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Muslim communities perceive Counter-Terrorism legislation as 'unfair, unjust and discriminatory'

Muslim communities perceive Counter-Terrorism legislation as 'unfair, unjust and discriminatory'

Categories: Latest News

Monday March 08 2010

  Friday saw the publication of a Home Office study, ‘What perceptions do the UK public have concerning the impact of counter-terrorism legislation implemented since 2000?’, prepared by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT).

The study focusing on the primary question, perceptions of the UK public concerning the impact of counter-terrorism legislation implemented since 2000, included a number of sub-questions:

1) What specific themes are present?

2) Is there variation in reported impacts across different sub-sets of UK communities?

3) What are the sources of the UK public’s perceptions of the impact of counterterrorism legislation?

4) Does the evidence support a distinction between the existence of counter-terrorism legislation itself, versus the implementation of the legislation?

Among key findings of the report are these:

‘There was both quantitative and qualitative evidence showing that samples of Muslim communities perceive some aspects of CT legislation to be unfair, unjust and discriminatory. The evidence shows that elements of the Muslim communities generally feel they are being ‘treated differently’ since terrorist events such as 9/11 and 7/7. However, it is unlikely that these perceptions have been brought about solely through the introduction of CT legislation.

‘Opinion polls and surveys seeking to be representative of the general UK population tend to show majority agreement, or support for, certain CT measures even though they may erode civil liberties. However, the evidence shows there to be less support within samples of UK Muslim populations who have stronger negative perceptions of CT legislation and perceived violations of civil liberties and human rights.

‘The evidence base from this REA shows that samples of UK Muslims, when discussing CT legislation, articulate a lack of trust in the police and have less confidence that they will be treated fairly by UK authorities (Government and the judiciary). Low confidence and trust towards UK authorities could have a detrimental effect on the willingness of Muslim communities to accept and support current and future CT legislation.

‘There tends to be support and acceptance of CT measures in samples seeking to represent the general population, whereas those sampling Muslim community members tend to be less supportive and have more negative perceptions about its impact.

‘The sources of people’s perceptions of impact were not systematically reported in all of the research documents. However, from the limited references to sources of perception, it appears that personal experience and ‘word-of-mouth’ opinions influence people’s perceptions, as well as associated media coverage.

‘The REA found a limited amount of evidence that directly addressed the distinction between perceptions of the legislation itself as opposed to the way it has been implemented. This limited evidence was derived from the Muslim community and was almost exclusively related to negative perceptions of the way in which ‘Stop and Search’ practices have been implemented by the police.

‘There was insufficient coverage of research across all UK communities. The current evidence base is heavily focused on the Muslim sub-set of the UK population. There is a need to capture the perceived impacts of CT legislation across a wider set of communities….Insufficient demographic information was contained in studies and polls of the general population. In most cases the data could not be broken down in a way that would permit comparisons to be made between sub-populations of interest, such as different ethnic or religious groups.’

The study can be read in full here.


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