Why They Cheer

There has been plenty of outrage over the release of Lockerbie Bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. The scenes of him arriving in Libya to a hero’s welcome have provoked disgust in the UK.
Why cheer a terrorist? It’s worth considering the situation from the Libyan point of view. First, al-Megrahi’s conviction was not water-tight. The manner of his identification by a witness in Malta was, I recall, highly irregular. I remember seeing a documentary about the case last year, which made me worry about the certainty of the conviction. And if Ordinary Britons are uneasy about the case, you can bet that Ordinary Libyans will be too. The conventional narrative there will be akin to that of the Guantanamo detainees – a Western power pursuing a vendetta against and unfortunate scapegoat.
This doesn’t take al-Megrahi’s side, or excuse Libya’s stte terrorism. But it does give an alternative explanation for the crowd’s exhuberance. It is more an expression of Libyan nationalism, than simply barbarians cheering a murderer.

7 Replies to “Why They Cheer”

  1. One of the key differences between liberal democracies and the kind of nutcase dystopias that “the Terrorists” ™ apparently want to create is that liberal democracies abide by the rule of law. That is the deal.
    As I understand it, the law in Scotland says that prisoners with terminal illnesses get released when they have less than x months to live. I fail to see why following the rule of law, as appears to have been the case here, is a bad thing.

  2. Well we’ll know soon enough: if Megrahi isn’t dead in x months, then there’s been a stitch up.
    As for the rule of law, I’m less dismissive: the problems that arise from applying the rule of law – particularly ensuring that Governments are bound by it – are as nothing in comparison with those when you start treating it as a “blackboard concept”.

  3. I think it is obvious to all sentient beings that his release coincided with and hastily pre-empted his planned appeal.
    Somebody didn’t want certain info to come out, which would have showed a) that he was innocent b) that those who prosecuted and convicted him knew this and c) that a deal had been done to give a veneer that justice had been done, when all concerned knew that it hadn’t.
    Why we would ever want to be friends with Libya I do not know. I thought we only like democracies, and British security notwithstanding, I didn’t think we deal with terrorists by letting them go. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Very disappointing.

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