6 March 2014
(London, UK) Over the course of the last week, UK counter terrorism police have conducted a series of raids and arrests, all in connection with Syria.
Whether it has been Moazzam Begg, the Tahari family, or the heads of UK Muslim charities, a message is being sent by the UK authorities that contributing through civil society to alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Syria is closed to Muslim communities specifically.
CAGE has documented concerns received that can be categorised as follows:
- In almost all cases the allegations have centred on fraud but the raids have been carried out by counter terrorism units so as to reinforce a perception that such forces are used disproportionately to target specific communities.
- The treatment of the Muslim community and the Muslim charitable sector in particular, through the lens of counter terrorism is gravely concerning. This appears to be a continuation of the policies CAGE has documented in its report on the PREVENT strategy which argue that Muslims are the new ‘suspect community’ in the UK.
- Allegations of fraud levelled against any organisation have the potential to damage its credibility and reputation. All of the individuals arrested have been released without charge on bail to return to the Police station in September. The high profile raids, leaking to the press coupled with unsubstantiated allegations of fraud can only be seen as an attempt to damage the organisations. This tactic will only lead to further alienation and mistrust.
- In research conducted last year, Muslim communities of the UK were considered to be the most generous religious group, giving over £100 per person more than the next religious group per year. Instead of this being recognised by the UK authorities as being a praiseworthy quality, it has led to disproportionate suspicion and scrutiny.
According to Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE,
“These developments are creating a groundswell of opinion amongst Muslim communities that despite the flourishing philanthropy that exists certain causes are off limits and will attract the full use of the anti-terror laws. This is yet another example of a two tier justice system and few can now be persuaded the anti-terror laws are not applied disproportionately to Muslims”
“Allegations of fraud and terrorism are extremely serious and even if all these men are released without any charges, damage to donor confidence and a negative portrayal of the Muslim community has already been done.”
1. CAGE (formerly known as CagePrisoners) is an independent advocacy organisation that works to empower communities affected by the War on Terror and to highlight abuses of prisoners’ rights.
2. CAGE’s recent report on the PREVENT strategy discusses the government’s approach and tactics in dealing with the Muslim community: http://cageuk.org/report.pdf
Contact: Mr Cerie Bullivant
Phone: +(44) 207 377 6700
27 Old Gloucester Street