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  • The campaign to try and trash Amnesty continues


    by Sunny
    17th February, 2010 at 9:39 am    

    I said yesterday that many of those loudly pushing the Amnesty / Moazzam Begg story are doing merely so to malign Amnesty’s name. For them Gita Sahgal is just the latest excuse to push pre-prepared narratives.

    Right on cue, here is Melanie Phillips:

    The true intolerant, illiberal, unjust face of the ‘human rights’ industry has been on graphic display in recent days in the case of Gita Sahgal.

    The point is that her real crime has been to expose the extraordinary sympathy by white ‘liberals’, committed to ‘human rights’, for Islamic jihadists — who are committed to the extinction of human rights. This love-in by white ‘liberals’ for theocratic totalitarianism is then further reflected by the totalitarian manner in which they themselves deal with anyone who opposes them.

    Ergo, Amnesty are also committed to the extinction of human rights.
    And what might be the reason for Mel Phillips’ ire?

    When pondering the extraordinary obsession with Israel by the ‘human rights’ industry and the way in which it ignores real human rights abuses in the third world…

    Well that was a surprise wasn’t it? Damn those people at Amnesty for not publishing a statement about Congo in the last 6 weeks! Also, apparently, it is Amnesty and HRW that are to blame for why the world hasn’t heard much about Congo over the last decade. Nothing at all to do with the media industry and prominent newspapers that Mel Phillips writes for. The Daily Mail and Spectator are of course known for their unparalleled humanitarian coverage of atrocities around the world.

    To put it another way, Amnesty is living in the make-believe world of a phoney war, where it thinks that liberals are free to form alliances with defenders of clerical fascists who want to do everything in their power to suppress liberals, most notably liberal-minded Muslims.

    Oh wait - that was Nick Cohen - sounding exactly the same. The agenda here is so blatant that you’ll forgive me for being so gung-ho about cheering them on.

    And to make an obvious point: this doesn’t mean I’m hating on Gita Sahgal. I’ve had the utmost respect for WAF and SBS from day one. I just don’t agree with them here, and don’t want to get sucked into Nick Cohen and Mel Phillips’ agenda. But I expect such a nuanced position will be hard for some to understand.

    Also, Louise is spot on.


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    Filed in: Civil liberties,Media






    134 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. pickles

      Blog post:: The campaign to try and trash Amnesty continues http://bit.ly/bxF4Ox


    2. Sara Hannam

      RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The campaign to try and trash Amnesty continues http://bit.ly/bxF4Ox


    3. Eilidh

      RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The campaign to try and trash Amnesty continues http://bit.ly/bxF4Ox


    4. earwicga

      RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » The campaign to try and trash Amnesty continues http://bit.ly/9jDz2i


    5. Benjamin Titze

      Pickled Politics: This campaign to undermine Amnesty is shameful http://bit.ly/bYIaZT, see also http://bit.ly/csQGuT #gitasahgal




    1. HarpyMarx — on 17th February, 2010 at 9:50 am  

      Thanks for the link Sunny. And I totally agree with your post.

    2. Adil — on 17th February, 2010 at 9:51 am  

      I used to work at Amnesty and you’ve hit the nail on the head. The organisation is still working on corners of the world that the mainstream press simply aren’t interested in. It’s the media that has a fetish for Israel-Palestine, but it likes to claim this is a liberal obsession.

    3. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:08 am  

      Amnesty is so far doing a good job of trashing itself.

      Fortunately I think they have got, or very soon will have gotten, the message and will distance themselves from the Begg crew.

      You are letting your hatred for Mad Mel, Cohen, HP and whomever to drive your stance on this.
      Either that or (and I can’t believe this is true) you really believe that Begg is a suitable partner for AI.

    4. George — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:16 am  

      “” ‘liberals’, committed to ‘human rights’, for Islamic jihadists — who are committed to the extinction of human rights. “”

      Have another go at reading MP’s words. She is referring to a certain ilk in a similar vein to that dictatorial suck up Cadwell who ended up being murdered by the North Korean Government in North Korea on a trip to defend them.

      MP is with the program, Sunny has been lying out too long.

    5. Faisal — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:20 am  

      This is reductive binary politics for ten year olds. It amounts to not much more than this absurd simplification:

      “Support Amnesty’s right to partner with Moazzam Begg as a Human Rights Victim because Nick Cohen/Melanie Phillips/My Latest Neocon Bugbear opposed Gita Sahgal’s suspension.”

      This redactio-ad-absurdum gives you all the cover you need to ignore the real issues and relieves you of the responsibility of grappling with the the real questions of ethics and human rights questions on the table, which are, in any case far too subtle for this kind of binary simplification to resolve. You’re bringing nothing to the table except your own prejudices.

      While at the same time, you’re trying to hedge your bets by reminding us that you have “respect” for Gita Sahgal and WAF.

      Sorry, this is just pathetic, and transparently so.

      Leave this debate to the grown-ups, and go and utilise your energies on battling the BNP on their terms - racial identity politics. That’s more your bag.

    6. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:41 am  

      Faisal @ 5,

      Go on, enlighten us all.

      What do you make of someone whose opening sentence says, and I quote:

      The true intolerant, illiberal, unjust face of the ‘human rights’ industry has been on graphic display in recent days in the case of Gita Sahgal.

      and ends their piece with this:

      Thus the human wrongs industry spits out one of its own — a microcosm of the frightening harm and injustice it continues to wreak upon the western world which, under cover of the mind-bending rhetoric of ‘human rights’, it is helping deliver to its enemies.

      ‘Human wrongs industry’. See what she did there?

      I’d say that that is someone who wouldn’t comprehend a moral maze if it bared it’s backside and mooned in her face, but there you go. How can you possibly defend this Cassandra like nonsense?

    7. Mellie Agon — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:13 am  

      Melanie Phillips is a nasty Islamophobic piece of work and so is Nick Cohen and so is Harry’s Place. These people make a career out of pouring bile at Muslims morning, noon and night.

    8. Katy Newton — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:18 am  

      There’s nothing in Faisal’s comment that defends Melanie Phillips.

    9. Faisal — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:25 am  

      How can you possibly defend this Cassandra like nonsense?

      I’m not even considering it, let alone defending it. “What Nick Cohen said” or “What Melanie Phillips said” is gravy and ‘after the fact’.

      Amongst the real questions we should be discussing are:

      1) Should AI part company with Moazzam Begg?
      2) Why did AI get into bed with him in the first place?

    10. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:29 am  

      Leave this debate to the grown-ups, and go and utilise your energies on battling the BNP on their terms – racial identity politics. That’s more your bag.

      disgusting…why are you smearing sunny…hes had a long history combating extremism, islamic, sikh and white far right thought…he supports, as he said SBS and WAF…he blogs about honour killings and forced marraige so why aer you painting him out as an extremist?

      Rather than engage him on an intellectual level you start to slag him off which says a lot about you raher than sunny

      Sunny keep up the good work…

    11. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:42 am  

      Amongst the real questions we should be discussing are:

      1) Should AI part company with Moazzam Begg?
      no please see point 2 for reasons why
      2) Why did AI get into bed with him in the first place?
      this is the crux of the matter…decents can’t deal with nuance…the islamists are perpetrators of human rights abuses…but they are also victims as well
      perpetrators of human rights abuses… Amnesty invites Begg to speak at events to publicise the actually existing in reality massive black prison/torture network that is being so studiously ignored in this discussion, an entirely legitimate thing for a human rights organisation to be doing in the face of gross human rights violations.

      Amnesty has issued a series of reports on Taliban human rights abuses and reiterates its opposition to Islamist violence; thus anyone contending that Amnesty is overly soft on Islamism is either deliberately misleading their readers or is too dense to know the difference.

    12. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:47 am  

      Katy,

      All I have asked Faisal to do is explain the complexities of the debate that is beyond us mere mortals. The people he appears to view as authorities on the matter, pretty well consistently, both on this thread and t’other throw all sorts of polemic into the discussion. I’d like Faisal to tell me just what he is basing this moral superiority on. I certainly hope it isn’t the likes of Melanie Philips.

      That is all.

    13. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:55 am  

      I’m assuming that the reason why Sunny is raising these bullshit-heavy attacks on Amnesty is the same reason I’m chasing this stuff over the internet - because the case against Amnesty is almost 100% bullshit.

      I’ve said so in the previous thread, so here’s the short version - Amnesty have no relationship at all with CagePrisoners, despite heavy hints to the contrary.

      Amnesty explicitly states that it doesn’t endorse Begg’s nutty political beliefs, and Begg appears for them only in discussions on the massive American black prison/torture/murder network that has gone so thoroughly undiscussed in coverage of this issue. The sole reason that Begg is there at all is that he is one of the very few people who can describe this huge black prison network from personal experience.

      This, such as it is, is the full extent to which Amnesty is “in bed with Begg” or his associates - inviting him as a speaker on a matter of pressing interest for human rights organisations. The fiends!

      Further, there’s the Saghal situation, in which lots of people are cheerfully pretending that there was something particulary objectionable or odd about her suspension for attacking the organisation she works for in the Murdoch press. Practically everything I’ve read on this in the papers has been bullshit from start to finish aimed at portraying Saghal as a victim of some kind of persecution, which she categorically is not.

      And yet you wouldn’t know this from the media coverage of the event, which is heavily weighted towards the OMG Taliban/Amnesty suckfest narrative that is being dishonestly pushed by a very small number of journalists.

      And let us be clear here - the entirety of the case against Amnesty amounts to a) Begg is a horrible man, here, look at this quote; b) lots of people dishonestly pretending not to understand the difference between “invite to speak” and “endorse until the victory of tyrannical jihadism” and c) the pretence that the issue of the real and still-functioning extrajudicial detention, torture and murder network is barely relevant, and certainly never to be raised as an issue important enough to merit bringing in somebody like Begg.

      I have absolutely no doubt that those attacking Amnesty with these fables want to make the story all about Amnesty - it’s for rather the same reason that Ashley Cole would really rather talk about Champions’ League football than he would about pumping anonymous nightclub dwellers.

      It’s entirely correct and proper to ask why all of these bullshit talking points - Amnesty hearts CagePrisoners, Gita Saghal the persecuted victim - made it into mainstream coverage of this issue.

      Almost all of it is bollocks, and none of these bullshit narratives magically popped into the international press by themselves - they were openly planted there and deliberately pushed. It’s a transparent hatchet job, perpetrated by a small number of journalists with a well-documented history in launching politically-motivated attacks on human rights NGOs. That’s a story worth paying attention to, IMHO.

    14. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:59 am  

      saeed,

      You and Flying Rodent have both alluded to the black prison / torture network and frankly I agree with you both that that is the sort of thing that we should all be discussing. Gitmo itself has new questions to answer…

    15. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:59 am  

      CagePrisoners are advertising a Hizb ut Tahrir event, protesting the conviction of Aafia Siddiqui

      http://www.cageprisoners.com/campaigns.php?id=970

      So, that’s:

      (a) Support for a convicted criminal, whose own ex-husband denies the CagePrisoners lie that she was in a black prison for five years; and

      (b) an event run by a fascist organisation whose political programme you can read on Pickled Politics:

      http://www.pickledpolitics.com/pictures/documents/Hizb%20ut%20Tahrir%20Constitution.html

      But, let’s not worry about that. Let’s see where Melanie Philips stands and then take the opposing position.

      Here’s the point. Detention without trial is an important issue. But in partnering with CagePrisoners, Amnesty is promoting an organisation which is peddling complete bullshit about a woman who - when arrested - admitted that she had been on the run for five years, and not in Bagram, as Yvonne Ridley has been claiming.

    16. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

      “Amnesty explicitly states that it doesn’t endorse Begg’s nutty political beliefs, and Begg appears for them only in discussions on the massive American black prison/torture/murder network that has gone so thoroughly undiscussed in coverage of this issue. The sole reason that Begg is there at all is that he is one of the very few people who can describe this huge black prison network from personal experience.”

      Sure.

      And that’s why, for example, Amnesty is broadcasting Begg reading his own shit poetry:

      http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/video-and-audio/video-moazzam-begg-read-poems-guantanamo-20080123

    17. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

      Amnesty is not “partnering with” CagePrisoners, David. Amnesty has repeatedly said that it has no official relationship with them at all.

      How do you think people formed the impression that they were cuddling up together, do you think? Is this an honest appraisal of the situation designed to increase the reader’s comprehension?

    18. MiriamBinder — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

      Good article Sunny.

      There is no doubt whatsoever that the ‘real’ story is, as flying rodent points out, the transparent hatchet job. However sadly where the majority of people are either oblivious to Amnesty International and the concept of media-led, politically motivated hatchet jobs or too full of their own politically motivated persepectives; I doubt the real story will ever be addressed.

    19. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:14 pm  

      “Amnesty is not “partnering with” CagePrisoners, David. Amnesty has repeatedly said that it has no official relationship with them at all.”

      What adjective would you prefer to use for a relationship that involves a speaking tour, in which Begg doesn’t restrict himself to accounts of his own experiences, poetry reading, video presentations, and advocacy for other Gitmo detainees?

      Would “good friendship” be OK with you?

    20. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:27 pm  

      …a relationship that involves a speaking tour, in which Begg doesn’t restrict himself to accounts of his own experiences, poetry reading, video presentations, and advocacy for other Gitmo detainees?

      He reads poetry and advocates for people still being held beyond the judicial process in a prison in which he was once an inmate and is famed for torture and mistreatment? Egads, those Nazis!

      Would “good friendship” be OK with you?

      How about “Amnesty invites Begg as-opposed-to-CagePrisoners-the-organisation to speak (and subject audiences to his Vogon poetry) on issues of pressing importance to human rights organisations”?

      Is this really the sum total of the Amnesty “outrage” that every Decent in the country has been pimping like a man in a fedora and a purple suit for the last three weeks? Because this is weak, weak stuff.

    21. Larry Teabag — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:37 pm  

      David T,

      Detention without trial is an important issue. But…

      New Harry’s Place strapline?

      I think there’s scope to criticise AI’s choices here. But apparently some bloggers haven’t noticed that this has rather grown beyond criticism of particular actions. Nick Cohen’s facebook campaign talks about the “moral disintegration of Amnesty International”. Meanwhile HP has put up 8000 posts about their treachery beneath a banner in which the Amnesty candle is symbolically extinguished, and above comments threads consisting entirely of arseholes opining that “the best thing we could do to Amnesty International is kill it”.

      Factor in the very very long record these folks have of attacking HR organisations on the most footling and dishonest of premises, and it becomes hard to accept that the whole thing is intended as constructive criticism.

    22. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:51 pm  

      faisal why don’t you try to engage with what FR is actually saying…

      instead you only offer insults, smears and lies…

    23. Ravi Naik — on 17th February, 2010 at 12:56 pm  

      1) Should AI part company with Moazzam Begg?
      2) Why did AI get into bed with him in the first place?

      I gather by your objections that AI should ask victims of torture and illegal detention their ideology. If their ideology is repulsive and illiberal, then AI should not fight for their rights (in your language: get into bed/hold hands/kiss them gently). Well, perhaps you think they should - but they should fight in the dark and not publicly, because prudish people like yourself would be disappointed and oh so disgusted that AI would be associated to repulsive ideologies. It is a shameful and dishonest smear, and you faisal should know better.

      I am really glad there are associations and people who fight for the rights of people despite their views. It is a sign of strength, not weakness.

    24. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:01 pm  

      Is anyone saying that AI should not fight for Begg’s rights?

      No.

      I would fight for the right of David Irving to deny the holocaust.
      But I would not invite him to read his poetry at AI meetings.

    25. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:01 pm  

      Well, there you go - we’ve had almost of a decade of people pretending that the word “understand” means “wholeheartedly approve of”. Now we’ve got a 100% bullshit assault on AI based upon people pretending that “invite to speak” means “form a symbiotic reciprocal relationship based upon liberal treachery” in order to launch ludicrous attacks on human rights NGOs.

      Ladies and gentlemen, may I present BullshitGate part 11,328 - The Bullshitting.

    26. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:02 pm  

      well said ravi…you made a simple point, one that Faisal is unwilling to debate around…

    27. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:14 pm  

      However, these positions should also require us to hold salafi-jihadi groups and other religious absolutists accountable. Human rights abuses of torture, for example, should not be used to justify, legitimise and finally partner with proponents of violent jihad such as Moazzam Begg

      your comments show ignorance or, if i’m being cruel, deceit.

      Jihadi groups are being held accountable by AI…as sunny evidences…

      also can you show us how you define partnership…for me partnership is a reciprocal exchange of ideaS…ai have stated that they do not endorse the views of CP or MB

    28. Ravi Naik — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:17 pm  

      However, these positions should also require us to hold salafi-jihadi groups and other religious absolutists accountable.

      AI’s purpose is not to lecture about democracy and liberal western values. AI is there to ensure that international law is applied and justice be brought to perpetrators of grave human right abuses. If Cageprisioners or any other legal organisation/individual provides the information/help that AI needs to do its job, then you need to make a better case why they shouldn’t use all resources to their disposal.

      Mind you, Britain’s partnership with Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan does not mean we abide by their values, practices or whatever bullshit they would say against anyone.

    29. dawood — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:20 pm  

      AI’s position is to uphold Universal Human Rights and not partner with people whose politics negates that universality to the detriment of other human rights victims.

      Time was when Amnesty International would never compromise its principles by failing to distinguish between supporting an individual’s legitimate right to be protected from torture and illegal detention, and supporting that individual’s politics. Especially if those politics were some form of sectarian, supremacist movement.

      But today, Islamism is a form of political resistance which has been excluded from that distinction, by Amnesty and many others. And only because some people (of the Left) have decided that political Islam and jihadism in particular is a form of anti-capitalist resistance.

      And AI’s own principle has now been eroded.

    30. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:27 pm  

      Time was when Amnesty International would never compromise its principles by failing to distinguish between supporting an individual’s legitimate right to be protected from torture and illegal detention, and supporting that individual’s politics.

      In what way does Amnesty support Begg’s politics? Examples would be nice, because AI is very clear that its events are aimed at raising awareness of the aforementioned-but-barely-acknowledged black prison network.

      Honestly, backing up on your bullshit arguments and returning with fresh, differently-worded bullshit isn’t any more convincing than the original bullshit was in the first place.

      I hope people are paying attention to what’s going on in this thread, by the way - it’s a microcosm of the entire debate writ large.

    31. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:28 pm  

      Yes to that!

      and there we have it…the issue is not aboout AI, MB or CP…but (your perception) of the western lefts response to pol. islam…

    32. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:33 pm  

      I am sure that AI as an organisation does not support Begg’s politics.
      Whether some individuals within AI do, well, that’s another matter…it would be interesting to hear Ms. Sahgal on that question.

      (Though I see Faisal’s quote from her above sheds some light.)

      But the pertinent question is whether it is wise of AI to use Begg in the way that they have.
      I’m sure they would campaign for David Irving’s right of free speech. But I doubt whether they would let him read poetry at their meetings.

      Or perhaps you would be happy if they did?

    33. Muslim — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:41 pm  

      The true intolerant, illiberal, unjust face of the ‘human rights’ industry has been on graphic display in recent days in the case of Gita Sahgal.

      Since when does hatemonger Melanie Phillips find being “intolerant, illiberal, unjust” a negative trait ? It sums here and the people she supports up to a tee. Even in an obstensive attack on illiberalism she cant avoid bigotry with her “human rights” in brackets snipe.

      Like Faisal and David T on here her opposition to AI is to it defending the rights of Muslims or rather the wrong type of Muslim.

    34. Muslim — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

      saeed

      faisal why don’t you try to engage with what FR is actually saying…

      instead you only offer insults, smears and lies…

      Thats his whole modus operandi. When unable to argue with what someone says he just lies.

    35. dawood — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

      Muslim,

      That’s funny coming from someone who only does smears, insults and lies. No wonder you get a good dressing down on Spittoon most days for your Islamist bullshit.

    36. MiriamBinder — on 17th February, 2010 at 1:58 pm  

      @ cjcjc # 38 - “I’m sure they would campaign for David Irving’s right of free speech. But I doubt whether they would let him read poetry at their meetings.”

      If his poetry had a direct resonance regarding the issues they were attempting to highlight I dare say even that would be considered and I’d support their right to do so … After all, it is entirely within the organisations’ interest to be as successful as possible in getting resolution to their campaigns.

      Do try and move on cjcjc …

    37. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:00 pm  

      As usual Miriam, while I disagree with you, you are always internally consistent.

    38. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:11 pm  

      Yes gentlemen, I’ve been listening to these blubberfests about the treacherous thoughts of “white liberals” as divined by the psychically attuned for almost ten years now.

      Can any of you provide a concrete example of how Amnesty “supports (Begg’s) politics”, as Dawood would have it earlier?

      I notice, for instance, that Gita Saghal’s suspension has not prompted a mass walkout by Amnesty’s staff.

      Is this because a) they are uniformly those awful white liberals who are so blind to the horrors that may flow from inviting Begg to speak about the black prisons, or is it b) because they know politically-motivated bullshit when they see it, having been subjected to the same type of politically-motivated bullshit attacks for years, often by the very same people?

    39. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:19 pm  

      So by inviting a former inmate of a massive international network of blah blah blah you get the idea but somebody has to keep saying it, because the Decents certainly won’t refer to it unless you grab them by the neck and force them to talk about it, Amnesty is explicitly endorsing his politics, however wacky they may be?

      Well, why didn’t you say so before? We could’ve laughed this ridiculous silliness out of the papers ages ago if we’d realised we were dealing with this standard of “logic”.

    40. Sunny — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:23 pm  

      This is reductive binary politics for ten year olds.

      Oh look - Faisal the smear-merchant is trolling again. Why don’t you leave the advice on what I should write about to someone else? Is your blog not interesting enough that you have to come here every day telling me what I should write about? This is getting rather tedious now/

      And anyway - I’m not going to take advice from a cunt who yesterday said I was fully endorsing Cage Prisoners despite me writing the opposite. You can’t read Faisal and your advice is not wanted. Fuck off. Can you not get the message?

    41. Muslim — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:25 pm  

      dawood
      “Muslim,

      That’s funny coming from someone who only does smears, insults and lies. No wonder you get a good dressing down on Spittoon most days for your Islamist bullshit”

      You are entitled to your opinion of me. But I dont run a website or write for national newspapers. Faisal Gazi does.

    42. saeed — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:27 pm  

      Faisal what would you say about your co-religionists who are festering in a massive international network of so called ‘black’ prisons?

    43. FlyingRodent — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:33 pm  

      you have been denying AI had anything to do Begg and Cageprisoners, based on a conversation Sunny Hundal had with an “Amnesty official”.

      If AI have any formal relationship with CagePrisoners, say so. Lay it on us, and please do let us know if you subscribe to this “inviting someone to speak is exactly the same as supporting that person’s politics 100%” stuff.

      Note that “asking Begg to speak about his experiences in Guantanamo” and “partnering up with CagePrisoners” are not the same thing, no matter how you try to gild the lily on this one. That remains the case even if Begg inflicts his Vogon poetry on people, or tries to communicate the loneliness and terror of prison through the medium of dance.

    44. Don — on 17th February, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

      saeed,

      Why would being a ‘co-religionist’ make any difference?

    45. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:08 pm  

      It’s not that complicated really.

      Most of the general public agree with Gita Sahgal’s stance, because it makes sense.

      AI should not be partnering with Islamists, because AI wouldn’t be able to operate in a world ruled by Shariah law.

      Sunny and his ilk complain that Gita Sahgal (respec’ be upon her) is having her stance hijacked by people with ‘pre-prepared narratives’, but they respond with their own pre-prepared narratives against their hate figures like Melanie Phillips and Harry’s Place.

      Most people like what MP and HP are saying though, so don’t expect Team Sunny to be winning any awards for doing over Southall Black Sisters (respec’ be upon them too.)

    46. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:20 pm  

      dawood,

      And white liberal oompa loompas, such as you, deserve all the contempt you get from Afghan women victims of the Taliban.

      Really? So you are going to argue the case for, err.., for what exactly? You come on here with an ad hominem attack on your host and bring nothing else to the party. Then you say I am an enemy of Afghan women?

      Way to go.

      Contrary to you, I can actually hold at least two ideas in my head at the same time.

      Firstly that the treatment of Afghan women under islamist tutelage is an affront to human rights, and

      Secondly, that so is Gitmo, and so are the black ops prisons on which your side of the debate is unsurprisingly silent.

    47. lemontea — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:21 pm  

      post 52 Most of the public agree with gita saghal?????

      if you say so morrigan more accurately you mean the majority of the right wing nutjobs like melanie phillips and co agree with torture and locking up people in far away jails without a trial.

    48. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:30 pm  

      Contrary to you, I can actually hold at least two ideas in my head at the same time.

      I hold the same two ideas as you.

      But may I add a third idea - it’s not a good policy to use someone who is a bit soft on your first idea to be the poster boy for your second.

    49. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:41 pm  

      Lemontea,

      Outside the miniscule world of blogs most people can understand the basic logic that AI would not be able to operate in a world ruled by Shariah law. It should therefore avoid promoting apologists for Shariah.

      This whole ‘right wing nutjob’ trope is a different question altogether. Most people know common sense when they see it, and understand that it transcends party politics.

    50. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:41 pm  

      cjcjc @ 55,

      But may I add a third idea – it’s not a good policy to use someone who is a bit soft on your first idea to be the poster boy for your second.

      Well, if I thought it was proven then I would probably agree with you. So far I think it is all ‘no smoke without fire’.

      I refer you my friend to a thread from a long time ago, err, this morning. I said:

      I’d hope that it all blows over. Here is a way forward, correct me if I am wrong:

      Moazzam Begg should give a clear statement in what he believes is now. And he should do that and live with the consequences, whichever side he comes down on.

      It would be quite helpful if people didn’t ascribe motive to ‘news’ on the Caged Prisoners site. It would also be quite good if people stopped using about six degrees of separation to ‘prove’ linkages between Amnesty International and jihadists.

      It would help the debate if it could be accepted that not all legal systems are equal.

      Gita and Moazzam should sit down with the head of AI, someone called Claudio Cordone apparently, and thrash out whether or not it is legitimate for AI to continue to use Moazzam Begg in it’s campaign against extraordinary rendition, given this:

      http://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368

      Arguing against that sort of thing – done in our name don’t forget – doesn’t preclude arguing against excesses elsewhere.

      I don’t think you and I are all that far apart on this subject.

    51. dawood — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:44 pm  

      Way to go Sunny, keep deleting my comments. The only way you know how to argue your standpoint it seems. What a stupendously great protector of liberal values and free speech you are.

    52. HP hypocrisy — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:46 pm  

      David T and Harrys Place criticism of AI is amazingly hypocritical. Amnesty in the 70s campaigned for the release of a political prisoner in the Soviet Union Natan Sharansky. Sharansky subseqently became part of the Israeli government where he resigned in opposition to peace with the Palestinians and supported the theft and expulsion of Palestinians and their land to build settlements for extremist right-wing Jewish settlers.

      Not a word of criticism from Harrys Place for Amnesty then- simply because Sharansky is a hardline zionist like they are and not a Muslim like Moazzem Begg !

    53. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:48 pm  

      Morrigan @ 57,

      What certainty!

      I’d suggest to you that outside the small world of political blogs and magazines, no-one cares very much at all.

      Neither have you proven that the Moazzam Begg of the last, (what eleven years?), is who you say he is.

    54. Muslim — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

      Morrigan

      Outside the miniscule world of blogs most people can understand the basic logic that AI would not be able to operate in a world ruled by Shariah law. It should therefore avoid promoting apologists for Shariah.

      By this twisted logic AI could only campaign for liberals -people who sign up to full human rights for all as defined by you- which would exclude huge numbers of the people, many of them famous, they have campaigned for in the past.

      As if because someone has unpalatable political views its OK for them to be imprisoned falsely. Kind of makes a mockery of the idea of human rights for all , dont ya think?

    55. lemontea — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:56 pm  

      post 57

      morrigan there you go again with your most people as if you speak for most people, because you don’t. AI are doing work that is more noble and important than anything any of us mortals are doing and to see the anti islam bile published against them from the likes of the spectator and posts from right wing idiots who are bored posting on their regular racist blogs is pathetic.

    56. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 3:58 pm  

      “Muslim” is deliberately misunderstanding

      No-one objects to AI campaigning for Begg and other jihadis in prison who have been denied due process

      Many however object to his then becoming an AI poster boy

    57. MiriamBinder — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:06 pm  

      Poster boy? Does speaking to impart personal experiences of something the majority of us thankfully will not have to live through make Begg a poster boy for Amnesty International. Gee and there was me thinking that at least the people advanced enough to be aware of Amnesty would have moved beyond elevating a mere speaker to a poster boy …

    58. Refresh — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:08 pm  

      cjcjc, I actually don’t believe you. I don’t think you are interested in due process for all.

    59. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:08 pm  

      Douglas Clark,

      Do you really believe that most of the UK wants to see society run along Moazzam Begg’s preferred lines? A guy who said the Taliban were “better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past twenty-five years”

      Which areas of the UK in particular do you think would prefer Islamic rule to their local council?

      Moazzam Begg by his own admission travelled to Muslim theatres of war and provided financial backing to soldiers there. It’s called being a jihadi.

    60. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:09 pm  

      Well that’s your prerogative, but you’re wrong.

    61. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:12 pm  

      ‘Muslim’

      By this twisted logic AI could only campaign for liberals -people who sign up to full human rights for all as defined by you- which would exclude huge numbers of the people, many of them famous, they have campaigned for in the past.

      Campaigning to get people their human rights is one thing, working with them afterwards is entirely another.

      Like the rest of Team Sunny, you are confusing the two.

    62. Refresh — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:13 pm  

      Morrigan

      “better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past twenty-five years”

      sounds like a statement on the previous 25years of butchery and civil strife wouldn’t you say? Presuming it was a statement within a wider comment.

      Perhaps you could give us the whole quote, so we can have context.

    63. Sunny — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:13 pm  

      A guy who said the Taliban were…

      The operative word is “said” - what is he saying now?

      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.

      Or are Muslims just assumed to be lying all the time when they’re talking about peace?

    64. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:14 pm  

      Lemontea,

      morrigan there you go again with your most people as if you speak for most people, because you don’t. AI are doing work that is more noble and important than anything any of us mortals are doing and to see the anti islam bile published against them from the likes of the spectator and posts from right wing idiots who are bored posting on their regular racist blogs is pathetic.

      …and Breeeeeeeeathe!

    65. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:20 pm  

      Sunny,

      The operative word is “said” – what is he saying now?

      1) Do you think he has changed his mind about the Taliban, or about Al Shabab?

      2) Do you think he supports gay rights, womens rights or the right of Muslims to renounce their faith freely?

    66. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:24 pm  

      Is Begg lying?

      Has he lied in the past about his little Afghan adventure? Yes.

      Has he supported known jihadis (eg Awlaki) since his release? Yes.

    67. Sunny — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:33 pm  

      Morrigan and cjcjc - to be honest, I don’t know. People I’ve spoken to, who have interviewed him for ages, say yes he has changed and now merely campaigns against the media demonising people who haven’t been convicted. Though I fully accept (as I did in my first post on tyhe whole saga) that CagePrisoners goes further than that and I’m not a fan.

      But does this mean Amnesty is listening to him on their rights coverage? No. Does it means he is influencing them? NO. Does it mean they can’t work within even though they disagree on things? Yes.

    68. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:39 pm  

      Your first post was best!

    69. Morrigan — on 17th February, 2010 at 4:44 pm  

      No I’m sorry Sunny that won’t do.

      You wouldn’t let off some Tory MP whose stance on gay rights and womens rights was that questionable, you’d be on their case screaming blue murder. Why does Begg get a pass?

      Beyond securing his basic human rights, Amnesty shouldn’t be working with him.

      You have called this one wrong, in your haste to ‘spew out’ pre-prepared narratives on certain commentators you don’t like.

    70. Sunny — on 17th February, 2010 at 6:10 pm  

      You wouldn’t let off some Tory MP whose stance on gay rights and womens rights was that questionable, you’d be on their case screaming blue murder.

      Erm - there are loads of Tories with dodgy stances on homosexuality and race. Hell, Conhome’s readers want blacks and Asians profiled! I’d have more time for people slamming Amnesty now if they actually campaigned on the issues too.

    71. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 6:29 pm  

      Do you not mean “the campaign to try TO trash Amnesty” (as opposed to “try AND trash…”)

    72. dsquared — on 17th February, 2010 at 7:14 pm  

      Detention without trial is an important issue. But

      priceless.

    73. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 7:35 pm  

      Here are some other hilarious jokes for DSquared to chortle at:

      “There are good arguments for maintaining the anonymity of defendants in rape trials. But [a national poster campaign featuring the sad face of John Leslie is likely to be counterproductive]”

      “There is always room for a post attacking some duff point or other made by Melanie Philips. But [one can't help but wonder whether, if she were just a little bit browner, Sunny would be defending everything she says].”

      “DSquared claims to care about universal human rights. But [only if he can use them as a prop in a frightfully droll piece he is writing about the Decents snigger snigger].”

    74. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 7:39 pm  

      Here are some other hilarious jokes for DSquared to chortle at:

      “There are good arguments for maintaining the anonymity of defendants in rape trials. But [a national poster campaign featuring the sad face of John Leslie is likely to be counterproductive]”

      “There is always room for a post attacking some duff point or other made by Melanie Philips. But [one can't help but wonder whether, if she were just a little bit browner, Sunny would be defending everything she says].”

      “DSquared claims to care about universal human rights. But [only if he can use them as a prop in a frightfully droll piece he is writing about the Decents snigger snigger].”

      What matters in each case is what comes after the ‘But”.

      If the point was that one shouldn’t be concerned about human rights, then the ‘but’ stands for the denial of those rights. However, if the point is that you can’t advance universal human rights by promoting somebody who supports military jihad in defence of the Taliban, than the ‘but’ points to *better* ways to protect human rights.

      For example:

      “I would like to help you fix your bike. But [I can't be bothered to, actually]”

      -versus-

      “I would like to help you fix your bike. But [it will be difficult if you insist on hammering tin tacks into all the tyres and then hitting it with a sledgehammer.”

    75. cjcjc — on 17th February, 2010 at 8:06 pm  

      My goodness things must be getting serious if the socialist stockbroker (dsquared) has pitched up.

    76. Shamit — on 17th February, 2010 at 9:03 pm  

      Begg’s an asshole - and his writings and his statements are ludicrous - and he openly supports violent jihadi activities in his own words. He also suffers from selective amnesia when he wrote that jihadists were the reason that Serbia was defeated. And of course, he is delusional.

      However, no matter how unpalatable his views are; no matter how heinous his objectives may be - he deserves equal protection from the law and his fundamental rights should not have been violated. When AI stands for helping him and others be treated fairly and offered all protection under law - AI is doing the right thing.

      However, I am very uncomfortable to say the least that he is a speaker at AI events - he has no standing and should not be offered a platform by AI to speak on anything given his views - except for may be talking about his own experiences.

      Either way, AI is an institution I respect but like all big organisations it often suffers from groupthink and suspending Ms Sahgal over her protests definitely falls within that category.

      And it seems like the more AI is trying to spin this the more ludicrous they are looking — and the statement by the head of asia is actually a rather bad spin job.

      Folks who curse Sunny: did you read what he said - Sunny wrote:

      “I said yesterday that many of those loudly pushing the Amnesty / Moazzam Begg story are doing merely so to malign Amnesty’s name. For them Gita Sahgal is just the latest excuse to push pre-prepared narratives.”

      I do not see anything wrong with that statement and so all those who seem to continuously use profanity and attack him - you lot need to grow up.

      I think Sunny is being a tad too lenient towards the spin that is being provided by AI higher echelons because they really did fuck up by suspending a stalwart in Human rights — and someone whose credentials are impeccable. But that does not mean that you lot should come to PP and abuse the host — who happens to be a friend of mime. And we know how to abuse too.

      I disagree with Sunny on many things but him supporting an Islamist agenda is something I am not willing to buy at any cost.
      *************************

      And, those who took a dig at PP for going against BNP and thought that was juvenille - hmmmm. I think those who say that need to grow the fuck up.

      ******************************8

    77. Dr Aisha Gill — on 17th February, 2010 at 9:23 pm  

      WLUML Statement in support of Gita Sahgal

      The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network expresses its solidarity with Gita Sahgal, a longstanding ally of the network who is active in various organisations, collectives, and movements committed to upholding universal human rights. As a feminist, anti-racist activist, filmmaker and researcher, Sahgal has devoted her career to exposing systematic discrimination and rights violations by state and non-state actors in Britain, South Asia and internationally. Much of this work has included rigorous research into transnational fundamentalist movements, and their intersections with human rights, especially those of women. In addition, Gita Sahgal is the Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International (AI).

      WLUML has learned that she has repeatedly, and to no avail, raised internal inquiries into Amnesty International’s association with the organisation Cageprisoners, headed by Moazzam Begg, around the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. British citizen Moazzam Begg was abducted in 2002 by American and Pakistani intelligence officers in Pakistan, to where he had fled from Afghanistan with his family soon after the US-led ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ bombing of the country began in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Begg was held first in Bagram detention facility, Kandahar, and then detained in Guantánamo until he was released by the United States in 2005. Begg has never been charged with any terrorist-related offence or put on trial. In a book about his experiences, Enemy Combatant, co-authored with Victoria Brittain, he states that in 2001 he believed “the Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years” and he is one of the current advocates of dialogue with the Taliban. Cageprisoners campaigns “to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror”. Amnesty International’s Counter Terror with Justice Campaign calls for an end to human rights abuses at Guantánamo and other locations, and for those detained there to be brought to justice, in fair trials that respect due process. Gita Sahgal’s concern about a lack of transparency in AI’s partnerships led to Sahgal’s decision to approach the Sunday Times newspaper media about this issue. This resulted in an article by Richard Kerbaj published on 7 February 2010, entitled “Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link: An official at the human rights charity deplores its work with a ‘jihadist’” in which Kerbaj reports Sahgal’s suggestions that the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his “jihadi” group. The same day, Sahgal was suspended from her position as Head of the Gender Unit.
      Gita Sahgal’s concerns are about Amnesty International’s association with fundamentalist groups that have claimed to support the Taliban and promote ideas of the Islamic Right, which are not supportive of women’s rights. Sahgal is well-placed to raise such issues, with a demonstrated commitment to exposing and addressing fundamentalisms – political movements of the extreme Right, often operating within religious, ethnic and/or cultural discourses – and assessing the implications of their agendas on women’s human rights, including as a founding member of Women Against Fundamentalisms (WAF) in the UK. Along with directing numerous films on the topics of women’s rights, conflict and violence against women, Sahgal has also written extensively on multiculturalism and religious fundamentalism, and is the co-editor of Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain (Virago, 1992; WLUML, 2001).

      It is clear that Sahgal, like Amnesty International, is committed to promoting and upholding human rights. We agree, with Sahgal, that AI’s admirable and non-partisan support of the human rights of those who have faced unfair imprisonment, denial of due process, and torture is to be commended and supported. Nonetheless, if human rights are indeed universal and indivisible, then she has raised a crucial point in distinguishing between supporting specific human rights of an affected group, and providing a public platform for those who may not support the indivisible human rights of others.

      The human rights of women and minorities are particularly abused by state and non-state actors who justify their political agendas by reference to religion. Those who challenge the structures, policies and practices that create and perpetuate such violations are frequently isolated and attacked. The WLUML network recognizes the bravery demonstrated by Gita Sahgal in raising the important issue of state and non-state collaboration with those groups who may not uphold the rights of all, even if they themselves are also the victims of human rights violations.
      We call for civil society and governments alike to engage in a wider debate about partnerships with organisations that claim to support human rights but do not uphold the rights of all, including women and minorities. While WLUML deeply regrets the attempts of some media commentators and apologists for torture and war crimes to hijack this important debate to smear progressive movements, organisations and individuals, we as Human Rights organisations and activists, cannot ask for democracy, openness to criticism and transparency of other organisations and government, if we ourselves do not observe these basic rules.

      Women Living Under Muslim Laws
      International Solidarity Network
      http://www.wluml.org
      wluml@wluml.org

    78. Roger — on 17th February, 2010 at 9:43 pm  

      Another worrying problem with A.I.’s association with Begg, besides the respectability it lends to Begg and his views, is the damage it does to campaigns against the terror methode used by the U.S.A., and its allies. Using Begg, who is biased and known to be biased, as a witness to the horrible things done in the name of freedom makes it easier to disregard the crimes committed in our name because of the untrusteorthiness of the source of the source of information.

    79. Phomesy — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:12 pm  

      Shamit, I agree with everything you wrote.

      It’s Sunny who has decided to eschew solidarity with Gita Sahgal to pursue a bizarre and irrelevant straw man obsession with some of the people who have voiced their support for Sahgal.

      If Sunny really cared about Amnesty International he’d be insisting on Sahgal’s reinstatement and cutting of all links with Begg, beyond those specific to his detention without trial.

      Because it’s the right thing to do. Clearly.

      Instead, Sunny has tried to make the issue about those supporting Sahgal. Specifically, those people he is in political disagreement with.

      Basically, Sunny has made the issue about himself - which is as inexcusable as anything Melanie Phillips has had to say on the matter.

    80. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:13 pm  

      Shamit @ 84,

      You are one of the reasonable commentators around here. I’d just like to know why you are saying that Begg is an arsehole. So far Moazzam Begg has had a lot of stuff thrown at him and none of it has stuck.

      The internet is open to quote mining, if you were bored enough you could find posts by almost anyone that, out of context or beyond their sell by date, damned them.

      I may have mentioned before that I changed my mind from a decent perspective to where I stand now. I frankly cringe at some of the things I said back then. Else there is no redemption, no change.

      Apart from that, I completely agree with the rest of your post.

    81. dsquared — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:30 pm  

      Here’s another one for you, David:

      “There is a legitimate debate to be had about Amnesty’s campaigning on behalf of Guantanamo detainees. But, people who have never mentioned Amnesty in the last ten years except to undermine it might as well shut up”.

      or even

      “It’s all very well to try and pretend that there’s a big difference between your views and those of Melanie Phillips. But, you were perfectly happy to reprint her ludicrous conspiracy theories about the International Red Cross”.

      but more fundamentally.

      “This looks like a hysterical campaign for relevance on the part of a usedtabee blog and a few journalists with a long history of grudges against Amnesty for being right on roughly all the issues they were wrong about. But, that’s actually what it is”.

      and indeed:

      “See you, but I wouldn’t want to be you”.

    82. Phomesy — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:37 pm  

      There you go folks - how to shit all over Gita Sahgal in order to further your obsession with “Decents” 101.

      You must be so proud Dsquared. Except you’re a bit late to this parade. Your acolytes have very quickly shit all over Sahgal in their desperation to make this about your pathetic obsession.

    83. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:39 pm  

      Too tragic for words.

    84. dsquared — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:46 pm  

      How very, very unlike your own career as a human rights activist, David. Who can forget your heroic stand as the Rosa Parks of Hackney Swimming Baths? Particularly since you took exactly the principled approach you’re taking now and refused the support of the Daily Mail, because you worried that your campaign would be tainted by association with their petty xenophobia. Or did you?

    85. dsquared — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:50 pm  

      Phomesy, you’re really not very good at this are you? As is quite clearly visible, I *haven’t* said anything derogatory about Gita Saghal and I *have* said there’s a serious debate to be had about the issues she raises. My only point I’m making relates to my own particular modest area of expertise - the track record of Harry’s Place, its commenters, Nick Cohen and all, and how it more or less obviously disqualifies you all from taking place in such a debate.

      As with the last time we went round this mulberry bush on the subject of the Chilcott Inquiry, the chickens have come home to roost. On a variety of subjects, everything you’ve said for the last seven years means that nobody is really interested in hearing what you’ve got to say now.

    86. Phomesy — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:51 pm  

      FFS, can’t you see how pathetic and petty you’re behaving?

      This isn’t about you, Dsquared. It’s not about DavidT. It’s not about Sunny.

      It’s about Gita Sahgal and Amnesty International.

      Keep your revolting onanism out of it. Just for once.

    87. dsquared — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:57 pm  

      I will if you will; indeed I would have if you (and Nick Cohen, and Melanie Phillips, and that character I remember grinning out of the Mail’s “LOONY LEFTY IMMIGRANTS BAN BAIRN FROM BATHS!” spread) had.

    88. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 10:59 pm  

      I was going to say, yet again, that Moazzam Begg should clarify his current thinking. However, David T should also tell us, either here or on his own place, exactly what he wants AI to be. Both have been strikingly quiet on that subject.

      If neither Moazzam Begg or David T are able to state a coherent case about independent advocacy of human rights, well hell mend them….

    89. Shamit — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:02 pm  

      Douglas - you should read whole articles he has written in the last few years as a reformed character. And his delusions and sympathies towards violent jihad is quite clear.

      Please take a look the cageprisoners website too. They are happy to call Gita Sahgal an islamophobe.

      ******************************
      Phomesey -

      Sunny’s assessment of Nick Cohen and Melanie Philips is spot on. They are hacks and they don’t give a shit about anything but promote their own agenda.

      I take Nick Cohen and Mel Philips as seriously as I take Piers Morgan - another lying hack.

      But I do agree that there are much bigger issues relating to this debate

    90. Shamit — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:03 pm  

      Douglas - you should read whole articles he has written in the last few years as a reformed character. And his delusions and sympathies towards violent jihad is quite clear.

      Please take a look the cageprisoners website too. They are happy to call Gita Sahgal an islamophobe.

      ******************************
      Phomesey -

      Sunny’s assessment of Nick Cohen and Melanie Philips is spot on. They are hacks and they don’t give a shit about anything but promoting their own divisive agenda. The Muzlims are under our beds theory.

      I take Nick Cohen and Mel Philips as seriously as I take Piers Morgan - another lying hack.

      But I do agree that there are much bigger issues relating to this debate than these hacks. But these hacks by embracing this debate has skewed the debate to a place where it should not belong and I think Sunny was trying to present that in his post.

    91. rupewawa — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:03 pm  

      I’m a fan of WLUML, SBS and WAF however I think their statements are misguided. Gita Sahgal is indeed a respected human rights activist but I think she has got it very wrong here.

      To take a quote from their statement above:

      Gita Sahgal’s concerns are about Amnesty International’s association with fundamentalist groups that have claimed to support the Taliban and promote ideas of the Islamic Right,…

      (my emphasis)

      For this statement to be fair one would have to prove:
      a) AI has “an association” with a “fundamentalist group”. As mentioned above AI are not associated with Cage Prisoners. They have conducted speaker tours with Begg who is not a fundamentalist. The quote Sunny uses above shows he is not a fundamentalist. If you think he is you will have to provide recent quotes that contradict the one above.

      b) That Begg supports the Taliban. He has stated his position on this more times than I can count, it is a nuanced position which isn’t particularly liked by those who want them/us type simplicities. He is not a supporter of the Taliban, saying that the UK Govt should talk to the Taliban does not make him a supporter of the Taliban. Saying that they were better than the preceding 25yrs of bloody war does not make him a supporter of the Taliban. Those who advocated talks between IRA and UK were not pro-terrorist they were pro-peace.

      c) That Begg promotes the ideas of the Islamic Right. As someone who went to Afghanistan to build a girls’ school I also do not think this is defensible. When he gives speeches about Gitmo, he talks about Gitmo. Not jihad, not death to Americans. He has even done a speaker tour with an ex-Gitmo US Guard. This is not the action of a jihadist who wants to kill Americans.

      I commend WLUML for being the first of these groups (as far as I know) to condemn the right-wing hijacking of this debate. However, on the suspension of Gita Sahgal they only have half the story, hers. I am not willing to condemn AI’s internal processes for this until we have all the information, at the moment we don’t. They are rightly not slagging her off in the press as she is doing to them. Of course you would suspend an emplyee if they did this. If they find severe failings and that she was right then she should be reinstated. But on the basis of what she has said on Begg and Cage Prisoners, I doubt that will happen.

      On the wider issue of principle, I think those who are engaging in an anti-Amnesty campaign are not able to hold a consistent line on this. AI should campaign against Gitmo but not use former inmates to tell their story? They should protect Begg’s rights until he gets out and then ignore his rights to accountability? Begg talking about his torture and imprisonment IS THE SAME THING as him *alledgedly* promoting radical Islam and support for the Taliban (even though there is not compelling proof of this)? Is a distinction between allowing someone to speak and “making them a poster boy”, if so what?

      We immediately get into a grey area in what people keep trying desperately to make a black and white issue. What is most depressing about this is that it will do ABSOLUTELY nothing to promote the rights of women in Afghanistan or wherever. All it will do is damage a huge human rights org doing massive amounts of work on millions of issues all over the world and make it practically impossible for them to work with these women’s groups again.

      I hope that doesn’t happen. But I can’t see a positive, progressive outcome to this that improves anyone’s human rights.

    92. David T — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:05 pm  

      I would like Amnesty to defend the principle that all detained persons have process rights. I would like them to do this by not touring around or otherwise giving a platform to Moazzam Begg. I think that his presence undermines that important principle.

      DSquared - you are talking about the newspaper that spearheaded the national Stephen Lawrence campaign. If you read the report, you will see that it makes it very clear that Muslims also objected to the segregationist policy. A rather good news story for those of us who seek to demonstrate the plurality of Muslim views, thereby tho slay the chimera of Islamophobia.

      But no.

      You are a terribly gloomy Eeorish figure, aren’t you?

    93. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:06 pm  

      Phomsey might like, given his over excited line @ 94, to join in and explain his views about advancing the advocacy of human rights too.

      I suspect either no-one will take up the challenge or that we are about to fall into a black hole about the failure of even human rights activists to be perfectible.

    94. MoreMediaNonsense — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:14 pm  

      “the track record of Harry’s Place, its commenters, Nick Cohen and all, and how it more or less obviously disqualifies you all from taking place in such a debate.”

      Totally insane stuff from Dsquared. Now we know where FR and Sunny get their derangement syndrome from.

      There is a genuine debate here but guess what - all the HP derangees are interested in is slagging off their “Decent” demons.

      Can’t you see how much you are embarassing yourselves ?
      Commenter after commenter here have reiterated the real issue and problem, many of them people from the HR sector with unimpeachable progressive Left credentials and all we get from loons like dsquared and FR is ranting about “neocons” and Nick Cohen, no engagement with the problems Gita and co are so concerned with.

      All you crowd seem to care about is how Gita Sahgal might be somehow helping a “Decent” agenda. All the other aspects of the debate seem to be of no interest.

      Madness, sheer madness.

    95. Shamit — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:15 pm  

      So Rupewawea —

      Gita Shagal is wrong and got it completely wrong - and she has been involved in promoting and working for human rights for over 40 years and her credentials are beyond reproach.

      And what makes you think she would have made that statement about cageprisoners if she really did not believe it.

      She worked with him - she heard their views and found it not consistent with the principles of AI - she is probably a better judge of that than you, in my opinion.

      And I have read all of Beggs written work (at least almost all that are available on the web over the past couple of days) and he is no pluralist and he is a delusional fool at best. And someone with very very unpalatable and one sided views of the world.

      egKosovo got liberated because Muslims all over the world came over and through over the Serbian regime and that the kosovars did not rape or kill serbian women are just some of the many idiotic things he has written in the last couple of years.

      But I do agree his rights should have been protected irrespective of how heinous his motives may have been or are.

      What experience do you have to say Saghal was wrong? Could you please elaborate except for the idiot himself claiming he is a moderate not understood man?

    96. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:18 pm  

      David T @ 99,

      Obviously your first sentence should be supported.

      I would like Amnesty to defend the principle that all detained persons have process rights.

      But it goes a bit further, doesn’t it?

      Take Gitmo and black ops prisons for instance.

      The jurisdiction must be fair, the prisoners should not be subject to cruel or unusual treatment. And, if they are prisoners, in the accepted sense, then they ought to be entitled to due process. Habeas corpus shouldn’t be denied to them, should it? Alternatively if they are prisoners of war, then they should have Geneva Rights, without the caveats of clever interpretations by devious lawyers working for a corrupt President?

      You’d agree, would you not, that that is a reasonable example of a brief for a Human Rights Organisation?

    97. Chris Williams — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:18 pm  

      There’s a network of secret prisons, in which an unknown number of people have been tortured to death. The UK govt co-operated in the operation of this network. The network is still in operation.

      The above needs shouting from the hilltops. Unless, of course you haven’t got a problem with it, in which case it’s reasonable to instead bang on about supposed flaws of the people who are doing the shouting.

    98. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:20 pm  

      Shamit,

      Douglas – you should read whole articles he has written in the last few years as a reformed character. And his delusions and sympathies towards violent jihad is quite clear.

      Cites?

    99. agp — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:21 pm  

      David Toube on spitting on elderly women:

      David T

      What a hilarious play Churchill has written. I would spit in her face.

      Chas Newkey-Burden

      “What a hilarious play Churchill has written. I would spit in her face.”

      Join the queue.

      David T

      Actually, I hope I wouldn’t. I hope I’d have the grace to walk away.

      http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/04/25/guardian-stages-seven-jewish-children/

    100. douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:28 pm  

      I like Chris Williams take on this:

      http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2010/02/you-are-decent-ref-human-rights-ngo.html

    101. Shamit — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:35 pm  

      douglas -

      Lets start with this one:

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

      page 20 if I am correct - have a read and I am sure you would find it delusional

    102. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:08 am  

      Shamit,

      Thanks for the link. As far as I can tell, you are the first person that has quoted from a recent source.

      I have skim read it and frankly I haven’t a clue what the heck he is talking about. There are bits of transparency: you used to love the mujahideen, and you trained them when they were agents against the Soviets, versus:

      Historically speaking, whenever the
      Qur’an calls for aiding the oppressed: And
      what is wrong with you that you fight not in
      the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, illtreated
      and oppressed among men, women,
      and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord!
      Rescue us from this town whose people are
      oppressors; and raise for us from You one
      who will protect, and raise for us from You
      one who will help’12 people have always
      obliged. Over time, that number has dwindled,
      but Prophet Muhammad said: ‘There
      will not cease to be a group from my people,
      fighting upon the truth evident over those
      who fight them…

      which seems a rallying cry. For Muslims, perhaps?

      It appears to be about mistranslations that justify something or another. I suspect it could be about Muslim exceptionalism, but I could be wrong.

      I completely hate trying to read into stuff. What does this actually mean, for instance:

      Although jihad seeks to terrify those who
      are engaged in oppression, abuse and violation
      of the sancity of human life, ordinary,
      decent human beings should not have to
      fear it, even when their own governments
      have committed crimes in their names.
      Being just to the enemy might be the hardest
      jihad of the nafs but it is incumbent
      upon all Muslims. O you who believe! Stand
      out firmly for Allah as just witnesses and let
      not the enmity and hatred of others make
      you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to
      piety, and fear Allah.26 Even as we resist our
      oppressors, we should never allow them to
      become our teachers.

      O you who believe!

      Bloody hell. And in the first person?

      I have no idea at the moment. I’ll get back to you as they say :-;

    103. Phomesy — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:09 am  

      The above needs shouting from the hilltops. Unless, of course you haven’t got a problem with it, in which case it’s reasonable to instead bang on about supposed flaws of the people who are doing the shouting

      You’re talking about Gita Sahgal, right?

      Right?

    104. Refresh — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:22 am  

      David T, I do wonder who would have sufficed for you as survivors of Guantanamo and of the secret prison network on an Amnesty International campaign?

      I think for you even taking the three dead bodies originally reported as suicides (but see Douglas Clark’s link upthread) would be unacceptable. Even they would have spoken out too loudly for you.

    105. Refresh — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:23 am  

      Rupewawea, thank you for a very well reasoned position.

    106. Andy Gilmour — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:24 am  

      There does seem to be a problem for some folk here, of disassociating the issue from people surrounding it.

      It *is* possible to be on the same side of an argument as such odious bigots as Melanie Philips (and the more extreme commenters from HP, fer instance), but not for the same reasons as they are…honest.

      A fair few people have been lining-up to accuse Gita Sahgal of not knowing what she’s talking about (at the very least), seemingly simply because people they don’t like on ideological grounds (or because they happen, like Mel P, to be a raging bigot) have pitched-in with their own agendas.

      any chance we could perhaps separate the two notions a bit more, please?

      I thought Liberal Conspiracy used to be better than this, didn’t it…?

      Ho hum.

    107. Ravi Naik — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:25 am  

      What experience do you have to say Saghal was wrong?

      Look - there is no wrong or right, it is a matter of opinion. She is just one person who disagrees with AI’s decision to work with Biggs on the issue of Gitmo. She was suspended because she went to the newspapers - I have no idea if she broke protocol, but I certainly think this could be an issue for an organisation like AI.

      I do find amazing that people think this sort of association may damage AI’s reputation despite all their work. The insinuation that they suddenly became blind is hilarious. And if someone actually knows if Biggs used AI’s platform to defend terrorism or to take other people’s rights, then I would like to know.

      And I read the article very quickly (#108), apart from the fact that ‘arabic’ numbers are actually Indian, I did not find his stance more delusional than Blair’s decision to go to Iraq. It’s your “violence” is justified if it is just and moral kind of argument.

    108. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:34 am  

      Refresh @ 111,

      I certainly hope David T is not so deep in an intellectual argument as to think that. Could I take the point I think you are making when you say, forgive me I have added a question mark at the end:

      I do wonder who would have sufficed for you as survivors of Guantanamo?

      That has resonances, resonances that David T cannot be entirely blind to.

    109. Refresh — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:46 am  

      Indeed.

    110. Chris Williams — on 18th February, 2010 at 12:46 am  

      Douglas, I am not Malky.

      PS. Secret prisons. Kidnap. Murder. Torture. Parliament lied to. That’s the story. The people who want you to talk about something else are people who either don’t think this is happening, or don’t think it matters. If the former ignorant, if the latter scum.

    111. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 1:25 am  

      Chris Williams,

      Who the heck is Malky? What, exactly are you seeing?

      I’m just after recommending your site @ 108 ?

      OK, can someone tell me if the name thief is back?

      Chris, my only genuine comment was @ 108.

      I assume my identity has been stolen again, or whatever. Which is why the tit is deleted.

      This little arsehole will indeed take down all debate unless he is stopped.

    112. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 1:33 am  

      Chris,

      If you have a copy of what I was meant to have said, please post it again. I’d like to start a discussion on that.

    113. Arif — on 18th February, 2010 at 7:55 am  

      Douglas (#110), I am also grateful to Shamit for the link. It is definitely a very relevant article. Douglas, I think you may be a little unaccustomed by the style - particularly when he intersperses his article with quotations from the Qur’an or other sources without indicating this by way of quotation marks, but only in the footnotes.

      The thrust of the article is an argument against pacifist readings of the Qur’an by Muslims. His overall article does not appeal to me, but I interpret his calls for self-limitation as genuine. In some respects I feel he is not clear enough for me to guess how he would operate in all circumstances, but he is very clear in opposing Al Qaida’s methods.

      I see it as equivalent to what might be called an argument for humanitarian interventionism. And his argument is addressed to those Muslims who oppose the interventionism, but are assumed to share the humanitarianism.

      It is a seductive argument, but it seems to me to share something troubling with similar arguments made by western politicians. An assumption of a kind of moral superiority.

      I do not believe AI takes a position on humanitarian intervention (other than self consciously not having such a position!)

    114. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 8:30 am  

      Arif,

      Thanks for your comments. They are very useful in attempting to get to the basis of what Moazzam Begg appears to think.

      I’d have no particular difficulty in accepting that argument were it seen as a universal ‘right’. We should all be willing to “take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing them end them”. That could be a motto for AI. Where I, perhaps, diverge is if he is speaking to an exclusively Muslim audience with an exclusively Muslim agenda. It makes a heck of a difference.

      I know I’m a bore on this subject, but Moazzam Begg really does need to spell out just where he stands right now.

      Thanks again.

    115. Boyo — on 18th February, 2010 at 8:37 am  

      Here’s a radical thought: why is it necessary to support and condemn either? The truth is there’s fault on both sides. Why not just sit on the fence?

    116. Ravi Naik — on 18th February, 2010 at 8:59 am  

      The truth is there’s fault on both sides. Why not just sit on the fence?

      Or there might be truth on both sides. Which side do you pick? ;-)

    117. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 9:16 am  

      Ravi Naik @ 126,

      Why should you or I be obliged to pick a side? This is being stirred up by folk that really don’t like what Amnesty International stands for.

      At least, that is what I think.

      I’d remind you, though you probably don’t need reminding, that Melanie Phillips and co have an agenda. And it it is a stupid agenda.

      Just saying.

    118. Brownie — on 18th February, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

      My only point I’m making relates to my own particular modest area of expertise

      Vietnamese train timetables?

    119. Kismet Hardy — on 18th February, 2010 at 3:22 pm  

      I just wanted you guys to see my Facebook Amnesty profile pic. Click on me. That’s me, that is. That is all.

    120. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 3:46 pm  

      Brownie,

      Lets hear it from you. Where do you stand on Amnesty International?

    121. Brownie — on 18th February, 2010 at 5:09 pm  

      Douglas,

      I look at it this way:

      Even if you think that AI ought to be able to use Begg to front campaigns, the issue is whether such a move is strategically sound for an organisation that, to be effective and indeed to survive as a body of influence, must retain uncontestable legitimacy. If there is even the slightest possiblity that doing something means credibility might be compromised, it’s probably not a good idea to it. It might not even be fair, but it’s the way it is.

      There’s an old adage about when journalists become the story. Well, it equally applies to human rights orgs. AI and how it operates is now the story and this necessarily means the unjustice against which they fight is not. If Dsquared and Sunny and others want to convince themselves that this is just because HP and Nick Cohen made it so, then good luck to them. And good luck to AI, also, because if this association with the likes of Begg is indicative of future policy, they are going to need it.

    122. Chris Williams — on 18th February, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

      Douglas, you posted:

      ” douglas clark — on 17th February, 2010 at 11:28 PM
      I like Chris Williams take on this:

      http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2010/02/you-are-decent-ref-human-rights-ngo.html

      I replied because it implied that the Decentpedia website had something to do with me. It doesn’t - it’s produced by someone using the pseudonym “Malky Muscular”, whose _real_ pseudonym is actually “Flying Rodent”. I have no idea who Flying Rodent is, but I like his style.

      PS Brownie. The people who want the human rights org rather than the human rights violation to become the story (that’s you, BTW) are the baddies. Got it? You are one here who’s yelling “Look away!”, as innocent people are kidnapped, held neither as criminals with rights nor as POWs, and tortured. Some have been murdered.

      Your role in this process has been to try to _stop_ people talking about actually existing crimes which are taking place at this moment with the ongoing connivance of the government. It’s a mote / beam thing - you wouldn’t understand.

    123. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

      Chris @ 130,

      I have been a victim of identity theft. I thought that this was another example. Which it doesn’t appear to be.

      I, too am a fan of the Flying Rodent.

      The rest of your post has my complete endorsement.

    124. Muslim — on 18th February, 2010 at 6:18 pm  

      David T

      I would like Amnesty to defend the principle that all detained persons have process rights. I would like them to do this by not touring around or otherwise giving a platform to Moazzam Begg. I think that his presence undermines that important principle.

      Well well. The very same David T who refuses to utter a word of criticism against Israelis slaughter, war crimes and starvation of Gaza has suddenly discovered human rights ! Hallelujah!

      A rather good news story for those of us who seek to demonstrate the plurality of Muslim views, thereby tho slay the chimera of Islamophobia.

      Says a man who tries to demonise and/or silence anti-zionist Jewish (let alone non-Jewish) views on Israel which differ from his own hardline uncritical support.

      Presumably he doesnt think anti-semitism is a “chimera”. Its not suprising to see one of the more active promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry on the web denying that it (Islamophobia) exists.

    125. Brownie — on 18th February, 2010 at 7:18 pm  

      You are one here who’s yelling “Look away!”, as innocent people are kidnapped, held neither as criminals with rights nor as POWs, and tortured. Some have been murdered.

      That’s funny. In my comment above I didn’t even venture an opinion on the moral rights or wrongs of AI’s association with Begg. I said it was a strategic blunder, which it patently is.

      You don’t get this business about not becoming the story, do you? Ask yourself the simple question: did AI stand to lose more than it could gain by its association with Begg? You might believe the criticism they have received is totally without merit, but assuming AI had the “vigorous internal debate” its statement claimed it did before partnering with Begg, it must have known there was internal opposition to such a move (and do you really suppose Sahgal is a lone voice?). AI had been doing a pretty decent job highlighting the situation of detainees at Gitmo and elsewhere before it started using Begg in its campaigns. It could have continued to do so. Nothing was stopping it. No-one was going to point to the fact that AI wasn’t partnering with Begg and claim its campaign was therefore ineffectual, however much FlyingRodent protests otherwise. AI pre-Begg are proof positive that such a campaign was possible.

      Touting Begg around Europe was, to all intents and purposes, a marketing decision. It doesn’t matter whence the criticism comes; a marketing effort that damages brand is ordinarily considered a spectacular own-goal. The fact that *some* of the people pointing this out are figures of hate for you, Rodent and the writers of the blog is neither here nor there.

      Break the habit of a lifetime why don’t you and think about the real issue here instead of following orders from commanders Sunny and Rodent to reflexively oppose anything Melanie Philips says. You might surprise yourself.

    126. Shamit — on 19th February, 2010 at 12:28 am  

      “Look – there is no wrong or right, it is a matter of opinion.”

      Well to me there is right or wrong.

      Just like it was wrong for Moveon.org to buy an advert in NY Times calling Gen. petraeus a traitor and accusing him of lying to the US Congress even before he testified. And he told the truth.

      And that’s a decorated General with impeccable records. You stood by Moveon.org and said they were right (by the way Moveon.org was started in 1997 and was to defend President Clinton from Starr and since then it has been taken over by idiots)

    127. Shamit — on 19th February, 2010 at 12:44 am  

      Sorry 1998 -

      And that advert hurt the left - and its a bloody own goal just like using Mr. Begg to try EU countries accept more prisoners from Gitmo.

      Get the drift. Its wrong because its hurts their overall cause and plays into the hands of people like Cohen or Philips.

    128. Dr Aisha Gill — on 19th February, 2010 at 2:09 pm  

      Listen to:

      http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/

    129. Chris Williams — on 20th February, 2010 at 10:56 pm  

      Brownie, my politics are not as Sunny’s. I’m really not sure about Rodent’s, though he (he? think so) can’t half write. But they are on the right side in this argument, unlike, say, you.

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