Cageprisoners really does have guts. You have to give them that.
Cageprisoners is an organisation whose founder and key activists are supporters of military jihad. Although Cageprisoners usually presents itself as a human rights organisation, Begg appears to regard his political activities as “jihad” (pdf):
Jihad using wealth is also obligatory in securing the release of Muslim prisoners
Cageprisoners’ senior activists have been properly criticised for their alignment with the jihadi theorists, Abdullah Azzam and Anwar Al Awlaki. So, who do they get to write an “attack piece” against Gita Sahgal?
Why, another fan of Anwar Al Awlaki, of course!
Here is the Cageprisoners’ editorial article, written by their activist, Fahad Ansari. Ansari is the chap who was so terribly upset about “Islamophobes” preventing a speech at a Cageprisoners fundraiser that he was really looking forward to seeing:
One of the highlights of the event was to be a video message from the inspirational Imam Anwar al-Awlaki
Here is Awlaki “inspring” Pakistanis to jihad in his “State of the Ummah” message (pdf) in March 2009:
My recommendation would be, for my brothers who are Pakistan to give support physically and financially for their brothers in Afghanistan. Two of the most important battles that the ummah is fighting today is the battle in Afghanistan, which is spilling over into Pakistan, and the battle of Iraq. Whoever is capable and able to participate with them physically, then that should happen, and whoever is not able to participate physically should participate in all the other ways that are possible. We are taking about a stage where this support is obligatory and not recommended or voluntary, and when something is an obligation it becomes a sin and a shortcoming by not being a part of it; and as Sheikh Abdullah Azzam has written a book on this issue, that the fighting today, the qital, is a fardh (obligation) on all the Muslims today until they free the occupied Muslim lands from the nations that are occupying them.
Not only does Ansari find jihadi preachers inspirational. He also used to work at the so-called Islamic Human Rights Commission, an organisation that opposes the concept of universal human rights, which is Khomeinist in its politics, and which also campaigns for convicted terrorists while ignoring human rights abuses in Iran.
Ansari chooses the low road, suggesting that Gita Sahgal is nothing less than a bigot or a dupe of US “propaganda”:
“For someone of her ilk to condemn Moazzam Begg and his human rights organisation, Cageprisoners, as Trojan Horses for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, reveals that such an Islamophobic mindset exists even within those that the world looks up to as defenders of human rights for all.”
“With respect to Begg, she accuses him of standing for a “set of ideologies that support not only violence in itself but very very discriminatory behaviour, systematic discrimination against women, religious minorities, and Muslims who don’t agree with them.” What she bases this on remains a mystery. Perhaps she has bought into the US propaganda which was used to justify Begg’s detention in the first place.”
The first quote is from a fantastic paragraph in Ansari’s article that is worth reading in full:
Will the concept of a Muslim human rights activist ever be fully acceptable in Western society? During my many years working at the Islamic Human Rights Commission, several valuable minutes were wasted every morning deleting hate mail which often described the organisation as an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms before descending into a volley of Islamophobic and racist abuse. For those who send such emails, Islam and human rights cannot coexist. They are mutually exclusive concepts. The recent saga involving Gita Sahgal and Moazzam Begg is even further problematic. Sahgal is not a bigoted coward using a pseudonym hiding behind her desktop; she is the chief of the gender unit at Amnesty International, the globally recognised symbol of human rights. For someone of her ilk to condemn Moazzam Begg and his human rights organisation, Cageprisoners, as Trojan Horses for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, reveals that such an Islamophobic mindset exists even within those that the world looks up to as defenders of human rights for all.
Massoud Shadjareh, the Chair of the IHRC certainly believes in universal human rights. Unfortunately, it is very clear that he believes in a version of “Islamic human rights” which are apparently in conflict with “human rights” as that term is usually understood:
In fact, the formulation of human rights theory has also largely been politically motivated, and led by advocates with narrow political agendas of their own. The idea of a universal definition of human rights can be dated back to the proposal of an International Bill of Rights of Man in 1945 by Hersch Lauterpecht, a leading Zionist. It was this proposal that led to the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN, adopted on December 10, 1948. This was drafted by a committee of 15 experts from different countries, in which debate was politically driven and influenced by the ideological differences between socialism and capitalism. Whilst the countries involve might appear to form some sort of cross-section of the world community – Iran, the Soviet Union and India were all involved – a closer look at their terms of employment, engagement and reference shows this to be a fallacy.
None of the representatives were nationally or culturally representative; instead they in fact it was a specific term of their engagement that they did not represent national or cultural interests but rather were ‘experts’ in the rather narrow field of ‘rights’ discourse that was being used by the UN Committee. So all representatives adhered to a narrow concept of ethical theory hailing from such ’emancipatory’ texts as The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine, and the US Bill of Rights.
Nonetheless, the declaration was called Universal in order to give it an aura of authority.
Having identified that universal human rights is a Zionist trick, the IHRC Chair goes on to sketch the content of an alternative “Islamic human rights”, and concludes:
In short what we can and must do is not just mobilise ourselves instead we need to promote Islam and the justice of Islam as a means of salvation for the whole world.
Finally, there’s this:
Her only evidence in support of such allegations is firstly, that Cageprisoners campaigned for notorious clerics such as Anwar al-Awlaki and secondly, that Begg and Executive Director of Cageprisoners, Asim Qureshi, support the concept of armed jihad in self-defence against oppression and foreign occupation.
Cageprisoners believes in the right of people living under foreign occupation and facing oppression to raise arms in self-defence. In doing so, Cageprisoners is merely reiterating international law, specifically Article 1 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions which recognises the legitimacy of the use of armed force in the struggle for self-determination against colonial domination, alien occupation and racist regimes.
Or, as Asim Qureshi put it:
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.
Notably, Qureshi lists Afghanistan, where British troops are present at the invitation of the elected Government. Significantly, he explicitly shares Awlaki’s view that it is “incumbent” on all Muslims, including in Britain, to give support to that military jihad.
So, in summary, Cageprisoners is run by supporters of clerics who apparently endorse military jihad against British troops in Afghanistan in support of the Taliban. Fahad Ansari appears to share these views, finds Awlaki “inspirational”, and used to work for a Khomeinist front group whose chair believes that “universal human rights” is some form of Zionist scam.
Cageprisoners … hope that despite Sahgal’s similarly unfair criticisms of Cageprisoners, Amnesty International will continue to work with it too.
His article shows very clearly why it would be foolish for Amnesty to work with Cageprisoners again.