Home / News / Syria’s Idlib: Calls for the immediate release of British aid worker Tauqir ‘Tox’ Sharif

Syria’s Idlib: Calls for the immediate release of British aid worker Tauqir ‘Tox’ Sharif

A well-known British humanitarian aid worker, Tauqir ‘Tox’ Sharif has been “arrested” by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in northern Syria. [1]

Sharif is said to have been detained whilst viewing a property that he was planning to rent with his wife, near the Turkish border at around 8.30pm and 9.30pm local time on Monday. [2]

Around 15 members of HTS arrested Sharif, taking him to an undisclosed location, according to Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American journalist based in Idlib.

HTS is a coalition of fighters which include several factions which were formerly aligned with al-Qaeda and are considered to be the most powerful rebel group in Idlib.

As well as detaining Sharif, masked men from HTS have searched and seized the family’s home last night whilst shutting down the offices and projects of his humanitarian organisation, Live Updates from Syria.

HTS is said to have also raided the homes of several other foreign nationals linked to Sharif, confiscating laptops and mobile phones, sources told MEE.

The wife of Tauqir Sharif, Racqeulle Hayden Best, said:

“A man [Tox] who has given up everything to come here and help those who are oppressed…he always tells me no matter what, the ummah [community] comes first before everything. even before myself….and right now he needs that ummah to stand behind him and fight for justice.” [3]

In response to the news, Dr Yvonne Ridley tweeted:

“Unless or until HTS releases a statement we have to assume this British aid worker has been kidnapped by the rebel group. Raiding an aid worker’s home, team handed, with 15 masked thugs and without explanation, is kidnap” [4]

“If this was a legitimate action surely those responsible would have released an official statement by now. Folk aren’t fighting for a free Syria only to have another set of thugs set up a new regime.” [5]

She further added:

“No wonder the #HTS leaders have lost so much territory to #Assad around #Idlib. The fools are so busy fighting among themselves they’ve taken their eye off the ball. #FreeTox Targeting a British aid worker is a gutless act revealing breathless stupidity!” [6]

Advocacy group CAGE have today called on HTS to immediately release Sharif, saying:

“While the allegations are unclear, we are deeply concerned about his right to a fair hearing and access to his family and support network.”

“CAGE calls on HTS to confirm that Tauqir Sharif is being treated humanely and provided with all his rights and due process. We ask HTS authorities to release Tauqir Sharif immediately and that any charges against him are clearly presented to him and his family as part of a clear and transparent legal process.” [7]

CAGE’s Outreach Director, Moazzam Begg said:

“I met Tox in Syria in 2012. He’d left behind his life in Britain to help the people in Syria and has never left. For eight years, Tox and his wife Racquelle Hayden Best have built and run schools, mosques, homes and camps for refugees in Northern Syria. Tox is deeply loved and respected in Syria and is a household name among British Muslims. 

“Despite his immense sacrifices, Tox has endured assaults by the Asad regime, survived bombing attempts by ISIS and had his nationality revoked by the British government without any evidence presented against him.”

“Tox has been detained by HTS secret police. I hope they understand how much Tox has endured in his efforts to help the people of Syria and that they return him to his family at once.”

Born and raised in London, Sharif moved to Syria in 2012 with his wife, Racquell Hayden-Best, to be involved in aid work in the war-torn country.

“We chose to come to Syria because of the gruesome scenes that we were seeing on our television screens.” [8]

Sharif and his wife made their home in a hut near the Turkish border helping to run a refugee camp and two Islamic schools in northern Syria, raising funds via their organisation Live Updates from Syria, with over 230,000 followers on its Facebook page. [9]

Since then, they have driven ambulances and set up field hospitals, whilst themselves living in a “shanty town”.

Sharif has always denied links to any armed groups in Syria. Instead he says his aim is to help the people of Syria with his humanitarian organisation that employs around 200 people and runs more than 40 projects across Idlib.

Syria’s eight-year civil war was born out of peaceful protests by Syrian civilians for reforms and changes in the Syrian regime. The latter’s response was one of violence and brutality, which forced the people to take up arms in defence.

In recent months, tens of thousands of innocent civilians fled the Idlib province in Syria after airstrikes and bombings by the Russia-backed regime forces intensified. Idlib is currently the final remaining area of Syria under the control of Syrian opposition fighters.

More than 500,000 people have been killed in the ensuing violence, with many more being displaced. The Syrian regime, with backing and support from its allies in Russia and Iran, has been able to militarily defeat opposition and rebel fighters, regaining territory that had been lost in previous years.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] https://twitter.com/BilalKareem/status/1275150330121117697

[2] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/british-aid-worker-tauqir-sharif-syria-idlib-hts-arrest

[3] https://www.cage.ngo/cage-calls-for-immediate-release-of-british-aid-worker-tauqir-sharif-detained-by-hts-in-syria

[4] https://twitter.com/yvonneridley/status/1275381447189237760

[5] https://twitter.com/yvonneridley/status/1275395292544843776

[6] https://twitter.com/yvonneridley/status/1275477546025484288

[7] https://www.cage.ngo/cage-calls-for-immediate-release-of-british-aid-worker-tauqir-sharif-detained-by-hts-in-syria

[8] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-39302798/london-aid-worker-on-moving-to-syria

[9] https://www.facebook.com/liveupdatesfromsyria/

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  1. My Dear sister Hafsah,
    The beaches in this country have been packed over the last few days including today due to the warm temperatures we are currently experiencing. Packed by white people. No police in sight, everyone enjoying themselves. last night a few coloured people in Brixton were having a street party, this lead to the police to intervene leading to a riot. Boris has read the riot act, Preti Patel is in hot pursuit.

    If we muslims gathered like any of the two groups we would be labelled as “Corona Jihadist” like what happened in India. We would probably have to seek refuge status somewhere in the world. Maybe Saudi Arabia might come forward and offer us residency. I don’t no.

    View the link below. Share your thoughts.

  2. I urge our brothers and sisters who are public figures to not let their words be used to continue dividing this ummah. Brother Tauqir Sharif’s message back in February, here on Islam21C, was a unifying message, not a divisive one. At 59:25, brother Tauqir Sharif’ said,

    “You see personally, me, I refrain from using these loaded terminologies like radical and Islamist etc. etc. because to be honest we’re all ya’ni as a Muslim we’re all Islamist but unfortunately that word has been…tainted…The point I’m making is that these labels have been put upon us, these labels have been used to isolate us, divide us even more and I think it’s very important that again and this is what I’m saying, on the ground alhamdulillah, today no one is talking about these things. Today everyone is saying, listen, backs against the wall, let’s dig in and we’re going to have to, you know, do what we’ve got to do. Me, I am an aid worker. I’ve worn a vest of humanity for the last 10 years but I may be in a situation tomorrow where I have to say look, I have no choice but to stand up and defend myself, so I don’t really care who’s next to me as long as he’s helping to defend my children…and all of the children, women and children. I’m gonna stand next to him, so for anyone from outside to say look, all these people are al-Qaeeda or all these people are ISIS, unfortunately, this is just a tactic that that is being used by the West to further their agendas…Today everybody is fighting terrorism…Every single country has some form of terrorism that they’re fighting and when you look down deeply at the root cause, the terrorism that they’re fighting is just the opposition. They’re labelling the opposition as terrorist because they want to increase their powers.”

    • I’m sorry you feel that way. Journalists are meant to maintain a high degree of impartiality, please don’t expect everyone to see the world through your eyes or Mr Tauqirs eyes!

      I strongly disagree with British nationals entering war zones!

      • Don’t you feel akhi that Allah Ta’ala is preparing people all over the world, to work towards establishing security on this Earth for His slaves. Maybe He is preparing some by allowing their wings to be broken, and others by making easy for them the necessary endeavours. Either way, in-shaa Allah, He is easing them towards ease (from Surah 92: 7). {We will ease him…} means We will prepare him in the worldly life; {toward the path of ease} which is doing acts that please Allah (by Tafseer Al-Baghawi (8/446).

        How sad were the sahabah who were not among those who made the initial efforts, and who instead benefited from the sacrifices made by others, and how wretched were the hypocrites who also benefited immensely, while always having a plethora of excuses to do nothing.

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