Yvette Cooper welcomes Abu Qatada’s pledge to leave UK

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper welcomes the news Abu Qatada could return to Jordan, saying: “We all agree he should stand fair trial there so justice can be done.” The Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada will return to Jordan voluntarily when the Jordanian parliament ratifies a deal with Britain that ensures he will receive a fair trial, the cleric’s lawyer told a London court on Friday. Abu Qatada’s pledge is a victory for the British government after nearly eight years of unsuccessful attempts to deport the cleric, who is accused of spreading radical ideas that once inspired one of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers.

 

Courts have repeatedly blocked deportation on the grounds that a trial in Jordan of Abu Qatada, whose real name is Mohammed Othman, risked being tainted by the use of evidence obtained using torture.

 

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This could be very good news if it means Abu Qatada returns to Jordan as soon as possible – as we all agree he should stand fair trial there so justice can be done. Abu Qatada should have made this decision a long time ago as this legal process has dragged on far too long. We will watch the next steps closely until he departs, but I hope this saga can now be brought to an end.”

Abu Qatada: Theresa May says the Jordanian government can be trusted not to torture its prisoners but these activists disagree

If the Home Secretary wins her battle to deport Abu Qatada, it will be based on the assumption that he will not be abused. In Amman, Enjoli Liston hears from those who have strong reasons to doubt it. Abdullah Mahhaden was arrested around four hours after he managed to escape from a police crackdown on an anti-government protest in Amman on 31 March 2012. The demonstration had been calling for the release of seven activists. The 25 year-old accountant-turned-activists had wanted to make his voice heard. He ended up at the city’s main police station, where he says he was beaten by as many as 20 police officers. “I was the last one to get caught that night,” Mahhaden told The Independent. “The police started asking me, ‘Why were you demonstrating? How did you know about the demonstration? Who organised it?’ I said, ‘I forget’, so they beat me. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said this week the Government had signed a mutual assistance treaty with Jordan, complete with new assurances on fair trials, to ensure Abu Qatada can be deported even if the Government’s latest appeal to the Supreme Court is blocked. Hossam al-Kaid, from Aleppo, who studied law in Syria, also works in Amman and agrees: “In Jordan, there is a fear of people like Abu Qatada.” He says he would rather the radical cleric stay in the UK, but if he were to be sent back to Jordan, he believes he would receive a fair trial. Human rights advocates continue to claim otherwise.  “Jordanian law already proscribes torture and the use of confessions obtained under duress, yet judges routinely accept these confessions,” says Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. The organisation has in the past both praised the Jordanian government for its openness towards investigating human rights abuses in prisons, and criticised its insistence on paying little attention to the results of the investigations. Many Jordanians believe Abu Qatada should remain in the UK. “If England gives back Abu Qatada, it is like a gift for the Jordanian government,” he says. “It is like the English government sending a message to the world that it has ensured that there is no torture in Jordan. And that is not the truth.”

Abu Qatada could face prosecution in UK, says Theresa May

In this piece The Guardian the home secretary, Theresa May, has said police are examining evidence seized over the recent arrest of Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to see if he can be prosecuted in UK courts. Judges at the court of appeal have repeatedly blocked the preacher’s deportation, amid fears he would face an unfair trial based on evidence obtained by torture in his native Jordan. On Thursday she refused to set a timetable on when he would be deported. May has negotiated with the Jordanian authorities to secure assurances about the evidence that would be used in his trial. She is due to launch a UK Supreme Court appeal against her latest rebuff.

 

Nick Clegg: We will deport Abu Qatada

In this report Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the Government “will get there” despite losing an appeal against a ruling which prevented the cleric being sent to Jordan, where he is due to face terrorism charges.  He said ministers would continue to seek strengthened assurances from his native Jordan that the authorities would not use evidence obtained by torture against him. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) decided in November last year that Qatada could not be removed to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999. The judges ruled that there was a “real risk” that evidence from Qatada’s former co-defendants, who were allegedly tortured, could be used against him at a retrial, breaching his human rights.

 

U.S. dominates list of world’s ’500 Most Influential Muslims’

There are more Muslims from America than any other country on this year’s “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims,” compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a respected think tank in Jordan, including two in the top 50.

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, a California-born convert who founded Zaytuna College, an Islamic college in Berkeley, Calif., and is a leading Islamic authority in America, ranked No. 42, two places ahead of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Islamic studies professor at George Washington University known for his work in Islamic philosophy.

America’s roughly 2.6 million Muslims are a tiny fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, but they took 41 spots on the 500 list. Countries with the next highest number of names were Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, with 25 Muslims each, followed by Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, with 24.

“Compared to the global Muslim population, the representation of U.S. Muslims in this list is disproportionate, but yet representative in the way they shape global discourse,” said Duke University Islamic studies professor Ebrahim Moosa.

Female islamologist in Sweden demands female power

17 May 2012

The men have the power, and they misinterpret Islam. That is the opinion of islamologist and feminist Suad Mohamed. She now demands that the mosques give way to educated female imams.

The out-of-date mosque representatives screened in the last week’s investigative program shocked Suad Mohamed. “The men who occupy these positions (as counselors) have much power. People come to them every day for advice. For that reason it is important to have educated and knowledgeable people who receive these people (in need). Not someone who takes us back to the Medieval period,” she told TT (news agency).

Suad Mohamed believes that the men in the report are bad representatives of Muslim and that they are ill-informed. “Nowhere in the Koran is violence and maltreatment (of women) preached. If they read about the Prohpet’s life, they will be able to find that he never, ever hit any of the women nor children.” She further argues that Islam is not a religion which degrades women. The degradation had instead appeared when men had interpreted the religion and translated (this interpretation) into law(s). She continues, “there are women who understand the religion and who can resist these men who misuse the religion, or who can become fanatical. Knowledge is power and often it is the men who are educated.”

Suad Mohamed, further argues that the conservative men, not the religion, creates problems. “The young men who occupy the positions of power within the various congregations are the children of the ruling patriarchs. They take over the ruling positions much like the way has been in the Arab world.”

According to Suad Mohamed, the men want to maintain this advantage over women and often reference weak or fabricated (a)hadith, the recorded advice allegedly uttered by the Prophet Muhammed. She argues that they should instead refer to the Koran.

She was once called herself the first female imam in Sweden. However, she realized that no one would hire her and gave up that title. She welcomes the investigative report’s (Uppdrag granskning) disclosure and she hopes that this will lead to changes.

 

About Suad Mohamed:

 A 43 year-old Ethiopian mother of four living in Sweden. She is a pre-school teacher working in Huddinge (Stockholm) and has been trained in Islamic studies at a university in Jordan. The Swedish media frequently consult Suad on controversial issues concerning the Muslim community in Sweden. She is not a representative of any known Muslim organizations; nevertheless, until recently she titled herself an imam (usually interpreted as a [religious] leader of a community). Now she describes herself as an islamologist and a Muslim feminist.

Princess Badiya of Jordan calls for more co-operation between Muslims and Christians

8 May 2012

 

While some Christian groups are joining in the Islamphobic discourse, Princess Badiya of Jordan was invited by Biblelands, a Christian charity to lecture in London’s St James’s Church about Muslim-Christian relations. In her lecture she pointed out the similarities between the two Abrahamic religions and called for more co-operation between the members of the two religions.

Al Qaeda contemplated giving Canadian journalists ‘special media material’ for 10th anniversary

The Toronto Star – May 4, 2012

 

When Al Qaeda contemplated the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, the organization didn’t forget to include Canada in its plans. Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn mused the organization should reach out to a group of 30 to 50 select journalists and writers who would be candidates to receive “special media material” on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

 

It was important, Gadahn stressed to Osama bin Laden and others in January 2011, that Al Qaeda not rely on Jihadi Internet forums, which he said were “repulsive to most of the Muslims,” or Al Jazeera. Instead, Gadahn wrote the group should target journalists in seven countries — the U.K., U.S. and Canada in the west, as well as Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. Among the journalists Gadahn favoured were Eric Margolis, a longtime columnist with the Toronto Sun, and Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, a syndicated columnist based in London.

The UK Government Comes Under Heavy Criticism for its Failure to Deport Muslim Cleric Abu Qatada

19 April 2012

 

A Muslim cleric, Abu Qatada, who is accused of having links to al-Qaida has caused a stir in UK politics. Successive UK governments have become entangled in a long legal battle to deport the “extremist Islamist cleric” to Jordan; however they failed thanks to Jordan’s poor human rights record. It was the ECtHR that had been stopping the UK government from deporting Abu Qatada, hence along with a few other similar high profile cases, the case prompted British politicians to question Britain’s commitment to the ECHR as the final decision maker on domestic issues. The debate went so far as to call the UK government to withdraw from the ECHR and stipulate sterner laws to crack down on “Islamic extremism”.

Last week the UK government got very close to scoring a significant victory when they managed to get Abu Qatada rearrested by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The court that deals with national security deportations revoked Abu Qatada’s bail, which gave Home Secretary Theresa May an opportunity to swiftly deport him. While the Home Office was gearing up to deport the cleric it became apparent that Abu Qatada’s lawyers had appealed to the ECtHR before the deadline which resulted in further delays in the cleric’s deportation process and a major embarrassment for the UK government as they failed yet again to deport the “radical Islamist”.

Britain Releases Radical Cleric Abu Qatada

13./14./15.02.2012

Last Monday, Abu Qatada, a radical Muslim cleric accused of being an al-Qaeda terrorist (and, what is more, figurehead) and who is thought to pose a serious risk to the UK’s national security, was released from jail after bail was granted by a London judge the week before. Qatata, who spent the last six-and-a-half years in detention in the UK, was released under some of the toughest bail conditions imposed since 9/11.

 

Qatada, who has never been formally charged with a crime in the UK, was in an out of jail since 2002, when he was detained under the anti-terrorism laws that – at the time – allowed suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge. Authorities had accused him of advising militants and raising money for terrorist attacks. However, when the unpopular anti-terrorism law was overturned in 2005, Qatada was released from prison – but kept under surveillance. He was arrested again a few months later and help pending deportation to Jordan. Yet, plans to deport him were halted by a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The European judges ruled that he could not be deported without assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would be be used against him. The same Court ruled last week that Qatada’s detention without charge was unlawful – which led him to apply for bail.

 

Under the terms of his release, Qatada must obey a 22-hour curfew and wear an electronic tag; he is only allowed outside his London home in a prescribed area for two one-hour periods a day. Furthermore, he is banned from using the phone or the internet and must not communicate with a long list of people, including al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and radical cleric Abu Hamza. The bail terms also banned him from leading prayers, giving lectures and preaching. In addition to these conditions, 60 police officers and MI5 agents provide 24/7 “protection” for Qatada, which costs around £10,000 a week. Amongst other, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson said it was “eccentric” to have so many offiers on duty to guard Abu Qatada. Johnson said it would be a good thing if he was put on trial as soon as possible. The Government stressed that they were considering “all the options” for removing Qatada from the country at the earliest opportunity. As he was still a national security risk, he should especially be deported before the Olympic Games in London in July/ August.