Muslims hit back over terror raids
Mark Hesford | May 8, 2009
PUBLIC meetings denouncing the 'criminalisation of Muslims' will be held in the wake of anti-terror raids in Manchester.
Two meetings have been arranged by community leaders in Cheetham Hill after last month's police swoop in which 12 men were arrested but never charged.
The meetings are being supported by the British Libyan Solidarity Campaign, The Respect Party, The Mule, Red Pepper and Manchester No Borders.
Organisers have branded the arrests, across the north west, as an example of 'shameful harassment' against the Muslim community. The allegations have been strongly refuted by Greater Manchester Police.
A leaflet publicising the meetings states: "In spite of no evidence of any terror plot being found, 11 of the 12 are still being held in custody, awaiting deportation. Instead of an apology, the police promised more such raids.
"We must unite to stop the deportation of Pakistani students and break the wall of fear that is being built around Muslim communities.
"The government must stop this shameful harassment and criminalisation of Muslim communities."
Legal representatives, campaigners and families of some of the men facing deportation are due to speak at the public meetings - tomorrow at the Pakistani Community Centre, Stockport Road, Longsight (2pm) and on Tuesday at the Saffron Restaurant, Cheetham Hill Road, Cheetham Hill (7.30pm). The meetings come as Greater Manchester Police continue their 18-month Counter Terrorism Consultation to let the public offer ideas on how to prevent terrorism.
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson, in charge of the raids for GMP, said: "The operations the GMP and North West Counter Terrorism Unit carry out have one objective - to protect the public. They are not targeted at any particular groups or communities.
"We recognise that a number of people carrying out terrorist actions have purported to do this supporting Islam but we know Islam is a peaceful religion."
Last week, Greater Manchester Police Authority organised an event hosted by the Community Security Trust to allow people to share their views.
The CST is a charity that seeks to protect the Jewish community from threats of bigotry and terrorism.