Extradition: A failure for us all

Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad

The decision to extradite Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad is only one in a long line of subservient decisions that the UK judiciary has taken to please the US.

These two men have languished in prison, without charge, without an end in sight, for 6 and 8 years respectively.

Their families going through a difficult and emotional time, to which the film ‘Extradition’ is testimony.

There are many people that will deride the British judiciary and politicians for allowing this to happen to Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad. The one-sided UK-US 2003 extradition treaty means that people who cannot be charged here can face incarceration in American Supermax prisons for at least four years as they await trial.

The question that has been asked is, if there is enough evidence to charge these men then why not put them on trial in the UK?

The answer is simple, there simply is not enough evidence.

Why then this debacle, and grotesque charade?

In the case of Babar Ahmad the Metropolitan police handed over evidence to the FBI whilst their own case was collapsing due to a lack of evidence.

Substantial responsibility also falls on Muslim ‘leaders’ and ‘notables’. For all their efforts in trying to please the establishment and pump out their one-sided ‘integration’ paradigm message, today’s decision has been a slap in the face for them all.

Muslim magazines, publications and media have depoliticised themselves.

Rather than awakening and increasing the Muslim consciousness they have been complicit in keeping them docile and compliant.  Flicking through Muslim magazine pages all I see is fashion tips, cooking instructions and the odd reference to some wishy washy Muslim individual that has managed to integrate to the extent that they can now wear their hijab in a pub and grow a beard like a biker- not at the same time of course.

For a community that has been under attack since 9/11 the response from the educated and former activists has been surprisingly muted.

Rather than assert themselves they have fallen over themselves to get government grants and funds to ‘de-radicalise’ their own communities without looking at the fine print.

De-radicalisation has meant de-politicisation.

Muslims are not supposed to protest, demonstrate, object or stand up. They are expected to tow the mainstream line and accept the labels handed down to them.

Now even they will be afraid that this injustice will spread wider and further having implications for all, not just Muslims.

Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and even Abu Hamza have rights.

The demonization of Abu Hamza has clouded the entire extradition process in the media. Abu Hamza, although outspoken, vociferous and vilified by the media has been used to cover up the injustice that has taken place here. It is easy to hate a man with an eye patch and a hook, a man who does not fit the normal British ‘look’, whilst forgetting that he has rights just like any other citizen. To compromise on these rights just because we do not agree with his views, dislike him as an individual or because he does not fit our version of ‘British’ is to compromise our principles of justice and equality as a society and will lead us down a slippery road that will end in further injustices.

Those in the establishment that are always fearful of radicalisation in the Muslim community must realise that outcomes like this dreadful decision further alienate communities and makes Muslims feel like they do not have a voice in Britain – 150,000 people signed a petition asking for Babar Ahmad to be tried in the UK.

They might be cowed into acquiescence through fear, or they may be repoliticised or radicalised in the good old fashioned way.

There may also be just a few who see all the avenues of legitimate protest, interaction and campaign, be they political or through the legal system, closed off and decide to take rather different action – the antithesis to everything this security discourse superficially claims to be tackling.

As for the fashion loving, docile and cup cake cooking Muslims; carry on flicking through your lifestyle magazine pages and picking out new colours for you headscarves and designer prayer beads- the rest of us will continue to speak out when people are taken away. Until, at least, they come for us.

Muslim Youth Helpline Closes and CEO Stands Down Amid Police Leak Row

A helpline for Muslim youngsters has been suspended and its CEO has resigned amid a furious row over the apparent forwarding of confidential information to a police anti-terror unit.

Muslim Youth Helpline, which was established in 2004, has been put on ice by bosses after private emails were leaked onto a blog detailing the “disgusting” breach of confidentiality.

Muslim Youth Helpline volunteers say they are “shocked and disgusted” at the incident after details were posted on a blog called MYH Whistleblower and claim it came as part of a “personal vendetta” by the charity boss.

The charity’s former CEO, Akeela Ahmed had claimed those calling for her resignation were “racists”, “homophobes”, and “extremists”.

She allegedly worked with husband Nafeez Ahmed to contact officers in anti-extremism programme “Prevent” to further the complaint after initial attempts to involve police failed to gain traction.

In a private email to Chief Inspector James Spencer in Prevent, Nafeez wrote: “The police officers we have spoken to don’t appreciate the insidious dynamic of what is going on as an extremist attempt to, effectively, forcibly takeover one of this country’s leading progressive Muslim charities.”

The Chief inspector replied, “The fact that you have concerns with your knowledge and experience of these issues does make me genuinely concerned”, adding, “I have already contacted SO15 Counter Terrorism Command and provided details.”

Mr Ahmed, who heads think tank the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD) made no attempt to deny the veracity of the leaked emails, saying: “These emails are confidential and have been unlawfully leaked.”

A statement from 30 signatories involved with the Muslim Youth Helpline published on the MYH Whistleblower blog on Saturday 9th June stated that they were: “Deeply disappointed and dismayed that in today’s current climate of fear and Islamaphobia that these two individuals would go to such an extent.

They claimed there were: “Horrified and shocked”, at the suggestion they were involved in extremist activities, claimed there was no evidence to support her suggestion and claimed it stemmed from an office related dispute. The names of the signatories were not published on the blog.

Solicitors for Mrs Ahmed said in a statement: “As is clear from its content, the blog is founded on confidential information and correspondence, including the report of criminal activity to the police. They also claimed that the confidential information was “obtained illegally, by the hacking of our client’s personal email account.”

One of the staff members that signed the original statement of grievance and statement responding to the leaks, Nasir Sayed said, “I am shocked and disgusted that Akeela did this,” he said he only found out about the leaked emails when they were posted on the blog, “innocent people have been accused of extremism without a shred of evidence against them,” he added.

The board of the Muslim Youth Helpline issued a statement on their website declaring that they had “Taken the unprecedented step of suspending their service whilst they investigated the issues behind the “unlawful campaign”, referring to the allegations of the hacked emails.

Chief Inspector James Spencer declined to comment and the police have yet to make a comment on the incident.

The first Muslim organisation to break the silence on the issue has been the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis) in an open letter from the President, Nabil Ahmed. He said, regarding the handing over of details to the police, “shocking and cannot be justified,” he went forward to ask for an apology to be issued to those whose names had been handed over to the police.

Fosis outlined criticisms and suggested changes for the Muslim Youth Helpline. They condemned the close relationship with the police along with the police themselves, asked for the resignation of the board and support for those whose names were passed on to the anti-terrorism police.