From a group of Nottingham residents, concerned students and academics at the University of Nottingham.For immediate use, 27/05/08 TUESDAY
Nottingham academics to give public reading of from Al-Qaeda training manual. The document had been downloaded from an official US government website, for academic research into political extremism.
Photo Opportunity: Outside the Hallward Library, University Park Campus, 2:00pm, 28/05/08. The reading will be followed by a silent protest to the Trent Building, the administrative building. There will be hundreds of students present many of whom will be symbolically gagged. There will be sales and a collection in aid of Hichams' legal fees.
The demonstration was originally called to voice outrage and concern over the threat to academic freedom, illustrated by the recent arrest of two innocent people on campus. The focus has now widened to include support and solidarity for one of the arrested, Hicham Yezza, who is now facing imminent deportation.
Hicham Yezza, know to his many friends as 'Hich', has lived, worked and studied in Nottingham for the past 13 years. He won a scholarship to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and was later employed by the University of Nottingham (3). He is highly skilled and has made incredible contributions to the University and local community.
Hich's MP, Alan Simpson, has written (4) to Liam Byrne Minister of State for Borders and Immigration to express his concerns at what he described as an “arbitrary deportation with no right to a proper hearing.” Nick Palmer, MP for Broxtowe said, “I hope that Mr Yezza will have his case fully and fairly considered without any rush to deport him before all the facts are clear.”
Petitions (4) are currently being signed by hundreds of students and academics worldwide, asking the University of Nottingham to lobby for Hicham's release and to guarantee academic freedom on campus for all staff and students regardless of their ethnic background or political views.
Notes for editors
- Hicham's arrest took place on Wednesday 14th May. Rizwaan Sabir, an MA Politics research student was also arrested. Both were released without charge six days later. It has subsequently become clear that these arrests, which related to so-called "radical materials" involved an Al Qaeda manual downloaded by Sabir from an official US Government website, as part of his dissertation research into political Islam, and emailed to Yezza for printing.
- Hicham was re-arrested on immigration grounds. Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation regarding these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, the Home Office informed his solicitor that he was being removed on Sunday 1st June and Hicham was moved to an immigration detention centre. He now faces imminent deportation to Algeria without due process.
- Hicham is employed as PA to the Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Professor Lesley Milne.
- The letter and petitions can be found on the website in full at: http://freehichamyezza.wordpress.com/resources/