Wednesday 5 April 2017

To the President and Vice President of the National Liberal Club

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To the Rt Hon. the Lord Beith, the Rt Hon. the Lord Steel of Aikwood KT KBE DL

5 April 2017

Dear Lord Beith and Lord Steel of Aikwood,

We write to you as President and Vice President of the National Liberal Club, to draw your attention to the Club’s hosting of a conference on 5th and 6th April, organised by EuroSCE and entitled ‘Syria: from destruction to reconstruction.’

Despite its academic veneer, and the participation of a number of your fellow peers (Lord Kinnock and Lord Desai have withdrawn their patronage) this is in fact a propaganda exercise for the Assad regime. We link here to a statement from Syrian organisations in the UK which clarifies its nature, and that of its main billed speakers.

Two of the speakers are so close to the Assad regime as to be on the UK Government’s Syria Sanctions list—Ali Haidar at No. 128, and Bishr Yazigi at No. 232:

We note that your Club has a proud history of association with the Liberal tradition, and that your members must sign a declaration that they will not use the club’s facilities ‘for any political activities adverse to liberalism’. We cannot imagine any purpose more adverse to liberalism than that of promoting a monstrous criminal regime such as the Syrian Arab Republic.

It is particularly obscene that the event should take place when the world is reeling with horror at the latest chemical attack by the regime on its own people. That the venue is of such a venerable tradition, in the heart of Westminster, gives an appearance of respectability to a rogue regime and its supporters.

We ask you to investigate how and why this conference was hosted by your Club, and ask how you intend to prevent further such gross lapses from the spirit of liberalism.
We would be grateful for a response at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society
Mohammad Isreb, Syrian Association of Yorkshire
Dr Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice for Syria
Yasmine Nahlawi, Rethink Rebuild Society, Manchester
Sawsan Abou Zainedin, Syria Solidarity UK
Dr Mohammad Tammo, Kurds House
Mazen Ejbaei, Help 4Syria UK
Dr. Abdullah Hanoun, Syrian Community in the South West


The National Liberal Club has been taken aback by reaction to this event—which was booked in the normal way, on behalf of an apparently reputable organisation, the European Centre for the Study of Extremism, which lists such notable figures as Lord Kinnock, Lord Williams of Oystermouth and Lord Desai among its patrons.

We take extremely seriously the suggestion that we might have unwittingly lent a platform to the Assad regime—especially in the light of the horrific gas attack on the people of Idlib Province. We are investigating, speaking to the organisers, and will report back as soon as we have the relevant information.

The National Liberal Club believes in tolerance and the free exchange of ideas. We would not seek to deny a platform to people with opposing views—but nor would we ever knowingly allow our premises to be used by war criminals or people connected to genocide or crimes against humanity.