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Time to stop hoax anthrax callers and restore calm; Soapbox.

EMMA Stephens, 39, of Pentrebane Street, Grangetown, Cardiff, says people who make hoax anthrax calls to the emergency services should be jailed.

I HAVE been shocked at the levels of panic about anthrax attacks in this country in the wake of what has been happening in America.

There have been several false alarms about anthrax in Cardiff alone and dozens across the UK, closing shopping centres and businesses.

I find it highly unlikely that fundamentalist terrorists would want to target Cardiff, but people here can't be blamed for being scared at the moment, the same as everywhere else.

While what happened on September 11 brought out the best in people in America, it has brought out the worst in many others across the rest of the world.

There has been a wave of attacks on innocent Muslims who have been lumped together with terrorists from countries thousands of miles away simply because they share the same religion.

But it is equally bad to use the natural fear that everyone feels after such events to disrupt people's normal lives with false or malicious calls claiming that a terrorist attack is taking place.

All anyone with a grudge against society has to do is pick up a phone and give an anthrax warning and they know it will be taken seriously by the authorities.

Imagine being on an emergency services team responding to a call about an anthrax attack and preparing themselves for the worst, only to find that it has all been a hoax?

I believe the only thing that can be done to deter this sort of thing is jail those caught making malicious calls to make an example of them.

People are making enough false calls out of being paranoid and over-cautious, without hoax callers making a bad situation worse.

It will be a long time before life gets back to normal again, without malicious callers doing their best to cause more disruption to our lives.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 22, 2001
Previous Article:Relative values; Echo comment.
Next Article:Weighing up a heavy problem is just the ticket; start of the week.

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