Salma part 3
I was shocked , were they really accusing me of terrorism? I had gone to Greece to take humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. I was furious, emotional and heartbroken. I was also being deported away from Rahim and back to London where I would be questioned about my role in a terrorist organisation.
I knew my rights but I also understood the policies which made it possible for them to detain me without charge.
I was deported from OR Tambo and the reason I had been given, was that my paper work was not in order. I arrived in London in cuffs, I wasn’t taken via the normal arrival procedures and was hurried into the airport via corridors I’d never seen before. I wasn’t allowed to make a call despite being assured that I would be given the opportunity. I was taken to a small cubicle somewhere in the airport for questioning.
The questions rained down like missiles on Afghanistan. They said I was part of an organisation that promotes radicals. They assumed I wanted to join ISIS because had assisted Syrian refugees in Greek camps. They accused the refugees of being ISIS recruiters and pretending to flee war.
I was getting angry and frustrated, I was tired after a long flight and really hungry and I needed both a shower and a toilet badly. I was stripped of my niqab, which the officer called a terrorist cover up. I was given prison clothes to wear, even thought they did not adhere to halal requirements and my arms were showing. For a while I was in denial, could this really be happening to me in the UK , where there are human rights and freedoms? I knew about the British prisoners being detained at Guantanamo but surely everyone knew they were innocent and even our government was fighting for them to be returned home. Or were they? This was insane! I felt like an actor in a bad American movie. They asked me if I had traveled to Pakistan, I explained that we had visited some of my granny’s cousins. Suddenly I was accused of working for the Taliban. I asked them to decide, was I being accused of being a member of the Taliban or ISIS or did my tour of Palestine make me a member of Hamas?
They claimed to have photos of me meeting ‘the militant imam’. I asked them if they meant my dad ?
They claimed to have been tracking me for a while and having access to my mobile phone and e-mail.I told them that they had my family photos from my phone and they asked me to prove that the lady in the niqab was me. I sat there waiting for someone to jump out from behind a hidden camera and tell me that I was being pranked
2 days passed and I was questioned over and over and over again. I wasn’t allowed to pray or clean myself and when I asked for the bath room I was given a dish and a jug of water. I was forced to eat whatever they gave me. An officer walked in and announced that he was their to ‘collect the prisoner’ and suddenly I felt like I would never see Rahim again.