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Issue 148, Friday 31 August 2001 - 12 Jumad al-Akhbar 1420
Is Britain becoming a colony of Israel?
In exclusive interviews with The Muslim News, both the lawmaker, in the form of then Home Secretary Jack Straw and the law implementer Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police David Veness assured the Muslim community that the Terrorism Bill will be implemented judiciously. Veness, who is head of Special Operations including protection, terrorism, security and organised crime, went one step further and said the Act would be implemented “in a way that is wise, balanced, is understood by the community and retains community support”.
The Assistant Commissioner said very clearly that action would only be taken if the person (s) was committing criminal activities and under the Terrorism Act, if the person was involved in acts of violence, which he explained were “the use of classic weapons and paraphernalia of terrorists” and “use of violence for political means”. But his promises made in his interview (The Muslim News No 145) have been called into question by the Muslim community, by allowing a recent incident involving a well known Muslim leader.
The person in question, Ahmed, (not his real name) went to Pakistan last month to meet a Muslim Sufi scholar, who is in his 80s and is disabled. He travelled with three other people who went elsewhere in Pakistan. On their return to London, they were detained at Heathrow airport by the Special Branch, who were waiting for them at Immigration. Ahmed spoke of his humiliation by the security services. He was asked what he thought of the Terrorism Bill. They then questioned him on whether he was a member of Hamas, even though its membership is not illegal. (Hamas is not proscribed organisation under the new law, only Izz al-Din Qasim Brigade, its military wing is). Ahmed was then asked if Israel should exist or not and what he thought of suicide bombings. After being interrogated about his views on Israel, Ahmed was asked if he met any “terrorist” organisations in Pakistan or if he went to Kashmir, to which the answer was negative on both counts.
This incident raises again serious suspicions about the real intent of the Terrorism Bill, whose interests it is serving and whether Veness' promises were bonafide. Ahmed is not and has never been a member of Hamas, nor has he been involved in any terrorist activity. But what appears to be more than a coincidence, he has been actively involved in exposing the injustices and atrocities committed by Israel. He has done this using peaceful means, that is, through speeches and writing. Such activities are not against the law, or is being a politically-conscious Muslim a covert target for the British authorities.
Verness said in the interview that to engage in debate, “to listen and to express opinions are entirely legitimate human activities that are recognised by fundamental human rights”. And he repeated time and again that the police are only after those involved in violent crimes. Such doubts about his comments need immediate attention but the Muslim leadership is failing the community. They were assured at various meetings with the Metropolitan Police and Veness that there would be no such investigations against political activists. Since this incident, the inquiries by Muslim leaders have come to nothing. Responses are still awaited.
The only answer they are likely to get is what The Muslim News was given by Veness's office. The Met is “committed to applying the Terrorism Act in an intelligent and constructive way which retains the support of the Muslim community” and that they are “determined to apply the law fairly”. But as we have warned previously in this column, the amended Terrorism Act is specifically aimed at the Muslim community in answering to Israeli lobbying. As such, similar incidents are only likely to increase unless there is much more effective challenge made to officials and ministers by Muslim representatives. It is their duty to obtain answers for the safety and protection of the community. We trust that next time we return to this issue it is in a positive way when assurances and clarifications are given and implemented.
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