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4 June 2008

Nottingham: Student protests at arrests

OVER 500 students and staff demonstrated last week at Nottingham University over the arrest and threatened deportation of a member of staff, Hicham Yezza. After a lively march with home-made placards and banners, protesters held a ten-minute vigil facing the University administration offices, with their mouths taped over, protesting at the university's collusion with the police.

Pete Mason

The incident which led to the deportation threat, reported in many newspapers, was a document downloaded from an open source on the internet for a student's dissertation on contemporary terrorism. The document, an al-Qa'ida training manual, was downloaded from the US state department website, but is available from Amazon for 8.99.

Rather than checking to discover the circumstances, the university informed the police, and the student and staff member who printed out the document were arrested and held for six days before being released without charge. The staff member was then immediately re-arrested for immediate deportation, leaving no time for representation.

However by this time, the university students, who had already been protesting about the needless calling of the police and subsequent arrest of a student last year (as reported in The Socialist, 'Nottingham defends democracy', had organised a defence campaign. This resulted in the demonstration, addressed by local MP Alan Simpson and covered on local TV.

Alan Simpson put pressure on the Home Office over the threatened deportation of Hicham, which has been postponed, although he is at a detention centre at the time of writing.

His lawyer has applied for a judicial review, and the lecturers' union has also put pressure on the Home Office.