Human Rights

Moazzam Begg Gives Up?

Mr Begg has a new post up.

It is the usual fare. Defamation. Threats. Self pity. A comparison between jihadists and Nelson Mandela.

For secular feminist Gita Sahgal, it’s disgraceful slurs:

…Gita Sahgal, who I’d really hoped would have applied a little more wisdom before she began her crusade.

Ms Sahgal has, perhaps unwittingly, become a cause celebre for some of the pro-war (hence, pro-by-products of the wars: targeted assassinations, ‘collateral damage’, refugee crises, secret and military prisons, torture etc) hacks in this country – and around the world. A tool for the intelligence services or people like Paul Rester, the director of the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo

Out comes the standard issue “Jewish friend”, in a Nazi context no less, casting Begg as the anti-fascist and his opponents as the new Nazis:

Last week I was walking with a friend in the streets of Berlin, where Adolph Hitler had once created – and ultimately destroyed – the capital of his Nazi wonderland. My friend is an observant Jew whose family had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe around the same time. The experience was surreal for both of us: for him, the knowledge of the sort of hatred that once spewed out on these very streets so many years ago changed the world; for me, the growing feeling that hatred of a comparable sort, albeit in a subtler guise, is on the march once again.

We also are treated to a straightforward lie:

As I’ve stated previously that Cageprisoners is an information portal which merely carries information and reports on the cases of all held as part of the War on Terror. In no place does Cageprisoners ever claim that some of these convicted prisoners are “innocent” or faced a “miscarriage of justice”

Bollocks. Here’s Cageprisoners’ own patron, Yvonne Ridley on the Aafia Siddiqui, claiming that this convicted criminal is innocent. The additional lie that Siddiqui was tortured in Bagram for five years – when she reportedly admitted that she’d actually been on the run – is also pushed by Begg. Cageprisoners is even encouraging its supporters to attend a rally in defence of this woman, run by Hizb ut Tahrir.

Notably, Begg completely avoids comment on his own support for violent jihad, and his alignment with jihadist and Al Qaeda theoreticians, including Azzam and Awlaki. A wise omission, I think.

But here is the good news:

But, in spite of all the blatant anti-Muslim feeling and the rise of the far-right Islamophobic sentiments it is only now, after this episode with Ms. Sahgal and her protagonists, that I am reconsidering my entire approach towards engagement and dialogue to create understanding and acceptance. The fact is the climate of fear has just been raised a level – and I am no longer immune. I will continue to campaign for the men suffering in the concentration camps of Bagram, Guantanamo and the secret prisons. But withdrawal to a place of safety, my own Muslim community, seems to be the best option right now. It seems, at least to some, that engagement has its limits.

That is the correct conclusion.

Amnesty stands to be damaged immensely by its association with a man who is an open supporter of violent jihad. It is also an absolutely essential organisation. If Begg follows through on his present intentions, Amnesty will be strengthened.

Begg appears to have realised something that many of his defenders have not. There is a fundamental incompatibility between salafi jihadi politics and fundamental human rights. A Caliphate, implementing the sort of Sharia that Begg’s heroes, Azzam and Awlaki , have tried to create is a theocratic nightmare in which women and non-Muslims will be disenfranchised and subjected to apartheid, and in which Muslim nonconformists, Atheists and gays will be executed.

Begg has gamely attempted to convince human rights advocates that there is space for “engagement” with and the supporters of a politics that is in opposition to human rights. But there never was, really. Human rights is destructive of Salafi politics. Salafi politics is destructive of human rights. The two must plough their separate furrows.

In the final analysis, the various jihadists who Cageprisoners support are entitled to an energetic defence of their human rights. But we should not be blinded to the fact that they are also enemies of universal human rights.

This is why Begg is to be applauded. He has realised that there is absolutely no point at all working “engagement and dialogue to create understanding and acceptance” with Salafi jihadi politics. To what end? Defending the human rights of clerical fascists doesn’t require any dialogue, still less acceptance.

Here’s hoping that this is the end of the saga of Begg and Amnesty.