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The story in brief:
Since 2005 the UK has been trying to deport Mr Abu Qatada to Jordan for alleged terrorism offences. British judges have described him as 'truly dangerous' because of his support for jihadist and mujahedeen causes.
In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he cannot be deported to Jordan, where he is wanted for terrorist offences, as he is likely to be tried there using evidence obtained through torturing others. Abu Qatada himself claims that he will be tortured and/or killed himself if he returns. The British government has received assurance from the Jordanian government that it will not torture him if he returns to Jordan.
Often people's rights are conflicting. Although a case may initially appear very clear-cut, on further examination it can become more complex.
This case helps you teach about the following issues.
See the brief overview of the case download as a word document which you can use as a class handout, or on your whiteboard. Here are some of the questions that can be raised:
Why does the UK have laws against inciting religious hatred when we also have freedom of speech?
- Why do we have laws at all?
- Who makes the laws?
- Who is responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced?
- What sort of punishments should we have for people who break the law? Why?
Should the UK be able to close its borders to people whom 'we don’t like'?
- What is meant by 'we'?
- Who decides who “we like”?
- What if the person is a British Citizen? Can we deport them? What can we do with them?
Is it always wrong to kill or torture a person? Are there exceptions?*
If we have reason to believe that if deported someone will be tortured or killed and we do it anyway – are we guilty of that person’s torture or death?
- Should this be ‘our’ concern?
Should we be allowed to deport someone to a country where evidence gained from torture would be used against them?
If a country promises not to torture someone, should we believe them?
*Note for the teachers: the 'right not to be tortured' and the right not to be subject to slavery are absolute rights which by law can never be limited or interfered with, hence the importance of not allowing torture to happen. The right to freedom of expression or the right to liberty can be limited and need to be balanced against the wider needs of society to be protected from harm.
RE When delivering this teaching, it is important to ensure that your pupils have a good understanding of Islam.
Abu Qatada claims that Islam gives a mandate to kill those who are not Muslim. It is important that your pupils understand that this is why he is considered a terrorist by the UK authorities.
History There are good links to the crusades. There are also those who claim that a Christian God gives them the mandate to kill others.
Geography Global interdependence and cultural understanding and diversity are both covered in Geography. There are clear links to this topic here.
Amnesty International have some excellent teaching resources on the following issues which are related to this topic:
There's also a very good teacher briefing from the Red Cross on What is torture
Uploaded : 20 April 2012
Filename : abu_qatada.doc ( 22 K )
Description : Overview of who he is and what the case is against him. Suitable for use in KS3 & 4.