The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

July 27, 2005

Picture this

You're living in the UK, but your visa has expired. As you enter your underground station, a few guys yell at you. Policemen? You cannot afford to be sent back to your home country now, so you decide to run. They yell at you to stop. You run faster. What can happen? Policemen in the UK aren't armed anyway. You're on the platform, and you're lucky, there's a train waiting there. As you jump in, you suddenly feel a sharp pain in the back. You may or you may not realize that you've just been shot in the back. You fall to the floor, the three guys yell at you and pin you to the floor, one of them has his pistol in his hand and moves it dangerously close to your head. What do you think in the split second before he blows your brain out with seven bullets?

According to the news, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot on 22 July because his visa had expired and there was no way that he could have known that the three men who were after him were armed plain clothes policemen who thought he was a terrorist and who had orders to shoot to kill.

I am not criticizing these orders here. I am just pointing out that in response to terrorism, the western democracies are radically changing.

George Bush said that Al-Quaeda is attacking the western democracies because they hate our democratic system, our civil liberties and our values and want to destroy them.

I say: if that is indeed the case, then Osama bin-Laden (or whoever is behind these attacks) has been pretty successful: in the USA, the Patriot Act has done away with many very basic civil liberties, human rights even. Several EU countries have passed laws that allow for the unlimited detainment of people on the basis of the mere assumption that they might know someone who could be involced in some terrorist activity. Laws that allow the recording and archiving of all our telephone and internet communications are on the way.

And in London, you can be shot for having an expired visa. Whither democracy? Whither civil liberties? They are washed down the drain, and it's not really Osama bin-Laden who's to blame for this.

Posted by Horst on July 27, 2005 03:02 PM to news of the world | Tell-a-friend

We received this ping from All things Bru on August 2, 2005 06:56 PM:

Picture this: Horst Prillinger makes some rather simple yet very deep considerations about how terrorism is dealing with the "west". I agree on the whole line. Here's an excerpt, but please do read the full post. George Bush said that Al-Quaeda is attacking the west... [more]

Gibarian said on July 27, 2005 07:07 PM:

I'm absolutely with you there. Contrary to popular belief, terrorists bombing crowded places are not trying to make people aware of their agenda. That's why it's so discomforting to hear people say things like "London can't be beaten" when in reality they are already beaten by the arbitrariness of a plain clothes policeman with a license to kill.

Natalie said on July 28, 2005 03:07 PM:

The media seized on that "expired visa" story but it has since emerged that it may not be true. The Foreign Office has refused to say whether in fact his visa had run out. Juan's family said it had not. They are considering suing the Met over the shooting. Hopefully they will but it won't make up for this tragedy.

Brian said on July 28, 2005 05:48 PM:

The Reichstag is burning!

laura said on July 28, 2005 07:23 PM:

Amen on the comments re: The Patriot Act, which, like Operation Iraqi Freedom, has nothing to do with its name. As a patriotic American, I am lobbying my congress to eliminate parts of this ill-considered law as they come up for renewal.

The Cartoonist said on July 28, 2005 11:46 PM:

Just wait for the BBC (or ITV) documentary "The London Bombings" in probably 1 or 2 years from now.

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