Islamist refugee fears extradition

Radio Netherlands 4 October 2011
By Michel Hoebink & Mohamed Amezian

The Netherlands granted Moroccan Islamist Hassan Bakir political asylum in 2007. He was arrested in Spain in July and fears that he will be extradited back to Morocco, where he faces the death penalty. Bakir denies that he is a terrorist. He says he is shocked by the lack of support he’s getting from the Netherlands: "It turns out that even in Europe I am not safe from the tentacles of the Moroccan secret service.”

Hassan Bakir thought he was safe; he’d been granted political refugee status by the Dutch government and believed this would protect him. But he was arrested by the Spanish police when he visited that country with his family in July. He has been in detention for the last two months now, waiting for a Spanish judge to rule on an extradition request by Moroccan authorities.

Political conviction
Bakir is secretary-general of Shabiba Islamiyya, a Moroccan Islamist opposition group that was established in 1972. In 1985, when he was just 18 years old, he was sentenced to death in absentia for his political activities. He spent 20 years in exile in Libya before coming to the Netherlands in 2005; he was granted political asylum two years later. He now lives in the Dutch town of Gouda and teaches at the Islamic University of Rotterdam.

As an Islamist, Bakir does not enjoy much moral support from the Netherlands. After his arrest in Spain, articles appeared in Dutch newspapers wondering how a ‘wanted terrorist’ could have been granted asylum in the Netherlands.

The Freedom Party (PVV) led by anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders asked questions about it in the Dutch parliament. Until now, Bakir has heeded the advice of his Spanish lawyer and refused to comment on his case, but he has decided that it’s time to defend himself against allegations that he is a terrorist. (...)