Islamberg has been in the news in the past few years over suspicion of being a hub for terrorist activities in the US. Islamberg is a small hamlet in Tompkins, Delaware County in New York. It is a rural area located a few minutes drive from the town of Hancock. The town was established in the 1980s by Mubarak Ali Gilani, a Sufi Muslim cleric of Pakistani origin. The area I [predominantly occupied by African American Muslims, who had escaped New York City due to escalating crime, racism, and poverty. The land they settled on is believed to have been owned by a woman who let in disadvantaged people on to her land in the 80s. While the residents refer to the hamlet as the Holy Islamberg, most of the outsiders view the area as the pinnacle of criminal activities and often link the area with terrorism. However, these claims have never been proved sufficiently and the authorities consider the area to be peaceful and lawful.
It is often argued that Islamberg is a camp for training terrorists and has bunkers, several automatic weapons, and an airfield as well. Some of these claims have been debunked in several media reports as some investigative journalists have visited the area on several occasions to study the truth of the terrorism claims associated with Islamberg. There have been some incidents that have sparked these rumors and brought Islamberg to national and international attention in the war on terrorism. For instance, Robert Doggart from Tennessee was convicted for plotting an attack on Islamberg due to his belief that the hamlet was a hotbed of terrorism. Similarly, Jon Ritzheimer, an Arizona resident also attracted made news in 2015 for his claims that he would attack Islamberg (Williams, 130).
The legal challenge with the situation of Islamberg is in ensuring the residents of the hamlet have equal protection of the law and that their rights and freedoms are respected. This paper seeks to analyze the issue of freedom of speech with regard to the situation of Islamberg, New York. This is due to the several reports that the residents of the small town have been mistreated on several occasions in a bid to deny them their rights and freedoms, including the freedom of speech. The Equal Protection Clause in America is part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the US that was aimed at ensuring all citizens were provided equal protection of the laws in all the states. The amendment was made in 1868. The clause has three levels of scrutiny namely, strict scrutiny, middle tier scrutiny and minimum or rational basis scrutiny. Under strict scrutiny, the government is required to show that classification of individuals is in line with the interests of a particular state (Williams, 135). The middle tier scrutiny requires the government to show that the classification serves a significant state interest while the minimum scrutiny requires the government to that the classifications challenged are rationally related to legitimate interests of the state.
Besides, there is the issue of the principle of proportionality, which is based on the provisions of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the US which protects individuals against cruelty. Individuals ought to be given a punishment that is proportional to their crime. Punishments that dont correlate with the offences caused are not equivalent and are aberrant and sadistic. In relation to the death penalty, the punishment has to be proportional to the crime. Only serious crimes such as first-degree murder and treason warrant death penalties since they are proportional.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The freedom of speech is also supported by various other state and federal laws that encourage people to interact freely, associate and express themselves without fear of victimization. In as much as the authorities have played down the claims that the hamlet is a hotbed of criminal activities, what happens on the ground paints a very different picture of the investigative agencies and the entire criminal justice system in the country (Williams, 137). For example, there has been intensified surveillance on the residents in the areas, creating an aura of fear among the then population. For instance, there have been reports of several people disappearing from mosques, madrassas, and various other Islamic centers in the town. The men who vanish are said to join international terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS). They are recruited to fight for the courses of the groups in areas such as Pakistan (Pochon, 377). This has also raised fears that the US will also face a jihadist attack soon since these new terrorist recruits are mostly American citizens. These reports have also sparked hatred between the Muslims in the hamlet and the adherents of other religions in the surrounding areas in New York as well as in other places in the country. It is this kind of hatred and excessive surveillance that has limited the freedom of expression and speech from the residents of Islamberg, New York.
Terrorism is one of the biggest international problems posing a threat to global security. Terrorism can be defined as the use of, or threat to use violence to instill fear among members of the public or the government in order to effect the ideologies of the terrorists (Downs, 73). Different terrorist groups are formed to advance various interests ranging from politics, religion or social issues. There are several methods that have been employed to fight terrorism including the global war on terror initiated after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA (Deflem and Shannon, 72). The problem has however persisted calling for a more diversified approach to compliment the military efforts.
In the last decade, governments have intensified their efforts to enhance mass surveillance for their populations amidst major public security concerns. As such, the practice of mass surveillance has opened up a new global industry that has employed many people and benefits many firms in the security sector (Pochon, 383). Similarly, the amount of data and information in the world has grown immensely since the turn of the century. In order to manage such data and related intelligence for the purposes of maintaining security, most governments in the West have embarked on expanding their mass surveillance programs. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the need for mass surveillance was enhanced through the introduction of emergency surveillance legislation in Britain in 2014 (Huq, 837). The emergency legislation sought to expand the mandate of the UKs Government Communications Headquarters located in Cheltenham with regard to accessing data shared by individuals on the internet and mobile phones whenever necessary.
Since the twin tower attacks on September eleventh, 2001 in the United States of America, terrorism has been a very delicate issue all over the world specifically in the United States of America. In fact, it is safe to say that it has been one of the biggest issues given attention by the United States of America in preventing such attacks on American soil. This has resulted in the government of the United States of America Adopting policies in a measure to combat terrorism (Deflem and Shannon, 75). Such policies include the surveillance policy adopted by the United States of America Government. However, in the adoption and implementation of this policy, there have been various issues that surround it prompting for the need of reforms in the United States Surveillance policy (Deflem and Shannon, 77).
In the wake of these terrorist attacks, the American government perceived the establishment of domestic surveillance policy as the best way of planning and preparing and responding to any future threats or acts of terrorism. The impact of this policy has been very huge among the citizens and various interest groups. In order to make the policy effective, several pieces of legislation had to be passed, including the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the Homeland Security Act (2002) among others alongside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 that has undergone various amendments to make it responsive to contemporary issues in terrorism. The main aim of FISA is to collect foreign intelligence information, that is, the information which is necessary for protecting America and its allies from attacks or sabotage by other foreign countries or groups (Huq, 840).
The Patriot Act of 2001 empowered the federal government through its agencies to collect and analyze private data and information about American citizens and analyze it so as to detect any information linked to terrorists (Zhang, Scott, and Jing, 117). The Act also gave the president more powers to act against any terrorist groups that are deemed a security threat to America and its citizens. There are various issues involved in this move by the government to access private information of its citizens (Bhagwat, 73). Proponents of the move argue that it is necessary because it enables the government to neutralize terrorist plans while opponents argue that its against the privacy rights of individuals.
The main key players in the development of this key public policy in the United States include the President and the Whitehouse, The US Congress, The National Security Agency, and various civil libertarian movements (Bhagwat, 75). The president of the United States is the one who bears executive authority to initiate any actions intended to protect the American citizens from any external attacks by doing anything possible to identify, plan, prepare and respond to terrorism threats and attacks. The main role of the US Congress is to pass the necessary laws and amendments that can make the whole surveillance policy implementable. The main function of the National Security Agency (NSA) in the surveillance policy is to collect data and information that can enable the Security structures of the US to breakdown terrorist plots and protect the population from any such attacks or threats (Bhagwat, 78). The civil libertarian movements play the role of the watchdogs by ensuring the interests of the public are taken into consideration in the development of the surveillance policy and that the constitutional rights of the people and respected.
The main elements of this policy include the fight against terrorism, protection of American citizens from any attacks, gathering of private information from American citizens, the need to be prepared for any future threats of terrorism, protection of the rights of American citizens enshrined in the Constitution as well as the powers of the president and the security agencies in their role to fight against terrorism. The development of this public policy includes various dynamics revolving around individual rights and freedoms, the war on terrorism and the interests of various libertarian movements (Huq, 857). All these dynamics have to be taken into consideration in the development of the surveillance policy so as to have a policy that is accepted by all parties and interest groups involved and one that is free of controversy (Williams, 145).
In conclusion, terrorism can be dealt with in a humane manner that does not affect the rights and freedoms of the citizens, most of whom are law-abiding. This can be achieved by using other means such as studying the psychology of terrorists and understanding what cause them to become terrorists. This can be a preventive strategy that will help fight terrorism by eliminating the factors that predispose people towards terrorism. This will also help the residents of Islamberg from being accused falsely as there will be scientific evidence indicating that the residents are not terrorists. This will also help guarantee the rights...
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