Dangerous game

Editor’s note: The campaign against Moazzam Beg and Amnesty International is led by the McCarthyite Harry’s Place, an Israel lobby operation that specializes in defaming critics of Israel and what it broadly labels as ‘Islamists’ (which according to its definition is any Muslim who is not Ayaan Hirsi Ali). It is also assisted by The Spittoon which is jointly run by members of the neoconservative Centre for Social Cohesion and the Quilliam Foundation. Like Harry’s Place, the Spittoon also uses the cover of anonymity to smear opponents. Both frequently crosspost each others material and coordinate their attacks.

by Victoria Brittain

Guantanamo jumpsuit detainees.

Two weeks ago in Leeds, I gave a peace lecture honouring Olof Palme, which ranged over wars old and new, the bombing of Dresden, Daniel Ellsberg, Wikileaks, Bloody Sunday, and the Turkish flotilla to Gaza. Afterwards I was approached by two young Muslim women. They wanted to discuss the issues raised in the lecture, but also to talk about how isolated they felt and how hard it is for them these days to talk about politics without fearing hostility and feeling that they are being seen as “terrorists”. In the following two days I talked with another young Muslim woman whose husband is on a Control Order, and who in desperation had broken its conditions and faced possible dire consequences.  I also went to see a Muslim woman whose husband is in prison accused of terror-related activities, and one of whose sons is in trouble. Three days…  four Muslim women…  The Leeds women came to my lecture because Moazzam Begg told them about it; the two London women I know because Moazzam Begg asked me to visit them some years back, to break their isolation; and he and I have visited the Control Order family together, with Home Office clearance.

Since he was released from Guantanamo, this has been his work – campaigning on behalf of those still held without trial or hope of justice, and doing what he can to help distraught wives and families.

At the centre of the bitter, feminist-led recent controversy over him and Amnesty International, is a completely false perception of his attitudes to women, based on the fact that he once worked in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Long-standing, complex and important debates on gender politics and religion have been shoe-horned into a simple demonisation of him.

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Lest We Forget

Fann alQalam - the Art of the Pen - by Soraya Syed

by Tam Hussain

On 4th of December, a rainy Friday evening, I visited Al-Khair school in Croydon. The school together with the Muslim Writers Awards were hosting a talk entitled ‘Creativity within Multi-Cultural Britain’. It had attracted me because of its absurdly ambitious vision: To jump start the creative processes which produced the likes of Iqbal, Ghalib and Al-Mutanabbi. The event was opened by Ms. Aisha Choudhry, head of Al-Khair, followed by Irfan Akram, Project Coordinator for Muslim Writers Award, Sufiya Ahmed, author of the Khadijah Academy series, Moazzam Begg, author and spokesperson for Cageprisoners, Zahid Hussain, author of The Curry Mile and Andrew Pelling, MP. The event was chaired by Abdul Fattah Hussain, organiser of the event.

Irfan Akram set the tone by pointing out that whilst Muslims in Britain are facing immense challenges, the positives outweighed the negatives. He brushed aside suggestions that publishers didn’t want to hear the voice of the Muslims; rather he suggested that Muslims should not expect automatic publication just because they have penned something. “If it is good enough it will get published and MWA is here to help.”

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