David Cameron is exploiting our fears so that he can take away our freedom

Instead of introducing draconian new laws, the Government needs to crack down on the wealthy states funding those who threaten us

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For the first time ever, several Muslims confess to me that – in order to stop Isis – they want the Government to extend its powers. When I talk to them about liberties and human rights, they laugh bitterly. “What rights? These guys should be put into cells without light forever.

Is this the time to talk about rights? British Muslims going out and beheading people. They should never be allowed back. Their families should be deported.”

Previously, these same people would talk to me with the same passion about Israel or the Iraq war or discrimination. Momentarily I too felt as they did. Then I came to my senses. See how fear can shake your deepest held principles?

These Muslims will no doubt be cheering Cameron as he pushes through new counter-terrorism decrees, supposedly the toughest ever. So here we are, 13 years after the launch of the specious “war on terror”. Since then our government has passed no fewer than nine sets of laws to combat terrorism, from 2003’s Criminal Justice Act to the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act of 2010.

In addition to all these legal interventions, we know Britain has been complicit in the rendition and torture of Muslims picked up around the world. Edward Snowden has exposed the lengths to which our intelligence and security services have gone to spy on ordinary citizens. And Muslim men are in prisons today without being charged or even told what it is they stand accused of.

In 2010, the all-party parliamentary committee on human rights concluded the following: “Since 9/11, the government has continuously justified many of its counter terrorism measures on the basis that there is a public emergency threatening the life of the nation...we are concerned that the government’s approach means, that in effect, there is a permanent state of emergency and that this inevitably has a deleterious effect on the public debate about the justification for counter terrorism”. The last part is the most important: this perpetual state of high alert means public consent is brushed aside.

 

When one looks at the way IRA violence was dealt with the contrast is striking. Between 1974 and 2000, counter-terrorism laws were strengthened only twice. Though IRA bombs were killing and maiming people, our parliamentarians did not overreact the way so many do today. Irish residents in England were put under pressure but they were not all judged to be covert or overt enemies of the state. Politicians then did not lose their heads completely.

Perhaps because even the wildest Irish were white Christians. When confronted by enemies who are dark, manic Islamists, our leaders seem to experience psychological disorientation, deeper fears. Blair has been driven quite mad by that.

Unlike others of the political left, I do accept there is a real danger posed by vicious Isis warriors who make al-Qa’ida fighters seem timid and tame. They must be stopped and defeated. British Muslims who have joined them cannot be forgiven, ever. They object to Western foreign policies. So do most Muslims.

They may have faced racism and hostility in this country. So have I and thousands of others. We don’t go and join bloodthirsty guerrilla forces.

Unfortunately our leaders are also unreliable and dishonourable. They exploit real fears to extend executive powers and make our country incrementally less free and more repressive. Our last three Prime Ministers have clutched at laws to feel in charge. They act macho, but will not take the right and brave steps to keep us safe. Authoritarianism is a sign of weakness, not inner strength.

The UK and US are too scared to take on those behind Isis, the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. All these Islamist battlers are linked to Saudi Arabia and now Qatar. They are also getting US arms. Mr Cameron and co: Do something about these pernicious wealthy states. Do it now. Freeze their assets. Expel those who have infiltrated Muslim minds. Oh, but you won’t. All that oil. All that money spent in Harrods. They are your friends. You won’t stop them sponsoring separatism and terrorism. You’ll pick on the rest of us, instead.   

Why should we accept these latest, illegitimate control bids? Have all those other, previous laws failed? Paddy Ashdown, erstwhile leader of the Liberal Democrats, opposes these new “kneejerk” measures. The level of threat has been raised to “severe” by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre.

In Northern Ireland this has been the threat level for four years. Laughable really. Except it isn’t. Treat them mean, keep them meek. With voters apathetic or easily led, our liberties and rights are snatched, while terrorism flourishes. We should impeach the PMs who have brought us here.

READ MORE:
The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

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