Not Saussure

September 20, 2006

I blame John Reid’s parents, myself

Filed under: civil liberties, hubris, Panic, UK, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 12:34 pm

John Reid, the Home Secretary, will challenge British Muslims today to do more to identify potential terrorists.

Mr Reid will meet an audience of specially-invited Muslims in London’s East End to urge parents to “look for the tell-tale signs” of radicalisation in their children.

The minister is expected to face tough questioning from the gathering of up to 60 people, both on his recent record as Home Secretary responsible for community relations and as a former Defence Secretary who oversaw operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is expected to tell parents to search for signs that their children are being recruited by “fanatics” who will “brainwash” them and convince them to serve as suicide bombers.

Telegraph | News | Reid: parents must heed ‘tell-tale signs’ of extremism

That should be an interesting meeting. I’d love to know what the ‘tell-tale signs’ might be*; I wonder if we’ll be seeing adverts and news stories on the lines of the old ones about ‘Is YOUR child on drugs? — 10 ways YOU can tell’. ‘Is YOUR child about to blow himself and total strangers to kingdom come? Phone our special freephone number for help and advice. All calls treated in strictest confidence, honest’.

The government’s track record on identifying suspected terrorists isn’t, after all, particularly inspiring since they so rarely seem to be able identify them to the satisfaction of a jury even when they do manage to bring charges. And, somehow, I doubt many parents, Muslim or not, would react particularly well to the patronising and offensive suggestion that they’re complacent about such matters.

For whose benefit is this nonsense intended? Even if someone were alarmed about their son’s behaviour, I hardly imagine Dr Reid is the man to inspire any confidence in them that they may safely take their concerns to the authorities; not if they fear the prospect of a couple of hundred police officers turning up at their house and maybe shooting someone by mistake, perhaps fatally. Or holding them on remand for a year or so until they’re likely acquitted. Or placing them under effective house arrest on the basis of Dr Reid’s suspicions until the Court of Appeal sort the matter out.

Update: Now we know how it went; a couple of hecklers thrown out, one of whom ‘ denies being a member of the banned Al Gurabaa group, accused the minister of being an “enemy” of Islam.’

This doesn’t, to my mind, say much about the guest list since it was supposed to be an invited audience.

I see that

Mr Reid did not tell Muslim parents to report their concerns to the police but wants them to confront their children’s behaviour and talk to them.

which is something, I suppose, but I wonder what Muslim parents will of it; does he imagine that the thought wouldn’t have occcured to them if he hadn’t suggested it?


*And I see that Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads has helpfully provided two alternative lists of the Ten Tell-Tale Signs, so now we know.

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