Maybe there was a "do you know who I am" moment. We are not given details.

I suspect your outrage stems not from the fact that YAB is a Muslim, or that she is a Woman, but that she is a member of the Establishment, and you lot should not have to be treated like civilians.

Yes, I do know who you are.

Do you know who I am? Somebody who doesn't believe that TV personalities should be treated any different.

Chucklenuts said...

Yasmin, time to move on to a freer North Korea.

Dick the Prick said...

Without prejudice also - it isn't Christians or Jews trying to blow up planes. That certainly should not give rise to a different application of the law to muslims, or those people that have similar characteristics to muslims but to profile potential criminals is merely common sense and resource efficient.

We didn't start the war on terror - they started the war on civility. Plus, ladies of a senior disposition pee themselves when they laugh too.

Sure, I have sympathy - you don't treat ladies who are your mum's age like that but neither can professionals ignore their responsibilities. Tough break YAB - maybe you'll grow up one day.

Chucklenuts said...

Why didn't they do us all a favour and lock her up?

Nothing personal like.

The Creator said...

It is impossible to take seriously anything this supremely silly, self-important, semi-hysterical woman says.

For one thing, it is only too easy to imagine her shrill insistence that she instantly be put on the right flight once the mix-up over the ticket was discovered.

She should also remind herself that it was the very government she so vehemently and consistently promoted that put in place the crude security apparatus she now rails against.

None of which is to suggest that Labour's assault on traditional British liberties is anything other than a precise measure of its instinctive authoritarianism.

Simon Gardner said...

Jabba the Cat said... [snip]
I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime...
What a thoroughly odious person you are.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I once arrived in Britain, in my car, with my family, knackered and pissed off.

I clearly did not have the right attitude and the customs people went to town.

The car was emptied of everything and we were questioned, at length, in a small windowless room.

Shit happens. But is it because I is White?

Hacked Off said...

I find it impossible to believe anything that this apologist PC wishy-washy liberal do-gooder says. She's nearly as band as Polly.

The Penguin

no longer anonymous said...

"They frightened her so much she wet herself."

She only reacted that way because of her deranged "whitey is out to get me" mentality.

Dick the Prick said...

She ain't pc Penguin. I find her comments intolerant, provocative, rude and dangerous. I would be disgusted if my contempt for any race or nationality was similar to hers.

an ex-apprentice said...

What, no strip search? No rubber gloves and a dollop of vaseline? No fingerprinting, DNA sample, photograph? Quick rub-down with a rubber hose?

I'm very disappointed. The country's going to the dogs.

Savonarola said...

I think you have been conned by this little cameo performance by the well known twitterer that is Mrs Brown.

A light fisking would yield a different scenario. Personally I cannot be bothered. Once she claimed "I didn't know who they were...." And this fearless journalist wet herself without enquiring "Who are you and what is the purpose of your questioning"

A poor example to illustrate the removal of our liberties.

You were conned by Prescott and then Lembit's cry for help(self serving bleat for cash) and now we must shed tears for the simpering Mrs Brown.

No thanks.

Chucklenuts said...

Hey Jabba, there's a sour faced bitch dissing yo ass, and I don't mean Yasmin.

TTGZ said...

Iain, I agree entirely.

In case it's still a secret (you never know), I'm as Labour as they come (Specifically of the Tony Blair-without Iraq, without Bush, and without the whole destruction of Civil Liberties "thing" variety).

I'm a Labour supporter who wishes it were still 2002. But it isn't, so that's that. And this kind of thing is disgusting.

For those on this blog, though, who seek to make a partisan point out of it (Johnny Norfolk) - I don't see David Davis as any better. He took a "principled" stand, relinquished his (very much re-winnable) seat, and ran a campaign of "Lock 'em up for 40 days, not 90!". Frankly, I'm rather disturbed by the idea of being locked up by the Police for any amount of time without being told why. Maybe I'm just used to watching American crime shows where they put the cuffs on someone as they detail the suspected crime: "Mr Smith, you're under arrest for the rape and murder of.....".

And while I'm posting here (I don't do it very often) - Iain, you should have got out of the catfight with Derek Draper far sooner. Couldn't you see where it was going? Still, you were the first to throw up your hands and quit - to which I, reluctantly, say: Kudos.

The Huntsman said...

One would be more inclined to sympathy if she had not been a slavish lickspittle of ZANU Labour all these years. Who, pray, does she think has passed all the STASI laws and set up all the apparatus of the police state in the last eleven or so years?

Colin said...

TransAtlantic @ 5:12pm.

"In case it's still a secret (you never know), I'm as Labour as they come (Specifically of the Tony Blair-without Iraq, without Bush, and without the whole destruction of Civil Liberties "thing" variety)."

Hilarious!!!! Apart from all that - he's a pretty straight kinda guy...

Fcuking priceless...

Weygand said...

I despise this government for having consistently attacked civil liberties (detention without trial, Coroners Courts, rendition etc) citing security reasons when really following a shameful political agenda.
I also have no faith in either the competence or the integrity of the police (shooting an innocent de Menezes and then lying about it).
But even I cannot accept this story at face value.
Given that Alibhai-Brown is employed by a national newspaper with countless influential contacts, any inappropriate behaviour would have become a Guardian cause célèbre; there would have been questions from MPs in parliament etc etc.
What was it they said or did that frightened her? etc etc.
I'm sure if there was any terrible thing she would have recounted it to demonstrate the position she found herself in.
No don't buy it at all.
This sort of bollocks is more likely to undermine the campaign to preserve civil liberties than to support it.

Sue said...

If you have nothing to hide, why should you be worried Yasmin????

Dick the Prick said...

TransAtwanktic - err.. surely that makes you a Lib Dem? What's a war here or there eh? These triffling inconveniences!

Chucklenuts said...

Yasmin, you should sign up like I have to the ruling Snitchocracy, that way you can be right 100% of the time. Oh sorry, you have.

What went wrong?

JuliaM said...

"They rail against imagined racism, yet introduce laws which allow muslim women to be traduced like this. "

Because it's perfectly fine if Jewish, Hindu or Sikh women are treated like this..?

Why not remove the 'muslim' from that line? I promise you it won't change the injustice of the situation one iota.

no longer anonymous said...

To be honest I've always wondered whether she secretly wishes she was white. Would explain a lot.

Chucklenuts said...

Being a Climate Change Denier, I'm expecting my back door to be kicked in any time soon. Praise the Lord.

However, I started using incontinence panties some time ago, and Yasmin, I can thoroughly recommend them for probings by uniformed gorillas.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ Simon Gardner said...

"Jabba the Cat said... [snip]
I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime...
What a thoroughly odious person you are."


JuliaM said...

And Alibhai-Brown has form when it comes to 'don't you know who am?' moments, as this incident back in 2005 shows:

"My ticket and only mine was checked nine times in total and I wondered if it was because an Asian was not meant to be travelling with toffs"

Perhaps she'd be better off not travelling at all?

Not a sheep said...

I too am ashamed of what this Country has become, but much of the blame for this must devolve on people like YAB who supported this ever more totalitarian Labour government whilst denouncing fascism elsewhere.

I would also feel more sympathy for her if she didn't spout quite as much rubbish as she does. Here's a recent example "For the trapped people of Gaza, this respite will bring some relief. It will not, cannot curb their grief and outrage after what was done to them while the West stood still. First systematically starved, the population was denied escape and more than 1,200 were slaughtered like animals in an abattoir."
Such misrepresentation of the truth means that she deserves all the opprobrium that is poured upon her.

Chucklenuts said...

"Simon Gardner said...4.45

Jabba the Cat said... [snip]
I’m going to break the habit of a lifetime..."

For one glorious minute, I thought you meant you were gonna shut the f**k up.

Twig said...

Another example:
Foster mother struck off for letting Muslim girl convert to Christianity

Jabba the Cat said...

Jabba remembers when he first saw this Palestinian mouthpiece shoot herself in the foot, the first thought that went thru his mind was, with that attitude and approach is she closely related to Alibaba Brown?

Dick the Prick said...

Just wonder if i'm supposed to feel some collective white guilt for all the transgressions that the British government has ever committed even though my maternal grandparents are bog irish Catholic and paternal working class northeners?

So presumably some great great grandad got the vote after 1867, and then all paternal antecedents from 1920 ish, and then when my maternal ancestors moved over they could vote. However, due to the fact that they were all skint, worked every hour possible and were completely down trodden by the establishment - it's my fault that the Boer war occurred, that slavery took off, that Cromwell was a twat.

Actually it is - seems i've got a time tunnel in my cellar.

No one is allowed to generalize or make sweeping statements on equality forms where there's loads of options with a single 1 for white British - and somehow that makes me responsible for genocide.

Anyway - I thought people shat themselves when scared - fight or flight etc.

Guthrum said...

No I am not going to get uptight about special pleading middle aged, muslim woman etc we are all subject to this. ACPO a PRIVATE limited company has taken over the responsibility for policing and security in this country, HM Loyal opposition have done absolutely nothing to raise this in the House, therefore leading one to the conclusion that they condone it.

Yasmin is intolerant of others views, she wants a large coercive State, she does not like it when it is coercive to her.

Yes I will be at the Convention for Modern Liberty more in curiosity than hope

Brian said...

Just imagine how someone would be treated if they'd packed a golly in their suitcase.

paulocanning said...


I thought exactly the same. And, yes, we probably don't agree on much either - but this is incredibly important, we fought wars for it.

To your commentators who cannot identify with her - sympathy is a British value.

Strangely proud to be British in finding this agreement.

Good. On. You.

Colin said...

To Paul Canning:

I think you'll find, if you read the posts, that most of us are appalled that it could be possible for such a thing to happen in the UK. And yes, some of us have indeed "fought wars over it".

What you'll also find from reading the posts, is that for many of us, her account as given on the video, just doesn't ring true.

Now, I could imagine a scenario, where after a spot of "Do YOU know who I am?", she was well and truly put in her place by a couple of over worked, under appreciated and unimpressed security types; who at that point couldn't give a stuff whether the person who booked her ticket couldn't tell their east coast from their left coast.

paulocanning said...


get over your dislike of Yasim + her politics (especially her politics).

"sympathy is a British value"

THAT is the point.

Think on.

Colin said...

Paul Canning:

Read the first part of two of my 3 posts on this topic.

What makes you think I dislike the woman? I may despise her politics and some of her opinions; but I reserve judgement on her as a person.

paulocanning said...


"A case of "do you know who I am" perhaps?"

yeah ... perhaps. or perhaps not.

This is how it starts.

Lady Finchley said...

I instinctively think bullshit when it is anything about her. So she thinks she is hard done by? My son and his friends get stopped by the police constantly just because they are young. I have discussed this with an ex-copper who agrees this is out of order but it doesn't look like it is going to stop anytime soon. Their only crime is being young and they have to live with it. Who the hell is she that she doesn't?

Lady Finchley said...

Oh, and the police are using anti-terrorism laws to stop and search my son and his friends. And they are obviously not Muslims. So Yasmin's point is?

Me said...

The biter bit.
What a shame...

Unknown said...

What is it that YAB is not telling us? How did it happened? What did these men do, or say, to frighten her?

I have been questioned for 2 hours by Israeli security at Tel Aviv airport. Was I inconvenienced? Yes. Was I pissed off at the delay? Yes. Was I frightened? No, that were just asking questions.

As YAB doesn't tell us what happened, lets speculate. She arrived at the airport and checked in with luggage for the 10am flight. At the boarding gate for the 10am to Glasgow she is told her boarding pass is for the 10am to Edinburgh. Its her mistake, but instead of going to Edinburgh and getting a train/taxi to Glasgow she insists that they get her a seat on the flight to Glasgow ("Do you know who I am? I am going to Glasgow for a meeting of [insert some public funded body]").
Now her bag is already on the plane, but she doesn't want to get on the plane. In these times that is a security red flag. She is taken by airport security for questioning.
As she doesn't provide specifics about why this frightened her, we're left to assume that it was a routine security interview. Her indignation at being questioned is seen by the interviewers as a sign of fear, further heightening the suspicion that she hiding something. This is reinforced when the officers notice she's wet herself.
The interviewers eventually conclude that she is not a security risk. In the meantime her bag was removed from the Edinburgh flight delaying all the other passengers. The flight to Glasgow has left and she will miss her opportunity to talk to the Glaswegians about the oppression of Muslims in British society.

Bert Rustle said...

Sean Gabb wrote ... there was my BBC debate of the 16th February 2004 with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, an Asian immigrant who seems incapable of seeing any issue except in terms of white racism. During this debate, I asked her: "Yasmin, are you saying that the white majority in this country is so seething with hatred and discontent that it is only restrained by law from rising up and tearing all the ethnic minorities to pieces?" Her answer was "Yes". It is possible she did not understand my question. It is possible she would have clarified or retracted her answer had the debate been allowed to continue. Sadly for her, the BBC immediately switched off my microphone and threw me into the street. Mrs Brown was allowed to continue uninterrupted to till the end of the programme. ...

The audio can be heard at

Andy said...

Metabourke has it right.

Iain, can I tell you about a time when the police terrified me for 5 hours in a police cell before finally letting me go without charge and without an apology? It was disgusting.

Sure, I mugged an old granny and kicked her around a bit but when she woke up in hospital she couldn't remember a thing so they had no proof. Which side of the story do you prefer?

Simon Gardner said...

More generally the suppression, anti-terroism, surveillance, general snooping, use of technology, habitual poking around in people’s private lives by the state, speed cameras, CCTV, state and police (plus local authorities and “security industry”) arrogance has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.

I have absolutely no belief that any of this will be so diminished under any Cameron government - with the possible exception of the no-brainer - the abolition of the costly ID card project.

Plum Jam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plum Jam said...

Sorry, while concerned at the Stasi tendency of this Govt. I'm simply not convinced by this at all.I mean,exactly what was a mature,highly educated,confident,self-assured and informed public figure,so frightened of in a British Airport that she wet herself? It may have an been unpleasant experience but why would any level headed adult feel so terrified at being questioned at an airport? Why was she apparently incapable of simply askig these two men who they were? What did she think was going to happen to her anyway, Extraordinary Rendition to the Isle of Man or something? No,I think this has more to do with YAB's own self-righteous victim complex than anything else.

Doubting Richard said...

If these people wore plain clothes and did not identify themselves, why did she consent to enter that room with them? If they forced her and refused to identify themselves when asked then they broke the law, and she should have made a complaint to the police. So it seems she went without asking for identification.

Airport security is a bad joke. In aviation safety reporting they get more confidential complaints directed at how security behave and its effect on flight safety (this is their behaviour towards people who are security checked and work in the aviation industry, pilots, air traffic controllers, cabin crew and engineers) than about any other factor. Some are bullies, and there have been multiple reports of sexual assaults during pat downs and other behavious outside their powers. They need to be called to account, so why is she bleating to the newspaper that pays her a lot of money (far more than those pilots or ATC who have to take some responsibility and have some skill earn) rather than the police. Oh, I think I answered my own question.

Why was she that frightened? There is no suggestion that they used violence or threatened any unwarranted punishment against her. It seems she has even been interrogated before in a similar way, been frightened but then too the fear turned out to be without cause, so she should have learned.

While I think that anti-terrorism legislation has been widely abused and some senior police should be fired for those abuses and some politicians should resign, I think this is a poor example of such abuse. She should be complaining about the fact of the interrogation, not her irrational fears of it or the procedural errors (on her side as well as theirs, although of course they are far more culpable) of her interrogators being unidentified.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I don't see the vapourous YAB coming here for a group hug any time soon.

Dick the Prick said...

Chakka Chan, Chakka, Chakka....

No one knows our adventures. That was 2 minutes and YAB ain't getting an apolgy. Provocative has to occur with Iranins, Pakistanis and the collage of Afghanistan. 'White heroin' - gggrreeeaat!

Laban said...

I listened to the video. Her tickets weren't kosher so they asked her a few questions.

I had a similar interview leaving Heathrow for NY on Pan-Am, a year after Lockerbie. I'm presuming the Libyan visa in my passport was the catalyst. They were perfectly polite, I answered their (reasonable) questions and away I went.

This really is a tsumami in some Earl Grey - and what's all this about "we should be ashamed" ? Are you arguing that middle-aged, middle class Muslim women should be exempt from the (tedious but probably necessary) airline security checks the rest of us go through ?

Laban said...

I forgot to say - I love Yazza like I love Melanie Phillips, but both can on occasions see oppression when it's not there.

There's enough of the real thing about without nonsense like this.

Unknown said...

I've always thought of political blogs being a pointless circle jerk only enjoyed by baying misanthropes, so I was a little enlightened by Iain Dale's article.

But then I read the comments.

Oh well - full marks for trying Iain, but "pearls before swine" and all that.