Am I student or a suspect?
Lets define the terms.
A student: A person who is studying at a place of education.
A suspect: A person allegedly guilty of an illegal, dishonest, or unpleasant act, without concrete and irrefutable proof.
Under current legislation I would fall into both categories. Not because I've engaged in any illegal, dishonest or unpleasant actions. No. Its because I am a student that just happens to be Muslim.
There are some who will be reading this blog and assume that I am just another student sensationalising the impact of procedures intended to mitigate possible 'extremism' found on our campuses. But the evidence, my politically correct friend, sadly suggests otherwise.
Just last week, Muhammad Umar Farooq, a postgraduate student of Terrorism, Crime and Global Security at Staffordshire University was falsely accused of being a terrorist after a university official spotted him reading a textbook in the college library.
The name of the book? Terrorism studies.
Muhammad was reading this book given to him for his course. On a cursory glance of the situation, it seems like a joke. However, considering the difficulties faced by the person subjected to such abuse, that amusement turns to anguish and ultimately anger.
This is not the first time Muslim students have been unfairly targeted and falsely accused due to the climate of fear the government has created. And if current counter terrorism legislation continues to be applied, it won't be the last. When you force academics and university staff to report on so-called 'extremist' behaviour, there will inevitably be mistakes made and ultimately, lives ruined.
In reality, extremism still hasn't been defined and therefore the parameters which academics and university administrators are meant to use, are non existent. Even our Home Secretary hasn't come up with an answer.
So what can be done? The Prevent agenda needs to go. Not only has it been academically discredited, but even some of the very people that championed it a few years ago, have come out in opposition. If we really want to put an end to the horrific crimes committed by IS and its ilk, we need the Government to look at its own actions in all of this, and to open up dialogue with mainstream Muslim organisations (not just its own cherry-picked ones).
We as a society must speak up against this oppression first. As students, academics and activists, we need to make our stance clear and challenge this noxious piece of legislation. We as FOSIS, alongside the NUS Black Students' Campaign, Defend the Right to Protest, and the University and College Union (UCU) have organised the Students Not Suspects Tour across the UK, trying to bring about awareness surrounding Prevent. We aim to equip all of our attendees with the knowledge and networks to take this campaign on across the local spectrum in campuses and the wider community.
If we work together I can return to being Yusuf Hassan the student, not a suspect.
London - October 14th
Birmingham - October 15th
Swansea - October 16th
Bradford - October 20th
Manchester - October 21st
Glasgow - October 22nd
For more information, visit: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/shelly-asquith-8422109955