Amnesty International — Saghal

It is evident both from the Hitchens article and other material that there was more to the Amnesty/Saghal affair than her reaction to a single occasion at which Begg was present and to which she objected.

One issue, which I regard as separate from the charge made by her against Amnesty, is that of the suspension itself. Rushdie and others all join in condemning Amnesty for ‘suspending’ her. Regardless of the fact that the ‘suspension’ is denied by Amnesty, I cannot regard it as in itself an unjustified step for an employer to take or that it is in some way inconsistent with the organization’s belief in freedom of expression. She went public with complaints against the organization which was employing her. I do not believe any organization should be expected to accept the continued employment of the employee in those circumstances. She could of course leave and proceed to make public her criticisms of the organization.

The more serious issue is the charge itself. At one level, Saghal may have been saying that Begg supports either or both (i) Islamic terrorism and/or (ii) Islamic fundamentalist attitudes towards women and that Amnesty should not be publicly associated ith im.

The prime difficulty in sustaining this criticism is that Amnesty quite legitimately supports the release of prisoners, unless tried before civil courts, from Guantanamo Bay, insists upon their humane treatment and that they not be tortured. Begg/Cage Prisoners also support that and their public statements and bulletins do not go beyond that. Further, there is nothing in Amnesty’s association with them which goes beyond that.

But there is a gloss on this construction of the charge that runs like this: A person or organization in England which suppport jihadi Islam would know that advocacy of its beliefs in England  would be counterproductive if not illegal. Direct advocacy of its position is not possible but what it can do is create sympathy for its supporters locked up in prison and indirectly pursue the cause in that way. I do not think the evidence supports this, despite what might be described as a somewhat suspect background of some of the members of Cage Prisoners and perhaps a certain ambiguity in Begg himself.

I shall leave it there but thank both Harry and Tom for comments made and any which yet might come.

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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