This is a personal message to all those who helped me and my family during the 11 years that I was in prison.
By the Grace of Allah I have now been back home for nearly 10 months. I have been overwhelmed by the hugs, tears, gifts, dinner invitations and messages of goodwill that I have received, mostly from people I have never met before. Although I knew that my family ran a public campaign for me, I had no idea how much my case meant to so many people. I also had no idea how much was done, by so many people, for many, many years to bring me home. It is truly humbling.
So I would like to take this opportunity to personally say thank you:
To each and every person that supported my family, whether by a gift, a lift or a good word. Whether it was those who bought my dad a printer when they couldn’t fix his one or those who changed his car’s tyres and refused to take a penny. Whether it was those who kept my family in their homes when they travelled round the UK to visit me, or those who fixed the electricity and cooking stove for my parents without making any money out of it.
To my lawyers and their staff at both Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and the Federal Defender Office in Connecticut, USA. All of these were the unsung heroes in my case, as I will share in my forthcoming book God-willing.
To each and every person who drove my elderly parents to visit me in prison, both in the UK and US, for five long years. Those visits gave me a welcome respite from the harsh reality of what I was going through.
To each and every person that wrote to me when I was in prison. I tried my best to reply to every single letter but it soon became overwhelming and I was unable to keep up. I apologise profusely if you ever wrote to me and never received a response. I have kept every single of the 10,000 or more letters and cards that I received in prison. It is my dream to meet in person every single person that wrote to me when I was in prison. Your letters gave me strength during my darkest moments and reminded me that there were others out there who were invested in me.
To each and every person who campaigned for me, signed a petition for me, wrote a letter for me, held an event for me, attended a protest for me, produced audio or video for me, gave an interview for me… thank you.
To each and every person that prayed for me and my family. There were days in prison that felt light, and those were the days in which I knew people were praying for me. And there were days in prison that were heavy, and those were the days in which the prayers lessened in intensity.
I would like to make a special mention to those within the Muslim community: you are a great community. You never abandoned me. You fought to bring me back and bring me back you did. You should be proud of yourselves. I have heard a few people criticise our community for disunity, apathy and cowardice but despite searching far and wide I have struggled to find these traits in our community. We are united, we are optimistic and we are brave. If anyone finds that hard to believe, you only have to look for what our community did for me, let alone others suffering hardships that were not as well known.
I had no choice but to try and endure what I was going through. But each and every one of you had a choice. You did not have to support me but you chose to support me. In my eyes that makes each and every one of you a hero. You should be proud of yourselves. During those days and nights when I was unable to be strong for myself, you reminded me that there were others out there that were counting on me to be strong.
I am sorry that I have not been able to accept every invitation. I am sorry that I have not been able to respond to every person that has contacted me, directly or indirectly. And I am sorry that I have not yet been able to meet everyone that wants to meet me. I have made good progress but it will take me time to fully re-settle. I appreciate your understanding.
During the 11 years that I was in prison, I lived the life of a hundred lifetimes. I have many wonderful stories to share. Although the book I am writing is still work in progress, until then I have started a blog at babarahmad.com. There are only a few articles on there at present and I hope to reach out to as wide an audience as possible, hence the variety of content. I hope there is something in there for everyone.
I hope to post content on my blog every Monday morning at 08:00 GMT/UTC, starting on Monday 09 May 2016. Follow my Facebook and Twitter feeds for details.
If you have not already done so, you can read my interview with The Guardian at tinyurl.com/babarspeaks.
Whether you believe in God or not, one day you might find yourself in a calamity but Allah will save you from it because of what you did for me. May Allah bless you.
“Verily, after hardship comes ease.” [Quran 94:6]
Believe it. It’s true.