Coffee House

A long overdue counterblast to the Left’s thinking on Islamists

11 February 2013

A three year open sore within the human rights community will be closed this evening when Gita Sahgal officially launches her new organisation, the Centre for Secular Space, at Toynbee Hall. Sahgal will also be launching the group’s first report, ‘Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights’ highlighting the ongoing scandal of the left’s promiscuous embrace of radical Islamists.

The story of Gita Sahgal has been covered before but is worth revisiting. A lifelong human rights activist, Sahgal worked on issues relating to women’s rights, religious extremism, and racism before heading up the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. Then, three years ago she was dramatically sacked after expressing concern at the way the group was embracing deeply reactionary Islamists.


In particular, Sahgal was upset at Amnesty’s relationship with Moazzam Begg who is perhaps Britain’s best known and most high profile Guantanamo Bay detainee. Begg had run a bookstore in Birmingham during the 1990s which was investigated on suspicion of supporting terrorism, although no charges were ever brought against any of the staff. Begg then packed his bags and moved from the Midlands to Afghanistan where he lived until shortly after 9/11. When the American invasion took place he fled to Pakistan, was arrested, and subsequently sent to Guantanamo Bay.

‘Double Bind’ revisits this issue, exploring Begg’s background and the wider Islamist milieu to which he belongs. While it ostensibly focuses on the fissiparous and short-termism of the Islamist-Leftist alliance, what the report also demonstrates is that it is perfectly possible to speak up for human rights abuses without whitewashing those who would themselves perpetrate similar injustices.

To appreciate just how far the human rights community has succumbed to relativist dogma, bear in mind that while Sahgal has been shunned for the last three years Begg has remained one of its champions. Sahgal is now, finally, in a position to fight back. Her new group is set to provide a necessary and long overdue counterblast to much of the errant thinking that has arrested large parts of the left. ‘Double Bind’ demonstrates that Sahgal intends to confront many of the pernicious misconceptions that led to her ousting from Amnesty. Expect to hear a lot more from her and the Centre for Secular Space over the coming year.

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  • margaret benjamin

    Islamists seek to dominate through religion , Egypt right now is suffering for choosing the muslim brotherhood. Gaza ten times worse for Hamas also Islamist related to muslim brotherhood and of course Hezbollah in Lebanon,they have no respect for women in fact women have no rights they can beat their wives without any reproach
    By all accounts we have seen so much violence in the media all across the Arab world and north Africa were Islam rules For it comes across as a violent religion.
    Sharia law is foreign to our way of thinking and has no place in democracy, even though democracy has been forced on a lot of these nations the evidence is clear,they really don’t mix. In Briton today we have far more muslim populations than anticipated with over a 1,500 mosques still rising. Sharia law should be banned in this country without exception for that also seeks to dominate were ever Islam is established we must keep out these ideologies and not look upon them as harmless. these warnings should be heeded as they also seek to rule were ever Islam does not.!

  • kwestion.all

    The real problem with lefties and quite a few liberals, is that they’re all so rabidly anti-American, that they’ve taken to allying themselves with any movement that’s seen as being in opposition to America. Consequently they’ve blinded themselves to the unpalatable truths of these groups, even when (as is the case with islamists) their own philosophies and beliefs utterly contradict those of their erstwhile anti-american allies. The Islamists would happily execute all lefties & liberals, given half the chance.

  • AY

    muslims are inseparable from islam
    islam is inseparable from sharia.
    sharia is inseparable from barbarity.

    shiraz maher stop fooling yourself and others.
    no amount or quality of islam will ever be acceptable in the West.

  • white taxpayer

    Is there any way that poisoned food could be introduced into the halal meat supply? Especially that which is destined for Moslem prisoners? (who are now 20% of the total, by the way)

  • MikeF

    ‘Leftism’ is now really a form of nihilism – a desire to deconstruct democratic, pluralist ‘Western’ politics and replace them with authoritarian narcissist diktat. It is a project that is irrational in motivation, but purposeful in methodology and one aspect of the latter is the way it clothes itself in conventional, rationalist phraseology e.g. ‘human rights’. Another hugely important element is ‘anti-racism’, though this is where the essential irrationalism of the project begins to show through.
    The root cause of this is the fact that leftism is essentially an expression of self-obsession. It is a cult of self-regard and the idea that its proponents possess some unique insight into the causes, immunity to the motivations and opposition to the manifestations of ‘racism’ – which they define in highly sectarian terms as an inevitable attribute of established Western civilisation – is intrinsic to everything they do including allying themselves with Islamic fundamentalists, whom they regard or puport to regard as victims of that civilisation. At a more prosaic level leftists also obviously see Islamists as a force that can be used to further their aims because they share some basic traits – dogmatism, absolutism and intolerance of dissent – and also because the Islamists are prepared to use violence to further their aims, something that leftists always find beguiling.
    There is nothing new about this. George Orwell was writing about this phenomenon back in the 1930s only then the phrase was ‘anti-fascism’ and the object of attachment Stalinist communism.
    I wonder would Ms Sahgal have had the courage to recognise this situation and set up her new organisation if she had not been sacked?

    • ACN

      Quite right.

      Isn’t it an Arabic saying – My enemies enemy is my friend? The left has always scorned western values and therefore feel comfortable with Islam. Whether they would still be if Islam became dominant is another thing. I suspect they would compromise in some manner, they usually do.

    • Petra Thompson

      ” It is a cult of self-regard”

      It is a collectivist cult, just like islam. The western leftists have been formed by (post)christian guilt and missionary zeal. Their fundamental thinkers have been formed by an admiration for islamic despotism (Rousseau). Leftism (socialism, communism are all part of it) is a secular form of islam. If they believed in religion, the Left would be condescending missionaries, imposing their values on “the ignorant”, “the benighted”, “the savage”. The Left does not care for the working-class or any of the other mascots it adopts. They simply see expressing (fake) concern for the (alleged) interests of the masses as the best means to sweep themselves to power. If they weren’t so craven, the Left would have no trouble advocatig violence and mass-murder to sweep themselves to power (as they have so often done).

      Thomas Sowell demonstrates how even when their policies are put in place, and their mascots’ lives are made worse, the self-regard of the anointed is undiminished.

      • moraywatson

        islam is a totalitarian cult. The leftists are the collectivists who are making the mistake of assuming that islam is simply another special interest to add to their collection.

  • andy_gill

    Go Gita go! Here’s to a successful launch, and confusion to your enemies.

  • OldSlaughter

    Can it be purchased online? Living in a Muslim country and postage here sucks. As well as censorship.

  • UlyssesReturns

    Where can I contribute?

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