Lutonians have reacted in anger to a columnist’s claim that rather than conducting airstrikes on ISIS in Syria ‘we may as well bomb Luton’.
In a Sunday Times column headlined ‘I’m all for vexing Corbyn but we’d be better off bombing Luton’, Rod Liddle questions the wisdom of targeting ISIS fighters with airstrikes, calling it a ‘knee-jerk reaction and thus stupid’.
Parodying those calling for airstikes, Liddle wrote: “Take that, Abdullah from Luton. You left this country to fight for ISIS. You are coming back, if at all, in very small packages indeed.”
He later asserts that radical Islam is more of a threat to Britain than ISIS, ‘so we may as well bomb Luton’.
That later point, as well as the headline, has left a bitter taste for many Lutonians.
Deputy leader of Luton Borough Council, Sian Timoney, and Luton South MP Gavin Shuker have both written to the Sunday Times to complain.
Cllr Timoney told the Luton News: “Articles like this destroy all the good work we are doing, we are fed up with lazy journalists having a cheap shot.
“If you take the the article as a whole he is saying that there is a plan to bomb Syria and that you would get rid of more of them by bombing Luton, that is what is so offensive to us.
“There is more of a problem in London and I think it is really lazy to say this simply because there are alot Muslims in Luton.
“We are doing our best to grow the town and sell ourselves to get investment and inward growth, does he not realise the damage he is doing?”
On Twitter LBC chief executive Trevor Holden branded the column ‘irresponsible’, while Mr Shuker has said it was ‘deeply regrettable’.
The Luton South MP wrote: “Like all major towns and cities in the UK, some individuals will live here that hold extremist views.
“We work to combat these through a variety of means, and as a community.
“It dismays us when links between extremism and the town in the press are often tangential or without basis.
“Such references are almost universally disproportional to the scale of the challenge we face.”
Rod Liddle defended the column during a heated interview on BBC Three Counties this morning, telling presenter Justin Dealey that it had been misrepresented to members of the public,
He said: “They got confused because of your cretinous reporter telling people that that was the point of the article by only showing them just the headline.
“The point I was trying to make is that I don’t think we should bomb Syria for a whole host of reasons.”
When asked who wrote the headline he added: “I don’t know, Bob the headline writer? I have no idea, it doesn’t matter does it? That’s not the point, what you do is read the piece, that’s the point.
“If don’t really think we should bomb Luton.”
The furore comes weeks after St Mary’s Church vicar Mike Jones wrote to the Sunday Express, blasting the paper for an article which branded Luton a ‘terror town’.
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