Banal, Dangerous Stupidity

Abu Qatada, once described as al-Qaeda’s leader in Europe, boards an aircraft at RAF Northolt in west London last July to be deported to Jordan Photo: PA

Abu Qatada, once described as al-Qaeda’s leader in Europe, boards an aircraft at RAF Northolt in west London last July to be deported to Jordan Photo: PA

Yesterday The Telegraph ran an article on the proposals to further block foreign criminals from having access to Art8 appeals, backed by over 100 MPs. I could go on about the many different ways in which this proposal is wrong and insidious, about the construction of the ‘foreign criminal’, about the vileness of the comments section.

But what made my blood boil the most was something else. A mistake so trivial, so banal, that it is no longer considered a mistake.

The above picture was used to illustrate the article, and I’ve reproduced the caption here in full.

That is Abu Qatada.

Abu Qatada was a terrorist suspect. The caption said he was described as al- Qaeda’s leader in Europe. That was never proven.

He was never charged with a crime in the UK.

His human rights appeals were entirely different from those of foreign criminals. His deportation was blocked several times first under Art3 (Freedom from Torture) and Art6 (Right to Fair Trial). At no point did he claim under Art 8 (Right to Family Life), which is the one the article (and the Bill in question) is about.

A national newspaper, has used the photo of a terrorist suspect to illustrate a story on immigration. A story which had nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

Linking immigration with terrorism is so commonplace, that no one bats an eyelid when it happens.

But it is wrong. And people should furiously bat their eyelids over this.

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