This Human Voice story forms part of CAGE’s report Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders
See the rest of the report here
They said they want me to take everything off, and squat down in front them. I told them no way, I would never.
I have been stopped many times since the first time, which was in 2008. Most recently, in 2017, I was driving an ambulance to Bulgaria as part of an aid convoy, and when I got to Dover they stopped me under Schedule 7, took DNA and photographs for the second time.
On top of that they took my passport. I contacted my solicitor, and they showed the solicitor a letter saying why they had confiscated my passport.
They said they are applying to have it cancelled as they believe I am a security risk, because of what I had told them in a previous Schedule 7 interview. They claimed I said I supported IS.
I am certain I never said such ludicrous things. So I asked them to produce the transcript and recording of the interview but they said they had lost it.
A house raid and harassing phone calls
When they realised they had no evidence, they raided my home. They took specific things, my laptop, my computer, my iPad, my phone. They were very well mannered, and said they would give the devices back. But I have not heard anything from them since.
Between the Schedule 7 incidents, I have had phone calls, where they have asked me to meet with them, and they have said if I talk to them, they will make my situation a little bit easier.
They say: “We will take you off our list.” But when they say “talk with us” what they mean is they want me to work with them and be a spy, and because I refuse I am some sort of ‘terrorist’ sympathiser.
These phone calls usually happen after my travel has been interrupted, because they probably figure I am more vulnerable to giving in after I have been harassed.
The worst stop took place after a misunderstanding
The worst experience I had under Schedule 7 was in 2009. I was on my way to Egypt to study, and before I left my home I had taken everything out of my bag and repacked it.
I had quite a large amount of money 600 pounds or so and I remember thinking, I’m not going to put that in my bag, I am going to keep it on me, so I took it out the bag. I meant to put it in my pocket. But I forgot to take the money with me. I left it at home.
They questioned me under Schedule 7 and I told them I was going back to Egypt to study. They asked where is your money? Because I had no money, I think they assumed I would be met at the airport and taken care of by some sort of terrorist organisation.
So when I said I had money, I looked like a liar. Meanwhile it was a misunderstanding.
I couldn’t believe it when they asked me to strip
They wanted to strip search me. Of course I had heard things about strip searches. I asked them what they meant. They said they want me to take everything off, and squat down in front them.
I told them no way; I would never do it. They said they are going to do it to me, even by force. I said, I am not going to bend over in front of six men and show myself to you like that.
I said, I will take my trousers off, but keep my boxers on, and you can put your fingers in the elastic, and they said no we need to look and see if you have put something inside yourself. I refused.
They said, okay fine, and they called for the uniformed police. These police have special training to be more physical, and they are strong.
Still, I refused, and they dragged me and threw me on the ground. We were in a room with no speakers and cameras. At that time, 2009, none of them had it.
They became violent and I fought back, but then I had to give in
When they threw me on the floor, I put my forearms on my chest so they couldn’t handcuff me. Alhumdullillah I was much stronger than them, and they couldn’t handcuff me.
But then I felt like they were just hitting me all over. I was being battered from all over. I don’t know what they were hitting me with, but one or two of them had their knees in my back.
They were doing this, and I was shouting at them. I said I am never going to submit to you. I felt something incredibly painful, and I looked down and one officer was standing on my ankle, with these tough police boots.
I made eye contact with him and he lifted his entire weight onto my ankle. I couldn’t tolerate that, and I put my arms out and they handcuffed me.
They put me in a “stress position” and dragged me through the airport
They held me in this position. They told me it was Home Office-approved position. It’s a stress position, like you are in a sitting position but with no chair, and your arms behind you, and they say, sit down and stand straight up.
I kept shouting at them. They hooked my arms behind my back and over my shoulder, and I was bent over. Because I was bent over it was very easy for them to control me.
To walk bent over like that was a very painful experience. I was begging for them to let me walk properly. There were times when I wasn’t walking and I just let them drag me. They walked with me like this through the airport.
Once they got me into the back of the police van, they were mocking at me through the glass. I realised that this was not just a job for them, but they actually have a personal issue with Muslims.
The police who beat me didn’t even turn up in court
When I got to the police station, the police there saw the state I was in. The man who signed me in, said to the others that I was not fit to be put into a cell. They thought my arm was broken.
I found out they had charged me with assault. But even in court, the police officers refused to turn up, and some of their evidence conflicted. Officially I lost the case, but they didn’t give me any punishment because they could see that it was a ridiculous situation.
That was the worst experience, but any time they give me a Schedule 7 and raid my house, I am more concerned with the effect on my family.
Since then my marriage has broken down and I don’t live with my children anymore. Schedule 7 wasn’t the only cause of the break-up but it definitely contributed to it. It caused a lot of heartache to the family.
Sometimes they would give the devices back to me, usually within seven hours. Once or twice they kept them for a few days.
Usually they say they will bring them to your home or you can collect them at the local police station, and it’s Mi5 who come to you and meet you on these occasions. They try to convince you to work with them. So in the end, I just said take my belongings and give it back to my solicitor. On one occasion they kept my things for a year.
I have no passport and my life is in limbo
I don’t have a passport any more. They cancelled it. We tried to appeal the decision but it is very expensive, and I don’t qualify for legal aid as I have a job. So I am not able to pay for the fees to challenge the decision.
England is my prison. I can’t leave. I wonder to myself, am I ever going to get to Mecca or Madinah again? Maybe or maybe not.
I have repeatedly said to them, charge me with something, what you are doing to me is just not fair, I am a human being. But I don’t think that even matters.
Even when you go to the airport, you feel very, very anxious. Many of the people I thought were my friends have abandoned me, because they don’t want to be associated with me. They think my trouble will become their trouble.
I would advise Muslims simply, don’t travel. The things that you would assume are your rights, like to be treated with common decency and the assumption of innocence before guilt, you don’t have that coming into the UK. They give more rights to paedophiles than Muslims who haven’t done anything. Paedophiles have to be charged within 24 hours.
The fact remains that I asked them to produce the proof that I support IS, and they couldn’t produce the proof.
As a Muslim they don’t tell you why, they just ask you to take your clothes off. While all of this happens, they smile at you and offer you cups of tea. They say please and thank you after every sentence, and yet they do these things to you.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)