Police Harassment of Leading British Muslim Scholar

15 Nov 2003

The MCB has expressed its outrage at the police harassment of an eminent Islamic scholar earlier this week. On Tuesday night, 11th November 2003, Shaykh Yusuf Motala, former Rector of Islamic seminary in Bury, Lancashire and one of the most highly respected religious leaders, was travelling to the Holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, when he was detained and questioned by police at Heathrow Airport for almost seven hours causing him to miss his Ramadan pilgrimage.

In a letter to the Home Secretary sent today the MCB Secretary General, Iqbal Sacranie said `No clear explanation has been forthcoming by either the police or the Home Office as to why Shaykh Yusuf Motala was subjected to such unacceptable behaviour. If the police had any legitimate enquiries they needed to make they could surely have seen him at any time at his home or place of work. There is a very real concern that Muslims are now being singled out for profiling and discrimination in the name of fighting terrorism. What message are we sending out to Muslim communities up and down the country? Muslim communities do feel discriminated and victimised by such incidents. Unfortunately confidence in the police is at an all time low in the community.’

As a devoted educationist, Shaykh Yusuf Motala has for many years been involved in establishing Islamic colleges in the UK. English speaking Imams and Ulema graduating from these institutions are serving the younger generation in a useful and constructive way. They follow the national syllabus and their work has earned appreciation and support from both OFSTED and the community.

However, this case is just one of many that highlights the greatly increased level of suspicion and prejudice that British Muslims now have to encounter almost every day. It is not only demeaning to the community but is eroding their trust in the police and security agencies.

`We are therefore urging the Home Secretary to investigate this matter thoroughly so that such appalling incidents do not recur. We also seek urgent review of procedures in order to bring an end to this type of Islamophobia among their officers. This is necessary to stop community relations deteriorating further,’ said Mr Sacranie.

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