“In recent years, anti-terror legislation, coupled with a multi-fold increase in stop-and-search rates, hundreds of false raids and detentions, control orders that are based on flimsy evidence and inconsistent judicial sentences have created a sense of suspicion, fear, intimidation, distrust and possibly even hatred throughout society. And not only within the Muslim community for whom these measures seem to have been designed, but throughout society as a whole….
“How would a person feel if they saw their street cordoned off at dawn by the anti-terror squad who then move to blast into their neighbour’s house and drag one or two people out handcuffed and blindfolded? … How should we view Atif Siddique, charged with possessing material (downloadable from the internet) being handed an eight-year prison sentence when Robert Cottage, formerly of the BNP and found with what was described as the largest haul of chemical explosives, a rocket launcher and a nuclear biological suit, was jailed for quarter of that term?
“What of Samina Malik, or the ‘lyrical terrorist’, who wrote silly and childish poems glorifying terrorism on the back of WH Smith receipts and who now expects to be handed a prison sentence following a media frenzy, and is seen and described in the same light as the DVLA bomber, Miles Cooper?
“The UK already has the longest pre-charge detention period in the western world and, by all accounts, it doesn’t seem to be working. What is required is a new and creative line of thinking as to what mistakes have been committed and how new approaches can be adopted so that the fight for our collective security, safety and prosperity, can become a common ambition of everyone who lives in this country. That would be a way of life worth fighting for.”
Anas Altikiriti at Comment is Free, 16 November 2007