CIVIL LIBERTY ISSUES
Istifar Iqbal, 11 months for picking up, but not throwing, two stones; Asam
Latif, four years nine months for lobbing six stones; Mohammed Akram, five
years for hurling various missiles; Mohammed Munir, four years and nine
months for throwing two stones; and Ashraf Hussain, four years for throwing
By contrast in Belfast, where the stakes are much higher, a first offence of riot gets you a fine, a second a heavier fine or a suspended sentence. According to staff at the Belfast Telegraph, "if the judge was making an example out of you, you'd probably get 30 days for throwing a petrol bomb". To date in Bradford, 46 people have been imprisoned for an average of four and a half years each. What makes their punishments harder to swallow is that most of the convicted have no history of criminality.
level of charges and harsh sentencing raises the question of whether the
Muslim community is being treated fairly. Lawyers say it is rare for police
to apply the riot charge (which carries a maximum of 10 years' jail),
preferring lesser charges available under the 1986 Public Order Act. Since
each charge of riot must have the prior consent of the director of public
prosecutions, there is every reason to suspect that these prosecutions
are politically driven.