SACC Welcomes planned demo against terror

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities

An Asian-owned shop in Riddrie was destroyed yesterday by what press reports describe as a "massive fire and explosion" after being rammed by a car. Residents fear it was revenge for the apparent attack on Glasgow airport on Saturday. No one appears to have been hurt in the Riddrie incident, but it seems to have been on a comparable scale to the airport incident. It should be a wake-up call to the risks of racially-motivated terrorism.

As always, SACC condemns all such acts of violence.

It has also been confirmed that a shop owned by the family of Mohammed Atif Siddique - a student facing trial for alleged "terrorism" offences - was vandalised twice over the weekend. The story - along with the name and location of the shop - has been reported by the BBC. Mohammed Atif Siddique was arrested in April 2006 following a high profile police raid in Clackmannshire that attracted strong criticism from SACC and others.

Other attacks on Asian-owned businesses have been reported in the media, as have instances of inflammatory and racist grafitti.

It's time for everyone to begin exercising a bit more caution in the way that they discuss the events of the last few days. Raw-nerved people got a bit of relief over the weekend by talking of giving terrorists a "good kicking." Airport worker John Smeaton - who tackled the driver of the jeep that drove into Glasgow airport - has been compared to Jack Bauer, hero of the US TV series '24'. But the fictional Jack Bauer is a monster and '24' is poisonous trash. It's time to grow up.

SACC welcomes plans to hold a "Scotland United Against Terror" rally in Glasgow's George Square on Saturday. It's a chance for people of all communities to show that they stand united against terrorism in all its forms, and to show that we won't be anyone's pawns.

We also welcome police statements that their investigation into the airport incident and linked events is proceeding well. But we prefer not to speculate about their ongoing inquiry.

Another injection of good sense has come from Alex Salmond, who said earlier this week that recent events provide no justification for extending pre-charge detention to 90 days - a move that Gordon Brown has previously said that he favours. We think that the existing limit of 28 days pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects is already far too long.

One of the effects of lengthy pre-charge detention is that it increases the period of freestyle spin available to the media before cases become sub judice. Perhaps Gordon Brown will decide, in the end, that 90 days would stretch the attention span of the press beyond breaking point.

Brown's response to the events of the last few days has been deplorable. His attitude seems to be "ask me anything you like as long as you don't ask me to get the troops out of the Middle East."

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday, Gordon Brown said:

"Irrespective of Iraq, irrespective of Afghanistan, irrespective of what is happening in different parts of the world, we have an international organisation trying to inflict the maximum damage on civilian life in pursuit of a terrorist cause"

But terrorism is not "irrespective of Iraq, irrespective of Afghanistan." According to press reports, MI6 warned the British government that Ansar al-Islam - a group based in northern Iraq - might stage attacks in the UK to coincide with the end of Tony Blair's premiership. A jailed leader of the group is said to have threatened attacks in retaliation for British military involvement in the Middle East.

If this was indeed MI6's assessment, Gordon Brown would seem, at best, to have been very poorly informed at the time of his BBC interview. Either that, or his comment was a carefully-worded attempt to mislead that the public.

Brown's promise last week to end the prohibition on demonstrations in Parliament Square is a tiny step in the right direction. But it's no substitute for giving us back the rest of our missing liberties or bringing our soldiers home. Brown doesn't really mind demonstrations. After all, he's the man who tried to steal the Make Poverty History demo in Edinburgh in 2005.

Bombing civilians is an utterly immoral way to pressurise a government, whether the bombs are made of petrol and delivered by car or made of high explosive and delivered by fighter-bomber. That's a truth that doesn't depend on guesses about last weekend's events. And it's something that should be common ground for all of us.

Notes

  • The "Scotland United Against Terror" demo will assemble in George Square, Glasgow at 1.30pm Saturday 7 July.
  • The film Taking Liberties will be shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre at 2.30pm on Saturday 7 July, and will be followed by a panel discussion. More about the film at www.noliberties.com. GFT box office 0141 332 8128
  • See Glasgow airport incident - SACC Press Statement, 1 July 2007