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Mixed Messages from Cageprisoners

This is a cross-post from Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

In yesterday’s Sunday Times, CagePrisoners (CP) was criticised for promoting al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki on their site. The group’s head, Moazzam Begg, responded by saying that ‘I don’t consider anybody a terrorist until they have been charged and convicted of terrorism.’ The only problem with this is that his organisation’s website is replete with profiles and sympathetic interviews with convicted terrorists. Rightly, Begg follows the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ line, but when they are convicted, CP seem to give the terrorists a lot of sympathy.

CP’s website, for example, reproduces and publishes letters and poems written by people who have been convicted on terrorism charges in the UK. What is the justification for this? Begg has never addressed this issue, and it is about time that he did. I have already covered the materials on the CP site in previous blogs.

One organisation, which CP has some links with, addresses this issue much more clearly. Prisoners of Faith (PoF) is a group similar to CagePrisoners, except they are much more frank about what they think of Islamist terrorists behind bars:

Prisoners of Faith has been set up to inform the ummah about our current Muslim prisoners. The reason for implementing a penal system is to punish criminals so that they re-enter life rehabilitated or duly punished. How can it be a crime to only believe in ‘La ilaha illallah’ [there is no god but Allah] and to only want His rule to govern?

The incarceration of Muslims may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, since 2000 approximately 1000 Muslims have been arrested, many jailed without charge, and this is a fraction compared to other parts of the world where the atrocities are worse, yet how many of us actually remember them? How many of us take out time to find out what is happening to our brothers and sisters? Whether they are detained without charge, with charge or even convicted? Do we just believe what we see on the TV? Or should we make excuses for our brothers and sisters and give them the benefit of the doubt?

… So the role of Prisoners of Faith is to inform you about the prisoners and to help them to be remembered in your du’aas [prayers] constantly inshaAllah

The part I have put in bold is the most relevant here as indeed all Islamist terrorist are fighting primarily because they wish to establish the rule of God throughout the world, and for PoF striving toward this simply cannot be a crime. It’s also nice to see them doing their part to lionise terrorists by asking for Muslims to pray for them on a purely sectarian basis.

CP have reproduced PoF articles on their site and also include on their Facebook page this video produced by PoF:

The hooligan shouting at the police in the beginning of the video is Abu Hamza’s right hand man, Abu Abdullah (aka Atilla Ahmet). He is now serving a seven year sentence for soliciting to murder. Here he is praising ‘the honourable Sheikh’ Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and 9/11:

The PoF video then goes on to show pictures of numerous convicted and suspected terrorists, including Anwar al-Awlaki (3.47 mins) and it makes no effort to present these men and their actions as wrong or un-Islamic, instead telling viewers: ‘Do not forsake them! Remember your Brothers and Sisters in your du’as (prayers) this Ramadan’.

It is strange that an organisation like CP, which condemns convicted terrorists and the killing of civilians, would publish the poetry of a convicted terrorist on their site, and would have a video on their Facebook page telling people to pray for a man who praised 9/11, an event that claimed thousands of civilian lives. Talk about mixed messages!