Muslims in Greater Manchester are calling for changes to the Terrorism Act which allows passengers to be stopped and searched at airports. A letter signed by several organisations has been sent to the Home Office highlighting concerns over religious profiling.
Representatives from mosques and Islamic human rights groups claim some people are detained but never charged. They want shorter detention times and more intelligence-led policing. The campaign also wants no DNA samples to be taken from anyone who has not been charged with an offence.
One black Muslim convert, who is in his forties, has been stopped four times at Manchester and at other UK airports as he returned from visits to Indonesia, Lebanon and Egypt. He went to Indonesia to get married and to the other two countries to study. He said:
“It’s humiliating when other passengers see that you have been detained and have had your passport taken off you. It’s degrading. As far as I’m concerned I’m not a threat to this country, I’m just going about my personal business.
“When I asked why I had been stopped the first time, I was told I fit the profile of someone who is a terrorist. Today it’s the Muslims, a long time ago it was the Irish. I think it’s quite horrendous that I’m stopped every time I come back to this country.”
Solicitor Nasir Hafezi, who has represented faith leaders accused of terrorism-related offences, is also lobbying for a change to the law and claims Muslim passengers are being treated “as second-class citizens”.
He said: “They’re being detained, they’re missing their flights and some of them are being asked to become informants on their communities. They’re threatened and intimidated.”