This Human Voice story forms part of CAGE’s report Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders
See the rest of the report here
They said to me they are concerned about radicalisation. I said, “What is radicalisation: taking a tin of beans, to feed someone?”
I get stopped every time I travel. It’s happened at least 10 times. I was quite shocked the first time I was stopped. I had returned from Turkey. Then after that, it happened when I was returning from any location. I was stopped and questioned and searched.
They didn’t give me any reason. They just simply said they had the right to do this. They started to ask me questions. I explained to them, I wasn’t politically involved and that my travel was purely humanitarian. I was taken aback by their questions. They went through my bags and had a look at my phone. They took photos and DNA. It was very intimidating.
After the second time I was stopped, I called the police and told them I was travelling for the purpose of providing aid. I had nothing to hide, so I explained to the police where I was going. I documented this, and I also got a letter from my local masjid supporting the reasons for my travel.
I suspect they stopped me the first time because of my aid work and the views I’ve expressed on social media. I was always supporting aid work going into Syria, and because the British government treats anyone who is related to Syria as a person of interest, I am assuming they think I am aiding terrorist activity.
Now they know my movements before I even go. On one occasion I was marched off the plane. I was taken off in front of everybody. They’ve also made me miss my plane. That’s happened to me a couple of times.
The Schedule 7 stops are a way of doing surveillance on me. I have known for some time that my phones have been tapped. This has affected my family. If you ask me if I have a good impression of the British counter-terrorism sector, I would say definitely no.
I kept asking them about what their concerns about me were. They said they are concerned about radicalisation. I said, “What is radicalisation: taking a tin of beans, to feed someone?”
They just can’t understand that people are just doing the work I do purely for the good of humanity. They don’t get it.
They are really targeting Muslim organisations. If it’s a white organisation, or an international organisation, they don’t have a problem. It’s very much profiling, very much so, even when you are coming through the border control, there is definitely profiling.
They treat you as guilty before innocent, and it is a very brutal way of doing things. In their minds, they feel: oh, we’ve got him. They have that kind of attitude.
Image courtesy of Hernán Piñera, Flickr
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)