Efforts to evict the family of a Muslim convicted under anti-terrorism laws from their home amount to “collective punishment” and are deeply unjust, according to a local Baptist minister.
Rev. Gary Serra di Migni is a minister with Urban Expression in Longsight, an area in Manchester, England.
He is backing a campaign to save the family home of Munir Farooqi from being forfeited at the request of the Crown Prosecution Service – although it is owned in Farooqi’s wife’s name, not his.
Farooqi, 54, is currently appealing his conviction after having been found guilty of trying to recruit fighters to join the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He was convicted of preparing terror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature. He will serve at least nine years.
But prosecutors have moved to apply for the house he shared with his extended family to be forfeited, sparking a local protest campaign.
“Given that he was convicted and found guilty, the same law considers his family to be innocent,” said Serra di Migni.
“Munir Farooqi does not own the house; it’s in the name of his wife. The five adult members of the family have been given notice that the CPS is applying for forfeiture,” Serra di Migni said. “They, Munir’s 8-year-old daughter and 8-month-old granddaughter are to be made homeless, and the Council will have the responsibility of rehousing them.
“They are innocent. They are all living together, and they are to be split up. Already they feel persecuted, broken and demonized.”
Serra di Migni has known the family since he moved to Longsight three years ago and met Farooqi at the market stall prosecutors claimed he used to recruit vulnerable young men.
He says that the use of anti-terror legislation against an innocent family sets a dangerous precedent and is backing a petition to stop it.
“The biggest problem in getting support is that people don’t believe this is possible. Within a week of the conviction, I had a text from Munir’s daughter saying ‘They want to take away our house.’ I thought she was mistaken,” he said.
“But they can do it, the law is there. And if they can do it in these circumstances, they can do it in others. For instance, if your wife was convicted of burglary or fraud, even if you’re not connected, you could lose your home.”
“This is a justice issue,” he told The Baptist Times. “The bottom line is that justice should know no gender, faith or ethnicity.”