Racism or Islamophobia: it's all damn prejudice!

Free Shaker Aamer demo, London

The 1999 Macpherson Report into the death of the British teenager Steven Lawrence has become synonymous with institutional racism by government employees, recently opined Sadiq Khan. He should know because he was the MP who was bugged by the police while talking to one of his Tooting constituents who was being held behind bars without charge or trial in 2005/6. (A later enquiry in 2008 by the Chief Surveillance Commissioner Rose found no impropriety by the police.)

In 2012 there are two glaring examples of the sadistic brutality of UK government forces reigned against Londoners detained without charge. The two men in question are in some ways mirror images of one another.

One detainee is a 38 year old man interned in this country without trial for over 7 years who was granted compensation for his treatment at the hands of the Metropolitan Police Force. On 18 March 2009, he was awarded £60,000 compensation at the High Court in London after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson admitted that he had been the victim of a ‘serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack.’

The other detainee is a 43 year old man facing internment without trial for nearly 10 years in the US’s Guantánamo Bay. He is understood to be one of a group of British-based detainees, including Moazzam Begg who have received a compensation settlement from the UK government.

The two iconic detainees in question have two important similarities aside from both coming from London and still being behind bars without charge or trial:

  1. Both have received compensation because of their mistreatment at the hands of the British State. (So in a sense, the government has recognised that these two men have suffered from part and parcel of the same issue, whatever name you give it: Institutional Racism or Islamophobia.)
  2. Both are Muslim.

The two iconic men still detained without charge or trial are Babar Ahmad @ HMP Long Lartin, England and Shaker Aamer @ Camp Delta, Guantánamo Bay.

The verdict of the European Court of Human Rights on the validity of extraditing Babar to the US is still eagerly awaited. The Court declared his application is partially admissible and awaits further observations from the UK government on Supermax confinement and life without parole sentence. A final decision was expected early in 2011. As Doreen Lawrence said recently “Justice delayed is justice denied”.

The recent incredible support for the Babar Ahmad parliamentary e-petition (over 140,000 signatures), suggests it is more likely than ever before that the British public will no longer tolerate these wrongful indefinite incarcerations without charge or trial. Indeed Shaker has been cleared for release from Guantanámo since 2009.

Britain's Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary must rebut the US’s ridiculous assertion that the UK is not a safe place for former detainees!

The US government needs to take only minimal steps to save US/UK taxpayers the considerable and unnecessary expenses of the future incarceration of two icons of injustice and prejudice:

  1. To drop their extradition request for the Babar Ahmad
  2. To release Shaker Aamer latter from Guantanámo and return him to the UK.
Free Shaker Aamer demo outside Battersea Power Station, London

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