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Issue 239, Friday 27 March 2009 - 30 Rabi' al-Awwal 1430
“Let this case be a lesson to other victims of abuse in the war on terror. The path to justice is long and difficult, but as long as you remain steadfast upon it, you will get there in the end,” Babar Ahmad said after police admitted his assault following five years of complaints and litigation. The admission, which included mocking his Islamic faith, is a victory for justice but it had to be forced out of a reluctant Metropolitan Police, which appeared unrepentant refusing to issue an apology. “This was a lawful arrest of a man who was, and still is, a terrorist suspect,” a Met spokeswoman insisted even though Babar was released without any charge after being held for six days under anti-terror laws in December 2003.
The tragedy is how many other victims of injustice fall by the wayside, unprepared or unable to be so persistent in seeking legal redress. Ahmad only managed to vindicate himself through civil action. It is also certainly true to say that misguided actions of a tiny minority of unscrupulous police officers should not be allowed to taint the image of the police which work for the good of all society, but this would be best resolved by being honest enough to admit any wrongdoings in the first place. The fault is not only on the part of small numbers of individuals but on misguided laws and police tactics. Whether or not there remains institutional racism and Islamophobia within the ranks, the attitude and behaviour of the police towards Muslims at times appears to many as being Islamophobic.
Ahmad has suffered a long ordeal that remains far from over having been re-arrested under a US extradition warrant in 2004 and confined in jail ever since. He is currently awaiting an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after again exhausting the judicial process in the UK. No prima facia evidence is required in Britain’s notorious extradition agreement with the US, which is another legacy of the Blair and Bush Administration that needs to be addressed by Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and US President, Barack Obama.
In the meantime, as we have repeatedly argued, if Babar Ahmed has committed any crimes he should be tried in this country. His life and that of his family has already been destroyed like others in a growing litany of victims branded as terrorist suspects.
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