Thursday, December 06, 2007

On Lyrical Terrorism

Sounds ridiculous, does it not? Yet, Samina Malik, the self-styled 'lyrical terrorist" was today handed a nine-month suspended jail sentence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which states that it is an offence if a person "collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism."

That her case ever got as far as court is a nonsense. The contention that this woman has been charged with a thought crime has featured prominently in many of the comment sections of today's papers. Matthew Parris, in the Times a few weeks ago when the case first came to light, wrote most persuasively on the subject. Inayat Bunglawala also made the point in today's Guardian and for once I found myself in agreement with him, yet many could not avoid the accusation of cant in his case.

The only lyrical terrorism Ms Malik is guilty of, involves mangled rhyme and scansion rather than train carriages. She claimed she chose the handle 'lyrical terrorist' because she thought it was cool. Her thinking doesn't sound too developed to me and strikes me as nothing more than impressionable and foolish.

In his book 'The Islamist' the author Ed Husain describes his past life as a young, firebrand Muslim 'radical'. He was not. Nothing in his book is particularly shocking and his story is that of a bored and equally impressionable adolescent. It strikes me that if Ms Malik was thought fit for gaol then the Old Bill ought to be knocking on Mr Husain's door asking him about his book, which is a full confession of his one-time interest in idiotic ideas, questionable religious people, and beards. I'd suggest Husain was more deeply involved in shadowy practices than is evinced from what we know of Malik, but, surprise, surprise, when Husain reached adulthood he realised what he doing was a bit silly and embarrassing and gave it all up.

Samina Malik had not stockpiled fertilizer at her home. She didn't have instructions on how to build bombs (although anyone who was against the Vietnam war may well have done in the form of the The Anarchist Cookbook). She wrote dreadful poems she thought would impress her mates. The facts of the case tell us she did nothing wrong, yet she faced a possible sentence of ten years' imprisonment. She was caught apparently thinking and promoting acts which we find hideous. But we cannot accept a situation where thoughts become outlawed. An act or the preparation of an act must be what is required before a person is required to stand before a jury accused of terrorism.

2 Comments:

At 9:10 pm , Anonymous a. nonymous said...

I wouldn't say it's that ridiculous. Canadian rapper Snow declared himself a "lyrical gangster" in the mid 90s. Nobody arrested him though, no matter how often i called the police about his criminal music.

 
At 9:42 pm , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...

That would make you an "informer", geddit?

You tee 'em up, I'll knock 'em in.

 

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