Blair’s new family’s radical Islamic background

By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter 

Euan Blair, Suzanne Ashman, Mehmet Altınsoy

Joyous celebrations are expected on Saturday as Tony Blair’s eldest son Euan, 29 will marry Suzanne Ashman, 25 at a lavish bash in Buckinghamshire.

Both families have huge wealth, political connections and deep religious convictions, albeit from radically opposing theologies.

Tony Blair, famously a devout catholic, was continually advised to drop any mention of God from his speeches, while Prime Minister. His son’s wedding ceremony has already sparked controversy for clashing with the Jewish festival Yom Kippur, ruling out several Middle Eastern guests including Tony Blair’s friend Lord Levy.

But on Suzanne’s side of the family there is also more than a hint of religious fervour.

Miss Ashman – an analyst for Social Finance – which helps raise funds from private investors for good causes, boasts a strictly religious relation, also a prominent politician.

Her wealthy motor racing entrepreneur father John Ashman married weathergirl (and former fiancee of Lembit Opik) Sian Lloyd.

But her mother is the daughter of Mehmet Altınsoy, the deposed mayor of Ankara -the capital city – and ex-minister.

He was a member of the Welfare Party, an Islamist party in Turkey, which was banned by the Turkish state, as they believed the party was planning to introduce Sharia rule to Turkey.

While in office, the party implemented mild Islamic reforms, such as attempting to allow women to wear headscarves in government offices. The secular elite, however, was convinced that Welfare had a radical hidden agenda.

The Welfare party-led Turkey’s first pro-Islamist government for nearly a year, until pressure from the military establishment forced it out of power in the summer of 1997.

The countries highest court seized the party’s assets and banned its leaders from political activity for five years.  The ban was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on 13 February 2003.

The chief justice of the constitutional court, Ahmet Necdet Sezer at the time said, “We decided to close the Welfare Party because of its actions against the principles of the secular republic.”

Mehmet Altinsoy – the father of Suzanne’s mother – died aged 83, in February 2007, but it would be interesting know what he would of made of his granddaughter marrying into a family with such a fractious relationship with the middle east, and with that, Islam itself.

Would the veteran politician – of 50 years, originally a lawyer like Blair – welcome his new family with open arms? Fully aware that Euan’s dad was jetting around the world, drumming up support to attack, yet another predominately Muslim country.

But perhaps his granddaughter’s groom would also be a cause of concern.

Euan is widely tipped to follow in his father’s footsteps and contest the Labour seat of Coventry North West, as current MP Bob Ainsworth is stepping down.

The young Blair quit his job at Morgan Stanley last year and sent himself to Coventry, and also joined Labour canvassers fighting for the Corby by-election.

As Euan looks to emulate his father’s success in Parliament, could it be feasible that he could support more military action in the Middle East?

A chip off the old block. Like father, like son.

This weekend as the two families mingle, in the Autumn breeze, at South Pavillion – the Grand 1-listed house in Wotton Underwood, bought by the Blair’s for £4 million in 2008 – it would pertinent to imagine the deceased pro-islamic politician greeting Mr Blair, new member of the family.

Holding in his palm, the fingers of the man, accused of having the blood of countless Muslims’ on his hands.

Welcome to the family.

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