The Shocking Reality of Islamist Violence Against British Politicians

British Member of Parliament Mike Freer has announced that he will not seek re-election in the upcoming general elections in the United Kingdom, which will likely be held in 2024 or January 2025.

Freer, who has been the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green since 2010 and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Services since 2022, will join other prominent MPs, such as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng and former Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, in standing down in the next elections.

But his announcement shocked many, especially when Freer, a 63-year-old gay man, revealed that he stood down due to the “constant string” of death threats, abuse, and intimidation he received from many Islamists, possibly due to his support for Israel amidst the ongoing war in Gaza and his opposition to antisemitism. He also said he would be stepping down because of the “intolerable stress” on his husband and extended family, as well as the “several serious threats to my personal safety.” 

Many Islamists have targeted Freer throughout his political career as a Member of Parliament for a constituency with the largest Jewish population in the country, including the radical Islamist organization Muslims Against Crusades. The group, proscribed by the British government in 2011, first launched its campaign of harassment against Freer when it posted a picture of Freer on its website with the message “Let Stephen Timms be a warning,” referring to an MP who was stabbed and injured in 2010 by a 21-year-old female student who was radicalized by Al-Qaeda videos.

In the same year, members of the Muslims Against Crusades barged into a mosque where Freer was inside while meeting constituents, calling him a “Jewish homosexual pig” and accusing him of “defiling the house of Allah.” Freer, who is not Jewish and was not public about his sexuality until two years later, was forced to retreat into the mosque’s back room until police came to his aid. 

MPs on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns over growing abuse, intimidation, and violence against them by radical Islamists and far-right extremists. This fear reached its peak when, in 2016, a far-right extremist named Thomas Alexander Mair stabbed and shot Jo Cox, a Labour MP for Batley and Spen, multiple times in Birstall, West Yorkshire, during a constituency surgery, where MPs would meet with their constituents. 

It also took a turning point when Ali Harbi Ali, a British sympathizer of the Islamic State, brutally murdered David Amess, a Conservative MP for Southend West, in 2021, during a constituency surgery. Ali revealed during an interview with the police following his arrest that a month prior to Amess’s murder, he visited Freer’s constituency and had intentions to harm him. 

That’s when I bought the stab vest,” Freer told Oliver Wiseman, an editor for The Free Press, during a phone call when he spoke to the media outlet about the threats he received in his life. Since Amess’s murder and Ali’s planned attack against Freer, as well as other MPs like Conservative MP Michael Gove and Labour MP and now Opposition Leader Keir Starmer, things have changed for Freer. Aside from wearing a stab vest, he also took multiple security measures, such as having private security with him and his husband to pick him up at the Tube station.

The latest incident of harassment against Freer was when a 46-year-old man from north London named James Phillips was arrested by the Met and charged with malicious communication in connection with a threatening phone call he made with the justice minister. The threatening call came after an arson attack on Freer’s constituency office was committed on Christmas Eve.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his concern and was “extremely saddened” by Freer’s decision to resign as MP, calling the attacks against him “not just an attack on him but an attack on British democracy,” echoing the statements made after the murders of Cox and Amess.

The Guardian also expressed concern in a recent editorial published on February 4th, saying that “when politicians live in fear of being physically attacked, democracy suffers.

Elected representatives should not face this treatment. The danger is not only that they and those close to them may suffer psychological harm or physical attack. It is also that they and others who could contribute greatly to public life are deterred from standing for parliament,” the editorial also said.

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