Sowing the sociological seeds of discontent

Posted on August 1, 2007

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Source: Hagai Segal in South China Morning Post, Aug 1, 2007, p. 13

Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef has flown home, leaving behind him a growing scandal in Australia in the wake of an astonishing legal and political soap opera that followed the attempted terror attacks in London and Glasgow in late June. The long-term legacy of his case for Australia is likely to prove significant: politically, legally and – most importantly – sociologically.

The comedy of errors began with the hospital registrar being arrested and charged on July 2 with “reckless support” for terrorism, after his mobile phone’s SIM card was found by the British police in the possession of two cousins accused in connection with the failed London/Glasgow terror attacks. On July 16, he was released on bail, only to be immediately taken into custody again after Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews cancelled his work visa.

However, the case unravelled quickly, as it emerged prosecutors had wrongly alleged in court that the SIM card had been found in the Jeep that crashed into Glasgow Airport, and that Dr Haneef had lived with his terror suspect cousins Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed in Britain.

Amid growing public pressure, Australia’s director of public prosecutions reviewed the evidence last Friday and ordered Dr Haneef’s immediate release. The Australian government is, however, refusing to reinstate his visa.

The government’s continued determination to question Dr Haneef’s character and activities, even after his release, has ensured the case remains highly controversial, and has raised profound questions about Australia’s legal system and political interference – particularly in an election year. Whether this is true or not, the sociological consequences among the local Muslim population could, in time, prove very damaging. [more]

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