Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Latest on Anti-Terror Raid in Forest Gate

As the detention of brothers Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abul Koyair in Paddington Green Police Station was extended to Saturday, last night’s pre-arranged meeting by the Newham branch of Respect brought the television camera crews back to east London, and captured Yvonne Ridley, a member of Respect’s National Council, in grandstanding mood, calling on Muslims not to cooperate with the police. The look on the faces of some of her Respect colleagues was a picture, for rather than non-cooperation with the police, everyone else is calling for the police to actually start cooperating with local communities. We pay their salaries, after all, and have a right to hold them to account. Ms Ridley quickly became the story and enabled local Labour politicians to spend the day condemning her and her party, whilst Respect’s Green Street West Councillor Hanif Abdulmuhit publicly distanced himself from her comments. She was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, which also included a somewhat more thoughtful contribution from Asad Rehman, the chair of Newham Monitoring Project. You can listen to the piece by downloading this MP3 (5.8Mb)

Meanwhile, Stop Political Terror announced a demonstration this Sunday from Forest Gate Police Station, backed by the Muslim Association of Britain and Respect (see the latter's press release). However, there seems to be some confusion as to whether this protest will take place this weekend or be pushed back, after local activists pointed out that without the support of the two families caught up in the raids, proper stewarding and the participation of local mosques and community organisations, the demonstration could be either a damp squib or kick off and lead to arrests.

Meanwhile, Newham Monitoring Project has been busy helping the family that lived next door to the main focus of the raid, whose home was also raided and who are traumatised by the experience, to receive medical attention, overcome problems relating to absence from work and find somewhere new to live. NMP will also be conducting a door-to-door witness search next week and bring together residents from the six streets that have been cordoned off since 2nd June to discuss their concerns and experiences. One resident of Lansdown Rd, who complained about having to give his address and have an escort to his door every time he wanted to get back to his house, was seized and handcuffed. Five days on from the raid, residents in three streets still have to have permission from the police to return to their homes. And no-one, least of all the individual officers on duty, seems to know what legal basis they have for imposing this.

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