Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Beware of Spying…You’re in Britain | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Terrorists and hardliners are no longer the only target of British Government spying. Even “innocent”, ordinary British Muslims have become potentially important targets of their own government’s spying.

This was revealed by the British The Guardian newspaper, recently.

The latter said that the British Government in fact has started implementation of a program to spy on “innocent” Muslims and to gather information about them.

Many are aware how much Britain suffered from a small, albeit vociferous section of British Muslim hardliners, and how this small group put their hard line and terrorist ideas into practice by carrying out several acts of terrorism such as the suicide bombing in London underground tunnels.

There was also the “Muslim doctors`” cell that was held responsible by the British Government of the aborted attempt to launch a terrorist attack against Glasgow Airport, in northern Britain, as well as other cells.

Any spying activity on this small group will be taken by many people as one of the core tasks of the state, as well as its legitimate right to protect its people and country. In fact it will be understood as such by the British Muslim community because the ideas and terrorist acts of these hardliners have harmed not only the British but also the Muslim community and its inherently moderate Islamic institutions and centers.

However, what is unacceptable is to see the British Government mistrust the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community, and apply to its members this cheap spying program, knowing that the British Muslim community has been living in harmony with the local society, and many of its political leaders, businessmen and professionals have contributed to the revival of the country, each in his or her own domain.

Thus, there is no need to spend a quarter of a million dollars to spy on their political and religious leanings, as well as on their mental health, and even on their “sexual activities,” and to gather other sensitive data about them, as reported by the British newspaper in question.

In their discourse to the masses and leaders of the British Muslim community, British politicians have been stressing the need for “integration” into the local society, but such a spying program, targeting innocent Muslim citizens, will reduce the speed of such integration.

Moreover, British Muslim citizens will feel that they are the target of a spying program that spares the members of the other religious minorities.

In fact, many a visitor and tourist coming to the United Kingdom are now complaining about the offensive and humiliating way British security men question them at several British airports and other air and naval outlets.

Also, many visitors and tourists have complained about the unjustified repetition of this treatment.

For their part, Arab tourists used to praise Britain and the way it dealt with them in the aftermath of the 11 September events.

Britain’s reaction to these events was calm and composed, and they were treated in a more civilized and considerate way than elsewhere.

It is illogical to mix up cards and claim that acts of terrorism in Britain are justified because of the biased and incorrect foreign policy of the British Government in Palestine, Iraq, and Pakistan. At the same time, Britain should revise its foreign policy toward the Islamic world, and to render it fair, albeit relatively, so as not to make room for the hardliners and the terrorists to spread their extremism and carry out acts of terrorism.

This will also prevent them from exploiting the pro-Israel policy of the British Government and its persistent toeing of the line of the American policy, and using it as a means of recruiting more youths who are angry about Britain and its policy.

The British Government should ask an important question: why has the scene of the Muslim community in Germany, Sweden, and Belgium not witnessed terrorist events similar to the ones that were faced by Britain and its Muslim community?

The situation of terrorism in Britain requires more friendliness and rapprochement toward the British Muslim community at large, as well as its moderate leaders, institutions and centers so as to prompt them to participate in the fight against extremism and terrorism.

The solution is not a costly spying program that turns away the community and makes it feel that it is not part and parcel of the British entity.