24 Apr 2009
The MCB has written to Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of 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.
“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”, noted Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MCB Secretary General in the letter.
In the letter, the MCB 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’ (Sunday Express, 19th April 2009). 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 hopes 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.
Much rests on Lord Carlile to bring back our law enforcement agencies back into line, restore public confidence as a matter of urgency, and ensure that the lessons are being taken on board.