There are two updates related to Amnesty International’s relationship with former Gitmo detainee and jihadist Moazzam Begg this Sunday. (For background on the relationship, see here. For background information on Begg, see here, here, here, here, here and here.)
First, the Sunday Times (UK) reports that Salman Rushdie has joined the growing chorus of observers who denounce Amnesty’s alliance with Begg (emphasis added):
Rushdie, whose plight was championed by Amnesty when he was placed under a fatwa by the Iranian regime for his novel The Satanic Verses, said the charity had done “incalculable damage” to its reputation by collaborating with Moazzam Begg, a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay, and his organisation Cageprisoners. …
“It looks very much as if Amnesty’s leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy and has lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong,” said Rushdie.
Second, Gita Sahgal, the Amnesty employee who had the courage to object to her organization’s ties to Begg and was suspended by her employer for it, ably defends herself in this interview. Sahgal blasts those who are willfully blind to the jihadist agenda advanced by Begg and his organization, Cage Prisoners (emphasis added):
If Begg were a white fascist, Amnesty International would understand the distinction between protecting his right to be free from torture and arbitrary detention, and treating him as a hero and an advocate to close Guantanamo when he came back. …
Many of the most reputable lawyers and activists who work with those arrested in relation to terrorism cases, are appalled by the status given to Cageprisoners. I have received a lot of support from anti-racists and former Islamists who know just how dangerous the ideology of Cageprisoners is. They can see the distinction between supporting people’s human rights and giving them a platform. However, the leadership of Amnesty International cannot see this and appears to have wilfully ignored all evidence to the contrary. They are supported by a large number of largely white, liberal lawyers who apparently have no capacity to analyse Begg or Cageprisoners.
Sahgal is legitimately concerned about Muslim women’s rights in South and Central Asia – a topic that frequently gets pushed to the back burner. And she is disgusted that her human rights organization, which is supposed to defend those rights, is standing by a jihadist who openly supports the Taliban – one of the worst offenders of women’s rights in modern history.
Amnesty International is not the only organization that has allied itself with Begg. The ACLU still features a video starring Begg on its web site. The ACLU, like Amnesty, apparently does not mind allying itself with a known jihadist.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.