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Siddique trial was a traversty of justice

The media this morning are asking "Guilty.. But is Siddique really a terrorist?"

Of course Mohammed Atif Siddique isn't a terrorist. With a prosecution case that sought to manipulate the emotions of the jury, and terrorism laws so ill-drafted that it seems they can mean anything at all, the jury can hardly be blamed for getting it wrong. But even under our Kafka-esque laws it makes no sense to call this young man a terrorist, and it is to be hoped that the argument will be taken successfully to the appeal court.

The case has been a traversty of justice from start to finish.

It was bad enough that his family home was raided by armed police in April last year just because the police didn't like what they had found on Mohammed's computer when they questioned him at Glasgow Airport. Never mind that the family were law-abiding citizens who had been in contact with the police ever since Mohammed had missed his flight as a result of being questioned.

It was bad enough that Mohammed should be held on remand and brought before the High Court for, in the words of solicitor Aamer Anwaar, "doing what millions of young people do every day, looking for answers on the internet."

It was bad enough that the trial began just after the terrorism incident at Glasgow airport and ended on the anniversary of 9/11.

It's bad enough that Mohammed should be facing many years in jail for utterly insignificant actions that have harmed no one.

But last night it got worse. Anonymous sources in the security services told the media that Siddique had been preparing to become involved in a terrorist attack in Canada. No evidence about this had been presented during the month-long trial. So what was the point of the trial if Siddique is to be convicted ex judice of far more serious offences?

The hounding of Mohammed Atif Siddique should be a wake-up call to us all. It's time for Parliament to change the laws that allow cases like this to be brought to the courts. The current terrorism laws have created a culture of un-reason that treats terrorism as a kind of witchcraft. Terrorism is supposed to be a contagion - a contagion to which Muslims are uniquely susceptible. It is supposed to be carried on the breath, in printed words and images, in digits flowing across cyberspace. If you accept this lunacy, it makes perfect sense to see Siddique as a dangerous vector for the disease.

The lunacy has penetrated our police forces so thoroughly that officers feel able to tick all the boxes of anti-racism and diversity while persecuting the Muslim community relentlessly in their hunt for the terrorism bug.

If non-Muslims are inclined to think "thank God it's not us" they need to think again. What will happen when the counter-terrorism industry starts to produce briefings saying that, after all, the disease can sometimes be carried by non-Muslims, that the danger is very great, that it's better to be safe than sorry? And what will happen when police officers begin to worry about the racism built into their terrorism policies and try to keep themselves out of the dock by hunting for the disease without regard to creed or colour?

This kind of un-reason doesn't protect us from terrorism. It creates the climate that terrorism needs if it is to flourish. The only things it protects are the jobs of government ministers, the wars our government is conducting in Afghanistan and Iraq and the new war the US is threatening in Iran.

We're on the road to becoming a police state and journey's end is coming up very fast. It's time for a change of direction.

In the meantime, SACC sends its sympathy and its very best wishes to Mohammed Atif Siddique and to all his friends and family.


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