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2 I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS Passion Islam I August 2009
the Passion - By Inayat Bunglawala
A tale of two court cases
One man was jailed for eight years, the other put on probation.
Why the difference in sentencing?
The case of Neil MacGregor who (the Scottish equivalent of the Crown
today escaped a jail sentence and Prosecution Service) may have been
was instead given three years’ correct in deciding to pursue breach
probation at the Glasgow Sheriff of the peace charges rather than
Court is an interesting one – not terror charges in connection with
least because of its parallels with an MacGregor’s threats. He certainly
earlier terror-related case in 2007. does not appear to be terribly bright
MacGregor, 35, was convicted – when the Daily Record ran a story
back in April after having admitted about him, MacGregor emailed them
to threatening to blow up Scotland’s threatening to sue for “deformation”
biggest mosque and to behead (sic) of character.
one Muslim a week until every Still, perceptions do matter
mosque in Scotland was shut down. and a number of Muslim bloggers
MacGregor had been found to have have unsurprisingly contrasted
sent Strathclyde police an email in the treatment meted out to Neil
which he said: “I’m a proud racist
Delivering the sentence, Judge
MacGregor and Atif Siddique.
and National Front member. We
Lord Carloway told Siddique: “You
The MacGregor case also
as an organisation have decided
told fellow college students that you
comes in the wake of a number of
to deal with the current threat from
intended to become a terrorist and
other very disturbing reports about
Muslims in our own British way
one of your targets would be central
our security services colluding
like our proud ancestors ... Our
with foreign intelligence services
demands are very small. Close all
Siddique’s case made national
in the “coercive interrogation” of
mosques in Scotland, we see this
headlines even though, as a
UK Muslim suspects, or torture by
is very easy – even you guys can
leader column in the Scotsman
handle that ... If our demands aren’t
made clear ... “… there was no
I have previously written on
met by next Friday we’ll kidnap one
evidence to indicate [Mohammed
Cif about how many Muslim
Muslim and execute him or her on
Atif Siddique] was actually planning
organisations have sadly been
the internet, just like they did to our
to carry out an attack, or in touch
cowed into silence – for fear of
Ken Bigley.”
with anyone who was. The material
being smeared as appeasers of
MacGregor was charged and
he downloaded, though obnoxious,
terrorism – and have failed to speak
convicted for a breach of the peace
was freely available on the internet
out against how the extremely wide-
(racially aggravated) and not under
… Not without justification, many, in
ranging anti-terror legislation has
tougher anti-terror legislation
and out of the Muslim community,
been applied in practice and used
which can result in far stiffer jail
question whether Siddique was
to put youngsters away for long
really a terrorist deserving eight
periods in jail for doing little more
However, 18 months ago, again
years in prison, as opposed to an
than downloading material from
in Scotland, a 21-year-old student,
impressionable student who posted
some extremist websites. But the
Mohammed Atif Siddique, from Alva,
inappropriate material on the web.”
case of Atif Siddique should really
in Clackmannanshire, was found
Following the sentencing, Asif
give all of us cause for concern.
guilty of terrorism-related charges
Siddique – Atif’s older brother
It is vitally important that the
and sentenced to eight years in
– observed: “This is not a case
authorities are consistent and fair
prison. Siddique was convicted of
regarding one individual, it’s a
in their application of the law to all
possessing items including videos
showcase, an example being made
citizens regardless of their faith
of weapons use and bomb-making.
to show other Muslims, and to show
– and are also seen to be so – if
Unlike MacGregor, who was tried in
the muscle of the legal system to an
confidence is to be maintained in
a Sheriff’s Court, Siddique was sent
innocent but stupid young man.”
our criminal justice system.
to trial at the Scottish High Court.
The police and the Crown Office First appeard on Comment is Free - Guardian
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