Matt Stadlen is Leading Britain's Conversation
28 October 2016, 13:24
Maajid has experienced victimisation at the hands of the police, but he thought things had improved since then. Today’s news made him question that.
In his final show filling in for James O’Brien this week, Maajid Nawaz told an incredible and shocking story of being wrongfully arrested when he was 15.
He had been playing in a park with friends in Southend, where he grew up, with a BB gun. Someone reported the group, who were British with Bangladeshi and Pakistani parents, to the police. This started an extensive surveillance of the teenage boys.
A few days later Maajid was leaving a pool hall with his friends when a police helicopter spotlight opened up on them and they were arrested at gun point, accused of planning to rob a bank.
Maajid was released the next day with no charge and an apology. He views this incident, which happened a year before the murder of Stephen Lawrence and subsequent botched investigation, as an example of the institutional racism in the police.
“I call those the ‘bad old days of racism’.”
“In the year leading up to President Obama’s election, I took the very strong view that those bad old days of racism no longer existed.
“I took the view that perhaps, as a society, we’re moving beyond seeing each other primarily defined by the colour of our skins and that we’re moving towards a post-racial society… I am no longer so sure.”
The doubt has been lodged in Maajid’s mind by new figures to come out of the Home Office showing that while controversial ‘stop and search’ tactics by police have fallen, they have fallen more for whites than blacks. Black people are six times more likely to be stopped than white people.
As Maajid makes clear “the racial disparity has grown” and makes him ask the question “are our race relations deteriorating?” He warns there's a chance of regressing back to the ‘bad old days’.
“I remember those days. I remember being called the ‘P-word’ and being spat at by police as a 14-year-old when I was walking down the road.
“I remember those bad old days and they didn’t feel good. It wasn’t nice back then. And I worry that we’re in danger of returning there."