Thought Criminal Wins Appeal

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 128 months ago
Thought Criminal Wins Appeal

Samina Malik, the Southall resident convicted last November after being found guilty of owning terror manuals, today had her sentence quashed. The Court of Appeal ruled that her conviction was unsafe, and that there was "a very real danger that the jury had became confused" in passing a guilty verdict. The Crown Prosecution Service will not seek a retrial.

Malik's case became infamous for two reasons: she was the first woman convicted under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, in this case for possessing material “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”; and secondly, her self-chosen sobriquet "lyrical terrorist", applied not because of a love for rap rabble-rouser M.I.A. but due to her penchant for writing extremist "poetry". Awful, risible, extremist poetry, but poetry nonetheless, with all the clueless conviction that rudderless undergrads produce by the reamful.

Yet prosecutors sought to portray Malik as a terrorist operator, seeking to establish a "library of terror" comprising training manuals and how-to books with sinister titles like The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook. Never mind that her material was largely out of date and in some cases, as the CPS has admitted, fairly useless.

The double standards in Malik's case were remarkable. As David Edgar pointed out in a recent article for the Guardian:

When Martin Amis conducts what he calls a "thought experiment" about the collective punishment of Muslims... he gets defended by Christopher Hitchens. When Samina Malik fantasises about being a terrorist, she ends up in court accused of being one.

While Malik's poetry and extremist sympathies may have been offensive, she should only have been tried for acts she had committed, rather than acts she thought or wrote about. Of the former, there was little to report. Of the latter: describing them as misguided is an understatement. Deeply embarrassing, in some regards - "Chop chop head of kuffar swine" hardly being a fragment of poetry to trouble the critics at the London Review of Books - and utterly reprehensible, yet ultimately, the sad, attention-seeking output of a person who clearly needs some kind of direction in life. Not, in other words, a person who should have had a conviction slapped on them.

Image courtesy of Olivander's Flickrstream

Last Updated 17 June 2008