Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category
On Sunday the Observer reported,
British jihadi fighters desperate to return home from Syria and Iraq are being issued with death threats by the leadership of Islamic State (Isis), the Observer has learned.
A source with extensive contacts among Syrian rebel groups said senior Isis figures were threatening Britons who were attempting to travel home. He said: “There are Britons who upon wanting to leave have been threatened with death, either directly or indirectly.”
It continued with the claim from former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg
Begg said that groups had approached him to try to put pressure on the government to show leniency to disillusioned fighters returning. Recently, the government suggested British jihadis who went to fight in Iraq or Syria could be tried for treason.
He said that a lot of Britons were currently “stuck between a rock and a hard place”. He added: “There are a large number of people out there who want to come back. The number in January was around 30, that was the number given to me. That number has definitely increased since.”
This comes as calls grow for an amnesty for British people who have gone to Syria to fight for the Islamists.
The Huffington Post said,
Britain should set up an amnesty for disillusioned and frightened British jihadis who want to come home, a senior diplomatic expert has said, as more reports emerged of “stranded” Brits desperate to leave Islamic State or other radical groups.
Up to 100 are believed to be currently stranded in Turkey, fleeing the horrors of the Islamic State’s rampage through Syria in Iraq. But most fear to return to Britain, according to Rachel Briggs, director of Hostage UK, which works with the families of victims kidnapped overseas.
Briggs told Huffington Post UK that the British government should “establish a clearing house near the Syrian border in Turkey to process and return home scared and disillusioned British jihadis”.
“In support of this effort, it should run an information campaign within Syria to inform British ISIS members of their return options,” she continued. “This does not mean letting criminals off the hook; those guilty of crimes must be prosecuted on their return.
The article develops the theme,
Worried parents could be “de-facto negotiators” if helped more by the government, Briggs said, citing the case of Mehdi Hassan, 19 from Portsmouth, the latest British jihadi to be killed in Syria. His mother told the media after pictures of his body circulated on Twitter that the aspiring history student had been desperate to leave the Islamic State, despite his bombastic statements on social media.
“Mehdi was a loving boy with a good heart wishing to help Syrians,” the family said in a statement. “In recent months he had expressed the intention to return home but was worried about the repercussions. This is a tragedy and a lesson.”
These calls have drawn anger from right-wingers like Stephen Pollard.
In the Express today he rejects the idea saying that they deserve prosecution, “They are simply having to face the consequences of their actions. There’s a simply way for anyone to avoid prison for terrorism: don’t be a terrorist. And if you do become one but don’t like it: tough. You will pay for your actions.”
We can ignore this predictable outrage.
In the first instance, it is not a good idea to make policy, especially ones that involve the legal system, based on individual cases, particularly ones such as that of Hassan. The emotional charge is high, above all when claims have been made that he acted on his family’s report of wishes to leave the scene of mass murder.
Hasty measures taken to pick on suspected jihadists and efforts to impose what is in effect censorship and repression, and “counter-extremism” are not a good idea.
The fact is that there is an assault taking place in Kobani – where Hassan was killed – by the genocidal Isis against our Kurdish sisters and brothers .
A political campaign on the left to face up to the Islamists, and the political pool they have thriven in, expressing solidarity with those battling the jihadists , might have a deeper effects.
Campaigning against the murderous acts of the Syrian regime, not to mention wider Islamist (including Shiite) religious intolerance, would be part of such a move.,
This ia a long-term, long-haul, objective.
In the meantime on the issue of amnesty, there does not seem much concern about those oppressed by Isis/Islamic State expressed by those advocating an amnesty – or by Pollard.
Racehl Briggs’s proposals are summarised in more detail by the following,
We need a more nuanced approach to deal with the different levels of threat. Arrest and prosecute those who have committed a crime and set an example of those guilty of the most heinous offences. Work proactively to bring back those who are scared and disillusioned, so they come back with us and on our terms. Turn the stories of returned foreign fighters into ammunition against ISIS. And offer those capable of reintegration the support they and their families need to get back on their feet and become productive members of society.
The issue of who has been a criminal is a hard one.
How exactly this should be determined, how they would be prosecuted and how they can be distinguished from the “scared and disillusioned” is left unclear.
The example of ‘rehabilitation’ in some European countries are marginal, covering a handful of people.
More significantly the number of jihadists going from Europe including Britain, to kill in Syria has not notably decreased as news about the nature of Isis/Islamic State has become widely known.
Battling in a Holy War and murdering infidels does not seem attractive.
Some of these foreign fighters are reported to have participated in the worst atrocities.
Some cases are certain, as in the Western hostages tortured and murdered by the Islamists.
There is this in particular,
Mr Foley spent much of his time in captivity being guarded by three militants with British accents, whom the hostages nicknamed “The Beatles”. The group apparently took pleasure in abusing their captives, telling them they had been “naughty”. For a time, Mr Foley and others were held in a basement beneath a children’s hospital in Aleppo, before their captors joined up with Isis and moved their hostages to Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, as Isis calls itself.
An International War Crimes Tribunal is perhaps the best way of dealing with those who have committed atrocities in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.
In the meantime there is no reason for any special pleading on behalf of “young enthusiasts” who join groups that commit acts of torture and genocide.
Perhaps much more significant in this media discussion is the underlying idea that somehow “British” jihadists should get special treatment.
This might be described as the “Western saviour complex”, except that those being saved are “our” (repentant) jihadis.
Assed Baig, the ‘controversial’ journalist who uses such phrases freely, and who received a window on Channel Four last night to air his opinion that Muslims in Britain are uniquely excluded and their religion and beliefs patronised and oppressed, would no doubt be opposed to any such favours from the Colonial British State.
Richard Seymour : “When people say, ‘The system works,’ they mean ‘The system works for me.’ The slags. “
Russell Brand “Have you been out in society recently? ‘Cause it’s SHIT. But when I was asked to discourse with Richard Seymour I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me. I chose the subject of revolution because comrade Seymour is a political genius and I am a genius, and imagining the overthrow of the current political system is the only way I can be enthused about politics.
It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No one really feels self-confident deep down because it’s an artificial idea. Really, people aren’t that worried about what you’re doing or what you’re saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you.
Richard Seymour. “To the switherers, who are thinking of throwing their energies into the the revolution what do you suggest? I would simply suggest this – give it a week, go along to one of the Left Unity or other meetings about the way forward. You might find, or find yourself able to make, something better.”
Russell Brand. “I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a privileged bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”
Richard Seymour, “I profoundly disagree with the language of “privilege”. The discourse seems inadequate to the complex realities of racial, gender, and national inequalities for example. It also tends, in concrete politics, toward an unhelpfully moralistic language – checking your privilege, and so on. Not to mention agonistic apathetic aporias.”
Russell Brand, “There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve. To me a potent and triumphant leftist movement, aside from the glorious Occupy rumble, is a faint, idealistic whisper from sepia rebels.
If I my quote my own words, “Until today two things gave me great pleasure in life. Wanking into the breasts of a bisexual nymphomaniac as she recites Simone de Beauvoir, and sparking an anti-capitalist revolution by my own revolt against the prevailing oppressive system of oppression what that oppress people”
Richard Seymour, “So it might be with “male privilege” referred to in this sense. Adapting Hall, one might speak of “those apparently naturalised representations of events and situations relating to sex and gender, whether ‘factual’ or ‘fictional’, which have sexist premisses and propositions inscribed in them as a set of unquestioned assumptions” and which “enable sexist statements to be formulated without ever bringing into awareness the sexist predicates on which the statements are grounded.”
Russell Brand “All penguins are the same below the surface, which I think is as perfect an analogy as we’re likely to get for the futility of sexism, racism and capitalism.”
Bob Lambert Receives Islamic Human Rights Award (2007).
Lambert is in the news again, for what reason?
Well this was his most recent appearance (September 2014).
Ministers have been urged to enlist the help of several controversial Muslim groups to stem the flow of British jihadists to Iraq and Syria.
Calls are growing for Whitehall to restore ties in particular with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), one of the country’s largest Islamic organisations. The group, which once enjoyed a close relationship with the government, has been ostracised since 2009 when one of its officials signed a declaration supporting Hamas and calling on Muslims to destroy “foreign warships” preventing arms smuggling into Gaza.
Robert Lambert, a former head of the Metropolitan police Muslim contact unit who is now a lecturer in terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews, said that the MCB and other Muslim groups could be valuable partners in the struggle against home-grown jihad….”
Originally in the Times (yesterday) – Hat-tip DT.
But on this occasion it’s not to develop the failures that resulted from the policy of co-operating with ‘moderate’ (hard-right) Islamists that he expounded in Countering Al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnerships (2011).
It’s Lambert’s past and the great wrong that he has done that’s in the news.
Today we learn.
The Metropolitan Police is to pay £425,000 to a woman whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer.
The unprecedented payment comes after a legal battle with women who say they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them.
Scotland Yard says it “unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering”.
The woman told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer’s real identity.
Married with children
The Met’s payment is part of an agreement for her to drop her legal action alleging assault, negligence, deceit and misconduct by senior officers.
Scotland Yard statement
The force faces further possible claims from other women who say they were tricked into relationships with Special Demonstration Squad officers.
The SDS ran long-term undercover operations designed to infiltrate protest groups, including animal rights organisations.
One of its key officers, former Special Branch detective Bob Lambert, used the pseudonym Bob Robinson, and was tasked with infiltrating the Animal Liberation Front.
During that operation in the mid 1980s, he formed a relationship with a 22-year-old activist called Jacqui – even though he was already married with children. In 1985 she gave birth – but when the boy was two years old, the father vanished.
Jacqui only discovered the real identity of her son’s father in 2012 after he had been outed by other campaigners.
Scotland Yard had refused to confirm or deny whether Bob Lambert was an SDS operative, despite his own admissions to journalists, until it was forced to change its position in August.
We note with concern that this individual is still a Lecturer in ‘Terrorism Studies’ at St Andrews University.
The University sees fit to publish this (link) about the past for which the Met now has had to pay out a hefty sum,
For the bulk of his police service (1977–2007) Robert Lambert worked in counter-terrorism, gaining operational experience of all forms of violent political threats to the UK, from Irish republican to the many strands of international terrorism that include what may now best be described as the al-Qaida movement. One common denominator in all the many and varied terrorist recruitment strategies he witnessed over the years is the exploitation of a sense of political injustice amongst susceptible youth. Throughout his police career Lambert placed value on street or grass roots perspectives over more rigid top down security approaches to counter-terrorism.
We helpfully note that there is something…missing in this account.
One hopes that a number of glaring absences are swiftly replaced by a fuller account of Lambert’s ‘career’.
The word “exploitation” is also particularly unfortunate.
Ideal Happy Suffolk Library User.
In 2012 Suffolk LIbraries were taken away from public ownership (‘divested’) and direct control by elected councillors under a hard-right leadership of Suffolk County Council. They were given to an Industrial and Provident Society
Or as they put it,
In the first arrangement of its type in the UK, and after extensive consultation with the people of Suffolk, on Wednesday 1 August 2012, all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries and the mobile, school and prison library services were put under the direct control of the Suffolk’s Libraries IPS Ltd, an independent company registered as a charity.
Suffolk’s Libraries has a long-term contract with Suffolk County Council to ensure the service is delivered to an agreed specification and to work with local community groups to develop locally-focused services at each library.
The county council remains the statutory library authority, and monitors the performance of the library service through a framework that forms part of the contract.
As a member of the Ipswich Friends, who are on the list, I would be interested to know how this election took place – certainly it would be hard to recall being consulted, let alone presented with a ballot paper.
It would be possible to go further into this arrangement, whose transparency has been unfavourably compared to the Kremlin’s under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.
Our concern is the future of the libraries.
It would seem that a number of problems have come to a head: Ipswich Library is opening late tomorrow, because a special ‘Staff Meeting’ is taking place.
It is known (I have seen a copy of the, non-public, minutes of the meeting) that part of the Library is to be transferred to a business ‘hub’ of some kind (as if Ipswich needs another one….).
Appropriately commerce will replace part of the Arts section.
In the meantime a large number of books from all over the Central Library are ‘disappearing’ and some books on the shelves are ‘not-recognised’ – about to be withdrawn for sale.
One loyal member of staff say that these volumes have gone to a better, happier, place.
Others, less favourable to management, suggest that the “disappeared” will never be seen again.
The computer provision, which last year’s annual public report (a rare glimpse into the Provy’s workings) needs upgrading, is in a mess.
Some new terminals are available (though 2 have already broken down) with super, indeed excellent, service, exist (though their censorship filter blocks some left-wing sites).
Some of the old ones still function.
There is a shortage of free computers and great competition to use them – an essential activity for Jobseekers.
But near to them are the dead carcasses of extinct terminals, a sad reminder of former days.
We suspect a funding crisis is in the offing and “profit centres” are seen as the way out.
Note the word “suspect“, not “certain”.
It is said – from the Management – that “nothing has been decided yet” about the libraries’ future.
We have heard that one before: it is no doubt taught in many ‘dealing with a crisis’ master classes for managers.
As student supporters of the NUS decision not to back the Kurdish struggle against Islamist genociders claim that the motion to commit them would “outsource” NUS campaigning to “MI5 and MI6″ we get the following claim,
the bottom line is that Malia promised to, and has, rewritten the motion to fully condemn ISIS https://www.facebook.com/malia.bouattia/posts/10154739200655331?fref=nf …
Well, it’s a claim, but her supporters seem a lot, a real lot, more concerned to “defend” Malia than to anything to defend the Kurds.
Now, this crops up.
From The Tab (October the 15th).
A motion was proposed at the Goldsmiths Students’ Assembly yesterday to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and victims of genocide.
Education officer Sarah El-alfy urged students to vote against the proposal, rejecting it as “eurocentric”.
One student added: “The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember.”
Another suggested she couldn’t commemorate the Holocaust because she thought the Union was explicitly “anti-Zionist”.
One of the students present said the proposal should be voted against as it would affect the Union’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The unfortunately-named President Howard Littler said after: “Someone brought up Israel-Palestine out of the blue but I made a point of information and said I didn’t want to conflate the two.”
He later audaciously added that the whole thing is just “a storm in a teacup”.
This report should be treated with extreme caution but here is the following.
The Tab asks.
Would you vote for or against the motion? Read it in full and have your say
Motion for the Student Union to commemorate the victims of genocide, totalitarianism and racial hatred
The Student Union recognises the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.
The Student Union shall organise commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually).
The motion fell by one vote.
The report continues.
The SU have yet to release minutes as they agree on the contents for the next meeting on 18th November.
But those attending are encouraged to live-tweet the event using the hashtag “GSUAssembly”.
One student named T. Walpole, present at the Assembly, objected: “Our union is anti-Zionist.”
They added: “This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.
“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.”
Now let’s disregard these (reported) morally cretinous comments.
The fact is that Holocaust Memorial day is not just about the Shoah,
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). 27 January is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
The trust does not include the Ukraine (Holodomor) or the Armenian genocide (Turkey).
Bu Goldsmith does not include, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
Or, something many consider a genocide, by Pakistan and its Islamist allies, Bangladesh in 1971.
In this light, and the complications that this could cause, and vagueness about ‘civil society’, the motion appears badly worded (Hat-tip Bob B).
But the issue of how to commemorate these mass killings, even by ‘white people’, and, by people of different political ideologies and faiths or none at all, is obscured by something which cannot be wished away.
This is what the College’s “Education officer” tweeted,
She now comments (I checked on the Tweet), with no further explanation whatsoever,
Goldsmith’s SU has a lot of answering to do.
More including some (evasive) ‘explanations’ from the union on the Huffington Post.
And by the Students’ Union.
On Tuesday night a Motion was voted down by a majority at Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s Students Assembly – a democratic meeting in which all students are invited to discuss and vote on issues that are important to them.
Subsequently The Tab wrote a piece entitled ‘vile SU refuse to commemorate Holocaust [sic]’. It is worth noting at this point that the article was co-authored by the proposer of the original motion, both of whose motions were voted down at the Student Assembly.
Many baseless claims are made, however the central tenet is that the Students Assembly and the Students’ Union opposed remembering the victims of the Holocaust. This is an insulting misrepresentation. We have in the past commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and will in the future.
A nuanced discussion about how best to effectively and collectively remember these events was had at Students Assembly. Re-drafting motions and re-entering them at a later date isn’t unusual in Students’ Unions and shouldn’t be misinterpreted as opposition. Sarah El-alfy, GSU Education officer, offered to help the proposer re-draft the motion and bring it to the next Student Assembly and this reflected the positivity in the room about the motion with the ambition to strengthen it further. A motion that includes remembering the Holocaust will be brought to the next Student Assembly in November. We feel these facts have been ignored in the subsequent reporting.
We will be writing to the Editor of The Tab in due course to seek correction of many of the factual inaccuracies in the report. Seperately, The Tab, in their article misgendered one of our students. We would like to ask for this to be corrected along with the rest of the article.
Goldsmiths SU executive team
Misgendering is the least of their problems.
What about the Tweets, starting with the one by Sarah El-alfy?