Sunday, 26 April 2009

Identification of non-terrorists

Twelve people had been arrested for allegedly planning a ‘very big terrorist plot’ in the UK. They were students of Pakistani origin. After much press and government hoo-ha about bogus students and tighter immigration controls they were released. AN sent me an article[1] suggesting that young Pakistani origin males might have something, such as a tattoo, to identify them as bona fide non-terrorists.
Wa alaikum asalaam
You are right. That article slipped through the net. I didn't know, although I am not surprised, that the twelve had been released.
My erstwhile flatmate in Edinburgh made the mistake once of flying with a rucksack. This meant that his appearance ticked sufficient boxes to be added to the ‘high security risk’ category: he was of Pakistani origin, had a Muslim name, was male, young and had a rucksack. Ever since that fateful day, whenever he has flown anywhere, he has been resigned to an in-depth interview and search.
Sarfraz Manzoor's article may have been a little too subtle for some readers from the results of the ‘Comment is free’ blog. I think he should have been a little more explicit and drawn the comparison between his mock suggestions and the badges, identity cards and concentration camp tattoos of the Third Reich.
I left the UK not only because of the enormous cost of survival and the crushing power and mindless greed of the corporations who rule our lives but also because of the increasing use of the politics of fear and the surveillance society. It is not the same place you and I grew up in.
The bobby on the beat is not the George Dixon[2] figure who would give you directions or the time with a smile and a touch of his helmet (was he ever?) There are just too many questions now.
The Pentagon are now touching the hilt of their swords to Pakistan in the wake of the Taliban advances. It is not totally inconceivable that people of Pakistani origin or descent (or ‘heritage’ as Mr Manzoor puts it) may be detained as ‘suspected enemy aliens’ or have movement restrictions placed on them under new Defence of the Realm Regulations.
And yet, in the so-called Muslim world there is increasing intolerance and restriction of freedom of thought and expression. Nazi memorabilia is freely available. In ‘respected’ bookshop chains translations of Meine Kampf and other mythologies of the 1930s such as The International Jew are ubiquitously on display as ‘serious’ sociological treatises.
I am sorry to sound gloomy. It is difficult not to feel immense foreboding that, as before, the aftermath of financial turmoil and mass unemployment will be war. When people are hungry and afraid, wearing a uniform has always been irresistibly attractive.