Jihad literature: terrorist charges dropped

This month five Bradford students won their case in the Court of Appeal in which their conviction of holding Jihad literature was dropped. They had been jailed last year for “commission, preparation or instigation” of terrorism after it was discovered that they held extremist Jihad literature.  They were released because the Lord Chief Justice found no evidence against them that they intended to commit a terrorist act.

This case has implications for the library service and may now influence the policy of the MLA guidelines on the selection and treatment of controversial material, that was released in January for consultation. The case suggests that other people will now legally be allowed to download extremist material as long as they don’t intend to use it to commit a terrorist act.

This kind of ruling mirrors what happened to issues such as pornography and violent literature in the 1950’s and 60’s when there was a series of prosecutions for obscene literature including the novel ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’

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One Response to “Jihad literature: terrorist charges dropped”

  1. deargreenplace Says:

    It was an interesting decision, given that we had quite a similar case in Scotland last year that had a very different outcome. Atif Siddique was found guilty for looking at ‘extremist’ material and jailed for 8 years. Then his solicitor was also taken to court for saying that the trial had been held in an atmosphere of hostility. Some of the student’s internet viewing was done at an FE college, where staff had to give police full access to records.

    My own feeling is that we are starting down a dangerous path when we prosecute for ‘thought crimes’ and that Atif Siddique has been a victim of the current climate of suspicion and paranoia. There is a difference between curiosity and actually carrying out a crime. It seems unthinkable that someone would be jailed for 8 years for downloading material about IRA campaigns (to take a Western example) for instance. Double standards, or Islamophobia?

    In our library, we had a complaint from a Scottish student about showing Al Jazeera on our satellite TV. We have had to ask students not to view videos of beheadings in our library, since they are in a public space and may offend others. Staff themselves are open to criminalisation if they accidentally view something illegal. It’s a pretty awful situation for people who provide access to information to be in.

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