Another attack and another opportunity to demagogically exploit emotions of the public and catalyse the rising far-right by presenting an authoritarian like, machoistic “strength”. Theresa May has explicitly expressed her intention to “rip up human rights laws” that impede new terror legislation dealing with suspects. In other words, those that have not committed any crimes will be targeted at the expense of human rights. She stated,
“I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court.”
There are a number problems with this statement. If the burden of proof is not satisfied then per the rule of law nothing illegal has been committed. If there is evidence that a suspect is a “threat”, then they should be prosecuted or dealt with under the “pursue” strand of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy. Principles like the rule of law and legislation like the Human Rights Act are there to safeguard citizens from arbitrary power and arrests. It is precisely this type of bombastic, fascist rhetoric which it guards against. It is a very short slippery slope for the state to target those it does not like. Right-wing papers are hell-bent on labelling the opposition leadership “terror-apologists”. If a law is brought in which violates human rights and requires little to no evidence to action, will measures be placed against the opposition leadership too?
It is that time of the year: a hectic month as the British people recover from their frenzied Christmas shopping, briefly punctuated with the peace of the annual family get together, only to be followed by scrambling over various items thanks to the hype produced by corporations eager to increase the debt through boxing day “sales”. As the recovery from these activities begins and the damage to the bank accounts dawn, we take advantage of this lull for some customary reflection.
This year has been a particularly unsettling one; the sordidly racist campaign which ultimately culminated in Brexit; the far-right terrorist attack claiming the life of Jo Cox – the first killing of an MP in 26 years; the B-movie being played in the US starring Donald Trump, the West-wide rise of the far-right and unleashing of political and social xenophobia, security globalisation via totalitarian measures like the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda; Britain passing one of the world’s widest and intrusive surveillance laws; the list goes on. Sadly, it is the Muslim minority, either through scapegoating or being subjected to the fruits of this dangerous concoction of nationalism, disenfranchisement through the global neoliberal order, and neoconservative domestic and foreign policies, which has by and large, bore the brunt.
The recent government announcement that British soldiers would be protected from lawsuits launched under European Court of Human Rights is a heavy blow to the rule of law, and will make it ever more difficult to seek accountability for abuse.
Though soldiers would still be accountable under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention and UK Criminal Law, the proposal by Theresa May to remove Britain from ECHR human rights laws in conflict moves us closer to the realm of soldier impunity than before.
This is just the latest development in a long list of due process impingements – instances in the ‘War on Terror’ where perpetrators have been sheltered from legal punishment for war crimes. These range from the lack of accountability following the Senate Report on Torture, to the horrific leaked photos from Abu Ghraib prison that resulted in light reprimands, to the gagging of a soldier who threatened to expose abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An excellent overview by Dr Maria Norris on how Britain has become an on-edge security state. For further reading on the ideologues and philosophy driving the “closed society” see:
Neoconservatism: Why we don’t need it and why it must be opposed.
Fifteen years on from 9/11, how the UK bypassed justice to become a counter-terrorism state
By Dr Maria Norris
The sinister story of legislation in Britain following the New York terrorist attacks.
Fifteen years since 9/11. 11 years since 7/7. 16 years of counter-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom.
Before the Terrorism Act 2000, terrorism legislation was made up of a series of temporary, but renewable measures. Even in the height of The Troubles, terrorism legislation was regarded as temporary emergency measures.
Now, the UK has several pieces of terrorism legislation such as the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, the Terrorism Act 2006, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. This does not include several secondary laws such as the Immigration Act 2014 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 – all of which have provisions dealing with terrorism.
And the government is not done with terrorism legislation, with the Extremism Bill due to be published as soon as the government can decide what extremism is.
The effect of fascist neoconservatives subverting and controlling the discourse on Muslims into a distinctly populist and discriminatory one is something which will be recorded in history and frequently recalled as a dark chapter in Britain’s history. However, history will also recall that some of the key turning points in opposing policies which erode the civil liberties of all in Britain were significantly led by Muslims who were prepared to stick their head above the parapet and sought the reinstatement of shared principles like accountability, rule of law and due process – principles which neoconservatives have systematically decimated over the past decade.
When Muslim advocacy group CAGE successfully challenged Zionist neocon William Shawcross’ Charity Commission in the High Court for pressuring charities funding the organisation, the increasingly nervous third sector welcomed it as a form of relief from a bullying regulator. Third Sector’s Stephen Cook wrote at that time,
Cage is not a charity, but it has done the charity sector an important service by applying for and, earlier this month, obtaining leave for a judicial review of the actions of the Charity Commission…
A similar critical action is taking place more specifically in the context of “extremism”.
Whilst the neocon/Blairite subversion of the Labour party leadership continues unabated with ever more contrived and adventurous ways being used by Blairites and pro-Israel activists to pressure Jeremy Corbyn to step down, the Conservative party leadership race has been overrun by neocons.
Four out of the five of the Conservative leader aspirants are linked to the anti-Muslim, hate-financed Henry Jackson Society.
It is important to understand that neoconservatism is a “persuasion” which believes in using “noble lies” to steer the “vulgar masses” towards a fascism-based closed society which serves the interests of the neocons such as obtaining and maintaining power. This entails bludgeoning “principles” like the rule of law and human rights through their “prudence” unashamedly in name of these very “principles”.
Thus, we can fully expect an increased hardening of securitised policy and therefore an assault on the civil liberties of all. We can also expect a continuation and possibly an increase in the political hostility against the Muslim minority and Islam as Britain’s identity is forcibly built against this minority as the Machiavellian enemy.
When it comes to instituting inquiries which examine the actions of the government, the lethargy is yawningly apparent. The Chilcot inquiry has been postponed so many times one refuses to believe that after seven years, subsequent to warring in Libya, Iraq and now Syria, the due date (6 July 2016) will actually see the report published.
Theresa May’s inquiries into the alleged Westminster paedophile allegations saw similar deferrals. With documents related to the investigation spontaneously going missing from within the Home Office, inquiries being stalled and those linked to accused political figures being placed as chairs of the inquiry, towards the end of the 2014, the inquiry itself had become a scandal.
When it comes examining Islam and Muslims, however, our government is on form.