Created: Monday, 19 December 2011 14:45
Written by Bob Shepherd
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 224 December 2011/January 2012
At the beginning of September in Manchester, Munir Farooqi, Israr Malik and Matthew Newton were convicted under the Terrorism Act of attempting to recruit people to go to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban against British and US occupation forces. Now, not only has Munir been given a life sentence, but his family is facing eviction from their home by the courts in an act of vindictive collective punishment.
Munir and his brothers ran Islamic information stalls in Manchester which distributed religious literature. The police operation that led to Munir and the two other men being convicted lasted for over a year and involved two undercover police officers joining the stalls and pretending to convert to Islam. At the end of the trial Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) admitted, ‘this was an extremely challenging case, both to investigate and successfully prosecute at court, because we did not recover any blueprint, attack plan or endgame for these men’. In other words it was the evidence of these two undercover cops that was crucial to the conviction of Munir and his brothers. Harris Farooqi, Munir’s son, was also on trial but was found not guilty; Harris has stated that the undercover cops had been engaged in a systematic attempt to entrap him.
After the guilty verdict for Munir was announced, the NWCTU and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) informed the Farooqi family that they were going to apply to the court to seize their family home in Longsight, Manchester. This is the first time that the state has attempted to seize property belonging to people convicted under the Terrorism Act. The announcement came just weeks after the Labour council declared it would evict families of people convicted of offences during the uprisings/riots in August.
This act of collective punishment against the family will affect seven people who live in the house including two children, one a baby. The police say that the home was the base for Munir’s ‘terrorist activity’ and is therefore liable for seizure. As Munir’s alleged crimes only involve discussing religious and ideological issues with members of the public, anybody who has a different political or ideological view from the state had better beware. According to the police the house was a store of terrorist-related propaganda but the report of the trial in The Guardian said that ‘Officers found three books and three DVDs that were considered terrorist publications at Farooqi's home among more than 50,000 books and leaflets and more than 5,000 recordings.’
A campaign to ‘Save the family home’ www.savethefamilyhome.com has been set up and within four weeks 13,000 petition signatures supporting the family had been collected. These petitions were handed in to the CPS on 8 November. The next day in a show of contempt for the family and their supporters the CPS went ahead with their application to the court for the seizure of the family home. The case will probably come to court in March 2012. We cannot let the state get away with this act of collective punishment, and FRFI supporters in Manchester will be actively supporting the campaign.