Socialist Worker

Anger at Moazzam Begg ‘terrorism related’ charges

Geoff Dexter and Ken Olende report on the anger at news of the detention of Moazzam Begg

Issue No. 2393

Protesters holding a banner which reads Birmingham TUC says free Moazzam Begg

Protesting outside West Midlands police headquarters in Birmingham (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Hundreds protested in Birmingham and London last weekend at the arrest and charging of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg on suspicion of “Syria-related” terrorism.

Since his release from Guantanamo he has campaigned for the rights of detainees, and against rendition and torture.

Moazzam was one of four people detained on Tuesday of last week. Police raided his home in Hall Green, Birmingham. 

Cage, the group campaigning for detainee rights that Moazzam heads, issued a statement after the arrest. 

Rendition

It said, “Moazzam has been very open about his international travel and his objectives, including importantly exposing British complicity in rendition and torture.

“The timing of Moazzam’s arrest given his travel to Syria took place in December 2012 requires a detailed explanation. 

“The timing coincides with the planned release of a Cage report on Syria.” 

Moazzam and one of the other arrestees, Gerrie Tahari, were charged with “providing terrorist training” and “funding terrorism overseas” at Westminster magistrates court, London, last Saturday. 

Up to 1,000 people demonstrated outside the Home Office in central London last Sunday.

The previous day around 400 campaigners rallied in Birmingham outside the headquarters of the West Midlands police. 

Demonstrators presented a petition demanding his release to the chief of police.

Protesters demand Moazzam be freed

Protesters demand Moazzam be freed (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Former Birmingham councillor Salma Yaqoob told the protest, “We will not be silenced, we will not be intimidated.”

Other speakers included Cage, Birmingham National Union of Teachers, former Taliban captive and Stop the War campaigner Yvonne Ridley and Birmingham Trades Union Council.

Speeches were interspersed with chants of “No justice, no peace!” and “Free Moazzam Begg”.

The recent arrests follow a concerted campaign of harassment against Muslim individuals and charities involved in providing humanitarian aid to the victims of the Syrian crisis. 

The purpose is to intimidate and vilify the wider Muslim community so that they are prevented from delivering much needed aid to the Syrian people.

Smash 

Campaigning against police raids on Muslims in 2006, Moazzam told Socialist Worker, “I know what it’s like to have someone smash their way into your house and put a gun to your head. 

“It is one step away from being shot. I felt very strongly on a personal level, but also more generally about the role of the police.”


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