LONDON –A British Muslim aid worker has accused airport police of racially profiling him by being stopped for 50 times, the latest of which was on his way from pilgrimage to Makkah on New Year Eve.
“It was an absolute nightmare. It’s getting really annoying. It’s just broken. They [police] are a law of their own,” Ahmed Ali, 42, told Metro.
Ali, who works in Derby for the international aid charity Unite4Humanity, was with his disabled grandmother coming home from a family pilgrimage to Makkah when he was questioned for an hour at Birmingham Airport on New Year’s Eve.
The incident is not the first for the aid worker who accused police of stopping him for 50 times.
“I’ve been stopped with my kids and my family but this time it was with my grandma and it just ruined her pilgrimage,” he said.
“It was the first time she has ever been stopped and she was really upset.”
Under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, officers can stop and question any individual who ‘appears to be someone who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’.
“After I made a fuss, they eventually let me go because they had nothing to charge against me. If they did charge me, it would help everyone who had a beard at airports,” Ali said.
“It’s either profiling which is illegal, harassment which is also illegal or discrimination.”
In 2016, Ali and his wife were escorted off their Thompson flight to Morocco by Greater Manchester Police and questioned for hours about his religion and why he was traveling.
Created in 2003, Prevent is one of four strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Contest.
According to the Home Office, its aim is “to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”.
The scheme has been criticized by some MPs, the National Union of Teachers and Muslim Council of Britain, while racial equality organization JUST Yorkshire says it has a “disproportionate and discriminatory” focus on Muslim communities.
A report by JUST Yorkshire in August 2017 said that the government’s anti-radicalization strategy, Prevent, is “ineffective and counterproductive” and should be withdrawn.