A week after being held in a terror swoop, a Birmingham man was released without charge. He told Emma Pinch about his detention.
Seven days in a police cell is a long time when you're baffled as to why you're there.
To distract himself – in between bouts of police questioning about Post-It notes and secret codes – Abu Bakr read George Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier.
His choice of reading material is surprising, given he's not only an academic in political Islam, works in an Islamic bookshop, and detained on suspicion of terrorist activities. You would guess at something well, less English – or at the very least something more like the author's1984.
But 27-year-old Mr Bakr does a good job in shattering preconceptions. Tall and broad-shouldered, he wears a suit, pinstripe shirt, a white T-shirt, trendy rectangular glasses – probably supplied by brother Ahmed, an optician working in SpecSavers down the road – and wavy shoulder-length hair pulled back in a blue hair band.
He jokes that interviewers probably expect a full beard and broken English – and to a degree he's right.
He's conducting interviews in the office of the entrepreneurial Ahmed's second business, Property Partners, on the Coventry Road in Small Heath.
In no way does Mr Bakr try to play down his passion for Islam. "People put people in a box," he says, between energetic mouthfuls of burger and fries. "Islam is part of my DNA. It's like me being a male – I can never change it. I also love playing football and films.
"I'm not playing the race card, but people seem to think you don't have feelings for your parents or your child; if you're Muslim you're like a race from another planet. There's a difference in this country between a Muslim and a white person.
"Prejudice is natural, but taken to the next level it can ruin people's lives."
He seems baffled by reasons for his arrest and thinks it has to do with suspicion being stoked up against Muslims.
He claimed Britain for Muslims was becoming a police state – an assertion hotly denied by Jack Straw – and stands by his view.
"When they took me into custody they referred to it as operation Gamble.
"I thought, 'I'm going home if it's a gamble', they've just arrested anyone who, I don't know, stroked the wrong cat."
But he was held in custody for seven days without, he says, any mention of a so-called plot to kidnap and behead a British soldier.
"The police didn't ask me about the bookshop. They asked me about things they had found, like Post-It notes or a hair clip. They would ask the same list of questions about everything they found. The officers were going through the motions. I knew I had done nothing wrong. They seemed more nervous than I was."
When informed his 'police state' comments had been debated in Parliament he is half triumphant, part overwhelmed: "I didn't know how big the story was until I came out. It was my family who were living with the helicopters and journalists."
His incredulous reflection on what happened had shades of that other media circus with Orwellian links – TV's Big Brother.
He's not interested in celebrity, but neither does he want his story to fade.
"I think the justice system here did prevail, because the judge said 'you've had enough time, charge him or let him go home'," he said.
"My parents have aged ten years in the last seven days. The stress caused to my mum and dad and my wife and kids has been unbearable – and that can't be taken back."