A councillor from East London was stopped today at Heathrow and asked questions about his visit to Cairo. Cllr Oliur Rahman had been there for the now annual and infamous Cairo anti-War conference. He was asked the purpose of his visit and decided that this was unfair. He reports the incident:
A man standing behind the desk when I went to immigration control asked to see my passport and said he was a police officer. He asked me why I'd been in Cairo, how long I'd been there, what contacts I'd made and where I lived. I asked him what was the purpose of these questions and he said he was from Special Branch and had the right to ask under the Terrorism Act. So I asked if he was calling me a terrorist. He said 'no' and went away and left me for half-an-hour.One can't help but wonder if he didn't get himself into trouble by apparently refusing to answer the questions. But Mr Rahman knows what was really going on:
They didn't stop anyone else from that flight and I'm sure it was because of the colour of my skin and because I'm a Muslim. It really makes you realize what happens to people.Now it's quite clear that Mr Rahman was convinced of this the moment he was stopped, hence his offended question "are you calling me a terrorist?" But this is patently untrue. Mr Rahman says that no one else was stopped, does he expect us to believe that on this flight from Cairo he was the only Muslim on board? How else could he be so sure that it was because he was Muslim that he was stopped.
Mr Rahman is second on the Respect Party ticket for the London Assembly elections. Do we suppose that his candidacy might be withdrawn for launching baseless and self-evidently untrue accusations at the police? I wouldn't hold my breath.