Friday, September 16, 2005

Oh dear...

The Guardian is reporting all about the new 'anti-terror' offensive here, quite apart from the obvious there are also some pretty damn worrying implications for everyone:

Encouraging and glorifying terrorism: Two offences, carrying a jail sentence of up to seven years. Covers published statements, including internet ones, which amount to the "direct or indirect encouragement" of terrorist acts or those which "glorify, exalt, or celebrate" such acts.
This very wide offence seems like it could be somewhat troublesome. Firstly, what constitutes terrorism here, consider the Iraqi resistance is often painted as a terrorist organisation what implications does this have for groups that support its 'right' to resist. Furthermore, encouraging terrorism, directly or indirectly, could be very easy, encouragement is an objective fact, although I suspect there will be a subjective test (either you intend that such statements encourage or you were aware they might). But what constitutes encouragement? Would calling the US imperialist count? If you say that the Iraq war was an illegitimate imperialist war and therefore should be resisted are you encouraging terrorism?

And I wonder what counts as 'exaltation' or glorification, such a point of course needs clarifying, but should it be read widely enough it might well punish those who say a particular act is legitimate. And this is just staying within the Muslim paradigm, but, correct me if I'm wrong, several leftist parties, e.g. the CPN(M) are classed as terrorists. Does this mean that glorification of their actions (whether it involves a battle with the military, taking over a town etc.) is tantamount to an offence? Worrying stuff.

What I'd like to see is the statute which is going to be produced, and a few cases to see how the judges read it. As I will eventually discuss interpretation is very important in the law and hopefully it be made so this is not read so widely as to criminalise anyone who supports resistance or liberations movements across the world.
I don't think we can find the solution to this in the law. Such laws have to be defeated by political mobilisation. Of course we can try to utilise the law for defensive purposes but as my passing comments have show, this sort of legislation can only be transcended by politics.

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