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Craig Murray | 28.07.2005 10:15 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Terror War | London | World

"Had someone with a complexion as white as mine been running around on the underground, they would not have been gunned down by the police."

What is most worrying about the sad death of the Brazilian Mr Jean Charles de Menezes, shot to death by police on the tube, is that it is used by the government to further ratchet up the climate of fear. While regretting the death, Jack Straw tells us that the "Shoot to kill" policy must remain, while Sir Ian Blair says that more innocent deaths cannot be ruled out. All this boosts the politics of fear, talking up the perpetual war scenario that justifies increased government authoritarianism.

Our tactics for dealing with potential suicide bombers are apparently borrowed from the Israelis. This is appalling. It is not so long ago that the IK was horrified by pictures of a fourteen year old girl being shot down at an Israeli checkpoint, and an Israeli officer emptying a magazine into her head. Now we are adopting precisely the same tactics ourselves – the unarmed Mr Menezes took eight bullets to the head, not the five originally reported.

What is more, we are now adopting Israeli rhetoric. Any attempt to explain or understand the phenomenon of terrorism is dismissed as "justifying" or "excusing" it. Blair rants that Muslim anger has nothing to do with Iraq, or Guantanamo Bay, or Abu Ghraib, or our support for torturers of Muslims like Karimov. It is rather a spontaneous development, sufficient unto itself, arising in a vacuum from the evil teachings of Wahibbism.

But the truth is that Muslim hatred feeds on some very real injustices. That in no way justifies or excuses acts of terror, which are warped and evil. But the growth of that evil is not, as Blair and Bush appear to believe, the spontaneous work of the devil. There are a few masterminds of terror who are simply psychopaths. But by removing injustice we can remove their ability to recruit, and to operate within a sympathetic community milieu. Announcing a firm intention to withdraw troops soon from Iraq would be a start. Announcing an end to all government to government co-operation with the Uzbek regime would be another good move. We need to reduce the causes of tension.

What will not help is the Blair proposal to introduce detention without charge for three months for terrorist suspects. Over 1200 people have been arrested under government anti-terrorism legislation. Only 18 have actually been convicted – and only a handful of them on anything to do with terrorism. Most were found to have some minor criminal involvement.

Almost all of these were Muslims. Nearly all were innocent and released after the current fourteen days. Holding large quantities of innocent Muslims now for three months is hardly going to reduce tension. Let us not forget that one of the first reactions to the 7 July bombings was to arrange the arrest by Egyptian authorities of a Leeds chemist on holiday there. This was trumpeted on the front pages by our press as a great example of international intelligence co-operation against terror. There has been much less – indeed almost no – coverage of the fact he was found to have no connection at all to the bombs. He just happened to be a Muslim, from Leeds, a pharmacist (Aha! Potential Bomb Maker!) and to have gone on holiday at the time of the bombings. His was one of hundreds of British Muslim names falsely publicised in the UK media in the last three years as part of Al-Qaida.

Do not forget that on the afternoon of poor Mr Menezes’ death, the Evening Standard carried the massive triumphalist headline "LONDON BOMBER SHOT DEAD". The Standard has not apologised.

There is another point that has not been made about Mr Menezes’ death. He died because of his skin colour. As a Brazilian, his skin tone was not so different from that of the average British Muslim. Had someone with a complexion as white as mine been running around on the underground, they would not have been gunned down by the police.

Of course, Mr Menezes almost certainly died in terror having absolutely no idea who was chasing him. He was not asked to stop by uniformed police. He was suddenly chased by men in plainclothes waving guns. Is it surprising he ran? An eyewitness said that the police did not pull on Baseball caps saying "Police" until after he started running from them. At which point, chased by men with guns, he probably did not spend much time looking back and admiring his pursuers’ headgear. He jumped on a tube, tripped and they shot him dead.

It is time we pulled back from this. To declare this part of an unending war, and the new normality we should live with, shows what a failed and irresponsible government we now have.

Craig Murray
- Homepage:


Hide the following 14 comments

well said Craig!

28.07.2005 10:33

keep up the good work! and good luck with your book battle!


As white as you or I?

28.07.2005 11:22

I don't know if you've had your head down a hole for the past few days but I think we've all seen the pictures of Jean Charles de Menezes (not a very Asian or African name, is it?) and he looks white enough to pass for European at the very least, if not British.

See for yourself:

This presumably is because he's Brazilian of Portuguese descent. That makes him ethnically European.

We all know the police made a mistake. We will no doubt find out in court whether it was an honest mistake or a culpable one. We also can assume, unless were are entirely blind to the obvious facts, that the police didn't shoot Mr de Menezes because of his ethnicity.

Your point was? Non-white people should be scared because the police have started shooting whites due to their bitter hatred for Muslims, Asians and Afro/Caribbeans?



28.07.2005 12:15

" Muslim hatred ":

what are you rantin' about?

will you please prove that july 7 was a muslim act?


oi zorro

28.07.2005 12:23

for fucks sake

you just fell into the trap

nobody is white enough, or black enough or brown enough

to pass for anything

you muppet

national identity is a myth

a construct

trying to pin a skin colour to it

is very silly indeed

and very dangerous...

just look at the results

menezez is dead

may he rest in peace

I would also like to say that his
very being and existence in London
and wanting to live in London
should make us take stock that
many know and live together
in a place he felt as at home in
as his native Brazil

multiculturalism [reality] is being hybridised with
National identity [myth]

it is a dangerous NATIONAL SOCIALIST game

they are politicising the colour of ALL our skins
for their political gain....

no matter what you believe or know yourself to be

it must now obey the state assertion of the
meaning of multiculturalism

identify with THAT

paul c

I think I agree

28.07.2005 12:54

Paul C,

Your comment is a little bit hard to follow but I think I understand it and broadly agree.

I wasn't and don't make any judgements about people based on their skin colour, country of origin or any other arbitrary characteristic. I was responding to the original poster who wrote:

"Had someone with a complexion as white as mine been running around on the underground, they would not have been gunned down by the police."

In other words, they were a white person who was claiming that the police were being racist by shooting someone else who was also white on the presumption as stated elsewhere in the article, that they were Muslim. Yes, I'm aware that some Muslims are white, but it's also true that most Muslims aren't.

As for the other poster demanding immediate proof that 7/7 was a "Muslim" act. Well sorry, I can't do that. I'm just arguing policy based on what's publicly known and coming to conclusions that I hope are supported by the evidence as we currently know it. I don't have a responsibility to offer absolute "proof" (as if there could be such a thing) simply for stating a point of view which I hope I can support.

Was 7/7 a "Muslim" act? The credible suspects for that bombing were Muslims.

- That isn't to say or imply either that all Muslims are terrorists or that all terrorists are Muslims. -

Blowing up innocent commuters isn't an acceptable way of advancing any cause, whether it's religious or political. In terms of my condemnation of the act, that's a separate matter from what was or is supposed to have been the cause or beliefs of the terrorists.

However, to understand why these acts happened and to hopefully prevent it happening in future, we do need to investigate who these people were, what they believed and how they justified it to themselves. And it's clear that whether it represents "true" Islam or not, it was a political cause broadly called Islamism that stems from a particular interpretation of Islam. To completely ignore this fact and to never use the M-word in relation to this event leaves us with no possibility of understanding it. I believe that to do so won't stop terrorism or further the cause of toleration and diversity in Britain.


28.07.2005 13:03

Zorro's already made a perfectly valid point about the colour of the guy involved, and I have to say I'm shocked by the number of people who keep claiming he was shot for being Asian-looking even though this is clearly not the case.

Anyway, with that point dealt with, maybe it's worth looking at this paragraph:

"An eyewitness said that the police did not pull on Baseball caps saying "Police" until after he started running from them. At which point, chased by men with guns, he probably did not spend much time looking back and admiring his pursuers’ headgear. He jumped on a tube, tripped and they shot him dead."

ONE witness who was on the platform said that, of the four officers he saw chasing Mr Menezes, two were already wearing their caps when they reached the platform and two were trying to put theirs on. For all you know the two who were putting theirs on could have done so before even asking Mr Menezes to stop only for them to fall off in the chase. It's entirely possible, and until all the facts are in, there is NO WAY for you, I or anybody else to say for certain otherwise. Stating it as fact makes you look like a blinkered fanatic.

As for the Evening Standard, it has run half a dozen comment pieces and leader articles over the past week saying how terrible it is that an innocent man died and how the police must be held accountable (after a full and fair investigation, of the sort rarely endorsed by the Indymedia Police) for their actions. But then I suppose that would undermine your arguement, like so many facts do...


yep, sos z

28.07.2005 14:00

i wasn't havin a go zorro

just ventin

and as for the post above

where are these FACTS



a few postings on this is London?

a few carefully edited manipulated comments
on the news...

how many CCTV pictures of bombers?
2 from July 7th
both from 30 odd miles away in Luton

and 5 or so from July 21st

and nothing from the Menezes MURDER

what i was trying to say was
that these head of states
and their mandarins and auto/technocrats

are trying to make us identify
our diversity with the
mechanism of the state

have a look at Parliament,
at the house of lords...

how can they claim to represent

[spun as National vitriol
for the Olympics, for instance
with the industrial infrastructure and KUDOS
of a 'safe London' as the real
money spinner]

when they do not represent ALL of us...
in an open and accountable way???

It is a sham...

most noticeable in the party conferences
when speeches given to controlled crowds
are spun as debates and forums

we live in a managed democracy

with managed health / work & pensions figures
managed disasters such as

the Birmingham 6
the Railtrack/Hatfield disgrace
the Shaken Baby/cot death syndrome
The school dinners theatre

& with managed murder
staged as terror

to deflect from managed wars

in managed totalitarian states
such as Iraq / Iran / N.Korea
set up by the British empire and its
colonial extensions

The planet is a Human experiment

see the managed Hiroshima
and the managed Nagasaki

and the managed cold war that followed

paul c

race and motives

28.07.2005 17:53

I don't really want to go into the debate on whether Menezes looked European because pictures aren't really the best way to tell. The one witness who was all over the news (Mark Whitby) who saw him shot point blank said he was Asian in his initial accounts. I don't think it can really be argued that he looked white or English which is why the concerns about racism and xenophobia on the part of the police is perfectly valid.

What I find interesting is this assumption of politicians that finding out the suicide bombers personal justification is tantamount to empathising and excusing their actions. In a court of law, to argue the case of murder part of the investigation is to establish a motive. Finding this out rarely, if ever, gets someone off the hook for committing murder, it merely serves to explain why they chose to take that particular course of action. As in every murder trial, it the the right of the victim's families to fully comprehend the motive of the murderer so they can gain some closure and if they are willing, forgiveness. For politicians to completely deny this discourse is to deny victims and their families a sense of justice served.

'nother yank

He sure looks white to me

29.07.2005 00:06

"pictures aren't really the best way to tell..."

Pictures are a pretty good way to tell, really. I can certainly tell that the man in the various photos shown is neither black nor Asian but of some kind of European descent.

"I don't think it can really be argued that he looked white or English which is why the concerns about racism and xenophobia on the part of the police is perfectly valid."

I've never really heard such a breathtaking attribution of racism. You are asserting quite literally that white is black and that the police are going around killing white people for racist motives.

It might also be worth mentioning that we haven't heard anything about the ethnicity of the officers. They may well not all have been white. I'm sure we'll find out.

Besides, unlike the witness who saw the man briefly during a chase, the police had been watching and trailing him for some considerable time. I don't think that during this time they could all have misperceived him as Asian and decided to top him on account of prejudice.

If anything, the fact that he was clearly white must demonstrate the lack of police racism - ie. that they were quite willing to accept that a European man could be a bomber, even though they were obviously tragically wrong about the man they shot.

"What I find interesting is this assumption of politicians that finding out the suicide bombers personal justification is tantamount to empathising and excusing their actions."

Well this bothered me too in the first few hours and days after 7/7. We were hearing a lot of stuff about "these people are just maniacs with no reason or ideology". Thankfully we've moved past that now. People are very keen to know exactly where these people are coming from even if some politicians think they're trivial details we don't need to bother with.



29.07.2005 00:09

Murray didn't claim in his column that Menezes looked asian. He said that his complexion was sufficiently whiter than Menezes' for him not to have been a suspect.

Many people from the Middle East, especially Palestine, Jordan and Egypt have complexions similar to Menezes' - and while he may have been ethnically European, that doesnt mean there might not have been racial profiling of him by the police - simply that caucasians and near asians' ethnic appearances overlap.

When the Met is well known to be institutionally racist, and SO19 is shooting people 8 times is the head for wearing heavy coats on suspicion of crimes which nearly everyone blames arabs and pakistanis for it's hardly controversial to suggest that ethnic minorities are scared!


white people!

29.07.2005 09:16

All over Indymedia and in the mainstream media, mind, the only people I have heard trying to claim that Menezes was just as white as anyone have been white people. Why the vested interest in denying the power of racism, institutional or otherwise, in British society? Sure race is a social construct but the last time I checked, nearly everyone who hadn't studied post-structuralism (I'm sure the armed police fit into this category) still identify people on the basis of race and ethnicity, especially in a time like this where everyone is perpetuating a fear of the 'other'.

Look again at the picture of Menezes. His curly dark hair doesn't look English, his olive skin doesn't look English and more importantly, he came out of a block of flats in Stockwell where probably not many English folks live. To the police 2 + 2 = 5 in this case.

Left-wing, middle class, white people are just always looking for a reason to feel victimised despite the fact that they hold the most privilege on the hierarchy of race, regardless of class, gender or sexuality. More importantly, it denies the very real victimisation of people of colour at the hands of the police, government and the racist general public. It's time for solidarity and support, not jockeying for claims at oppression.

'nother yank

check your opinions too

29.07.2005 10:57

I'd like Zorro and Paul to go find a Greek Cypriot who grew up in Britain today. Ask him/her whether being 'ethnically European' made them immune to racism.


Dear Paulie C

29.07.2005 21:22

Please Paulie c

Will you

Stop writing spaced out lines
as though you're

some sort of peace poet.........

in your dreams.......

the fact is.......

the complete drivel you spout is

hard enough to follow without having to
page up and down just to see

if there is any sense in it at all........

course there never is.......most of it is compete boring sycophantic crap

...........(continued page 94)

Rare Damsel

Extraordinary defence of the Police

01.08.2005 19:32

I am very grateful for the comments (in blank verse or otherwise). I am however rather spooked by the bilnd defence of police actions.

It seems to me beyond doubt that the fact Mr Menezes was Mediterranean in appearance played a role in police perceptions of him. If he had been a peelywally Celt like me, they would have been less likely to take him for a suicide bomber. That seems to me scarcely arguable.

The police emerged onto the platform at the end of the chase in the tube station, not the beginning. By that stage two of them did have baseball caps on (not necessarily the most recognisable of British police uniforms.) But a witness stated that at the start of the chase the police did not pull on their caps until after starting to run.

An innocent man is dead. Plainly that is appalling. It says something about the climate of opinion the government and the media have whipped up, that the indefensible is so hotly and widely defended.


Craig Murray
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

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