Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
5pm, Friday 22 July 2005
We are filled with sorrow and concern at the news that a man has been shot dead by police on London's underground. We do not know yet whether the man was carrying a bomb. But initial reports suggest that police had been following him for some time without attempting to stop him, so we must suppose that they themselves were far from sure that he presented a threat to life.
We fear that a shoot-to-kill policy coupled with the growing climate of racist hysteria will place the lives of innocent people at risk. Many commentators have praised the calmness of Britain's response to the London bombings. The praise has been earned by millions of ordinary people who have refused to be terrorised. Unfortunately, large sections of the media and the government deserve no share in this praise.
A 'senior security officer' has been quoted as saying 'if terrorist bombers strike again, it has to be in an area where they can blend seamlessly into the background...there are high concentrations of Muslim communities not only in London, but throught the Midlands, Yorkshire and even Scotland' (The Herald, 22 July). In other words, to be a Muslim is to be a terrorist suspect. The 'senior security officer' doesn't explain how Muslims are to be identified, or why they should be unable to blend into a background that doesn't boast a high concentration of Muslims. Since Muslims don't where armbands announcing their faith, we can only assume they are to recognised by the color of their skin. This morning, that looked like racism of the most laughable kind. This evening, it looks like a death threat.
The dead man has been described by police as a 'known suspect'. That description could apply to any of the innocent people who will have come under scrutiny as police pursue their 'needle-in- haystack' search for the bombers - an unenviable task in which they deserve the support of the whole community. It has also been used on far too many occasions to describe people who have been targetted for political reasons under Britain's wide-ranging anti-terrorism laws, and are certainly unconnected with any plot to bomb this country. To be a 'terrorist suspect' is already to be at risk of being placed under house arrest by the Home Secretary. We hope and trust that it will never happen that to be a 'terrorist suspect' is to be at risk of assasination.
We call upon the police and the Home Office to make it absolutely clear that a great deal more than "suspicion" is needed to justify the use of firearms.