Challenging Islamophobia panel
The third panel was on "Challenging Islamophobia". Its first speakers was Dr Saied Ameli. He spoke on islamophobia from a sociological perspective and commended IHRCs role in combating it. Imam Al-Asi talked of the zionist factor in islamophobia, something which is often overlooked. He put it quiet bluntly that if there had not been a zionist occupation of Palestine, islamophobia would not have been an issue today. Beena Faridi who is a front-line case worker at IHRC dealing everyday with cases of islamophobia, shared some of her cases with us.
7: Dr Saied Ameli
Dr Saied Ameli
Dr Saied Ameli is a member of the Department of Communications at the faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tehran and is also the director of the Institute of North American and European Studies, also at Tehran University. Dr Ameli has been key in the production of IHRC's research projects and has been a major contributor to all six volumes on British Muslims.
He recalled the humble beginnings of the IHRC:
It is my honour to be involved in the 10th anniversary of the IHRC, it reminds me the day that IHRC started in 1997 in a very poor house by a very rich heart. It started by a very little hand but with very great ambition.
And went on to talk about islamophobia by exploring how the IHRC has challenged islamophobia by first doing proper research on the issue at a time when others hadn't even recognised it.
Dr Ameli's research background in Cultural Globalisation gives him a unique perspective on Islamophobia, with this insight be explained how islamophobia works on several levels:
I don't think islamophobia happens by accident in the media, definitely there is an ideology, hidden ideology, an adverse ideology besides the phobic representation of Muslims in the media. Islamophobia was a push policy, to push back Muslims to their homelands; islamophobia was a policy to prepare war against Muslims - it was a sort of legitimization of war if it was necessary. I think islamophobia was a policy to destroy Muslims from within as well, to bring Muslims to the point that we should accept that we are not civilized enough and you can see in some of the Muslim countries how they demonize the culture, how they demonize the ideas of the young generation. Islamophobia was about encoding the community of faith - Muslims and Islam by violence and images of hate, which are encoded by hatred and marginalization.
Islamophobia is a resocialization process. When i say resocialization process it means that islamophobia is to be desocialized away from one's own culture and to be resocialized into another culture. When Muslim feels that Islamic culture is not good - this part of the islamophobia policy - to bring Muslims to the point that they feel they are lacking something and they should change their own culture and they should merge to the western culture to feel who they are.
One dimension of islamophobia is very obvious which you can see in the media. Even if you look at the last issue of Economist still you can see that they are showing a picture which as soon as you see the picture you decode it as Islam and Muslims - it doesn't need to say anything - the picture says everything.
There is also a covert aspect of islamophobia which is ideologic, which I think we need time to understand that ideology which is trying to make segregation between Muslims and the rest..
Presentation used in speech: click right half to move forward, left half to move back (or use keyboard arrow keys)
8: Imam Al-Asi
Imam Muhammad Al-Asi is the elected Imam of Washington DC Islamic Center but has been forced to lead jummah prayers outside on the street for the last 20 years after being forcefully ousted by the Saudi Embassy. Senior member of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, he is working on the first english language tafsir of the Holy Qur'an. In addressing islamophobia he spoke of the zionist factor:
I think any attempt at speaking about islamophobia by omitting the zionist factor is almost useless. In other words if I was to become very simplistic and we were all to assume that there is no zionist israeli occupation of Palestine of the Holy Land I don't think we would be hear today, honestly! I don't think islamophobia would have been an issue. The world would still have its problems, we would probably still have our disagreements and agreements, the ebb and flow of them as they have been through out history, we've always have had these types of issues. But the chronic stage we have reached in today's world I think can be traced directly and bluntly to the zionist usurpation and occupation of the Holy Land.
And I will submit to you that this is the basis of the conflict in relationships between the Muslims on one side and the Jews on the other side, now I don't mean the authentic Jews that we have here, I mean by the Jews those who consider themselves Jews second but consider themselves Zionist first, and also a very large segment of the Christian community - the Christians have also come under the influence of the zionist lobby in the United States and the zionist clout throughout the world, therefore we have zionist evangelicals who believe in the legitimacy of the current illegal state of zionist Israel as much as the founding fathers of that nation state. If this will make out brethren - the attendees from the Jewish faith in the audience - a little more comfortable don't feel very bad that the zionist have stolen more or less the Jewish religion and almost monopolized it in world public opinion because that's what they have done also to the Islamic religion and the Christian religion.
That's how serious the problem is, because if you take the issue of just the average person out there who is watching the media whether he's in Britain or whether he's in America, in Europe, anywhere in the world, if there is an issue pertaining to lets say the Muslims in Arabia and the BBC or CNN want an informed opinion of lets say an uprising in Mecca - who will they get to speak about it? Now if you don't know that, there is a lot of emptiness in your train of thought. They will inevitably bring you some so called "scholar" who is, when you look in to that persons background, a committed zionist and he is speaking about an Islamic issue! And we can go down the road like this, and have to submit after it all that we have, the world has a zionist problem. Not only the Jewish community, but the world - the Muslims have that problem, and the Christians have that problem...
He spoke about zionist influence on university campus's:
We have in the United States something called Campus Watch. What is that? Its simply a spying body of people - students and faculty - who report any type of scholastic or school room activities or presentations that are critical or against the Israeli nation state. In other words there are students in the classroom who are informers on the professors, or the instructors who are giving their presentations who don't agree with zionist policy. Who set up this body of Campus Watch through out the United States? Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer and probably one or two others - Steve Emerson. who ever has a hand in that project. This is becoming like the most totalitarian aspects of life. The United States for those of you who are as old as I am, the United States was very critical of the Soviet Union and the other communist countries that had people spying on people, members of one family spying on members of their own family, when now we are beginning to visualize the same thing happening. If there is a professor who is a Palestinian or who sympathizes with the Palestinians, he could be of the Jewish faith, sympathizes with the Palestinians he gets written or is added to this list of academic personalities who are considered to be irreconcilable with the policies of the expansionist zionist Israeli nation state.
He spoke of the dire need to support and expand the IHRC to across all Mosques:
We don't need one Islamic Human Rights Commission - we need more than that! We don't need an Islamic Human Rights Commission that is every decade improving from going from a little office place to another office place - this should be an effort that is worldwide that involves all the Muslims and should be integral part, I think, of the Islamic centres and Masajids we have here - after jummah prayers, after congregational prayers, to have these issues live and clear or else we violate the brotherhood that we all share. How can we be breathing the air of freedom, and some people just because they fall under that cloak of suspicion now are isolated behind bars. That's a violation of, not only our brotherhood, but also of our humanity.
9: Beena Faridi
Sister Beena Faridi
Sister Beena Faridi has a background in law, she has been a case worker at IHRC since 2005. Her heavy case load involves issues of anti-terror laws, prisoner discrimination, employment rights, family law, mental health, immigration, police misconduct, and racially and religiously motivated crime. She spoke of the rise of islamophobia since 9-11:
In 1999 a survey that IHRC conducted found that 35% of Muslim respondents had encountered some form of discrimination, in 2000 this had risen to 45% and after 9-11 in the year 2004 it was a staggering 80%..
When ever Muslims are in the news or in the media you'll see an increase of attacks on Muslims. So when 7-7 occurred I was getting about 5 or 10 cases a week, this increased to about a 100 a week. When there was the alleged bomb plots in the year 2006, two Mosques were attacked - I think they were torched. And when Jack Straw made his comments we had a niqabi who was punched in the face and another niqabi who had a pie thrown at her..
She gave examples of the cases she is currently dealing with. They are wide and varying, including one interesting one regarding employment:
An interesting case I'm dealing with at the moment in terms of employment is that of a police officer. He had served for the police over 14 years - quiet high level, and he was in effect suspended because his security clearance was revoked. The basis of this was his son had attended a Mosque where there was "an extremist" cleric. Now this cleric was incredibly well respected in the community and had even organised meetings with the police themselves for community cohesion but such is guilt by association in our times that you could be guilty of terrorist links on the bases of who your son hands around with at the Mosque.
Sister Yvonne Ridley holding up a watercolour by detainees of HMP Long Lartin, all held without trail and without charge. The painting was donated for auctioning to raise money for the IHRC
Sister Yvonne Ridley hosted this section which included some fund raising as well as speeches. Yvonne Ridley is a peace activist and a renowned journalist who currently works at Press TV. Detainees of Britain's own Guantanamo - HMP Long Lartin, held without trial, without charge, some since 1999, donated a watercolour painted by one of the detainees, Br.Riad, to help raise money for the IHRC.
10: Cehl Fakeemeeah
Cehl Fakeemeeah was a prisoner of faith in Mauritius for three years. He was freed after the IHRC campaigned on his behalf. He shared aspects of his painful ordeal:
Cehl Fakeemeeah in wheelchair
after torture - with three broken ribs
he required 20 bottles of blood to survive.
In the eyes of my lawyers I was kidnapped, it was on the 4th of December 2000, I was kidnapped and disappeared from life to reappear in a wheelchair with three ribs broken and needed badly 20 bottles of blood to survive.. Brothers and sisters, should I not try to make you live just one moment of the crimes perpetrated on me unjustly? In a room 6 feet by 9 feet with two bulbs, 100 watts in each corner and two accurate cameras on me, they put me under their feet with my hands handcuffed at the back, naked - completely. 15 officers of the police were there, and they made my body black with blood. they tried to extract a false confession from me. I concede what happened to me at that time - the worst atrocity that you can imagine.. 5 times I fell unconscious, and I was bleeding by the nose and by the mouth. No one knew where I was, yet the Almighty he knew, and he expressed his assistance in the form of this commission [the IHRC] that was well aware of its duty.. in such a small 6 feet by 9 feet, I was kept for 23 hours [of the day], [let out] only 30 minutes in the morning just to walk outside, and walking outside it was 20 feet by 10 feet. No single man should be outside when I was walking, and no police has the right to talk to me - who can survive in such a circumstance. I did nothing, they put 23 cases [charges] on me, and not one single case [charge] stood when I was released after three years of constant campaigning by the commission, and constant supporting me inside the prison - I became Hafiz of the Qur'an in that circumstance!
He acknowledged the work of the Islamic Human Right Commission as a "divine response" to injustice:
After what I have under gone, I believe that the Islamic Human Right Commission emerges, since a decade, as a divine response to stand against.. injustices, crimes that our world of today is suffering more and more, and that I was a victim of. I feel the obligation today to express my gratefulness to all of you. You have been by my side, and we together have to be by the side of anyone who seeks this type of assistance. I stand today, as I will stand in the court of God, as a first hand witness of the achievement [of IHRC], and for such achievement we have to give our shoulders, hearts, conscienceness, and consciences to it. Brothers and sisters, we have to support, we have to contribute. I am here to stand as a witness that the job is being done.
Cehl Fakeemeeah has written an inspiring book about his spiritual journey during his imprisonment: "Among the Divine Evidences of the 3rd Millennium"
11: Yvonne Ridley presents Cases
Sister Yvonne Ridley
Yvonne Ridley presented some IHRC cases including the case of Mariam Hafezji:
Mariam Hafezji, an elderly Muslim woman living on her own in London, was terrorized in her home by a group of Orthodox Jewish teenagers from the neighbouring Jewish school for over two years.
She received death threats and they destroyed her garden fence which separated her kitchen from the school. They called her a Paki and a Palestinian and indicated they would slit her throat. She was a virtual prisoner in her own home.
The school refused to take any action and for two years the police ignored her pleas for help. It was only after the Islamic Human Rights Commission took up her case and made public the scandalous inaction of the police that they finally opened a criminal investigation.
CCTV footage of the attacks on her home and the threats she received were broadcast on Channel 4 News on 26th March 2005
The Channel 4 report on the Maryam Hafezji case (26 March 2005):
11: Yvonne Ridley Video (MP4 format) (50Mb)
Ch4 News 26 Mar 2005 Video (MP4 format) (16Mb)
11: Yvonne Ridley Audio (MP3 format) (7Mb)
12: Dr Abdul Wahid
Dr Abdul Wahid
Dr Abdul Wahid is the leader of the National Executive Committee of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain. He criticized western countries selective talk of human rights, and praised the IHRC:
The real problem we have seen with those governments and some of the organizations as well is they are very selective in their application of the human rights agenda. the are selective by nor applying the standards they uphold to themselves! If the British government applied the law even handedly on itself regarding the prisoners in Long Lartin, regarding its own actions overseas under its own terrorism law we'd find it falling pretty short. we wouldn't know where to start if we were talking about the United States government and its record in Guantanamo, and even going to the individual cases like bother Massoud mentioned earlier of Omer Abdel Rahman. And we see them very selective about how they talk about human rights regarding their allies. You don't hear much talk from ministers about the human rights record of Pervez Musharraf, you didn't hear much talk about the human rights record of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud when he was here having tea and coffee at the palace the other week. But you do hear about Burma, and Zimbabwe. And what we've got use to is seeing that human rights is talked about in a very selective way, according to the political interests, the national interests, the governmental interests of any particular government in any particular place.
And maybe that's why 10 years ago when an organization called the Islamic Human Rights Commission came along on the scene, that was willing to point the finger in any direction where there were violations of rights - that was a very welcome thing.
13: Muddassar Arani
Muddassar Arani is the Britain's leading Muslim human rights lawyer, and an adviser to the Islamic Human Rights Commission. She recalled the cases of Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin who was wrongly arrested after "Friends of Israel" MP Andrew Dismore pressed the police hard to prosecute him, and Nureddin Sirin who was imprisoned in Turkey for nearly 20 years for organizing a Quds Day rally, and spoke on the importance of supporting the prisoners by writing to them, etc.
I recall way back in 2002 when Massoud [IHRC chair] said to me there is a little gathering, a small gathering, a few of us, a few brothers and sisters, come along and speak. It was a Sunday, I was working hard in the office and a client of mine who's past away, some of you may know him - Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin was with me, he traveled with me from my offices to IHRC function. He was the first Muslim to be arrested after the events of 9-11, to be charged and then to be acquitted. He was acquitted on the 8th of August 2002, he passed away on the 22nd of December 2002. I have very fond memories of Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin. And that was the first time I ever spoke for IHRC on a stage. I was expecting to go in to a small room to speak to two or three brothers or sisters, instead I was put on a stage and I thought o my God what do I say.. I jumped up and down the stage thinking o my God what do I say, what do I say? Massoud I'm going home, get me off the stage. And he said to me it doesn't matter its only a few of us. It was a massive room full of brothers and sisters and then Raza said to me you've got 15 minutes on the stage. And I sat there going what the hell am I going to talk about? Massoud then said to me here's your leaflet "Know Your Rights" talk about that if nothing else. My God he couldn't shut me up afterwards. I have very fond memories of that day, cause I recall that was the first time I spoke on stage, being a nervous wreck, and I recall those wonderful moments i had with Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin. Please don't forget the brothers, whether they are alive or not, whether they are with us or not. There is a lot of suffering that is taking place, and we have to do our utmost to assist. There are so many cases that we have dealt with, and each one is so important, and its so difficult to talk about them in so short space of time.
Another case that I think has touched my heart a lot was a case of a Turkish brother [ Nureddin Sirin ].He was imprisoned and tortured. Massoud came to me and requested that I represent him. I took on the case, said yep, no problem, lets take on the case. I didn't know this brother, I've never met him, not to date I have never met him. We took the challenge on and we succeeded. And when we learnt he was being tortured in Turkey for handing out a leaflet for a demonstration against Israel. When we learnt he was being tortured we turned up in Turkey, we made a lot of noise, we publicized the case, we stopped the torture taking place, we won the case in the European courts. And for a man who was imprisoned for 20 years of his life, he is now a free man!
There are so many cases of this nature, we have to speak up against torture, we have to do our little bit to assist. Don't be frightened of assisting because if we become frightened of assisting individuals then who will fight for them?
14: George Galloway
George Galloway is the Member of Parliament for the Respect Party. He talked of the double standard in who is labeled a terrorist, and spoke passionately for the Muslims who are oppressed in this country by the anti-terror laws, and ended by saluting the IHRC for its work.
I am humbled actually by the testimony which has gone before. The case studies, some of them here in the flesh, of those who have been the victims of the human rights abuses which the Islamic Human Rights Commission has tackled and prevailed is clear as any evidence could be of the importance of supporting them here on their tenth anniversary.
This little boy in this picture [pointing to IHRC poster "Whose Side Are You On" with the Palestinian boy challenging an Israeli tank] is dead, his name was Faris Odeh. He confronted this tank with a stone for which the illegal occupier killed him. He was 14 years old. He climbed out of his school class room window during classes to confront this tank in his little refugee camp in Gaza. He is known by the western hypocrites as the terrorist and the tank driver, and the gun man in the turret is called the legitimate government force. I was asked earlier by Press TV about the question of terrorism. Terrorism has become a word, self evident in all the testimony we have heard, totally bankrupt of meaning. Terrorism is what the "other guy" does or as Peter Ustinov put it, the great European Jewish intellectual, "terrorism is the war of the poor and powerless, war is the terrorism of the rich and powerful". That's the real dichotomy. This boy is not a terrorist, he was a freedom fighter, now he is a martyr. And the resistance facing the tanks in Iraq are freedom fighters, also. We must be clear that because a label is hanged around someones neck by the rich and powerful, that he is a terrorist, think twice, think ten times, think two hundred times about the definition and who is doing the defining.
This is a bad time for human rights for Muslims. The Islamic Human Rights Commission isn't going out of business anytime soon. The Muslims under occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine; the Muslims about to be attacked in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the same criminals who killed Faris Odeh, with the same weapons supplied by the same armorer as killed Faris Odeh. The Muslims living under the tyrants in the dungeons under torture and murder in nameless prisons beyond our reach. But as Yvonne Ridley correctly identifies, there are Muslims in Britain in 2007 whose human rights have been taken away from them, whose freedoms and liberties are daily confronted and abused. I represent this area, 40% of my constituents are Muslims. The young Muslim boys in this area are stopped by the police night after night after night, just like you were at Heathrow airport, for no reason other than that they are Muslims in the East End of London.
The prisoners that Yvonne referred to, the people framed on terrorism charges, more than 1000 Muslims have been arrested in Britain since 9-11 under the various terrorism acts. Less than 1 in 10 of them were ever brought to trial, and less than 1 in 10 of those were ever convicted, and most of those were convicted of other offences other than terrorism, and yet in the queens speech last week they announced yet another terrorism bill. And they are about to try and force through the House of Commons a doubling of the period in which people - let be clear we are talking about Muslim people, no one else is being arrested for terrorism in Britain today, Muslim people being held 23 hours a day in a cell, endlessly interrogated without charge, without trail, making us the longest period of detention of any democratic country anywhere in the world. Shame on the men, Muddassar Arani said, shame on the members of parliament who vote for this and who voted for the previous doubling of the period of detention. I give you my word, I will oppose it with every breath in my body and I will support the Islamic Human Rights Commission in every way that I can and I will try to persuade others to do so with me, I salute the IHRC..
SECURITY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
Security and Civil Liberties panel
The last panel was on "Security and Civil Liberties". Its first speakers was Fahad Ansari, he spoke of the double standard in implementation of the unjust anti-terror laws. Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee, spoke about the need for courage in the face oppression. Raza Kazim spoke of his four years of experience liaising with the Met police on behalf of the Muslim community. IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh ended the day with a few words on the importance of unity.
15: Fahad Ansari
Fahad Ansari is a researcher and spokesperson for the Islamic Human Rights Commission, his area of expertise is anti-terror legislation.
My role at IHRC has been specifically on anti-terror legislation, what i have noticed in the last four years is how bad the situation has got in this country. I think it can be summed by with what happened last week with the conviction of our dear sister Samina Malik, the first woman to be convicted under the terrorism act.
Caught writing poetry - thought crime
CHARGED AS A TERRORIST!
Now what was Samina guilty of? Did she blow anything up? No. Was she caught by the police with a big cache of explosives? No. Was she caught tying a suicide belt around her waist? No. So what did Samina do? She wrote some poetry, she downloaded some manuals of the internet out of curiosity, something that many people do, probably many people in this room have the same manuals on their PCs. What they raised in court, specifically, the words she used in her poems. She called herself the "lyrical terrorist" and she wrote stuff like this: "The desire within me increases everyday to go for martyrdom, the need to go increase second by second"". I'm sure this is a sentiment that rings true with most people in this room, and for Muslims its something which if you don't have this sentiment, according to the Prophet (SAW) if you die without this in your heart you will die in a branch of hypocrisy. So if Samina Malik is a terrorist, then I'm afraid the entire Ummah is a Ummah of terrorists.
Now you see whats happened to Samina Malik and you contrast this with another case about 6-7 months ago of some former members of the BNP - that white fascist supremesist organization - Robert Cottage and David Jackson both who were caught with the biggest cache of explosives in the West Yorkshire region with notes about assassinating Tony Blair and talking about blowing up Mosques and Islamic Centres around the UK with plans and blue-prints for those Mosques. They weren't even charged under the Terrorism Act. They were found guilty, actually only one was found guilty, and received a sentence that was very light - maybe one and a half years in prison! Samina Malik who had non of this, who just had an ideology in her head, and this was enough to find her guilty of being the worst of the worst in today's society.
Former BNP members Robert Cottage and David Jackson
Caught with biggest cache of explosives
and plans on assassinating Tony Blair and blowing up Mosques.
NOT CHARGED AS TERRORISTS
Maybe Samina Malik could have written something like what I'm about to read which was stated by another religious leader, a world religious leader, last month. On the 20th October 2007 the following was said: "The contemporaneous inclusion of such a large number of martyrs to the list of the Blessed shows that the supreme witness of blood is not an exception reserved only to a few individuals, but is a realistic possibility for the entire Christian people. We are in fact talking about men and women who vary in terms of age, vocation and social background but who paid with their life their faithfulness to Christ and the Church. Their example bears witness to the fact that the baptism commits Christians to participate with courage to expand the kingdom of God going so far as sacrificing their very lives." This wasn't Yusuf Qaradawi, this was Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of the Catholic church who said these words on the 20th October 2007 while he was beatifying those catholics who died in the Spanish civil war. Now Samina Malik said "the desire within me increases everyday to go to martyrdom", Pope Benedict XVI seems to be glorifying martyrdom quite a bit as well, yet he won't be prosecuted for glorifying terrorism.
And this is the irony of the terrorism laws today. And because of this, because they have cracked down so much about what we believe in our hearts and what we think in our heads, we have this issue of more and more Muslims being arrested, every week Muslims are being arrested, and more and more are being convicted, so you can't help but think maybe some of these guys are going to do something, or were going to do something, but as George Galloway said, as Yvonne Ridley said there have a been close to about 1500 arrests with about 50 convictions, and not all for having explosives.
The Living Martyrs
by Samina Malik (extracts)
The point is, this isn't about terrorism, this is something, I have realised, this is not about violence, this is about what they call extremism. And Tony Blair defined extremism quiet well couple of years ago when he defined it as "The ideology of evil", now I'm going to quote directly from the ex-Prime Minister. He said "they demand the elimination of Israel" 1-the first factor to be in the ideology of evil - demand the elimination of Israel. The rabbis here [pointing to the Neturei Karta] are part of that ideology. Secondly - "the with drawl of all westerners from Muslim countries irrespective of the wishes of the people and governments" - that's number two, now Tony Blair put it "the with drawl of all westerners" but to be honest I think most Muslims would ask for the with drawl of western troops. Then he says "irrespective of the wishes of the people" is quiet ironic since most of these people live under dictatorships and tyranny's supported by Britain. And thirdly "the establishment of effectively Taliban states and Sharia law on route to a Caliphate of all Muslim nations" - Sharia and the Khalifa in the Muslim world! So the elimination of Israel, the removal of western troops and Sharia and Khalifa - these are the ideology of evil.
Now if you want to do a hand count, I don't know how many police officers are here, so if you don't want to put up your hand its perfectly understandable, but in your hearts you know if you believe in these things or not. And so if you do, if you believe in the issue if Palestine, and freedom for Palestinians; you believe in Jihad, an integral part of our deen; you believe in Sharia and you believe in the Khilafa - you are an extremist, and you are a terror suspect. And be proud, because as Malcolm X said when he was asked "are you an extremist?" He said "yes, I am an extremist. The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition, you show me a black man who isn't an extremist and I'll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!" I think I'll be glad to call myself an extremist after that! Now this will only lead to more people being arrested, the future is bright the future is orange - Guantanamo orange!
Last week the times reported about a leaked document from Whitehall which stated that the amount of terrorist prisoners by the year 2016 is estimated to increase to 1600, currently there is 131, so in the next 9 years that will increase to 1600. So obviously a lot more people are going to go behind bars. Now what do we do - we know the chances of probably a third of the people in this hall in prison are quiet high - what are we going to do? Does that mean we do what we can to avoid prison. Do we out of our fear of prison become prisoners of our fear? Or do we speak up and continue to fight the struggle, continue to speak out about injustice and continue to do what is right and what Allah has commanded us to do.
Look at how the Sahaba handled fear - in the battle of Ahzab when they were surrounded by the confederates, the allies, the UN of the time, the entire world was surrounding them and trying to wipe them out, from before them and behind them they were surrounded, the Muslims, and Allah describes their fear that their hearts came in to their mouths and their eyes were bulging. And what did they say, they said this is what Allah and his messenger promised us and Allah and his messenger have spoken the truth. When they saw the oppression they realised that as you are Muslim and you stand for justice you will be persecuted, you will be oppressed, but this is what Allah and his messenger promised us. And Allah says this increased them in faith and submission, not in fear, in faith, in Iman and Taslima because through out history its been shown those who stand for justice have gone to prison, they have gone through what the brothers call the madressa of Yusuf (AS). And this is character building, if you find yourself in this situation know that you are in good company and those people who traverse this path ended up in Janna and this is where our ultimate destination should be..
16: Moazzam Begg
Moazzam Begg is a former Guantanamo detainee who has devoted his efforts to publicly exposing the heinous crimes committed by US soldiers and to campaign for the release of other detainees. His recent book is "Enemy Combatant - A British Muslims journey to Guantanamo and back".
There is something which is very important that we need to recognise for all of us as Muslims, as people who are activists, and that is courage, courage brothers and sisters. because courage is what we lack in the face of oppression. Its the courage that Imam Cassiem was talking about earlier on - we all know how to live, does anyone know how to die? We all know how to be free, but who knows how to be incarcerated? Who knows how to be imprisoned and locked up? The Prophet (SAW) said that the dunya, this temporal life, is the prison of the believer and it is the paradise of the disbeliever. So as Muslims we should understand that prison is part of our destiny in a sense, in one way or another. One of the greatest scholars of Islam said what can my enemies do with me because my paradise and my gardens lie within me in my chest, where ever I go they are with me, and my imprisonment is my solitude in the time I use to reflect, and my death, my killing is martyrdom, and my expulsion from my land is tourism. These were the statements of those people of old who understood what it was that to reach the ultimate prize, you have to pay the ultimate price.
One of the things that people fail to recognise today when we talk so often about the Qur'an that we all love so much that we put on the highest shelves in our houses and afford the greatest of respect was that this wasn't revealed in a book to begin with. It was revealed in the hearts of men, the first of whom was Prophet Muhammad (SAW). And in the hearts of men it remained up until the day of the battle of Yamamah, when the great liar killed so many people who had memorized the Qur'an that the Sahaba feared that should we not write this Qur'an in to a book it would be lost forever because the first people to go forward charging in the face of oppression and enemy are those very people who have recited and mastered this Qur'an in their hearts.
And one of the things I learnt also, just like the brother from Mauritius said, that during those three years he memorized the Qur'an. In Guantanamo now today, in Britain today, in many of the prisons today they have become verily madressa schools, schools of learning and understanding where people are in almost fire, a furnace. And that furnace forges that steel that remains in the hearts of the believers and they come out, when they do, if they do, stronger. And as Muslims, and non-Muslims as people of the scriptures, we know as Fahad had earlier mentioned that the story which is most often repeated and remembered by people who are imprisoned without charge without trial is the story of Yusuf (AS) - the Prophet Joseph. Everybody who is in prison will remember this story and read this story again and again with tears in their eyes as they read it. When he returns home, or when his family return to him and they say indeed are you Yusuf? And he said today there will be no revenge, there will be no revenge today. Come all of you, whatever oppression you did to me, there will be no revenge from me, I am a Prophet of Allah..
This is where courage, brothers and sisters, comes in to it, how much are you ready to stand, how much are you ready to take and how much are you ready to give. Because ultimately that is what any fight for justice is about, because the oppressor will not give you justice, oppressors never give justice, that is why they are called oppressors. So in the end it will be about your personal sacrifice, how much are you as an individual ready to give up for those injustices. Allah Sub'hanahu wa Ta'ala says in the Qur'an, its an order that he gives - Don't oppress, do not be oppressed!
17: Raza Kazim
Raza Kazim is the senior spokesperson for the Islamic Human Rights Commission and represented the IHRC at meeting with the Metropolitan Police raising concerns with regards to the treatment of Muslims at the hands of the police and others. These meetings were ceased after the IHRC cut all official ties with the Met police when the police lied to the Muslim community that they did not have a shoot to kill policy which was proved false following the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by armed police officers in July 2005. Raza Kazim didn't mince his words as he castigated the police force for its insincerity towards the Muslim community:
At the end of four years [of meetings with the Met Police] when we finally cut our ties, I came out thinking of the police as insincere (to put it politely), hypocritical, having double standards.
They sent people to Israel, initially they denied that they had sent officers to Israel to find out how to deal with suicide bombers, when I asked them would you have done the same thing and sent, after the Brixton riots, people to South Africa under the apartheid regime - would you have sent people there to find out how to deal with black people? They didn't have an answer to that.
When brother Moazzam Begg was coming back we asked them the question brother Moazzam Begg and the others should be released on just compassionate grounds if nothing else.. they said oh no they have to be questioned, we said there is president for this - Saudi nurses were held back, you didn't question them you reunited them with their families on compassionate grounds, at least for humanity, for basic human rights just let them go to their families first. We said to them you are under the influence of the politicians from America and they no we're not how dare you question our professionalism. And we find out within the last nine months that actually they were, they had to do it, they were told by their masters in America that they had to do it, and that they had lied to us!
I asked the question do you have a shoot to kill policy when they sent people over to Israel, they said no, initially they denied [sending people to Israel] and then they said they didn't have a shoot to kill policy over a number of years and then it was finally, tragically, proven that they did have.
When Shaikh Qardawi was insulted by John Stevens - he was sent a letter, I walked out of the meeting saying how dare you insult someone who is senior within the Muslim world and calling him a terrorist with out actually trying him in any way, shape or form.
At the end of his talk, Raza did recognize one particular individual in the police force who he described as "fighting for justice" within the police to try and not demonize the Muslim community:
In all of that - insincerity, lies, deception, there was one guy that I met, i was speaking about him after wards I said he seems like a nice guy but he's a copper.. over a number of years, some of the cases we have fought for, we would not have been able to get the help to the Muslim community without the crucial support of that particular individual and the team he was in effect leading, and sometimes I asked the question are you part of the good cop bad cop routine where you are the good guy and we get beaten up by the other people, the Muslim community that is gets beaten up by the other people. And over the years one thing I felt very strongly, within the Islamic Human Rights Commission we felt, the sincerity with which the cause for justice has been fought for within the police to try and not demonize the Muslim community by the papers that individual has written, by the comments that individual has written has in effect made us think on the fact that he is no longer going to be with the police any longer.. [IHRC] needs to acknowledge and say a gesture of thanks for the work that he has done in order to help the IHRC to help the Muslim community.. I would like to invite Detective Inspector Robert Lambert to the stage to receive a gesture of out thanks for the help he has given..
Detective Inspector Robert Lambert receiving award by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, the inscription reads:
"The Islamic Human Rights Commission is proud to present this award to Inspector Robert Lambert (Head of Muslim contact Unit), upon his retirement from the Metropolitan Police Service. In appreciation for his integrity and commitment to promoting a fair, just and secure society for all, which, is a rarity and will be greatly missed."
During the IHRC's dealing with the Metropolitan Police, in all the lies, insincerity and deception there was one person the IHRC encountered who genuinely "fought the cause of justice within the police force to try and not demonize the Muslim community" - that was Detective Inspector Robert Lambert. Detective Inspector Robert Lambert is the head of the Muslim Contact Unit at New Scotland Yard. On his retirement from the police force the Islamic Human Rights Commission invited him to join them in the struggle for justice.
I've been to many Islamic Human Rights Commission functions - Islamophobia Awards - often the Metropolitan Police has been in strong contention and indeed I remember one year telling the head of our diversity department at New Scotland Yard, I said we've won an award at the Islamophobia Awards. He said "Good, Bob, things are looking up!" I said "No, its a not that kind of award.."
Massoud Shadjareh is the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
I hope inshallah, that not only will we unite and work to eliminate injustice for all, but also what we need to do is make sure all our friends, all our neighbours, all our communities to rise up, because this is not something that we could discharge this to just by a small group of us. So this is really a task, no its an Ammana on the shoulder of all of us to make sure we will raise the numbers of people who are confident, who are courageous, who are actually willing and committed to stand up and challenge injustice, of, not just today, but indeed the injustice that is on the horizon in the future. And as one of the rabbis said that we hope that in 10 years time there will be no need for us to rise up and to challenge injustice, and injustice will be defeated.. but it will not happen if we are not going to make the commitment that is needed to be made, and we need all of us to unite for that..
"Suffering" written & performed by Kamal Uddin
Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammad ur Rasoolullah x2
I feel it in my body I feel it in my heart
The sufferings of my Muslims oh where do I start
There tortured round the world just for being who they are
Come tell me what is wrong in believing in Allah
I see it in the papers I see it on the news
The way they live their lives itís not that they can choose
To loose the ones you love almost every single day
I swear until thereís peace I shall never stop to pray
I hear the children crying I hear the children scream
If only I could tell them that this is but a dream
Just hold tight to your faith and youíll soon realise
That for you thereís no reward besides eternal paradise
I feel it in my body I feel it in my heart
The sufferings of my Muslims oh where do I start
There tortured round the world just for being who they are
Come tell me what is wrong in believing in Allah
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