'Race Profiling' Won't Defeat Terrorists

Christine Hosein

Black and white

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.


2 Responses to "'Race Profiling' Won't Defeat Terrorists"


Thu, 08/17/2006 - 16:28
It is crazy to think this method will deter terrorists. Advance security checks  is the better option.


Fri, 08/18/2006 - 10:59
<p>Laura Marcano says:</p><p>Racial Profiling raises a lot of worrying questions for me.Where does it stop .Ethnic monitoring ,racial profiling.What ever you want to call it is done in a variety of settings.Job and application forms,NHS .Is the meaning lost. Aren't we all British . I am a British citizen do I dare call myself&nbsp; British as a Professional Black woman.</p><p>I believe racial profiling is wrong.It is racist.It is prejudiced.Targeting a group of persons based on name ,race ,religion cannot be right.It is ineffective.The very same group of persons that can assist in this war on terrorism is the very same group that is being alienated.</p>I therefore agree with Christine Hosein's article <p>&nbsp;</p>