Discriminating on civil liberties
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 15:59
| || ||As the former head of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington, argues that fear is being used by the Government to pass ever more draconian legislation that plays cavalier with our civil liberties, the case of Abu Qatada brings to our attention those that have been at the receiving end of just this. |
Abu Qatada faces possible deportation to Jordan after the Law Lords determined that the assurances given by the Jordanian authorities of a fair trial place no further obstacle in the way of his deportation order.
The BBC reporting on the story refers to Abu Qatada as ‘one of Europe's most influential extremists’. And yet, as Victoria Brittain points out, it is precisely the media’s demonisation of people like Abu Qatada that has allowed the government to instigate a deportation at all.
‘The British security services and the media have successfully demonised these men, and in particular mythologised Othman as posing a super-danger to our society. No proof of any of the damning things repeatedly said and written about him has ever been produced. The fact that he condemned both 9/11 and the London 7/7 bombings has been conveniently forgotten.
‘The casual racism that allows our society to treat these men's human rights as different from our own is an old cancer in Britain that we prefer to forget. We cannot afford to.’
As the Foreign Secretary is urged to make public all dealings with the US administration on Binyam Mohammed amid allegations of serious torture, brutality and secret rendition, it is important to state that in our struggle for security, we undermine our fundamental rights and civil liberties at our peril. Worse still, is the disreputable treatment of people like Abu Qatada by the government and media intent on manufacturing demons.
ENGAGE has already lodged a complaint with the BBC’s Online Editor, Patrick Heery, over the use of the term ‘extremist’ in the news report on Abu Qatada.
ENGAGE has asked the BBC to qualify its use of the term and asked whether the reporter's inclusion of it in the story comes closer to editorialising than reporting the news.
You can write to the BBC via the online complaint form here or call 03700 100 222.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 March 2009 18:04