Cage: I hate to say we told you so

Many who should know better have coddled Cage in recent years


Earlier this week I found myself in a debate with a volunteer from Amnesty International over the charity’s promotion of Cage and specifically the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg. The discussion revolved around the suitability of Cage – a shady Salafi PR outfit – as a partner for Amnesty in the latter’s campaign for the right to a fair trial.

The argument was put to me that, whilst Amnesty might not agree with all of the views espoused by Cage, they do share common ground  on the right to justice and against the disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay.

My own argument was simply to ask whether it would be acceptable to partner with an organisation of the British far-right in a similar fashion. Would it really be kosher to share a platform with Nick Griffin simply because of ‘common ground’ over his and  our opposition to, say, the war in Iraq?

Of course not, and I suspect my interlocutor now realises this – ever since Cage’s unsavoury nature became undeniable yesterday afternoon, his tweets defending the group have mysteriously disappeared. Or not so mysteriously; for who really wants to be on the record publicly defending a group which referred to Mohammed Emwazi (aka Jihadi John) as a ‘beautiful man’?

Nor can yesterday’s Cage press conference be defended on the basis of putting Mohammed Emwazi’s actions in their proper ‘context’. Contemplate for a second how silly (and how sinister) it would have been to talk about the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik in a similar fashion – not as a ruthless killer but as a misunderstood victim of the system. As a friend put it this morning, the ‘MI5 made me do it’ narrative is also an insult to all of those who fall foul of the immigration system yet do not resort to beheading people.

Many who ought to have known better have coddled Cage in recent years and will no doubt feign surprise at news that the group isn’t so much a human rights group as an Islamist activist outfit. Well I’m sorry to say this but: we told you so. As Noor Elahi wrote on these pages back in October 2014:

“Even though CAGE say they knew Britons were being held hostage in Syria, at a time the wider public did not, they argued that the UK had nothing to fear from Muslims travelling to Syria to fight. As the crimes of Britons in ISIS and the Al-Nusra front became clear, this analysis was quietly dropped, replaced by the claim that British Muslims were being criminalised collectively, or that particular excesses of the Islamic State’s actions were incompatible with sharia.”

One hopes that after yesterday’s grim spectacle Amnesty will distance itself from Cage, just as it would any other group that was so closely aligned with (and so ready to make excuses for) dangerous extremists.

Similarly, the left should draw a clear line of separation between itself and groups like Cage when campaigning for human rights. As Noor put it in her piece:

“[While] It is entirely correct that the ethical abomination of Guantanamo Bay be campaigned against…What the left should never do is whitewash the ideas and beliefs of people like CAGE and Moazzam Begg. Their agenda is to be an advocacy group for Islamic fundamentalism in British society, and to use the left as the soap powder for that washing.”

After yesterday, that seems a fairly uncontroversial point. But what a shame it’s taken so long to get here; some of us have been cautioning against Cage for years.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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99 Responses to “Cage: I hate to say we told you so”

  1. Mark

    On Wednesday, on LBC, they covered the story (between 2pm and 4pm – the presenter will be nameless). Prior to the press conference, the presenter seemed to be talking about CAGE as if they had never heard of them, giving the listener the absolute impression that they were a proper “Human rights organisation and charity,” with no questioning at all. I found this a bit weird. Surely a journalist would have at least some knowledge.
    The question they were putting out to listeners was along the lines of whether the security services had got it wrong, which was taken from the CAGE website. Again, I frowned. What was going on here? It’s ok to play devil’s advocate, but that didn’t seem to be the case, and this was turning into CAGE propaganda.
    Then came the press conference, of which they played the first ten minutes before a news break.
    After, came the phone-in, but along with that was the presenter’s own “experience” of when big cameras went up in Birmingham and “Surely that would make the people in the community uncomfortable.” Again, this was not “devil’s advocate” but personal thinking. Surely this presenter was not feeling that CAGE were right about the security services being the bad guys? There was nothing else being put forward after all. Then I went into a shop.
    After, I heard the last call-in, with a lady who was angry about the whole thing. After she had her say, the presenter said, “But what I’m saying is, should the security services have a re-think?” Certainly not devil’s advocate as the call had been ended, and that was the end of the show.
    I was fuming at the ineptness and lack of awareness of it all. It absolutely was CAGE propaganda – unwittingly.
    At least the next presenter on the following show was angry at CAGE and made it known.

  2. Matthew Blott

    It’s patronising to call this a great post when James is just stating what should be the bleeding obvious. Hopefully the wheels are coming off the Cage bandwagon. A few days ago Diane Abbott was urging people to join her with a typical selection of Islamists and Trots at a UAF rally yet last night on This Week she had the Cage spin as her moment of the week. Earlier in the day Asim Quereshi had a testy interview with the often Islamist friendly John Snow. The Guardian almost covered the story correctly but spoiled it by referring to Asim Qureshi as “an experienced researcher into the effects of the west’s efforts against terrorism” rather than the Islamist gobshite he really is (still, since it’s given the organisation plenty of space over the years for its propaganda I can understand the Graun’s reluctance to go for a full frontal assault). I don’t see how Amnesty can continue its current relationship with Cage or how Moazzam Begg has any credibility left (if he even had any to start with) as a human rights campaigner.

  3. Mark

    Yeah, I noticed Diane doing that, fully aware that she is a UAF supporter. It’s a bit mixed up, and I wonder if people are stupid, the organisers are clever, or I’m missing something.

  4. Roger Day

    Isn’t the person in the middle of the video something to do with the SWP?

  5. Johnny Wong

    “My own argument was simply to ask whether it would be acceptable to partner with an organisation of the British far-right in a similar fashion. Would it really be kosher to share a platform with Nick Griffin simply because of ‘common ground’ over his and our opposition to, say, the war in Iraq?”

    Says the man who, after insisting Labour should cuts links with the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) and criticising the aforementioned oganisation, now speaks at HJS events.

  6. damon

    Yep, I heard that on LBC too.
    Some of those radio presenters are pretty uninformed.

  7. greg

    An islamist/islamofascist/terrorist apologist/prick having something to do with the SWP? I’m shocked…

  8. JohnRich

    The reality of this nasty, misogynist, homophobic, violent, illiberal and anti-democratic cult is finally begining to hit home to those on the so-called ‘progressive’ left.

  9. Guest

    Keep trying to lump people together in your typical lazy PC, simply because you hate them.

    That you want worse than any mere Islamist – the full frontal assualt tactic on Britain is yours – strangely isn’t discussed.

  10. Guest

    Keep trying to smear everyone with your friends.

  11. Guest

    Yes, I’m sure you hit plenty of people you think are left wingers, cultist. Keep chanting!

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    There’s a sharp difference between supporting an organisation with unpleasant beliefs and supporting basic rights for everyone, regardless of their actions and no matter how unpleasant they are. You don’t make that distinction well.

    That you quote Noor at the end, who says the right thing, does not really help as it IS at the end of the article.

  13. Guest

    So if a group spins you, in your world you’re now their face regardless of what they do? I see.
    Very Orwellian of you.

    Keep demanding loads of people are friendly to your friends, too. Most people detest fanatics like your far right and Islamists, as you hold hands – and as you try to demand that your beliefs not be opposed (what you believe is of course clear from your opposition to UA*F*).

  14. greg

    That’s the thing with the SWP. You don’t need to smear them, they smear themselves so thoroughly it would be hard to do a better job with it if I tried.

  15. Matthew Blott

    I have no idea what you are going on about.

  16. Guest

    Keep pretending. Your political correctness shines though.

  17. Guest

    Exactly. You’re obsessed with them and want to smear them over everyone else.

  18. greg

    You are insane. I don’t think I’ve thought about the SWP for 6 months or whenever it was they were last bought up for either supporting islamists and having islamist members or maybe that thing about the rape and sexual harassment thing which was fucking disgraceful even for them.

    That’s the thing about the SWP is they are utterly awful and exibit disgraceful behaviour regularly and actively and regularly side with religious fascists and bigots but they are also an utter irrelevance. At best they are the butt of a political joke at worst they are the perfeft example of the worst and outright dangerous tendencies of the extreme left that the rest of the left must absolutely oppose.

  19. KBPlayer

    You can support Moazzam Begg’s, Nick Griffin’s and anyone else’s rights not to be imprisoned without due process. You don’t bring Begg’s organisation, nor Nick Griffin’s organisation into partnership – as if they were a human rights organisation instead of an Islamist front. Cage is a joint signatory with Amnesty on a letter to the PM about torture in December 2014. A bunch of theocrats taking the liberal high ground is ludicrous. If the BNP signed solemn letters of that kind you’d laugh at them.

  20. Leon Wolfeson

    Sure. But the article wasn’t clear.

  21. Guest

    Ah yes, I’m insane for not being down at your level.

    6 seconds, more like, given your posts. As you demand everyone else be down there with your fanatics and Islamists, too.

    You’re no better than the people you’re smearing across everyone, of course. And your wild mental health accusations show you’ll try and eradicate any kind of remotely leftist thought in your totalitarian little world there.

  22. Paul J

    LFF hates Islamists and al qeada linked militants everywhere, except Syria, where it pretends they’re moderates.

  23. Richard Sanderson

    I want to see some grovelling apologies from those useful idiots who coddled CAGE.

  24. chimpanzoo

    I suspect that’s the point. Sophistry and nonsense abound.

  25. chimpanzoo

    Why do you hate to say that? It needs to be said more often, more loudly, and more insistently. The entire liberal sphere of social discourse in the UK seems to have been colonised by self-regarding wine-sippers more concerned with feeling right than being right, and their pusillanimity in the face of micropolitical bullshit now has “left-wing” organisations marching alongside non-violent Islamic extremists, out-and-out Islamists, and full blown crescent moon Neo-Nazis in defiance of “intolerance”. Hopefully the UK left’s descent up it’s own anus can be arrested before it loses too much credibility and we have to start again from scratch.

  26. Matthew Blott

    Not pretending. I’ve read what you posted a few times now – “chimpanzoo” suggests sophistry but that would give your incoherent rambling more credit than it deserves.

  27. Proquci

    eh? what on earth are you puking out about? This way past time that the left stopped being islamist militant apologists, severed all the ties, and stood firmly and solidly against the vilest of people, instead, UAF have acted like thugs hand in hand with them. So sad.

  28. Guest

    I’m not throwing up, at all John. Perhaps you should stop the alcohol abuse.

    And where has on the left said they support you, as you try and say it’s sad that your Fascist views are not coddled. The only difference between your views and Islamists is, basically, *some* targets.

    (Both groups hate Jews, for instance)

  29. Guest

    Matthew, yes, you abound, as you make a point you can’t read English.

  30. Guest

    Keep calling English “incoherent rambling”. You can’t read it, got it, as you try and censor views because they might not be yours, but you don’t know and are lashing out blindly – as usual.

    Keep defending being worse than any mere Islamist – and your PC.

  31. Guest

    Yes, let’s hear those with the same basic views – the far right – grovelling.

  32. Guest

    Ah yes, the “wrong people” have been allowed to speak.

    And no, they’re not marching with you, or your Neo-Nazis, get over it. Keep trying to eliminate the left and replace it with more right wing thugs.

  33. Mark

    You are definitely using English words – but not necessarily in the correct order

  34. Thats_news

    Guest, you are insane for entirely different reasons.

  35. Guest

    Oh, Matthew, I’m not espousing your right wing views.
    Intolerable. You can’t allow it!

    You’re still not reading my posts, I see, just posting with multiple usernames again LB.

  36. Leon Wolfeson

    Keep screaming that millions of refugees are Islamists, as you consistently support Islamists and extremists against people fighting your kind of hate.

  37. Guest

    That’s right, I’m “insane” because I don’t espouse your views. Keep spouting off your far right, totalitatian social darwinist crap that not thinking only the True Beliefs you hold makes people insane, LB/greg/Thats_spews/Matthew/whatever other username you’re using today.

  38. Matthew Blott

    Er, no. Dunno who Mark is but he’s not me. It’s obviously not just me who can’t work out what you’re going on about. I also don’t know if it’s because you’re drunk or you are just a moron. Maybe both.

  39. chimpanzoo

    You misunderstand me. It’d be cynical to suppose you do so intentionally, but there we are. Anyone who wants to speak can do so; I’m proposing the left needs to have a long hard think who it listens to, otherwise we end up with Islamists leading the nation’s largest antifa movement and that makes everyone concerned look tendentious and gullible.

    As for your prurient, rambling accusations of Neo-Nazism, feel free to ram them up your cock.

  40. chimpanzoo

    Go and brush you teeth with toilet paper, you rambling buffoon.

  41. David Gray

    The penny is finally starting to drop….

  42. Guest

    Penny isn’t a Muslim name. And you can’t “drop” people off the White Cliffs, you have to push them.

  43. Guest

    Eloquent as usual, Lord Blagger / Matt / champanzoo

  44. Guest

    So, you’re lying as usual. It’s you, using multiple usernames. No question.

    As you demand I’m a moron for not being a right winger and being a Jew, and that I have your alcohol issues.

  45. Guest

    I understand you, that’s your issue.

    You, Matt/LB/Chimpanzoo just called for moderation of my posts so you’re lying as usual.

    You are demanding to control the left, as you try and deny what you called yourself.

  46. Matthew Blott

    You’re the one who appears as “Guest” Leon. I only ever post under my own name. I don’t know who Mark is but I just clicked on his link and he appears to have a lot of comments to his name so it’s not a sock puppet account. I have no alcohol issues either, I don’t care if you do I was just trying to find a reason for your bizarre comments (e.g. “Jews” have now made an appearance for no reason whatsoever). Maybe you’re not drunk or a moron but just mad.

  47. Matthew Blott

    Mark according to a moron called Leon (who is Guest on this thread) you are me. Just thought you should know 🙂

  48. Matthew Blott

    I haven’t called for moderation of your posts. You’re making a tit of yourself as it is.

  49. Mark

    Not the case about multiple usernames.
    Possibly the problem here is that I could have replied to you after you replied to me with very strange English.
    But I decided to reply to another one with equally strange language, rather than labour the point in multiple replies.

  50. Mark

    So it seems. What I should have done is reply to him after he used strange language in replying to me. Instead, I replied to another one, where his language in reply to you, was also strange.

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