The history of thirty years of conflict in Northern Ireland, as it is being written today, might give the impression of a steady progression towards an inevitable and just conclusion. The new suspect community in this country, Muslims, want to know whether their experience today can be compared with that of the Irish in the last third of the 20th century. It is dangerously misleading to assert that it was the conflict in Northern Ireland which produced the many terrible wrongs in the country's recent history: it was injustice that created and fuelled the conflict. Before Bloody Sunday, when British soldiers shot and killed 13 unarmed Catholic demonstrators who were marching to demand not a united Ireland but equal rights in employment, education and housing (as well as an end to internment), the IRA was a diminished organisation, unable to recruit. After Bloody Sunday volunteers from every part of Ireland and every background came forward. Over the years of the conflict, every lawless action on the part of the British state provoked a similar reaction: internment, 'shoot to kill', the use of torture (hooding, extreme stress positions, mock executions), brutally obtained false confessions and fabricated evidence. This was registered by the community most affected, but the British public, in whose name these actions were taken, remained ignorant: that the state was seen to be combating terrorism sufficed. Central to the anger and despair that fuelled the conflict was the realisation that the British courts offered neither protection nor justice. The Widgery Report into Bloody Sunday, which was carried out by the lord chief justice, absolved the British army and backed its false account of 13 murders, ensuring that Irish nationalists would see the legal system as being aligned against them.
We should keep all this in mind as we look at the experiences of our new suspect community. Just as Irish men and women, wherever they lived, knew every detail of each injustice as if it had been done to them, long before British men and women were even aware that entire Irish families had been wrongly imprisoned in their country for decades, so Muslim men and women here and across the world are registering the ill-treatment of their community here, and recognising, too, the analogies with the experiences of the Irish.
RLCC Comment: Americans, you will note the similarities with neocon tactics including torture.
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And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)