I've been tied up with things lately and so haven't had the chance to write much, particularly about the recent police raid here in Forest Gate.
Part of this is that for all the national media attention, the story hasn't been that noticeable here. Maybe it's because I live just off the main street and so don't often go down into the more residential roads, but walking around here the only signs of the incident have been the Evening Standard advertising boards mentioning it. Otherwise the whole thing could have happened in Gospel Oak (at the end of a railway line that runs through here) for all the difference it makes. Maybe that will change if any of the planned protests happen.
As for the raid itself, ultimately without knowing the full facts of the matter I feel I have no option but to trust the police's judgment. The police do sometimes make mistakes but I'd rather they were over cautious than ignored something that proved to be dangerous. At the end of the day only a full report can tell all the facts, but in the meantime it is worrying when people start calling for non-co-operation by Muslims with the police, as Yvonne Ridley has done. To his credit, George Galloway has disowned the remarks. But more is needed to rebuild confidence.
As for Forest Gate itself, this is an area full of surprises and I urge people to visit. The beautiful Wanstead Flats are adjacent, being the southern most tip of Epping Forest (hence the name), whilst the Gate itself is a vibrant mixed community. It has good transport links, with the main station on the railway line from Liverpool Street/Stratford to Ilford/Romford, as well as also Wanstead Park station on the Gospel Oak to Barking line, plus many buses converging including the 25 to 86.
Its more than worrying Tim, Yvonne Ridley's comments are disgusting when you consider how much of a thankless job they do already
Just reinforces my opinion that RESPECT are horrendous.
Even their name is insulting!
Miss Ridley's reported comments are indeed irresponsible. In contrast the new MCB Director General has acted responsibly, I think, in reserving judgement.
It doesn't take away from the reality, on the ground, however, that many Muslims feel that they are unfairly subject to unreasonable treatment from the police based on suspicion that is often appears to be grounded on little more than they are perceived to be Muslims. You would be hard pressed to find a Muslim in the UK who does not know someone who have been wrongly targetted by counter terrorism operations. Most of these incidents have been relatively minor, but the collective experience builds up resentment that pours out when something high profile happens.
There are three problems here: a) alleged mistreatment by the police; b) questionable 'intelligence'; c) rapidly eroding trust in authority amongst the Muslim community, particularly amongst the youth. The last problem cannot be dealt with until the first two are at least seen to be recognised as needing resolution.
I'm against the repeated calls on Sir Ian Blair to resign - I think he has a very difficult job to do. But these issues must be addressed. The nature and reliability of intelligence in particular is something that needs to be addressed as a priority. I'm sure we can all accept that the police will sometimes have to take precautions when the evidence is unclear. However, when a section of the community feels it is particularly targetted, it risks undermining security by causing alienation.
I don't live in Forest Gate but I know plenty who do and they feel very hard done by. Perhaps you ought to get out of your intellectual ghetto and talk to some of your neighbours?
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