Amnesty International’s Guantanamo Poster Child Detained in Britain

Moazzam Begg speaks at Amnesty International's 'Poems from Guantanamo' event / AP

Moazzam Begg speaks at Amnesty International’s ‘Poems from Guantanamo’ event / AP

By Washington Free Beacon Staff:

British authorities have arrested an ex-Guantanamo detainee—who was held up as a human rights icon by Amnesty International—on suspicions of facilitating terrorism in Syria.

Amnesty, a human rights group, starting working with British-Pakistani citizen Moazzam Begg in 2005 after he was released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The group treated Begg as a poster child of the alleged maltreatment of detained terrorists by U.S. authorities, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Amnesty ignored that Mr. Begg had written of his admiration for the Taliban. Nor was Amnesty bothered that, alongside his “human-rights” work, Mr. Begg was conducting fawning interviews with al Qaeda propagandists such as the late terrorist imam Anwar al-Awlaki.

In 2010, Gita Sahgal, who at the time headed Amnesty’s gender unit, broke ranks by making public her opposition to promoting the views of “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban.” Amnesty responded by suspending Ms. Sahgal, and she was eventually pushed out. “I don’t see Amnesty International and other human rights organizations coming to grips with the fact that their research and campaigning have been tainted” by their association with Mr. Begg, Ms. Saghal told us this week. In a statement, Amnesty told us that its “relationship with Moazzam Begg was as a victim of human-rights violations.” It added that “everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until they are charged and proven guilty in a fair trial.”

Begg has since been charged with providing terrorist training and funding in Syria.

An Amnesty official said in 2010 that the group did not believe “jihad in self-defense” was “antithetical to human rights.”

Global Islamism: Prospects for 2014

Mideast-Iran-Election_Horo4-e1371313739782-965x543-450x313by :

Thanks to the Obama administration’s uninformed and flimsy foreign policy decisions, the year 2013 has distinctively been a blessing for the independent Islamist parties and fundamentalist Islamic governments throughout the Middle East and the world. Although it is somewhat difficult to predict what will happen in 2014 regarding the Islamists movements and prominent challenges within that (along with Iran’s nuclear ambitions), several issues can be projected based on the trends and polices carried out in 2013.

Firstly, the foreign and domestic policies carried out by the Obama administration have led to several key trends.  In 2013, Islamists and fundamentalists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other Islamists parties have gained an unprecedented level of power, organization, and coordination, particularly across the Middle East and Africa. In Syria, for example, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has emerged as among the most powerful jihadi groups. This particular Islamist group, which seeks to rule Syria and the Levant just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan (along with fighting against infidels), has become more centralized through obtaining a unified command-and-control structure, ideologically and politically.

Reportedly, this Islamist party— which has been behind thousands of beheadings, in many cases proudly beheading people and showing it on videos— is advocating for the systematic genocide of Shi’ite Muslims or others who are “damaging Mohammed’s legacy” in perpetrating their beliefs. Currently, ISIL is the most powerful oppositional group in Syria, even overshadowing the Free Syrian Army and other rebels. It is argued that many of the arms sent to the Free Syrian Army were actually obtained by several Islamist groups, including ISIL. In late 2013, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights labeled the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams as “the strongest group in Northern Syria.”

Beheading ordinary people, taking videos (such as the reported beheading of a young Christian girl in this widespread video, or others as seen in this video), targeting non-Muslims (primarily Christians), raping women, and kidnapping non-Muslims have become daily practice in several Muslim countries, carried out by either independent Islamist groups or by those who have recently gained control of the sovereignty of the state.

According to an Amnesty International report this week, Islamist militants are perpetrating “a shocking catalogue of abuses” conducted in secret jails, including torture, flogging, and killings after summary trials. Amnesty International added that, “Those abducted and detained by ISIL include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions.” Despite all the atrocities and brutalities committed by the ISIL and other Isalmist groups, recent reports from various credible news outlets including Reuters indicate that the Obama administration has attempted to reach out to these Islamist groups, with the Islamists rejecting the administration’s overtures. Do these attempts empower and embolden these Islamist groups to further carry out their atrocities and barbarity?

Read more at Front Page

See also:

Saudi Arabia to Behead Hajj Pilgrim

mock beheadingSaudi Arabia arrested a Shiite pilgrim from Iraq during the Hajj and sentenced him to death by beheading, according the Ahlul Bayt News agency.

The agency reports that Salaam Kazim was arrested for crying in the Baqi Cemetery after being told to stop by Saudi security forces.

The cemetery is a point of contention between Sunni and Shiite Muslims after the King of Saudi Arabia demolished the mausoleums at the site in 1925. The destruction, which was decried internationally, included the mausoleum containing the remains of Mohammed’s grandson, the second in line of imams revered in Shiite Islam.

In the course of his arrest, Kazim objected to the presence of the Saudis (who adhere to the Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam) being in the cemetery and summarily cursed the forces and their teachings. Kazim was arrested immediately, taken to court and sentenced to be beheaded after the Hajj.

The incident comes on the heels of a statement released by Amnesty International about their latest report on Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record. Amnesty released the statement ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva to discuss the Kingdom’s human rights record.

Amnesty’s latest report titled “Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises,” criticizes the Kingdom for “ratchet[ing] up the repression” in the last four years. Since 2009, the Amnesty report says that Saudi Arabia has engaged in “an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment.”

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Human Rights Groups Condemn Iranian ‘Surge’ in Executions

Mideast Iran ExecutionBY: :

Human rights groups are expressing outrage over what they called a shocking “surge” in executions in Iran following the weekend hangings of some 20 inmates.

Iranian authorities carried out mass executions over the weekend, hanging 20 inmates including several so-called “rebels” who stood accused of various crimes.

Iran has executed more than 500 people this year, according to the human rights group Amnesty International, which is leading a campaign to save the lives of two Iranian inmates slated for execution.

Human rights activists said that the mass executions are proof that Iran is not serious about reforming its extremist ways.

“This surge in executions shows that behind words and promises, the Iranian authorities continue to rely on state-sponsored killing, sparking fears that Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, two Kurdish minority prisoners on death row, could be next,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programs, said in a statement on Monday.

“These and all other executions must be halted immediately,” said Sahraoui. “While the Iranian authorities have a responsibility to bring those suspected of criminal offences to justice, the death penalty should never be used, as it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.”

Iran is known for quickly condemning and executing many types of lawbreakers, including drug runners, thieves, and other petty criminals.

One of the men hanged over the weekend was sentenced to death after “a five-minute trial in March 2010,” according to Amnesty. At least eight others had been convicted of drug-related crimes.

The regime’s commitment to death by hanging drew international headlines earlier this month when Iranian authorities vowed to re-hang a man who survived his first trip to the gallows.

The man reportedly spent 12 minutes in a noose that had been suspended from a crane. Executions in Iran often draw a large crowd and are advertised beforehand by officials.

Iran is also one of the world’s leaders in the execution of children.

Read more at Free Beacon

 

Egypt: 8-year-old girl killed as gunmen target Coptic church

church

Police on Monday searched for a gunman who killed three people at a church wedding, in the first attack targeting Christians in Cairo since the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president.

An eight-year-old girl was among those killed at the Church of the Virgin in Cairo’s working class neighbourhood of Al-Warrak, while 18 others were wounded in the late Sunday attack, officials said.

“There were two men on a motorbike and one of them opened fire,” as a crowd emerged from a wedding service, the interior ministry said.

Khaled al-Khatib, a senior official from the health ministry, confirmed the casualties, though it was not immediately clear if all three were Coptic Christians.

Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi condemned the attack in a cabinet statement, calling it a “despicable criminal act,” and said security forces were searching for the assailants.

“Such terrible acts will not succeed in dividing Muslims and Christians,” he said.

Egyptian Christians, the majority of whom are Copts, have been targeted since Morsi was swept out of power by the army amid mass protests against his year-long rule, and in particular since an August 14 crackdown by security forces on two Cairo camps of Morsi supporters.

Islamists were enraged by the deadly crackdown and accused Coptic Christians of backing the coup that toppled Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood and was Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

This perception was fuelled by the appearance of Coptic Pope Tawadros II alongside army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he announced on television Morsi’s removal from office.

Muslim leaders and other politicians were also present.

Rights groups say that Copts, who account for six to 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, have come under attack mainly in the provinces of Minya and Assiut in central Egypt.

Earlier this month London-based Amnesty International said that more than 200 Christian-owned properties were attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country since the August 14 crackdown.

In its report Amnesty International blamed Egyptian security forces for failing to stop “revenge attacks” against Coptic Christians after the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi camps.

Read more at The Telegraph

Eye Gouging and Paralyzing: Saudi Arabia’s Tribal Justice

saudi-arabia_2526258bby Samuel Westrop:

By playing the clerics and institutions against the people, the House of Saud rises above the power struggle and justice itself, and continues further to consolidate its power.

A Saudi court ordered Ali al-Khawahir, a 24-year-old Saudi citizen, to be surgically paralyzed as punishment for a crime he committed as a 14-year-old, that had left his victim paralyzed. The Western media has described the court’s ruling as an “eye for an eye punishment.”

According to reports in the Saudi Gazette, Khawahir stabbed a childhood friend in the spine during an argument ten years ago. The punishment, as decided by the Sharia courts, is similar to other methods used to administer justice, including beheading, flogging, stoning to death and eye gouging.

This arrangement is the product of the religious and tribal structure upon which Saudi Arabia’s system of justice and law enforcement is based. Although Saudi Arabia is a theocracy in which the ruler is responsible for applying Islamic law, the actual system of justice revolves around a nexus of power and money, a structure that protects the tribal and religious values that keep Saudi Arabia firmly in the control of the House of Saud.

In 1971, the judicial system was revised — a move that consolidated the power of those at the top. Power-holders across the country were tasked with appointing a number of quasi-judicial bodies to deal with administrative and economic disputes. With no legislative authority, however, these courts required the clerics to sanction their existence. For this very purpose, the clerics set up the Institute for Religio-Legal Opinions.

The Institute has its own enforcers, known as the Mutawayyin – The Committee for the Exhortation to Good and Interdiction to Evil – who ensure that Islamic values are implemented. The Committee’s most notable moment occurred in 2002, when its members prevented young girls from leaving a burning building because they were not wearing headscarves; at least fourteen of the girls were burned to death.

Crucially, Sharia Law, applied in both the criminal and civil courts, is not codified. With no precedence or structure, except for half-a-dozen defined crimes, Saudi judges, all of whom are Wahhabi clerics, are free to implement punishments in accordance with their own beliefs.

In many ways, the system is feudal. As in medieval Europe, a blood-money payment to the victim’s family is evidently often permissible in lieu of legal retribution – an alternative to punishment presumably designed to prevent bad blood between different communities or tribes. In the case of Ali al-Khawahir, the price of avoiding paralysis is one million Saudi riyals ($266,000) – a price the family cannot afford.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Amnesty Int’l: Don’t Call Female Genital Mutilation “Barbaric”

281851582_221142755001_100723FGM-3622281By Abigail Esman:

Recently, I penned an article about  an Amnesty International initiative: an art project for which the organization had commissioned artists and designers to address the devastating problem of female genital mutilation, or FGM – using 8,000 paper rose petals.  The petals had been gathered as part of a petition action to bring attention to – and to end – the practice of FGM, and were each signed by a member of the public who participated in the petition.  It was a laudable project, and I said so.

Amnesty responded with great appreciation for my story – but took exception to one detail.  I had  called FGM “barbaric,” and, said an Amnesty official, “we try not to use this word.”  In an e-mail, she explained, “The use of the word ‘barbaric’ suggests that the people who do this are less than human, which isn’t so because they are being led by social pressure which is what needs to be fought. So we avoid using this word to not judge the people.”

Overlooking the fact that “barbaric,” which means simply “uncultured,” “uncivilized,” or “uneducated,” does not quite suggest “less than human,” I could not help but wonder about the “not to judge them” part.  After all, if you set out to change a thing – a behavior, a place, a custom  (and especially if you set out to end it) – haven’t you already implicitly expressed a judgment?  And how is calling a custom, a practice, “barbaric,” conferring a judgment on the people who perform it?

This is the question that occurred to me soon after this exchange as I read about a similar situation in Canada, where, once again, the term “barbaric,” used to describe FGM – as well as honor killings – came under fire.  According to a report in Front Page, “Jinny Sims, the immigration critic of the opposition New Democratic Party of Canada, suggested the word ‘barbaric’ might ‘stigmatize some cultures.’”

Now, perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t think of many things moreundemocratic than censorship of language; but that, apparently, is precisely what the Canadian “New Democratic Party” seeks.

Hearing of Ms. Sims’ remarks, I was reminded of the words of another, wiser politician: former British Home Secretary Michael Howard, who, in defense of artistic freedom, once remarked, “We are uniquely fortunate in these  islands to have the English language. It is no accident that we have had and do have such a profusion of brilliant poets, playwrights, novelist and songwriters.

We must never allow the richness of that language to be diluted by bending the knee to the tyranny of political correctness.”  [Emphasis added, A.E.]

What wonderful words.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Cables Show State Department Disregarded Muslim Brotherhood Threat

by John Rossomando