Socialist Worker

Muslim chaplain Adam Kelwick speaks out against airport stops

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2095

A Muslim chaplain from Liverpool has spoken out against the treatment that Muslims face at airports from anti-terrorism officials.

Adam Kelwick, who is well known in Liverpool for his community work, decided to go public after his latest experience at Manchester airport.

Adam told Socialist Worker, “I have been stopped several times at Manchester airport, including facing three in-depth interviews, with general questioning at other times.

“I was most recently stopped after returning from a routine business trip to Qatar.

“I was searched and eventually escorted to a cell. There was a sign telling you in which direction to pray if you are a Muslim. I was very disappointed with that as it suggested to me that this cell was not used for anything other than holding Muslims.

“The man, who said he couldn’t give me his name, then ordered me to take everything out of my suitcase piece by piece, asking me questions about every item. The officers also made me give them the pin number for my phone.

“They asked me questions about the imam in Liverpool. The imam told me they have asked other people the same questions and he wishes they’d come and ask him to his face.

“People in the Muslim community tell me there seems to be a problem at Manchester airport. Many people who are planning to fly are now booking at London airports rather than face this treatment at Manchester.”

Muslims across Britain face similar treatment due to the government’s commitment to the “war on terror” which portrays Muslims as the “enemy within”.

Government moves to increase limits on detention without trial to 48 hours will only increase this atmosphere of fear and repression.

“If you are a Muslim – whether you have a beard or not, whether you’re a convert or second generation Asian – you are likely to be stopped and questioned,” said Adam.

“My issue is with the blatant discrimination against Muslims that is happening. I don’t feel these people are responsible to the law – they are abusing the anti-terrorism law, which is already unjust in the first place.

“I know a lot about these kinds of procedures and I still found it concerning. If it had happened to someone else they would have found it terrifying.

“This kind of treatment is part of the process that is radicalising young British Muslims.

“It’s a real shame that people are treated this way. The Liverpool Muslim community has a good reputation – with 50 ethnic backgrounds – and gets on well with the rest of the local community.

“The government should be pumping support into helping the community rather than employing officers to interview Muslims at airports.”


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Tue 1 Apr 2008, 19:27 BST
Issue No. 2095
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