Tag Archives: terrorism

Canterbury Cathedral – a place for martyrs, medieval architecture…and guns

I sent this to the Dean shortly after learning about the new regime which began last Sept.

I left time for a reply, but didn’t get one.

 

Dear Dean Robert

I was shocked to learn that armed police patrol the Precinct, and the city.

I’ve long been unhappy at your entry fee, but this is even more offputting; I won’t visit whilst this guards policy is in place. It clashes with Christian welcome and values, and either puts the symbolic mother of the established church under the civic and military control, or willingly colludes with them.

Have you read James Alison’s On Being Liked, and his first triptych about the Twin Towers? He writes that God has nothing to do with the ways of violence, but subverts them to overcome them. Yet here, it seems that we fight evil with evil, fear by escalating fear, and begin steps towards a police state.

Using weapons isn’t accountable, it’s an immediate execution that doesn’t require a court, and it’s feared that a new Becket will occur.

Promoting fear and allowing the costly rise of armed police is not the way to handle attacks and threats – although public statements claim that there have been none. Greater defence and shows of strength gives rise to more reason to make us an object of attack with continued wars, along with erosion of civil liberties. It promotes resentment of other – Muslims and Middle Eastern/Indian people, and I fear, this is strong in Kent where you have so many refugees entering. I am already alarmed by what people’s responses have been to the news about your guards – notions that Trump supporters would be proud of.

It also makes greater public resentment of law enforcers and government, and makes us more like the gun slinging US police that we have so many appalling news reports about.

Christians are called to be different. It is a less evolved, less Christ centred society that allows an increase in weapons, an eye taken before an eye has been even lost.

I am frightened at the thought of yet more repeating history (ie another Becket) where curtailment and suspicion become accepted.

I do not believe this to be the kingdom God called us to build.

I am calling for the removal of police in the cathedral and the city.

I will also be publishing my call, but I wanted to give you a chance to respond first.

Yours sincerely

 

Elspeth

My Day Out With Elspeth can be read here. You can read my review of Canterbury’s arts cinema

 

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Stop stop and search

My spaceship this week (I am trying to be vague about where I actually live and do not want assumptions based on previous articles) landed in London, during the Olympics.

Transport for London (TfL) scared residents and visitors from coming into the centre if not for the games and that transport, the tube especially, would be dreadful. I sat in Sloane Square watching empty buses go past as passengers were confused by all the changes for the various road stopping exercises – torch parades, cycle races. London seemed if anything slightly quieter and it’s been irritating to leave early and find oneself hovering around often at either end of the day unnecessarily.  I even witnessed an Olympic venue and its nearby tube. After having the threat of waiting for an hour to get a train at a peak time, it all went very smoothly.

I did alot of walking, in 30 degrees (or 90 Fahrenheit, which sounds worse) and a big bag to lug, believing it would be (as TfL) advertised quicker and easier than using transport.

Having one’s road networks commandeered by official vehicles for a month, even being unable to cross on foot whilst cycles whizz past and horns honk as a gold perforated torch passes, having cattle market railings everywhere makes London hard especially for those who live and work there.

The custom needed by shops (and surely part of the point of hosting the Olympics) is being denied as Olympic watchers are herded from their sports venues to tubes ala apres football matches and not able to buy wares from nearby outlets.

Worst was the army led security, not just in Olympic venues but in major museums. No I do not take the attitude, it’s got to be done and good they’ll catch terrorists. This is making the terrorists win whilst intruding on regular people, and taking up more of our time. You can’t just wander into the National Gallery at present, there’s a queue round Trafalgar Square. The signs are pretty blunt – “We will search you and you belongings”  – no “Please bear with us, sorry but we feel we have to”. I am not sure if Olympic ticket holders were warned about this airport style of security which stipulates what you can have in your bags and how big they can be. Checking on the venue’s websites, none of this was obvious. Clearly a terrorist would be thinking round these rules, whilst making it inconvenient for travellers to lose their toiletry items. It’s inciting fear and suspicion and conformity. With the security being administered by the army (who have rocket launchers dotted round the city) it all feels rather frightening and an odd mix with the festivities and more genial atmosphere created by helpful Olympic Ambassadors (who I mostly consulted to find out how to avoid inconveniences and carry on with my day).

I don’t think it is right to be expected to accept this and all the money spent on making fences, security signs and paying staff to deal it means money that most of us are paying but not seeing back in a positive way. Fear and violence are not the way to overcome it. Our search rules and procedures need to be changed and so does our attitude so that we don’t create another cold war type society when  we suspect everyone and it becomes a military state.

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Policing protesters

Police heavy handedness is all too common a feature of our broadsheets. Today’s Independent and Guardian reported how protesters in the spring at a London department store were held for many hours and had their homes searched under the terrorism act; over 100 people face trial. There is rightly an outcry from many quarters. I am alarmed and angered that the reasoning is wasting of ‘court time and resources’ as one MP put it, or police time. What matters is that the freedom to peacefully protest is being taken away; and that bullying tactics make this not a free country. This is abuse of power, of law, and an assault to liberty.

Protesting againsta company’s tax evasion is nothing to do with terrorism. That should be tightened to a very slim definition of those using death or the threat of death to make a political point – such as bombings, hostage holding, siege by gunpoint. It is not for people camping out in a commercial premises who had no intention of harming anyone. The phrase ‘national security’ needs to be tightened to mean the above or foreign invasion. The MI5’s other remit, of threats to the economy, should be scrubbed as economy is not part of our national security and comes across as being more concerned about finance than liberty of its citizens.

When, like so many other countries, we are faced with insupportable cuts to deal with a so called debt caused by greedy and irresponsible financiers and our own government’s mistakes, we do not want our already heavy taxes being spent on taking away free comfortable livin. It makes one wonder what other  will be eroded. We want the right to speak up against losses to pension, student support, and all the other services that are suffering. And anything else that matters to us. Conflating demonstration with terrorism means the means to speak out is receding. That is not democracy, it is tyranny.

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