PRESS RELEASE: UK Rights group condemns police and media hype over alleged terrorism arrests

Islamic Human Rights Commission

28th November 2003

PRESS RELEASE: UK Rights group condemns police and media hype over alleged terrorism arrests

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is tonight calling on UK police services and the media to stop the deadly spiral of demonisation caused by current arrests over alleged terrorism offences.

IHRC notes with great concern that the various anti-terrorism laws have been used to target Muslims since 9/11 in a manner that not only denies the individuals involved justice, but stigmatises, excludes and dangerously stereotypes the whole Muslim community.

IHRC notes that since 9/11 hundreds of people have been arrested usually with much fanfare and excessive coverage of the accuseds’ ‘Islamic’ links. Well-known cases include those of Lotfi Raissi and Sulayman Zainul Abedin who were both exonerated of all accusations and charges against them after protracted legal battles. Many others however are simply released without charge and no media attention. As a result, the general public have a skewed notion of the Muslim community as (a) possible terrorist threats (b) believers by virtue of their faith in terrorism and (c) perpetually criminalised and never exonerated.

The recent arrests in Gloucester, Manchester and Birmingham have exhibited all the signs of police and media Islamophobia, with statements regarding the ‘piety’ and religious nature of the accused, their links with Islamic schools and the Muslim faith bandied about interchangeably with claims of plots to blow up football stadiums and other vicious attacks on the public.

Chairman of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh said:

“As Muslims in the UK we find ourselves in an unimaginable situation. Whilst we are as much stakeholders in society – our children go to the same schools as everyone else, we go the same shops, watch the same football matches – and are thus as liable to be victims of any attack by any deranged person, we are accused carte blanche of being promoters, believers in, and potential perpetrators of violent and large-scale threat.

“Instead of seeking to destroy this vilification, even the government has joined in with Foreign Office Minister’s effectively criminalising Muslims for their faith.”

IHRC notes that that the finding of explosives in mainland Britain is not new. Indeed in the past explosives were found in the possession of English people e.g. the accused of the Angry Brigade in 1971. Police, media and government would doubtless agree that it would be ludicrous to suggest that as a result the English are predisposed to terrorism or use that as a basis for police profiling.

“It is time to end this cycle of hatred before it leads to a disastrous and irreversible level of alienation and demonisation,” added Shadjareh.

For more information please contact the Press Office on 020 8904 4222 or 07958 60 74 75.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
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