Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lewisham Police raid Muslim Wedding Reception

Muslim News (26 November 2010) reports:

'A young Muslim couple’s wedding reception was wrecked by the police when they were arrested at their home full of guests and taken to the local station on allegations that it was a forced marriage. Shahid and Kiran Iqbal were getting ready to go to the celebrations, when police first raided their home in Sydenham, south London on October 31. “They pushed into our house without warrant and demanded to see my wife, Kiran. They didn’t tell me why they were there,” Shahid told The Muslim News...

There were around 200 people in the house and around 800 were waiting in a reception hall. At around 12.30 the bride and groom and the family and friends began leaving for the reception led by musicians playing drums. “As soon as we began leaving around 10 police officers came to our house. They told me they were not satisfied and told me I was under arrest,” Shahid said. “I asked him for what. He replied, ‘For kidnapping.’ I asked, ‘Whose kidnapping’, he replied, ‘you kidnapped a young girl under the age of 18 and you are force marrying her.’ I said this was not the case and that you had talked to my wife earlier and you told us it was Ok.”
... Shahid, his parents and parents of Kiran appealed to the police officers to allow them to go to the reception and said they would willingly go to the police station after the celebrations. “We told them they could accompany us to the reception to ensure we don’t run away,” said Shahid.

But they were taken to Lewisham police station where they were questioned. Kiran said she was asked the same questions as before. They asked her name, her age, what she did, how long she had known her husband and whether she was forced to marry. “I said no. I told them I was happy to get married. They asked me to sign a statement to this effect which I did,” said Kiran...

“They did not even apologise after they had spoilt our day which we were looking forward to enjoy and celebrate. We spent so much money, the large amount of effort we put into to make the wedding reception perfect. All of this went into waste,” said Shahid. Most of their guests, who had come from around the country, had left when they reached the reception. “I was embarrassed when we walked into the hall. I felt humiliated,” said Kiran'.

Doubtless the police were obliged to investigate the allegation of forced marriage (which they now acknowledge may have been made maliciously), but did they have to pile in such a ham-fisted and insensitive way?

On Wednesday 1st December, Lewisham Anti Racist Action Group and Goldsmiths Studnet Union are holding a meeting on 'Fighting Racism and Islamophobia today - Defend our rights, celebrate diversity'. It takes place at Goldsmiths Student Union, Dixon Road, SE14 from 4 pm to 6 pm. The meeting is part of the One Society, Many Cultures initiative.

1 comment:

Raven said...

The police action was outrageous and highly insensitive, in this account. I'm imagine the way in which the action was taken is contrary to the Forced Marriage Unit guidance - I hope the FMU and Police take this on board, and that this case is investigated. It seems mind-boggling that this can happen in a place such as Lewisham. Of course forced marriages must be investigated, but surely weighing-in in this way is not the way to do it.