By Alana Lentin
Staff and students at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton are signing a joint letter of protest against the proposed deportation on Hicham Yezza addressed to the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Liam Byrne and the Vice Chancellor of Nottingham University, Colin Campbell.
Hicham Yezza, a staff member of the University of Nottingham who was arrested under the Terrorism Act for downloading an Al Qaeda training manual freely available from a US government wesbite. Although Mr Yezza was cleared of all terrorism charges, he is now facing imminent deportation on spurious immigration related offences. The University of Nottingham where Mr Yezza has been both a student and a member of staff for the last 13 years has done nothing in his support. He is currently in immigration detention awaiting deportation.
We are concerned that the actions of the Home Office, and Nottingham University's public silence over the matter, amount to an attack on intellectual freedom in this country that affects us all. It is also a matter of deep concern that the government, rather than admitting its mistake in arresting Hicham Yezza, has preferred to take the draconian measure of deporting him despite his longevity in the country.
Letter from staff and students at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton regarding the proposed deportation of Hicham Yezza to Liam Byrne MP, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham University (Copy send to The Guardian Education and The Independent).
Replies c/o Dr Alana Lentin, Department of Sociology, University of Sussex, Falmer, BN1 9RH. email@example.com
Brighton, June 3 2008
Dear Mr Byrne and Mr Campbell,
As academics and students at the Universities of Sussex and Brighton, concerned with the freedom of academic inquiry and study, we are writing to you with reference to the recent arrest of Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza at the University of Nottingham. The apparent offence was the downloading of an Al Qaeda Training Manual from the internet, freely available on a US government website. The response of the authorities and the University of Nottingham, in its singular lack of support, is a matter of serious concern to all British academics and students.
This matter has been compounded by the re-arrest, detention and potential deportation of Hicham Yezza on grounds of irregularities in his immigration status. It reflects very badly on this country that in response to the embarrassment caused by the initial arrest, further action against Mr Yezza should be taken merely to deflect public criticism of his handling by the security services. Hicham Yezza has been educated in Britain, has lived here for 13 years and makes a positive contribution to life in our country. As fellow citizens and residents, we believe that these actions are in dangerous contravention of our freedom as both scholars and human beings to contribute to research into matters of public concern. We are also convinced that if Mr Sabir and Mr Yezza had not been Muslim that their "offence" would not have come to the attention of the police. This has severe repercussions for students and staff of ethnic minority background or international members of our community who should feel secure as students and staff of our universities.
At a time when British universities are facing cuts and seeking income from international students, it is deeply ironic that the security and immigration services are making such efforts in alienating people from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa from coming to our country. We stand in solidarity with Hicham Yezza and others who may face the appalling situation to which he has been subjected and demand that he is released from detention and allowed to go home to Nottingham. We also call on Mr Campbell, as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, to issue an apology to Mr Sabir and Mr Yezza for their treatment by the University and to do everything he can in his power to halt the deportation of Hicham Yezza.
02 June 2008
By Alana Lentin
Posted by Alana Lentin at 5:14 pm