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Thought-crime conviction

Sherman McCoy | 08.11.2007 13:16 | Terror War | Birmingham

Samina Malik has been convicted of thinking or writing unacceptable things under the Terrorism Act 2000. This invasion of the mind by the authorities and the courts is yet another example of the annihilation of civil liberties. Whilst Georgians and lawyers in Pakistan rise up to challenge their governments why is it that we are so accepting of the assault on our freedoms.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Dr Martin Luther King

The Old Baileys valuable time has recently been taken up with the prosecution of WHSmith, Heathrow shopworker Samina Malik. She now finds herself convicted of the crime of "possessing records likely to be used for terrorism". In the same way that the mentally ill can now be locked up if they present a potential threat, thinkers who have not acted can also be charged and convicted. And at the international level a country can be dealt with pre-emptively if there is a suggestion of a threat. These rerpresent sinister applications of the precautionary principle, originally devised to take the necessary action where there is a potential threat to the environment or human health- as has been used to challenge the switch to GM food.

According to Maliks accusers she led a double-life in which she concealed a counter-identity as a threat to civilised society. The jury was left with little choice other than to convict her of collecting articles "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". Despite this one member of the jury declared her not guilty

Yet Malik claims her poems were "meaningless" and she called herself the Lyrical Terrorist, she said, "because it sounded cool". It did not mean she was actually a terrorist or wanted to be one, she said.

Malik told the court she started writing love poetry while at Villiers High School in Southall. In early 2002, using the name Lyrical Babe, she said she began writing rap poems about guns and violence in the style of artists Tupac Shakur and 50 Cent. At the same time, she said her interest in Islam began to grow and in 2004 she started wearing a hijab. It was then that Malik changed her online name to the Lyrical Terrorist.

She told the court: "It is only a user name. You have taken it too literally and out of context. It was only because it was a cool name. It doesn't mean I'm a terrorist."

It could be you or me. I possess a record by Afro Mystik entitled 'Trivia terrorist". I also have other tracks by musicians such as Saul Williams who are critical of the war on terror. This is personal. If you are a white, British, property owner or car driver these measures are being taken in your name- in our name and yet those that resist could be next

It is interesting to juxtapose the accounts of the trial given by BBC Online and the Guardian. The BBC piece is more nuanced despite the fact that they couldn't resist placing a picture of that devil Abu Hamza at the top.,,2207426,00.html

I don't want to be overly critical or pessimistic and I extend this comment to myself. We in the libertarian/socialist movement are truly pathetic. Whilst people in Burma, China, India, Pakistan and Georgia are standing up to their governments on the streets all we seem capable of doing is lock ons or vacuous marches from A to B. My greatest crime is my fear, fear of what they will do to me yet everyday other people around the world overcome their fear and take risks.

How bad do things have to get before we take concerted positive action in the streets? By that time it may well be too late. Lets get out there, get bashed up and test the public mood

Sherman McCoy


Display the following 8 comments

  1. Conspiring — Mogger
  2. hide THIS, as y'say — f grmpy, energy for bouncebacks. GFWF
  3. about time we did... — on the streets
  4. Crazy. — jo
  5. Where are the Human Rights activists? — El Gringo Rumbero
  6. opinion-influencers, it is time-you-woke-up — laters
  7. Update of sorts — JC
  8. Re:Update of sorts — Brian B