The threatened prosecution of Scottish solicitor Aamer Anwar for contempt of court is a grotesque assault on the right to effective legal counsel. It is also aimed at intimidating those who oppose the government’s “war on terror”, a racist campaign stigmatising Muslims as a pretext for sweeping attacks on the legal rights of the entire population. Now awaiting a High Court hearing, if convicted Anwar could be barred from practising law and possibly jailed. We demand: Hands off Aamer Anwar!
The contempt charges are threatened in response to a statement made by Anwar following the conviction of his client, Mohammed Atif Siddique, who has been jailed for eight years on bogus “terrorism” charges. Denouncing the trial and verdict as unjust, Anwar said Siddique was found guilty “of doing what millions of young people do every day, looking for answers on the internet”. Siddique was convicted for possessing CDs and computer files, and for distributing links to websites. It is outrageous that Siddique was convicted not for any acts, but for “thought crimes”, as was Samina Malik, a young Muslim woman in London convicted on terrorism charges for poetry she wrote and literature she possessed. Free Mohammed Atif Siddique!
As for Aamer Anwar, his crime according to Lord Carloway, the trial judge, was to publicly criticise not only the court and the jury but the state itself. Indeed, Anwar’s statement correctly noted that the “anti-terror” laws are an attack on civil liberties and that “the prosecution was driven by the state” in an “atmosphere of hostility after the Glasgow Airport attack and ending on the anniversary of 9/11”. Young Muslims, Anwar stated, “live in a climate of fear no different to that experienced by the Irish community in the last century”.
Criminalising such a statement of protest on behalf of his client is a green light for the state to witch hunt lawyers defending unpopular cases. In Northern Ireland, Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane, lawyers who defended Republicans, were murdered by Loyalists with the collusion of British state forces.
Since 9/11, with the blood-soaked British and US imperialists up to their necks in barbaric wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is open season on Muslims at home – and their defenders.
Down with the racist “war on terror”! Hands off Aamer Anwar!
(Reproduced with thanks from Partisan Defence Committee)