Imagine that your child, sibling, relative or friend is taken from you and detained for years without trial. They are accused of 'terrorism-related' crimes by a superpower waging war on its enemies. Would you turn away from them or take notice?
Justice, dignity, humanity and mercy are crucial principles in our lives, which is why we must know what we can and do what we can for Talha Ahsan.
Talha is a 31 year old poet from Tooting who has been imprisoned for coming onto 6 years, without evidence or trial, pending extradition to the USA. Born and bred in London, Talha comes from a Muslim Bangladeshi background and is diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. A shy bookish young man, with a first class honours degree in Arabic from SOAS, he continues to write poetry from prison. At the time of his arrest in July 2006 he was due to be interviewed for a job as a librarian, we are poorer without him.
The USA government requested his extradition from the UK under dubious 'terrorism' related charges and the compliant British authorities did not even scrutinise the evidence against him properly. Talha, his family and supporters are campaigning for a fair UK trial, which we believe is not possible in the USA. Achieving justice whilst Muslim is hard, and we must exercise courage, skill and unity of purpose to get it. It is not a ready-made meal.
We must act immediately to build momentum in our communities. From July, as the Olympics capture public attention, Talha may be extradited to the rapturous applause of much of the media, who will drown out the injustice with dehumanising images of men with beards, hooks for hands and loathsome angry preachers. We know that the story is different, but we need to share this story amongst our families, friends and neighbours and do it justice.
Muslims in the UK are blessed with many favours but also endangered. Like the Irish throughout the Troubles in Northern Ireland, we are proving easy to accuse, lock up and ignore. We request your support for Talha and others in similar situations help us establish a justice-making, supportive community of principles. There is no shortage of things to do.
- Become informed, organised and mobilised about the issues
- Attend the Public Meeting in Central London on 23rd May*
- Speak to our close ones about and promote the Free Talha campaign
- Remember Talha in our prayers
- Champion the cause in our organisations
- Write to Talha (who can still receive correspondence so long as he is on these shores)
- Write to the media
- Write to your MP, make it relevant to them, it is surprising how little they know.
To learn more about the case visit www.freetalha.org
You can also get involved through social media: find the FreeTalha Ahsan page on Facebook, follow the @freetalha Twitter account and tweet #freetalha
*The Public Meeting will feature Salma Yaqoob, Gareth Pierce, Riz Ahmed and Bruce Kent and take place from 6pm - 8pm at Hend House, 233 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8EE. Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road http://www.facebook.com/events/283339501756605/