Media: Hit or Miss - Prime Minister visits reformed jihadists in Saudi Arabia

Saudi spin On Sunday, Gordon Brown met with former Saudi inmates of Guantanamo Bay as he toured a de-radicalisation facility in Saudi Arabia. In what could have been a PR disaster, the focal point of the visit was the Prime Minister shaking hands with former jihadists, and wishing them well. The story was widely reported in the nationals, which were largely restrained, focusing on the fact the former inmates are reformed.

HOW I SEE IT - James Clark, Director of comms and PA, BearingPoint

There was more to this than a few column inches. Winning the ideological argument on Islamic extremism is key to the Government's strategy. This meeting was important in sending a message to young Muslims: there is another way.

Coverage was broadly favourable, or at least straight, with even The Sun and the Daily Mail exploring the issue of 'turning' extremists. While some outlets suggested the PM had 'risked controversy', it was only one or two columnists that blew a gasket.

The PM met those who had already renounced violence. This made it tough for the media to accuse him of 'shaking hands with terrorists' without adding some context. This meeting will have achieved pretty much everything No 10 and the FCO were hoping for.


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