Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they’re all wrong


by Sunny
12th February, 2010 at 9:21 am    

People reading political blogs generally seem to hate nuanced positions, but I’m going to try anyway. For that it’s likely I’ll get slammed by both sides but that’s fine. I need to get this out of my system.

Many of you will know the background to the Amnesty/Gita Sahgal/Moazzam Begg/Cage Prisoners saga. Well, even if you don’t, you can read on. I’ll focus on each of the main actors – none of who come out smelling of roses I think.

Gita Sahgal
I’ll start by saying I have had great respect for Women Against Fundamentalism and Southall Black Sisters (who Gita was associated with). I’ve made several docs where I’ve worked extensively with women from SBS and lobbied hard when their funding was being cut.

I think Gita was right to raise concerns over Amnesty’s link with Cage Prisoners (CP), who Moazzam Begg (MB) leads, for reasons I’ll come to later. But she’s wrong on various counts:

1. Her implication is that Amnesty is being affected in its support for human rights across the Middle East by giving MB/CP a platform. There is no proof for this. If she’s only arguing that Amnesty’s reputation would be damaged, I’d argue that having a public spat did far more damage to Amnesty.

2. She has also argued that Amnesty has “never done any research on the networks developing in Britain or Europe or the US” – but that’s not their job. They don’t do counter-terrorism they do protection of human rights. And on that basis they have to argue for the rights of all people including Islamists and even white fascists.

3. I’m also unsure of what Gita is specifically accusing MB of? This is unclear. She knows that Amnesty does not have any formal links with CP or Begg. She also knows they are not consulted on for Amnesty reports. So how exactly are Amnesty being affected by them?

Amnesty int
I have the highest respect for Amnesty, but I think they made a few mistakes here. First, they should have paid more attention to its very loose relationship with Cage Prisoners for reasons I’ll come to later. I decision to suspend Gita was not unexpected, but Amnesty has to realise this is no longer about her.

The loudest voices pushing this campaign have had a vendetta against Amnesty for years because of its unrelenting willingness to highlight human rights abuses across the Middle East. This is also an issue I’ll come to later.

The point is, they need to quickly draw a line underneath this episode. Reinstate Gita, have discussions about her concerns and deal with them. Say it will review its relationship with CP and MB and put joint events on hold until that has been done. It should also admit that they should have been more careful before associating with Cage Prisoners.

Also – Amnesty should recognise that most online commentators bad-mouthing them, in all likelihood, never paid much attention to universal human rights anyway and don’t donate to Amnesty. The real danger for them is to have feminists turning against them and this dragging on. Draw a fucking line underneath it.

Moazzam Begg / Cage Prisoners
I’m not going to bother defending CP really. I spoke to a (Muslim) friend last night who admitted that he had his own reservations about them because they had gone further than simply trying to agitate for Gitmo to be closed, and to trying to defend other Islamist radicals, even some who had been convicted on terrorism offences.

They should have strongly distanced themselves from Anwar al-Awlaki and other Islamists. They have people like Yvonne Ridley representing her: an apologist for the Taliban and the Iranian regime.

Moazzam Begg alone however is a slightly different issue. MB was a radical before he went to Afganistan – no doubt about that. His views since on various issues are more difficult to pin down. For example he wrote this last year:

Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought are fundamental rights that every human being has from birth till death. But like most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are freelike most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are free.

Freedom of religion? Does that sound like a guy who supports the Taliban?

I’m not denying however that MB seems very ambiguous on certain issues. My friend said that he was either naive or was unwilling to publicly abandon more radical people who he wanted to reach out to, to bring them back from the brink of violent extremism.

But I’ve not found a single statement from him since coming back from Gitmo that says he supports terrorism or the Taliban. Also, we have loads of former radicals in the UK: Shiraz Maher, Ed Husain and Hassan Butt (who Nick Cohen even praised a lot) are just three. Why are some people allowed to change and others not?

“He’s failed to articulate a clear position but that doesn’t mean he’s guilty,” said my colleague and I agree with that. But failing to articulate a clear position when you’re working with world’s foremost human rights org is a liability.

MB needs to clearly say what he is for and what he is against on a range if issues: the Taliban, violent extremism, women’s rights in Afghanistan etc. That isn’t to say he does not have dodgy associations: he does. But the question is: is he a support of jihadi terrorism or curtailing women’s rights or the Taliban? That is the issue here.

More questions
Amnesty’s remit is to fight for human rights of all – incl those of Islamists who are not convicted of terrorism. If Begg and Cage Prisoners were advising them on who to ally with then that would be a cause for concern. Do we have any evidence of that?

If Amnesty were tempering criticism of the Taliban or women’s rights in Muslim countries then we have a right to be concerned. But that is emphatically not the case

This year Amnesty has been consistently and loudly talking about violence against women in the UK and worldwide. It is run by a woman. Are people really saying it has abandoned women’s rights?

Lastly
My main concern here is that people who have already had a vendetta against Amnesty are being supported by feminists who would otherwise not agree with them on a range of issues.

For example, David Aaranovitch is having a go – the very same who was “agnostic” on 42 days detention.

Nick Cohen is also having a go – the very same who on record as supporting the torture of detainees in certain circumstances, and has wrongly criticised feminists themselves in the past. With friends like these…

Link: Earwigca has diligently written up transcripts of interviews and published all the statements.


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they're all wrong http://bit.ly/98DE4q


  2. earwicga

    RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they're all wrong http://bit.ly/98DE4q


  3. Further links on the Amnesty and Gita Sahgal situation « Harpymarx

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  7. Jeanine Martin

    Pickled Politics » Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they …: Nonetheless, the declaration was called Un… http://bit.ly/9RLQRB


  8. Eben Marks

    Sunny Hundal gives some even-handed criticism all round, much needed after the frothing madness from other bloggers http://is.gd/8gxui


  9. Dheeraj

    Pickled Politics » Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they …: … Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic,… http://bit.ly/9QcPmv


  10. thabet

    Sunny @pickledpolitics has a good summation of the Amnesty/Sahgal/Begg story: http://ow.ly/173zQ


  11. pickles

    RT @thabet1979: Sunny @pickledpolitics has a good summation of the Amnesty/Sahgal/Begg story: http://ow.ly/173zQ




  1. MiriamBinder — on 12th February, 2010 at 9:48 am  

    Contingency politics brings strange bedfellows. The whole issue is that once you have or are perceived to have bedded down with someone, you are forever tainted unless you openly, publicly and explicitly clarify your position. Then it would simply be a matter of, whenever the snake of taint raises its ugly little head again, referring it to your very open, extremely public and explicit statement; and then carry on with whatever the snake was trying to stop you from doing with its diversionary tactics.

    I do think however that the issue of womens’ rights is another clouding factor. It should be that it addresses the issue of the abuses of women as a matter of HUMAN rights as such rather then womens’ rights specifically. Though I think this is actually what Amnesty is attempting to do … in fact this is exactly what Amnesty is doing. Getting caught up in the discourse of gender, race, religion or ethnicity politics is expanding valuable resources and giving rise to a charge of ambiguity; the delight of conspiracy theorists world wide.

  2. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 10:03 am  

    This could also be entitled: “Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, Moazzam Begg and why they’re all right”.

    Amnesty is remaining focussed on promoting human rights. Gita is focussed on ensuring Amnesty does not end up supporting a political faction. Moazzam is focussed on ending the torture of a particular group within a current conflict. I don’t see any problem in supporting all of them. I see no point at them slinging mud at each other.

    Gita and Moazzam may doubt each others’ hidden motives. But, like you say Sunny, it is not really for Amnesty International to sort out their differences.

    Amnesty International is criticised all the time from many angles, including by its members. What might damage its reputation most is if Amnesty reacts more sensitively to criticism from people on this issue than it does on others. We need to consider the principles at stake a little, and leave political monoeuvring to those who make that their focus.

  3. Yakoub — on 12th February, 2010 at 10:11 am  

    Begg is a dyed in the wool Salafi. It’s not a religious position that is going to gel easily with European values, including human rights. He could live in Afghanistan under the Taliban without being viewed as a Western threat, although he was critical of some aspects of their regime, including the Taliban’s attitude to female education.

    I’ve read his book, Enemy Combatant. I thought Begg did a good job of portraying himself as a complex man, sincere and humane in his values, but also puritanical and deeply flawed. He’s not someone I could easily like, but judging him by his own values, he’s a good guy and has bravely championed the rights of people many Brits would gladly see dead.

    As for Gita Sahgal, I’m not sure what she hoped to achieve by her actions. I’m perplexed as to how it will serve the people Amnesty and indeed Begg seek to assist.

  4. Boyo — on 12th February, 2010 at 10:32 am  

    “The real danger for them is to have feminists turning against them and this dragging on.”

    Well yes, but you fail to acknowledge the elephant in the drawing room (as does Amnesty) that “human rights” are a Western construct – they are a certain set of values that are in/compatible with a certain PoV.

    You want to have your cake and eat it, as usual, but your cake is all icing with no substance. And it is making you sick.

  5. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:17 am  

    Boyo – I agree that “human rights” is a western construct. Ahimsa is an eastern construct. Yet these constructs both express something in different ways about how we should treat one another. “Do unto others as you would be done by” and other formulations also go towards the same thing. Rights based discourse happens to have gained both popular currency and some State-level recognition.

    Personally, I am happy to adopt western constructs which approach the ideals of treating each other with ever greater mutual respect. And to use the most effective resources of the English language when promoting this with other English speakers.

    Just as there are clashes between human rights and other western traditions, so there are clashes between traditions in every large complex culture. But since cultures keep changing and drawing on one another, it is worth keeping up the dialogue.

    I agree it is an “elephant in the drawing room” – it is one which some Amnesty members ignore, some decide to negotiate around it, some don’t see it, some debate it, some feed it and hope it gets bigger, etc. But it doesn’t seem to make people sick very often. I don’t see why you think it should.

  6. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:17 am  

    Boyo,

    but you fail to acknowledge the elephant in the drawing room (as does Amnesty) that “human rights” are a Western construct – they are a certain set of values that are in/compatible with a certain PoV.

    Really?

    The following is a list of the countries that voted in favour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adoption way back in 1948:

    Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

    Some strange bedfellows, no?

  7. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:25 am  

    Anyone want to correct me? I think that that is every nation in South America that was independent at the time. It is clearly a South American conspiracy!

  8. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:29 am  

    I agree that human rights are universal, and should be defended in all contexts, and with no exceptions.

    It is absolutely true, as Douglas points out, that international human rights standards were endorsed by a wide range of cultures and jurisdictions.

    What I suspect Boyo is coyly suggesting is that certain Islamist theorists see an incompatibility between human rights principles, including equality between persons irrespective of gender or religious identity, and their own deeply cherished beliefs.

    Here is a good example. It is an essay by Massoud Shadjareh who runs an organisation that is called the Islamic Human Rights Commission. It is clear from this essay that Shadjareh – who is a supporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran – has a particular conception of “Islamic Human Rights”, which are at odds with “universal human rights”.

    http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=10

    Here are a few extracts:

    In fact, the formulation of human rights theory has also largely been politically motivated, and led by advocates with narrow political agendas of their own. The idea of a universal definition of human rights can be dated back to the proposal of an International Bill of Rights of Man in 1945 by Hersch Lauterpecht, a leading Zionist. It was this proposal that led to the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN, adopted on December 10, 1948. This was drafted by a committee of 15 experts from different countries, in which debate was politically driven and influenced by the ideological differences between socialism and capitalism. Whilst the countries involve might appear to form some sort of cross-section of the world community – Iran, the Soviet Union and India were all involved – a closer look at their terms of employment, engagement and reference shows this to be a fallacy.

    None of the representatives were nationally or culturally representative; instead they in fact it was a specific term of their engagement that they did not represent national or cultural interests but rather were ‘experts’ in the rather narrow field of ‘rights’ discourse that was being used by the UN Committee. So all representatives adhered to a narrow concept of ethical theory hailing from such ‘emancipatory’ texts as The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, and the US Bill of Rights.

    Nonetheless, the declaration was called Universal in order to give it an aura of authority.

    Or this…

    Perhaps the most important point to make is that in Islam, rights (haqooq)belong first to Allah, then the community and then the individual. Compare this with the western conception of Human Rights in which the individual is given precedence, and thus has the absolute right to be as permissive as he wants, without society having any collective right to be moral.

    Another aspect is the issue of rights and responsibility. In Islam, rights carry responsibility – it is a well-balanced system. All those who are privileged in some sense or another also have greater responsibility. Those who are competent in particular fields – for example, entrepreneurs, writers, artists and scholars – are also responsible for the results of their work and the impact they have on individuals around them and wider society.

    Or this?

    The whole of shari’ah law deals with the question of implementing justice
    and mizaan (balance). This is in sharp contrast to the realities of western law. In the UK we have recently seen the case of Tony Martin, who was jailed for 15 years for killing a burglar who entered his house; compare that to the case of Drazen Erdemovic, who was accused of killing 1200 men and women in Srebrenica. After confessing to killing 75 people, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail. This was reduced on appeal to 5 years, with the judge saying that he was still young enough to be rehabilitated!

    Or this.

    I strongly believed that the problem with Muslims in this country and worldwide is that the Islam in them is Islam without the strength or the ‘izzah’. That is why the enemies of Islam are able to plunder, kill and rape Muslims, and deny the most basic rights our Muslim brethren in the world and even in the UK today. In short what we can and must do is not just mobilise ourselves instead we need to promote Islam and the justice of Islam as a means of salvation for the whole world.

  9. Jai — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:32 am  

    that “human rights” are a Western construct

    Incorrect. The Persian emperor Cyrus the Great is acknowledged as being the first ruler to formally draw up a human rights charter. The Indian emperor Ashoka had similar views after his conversion to Buddhism. The Mughal emperor Akbar the Great made human rights (especially religious freedom) a bedrock of his policies. Universal human rights irrespective of religious affiliation, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, wealth, social status etc are amongst Sikhism’s core values.

    And so on and so forth.

    Despite the revisionist efforts of the 19th century Victorians, in reality the rest of the world wasn’t necessarily as full of benighted, barbaric savages as they claimed in order to justify their own overseas “interventions”. It is, however, interesting to see that the legacy of that era’s social re-engineering programmes targetting British attitudes towards peoples from other parts of the world lives on in some quarters.

  10. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:33 am  

    It is of some serious concern if leading activists inside Amnesty International have erected some sort of hierarchy of human rights violations, with torture being a more heinous crime against humanity than, for example, deprivation of rights on the basis of gender.

    By partnering with Cageprisoners and Begg, Amnesty have chosen to put women’s rights lower in qualitative value than the human rights of torture, renditions, false imprisonment. This is a curious decision from an organisation whose remit is the protection of *universal human rights*.

    It is also interesting to note that Amnesty now acknowledge Moazzam Begg’s politics are problematic. Which is why their line of defence has changed from a defiant call to stay with Begg to this:

    He speaks about his own views and experiences, not Amnesty International’s. And Moazzam Begg has never used a platform he shared with Amnesty to speak against the rights of others.

    In other words, however appalling Begg’s views are, he didn’t advocate them on an Amnesty platform. Which is patently untrue because we know Amnesty have promoted the man itself, in spite of being aware of his views (salafi islamism).

    And that is why Gita Sahgal’s decision to alert us to this appalling development was wholly correct.

  11. A.C. — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:37 am  

    They’re all wrong! But only Gita Sahgal is wrong above the fold…

  12. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:47 am  

    To be honest, David, the kinds of criticisms up there seem little different to the types of criticisms of human rights I get from people within Western traditions. In fact I think you have come up with a particularly weak example, perhaps from politeness, of how some Muslims criticise “human rights” when justifying human rights abuses.

    Some Muslims see human rights as a figleaf for another agenda, just as some religion can often be seen as a figleaf for another political or social agenda. And sometimes they are used that way. But that is not all they are, and that is not how they have to be.

    Concern for human rights deeply argued for one day may be thrown out of the window the next. Maybe this is what Gita Sahgal suspects Moazzam Begg does, and what he suspects the British Government does, and the British Government suspects anti war activists will do, and so on.

    But AI needn’t get bogged down with trying to figure out who really truly cares – it finds out information on human rights abuses and supports people who do care to act on it non-violently. And shockingly for some people, this may include some Muslims and non-Muslims working together some of the time.

  13. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:54 am  

    Faisal,

    Perhaps you are right, but I’d like to see the evidence one way or another. It seems that you will never accept that someone can change their views.

    What Sunny quotes Moazzam Begg as saying:

    Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought are fundamental rights that every human being has from birth till death. But like most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are freelike most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are free.

    seems to me to be well within my own comfort zone. And I’d have thought, yours too.

    So, what are you saying? Because, just because, you can find something out from way back, that that damns someone forever?

    I find that problematic, to say the least.

  14. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 11:54 am  

    You need to read the IHRC article again.

    It is an explanation of how “Islamic Human Rights” differ fundamentally from “Universal Human Rights”. The IHRC sees these two positions as in conflict with each other.

    This is why everybody who supports universal human rights, irrespective of their religion or other political beliefs, need to oppose groups like the IHRC.

  15. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:00 pm  

    Jai, I think all complex cultures have evolved concepts for universal respect, compassion, fair treatment and so on. If you think that the concepts are so similar that they need no translation and there is no room for mutual critique and learning, that’s great.

    It’s a bit of an academic disagreement for me, as I think both of our approaches avoid stoking the kind of arrogance and supremacism which tend to undermine respect for one another’s human rights. But I appreciate your consciousness raising.

  16. cjcjc — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

    Very reasonably put on the whole, but…

    MB was a radical before he went to Afganistan – no doubt about that.

    But he denies that vehemently, doesn’t he?
    So AI is partnering with a blatant liar.
    Are they too dumb to notice?
    Or don’t they care?

    They don’t need to promote him to make their point, do they?
    And now it is (as was obvious from the start) backfiring…

  17. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:24 pm  

    Back in the 1990s, the bookshop and publisher that Begg owned published the Al Qaeda terrorist Barot’s “The Army of Madinah in Kashmir”.

    That book was effectively an instruction manual on how to kill Indians in Kashmir, in pursuit of the goal of creating an Islamic State

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2010/02/09/begg-barot-and-kashmir/

    The foreword, by the publisher, praised Barot and cited Azzam, the Al Qaeda founder.

  18. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:26 pm  

    Frankly, this all comes down to:

    Who is Moazzam Begg? Where does he stand now?

    I think he ought to tell us.

  19. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:29 pm  

    David, as you suggested I read the whole article rather than just what you quoted.

    The main thrust of the article is to argue that Human Rights discourse does not actually protect human rights, and suggests that this is because the discourse was not designed to protect Muslim human rights, but to provide pretexts for removing them.

    His conclusion appears to be that Muslims need to find other concepts to express their rights not to be mistreated, dispossessed and killed, and to legitimise a struggle to achieve those rights.

    As an argument, it seems to me it lacked interest in universalising human rights, so I can see why you find it troubling. It also seems intent on stigmatising human rights discourse as pure hypocrisy, and (mis)understands it as “permissiveness” and unchecked by requirements for responsibility.

    Since he did not argue for human rights to be removed but only that they should be more effectively protected, I don’t see why his struggle for human rights, called by other names, should conflict with your struggles for human rights.

    I am sure there are other articles which more clearly do call for removal of human rights, so it is odd that you should focus on one which does not. I think you may feel more threatened by what you read into the speech than what you read in it.

  20. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:35 pm  

    No, you have misread and misunderstood the article, and the nature of the IHRC, pretty fundamentally.

    Sorry.

    The article argues not that simply that the human rights of Muslims are inadequately protected. It also argues that the conception of human rights in the West is wrong – because it is not aligned with Islam. It explains this position at length.

    It is instructive that the IHRC also has had almost nothing at all to say about the struggle for human rights in Iran. When it eventually did break its silence, it highlighted the supposed deaths of some Baseji.

  21. Sarah AB — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:41 pm  

    I wasn’t sure about this: “Also – Amnesty should recognise that most online commentators bad-mouthing them, in all likelihood, never paid much attention to universal human rights anyway and don’t donate to Amnesty.” I suppose if you are minded to be critical of Amnesty for some reason you will be tempted to jump on this bandwagon so, yes, *some* of the people criticising Amnesty will be doing so for somewhat opportunistic and cynical reasons. But I think there are plenty of online commentators who *are* concerned about universal rights – which is what *makes* them concerned about this story. But there are points (such as those made in the post of course) to be made on both sides – Amnesty has made a really terrible job of defending its position.

  22. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:43 pm  

    David T @ 17,

    How does that work exactly? I’d assume that some folk could see the publication of ‘The Satanic Verses’ as a disgrace. How does publishing ‘The Army of Madinah in Kashmir’ differ?

    You and I can take what we like from a book. It doesn’t justify limiting book production, nor, really, associating the ideas in a book with the publishers.

    Else, how does Dan Brown get published?

  23. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:53 pm  

    The Satanic Verses is a very fine book by an internationally acclaimed author that deals with the issue of loss of faith and the “God-shaped hole”. It was published by an established publisher which produces a range of books, covering every conceivable area of human thought and endeavour.

    Dan Brown is published in order to make money for the publisher and Dan Brown.

    Begg’s bookshop published books in order to encourage people to engage in jihad to create Islamic states.

    PS: Don’t be silly.

  24. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 12:57 pm  

    David T – maybe we are reading different articles. I think he says that supporting human rights on the western model is wrong because it somehow (and I don’t see the link myself) gives credence to the west’s self-image of being just and moral – which is a claim he wishes to contest. He then gives a list of Islamic concepts as alternative options.

    My view is that sometimes language does get twisted so that people justify human rights abuses as being undertaken to protect human rights, but I don’t think Islamic concepts are more or less immune to this danger than others. And your example of Iran may serve to show this.

    I think Amnesty International has protected the concept of human rights admirably, and if IHRC could protect their concepts as admirably (eg to protect non-Muslims and other social groups with equal interest) then I would not see any reason to oppose them.

  25. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:00 pm  

    David T,

    Well, it is not really silly to argue that freedom of speech, or publication come to that – whether we agree with what is said or not – trumps your argument.

    I’d far rather that stuff like that was out in the public domain, rather than being some sort of samizdat.

    You can argue, fairly eloquently, about what you know about. You can do nothing about what you don’t know about.

  26. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:03 pm  

    So, what are you saying? Because, just because, you can find something out from way back, that that damns someone forever?

    I don’t believe for a second Begg has changed his views. I know a good many ex-radical Muslims, some I count as personal friends, and when they have renounced their previous worldview – they mean it; they do and say as they believe.

    They don’t set up websites which fetishise Anwar al-Awlaki, arrange video links up with the cleric in public spaces in London nor do they lionise Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada and the terrorist Omar Khayam. All of which CagePrisoners have done.

    Today’s leader in the Times is spot on:

    Mr Begg has been at pains in the past few days to stress his criticisms of the Taleban. Yet the notion that he upholds impartial and universal standards of justice is absurd. He is an extremist. Ms Sahgal is right and brave to point out the damage to Amnesty’s reputation and integrity.

    In a statement of spectacular feebleness, Amnesty ventured yesterday that Mr Begg had “never used a platform he shared with Amnesty to speak against the rights of others”. The issue is not whether Mr Begg has embarrassed his hosts, but what he stands for. Amnesty is now faced with that discomforting truth. So it has fearlessly shot the messenger.

  27. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:17 pm  

    Douglas

    I can see you’re working yourself into knots about this, and from experience, I know that there’s little point in talking to you when you’re in this frame of mind.

    However, I’d invite you to read the book in question

    http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/Barot/ArmyMadinahinKashmir.pdf

    I would also suggest you spend some time looking around Begg’s bookshop’s website. You will be left in no doubt that it is a jihadi project.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20020618180658/www.maktabah.net/books/default.asp?Subcategory=9

    It also encourages its readers to visit the associated Al Ansar website, which is Al Qaeda:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20011221150209/www.al-ansaar.com/

    Look, if you came across an online bookshop which published and sold special editions of Mein Kampf, Did Six Million Really Die?, Who Are the Mind Benders, and sold songs by Skrewdriver, you’ve very quickly work out what they were all about.

    Well, look at Begg’s bookshop. It gives a very clear clue as to the nature of his politics.

  28. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:19 pm  

    Faisal,

    I don’t believe for a second Begg has changed his views. I know a good many ex-radical Muslims, some I count as personal friends, and when they have renounced their previous worldview – they mean it; they do and say as they believe.

    And I didn’t think for a second that you would think otherwise. So, how do you explain the quote that Sunny gave us?

    Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought are fundamental rights that every human being has from birth till death. But like most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are freelike most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are free.

    Are all your chums to be given a ‘Get out of Jail Free Card’ and not Moazzam Begg? And, if so, why?

    I think Caged Prisoners goes too far in supporting people that have called for violence. I also think that Moazzam Begg ought to comment here. To explain his own views.

    Best I end it there, lest I tell you just how much you are spinning these days…

  29. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:23 pm  

    And I didn’t think for a second that you would think otherwise. So, how do you explain the quote that Sunny gave us?

    Well in that case he must be a very conflicted person indeed. But I for one believe in the maxim ‘actions speaks louder than words’.

  30. Gsirrah — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:29 pm  

    Also worth noting that Maktabah advertised books by Osama himself – http://web.archive.org/web/20030528213754/maktabah.net/ViewProduct.asp?ProductID=272

  31. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:48 pm  

    Salafis do think that their Islamic State will preserve freedom of religion.

    Its just that they have a very different conception of freedom of religion from liberals and democrats.

  32. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 1:50 pm  

    Faisal @ 29,

    Maybe, maybe not.

    I believe in the maxim that forgiveness is quite OK too:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness

    Not that I’m saying we are there yet.

  33. Sunny — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:00 pm  

    But I for one believe in the maxim ‘actions speaks louder than words’.

    Which actions specifically are you referring to?

  34. Boyo — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:04 pm  

    Hm. By “Western” I meant Western civilisation, not Western countries, but Christ….

    Speaking of which (and David et al may very well not agree with me) but my point was and is that Amnesty’s “human rights” and, more relevantly those of the Western left, are a specific set of values which have evolved over many thousands of years from Judeo-Christian tradition through the Enlightenment (as indeed has Western civilisation), etc …

    It may well be that the Persians invented human rights or whatever (and as we all know, the Chinese invented football) but that wasn’t the point i was trying to make – that this affair exposes the contraditions of the so-called progressive-”left”, which time and again turns its back on its values (substance) for the simpler joys of oppositionalism (icing).

  35. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:10 pm  

    David T @ 27,

    Thanks very much for your concern. It is mutual by the way. I think that there are bits of you that are entirely reasoned, and bits of you that quite enjoy a rucus.

    My point, which is lost in the cross cultural bullshit, is that any small bookseller should be allowed to hold whatever stock they like. And, probably go bankrupt if that is their only source of earnings, and it does not sell.

    I’d assume that economics applies to either the idiot selling Nazi or jihadi rubbish.

    Whilst it is a popular subject on Pickled Politics and Harry’s Place, it is unlikely to sell in sufficient numbers to pay for the fucking place.

    Is that clear enough?

    ———————————–

    Equally, you couldn’t comment at all unless you could see the one tenth of the iceberg, could you?

    It is ludicrous to argue that publication stops us from commenting on ‘bad’ books. We do that all the time. The lack of ‘bad’ books would mean it had gone underground. It is in everyone’s interests that whatever has to be said is said, openly

  36. Cjcjc — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:25 pm  

    Whatever your views on Nazi or Jihadi booksellers, it seems pretty clear that AI would be advised to steer well clear of them.

  37. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:29 pm  

    Boyo @ 34,

    You say this on what basis:

    Hm. By “Western” I meant Western civilisation, not Western countries, but Christ…

    Hmm…

    China?

  38. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:31 pm  

    cjcjc,

    Obviously:

    Whatever your views on Nazi or Jihadi booksellers, it seems pretty clear that AI would be advised to steer well clear of them.

    All I need is proof.

    Don’t you?

  39. earwicga — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:38 pm  

    Thanks Sunny. Interesting comments about feminist support for Gita Sahgal.

  40. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:42 pm  

    Good to see you on here earwigca. I left a comment on your blog which you have retained in moderation, so I’ll ask it here while you’re around:

    We understand why Amnesty International takes a human rights position against illegal detention, torture and renditions. But in doing so, how does Amnesty International justify working “alongside” supporters of Jihadi terrorism?

  41. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 2:49 pm  

    “I think that there are bits of you that are entirely reasoned, and bits of you that quite enjoy a rucus.”

    I do!

    And sure, Maktabah was entitled to whatever it wants to, within the law. For example, a collection of books by Abu Hamza:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20021220102812/maktabah.net/Audio/default.asp?Subcategory=9

    Come on, mate. Put two and two together here!

    How about this? Maktabah’s owner was in court last week on 30 charges of possessing and distributing terrorist publications.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8494552.stm

  42. douglas clark — on 12th February, 2010 at 3:00 pm  

    David T,

    It is you that isn’t seeing the wood from the trees here.

    You want me to say that censorship is OK.

    Well, where does that get you?

    It means, for sure, that you have nothing left to comment on. It goes underground.

    Least freedom of speech, any speech, means that it is out there to be argued with.

    Which is what you are, rightly, doing.

  43. earwicga — on 12th February, 2010 at 3:10 pm  

    @ Faisal – you have already asked me this question elsewhere, and I answered you. This part of your question is based on inaccuracy:
    “But in doing so, how does Amnesty International justify working “alongside” supporters of Jihadi terrorism?”
    when it is asked in relation to Moazzam Begg, which is the context you asked it in. I have seen nothing to verify this claim anywhere, but I have been reading some total tosh in the last few days while looking for evidence!

  44. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 3:12 pm  

    “You want me to say that censorship is OK.”

    No, I want you to say that censorship is not OK.

    But I would like you to retain your critical facilities.

  45. soru — on 12th February, 2010 at 4:21 pm  

    You want me to say that censorship is OK.

    Would you, if asked, agree with the statement ‘pictures of naked women are available on the internet’?

    Or do you think it’s impossible to even discuss that question without assuming the questioner wants to ban all porn?

  46. Sunny — on 12th February, 2010 at 4:33 pm  

    Supporters of jihadi terrorism Faisal?

    Do you want to back up that statement? Of course, I mean after Gitmo (re: MB) otherwise we could easily include Shiraz Maher in that category if you want to assume that people don’t change their views.

    Also Faisal – I asked you about “actions” that you attributed to Begg. Please do elaborate – you’ve avoided that question I see.

  47. Bored in Kavanagasau — on 12th February, 2010 at 4:36 pm  

    And on that basis they have to argue for the rights of all people including Islamists and even white fascists.

    Richard Thurlow in “Fascism in Britain” recounts that the Council for Civil Liberties, a predecessor organisation of the National Council for Civil Liberties, later to be called Liberty, opposed the release from internment of Oswald Mosley. This decision was, of course, politically motivated and lead to several council members resigning. The claim of impartiality would only be sustained had they campaigned for his release or that members of the Communist Party, who acted disgracefully during the phoney war period, should have been slung in alongside members of the BUF.

    I wonder what reception an A.I-type of organisation would have received had it gone on human rights tours with Mosley after his release during WW2 whilst at the same time he had been giving lectures against the war on Fascism?

  48. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 4:48 pm  

    “Supporters of jihadi terrorism Faisal?

    Do you want to back up that statement?”

    Has the penny still not dropped?

    Cageprisoners are supporters of Anwar al-Awlaki for a start.

    “Also Faisal – I asked you about “actions” that you attributed to Begg. Please do elaborate – you’ve avoided that question I see.”

    I didn’t answer because a lot of his actions pertaining to promoting jihadi Islamism have been alluded to here already. Furthermore a lot of detailed research has also been posted both on Harry’s Place and The Spittoon, if you care to read through it.

    Gita Sahgal has written extensively on Begg which she has furnished to AI. I would love to hear you sneer condescendingly at her and publish it in a piece for CiF.

  49. earwicga — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:01 pm  

    @ Faisal
    I would like to refer you back to your conversation with Andy Worthington here: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2010/02/10/defending-moazzam-begg-and-amnesty-international/
    as he has already answered the question you keep asking.

    Your question has been answered a fair few times now. Because you don’t like the answer you consistently receive, you have decided to write it off. Perhaps you could now concede that it is an appropriate time for you to rethink the question to one which is logical, or provide evidence to back up the claims you make in it?

  50. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:02 pm  

    Sunny, this conversation is going in your other thread.

    But to recap…

  51. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:04 pm  

    His position, as I understand it, is that he believes that jihad is a religious obligation that falls on all Muslims, that requires them to defend “Muslim Lands” from “occupation”.

    He includes Afghanistan within those lands which are fighting a legitimate jihad

    He is a supporter and admirer of the Al Qaeda preacher, Anwar Al Awlaki, who has been a leading Islamic State/Jihad theorist, in the Anglophone salafi-jihadi world.

    I understand that Begg now opposes terrorism directed at civilians, and does not support Awlaki’s endorsement of such attacks. Nevertheless, Awlaki was involved in Jihad and terrorism right back to the late 1990s.

    Here is an article on Jihad by Begg.

    http://www.thecordobafoundation.com/attach/Arches_issue_02x_Web.pdf

    “By consensus of the Islamic schools of thought, jihad becomes an individual obligation, like prayer and fasting, on Muslim men and women when their land is occupied by foreign enemies. That obligation extends to neighbouring lands until the enemy has been expelled. If the whole body of believers abandon it, they are in a state of sin; if enough of them do it to complete the task, they are absolved.”

    “Although in the West jihad is often seen as terrorism it is correct to describe it as tourism. Prophet Muhammad said: ‘The tourism of my nation is jihad.’ This is one reason why many Muslims from thousands of miles away travelled to places as far and wide as Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan.”

    “If resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was jihad, if the repelling the massacres by the Serbs in Bosnia was jihad, then how can resisting the current occupation of these Muslims lands be anything else?”

    There is another important passage from Begg’s article on Jihad. In discussing various forms of military Jihad, Begg observes:

    Jihad using wealth is also obligatory in securing the release of Muslim prisoners. Imam Malik said: ‘If a Muslim is held as a prisoner of war…it is
    obligatory on others to secure his release, even if it requires all the Muslims’ wealth.

    That is essentially how Begg sees CagePrisoners. It is an aspect of military Jihad.

    If you want to read about CagePrisoners and Awlaki, just google their site, and you’ll find articles by and about him, interviews, and events at which Awlaki spoke. These articles are not limited – as Begg suggests – to opposition to Awalki’s brief detention in Yemen, but include a range of theological and doctrinal subjects as well.

  52. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:05 pm  

    And to answer your other questions here too:

    If white people were being locked up in jail without trial, are you saying Amnesty should not even let any of them speak about their personal experiences if that person’s politics don’t agree with yours

    Sunny – I don’t see the world in terms of white/brown.

    Neither, incidentally, does CagePrisoners – although I appreciate that you put them into your “brown” category, that’s not their own self image. They see the world as divided by faith.

    As John says, if a neo Nazi were held without trial, I would oppose his detention, but I wouldn’t tour him around.

    Why wouldn’t you apply this to Shiraz Maher?

    Shiraz and Ed’s involvement was pretty light compared to Begg’s.

    I have read a few very cautiously and broadly phrased references in Begg’s works to “freedom” and so on. As you can see, the bulk of Begg’s efforts have been put into (a) developing a theory of military jihad, which includes the obligation to secure the freedom of Muslim prisoners (b) working for the release from detention of any and all Muslim prisoners, including those who have been convicted.

    By contrast, Ed and Shiraz devote much of their time to explaining, in detail, what precisely is wrong with the jihadist and Islamist positions that they used to advocate when involved in Hizb and Jamaat. They have produced an impressive body of work which constitutes a firm defence of liberal democracy.

    That is why I think that they have changed their views decisively, while Begg has moved on very marginally, and possibly not at all.

  53. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:17 pm  

    earwigca:

    “Your question has been answered a fair few times now. Because you don’t like the answer you consistently receive, you have decided to write it off.”

    I have asked it a number of times and it’s not because I don’t like the answer, it’s because no one has yet answered it. Simply denying Cageprisoners supports jihadi clerics is not an answer. An answer would be on the lines of why you think Anwar al-Awlaki is not a jihadi cleric.

  54. earwicga — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:46 pm  

    @ Faisal
    Nice to see you have changed your question, even though it’s not relevant to the claims that Gita Sahgal has made and you have been propounding since.

    What you or I or Moazzam Begg think about Anwar al Awlaki is completely un-related to his human rights.

    Amnesty International and Cageprisoners are human rights organisations which are concerned with upholding human rights and highlighting when these rights are being abused. If Amnesty or Cageprisoners failed to support the human rights of Anwar al Awlaki, they would have failed.

  55. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:47 pm  

    I do understand the answer from the salafi jihadi perspective. It is that these clerics are the true interpreters of God’s will. As far as Begg is concerned, all Muslims do have an obligation to engage in Jihad to liberate “Muslim Lands”, but which does not extent to killing “innocent civilians”. By and large, they do not regard Israeli civilians as innocent, but that is a limited exception to their rule.

    If you are not a salafi jihadi, though, the explanation is more difficult to follow. The problem is that salafi jihadis are working towards the creation of Islamic states, which we know will routinely and horrendously abuse human rights as an article of faith, so to speak.

    So, the jihad in Afghanistan is aimed at imposing an Islamic state on a terrified and reluctant population.

    The parallel might be with the support of some parts of the Left for the Khmer Rouge, and the concomitant rubbishing of the KR’s critics. If you think that nothing could be worse than US imperialism, then you do tend to end up supporting some pretty horrendous political movements.

    It also means that you end up having to rubbish the concerns of those who are most likely to be the targets of a theocratic jihadist regime in power.

  56. David T — on 12th February, 2010 at 5:49 pm  

    What you or I or Moazzam Begg think about Anwar al Awlaki is completely un-related to his human rights

    OK, Amnesty campaigns for freedom of expression.

    The Holocaust denier Fredrick Tobin is being prosecuted for his activities. He was defended – rightly in my view – by Chris Huhne, when he was being held pending deportation to Germany in the United Kingdom.

    Were Amnesty to campaign around freedom of expression, should Tobin be toured around the world?

  57. Faisal — on 12th February, 2010 at 6:00 pm  

    earwigca:

    I didn’t change the question, I rephrased it, amusing though it has been seeing you try and deny Cageprisoners supports al-Awlaki.

    Now that you have admitted they do support al-Awlaki, we get to the crucial bit:

    “What you or I or Moazzam Begg think about Anwar al Awlaki is completely un-related to his human rights”

    Here’s why Gita Sahgal’s words here are appropriate:

    As a former Guantanamo detainee it was legitimate to hear his experiences, but as a supporter of the Taliban it was absolutely wrong to legitimise him as a partner.

  58. Rumbold — on 12th February, 2010 at 6:53 pm  

    Few would disagree with Amnesty defending Mr. Begg’s right to trial, just as they should defend BNP members’ etc. But association is another matter entirely. It implies an acceptance of a viewpoint- not necessarily a total agreement, but a sense that their views are palatable.

  59. Arif — on 12th February, 2010 at 6:58 pm  

    Basically, while I don’t want to make assumptions about Moazzam Begg, I agree in principle that Amnesty’s work should not effectively legitimise groups or individuals which are opposed to human rights. Sahgal’s broad point is important, and it would be good to have a clear process to establish this – which obviously does not rely on investigating every accusation made by other groups and individuals, or creating a standard which is unrealistic.

    So what would be such a process?

    I’d suggest:

    1. Check the remit of the organisation to see it agrees with Amnesty’s.
    2. Ask for a statement that the organisation does not use or advocate violence, and ensure they are aware that if they do use or advocate violence, the campaigning relationship will end.

    It may be that Cagedprisoners would refuse to do 2. And so would many – probably most – other potential speakers for Amnesty.

    Is this something like the standard David T, Faisal (or Sahgal) want? What would you suggest as a consistent standard which Amnesty could apply, without being discriminatory?

  60. Muslim — on 12th February, 2010 at 7:00 pm  

    David T

    The parallel might be with the support of some parts of the Left for the Khmer Rouge, and the concomitant rubbishing of the KR’s critics. If you think that nothing could be worse than US imperialism, then you do tend to end up supporting some pretty horrendous political movements.

    Or like support amongst zionists and other Islamophoboes like yourself and Faisal Gazi for Israels illegal occupation of Palestinian land and starvation of Gaza you mean Dave ?

  61. earwicga — on 12th February, 2010 at 7:01 pm  

    @ Faisal

    I did no such thing. If you choose to distort my words then there is no point in exchanging comment with you.

  62. Jai — on 12th February, 2010 at 7:06 pm  

    but my point was and is that Amnesty’s “human rights” and, more relevantly those of the Western left, are a specific set of values which have evolved over many thousands of years from Judeo-Christian tradition through the Enlightenment (as indeed has Western civilisation), etc …

    My own point was that these are values which aren’t necessarily specific to “the West” and which have developed to the same degree — in some cases to a greater degree — in other parts of the world; for example, Sikhism’s basic tenets in relation to universal human rights are almost identical to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and many of the matters enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. (There are numerous other examples).

    Incidentally, due to various commercial, diplomatic and political connections, values, ideals, concepts, philosophies etc have frequently flowed in multiple directions. Globalisation isn’t actually a recent development; in reality, the world has been heavily interconnected for thousands of years. This includes “Western civilisation”, at least in the cases of the regions bordering the Mediterranean (albeit not northern Europe, including Britain). It’s also worth bearing in mind the influence of classical Greece and Rome on “the West”, both of whom had extensive contact with other parts of the world, and whose impact on “the West” obviously originates from a time pre-dating Constantine’s imposition of Christianity on his empire. By the way, there have been Christians in India for several centuries longer than there have been Christians in northern Europe.

    This notion of some kind of superior, exclusive, “separate” Western civilisation is a factually-inaccurate conceit which is a relic of 19th century colonialism. Time to eject it, particularly as the majority of the Victorians’ 18th century predecessors generally had a far more enlightened, broadminded and respectful attitude towards “the East” and its various inhabitants.

    It’s also worth noting that many of the nastier aspects of the Western Right are a direct consequence of the legacy of 19th century Christian fundamentalism (a period which involved both the American Civil War and the aggressive colonial expansion and subjugation of India), all of which occurred post-Enlightenment and involved huge numbers of “devout” members of that faith.

    It may well be that the Persians invented human rights or whatever

    They didn’t “invent” them; one of their greatest historical monarchs was the first person on record to have them formally defined and subsequently implemented as a matter of administrative policy.

    In any case, as Arif said in #15…

    both of our approaches avoid stoking the kind of arrogance and supremacism which tend to undermine respect for one another’s human rights. But I appreciate your consciousness raising.

    …this is the basis for my own remarks.

  63. Muslim — on 12th February, 2010 at 7:06 pm  

    David T supports the genocide of Muslims . Hence his haranguing of Moazzem Begg for going to Bosnia to defend the Muslims from Serb genocide. How can such a person be taken seriously by Muslims or anyone as a commentator on affairs involving Muslims?

  64. Rumbold — on 12th February, 2010 at 7:16 pm  

    Good points Jai. Though I seeme to remember hearing that Cyrus’ proclaimation wasn’t as great as it sounded (though I don’t know enough about it to expand on that).

    What we can say is the idea of human rights was largely codified and refined in the West, at least in the form we understand them today (as legally-binding commitments, that aren’t dependent on the largesse of a particular ruler). But to present them as purely a Western concept is to fall nicely into the cultural relativist and imperialist mindset.

  65. Boyo — on 12th February, 2010 at 8:43 pm  

    @63 I helped liberate Kosovo for the Muslims, Muslim. Does that qualify me to speak on their behalf? I don’t think so.

  66. Refresh — on 13th February, 2010 at 5:03 pm  

    Gita Sahgal herself should look very carefully at who she finds in her own camp. Those that supportted the illegal war in Iraq, (now pushing hard for an attack on Iran), excuse and encourage torture. Which in itself causes her case great harm.

    I recall some of her ‘new’ supporters presented every excuse under the sun when Gaza was pulverised and then did their best to take down HRW in light of scathing reports of war crimes and human rights violations. And led the charge to bring down Amnesty International.

    Gita has to see this ‘kerfufle’ in the sense of the broader attack on human rights, and the silencing of established human rights voices or she too will find herself on the wrong side of history.

  67. Lisa — on 13th February, 2010 at 6:45 pm  

    I don’t know if any of you noticed but the OIC gave the world this little nugget, “Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam”, so much for the universality of human rights.

  68. Muslim — on 13th February, 2010 at 8:37 pm  

    Boyo

    @63 I helped liberate Kosovo for the Muslims, Muslim. Does that qualify me to speak on their behalf? I don’t think so.

    Quite. So how does someone as relentlessly hostile to Muslims as David Toube get to speak for or about them?

  69. Roger — on 14th February, 2010 at 2:46 am  

    “… judging him by his own values, he [Begg]‘s a good guy and has bravely championed the rights of people many Brits would gladly see dead.”

    As did Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot…

    The problem is that Amnesty seem to have ignored the fact that Begg supports depriving other people of their rights and to think that people convicted of crimes of violence by courts should be released because they have the right to try to establish an islamic society by violent means and have supported him unconditionally.

  70. Yakoub — on 14th February, 2010 at 9:14 am  

    No, Roger, Begg is not comparable to Hitler. That’s stupid.

  71. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2010 at 12:14 pm  

    Roger,

    I seem to recall the Saudi regieme convicting someone of something and Amnesty asking us all to protest against it.

    I did, as far as I can recall. Simply because I thought it was a misuse of justice. It is a grey area. You are assuming no judiciary is corrupt, and / or that miscarriages of justice cannot occur even in better run states. This seems a tad unlikely.

    It is also worth pointing out that Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever.

  72. cjcjc — on 14th February, 2010 at 2:21 pm  
  73. Malik — on 14th February, 2010 at 2:43 pm  

    This is really important – Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights

    http://www.human-rights-for-all.org/spip.php?article15

  74. notmarvin — on 14th February, 2010 at 3:07 pm  

    Gita Sahgal herself should look very carefully at who she finds in her own camp.

    Classic Refresh. And what sort of company do you think is on the other side, with chums @ Cage Prisoners? People in glass houses…

    In her camp… Those that supportted the illegal war in Iraq

    In your anti-war camp, you have the National Front, the BNP, and your favourite tabloid teh Daily Mail. You really should take a look who’s in your camp. It might damage your case.

  75. earwicga — on 14th February, 2010 at 7:17 pm  

    @ cjcjc

    Read the words of that senior AI official very carefully and also look at what he has written previously.

    @ Malik

    This is a much more important link: http://www.amnesty.org/en/join

    @ douglas clark

    “It is also worth pointing out that Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever.”

    Exactly, and it’s not for the want of trying either.

  76. Roger — on 14th February, 2010 at 10:03 pm  

    “No, Roger, Begg is not comparable to Hitler. That’s stupid.”
    What if you’re “judging him by his own values”, Yakoub?

    I agree, there are complications, Douglas, amd even if some of the people Begg and Cageprisoners campaign for have been found guilty of crimes, it may well be that what they have been found guilty of should not be crimes; however, Begg and Cageprisoners argue that they should not be convicted and imprisoned because they are muslims, regardless of what they may or may not have done. Certainly, Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever- legally. I don’t criticise Amnesty’s association with Begg on the basis of Begg’s supposed crimes, but because Begg is not a supporter of human rights in general. Amnesty should defend his rights; it should not support his attacks on others’ rights.

  77. halima — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:26 am  

    Instinctively I am likely to support Amnesty on this point, but acknowledge that Gita Sahgal is a committed human rights professional no less, and Amnesty’s reputation is only enhanced in my eyes by hiring the likes of Sahgal.

    I guess there is a difference between supporting fair trials for prisoners and then giving prisoners a platform. Have Amnesty held joint press conferences for instances, which seemingly could be interpreted as endorsing Begg’s views?

    I admire Amnesty’s refusal to get dragged into a position that vilifies an organization’s religious-based values.

    I admire Gita Sagal’s steadfast position back from the days of Women Against Fundamentalism that all religious forms of organization that restrict women’s movement, rights and choices are harmful and bad. I admire Gita’s integrity and courage to speak on what she feels is wrong.

    Perhaps it should’ve been a mutual parting of ways. I think Gita Sahgal has probably outgrown the organization.

    In the early 1990s, too, I recall the likes of Tariq Madood and other British academics on diversity to be at odds with Women Against Fundamentalism – precisely because Women Against Fundamentalism’s fault line is religion and they saw multiculturalism sweeping under the carpet all manner of gender-based evils. There is nothing wrong in my mind about this, and I welcome the boldness they bring to the debate on multiculturalism – but it is a political perspective and a defined and articulated one that extends beyond Amnesty and many other organizations like Action Aid or Oxfam and so on. In other words Women Against Fundamentalism (Gita is a fantastic advocate of this) are ideologically and politically placed in a different corner from Amnesty.

    If as a point of principle you are against false imprisonment, one cannot draw lines between defending someone who shares our world view and someone who doesn’t share our world view. That would be hypocritical, ridiculous and intellectually not a defendable position.

    Amnesty is of course experienced campaigners, and they’ve defended political prisoners for years whose views they disagree with (most probably). Amnesty has every right to defend a racist who is illegally imprisoned for being racist, but that doesn’t mean that Amnesty therefore agrees with the racist views – Amnesty’s support stops at illegal imprisonment. There is no other association.

  78. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2010 at 11:36 am  

    Roger,

    This makes no sense whatsoever:

    Certainly, Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever- legally.

    So he’s been found guilty of something extra judicially? How does that work, exactly?

    I am one of these old codgers that believes in due process, which seemed to go out the window when 9/11 happened.

    Although, I think Gita Saghal is partly right. Amnesty does have a case to answer. They should not be partnering with people that do not embrace their core philosophy. And, unless he was vetted properly they expose themselves to this sort of shitstorm. If they have vetted him and he has passed their procedures they should say so clearly from the rooftops. I say that as a long standing member.

    The world needs an outfit like Amnesty International, and this whole affair sullies a fundamentally sound organisation.

  79. earwicga — on 15th February, 2010 at 12:46 pm  

    @ douglas

    “Roger,
    This makes no sense whatsoever:
    Certainly, Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever- legally.
    So he’s been found guilty of something extra judicially? How does that work, exactly?”

    Moazzam Begg has been found guilty of ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ by those who prefer not to think much. Begg has a high profile so is very handy for Gita Sahgal and friends’ attacks on human rights. Human rights are so inconvenient when you are part of the propaganda led pro-war, pro-torture mob.

  80. BenSix — on 15th February, 2010 at 1:06 pm  

    earwicga

    Begg has a high profile so is very handy for Gita Sahgal and friends’ attacks on human rights. Human rights are so inconvenient when you are part of the propaganda led pro-war, pro-torture mob.

    How is Gita Sahgal “part of the propaganda led pro-war, pro-torture mob“?

  81. earwicga — on 15th February, 2010 at 2:43 pm  

    @ Ben Six – see who she has gotten into bed with for the answer to that. Also see her words regarding how human rights are applicable for some but not all. I’m not saying it was her intention (who knows what her actual intentions were for joining this campaign), but that is the result.

  82. KB Player — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:11 pm  

    Earwixga:-

    Also see her words regarding how human rights are applicable for some but not all.

    Oh yes? Here’s one quotation from her which contradicts that:-

    “I have always opposed the illegal detention and torture of Muslim men at Guantanamo Bay and during the so-called War on Terror. I have been horrified and appalled by the treatment of people like Moazzam Begg and I have personally told him so. I have vocally opposed attempts by governments to justify ‘torture lite’.”

    Here’s the link.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7017810.ece

    Could you please supply a quotation and link for what you say she said?

  83. Refresh — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:23 pm  

    Earwicga, I think its probably the other way round. Those who are pro-war, pro-torture (you should see that piece in the Independent today by Bruce Anderson) are flocking to her. Moths to a flame.

    I think I understand where you are coming from – there seems to be a concerted effort to take out human rights groups, as they, for some, are and will be a hinderance in future escapades.

    My hope is that Gita Sahgal will see how she is being used and misused within that broader agenda, and will respond appropriately. She could not possibly do any other.

  84. BenSix — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:24 pm  

    …see who she has gotten into bed with for the answer to that.

    Who? The Times?

    Also see her words regarding how human rights are applicable for some but not all.

    Sorry – can’t untangle the reference.

    I’m not saying it was her intention (who knows what her actual intentions were for joining this campaign)

    She didn’t, as far as I’m aware, join a campaign. Was it not initiated after her dismissal?

    (Formidably good work on the transcripts, by the way.)

  85. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:37 pm  

    Yes she is being used, I mean, after all, she can’t actually mean what she says or be thinking for herself, can she?

  86. Refresh — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:42 pm  

    cjcjc, I think I was implicit in acknowledging her stance; but you cannot deny that others who have no interest in the welfare of the organisation have piled in. You might recall it was also the same with HRW.

  87. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:51 pm  

    Well it’s in AI’s hands to sort it.

    Anyone going to their Begg-fest tomorrow?

    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/events_details.asp?ID=1485

    “Moazzam Begg is no longer able to attend this event as a speaker.”

    Ooops.

  88. Refresh — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:53 pm  

    cjcjc, have you considered responding to Bruce Anderson’s call for torture as a necessity?

  89. BenSix — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:53 pm  

    Yes, because Begg was going to be speaking it’s a “Begg-fest“. If you’d called it “Beggstival” it would, at least, have made me laugh.

  90. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:01 pm  

    I should have thought of that.

    Still, looks as though the poor baby has chickened out of facing what would probably have been a little less fawning audience than usual (including me).

    I’m not sure what response to offer Anderson, other than WTF?

  91. earwicga — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:07 pm  

    Re my previous comment “Also see her words regarding how human rights are applicable for some but not all.”, it has been quite rightly pointed out that this is my subjective impression. It refers to all the accusations that Sahgal has made against Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners, and would take up too much space to tease them out and quote appropriately in a comments box in order to verify my comment. So please feel free to disregard the comment. I regret making it as I don’t currently have the time or inclination to expand it further.

    @ Refresh, I think you are probably right and my hope would be the same.

    @ BenSix, thank you. And no I don’t think this campaign was initiated after Sahgal’s suspension as Refresh has reflected on. There is a history to this which I find impossible to believe Sahgal was ignorant of.

  92. earwicga — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:15 pm  

    It is a shame that Moazzam Begg is unable to attend the event tomorrow. I hope all that do attend feel able to join the voices calling on our government to actively work for the release of Shaker Aamer.

    @ cjcjc
    I think your words:
    “Still, looks as though the poor baby has chickened out of facing what would probably have been a little less fawning audience than usual (including me).”
    show more about you than Moazzam Begg. Very odd thing to say.

  93. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

    He should certainly be released.
    Don’t get me wrong – I oppose Gitmo.
    But he should be returned to Saudi Arabia.

  94. Roger — on 15th February, 2010 at 6:38 pm  

    “Certainly, Moazzam Begg hasn’t been found guilty of anything whatsoever- legally.

    So he’s been found guilty of something extra judicially? How does that work, exactly?”

    Because by his own words Begg has expressed his support for the Taliban, Douglas. He supports a bunch of obscurantist bigots who favour the imposition of what they imagine to be god’s law and public executions torture and mutilation for what they decide are crimes on that basis. He is not guilty of any legal crime, but he is guilty of moral crimes by doing that. Amnesty should not be associating themselves with him and thereby giving the impression that Begg and his associates are campaigners for human rights. They aren’t; they are campaigners for the rights of god and his agents on earth- a very different thing.

  95. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2010 at 7:39 pm  

    Roger,

    That is hardly the man that Sunny has quoted:

    Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought are fundamental rights that every human being has from birth till death. But like most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are freelike most rights, freedom is taken for granted by many people – especially when they are free.

    Perhaps he is who you say he is, though I’d like to see some evidence, just in case. And not the usual Harrys’ Place guilt by association, quotes that post date the one above and support what you say he is. Shouldn’t be too difficult, should it?

  96. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 7:58 pm  

    cjcc

    “He should certainly be released.
    Don’t get me wrong – I oppose Gitmo.
    But he should be returned to Saudi Arabia.”

    Pure racist bigotry

  97. HP hypocrites? — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:04 pm  

    Why has the video of David T ranting like a madman been removed from You Tube?

    http://www.iengage.org.uk/component/content/article/1-news/721-david-toube-of-harrys-place-filmed-ranting-like-a-madman

    “Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

    hahhahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahha

  98. Roger — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:14 pm  

    Well, Begg took his wife and children to Afghanistan in 2001, after the Buddhas had been blown up, after public executions were introduced, after he had been to a jihadi training camp and decided that “I believed that the Taliban had made some modest progress – in social justice and upholding pure, old Islamic values forgotten in many Islamic countries.”

    He says that he thought and thinks the Taliban were wrong in some of their attitudes and policies, but- except for education for women- he is curiously reticent about just what he disagreed about; at least, I’ve never come across a instance of Begg criticising a specific policy of the Taliban.

    I’d be very interested to know if Begg’s “Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought” includes freedom of irreligion or freedom to abandon islam or freedom to disregard islamic laws on sexual behaviour.

  99. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

    Roger,

    Ré your last paragraph, so would I.

  100. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:20 pm  

    Roger

    “He says that he thought and thinks the Taliban were wrong in some of their attitudes and policies, but- except for education for women- he is curiously reticent about just what he disagreed about; at least, I’ve never come across a instance of Begg criticising a specific policy of the Taliban.

    I’d be very interested to know if Begg’s “Freedom of life, religion, movement and thought” includes freedom of irreligion or freedom to abandon islam or freedom to disregard islamic laws on sexual behaviour.”

    Given we have people like David Toube on here attacking him, someone who refused to condemn Israel’s murder of hundreds of civilians during Operation Cast Lead and its continued strangulation of the the people of Gaza or its numerous other illegal actions and policies this doesnt exactly seem to be a meeting of people with concerns for human rights on either side

  101. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    notmarvin

    In your anti-war camp, you have the National Front, the BNP, and your favourite tabloid teh Daily Mail. You really should take a look who’s in your camp. It might damage your case.

    Indeed. And in the pro-war camp other rabid Muslim haters and Zionist Israel-firsters

  102. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:39 pm  

    Muslim –

    Interesting. So two wrongs make one right?

    Pro -war camp (which I belong to I guess) is not filled with Muslim haters and I have no love for Israel’s policies. I have nothing against Jews or Muslims but I have a lot against people sustaining a conflict by building on land which is clearly not theirs by law as well as organisations who like to claim victory on the blood of those they were meant to protect.

    Life is not all about religion and humanity should be above all religion in my opinion. I do have a problem with the Old Testament as I do have with many verses of the Koran. Because I cannot believe any Loving God could demand revenge or urge people to kill non-believers. After all we are all children of God if you actually really believe in the Religious texts.

    I do not. But that does not make me any less of a human being than anyone else.

    Politics is about power and I believe we have an obligation to stand up to oppression as well as help those who need our help most. And it is not altruistic but because its in our best interest in the long run.

    If Saudi Arabia was a democracy may be 9/11 would not have happened – have you ever thought about that. Or do you support people blowing up schools because somewhere in their screwed up mind some believe that girls are not to be educated.

  103. Roger — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:42 pm  

    “this doesnt exactly seem to be a meeting of people with concerns for human rights on either side.”

    People have rights regardless of their opinions or which side they are supposedly on. In the case of Begg and A.I., though, it looks as if A.I. have supported Begg in gaining his own rights but have ignored his desire to deprive other people of theirs.

  104. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:48 pm  

    Roger

    People have rights regardless of their opinions or which side they are supposedly on. In the case of Begg and A.I., though, it looks as if A.I. have supported Begg in gaining his own rights but have ignored his desire to deprive other people of theirs.

    Your second sentence is a direct contradiction of the first. Are you suggesting AI only campaign for the release of people who fully sign-up for a human-rights- for-all agenda ? That would exclude many of the people imprisoned those on the right champion.

  105. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:56 pm  

    “My main concern here is that people who have already had a vendetta against Amnesty are being supported by feminists who would otherwise not agree with them on a range of issues.”

    I think Sunny is spot on here.

  106. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:58 pm  

    Shamit

    If Saudi Arabia was a democracy may be 9/11 would not have happened – have you ever thought about that.

    You have a point -if the US hadnt attacked so many countries as well as supported dictatorhips like Saudi Arabia in the Muslim (and non Muslim) world)

    Or do you support people blowing up schools because somewhere in their screwed up mind some believe that girls are not to be educated.

    eh? are you insane ? I explicitly quoted a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) that education is an obligation of every male AND female.

    I also dont support women being banned from education simply because they choose to wear the hijab either as happens in “democratic” France and Turkey and Im sure you dont either Shamit, ahem.

    And btw in Saudi the majority of university graduates (55%) are women, though they are still restricted in the labour market. Kind of fvcks up your theory , no?

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-middle_east_politics/saudi_women_3521.jsp

  107. Roger — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:08 pm  

    What is contradictory about saying that Begg and other radical islamists in Cagedprisoners want to deprive other people of their rights but that that does not justify depriving Begg and his colleagues of their own human rights? Their criticism of Guantanamo is not based on the concept of universal human rights but on the supposed rights of muslims as servants of god. a completely different principle to that underlying A.I. and A.I. should have recognised as much.

  108. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:09 pm  

    You have a point -if the US hadnt attacked so many countries as well as supported dictatorhips like Saudi Arabia in the Muslim (and non Muslim) world)

    I agree with a caveat – it was not only the US. I think we Brits started it a long time ago

    Well, US has been very involved in Jordan too – that country turned out quite okay. So I guess how one governs makes a difference irrespective of external influences – wouldn’t you say?

    And btw in Saudi the majority of university graduates (55%) are women, though they are still restricted in the labour market. Kind of fvcks up your theory , no?

    Right to education without the right to express yourself or use that education in a meaningful manner without artificial constraints does not do people much good.

    In the great Saudi Arabia, school girls were burnt alive because the religious police stopped them from coming out of the burning school because they were not properly dressed.

    So no it does not screw up my theory.

  109. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:14 pm  

    Roger

    What is contradictory about saying that Begg and other radical islamists in Cagedprisoners want to deprive other people of their rights but that that does not justify depriving Begg and his colleagues of their own human rights?

    Nothing but you didnt say that. You said “In the case of Begg and A.I., though, it looks as if A.I. have supported Begg in gaining his own rights but have ignored his desire to deprive other people of theirs.”

    Their criticism of Guantanamo is not based on the concept of universal human rights but on the supposed rights of muslims as servants of god. a completely different principle to that underlying A.I. and A.I. should have recognised as much.

    eh? where do you get the idea that Cagedprisoners opposition to Guantanomo was based on “the supposed rights of muslims as servants of god” ? Have any evidence for your claim? A quote or article for example? When did they say that? How was their opposition different from anyone else’s – namely that innocent people shouldnt be held and shackled without trial ?

  110. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:26 pm  

    Shamit

    In the great Saudi Arabia, school girls were burnt alive because the religious police stopped them from coming out of the burning school because they were not properly dressed.

    So no it does not screw up my theory.

    When did I say Saudi Arabia was perfect? The quote about 55% of Saudi graduates being women was to disprove your lie that women in Saudi are “not to be educated.”

    Re your second (irrelevant point). Bloody hell are people still using that old story about the religious police? Its been proven a fake.

    “An inquiry into a fire at a girls’ school in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca has concluded that the education authority neglected safety measures that could have prevented the deaths of 15 girls.

    The official in charge of Saudi girls’ schools, Muslim cleric Ali bin Murshid el-Murshid, was dismissed on Sunday and his department merged with the Education Ministry.

    But the report – carried by most newspapers in the kingdom – absolved Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious police of blame for making the death toll worse.

    ….

    But accusations that the religious police had prevented girls fleeing the school because they were not wearing head scarves were dismissed as “untrue”.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1893349.stm

    Shamit you still havent answered whether you agree that Muslim women who wear hijab should be banned from education as in secular France and Turkey

  111. Roger — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

    Actually, muslim, I said:

    People have rights regardless of their opinions or which side they are supposedly on. In the case of Begg and A.I., though, it looks as if A.I. have supported Begg in gaining his own rights but have ignored his desire to deprive other people of theirs.

    So,
    What is contradictory about saying that Begg and other radical islamists in Cagedprisoners want to deprive other people of their rights but that that does not justify depriving Begg and his colleagues of their own human rights?

    Cagedprisoners campaign exclusively for prisoners in Guantanamo and for other muslim prisoners, some of whom have been tried and convicted, which is evidence that their concern for human rights is more restricted than that of A.I. and rests on a different basis.

  112. Muslim — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:32 pm  

    Roger you claimed

    Their criticism of Guantanamo is not based on the concept of universal human rights but on the supposed rights of muslims as servants of god. a completely different principle to that underlying A.I. and A.I. should have recognised as much.

    Where is your evidence for this?

    Cagedprisoners campaign exclusively for prisoners in Guantanamo and for other muslim prisoners, some of whom have been tried and convicted, which is evidence that their concern for human rights is more restricted than that of A.I. and rests on a different basis.

    How is it ” evidence that their concern for human rights is more restricted than that of A.I. and rests on a different basis” ? They are hardly a major international organisation like Amnesty. One could argue the same for any other specialist group that fights for rights for its particular community (which is most of them). Doesnt negate the justice of their cause.

    Yes Im sure all those Muslim prisoners recieved far and free trials Roger. The kind Bruce Anderson would approve of.

  113. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:55 pm  

    Muslim:

    The quote about 55% of Saudi graduates being women was to disprove your lie that women in Saudi are “not to be educated.”

    I never made that assertion. I was talking about the Taliban blowing schools up both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    So I never perpetuated that lie – and I believe you called me a liar without any reason whatsoever. That’s not nice.

    **********

    As to your second point about the school girls – unfortunately the role of the religious police was true.

    Just because the Government of Saudi Arabia and media controlled by them said no does not make it untrue – and there were Saudi witnesses who said otherwise. And I choose to believe the others – and I am sure you would agree with me when you read the link again that you provided. But again this link makes it a bit more clear
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1874471.stm

    The link you provided gave the official Saudi version. Come on lets on go there. I think both of us have no love for the concept of religious police if I am not too mistaken. And none of us have much love for the Al-saud family or their religious henchmen.

    *********

    “Shamit you still havent answered whether you agree that Muslim women who wear hijab should be banned from education as in secular France and Turkey”

    Thats a no brainer. I do not believe that Government has the right to tell anyone what they can or cannot wear. Otherwise, that would be Saudi Arabia.

    However, I do believe that schools and educational establishments have the right to impose uniforms however religious beliefs should be accomodated to the extent where it does not cause disharmony or create inequity or impose upon others.

    I have no problems with Sikh Turbans or crosses or hijabs but I do have a problem with the complete veil because I think it gets in the way of being part of a secular society and free exchange of views and aspirations.

    I think in a liberal society any sensible judge would throw this idea of hijab banning out as an affront to human rights. France adheres to European Charter of Human Rights and if they bring in legislation it might just get thrown out by the European Justices.

    Thats a long answer but the short answer is yes I do believe that women wearing hijab should have the right to an education in France and Turkey. Does that answer your question Sir?
    ************

  114. Cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:57 pm  

    @99 and I can’t ask him now Douglas as he’s chickened out of the AI event tomorrow

  115. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 10:04 pm  

    thanks rumbold

    You the man.

  116. Roger — on 16th February, 2010 at 1:54 am  

    “Where is your evidence for this?”
    http://www.cageprisoners.com/, muslim

    “How is it ”evidence that their concern for human rights is more restricted than that of A.I. and rests on a different basis” ? They are hardly a major international organisation like Amnesty. One could argue the same for any other specialist group that fights for rights for its particular community (which is most of them). Doesnt negate the justice of their cause.”
    Which cause? The right to decently treatment or the right to impose muslim rule? In the case of Cagedprisoners many of its senior representatives are advocates of both.

    “Yes Im sure all those Muslim prisoners recieved far and free trials Roger. The kind Bruce Anderson would approve of.”
    Well, as Cagedprisoners campaigns on behalf of people who were charged with and pleaded guilty to planning tomake and use enormous amounts of explosives in U.K. courts, their definition of “far and free trials” seems to coincide with yours.
    Where has Anderson said anything about trials? The greatest enthusiasts for torture as punishment are the supprters of sharia. Begg himself went to afghanistan and supported the Taliban after they were regularly using torture as a punishment for supposed crimes.

  117. earwicga — on 16th February, 2010 at 2:18 am  

    @ Roger
    The human rights organisation you are disparaging is called Cageprisoners. You could at least get the spelling right then there would be something correct in your stupid comments.

  118. Roger — on 16th February, 2010 at 2:24 am  

    Apologies for the mispelling, Earwicga. I am not disparaging it. I am merely pointing out that its basic principles are very different from those of A.I.

  119. Arif — on 16th February, 2010 at 1:37 pm  

    Roger #116 – the link you gave to Cageprisoners.com does not seem to support your thesis that they are pleading a case for special treatment as servants of god. They explain what they are campaigning on under “About Us”: http://www.cageprisoners.com/page.php?id=2

    They seem to me to claim they will support any detainees who have been held as part of the global war on terror to claim their human rights.

    The statement from Moazzam Begg referring to the article in the Times includes reference to his opposition to human rights abuses by the Taliban which he has written about in his book. And that he advocates engagement and dialogue with both the Taliban and the US Government while opposing the human rights abuses both perpetrate. On the face of it this seems to me an honorable position.

    Finally, they do not suggest any support for anyone convicted of terrorism, they want due and fair process to achieve such convictions, and refuse to treat any of the detainees as guilty until proven to be so. Again, I think this is honorable and the only realistic way they could undertake their human rights work effectively.

    I agree that Moazzam Begg appears much more concerned about human rights since he had his taken away from him, but I do not think this means his concern is insincere.

    I also agree he should be held to some kind of standard, as should all groups in partnerships with Amnesty, but it should be demonstrably equal to the standards other groups and individuals are held to. I am still waiting for anyone else to suggest what they think such standards (that can be consistently applied) should be.

  120. Roger — on 16th February, 2010 at 10:54 pm  

    I looked at some of the actual prisoners cited- Sajid Badat, for one, who pleaded guilty to possessing an explosive device similar to Richard Reid’s and is now serving a sentence of thirteen years (not mentioned at http://www.cageprisoners.com/prisoners.php?id=1801 ) before I suggested that Cageprisoners take a very specific view of which prisoners they would support.
    However, an interesting thing is that the following entry now appears under Badat’s details: “Cage Prisoners does not necessarily support or sympathise with all of the cases or individuals mentioned on the site. The listed cases are monitored for possible violations of civil liberties and human rights or to give a general overview of detention as part of the War on Terror.”
    It wasn’t there yesterday.

    If CagePrisoners “fights for rights for its particular community” it is a very specific community, which includes people who have undoubtedly committed exact and criminal acts and been convicted by due process of law; what are commonly known as criminals. I think, given the nature of the crimes they have been accused of and the hatred they provoke, these people need to be watched closely to ensure that their human rights are not violated.

    Precisely which human rights abuses by the Taliban did Begg oppose? After all, he moved to Afghanistan when the Taliban were already committiing abuses of human rights, on the grounds that he “believed that the Taliban had made some modest progress – in social justice and upholding pure, old Islamic values forgotten in many Islamic countries.” and his disapproval was so muted it provoked no response from the Taliban while he was there. Onthe basis of that attitude to the Taliban I think that there is something hypocritical in Begg and CagePrisoners, who do not themselves recognise what many others think are universal human rights latching onto A.I. and that it was foolish of A.I. to associate with Begg and CagePrisoners.

  121. Fred — on 4th March, 2010 at 8:23 am  

    HP hypocrites? @97: “Why has the video of David T ranting like a madman been removed from You Tube?”

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbuio9_islamophobic-rant-by-cleary-gottlie_news

    :)

  122. rina sherman — on 20th March, 2010 at 8:33 pm  

    In response to “Who Speaks for Human Rights?”, an article by D.D. Guttenplan & Maria Margaronis published in The Nation on March 18, 2010 (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100405/guttenplan_margaronis) with regards to the recent Amnesty International controversy opposing the ONG and their employee, Gita Sahgal, head of Amnesty’s gender unit, over the organization’s high profile public association with Moazzam Begg (Cage Prisoners), two things can be said:

    First of all, Amnesty International seems to continue having difficulties in positioning itself in relation to the global problematic of political manipulation and terror in the name of religion.
    Secondly, Amnesty International’s endemic hesitation to deal with criticism is questionable for an organization of its stature and reputation. Amnesty International’s attitude on both scores is comparable to that of other international Human Rights Organizations, such as the Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), in France.

    In somewhat different ways related to cultural expression, and for reasons related to different historical situations and political choices, a fraction of the “Left Wing” or Liberal Cultures in several Western countries, such as France, the UK, the USA, have chosen, on occasion, and at times repeatedly, to whitewash crime executed in the name of religion. That all humans have the right to Human Rights is undisputable and human rights organizations have a mammoth task to bring any form of discrimination to the public’s attention. But that such organizations should align themselves or be associated in public with individuals, events and affiliated organizations that underwrite violence of any kind in the name of religion is unacceptable on all accounts, and also merits to be brought to public attention and especially to the attention of those that provide their funding.

    In the case of Gita Sahgal, Amnesty International should immediately reinstate her in her position and suspend any association with Moazzam Begg, until such time as extensive dialogue and research over the matter has taken place, and then be made public to Amnesty International’s funders and the public at large.

    A similar point in case, illustrates Amnesty International’s general approach and culture in matters regarding crime in the name of religion. In February 2004, Didier Contant, grand reporter, fell from a building in Paris whilst he was doing his third investigation into the kidnapping and the assassination of the Monks of Tibhirine in Algeria in 1996. He had just returned from a month long investigation in Medea and Blida. Upon his return to Paris, a fellow journalist, Jean-Baptiste Rivoire from Canal+ launched a slander campaign against him, accusing him, among others with the editor in chief of Figaro Magazine who was supposed to publish his article, of working for the French and Algerian secret services. Needless to say, based on Rivoire’s information, which they did not deem necessary to check, the Figaro Magazine and several other publications refused Didier Contant’s article.

    In Rivoire’s slander campaign he repeatedly referred to an email from Amnesty International in London confirming his information. When contacted AI London first admitted to having had email exchanges with Rivoire regarding Contant, but then it was denied and turned into verbal conversations of which nobody could remember the content. It soon turned out that the main concern of Rivoire’s slander campaign was to prevent Contant from publishing information about the dubious activities in Algeria of a renegade officer from the Algerian Army, Abdelkader Tigha, in whose interests Amnesty International (and FIDH) acted after he was imprisoned in Taiwan when he was arrested for stealing from tourists. Tigha, in several versions of several statements blamed the Algerian Army for the death of the Monks of Tibhirine. He was an important witness for Canal+ reportages on the question. Contant returned with several hours of recordings of Blida and Medea residents describing his dubious identity. But for a few exceptions, the French press blacked out on the fate of Didier Contant. When contacted, journalists would say, “we need fresh news”, but even when the High Court of Paris condemned Rivoire for voluntary violence against Didier Contant in November 2009, not a single word appeared in the French press. As it turned out, as the storm died, neither Amnesty International nor FIDH continued to be associated with Abdelkader Tigha. For complete information about the death of grand reporter, Didier Contant, please visit: http://8e-mort-tibhirine.blogspot.com/

    Will Amnesty International follow a similar strategy in the case of their association with Moazzam Begg? Time will tell. But it would indeed be a sad loss for the organization to lose someone like Gita Sahgal, who from all accounts, seems to be dedicated human rights defender.

    Rina Sherman
    Paris, 20 March 2010

    Rina Sherman is a writer, ethnographer and filmmaker.
    http://www.rinasherman.com/

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