The Nation (Pakistan) : MCB for review of anti-terrorism legislation

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MCB for review of anti-terrorism legislation

By Asif Mehmood | April 25, 2009

LONDON - The Muslim Council of Britain has written to Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of Britain’s counter terrorism legislation, commending his initiative to launch an inquiry into ‘Operation Pathway’.

The resentment and anger caused by this particular case of 12 innocent men’s detention and trial by media should not be underestimated, but the MCB’s is particularly concerned that this is not an isolated case and incidents damaging to community relations are being repeated, with the lessons not being learned.

Dr Bari, MCB Secretary General in the letter said: “While the media coverage may bring kudos in high circles, it is Muslims in Britain who bear the consequences. It is they who are emerging as the ‘suspect community’ and who are viewed with suspicion by their neighbours. The reports are exploited by the extreme right wing and fascists. Each time there are tabloid headlines demonising Muslims, verbal and physical attacks follow. There is a real human price being paid”.

In the letter, the MCB which is an umbrella body of some 500 mosques, charities and schools in the UK also urges Lord Carlile to critique the ‘intelligence gathering’ aspects of counter-terrorism.

Operation Pathway it is believed, involved members of the public who had “undergone a crash course in surveillance techniques”. Affiliates of the MCB have confirmed the climate of snooping. Are not the authorities mindful of the breakdown of trust and the impact on matters of ordinary civil policing? The MCB also hoped that his inquiry would analyse the flawed nature of recent anti-terrorism legislation, such as the reduction in the burden of proof and the provision for blanket stop and search powers.