'Lyrical terrorist’ sparks controversy over Muslim rights
Samina Malik, who worked in a shop at London's Heathrow airport, has become the first woman in the UK convicted under the Terrorism Act. The 23-year old calls herself “the lyrical terrorist” and wrote poetry praising martyrdom and beheading, the latter included the following lines:.
This is not as messy or as hard as some may think.
It’s all about the flow of the wrist.
Malik was sentenced under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act for “possessing materials which might be useful for a terrorist”.
However, many within the Muslim community see Samina Malik’s case as an example of an infringement of civil liberties.
“I think there is a perception that there are parallel laws, and so you have anti-terror laws only for Muslims and then you have normal criminal laws for the rest of the people. Earlier this year a former member of a racist party was prosecuted for having huge stacks of bomb-making material – he had a bomb factory in his house,” says Abdurahman Jafar, Vice-Chair of the British Muslim Council.
“There was also another white Christian person who was prosecuted for sending letters to government agencies. Neither of these people who were not Muslims were prosecuted under the anti-terror laws,” he adds.
In 2006 an updated version came into force in reaction to the London July 7 bombings carried out by British Muslim extremists a year earlier.
The attacks left 52 people dead and 700 injured and sparked outrage and calls for tougher measures to tackle terrorists.
David Bentley was involved in drafting the legislation for the Terrorism Act which came into effect in 2000. He says the revised law criminalised the glorification of terrorism and paved the way for legislation allowing the detention of terror suspects for 28 days without charge.
“Glorifying or encouraging murder which is, after all, what we’re talking about in a terrorist context is just not acceptable and to pretend that this is a limitation on freedom of speech that cannot be justified is just nonsense. Well, now I think that the real trouble with extremist publications is that in the same ways as pornography it depraves and corrupts,” believes David Bentley, an expert in terrorist cases.
The leader of the Muslim parliament in Britain says recent experience has shown that rather than preventing terror attacks, the current law is far more likely to radicalise the Muslim community.