You Don’t Beat Terrorism By Sacrificing Everything That Makes Us Great
By Martha Spurrier: Last week, we saw a brutal, cowardly attack on the vibrant, resilient and diverse city in which we at Liberty are so lucky to live and work.
Our thoughts are with those affected – the victims, their families and loved ones. Our hearts go out to them.
For the third time in as many months, our police and emergency services showed huge bravery and selflessness in the face of the most barbaric, senseless violence.
And once again, social media was overwhelmed with strangers offering simple acts of kindness – cups of tea, sofas, a roof, a taxi ride, a phone charger, a friendly face.
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People responding to mindless violence and cruelty with selflessness and courage – reminding us of all the good in our city and our country.
Defending freedom, fairness and humanity
At times like this, we look to our leaders to speak up in unflinching defence of everything these murderers want to attack – our shared values of freedom, fairness, compassion and humanity.
We need them to look fear, hatred and violence in the face – and respond with an unswerving commitment to protect our democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
The Prime Minister’s speech outside 10 Downing Street paid tribute to these vital values.
But in the same breath Theresa May gestured towards policies that would undermine the very things she was purporting to defend.
Take a different path
Having access to every private conversation online – or offline – will not put an end to terrorism: it will put an end to the liberty we all have to speak privately and think freely.
It will create state power on a scale that has no place in a free, democratic nation. We do not want a society where there are no spaces safe from Government control because that is a society where there is no freedom.
In years gone by, we have seen Prime Ministers respond to terrible atrocities with proposals that disregard evidence, effectiveness and human rights.
We urge the Prime Minister to take a different path: resist that dangerous, complacent dichotomy of freedom vs security – keep us safe and keep us free.
Reject the politics of fear
You do not beat terrorism by sacrificing our shared values. You do not beat it by flouting human rights, and the rule of law.
You don’t beat it by giving into fear – writing compassion, decency and fairness out of our politics and resorting to laws that discriminate and divide. If you do those things, you hand these brutal, cowardly criminals a victory. You give them the power to change the very foundations on which our country is built – the things that make it great.
Don’t surrender our values
London is many amazing things – but above all it is strong.
Its strength is in its ability to champion the diversity of its millions of residents – and to stand together to celebrate all the things we have in common.
Whoever is running the country, we urge them to follow the example of Londoners.
Face fear and violence with courage, kindness and a refusal to surrender our values – that is where our real strength lies.
Martha Spurrier is Director of Liberty – Campaigning for civil liberty and human-rights in the UK