Muslim woman considers legal action after arrest for allegedly chanting ‘Free Palestine’

A Muslim woman from Birmingham is considering legal action against West Midlands Police after appearing to be arrested while protesting outside a Palestine Action occupation of a factory which manufactures weapons for Israel.

A video of the woman, who does not want to be named, being detained has gone viral on social media.

In a statement she said she was handcuffed and detained on Monday at around 9.30am on the intersection of Ravenhurst Road and High Street, Birmingham. 5Pillars understands she was later “de-arrested” after promising not to return to the area.

According to the woman, she was peacefully standing outside the cordoned zone in front of the Elbit factory to protest the occupation of Palestine, and at no point was she aggressive.

She said the police threatened to arrest her if she continued to chant arguing that she would be complicit in the alleged crimes being carried out by protestors on the factory roof.

At this point, she said she stopped chanting and politely inquired the legal basis and reasoning for such an arrest. One of the officers eventually stated it was a “breach of peace.”

She said she continued to ask how she was breaking the law, before suddenly being handcuffed and placed into a police vehicle by an officer who said that she was “not going to stop.” She, however, continued to request how the law had been broken and the reason for her arrest.

West Midlands Police. Editorial credit: Michael715 / Shutterstock.com

The officers only agreed to let her go, she said, if she agreed not to return to the site and provided them with her name. They then threatened to arrest her again if she returned, she said.

“I feel shocked about what happened to me and I feel my treatment was unjust and unfair,” the woman said. “I believe this was an attempt to silence legitimate protest through intimidation which is completely unacceptable in a society that claims to be democratic.

“I did not do anything wrong. If anything, I felt they saw me as a vulnerable hijabi, an easy target that could be intimidated. But it doesn’t matter how many times you are arrested or locked up, you have to speak out for the oppressed. This incident hasn’t put me off, it’s given me strength and high hopes thanks to the support and love from the community.

“I can relate to how the Palestinians feel when the world is behind them. It is more important than ever to show the oppressed Ummah that we are with them, that we are with the Palestinians, that we are with Masjid Al-Aqsa.”

West Midlands Police say it is common practice for people who are arrested to be handcuffed, especially if it is not appropriate to search them effectively in public view.

A spokesman said: “The woman was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace due to her behaviour at the cordon. Once arrested she was cautioned (ie. ‘read her rights’) and removed from the scene. Once away from the scene she acknowledged that her behaviour was unacceptable and she agreed not to return. Due to this, there was no longer the potential of a further breach of the peace so she was de-arrested.”

In response to the police statement the Muslim woman told 5Pillars: “Does questioning the legal basis of the threats of arrest against me for saying ‘Free Palestine” amount to a breach of peace? Secondly, at no point did I accept there was anything wrong with what I did. I maintain what I did was within my right and what was done to me was wrong and unjust.”

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