Hicham was invited on the 21st September to speak at this year’s Labour Party Annual Conference in Manchester. He appeared at a meeting on a panel alongside Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson, legendary politician Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP as well as prominent Trade Union leaders. The meeting was entitled “Do not let your mind become occupied territory” and was hosted by Labour Against the War.
Hicham spoke of his experience in detention as well as his current ongoing fight for justice. Alan Simpson described the audience’s reaction, saying ” [Hicham] had the whole room just in stunned silence when he talked through in very reasonable terms about the catalogue of ways in which he has been systematically sabotaged as a character”. He also expressed delight at the powerful effect Hicham’s contribution had had on those present.
During his speech, attended by a host of MPs and political journalists, Hicham argued that his and Rizwan Sabir’s arrests at the University of Nottingham in May had contributed to create a climate of fear amongst muslim students. The Nottingham Evening Post reported on the speech and later published a letter of response from the University which confirmed no muslim students had so far contacted the University authorities about their concerns.
Nottingham Evening Post
Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 13:32
MUSLIM students at the University of Nottingham are living in fear of persecution, according to a man who was arrested on terrorism charges only to be released without charge.
Hicham Yezza said two of his Muslim friends from the University had stopped attending a mosque because they feared being targeted for arrest, and another felt he had to stop studies into political Islam.
The 30-year old, who has lived in Nottingham for 14 years said his friends were too scared to speak publicly about their fears.
He said “the impact of this on the community on campus has been dramatic.”
Minutes after being released without charge, Mr Yezza was rearrested on immigrations issues.
He is now fighting his deportation in the High Court.
A University of Nottingham spokesman said “we’re dissappointed. We have a thriving Islamic society and have discussed what happened with them and have had no representations of the kind Mr Yezza mentions”.
Friday, September 26, 2008, 06:00
I’m afraid that your story headlined ‘Muslim students in fear’ (Evening Post, September 24 2008) was presented without context. Your source spoke at a fringe meeting of the Labour Party conference alongside Alan Simpson MP, and the issues presented bear no recognition to everyday life on our campuses.
The headline ‘Muslim students in fear’ misrepresents the very good inter-faith relationships we enjoy, and which we have worked very hard with the Students’ Union, faith leaders and the campus Islamic Society to establish.
It also sends a negative message to the many thousands of Muslim people, both at home and overseas, who choose to live and study in Nottingham.
This item did not identify the two individuals who Mr Hicham Yezza says are unwilling to observe their faith or demonstrate religious observance on our campus.
I can tell your readers with confidence that they are massively outnumbered by Muslim students and staff, from many nations, who continue to practise their faith and celebrate their culture without hindrance or distress, in an atmosphere of tolerance and support.
Jonathan Ray The University of Nottingham