[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 5 August, 2005, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Galloway defends 'martyrs' remark
George Galloway
Mr Galloway was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war
MP George Galloway has defended comments referring to insurgents in Iraq as "martyrs", insisting he has not put British troops at risk.

During a tour of the Middle East, Mr Galloway spoke of "poor Iraqis" using the most basic weapons to write the names of their towns "in the stars".

The Respect MP accused the UK and America of "raping" Baghdad and said the US was losing the war.

Labour's Eric Joyce said the comments endangered UK troops "in a small way".

But claimed Mr Galloway held little influence.


In a speech in the Middle East, Mr Galloway said: "These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable.

"We don't know who they are, we don't know their names, we never saw their faces, they don't put up photographs of their martyrs, we don't know the names of their leaders."

But he told BBC News he had not called insurgents or the Iraqi resistance martyrs.

If it is a question of quantum, there is far more blood on the hands of George Bush and Tony Blair than there is on the hands of the murderers who killed those people in London
George Galloway

The problem was they were killing people and he wanted to stop the bloodshed by withdrawing US and UK troops.

The former Labour maverick said the only people putting troops at risk were in Mr Blair's government.

"I said countries occupied by UK and US troops are being raped by them," he said. "Jerusalem and Baghdad are in the hands of foreigners who are doing their will.

"The people stirring up hatred for our troops are those who put them in Iraq, not the likes of us who want to bring them home to their families.

"The people who put our troops at risk are the people who put them abroad."


The Bethnal Green and Bow MP said he condemned bombings, whether they were in London or Iraq.

The al-Qaeda phenomenon arose out of the first Iraq war, the occupation of Jerusalem and western support for "corrupt" leaders, he argued.

Mr Galloway said he wanted to "dry up the swamp" used by al-Qaeda and reach those who had not yet joined Bin Laden.

He added: "If it is a question of quantum, there is far more blood on the hands of George Bush and Tony Blair than there is on the hands of the murderers who killed those people in London."

Conservative shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox said Mr Galloway had a right to express his views but many people would find them offensive.

"George Galloway is a sad and twisted but ultimately irrelevant politician," said Dr Fox.

Troop dangers?

Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party over his outspoken remarks about the Iraq war.

Falkirk MP Mr Joyce said Mr Galloway was trying to maximise his infamy in the UK with his latest comments, which would not impress people in the Middle East.

"It clearly puts British troops at greater risk in a small way and that is a pity," he said.

Mr Joyce said the words would at least be seen as encouraging resistance in Iraq and would upset troops' families in the UK.

But he said Mr Galloway was now a "marginal" figure who had limited influence.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw this week said the UK was part of the security problem in Iraq and things are "not good" in the country.

He said an agreement on the new Iraqi constitution would be a step to reducing UK troops in Iraq.

Hear George Galloway on the BBC's Today programme

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific