Detaining Muslims at ports is ‘Islamophobic’, says Cage

27th Sep 2019
Detaining Muslims at ports is ‘Islamophobic’, says Cage

Hamed Chapman

The detention of Muslims at ports and airports for up to six hours under discredited anti-terrorism laws is so disproportionate that the practice has become Islamophobic, according to Cage human rights group.

Schedule 7 is “an affront to the principle of the rule of law” and “detrimental” to trust between society and state, it warned after analysing statistics of 419,000 incidences that shows the overwhelming use of the emergency power was based upon religious and racial profiling.

The figures are based upon a sample of those stopped under Schedule 7 at a particular airport by a team of students at Cambridge University that found 88 per cent were Muslim in its 2014 study codenamed Operation Insight.
Cage 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 per cent.

In a letter to the policing regulator, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Cage Director, Adnan Siddiqui, said that tens of thousands of people were being subject to “suspiciousless stops” and that “the practice is a manifestation of structural Islamophobia, which is experienced as harassment”.

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows people to be detained, without any need of suspicion, 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. Official figures only relate to the use of Schedule 7 that date back to 2010, but show there have been 419,472 stops since then.

Muhammad Rabbani, Cage’s International Director, said, “The discrimination faced by Muslim travellers highlights how embedded Islamophobia is in schedule 7, and in broader counter-terrorism powers.” Officers routinely “ask intrusive questions about religion and practice, which amounts to a modern-day inquisition.”

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