Bizarre: Scottish Catholic leader attacks US 'culture of vengeance'

Lockerbie Bomber Release

Outspoken cardinal Keith O’Brien described Scottish government decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as ‘merciful’

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has hit out at US senators criticising the Scottish government’s decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.  Megrahi was freed on the understanding that he had only a short time to live, but has now spent nearly a year at home with his family.

  • US, UK agree Lockerbie bomber release was mistake (ABC News)


The leader of Scotland‘s Roman Catholic church waded into the furious international row today, launching a caustic attack on US politicians who have criticised the early release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien contrasted the “merciful” decision of the Scottish government to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds with the culture of “vengeance and retribution” which permeated the US justice system. Writing in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, he also said Scottish ministers were right to decline a US request to give evidence to senators investigating Megrahi’s release. “We shouldn’t be crawling out to America, or having them come here and questioning us on our own territory,” he said.

The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, released Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, after being told that three months was a reasonable estimate of his life expectancy. Almost a year later, Megrahi is still alive and living with his family in the Libyan capital Tripoli, provoking anger in the US – home to the majority of the 270 passengers killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. Megrahi was convicted of mass murder in 2001 for his part in the bombing.

Four senators wrote recently to the foreign secretary, William Hague, saying it appeared that British trade interests had “won out over justice” – a reference to suggestions that the oil company BP lobbied for Megrahi’s release. The accusation, denied by BP and Scottish ministers, has put further strain on US-British relations, already tense after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“In Scotland over many years we have cultivated through our justice system what I hope can be described as a ‘culture of compassion’,” O’Brien said. “On the other hand, there still exists in many parts of the US, if not nationally, an attitude towards the concept of justice which can only be described as a ‘culture of vengeance’.”

He accepted that Megrahi was guilty of gratuitous barbarity but said Scottish ministers were right “to affirm our own humanity” and said he was glad to live in a country where justice was tempered with mercy.

O’Brien has been dubbed the “cardinal of controversy” for his outspoken views.

The cardinal urged US senators wanting to question Scottish and British ministers to instead “direct their gaze inwards”. Highlighting the 1,226 people executed in the US since 1976, he added: “Perhaps the consciences of some Americans, especially members of the US Senate, should be stirred by the ways in which ‘justice’ is administered in so many of their own states.”

A spokesman for the Scottish justice secretary welcomed O’Brien’s “thoughtful and considered contribution”. He said: “The justice secretary … granted compassionate release to al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds alone, based on the rules and regulations of Scots law. And as the cardinal correctly observes, it is to the Scottish parliament and people that Holyrood ministers are accountable, not the US Senate.”

8 thoughts on “Bizarre: Scottish Catholic leader attacks US 'culture of vengeance'”

  1. Cardinal Keith O’Brien seems to think that the “great traditions” of Roman Catholicism and islam bring justice and peace … a common delusion in these pre-666 days. He needs to find out that there is no common ground between Christianity (based on Jesus Christ, the son of God) and islam, based on the “revelations” of allah to a false prophet.

    [Scottish-Islamic Foundation official launch at Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Thursday 26 June 2008. Cardinal Keith O’Brien]

  2. Who Keith O’Brien is yoked with – “Scottish-Islamic Foundation”, and
    some of their antics …

    [Scrap airport questioning, government urged
    Date: 4th August 2010

    The coalition UK government has been urged to repeal antiterrorism interrogation powers at airports as part of its review of the previous government’s erosion of civil liberties.

    SIF have pinpointed Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which allows passengers to be grilled arriving and departing from UK airports when no offence is suspected. SIF have filed the idea on the government’s Your Freedom consultation website [1].

    The power has led to accusations of fishing expeditions in recent years with Muslims in particular being asked questions by officers such as whether they know where Osama Bin Laden is, and what mosques they normally pray at.]

  3. Call for jizya to combat “islamophobia” in once-brave Scotland:

    [Financial appeal to tackle Islamophobia
    Date: 17th March 2010

    SIF is arguably Scotland’s leading organisation in Muslim intercultural relations.]

    [We have also created opportunities for dialogue. The country’s first Muslim cultural festival, Salaam Scotland, is currently ongoing and celebrates a side of Muslims that people don’t normally appreciate.

    More needs to be done though. Half of Scots see Muslims as a “threat”, and attacks both physical and verbal have been on the rise for several years.]

    Can’t think why half of Scots see muslims as a threat. Could islam & allah be a cause?

  4. Not really on topic, but … follow the jizyah!

    Scottish Islamic Foundation Forced to Return Tax Payer Money

    [The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF), Scotland’s primary Islamist pressure group, was forced this week to return £128,000 of public money.

    The SIF is headed by Osama Saeed, who I have written about before, and whose Islamist outlook has been extensively covered by both Harry’s Place and the Centre for Social Cohesion. Last year, the SIF was awarded a staggering £400,000 by the Scottish National Party (SNP), most likely in the hope that Saeed’s skills in the world of identity politics would win them the favour of Scotland’s Muslim voters. For this reason, Saeed is also an SNP candidate.]

  5. More Scottish bizarre (bazaar?):

    [June 25, 2008
    Alex Salmond cosies up to Muslim Brotherhood

    Tomorrow Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, will be launching a new group called the Scottish Islamic Foundation. Like so much that he has done throughout his career, Salmond will be encouraging rather than diminishing separatism and division within our society.

    For as a Centre for Social Cohesion briefing sent out last night reveals, the new organisation is riddled with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organisation with an increasingly high-profile presence in the UK.

    The Brotherhood’s motto is:

    “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”]

  6. “dying in the way of allah is our highest hope”
    and will be their greatest desillusion, their souls&spirits won’t wind up
    in paradise but in Sheol/Hades/Place of the dead.

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