Civil liberties are eroded and Muslims scapegoated – and all without evidence writes Lois JC
On Friday the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre or JTAC upped the UK’s terror threat level to ‘severe’. This is the second highest risk level based on their own measurements, and means that the chance of a terror attack on UK soil has been raised to ‘highly likely’. In a statement from Teresa May she added that ‘JTAC’s judgements about that threat level are made on the basis of the very latest intelligence and are independent of ministers’. However, we will never know what intelligence this decision was based on or exactly how independent it was. All we know is that it is now being used as an excuse to rush through more oppressive anti-terror legislation.
Today, new powers aimed at curbing the widely discussed threat of terror from UK ‘jihadis’ who fight in Syria were announced. David Cameron said we will need to get tougher. The power to remove passports, which was introduced last year through executive power of Royal Prerogative, was firmed up through legislation. But whilst this been done since 2013, it will go a bit further to give police the right the right to seize passports at borders.
There will also be measures to tighten up terrorism prevention and investigation measures or ‘Tpims’. Tpims are essentially a form of house arrest in which rigid restrictions of movement and communication are placed on ‘terror suspects’ before they have been charged. The stricter versions – ‘Control Orders’ – were deemed unlawful in 2011. However Cameron is winding that back with further constraints unveiled today, adding the ability to relocate suspects, which was allowed under Control Orders.
The reaction from the rest of the establishment has been united behind the coalition, with Ed Miliband going even further than Cameron in today’s PMQs by saying Control Orders should have never been abolished, and families and friends of suspected extremists should be carefully monitored.
This is an overreaction based on dubious evidence. The government have not given proof for the ‘intelligence’ behind the number of UK citizens in Syria (they keep quoting the unreferenced figure of 500), let alone any given evidence for Syrian fighters returning and committing terrorist acts back home. This all means that the dangerous erosion of civil liberties and the rule of law will be pushed further, particularly for Muslims. Treating an entire community as a suspected threat will not meet the aims of their legislation. David Cameron said today that the root cause of terrorism is Islamist ideology, however the justification for acts of terror is time and time again cited as UK and US foreign policy. Racist, scaremongering, unresearched policy will not solve the problem, neither will supporting US military action.The government must stop the military involvement in Muslim countries that is fuelling discontent.