London –  The arrest of Shilan Ozcelik, 18, for allegedly wanting to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) shows that the British government is using anti-terror legislation to criminalise young people and marginalise communities.

“Arresting Shilan Ozcelik shows that terrorism legislation is being used inappropriately in a way that criminalises potential behaviour,” says Asim Qureshi, research director of CAGE.

He said:

“The appropriate way to prosecute those travelling to war zones – if and when they do – is under war crimes legislation.”

“The arrest shows that the government’s current terrorism policy criminalises potential behaviour among certain communities.”

“The British government has a schizophrenic approach to working with groups in the Middle East that should be vigorously questioned – why is a teenage girl being criminalised while grown men going to fight ISIL are not?”

“The arrest sends the wrong message to foreign fighters [5] who wish to return to the UK to resume their lives, and who could invigorate a more productive discussion around countering extremism.”

(CC image courtesy of Enno Lenze on Flickr)

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)