UK police accused of misusing terror laws against Muslims

Britain’s police were accused Friday of misusing the country’s terrorism laws against Muslims after three men were charged under criminal law for firebombing a publisher in north London.

“What is surprising is that they were held under anti-terror legislation for almost a week and then charged under fire arm offences,” Muslim News editor Ahmed Versi said. “It seems anti-terror laws are being used as fishing expedition,” he said.

Ali Beheshti, Abrar Mirza and Abbas Taj, all from London, were due to appear in court Friday after being charged with conspiring to damage the home of a man publishing a controversial American novel about the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The men, charged with conspiring without lawful excuse to damage the premises between September 8 and 27, could have only been held by police for a maximum of three days under criminal law.

Versi condemned the petrol bomb attack carried out last Saturday but said that the case was “another evidence that the police are misusing the anti terror legislation whenever Muslims are involved in committing criminal offences.” “When it is extremist white criminals who may have bombs and all kinds of weapons, they are still arrested under normal fire arm offences,” he said.

The police told the Muslim News that the arrests were the “culmination of investigation of the three trying to set fire to the property and other information received deemed to be suitable under Terrorism Act 2000 and it was intelligence led.” The police also confirmed that they wanted to catch the culprits “red-handed” following reports that they asked the publisher to leave the premises before the petrol bomb attack.

But Versi said it was “also of concern is that the police allowed the attack to take place before apprehending them thus putting the neighbours and other public under danger.” “Surely they could have been arrested with the bomb making equipment?” he asked.

IRNA, 3 October 2008