“When I was arrested at first I thought it was a joke. Then I realised – I’m a Muslim, I had the Al Qaida training manual on my computer, I could be locked up and disappear into Belmarsh or anywhere.”
This is what Rizwaan Sabir told a 100-strong rally against Islamophobia organised by the Stop the War Coalition in Manchester last week.
Rizwaan, a student at Nottingham university, was detained for six days without charge under “anti-terror” legislation after downloading the manual as part of his university research.
The playwright David Edgar explained how he was labelled an “academic thug” when his generation of students protested in 1968. Today it is Muslim students who face repression, he said.
Developing links between the left and Muslims today is a central aim of the movements against the war and racism, he added.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg spoke of the parallels between how the Irish were treated in the 1970s and 1980s and how Muslims are being treated today.
“We will never allow our movement to be divided”, said Nahella Ashraf, speaking on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition’s Muslim Network.
There were other successful rallies held against Islamophobia in London and Birmingham.