Category Archives: human rights

Amnesty UK Promotes Ben White Again

Amnesty UK are once again hosting Ben White. Amnesty’s expressed purpose is ‘to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.’ Amnesty are rightly famous for protecting the freedom of the individual.

One instance where freedom was nearly denied to individuals was a case in New York in which anti-Semites threatened to blow up a synagogue. Happily, they were arrested, thanks the police infiltrating the group.

Not everyone was happy though.

Here was Ben White’s post at the time:

A fully controlled threat to our freedoms

May 21st, 2009

A federal law enforcement official described the plot as “aspirational” — meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives — and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group.“

It was fully controlled at all times,” a law enforcement official said.

Ben White thus seemingly admitted that those arrested were planning an attack on a synagogue, yet bizarelly titled his post ‘A fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’ So what were ‘our freedoms’ here then? Was this about our freedom to worship in synagogues without fear of terrorist attack, or about our freedom to plot attacks on synagogues so long as we aren’t successful in carrying them out, or don’t actually have explosives?

And there’s more: Ben White has previously written in praise of Christian “anti-Zionists” Colin Chapman and Stephen Sizer, who have developed a theology which suggests that the modern state of Israel is an offence to God, as Jews are no longer God’s Chosen People. For example, Sizer thinks that Israel is a rejected vineyard tossed into the flames by God.

If Amnesty UK decide to protest against Robert Mugabe tomorrow, will they pick a fundamentalist Christian to argue that the Curse of Ham extends to all black people, and so black Africans running their own countries are disobeying God?

If Amnesty UK want to protest against the authoritarianism of the Saudi government, will we hear a radical Christian cleric arguing that Ishmael’s descendants are all under a curse, so Muslims don’t have a right to run their own countries?

Following Amnesty UK’s shameful treatment of the committed human rights activist Gita Sahgal in favour of the reactionary pro-Islamist Moazzam Begg, Amnesty UK is now promoting a “thinker” who recommends Holocaust deniersobfuscates Holocaust denial, and thinks the Palestinian leadership is full of “natives” more interested in making money than national liberation. Where is the justice, the fairness, the freedom and the truth?

Ben White also campaigns alongside Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi. In fact, he spoke with Tamimi, urging students to boycott Israeli goods, last month at the SOAS event where Tamimi engaged in hate speech that is now under investigation by the police:

At SOAS, he praised Hamas and said: “Today Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation because that’s what the Americans and Israelis and cowardly politicians of Europe want, but what is so terrorist about it?

“You shouldn’t be afraid of being labelled extreme, radical or terrorist. If fighting for your home land is terrorism, I take pride in being a terrorist. The Koran tells me if I die for my homeland, I’m a martyr and I long to be a martyr.”

He criticised calls for a two-state solution and said: “Why are the Jews superhuman and better than anyone else that God would give them a homeland? Is God a racist? A god who would prefer people because of their race is not a god I want to associate with. Claiming they are being given the land of God is a racist idea.

“If the world felt so guilty about the Holocaust, the Jews should have been compensated, not brought to my country at the expense of my people.

“Israel does not belong to my homeland and must come to an end. This can happen peacefully if they acknowledge what they did — or we will continue to struggle until Israel is no more.”

At least Amnesty UK can take comfort from the fact that Ben White does not consider himself a racist – although he’ll understand if you are.


Filed under human rights

Iranian Christians and the apostasy law

Also posted on Harry’s Place.

As the Khomeinist stooges of the IHRC attempt to harmonise Christian liberation theology with Khomeinist anti-Zionist theology, there is a far more pressing concern which they should address.

In September 2008, Iran’s parliament provisionally approved a law that would see Muslim converts to Christianity treated as ‘apostates’ who could face the death penalty. (For detailed discussion of the apostasy law see this report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide).

Back then, the Daily Telegraph published an interview with the daughter of the last person to be hanged in Iran under apostasy charges, Hossein Soodmand. The article also noted:

David Miliband, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death.

Following lobbying efforts on behalf of Iran’s Christians, the EU also made a declaration highlighting its concerns over Iran’s treatment of Christians (and, lest we forget, Iran has also imprisoned many Bahai members, whilst Bahai community leaders await trial).

Iran’s Christians have faced confinement, suppression and intimidation in recent times, and world attention has focused on the case of two women, Marzieh Rostampour, 27, and Maryam Amirzadeh, 30, who were arrested in March of this year, and imprisoned on apostasy charges. According to The Guardian, Marzieh and Maryam suffered sleep deprivation as part of police interrogation, and had to share a cell with 27 other women.

Maryam and Marzieh Christians held in Tehran prison

For three weeks in May and June, Marzieh and Maryam were held in solitary confinement, and then put in a small cell together for two weeks. After a judge told them that they would both be executed as apostates, Marzieh and Maryam reportedly told the judge to ‘expedite his sentence.’

Whilst it is an absolute disgrace that a national parliament could even debate this law, there appears to be some good news for Christians.

According to Christianity Today, the Iranian government will remove articles stipulating the death penalty for apostasy from the Islamic Penal Code Bill, with Ali Shahrokhi of Iran’s Legal and Judicial Committee of the Parliament commenting that stoning was not “in the interests of the regime.”

However, Iran30 sounds three notes of caution:

Firstly the Guardian Council, made up of strict conservatives, will have the last word and they might reinstate the death penalty; secondly the code could still stipulate severe punishments, such as life imprisonment; and finally, the authorities can use other charges to persecute ‘apostates’ with.

Like their fellow citizens, most Iranian Christians probably voted for Moussavi, as they hoped their situation would improve under his presidency. Now their fate is in the hands of a brutal regime which has suppressed the democratic wishes of its own people through a campaign of rape and murder. Full religious freedom is one of the many freedoms tragically denied to the Iranian people by Ahmadinejad and co. And if the Khomeinist regime cannot provide freedom and justice for Iran’s majority, what hope do Iran’s minorities have?

After all, Marzieh and Maryam are still in prison.

If you do know any clergymen or Christian pastors who enjoy the religious freedoms afforded to them by authentic democracies, please encourage them to voice their disgust at the Khomeinist regime’s treatment of Christians.

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Filed under apostasy law, human rights