[INFOGRAPHIC] Guantanamo: 16 years retrospective

Today marks 16 years since detainees were first brought to Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba. To mark this day, we have produced an infographic (below) to illustrate how detainees found themselves in Guantanamo, the facilities of the camp, and the fate of the 779 individuals held there. With 41 prisoners still locked away in the camp, Guantanamo and its legacy remains a pressing issue for people of conscience worldwide, and one that CAGE continues to campaign on.

On January 11th 2002, the first twenty detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay, set up by the US Government to detain, extract information from and prosecute individuals for war crimes as part of the ‘War on Terror’.

The camp formed a legal black hole swelling to hold 779 prisoners over the last 16 years – many of them for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, targets of rivalry and personal feuds, or cases of mistaken identity.

The systematic use of torture, brutality, kidnaps and renditions in Guantanamo have come to symbolise the culture of lawlessness and impunity of the US-led War on Terror.

In many ways the camp defined the War on Terror, and whilst it has largely faded from the public consciousness, Guantanamo lives on – literally and figuratively.

Presided over by three different US administrations, 41 prisoners remain locked away there without end in sight. Meanwhile, the Guantanamo-isation of foreign and domestic policy continues, as human rights and due process are torn apart to make way for extrajudicial killing and unbridled repression.

As the cages of Guantanamo began to empty over the years, the spectre of drones haunted those very lands already struggling under war and occupation. Meanwhile the War on Terror ‘came home’, with counter-terrorism laws paralysing popular dissent in Britain, the US and worldwide.

In the climate of fear and paranoia that gripped the world after the launch of the War on Terror, few dared speak out against Guantanamo, or in defence of the prisoners described by US officials as “the worst of the worst”. As a drip feed of stories, anecdotes and whistleblower accounts escaped from the camp, a clearer picture quickly emerged – that of a place where dignity died and lawlessness thrived. Of a place with innocents locked away en masse, often sold for bounty, passed on by spies, or victims of tribal disputes. And a place only made possible by the willing complicity of governments globally.

This complicity was met by the forceful campaigning of civilians worldwide, facing down the might of the US state and its network of compliant states against the legal black hole of Guantanamo – CAGE was formed as part of the resistance against such illegality and has been leading on the issue ever since.

In the age of Trump, resisting against Guantanamo and its legacy must continue to be a focus, otherwise the lessons of the War on Terror will be lost to future generations.

 

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NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

Secret evidence: a cover for torture and state crimes

The issue of secret evidence rose again in the Courts last month in the case concerning Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar.

Belhaj was kidnapped with his wife, who was pregnant at the time, in 2004 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia. They were then transported by plane to Bangkok, after which they were placed in custody of the CIA at a secret prison at the airport. Eventually the couple were returned to Libya where he was held at the Abu Salim prison for six years. His wife was released after a few months just before the birth of their child.

The UK government were complicit in the abuse suffered by Belhaj and his wife. This abuse included kidnapping, torture and detention-without-trial. Criminal investigations were launched into this ill treatment since Blehaj’s release in 2011. Belhaj filed a case against the British government over its role in his rendition to Libya, a country where it was known he would be tortured. Under special scrutiny was Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time, and Tony Blair, then prime minister.

However,  the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute – this decision was then challenged in the High Court by judicial review.

As part of the case, the Home Secretary intervened and made an application for closed material procedure (this allows the introduction of secret evidence and a hearing not in open court). The Divisional Court ruled in favour of the Home Secretary and allowed the application based on the fact that this judicial review did not concern a “criminal cause or matter”.

This case goes down to a technicality in the law, centred on the question of what is or is not a criminal cause or matter; secret evidence should not be used in criminal proceedings.


Read more: Britain and Libya: The legacy of unaccountability continues

While this debate continues, it is an uncomfortable truth that this case may open the door for more such applications being made in cases related to the ‘War on Terror’. It is important then to understand the implications of such applications and what they really mean in court, and for the broader concern of due process.

How a closed hearing violates the tenets of a fair trial

In order for a closed hearing to take place, the Defendant and Claimant require Special Advocates – these are specially vetted barristers who act only for the purpose of hearing the secret evidence. Those barristers must meet with their clients and take a full and detailed description of anything and everything they think could be relevant to the hearing.

It is important to stress here that the Special Advocate does not know what the evidence against their client is until they go into the closed hearing, at which point they will no longer be able to speak with or meet their client, (in order to check something with them) or even their lawyers.

This table shows subtle but important differences between solicitors and special advocates:

Solicitors/Barristers Special Advocates
Represent clients in open Court Represents clients in closed Court
Presents the evidence against their client and takes instruction on what their response to that evidence is Takes instructions from client on their whole life in the hope something they say will be relevant once they go into the closed hearing.
After the hearing, discusses the case and outcome and steps going forward with the client After going into the closed hearing, doesn’t speak to the client again – doesn’t update them on the outcome, or any steps forward.

Taking the case as a whole, the judge presides at the top layer having oversight of the whole case. At the second layer are the special advocates who enter closed hearings with the judge. At the third and base layer sit the accused and their lawyers and the opposing party and their lawyers – who don’t have access to the full facts of the case nor all the evidence that is being presented.

This means the hearing works like a case within a case, except the decision is made and impacts on an individual without them ever knowing what it is they have alleged to have done.

There is a well known legal maxim that justice must not only be done but it must be seen to be done – this is the core principle of open justice. However, in cases where the evidence is presented in secret, no one knows what the allegations are – not even the accused, leading to a two tier system of justice – one that is done in the open and one that is done in secret.


Read more: In Her Majesty’s service: How Mi5 covers their abuse and the abuse of the powerful

Furthermore, each special advocate who engages in this process, is not upholding the basic principles of the rule of law – which arguably is the role of a lawyer.

Secret evidence and the use of closed material proceedings have been a tool used increasingly from cases such as this to cases heard in family courts. Their use undermines the fundamental principles of due process by ripping up established legal norms:

  • Open justice: Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. In closed hearings justice is never done nor is it seen to be done.
  • The right to hear the evidence against you: With closed hearings the accused will never know what evidence will be brought against them and they will have no chance to respond to it.
  • The right to be tried by your peers: If someone is accused of a crime they must be tried by a jury of citizens, but this is not possible in closed hearings.

How secret evidence is used to dodge accountability for torture

What is concerning in the Belhaj case, is that prior to the Court making a decision on whether or not closed material proceedings should be allowed, they themselves held a brief closed hearing.

In this case, it appears the Home Secretary wants to introduce secret evidence in order to give the appearance of a sensitive national security issue, thereby justifying the torture and rendition Belhaj and his wife endured. But this inhumane treatment is never and can never be justified, no matter what the allegations against an individual.

This is especially pertinent when one considers that the evidence pointing to British complicity is open and obvious. Following the fall of Gaddafi in Libya, crucial evidence was leaked which proved the UK’s complicity in the treatment Belhaj suffered. It was reported that Mark Allen, former senior MI6 officer stated: “Most importantly, I congratulate you on the safe arrival of Abu Abd Allah Sadiq [MI6’s name for Abdel Hakim Belhaj]. This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years. I am so glad. I was grateful to you for helping the officer we sent out last week. [Belhaj’s] information on the situation in this country is of urgent importance to us.”

Belhaj and his wife are not seeking a huge payout for the years of suffering and the subsequent emotional trauma they endured, but they are simply seeking an apology for what was done to them with the complicity of the British. In doing so, they are seeking justice and accountability.

This is something which to this date has remained elusive – torturers and those complicit in torture continue to get away with the crimes they commit, in the name of “national security”. Those Brits who were detained unlawfully in Guantanamo Bay for numerous years, have not, to this day, ever had an apology for the immeasurable destruction caused to their lives.


Read more: Thou shall not dissent: how Britain persecuted Libyan refugees to please Gaddafi

The use of secret evidence allows individuals to dodge accountability for these crimes. More than this, creating these legal loopholes to due process has resulted in a two tier justice system. What justice can be brought to those who survive these horrific ordeals of torture and rendition, when their torturers cite national security and enter a closed hearing only to justify their actions behind closed doors?

In reality there is no justification for such heinous crimes. But this clear duplicity in the legal system means that survivors of torture and abuse have no legal recourse to justice.

We must call for change and emulate those who refuse to condone this system

Belhaj and his wife have not given up, and they shouldn’t. We on the other hand must recognise the institutional inequality in the legal system which allows some to evade justice while others are never able to access it. We must continue to call out this injustice and demand change.

In South Africa, where secret evidence was used by the apartheid government, activists from the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations (also termed ‘terrorists’ by the state) would simply refuse to attend their own trials, in effect boycotting the discriminatory legal system itself and creating a backlog in the system that drew international attention and criticism.

Likewise, some principled barristers have refused to sign up to the special advocate scheme, due to its fundamental rule-of-law violations. Those special advocates who do prop up the system should be questioned for doing so, and the actions of the few brave lawyers who don’t, commended and emulated.

 

Image courtesy of MEE on Youtube


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

Johnson’s fines for ‘no-platforming’ exposes a deep government hypocrisy

Government hypocrisy, it seems, is at an all time high as the year draws to a close. This week, with seemingly no sense of irony, higher education minister Jo Johnson announced that a new body, the Office for Students, will from April 2018 fine universities for refusing to host certain controversial speakers, while at the same time enforce the PREVENT duty.

Since the PREVENT duty already limits free speech by “disrupting” organisations and individuals in campuses under broad and malleable definitions of “extremism” that are discriminatory, we can only conclude that Johnson’s moves are a further attempt by the government to support ‘controversial’ speakers that feed its narratives, while at the same time clamping down on those who do not, under PREVENT.

When it comes to “stifling dissent”, Johnson is adept. In 2015, using his position of authority to negatively frame the National Union of Students (NUS), he asked the NUS to drop opposition to PREVENT.

All of this is taking place behind the illusion of protecting free speech, when in fact, through this duplicitous approach, the government is really becoming the sole arbiter of ‘free speech’. This political corruption feeds the government’s modified ‘muscular liberalism’. Not only this, but the moves will securitise education by streamlining by law what can and cannot be said on campuses, and by whom, according to this purported ‘liberal’ agenda.

This once again illustrates the state’s hypocritical double standards: ‘free speech’ for controversial speakers deemed palatable to the state agenda, PREVENT for all those who do not, with particular focus on Muslims.

PREVENT is toxic and has led to a corrupt environment

But it is not only Muslims that are affected. The involvement of the state within the fabric of universities deeply undermines the academic environment. It is widely acknowledged that PREVENT results in “confusion in the staffroom and suspicion in the classroom”. Now the deceptively named Office for Students (OfS) will add to this mess.

The OfS was set up by Johnson and Education secretary Justine Greening under the Department for Education. Justine Greening is an alumni the Conservative think-tank Bow Group, having formerly served its council. Pertinently, its senior patron includes the neoconservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

Unsurprisingly, Scruton is also listed as a Policy Council Member for Murray’s Henry Jackson Society – the notorious, hate-funded neoconservative think-tank that has influenced the British counter-extremism strategy.

With these links, the government has been encroaching on academic expression and chasing ghosts in it’s campaign to quell voices of dissent. The warnings of 360 academics about the consequences of state intervention in the academic environment are being realised today.

This overarching effect has also given air to alarming developments revealed through individual cases.  In the case of Salman Butt vs Downing Street, CAGE published how court proceedings revealed that the government is fed data by the far-right Henry Jackson Society on individuals and organisations it deems “extremist” on campuses. This data is used as court evidence and has further bolstered a warped and neo-conservative definition of “extremism”, while criminalising dissent.

This development alone highlights the gross incompetence of this government and the grave error in providing it with any oversight in defining or protecting ‘free speech’.

How the state uses red herrings to drive their neo-conservative agenda

The enforcement of an aggressive neo-conservative agenda is often done through the sweeping application of the anti-Semitism label. Recently, hundreds of academics claimed that free speech on Israel is being suppressed by individuals and groups who deliberately seek to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

It is no wonder then that pro-Palestine groups are among the highest referrals from Universities to PREVENT. In fact, the anti-Semitism threat has been extended to any opposition against Israel and support for Palestinian rights, despite the fact that there are many Jewish supporters for these causes.

The appropriation of the anti-Semitic label for political ends is deeply cynical and offensive. However, the utilisation of the term under PREVENT shows how far the government will go to employ red herrings in order to control spaces where students organise and attempt to take action against injustice.

The students on campus are not the threat to free speech. This threat emanates through the corridors of power by using regulators like the OfS to push an ideological agenda rather than protect student rights. Given this trend it is difficult envisage OfS becoming overtly concerned with genuine student issues such as student debts, funding, finance and the pervading rape culture.

Students and broader society should not be fooled by Johnson’s words claiming that “government [is simply] playing its part in actively creating the conditions necessary for our universities to serve as the vibrant free-trading marketplaces for ideas that we need them to be.”

On the contrary, campuses are now even more inhibited by incessant state overreach. PREVENT intends to debilitate any capacity for student organising and dissent within campuses, while this new announcement by Johnson will allow ideologues who are friendly to the state programme to speak unchallenged at universities.

 

CC image courtesy of EuroScience OpenForum on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

New policy exposes how the government exploits mental health patients by incentivising referrals to its toxic PREVENT programme

London – New counter-terrorism rules that will give doctors incentives to refer individuals with mental health issues to PREVENT shows that the government is exploiting the doctor-patient care responsibility in an attempt to increase subscription to its toxic PREVENT programme.

The rules stipulate that urgent psychiatric care will now be provided by mental health trusts to those people with psychological problems who are referred to Prevent. This will influence doctors to refer patients to PREVENT in order to speed up treatment times.

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, CAGE Director and GP said:

“This latest move highlights the government’s determination to further the toxic PREVENT agenda under the guise of safeguarding even if it is as the expense of the wellbeing of societies most vulnerable people.”

“The government is effectively channelling psychiatric cases into a securitised policy that has been proven to damage individuals and families. The effect on doctor-patient trust and patient health will be devastating.”

“Safeguarding and public sector ethics rely on trust, and making public sector workers the handmaidens of the state, not only erodes that trust but has made no tangible improvement to national security.”

 

CC image courtesy of Vic on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

Manufacturing Hate: Kingston University

As part of Islamaphobia awareness month, Kingston Islamic Society presents to you an event where we discuss and analyse the causes and solutions to islamaphobia. Attend for an insightful evening.

Speakers:

  • Moazzam Begg – CAGE outreach director and ex-guantanamo bay detainee
  • Br Bashir Ibrahim – Journalist and KU Alumni

Date and Time:

Thursday 16th November 2017 from 6-8pm

Event open only to KU ID holders


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

PREVENT – Two wrongs don’t make a right

London – The latest figures released by the Government shows an increase in PREVENT referrals. These referrals overwhelmingly target the Muslim community, especially children, and is creating a “suspect” community where children and their families are being dragged through disastrous state intervention.

Sixty-five percent of the referrals are Muslims, and the likelihood of Muslims being referred to PREVENT is now 113:1 from the rest of the general population.

The government claims there have been 7,631 Prevent referrals, but this ignores the climate of fear created by Prevent which has led to many more formal and informal interventions by public sector workers which do not make these official statistics. Muslims in their day-to-day activity are being treated as “suspects” by public sector workers under the PREVENT policy.

Ibrahim Mohamoud, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“The massive over reporting and racial profiling is due to the fact that the PREVENT policy has no scientific basis. The science does not exist and these figures reinforce the bare fact that the policy does not work. The Government’s own figures show that 95% of people referred to PREVENT required no Channel intervention.”

“The idea that a failed policy that has largely impacted on Muslims should be implemented against other communities, is not a position that should be endorsed. Seeking credibility by applying PREVENT on other communities does not make it okay.”

“We again call on the Government to repeal the PREVENT Policy, roll back the training and make every effort to repair the damage that has been done.”

 

CC image courtesy of Michael Coghlan on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

National unity ride for CAGE

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cyclist, join us for the most exciting ride of the year in London, Birmingham or Blackburn where we’ll be riding in support of CAGE…

CAGE are at the forefront of defending the Muslim community from draconian government policies at home and highlighting the plight of prisoners in places such as Guantanamo Bay. They provide invaluable support to victims of the ‘War on Terror’ however they are completely reliant on the financial support of the community. And It’s our duty to support them.

Brothers from all over the country will dust down their bicycles, get some training rides in and fundraise for this great cause.

Join us for a great challenge and a fun day out. We will finish with a celebratory meal after the event.”

There are two routes to choose from: Beginner (20 miles) & Intermediate (45 miles)

Date:

Saturday 6th of January 2018

Ride Locations:

  • London
  • Birmingham
  • Blackburn
  • Glasgow (Sunday 7th of January 2018)

Fundraising target:

Minimum £75 and a £10 registration fee.

Deadline:

Registration deadline is the 31st December 2017.


Register now! 

Click image to enlarge

For further information call:

London: 07985406707
Birmingham: ‭07508 190005‬
Blackburn: 07894 155092
Glasgow: 07930 400035

 

Not convinced to join yet? Check out highlights from the last CAGE ride:


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

Islamophobia is driving the ‘War on Terror’ and we must call it out

“I’m convinced that Gitmo and other places like Gitmo only exist because it’s detainees are Muslims. I can’t imagine a Christian Gitmo. I can’t Imagine a Jewish Guantanamo. It exists because of Islamophobia. It exists because in the United States the Muslims are the others.” – the late human rights lawyer, Michael Ratner.

In 2005, Tarek Dergoul testified to CAGE about how guards had desecrated the Holy Quran while he was imprisoned in Kandahar and Guantanamo Bay. “I witnessed the Qur’an being thrown around and kicked, torn up and thrown into a bucket which was being used as a toilet,” he said. Many other prisoners told of the same stories.

Nothing embodies Islamophobia more than these heinous acts, which strike at the heart of Muslims the world over. As we observe Islamophobia Awareness Month, it is worth remembering these acts of hatred against Islam and Muslims which occurred within the prisons and torture rooms during the West’s ‘War on Terror’.


Read more: Legalising Islamophobia is a growing international trend

But it is important to highlight the long term effects of these abhorrent acts, since it is from them that other acts of hatred and “othering” of Muslims radiate. If interrogators and security services employed by the US and the UK are able to get away with treating Muslims in this way, then it is easier for individuals and organisations that operate in the public eye to get away with anti-Muslim smears that, though they appear lesser in comparison, in fact come from the same hateful root: Islamophobia.

Islamophobia and policy

Energised by a fear of Islam, Islamophobia has given rise to failed policies such as PREVENT, which seeks to determine what is acceptable Islamic belief and what is not. It’s a toxic policy that criminalises aspects of Islamic belief, and in turn normalises Islamophobia, and so the feedback cycle continues.

Where the tactics of guards and interrogators are overt and abusive, this type of manifestation of Islamophobia is more insidious, seeking to divide communities and smear their beliefs. It does so by presenting a the friendly face of ‘safeguarding’, while in the background it seeks to produce an Islam palatable to Western governments and compliant to their discriminatory domestic and aggressive foreign policy.

It also employs a new language, giving rise to terms such as “extremism”, which is defined by what is unacceptable to the state, including an attitude of questioning authority and much of the tenets of justice that Islam upholds. As such Islamophobia is central to the securitisation debate and is part of the state’s method to enhance its control.


Read more: interview with Umm Ahmed – the true face of counter terrorism

It is employed by the media at the behest of powerful influencers and it filters into courtrooms where judgements are passed through a two-tier justice system. This has seen naive young people imprisoned for life and children removed or under threat of removal from their families for the most trivial of reasons.

All of this results in an atmosphere of enmity and hatred in broader society, which must be constantly countered by those who seek to restore justice and end the abuses of the ‘War on Terror’.

Islamophobia is what drives the ‘War on Terror’

Off the back of isolated, politically motivated acts, the security establishment stokes the narrative that Islam is a threat, and uses them as an excuse to push through ever more oppressive legislation that moves us all closer to a police state.

Muslims are then forced to only ever enter the public debate as apologists for state aggression, which only foments the belief that something is inherently wrong with Islam. So the cycle of Islamophobia continues.

No other community is made to pay for the actions of a few like the Muslims are, and this atmosphere of collective guilt is nurtured through Islamophobia, which is then adopted more broadly. Aspects of the Holy Quran are maligned, questioned, or abused. The tactics of the Islamophobes become exactly like those of the guards at Guantanamo Bay – just that they are done in a more politically expedient way.

For this reason Islamophobia is at the heart of the ‘War on Terror’. It must be nurtured and made permanent in order for the security establishment to continue to thrive and profit from it.


Read more: CAGE’s resistance and why it’s important now

We must be on guard against these efforts and call out Islamophobia wherever we encounter it, in the best way we can. By resisting it, we will diffuse a whole host of harmful and dangerous policies that radiate from it. Surely this is our charge.

 

CC image courtesy of Lorie Shaull on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

How Malcolm X exposed the ‘extremist’ slur in five simple points

“When a man is exercising extremism, a human being is exercising extremism in defence of liberty for human beings, it’s no vice. And when one is moderate in the pursuit of justice for human beings, I say he is a sinner” Malcolm X.

There is a long tradition of empowered black Muslims who stood up and resisted oppression. Many faced the same dilemmas we face today, being accused of terrorism and extremism for standing up for their rights.

When Europeans in collusion with some Kings and leaders of Western Africa began to lynch and sell their adversaries into slavery in the Americas, many rose up to this oppression.

In acts which echo those who speak out against the lynching of innocent Muslims during the ‘War on Terror’ and leaving them to languish in the gallows of Guantanamo and other secret sites, a 17th century West African scholar, Nasir al-Din, resisted against the kings of his time because they sold their subjects to European slave traders under frivolous pretexts.

He said: “God does not allow kings to raid, kill, or enslave their people; He has them, on the contrary, to guard them from their enemies. The peoples are not made for the kings but the kings are made for the peoples”.


Read more: CAGE’s resistance and why it’s important now

Centuries later, a confident black Muslim activist by the name of Malcolm X, who understood this legacy and the role his faith in driving him to seek justice, stood up and broke down why and how the label ‘extremist’ is only thrown about to silence those who demand their rights.

These are the 5 simple ways he dismantled the ‘extremist’ slur:

1- You are an “extremist” if you use a different yardstick to theirs.

When those in power become so self conceited as to believe in their own self righteousness, they see all opposition as “extreme”.

Elaborating on this, Malcolm X explained “extremism” in this way: “When you are in a position of power for a long time, you get used to using your yardstick and you take it for granted that, because you forced your yardstick upon others… People in the past that weren’t in a position to have a yardstick or use a yardstick of their own, are using their own yardstick now. ”

People who abide by different and more just ethics than their oppressive rulers are often deemed “extremist”.

2- The “extremist” label is only used to demonise those whom are believed to be inferior.

“Extremism” is never used to describe the thoughts or beliefs of those who are in power, regardless of the carnage they may have caused. It is the reserve of the downtrodden in society and a way to discredit their fair and just demands. Malcolm X Illustrated this point perfectly when he said:

“When a man whom they have been taught is below them, has the nerve or firmness to question some of their philosophies or conclusions, usually, they put that label [extremist] on him, a label that is only designed to project an image which the public will find distasteful”.

If you are standing up for justice in this way, being an “extremist” can be a badge of honour.

3- Calling those who resist “extremists” is done to make the oppressed seem like the aggressors.

In order to to colonise a people or justify oppression towards a community, you must first begin to make them appear as outcasts in need to be reformed. It’s “to create a humanitarian image for a devil or a devil image for a humanitarian” as Malcolm X put it.

“Whenever a country that is in power wants to step in unjustly and invade someone else’s property, they use the press to make it appear that the area they are about to invade is filled with savages, or filled with people who have gone berserk, or they are raping white women, molesting nuns. They use the same old dialectic year in and year out”.

In the same way, the broad use of the word “extremist” in Muslim communities is a way to justify measures designed to oppress them, like PREVENT. This should not discourage us.

4- “Extremist” labelling is done to tarnish the struggle of the oppressed.

Despite Malcolm X referring to his context at the peak of the civil rights struggle, his words still ring true today. Any attempt to resist is seen as indicative of inherent “extremism” which must be confronted. Here is Malcolm X’s summary of what a black person is expected to do if he is not to be deemed an “extremist”.

“As long as a white man does it, it’s alright, a black man is supposed to have no feeling. But when a black man strikes back, he’s an extremist, he’s supposed to sit passively and have no feelings, be non-violent and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack, verbal or otherwise, he’s supposed to take it”.

Pacification is the twin brother of oppression. The powerful oppress with labels in order to pacify us into silence. But we must continue to call out their ills and call for justice.

5- “Extremism” classifications are used to criminalise Islam, which advocates justice.

As Malcolm X so aptly put it when defending his beliefs:

“I am a Muslim. If there’s something wrong with that, then I stand condemned. My religion is Islam. I believe in Allah. I believe in Muhammad as the apostle of Allah. I believe in brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who is not ready to practice brotherhood with our people”.

When the end goal of so-called “extremist” organisations and individuals is the pursuit of justice and peace, then those who are labelling them in order to criminalise them are the ones who should be forced to defend their position, not the opposite. Despite the best efforts of the powerful few, this call for justice will always echo with the majority.


Read more: Why CAGE will keep rattling the “white saviour industrial complex”

 

CC image courtesy of Wikimedia 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

Outlawing gender segregation: How PREVENT and Ofsted are about conditioning our children, neo-con style

A recent ruling to ban gender segregation in faith schools is hypocritical and steeped in the hate-filled neo-conservative agenda to make conditions harder for Muslims “across the board”. But it will also affect other faith groups and is a call to action for us all.  

Recently, the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational Islamic school in Birmingham, Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school, could no longer separate boys and girls. This confusing ruling has called into question the neutrality of the court as it adversely affects Muslims by holding them to a unique standard.

It also exemplifies how PREVENT is being imported into the judicial system and it entrenches Ofsted’s role as an increasingly intrusive “regulator” that acts as an ideological henchman for the state.

A judgment steeped in hypocrisy which targets Islam

The ruling has attracted much commentary. However, it is important to focus on the actual judgment before addressing the deteriorating state of government institutions.

The judgment comprises the views of three judges, with the third Gloster LJ (Dame Elizabeth Gloster) approvingly referencing and citing the Casey Review, a highly problematic review  for its anti-Islamic bias.

The arguments in the judgment assert that because a boy pupil can mix with other boy pupils but a girl cannot and vice versa, there is discrimination for each individual pupil on the grounds of sex.

This is highly hypocritical given the fact that all three judges attended elite single sex schools, and also problematic in light of the school’s insistence, with evidence, that it operated a “separate but equal” policy.

If this is the case, then why does this argument not apply to two single-sex schools – one boys and one girls – which discriminate on the basis of sex at the point of enrolment despite being under the regulatory auspices of Ofsted? Why does the court, Gloster LJ, and the pro-PREVENT interveners in this case refuse to consider this blatant contradiction?


Read more: PREVENT is about Policing Dissent not Safeguarding

The judges also determine “less favourable” treatment on the basis of Ofsted’s ideological agenda. Its findings were based on responses from a few pupils, which were then arbitrarily extrapolated to the general practice of segregation within the school. This approach can indeed be taken with single-sex schools too and yet again, this point is of little concern for the likes of Ofsted and the Equality Commission.

According to a report in the Guardian, “the school’s lawyers argued in court that the segregation was one of its defining characteristics. They said the policy was clear to parents who wished to send their children there and to previous Ofsted inspectors, who had never raised it as a concern”. In other words, teachers and parents (and even previous Ofsted inspectors!) saw this policy as being in the best interests of the children.

The influence of pro-PREVENT organisations whose aim it is to enforce the prevailing hierarchy

It is obvious that this judgment specifically targets Islam, although it will also adversely affect Jewish schools. This is not surprising when one takes a closer look at the background of those involved in this case – they are against religion. Islam in the current global climate is an easy target, and they are supported by the anti-Muslim bias of the tabloid press and their associated mob.

Gloster LJ mentions that she finds interventions by Inspire and Southall Black Sisters as “instructive” in the case. The fact that the opinions of these groups are being used as a guideline by top judges shows that the judiciary in Britain is becoming politicised by groups whose agendas are far from independent, while Muslim and even Jewish religious experts were not consulted at all.

Inspire is dedicated to promoting and defending discriminatory, academically baseless policy of PREVENT, a policy which allows power structures to coerce and bully minorities. Inspire has also received funding in the past from the Home Office for projecting black propaganda to Muslims in the UK in order to bring about a state-approved version of Islam.


Read more: Failing to understand hate, Hope not Hate becomes platform for Home Office propaganda

It is rich of Southall Black Sisters to intervene in a case concerning Muslims, whilst its founder Gita Sahgal seeks to restrict the rights of Muslim women to choose they way they dress, and how they conduct themselves in relation to men. Sahgal is a close associate of Maryam Namazie who has also expressed hateful views and called for a ban on hijab.

The Casey Review and the fingerprints of the neo-conservative hate network

But there is even more to this judgment than meets the eye. In order to enforce this aggressive secular view, these interveners and Gloster LJ assert that girls suffer greater detriment though segregation. Gloster LJ does this by relying on what the majority judges call “an objective inference” from the “entirety of evidence”.  

Among this evidence is the Casey Review. The Casey Review is far from objective, however.  It internalises PREVENT logic and Louise Casey herself is not known for evidence-based policy. Her previous reports have been criticised by academics for a “lack of rigour and transparency in the methods used to gather and analyse data”.

More worryingly, the Casey Review was heavily influenced by the neoconservative hate network.  The Review references David Goodhart’s disturbing book The British Dream. Goodhart was formerly on the advisory council of notorious neoconservative Douglas Murray’s Centre for Social Cohesion, which later joined with the Henry Jackson Society.  

He was also listed among those on the advisory board of the Quilliam Foundation in 2010.  He now is a member of the advisory for Demos and currently heads the Demography, Immigration and Integration unit of Michael Gove’s notorious neoconservative think-tank, Policy Exchange. Notably, all three sources are referenced in the Casey Review.

Other think-tanks referenced in the Casey Review include another neoconservative group called Civitas and in particular, a report by the author David MacEoin. MacEoin said that he has “very negative feelings” about Islam. MacEoin has also authored several articles on the neoconservative propaganda website Gatestone Institute. Gatestone has been described as “one of the most important hubs in America’s Islamophobia industry, pumping out reams of dangerous anti-Muslim propaganda of the kind lapped up by far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik.”

The Gloster LJ opinion demonstrates an alarming lurch towards neoconservative thinking in the judiciary. The citing of the Casey Review and its neo-conservative links should be more vigorously interrogated and exposed.


Read more: Legalising Islamophobia is a growing international trend

Ofsted, Amanda Spielman and Michael Gove

Questions only increase when it comes to Ofsted’s new head, Amanda Spielman, who is not without controversy. She was heavily criticised by the Education Select Committee in her pre-appointment questions for lacking passion and understanding for her role as well as teaching experience.

The Committee concluded that “Amanda Spielman was not prepared for the vast scope and complexity of this important role.” However, this advice was ignored and Nicky Morgan appointed Spielman anyway.

It is pertinent to note that Morgan’s tenure as secretary of state for education was mired by the revelation that her department was still being “back-seat” driven by warmongering, anti-Islam neoconservative Michael Gove and his allies. Spielman’s connection to the neocon does not end here. In fact she has a lengthy working relationship with him.

In 2011, Michael Gove and his then special advisor Dominic Cummings were exposed for their close links to a charity called the New Schools Network (NSN). Spielman was a trustee at the NSN, which was set up to provide advice and guidance to set up independent state-funded schools. It has several links to the Conservative Party. Spielman was also a member of the Sykes review group set up by Gove to review the school assessment system.

Not only was Spielman part of Gove’s agenda here, but she was research and development director of the academy operator. ARK was deeply implicated in the 2014 Trojan Horse scandal.

‘Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board’

The ruling reflects how the neo-conservative lobby is exerting influence on top judges and the legal system to comply with Douglas Murray’s 2006 goal: “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”.

It is yet more evidence of how this hate-driven network is infiltrating all aspects of public life with its warped ‘War on Terror’ values, among them a support for structural oppression and torture – something CAGE has been warning about for years and in particular warned about in the wake of our victory over the Charity Commission and failed efforts by William Shawcross, a colleague of Murray, to shut us down.

The trickling down of these values into public life in Britain and their threat to the rule of law is something that we will continue to speak up against despite being maligned for doing so.


Read more: CAGE court victory exposes Charity Commission torture links

For now, the hidden agenda behind this ruling is obvious. The British government – and indeed other like governments around the world – have placed the responsibility for educating children firmly in the hands of the state. In turn, the state is imposing a way of thinking on children with methods reminiscent of a dictatorship.

Through the use of PREVENT to police “British values” and a compliant neo-conservative dominated Ofsted, the government is embarking on a programme of social conditioning that tramples upon religious freedom, threatens other religious groups especially Jewish people, limits choice, and ignores what many parents genuinely believe to be the best conditions for their children to learn and develop as full human beings.

This is a nothing short of oppression and discrimination and should be seen as such, and resisted appropriately, with all the rigour that protecting our children demands.

 

CC image courtesy of Tim Ellis on Flikr


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.