Evil Anjem Choudary's out yet graffiti lad faces 10 years in a Thai jail — UK is a soft touch
Not only is it prioritising the protection of the very people we need protection against — it is doing so at our expense.
Choudary — described by prisons minister Rory Stewart as a “highly dangerous fanatical extremist” — was put inside for five and a half years at the Old Bailey in August 2016.
He was jailed for publicly supporting the IS terror group and has been linked to Khuram Butt, 28, ringleader of the 2017 London Bridge attacks, and Michael Adebolajo, 33, one of the killers who murdered soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks in 2013.
To be completely clear, this man is incredibly dangerous.
“I would describe him as a hardened terrorist, somebody who has had huge influence on the Islamist extremist scene in this country over many years,” says Richard Walton, a former head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command.
“We are under-estimating the potency and danger of the radicalisers who don’t carry knives, guns and overtly plot terrorist attacks, but who pollute the minds of young Muslim men.”
Scary, right? Yet this man was released on Friday from the maximum-security Frankland Prison in County Durham after serving less than half of his sentence, and is now free on licence.
Astonishingly, under current law, any defendant handed a “fixed-term” sentence is automatically released when they have served half of it.
It does not matter if they have shown good, bad or remorseful behaviour in jail, or proven that they are successfully rehabilitated — which, clearly, Choudary is not.
Even the judge at his trial lamented that he had “no power to impose an extended sentence."
Under the terms of his early release, Choudary will be housed in a probation hostel in London for six months, away from his family home in Ilford, Essex.
He must remain within the area bounded by the M25 and be subject to round-the-clock surveillance.
I know I’m not alone in my outrage that, in return for the huge security operation deemed necessary to prevent him radicalising a new generation of home-grown jihadi terrorists, taxpayers will be handed a £2million-a-year bill.
That is compared with the £50,000 annual cost of keeping him in jail. Meanwhile, in Thailand, British backpacker Lee Furlong is facing ten years in prison there after being caught on CCTV on Thursday using a can of black spray paint to tag a historic monument.
That’s right, he sprayed graffiti on a wall and will get ten years inside.
It’s no wonder other countries think our justice system is too soft.
That needs to change — and soon.
We must take the hardest possible line against people who poison the minds of young people with their warped ideology.
Choudary, who is British, has hijacked the Muslim religion and uses it to preach hatred, openly plotting against his own country.
Because he was born here, he is our problem. We cannot deport him.
Instead we have to surround him with round-the-clock security to stop him persuading impressionable minds to do unspeakable things.
Maybe the police tread too carefully with preachers of hate in case they are accused of racism.
But there is nothing racist about wanting to prevent Choudary from peddling hate.
It is hard not to resent the fact that this man is a trained lawyer but has shamelessly claimed state benefits all his working life, and even nicknamed Jobseeker’s Allowance Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.
You really could not make it up.
If we can’t get rid of the man, or lock him up, the very least we should do is stop his benefits.
But what we really need is an urgent change in the law.
Anyone inciting so much as one terrorist attack needs to automatically serve the full sentence awarded to them.
And we need to look at the power we give our judges.
Choudary’s judge clearly wanted to extend his sentence but was powerless to do so, and this could have devastating consequences for us all.
We need new laws for a new age of terrorism.
Hands-on dads are the future
THIS week I’ve been thinking about fatherhood, inspired first by the heart-warming news that Prince Harry is soon to become a dad.
And then because of the storm in a teacup caused by Piers Morgan accusing Daniel Craig of being “emasculated” by carrying his baby in a papoose.
I don’t think Piers was being deliberately controversial.
I genuinely think that when he saw that photo of Craig with a papoose, he thought: “You big sissy! You should be at work, being James Bond . . . how demeaning to be looking after your baby. And isn’t that your wife’s job?”
Or something along those lines.
By the way, Piers is a friend and I like him a lot.
But as long as comments like that make men feel that it’s not “masculine” to care for their children – that it’s “women’s work” – then we are never going to see true equality.
No doubt there are a lot of men who agree with Piers.
But I pretty much guarantee that most women who see a man carrying their baby think any number of things from “Good on you” to “I wish my man did the same."
And one of the last things they are thinking is that he’s not masculine.
After all, what could be more masculine than a man who not only cares for his offspring, but cares enough about his partner to allow her to have a life by taking on his share of the responsibility?
And I mean a real starring role in parenthood, not just a walk-on part.
Because more often than not, that is what equality comes down to.
The more fairly domestic and family responsibilities are shared between partners, the more space there will be for them to be equals.
Yes, some men still cling to the notion that men are the breadwinners who fix things and don’t change nappies.
Luckily for us – although Piers may not have got the memo yet – things are changing.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having grown up with the phrase, “Wait ’til your father gets home!” a constant refrain in my ears.
My mum’s job was looking after the kids, making food, looking after the house.
My dad’s was discipline.
Things have changed since then, of course.
And in the meantime, our role models are changing, too.
Just look at Prince William, who has done a sterling job of bringing royal fatherhood firmly into the modern world.
I’m hoping and assuming Prince Harry is going to follow suit as a hands-on dad.
To any man reading this, let me give you the best three words of advice you’ll hear: Do. Your. Share.
And make sure that’s 50 per cent.
Parents should choose when to take their kids out of school
TOMORROW marks the start of a week that strikes fear into most working parents – half-term.
How on earth do you keep the kids happy in October when the weather is unpredictable and flying somewhere warmer is prohibitively expensive for most people because of half-term price hikes?
I’ll tell you what, if I were queen for a day one of my rules would be this: Parents of all schoolkids under 13 (who, by the way, are three YEARS away from their GCSEs) should be allowed to take them out of school for any two weeks they want.
This way they can get a holiday at a price they can afford.
Going on holiday with your parents to somewhere new is just as much of an education as those two missed weeks of school at that age.
Being wed should be fun, Becks
FAR be it from me to speculate on the state of anyone else’s marriage but I did raise a brow on hearing David Beckham saying that his “complicated” marriage is “always hard work”.
No one really knows what goes on behind other people’s closed doors.
But one thing I do know is that while marriage is sometimes hard work, it should not ALWAYS be hard work.
A good marriage is one based on friendship, fun – but mostly love.
Who is forcing him to be married?
If he is so unhappy that marriage just feels like hard work, could it be time for a rethink?
It's not a question of if or when Brexit will happen – but how
I KNOW steam is coming out of everyone’s ears at the news that Brexit might be delayed for a few months.
But given how important it is for us to get this right, I really don’t see the problem.
In fact, I’d actually rather wait to get a good deal than break away at any cost.
Seriously, what is the hurry?
That we are leaving is no longer in any doubt.
So when that happens is not really the issue.
It’s HOW it happens that’s important.
We should take a leaf out of Keira's book
MANY people rolled their eyes at the news that Keira Knightley has banned her daughter from watching some Disney films.
Perhaps a few people even muttered: “The world’s gone mad.”
But when you break down the plot lines of some fairytales it’s easy to see her point: Cinderella waits for a rich man to save her, when she could save herself.
Sleeping Beauty gets snogged by a guy when she is unconscious.
And the Little Mermaid gives up her voice for a man.
When you think of the lessons we want to pass on to our girls – especially in a post #MeToo era – perhaps all parents should take a leaf out of Keira’s book?
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