vrijdag, januari 10, 2003

Oops, Not A Terrorist, Just A Simple Muslim

For those of you who didn't notice, or don't remember, it was reported about two weeks ago that French police had arrested Abdelrazak Besseghir, a Frenchman of "Algerian descent" after they'd found more than 2 pounds of plastic explosives in the trunk of his car, along with two detonators, a pair of loaded pistols, and "religious material". Police had acted on a tip from a vengeful prankster by the name of Marcel Hir who claimed he'd spotted Besseghir standing at the trunk of his car with one of the guns that Saturday morning. Because the French police were on high alert for possible holiday terrorist attacks, Besseghir was nabbed and had been held since that time.

Well, the UPI now confirms that Mr. Besseghir is not a vicious, Mephistophelian little terrorist after all. Just a Frenchman of Algerian descent with a heretofore exemplary work record and no police background or known terrorist links, who happened to piss off the wrong former French legionnaire, Marcel Hir. Mr. Hir claims, with a flair for distorted, psychotic logic, that he framed Mr. Besseghir in an attempt to avenge his belle famille or "beautiful family" who happened to be Mr. Besseghir's in-laws. Mr. Besseghir's wife died in a fire last year and the family still evidently, blamed him.

So in this modern paranoiac's world, we learn a valuable lesson: If you don't like someone, denounce them as a terrorist. And if you really don't like someone, denounce them as a terrorist AND plant incriminating evidence around them. If the someone you happen not to like also happens to be of Arab descent, why, you've pretty much sewn up the ending for this poor sap's life story so long as you don't, like Mr. Hir, breakdown in a fit of additional cowardice, and confess to a sad tale of calumny instead.

Of course, helping this warped premise along in America was the recent federal court of appeals ruling that in essence, affirmed for the first time in modern American legal history that a citizen can be detained without being charged and without being given access to a lawyer. While some might point out that this false arrest in France has nothing to do with America, it should be noted that had the commiserable little Mr. Besseghir been an American of Algerian descent instead of a Frenchman of Algerian descent, we'd probably never have heard from him again. In fact, he may have been buried so deeply in the sacrificial lust of the American government's war on terrorism, no one would have ever known the charges were illegitimate to begin with.

When under broad powers, a government can detain someone without charges and deny them access to a lawyer, that person has effectively disappeared from the system. As our friends in places like Chile and Argentina can attest to, it isn't hard to make people disappear. It's just difficult to find them again later on.

So next time your neighbor pisses you off, or some crazed motorist cuts you off on the highway or someone says something you don't like, remember to denounce them as a terrorist whether they are or not because in today's climate, lurking in the hierarchy of evil, only a smoker is lower on the food chain.

And as for Mr. Besseghir, well, he should just be happy for today, that he's not an American.

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