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A 'trigger-happy' police raid?
THE LOCAL community in Forest Gate, east London, was stunned but later angry, after a dawn raid on a terraced house involving 250 police in an 'anti-terrorist operation' last week.
Simon Carter Newham
Members of Scotland Yard's elite firearms unit shot and detained postal worker Abdul Kahir and his brother Abdul Koyair.
The police said they were acting on "very specific" intelligence that a terrorist act was being planned. The BBC says 'security sources' told them that they suspected a deadly device was being prepared in the house.
Yet after days of painstakingly searching the address no evidence, of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction had been produced. Both brothers have issued a statement through their solicitor denying any terrorist links or links to Islamic extremism.
There is a suspicion that this raid occurred, conveniently, at a time when the Blair government's policy of occupying Iraq was being questioned in the mass media.
There is also dismay over the police shooting of an unarmed person only months after the fatal shooting of Brazilian migrant worker Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell tube station. Many fear that the Metropolitan police have become trigger-happy, acting with impunity under draconian anti-terrorist laws introduced by the Blair government.
Of the 1,000 people arrested under the terrorism laws since 9/11 in 2001 only 121 have been charged and 23 convicted of 'terrorist-related' offences.
This raid could have a divisive effect in the local community. It may further alienate and isolate people from Muslim and Asian backgrounds. Also, it could act to reinforce prejudice among a section of white people. Undoubtedly the far-right BNP, who recently won 12 council seats in nearby Barking, will use this event to spread their racist poison in the area.
This is a possibility given the lack of a sizeable left-wing, working-class political alternative to Labour and the other establishment parties.
Both New Labour and the opportunist leaders of the Muslim Council of Britain have praised the police by saying that they have done a 'wonderful job' since the 7 July London bombings.
Respect, who won three councillors in Newham (where Forest Gate is located) in the May elections, have questioned the police raid. However, many people perceive Respect as a 'party for Muslims' rather than representing the whole of the working class. This view is reinforced by the fact that all three of their Newham councillors are from Asian backgrounds.
Events in east London reinforce the growing view among socialists and trade unionists that a party representing the entire working class in this deprived area - which can oppose the reactionary and big business policies of the establishment parties - is urgently built.
In The Socialist 8 June 2006: