The sentences meted out to two men, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed who were said to have fought in Syria have been met with consternation by advocacy group CAGE.

There can be no doubt regarding the growing evidence that Britain has a two tier criminal justice system. Muslims receive the severest punishment and the highest sentences compared to non Muslims. This dual approach is grafted onto the well documented research which has established that black defendants receive higher sentences for comparable offences compared to white defendants.

On any objective analysis the  sentences meted out to two men, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed who voluntarily returned from Syria is grossly disproportionate says campaign group CAGE.
The two men pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism and received sentences of 12 years and 8 months. The investigation into the two men began after the mother of Yusuf Sarwar reported her son missing and was told she would receive police support. West Midlands had previously been pressuring women to come forward to report any suspicious activity by members of their family linked to the Syria crisis.

In the context of rising hate attacks against Muslims as recorded by the Metropolitan Police and other forces around the country the sledgehammer tactics that appeal to the worst right wing elements in the country will only tear apart any semblance that still remains that in Britain today justice is blind to colour or faith . There will no outrage by populist politicians as these men sink into a penal system that will target them for the harshest treatment possible.

Moazzam Begg, CAGE’s Outreach Director, said:

‘I spent several months in prison with these two men and I do not consider them to be a threat to the British public in any way, just in the same way the police that arrested them said they posed no threat whatsoever.

‘How can it be that former soldier Ryan McGee, who was found with a bomb with 187 pieces of shrapnel and evidence of a hate ideology was given 2 years and described as a misguided teenager, while these men have been given over 12 years and branded as terrorists despite them having no intention of harming anyone?’

‘If by handing down these harsh sentences the judge wanted to send a message, then they message that has been clearly received: there is a double standard when it comes to Muslims accused of terrorism.

‘They told me in no uncertain teams that they returned from Syria as a result of the rise of IS, and the infighting between the different groups.
They never joined IS nor expressed intention to do so, rather they returned back home. They were advised to plead guilty for a victimless crime at a time when the notion of IS has become so toxic that it is almost impossible to get any jury to understand the differences between the ideologies of IS and the groups they are fighting against.

‘They pleaded guilty in the hope that their sentences would be significantly smaller than they are now and one can only conclude that had they been found guilty they would have received a sentence closer to 20 years. This state of affairs is almost unbelievable and harsher, it would appear, than even around the time of the July 7 bombings under Tony Blair.’
‘This case must be taken to appeal and the sentence must be challenged.’

Contact:            Mr Amandla Thomas-Johnson
Phone:              +(44) 207 377 6700
(Photo via West Midlands Police)

(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.)