Most of you will be aware that the British Government is trying to pass a new anti-terrorism bill, which really is a slap in the face of ‘freedom of speech’ and everything else the mainstream media have been shouting about post-Paris shootings. The freedom to express our thoughts and the freedom to criticise and question the Government and their foreign policies is a key part of our British values. However the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill (CTSB) proposes quite the opposite. In response to the number of Brits joining ISIS, these are the main points of the proposed bill: (taken from iengage.com)
- Police officers or border officials able to seize passports for up to 14 days (with renewal up to 30 days via Magistrates’ court)
- Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs) that can ban a British citizen from entering the UK for up to 2 years and leave them effectively stateless during that time
- Relocation of 200 miles enforced on individuals subject to TPIMs raising concerns about mental health and family life
- Government seeking power to intercept communications raising grave privacy concerns
- Airlines and carriers forced to adopt ‘authority to carry’ scheme which can effectively enforce ‘no fly’ lists on entire nationalities
- ‘Prevent’ to become a statutory requirement in Councils, schools, universities and more
- Universities required to operate an ‘extremist’ speakers policy
Whilst some of these proposals may seem acceptable in the light of characters like Jihadi John the worry is that the wrong people will be targeted. We have seen this time and time again, just looking at some of the prisoners who have and have not been released from Guantanamo Bay and the number of innocent Muslims whose homes have been targeted by terror raids. Frankly I have little faith in our Government or the secret service to be able to differentiate between a religious Muslim and a violent extremist Muslim. And of course then we come back to the same question ‘How do you define extremism?’. Ask ten different people and they will give ten different answers.
It scares the hell out of me to think one woman Theresa May, and further down the road we could have a UKIP Home Secretary, could have the power to implement such divisive policies which are so vague, open to interpretation and could be easily misused. My definition of what constitutes extremism will be different from even my parents’ definition for example. This excellent article summarises the possible consequences and what murky road Britain may be heading down You can write to your MP and ask him/her to vote against this bill in its current form by clicking here.
Also this week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles sent a letter to over a 1000 mosques and Islamic organisations, asking them in a nutshell to catch extremists. This obviously annoyed many Muslim leaders and Imams who have been working incredibly hard over the last 10 years to flush out hate preachers and extremist interpretations of Islamic literature. Not only was the letter patronising it was pointless and badly timed. While Muslims are still reeling after the Charlie Hebdo incident, this is the last thing they need. I think the Government needs to get real. Mosques do not radicalise young people anymore. The Internet and social media plays a much bigger part. Chances are if you go to the mosque regularly, or to an Islamic school you will not be taught violence extremism. You will be taught everything but that. However if you leave your Islamic education to the Internet then you can be influenced by anyone from anywhere in the world. My advice to young Muslims would be to go an seek knowledge from mosques, from Islamic books and not from ISIS videos.
To end I will leave you with a story from The Daily Star. In France, the same country that champions freedom of speech and expression, banned a couple from naming their child ‘Nutella’ today. So much for freedom of expression eh?