In the last 17 years, there have been 14 pieces of Anti-Terrorist Legislation foisted upon the statute books. Parliaments have come and gone, and the cyclic wheel of further draconian measures have been welcomed, embraced and directed primarily towards its Muslim populace.
Amber Rudd has made her most recent announcement: a new Counter Extremism policy unit, with statutory powers. This is no surprise. Since 9/11, and 7/7 each Home Secretary has felt incumbent to follow the same strategies that have consistently failed to address the question of violence.
Theresa May has used the latest incident at Finsbury Park to launch another attack on Muslims and civil liberties by declaring that the Queen’s speech on Wednesday will include flagship legislation to “confront the menace of extremism, especially Islamist extremism, including a statutory commission to identify and expose examples”.
She reaffirmed the review of the official counter-terrorism strategy and, in a bid to extend its reach, included the possibility of new criminal offences to deny “safe spaces” to extremists, both online and in the real world.
A raft of legislation already exists within the criminal justice system to try offenders for the most heinous of crimes. Hate offences, rightly incorporated, result in litigation that jurists have no difficulty in administering and applying, while upholding the rule of law.
But instead of relying on the rule of law, draconian and oppressive anti-terror laws have led to the dismantling of basic protections. Despite the motives of far right activists and others, these incidents need to be subjected to the scrutiny of existing criminal law and cases must be overseen by an independent and un-politicised judicial system.
The insatiable desire by politicians to appeal to populism and its willing accomplice the right wing press, leads to a poisonous environment in which basic rights are trashed. The tragedy of the victims is exploited and the perpetrators are funnelled into a two-tier justice system where their rights are curtailed. Where is natural justice and the rule of law in all this?
The calls for tougher laws and sentences is led by former extremists and failed politicians who have created a virus that has infected the whole criminal justice system so that the use of secret evidence is normalised, mental health frailties are ignored and teenagers are given disproportionate sentences for immature comments on social media and labelled as “terrorists” for life.
These former extremists and so called experts bray for blood, and internment, yet they are blind to the destruction that the policies they call for have wreaked within their communities: the disastrous PREVENT programme has meant parents are scared to teach their children their faith, 4 year old’s are referred to security services for uttering a word wrong, and 500,000 civil servants are co-opted into a mass surveillance programme.
The same careerists will be vying for position on the Extremism Commission, a body that should never have been established as it will give the witch finders a legitimacy that they do not deserve.
We do not need any more anti-terror laws. We call for the abolition of the extensive web of laws that have ensnared our fundamental freedoms and rights. We call upon all right minded people to join our struggle to return to a justice system untainted by the highly politicised nature of Terrorism laws and applied to all irrespective of their background, race or religion.
This is the right occasion to declare that we do not seek the lynch mob mentality of the terror laws to be applied to a Nazi sympathiser or anyone else. We have witnessed the abject destruction caused by the War on Terror first hand and are proud to say that we do not call for laws that demean us to be applied or to be extended further. Not in our name.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)