A Heathrow shop assistant who wrote poems glorifying terrorism on WHSmith till roll and possessed “terrorist handbooks” has been convicted under the 2000 Terrorism Act.
Samina Malik was found guilty of collecting on her computer such titles as the Al Qa’eda manual, the Mujahideen poisons handbook and various firearms manuals deemed “useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
While the documents in her possession might have been “useful” to a terrorist, she committed no act of terrorism”, nor was she actually involved in jihadist organisations, nor did she have the means (weapons, plans, associates) to carry out any terrorist attack. She was convicted not for anything she had done, but for what she believed.
Malik’s beliefs are, of course, repulsive to socialists and anyone with a modicum of humanist feeling. Quotes from the self-proclaimed “Lyrical Terrorist”’s poems include “Kafirs [non-believers] your time will come soon, and no one will save you from your doom”, “Let us make jihad/Move to the front line/To chop, chop head off kafir swine”, or, in the piece How to behead, “It’s not as hard as some may think/It’s all about the flow of the wrist”.
However we are opposed to Malik’s conviction and the jail threat which hangs over her. We do not trust the bourgeois state to determine which views are “acceptable”. Today they may be now trying to silence the (largely private) rants of a deluded young woman with stupid pretensions to terrorist grandeur, tomorrow the bourgeois state could move to censor the revolutionary left and workers’ movement.
We are for the open discussion of — and if necessary ideological offensive against — all ideas. While we do not want people to stir up hatred and injury by their words, that is not the reason Malik has been prosecuted. To simply shut up by way of bans or jailings those who spout reactionary sentiment buttresses their antagonism to democratic norms. We are for free and full democratic debates in society, which means opposing thought-crime legislation.