It all began one morning at 6am during the usual morning school rush. Moments later, there was a knock on the door, and Afia wasn’t aware that from that moment her life would forever change.


As a single mum, I was struggling, as it’s always tough. But beyond that, I felt happy and grateful because I had a loving set of family and friends around me.

We were just ordinary Muslims, living in my local community. I would take my children to Mums and Toddler groups, where mothers could catch up whilst the children played. It was a chance for us to engage in activities together and connect with others in our community.

I would also give talks to connect with the community and offer my support. It was a way for me to engage with and support the local community. I helped with counselling sessions, offering mental health support to our youngsters in the community. These were the kinds of activities I participated in to improve people’s lives and support them through their challenges.

Then, that morning, everything changed in an instant. It was around 6 am. It was a typical busy morning at home, with the rush of school preparations.

I remember where I was when I heard the banging on the door. I was setting up the ironing board on the landing, telling the children to use the bathroom and get ready for the day.

I could see from upstairs that the door was locked, and it was shaking slightly. I heard voices outside saying they were the police and to open the door. Quickly, I told one of my daughters who was downstairs to open the door so they wouldn’t force their way in.

As soon as I heard the noise, I covered myself, as I was still in my pyjamas. One of the officers came in and thrust a letter into my face. At that moment, I was scared and wasn’t sure what it was. I assumed the worst.

It was a warrant to search my house under the Terrorism Act. Because it was thrown in my face, I couldn’t read it properly. The whole experience was blurry. And then soon after that lots of different people came in, suited men who were plain-clothed officers, taking charge like an infestation of bedbugs.

I felt overwhelmed, not knowing what was happening. I was crying and I began to shake. I was very anxious and worried about what this could mean for me and my family.

I wanted my children to be collected by my family but I had no way of contacting them because they’d already seized the telephones and laptops. I wasn’t even able to use my landline. It was a good few hours before they let me contact my family.  The police offered to drop them off, but I didn’t want that. Eventually, they contacted my brothers, who came to pick up the kids.

I was previously living in a small flat but had moved into a larger property. There were boxes scattered everywhere as I was still in the process of unpacking. I went to my daughter’s bedroom which was upstairs to see a police officer reclining on my daughter’s bed flicking through our family photos. He did it as if though he was a family member having a casual browse.

I was so upset and asked him how dare he go through my daughter’s photos, especially as I wasn’t covered in them. I told him to give the box back to me, and at that moment, several officers ran to me, shouting that I was obstructing the search.

I said that your warrant allows you to seize anything relevant. The photos are not, as they were just pictures of me and my children. After that, they went down to the living room where I had a bookshelf that had copies of the Qur’an. As I walked in, I saw them shaking them to see if anything was hidden and would fall out.

I was furious because of what they were doing. I said: “How dare you? How dare you touch my holy book when you don’t have ablution?” I told them the least they could do was to wear gloves when they touched the Qur’an. The female officer in charge told me that I couldn’t shout at the officers. I told her about what happened and threatened to document their actions. She then apologised on their behalf but made it out like it didn’t happen.

By this time, my children were in their uniform, ready for school, waiting to be picked up. Even their lunch boxes were searched. I was in complete disbelief.

You always hope for the best from Allah, but I did fear for my children that if I was arrested they would be taken away. I can’t even begin to explain what that does to a person – especially as the worst kind of trouble I had gotten into was a parking fine. I had no previous issues with the authorities and had never been arrested. That’s why there was no reason to fear a pending raid or as I hadn’t been involved in any criminal activity to expect it.

Heartbreakingly for me, they seized my money from a gold set my parents had given me. I knew that I didn’t have the finances to buy something like that again. But I had recently sold the gold because money had been tight and I had debts that I needed to pay off. I was debating whether to do so, but it had sentimental value as my parents had given it to me before they passed away. I wanted to keep it for my children for when they got married.

When the officers came across the money they took it. I was emotional as I told them I could prove where it was from as I had a receipt for the sale. I asked them if I could count it but they wouldn’t let me, so to this day I still don’t know how much money they seized.

They reassured me that they would calculate it properly and the amount seized would be known to me. They had said it was around £2,000 but I’m entirely sure that was incorrect as I approximated it was around £4-5,000.

Read more of Afia’s story…

Afia’s Story Part Three

When freedom finally came, it wasn’t an easy welcome. But a friendly face came to make the transition a little easier.

Afia’s Story Part Two

‘It's still a deep scar that's left on my mum's soul.’ Houda’s family were torn apart. Their lives shattered, they were left to deal alone, with the aftermath of her arrest. Quick Donate Single Donation Monthly regular Donation £ Zakat Interest Sadaqa Donate PART TWO I’ve struggled emotionally and physically because of my experiences. I’ve [...]