A Muslim College Student Was Questioned After Being Seen In The Library Reading A Book About Terrorism
Guardian- A postgraduate student of counter-terrorism was falsely accused of being a terrorist after an official at Staffordshire University had spotted him reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies in the college library.
Mohammed Umar Farooq, who was enrolled in the terrorism, crime and global security master’s programme, told the Guardian that he was questioned about attitudes to homosexuality, Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida.
His replies, Farooq said, were largely academic but he stressed his personal opposition to extremist views. However, the conversation in the library was reported by the official to security guards, because it had raised “too many red flags” .
“I could not believe it. I was reading an academic textbook and minding my own business. At first I thought I’d just laugh it off as a joke,” said Farooq, who then instructed a lawyer to help him challenge and rebut the claims.
The university, based in Stoke-on-Trent, subsequently apologised to Farooq, and admitted that the accusation that he was a potential terrorist had exposed the difficulties in implementing the government’s new anti-radicalisation policy. Groups representing universities and students said the episode represented infringements on academic freedom.
Farooq said he had been “looking over his shoulder” ever since, and so unsettled by the incident that he chose not to return to the course – but that he felt he had to make a statement about what had happened.
“The implications if I did not challenge this could be serious for me. I could go on a police list, I could be investigated without my knowledge. This could happen to any young Muslim lad. I had to fight back,” Farooq said.
Okay, let's get one thing straight. There's a huge difference between an innocent 14 year old Indian kid in a NASA shirt getting arrested for bringing a bomb shaped clock to school, and a 33 year old Muslim man with a beard being questioned for reading a book about terrorism. The first is discrimination, the second is due diligence. Fine, they are both discrimination, but you know what, maybe we need more discrimination in this world. Timeout. Let me clarify. With the amount of racial unrest I don't think we need to start judging MORE people by the color of their skin. However, questioning the intentions of people whose intentions look questionable could actually be beneficial. If someone was quicker to question a nerdy, isolated white kid from South Carolina maybe there's an entire church full of black people that are still alive. If someone was quicker to question a scorned, volatile black man then maybe a couple of white TV reporters in Virginia wouldn't be in an early grave. It's nothing personal Farooq. Sometimes a situation just looks like something it isn't, and it's better to be safe (and prejudice) than sorry (and dead). You can blame those around you for having a watchful eye, or you can blame the assholes, that happened to look like you, who flew airplanes into two huge buildings filled with innocent people.
I was never in a frat, but if i was in the college library reading up on the psychology of hazing rituals I wouldn't be crying foul if someone interrogated me on the kid that overdosed in Sigma Pi two nights earlier. Wouldn't you want someone to question a white kid with a completely shaved head and a trench coat that was reading a book about school shootings? Wouldn't you want someone to question a black kid wearing a red bandana reading a book about gang violence? The fact of the matter is that if I see a frumpy, overweight girl in the library reading a book about feminism I am probably going to assume that she hates men. That's just called light discrimination. Shit, I would even call it necessary discrimination. It's not like there weren't any context clues that may have led to the prejudice that Farooq is facing. Honestly, when a grown Muslim man goes back to graduate school just to take classes about terrorism and global security he's pretty much asking for it. There probably aren't too many other Muslims in his Terrorism Major for that very reason. Answering a couple of questions about your beliefs isn't going to kill you, and it just might prove that you're not out to kill everyone else. Fuck what your mother used to say. Sometimes we do have to judge a book by it's cover, especially if the person holding that book is a Muslim and the cover reads "terrorism".