Saturday, December 29, 2007

Muslim Woman Convicted of a Thought-Crime in the UK

At Mother's, they put out this newspaper at the restaurant called "Epoch Times," I think they're based in the UK, though I'm not certain. This article was in the edition I read today.

By Stephen Jones
Epoch Times UK Staff
Civil Rights groups have welcomed a court's decision to free a Muslim woman convicted of what they say amounts to a 'thought crime'.

Samina Malik, who called herself the "lyrical terrorist" after writing poetry praising suicide bombers, walked free of the Old Bailey last Thursday after gaining a nine month suspended sentence for possessing extremist literature.

While working as a shop assistant in stationer WHSmith, the 23-year-old of Southall, London, scribbled on the back of till rolls poems such as "Kafirs your time will come soon, and no one will save you from your doom".

Malik was the first woman to be convicted under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, which states that: "A person commits an offence if he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism."

Although she was found guilty of the offence last Wednesday, she was said to be not guilty of the more serious offence of possessing articles for terrorist purposes.

In her defence, Malik said: "This does not mean I wanted to convert my words into actions. This is a meaningless poem and that is all it ever was. To partake in something and to write about something are two different things."

Deputy President of writers' group, English PEN, Lisa Appignanesi, said: "A prison sentence for Samina Malik would have a chilling effect on every British citizen's right to express themselves fully and freely.

"This in turn would have a knock-on effect for citizens of other countries, whose governments look to the UK for leadership on such issues.

"To make a felon of a girl dreaming and writing behind a bookshop counter would have Byron and Shelley turning in their graves."

Director of the libertarian group, Jonathan Heawood, added: "Her worst crimes are against prosody and a fitting response would be to send her on a creative writing workshop."

As well as the extremist poems, police also found in Malik's house documents on a computer relating to terrorism, including: the al-Qaeda Manual, the Terrorists Handbook, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, a manual for a Dragunov Sniper Rifle, the Firearms and RPG handbook, and a document called "How to win hand to hand fighting".

Defending her in court, John Burton said Malik's offences showed "a significant degree of immaturity" and she had behaved more like a rebellious teenager than a young woman in her 20s.

Although she faced up to 10 years in jail, she was given a suspended sentence, meaning she does not need to serve time in prison unless found guilty of another offence.

Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Inayat Bunglawala, welcomed the judge's decision.

He said: "If the police believed that Samina may have constituted a threat to society then they could surely have placed her under surveillance and waited until they had uncovered some actual terror-related activity as opposed to just downloading stuff from the internet.

"Instead, given the wide-ranging powers they now enjoy under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 they were able to prosecute Samina for a thought crime."

No comments: