We live in an age where those who work towards realising idealised principles of the rule of law, transparency and due process are smeared by their governments and press.
Julian Assange is the most recent case in point. In the face of the categorical UN ruling that Assange was being subjected to arbitrary detention, the British press has been focussed on his rape allegations. David Cameron has deflected that Assange “should stand trial in Sweden, a country with a fair reputation for justice” so there could be an “end to the sorry saga”. What has been forgotten is that the Swedish prosecutor refused to go to London to interview Assange for more than four years before being questioned by a Swedish court for her failure to progress investigations into what Helena Kennedy QC said was “unlikely to lead to conviction”. Then of course there is the ever so minor detail that Sweden refuses to issue safety guarantees to the Wikileaks founder which would prevent extradition to the US to face potentially the death penalty.
Edward Snowden is another prominent example of a smear campaign. Western security agencies have strongly tried to associate his actions of accountability with the secular blasphemy that is the threat to national security. Incidentally, he also exposed previously unknown British activity with regards to bulk surveillance, and now there is an attempt by Theresa May to ex-post facto legalise the gross invasion of privacy via the Investigatory Powers Bill and in particular the recent, criticised investigatory powers tribunal ruling on GCHQ bulk surveillance.
Crosspost: Dilly Hussain
In light of the new recording of Islamophobia law coming into effect in April, controversial anti-Muslim hate monitoring organisation Tell Mama will inevitably be made redundant, writes Dilly Hussain.
Muslims across the UK are eagerly awaiting the publication of the much-anticipated Counter Extremism Bill.
Prolific Government statements throughout 2015 set out its intent to tackle the “extremist ideology” that apparently lurks behind “Islamist extremism”, and the justifiable counter-concerns about yet further encroachments on Muslim civil liberties, makes this as significant a political struggle as the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill at the start of 2015.
Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator at the Daily Telegraph, in a sequence of articles for Open Democracy has shed significant light on the demise of standards at the Telegraph titles drawing attention to the paper’s refusal to publish his investigative pieces on the behaviour of the Charity Commission towards British Muslim charities and the paper’s woeful neglect in coverage of the banking scandal engulfing HSBC allegedly to avoid losing valuable advertising revenue.
In our view, Andrew Gilligan and his derisory brand of ‘investigative’ journalism is further evidence of the “fraud” by the Telegraph titles on its readers who are fed a regular diet of shoddy journalism. Gilligan’s mudslinging at British Muslim organisations is well known. Lesser attention, however, has been paid to the number of times his ‘investigative’ pieces have been shown to be lacking in substance. Unfortunately, British Muslim organisations do not possess the kind of financial clout that large business corporations may be able to exercise over the Telegraph’s print output and so spurious allegations and unfounded accusations continue to be printed.
Gilligan’s form of non-violent extremism takes the curious shape of paradox peppered with paranoia. For example, in light of the Education select committee’s report this week on the so called ‘Trojan horse plot’ in Birmingham schools, it is useful to reflect on the number of articles Gilligan wrote elaborating on the ‘extremism‘ present in the schools, the actors involved and how the Sunday Telegraph “revealed the truth behind the plot”. Contrast this to the important finding by the select committee, and affirmed by the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, in an interview with The Muslim News last year, that “ No evidence of extremism or radicalisation, apart from a single isolated incident, was found by any of the inquiries and there was no evidence of a sustained plot nor of a similar situation pertaining elsewhere in the country.” Have we seen a retraction of the specious allegations Gilligan made in relation to the schools? Of course not. Have we seen an apology from the Telegraph for allowing articles without substance to be published and thereby committing a “fraud” on its readers? Of course not.