Petition to revoke 'war criminal' Blair's knighthood reaches over 100,000 signatures
An online petition seeking to revoke former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s newly announced knighthood has surpassed its goal of 50,000 signatures within 24 hours of its launch, garnering over 100,000 signatures as of early on Sunday.
Blair has long faced a backlash over his decision to lead the UK into Iraq and Afghanistan, which cost the lives of 179 British personnel as well as thousands of Iraqis and Afghans.
The petition, started by Angus Scott, came after Blair was presented with the New Year Honours, which are announced on 31 December every year. It urged Queen Elizabeth II to have the honour removed.
Scott described Blair, who served as the UK’s prime minister between 1997 and 2007, as "the least deserving person of any public honour", causing "irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society".
"He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes," Scott added, in reference to Blair's intervention in the 2003 Iraq war.
The war on Iraq killed hundreds of thousands, created millions of refugees and has left Iraq fractured until today.
On Twitter, many made their feelings clear following the ennobling. Political commentator Liam Young wrote: "The man should be in the dock of The Hague. What a shameful day."
UK-based Australian journalist John Pilger wrote: "The contempt in which Britain's elite holds the public has never been more eloquently expressed than in the decision to award Tony Blair the highest order of knighthood. One million Iraqis dead, three million dispossessed, a trail of blood to 7/7. Rise Sir Tony!"
Many others demanded an overhaul of the honours system, with one user describing it as the "favour for a friend" list.
In light of Blair's knighthood, a Sunday Times article dating back to 2012 resurfaced on social media platforms, reporting that Blair’s government considered asking the Queen to bestow the honorary knighthood on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Citing official papers, discussions about the honour took place ahead of Assad’s visit to Britain in 2002, during which he sought "as much pomp and ceremony as possible".
Assad is accused of war crimes after violently suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations in his country in 2011, which later spiralled into a full-blown conflict. His regime is also accused of committing human rights violations.
The Syrian war has left at least half a million killed, triggered the world’s worst refugee crisis since the second World War, and has left most of the country in ruins.