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Imogen Lambert

Police 'harass' British-Yemeni teenager in bid to recruit informants

UK police have been criticised for disproportionately targeting British Muslims [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 October, 2015

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Blog: A teenager of Yemeni origin has been harassed and threatened by police in Birmingham, according to local community activists.
Farouk is an 18-year-old living in Birmingham, England's second-largest city, with his parents and young siblings.
But Farouk was not home when police smashed down the door of the Yemeni-British family's home in Bordesley on 28 September. Only his mother and the young children were there.

When the police returned, they drove Farouk in a police car around the city, telling him to identify people who might be connected to a missing person investigation. 

Although Farouk was unable to help, the drive continued until 2.30am.

His Yemeni family also has Swedish nationality, and they threatened to complain to the Swedish police.

Police apologised the next day, and told Farouk the missing person had been found.

But his ordeal was far from over.

"You look like a good guy, that can do a job for us and get paid for it and be one of us", they said, according to the family's press release.

"We'll come on Monday at 12pm, to take you to be trained."
     The family have sought legal advice and have launched a campaign to investigate why Farouk and his family were targeted


By the time the officers from Aston police station returned, Farouk's family had found the support of local community activists - who challenged the police tactics and threatened legal action.

A family friend told reporters that "all of this was without a shred of legal basis, process or accessible documentation".

After a complaint was made, their senior officer came in person to meet Farouk, the family and the activists - but failed to provide any justification or apology.

The family have sought legal advice and have launched a campaign to investigate why Farouk and his family were targeted. Their local member of parliament is understood to be supportive, and there will be a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Although the reasons for targeting Farouk remain unclear, campaigners say it was an example of the frequent police harassment of those they believe may be persuaded to become informers. Police have been known to target environmental and leftist activists in this manner for some time

The UK government runs a programme named Prevent, which ostensibly aims to combat "extremism".

It has been criticised for its disproportionate targeting of British Muslims, and for providing political cover for surveillance and intelligence-gathering within British-Muslim communities.

While circumstances surrounding Farouk's case remain murky, it is currently thought it was part of a local police operation, rather than a national counter-terrorism effort.

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