AMERIKA….The Guardian describes the charges faced by Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, currently on trial in London:

The cleric faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 alleging he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims. Mr Hamza denies all the charges.

….Mr Hamza faces a charge relating to the [Encyclopaedia of Afghani Jihad, which was found in his home] under section 58 of the Terrorism Act, which accuses him of possession of a document which contained information “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

….Mr Hamza also faces four charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred”.

Hamza is an unusually repellent person, which makes it hard to work up much sympathy for his plight. And yet something about this trial struck me: unless I’m mistaken, not a single one of these charges would make it to trial in the United States, Patriot Act or no. (I suppose the solicitation to murder is a bare possibility ? though it’s a longshot since the “solicitation” apparently consisted of spittle-flecked speeches in mosques, not actual conspiracies in which Hamza’s followers were told to go out and kill people ? but the others sound like complete nonstarters.)

I don’t really have any reason to post about this except to point out that this is yet another example of a way in which America, which is supposedly far to Europe’s right, isn’t always. Four years after 9/11, we’re still pretty distant from being the fascist state some seem to think we are.

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