The Sketch: Be careful. Just by reading this, you will be guilty of ... er ...something

J'Accuse! Home Secretary! Stirring up hatred. I want you in prison for seven years. Off you go!
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We're on Anti-Terrorism, obviously. The Home Secretary is doing quite well in one sense. He's quite popular in the House. He doesn't have that dark riptide running under the surface that David Blunkett suffers from. He often accepts interventions, and often in good spirit; he attempts argument. It's brave of him, too brave in this case.

Is al-Q'aida nihilistic, for instance? Oh, I think we'd have to prosecute the Home Secretary here under the Religious Hatred laws. Nihilistic cults?

These jihadists live in the light of eternity. They take Allah at his word. They are filled with the glory of God (it's like champagne and brandy, if you want to know). The Western way of life that tempts innocents to damnation must be eradicated. (It's obvious.) A few corporal mishaps are small price to pay for the eternal salvation for humanity.

J'Accuse! Home Secretary! Stirring up hatred against people on religious grounds, I want you in prison for seven years. Off you go! Or am I glorifying terrorism so it's off I go?

Second point, put by John Denham repeatedly in the Commons and in committee earlier this month. Douglas Hogg made the same point. So did Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Cousins and Bob Marris. But John Denham's the most important because he's chair of the select committee.

He pointed out that "anyone, anywhere supporting any type of violence against a state can be prosecuted. An Uzbek voicing support for blowing up a statue to protest against the regime" (which boils dissidents) "would be guilty under this Act."

As would those of us who supported the Uzbek. Ditto blowing up a railway track in Burma. Or digging a hole in the road leading to an Iranian nuclear facility.

Supporting these activities in The Independent makes me liable for seven years in prison. Reading it makes you an accessory after the fact.

There was so much in the debate it would pump up your blood pressure to bursting point to report it all. Bob Marshall-Andrews has parsed the clauses for rubbish and found it in befouling abundance - but also the means to prosecute the Prime Minister's wife (so it's not all bad, for Bob).

But what about 28,000 stop and searches under the terror laws without a single arrest? What about Alan Simpson's point: "these laws are creating a culture of fear and division" which will actively impede the fight against terrorism? (Groan, McNulty, groan.)

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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