Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:38AM
Campaign groups in London have held a public meeting to expose widespread intimidation and harassment of Muslims by British intelligence services. Activists say M-I-5 agents use scare tactics to force Muslims to spy on their own community.
In October 2012, Mahdi Hashi, a British Somali, had his UK citizenship removed by the Home Secretary because he refused to spy on his own Muslim community. Mahdi was threatened and intimidated by British intelligence agents and later fled the country. Although his whereabouts are unknown, he is believed to be imprisoned in a secret detention site. Mahdi is not the only person to be harassed by M-I-5 agents. For several years now, the British security services have adopted a strategy full of blackmail and intimidation against members of the British Muslim community, all in the name of protecting ‘national security’. On Friday a public meeting took place aimed at exposing the problem of MI5 practices towards Muslims. The event was sponsored by a wide range of campaign groups and bodies. Speakers at the meeting believe the British state is using these tactics to counter any criticism of their policies. One of the main aims of the meeting was to demand the government to be held accountable for carrying out crimes against the freedoms and rights of individuals. Organizers of the event also encouraged Muslims to speak out against MI5 blackmail and to refuse cooperation. There have been hundreds of cases of MI5 blackmail, with many more still unreported. Many refugees from Kurdish, Sri Lankan and Somali communities have faced blackmail. Individuals are threatened with deportation and torture if they fail to cooperate. If they do cooperate, they could be granted asylum as a reward for becoming informers. Muslims in the UK have been under intense scrutiny and surveillance over the past 10 years, and the saga of MI5 harassment has only created more mistrust between Muslims and the British government. Campaigners say the UK authorities should stop treating all Muslims as suspects and instead listen and respond to their needs in order to create a more cohesive society.