Tuesday, July 19, 2005


They are a failure at dealing with the gangs so they pick on little kids

Police apparently came prepared for gang warfare when they sent three squad cars and a helicopter in response to a 911 call. Instead, they found an 11-year-old girl who had thrown a rock to defend herself as neighborhood boys pelted her with water balloons. Little Maribel Cuevas says she didn't mean to hurt the boy - who admitted to officers that he started the fight and was quickly released from the hospital after getting his head stitched up.

But police insist she's a criminal - she's being prosecuted on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon. "We responded. We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary," said Fresno Police Sgt. Anthony Martinez.

Her family says Maribel was simply defending herself when 9-year-old Elijah Vang and several other boys pummeled her with water balloons outside her home in a poor Fresno neighborhood in April. They say she quickly sought help and tried to apologize to the boy and his family. The Vangs have since moved away.

"She's 11 ... they're treating her like she's a violent parole offender," said Richard Beshwate, Jr., Maribel's lawyer. Maribel, who speaks limited English, spent five days in juvenile hall with just one half-hour visit from her parents. She then spent about 30 days under house arrest, forced to wear a GPS ankle bracelet to monitor her whereabouts. She's due in court Aug. 3.

Maribel's family said the soft-spoken girl, who turned 11 in March, remains terrified - she's a good student who struggles sometimes because English is her second language, but in a neighborhood where kids grow up fast, she keeps close to home, helping her mother take care of her four younger siblings. Maribel attends school with the boy, and says she's been taunted by him in the past. She says was playing on the sidewalk with her 6-year-old brother and other younger children on April 29, when the boys rode by on their bikes. They started teasing her, calling her names and hitting her with water balloons, she said, holding her 1-year-old brother in her lap in her family's modest living room, where a couch and dining table share space with a crib and a bed.



From The Scotsman

Tony Blair faces two enemies in his new war against British terrorism: the seed of jihad, and the fertile ground on which it is sown. The last mission of his premiership will be finding policies to neutralise both. The response to the July 7 attacks was always going to be determined by the life story of the culprits. If they were foreigners, it would have been easy to restrict visas and tighten security. But the truth is grotesquely more complex. Britain is incubating its own suicide bombers and has become the European headquarters for people seeking to indoctrinate them. It is not enough for Blair to "uproot this evil ideology"; he must also treat the soil from which it springs.

The solutions proposed so far say much about Britain's woeful progress in tackling jihadism: Gordon Brown seeks to freeze the assets of terrorist groups - as if the mission is to suspend their ISAs, not lock them away; it will, we learn, become an offence to provide or receive terrorism training. Such activities have, it seems, been allowed until now by British authorities. It is as if the attacks of 11 September 2001 never took place.

This is what French and American security forces despairingly call the "Londonistan" problem: that Britain's liberal tradition provides shelter for terrorists who are kept safe from extradition requests. Sheikh Omar Bakri, who leads the banned al-Muhajiroun group of jihadists, talks of an unspoken deal with UK security officials: Britain won't be hit if it looks after the bad guys. Last August, Hassan Butt - another pro-terrorist Islamist - said they had better break this covenant in style: "Any attack will have to be massive. After one operation, everything will close down on us here in Britain." The jihadists, it seems, believe they have spent the last few years protected by a non-aggression pact with British authorities. And as Butt predicted, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, is now promising to close everything down.

Up to a point. Ministers can pass new laws banning the "glorification" of terrorism - but it is up to individual police forces to implement them. Many will be reluctant to sour race relations by starting a witch-hunt for mullahs. But even if every jihadist cleric in Britain was dealt with, there is nothing to stop young British Muslims with an appetite for murder travelling to Pakistan to learn the art of suicide attacks. Hasib Hussein, the youngest bomber, was radicalised in Pakistan, where he was sent by his worried parents to put a bit of discipline in the life of this school dropout. He returned to Leeds devout - and suicidal.

So as well as tightening laws, ministers are ambitiously turning their minds to the society that bred such people - realising that the Islamic Britain they thought they knew has murkier corners than they dared imagine. The poison has been fermenting in Britain for a long time, especially among Asians with Pakistani links. In May 2003, a British Muslim from Hounslow, west London, flew to Israel to blow himself up. In March last year, Operation Crevice stopped an al-Qaeda UK lorry bomb, and made eight arrests. Investigators believe that Mohammed Sidique Khan, the eldest bomber, was in contact with one of those now in custody.

Sir John Stevens, the former head of the Metropolitan Police, estimates that 3,000 Britons have travelled to terrorist training camps in Pakistan. If he is even 10% right, this suggests there are more attacks to come.

Those close to Blair say it is now time to ask whether multiculturalism is to blame - and to accept that pockets of Muslim Britain have been allowed to become isolated and radicalised, thinking they live in an enemy state. It is a sign of the paucity of debate in Britain that multiculturalism is used interchangeably with 'immigration'. It is, instead, a specific form of immigration where the foreigners are not encouraged to integrate. The alternative is the "melting pot" method of integrationism used by the United States, whose newcomers must learn English, salute the flag and sign up to a set of values. They must buy into a basic idea that they have to belong.

This would be seen as cultural imperialism in Britain, where a mosaic-style of immigration has been preferred. The natural consequence has been segregated ghettos - and pockets of radicalism, left alone to seethe. Americans look on aghast at the Britain's immigration mismanagement. "You seem to shun these folks off to the side, and let them behave as if they never left Islamabad," says Deroy Murdock, fellow at the Atlas Foundation.

Even in Islamabad, the Pakistan Times had this to say last week: "The sad fact is that Muslims in the UK have turned their face from the obligation to integrate with British society at large." The penny is dropping, worldwide.

Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned last year that it was time to end multiculturalism, as the segregation it breeds had simply entrenched inequality. It is time to "assert a core of Britishness". But how?

Since France's 1995 terrorist attacks, it has started the agonising process of retrospective assimilation. It has banned Muslim headscarves (and Christian crucifixes) from schools, and given police powers to lock up troublemakers.

Britain now faces these tough decisions. Assimilation of immigrants is a bullet that Britain has never bitten - after all, it wasn't so long ago that entire streets in Glasgow spoke Gaelic or Italian. So, the argument goes, isn't it just a matter of time until incomers blend in? As of July 7, we no longer have the luxury of time. After a second or third wave of bombs goes off, race relations could rapidly worsen. The threat is that the multicultural divisions of old become battle lines. The answer lies in the second- and third-generation British Asians who represent the future of British Islam - often in ways their parents deplore. The problem Blair now faces is to amplify the voices of such people.

Ministers also want Muslims themselves to take responsibility for expelling the radical clerics - and confronting those who hand out jihadist leaflets at mosques after prayers. British Islam, Blair argues, should put its own house in order. Fine words, but - as Salman Rushdie found - challenging fundamentalist Islam is not without its dangers. There will be no clamour for the task of weeding such people out of British society.

Lack of social cohesion has been the curse of Blair's premiership. Britain has grown richer, but the underclass has remained down - as Labour tested the materialist theory that welfare and the tax system buy social cohesion. This idea has never looked more naïve than it does now. After locking up the jihadists, ministers have little choice but to find ways of piecing society back together in northern English cities. And this will be the hardest task of all.

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