CRIME, DEVIANCE AND SOCIETY
Surveillance, Suspicion and Stigma: Brown Bodies in a Terror Panic Climate
The first article by Tina G. Patel gives a careful consideration of the processes of radicalized labelling, hard and soft surveillance measures, and the emergence of stigma following the U.S. 9/11 terrorist attack. Considering qualitative data only, the paper describes the experiences and perceptions of those who are presumed to be members of a terrorist community especially those with Islamic faith or Arabic heritage. This paper presents reasons and arguments to show that ethnic enmity features heavily in the investigation of criminal activities and has devastating effects on the subjects.
According to the paper, surveillance controls are often shown as effective ways for reducing criminal activities. However, there is no concrete evidence provided to confirm this assumption. In using ‘social sorting’ and ‘browning’ to describe the experiences and perceptions of surveillance, this paper shows the negative effects of surveillance on people especially when coupled with ethnic hostility. As a result, surveillance that is aimed at fighting terrorism needs to be understood in the broader circumstances of racially conceptualized citizenship agenda. This would allow surveillance controls and disciplines bodies to more correctly understand its effects and how it helps in enhancing people’s safety. More importantly, it would allow for the mapping of mobilized resistance to discriminatory and problematic surveillance.
Malaysian deputy PM urges West to stop labeling Muslims as extremists
The second article is a news report by the Malaysian News Agency. In the article, the deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar urges Western countries to stop labelling Muslim or associating Islam with extremists as this would create more problems. Speaking about the terrorist attack that happened in the capital of England killing 56 people, Albar said that although the attack was carried out by terrorists of Pakistani descent, they were actually British citizens. He claimed that when non-Muslims are involved in terrorism, their countries of origin are never connected with the attack. He urged the West to understand that Islam does not condone terrorism.
The two articles bring out the concept of labeling perspective of deviance. This perspective holds that people become criminals if they are labeled as such. With regards to terrorism and terrorist, Arab Muslims have been labeled as the instigators. This is particularly evident in Islamic states of Iraq and Syria which are currently the two main targets of counterterrorism efforts. Patel observes that ethnic enmity comes out prominently in terrorism investigations in the West especially after the 9/11 attacks. However, the Malaysian Prime Minister thinks that labeling Muslims or associating Islam with terrorism would only create more problems. He seems to make a direct reference to the labeling perspective of deviance which creates the view that labeling promotes crime. The two articles seem to have a common ground in relation to terrorism and labels within the counterterrorism discourse. The labeling perspective places “terrorists” in an isolated community of Muslims which influence counterterrorism efforts. I think removing labels, as opposed to creating artificial collectives, can significantly help in addressing the problem.