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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Is it treason to fight against your country?
Your comments

They are simply religious imposters attempting to use our religion to justify violence and cleansing

Jamil Hussayn, U.K.
I read these comments from so-called believers in Islam saying they must stick up for our Islamic brethren. Is this some sort of joke? Christians aren't supposed to stick up for Slobodan Milosevic or even Hitler in the 40's! Why should we Muslims stick up for monsters, racists, and perpetrators of sickening violence? The key here is these new monsters are not our brothers - they are simply religious imposters attempting to use our religion to justify violence and cleansing. Siding with them is not siding with Islam. It is siding with Satan. I would never side with a "believer" who was an incarnation of true evil.
Jamil Hussayn, U.K.

While I oppose the Taleban with all my heart, I don't think the UK approach is very right. After all, if people who fight with the Taleban are to be tried for treason, then the British intelligence agencies which worked with the CIA in training and supplying the taliban should be tried too.
FFT, India

Many of you are obviously unaware that the Taleban seized power by force of arms, mass murder, and terrorism. They continue power by a theocratic government that uses fear as a stabilizing force in Afghanistan. Where were you people who support the Taleban when they were throwing acid in the faces of women who momentarily unveiled, or during the public executions of their citizens for no more than begging food? Where did you stand when the Taleban destroyed age-old monuments and religious icons? Certainly if you represent the Taleban you do not represent the intrinsic ideals inherent in British Freedoms, or that of the United States Constitution. Service with the Taleban does not even warrant the legalistic term "traitor", but should earn you the title of terrorist.
Kenneth R. Lilly, USA

Of course it is treason to fight against your country. The dictionary defines treason as violation of allegiance to sovereign or state; breach of faith, disloyalty. But rather than charge them on their return to UK and clog up the court system they should be stripped of their British citizenship. They want the Taleban lifestyle, let them live it in Afghanistan.
Geoff Robinson, Australia

My Grandfather fought to give us the freedom, which these people enjoy in Britain

Ceri, Australia (Welsh)
These British people who chose to fight against western soldiers, including British soldiers, is a crime, it is called being a traitor. If they dare to return to British soil, they should be put on trial, and if found guilty, they should be jailed. They choose to live in Britain, so where is their loyalty to their adopted country? It makes me very angry, when people like my Grandfather fought to give us the freedom, which these people enjoy in Britain. This is traitorous act against people like my grandparents, people who lost their lives in WW2, and my country!
Ceri, Australia (Welsh)

All I can say is thank God the USA has a friend like the UK. As a matter of fact, the whole free world should be thanking them, because they had the nerve and audacity to stand against Hitler when other surrendered or made excuses until they were drawn into the conflict. The world certainly would have been a very different place if it wasn't for the British. British forces are the best in the world, second to none and that's just a fact so if you are one who wishes to go and oppose them with weapons, then put your money where your mouth is "and God help you". You should also remember, when you're entertaining that romantic notion from your armchair, that those boys are fighting and dying for their fundamental belief, my fundamental belief, our countries fundamental beliefs of "liberty" and "freedom". And one more thing. They ain't the Soviet Union.
William Redmond, USA

The nation that will not discipline citizens who fight against it has already signed its death warrant

Raymond Joseph, USA
Yes, it is treason, and yes they should be tried for treason! Otherwise, the nation that will not discipline citizens who fight against it has already signed its death warrant.
Raymond Joseph, USA

I do not believe that there are any true followers of Islam who would want to go and join such a hellish and thuggish regime that has turned their own country into a 7th century back-water and which has intentionally destroyed the lives of many more of its own people than the US led attacks will ever do. Islam is a peaceful religion, which has been hijacked and distorted by a group of dangerous fanatics. These people who want to go and fight have a real misguided sense of loyalty if the continue to support a bunch of terrorists just because they happen to be Muslims. That is equivalent to white people simply turning a blind eye to the actions of and actively supporting the Klu Klux Klan just because they are white! Evil is evil no matter what colour, creed or religion is behind it.
Andy, UK

Of course it's treason. Fighting against your own country is pretty much the definition of treason. The only issue is what the punishment should be: nothing, deportation, jail, death? Since Britain doesn't have the death penalty I suppose they should get as harsh a jail sentence as possible (preferably life) and be glad they're not from America where we have the death penalty. My question is why do so many people want to deport these people to Afghanistan where our troops will have to deal with them a second time? I suppose if you wanted to strip them of their citizenship and treat them as prisoners of war that would also be appropriate, but I prefer the idea that any US citizens captured fighting against US soldiers are still citizens, just citizens with a much shorter life expectancy.
David, US

Every British Muslim has the right to fight for Islam. Great Britain is a free democracy and therefore must afford any and all British Muslims the right to go and fight for the Taleban. However, Great Britain must also protect the rest of her citizens and must therefore revoke the citizenship of all British people who go to fight for 'Bin and the Boys'. The Muslims will of course argue that they are under a religious obligation to fight for the family of Islam. They will say their first loyalty is to Allah and to his followers. That's fair enough and besides, who are we to interfere with what they perceive to be their religious obligations? If, however, they do decide to follow their religious loyalty and do take up arms against the UK then they should also be prepared to pay the price for their actions and not complain when they lose the privilege of citizenship in Great Britain. Does Islam really teach its devotees that they can have their cake and eat it?
Miles Mckee, USA

Do they obey their leaders and support their country, or obey their religion and support fellow Muslims?

Martin, England, UK
Which is the greater crime, treason against your country, or treason against your religion? Like it or not, the UK is at war with a Muslim country, and this puts some people in a difficult situation - do they obey their leaders and support their country, or obey their religion and support fellow Muslims?
Martin, England, UK

Living in London my life in enriched by living side by side with people of all religions, colours and nationalities. The British are a liberal, tolerant nation. For the most part they allow people to live and let live. It is unforgivable for a citizen who has benefited from this accepting society to attack members of our armed forces, particularly if it is in support of one of the most repressive regimes in the world today. If they genuinely believe that they want to fight against their fellow British citizens then they should go now, leave their passport behind and never be allowed to return to this country again. A month with the Taleban will soon teach them that they have made a terrible mistake.
Niall, London, UK

Yes, legally it's probably treason - but the question is more - is there anything morally wrong with that? Whilst there are plenty of reasons why fighting for the Taleban is morally wrong, I don't see that going against the wishes of Tony Blair is one of them. 'Duty' to a country is an outmoded concept. We may have a 'duty' to our common humanity, and that might well dictate that we do not fight for the Taleban, but it is the very belief that it can ever be right to kill and die for a cultural ideal that led us to September 11th.
William Ramsden, UK

Britons are very lucky to find themselves in a peaceful, tolerant corner of an increasingly turbulent and bitter world. Here we allow free speech and free thought to prosper, because we believe it is right to do so. This intellectual fertility allows ideas and progress to blossom, and this is how we, a comparatively small nation, have managed to remain one of the planet's economic powers. Unfortunately, it also allows the enemies of society freedom to plot and subvert others. Rest assured however, that for every traitor there will be a thousand others who remain loyal to the Mother that nurtured them, and we will stop at nothing to keep her from harm.
Phil, United Kingdom

People who fight for the Taleban don't represent Islam nor the right humanity rules

Khaleeq, Afghan in Washington DC.,USA
Anyone fighting for the Taleban should be arrested no matter what country their from and if they are a UK citizen yes too. People who fight for the Taleban don't represent Islam nor the right humanity rules. If people knew how the Taleban threat the Afghans living in Afghanistan and what conditions they have to lived through they should know not to support the Taleban.
Khaleeq, Afghan in Washington DC.,USA

As a liberal who grew up in repressive an undemocratic society, I'm uncomfortable about any perceived invasion on civil liberties. I do however believe that people who support the enemy of Britain are traitors and should be treated accordingly. The nation state (in this case the UK) has as an institution evolved dramatically in recent years. The biggest driver of this change is globalisation. The people who question the rights of the nation state are in this instance the same people who admonish globalisation as the modern evil and the destroyer of Islam. They cannot have it both ways and must either tow the line respect the nation state or condone the 'wrongs' of globalisation on their people.
Matthew Tattersall, South African living in the UK

Country, Religion, Community etc. are nothing but man made institutions. None is above conscience. Conscience to a great extend is your personal sense of justice. So if according to your conscience your country or ruler is doing injustice, it should be your duty to go against it. Would not it have been nice if German people would have responded to their conscience and rose against their country or ruler or Hitler?
Sukanta Kar, Tampa, FL, USA

People from the UK who wish to uphold such tyranny in Afghanistan, by taking up arms are clearly a danger to our society

Graham Mallaghan, UK
To Mark of UK - "The right of the Taleban to rule"? Where did the Taleban get this right? They have no mandate from the Afghan people, and imposed their rulership with massive brutality. People from the UK who wish to uphold such tyranny in Afghanistan, by taking up arms are clearly a danger to our society, as, by logical extension they are surely prepared to perpetrate terrorist atrocities in the UK. In any case, to fire on a UK soldier is to fire on the UK itself. They should have their citizenship revoked as they obviously support the denial of all rights to women, public maiming and execution, and the obliteration of almost any artistic, cultural, or intellectual expression, outside of one narrow doctrine. If such racism can no longer be tolerated among whites and other less fanatical groups in this country, then it should no longer be permitted in the Moslem community.
Graham Mallaghan, UK

To Mark from the UK, treason is not irrelevant. These fighters will NOT be shooting theoretical bullets to further an abstract concept of authoritarian self determination, they will be shooting little red hot pieces of lead at your countrymen and mine. They should not be able to do that with impunity.
Kyle, US

Treason is irrelevant to a modern democracy. This country has no right to own my freedom of expression as long as I don't break any of its laws. Are we not supposed to be tolerant of opposing views and actions? Furthermore I doubt these people want to fight against us. Instead, I think they want to fight for the right of the Taleban to rule. There is a small but real difference between the two.
Mark, UK

If the state uses violence then individuals who oppose will them will resort to violence

Kevin, UK
A society that preaches freedom must accept that some people will object to their country's actions. If the state uses violence then individuals who oppose will them will resort to violence. Using the term treason is just another emotional weapon the government use to get people to turn against anyone who disagrees with their political aims and methods of achieving it.
Kevin, UK

As a Muslim you are taught your beliefs/religion comes first above everything else. Nationalism is Haram (forbidden) as this causes divides against nations as you can see in this day and age. These UK citizens are fighting for their religion rather than against a enemy trying to conquer a country. These people are being brainwashed by the media as well as the small pro-Taleban groups in the UK as most of these people are still in the early twenties who are being recruited and are still impressionable. They don't probably care if they being treacherous to country of their birth as they feel their religion is more important.
Jay Are, UK

The real threat to our society are those UK citizens that preach racial intolerance and hatred

Francis, UK
The real threat to our society are those UK citizens that preach racial intolerance and hatred not the misguided men that follow their teachings. We must track them down and bring justice to bear. The Muslim community must play a leading role in this endeavour.
Francis, UK

Maybe we should be looking at the reason for these young Muslims going to Afghanistan, they are not there because of the hate they have for this country but because of the passion they have for Islam and for people who are unable to protect themselves. At least in this country we are lucky to have the government to protect us in a time of crisis, but unfortunately Afghans have no such means of support. Finally, I think we should at the least understand that these people who are going to Afghanistan are there despite knowing they are likely to have there own blood shed in this pathetic excuse for a war. How many of us would be willing to fight in army less powerful than the opposition?
Sam, UK

Most of the comments I have read show that racism is still deep in our society. Why should a young British born man from a minority background be stripped of his citizenship when he commits an unlawful act. The issue of citizenship doesn't seem to come up when a white person commits treason. Shouldn't we let the justice system do what is necessary.
Jennifer, UK

Aren't those bombing Afghanistan also extremists? No evidence that the Afghan people, the Taleban, nor even Bin Laden were involved in the Sep. 11 attacks has been presented to the public nor to any court anywhere and definitely not to an international court. Treason shouldn't be the issue, but morality. Those fighting against the Nazis against in WWII were also, at one point considered traitors. No one should fight for an awful regime like the Taleban, but clearly defending the Afghan population from US aggression is morally justifiable.
A. Barry, Netherlands

Could any of us not say there have been times when we have disagreed vehemently with the actions of the British Government?

Gerry, Scotland
It is so very easy to jump in and shout Traitor. However, could any of us not say there have been times when we have disagreed vehemently with the actions of the British Government? During the Thatcher government many of us could have been considered traitors. Indeed, did the Police during the miners strike not actually disregard the law of the land, are they traitors? The mistake these men are making is to raise arms against their own country rather than to use the means of discussion, debate and even protest to make their point.
Gerry, Scotland

Various people here have said how anyone fighting against us should be deported. This assumes that they are not British Citizens in the first place. Britain is unique in the world in that its citizens cannot be barred from entering or leaving the country. We don't bar German soldiers/sailors, aircrew etc from WWII from entering the UK. The right to fight for what you believe in does not exist only for those on the government side but for all sides. I personally would never fight for my country at all, no matter what the cause, does that make me a traitor under the "you're either for us or against us" attitude that seems to exist everywhere in the world today? Just accept that people might have views different to ours and that we have to live with it not fight it.
Ross Elliott, UK

The Taleban would most certainly welcome anyone back who fought against them, if only for a public execution to sustain the fear and intolerance that this insane regime breeds
Robert, Scotland

The question is not as black and white as it's being made out. In regards to the current situation yes it is treason. But for example would a government in the 1930's & 1940's extradite a German citizen back to Germany to face treason charges for fighting against the Nazi's. Not a chance & rightly so.
Jason, Manchester, England

As a British citizen and a Muslim, I would lay down my life for England, if it was a just cause. However, as a Muslim I have been taught that all Muslims are one body, and as such if any part of the body is hurt the whole body feels the pain. I do feel pain, and I am torn what to do. If I do not bear arms for the Taleban but supply them with ammunition or blankets etc., will that also be considered as siding against England?
Malik M A, USA

It's the ultimate form of protest against this fraudulent war.
Stuart, UK

We as a nation are already harbouring known terrorists that are wanted by other countries

G Roberts, England
Of course they will be allowed back into Britain after the conflict is over. We as a nation are already harbouring known terrorists that are wanted by other countries. And thanks to the Liberal elite that run this country they will be allowed to return ''because of human rights''
G Roberts, England

To Phil Macintyre - Ann Widdecombe was talking about people who fight against our forces, not about people holding certain views. And with regard your reference to cannabis, only certain sections of society laughed, the vast majority actually agreed with her.
Colin Mackay, UK

When will that woman learn to stay quiet? Wasn't it she who wanted a zero tolerance policy on cannabis? That was laughed at too. Don't we live in a country that gives the right of free speech? They can support the Taleban as much as they want, as long as they don't actually act upon it.
Phil Macintyre, Glasgow, UK

I find it ironic that those people who suggest Anne Widdecombe should keep her mouth shut are the same people who say that we all have the right to free speech and unrestricted opinions irrespective of the consequences.
Nathan dale, UK

Let all those who support and want to fight with the Taleban, go straight to RAF Brize Norton, taking their passports with them

The C-130 is a beautiful aircraft, it is well renowned for its ability to carry heavy equipment and transport it from one part of the world to another. It is also a good aircraft for the purposes of parachuting. Let all those who support and want to fight with the Taleban, go straight to RAF Brize Norton, taking their passports with them. Whatever their religion, nationality or belief. Hand over their passport. Climb aboard that beautiful C-130, strap on their parachute and off they go, on a one way journey to be in the country they so like, and to support the people they so believe in!

Has anyone thought why someone born and bred in the UK would want to go and fight against US/UK forces in a far off land? It is because they see images of innocents being murdered by these forces and feel it their obligation to stop these terrorists bombing their brothers and sisters in Islam.
Z Pandor, UK

We have in the past welcomed people from every corner of the world. How could any person go to fight for a system that supports? Killing innocent men, women and children. I say let them go to be martyred. But they should tell us of their intention and then never be allowed back again. Once the international community as completed the task. Afghanistan will be a free country, where freedom will prevail
T Darton, Yorkshire

Treason, under UK law, is defined as waging war in the Queen's realm. I must have missed Ann Widdecombe's demands for IRA members to be charged with treason under the dark years of the last Tory government. Perhaps Miss Widdecombe can enlighten us as to how she would plan to gather all the evidence required to charge these people with treason now the responsibility of government has been removed from the Conservative Party.
Phil R., UK

Her rhetoric does not help to avoid this war becoming a war between the West and the Moslem world

Simon Gathern, UK
Surely it is treason, this is as close to a dictionary definition as we could have. But the point is that this is not a war between countries but a 'war against terrorism'. Therefore the question misses the point spectacularly. Miss Widdecombe does too. Her rhetoric does not help to avoid this war becoming a war between the West and the Moslem world.
Simon Gathern, UK

The comment by Paul from England is shocking in the extreme. Prosecuting people for going to Afghanistan with the intention of killing our own servicemen is hardly a restriction on 'thought'. Thinking the military's actions are wrong and going off to kill one's countrymen are completely and, I would have hoped, obviously different.
Raj, Wales

I personally think that Ann Widdecombe should keep her opinions to herself. By charging people with treason you are restricting the thoughts of the individual. If people that live in the UK are on the side of the Taleban, then the main reason would be because there are countries like Britain and the US that believe the lives of many mean nothing compared to the life of one of their own. The very foundation that these two countries keep mentioning that they respect - the religion and well- being of all nationalities - is a contradiction in terms in light of the fast-approaching holy festival of Ramadan. Still they refuse to stop the bombing and let these people celebrate in peace.
Paul, England

You can't have it both ways

Ranjan SenGupta, Germany/Antigua
As British citizens you have the right to bad-mouth the government, criticise the country and everything in it. You also have the right to enjoy the things that life in Britain gives you, through the government, a job, a free education, national health service, protection from crime, help if you are unemployed, the right to practice your religion without prejudice. But the second you take up arms against the official policies of your government and aid another country or fight with them against your country, you are committing treason. If I am not mistaken, treason during a time of war is punishable by death. You can't have it both ways - take everything the government and the country gives you and more then fight against the same then turn round and say "I'm British, I want to come home now".
Ranjan SenGupta, Germany/Antigua

Yes it is treason, but without treason, dictatorships and tyranny would remain unopposed. Perhaps a more suitable question should address whether to fight against injustice is wrong or right, because surely justice should not be limited to nationality. As a Muslim, my priorities are to the justice of other Muslims first, if an injustice is being committed, whether by America, British, or Muslim, I must do everything I can to put an end to this injustice. I believe it is justified for Muslims to go and fight alongside their brothers in a time of war, but it would have been far more noble to help the people of Afghanistan before any kind of warfare was needed.
Ibrahim, London, UK

It is sickening to hear the Taleban's blasphemous calls for a holy war, complete with promises of eternal paradise for those that help - They are trying to exploit the passionate faith of good young Muslims for their own criminal purposes. Young British Muslims that are stirred by the Taleban's call to arms should consider that the Taleban's principle enemies are also Muslim┐If the Northern Alliance had the same access to the world media as the Taleban, their propaganda would also claim holy war and promise paradise. Make no mistake, a British Citizen that participates in a war against Britain is committing a most terrible betrayal and crime. Britain is a democracy: discontent is voiced by demonstration, petition and the ballot box, not by high treason.
Galal, UK

When they realise there is little food to eat, few weapons, and little resources they will soon change there minds

Alan S, UK
I'm sure when most of these "British Taleban defenders" spend a few months out there in Afghanistan they will miss there lifestyle, family and friends and end up switching sides. These are not soldiers, they have no formal training. They are young men who have been brainwashed, and if most of them go out there they will only die. Those who don't die will hopefully realise how big a mistake they have made. When they realise there is little food to eat, few weapons, and little resources they will soon change there minds.
Alan S, UK

Arim Saffrey`s letter comes as a breath of fresh air and encapsulates the sentiments that all cultures and faiths should feel. Those people who feel justified in fighting against the soldiers of this country in this conflict should depart these shores and take their supporters with them. I am sure that they would be much more privileged and comfortable living under the tolerant, civilised and enlightened Taliban regime.
Bernard, United Kingdom

As a second generation Muslim who has benefited from Britain's kindness and tolerance as well as its education system, my first loyalty is towards my country: Britain. If a British subject fights for an enemy and in so doing kills or injures a British or Allied soldier then that is treachery and should be punished with death. As for the hate mongers who peddle terrorism in the name of Islam, they make me ashamed to be a Muslim. Every Muslim should remind themselves that such people want to replace tolerance with hatred and murder. They discredit Islam, and the excuse of social injustice is a weak one at best. If you want to experience social injustice, just try living under an extremist regime like the Taleban.
Arim Saffrey, England

Arim Saffrey should be Race Relations Minister. He gets my vote. I agree with every word he wrote. Well said!
Roy Brookes, Hamburg, Germany

In response to Arim Saffrey, I too am a Muslim, yet I have a much different opinion to his. My first loyalty can never be to anything other than Islam. When Britain bombs and starves the people of Iraq, my first loyalty is to relieve Muslims in Iraq of their suffering, and not to support Britain. Likewise, when Muslims in Afghanistan are suffering, my main concern is with them, and not the Taleban or the British/Americans that are causing them to suffer. Lets reverse the question, if Britain was being attacked, would any British people living abroad support the attackers? I don't think so. Treason or not, everyone must stand up for what they believe is right.
Mustapha AH, London, UK

I wonder why these people choose to live under our rule and not theirs?

If the Taleban are good enough to fight for, I wonder why these people choose to live under our rule and not theirs?

I don't believe we have any jurisdiction over what people choose to do in Afghanistan, whether or not they are British citizens. I would certainly like to see them refused entry back into the UK but how can we do even this if they hold British passports?
Kulu, UK

This then raises the interesting question of where to draw the line. You could silently disapprove of the war, write to your MP against the war, refuse any activities which would help the military, demonstrate against the war (bolstering enemy morale), fund external opposition to the war, fight openly against your country, fight covertly using sabotage within your country. Which are treason, and which are legitimate protest?
Mick, UK

It is complete treachery to take the side of your enemy in a conflict. Verbal support is bad enough, but to go and fight for the enemy is treason, pure and simple. Anyone Briton who goes to fight for the Taleban, against British forces, better not have the gall to hold onto their British passport or come back to live on these shores, which they obviously hold in such contempt.
Kevin, UK

Is this a rhetorical question? Treason? You bet it is. Nice to see some good old-fashioned English words back in favour nowadays: good, evil, resolution and yes, treason. The Taleban, who say they are willing to die in their Jihad, yet who are hiding in caves or behind the skirts of women in civilian areas conjures up another old fashioned word: cowards.
Peter C. Kohler, USA

Free countries do not fear their citizens

Leo, USA
Is taking up arms against one's country treason? If not, what is? The greatest strength of both the UK and US has been the ability to disagree with policy without reprisal from government. As this forum itself shows, free countries do not fear their citizens - contrast what actions the UK government take against those who post here to the actions of the Taleban against their own people. However, it is one thing to disagree and another to take up arms against one's own country. One cannot expect enjoyment of a country's freedoms to extend to the freedom to destroy that country.
Leo, USA

The very fact that this is a debatable issue shows how out of touch western liberal democracies have become...with their own mortality.
Rich, USA

Any British person captured fighting for the Taleban must be tried for treason, both as a point of principle and as a deterrent. We cannot permit people to grow up in this country, enjoying the benefits of free education and healthcare, among other things to then commit the murder, and it would be murder, of our soldiers in fighting for an organisation that believes in an end to democracy, human rights and women's rights.
Andrew Robson, UK

It is amazing to me that this is even being debated. Anyone who takes up arms against their own country to fight with the Taleban, are of course traitors. The UK and USA leaders are not Hitlers. So because of this, their is no justification to bear arms.
Ron Schmitz, USA

This doesn't really address the question asked, but do people not understand that Muslims are fighting against Muslims in Afghanistan? So exactly whose side is Allah on?
Matt Gilbert, USA

I believe that you should be loyal to your Queen and Country before your religion

Sandra, UK
I believe that everyone has the right to worship as they see fit. Indeed that is what democracy is about. Anyone standing with the Taliban is shunning their right to democracy, and in doing so, is shunning this country. I believe that you should be loyal to your Queen and Country before your religion. If you do not want that, what are you doing in the UK? I do not always agree with what happens in this country, but I am fiercely patriotic, and anyone that fights against us while having UK residency should be exiled forever.
Sandra, UK

The question you should ask yourself is if you lived in Afghanistan as a duel nationality citizen and the British government called you up to fight against the Taliban would you go? I think that the majority of you would try to protect your own culture. So you can't blame Muslims for trying to protect their culture. When you get called it is a very hard choice to make as one way or the another you are going to be a traitor. Remember these people often have family members still in Afghanistan, wouldn't you wish to protect your families in this scenario?
Martin, UK

People who claim that they have divided loyalties seem to be missing the point

J Lewis, UK
People who claim that, as Muslims, they have divided loyalties between their country and their religion in the current conflict, seem to be missing the point completely. This is not a fight against Islam, rather it is a fight against a cruel, corrupt and inefficient government who claim to do things in the name of their religion. In fact, the Taleban have corrupted that religion to a point where it bears no resemblance to the real Islam. This is a fight against evil, hate riddled men who inflict utter misery on their own people, as well as others, and it is nothing to do with a great world religion.
J Lewis, UK

I agree wholeheartedly with Ann Widdecombe. There should be no distinction between the enemy on the grounds of geographic location. Our service men and women are risking their lives for a cause which the vast majority of the people of this country believe in and I think that it would be betraying them if we did not do something to prevent these people from swelling the ranks of our enemy - thus prolonging the war.
Andrew Cromwell, UK/Northern Ireland

The problem we face is that this is not a geographical war

Don, London, UK
The problem we face is that this is not a geographical war. We need to define this war as stated, a war against terrorism. The problem we forget is that the faction within the Muslim faith see this as a Muslim war against imperialism. So geographical boundaries do not necessarily help in the long term.
Don, London UK

There will be absolute uproar if these people are ever allowed back. Imagine how much shorter our fuses will be once our boys start getting killed. A stupid move by the government on this could spark a major nationalist uprising, and almost nobody wants that. Listen to your people on this, Tony, never let them back in!
Rob Harris, UK

Depends on what your country's policies are. For example, are the Northern Alliance fighters traitors?
Dejan, UK

It is an act of severe sedition to preach support for the enemy

Eunice Muir, USA
No one will be sorry to see these terrorists go and support the Taleban in their treasonous manner. It is also treason, by the way, to aid and give assistance to the enemy and an act of severe sedition to preach support for the enemy.
Eunice Muir, USA

Perhaps we need a vicious war to shake us up, to remind us that we need to be ever vigilant in our search for true freedom and respect for one another. The bully will always strike when he thinks he can get away with it.
Andrew, UK

The Taleban are in no way representative of the Islam that I take as my own faith. They represent religious fascism at its' worst. I do believe that if you take up arms against the country that welcomed you with open arms and gave you many opportunities that you might not have had back home, that this is treason. You go and fight for the Taleban, you pay the price in the loss of the right to return to a democratic society where religious freedom is practiced since you have declared that you are not truly interested in freedom by your actions.
Sarah Ouadghiri, USA

Ann Widdecombe is 100 percent right. They should be stripped of their British citizenship and charged with treason if they try to return. If they want to fight for the Taleban in Afghanistan then that's where they should live.
Roy Troughton, USA

You have to wonder why anyone would want to return to the UK after going to Afghanistan during a war. They should voluntarily turn in their passport and renounce their citizenship if they go to fight against their country of residence. Burn the passport in a big display of righteous indignation and show your hosts that you want nothing to do with them. Don't just sneak off to fight and hope to sneak back in when the conflict is over. That's pathetic.
Rob, USA

Just because I happen to live in this country doesn't mean I've promised any blind loyalty to it

Jack, UK
Do we swear any oath of loyalty to this country simply by choosing to live here? If so, then by all means try them for treason. However, I think you'll find we don't. Just because I happen to live in this country doesn't mean I've promised any blind loyalty to it.
Jack, UK

Free, democratic countries should guarantee the right of free speech and respect the right of every individual to hold their own opinions even if that means cheering for the Taleban and applauding acts of terror. But taking up arms against one's own country is the very definition of treason and that's where liberal western democracies should draw the line and be adamant about it. This is essential if our ideals of personal freedom and free speech are to withstand the onslaught of idealistic totalitarianism in the varied guises of ultra nationalism and extremism.
Anthony Gavalas, UK

I find it strange that people who have left Afghanistan for the west want to go back to defend the country's poor human rights and lack of equality for women

Steve, UK
I find it strange that people who have left Afghanistan for the comfortable and affluent life of the west want to go back to defend the country's poor human rights and lack of equality for women. I do not think these people should be tried for treason. Just revoke their British citizenship and do not let them back into our country.
Steve, UK

While I may not be a great supporter of the war, I do not believe that anyone who resides in the UK has the right to fight against the UK in times of war. Such perpetrators should be charged with treason and where applicable deported.

As an English-born convert to Islam I personally consider the suggestions of deporting supporters of these groups to be totally unsubstantiated. I am a Muslim first, a woman second, and English third. In my opinion, any Muslim, of whatever nationality, who participates in or facilitates in any way the attacks on Afghanistan, is committing treason against the religion of Islam.
Sarah, UK

I agree with Sarah, UK. Muslims are one people, one nation, one family. Every family has its differences, and not all members of the family are outstanding citizens. But if someone is suffering, then naturally, the whole family will try to help. Similarly, they cannot stand idly by while their brothers and sisters are being attacked. From an Islamic point of view, a Muslim's first identity is Islam, and then whatever nationality is given to him. If there is a conflict between the two, priority is given to the Islamic pursuit of justice, through any means possible, be it words, money, or action. It is vital to understand however, that Muslims do not fight because they have no love or gratitude for what Britain has offered, far from it. They do so because they love Islam and justice more.
Ibrahim, London, UK

What we determine as justified treason will not be shared by others

Billy, UK
This is the very definition of treason, but is it good or bad? If an Iraqi fights against Saddam Hussein, it is treason, but not necessarily a bad thing. Likewise, the US and Britain is supporting the people of Afghanistan to commit treason against the Taleban. What we determine as justified treason will not be shared by others. Equally, what extremist supporters determine as justified treason will not be shared by the majority of British citizens.
Billy, UK

The liberal points of view expressed here would be funny if they were not so deadly in their idealism. Murder is not a legitimate form of protest. It is tiring to hear intelligent people look for the root cause of the killer's angst before the victim's body is cold. Civil disobedience is the responsibility of every citizen as a way of keeping their government in check, but it is certainly treason to support another nation in a war against one's own country.
Scott Myatt, New Braunfeld, Texas, USA

To my mind an individual cannot be charged with treason unless they are committing acts against the British government or monarchy. The British government have never recognised the Taleban as the government of Afghanistan, so how can British subjects be charged with treason for fighting with them. If these people are breaking British law by fighting with the Taleban then they have to be charged with the specific law that they are breaking. If no law exists in this particular case then perhaps Anne Widdecombe's time would be better served trying to lobby the government to put one in place rather than lobbing cheap PR pitches to the media. The government cannot revoke someone's right to citizenship just because they broke the law. People are punished when found guilty but their right to citizenship is never in question, I believe this to be a fundamental principal of the democracy we are trying to protect.
Jon, Singapore

This is nothing short of totalitarian

Mark Taylor, UK
The question might be better phrased: Is it democratic to demand unquestioning loyalty from everyone living in your country? Answer: No, it is nothing short of totalitarian.
Mark Taylor, UK

I agree with Mark Taylor here. In USA, many Americans questioning the vietnam war and demonstrating against USA in foreign land, were labelled as traitors. Later on they were embraced. The most UK can do here is to revoke the nationalities of these people. But then it would open a pandora box about the citerion of revoking nationality. Any govt can be totalarian and take some actions which may go against the will of the people. Taking arms against one's country's army may be deemed appropriate if due civilian concerns r not heeded. Are we suggesting that the country's army and govt can not be wrong? Many big changes in system were brought this way in history.
Syed Alam, Pakistan

In response to Mark Taylor, we are not talking about loyalty - it is one of our democratic rights to protest and question our government's motives. It is even our right to express concern for the people of Afghanistan and do all that we can to help aid get through. It's something else entirely however to go and fight for a foreign power against your own armed forces. It's surely beyond semantics to call that treason.
Toby Jones, UK

What Mark Taylor obviously fails to see is that nobody is trying to curtail people's rights to an opinion. Nobody is saying that one cannot voice their opinions. This is a pillar of our society. However, if these people who have lived here and experienced the advantages of living in this country feel a desperate need to go and fight against British troops, and even worse for a regime that openly stands for the very opposite of what Britain stands for, then that is treason.

We are at war. War was declared on September 11 and people have to choose sides. That is not to say that you are for the terrorists if you are against war, but to actively fight against your country is contemptible. These people should be stripped of their citizenship immediately and not allowed back. Also the hate mongers of Al Muhajiroun should also be deported. To actively aid and encourage these people to go to Afghanistan, whilst not going themselves is to act as a traitor to oneself, not to mention a coward of the highest order.
Andrew Marks, UK

Protesting, debating and arguing against our government's actions are their right but if they choose to fight against our forces they must never return.
George, UK

It seems to me that whether or not this is a treasonable act is a moot point. As with so much that has arisen since September 11, the definition of treason may need to be revisited. The bottom line is that these individuals are welcome to stay in the UK and protest peacefully but not incite racial or religious hatred. They are also welcome to go and fight for any cause they feel like, but if that cause is contrary to British interests - and fighting British troops most certainly falls into that category - then they should be treated at least as murderers or accomplices to murder and suffer the full consequences of the law.
Steve, UK

People who are living on UK soil who believe that they should attack British or American armed forces are a threat to national security. If they do not leave to fight against us of their own free will, then they should be deported.
Joshua Rosewarne-Andrews, UK

I normally do not agree with Ann Widdecombe's views. However, this time I do. These people should not be allowed to come back into the country. They should have to lie in the beds they make for themselves in the country they choose to fight for. Having a liberal government here is not healthy for the good of all decent people.
Pete Wilson, UK

If these people wish to fight for an organisation that promotes the terror of its own citizens then so be it

Matt, UK
Surely if these so-called British citizens wish to go and fight for the Taleban we should let them go. If these people wish to fight for a ruling organisation that promotes the terror of its own citizens then so be it. They obviously have nothing productive to add to our society and their departure would be welcomed. They could be electronically tagged and used in conjunction with other guidance systems for precision bombing in the next mission. Tolerance is one thing but dealing with this kind of ignorance is another.
Matt, UK

I think the people who want to fight should be allowed to go to Afghanistan and as Phil says their passport and right to return to this country taken away. This way Britain would get rid of all people that spread racial and religious hatred and bring shame on their own community. They are extremists and our society would be a much better and safer place without them.
A Basu, UK

Is it not about time Mr Hoon, instead of using ifs, mights and maybes, drew a line in the sand. If anyone decides to actively fight for the Teleban, then they automatically loose their UK citizenship. After all it's their choice.
Graham P, UK

Geoff Hoon's fudging response is the sort of reaction that has already got us into this crisis. Forget legal action - don't let them back into our society. Ann Widdecombe is spot-on.
James G, UK

Neither the Taleban nor Afghanistan have attacked the UK. So how can it be considered treason?
James Pittman, England

In response to James Pitmann, who said that the Taleban hadn't attacked the UK? Were you not watching TV on September 11? They not only attacked the US and the UK, but many other nations and struck at the heart of our freedom to exist.
Steve, England

To James Pittman who thinks the UK was not attacked, how many UK citizens were lost when the towers went down? Do they not count because they were in the US?
Laura Tucker, USA

To Steve, England - The Taleban DID NOT attack the UK. So far there is speculation that Bin Laden and Al Queda attacked but no proof has been offered to the public. We are going on the assumption that they may be guilty - however the UK/USA refusal to show the Taleban the evidence and accept their offer of extraditing Bin Laden to a neutral country suggest that the evidence is not as strong as it could be. But the Taleban were not involved with September 11 - they are just refusing to hand over a man to a mob baying for his blood without judicial proof against him.

These individuals should be denied the right to return to a free democratic country

Mani Virdee, UK
By fighting for the Taleban, these individuals should be denied the right to return to a free democratic country, as it basically represents every ideal they are fighting against. Let them stay there and see the difference.
Mani Virdee, UK

When Britain's leadership and armed forces are fighting against a group or country, for a British national to fight on the side of the opposition is at the very heart of it treason, and the traitor should be treated accordingly.
Stephen, USA

This is a free country and everyone has the freedom to make choices. Anyone should be allowed to join the Taleban forces, but they should never be allowed back in.
Robert, England

Any fanatical pro-Taleban supporter living in this country should be given a free plane ticket to Afghanistan. They clearly do not want to live like civilised people so give them a helping hand. I will be the first to contribute to the plane fare.
David, UK

For once Ann Widdecombe is right. If anyone doesn't agree with life as we know it in the UK they have the freedom to go and fight for whatever they believe in. But they must be prepared also to face the consequences of their actions. If they fight against UK troops then they are guilty of treason. I would not incarcerate them in UK prisons, feed them, or look after their general welfare. They simply do not deserve to have UK taxpayers' money wasted on them.
BW Moore, UK

Supporters of terrorism have no place in our society

Brian Baker, UK
Anyone who fights against the country that they are living in is either a terrorist or a traitor. I would suggest that anyone who feels so much hatred for this country that he is willing to take up arms against it should be deported without delay. Supporters of terrorism have no place in our society.
Brian Baker, UK

In response to Brian Baker, does he therefore classify the Northern Alliance as terrorists and traitors since they fight against the Taleban? Was the French resistance made up of terrorists and traitors too? Are we also going to treat as traitors those condemning the war against Afghanistan? If yes, then I am one. But yet I am passionately patriotic.
Anthony, London, UK

To Anthony, London. The French resistance were fighting an invading force so WERE fighting for their country, the Northern Alliance are fighting a civil war against the unelected dictatorship of the Taliban regime. I feel equating these people to those Taliban sympathisers in this country who want the freedoms inherant in our society whilst denying them to 'their' own people is ridiculous.
Steve, UK

Perhaps those who feel the need to go and fight in Afghanistan against Britain should talk to those who according to your news reports nightly "brave the dangers of barbed wire, guard dogs and speeding trains" to get into Britain. There is something seriously wrong here.
Liz, UK

By definition, of course it is treason.
Simon, England

It is only treason when we are at war and as we are not at war, it cannot be treason. Furthermore, I see this as no different to the IRA fighting against the British army, and indeed the British establishment. Were IRA members tried for treason or exiled? I don't think so.
Martin Adams, UK

Look at this question in reverse: would the Taleban allow someone who fought against them to return and live peacefully in Afghanistan?
Diane, UK

In response to Diane, UK: Is there anybody currently living peacefully in Afghanistan at all? I think not.
Gunther, Germany

Why do we even allow supporters of Osama Bin Laden to live in this country? Diane's comment about reversing this question is absolutely true. The Taleban would never allow someone from their country who fought against them to return and live peacefully. All these terrorists should be deported. If they are British citizens, then it's treason. Living in a country that has fed, clothed and protected them and then going off to fight against it is simply treason. They should be shipped out of here, never allowed to return. They should realise that they will most likely get killed.
Patrick S Adams, Bakewell, England

We should take immediate action and deport all extremists who've been openly spouting support for the terrorists and declaring their willingness to act against us. It might well be only a very small percentage of Muslims that feel this way, but that is still enough to cause catastrophe and major loss of British lives here. It's the enemy within that we need to be aware of, not those in Afghanistan.

In 1956 I stood proudly in line waiting to board an aircraft to take me to fight in the Suez war. I didn't think of the rights and wrongs of the situation. It was my duty to go and fight for my country. I now feel ashamed of our politicians who refuse to act against those encouraging British citizens to fight against their own country. All I can say is God help us if the going really gets tough.
T Love, UK

One of the great aspects of Anglo-American liberty is that we allow people to make mistakes and have second chances. We should hope that, after experiencing the perversely oppressive ways of the Taleban, many of these young men will return to Britain with new respect for their own country. Let them see the alternative for themselves.
Peter Smith, UK

Taking up arms against your own country couldn't be considered anything but treason

Matt Spencer, Luton, UK
Of course it is treason. Taking up arms against your own country couldn't be considered anything but treason, and should be punished with a long jail term. The British men going to Afghanistan are lucky that the death penalty for treason was withdrawn three years ago.
Matt Spencer, Luton, UK

If British servicemen start to get killed in this conflict and British Muslims are seen to be joining enemy forces then there could regrettably be a backlash. If anyone in Britain wishes to fight for the Taleban then they should leave Britain for good. That way, the genuine Muslims in Britain, who live in peace and follow the Koran, aren't put in danger by those crazed, irrational and disaffected young men whose only god is the god of hate, oppression and ignorance.
Martin Law, UK

Paul, England: If people live in the UK and are on the side of the Taleban then they should go to Afghanistan and help them out and never come back. As for restricting their thoughts by charging them with treason, well what a shame. Maybe you have forgotten about what happened on the September 11, when more than a few innocent people were murdered. We all have a right to celebrate our beliefs in peace but sometimes we have to fight for that right. If anyone has restricted thoughts, it must be you.
Jacky, UK

Let them go if they wish, this is after all a free country. Just don't let them back when it is all over.
Mark R, UK

I totally agree with Arim Saffrey's comments. By benefiting from what this country has to offer, it is hypocritical to then be willing to fight against what it stands for. Especially as they will no doubt be wishing to return here. People have principles and if they are to fight for what they believe in they should definitely not be allowed back into this country. You can't have it both ways.
Ed, England

I must say how refreshing it is to hear the comments of Arim Saffrey. I'm certain this is the view of the majority of decent Muslim people. Unfortunately their voice has largely been ignored in the media war.
Helen, UK

In my opinion the people who go to fight in Afghanistan are stating where their loyalties lie. I feel that they should not be charged with treason - they should not be allowed back into England.
Mandi, England

As a white British Muslim, I believe the people who are doing this are carrying out treason. It is ironic that those who ask them to go to these wars ACTUALLY stay at home!
Jim Abdur Raheem, UKK

I would welcome any British Muslims wishing to go to Afghanistan to fight for the Taleban. On their departure, we should take their passports off them and they should never be allowed in the UK again.
Phil, UK

It most certainly should be treated as treason if they are British citizens

Chris, UK
I am not prejudiced against people of any religion, gender, sexuality or colour, and I see great richness in living side by side with people of different races, cultures and religions, even if through my own narrow-mindedness I sometimes feel uncomfortable with the differences until I can better understand them. However, it is too much to expect me to accept that someone living in this country has a culture which is so different that they are prepared to fight against the very forces which protect them and guarantee their freedom to have these views. It most certainly should be treated as treason if they are British citizens. If they are not, their right to reside in this country should be revoked and if they get back in they should be deported.
Chris, UK

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See also:

30 Oct 01 | UK Politics
UK Taleban fighters 'commit treason'
29 Oct 01 | England
British Muslim deaths 'a waste'
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