Anti-terror law a threat to free speech

“Muslim extremists should not be allowed to use the force of religious authority to propel their followers into committing acts of violence. Helping organise terrorist cells should also be illegal, even if the person involved doesn’t actually detonate the bomb or procure the explosive. I don’t have any problem with that. But the idea that people can be prosecuted for simply expressing views about terrorism takes us into very disturbing territory. Like the proposed legislation on religious hatred, it constitutes a threat to freedom of speech.

Take George Galloway, who was in his usual robust form last week in New York debating Iraq with the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Two months ago, Galloway gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he praised Iraqi militants in the most glowing terms. ‘These poor Iraqis,” said the former Labour MP, “ragged people with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons … are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars. With 145 military operations every day, they have made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it.’

“Now, any way you look at that it is exalting and celebrating terrorism. Should George Galloway be imprisoned for seven years for making these remarks? Of course not, the very idea is an offence against freedom.”

Ian Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald, 18 September 2005

Not sure the folks at Harry’s Place would agree with that last point.