Trampling on democratic rights

“Four 20-year-old Bradford University students and a 19-year-old school student were jailed after a trial at the Old Bailey for being found with material said to be ‘glorifying Islamic terrorism’ on their computers. Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik and Awaab Iqbaal were jailed for three years each, Akbar Butt was jailed for 27 months and the school student, Mohammed Irfan Raja was given two years’ youth detention.

“Such is the atmosphere created by politicians and the media after the attempted terror bombings in London and Glasgow earlier this month that there was very little opposition in the media to what are police state measures – the jailing of these youths merely for downloading material readily available on the Internet….

“There is clearly some disquiet in establishment circles at the way democratic rights are being trampled on in such cases. David Livingstone, an associate fellow in international security at Chatham House, home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, appeared as a witness for the defence at the trial. He told the Today programme that there was no evidence that the five had planned to instigate a terrorist attack. ”

Chris Talbot at the World Socialist Web Site, 31 July 2007

It’s also worth comparing the treatment of these youth with that received by far-right extremist Robert Cottage who didn’t just download files from the internet but was actually caught in possession of the materials required to manufacture explosives.