Muhammad Rabbani stood trial today defending the confidentiality of a torture victim. Following the judge’s verdict of a conditional discharge and costs amounting to £620, he addressed the gathered supporters and members of the press with the following statement:
“I want to thank my lawyers and supporters who were here for me today. Of course the decision is not one that we had been hoping for, but the judge understood and expressed this case is complicated.
As the judge mentioned:
“the importance of passwords and privacy cannot be overstated in the 21st century”
Today’s judgement based on the judge’s and prosecution’s acceptance that I am of good character and worthy of belief, highlights the absurdity of the schedule 7 law.
They accept that at no point was I under suspicion, and that ultimately this was a matter of having been profiled at a port. There are important implications for our collective privacy as s.7 acts as a digital strip search.
I took the decision to not raise the details of an important torture case before my arrest, and ultimately I have been convicted of protecting the confidentiality of my client.
If privacy and confidentiality are crimes, then the law stands condemned.
CAGE and I are glad we brought this case, and the result indicates that our only option is to change the law. Schedule 7 actively discriminates, and this will hopefully be the start of a number of legal challenges as more people take courage to come forward. We will be appealing this decision and we have won the moral argument.”
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.
Abdul Wahid here gives a short critique of the latest ‘anti-terror’ laws and it doesn’t take a legal mastermind to see how these new laws are going to be used to ratchet up the pressure on the Muslims of the UK.
Here is a link to a news article on the new laws, I think most of us seeing new laws being proposed nearly every year turn off but these latest ones include some new and frightening powers for the government to use.
“This is a classic example of the ‘injustice’ in the legal system.
Firstly, enacting a law that allow sentences viewed as ‘too lenient’ to be extended by the appeal court for serious and emotive crimes such as murder, rape and the ‘most serious terrorist offences’. (What does that mean? Murder is murder, and implying a political motive in some cases but not others means you have just politicised the law).
Secondly, extending the scope of that law to apply to much more vacuous and politicised acts – such as ‘ supporting extremist organisations, encouraging acts of terror’. What constitutes ‘support’ and ‘encouragement’ in terms of legal thresholds? Who as yet has defined ‘extremist’? Without robust definitions all laws become arbitrary. This classic sign of a politicised legal system, with parallel streams of justice for those who think differently.
This reminds me of security states in other parts of the world, where people could be serving a sentence of a political offence, and they are retried or resentenced years later.
It concerns me that some criminals will get longer sentences than other just by the tabloid press or 24/7 news media whipping up populist sentiment after a trial, whilst current laws prevent media interference in trials.
Of course all secular laws change with the wind. Secularists think of this as a strength, because blatantly unjust laws of the past are now repealed.
But Islam’s strength is that its legal code is not easy to manipulate. It is not public opinion that we seek in justice, but Allah’s Opinion on any given matter.
Speaking about the Islamic Shariah at the trial of Warren Hastings, the political philosopher Edmund Burke spoke of the ‘Mahomedan law, which is binding upon all, from the crowned head to the meanest subject; a law interwoven with a system of the wisest, the most learned, and most enlightened jurisprudence that perhaps ever existed in the world’.
Bukhari narrates from our mother ‘Aisha, may Allah be please with her that Usamah ibn Zaid (may Allah be please with him and his father) approached the Prophet ﷺ on behalf of a woman (from a noble, rich family in her tribe who had committed theft). The Prophet ﷺ said, “The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! If Fatima (the beloved daughter of the Prophet ﷺ) did that (i.e. stole), I would cut off her hand.” i.e. You do not apply laws selectively – either on the poor and not the rich; nor on the unpopular but let off the popular.”
“So now that the storm is over, I wanted to say this: Each time a terror attack happens, there are only two groups of people who tend to claim responsibility/ownership: ISIS and affiliates & MCB and affiliates.”
Facebook has a feature where it will show you your ‘memories’ that is posts from the same date in previous years which can be very interesting to look at in a…
‘yes that was a really important issue / message’
or ‘what? did I really say / share that? (cringe)’ kinda way.
This post’s graphics and highly detailed report from CAGE definitely falls into the former and not the later. The CAGE Report ‘WE ARE COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT’ (available to download here from CAGE) which some may remember from last year is still extremely relevant today with the so many Imams and leaders in the UK Muslim community trying to give the highly damaging and anti-Islamic Prevent agenda a new lease of life on behalf of the government.
Allahu Alim whether they are doing so because they or their organizations are being funded by Prevent or other government initiatives, or whether it is because they share in the governments beliefs, or whether they are doing so out of fear of being targeted next.
I highly recommend you all read the full report if you have not already or else feel free to distribute the link and pics for others to look at as ending this toxic Prevent agenda is a duty upon us all as is forbidding any munkar in society.
Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawood (David) and ‘Eesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allaah and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds.
They used not to forbid one another from Al-Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do.
Quran translation, Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:78-79
The report details how the government has been covertly funding Muslim organizations in the UK in an attempt to subvert the message these organizations give out to the masses of the Muslims.
To make it look like these supposedly impartial community leaders and organizations have come to the conclusion by themselves that they need to help force a change of values upon the Muslims in the UK into something more akin to those held by the disbelieving masses under their attempts to promote ‘British Values.’
If the problem is that extremists promote a distorted version of Islam then why the need to promote British Values and not Islamic ones?
CAGE have produced a high quality academic report showing the links between the Government, media companies, grassroots organizations, all working together secretly on promoting the government’s Prevent agenda.
This blurring of lines between government on the one hand and community / grass roots organizations on the other is dangerous and counter productive strategy which will only make the problems with those with extremist ideas get worse.
It can only decrease trust in all Muslim organizations in our community and further force misguided individuals who may fall into sympathy for Terrorism away from those who should be helping them, not helping themselves to extra government funding in exchange for following a particular line.
As Muslims we need to not only hold the government to account, and demand an end to Prevent and other anti-Muslim policies, but also hold our community leaders including our Imams to account as well.
“When Thomas Mair murdered Joe Cox MP shouting Britain First the media refused to call it terrorism in spite of it fitting the the most clear cut definition of terrorism , “Violence to achieve a political goal” . The political party that he belonged to was not banned or designated a terror organization and its members were not jailed.
This is all political and we know what the agenda is, however from a policing and investigating point of view, it would be interesting to know whether Thomas Mair’s mother, father , sisters and brothers were ever under arrest. Or is that treatment also reserved for the relatives of Muslim perpetrators of murder?”
“While arrests are often grandly announced in the media, a close look at their aftermath reveals that the overwhelming majority of those arrested are never charged under terrorism laws. An alarming 63% are not charged with any offence at all.”
– Asim Qureshi
Asim Qureshi, of the advocacy group CAGE, writes an open letter to Imams Online declining an invitation to appear at an upcoming conference organised by the group which was recently exposed as having received Prevent funding.
Speakers include Shaykh Imtiyaz Damiel of the Abu Hanifah Foundation, Mufti Abdur Rahman Mangera of the Rayyan Institute, journalist Remona Aly, Dr Bilal Hassam of British Muslim TV, Imam Qari Muhammad Asim of Leeds Makkah Mosque, Nick Pickles of Twitter UK, Karim Palant of Facebook, Naomi Gummer of Google UK, Shaukat Warraich of Faith Associates, Dr Shiraz Maher, Matt Collins, Director – Prevent Delivery Unit, Akeela Ahmed, Advisor Cross Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, Professor Tahir Abbas, Senior Research Fellow – RUSI, Imam Adam Kelwick and Ustadha Khola Hasan.
The following is an abridged version of a letter to one of the organisers that Asim Qureshi published on his Facebook page:
Dear brother Adam Kelwick,
Jazakallahkhayr for your invitation to join you at the Imams Online Digital Summit at the Google HQ in London. I appreciate you trying to engage with those who take a principled stance, conceptually and practically, against Prevent. My colleague Moazzam Begg met you in the past and mentioned how supportive you were of our work – barakallahfeek…
It is important to acknowledge from the beginning, that CAGE is unwilling to lend support to policies that harm the civil liberties or human rights of a single individual – not matter how distasteful the person may be. This is how rights work: they are either for all, or for none.
Our principled stance against Prevent is not simply situated in our current critique of its ‘science’ and modalities – but rather it comes from learning about the joint experiences of our forebears. When we speak to colleagues who fought for black civil rights in America, they warn us that Prevent/CVE sounds exactly like the US government’s COINTELPRO programme (please read Arun Kundnani’s book ‘The Muslims are Coming’). Our colleagues in South Africa are constantly making their own links between Prevent/CVE and Apartheid – they say that everything that we are seeing in the UK was done to them. The list of historical violations goes on. We find ourselves standing up for a cause that many stood up for previously, and like them, we do not take the excessive castigation of the state or the media as a sign that we are losing the argument – rather it is a sign of their weakness that they only ever rely on ad hominem attacks, rather than engaging directly with the concerns we raise.
Dear brother Adam – please understand that the issue with Prevent is not just about a few bad cases here and there, it is about the entire structure from its epistemology to its implementation. Experts from around the world (all of whom are involved in social justice movements with no links to the security industry) tell us that Prevent is wrong in its science. As someone with a legal background myself, the notion that you can have a statutory superstructure that is implemented to operate in a pre-crime space by making public sector workers and the charity sector into the eyes and ears of the state is beyond wrong. You know full well how this becomes a mandate for everyday bigotry to manifest itself on a nationwide level. The government tells us that in 2015, 4000 referrals were made to Channel, 2000 of whom were Muslim – an indicator for them that the policy is evenhanded. Let us be real: that is 2000 out of 3 million Muslims, as opposed to 2000 out of 57 million non-Muslims. A simple calculation will tell us that it means a Muslim is 20 times more likely to be referred to Channel for deradicalisation than a non-Muslim. The degree of policy, legislation and securitisation is completely disproportionate to the threat.
I understand that you have concerns with Prevent, and I very much appreciate you expressing them publicly. I think the two points you made in your Facebook post are well made and need to be teased out further. However, going back to who we as communities choose to work with, it does remain surprising that you would still choose to associate with the event at Google.
Google is not some evil entity set out to systematically harm Muslims and Islam, but when we consider who it works with on the issue of CVE, its perspective becomes all too transparent for communities. They are not simply a neutral venue devoid of politics, but rather have thrown in their lot with a specific narrative of counter-terrorism – one rooted in the epistemology of Prevent/CVE. The issue of whether the event is funded by Prevent becomes meaningless, as in this case if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
Google Ideas, recently re-named “Jigsaw”, and the Google Next Foundation have partnered in the past with the Quilliam Foundation (in particular Maajid Nawaz), and supported their work to formulate their own CVE programme known as “Against Violent Extremism” (AVE). AVE is managed by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). Aside from ISD’s worrying links to prominent US neo-conservatives linked to what the Center for American Progress calls the “Islamophobia Network”, senior members of ISD who specifically work on Prevent/CVE issues have come from the Quilliam Foundation (Erin Saltman and Rashad Ali). In the case of Rashad Ali, he has worked for the Henry Jackson Society in the past. The programmes that they have worked on together enunciate Prevent-speak completely, and so they are not neutral voices in this field, but rather regurgitate that there is a significant threat, a narrative that is fear-based and hearkens to a security state.
This is not about non-engagement with the government. CAGE has engaged in multiple forums with them on many occasions, and will continue to seek to do so. This is about how we engage with the politics of those with whom we would not normally partner, such as neo-conservative think tanks. It is worrying that with everything social justice movements have been through, some Muslims still feel it is appropriate to do so. It is perhaps more disconcerting that Ulama would choose to work with such organisations and programmes once neo-conservative links and connections have surfaced.
From what you have mentioned in your post on FaceBook, I think it is genuinely incredible that you are looking to challenge media misrepresentations of Muslims, but make little mention of how this is often led by government narratives on ‘extremism’ such as David Cameron’s Munich speech promoting “muscular liberalism” as a panacea to problems within Muslim communities…
The Imams Online event ultimately does not provide a neutral platform for debate and discussion. A number of those who are involved have some link to Prevent/CVE, or the national security structure of the UK. For that reason, I will refuse your invitation to attend. The people in the room are for the most part not policy makers, they are individuals and organisations who are playing a role in furthering the notion of pre-crime prevention within the parameters of a discredited framework, a position that we find to be wholly unconscionable.
When Imams Online was launched, a number of scholars reached out to me concerned at the response to a question by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. When asked about the sources of funding for the organisation, he mentioned – and this is paraphrased – that government funding should not mean that there are issues with the project. It is important to acknowledge that this is a problem – whether it is Faith Associates or Imams Online – as communities seeking to engage with those speaking in their name, need to know that, as a matter of perception and fact, there are no conflicts of interest. Shaykh Hamza’s unwise words at the recent RIS conference are indicative of how when our scholars speak on matters from a perspective that does not take into account victim/survivor communities, the damage can be great.
Dialogue is not an issue for us at CAGE – we know it is necessary – especially when speaking to our own community. We would welcome sitting with you to discuss what meaningful conference might look like, but cannot engage where the terms of reference are based on the structural and epistemic violence of the state. Hence why the IO conference is not one where simply asking a question or challenging from the floor will produce any real dialogue.
I urge us, as a community, to listen to the voices of the disenfranchised. To seek the betterment of our situation, we need to think about the rights of all, and put into place structures within our own communities that help to engender trust. We cannot do this while the shadow of government funding and its false epistemology hangs in the air.
I appreciate the time you have taken to read this.