Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Homage To The Sunday Times' Richard Kerbaj

With not particularly sincere apologies to Richard Kerbaj

Secular feminists ‘damaged’ by 'Decent' link
Allies deplore lack of distance from 'apologists for torture and war crimes'

Friends of a number of leading secular feminist organisations have expressed concerns about their failure to publicly distance themselves from the 'Decents', British former leftwingers whose wholesale embrace of a neoconservative world-view after 9/11 has become increasingly angry and paranoid.

Leading 'Decents' such as Melanie Philips and Nick Cohen have been described as "Britain’s most famous supporters of the War on Terror". Others, such as the bloggers at The Spittoon or Harry's Place, have been accused of vigorously championing the right of Christian fundamentalists in the United States and their followers in Europe to launch an illegal war in Iraq, bomb the shit out of civilians in Afghanistan and create a global network of secret prisons where torture is commonplace.

Activists who have considered themselves allies of groups such as Southall Black Sisters, Women Against Fundamentalism and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, in some cases for many years, described 'association' with the pro-war media commentators and apologists for torture and war crimes, in a campaign of vilification of Amnesty International and Moazzam Begg, as an "error of judgement" that "fundamentally damages" their organisations' reputations.

Speaking in east London, one long-standing anti-racist activist, a humanist and fierce critic of the Archbishop of Canterbury's assertion that sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable", said:


"I believe the way the campaign against Amnesty International and Moazzam Begg has been conducted fundamentally damages these organisations' integrity and, more importantly, is becoming a threat to our collective ability to properly articulate the defence of human rights. Failing to condemn the antics of Britain’s most famous supporters of the "War on Terror" and refusing to challenge them as they continue to irrationally scream about 'Islamists under every bed', is a gross error of judgement."

Asked to elaborate further or provide evidence for these accusations, he added

"You know, I’ve been concerned about what the pro-war Right and its spokespersons stand for for a long time. But I think the issue that I really have is with allies in secular feminist organisations, because they are a human rights organisations and they should make very very careful decisions about how they associate with people. I can tell you that I asked friends in organisations such as Southall Black Sisters questions about their evidence against Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners that should have been very easily answered".

Another campaigner claimed that many of the 'Decents' have "an agenda that is way beyond concerns about fundamentalism" and have a "set of ideologies that support not only state-sanctioned violence in itself but very very discriminatory behaviour, systematic discrimination against Muslims who don’t agree with them."

To date, only one organisation facing criticism from its friends has sought to disassociate itself from the 'Decents', saying in a statement that it "deeply regrets the attempts of some media commentators and apologists for torture and war crimes to hijack this important debate to smear progressive movements, organisations and individuals".

However, the allegations were described "ridiculous" by another source, who added,

"It's not fair. Just because we make demands of people like Moazzam Begg to disassociate themselves from extremists, that doesn't mean we should be made to do the same".

Fair? Hell no. But smear campaigns - even parodies of them - never are.

7 Comments:

faisalgazi said...

You have written this about the Spittoon:

"vigorously championing the right of Christian fundamentalists in the United States and their followers in Europe to launch an illegal war in Iraq, bomb the shit out of civilians in Afghanistan and create a global network of secret prisons where torture is commonplace."

We at the Spittoon stand firmly against all religious fundamentist political systems.

If you have any editorial proof of our support of Christian Fundamentalists, or that we support illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, extraordinary rendition or arbitrary detention, please provide links and citations.

Gita is a whistleblower. She raised serious and legitimate concerns, and wasn’t taken seriously. So she exposed them. If you are saying that supporting Gita Sahgal is tantamount to supporting illegal wars, etc then you have to provide the same similar proof for other human rights organisations and workers who have worked alongside Amnesty, and who support Gita.

So let's see proof that other human rights professionals who support Gita Sahga such as the Southall Black Sisters, WLUML, Dr. Amrita Chhachhi, Sara Hossain, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Sunila Abeysekera, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka all want "to launch an illegal war in Iraq, bomb the shit out of civilians in Afghanistan and create a global network of secret prisons where torture is commonplace."

Whereas, one can also say by the same kind of logic that you employ, that you support the killings of 21,000 Pakistanis who have died since 2001 as innocent victims of suicide bombings. Beucase you support Cageprisoners, who advocate "jihadi resistance" in Pakistan.

Kevin said...

Let's pretend for a moment, Faisal, that this posting isn't an really obvious spoof/piss-take...

Editorial proof, links and citations, you say? You mean actual evidence? But you're happy for smears and innuendo to be thrown at Amnesty International and Moazzam Begg, yet want a different set of standards for yourselves.

Isn't that somewhat... hypocritical?

Chardonnay Chap said...

Gita is a whistleblower.

How, exactly? Begg appeared at Amnesty events. This wasn't secret; it was advertised. She didn't blow the whistle on that. Begg has a wikipedia page; his connections aren't secret. What did Gita Sahgal 'blow a whistle' on? There's a difference between not being 'taken seriously' and not agreed with. See Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director's letter to the Sunday Times.

Chardonnay Chap said...

If you are saying that supporting Gita Sahgal is tantamount to supporting illegal wars...

He's not. The closest he gets to saying this is "the attempts of some media commentators and apologists for torture and war crimes to hijack this important debate" which was from the WLUML, which you don't see to have noticed.

NB Posted two comments so not to get caught as a spammer for posting three links in one post.

faisalgazi said...

Kevin:

It would not be a smear to point at the large amonts of data which show that Cageprisoners advocay of Anwar al-Awlaki and other jihadi clerics. With al-Awlaki in particula:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6974702.ece

"Begg conducted a telephone interview with him after his release and Cageprisoners invited al-Awlaki to address its dinner at Wandsworth Civic Centre, South London, in August 2008. The preacher, who is banned from Britain, had his speech relayed by phone over a loudspeaker system.

Last September Cageprisoners invited al-Awlaki to speak again to its Ramadan dinner at Kensington Town Hall. There were protests about the invitation and the local authority told the group that it could not broadcast al-Awlaki’s words on its property."

Mr Begg told The Times that he had spoken at UCL five or six times but neither knew nor recalled meeting Mr Abdulmutallab. He confirmed that Cageprisoners campaigned for al-Awlaki when he was held in Yemen and had been in contact with the preacher after his release.

Are you saying Gita Sahgal is smearing Amnesty and Begg?

I would also like to see some evidence from the author to back this up:

"been accused of vigorously championing the right of Christian fundamentalists in the United States and their followers in Europe to launch an illegal war in Iraq, bomb the shit out of civilians in Afghanistan and create a global network of secret prisons where torture is commonplace."


Having no evidence to back up accusations is smearing. Posting assertions without a single link to a citation or source is called smearing. And this site is guilty of both.

Kevin said...

Looks like adding a 'caution' symbol to what is clearly a satirical post, in the hope that those with absolutely no sense of humour might avoid making a fool of themselves, has failed.

In response to your questions though: yes, I am saying that Gita Sahgal is smearing Amnesty and yes I am saying that she is smearing Begg. Having no evidence to back up accusations is smearing, that much we agree upon.

And by the same token, in quoting favourably from a report that places Begg in the same sentence as Abdulmutallab, a man he "neither knew nor recalled meeting", you are attempting to imply Begg is a dangerous terrorist. That, in my book, is a smear.

Make up a sentence using these words:

Pot. Kettle. Black.

faisalgazi said...

No I think you have got it wrong. The difference is Gita Sahgal is not "smearing Amnesty" and she actually knows what she is talking about. I lot of people who work in human rights have supported. You'd have a stronger case if you actually acknowledged them.

You should also try and rectify the situation and provide a link to back up your accusations. Or people might think you're someone who vilifies others using vicious, nasty lies without any intention to back them up.

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