Yasin was detained overseas after being groomed online. Beaten, and degraded during detention for simply being a Muslim. He sought respite with only Allah. Even when he was released, he didn’t feel free. After all, how can you taste freedom in an ‘open-air prison’?


My calling to Islam 

I reverted to Islam around nine years ago.  Growing up, I always had a belief in one God but hadn’t been exposed to Islam or Muslims. When I was seven years old, I visited Turkey where I first heard the adhan.

I felt drawn to it. I was amazed. There was a real sense of community. When it was time to return home, I remember crying. I didn’t want to leave. From that trip onwards, I began to look inward and question my purpose in life.

Over time, I developed a sense of empathy for the Muslim community and began to get involved in charity work.

Eventually, I came across the Qur’an and read it. It felt as though Allah was talking directly to me. I had a strong feeling that a book like this couldn’t have been written by a man. I remember finishing it and crying – feeling that I had neglected my life and my time up to that point. At that moment, I knew I had to take the shahadah.

 Prison Before Prison

I had moved to another city. I was going through a difficult time as it was hard to find work, and my marriage was failing. I didn’t have much of a support network. I had also noticed people that would linger outside my house at night, and I would get random calls, to intimidate me. It felt as though I was in an open-air prison, they made it difficult to have any sort of life.

Because I was being watched, I couldn’t be myself. I was working at a charity at the time, and they were questioned about me. From that moment on, I knew I wasn’t going to be left alone. They were trying to force me into isolation.

Beaten and kept underground 

Feeling vulnerable and harassed, I panicked. I didn’t feel I could stay here, so I decided to leave the UK and move to the Middle East. I was in a vulnerable situation, not knowing anyone, and having no income, but I felt I couldn’t return. I didn’t feel safe in the UK. I began speaking on social media with someone, who later turned out to be an agent. I felt like I had been entrapped or groomed by them.

After being arrested, I was held in a detention centre, semi-underground,  for seven months. I was treated horribly and repeatedly beaten. There wasn’t access to basic things such as books or even pens.  I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on at the time as I was young, naïve, and struggled with my mental health. I had only been Muslim for six months by this stage.

Finding respite with Allah alone 

When I was deported back to the UK, I was kept in what seemed like a police station within a police station. I felt extremely isolated. I couldn’t contact my family until seven days later.

The biggest struggle I faced during my detention, was not knowing when it was going to end. It felt like I was in there forever. When I was in the cell, I was stripped of my own identity, of anything that mattered to me.

Eventually, I was allowed a Qur’an. My solitude with Allah kept me strong. After I became numb to their interrogations, I would sit at night, looking at the sky, through the window above me, reading Qur’an. That gave me the hope I needed.

My experiences didn’t only impact me, it also affected my mother. She felt like she was being followed and would also get random phone calls. She was also harassed by the media.  It was very difficult to be away from my family, and I was only able to contact them via letters at that point.

Degraded during detention

In prison, I felt a pervading sense of being stripped of identity and denied the ability to practice my faith.  When I ordered lunch, I’d be given food that contained pork, although they were aware I was Muslim.

When it was time for Friday prayers, I wouldn’t be let out. When I complained, it was thrown back at me and excuses were made. It felt degrading and frustrating. There was no recourse to justice.

When I was moved to another prison, I was placed in segregation and beaten by the officers. I was threatened with rape and other violence.  They would take my prison ID and make me wear a very short dressing gown, with nothing below the waist.  They would throw my Qur’an in the toilet and have their search dog defecate in the room.

In the weeks leading to my release, I was woken up at five in the morning by the search teams. They would come into my room and they would strip-search me. They did that every day for nearly a week, as if to say, this would not be the end of it.

Facing difficulties post-prison 

I knew I wasn’t going to be left alone. Even though I was due to be released, they tried their best to find an excuse to keep me in prison. When I was released, I was then told that for 15 years I’d need to notify them of any travel, changes to my home address, or my contact details.

They also had the right to break to visit me at my property, and the right to force entry. I realised I had now moved from one prison to a slightly more open one, but a prison nonetheless.

Initially, when I left prison, it wasn’t difficult for me, financially.  I could open a bank account upon my release, but as soon as I left the hostel I was staying in, they closed it without explanation. Every other bank rejected me and I had no money. The little I had left was sent to me via a cheque which I couldn’t cash without a bank account.

I had no identification at the time, and it took me four weeks to receive any sort of benefits. I didn’t even have enough to feed myself.


Read more of Yasin’s story…

Yasin’s Story Part Two

“Allah knows best, I may not have been alive today without it.” – With his wife stranded, and his bank account closed Yasin didn’t have anyone to turn to. Quick Donate Single Donation Monthly regular Donation £ Zakat Interest Sadaqa Donate PART TWO Embraced by HHUGS There was no one to reach out to, and [...]