Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The wrong kind of British posted by bat020A truly gob-smacking exclusive in this week's Socialist Worker about how the government and courts are trying to deport a British citizen to Pakistan. Yup, you read that right — a British citizen who happens to have been born in Pakistan, and is consequently considered a "foreign criminal" by this disgusting racist government.
Saqib Almas, the guy in question, did time for petty crime a few years back, served his sentence, was released over two years ago and was getting on with his life in east London. Until the government decided that hunting down "foreign criminals" was its number one priority.
Then someone noticed that Saqib had dual nationality (he was born in Pakistan because his mum, a British citizen, happened to be there at the time and has lived in Britain since aged 18 months).
And then another someone decided that this fact made Saqib "foreign". So the immigration officers descended on his house at 8am and now he is sitting in Harmondsworth about to be stuck on a plane to Pakistan. They have basically decided that if you're the "wrong kind of British" they can strip you of your citizenship at will.
The testimony of Sam Almas, Saqib's sister, is worth reading in full:
They came for my brother Saqib at 8am when he was still sleeping. My mother found two vans of police and immigration officers preparing to break our front door down.
Now the government is trying to deport him to Pakistan – even though he is a British citizen. This is blatant racism and arrogance from Tony Blair and his government. We have to challenge them, or they will carry on down this line.
The court issued a warrant for my brother’s arrest on Thursday 11 May. The next day they arrested him and by Saturday he was in Harmondsworth detention centre.
They gave him a document saying that they want to deport him to Pakistan because he has no ties in Britain and he has a criminal record.
This is ridiculous. He grew up here and went to school here. All our close family are here and we are British citizens too.
Yes, he has a criminal record – but for minor offences, and he has been punished for that. He’s done his time and he doesn’t deserve this.
What has happened to my brother makes me rethink my beliefs. I am British. I was born here. My grandfather was invited to live here after he fought for the British in the Second World War.
I’ve never felt that I had to choose between different identities before. But when they are threatening to put my brother on a plane to Pakistan, they are saying that they don’t want us here.
I’ve been a Labour supporter all my life, but now it makes me ashamed to think that I supported Labour. Some of the laws they have brought in are barbaric.
The government is completely blind. At a time when the British National Party is getting large votes in parts of London, anyone with any common sense would realise that what the government is doing is making the situation even more volatile.
Blair’s priorities are all wrong. I work in a hospital and I know that the NHS is in serious trouble with huge cutbacks. Government ministers should be worrying about that. Instead they are continuing with an illegal war, raiding homes and deporting people.
This is a quick fix solution from the government. To them, my brother and other people like him are just statistics. But he is a human being and he should be treated with some respect. I have a three year old daughter and sometimes I wonder whether I really want to bring her up in a society with so much racism and injustice.
Blair thinks he is untouchable. He needs to think about what he is doing before he starts trying to teach the rest of the world about democracy. I have no faith in him or his government. We should remind them that they are answerable to the people.
In other news: a 30 year old Afghan man was stabbed by racist thugs in Barking on Wednesday night - on the same evening that 12 Nazi councillors were sworn in at Barking & Dagenham town hall. They left him for dead - draped in an England flag.
And on Thursday night in Merseyside, Alec McFadden, a prominent local anti-racist campaigner and left wing trade union activist, had his face slashed up on his front doorstep by a knife-wielding Nazi. The attack took place in front of his two young daughters.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair has appointed Liam Byrne as his new immigration minister. You may remember Mr Byrne - he's the toerag who won his Birmingham Hodge Hill seat at a by-election in 2004 by running a blatantly racist election campaign.