How do you work out who is a Muslim? Are police and the security services to target every Mohammed, Ali, Hussein, Khan, Siddque? Where does it end, or, worse, has it already begun? There were disturbing media reports this week that the former Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, had advised the government on the use of 'racial profiling' at airports as a means of identifying suicide bombers.
Does this mean anyone of Asian or brown skinned appearance will be subjected to the humiliation of having their person or bags searched?
The argument that it is only young Asian men who have been responsible for the suicide bombings in Britain does not hold up. What about the Jamaican convert involved in the 7/7 London bombing and most recently a white English man arrested as part of a police operation to foil the Heathrow terror plot allegedly aimed at blowing up 10 passenger jets? Shouldn’t we all be suspects then? How can you tell who is a Muslim? And why Muslims? Why not Sikhs or Hindus or even Christians? Remember the carnage at Wako in America, and the mainstream faith of those involved?
I am of an Asian descent with a Muslim surname, but a Christian. Does this make me a potential terrorist? My family went to Trinidad more than 200 years ago from India as indentured workers. My father’s grandfather, Egbert Hosein converted to Christianity under the Canadian Mission scheme. He was Presbyterian. My father is still a Christain, my mother a Roman Catholic. Am I to be racially profiled when I roll up at Heathrow trying to fly off to the Caribbean to get away from this madness?
I suppose the answer would be; duh, dumb question! of course. Though, I may have to endure some degrading search in the name of “ national security”. Let us consider other factors that come in direct conflict. The Human Rigths Act 1998 states: 'The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.'
Yet, racial profiling is defined as the inclusion of race as a profile of persons considered likely to commit a particular crime or type of crime. There has been a lot of debate in America since the 9/11 terrorist attack. A Gallup poll conducted after the tragedy in New York claims that 71 per cent of Black people and 57 per cent of White people support the racial profiling of Middle Easteners and south Asians.
It is interesting to note, there is now an End to Racial Profiling Act in the United States, which came into force in 2003 after 9/11. Could racial profiling compound the problem of officially acknowledged institutional racism further in UK? Is this not another excuse for all the blunders made by the Metropolitan police? What happens if there is another shooting by anti-terrorist police of an innocent Jean Charles de Menezes? “ We are terribly sorry , but he did fit the profile” would be the likely totally unacceptable response.
The way forward, would be for the authorities to work in tandem with The Muslim Council of Britain and other organisations to come up with ways of combating the alienation and subsequent radicalisation of young Muslim men in this country.
Secondly, if what we are told is true about the Heathrow terror plot then we must support the Intelligence service. Britain has had a long history of facing terrorism during the IRA campaign and the security services have provedadept at infiltrating and undertaking complex surveillance of 'enemies within'. We should all be behind such counter-terrorist measures as better ways than racial profiling of dealing with the threat.