Assume we are living in a free country that protects its own rights diligently. It also does not tolerate any infringement of the rights of any individual. No censorship, no discrimination, and no laws to favor one religion or the other.
In such a wonderful country, which by its very nature becomes the fountainhead of civil liberties, education, research, and economic power, a foreign national comes in and wants to acquire higher knowledge like say, nuclear science, microbiology, particle physics, etc., it would not be a surprise, would it? The US, for example, serves as an example by attracting millions of students for its educational and research facilities.
If such a foreigner (who may belong to a hostile country) actually takes back the knowledge this free society provides him, and goes back to use that same knowledge to attack it, what a travesty it would be!
The current example of the Iraqi who was refused admission to a chemistry course brings this issue to focus.
According to a Nature News Alert:
A British resident who is under surveillance for suspected terrorist activities is being prohibited from taking secondary-school-level science courses by the government, Nature has learned.
The man, referred to as A.E., is contesting the decision in court, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind. The preliminary hearing over whether A.E. should be allowed to take AS-level courses in human biology and chemistry took place on 16 November at London’s High Court. The UK Home Office, which has an order restricting A.E.’s actions and affiliations, argues that such coursework could be turned towards terrorism. His solicitors counter that the knowledge is public, and that the furthering of A.E.’s education poses no threat.
At the heart of the case is a simple question: should basic courses in science be treated as potential tools for terror when in the wrong hands?
To protect the suspect, A.E.’s name and much of his personal information have been withheld from the public. What is known is that he is an unemployed Iraqi national in his mid-thirties who studied medicine at university in his home country. The government suspects him of terrorist affiliations, and he is the subject of a ‘control order’ — a special legal instrument that places limits on his freedoms.
While this issue pertains to a basic chemistry course, what would the issues be in more clearly dangerous and sensitive subjects like nuclear science or others that could potentially advance a terror outfit to develop biological, chemical or nuclear weapons?
On the face of it, an individual should not suffer from discrimination because others in his country are terrorists. Then again, no society should advance the cause of its sworn enemies.
What do you think: does the individual freedom of foreigners within a free society encourage the ultimate loss of its own freedom? What is the moral and practical thing to do?
This post is yours: comments please!