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Safety vs. Claustrophobia:

Thoughts on Anti-Terror laws

Before I begin my rantings ( they will come, in due time.) a little information for anybody less than well versed in current events in the Kingdom of Denmark:

PET (Politiets Efterretnings Tjeneste, translation: Police Intelligence Service) is more or less the Danish version of the FBI.

 As you probably know, after September 11, 2001 a number of countries changed their laws regarding terrorism. Denmark was one of these countries, and the new “Terror-law” was passed in 2002. The most controversial point in the new law was §114.

According to §114, the following actions constitute an act of terrorism:

  • Scaring the population to a considerable degree.
  • Forcing Danish or foreign authorities, or international organisations to certain courses of action.
  • Destabilising or damaging a country or international organisations basic political, constitutional, economical or societal structures.

Apart from just targeting terrorists, those who are found to be supporting terrorism, directly or indirectly, can also be convicted. Support is defined as:

Participation in acts of terrorism can be punished with life inprisonment. Financial Support of terror can lead to 10 years of prison (And your money will be confiscated). Even written or vocal support of terrorism can get you a prison sentence. In 2006 a number of new additions were made to the law, to ease police work, the point was to make it easier for police and PET to :

George Orwell is turning over in his grave...

Many critics have noted that the definition of Terrorism, as stated by the law, is so vague and broad that anyone might be targeted. Many have used the example; that potentially, workers on a strike could be prosecuted. Also, the law seems to impinge freedom of speech, as: “Scaring people, and destabilizing the societal structure.” is now terrorism.

In fact, earlier this year, following heavy fighting between police and demonstrators in the heart of Copenhagen (a fight so fierce barricades were built across streets and lit on fire) some people cried out for the police to prosecute the arrested demonstrators in accordance with the anti-terror laws. Luckily, the Chief of police and District Attorney are relatively level-headed people, and it never became an actuality, but the fact that somebody conceived the idea scares me. A more qualified view than mine is offered in this statement by Lawyer Hans Kjellund, who has helped write a number of critical comments to the law, for the Danish Barristers Association:

“This law-package is worthy of a totalitarian state. It’s so vague, people’s judicial safety may depend on the contemporary political situation in the country, and it is far more strict than requested by the UN and European Union.”

In 2006, the Danish commission in the European Union published a new proposition to monitor aid-organisations. These must (if the idea is realized) prove that they do not support terrorism, as well as turning in their books, and the names and adresses of the board and active members.
And most recently, just days ago, the apprehension of eight young men, supposedly planning and preparing a terrorist-attack, to be carried out on Tuesday (close call) the 11th of September, 2007, has lead to the chain of stores called “Matas” publicly announcing that anyone buying “suspicious” amounts of household chemicals, such as Hydrogen Peroxide, Hydrogen Nitrate and other chemicals which can be used in the manufacturing of bombs, will be reported to the PET.


Now, it may be I’m an immature little punk, who has a problem with authorities, but it’s not likely, since I’m 6.2 . But my poor jokes aside, upon hearing this, I really have the erratic urge to don a fake beard and robe, and go shopping for chemicals, maybe even greeting the store clerk with a little Allahu Akbar.

It seems as if lately I’m living in the old DDR, never sure who’s going to go crazy over anything anybody does. Every other day, the police is getting called out to “defuse” harmless bags left by unwary people traveling on the train or bus.

Well... I’m ranting again.

My point is : Where do you draw the line between upholding National security and Supressing your own people? Of course it is possible to argue that these anti-terror laws shouldn’t concern me unless I had something to hide, but what if I do have something to hide? Am I not allowed to have secrets? Not that my secrets have much to do with the Al-Queda or National security, but if I’m not allowed to say things that “destabilize the societal structure” then how long until I’m not allowed to think them? Or until the government starts censoring what I can read? What about the day PET comes knocking down my door because I’m reading “Mein Kampf”, “The Koran” or “Catcher in the Rye” ?

It seems to me like the people really terrorizing us are us.

SOURCES:

The entire Danish anti-terror law. In Danish: http://www.ft.dk/Samling/20051/lovforslag/L217/som_fremsat.htm

PS: I am not exactly a professional translator, and the wording of laws is quite important, so if anyone proficient in Danish spots any mistranslations of the laws, please write.

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