There was an article in yesterday’s Guardian that I am sure would’ve astounded many. Others, however, would’ve empathised that indeed some cannot do right for doing wrong.
The article in question was about a schoolboy who made an unfortunate spelling mistake. The ten-year-old Muslim boy intended to write that he lived in a terraced house – however, due to his incorrect spelling, it read that he lived in a terrorist house. Had a middle class white boy have made such a mistake I wonder if the following would have happened, but of course that is me, merely speculating. His teachers did not even consider he may have made a simple mistake and alerted the police who then interviewed him, and examined a laptop found at his home. The upshot – the family now feel traumatised and the boy no longer wants to write.I agree that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act is one that is vital in the current climate, but does it fuel overreaction and fear from teachers, doctors, and anyone who has insight into the lives of others? Do we now live in a world where everyone is scrutinised and is a suspect, when the majority of citizens in this country are simply going about their innocent lives?
Fear is becoming ingrained, as are stereotypes. And we are being watched and monitored all of the time. (I still don’t understand why a shop needs my email address every time I go to buy something.) And all this combined creates a growing sense of unease.
Yes, I am glad that teachers are vigilant. Yes I am glad there is a terrorist act. But I don’t see how these things are helping to gain control over a frightening surge in terrorist attacks. Most seem to be carried out by individuals known to the police, not ten-year-old boys who, even if they were involved, probably wouldn’t write about it at school.
I’m not sure what the answer is, or how to begin to counteract against the stigma, suspicion and fear that appears to be impregnating itself in the population. But I do know we need to be mindful of the fact that, most of the time, people are innocent until proven guilty.
Most of the time.
By Jen Faulkner
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