This Human Voice story forms part of CAGE’s report Schedule 7: Harassment at Borders

See the rest of the report here

When they gave my data back, every single Islamic nasheed and book I’d had on my phone was removed. Literally, all of it. Everything Islamic – gone.

In 2017 I was stopped three times under Schedule 7 on different trips in the space of three months.

During the first stop, they started by asking me a lot of things about my personal life, where I studied, my school, my grades, really irrelevant questions. Then it started about how many times I’d gone abroad. They were very slow and subtle.

The second part of the interview, they asked for my laptop password and phone password, and my fingerprints and DNA. Then it was questions about my religious views, whether I prayed, and how often I prayed.

They then asked me political questions, about what I thought about Baghdadi, and Iraq and Afghanistan. They asked me about what I thought about Assad, and that was tricky as sometimes the West loves him and sometimes they don’t.

Eventually after six hours, they let me go. They said I was no threat.

The stops progressed until they took my phone and removed data

Literally three weeks later, they stopped me again. This time was more vigorous and horrible. For five hours they took fingerprints and DNA, and when I said I didn’t want to give my fingerprints and DNA they said they would arrest me if I didn’t comply. So essentially, I had no rights.

Then they asked for my phone and laptop password. I am a videographer, I make films and I have sensitive data but they took my passwords as I had no right to refuse.

They saw that I had Tor browser, and they asked me why I had that.

When they gave my data back, every single Islamic nasheed and book I’d had on my phone was removed. Literally, all of it. Everything Islamic – gone.

I was questioned by three officers, three facing me and they were taking every single piece of paper out of my wallet, my bank notes, my bank card numbers.

I said this has nothing to do with anything. They said “we have a right to do it.”

They are largely clueless, but threatening

I said, “Look officer, you already determined I am not a threat, a few weeks ago.”

They said: “A lot can change in a few weeks.”

But they were all clueless. Two of them left, and the other one was asked to carry on the interrogation. And he just repeated what they’d asked me before.

They don’t know what they are doing.

But the Assad question threw me off, because this guy is a mass murderer right, he’s killing people – and I wasn’t sure what the position of the UK was. I just responded: “If he kills innocent people then he is evil just like any government or state that does, and I’m sure you’ll agree”.

They also said: “We’ve seen you praying on CCTV, so we know you are religious.”

In Dover, in the detention cells, they actually have a sign for the Qibla on the wall. A lot of Muslims must be getting stopped there.

Then MI5 moved in on me

At the last stop, a few weeks later I was held for around 30 minutes then let go. Some months later I had another stop in which they claimed it was a Schedule 7 stop but it wasn’t a Schedule 7 stop, it was MI5.

I asked them if it was a Schedule 7 stop but they wouldn’t confirm or deny it.

They just asked me the usual questions and told me we know you’ve been stopped. They asked me where I was going, where I was staying, who was picking me up, and they asked me to contact them if I knew of anyone travelling. It was clear what they were referring to.

They gave me a number to call them on.

Now, every single time I return from a trip where I have been stopped under Schedule 7 when I left the UK, I’ve been stopped by MI5 when I get back. Literally the moment I step off the plane, the men in suits are at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for me.


Photo by David Sinclair on Unsplash

(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.)