ONCE AGAIN FAILED ANTI-TERROR POLICIES CONTINUE TO PUNISH INNOCENT CITIZENS
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) welcomes the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop all charges of terrorism-related offences against Moazzam Begg. The release from prison today of Begg, once an innocent detainee of Guantanamo Bay, an author and a prominent British human rights campaigner, comes as a great relief to his family and friends, as well as the vast community who knew him and never believed for a second that he might have been guilty. Begg was arrested in the West Midlands, on the 25th of February 2014 on suspicion of “attending a terrorist training camp” and “facilitating terrorism overseas”.
TCF warned at the time that Begg’s arrest was politically-motivated and was the culmination of a long campaign of harassment from the UK authorities, including being prevented from attending events he was invited to abroad and the confiscation of his passport on numerous occasions.
TCF has a long-standing working relationship with Begg and the human rights and advocacy group CAGE. Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation said:
“Moazzam is a close aide to The Cordoba Foundation; we have been collaborating on several projects over many years specifically addressing issues relating to human rights violations perpetrated under the pretext of the so-called War on Terror, the criminalisation of the Muslim community, but more importantly, fighting for the rights of those illegally detained. Moazzam is a leading light in this field and is a well-respected personality in not only the British Muslim community but across British society, as the huge numbers of messages of congratulations and celebration show. Indeed, many of those messages were received from all corners of the world”.
Altikriti further commented that “it seems absurd that someone of Moazzam’s stature was accused of supporting terrorism, despite being a strong voice against extremism, and someone who has always encouraged Muslims and the wider community to become engaged with the local and national legal and political processes. I find it strange how someone viewed as an antidote to extremism and radicalisation, became himself, a victim of the ‘War on Terror…’”.
TCF believes that Begg’s unjustifiable incarceration, for the second time in his life-time, is representative of the fruits of the failed Prevent programme and anti-terror legislations which must be abandoned, for driving communities apart and creating a culture of fear rather than one of safety and security. This also highlights the dangers of home secretary Theresa May’s call this week for the abandoning of the Human Rights Act.
Notes to editors:
1. The Cordoba Foundation is an independent strategic think tank aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue and positive coexistence, through a range of activities including research and publications, training and capacity building, policy briefings and dialogues. The Foundation takes its name from the city of Cordoba. The European metropolis was once a symbol of human excellence and intellectual ingenuity, where cultures, civilizations and ideas thrived. Embodying this spirit, TCF today facilitates the meeting of minds, to advance understanding and respect for one another.
2. Media and interview requests, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | 020 8991 3372 | http://thecordobafoundation.com
THE CORDOBA FOUNDATION, LONDON PEACE NETWORK AND FAITH-BASED REGENERATION NETWORK
MEDIA RELEASE AND EVENT REPORT
16 September, 2014
London Peace Conference – no topics off limits
The Cordoba Foundation (TCF), London Peace Network (LPN) and the Faith-based Regeneration Network (FbRN) convened a peace conference yesterday at the historic St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, in London.
Commemorating the United Nations International Day of Peace, this timely conference was supported by a number of prominent organisations representing a broad spectrum of religious, specialist and community organisations, including the Christian Muslim Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, Religions for Peace, Al-Khoei Foundation, The Quakers, Peace One Day, and the UNA Westminster.
From the crises in the Middle East, to reducing conflict in our homes and streets, the conference engaged scholars, experts, faith and community leaders to discuss the limits and challenges of grassroots peace endeavours, as well as learning peace-building skills, and exploring conceptual frameworks governing peace and dialogue.
The conference was jointly opened by Dr Anas Altikriti, Chief Execof The Cordoba Foundation and Catriona Robertson, Convener of the London Peace Network. Lord Michael Bates, who was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office in August 2014 and currently on his Walk for Peace to Berlin, sent a special message,
“It is all too easy to look around the world and get depressed about the cause of peace, but it is said it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness: that is exactly what the London Peace Network is seeking to do and I applaud them for it and would encourage all those who care about peace to join in.”
The morning keynote speeches were delivered by Imam Shafiur-Rahman, Director of Jibreel Institute in London, who talked about developing a framework for peace-building. Jo Berry, founder of Building Bridges for Peace, relayed her personal trauma and awakening following the killing of her father in an IRA bomb by Pat Magee. Her preparedness to try to understand Magee opened a path to empathy that continues to develop today, and this unusual relationship has been told in the BBC documentary “Facing the Enemy”, and featured in the film “Beyond Right and Wrong”, and inspired “The Bomb”, a play by Kevin Dyer.
Other notable contributions came from Chani Smith, Secretary, Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum; Rt Hon Clare Short, Former Secretary of State; Rabbi Natan Levy, Board of Deputies of British Jews; Revd Nadim Nassar, Director of the Awareness Foundation; Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain;Keith Kahn-Harris, Sociologist and Author; Aliya Azam, Al Khoei Foundation; Jehangir Sarosh OBE, Religions for Peace UK; Rosalind Parker, Kings College London; and Julian Bond, Christian Muslim Forum. The closing address was delivered by Marigold Bentley, Assistant General Secretary, Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
The conference combined a mixture of skills-based workshops, thematic panel discussions, films (MUJU Crew), a performance by school students from the Khalsa Secondary Academy, Stoke Poges, and interactive sessions moderated by Steve Miller, Faith-based Regeneration Network and Angharad Thain, St Ethelburga’s.
The organisers proposed a draft statement of practical intent and commitment to peace-building in the 21st century, which stated the following,
“We recognise that peace is not just an absence of conflict but is about building a world where all can flourish without fear.
We know that fear and violence prosper in a world of ignorance and mistrust where we demonise the ‘other’ and mistakenly elevate ourselves as superior; whether that is across nations and peoples, in our streets and communities, or even in our own homes.
Disputes exist, injustice exists, exploitation exists – we know that these things are real in the world and words alone cannot solve these problems.
But, coming together today, we dedicate ourselves to find peaceful ways to pursue justice, to stand up and be active, and to use our joint energies and influence for creative and not destructive outcomes”.
Bringing the conference to a formal close, Abdullah Faliq, Head of Research at The Cordoba Foundation thanked all for making the conference a success and highlighted its significance: “unlike other conferences that tend to avoid serious and important issues because of political correctness, fear and intimidation, in this conference no issues are off limits. However this conference is only the start, its success depends on how it is followed up”.
‘Celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace in a unique way, meeting other people who live in London it is likely you have never met. Find out what they think; ask questions you’ve always wanted to ask.’
21 September 2014, 2pm-4pm.
North Greenwich Emirates Air Line station.
On 21, 22, and 24 July 2014, a number of letters were sent by HSBC Bank UK advising that the business accounts of The Cordoba Foundation and the personal accounts of Mr. Anas Altikriti and members of his family, including two minor children, were being closed without further consultation. A period of two months notice was given in which alternative arrangements were to be made with another bank, as HSBC Bank UK was no longer prepared to offer banking services.
In a number of identical letters received, HSBC Bank UK stated that the it had “recently conducted a review of its portfolio of customers and has concluded that provision of banking services to The Cordoba Foundation UK Ltd. now falls outside of our risk appetite”.
It is with the utmost concern that HSBC Bank UK has taken such an unprecedented course of action. It is quite clear that no prior concerns with the account holders had been identified or raised and it remains unclear as to what precisely has prompted the bank to take this wholly unjustified course of action.
Of particular concern, is the fact that in ordering the closure of the accounts, it will create a ‘black mark’ against those concerned and alternative banking services may be difficult, if not impossible to now source. This in itself has the potential to cause significant damage to reputation.
HSBC Bank UK has refused thus far to provide any reasons whatsoever to justify their decision, simply stating “we have taken the decision that we no longer wish to provide you with banking facilities and are closing your account.” All attempts to contact the Bank through the helpline number provided on the letter have failed. Those persons affected have been confronted with a wall of silence.
It is recognised that the right to withhold banking facilities lies with the institution in question, nevertheless, it is wholly inappropriate that a bank can take such a decision that can have such far reaching consequences, without providing any form of justification or redress.
It is also of significance that the Bank has also made a decision to close accounts associated with a number of other Islamic groups or individuals. Without any real justification being disclosed, there is a clear inference that the Bank is making their decisions on wholly discriminatory grounds, which the Bank recognises is illegal.
HSBC Bank UK is hereby asked to:
1. Provide legitimate reasons for why they have taken the decision to close the accounts of The Cordoba Foundation, Mr. Anas Altikriti;
2. Issue a full and unequivocal apology for any potential damage to reputation;
3. Enter immediate dialogue with Mr. Altikriti and/or his representatives to discuss a solution to the perceived problem(s).
Notes to editors:
For formal enquiries and further information, please contact:
As thousands converge in Potocari today for the funeral prayers of over 400 bodies and the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we are once again reminded of the lengths that man could potentially go to when immersed in a state of fear, hatred and division.
The Memorial Day puts to rest any naivety that the lessons of the past have not only been learned, but well and truly headed. Not only are human beings chronically capable of committing the most repugnant of acts against fellow human beings, regardless of the advancement of time, the catalysts for these crimes are invariably similar whatever the different and unique circumstances of each.
The Cordoba Foundation has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of the threat man poses against his fellow man, should particular conditions become established on the ground. Whether Srebrenica, Auswitz, Rwanda, Gaza, Kashmir, Myanmar or Somalia, and whether in the last century, this or the one coming, injustice establishes fear which breads suspicion and ultimately hatred. From there, the move on to violence is neither a difficult nor inconceivable step to undertake. Our objective is to work in common collaboration to remove the very initial elements on that tragic path, and to counter the root causes for clashes based on false and misguided understanding and implementation of the concepts of ‘self’ and ‘the other’.
The Srebrenica Memorial Day provides a timely reminder to us all of the challenges that can only be met in a sense of togetherness and community.
The Cordoba Foundation and Islamic Forum of Europe are issuing this special sermon from the Mufti of Bosnia Herzegovinia on this occasion
Arab Organisation for Human Rights and Palestine Solidarity Campaign
ISRAEL’S “ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION” POLICY AND THE PLIGHT OF PALESTINIANS ON HUNGER STRIKE
Addressing the dire plight of nearly 200 Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike (for over 50 days), protesting against their detention without charge or trial under Israel’s “administrative detention” policy. Shackled, tortured (including sexual), and poor treatment, many are on the verge of death.
This is a call to the international community to give voice to the voiceless and victims of human rights abuses in Israeli jails.
Tuesday 24 June, 2014
The British Library – 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Nearest tubes: Kings Cross / Euston
Clare Short – Secretary of State for International Development, 1997- 2003.
Sir Gerald Kaufman – Member of Parliament
Toby Cadman – International Criminal Law Specialist.
Victoria Brittain – British journalist; author of Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths and Death of Dignity.
Sarah Colborne – Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Mohammed Jamil – Director, Arab Organisation for Human Rights (UK)
The Cordoba Foundation convened a timely and important seminar at the Royal Overseas League, Green Park in London, which analysed the British Prime Minister’s decision to conduct a “review” into the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. The seminar examined the motivations and the potential outcomes of the review.
A distinguished panel comprised of Lord Ken Macdonald QC, journalist Peter Oborne, Dr Maha Azzam, Chair of Egyptians for Democracy UK, Mona al-Qazzaz, Muslim Brotherhood spokeswoman and Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO of The Cordoba Foundation, addressed the topic from numerous angles and took questions from the floor.
The packed audience included academics, policy-makers, reporters and journalists, diplomats, campaigners, and faith and community leaders.