Daily Archives: March 1, 2010


Muslims Found In Mosque Shock

Channel 4 Dispatches used to be a haven of serious documentary, but has degenerated into a stream of Islamophobia. It touched rock bottom today with a truly pathetic effort by Andrew Gilligan which found – shock horror – Muslims in the East London mosque!

These Muslims actually wanted society to be ordered in an Islamic way on Islamic principles. To try to achieve this they were – shock horror – undertaking political activity and joining political parties!

Gilligan’s piece turned on the Daily Express trick of attempting to inculcate fear that suddenly you and I will wake up under sharia law. The fact is of course that no matter how much devout Muslims may want to campaign to ban alcohol and push-up bras in the UK, they have not a hope in hell of succeeding.

But surely they have a right to their beliefs and ideology and a right to espouse it? Surely we should be delighted that these Muslims are seeking to advance their views through participation in the democratic process and not through violence? In fact, is this not the sort of activity we should be encouraging?

Apparently not. Apparently you only should be allowed to participate in politics if the ideology you are offering to the electorate is broadly the same as Andrew Gilligan’s. We were apparently supposed especially to be shocked by Gilligan’s revelation that Muslim activists campaigned for George Galloway because of his opposition to the Iraq war and support for the Palestinians. Wow! Whatever next?

Gilligan went on to introduce a number of neo-conservative nutters from wild eyed groups such as the Centre for Social Cohesion, to condemn all this “extremist” activity, without giving any context to explain where his “Independent” commentators were dredged up from.

Gilligan’s only useful point was about the waste of taxpayers’ money being pumped in to various Muslim groupings. Sadly he confined his criticism on this point only to financial support for those Muslim groups who did not wholeheartedly support the Bush/Blair foreign policy, when in fact twenty times more public money has been wasted on tiny but grasping Muslim groups who proselytise Blairism.

All in all, the most risible piece of half-baked Islamophobia I can recall. Gilligan – a man for whom I have had respect – should be ashamed of himself.

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Or I Might Have a Huge Penis, Persephone

Or be a hypnotist. Or be able to “talk away my face” like the great John Wilkes.

I was much amused by the comments on this entry in the always interesting einekleinenachtmusik blog.

http://einekleinenichtmusik.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-kind-of-world-are-we-creating.html

If Persephone were to read Murder in Samarkand, she would find I do in fact consider and answer her question.

UPDATE

Oops, I forgot the link, without which this post seemed even weirder. No, Arsalan, I haven’t gone nuts, just was tickled by Persephone’s coments and feeling the need for some light relief. And no, technicolour, I was not seriously positing that possession of a huge penis or hypnosis is the way to attract women. Nor was I actually claiming to have one. I just thought charm, money and alcohol was an unimaginative list, and could be added to.

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The Cancer of Corruption: What $150million Gets You In Ghana.

zakem%20site.jpg

This is the Zakhem power station site at Kpone. The particularly distincitive feature is the lack of any power station.

I am grateful to CitiFM in Accra. Having been misled into publishing photos of a completely different power station, they have had the grace to apologise and publish a corrected story.

http://www.citifmonline.com/site/news/news/view/3556/1

Unfortunately their original photos of a completely different site, nothing to do with Zakhem, were seized on and re-used by almost the entire Ghanaian media as evidence that I was talking nonsense.

My favourite recent news headline was “Craig Murray is Not In His Right State of Mind”.

http://elections.peacefmonline.com/politics/201002/38966.php

Zakhem are loudly threatening to sue me. They make the following key points:

– Zakhem Construction Ghana is a separate company from Zakhem International Construction Ltd of London

– They have received only 39.5 million dollars to date towards the turbine installation

– They have carried out a good deal of work including engineering design, land clearance, construction of perimeter wall, and 40% of the procurement of balance of plant

– Work was delayed by a change of site

My information on some of these points differs. But none of that alters the fundamentals. The Government of Ghana bought the turbines direct from Alsthom. Zakhem were to install them and provide the balance of plant. They have been paid tens of millions of dollars upfront, starting over three years ago, but have never even started digging the foundations, nor supplied the key components they were paid to procure, including transformers and fuel tanks.

Ordinary people, some of them struggling below the poverty line, pay taxes in Ghana, particularly through VAT. Over a hundred million dollars of their tax has already gone forever into the power station pictured above. There is no sign of them getting any benefit for their money. Meanwhile Zakhem and former government functionary Paul Afoko have pocketed millions.

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Control Orders

Control Orders remain a cruel act of degradation of people who have never been convicted of anything, utterly incompatible with human rights. Parliament will today vote to renew them again – expect the parties to compete in their gravitas as they underline the threat to our very existence and way of life (sic) from terrorism.

In fact, as has been so roundly denounced by our most senior judges recently, the real threat to our way of life comes from politicians and the security services.

The arguments in this letter are extremely strong:

Open letter to Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP

Dear Home Secretary,

We write to urge you not to renew the control order provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, introduced in haste in March 2005 following the House of Lords Judicial Committee’s condemnation of indefinite detention of foreign terrorist suspects. In the five years of their operation, control orders have attracted criticism from national bodies including the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice, Liberty and Amnesty International UK, and eminent international bodies including the International Commission of Jurists, the UN Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Watch. This has focussed on the inherent unfairness of the orders, their reliance on secret evidence, and the devastating impact they have on those subject to them.

Impact

You will be aware (through reports presented during litigation and press coverage) of the severe impact of the orders on family and private life, and on the mental health of those subjected to them. This is acknowledged by Lord Carlile in his fifth annual review of control orders [PDF]. Partial house arrest, confinement to a restricted geographical area, wearing a tag, and the constant need to report, to seek permission, to have visitors (even medical visitors) vetted, and the stigma associated with being targeted in this way, takes a severe toll not only on controlled persons but on their families. Children’s school performance is badly affected by denial of internet access (making homework very difficult), by restriction of visitors, by fathers being unable to take their children out freely, by the disruption and fear caused by frequent house searches, and by children witnessing the humiliation and despair caused to their parents by these measures. The detrimental impact of the orders is even worse since, although in theory time-limited to a year, in reality, renewal of orders means that subjection to these draconian restrictions is endless.

The fact that there have been so few control orders in the five years of their operation ?” 44 in total according to Lord Carlile ?” gives the misleading impression that those controlled must be truly dangerous. But the small number of orders does not necessarily mean that the intelligence behind them is accurate. Not many people were hanged for murder when the UK had capital punishment ?” but a significant proportion turn out to have been innocent.

Unfairness

Major sources of unfairness are the use of secret evidence and the lack of real advance judicial scrutiny. Permission to make a non-derogating order can only be denied by a High Court judge if the decision to make the order, or the grounds for making it, are ‘obviously flawed’. This, and the lack of input from the proposed subject of the order, would not be such a problem if the review process was not subject to such delays, but at present the full review hearing rarely takes place within 12 months. During all this time, of course, the controlled person is subject to the full rigours of the control order.

The judge may quash the order at the full review stage, but only if there is no reasonable suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. It is a very low threshold for the Home Office, and is frequently satisfied by evidence that neither the controlled person nor his advocate has had an opportunity to test in cross-examination. This remains the case despite the Judicial Committee’s ruling in June 2009 (in AF and another v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] UKHL 28) that the controlled person is entitled to enough disclosure to be able to answer allegations [this is the Law Lords’ ruling from June 2008, referred to above]; the Committee was referring to the amount of detail in the allegation, and not to the evidential foundation for the allegations, which generally remains closed. As Human Rights Watch has observed, the control order regime undermines the right to an effective defence, the principle of equality of arms, and the presumption of innocence.

Cost

Although it would be inappropriate to judge the control order regime by its cost-effectiveness as a principal criterion, it is reasonable to note that implementation of the orders has cost a fortune in litigation; the Joint Committee on Human Rights has calculated that total legal costs from 2006 to date are likely to exceed £20 million (taking into account the costs of legal aid and judicial sitting time), which is almost half a million pounds for each controlled person. Litigation has also seriously diminished the utility of the orders as a tool for controlling and disrupting terrorist activity, to the point where there must be very serious doubts as to their cost-effectiveness (compared with more targeted surveillance and effective use of the criminal justice system).

Reputation

The fact that British citizens and residents can be subjected indefinitely to such extraordinary measures, with no effective means of challenge, contravening in important respects common-law guarantees of fairness as well as Article 6 of the ECHR, has damaged the reputation of the United Kingdom and done irreparable harm to the fabric of justice in this country. In addition, public trust in the security services and the government is eroded, and communities whose co-operation is vital in the fight against terrorism are intimidated and alienated. In the words of solicitor Gareth Peirce, ‘This may affect only a small group of people but in terms of its contribution to what one might call the folklore of injustice it is colossal.’

For these reasons we urge you not to renew this legislation.

Yours sincerely

Mike Mansfield QC, criminal defence barrister, Tooks Chambers

Craig Murray, writer, broadcaster, human rights activist, former British Ambassador

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, solicitor

Lord Rea

Clare Short MP

John McDonnell MP

Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist

Dafydd Iwan, LL.D., President of Plaid Cymru, Party of Wales

Bruce Kent, Vice-President, Pax Christi

Louise Christian, human rights lawyer

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

Caroline Lucas MEP

Jean Lambert MEP

Frances Webber, human rights lawyer

Liz Fekete, Institute of Race Relation (IRR)

Carla Ferstman, Director, Redress

Ben Hayes, Statewatch

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Prof. Chris Frost, Head of Journalism, Liverpool John Moores University

Hilary Wainright, Co-editor, Red Pepper

Cori Crider, Legal Director, Reprieve

Paddy Hillyard, Emeritus Professor, QUB

Bob Jeffrey, University of Salford

Amrit Wilson, writer

Dr Richard Wild, University of Greenwich

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Executive Director, Institute of Public Policy Research.

Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files

Lord Gifford QC, barrister and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Liz Davies, barrister and Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Anna Morris, barrister and Vice-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Professor Bill Bowring, barrister and International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Dr Victoria Sentas, School of Law, King’s College London

Margaret Owen, Director WPD, international human rights lawyer

Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers

Sam Jacobs, Public Interest Lawyers

Daniel Carey, Public Interest Lawyers

Tessa Gregory, Public Interest Lawyers

Moazzam Begg, Director, Cageprisoners

Massoud Shadjareh, Chair, Islamic Human Rights Commission

Aamer Anwar, human rights lawyer

Nick Hildyard, Sarah Sexton, Larry Lohmann, The Corner House

Desmond Fernandes, policy analyst and author

Dinah Livingstone, writer, translator, editor

Tim Gopsill, journalist, Editor of Free Press

Paul Donovan, journalist

Estelle du Boulay, The Newham Monitoring Project

Suresh Grover, Director of The Monitoring Group

George Binette, UNISON Camden

Arzu Pesmen, Kurdish Federation UK

David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Alex Fitch, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Matt Foot, solicitor

Hugo Charlton, barrister

Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics

Jonathan Bloch, Lib Dem Councillor and author

Michael Seifert, solicitor and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Kat Craig, solicitor and Vice-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Khatchatur I. Pilikian, Professor of Music & Art

Dr Alana Lentin, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, University of Sussex

Dr Christina Pantazis, University of Bristol

Professor Steve Tombs, Liverpool John Moore University

Claire Hamilton, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin

Professor Phil Scraton, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast

Dr Theodore Gabriel, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

Dr Jan Gordon, University of Lincoln, Exeter

Dr Tina Patel, University of Salford

Professor Penny Green, Kings College, London

John Moore, University of West of England, Bristol

Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moore University

Dr David Whyte, University of Liverpool

Dr Stephanie Petrie, University of Liverpool

Dr Dianne Frost, University of Liverpool

Martin Ralph, (UCU Committee), University of Liverpool

Dr Anandi Ramamurthy, University of Central Lancashire

Professor Jawed Siddiqui, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Silvia Posocco, Birkbeck College, University of London

Dr Muzammil Quraishi, University of Salford

Dr Adi Kuntsman, University of Manchester

Professor Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College, University of London

Dr Joanne Milner, University of Salford

Dr Yasmeen Narayan, Birkbeck College, University of London

Professor Scott Poynting, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Liam McCann, University of Lincoln

Dr Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University

Sophie Khan, solicitor

Simon Behrman

Owen Greenhall

Martha Jean Baker

Russell Fraser

Ripon Ray

Stephen Marsh, barrister

Declan Owens

Rheian Davies, solicitor

Richard Harvey barrister

Deborah Smith, solicitor

Alastair Lyons, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce

Hossain Zahir , barrister

Chantal Refahi , barrister

Anna Mazzola, solicitor

Zareena Mustafa, solicitor

Lochlinn Parker, solicitor

Anne Gray, CAMPACC

Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC

Estella Schmid, CAMPACC

Dr Saleyha Ahsan, No More Secrets-Respect Article 5, film maker

Mohamed Nur, Kentish Town Community Organisation

Abshir Mohamed, Kentish Town Community Organisation

Samarendra Das, filmmaker and writer

Rebecca Oliner, artist

Rebekah Carrier, solicitor

Dr Smarajit Roy, PPC Green Party Candidate for Mitcham and Morden

PM Forbes, The Green Party, Sandhurst, Berkshire

Jayne Forbes, Chair, Green Party

Adrian Cruden, Green Party PPC Newsbury

Lesley Hedges, Green Party PPC Colne Valley

Sarah Cope, Green Party PPC Stroud Green

A Bragga, Green Party PPC for Stroud Green

Graham Wroe, lecturer, Sheffield Green Parry

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