Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Racist Britain: No justice in a police state

Let me spell it out clearly: you don’t get justice in a court of law, less so in a police state when your grievance is against the police.
We have just been handed down the judgment in the case of Abdu-l-Muqtadir Mustaqim, a young law student stopped by police at the road side and subsequently arrested and manhandled and charged with having used abusive or insulting language. He was convicted before Milton Keynes Magistrate’s Court and appealed. His appeal before Aylesbury Crown Court was dismissed because all the court was interested in was a narrow point of law: did or did he not utter the words “racist” followed by an expletive. There is no doubt, he did. He admitted so himself. Hence he was guilty. Whether it was justifiable or reasonable to do so under the circumstances did not interest the judge as it was not relevant to the case.

Now Mr Mustaqim did not walk up to an officer of Thames Valley police out of the blue and call him a racist something. He was provoked. He had been followed in his car and stopped at the road side. He had been accused of not having a valid road tax, but he did. He voluntarily showed all his documents, but the officers felt too showed up to apologise and send him on his way, they wanted to find something else to catch him with. They alleged drugs in a piece of foil, but it turned out to be a kebab roll. Then they suggested his tyre tread might be below the legal limit but were told the car had just passed an inspection as evidenced by the documents. They called a traffic officer for backup to check the tyre. He never measured the tyre; instead he suggested the car might be stolen or contain stolen goods. He never searched the car, however, instead he subjected the driver and the passenger to a rub-down search. All the time he was swearing and threatening the young Asian men. When Mr Mustaqim retorts to his brother’s suggestion of racist motives with “could be, a lot of them are racist ***” he is jumped at from behind, slammed onto the bonnet of the car, handcuffed, put in a police car and driven off without wearing a seat belt. He is kept in a police cell for nine hours without food and then interviewed at length. Finally he is charged with having uttered abusive language.

Now whilst the learned judge under his medieval wig was busy curtailing every other sentence by witnesses he did not want to hear and decided there was no point in listening to the audio and video recording of the scene at the road side, outside in the court waiting room people were dropping the “F” word every once or twice in each sentence of their conversation. Unfortunately, swearing has always been an integral part of “polite” conversation in Britain, and it is getting worse.

Milton Keynes, one of the new show-case British cities where the events took place, is currently plagued by rats crossing the streets in broad daylight. Instead of fighting the pests, hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent to make the point that to object verbally to bullying and abuse by the police is an offence under British law. The lesson is not lost on the youth: Don’t even bother to play by the rules. There is one rule for one and one for another. Fast forward, and another police transgression might spark the kind of riots France saw recently. The learned judge and his colleagues from the Crown Prosecution Service might wonder what on earth made young people want to smash up the world around them. After all, we’ve had excellent race relations in this country, haven’t we?


At 2 February 2006 at 10:58, Anonymous Londoner said...

Sad to hear about Abdul Muqtadir, I hope this experiance will prepare him for the time when he is a Lawyer and ready to tackle such injustices in future.

When will the British public wake up to the fact it is us who pay the Police to ptotect us. We do not pay them to humiliate, threaten and bully us. The site of a Police person should be a comforting one for the majority of us who operate within the law. For many years now the site of police will either force me cross to the other side of the road as I watch over my shoulder hoping for a safe outcome of this dangerous encounter.
Many of them are no more than thugs in uniform who have always held racist views but now find ligitimacy for them provided by the uniform. I'm not the only one who would prefere to drive around lost rather than ask the police for directions. The new Laws only assist them in their transition from a Public Service to Public Terrorists.


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