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Sentencing Muslims

March 9, 2010

Cross-posted at Pickled Politics under the title ‘Muslims are contemptible creatures, devalued humans’

The Independent today carries a very strongly worded opinion piece by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – a self confessed ‘Muslim lite’.  In a piece well worth reading Alibhai-Brown writes about state sanctioned Islamophobia including the sentencing of young Muslims demonstrators:

Meanwhile at Isleworth Crown Court, Judge John Denniss is industriously sentencing demonstrators who gathered near the Israeli embassy to rail against that state’s attack on Gaza, one of the worst acts of state terrorism in recent history. Our government said nothing then, and were therefore complicit. Protesters came from all backgrounds but the vast majority of those arrested were young Muslim men. Dozens are being sent down for insignificant acts of bravado. Some were about to go to university, to train as dentists and the like. Their homes were raided, families cowed and terrified. Joanna Gilmore, an academic expert on public demonstrations, says never before have such disproportionate sentences been handed out, not even with the volatile anti-globalisation protests. Denniss intends his punishments to be a deterrent. To deter us from what? Having the temerity to believe we live in a democracy and are free to march? [H/T Ten Percent]

Seumas Milne has previously written the following in a piece for the Guardian:

But a year later [to the demos], it turns out that it’s the sentences that are truly exceptional. Of 119 people arrested, 78 have been charged, all but two of them young ­Muslims (most between the ages of 16 and 19), according to Manchester University’s Joanna Gilmore, even though such figures in no way reflect the mix of those who took part. In the past few weeks, 15 have been convicted, mostly of violent disorder, and jailed for between eight months and two-and-a-half years – ­having switched to guilty pleas to avoid heavier terms. Another nine are up to be sentenced tomorrow.

The severity of the charges and sentencing goes far beyond the official response to any other recent anti-war demonstration, or even the violent stop the City protests a decade ago. So do the arrests, many of them carried out months after the event in dawn raids by dozens of police officers, who smashed down doors and handcuffed family members as if they were suspected terrorists. Naturally, none of the more than 30 complaints about police ­violence were upheld, even where video ­evidence was available.

Last month’s British Social Attitudes survey found that most people now regard Britain as “deeply divided along religious lines”, with hostility to Muslims and Islam far outstripping such attitudes to any other religious group. On the ground that has translated into murders, assaults and attacks on mosques and Muslim institutions – with shamefully little response in politics or the media. Last year, five mosques in Britain were firebombed, from Bishop’s Stortford to Cradley Heath, though barely reported in the national press, let alone visited by a government minister to show solidarity. [My emphasis]

This is not a form of democracy I recognise, but it is the one we are holding up for emulation to the countries we invade and occupy such as Afghanistan and Iraq.  Anybody see the obvious problem?

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