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We need a return to justice, not more anti-terror laws

In the last 17 years, there have been 14 pieces of Anti-Terrorist Legislation foisted upon the statute books. Parliaments have come and gone, and the cyclic wheel of further draconian measures have been welcomed, embraced and directed primarily towards its Muslim populace.

Amber Rudd has made her most recent announcement: a new Counter Extremism policy unit, with statutory powers. This is no surprise. Since 9/11, and 7/7 each Home Secretary has felt incumbent to follow the same strategies that have consistently failed to address the question of violence.

Theresa May has used the latest incident at Finsbury Park to launch another attack on Muslims and civil liberties by declaring that the Queen’s speech on Wednesday will include flagship legislation to “confront the menace of extremism, especially Islamist extremism, including a statutory commission to identify and expose examples”.


Read more: CAGE calls for the abolition of anti-terror legislation

She reaffirmed the review of the official counter-terrorism strategy and, in a bid to extend its reach, included the possibility of new criminal offences to deny “safe spaces” to extremists, both online and in the real world.

A raft of legislation already exists within the criminal justice system to try offenders for the most heinous of crimes. Hate offences, rightly incorporated, result in litigation that jurists have no difficulty in administering and applying, while upholding the rule of law.

But instead of relying on the rule of law, draconian and oppressive anti-terror laws have led to the dismantling of basic protections. Despite the motives of far right activists and others, these incidents need to be subjected to the scrutiny of existing criminal law and cases must be overseen by an independent and un-politicised judicial system.

The insatiable desire by politicians to appeal to populism and its willing accomplice the right wing press, leads to a poisonous environment in which basic rights are trashed. The tragedy of the victims is exploited and the perpetrators are funnelled into a two-tier justice system where their rights are curtailed. Where is natural justice and the rule of law in all this?

The calls for tougher laws and sentences is led by former extremists and failed politicians who have created a virus that has infected the whole criminal justice system so that the use of secret evidence is normalised, mental health frailties are ignored and teenagers are given disproportionate sentences for immature comments on social media and labelled as “terrorists” for life.


Read more: Yes Prime Minister, Enough is Enough!

These former extremists and so called experts bray for blood, and internment, yet they are blind to the destruction that the policies they call for have wreaked within their communities: the disastrous PREVENT programme has meant parents are scared to teach their children their faith, 4 year old’s are referred to security services for uttering a word wrong, and 500,000 civil servants are co-opted into a mass surveillance programme.

The same careerists will be vying for position on the Extremism Commission, a body that should never have been established as it will give the witch finders a legitimacy that they do not deserve.

We do not need any more anti-terror laws. We call for the abolition of the extensive web of laws that have ensnared our fundamental freedoms and rights. We call upon all right minded people to join our struggle to return to a justice system untainted by the highly politicised nature of Terrorism laws and applied to all irrespective of their background, race or religion.

This is the right occasion to declare that we do not seek the lynch mob mentality of the terror laws to be applied to a Nazi sympathiser or anyone else. We have witnessed the abject destruction caused by the War on Terror first hand and are proud to say that we do not call for laws that demean us to be applied or to be extended further. Not in our name.

 

(cc image courtesy of David Holt 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.

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Director of legal rights NGO appeared at Court today to plead not guilty in password case

London – CAGE International Director Muhammad Rabbani has pleaded not guilty today to charges that have serious implications for journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers.

Mr Rabbani was charged on 17th May for not giving up his passwords during an interrogation by border police under Schedule 7 at Heathrow in November last year.

He was unable to hand over the passwords to his devices as he was carrying crucial evidence taken from a torture survivor and did not have permission from the client to share the information.

Muhammad Rabbani, International Director for CAGE, said previously:

“I am innocent of these charges that have serious implications for journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.”

“I’m going into this eyes wide open and I’m not a victim, but I’m not a hero either. I do believe I am doing what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances in order to protect the privacy of a client.”

“It was heartening to see the ordinary people that attended the hearing today to show their support, especially the many mothers who I spoke to. They told stories about worrying for their children when they travel through UK borders and they expressed their appreciation of my decision to challenge these powers.”

Ibrahim Mohamoud, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“Rabbani has taken a principled stance to protect the right to privacy in an ongoing case of torture that implicates high ranking officials. Not only is this of crucial importance, but the outcome of his case has implications for all of our rights to privacy, when there is no suspicion of any crime.”

“Rabbani’s courage and principle in these circumstances has been an inspiration to the community. We continue to support him in his efforts to protect the privacy of us all, and to end the constant harassment at airports.”

Maryam Ahmed, a mother that attended, said:

“We are mothers and have sons, and one day it could be my son. Muslims are vulnerable at this present time and Rabbani is taking this challenge for all of us. We should stand united with one another.”

Soraya Mubeen, another mother that attended, said:

“I stand with Rabbani, just like I’d stand with my own son. As a mother I constantly worry about my children when they travel, I worry they will be stopped and detained. These powers affect all of us and we stand in solidarity to uphold key values and principles.”


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.

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CAGE calls for the abolition of anti-terror legislation

The latest incident at Finsbury Park underlines the need to abolish all anti-terror legislation. We have witnessed the abject destruction caused by the War on Terror first hand and must resist demands to extend the injustice it has unleashed.

The draconian and oppressive anti-terror laws have led to the dismantling of basic protections. What motivated Darren Osborne or others before him does not negate the fact that these incidents need to be subjected to the scrutiny of the criminal law and overseen by an independent judicial system.

Theresa May has used the latest incident to launch another attack on civil liberties by declaring that the Queen’s speech on Wednesday will include flagship legislation to “confront the menace of extremism, especially Islamist extremism, including a statutory commission to identify and expose examples”. She reaffirmed the review of official counter-terrorism strategy including the possibility of new criminal offences to deny “safe spaces” to extremists, both online and in the real world.

We do not need any more anti-terror laws and call for an abolition of the extensive web of laws that have ensnared our fundamental freedoms and rights. We call upon all right minded people to join our struggle to establish once again the Rule of Law and apply it to all irrespective of their background, race or religion.

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, Director of CAGE, said:

“The insatiable desire by politicians to appeal to the mob mentality and the prejudicial media blitz leads to a poisonous environment in which basic rights are trashed at the altar of populism. The tragedy of the victims is exploited and the perpetrators are shovelled into a two tier justice system where their rights are curtailed because of the terrorism tag.”

“The calls for tougher laws and sentences is led by former extremists to venal politicians who have created a virus that has infected the whole criminal justice system so that the use of secret evidence is normalised, mental health frailties are ignored and teenagers are given disproportionate sentences for immature comments on social media and labelled as terrorists for life.”

“This is the right occasion to declare that we do not seek the lynch mob mentality of the terror laws to be applied to Darren Osborne or anyone else. We have witnessed the abject destruction caused by the War on Terror first hand and are proud to say that we do not call for laws that demean us to be applied or be extended further. Not in our name.”


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.

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CAGE calls for calm amid attack on Muslim worshippers

Police have confirmed that a major incident took place a couple of hours ago. A man has been arrested in London following an attack in Finsbury Park. The man ploughed into worshippers who were leaving the mosque after taraweeh prayers. The number of fatalities and those injured has yet to be confirmed.

CAGE Director, Adnan Siddiqui said:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of what appears to have been a deliberate attack on worshippers outside Muslim Welfare House in the Finsbury Park area as they left night prayers in the holy month of Ramadhan.

There can never be any justification for such acts which occur at a time of an epidemic rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes. We urge all to remain calm and do their utmost to not inflame an already volatile and distressing situation. We should allow for the investigation to continue and for facts to emerge.

We have always called for the Rule of Law to be applied so that we can assure the protection and safety of all people irrespective of their beliefs.

This is not the time to hold certain sections of society collectively guilty for the acts of a few criminals.

The cycles of violence that are devastating innocent lives must be brought to an end. After #Manchester and #LondonBridge, there is need for serious pause in order to find ways to safeguard the public from harm and bring an end to the cycle of violence.”

 

(image courtesy of Didier on twitter)


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.

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10 Nights: 10 Reasons to Give!

 

The last ten days of Ramadan are about to begin. As we count down the remaining fasting days, and pass the hours of the nights in prayer, seeking the immense rewards of Laylatul Qadr, CAGE offers an opportunity for us all to add to our scale of good deeds, by donating. And here are 10 key reasons why:


DONATE NOW

1- CAGE Establishes Justice

“Oh you who have believed, be steadfast witnesses with justice for Allah, and do not let the hatred of others make you swerve from justice. Be just, for that is closer to God-consciousness.” (5:8)

Whether it is campaigning against oppressive state powers, or against the violation of basic rights, CAGE has always had this duty of justice at its core. With your help, inshaAllah, we will continue seeking to establish justice for the victims of the War on Terror.

2- CAGE Speaks Truth to Power

A man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, “What is the best jihad?” The Prophet said, “A word of truth in front of a tyrannical ruler.” (Musnad Ahmad 18449)

CAGE’s independence – both of vested interests and of state funding – means it does not shy away from speaking truth to power.

3- CAGE Campaign Against PREVENT

“CAGE were there” (Sister Y – PREVENT child custody case)

From publishing cutting edge reports, to running national tours, CAGE has long been at the vanguard of campaigning against, and documenting the abuses of the now widely accepted as failed PREVENT policy.

4- CAGE Defends the Oppressed

“If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

“[CAGE’s] considerable support and commitment have made a situation which would have been overwhelming for me, easier to deal with by Allah’s Mercy.” (Ali Adorus’ wife)

Through its casework, CAGE is directly engaged with survivors of abuse and mistreatment worldwide, their defence, and their struggle for justice. This is the backbone of CAGE’s work, and the unique, first-hand insight it provides informs everything else CAGE does.

5- CAGE Supports Dawah

“[…] dawah organisations wouldn’t work, wouldn’t function properly without such organisations [as CAGE]” (Shaykh Haitham al Haddad)

CAGE’s work helps to protect the space within which many dawah organisations, activities and speakers operate.

6- CAGE empowers the Community

CAGE works to educate and empower communities impacted by the War on Terror. This manifests itself through CAGE’s ground-breaking reports, and especially through its nationwide events which aim to raise awareness and mobilise communities so they can stand up for themselves. In the last year alone, despite financial difficulties, CAGE has been able to hold a national tour and numerous events including film screenings, debates, and ‘Know Your Rights’ workshops, delivered directly within communities.

7- CAGE Gives a Voice to the Voiceless

“CAGE is an organisation that allows me to sleep at night. It is no exaggeration to say that without the important work that CAGE does, the injustices, the gradual erosion of our rights and the fate of hundreds of forgotten souls languishing in extrajudicial prisons, would go completely unchecked.” (Testimonial of a supporter)

For victims and survivors of the War on Terror, the stigma attached to the allegations they face is often enough for them to find many individuals and organisations unwilling to assist them. CAGE offers these people non-judgemental advice, support, and a voice, by bringing their stories into the mainstream.

8- CAGE Does Not Compromise

CAGE takes a moral stance on all counter-terrorism policy that infringes on basic rights. The rule of law and justice are, for CAGE, absolute values, not open to equivocation or compromise.

9- CAGE is Led by Survivors

CAGE is the only Muslim organisation that is led by, and places at its heart, survivors of the War on Terror. Our staff includes ex-prisoners of the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, former control order detainees and many others who have experienced first-hand the long reach of these policies.

10- CAGE Unites to Make a Change

One of the simplest, and more powerful images of the past year has to be CAGE Outreach Director, Moazzam Begg, sitting across the table from an ex-Guantanamo guard, discussing the dehumanisation of detention in the now infamous detention centre. In divisive times, CAGE finds strength in the unity of simple humanity, and commitment to the values of justice, compassion and courage.

To donate please click here.


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.

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France has abandoned the rule of law for a perpetual state of emergency: CAGE

London – France’s proposed new bill that would allow state of emergency measures to become the law of the land, must be opposed in order to prevent widespread abuse.

The bill normalises banning protest marches, shutting down places of worship, forcing people under house arrest to give police access to their electronic devices and using electronic tagging for purposes of surveillance. It gives complete power to police to implement these measures without judicial oversight.

Ibrahim Mohamoud, CAGE spokesperson, said:

“This would open the powers to normalised and regular abuse and discrimination with absolutely no basis. These measures will give way to officials to make sweeping intrusions in the lives of many French Muslims without any judicial scrutiny. This will only reinforce the feelings of Muslim citizens as having second class rights to those of their fellow French citizens.

“Given the serious abuses resulting from use of those power, abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims have created economic hardship, stigmatisation and traumatised children.

“Beyond the moral debate, we should also ask the question of the efficiency of these measures. Following the Bataclan, France has seen some of the worst attacks in its history while under the state of emergency. Turning these failed policies into law does not seem to make much sense. Instead, efforts should be invested in fair treatment of its minority and cessation of foreign intervention.”

 


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.

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Emergency Live Appeal: 11 June at 7pm!

We will be hosting our live fundraiser event and providing you with a special insight into our work and campaigns. This is your opportunity to call in and speak to our team and help raise much needed funds for CAGE.  
We have extremely limited funds available and our work simply cannot continue without your support.
Help revive the legacy of our prophets and the call for justice through courage, compassion and fairness.
Date and Time: Sunday 11 June at 7pm
Where to watch:
– Facebook Live (If you’re on Facebook click on ‘get reminder’ here to be notified of the live stream)
– Youtube Live (See live link below)
Sign up here to get an email reminder when we’re live:

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Click on image to enlarge

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.

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CAGE Ramadan 10km Charity Trek!

A 10km walk with amazing company to raise funds for CAGE.

On the eve of the 17th of Ramadan, the anniversary of Badr, join our trek and let us remember the sacrifice of our Prophet (saw) and his companions and the lessons we can draw to empower us in our struggles for justice today.

To register please fill the form below:

Registration fee: £75 (pay here)
Fundraising target: up to £1000
Date and Time: Sunday 11 June 2017 Time | 3pm – 6pm
Location: London


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.

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Yes Prime Minister, Enough is Enough!

Fahad Ansari responds to the Prime Minister’s speech, “Enough is Enough”, and explores the decades of failed policies that she seeks to re-hash. 

Following the horrific terrorist attacks in London on Friday, Theresa May delivered a speech in which she claimed that there has been far too much tolerance of extremism in Britain. “Enough is Enough” she boldly declared outlining a four point plan to counter the new trend in terrorism.

Unfortunately, for all her rhetoric, the Prime Minister’s proposals are not new. They are neither innovative nor unique. It is deeply concerning that despite 17 years of fighting terrorism, the government of the day’s response to the latest attack is to simply fall back on to its default position – calling for increased powers for police and the security services, an increase in the length of custodial sentences and a focus on fostering better social cohesion. The strategy is one that has failed to make Britain any safer than it was in 2001. On the contrary, Britain is a far more dangerous place to live for all communities today than it was when the War on Terror began.

May’s plan is fundamentally flawed as it falsely identifies the drivers of terrorism as an inherent hatred for “our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights” and a belief that they are incompatible with Islam. In parroting the mantra of both George W. Bush and Tony Blair almost two decades later, Theresa May betrays the fact that she has learned very little from the errors of her predecessors. This precarious oversimplification of a very complex issue may be useful for soundbites for the evening news but brings us dangerously short of resolving the terrorism threat.

A solution according to the PM is a repetition of her own personal mantra from her time as Home Secretary:  a need to propagate the superiority of British values. As many commentators have pointed out, linking terrorism to integration and social cohesion produces a dangerous confusion over the roots of the problem, which ultimately stigmatises and alienates some of the poorest communities in this country.

It is telling that in her entire speech, May fails to address the stated motivations of the terrorists themselves, that increasingly apparent elephant in the room known as Foreign Policy. ISIS hailed the Manchester attack as a response to Britain’s “transgressions against the lands of the Muslims”, a victory against “the crusaders” of the west and a response to airstrikes in Iraq. Khalid Masood revealed his own motivation in a Whatsapp message sent minutes before he carried out the attack in Westminster declaring that he was taking revenge for Western military actions in Muslim countries in the Middle East. From Usama Bin Laden to the 7/7 bombers, from the killers of Lee Rigby to the recent attacks from ISIS, all have spoken of the fact that British foreign policy has been a direct motivation for their actions. To acknowledge this is not justification. To ignore it however is grossly negligent.

If Theresa May is not comfortable in listening to the demands of terrorists, she should at least respect the expert opinions of those entrusted with our security. As far back as 2003, the Joint Intelligence Committee, representing the main British intelligence agencies, explicitly warned the Blair government that invading Iraq would “increase significantly” the threat of terrorism. That included risks of attack within the UK from al-Qaeda and other “Islamist terrorist groups and individuals”. In 2005, a few weeks before the 7/7 bombings, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre issued another warning to the Blair government noting that events in Iraq “are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK”. If this was not sufficient, in 2011 in a lecture attended by Theresa May herself, former director-general of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller unequivocally drew the connection between the Iraq war and the 7/7 attacks stating:

“[The invasion of Iraq] increased the terrorist threat by convincing more people that Osama Bin Laden’s claim that Islam was under attack was correct. It provided an arena for the jihad for which he had called, so that many of his supporters, including British citizens, travelled to Iraq to attack Western forces. It also showed very clearly that foreign and domestic policy are intertwined. Actions overseas have an impact at home. And our involvement in Iraq spurred some young British Muslims to turn to terror.“

So yes Prime Minister, Enough is Enough. Let us open up the discussion on foreign policy and the role it plays in driving terrorism. Whether it is the UK’s military action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, its betrayal of the Palestinian people, or its massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, foreign policy does play its part in fomenting terrorism and needs to change. Today, in what has become almost synonymous with blasphemy laws in theocratic states, those who question the link between foreign policy and terrorism, are maligned and labelled as apologists and sympathisers. In April this year, former MP David Ward was sacked from the Liberal Democrats for tweeting that “all terrorist attacks in UK stem from our foreign policy”. And if it is all to do with their hating our way of life, then why are most of the victims of ISIS Muslims living in the Islamic world?

Enough is Enough Prime Minister. Let us review the current counter-terrorism strategy but not with a view to increasing police powers but assessing whether there are already too many powers in place. With over a dozen different counter-terrorism bills passed into law since 2000 and the implementation of the Prevent strategy across public service providers, more extremism referrals are being made to the police than ever before. As the current Home Secretary has now finally admitted, Prevent is essentially an intelligence gathering exercise, used to spy on the Muslim community. It has been opposed by numerous trade unions, civil society organisations and hundreds of academics.

Enough is Enough Prime Minister. With children as young as four years old being reported to the police and subsequently detained and questioned (without the consent or presence of the parent) over issues such as possessing a toy gun, being accused of speaking Arabic or attending a mosque, not celebrating Christmas, or drawing cucumber and university students being reported for reading books about terrorism in the campus library as part of their course material, it does beg the question as to whether the net is being cast far too wide resulting in real threats slipping under the radar. When all acts of religiosity or an interest in politics by Muslims are deemed to be worthy of reporting, one can imagine how overwhelmed the police must be in dealing with all of this ‘intelligence’. It is little wonder then why the likes of Salman Abedi managed to commit his atrocity despite having been referred by the local community on no less than five occasions. It is now also emerging that one of the suspected London Bridge attackers was reported to the counter terrorism police on two occasions with no further action taken. With finite resources at their disposal, the police and security services cannot realistically be expected to protect this country from those who actually threaten our safety when there has been such a proliferation of reporting based largely on ignorance, prejudice, and profiling.

Enough is Enough Prime Minister. Do you not realise that equating conservative religious values and political activism with extremism is counter-productive? Do you not accept that it is because of such a policy that the security services have had to deal with 23,000 “subjects of interest” to date? 23,000 is an army corps. If that is what the security services really believe to be the threat, then we really all should be very afraid. But if these ‘subjects of interest’ are on this list because of nothing more than conservative religious beliefs, political activism and overzealous reporting under Prevent, then we are wasting our resources. The Muslim community should not be afraid of discussing the concept of jihad. For years now, this discussion has been stifled and censored by mosques, Islamic centres, schools and universities out of fear of being reported under Prevent. If these discussions can take place, perhaps young minds can be taught the distinction between legitimate jihad and acts of terrorism. It of course will raise uncomfortable questions about the legitimacy of jihad against military targets in conflict zones and how that balances with the law of the land one lives in, but closing down all forums for such discussions only perpetuates the problem. Without traditional scholars being able to address these questions, young minds are ripe for exploitation by the likes of Daesh who thrive in an environment where their ideas are not challenged within a religious framework.

Enough is Enough Prime Minister. Why are approximately 50,000 travellers to and from the UK detained and questioned under the Terrorism Act every year when only 0.02% of those stops have led to any further action? That these stops are not intelligence led and can be done without any suspicion has resulted in hundreds of thousands of innocent people being harassed and questioned over the past 17 years, the vast majority of whom have been non-White. Is this power not only discriminatory in its effect but also disproportionate and a unwise use of limited resources, when the security services are unable to prevent actual terrorists from harming this country?

Five years ago, it emerged that evidence was fabricated against Dr Rizwaan Sabir, then a university student, to detain him for 7 days under the Terrorism Act. Perhaps if the police were not trying to ensnare innocent people in such a manner, they could focus on finding the real terrorists in our midst.

Enough is Enough Prime Minister. We are all tired of you playing politics with the security and safety of this country. We are fed up of the propaganda and posturing to roll out the same failed policy time and time again. We have become weary from the rhetoric of division and the imposition of collective guilt upon our community after each attack. We are frustrated with being asked to prove our humanity each time by rushing to condemn something that no sane individual can condone. Most of all, we are frightened for ourselves and our children of both being killed in an atrocity and hurt in the inevitable violent backlash that follows.

Enough is Enough.


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.

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Art, Justice and Terror Debate: Imperial War Museum

Join us for a day of installations, performances and debate around our exhibitions Edmund Clark: War on Terror and Sergey Ponomarev: A Lens on Syria, part of  the Syria: A Conflict Explored season. A series of free pop-up events as well as talks and panel discussions will examine how art can challenge understanding and change social attitudes to war and justice.

Guest speakers include:
Lawyer Cori Crider
Moazzam Begg
Edmund Clark
Artist David Birkin
And others. See the full programme and timings here.

Debate: Art, Justice and Terror
Adult day pass £12
Concession day pass £8
Date: Sat 17 June 2017


BOOK HERE

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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.