Correspondent in London
These citizens are in shock and the affair is making noise in Westminster. Threatened by conservative Islamists, a conservative MP has just announced that he will not run again in the next elections. His renunciation raises fears of a decline in democratic freedom in the country.
In the letter sent to his constituents and made public by the Conservative party, Mike Freer said he had received threats from the group Muslims Against Crusades, banned by the British government which classified it as a terrorist organization. The arson attack on his office at the end of December was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The elected official then received an email saying he was “the kind of person who deserves to be burned.” These threats and this criminal act caused “unbearable stress” for those close to him, wrote this openly homosexual elected official. “When your husband or your family is worried about whether you're going to come home at night, you have to take it seriously,” he said.
Mike Freer's fears are fueled by the murder in 2021 of Conservative MP David Amess, assassinated by a member of the Islamic State jihadist group. Before killing Amess, terrorist Ali Harbi Ali went to Mike Freer's office, who was not there. While he was the first target, the latter today says he is “lucky to still be alive”. In 2010, another Labor MP, Stephen Timms, was seriously injured, stabbed by an Islamist extremist and al-Qaeda sympathizer, while meeting voters in east London. The following year, the group Muslims Against Crusades told Freer that the Stephen Timms case should serve as a "warning" for him and urged its supporters to target him. Freer said he has been wearing a protective vest for some time when he goes out to meet the public.
An MP since 2010, Mike Freer is elected from the constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, in north London, where there is a large Jewish community. He is also Secretary of State for Justice. Although he is not of the Jewish faith himself, this 63-year-old former banker is a fervent supporter of Israel, which has focused Islamist threats on him. Sarah Sackman, Labor candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, thanked Mike Freer for his years of service to the community and said she was “shocked and sorry to hear” of his decision.
Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has promised better protection for MPs. “We all get death threats,” he said, “but Mike was really targeted.” The Conservative MP's decision comes against a backdrop of a sharp increase in anti-Semitic acts in the United Kingdom, since the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7 and the war in Gaza.