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New report says detention of Muslims at UK ports and airports is ‘structural Islamophobia’

According to the advocacy group CAGE, the detaining of Muslims at UK ports and airports, known as Schedule 7, has become so widespread that it can now be considered an Islamophobic practice.

Schedule 7, officially titled Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, is a counter-terrorism power that allows law enforcements to “stop and question, and, when necessary, detain and search individuals” who are travelling abroad. The Government states that this is to determine whether the individual is involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.” [1]

Due to its practice now becoming widespread, CAGE has made a complaint to the policing regulator, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, on behalf of ten individuals affected by the harassment procedure. It is also reported that the organisation has written to MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims to “spell out” concerns regarding these detentions. [2]

On 20th August 2019, CAGE released a report containing an in-depth, evidence-based analysis of the counter-terrorism power. Titled Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders, it details academic studies, legal cases, available statistics, and testimonies of those stopped under the power. The report compares the power to other stop and search powers, and lists recommended actions for the Government, civil society, and communities.

In the report, CAGE highlights the difference in the number of stops and the number of individuals convicted from 2009 – 0.007% – and shares incidents of how stops are based on “religious and racial profiling.”

“Of the 419,000 people stopped under Schedule 7 since 2009, only 30 of them have been convicted. Most recently, despite stopping over 11,000 people in the year to March 2019, only three convictions were secured.” [3]

One case study explains how Muslims are made to feel that practising Islām is “wrong”. An unnamed filmmaker who worked for aid agencies described his questioning as a “progression”, with an aim of determining his “religiosity.”

“… I just said, you know, just ask me straight. I said: ‘I know what you are you trying to ask me. You want to ask me if I would do violence to achieve that. I would say no, Islam is an intellectual religion, and it has won hearts and minds and it will continue to do so, so there is no need for violence really.’”

The filmmaker also recalled how he had found a strange folder on his phone that could not be deleted. This, in turn, led him to buy a new one. [4]

Other cases detailed in the report include a British Muslim aid worker, a mother who was stopped on her way home from Mecca, a Muslim revert who wanted to stay with his children, a self-employed Muslim businessman, a father who quoted the Qur’ān to MI5, and even a Muslim revert was asked to strip.

These cases have led CAGE to conclude that Schedule 7 is “problematic” and “counter-productive,” and the organisation has asked the Government to repeal it immediately. [5] Muhammad Rabbani, CAGE’s international director, said that the “discriminations faced by Muslim travellers highlights how embedded Islamophobia is in Schedule 7, and in broader counter-terrorism powers.” [2]

An “Unjust” Power

This is not the first time that Schedule 7 has been under scrutiny. Other Muslim organisations – MEND, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – have all highlighted the need for ‘reform’ in light of the schedule’s discrimination against Muslims. [6]

Human rights groups such as Liberty and Amnesty International also agree with the need for reform, with the latter saying that the stop and search power “violates any principle of fairness.” [7] In February 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) declared the schedule to be “unjust.” This comes as no surprise, as there is a conviction rate of 0.007%. The power to pressure individuals into giving their DNA and passwords for electronic devices, as well as in agreeing to luggage searches and strip searches, suggests that the data of innocent individuals is being retained. This violates the human right to respect an individual’s “private and family life.” [8]

Furthermore, Schedule 7 has been the subject of satire in various media. Most recently, the BBC sketch show Muzlamics highlighted the recurrence of Muslims being detained under Schedule 7. In the sketch, the Muslim characters are seen as being prepared for the questioning, having taking off their shoes and providing documents before being asked. By the end of the sketch, it is revealed that the characters had checked into their flight a day earlier to avoid missing their flight to detention under Schedule 7. [9]

However, a Home Office spokesperson said that “the use of Schedule 7 is vital to the police in their work to combat terrorism” and said that the authors from CAGE are “clearly misrepresenting facts to fit their own predetermined conclusions.” [2]

If you would like to know more about the CAGE report, CAGE will be hosting community briefings in Glasgow on 24th August 2019, London on 30th August 2019, and Manchester on 31st August 2019.

Source: www.islam21c.com



[2] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/aug/20/detention-of-muslims-at-uk-ports-and-airports-structural-islamophobia

[3] Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders Pg. 5

[4] Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders Pg. 41

[5] Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders Pg. 79

[6] Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders Pg. 16

[7] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23757133

[8] https://www.mend.org.uk/news/schedule-7-declared-unjust-european-court-human-rights/

[9] https://www.instagram.com/p/B0UCO-cFBTU/


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  1. I think that another issue linked to this but not focused on a great deal is the treatment that those of us Muslim women who wear a niqaab face at the hands of Border Force when we return to the UK. Obviously, they need to check our face against the passport photo but before I went abroad (about 2 years ago) I printed out the government’s guidelines on checking women who wore face veils and they clearly stated that we should be taken to a discreet area. However, once I reached the Border Force desk the young lady insisted that I remove my face veil in full view of the public. I had the evidence on me but I chose not to use it thinking that if I made an issue because of the legislation then someone might change it and other sisters might need to use it more than I needed to. Instead, without giving her a chance to think, I quickly crouched down next to her and pulled my niqaab up. She looked surprised but there was nothing she could do. There’s no law that states that a Muslim woman can’t just quickly crouch down to show her face.

  2. What do you expect from the so called civilised Brits. They must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different.

    • Says the Muslim. Islam literally prohibits non-muslims from spreading their faith through missionary, building churches/temples and displaying religious symbols like crosses. How is that for respect and tolerance?

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