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Focus on Islamism
Wednesday 10th February 2010
Denis MacShane MP Letter to Amnesty

Denis MacShane, the Labour MP for Rotherham and staunch defender of free speech and human rights, has sent a letter to Amnesty International's UK Director, Kate Allen, regarding the organisation's decision to suspend Gita Sahgal.  It is reproduced below in full:

Kate Allen


Amnesty UK

17-25 New Inn Yard


EC2A 3EA                                                10 Feb. 10

Dear Kate,

I was very concerned to hear on Today this morning that Amnesty International has suspended  Gita Saghal because she quite rightly raised questions about whether Amnesty should be promoting someone whose views run contrary to everything Amnesty stands for.

I know she works for the International Secretariat but Amnesty UK is involved as it has been promoting the man in question. Given your own admired and respected role in raising women's right issues as part of Amnesty's work I do think some reflection is required before the International Secretariat victimises one of its most respected researchers because she rightly called into question Amnesty's endorsement of Mozzam Begg whose views on the Taliban and on Islamist jihad stand in total contradiction of everything Amnesty has fought for.

Wherever Islamist ideology wins power as in Afghanistan under the Taliban whom Mr Begg so much admires there has been an immediate assault on human rights especially on women and on freedom of expression. Under the Taliban every citizen of Afghanistan became a prisoner of conscience. Yet Mr Begg went to live under Taliban rule and has never resiled from praising the Taliban.

His terrible experience in Guantanamo cannot justify Amnesty endorsing someone whose political ideology is opposed to everything Amnesty works for. Mr Begg is entitled to make his case and enjoy freedom of expression in the UK. But his support for the Taliban's and extreme jihadist ideology with its denial of human rights means that Amnesty should leave to his own and other organisations the business of promoting him.

For Amnesty to victimise a woman who has raised legitimate questions about Mr Begg is Kafkaesque as Gita Saghal, the exposer of an ideology that denies human rights, has her career threatened by the very organisation meant to defend human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP              




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imran khan
February 23rd, 2010
2:02 AM
I think everyone should wait for the hearing then we may find out why she was suspended, let's be honest if anyone slagged down their employers in public they would be suspended. I wonder if Gita is now playing the innocent asian woman victim hounded out by nasty muslim men, I think she feel bitter as she does not get much attention nowadays. Many people who work at amnesty see her as a bit loopy at the best of times. Beggs views which many disagree do not deter from the serious issue of rendition, torture, missing people and abuses of Muslim prisoners.

February 11th, 2010
12:02 AM
Ah, the Zionist warmonger Denis MacShane. Remember his office which turned out to be his garage? Or his collection of laptops and the eight grand paid to his brother for 'research' all at the taxpayers expense what a guy!

Stephen R Hillier
February 10th, 2010
3:02 PM
A blooming good letter and point. Question: Does Amnesty International receive any funding AT ALL from the tax-payer? It shouldn't! Doubtless AI largely run by left-wing folk and so muddle-headed thinking like this quite the norm. What a waste of useful energy.

tim coster
February 10th, 2010
3:02 PM
Wait for the internal disciplinary inquiry and think about the real reason she may have been suspended. I don't think its about freedom of speech. Don't jump on the media bandwagon.

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About Focus on Islamism

Focus on Islamism is a blog dedicated to analysing and exposing the modern ideological phenomenon known as Islamism.

Shiraz Maher is a writer and broadcaster.

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is a PhD student at King's College, London.  He has contributed to various online and printed publications including, The Daily Telegraph, Lebanon's Daily Star, Standpoint and NOWLebanon. 

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