Monday, January 16, 2006

Life inside Guantanamo: talk by Moazzam Begg


Former Guantanamo detainee speaks of his imprisonment and the effects of 7/7 on the Muslim community in Britain.

Over 100 people attended a talk (organised by Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique) given by Moazzam Begg, the British man formerly incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Begg described the terrible conditions inside the Guantanamo prison, where around 600 "prisoners" are kept, many in solitary confinement. Of that number, only about three of four have been "charged" with any offence, and even then by an extra-legal military process.

The speaker related how Members of around 35 nations are represented inside Guantanamo, and how - if one considers the family and friends of the inmates - there are potentially tens of thousands of people across the world who know of someone inside Guantanamo, and who therefore have a serious grievance against the US. Because most of the prisoners and their families are Muslim, Guantanamo itself is turning Muslims all over the world against the US.

He also addressed issues of identity within Musilim communities in Britain, particularly since the attacks of 7/7, and spoke of his frustatration - felt by many Muslims here - of the level of debate around the issue. Specifically, how Musilims such as himself are often asked how/if they justify terrorism, as if all Muslims are extremists.

Amongst several spurious comments regarding a "link" between terrorism and religion, a woman from Italy spoke of the "religious fanatics of this newer religion - Freemarket Capitalism" and how these fanatics kill thousands of people every day with IMF restructuing programmes and debt repayment plans, issues largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Begg said that he made close friends with many of the prison guards inside Guantanamo. These guards were generally members of the (reservist) National Guard, and were deeply unhappy about their role in Guantanamo. Talking to prisoners in Solitary was forbidden, but Begg said that some of his closest friends were now ordinary US citizens, and he was proud to have had the chance to meet these people.



The talk was this:
Saturday 14th January, 11am
Moazzam Begg on "The Effect of 7/7 on the Muslim Community in Britain - A View from the Inside"


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