Amir is a British citizen who after years of being politicised and involved in spreading Islam in the public forum and through the Dawah had his passport removed from him in the spring of 2015, after over a year of various problems with the police and MI5 including Schedule 7 stops, house raids and being recruited by the security services.
Amir is in his early 30s. He was raised in a traditional Muslim family, attended madrasah and studied Arabic. He describes his understanding of Islam as apolitical while growing up and later becoming politicised after he left school when he started studying Islam in depth. This helped him fill the gaps he identified in the school curriculum, particularly in regards to religion where he found that the knowledge he gained did not resonate with him. He would learn about World War I and II at school and felt that there was no space for discussions around Western involvements in Iraq or Afghanistan, which were issues close to his heart. He soon become politicised, involved in spreading Islam and countering misconceptions about his faith through participating in various debates around Islam, including on British television. Apart from his involvement in propagating Islam, Amir had his own business in the food industry. He has a wife and kids who have all been impacted by the harassment from the security services. Amir believes that what lies at the basis for assessing him as being of ‘bad character’ is that he associated with some people five years ago: ‘I don’t associate myself anymore since I got family’.
‘They went to my parents’ house when I was abroad, they were aggressive’
Prior to 2014, Amir had never been arrested or encountered problems with the police or security services. His problems started when he was in Turkey trying to set up a business there. His visa had ran out and he got stopped and placed in a detention centre and later deported back to the UK. He then decided not to continue with his business in Turkey due to the issues he encountered and instead focussed on North and Eastern Europe as business ventures. Even there, he got stopped by the local police and subsequently deported. Before being deported he was interrogated at the airport by a British man, James, who said he worked for the secret services. He was friendly and offered Amir food alongside with encouraging him to phone his colleague, John, when he arrives back to the UK. Amir got put on a plane back to the UK in handcuffs and police met him at the tarmac in London, stopping people who ‘looked like me, who looked Asian’. He got detained for a Schedule 7 stop and asked questions about where he was born, what kind of Islamic talks he was listening to, who he was living with, his thoughts on Syria and whether he had given charity. And then, in what surprised Amir, they asked what he thought of Lee Rigby. At the end of the interrogation, a man called John offered to give Amir a phone and tablet and asked whether they could meet for coffee because they are very interested in people like him. In the following months Amir remembers that he was being monitored in very obvious ways. Then, on his second short trip back from Eastern Europe the police, dressed in suits, escorted him off the plane and handed him a letter from Theresa May informing him of his passport deprivation. The letter was dated one day in advance, marking the pre-emptive nature of the measure.