Family's arrest in terror case damaged links with police, says Muslim leader

RELATIONS between Muslims and police in central Scotland have been battered by the country's first al-Qaeda-linked terrorist case, with community leaders claiming the investigation has created mistrust and "left a bad taste in the mouth".

They are angry at the way Mohammed Atif Siddique's family was treated. His parents, brothers - one of whom was 13 - and 15-year-old sister were shackled by police who raided the family home in Alva, Clackmannanshire.

According to Mohammed Azad, the region's main Muslim community representative, the family members were "treated like they were guilty of something" by police in the days following Siddique's arrest in April last year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Azad repeatedly asked police to explain their actions, but was told nothing could be said until after the trial.

Relations deteriorated to the point where senior police officers were barred from attending an open doors day at the Central Scotland Islamic Centre in Stirling.

Police who led the investigation into the 21-year-old student - who faces a lengthy jail sentence after being convicted on Monday of three terrorist offences including circulating bomb-making guides and other terrorist materials - now face a struggle to repair relations with the Muslim community.

The bridge-building will begin later this week, when Colin Mather, Deputy Chief Constable of Central Scotland Police, chairs a meeting to hear concerns.

Mr Azad, the chairman of the Islamic centre, has broken his silence over an issue that has caused anger to simmer for more than a year.

"We have always had a good relationship with the police but there has been a breakdown with the leadership. We support police 100 per cent in their efforts to tackle the scourge of terrorism. We gave them that support at the time of this investigation. But afterwards we began to realise how the family and relatives were being treated. It's as if they were guilty. I think the blame lies with just a few police officers, but it has left a bad taste in the mouth," he said.

Mr Azad added: "How would you like it if you committed a crime but your mother was treated like she had done something wrong? This is Britain, it is not a third world country."

Mr Azad has now written to Andrew Cameron, the Chief Constable of Central Scotland, asking for answers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Another member of the Muslim community, who asked not to be named, claimed the way the police handled the investigation could backfire.

"The police would like a situation where, if we become suspicious about someone, we contact the police. We would like that too. But people will be less inclined to phone the police if they think their family are going to be treated in this way."

Central Scotland Police said their actions were motivated by the need to ensure officer safety. They also stressed they went to lengths to respect Siddique's religion.

A force spokesman said: "The manner in which the address was entered was part of the overall planning of the operation. It is important to gain control of an address quickly in such circumstances, and also of any persons within that address, from the perspective of the individuals' health and safety and also that of officers themselves."

He said the restraints were taken off members of the family "as quickly as possible".

He admitted the investigation had raised "tensions", but said police were eager to resolve any issues.


PUPILS in Clackmannanshire are to be taken to visit local mosques in the wake of the Alva terror trial.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Education officials hope the scheme will increase children's understanding of other religions in the community following the conviction of

the former Alva Academy pupil Mohammed Atif Siddique.

Gordon Banks, the local MP, said he had met officials from Clackmannanshire Council's education department and wanted to raise concerns about how Muslims were integrating into the wider community.

He said: "We had a few discussions to come up with ideas of how we can allow our schools to better understand the role of the Muslim community and the Muslim religion, just to try and show to the rest of the community that the Muslim community is here and has something positive to offer. I believe the first school we're looking at to do something of a positive nature is Menstrie Primary School."

A spokeswoman for Clackmannanshire Council said the scheme would be rolled out across all schools in the area.

Related topics: