CAGE: human rights advocacy group, but for whom?
London-based human rights group CAGE has been at the centre of a media storm after its apparent defence of Mohammed Emwazi, the terrorist best known as Jihadi John. The group have explained away his actions by suggesting that the British authorities are to blame.
On its website CAGE state that, “since 2001, the British authorities have systematically shifted the spotlight away from its foreign policy and its security agencies by placing blame for violence at home and abroad solely on Muslims”.
In a recent radio argument with Boris Johnson, CAGE’s senior researcher Asim Qureshi denied ever saying that Emwazi was “radicalised by MI5 to commit beheadings,” however evidence from articles on CAGE’s website suggests otherwise, most notably their publication of emails sent between the charity and the terrorist between 2009 and 2012 which follow the alleged “harassment and abuse” Emwazi suffered at the hands of the MI5.
The accumulation of CAGE’s recent comments makes one query whether their motives are truly as singular as they propose. There is no denying that many of their relentless campaigns for justice, one of which was dedicated to Alan Henning, have been widely celebrated, reflected in supportive donations by various charities, such as the Roddick Foundation or the Joseph Rowntree charitable foundation, but CAGE fail to make clear distinctions between the different people they defend. In using the common umbrella of “justice” for all its cases, CAGE becomes highly questionable as a charity and in its direction and rhetoric.
It could be argued that this viewpoint has been slowly cementing over recent years. We can take the example of Gita Sahgal, Amnesty International’s former head of gender unit who left her post in 2010 after an email was published which outlined her irrevocable disputes against Amnesty’s close links with the “pro-jihadi group”. She was suspended after claiming that Moazzam Begg, CAGE’s outreach director was “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban”.
With the Guardian reporting that Amnesty International is currently “reviewing whether any future association with the group would now be appropriate,” there could be no clearer indication that Sahgal’s original concerns are finally being felt.
Further examples of CAGE’s murky history are exemplified by their choice of “dodgy” clients. Aafia Siddiqui, jailed for 86 years for attempting to murder US officials in Afghanistan and with wide-ranging links to al-Qaeda continues to feature on CAGE’s website. CAGE has also defended Abu Hamza, convicted to life imprisonment in the US on eleven terrorist charges, who in an interview in 2008 said that he would not get a fair trial by the West whose, “future plans depends on occupying and taking resources from Muslims lands and to serve the expansion of Israel”.
In an evident demonstration of CAGE’s impassioned character, a recent article published on their website called for an end to their vilification or their forced departure from Britain. Such a remark ignites and politicises hatred amongst a misinformed generation. Ultimately, the real unease surrounding charities such as CAGE is not just their questionable political standpoint, but their ever growing power and following and its dangerous repercussions.
In light of CAGE’s comments and actions, one can arguably deem them particularly contentious in this current political climate especially with growing concerns surrounding the radicalisation of young British Muslims. One can wonder whether CAGE’s campaigns, its actions and the rhetoric of its leaders could become problematic in their power to appeal to and attract vulnerable, naïve and disenchanted Muslim youths.
The world is in need of more people like Alan Henning and less like Mohammed Emwazi and as financial donors withdraw their support in the wake of CAGE’s controversial statements, perhaps it would be in their interest to clearly differentiate their approach between the two.