Why do press and police hype up "Muslim beheading plot"? Stop the hate-mongering!

Submitted by cathy n on 9 January, 2007 - 11:31

By Colin Foster

The Sun put this on its front page the day after the arrest of nine people in Birmingham: "A vile terrorist plot to kidnap and behead a Muslim soldier in Britain was smashed yesterday.

"A Birmingham-based gang of fanatics was days away from snatching the squaddie - seen by them as a 'traitor to Islam'.

"They planned to show his Iraq-style execution live on the web...

"A military source said: 'Welcome to modern-day Britain'."

That Islamist terrorism poses a real threat of mass murder to the citizens of London, Manchester, Glasgow and other cities is after the explosion on London Underground on 7 July 2005 indisputable.

That the government and the police should work to prevent mass murder is therefore, also indisputable.

The kitsch left that would deny this lives in a world other than that inhabited by the British working class.

However neither the government - people like Home Secretary John Reid, for example - nor the police have the right to go about doing that in a way that helps the gutter press foment fear and hatred of British Muslims - most of whom are of Asian-origin and also the target of Britain's malignant racists.

Not only is that unjust to the vast mass of Muslim people who, like other British workers, loathe the terrorists of political Islam, but it is also counter-productive in terms of fighting terrorism.

Things like the wild press outcry about a plot to kidnap and behead a young British Muslim soldier - before any evidence had been presented, before anyone had been charged - cannot but appear to very large numbers of Muslims to be a demonisation of Muslims in general. Cannot but help drive young Muslims into active or passive sympathy or support for the terrorists of political Islam.

The screaming press headlines about the alleged plans of people who had not and have not yet been charged, showed the police and the press engaged in a malignant conspiracy to poison not only the administration of justice, should it come to a trial, but to intensify the poison of anti-Muslim bigotry already in the bloodstream of British social life.

Consider the facts.

Today (7 February), two of the nine people arrested in Birmingham on 31 January amid screaming press headlines about a "beheading plot" were released without charge. They had convinced the police that they had not planned to kidnap and behead a British soldier? No. The police had not asked them about that!

Their lawyer, Gareth Peirce reports:

"Not a word was ever mentioned to either of them about a plot to kidnap or the grisly suggestion of a beheading..."

None of the other seven have been charged yet after a week in custody.

Was it the police who fed the material for the lurid headlines in the press? Or the government?

Neither the Sun, nor any other paper, quoted any named person as its source.

The police are now refusing to say anything public about the alleged plot.

The Guardian (3 February) reported that some police blame the "beheading plot" story on the Government.

"Whitehall officials briefed journalists... At least one tabloid newspaper had even been tipped off the night before the dawn raids, and its reporters put on standby to race to Birmingham.

"Police sources in the West Midlands said... the anonymous briefings may have been intended to deflect attention from the prisons crisis and the cash for honours inquiry...

"One counter-terrorism official warned that 'an awful lot of inaccuracies' had begun to appear in the media..."

Another obvious reason for pumping up the story was to help Home Secretary John Reid in his attempt to lengthen the time that terrorism suspects can be held without any charge from the present limit of 28 days to 90 days and his assault on civil liberties more generally. The relationship between police, government and press and the antics like this which it produces, is no part of the legitimate fight to prevent new 7/7s.

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