Saturday, 29 October 2011

Pakistani Businessman Claims he Avoids Glasgow Airport

A BUSINESSMAN said he has stopped flying from Glasgow Airport because of the number of times he has been stopped and questioned by the police under powers designed to crack down on terrorism.

Mohammad Ashraf, chairman of wholesaler Bonanza, now flies from airports in England to avoid the “insult and embarrassment” of being pulled out of the queue and made to answer questions about his travel plans.

He said other members of the Asian business community had experienced similar “harassment” and were considering a similar boycott of the airport.

Police at Glasgow have come in for criticism for their use of Schedule Seven anti-terrorism powers, detailed in the Terrorism Act 2000, giving officers the right to stop and question airline passengers. It has been claimed officers use racial profiling when selecting people, overwhelmingly picking out travellers of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance.

Now Mr Ashraf has said he and his colleagues are fed up with being targeted and arrange to travel through airports where they are not singled out.

He said: “I’ve lost count of the times it has happened there, so I fly through Manchester or London when I have to travel internationally and I am never stopped at those airports.

“It’s hugely embarrassing and insulting when it happens. You are pulled to one side in front of everybody and asked all sorts of stupid and intrusive questions about where you have been and what you have been doing.”

Mr Ashraf, 51, was born in Pakistan and moved, aged two, to the UK with his family, describing himself as “bred in Scotland”.

He said passengers of European descent were not subject to the same scrutiny.

He added: “They ask all sorts of things about where I’ve been, what mosques I’ve been to and that kind of thing. Stuff that has no relevance to my business.

“There is no point in it. When my passport is scanned they should have my whole profile anyway, so there is no need for me to be constantly spoken to.”

During the summer, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill held a meeting in Glasgow with about 70 members of the Asian community to discuss their concerns about the way Schedule Seven powers were being used at travel hubs in Scotland.

He admitted there had been occasions when the powers had been used inappropriately, but said they were not deliberately used to target people because of their ethnicity.

But now members of his own party are questioning whether the police’s response is appropriate, with MSP Humza Yousaf calling for more effective targeting of the powers.

Mr Yousaf said: “The use of these powers at Glasgow Airport is clearly not intelligence-led, because the same people are being stopped time and time again. If people are being stopped eight or nine times then you would think something in the system would put an end to this.”

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said there were no formal complaints under investigation on the matter.

Assistant Chief Constable Colin McCashey added: “The threat from terrorism is very real. Schedule Seven of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a vital tool for tackling the threat.

“The service is constantly monitoring the manner in which these powers are utilised to ensure this vital work is conducted in a sensitive and professional manner that minimises undue distress to innocent members of the public.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “Schedule Seven checks are a police matter and we therefore cannot comment.

“However, Glasgow Airport has worked, and continues to work, closely with various local ethnic minority groups to help highlight and explain the procedures involved in the security screening process.”
Source: The Herald

Humza still at it. Apparently he feels so secure about his position in Scotland that he is now stepping up to do his bit for the Muslim cause in Britain as a whole. Here he is in the Muslim News agitating for "British Muslims" (sic).

1 comment:

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