On 1 July, Marwa al-Sherbini, an Egyptian woman who wore the headscarf and was three months pregnant, was brutally murdered in a Dresden courtroom by a German man of Russian descent who declared ‘you have no right to live’. Liz Fekete of the Institute of Race Relations investigates the climate of tacitly sanctioned bigotry within which this murder happened.
Marwa al-Sherbini was stabbed eighteen times in the space of thirty seconds. It was a frenzied attack, clearly motivated by racism and Islamophobia. Yet the German state and media, have been in a state of denial. The press reported it as a neighbourhood dispute, with headlines such as ‘Murder over quarrel over swing’. Amidst widespread anger in Egypt, the press officer at the German embassy in Cairo declared the murder an isolated case and a ‘criminal act. It has nothing to do with persecution against Muslims’.
As the funeral of Marwa al-Sherbini took place in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria and attracted huge attention in the Middle East, the German public and media have woken up to the anger that the murder, and its apparent denial, was causing in the Muslim world.
A network of suspected far-right extremists with access to 300 weapons and 80 bombs has been uncovered by counter-terrorism detectives.Thirty-two people have been questioned in a police operation that raises the prospect of a right-wing bombing campaign against mosques. Police are said to have recovered a British National party membership card and other right-wing literature during a raid on the home of one suspect charged under the Terrorism Act.
In England’s largest seizure of a suspected terrorist arsenal since the IRA mainland bombings of the early 1990s, rocket launchers, grenades, pipe bombs and dozens of firearms have been recovered in the past six weeks during raids on more than 20 properties. Several people have been charged and more arrests are imminent. Current police activity is linked to arrests in Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.
The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.
They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.
Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.
The case against 12 Muslim men involved in what Gordon Brown described as a “major terrorist plot” amounted to one email and a handful of ambiguous telephone conversations, it emerged last night after all the men were released without charge.
Eleven Pakistani students and one British man were freed after extensive searches of 14 addresses in North-west England failed to locate evidence of terrorist activity, according to security sources. Police did not find any explosives, firearms, target lists, documents or any material which could have been used to carry out an attack. Yesterday, the Government’s own reviewer of terrorism legislation said he would investigate the case.
The Home Office said it would deport the 11 Pakistani men, who are aged 22 to 38 and were in Britain on student visas, because the Government believed they represented a threat to national security.
Brian Whitaker writes a good article on New Labour’s intimidatory tactics against British Muslims. And here is an unusually excellent editorial from the Guardian. The branding of the Istanbul Declaration as extremist is designed to ensure that nobody engages with it, and it deserves to be engaged with. Although I don’t identify with the religious language myself, or like the globalising flourish at the end, I don’t see anything terribly objectionable about the declaration, which is posted after the Whitaker article.
Following the recent muddle over Hezbollah, the British government continues to dig itself deeper into the mire with its “anti-extremism” policy.
Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, is trying to engineer the resignation of Daud Abdullah, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. She may not like Abdullah or agree with his views but, frankly, it’s none of her business. The MCB is not a government body and can appoint whoever it wants as its deputy secretary general.
‘The fact that a ‘professional liar’ hoodwinked the media and government is a damning indictment of UK de-radicalising policy’, writes Inayat Banglawala.
He was a self-confessed al-Qaida insider who in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was interviewed by all the major news networks eager to hear his fiery rhetoric.
Following the 7/7 bombings, he told us that he had now recognised the error of his ways and was committed to countering “Islamism”. He was going to spill the beans in a keenly anticipated book calledLeaving al-Qaidarelating how he had gone about recruiting British Muslims to go overseas and fight.
The American CBS network’s flagship documentary programme 60 Minutes broadcast aninterviewwith him in March 2007 in which he talked about his “recruiting and fundraising techniques” in his extremist days.