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Moazzam Begg: a meaningless charge

Saturday 01 March 2014

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in his letter from a Birmingham jail, 1963

 

CAGE is dismayed, but not surprised, to learn that the police have now charged Moazzam Begg with training terrorists and fundraising.

We believe this is yet another consequence of the ever-expanding reach of the all-encompassing terrorism legislation which is designed to restrict everyone's freedoms and liberties regardless of their faith or political hue.

It is no coincidence that Moazzam Begg, described by journalist Glenn Greenwald “as one of the West’s most prominent Muslim war on terror critics"[1] has been refused bail for now.  Despite his desire to be open and transparent in his opposition to state oppression here and abroad and his frank criticism of the genocidal policies of the Assad regime, it is clear there are those on high who fear his words and believe if he is out of sight he will no longer be heard.

Cerie Bullivant, Media Officer at CAGE said:

“This arrest is a cynical attempt by the UK authorities to use one of the leading Muslim voices in the UK as a test case to widen the goalposts of what is considered terrorism. The message is clear: despite UK government support for the Syrian opposition, a double standard exists where Muslims are not permitted to act on their concerns.”

“CAGE, as part of its work, has always called for due process and open justice for all and we will continue this call while being mindful of the constraints due to a forthcoming trial.  However it is vital in the interests of everyone that an early date is set so that Moazzam Begg can present his version of events to the world so everyone can judge his innocence or guilt.”

Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE said:

“We reiterate our concern that this is a politically motivated arrest and very much bears the hallmarks of trying to criminalise legitimate Muslim activity by reinforcing a climate of fear.”

“We are disgusted that Moazzam Begg is being retraumatised with the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in Guantanamo Bay.  We fully support our colleague and see these charges as politically motivated and as part of a campaign to criminalise legitimate activism.”

 

[ENDS]
 
NOTES:
 
1.     CAGE (formerly known as CagePrisoners) is an independent advocacy organisation that works to empower communities affected by the War on Terror and to highlight abuses of prisoners’ rights.
 
 
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