Socialist Worker

Punished for being Muslims - the family hounded by the British state for 12 years

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2409

Abu Baker Deghayes

Abu Baker Deghayes (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Abu Baker Deghayes and his family have faced persecution for the last 12 years.

Police raided the family home in Brighton last month after Abu Baker’s son Abdullah died in Syria. He and his brother Jaffar had followed his older brother Amer who went to join an aid convoy. They later joined the fight against Bashar ­al-Assad’s dictatorship.

Abu’s brother Omar was arrested in 2002 and spent five years in the US’s notorious prison camp ­Guantanamo where he was tortured. Omar said Abdullah went to Syria because “he couldn’t sit still watching the news of the injustice taking place”.

Now a new war on Muslims has targeted the Deghayes family again.

Abu Baker told Socialist Worker, “They talk about being ‘anti-terror’, but there is no justification for what they are doing to us. They are using these scare tactics and scaremongering to criminalise Muslim people.”

The whole family including youngchildren had to stay in a hotel while cops searched their home.

“The police took my laptop, home computer and my passport,” said Abu Baker. “They took bank statements from my other brother and my sister-in-law. They even took my 12 year old nephew’s mobile.

“At first they said they were investigating the death of my son—but how they could do that I don’t know. Now they are saying we are a threat to Britain. But there has been no explanation and no evidence of a direct threat in Britain.”

Injustice

Abu Baker and Omar were children when they fled with their mother from Libya after their father was murdered for opposing the Gaddafi regime. But they did not find peace. Abu Baker’s family, especially his sons, were deeply affected by the injustice inflicted on his brother.

“Omar’s imprisonment was the central issue in our life. At every festival or family occasion he was missing. He was in a black hole of illegal limbo. I never imagined such a thing could happen to us.”

Omar lost the sight in one eye after prison guards pushed their fingers into his eye sockets. He was eventually released without charge in December 2007.

Many people in Brighton supported the campaign to free Omar. But the family also faced constant harassment and racism.

“Our house used to be attacked by some local youth, sometimes with broken glass,” remembers Abu Baker. “My sons would be called ‘terrorist’ and ‘Taliban’.” The police never took action.

“Our family feels like we have been persecuted for years,” said Abu Baker. “The establishment is a bad loser. It will always try and find ways to come back at you. What is happening now, the surveillance, the raid, feels like a continuation of the same tactics.”

Abu Baker knows people who have had their passports taken for helping charities in Syria.

He went on, “Politicians are playing on people’s fears of terrorism, using words like ‘national security’. But people have been lied to before—such as when we were told Iraq could attack Britain in 45 minutes.

“Now they will try to pass more draconian laws and take away more liberties.”


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