Americans are being urged to boycott Scottish products as continued outrage over last week’s release of the Lockerbie bomber prompted an emergency meeting of parliament.
A Web site set up to vent anger at the decision to send Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi back to Libya calls on Americans to avoid travel to Scotland and cease buying Scottish products such as whisky. Both tourism and whisky account for billions of dollars of revenue for the Scottish economy. “The actions of the Scottish government are inexcusable. A man who is responsible for the mass murder of 270 innocent civilians must be held accountable for such a cold blooded and ruthless act,” a statement on the Web site, Boycottscotland.com, said. “Unless the Scottish government rescinds this decision to release al Megrahi, and if the British parliament continues to avoid invervening in the matter, we urge all Americans to protest this action by boycotting the United Kingdon and Scotland in full.” Scotland has faced a storm of criticism, chiefly from the United States, after Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill released al Megrahi on “compassionate grounds” saying he had terminal cancer with just three months to live.
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The 57-year-old Libyan was serving a life sentence for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, resulting in the deaths of 270 people, including 189 Americans. The boycott call comes in the middle of the “Year of Homecoming,” a Scottish government tourism initiative aimed at encouraging anyone of Scottish descent, mainly Americans, to visit their ancestral homeland. MacAskill was due to appear before Monday’s emergency parliament session to defend his decision to release al Megrahi. The Scotsman newspaper said the meeting could result in a vote of confidence in the ruling Scottish National Party government.
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Meanwhile British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has come under pressure from opposition Conservative politicians to end his silence over the affair, following allegations — denied by UK officials — that al Megrahi’s release was part of a trade deal between Britain and Libya. On Saturday, FBI Director Robert Mueller waded into debate over the bomber’s release, calling it “a mockery of the rule of law.” In a letter to MacAskill, he described the Scottish justice minister’s decision “as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. In explaining his decision to release al Megrahi, MacAskill said last week that Scotland’s “justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion [be] available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown.”
A jubilant welcome that greeted al Megrahi on his return to Libya did little to dissipate the anger. President Barack Obama said Friday that al Megrahi’s warm reception was “highly objectionable.” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called it “deeply upsetting.”