Socialist Worker

Stopped and detained for being a black Muslim

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2733

Muzaffar Abdullah

Muzaffar Abdullah (Pic: Cage video)


A British official admitted that he “singled out” a black Muslim man under a stop and search at a London airport, according to footage.

Muzaffar Abdullah from south London has been repeatedly stopped under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He regularly travels to and from Cairo in order to visit his children in Egypt. 

He spoke out about being targeted in a video released this week by detainee rights organisation Cage. In footage filmed by Muzaffar at the airport, he tells “officer Mark”, “You’re stopping me as a Muslim. You’re singling me out, no one else got stopped, the whole plane went through.” 

The officer replied, saying, “Yeah, we are singling you out.” 

When Muzaffar asked, “Because I’m a black Muslim?”, the officer mumbled, “Yeah.” Muzaffar then asked for a confirmation, “You did say yes now?” The officer said, “Yes, yes, absolutely, I fully agree.” 

Cage spokesperson Anas Mustapha said, “The shocking behaviour of the officers in the footage shared by Muzaffar Abdullah is a clear reminder. The profiling and harassment of Muslim holidaymakers at airports under Schedule 7 are a form of structural Islamophobia and racism that have no place in a free society.

“We reiterate our calls for Schedule 7 to be scrapped immediately.”

Suspicion

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act allows officers to detain people without suspicion and hold them for up to nine hours at airports, ports and international rail stations.

Research by Cage in August 2019 showed that “potentially close to one million people” had been stopped. It found that the overwhelming majority—some 88 ­percent—were Muslim.

Muzaffar said, “I’ve been stopped a number of times because I travel from Egypt to London constantly through the year. Anytime I’ve stayed over two to three weeks, I get stopped at the airport. 

“The type of questions I’ve been asked is, ‘Where do I pray?’

Muzaffar was punished after one stop. “This stop led me to be arrested and detained for over 22 hours,” he said. “Later I was charged with obstructing an officer in his duty times two. 

“This led to a trial, which was held at Westminster magistrates court. I was found guilty of obstructing an officer and given a £520 fine.”

While only 100 people had been charged and 44 convicted under Schedule 7, hundreds of thousands have been harassed. 

Terror laws were brought in to paint Muslims as an “enemy within” during the West’s “war on terror”. They should be scrapped. 

 


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