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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
'Don't make the UK like New York'
by Smyth Harper
BBC News Online, Manchester

Zarina Ahmed
Zarina Ahmed was in the World Trade Centre on the morning of 9/11
Lawyer and journalist Zarina Ahmed knows what it's like to experience being stopped and searched.

Ms Ahmed, 26, is from Manchester but spent four years in New York working and studying.

And it was in the US city she experienced first hand the security response to the September 11 attacks.

At JFK she has been interrogated, followed, and even escorted from the airport by security guards. And she has been interviewed by FBI agents in bars.

Ms Ahmed is a Mancunian, but her family's roots are in Pakistan.

She believes the colour of her skin is the reason she has been singled out.

I was in the World Trade Centre 20 minutes before the first plane hit - the extremists who attacked that day attacked me as well
"You really do feel you are victimised, particularly at the airport," she told BBC News Online.

"I believe security is important. But you should stop people because they may be a risk, not simply because they are brown - and that is how it feels in New York."

Ms Ahmed loves New York, and feels a real affinity for the people there since 9/11 - with good reason.

"I was in the World Trade Centre 20 minutes before the first plane hit. The extremists who attacked that day attacked me as well.

"And I don't feel protected, I don't feel secure.

It seems if America can get away with it, then Britain will try to get away with it too
"It does tend to put me off the whole experience of going back - although I am returning there next month."

She fears that the statistics revealed by the Home Office on stop and search show that the UK may be trying to head in the same kind of direction as the US.

"It is definitely more strict over there.

"They seem to be ignorant about people who are different and definitely give anyone with an ethnic background a hard time.

"In the UK it is much more multi-cultural, but they seem to be using [anti-terror legislation] as an excuse.

"It seems if America can get away with it, then Britain will try to get away with it too.

"Give it another year, and I think the UK will be a lot more like America, and I think that would be a mistake."


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