The previous boss of the UK’s premier MI6 intelligence services, Sir John Sawers, said that people should refrain from insulting Islam, because doing so may cause an offended Muslim to conduct jihadi mayhem against Britain.
The reality is that “there will be another terrorist attack in this nation,” said Sawers, who recently delivered his first public speech since stepping down as head of MI6 in November.
Sawers added, “There is a requirement for restraint from those of us in the West. I rather agree with the Pope that, of course, the attacks in Paris were completely unacceptable and cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever, but I think respect for other people’s religion is also an important part of this.”
The previous MI6 leader did not recommend particular legislation to silence critics of Islam. Much to the chagrin of his liberty-minded critics, nowhere in his speech did Sawers articulate the importance of respecting an individual’s right to speak freely.
Sir John continued, explaining that it may not be wise to insult some who follow Islam, because doing so may provoke an act of retaliation. “If you show disrespect for others’ core values then you are going to provoke an angry response,” he explained. “That doesn’t justify anything, but I think we just need to bear it in mind.”
Sawers welcomed comments recently given by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in which he interpreted Sisi’s remarks as an assertion that it was the “responsibility” of Muslims to “modernize their thinking” about “how traditional positions in Islam equate to the modern world.”
The former MI6 chief recognized that the UK remains under constant threat from terrorist acts. “If I was to sit here and say will the goalkeepers of the security services and the police keep every single attempt to get the ball into the net out? No. At some point these threats will get through and there will be another terrorist attack in this country,” said Sir John.
Before serving as the leader of MI6, Sir John Sawers served under Labor Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the UK’s representative to the United Nations. Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, he served as the UK’s Ambassador to Egypt.