We know Cerie as a keen advocate and assistant for HHUGS. He helps our families with emotional support, fundraising and other practical needs. But as the positive role model, dear friend and kind soul we know, Cerie hasn’t always received the justice he deserves.
Cerie, also known as Kaleem, is an English-Irish convert to Islam. In 2006 he set off to Syria with the intention of volunteering in an orphanage, but unfortunately he didn’t get very far. At the airport Cerie was stopped, interrogated for 9 hours and prevented from travelling to Syria for ‘his own safety’.
Content with the will of Allah, Cerie didn’t become disheartened. Instead, in an attempt to pursue his altruistic dreams, he made alternative plans to go to Bangladesh to work for an orphanage he had discovered via family and friends.
However, this time his plans were destroyed even before setting off to the airport. MI5 agents called his friends and family advising them not to accommodate Cerie because he was involved in terrorist activities. He was then approached a few days later and served with a Control Order (C/O). In shock and utter dismay, Cerie had no idea why, for the first time in his life, he was suddenly under suspicion of terrorism.
The Control Order
For a year and a half Cerie was placed under harsh control orders including house arrest, overnight residency conditions, a prohibition from attending educational courses without Home Office approval, confiscation of travel documents and a prohibition from entering international ports like Kings Cross station.
As the primary carer for his sick and vulnerable mother, Cerie kept his devastating situation a secret for fear of causing his mother to deteriorate further. One evening his mother’s health took a turn for the worse and Cerie immediately went to her side, only later to be arrested and tried for breaching his Control Order regulations. Unsympathetic towards Cerie’s situation and his responsibility towards his sick mother, the Control Order remained strictly in place, causing him to be arrested nearly 40 times in the space of a year and a half.
Unsurprisingly, Cerie began to harbour feelings of desperation. Unable to work, cover the costs of living, freely see his family and experiences a massive impact on his marriage, Cerie became isolated and depressed. He attempted to do a nursing degree but his curfew times and new criminal record prevented him from even getting started. In sheer desperation and loneliness, Cerie went missing. Five weeks later he handed himself in, after realising the trouble he would face.
Cerie was charged, placed on remand and spent six months in prison awaiting his trial. By the will of Allah, he was acquitted after a long week and a half trial. The jury agreed that although he breached his Control Order on 47 occasions (by his admittance), it was solely due to the unreasonable nature of the Control Order.
He was released back on Control Order with a tag and curfew from 9pm-9am. He had to sign in at the police station miles away on a daily basis in the middle of the day. Cerie remained on Control Order for a further 4 months.
At Cerie’s final hearing the high court judge ruled that Cerie should be freed from his Control Order based on the dismal of secret evidence. The judge further commented that had he seen the evidence the day after the Control Order was applied he would have dropped the case immediately. He did not give the Home Office any right to appeal repeating that ‘there were no grounds to suspect that he (Cerie) was a terrorist and there hadn’t been any such grounds’.
When we met Cerie and heard of his traumatic experiences, we immediately knew that it wouldn’t be his downfall. Experiencing first hand the catastrophic effects of a Control Order enforced due to suspected terrorism, Cerie is the ideal person to offer support, advice and practical help. He has delivered lectures and helped with mosque collections but above and beyond this, he is the primary exemplar of hope and justice and now a valued member of our HHUGS volunteering network team.