Moazzam Begg (REX)

Live Blog: Moazzam Begg talking at Kingston University on ‘Confronting the Rise to Racism’

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee British Muslim Moazzam Begg will discuss combating racism following the recent rise in hate crime in the UK and Trump’s rise to power.

Issues of Islamophobia, anti-refugee racism, discrimination and KU’s potential to build resistance to Trump will be discussed.

Moazzam will be joined by speakers Feisal Daud, secretary of KU’s Stand Up to Racism group, and Hamad Momim from KU Student’s Union and representative of the Society Working Group.

Moazzam was released from the detention camp in 2005 without charge after enduring torture for nearly three years.

The ‘Confronting the Rise to Racism’ talk takes place on Thursday 23 at Penrhyn Road Campus in room JG4002 from 6pm to 8pm.

Follow our liveblog here to keep up to date with what is happening.

 

Tessa Neal February 23 20178:48 pm

The talk ends with an ear-splitting round of applause.

Tessa Neal February 23 20178:47 pm

MB: extremist far-right Thomas Mair who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox was not abused by the media as much as a Muslim would have been. The media took a long time to label Mair as a terrorist.

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MB: we are all shaped by the media that we read.

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MB: Prevent is causing radicalisation

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MB: The UK must recognise it is guilty of war crimes, but that is too bitter a pill to swallow, because we do not want to take responsibility.

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MB: I don’t buy that the threat in the UK is as great as it is in other areas. Our anti-terror legislation was in no way as extreme when the IRA were at large. 

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MB: it is commonly held opinion that the majority of British Muslims are joining IS. We [the British] like to jump the queue when it comes to issues. It’s not all about us.The greatest threat IS poses is not to Britain but to the people that live in that region.

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Q: If not prevent, what other ways should we combat extremism?

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MB: I would not advise against getting involved in activism due to being fearful of prevent.

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MB: “For the actions of a few, the rest of us has to pay a price.”

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MB: “we know what happens when you stand divided. There is a force out there that is trying to divide us. Let us be a single unitary voice.”

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MB: “if you can’t defend the community, then support those who can. Write and offer your opinion pieces wherever you can. Continue the movement that has already begun.”

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Q from the audience: “other than marches, what would you advise and recommend to young people to oppose Islamophobia?”

Tessa Neal February 23 20178:30 pm

Question time begins

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MB: “We shouldn’t be afraid of our government, our government should be worried about us.” 

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River: Apologies for the delay, we experienced some technical issues.

Tessa Neal February 23 20177:21 pm

MB: When I returned and saw this movement against racism it gave me hope. As there is the rise of far right and hatred there is the rise of those against it.

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MB: I saw people punched and beaten to death. I had never met my child until I left Guantanamo.

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MB: Hearing that people were marching against this whilst I was in solitary confinement gave me hope.

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MB: Despite all of that there is still a problem. When I was held in my solitary confinement cell, an American soldier said: “son many have people have marched against this war.”

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MB: “Everybody is afraid because I’m a high risk speaker. Nelson Mandela could speak here and he was a terrorist, whereas I have a clean record.”

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MB “This is a vicious ciricle, there is nobody, nobody, nobody, that has been held to account.”

Tessa Neal February 23 20177:11 pm

MB: We broke that country to pieces. Essentially this created ISIS.

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MB: t our torture techniques were used as an excuse to invade Iraq. 

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MB: He says racism has been sanctioned at a governmental level.

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MB: when the US and the UK carries out such torture, they are exempt from such law.

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MB describes waterboarding: a method of torturing a person through creating the feeling of drowning, which would be used by the US.

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MB: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques are a war crime.

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MB: Trump said he thought torture works.

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“HOW can we come to the aid of the oppressor?” He shouts, “by taking his hand, and stopping him.”

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MB: the UK is getting from bad to worse. There is a saying of the prophet Muhammad which is come to the aid of your brother whether he is oppressed or the oppressor.

Tessa Neal February 23 20177:05 pm

MB: Countering Islamic Extremism is a new policy brought into US policy, which targets people like me, but will not target white extremist parties. 

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MB: Prevent tries to uncover and un-pick people’s belief systems.

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MB: a new governmental policy put into place means lecturers must spy on their students.

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MB: a Muslim woman was jailed for writing poetry, this would not have happened is she was not Muslim.

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MB: The defacto target is always Muslims. In practical application, only Muslims were targeted, it was just not written into legislation.

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MB: the government put these people through “internal exile”.

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MB: control orders have been introduced, which confined and restricted Muslims to their own homes. 

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“Only Muslims,” he repeats angrily.

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MB: the first criteria and condition was that these people who are detained must be Muslims

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MB: we have had 15 pieces of anti-terror legislation since the beginning of 9/11.

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MB: Understand this: that even though last year the police finally introduced a category of Islamophobic crimes. 

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:58 pm

MB: political parties have mainstreamed these racists views, which are now within parliamentary candidates’ policies.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:57 pm

MB: What we have seen in terms of racism, is that the shocking and frightening thing for us is that it has become normalised.

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MB: hate crimes increased in parallel with this.

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MB: “America voted with it’s backside: and Trump came out”

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MB’s passion is clear, he talks about the “blantant racist views” of the society. He says it is built into society

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:54 pm

MB: he faced discrimination from the National Front as a child. 

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MB: Racism, despite the fact that there is only one race on the planet, the human race is a problem.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:53 pm

MB:  it is a pleasure to attend today. I will discuss Prevent and the Rise of Racism.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:53 pm

Moazzam Begg begins to speak

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HM: even if you are stopped, is it not worth your belief? Why should you allow policies such as prevent to prevent you from what you are doing?

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:52 pm

HM: he wants to make sure PVE does not prevent people from freedom of speech

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HM: talks given from the Qoran must be translated into English, which is offensive in itself.

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HM: I want to compare control measures for speakers from different societies.

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HM: security must also be present.

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HM: Moazzam Begg himself has been deemed and ‘extreme’ speaker and technically ‘high risk’.

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HM: These ‘so-called’ required checks depend on low, medium and high risk ratings of speakers. 

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HM: societies must submit guest speaker forms in advance prior to enabling speakers being able to attend and speak at Kingston. 

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HM: At first hand PVE has many flaws, it is Islamophobic.

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HM: PVE means that government law requires universities to investigate specifically Muslim students

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HM: Prevent targets Muslims specifically.

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HM: Preventing violent extremism (PVE) is a policy geared towards preventing extremism.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:43 pm

Hamad says today he will focus on his own personal experiences as a student who has faced Islamophobia.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:42 pm

Hamad works very closely with the Islamic Society, he thanks Richard Donnelly from SWSS for letting him be a guest speaker.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:41 pm

Hamad Momim approaches the microphone.

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The audience applauds as Feisal sits down

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Feisal is softly spoken but his words are powerful, the audience is silent.

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FD: there are people out there to oppose racism. We must nip this in the bud. We are all British Citizens, this is our country, we all have rights.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:37 pm

FD: we cannot expect help from the government right now, we have learnt from the lessons of the past, but other people have not. The National Front, British National Party & English Defence League are around still.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:37 pm

FD: We should take action. Seeing Theresa May holding hands with Donald Trump on the same day as the Muslim Ban is sad, because she is one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:35 pm

FD: refugees who have spent their lives here face the same sort of discrimation, he says their lives have been devalued.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:34 pm

FD: girls and women who display their Islamic identity by wearing hijabs are most at risk of hate crime.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:33 pm

Feisal Daud is talking about his family’s personal experiences of racism. His aunt does not like to leave the house, people spit at her, try to attack her and rip off her hijab. 

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:32 pm

We will have four speakers today: Secretary of KU Stand up to Racism group Feisal Daud, Hamad Momim from KU Student’s Union and representative of the Society Working Group, and former Guantanemo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:30 pm

The 18th March Anti-Racism day is discussed. The audience are encouraged to attend. The day falls on the week before Article 50 will be actioned.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:30 pm

She says it is important to collectivise, when it comes to Racism and Islamophobia.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:29 pm

A speaker welcomes the attendees. She talks about how a woman was racially attacked at Kingston. 

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:28 pm

The atmosphere is quiet as the audience waits for the speakers to begin.

Tessa Neal February 23 20176:19 pm

Moazzam Begg will start to talk soon, watch this space for updates

About Tessa Neal

Tessa is a News Editor for The River and is currently studying a bachelors degree in Journalism with Human Rights at Kingston University. She has previously worked for the Newsquest Media Group, Pollstation opinion sharing network and with the social impact charity Be Enriched.

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