Zainab Abbasi case shines spotlight on police brutality in UK

Tuesday, 04 August 2020_The footage is raw and deeply disturbing in equal measure: a panicked father waiting on her daughter’s bedside at hospital only to be brutally dragged away by ultra-violent police.

Bodycam footage shows Dr Rashid Abbasi being dragged away by Northumbria Police officers as his critically ill six-year old daughter, Zainab, clings to dear life thanks to a ventilator.

The background to the story is that Zainab, who suffered from the rare genetic illness Niemann-Pick disease, was about to have her life snuffed out as her doctors had just informed her father, and mother Aliya, that they had decided to switch off her life-support machine.

In an ironic twist, Dr Abbasi is himself a National Health Service (NHS) chest consultant with thirty years service behind him.

Justifying his decision to resist the forceful police officers, Dr Abbasi said he could not contemplate leaving his daughter’s side voluntarily.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today Program (August 03), Dr Abbasi said: “I would not leave my daughters’ bedside voluntarily just to talk to them [the police] because I knew if I stepped out they would not let me back in and they might use that opportunity to if I am away from her to remove the tube”.

In another interview with Sky News the Abbassis described the August 2019 incident as a “living nightmare”.

"To be honest, we cannot explain what a nightmare this became ... When my husband was being detained I was telling them he has a heart problem, he's had a problem for over 20 years.

"I actually thought he was going to die, at one point I said to the nurses am I going to be organizing two funerals?", Aliya told Sky News.

Following the brutal incident, the NHS trust applied to the High Court for permission to take Zainab off the ventilator, but in mid-September 2019, just three days before the hearing was due to start, she tragically died.

The Abbassis are now taking legal action against Northumbria Police.

The shocking incident is set to further diminish public confidence in British policing, not least because of the ethnic minority background and Muslim faith of the Abbassis.

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