A man released without charge after a week in detention as one of the latest batch of police "terror suspects" has branded Britain as "a police state for Muslims". Abu Bakr, one of nine men arrested in high-profile raids in Birmingham on January 31, made the comment on the BBC Newsnight program following his release on February 7. One other man was released along with Bakr; another seven are still being held in police custody.
Following the arrests, the British corporate media was awash with reports that the police had foiled a plot to capture and behead a Muslim serving as a soldier in the British armed forces. However, according to the February 8 Morning Star the two men released stated that the police had made no mention to them of any such plot. Gareth Peirce, the civil rights lawyer representing the two men told the Star: "They have left the police station without any better understanding of why they were there than when they first arrived seven days ago."
On February 8, BBC News reported that Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons (and foreign secretary at the time of the invasion of Iraq), told MPs: "We should not give excuse or quarter to those who claim this country is a police state — that is absolute, utter nonsense. We live in a democracy and what we are sadly having to fight at the moment is people who seek to destroy the very basis of our democracy."
Replying to an assertion by Conservative Party leader David Cameron that the "anti-terror" laws applied not just to Muslims but to everybody, Bakr told the BBC: "It's not a police state for everybody else because these terror laws are designed specifically for Muslims and that's quite an open fact."
Bakr told the BBC that his parents had told him they had aged 10 years during his week in custody, and spoke of the difficulties now facing him: "After seven days of virtual torture for my family, it's going to be hard to readjust. This is going to affect me for the rest of my life."
Following the arrests, the Birmingham Central Mosque chairperson Dr Mohammad Naseem told the February 3 Morning Star: "The government have invented this perception of a threat. To justify that, they have to maintain incidents to prove something is going on."