Militant Islam Monitor > Satire > UK- CAIR Muslim poster girl convert Yvonne Ridley lamented that suicide bombers were not getting the respect they deserved
UK- CAIR Muslim poster girl convert Yvonne Ridley lamented that suicide bombers were not getting the respect they deserved
Abu Hamza protege joked about turning her Soho flat into a madrassa and recruiting for Al Qaeda
July 18, 2005
MIM: Yvonne Ridley has made numerous appearences in the US on behalf of CAIR. In an below Yvonne Ridley jokes a her relationship with Abu Hamza Al Masri, (whom she refers to as " a notorious sheik") saying that 'one would have thought she was going to be opening a madrassa for Al Qaeda recruits from her flat in Soho'. Given the support she expressed for sucide bombing on a 2004 panel, and in light of the recent attacks in London- this would come as no surprise to anyone. Hopefully soon the joke will be on Ridley and CAIR when she finds herself on a no fly list to the US due to her expressed support for suicide bombings and ties to terrorists.
"I was even given several books by the notorious Sheikh whom I spoke to after sharing a platform at an Oxford Union debate. This latter snippet was seized upon by some sections of the media in such a ridiculous fashion that outsiders might have thought I was going to open a Madrassah for Al-Qaeda recruits from my flat in Soho!"
When the rumours about her conversion began to emerge, prematurely as it happens, she received a telephone call from Abu Hamza, the London-based Islamic extremist whose shrill defence of the September 11 hijackers - he announced that they should be hailed as "martyrs" - earnt him hate-figure status in the sort of tabloids for which Ridley once worked. (Indeed, Ridley herself reported just a year ago that "according to CIA and FBI documents seen by the Sunday Express, Abu Hamza is described as the spiritual leader for al-Qaida in Europe".)
Today, she refuses to denounce the cleric, to whom she had spoken many times as a reporter. "As a Muslim, I don't think it's constructive to criticise other Muslims." And she talks fondly of his approach to her. "He said, 'Sister Yvonne! I'm so happy.' I said, 'That's really kind of you to call. However, it's a wee bit premature. I haven't [converted] yet.' He said, 'You'll get all the care and support you'll need from the Muslim community and any time you need any help you just give me a call.' He was so nice. That was a very sweet thing to do."
She adds: "I don't have a problem with him. I think the media has created this monster and the Muslim community go along with it. In fact I've criticized various Muslim leaders for criticising him. I've said just ignore him, he's hardly representative of British Muslims."
Just a day after the Nov. 20 Istanbul bombings which targeted the British embassy and a British bank the "sweet thing" Hamza warned there would be car bomb attacks in Britain, Istanbul style, if the country continued to back America. He also called Britain a "sitting duck" for suicide bombers.
Islam is by far the most misunderstood religion in the world today. Thanks to centuries of medieval-style propaganda successfully peddled by bigots and Christian zealots. So, I should not have been entirely surprised by the almost hysterical reaction in the mainstream media to the news that I am considering becoming a Muslim. Some of the comments were bitchy and snide. Other journalists asked me stupid questions showing a distinct lack of research or understanding. One even accused me of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome as a result of spending ten days in the hands of the Taliban.
My spiritual journey, like that for many converts/reverts, was meant to be a personal affair between God and myself. Sadly, it has now become a very public issue and so, I have decided to share with the readers my feelings and thoughts on Islam to prevent any more misunderstandings or misconceptions.
Yes, my journey did begin in the unlikely surrounds of an Afghan prison, where I was being held by the Taliban, facing charges of entering their country illegally, disguised in the all-enveloping burqa.
One day, during my captivity, I was visited by a religious cleric, who asked me what I thought of Islam and if I would like to convert. I was terrified. For five days, I had managed to avoid the subject of religion in a country led by Islamic extremists. If I gave the wrong response, I had convinced myself I would be stoned to death. After careful thought, I thanked the cleric for his generous offer and said it was difficult for me to make such a life-changing decision while I was in prison. However, I did make a promise that if I were released, I would study Islam on my return to London.
My reward for such a reply was being sent to a ghastly jail in Kabul, where I was locked up with six Christian fanatics who faced charges of trying to convert Muslims to their faith. (After being bombarded with their bible readings, happy-clappy Christian songs and prayers twice a day, I think we can discount the accusations of Stockholm Syndrome).
Several days later, I was released unharmed on humanitarian grounds on the orders of Mullah Omar, the then spiritual leader of Taliban. My captors had treated me with courtesy and respect and so, in turn, I kept my word and set out to study their religion. It was supposed to be an academic study but as I became more engrossed with each page I turned, I became more impressed with what I read. I turned to several eminent Islamic academics, including Dr Zaki Badawi, for advice and instruction.
I was even given several books by the notorious Sheikh whom I spoke to after sharing a platform at an Oxford Union debate. This latter snippet was seized upon by some sections of the media in such a ridiculous fashion that outsiders might have thought I was going to open a Madrassah for Al-Qaeda recruits from my flat in Soho!
Thankfully, the support and understanding I have been given from my brothers and sisters (for I regard them as that), has been unstinting and comforting. Not one of them has ever put pressure on me to become a Muslim and every convert/revert I've spoken to told me to take my time.
One of the big turning points for me happened when the Israelis began shelling The Church of the Nativity in Manger Square, one of the most precious monuments for Christians. Every year, thousands of school children re-enact the Nativity at Christmas time, a potent symbol of Christianity. Yet, not one Church of England leader publicly denounced the Israelis for their attack.
Our Prime Minister Tony Blair, who loves to be pictured coming out of church surrounded by his family, espousing Christian values, was silent. Only the Pope had the guts to condemn this atrocity. I was shocked and saddened and felt there was no backbone in my religious leaders. At least with Islam I need no mediator or conduit to rely upon, I can have a direct line with God anytime I want.
While I feel under no pressure to convert/revert by Muslims, the real pressure to walk away from Islam has come from some friends and journalists who like to think they're cynical, hard-bitten, hard-drinking, observers of the world. Religion of any form makes them feel uneasy, but Islam, well that's something even worse. You'd think I had made a pact with the devil or wanted to become a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan.
Others feared I was being brainwashed and that I would soon be back in my burqa, silenced forever like all Muslim women. This, of course, is nonsense. I have never met so many well-educated, opinionated, outspoken, intelligent, politically aware women in the Muslim groups I have visited throughout the UK.
MIM: Yvonne Ridley's interview was exposed as a series of lies by several bloggers and columnists :
Anyway, in an August 2002 Islam Online interviewRidley is asked by her interviewer, "did you have any knowledge about Islam before your encounter with the Taliban"?
To which she replies, "nothing more factual than would fill the back of a postage stamp. Of course I'd subscribed to all the myths about women being subjugated and how it was an evil and violent religion full of fanatics."
But as Solent points out, this is a canard.
It it surprising to hear from IslamOnline that she knew very little of Islam before her encounter with the Taliban. Don't they look in their own files? According to this earlier IslamOnline article she was married [for five years] to a Palestinian, Daud Zaarur a.k.a. Abul Hakam (also sometimes transcribed as Dawood Zaarora and Abu Al Hakam ), who is "a former military commander of the Palestinian Fatah movement in Lebanon."
Of course he may for all I know have been secular in his personal beliefs, but didn't he ever even talk about Islam? Surely during her marriage she would have met his family and his friends, or in some other way have learnt more than a postage stamp-worth's about the religion of most Palestinians.
Nonetheless, Yvonne Ridley's pose as a simple Sunday School teacher who first met Islam as a naive journalist-adventurer surprised by the humanity of her captors is frankly incredible.
And equally incredible is her claim that "the war in Afghanistan was a humanitarian disaster" that "achieved nothing."
To which Fred Pruitt responds, "when was the last time they cut somebody's head off"?
YVONNE RIDLEY, TALIBAN CAPTIVE AND SOON-TO-BE MUSLIM, SPEAKS TO ISLAMONLINE
Source: IOL By Mohammed Ayub Khan, IOL Chicago correspondent
"The person I would really like to sit down and talk to is Mullah Omar, the Taliban's one-eyed spiritual leader who ordered my release on humanitarian grounds."
* IslamOnline: First of all I would ask you to tell us a little about your religious background?
- Yvonne Ridley: I was brought up a protestant, in the Church of England. I sang in the church choir and was the Sunday school teacher in my village in the north of England.
* Did you have any knowledge about Islam before your encounter with the Taliban?
- Nothing more factual than would fill the back of a postage stamp. Of course I'd subscribed to all the myths about women being subjugated and how it was an evil and violent religion full of fanatics.
* Are you planning to convert to Islam or have you done so already?
- I am on the road to conversion. Reports that I have already converted are premature.
* What led to your conversion to Islam?
- I made a promise to a Taliban cleric that I would study Islam - if I was released. He had just asked me if I wanted to convert and I was terrified to say 'yes' or 'no' because either response could have drawn accusations that I was fickle or insulting and therefore be stoned!
* If there is one thing you find most attractive in Islam, what would that be?
- The real inspiration has been meeting and getting to know all the sisters. Without exception I have found them to be highly intelligent, opinionated, vocal, motivated, switched on to international and political affairs and be highly supportive. Of course this blows the myth that Muslim women are shy, retiring, timid creatures who are rarely seen and heard.
* Tell us a little about your days in Taliban captivity?
- I was terrified. Not only had I been captured by the most brutal, evil regime in the world [President Bush's words, not mine] but they hated women as well! I never thought I would see the sun set that first day. There were several other times when I thought I would be flogged or executed. There was one occasion when I lost my temper and spat and swore at my captors while being held in Kabul Prison. I thought that might provoke a hostile reaction but they looked hurt and told me I was their "guest" and their "sister"!
After several days of interrogation at the Jalalabad Intelligence HQ, I was told that they believed I was an American spy and that was quite unnerving. They also gave me a wedding dress before a cleric asked me if I wanted to convert to Islam and that was scary. All I can say is that some man in Afghanistan has had a pretty lucky escape!
On the whole, they treated me with great courtesy and respect despite my adverse reaction to being locked up. I had entered their country illegally without a passport and visa so, yes, I was totally in the wrong and could easily have been charged and put on trial. My treatment by the most brutal, evil regime in the world, is a total contrast to the treatment of those men being held in Camp X-Ray.
* Were you able to meet any of their women?
- The only women I met while I was in captivity were six Christian charity workers, three female prison officers and two Afghan women who were locked up for trying to sell a carpet to strange men. Apart from the Christians, two Americans, three Germans and an Australian, none of the others spoke in English so I never really got a chance to communicate with any native women. However, the prison governor, a fearsome-looking man, used to refer to his wife as "the boss".
* If you were to meet your Taliban captors again, what would you tell them?
- I have! I took my daughter Daisy, aged nine, on a holiday to Afghanistan in May and we traveled all over. We walked in to an eating place four hours drive from Kabul and there I saw some Taliban and al-Qaeda people. I recognized three of my captors and was horrified. However, one came over and talked to my translator and asked what I was doing returning to Afghanistan. He asked if I recognized anyone and I said only if they cared to be recognized, otherwise it was none of my business. We were all nervous as he walked away and then he returned some minutes later and said: "We liked what you said about us when you returned to London. Thank you for telling the truth."
I nodded nervously and couldn't wait to leave, but I was later told that my safety is assured if I happen to bump into them again. The person I would really like to sit down and talk to is Mullah Omar, the Taliban's one-eyed spiritual leader who ordered my release on humanitarian grounds. I would want to know why they treated their women so badly.
* What are your views on women's rights in Islam as compared to secular Western society?
- The first thing I scrutinized when I read the Qur'an was property and divorce laws. I was amazed. I thought it could have been written by a Hollywood divorce lawyer! In fact, that's probably from where they got their inspiration. I was also pleased to see that women are equal with regards to education and spirituality, but the Qur'an does acknowledge we have the extra burdens of childbirth, breast-feeding and periods. I like to think we are the deluxe model of the human form since we have so many additional functions!
* How is your family coping with your conversion?
- Initially my family was shocked. You'd think I'd applied to become the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
* Any message you would like us to deliver to the Muslim World?
- September 11 was the best and worst thing that happened to Islam. I know that the confidence of many brothers and sisters has been shattered, but be proud of who you are and what you stand for. Do not be browbeaten into diluting your beliefs in the hope of ingratiating yourself with those in power. Beware of false prophets, especially those who hang round the gates of power pretending to espouse views on your behalf that they say are in your interest. The Christians have a good saying: "The nearer the pulpit, the bigger the sinner!" The wonderful thing about Islam is you have a direct link with God. You don't need a conduit or a middle person. Peace and love to all.
Yvonne Ridley is author of In The Hands of the Taliban published by Robson Books in the UK
Feminism pales into insignificance when it comes to the sisterhood, which has a strong identity and a loud voice in this country. Yes, it is true that many Muslim women around the world are subjugated, but this has only come about through other cultures hijacking and misinterpreting the Holy Qur'aan. – Q-News
"JustPeace promotes Muslim participation in movements that campaign for freedom from oppression and injustice."
"CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER"
Fri 23 August, 6:30-8:30pm,Venue: LSE, The Old Theatre, The Old building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE
Hosted by JUSTPEACE & the City Circle.
Panellists: Yvonne Ridley (freelance journalist and peace campaigner) Anas Altikrity (Muslim Association of Britain, director for Media and Public Relations) Abdul Rehman Malik (Canadian Muslim Educationalist and Peace Activist) Makbool Javaid (Human Rights Lawyer -Chairman of Muslim Lawyers Committee)
Chaired by Salim of Just Peace.
A panel discussion of current events concerning the role of the US in world affairs. Rather than taking a traditional speech format followed by a question and answer session, the debate began with questions, answered by the speakers, after which questions were then put from the floor. Following this, a video was shown, highlighting the plight of Muslims and Christians in Palestine. The debate was good natured and lively from the outset. The discussion centred on the following galvanizing questions and issues:
How do world events affect us here in the UK? As part of a global village, do we the British public have a duty to stand up for world Justice? How do we, how can we stand up against the power and might of the world's only remaining SUPERPOWER?
The questions and answers are paraphrased below.
Don't Attack Iraq
Q - For the US, a regime change is the objective. Short of Saddam resigning or being overthrown by the people, Iraq and its citizens can do nothing, but to await an attack from the worlds only superpower. Tony Blair is currently on holiday in France - he has refused to recall Parliament to debate the issue of Iraq and merely claims that no decision has been made. Meanwhile there is daily talk in the news about a war on Iraq and the hawks in the US govt are unwavering.
The US military budget for 2003 is $397b, they will attack Iraq and Britain will follow. Who is going to stop them? Are we wasting our time?
A: Yvonne Ridley - Yes they can be stopped. We can also do something as individuals and collectively. There have been some amazing turnouts at demonstrations. Authorities are worried about people power that they play down the figures of the marchers. 160 MPs have signed early day motion against any attack on Iraq - the largest split Labour have encountered since coming to power in 1997 and signs of cabinet being split including Gordon Brown and Robin Cook. People power throughout Europe is having an impact on the politicians and Tony Blair should reexamine Britain's position as the 51st governor of the United States.
Q - Are people in this country and are we all taking this soon to happen war on Iraq seriously enough? Both the US and Britain have stated that they will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively In an article in the Guardian (early June 7) Geof Hoon the British Defence Secretary talks of using nuclear weapons against the threat of a chemical and biological attack, in the case where British troops are in a war zone and need protection from imminent danger. If they go in to Iraq then they are going to be in war zone, under threat and in imminent danger, are we taking the threat of this war seriously enough?
A - Yvonne Ridley - Scott Ritter the UN weapons inspector is confident that Iraq do not have the weapons to pose any danger. The people are becoming more and more convinced that military action in Iraq is not a good idea. Saddam is no dangerous now than he was 12 yrs ago and they are suspicious of America's motives for this war. The Anti War feeling has spread to the US also now.
Q - Is an attack on Iraq considered against International law and does it require a fresh UN Resolution?
A - Makbool Javaid - Since the collapse of Soviet Union the US will do as it wants and what is feels is right. Legalities are neither here nor there and international law can be manipulated to serve their purpose as it was in the gulf war and in the Israel situation. the UN needs the US but the US doesn't need the UN. The population of the UK do not know what the real situation is here in the UK. The media is full of hysteria and nonsense and creating black propaganda which makes the unthinkable thinkable.
Q: How do we deal with the situation of facing up to the worlds only superpower?
A: Makbool Javaid - "The issue of there being only one superpower should not be diluted, it is a fact. The UN is dependent on it, both financially and politically, and thus has literally no independence from it. The US also dominates the Security Council with the help of the UK and often France. People don't seem to understand the extent of their hegemony. As an example, take a look at the Guardian, supposedly the most liberal of broadsheets. It recently printed a story on the Al-Qaida, who is supposedly in Northern Iraq. It stated that the Kurds have alleged that Al-Qaida is producing chemical and biological weapons there. The story was the biggest pile of unsubstantiated rubbish you could think of. It was black propaganda, scare mongering of the most outrageous kind. It is part of what Noam Chomsky referred to as "Manufacturing Consent".
Q: So can we do anything?
A: Makbool Javaid - "The states can do something. The Muslim Sates need to. People as individuals can't do anything. In Britain, we need to create an awareness among the population, to make people aware of what is really behind all of these events, to prevent them falling into the fallacy of believing that there is some kind of justice system at work here. The international justice system in particular is completely toothless. When the US mined the Nicaraguan bay in order to overthrow the Sandanista government, the Sandanista government took them to the international court. The US promptly withdrew consent from the court, and got away with it scot-free . International Law is nothing."
Q - MAB are concentrating mainly on Palestine, Many people view the potential of the impact of the war on Iraq as being more catastrophic for the whole region. Do the MAB not consider the situation regarding Iraq as serious?
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - "I am Iraqi, and I make no apologies for that, or for Iraq. My family fled there from Saddam's persecution. For some reason we get surprised when the US shows us the hard fact: If you have the weapons, the money, the power, the know how, that's all you need and America has it. It doesn't matter what some book says, the law internationally is nothing. The issue of Iraq and Palestine is central to the Zionist agenda. The reason for the economic sanctions and blockades of Iraq had a purpose despite the lack of any damage to the regime and the terrible consequences to the population. The reason was to pressure Iraq into accepting a peace clause, which would make them accept the millions of Palestinian refugees created by the creation of Israel.
Q: How are things being organised in Canada, and can we learn anything from you?
A: Abdul Rehman Malik - "We could probably learn something from you actually! The situation in the UK is very different from the North of America, very different. The attitude since Sept 11th is totally coloured: everything is looked at through the lens of Sept 11th. In the US, internal opposition is limited to debates on Enron, or World.com, these will be used to attack the president and the republicans, but not Iraq etc. There is nothing like the Guardian in the US. There is no alternative point of view, excepting the Alternative press itself. The question we have is one of tactics. We have reached out to the left in peace coalitions. However, we are still not using very sophisticated language to change public opinion. We need to meet the white middle class of North America. If not, we're shooting blanks, preaching to the converted. We also have a dilemma. We oppose the illegal invasion of Iraq, but we also oppose Saddam Hussein. We thus need a nuanced sophisticated approach. We need to think creatively, "outside the box" with a message which is going to convince the electorate - Justice, fairness, international law and ethics, we need to translate these into votes. We have got MP's to sign an anti war bill, and this is laudable. In Canada, we are not as organised as we are here. The growth of the alternative press has a potential good in it, especially in the US, where it is very extensive. For example CBC (the Canadian BBC), got news stories out of Bethlehem during the siege, via www.indimedia.org that had correspondents inside giving blow-by-blow coverage. There then ensued a major debate in the CBC. The Zionists demanded to know why independent press had been used. They said it was biased .
Q: We don't have the coverage we need. How do we get the truth over to people?
A: Yvonne Ridley (Journalist) - "It's people who take truth over to the media. Email all the newspapers. Keep it succinct, do not rant and rave, just persist and bombard. Write to your newspapers before an event and tell them to cover it. Tell them before the September 28th demo. Post, Email, fax, dictate a letter and send them all. Letter editors do take notice if there are a number of emails.
Q: (Audience). How do we create the agenda of the media? In April 2002, over 100,000 people gathered to protest the oppression of the Palestinians, and the media ignored it, or perhaps called them angry Arabs. The Zionist rally had barely a fraction of that number, yet most papers covered it. How do we influence this process?
A: Yvonne Ridley (Journalist) - "The Zionist lobby has a slick and brilliant operation. They are fantastic at managing and manoeuvering issues. They are very professional. Look at the way Cherie Blair made such an innocuous comment, at a Palestinian fundraiser no less. All she said was as long a Palestinian young men fell they have no other choice but to blow themselves up, we will have no progress. Pretty obvious and neutral stuff to say really, yet the headlines and hysteria resulting were outrageous. We must follow the example of the Zionist lobby, bombarding the media about everything and anything. I don't believe they actually have an Islamaphobic agenda, they are just badly informed about Muslims and Islam. We need to tell them, this, and inform them, so send your Emails and letters. Editors don't like to see them and will take notice [insh'Allah].
Q: (Audience) Shouldn't we just boycott all mainstream media?
A: Yvonne Ridley (Journalist) - "No. This really wouldn't have too much of an impact on sales. The reason is that Muslim communities already boycott these newspapers anyway.
Q: (Audience) American opinion in the vietnam war really changed when the body bags started coming home, I say let them go into Iraq and let the body bags start coming home. What do you think Maqbool?
A Makbool Javaid - I think you've made the point.
Q: How do we get Muslims involved in issues which are of concern to them let along the non-muslims? How do we educate people that this is a worthwhile cause and issue?
A: Abdul Rehman Malik - It was ironically the group we enjoyed hating that helped us, the socialists, the anarchists, the communists. Muslims tend not to behave like citizens. We are often ghettoised. We lack social and political integration. We only economically integrate. We must be clear that we are citizens and we are here to stay. As for those who say we should not vote, it's time we ignored this viewpoint. Allah placed us here for a reason. We are different, we have something to give and to contribute: we are citizens. When it comes to Iraq and Palestine, we have to connect to local issues, to put it into context. Iraq and Palestine have become all problems. Local issues also need to be dealt with and linked to these. We need to engage in coalition building, and develop a holistic vision. For example, there is a group in the US called the Peaceful Tomorrows (at www.peacefultomorrows.org ). They are a group of the families of the September 11th victims, who actually oppose and lobby against the war in Afghanistan. They are also lobbying on Iraq. They are even campaigning for compensation from the US to all Afghani civilian victims of the US war.
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - "We can not remain a single issue party be it Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnia. Local issues are often disconnected from ourselves. We are supposed to care for all justice, for the weak and oppressed, whether it be in Grenada or a refugee issue in Rwanda. We must. Muslims are subject to atrocities. We cannot stay adding to our own handicap. The Jews effected change after decades of effort and involvement, we have to do the same, and it will take time.
A: Makbool Javaid - " We have to remember that we are to stand up on the day of judgement and account for ourselves before Allah (swt). The Home secretary David Blunkett openly said, "it is up to Muslims to root out the extremist". Let us not fall into the trap of deriding our own people. If they have a legitimate islamic opinion then engage with them in Islam. Do not deride your muslim brothers. This is haram (not allowed). Also, it is haram for us to disparage our Muslim brothers. Richard Littlejohn called Abu Hamza 'captain hook' as the man has no hands. I don't agree with Abu Hamza, but that sort of abuse is unacceptable. Melanie Phillips is unashamed, we must realise we have nothing to be ashamed of. This is plainly a war on Islam. It's fine that these MP's have signed an anti-war bill, but they would sing the same bill to prevent war on Israel or the US, they will sign anything. We must realise that we have different agenda to these people. We have also to engage with this society but not dilute our islamic outlook or our message and do it from an Islamic point of view.
Q. (Audience)"We have a general debate between those who advocate Jihad as a solution, and those who wish for social/political engagement. This is a diplomatic minefield. How do Muslims become more sophisticated? Be it a war o Islam, or a war with purely economic motivations, how do we rise to the challenge?
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - " We must rise. We are here, a part of this society and its future. What is right is right, and wrong is wrong. Islamically, we must stand up for that.
A: Yvonne Ridley - "Muslims have lost confidence since September 11th. Something as simple as suicide bombers being martyrs is being denied by prominent sheikhs. The dictionary definition of a martyr is a person who gives up their life for a cause - suicide bombers are martyrs. There will be a TV documentary on TV soon showing a Jew who will come on and say that his daughter, who died, and the suicide bomber, are both victims. There are 9-10 people in Belmarsh held there without trial, access to lawyers or charges against them, and David Blunkett wants us to turn in our own people. Tell them to get lost. Write to your MP's, ask them why they aren't' on that list,
Practical actions which people can take were then stated:- 1 - Sign the Stop The WAR dont attack Iraq petition was handed out for the audience to sign. 2 - List of MPs who have signed the motion against attacking Iraq handed out for purpose of audience checking that if their MP wasn't on there then write to them and demand to know why they aren't representing your views. 3 - Go to www.millionspetition.com and sign it.
Q - Makbool, can you please provide an update on the Human rights situation please....
A: Makbool Javaid - " The American Bar association is the largest bar association in the world. In their Washington DC meeting they said that the US government had acted appallingly. Civil rights had been denied, basic liberties had been taken away. The UK is the same. All governments are jumping onto the bandwagon. This is not new. In the gulf war, Iraqi's and Palestinians were deported back then as well for no reason, and no one batted an eyelid. There is the chill factor: they create a climate of fear. Demonising people creates fear. This is what David Blunkett wants with his culture of whistle bowing. Do not fear and don't be divided. Do not believe everything you read. In Northern Ireland they would pile propaganda on the public, labelling all opposition as nutters, to ensure they could maintain their arrests of individuals and abuses of rights. Muslims need to be aware of basic rights as well as terrorism legislation.
A: Abdul Rehman Malik - "Under the fake guise of unity, we stamp on different opinions. We need to discuss. We must also criticise if necessary within our community. We chill ourselves. To make fun of Abu Hamza for the poor man losing his hands is clearly outside of this remit, but we must be able to discuss what he and others say when these are relevant and also speak out when they are not acting in the best interest of our community.
Q: - "Robert Fisk in March talked about the double standards in the treatment of the Middle Eastern contenders. When the Israeli Army slaughters civilians, the US calls for restraint. When Palestinian suicide bombers strike, the US calls for Yasser Arafat to take control and stop it. This double standard is why the US are hated. How do we explain this to the public?
A: Yvonne Ridley - " I do not advocate violence but the event of September 11th is rooted in Palestine and there will be more such attacks until one day the US will look at the causes and look to broker a peace deal in the middle east. Israel is one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world. They are using American F16's to kill children. We need to stop them. We should also note that the Palestinian's heroic resistance has delayed the invasion of Iraq. That is commendable and we should salute them.
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - "There is a need to influence. We need do highlight to all taxpayers how many billions are given, especially by the US to Israel. We need to highlight right and wrong, talking about what people want to hear about, to counter this relationship after Sept 11th for unconditional support.
A: Makbool Javaid - "Ariel Sharon, is desperate to go to the US to meet Bush. He is a mass murderer! A genuine non-Muslim came up to me, and said, very sincerely, that he was lost for words in despair. The fault is ours. We must be confidant, not ashamed, to be Muslims. We need to get the view across in a rational way to the people and give them the reality of what's going on.
Q: Two famous people - The AOL Time Warner vice chairman and founder of CNN Ted Turners commented - "The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers; that's all they have. The Israelis . . . they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism." Cherie Blairs commented - "As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up, you are never going to make progress".
These two very famous and prominent people came under intense fire from Israeli lobbies for stating the obvious and both had to apologies. Whilst last week Donald Rumsfeld called the Occupied Territories "So called Occupied territories" without hardly a murmur. What can we do to exert the same kind of pressure?
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - " It is difficult but we have no option. We have to exert pressure, it does work. We send out alerts and We have 12,000 email addresses around the world. These are new grounds. We are trying, and doing well, but here is much more to do. Our alerts are making a difference one of them being on the issue of Mona Baker and the recent Scottish U21 match against Israel. We need to do much more still...
A: Abdul Rehman Malik - "We can compare this to the struggle for independence in East Timor. We are unhappy about analysing this, as it was a Muslim country that was acting tyrannically. The resistance movement began in the 1960's, led by intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, and they took advantage of the international situation, and now they are independent. Also we can compare this to South Africa. We need to take the same sort of well-planned action, from the grass roots. It will take time, like water on a stone.
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - "The next 6-12 months at the MAB should see some of that. The Muslim voice is a very strong voice. We are not only for issues overseas, but also for issues here. The 2.5 million Muslims must have a voice comparative to that number. By the next election, Muslims must be a voice to be reckoned with.
Q: On the issue of boycotting, why not focus on three goods and hit them really hard instead of this huge list which people aren't sure of?
A: Anas Altikrity (MAB) - "The issue of boycotting is about developing an ideology. M&S will not collapse because of our boycott, that is a fallacy. We need to tell the superpowers that we will hit them where it hurts, economically. We will hit the multinationals, as these are the ones who have the major input into government policy. Nestle have reported a drop in profits of 27% because of the boycott. This is about an ideology. We are teaching ourselves how to develop alternatives, developing our society, to be innovative. This was what colonialism drummed out of us, they didn't just colonise our lands, they colonised our minds.
A: Makbool Javaid - " We need to create the feeling that of empowerment. These actions are still worthwhile, a good thing that should not be derided. It's not people like Lord Patel who have the power, it's the multinationals that have the power and influence over the govt.
Q: (Audience) How do we affect what's happening in camp X-ray, and what is happening to get them out?
A: Makbool Javaid - "We haven't got very far in trying to get Feroz Abassi out. There has been pressure in the US from Civil rights organisations. The hypocrisy of the UK government is astounding in denying people's rights while holding them captive.
Q: (Audience) There is no mention of Saudi Arabia in this discussion, why?
A: Yvonne Ridley - " There has been a wake up call in the US as the Saudi's have told them they can't use Arabia as a base for operations against Iraq, and have asked them to leave the country. The whole concept of Bin Ladenism arose in Saudi Arabia because of the presence of American troops in the desert and Bush wants to put 1/4 Million in the region and what effect will that have. I think soon, Arabia may become known as part of the so-called Axis of evil. Someone should tell George Bush an axis only has two points.
Final Action points:- - Stewards needed for the Demonstration to be held on Sept 28th. - Audience handed out 10 leaflets each in order to promote the demonstration. - Book called Shattered Illusion by Aftab Malik anounced as it was very relevant to the discussion.
A total of £275 was raised in order to support the actions of JUSTPEACE and for the demonstration.
Then a video was shown highlighting the situation in Palestine called Intifada 101.
Report by Anwar Featherstone writing independently for JUSTPEACE