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Attacks on Freedom in “the Mother of Democracies” - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Thirty of Blair’s Labor Party government MPs voted with opposition against the project of anti-terrorist control orders submitted by Britain’s Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, last Wednesday. He gave himself the power to house arrest, and ban calls, Internet connections and visits to suspects that are difficult to convict in criminal courts.

When it comes to myself, I sided with Blair’s initial stance in supporting president Bush’s war on terrorism, and his “Jihad” for freedom and democracy. It was for the protection of our style of life as a deep-rooted western democracy and the principles that made Westminster democracy the “mother of democracies”.

I was convinced with this great country’s obligation to export the principles of freedom to the nations whose destiny was to be under the rule of authoritative dictatorships. I backed the war that I helped to fund from my paid taxes as an English citizen, in which my friends lost their sons and daughters so that the Iraqis would enjoy the lawful freedom that the British citizens had enjoyed over the past eight hundred years. I was not convinced by the illusion of mass destruction weapons, but of helping the Iraqis to get rid of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party who disregarded all measures of law, executed people or imprisoned them, incarcerated the lucky ones or banished them.

Blair’s Home Secretary’s attack on democracy goes back to last December when the House of Lords – the highest judicial authority in the country – declared that it was illegal to continue detaining foreigners in Belmarsh prison (all are Muslims) without trial, upon suspicions of their connection to Al-Qaida network. Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, had started the chaos by issuing the emergency law after Sep.11 attacks. He gave detainees the options of being kept in jail and leaving the country, but they preferred life in a western jail to the freedom of gallows in their countries.

The Lords considered Blunkett and Clarke’s emergencies a breach of the human rights agreement that Britain had signed. For more than eight centuries, British law has provided protection for British citizens according to the principle of “Habeas Corpus” meaning literally “this is the body”. Legally, it means that no one can be detained unless in the presence of physical evidence that the court judge finds convincing. Hence, depriving a detained foreigner of his right to present defense “Habeas Corpus Petition” as the case would be with British citizens, mounts up to the level of racial discrimination.

The government has decided to bring “equal injustice” between British citizens and foreigners. It completely disregarded the country’s highest judicial authority that is the only democratic basis left to protect the nation from the dictatorship of the majority elected by the minority – due to the small number of those who voted in the elections.

The House of Lords like “the sages of the county” might be the most important and noblest institute in Britain. Lords take the position on a hereditary basis, by appointment from the Queen and the government (on the basis of recommendations of public opinion, public organizations, and academies benefiting from their wisdom), and from the parliament, the church, and the independent judicial body. They are far elevated beyond the corruption of elections of politicians and their jellylike principles. Politicians once play with interest rates to “bribe” the voters, then play with the terrorist “Ghost” to provoke the fear instinct of the public. The public then vote for a barbarian who promises to “make the country safe” instead of keeping it “free” as the request of the educated elite – after placing an explosive mine of class hatred between the two categories.

The Lord sages glorify the principles upon which democracy was built and are literally committed to the constitution. Though it is not written, but it is in the form of traditions, records, and mailings between the throne, the parliament, the judicial system and leaders. It was turned into agreements like the Magna Carta and the Bill of Civil Rights declared by parliament law in 1689. The Lords gather its threads to make a treasury where the country preserves its democratic memory as its legal constitution. It is no wonder that Blair ever since he took over authority in 1997 has been working through a “development program” of the House of Lords as part of his campaign to destroy the noble traditional free institutions, as they are the positive heritage of the British Empire. MP Tam Dalyell, or “father of the house”, who is considered one of the priests in the temple of democracy, stunned Clarke when he asked him to mention one democracy where a Home Secretary is allowed to home arrest people without trial.

MP Barbara Follet of the House of Commons presented the answer in the details of assassination of her first husband, Richard Turner, at the end of a five-year home incarceration determined by the racial discrimination regime in South Africa in 1973. The arrest was because of his support for the black people’s rights to equality and voting, yet, it did not stop him from pursuing his political activities. “Maybe it was for this reason”, she said trying to hold the tears from falling, “He was shot dead in front of his two young daughters two days before the end of his forced stay”. Barbara raised hopes again in the heart of her two orphan girls with the news of traveling to Britain “where people are not detained or home arrested without trial.” That is why Barbara Follet voted against the legislation project proposed by a government led by Blair who was at the time of her husband’s assassination a young lawyer supporting from London the liberty campaign in South Africa.

The fierce attack on the proposed legislation came form one of the parliament’s most loyal MPs, Brian Sedgemore. He said, “I can only remind you, while waiting for the validation of a law that we never heard of except in racial South Africa or in Burma, of what our ancestors sacrificed – including my father who died during the World War – to prevent such chaos from happening here.”

Parliament records include words said by Labour opposition during the rule of the conservatives in 1994 saying that, “a politician doesn’t have the right to rob a British citizen of his freedom, this is the task of court alone.” This saying is for the Home Secretary at that time, Tony Blair. If the “modified model” of a “New Blair” – to rhyme with “New Labour Party” – calls for giving the politician the right to imprison people without a trial, then this means that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida network succeeded in robbing us of our freedom despite their failure to carry out any operation in Britain. It does not take much intelligence to know what kind of British citizens will be incarcerated in case a terrorist attack is – that we hope will not be – carried out here. When the law allowing the detention of suspects was applied during the Irish Army terrorist campaign three decades ago, those carrying Irish names found themselves in jails. In the same manner, British Muslims will find themselves becoming targets for Clarke’s law. This would lead to a volcano of rage in a generation of Muslin youth, which would be a great gift that Al-Qaida promoters would not even dream of to help them recruit hundreds to carry out their malicious operations.

It remains to say that I’m not sorry that my taxes and the blood of my friends’ sons took part in supporting the war that gave the Iraqis a chance for freedom after oppression. Yet, I ask the Iraqis in their attempt to formulate their constitution, establish their democratic institutions and issue their parliamentary legislations, to search the pages of history before law books, to find democratic idols to follow in their footsteps, and avoid the example of Tony Blair, the modified model.

YOSRA

Adel Darwish

Adel Darwish

Adel Darwish s a veteran Fleet Street foreign reporter and commentator on foreign affairs.

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