Church warns of reaction to anti-terror measures

Published June 1, 2004

The world has become a more dangerous place because of the failure to tackle terrorism by non-military means, said a Church of Scotland inquiry into anti-terror operations.

The Church and Nation Committee of the Presbyterian church, Scotland’s largest, said that describing global efforts to tackle terrorism as a war was “a major error of judgment.”

The abuse of human rights in the treatment of prisoners, together with “inflammatory language, cause resentment among Muslim communities in which the vast majority of people are opposed to terrorism,” the committee said in a report to the scheduled May general assembly of the church.

While the report, entitled The War on Terror, mainly concerns the actions of the United States and Britain, Israel is criticized for the recent killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas. This, it said, was “a prime example of another state taking the rhetoric of the war on terrorism and using it to justify its actions.”

The report contrasts the situation of Iraq with that of Libya, which has been welcomed back into the international community after abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

“There is tragic irony in the fact that Libya had a nuclear weapons program which could have posed a real danger to the world but the situation has been dealt with diplomatically,” the report noted. “It seems extraordinary that Iraq was attacked when it appears to have had no weapons of mass destruction and did not, in fact, pose a significant danger.”

The treatment of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, held by the United States at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, beyond the jurisdiction of normal U.S. courts, “casts a stain on a nation founded on the principles of justice, freedom and equality for all under the law,” the report said.

Britain was also condemned for holding terror suspects without trial at Belmarsh prison in London.


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