Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Terrifying Terror, the course of Justice and our values

First Published on The Daily Star (http://www.thedailystar.net/2007/07/05/d707051502118.htm)
Britain once again stands frightened by the prospect of terrorist attack. A group of misguided individuals commit themselves to mindless act of carnage and violence. It is right that our government and people condemned such act of outrage with utmost disgust. Praise therefore is due to those who responded so well to the threats to lives of so many. Praise indeed to our security forces, political leadership and emergency response teams throughout the UK. I note particularly the statements of Alex Salmond and Jacqui Smith, both of which emphasised on the need to remain united. Alex Salmond’s reassurance to the Muslim community is particularly noted with sigh of relief and gratefulness.

Having so praiseworthy of our security forces, and largely of our politician, it is fair however for us to pick on those that either deliberately use events like this to further their own narrow interests. One such quarter is of course our media. As always, I note that media once again failed to be responsible and continue with their outrageously biased and inflammatory tone. At a time when we need conciliation, calm and measured coverage of events which is perfectly capable of giving rise to wider social instabilities, media words and tunes its voice in manners which only can flair up the heat causing enormous distress to so many innocent people.

Listening to BBC Radio4 this morning, I felt very concerned for all those doctors from Asian Countries, in particular those from Jordan and Egypt. In fact, the questioning was so outrageous that anyone listening to them would assume that presenter of the programme was convinced that those doctors of Arab origin, in particular from Egypt and Jordan are guilty of crime and pose serious threat to our national security. I wondered where the fine principle of criminal justice which says: ‘innocent until proven guilty’ was? I wondered too of Radio4’s objectivity, respect for due process of law and impartiality. I wondered how would she have reported was this incident to take place in a developing (preferably) Muslim country and some westerners were to be arrested and reported in the same manner in Iranian National Press? I hear some mutter ‘well we cannot be compared with Iran’ and that is where the problem lies.

Terrorism is a threat to us all, it has the potential to destabilise the entire world. The terrorists seek to create confusion, chaos and suspicion between communities and citizens to destroy the normality of our daily lives. Through creating division and suspicion they seek to fracture our social fabric which in turn will give rise to panic and anger. Anger and panic will lead to desperate acts which in turn will lead to backlash and instability thus bring an end to a harmonious way of life. This way eventually terrorists will achieve their objectives without being defeated which is to destroy our society in which people of all faith and none, races and nationality flourish side by side in mutual cooperation, respect and trust. Media and for that matter all those who acts irresponsibly give up fundamental values of our society, and let their prejudice, emotion and hatred lead their judgements only to play to the hands of terrorists in furthering their objectives.

All those people who have been arrested in suspicion of involvement with these notorious attacks should be treated fairly; justice must follow its own course and give them their due. Presumption of their guilt not only violates the basic principle of our justice system, it seriously threatens their prospect of being treated fairly. Furthermore, assuming them being wicked, hinting all their fellow professionals of similar ethnic and religious origin of being a threat to national security, will only help to create mistrust, anger and resentment, more reasons for many to be convinced that society and social institutions being biased against people of a specific religious affiliation. IN addition, not letting justice take its own course indirectly implies that our justice system is incapable of coping with new environment which of course is not the case.

IN conclusion, let me just add one more thing, the discussion of increasing the power of police and giving them more time to detain without charge is unhelpful. I applaud Brown’s reluctance to rush new legislation and hope that commonsense will prevail. There is nothing to suggest that any of the terrorist attacks could have been prevented by longer detention without charge, nor does it follow commonsense. The culture of detention without charges fuels anger and resentment, it makes more innocent people victim of a biasness and abuse of power by our security forces. Extremely low rate of prosecution, and even less success in conviction and the mistakes of Forest Gate, Charles De Menezes are only a very few cases sufficient to highlight the needs for restraint in bringing about new draconian measures. Many citizens of this country concur with me in finding a comparison between some of our harshest laws brought about in response to these terrorist threats with those that existed in places like apartheid South Africa. No one would agree that those laws were effective in keeping the ‘ANC terrorists’ away from realising their dreams, it only helped those activists to strengthen their resolve. We need to be able to stand confident and trust our people of all colour, nationality and faiths. Let us not play in the hands of the terrorists and let our much dared, precious freedom for which so many of our previous generations fought and so many of our fellow humans continue to struggle in many parts of the world prevail.

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