UK: Muslims whine about 'Structural Islamophobia'

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows people to be detained at the border for up to six hours

Tuesday 27 August 2019 - Muslims are being detained at ports and airports for up to six hours by law enforcement using controversial counter-terrorism powers so disproportionately that the practice has become 'Islamophobic', according to human rights group Cage.

The organisation added there is growing anecdotal evidence that Muslim women are being forced to remove their headscarves when stopped, even though the rate that such stops lead to a conviction is 0.007%, according to Cage’s analysis of 420,000 incidences.

Cage said it had made a complaint to the policing regulator, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, on behalf of 10 people, and had written to MPs on the all-party group on British Muslims to spell out the extent of its concerns with so-called schedule 7 stops.

In the letter, Adnan Siddiqui, the director of Cage, said that tens of thousands of people were being subject to 'suspicionless stops' and that 'the practice is a manifestation of structural Islamophobia, which is experienced as harassment'.

One Briton, Omer, who asked only to be identified by his first name, told the Guardian he had been stopped 40 times when returning to the UK since 2005 but has never been convicted of any offence.

Omer said: 'I get stopped 95% of the time, coming back from Belgium, France and Italy.' He said he had become so fed up with being repeatedly questioned he often used one-word answers to reply.

A former medical professional, Omer was stopped at Heathrow returning from Lahore, Pakistan, after a flight in which he had helped a teenager having a fit. But on leaving the plane he was nevertheless questioned. 'This is a law that is almost impossible to beat.'

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows people to be detained at the border for up to six hours if law enforcement is concerned they could be engaged in terrorist activities. Detainees have no right to silence, must surrender their phones, computers and passwords and provide fingerprints and DNA on request.

One of Cage’s complaints is that the Home Office does not respond to freedom of information requests breaking down the number of people stopped by their religion. But a study conducted by Cambridge University researchers in 2014 concluded 88% of those stopped were Muslim.

Editor's comment - Perhaps if Muslims started being a little bit less 'blowey-uppy' then they might experience less 'structural Islamophobia', but unless and until that happens, we have every right to subject Muslims to a very high level of scrutiny at critical points in our infrastructure such as airports and other transit hubs.

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