Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In good faith

Most press attention has been paid to the fact that two of the July 7th suicide bombers had been under surveillance by MI5 as early as 18 months before the atrocity. My attention was caught even more by the evidence that two of those jailed for life yesterday were recruited to jihadi terrorism in 1999 as a reaction to what they saw and heard of the treatment of Muslims in Kashmir. As this was before 9/11, let alone the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it gives the lie to later attempts to link these events causally to the origin and spread of global terror. Perhaps we shall now be less credulous when we are told that a change of British foreign policy might help to stem the jihadist tide.

There are at present a lot of conflicting demands for more and less surveillance, the sharing and publishing of information on those being watched, or not if they turn out to be perfectly innocent bystanders, the detention of disturbed individuals who might be a danger to themselves and others, but without interfering with the liberties of those who have a right to feel disturbed, depressed or delusional without being locked up. It's all very confusing, and a reminder, when we get it wrong, of the high price we pay for freedom.

A prayer I've often used, was written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

O God, who hast bound us together in this bundle of life, give us grace to understand how our lives depend upon the courage, the industry, the honesty, and the integrity of other people; that we may be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness, and faithful in our responsibilities to them.

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