Is the only way to fight Fundamentalist Extremists becoming one yourself? Having grown up in a liberal democracy, being educated in the ideals of freedom of speech and expression, diversity, multi-culturalism and the political correctness that stems from such a comprehensive education, I find myself questioning whether I am a closet fascist when it comes to the way in which the British Judiciary are referring to the whole issue surrounding the London suicide bombers of 7 July and the related legal news stories stemming from this.
I cannot understand the logic of the British Judiciary in countering the British Government’s call for the expulsion of a number of foreign nationals specifically identified as contributing to anti-British feeling amongst the Muslim community. For example, one of the people due for expulsion is Abu Qatada, a Jordanian who has been tried and convicted in his absence in Jordanian courts for terrorism and given a life sentence. He is known as Osama bin Laden’s ‘Ambassador in Europe’. Now he is concerned that if he is returned to Jordan he will face the death sentence. The question becomes one of whether we can expel someone from Britain to what may be their death? While we don’t know the details of his Jordanian convictions, terrorism in the Middle East tends to be pretty deadly, so it is fair to suspect this person has been convicted of something relating to people being killed.
This is where liberal ideals and common-sense conflict ? while we may agree in Human Rights Law, is it so wrong if we don’t care that this man is being sent back to what might be his death? When someone commits themselves to terrorism, do they give up their right to justice when they so blatantly abuse it? How can we allow someone to rely on Human Rights law when they have so obviously overlooked the human rights of everyone else in the country? On a more local level, why do we have someone at liberty in Britain who has been convicted of terrorism in another country? Why were they being granted freedom of speech, and freedom to gather audiences, when it was known that they had fundamentalist tendencies and links with terrorist organisations? Is it our policy in Britain to say ‘welcome to Britain and feel free to hate our society and way of life?’
It would be wrong to withdraw many of our fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech because we are scared of what people might say ? but surely when there is evidence that people have gone beyond what are acceptable societal boundaries then they need to be restrained in one way or another. Is this not what the new anti-terrorism provisions are seeking to do? Finding a way of tackling fundamentalism without resorting to fascism is going to require some common-sense in terms of interpreting the law.
Nobody wants to see a repeat of the shooting of the innocent Brazilian on the underground system, but neither do people want to encounter suicide bombers. For years there have been critical news reports on Isreali soldiers shooting Palestinians who they believed to be suicide bombers, many of whom may have been innocent, as well as reports of suicide bombers blowing themselves up in buses and bars ? now the reality of this is hitting Britain. There is no way to stop a suicide bomber but to kill them before they detonate themselves. Equally, there is no way of being absolutely sure that somebody is a suicide bomber until they actually detonate themselves. There lies the Catch 22 which will dominate the British legal system for years to come. Here we believe that someone is innocent until proven guilty, but by the time a suicide bomber is proven guilty it is too late.
So where does this leave us? If we can identify the underlying factions that are stirring up fundamentalist ideals, is it not common-sense that we either imprison or deport them? Even the Muslim Council of Great Britain supports such moves. However, we need to make sure that the extremists don’t win by lulling us into a fascist state out of fear, and hence we become what they are propagating we already are. It will be common-sense that wins, not fascism, but it needs to be applied through the judicial system, not just in Government.
Eddie Blass is a freelance academic and ghostwriter specialising in business & management, futures, legal, and educational issues.