The May 15 AP article “Britain overzealous in terrorism arrests” was critical of the fact that Britons of South Asian descent are more likely to be detained in antiterrorism raids than any other ethnic groups. I agree that this is unfortunate and discriminatory, but it is nevertheless necessary.
Islamic fundamentalists and jihadists have declared war on Britain and her allies and are plotting to kill her citizens and destroy her cities. This stark reality was never more evident than in the aftermath of the atrocities committed July 7, 2005, on the London transport network. Of the four suicide bombers, three were second-generation Pakistani immigrants.
While the majority of Britain’s Muslims are good citizens and reject the fundamentalists’ warped interpretation of the Quran, there are some within the Muslim community who are sympathetic to the jihadists.
The best the police can do is to use past experiences to formulate tactics. Throughout the 1980s, Irish terrorists were targeting Britain. The police would often perform random stops and searches close to perceived targets — not a particularly effective tactic in preventing a determined terrorist but effective in reassuring the public. Naturally, if you had an Irish accent, you were more likely to be asked to comply. Examining Jamaican and Iranian immigrants was unlikely to result in the apprehension of an IRA bomber.
The last time I was in London, the Metropolitan Police were conducting checks outside Underground Stations as part of Operation Blunt, which is designed to reduce the number of knives on the streets amid the escalating problem of gangs and fatal stabbings. Police were quite clearly discriminating by age, paying particular attention to teenage boys, as searching little old ladies and middle-aged businessmen is not likely to impact gang culture and knife warfare.
When society is threatened, sometimes minor discriminatory practices are a necessary evil. In these troubled times, a common-sense approach must prevail.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.