Socialist Worker

Met police forced to pay out damages to Muslim woman

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2696

police have used powers to harass
Police at a public event

A Muslim woman who was forced to remove her hijab under terror laws at London Heathrow Airport has won a “substantial damage payment” from the police.

The woman, known as Asiyah, pursued a judicial review after she had to take off her hijab under a Schedule 7 stop and search in October 2018.

The anti-terror law allows police and border guards to detain people without suspicion and hold them for up to nine hours at airports, ports and international rail stations.

Asiyah, who won £15,000 from London’s Metropolitan Police in an out of court settlement, said that “no Muslim woman should ever have to face this violation.

“Being forced to remove my hijab was the most dehumanising and embarrassing experience of my life.

“I was made to feel

worthless—I felt that my honour had been violated.

“The fact that the police can behave in such a way without any repercussions is frightening.”

A transcript of an interview with Asiyah shows that police told her, “We can take photographs that we need by force.

“You might end up being arrested because you wouldn’t let us take a photograph of your hair.”

Asiyah won her case with the support of detainee rights’ group Cage and Birnberg Peirce solicitors. Its director Muhammad Rabbani said, “It is clear the police knew they were discriminating against Muslim women.

“And therefore opted to settle in order to avoid the case setting a precedent for other women that have had their hijab forcibly removed.

“It’s high time Schedule 7 is scrapped.” He called for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims to “take immediate steps to investigate the Home Office over its discriminatory ­operation of Schedule 7 powers”.

Cage previously revealed that “potentially close to one million” people—88 percent of them Muslim—have been stopped under Schedule 7.

Summayah, another Muslim woman who was forced to remove her hijab at London’s Gatwick Airport, said she was “mistreated” despite being chronically ill.

“Border Police removed me from the disabled cart and placed me in a glass room in view of everyone,” she said.

“I wasn’t aware of my rights and the police took full advantage.”


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