Joan Smith writes an interesting piece on Begg’s ride to Amnesty’s own human rights poster boy and “Human Rights Victim of 2009″.
While all this was going on, Begg and his organisation Cageprisoners are busily fetishising anything to do with Anwar al-Awlaki and lionising any two-bit, violent Islamist radical who ever voiced a jihadi sentiment or got into trouble with the authorities. Inclusive of Omar Khyam, Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza.
Let’s return now to Begg. In 2001, he took his wife and children to live in Afghanistan, then under the control of the Taliban. Women scurried from place to place in burkas, risking a beating if a passing Talib spotted an inch of flesh, and could not even speak to a doctor except through a male relative; the horrors of the regime have been brilliantly described in the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. In Begg’s own book, he describes his interrogation by the CIA who wanted to know why a young man from Birmingham was living in Afghanistan. “I wanted to live in an Islamic state – one that was free from the corruption and despotism of the rest of the Muslim world,” was his reply. When they expressed scepticism, he complained: “I knew you wouldn’t understand. The Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years.”
It’s Aafia Siddiqui, who has been convicted of attempted murder in the United States.
Not before identifying her real persecutors in courtroom outbursts during jury selection, of course:
On questioning during jury selection: “The next question is going to be on anti-Semitism, and all I said was Israel was behind 9/11, and that’s not anti-Semitism!”
On potential jurors: “If they have a Zionist or Israeli background . . . they are all mad at me. I have a feeling everyone here is them [sic] – subject to genetic testing. They should be excluded if you want to be fair.”
TOWER Hamlets council has launched a disciplinary enquiry over pro-Islamist emails sent to a London Euro-MP.
Two e-mails, with a town hall address, attacked proposals by the UK Independence Party to ban Muslim face coverings, including burkas and hijabs, in public places and accused the party of trying to “stoke a religious war on the streets of Britain.”
London MEP Gerard Batten has lodged a formal complaint with Tower Hamlets council and is demanding to know what disciplinary action will be taken against any individual found responsible for sending the emails.
The emails, which have been linked to a Town Hall employee’s email account, were sent last month.
One message said: “Teenage pregnancies, binge drinking, that is what is associated with British culture. Islam is the dominant religion in the United Kingdom. If you don’t like it, go live somewhere else.
Throughout the Amnesty-Sahgal-Cageprisoners row, Gita Sahgal has consistently kept to one fundamental point: that Amnesty International ought to maintain an objective distance from groups and ideas that are committed to systematic discrimination that fundamentally undermine the universality of human rights.
Rahila Gupta picks up the argument on whether the human rights position on torture and renditions trumps the human rights of women and sexual minorities.
This is no ordinary spat between two individuals and an organisation. It is an attempt to tease out the contradictions that bedevil the human rights debate in this country. In the campaign to achieve human rights, whose human rights get privileged? In the attempt to redress the balance, liberal-left thinking correctly identifies Muslims as the underdogs, especially those who have been terrorised by the state in its war on terror agenda. But beyond that, we need a more sophisticated response so that the human rights of even more powerless groups, such as women and sexual minorities, do not get trampled once again.
Denis MacShane, the Labour MP for Rotherham and staunch defender of free speech and human rights, has sent a letter to Amnesty International’s UK Director, Kate Allen, regarding the organisation’s decision to suspend Gita Sahgal. It is reproduced below in full:
17-25 New Inn Yard
EC2A 3EA 10 Feb. 10
I was very concerned to hear on Today this morning that Amnesty International has suspended Gita Saghal because she quite rightly raised questions about whether Amnesty should be promoting someone whose views run contrary to everything Amnesty stands for.
I know she works for the International Secretariat but Amnesty UK is involved as it has been promoting the man in question. Given your own admired and respected role in raising women’s right issues as part of Amnesty’s work I do think some reflection is required before the International Secretariat victimises one of its most respected researchers because she rightly called into question Amnesty’s endorsement of Mozzam Begg whose views on the Taliban and on Islamist jihad stand in total contradiction of everything Amnesty has fought for.
as you may know by now, the israeli deputy foreign minister, danny ayalon, was heckled pretty comprehensively at his speech at the oxford union on monday night. the high (or low) point came when, rather like the accusations of murder levelled at the israeli ambassador to the us, michael oren, at the university of california, irvine (which actually resulted in a few arrests) a man rose to his feet and launched into a diatribe which included one key arabic phrase, which has been widely reported as “itbah al-yahud”, or “kill the jews” – this phrase is, of course, familiar to me as the rallying cry for many middle-eastern atrocities, not least the baghdad pogrom of 1941 (that’s pre-state of israel, folks) known as the farhud.
Bob Pitt is the far-Left blogger who furiously documents any criticism of Islamism on “Islam0phobia-Watch”. Pitt publishes his anti-Muslim/pro-Islamist screed under the nom de guerre of Martin Sullivan.
Pitt/Sullivan published this childish rant in response to Gita Sahgal lambasting of Amnesty and Moazzam Begg:
Gita Sahgal is a member of a nutty group called Women Against Fundamentalisms. In a 2006 radio programme she defended the view that by consulting the Muslim Council of Britain the government was encouraging fundamentalism.
Stroppyblog fillets this defamatory nonsense and hangs poor Pitt up to dry:
Yeah, listen to the male community leaders instead boys, rather than women who have fought in their respective religious communities for the rights of women. A group who campaigned alongside Southall Black Sisters , stood up to men who shouted them down when they dared speak out against censorship, who screamed at them on demos saying they should be at home when they dared speak out about the Fatwa on Rushdie.
This is a cross-post of an article by Alexander-Meleagrou Hitchens
In yesterday’s Sunday Times, CagePrisoners (CP) was criticised for promoting al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki on their site. The group’s head, Moazzam Begg, responded by saying that ‘I don’t consider anybody a terrorist until they have been charged and convicted of terrorism.’ The only problem with this is that his organisation’s website is replete with profiles and sympathetic interviews with convicted terrorists. Rightly, Begg follows the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ line, but when they are convicted, CP seem to give the terrorists a lot of sympathy.
CP’s website, for example, reproduces and publishes letters and poems written by people who have been convicted on terrorism charges in the UK. What is the justification for this? Begg has never addressed this issue, and it is about time that he did. I have already covered the materials on the CP site inprevious blogs.
Moazzam Begg of Cageprisoners has issued a reponse to the charges made of him and Amnesty International by Gita Sahgal in Richard Kerbaj’s article in the Sunday Times.
We are posting it in full here, but before we do so, here is a video by Asim Qureshi of Cageprisoners, pontificating on the “religious obligation” on Muslims to wage violent jihad.
We embrace the mercy. We embrace every single thing that is set upon us and we deal with it because we have no fear. So when we see the example of our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan then we know where the example lies. When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is and where the victory lies. We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the west.
This is Gita Sahgal’s statement following her suspension by her employers Amnesty International (originally posted at Stroppyblog):
Amnesty International and Cageprisoners
Statement by Gita Sahgal
7 February 2010
This morning the Sunday Times published an article about Amnesty International’s association with groups that support the Taliban and promote Islamic Right ideas. In that article, I was quoted as raising concerns about Amnesty’s very high profile associations with Guantanamo-detainee Moazzam Begg. I felt that Amnesty International was risking its reputation by associating itself with Begg, who heads an organization, Cageprisoners, that actively promotes Islamic Right ideas and individuals.
Within a few hours of the article being published, Amnesty had suspended me from my job.