While Muslims in Australia have faced their fair share of botched raids, odd accusations in “trials by media” and ludicrous examples of government intervention, a recent case in the UK highlights the unprecedented lengths government intervention might soon reach.
Mary Kaya, a 57 year old mother-of-three from Batley, West Yorkshire, UK, was convicted of a terrorism offence after being alleged of retweeting a link to an audio clip of a speech by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi to her 30 followers on Twitter.
She claimed she did not post the link, and that someone else had posted the link using her account.
A Leeds Crown Court jury however proclaimed her guilty “of distributing a terrorist publication likely to encourage people to participate in terrorism”.
Kaya’s husband had been arrested during a counter-terrorism raid, and the court heard that Kaya’s Twitter account had been thereafter monitored.
Her account named “Justice” with the handle @GardenofGold showed that the link to al-Baghdadi’s speech, “Even If The Disbelievers Despise Such”, was retweeted on November 13, 2014.
Judge Peter Collier QC handed her a suspended jail sentence on the 31st of March last Friday, labeling the speech “a dreadful diatribe”.
While ISIS’ political stances, views and actions might be problematic from a range of angles, the following facts about the case are startling in terms of how Kaya could still be convicted despite the court acknowledging such facts.
- The judge said there was no evidence Kaya held “radical views” or had tried to “radicalise others”.
- She attended the Prevent counter-terrorism program since April last year which she is said to have “thoroughly enjoyed” and where Judge Collier stated there was a reasonable prospect of rehabilitation – if it had not already been achieved.
- The judge had also concluded the level of culpability and harm was “low” and that she could not be classed as a dangerous offender.
- He also said that “there is no evidence put before me, apart from the content of your Twitter account, that indicates on your part any espousal or propagating of radical Islamist views.
Despite these facts and statements which apparently absolve Mary from blame, she received a 21-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years.
She will also be subject to a two-year supervision order and must observe a 7pm to 7am curfew for four months.
This is the absurd reality confronting Muslims in the current climate of heightened in the West. While this incident is from the UK, the pressures are similar to those being felt in Australia and worth highlighting as an example of the lengths government intervention and harassment of Muslims is reaching.
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