June 29, 2007

My brother the bomber

For some reason, I translated my usual question of whether he thought what his brother had done was "good" or "bad"—he had said that it was a terrible thing several times—and instead asked him whether he thought 7/7 was halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden) in Islam. Only when a look of stunned surprise come over Gultasab's face did I realise that I must have been asking him an entirely different question. After a brief pause, he replied. "No comment."

Here, it seemed, was the perfect example of the division between two worldviews—secular ethics and an embattled Islamic faith. How long had Gultasab managed to function with these two conflicting positions fighting within him? Everyday morality told him that his brother had committed a cold-blooded act of terror, while his own Islamic theology told him that there was no clear answer and maybe his brother was a hero. How many thousands of young British Muslims are similarly conflicted?

This is a question that Peter Clarke, the head of Scotland Yard's counterterrorism unit, is still trying to answer. After three further suspects from the Beeston area were charged this April with being involved in helping to plot 7/7, Clarke held a press conference in which he accused some West Yorkshire Muslims of keeping information from the police. "I firmly believe that there are other people who have knowledge of what lay behind the attacks," said Clarke. "Knowledge that they have not shared with us. In fact, I don't only believe it. I know it for a fact."


How do you agree with two opposing points of view?

Last night on Question Time someone asked if Tony doing the Middle east peace envoy thing would cause a headache for Gordon Brown. Piers Morgan said:

"If it wasn't laughable I'd cry...It is outrageous that we have just accepted that he is doing it...People over there will think- Thats the guy who's going to bring peace to the middle east? The guy who just killed all our Muslim brothers and sisters?"

Later The evil Howard (of all people) said:

"I welcome this appointment...Tony Blair just may be the man to persuade president Bush to take part in this. If he is prepared to learn from mistakes in the past...and exert his influence to the maximum, he is a guy Bush will listen to."

I agree with both these points of view.

June 28, 2007


For your viewing pleasure, I'm going to have to dig around to put a date to this but as you'll see from the dialogue it was the first time I set foot in the mosque in two years or so filming outside. The guy accosting me for not accepting Islam was OK with me most of the time and visited one of the squats I lived in with his brother once. He ediited the Supporters of Shareeah website. I was touched how the other guy stood up for me. You can see the energy about him, I didn't realise he was recently released from Belmarsh.


June 27, 2007


Much as I have tried to get on the "Bliar" tip, it just don't work with me and I must admit I'm going to miss him though it'd be nice if he had said something about these rendition flights before he did a runner eh?

Ten years.

I remember ten years ago, one of my only clear memories. I was squatting with some junkies in Dalston. I watched Tony's “A new day has dawned has it not”. I saw Billy Bragg at the Respect festival in Hyde park saying “I can retire now!”

I remember a huge fever gripped me for a week which ended in a night of sweating, tossing and turning, scrapping the sweat off myself with my bed sheet. I remember how the bed sheet stank in the morning with an inhuman satanic smell and how I thought it was 18 years of Tory rule coming out through my skin. I celebrated my recovery with a toot of scag which, with nothing in my stomach was the only time I actually got a good effect from the stuff.

I remember bounding down the road and accosting a couple of passing Policemen.

“Do you think things are going to change now?” I asked them.

A bit taken aback one of them scratched his chin.”I don't know. How do you mean?”

“I mean between YOU LOT and US.”

Not knowing what to say they sort of On your way laddie'd me a bit. I was optimistic for a long while, thinking that Blair was speaking with a voice that outclassed any Politician.

I remember the horror as pretty early on I realised he was going to drag us into Iraq. I remember the concrete blocks going up round parliament and thinking someone somewhere thinks we are less safe because of all this.

I remember how it motivated me to start filming what was happening here, and also clearly led me on a mission to befriend grass roots US Republicans. I think Tony has hugely let us down, but that is a human result of this "vote for me" game which is beyond any human capabilities.
The Rise and Fall of Tony Blair seemed to show the good points as well as the frightening elements of Blairs "Vision thing". It caught his horrifying journey from Muslim hero in Kosovo to Islamic hate figure today. Rory Bremners My Part in His Downfall was also fantastic. Try to see both if you have a chance. Talking about chances I've got to wish Tony well in Palestine. Ireland is far from sorted, but people aren't bombing each other. I reckon Tony wants this for Palestine and for himself. The right combination of universal interest and self interest, when people realise what is really in their interest is going to sort it out for all of us and we've all got everything to play for.

Last words on Blair today from Rachel from North London

June 24, 2007

Hey, I can be skeptical about a Police state but I'm not a Muslim

If this is not a Police State, what is one? A foreigner in this country is a synonym for a criminal; a second class citizen. The facts speak for themselves and changing the name of things or giving them the cover of the law doesn’t changes their reality.

or an immigrant.
And some of the officers here were worse than in prison. Some were very good, kind and treated me well. But we were all foreigners there, and the British don't like foreigners. Some of the officers talked to us as though we were animals. If you are illegal, you are not a human being in Britain. That is the problem

June 15, 2007


I was a bit slow to pick up on Chris Atkin's Taking Liberties but I finally got to see it this afternoon and really enjoyed it. You should see it just for the included footage of Walter Wolfgang's removal from the Labour party conference and the subsequent attempts to suppress filming of his friend getting hit by New Labour bouncers as well as the hilarious coverage of the EDO protest complete with a protester “serving” an angry Policeman who jumps out of his van and chases after him. The Ricin story is also collated very well here including its place in time as a device for Blair and Bush to crow about in Washington which proved to be empty. It was great also to see an extensive big up to Rizz MC's post 9/11 blues which should be a big hit. Rachel North (pictured) is also a fairly central character to the spirit of this film and it was great to see Rose Rickford, a fairly central character in my first attempt at film making (Day-X) still experimenting with direct action. She is one to watch.

I've caught up a bit with some of the reviews which are worth looking at. The only critical one seems to be this:

I can see both sides in this and as usual take neither.

Chris looked at some footage I had of kids protesting a while back and we discussed his theories. I'm not sure if I also put him on to Barry, the grand designer of the FIT squad (looking a lot younger in the picture) who graciously admitted in the film that if his guys were acting like the paparazzi they were exceeding their remit. I remember the day very clearly because whilst we were in the pub waiting for his equipment to capture my tape Chris informed me about arrests he had heard about on the news in Borough which turned out to be Abdullah and co.

I don't think I was much help because at the time I didn't really agree with his premise, or rather my own experience didn't match it. As I have said before, the Police, by and large behaved extremely sensitively outside Finsbury park mosque over two years. I've got lots of filmed evidence of this. I have been extensively involved with people who are up on charges of incitement to commit murder and I've never been hassled by the Police about it once.
Sure, away from Finsbury park the FIT squad have spoken to me in a manner which made me irate, but, you know, its the fucking FIT squad. They can't help it. I answered their questions honestly and they didn't detain me. I am only briefly offended by being photographed by them and usually try and smile. Maybe I should be a bit angrier, I don't know. The FIT team all recognise me as I am a bit distinctive. I recognise them. I just don't give a flying fuck.

Seeing how the Police have behaved towards protesters elsewhere I can see a lot more why Chris holds the views he does. They have overstepped the mark, and assumed they were allowed to because of new laws. The FIT squad are an institutionalised bunch. This doesn't surprise me. They use a few laws which they think make their job a bit easier, a lot of people who have been victims of this have pursued them in the courts and won. Not easily, but eventually. That doesn't mean to me that the Blair government secretly want to control us. I think it is likely that they are obsessed with terrorism.

Maybe I should be worried about a Police state. I wonder sometimes whether “The powers that be” are aware of whats coming and are passing laws to be ready for some kind of "Children of men" nightmare scenario. The thing is I am the type of person who if I let such thoughts take hold would very quickly be driven mad by them. So perhaps for my own mental health I remain skeptical about a “Police state”.

Here Chris argues about phone tap evidence. As far as I know the laws about phone tap evidence are under scrutiny because of one guy- Abu Hamza. Same as the law about demonstrating outside parliament was brought in because of Brian Haw. Chris is right that people in government are remote and law obsessed and the wrong people are being caught up in these laws by over zealous Policemen, but I don't really believe it is their intention. I should imagine that going over to the States and being wanked off by Capitalists in Washington was just all too much for Blair and he can see a future as some sort of hero over there. Unfortunately in Britain today "Labour" have to behave like Thatchers teet suckers to stay in power, and thats a shame.
My guilty secret is that even before seeing Boris Johnson's performance in this movie I was dangerously close to wishing he was Prime Minister. Everyone must know that if he was leader of the Tory party no one else would stand a chance. Imagine that propelled onto the “World Stage”.

June 11, 2007


the Foreign Office and the Association of Chief Police
Officers have today strongly defended any suggestion of a cover-up over
the report into the CIA kidnap operation and flights passing through
the UK. All this as we discover a CIA linked aircraft landed in Britain
just last weekend.

The Foreign Office was quick to get onto us last night at the
suggestion that the government might have interfered with police inquiries into
whether the UK did or did not turn a blind eye to the US programme to
kidnap and torture Al Qaeda suspects around the world.

Last night I put it to the Lib Dem's Vince Cable that, since the police
didn't ask either the secret services or the airports about this, their
inquiry was either useless or they'd been leant on by the government.
He agreed, live on air.

Today both the police and Foreign Office have denied that there's been
any improper pressure brought to bear. The police are now saying it
wasn't an investigation - merely a 'review'.

So a police review is somehow better than a police investigation? Still
no interviews from either the Association of Chief Police Officers or
the government on this - behaviour that hardly instils confidence in
their vehement denials.


June 09, 2007

I missed this

Dubbed the "American Taliban", he bore much of the brunt of the outrage in the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 attacks. Locked in a shipping container, denied access to medical treatment and the Red Cross, photographed naked, blindfolded and duct-taped to a stretcher, John Walker Lindh's story is emblematic of the so-called war on terror's disregard for even basic human rights.

Facing abusive interrogation while in custody, John Walker Lindh had 9 of the 10 charges against him dropped. While then Attorney-General John Ashcroft was declaring that Lindh dedicated himself to "killing Americans", the actual indictment against said nothing about this. Although he was exonerated of all terrorism-related charges, John is now serving a 20-year sentence in an American prison. John is a Muslim convert who has explained he went to Afghanistan in the spring of 2001, prior to the U.S. invasion, to help defend innocent civilians there from attacks by the Northern Alliance warlords. Lindh is behind bars for participating in another country's civil war. Ironically, individual Americans have been doing that for a long time.

Frank Lindh, a lawyer and John Lindh's father, has launched a justice campaign for his son. At this special London meeting he will address: "John Lindh: Human Rights Implications of an Extraordinary Case". This will be his first lecture in Great Britain.

also from jimgibbon.com:

What’s more, the author says Lindh’s case has implications for the future of Islam and America:

He will get out, and the question is not what he will be like—that we know—but what we will be like. For Hamza Walker Lindh has come to embody the challenge of Islam to America, and the challenge is simply this: In response to what America has done to him, Hamza has become more Islamic—more himself, and a better Muslim. And in response to what Hamza has done to it, America has become less properly Christian, and ever less democratic, and ever so much less than itself. It is a simple, remorseless calculus, and it will transform the face of the country Hamza is released into, whenever he is released.
painting from Vanessa at pervertedlogic.com

June 08, 2007


28 Days later

Back in the UK, the government clearly wants to keep people banged up
for longer than the current 28 days. Even the police aren't totally sure
why, by any means.

The Tories say no democratic country locks people up for 28 days or
longer without trial, for instance in the US, it's 10 days. It seems the
government out on a limb on this one.

Rendition's smoking gun?

In a Channel 4 exclusive, we have the Council of Europe report on
extraodinary rendition ahead of release and it is dynamite.

The report, to be broadcast on C4's Dispatches, says categorically for
the first time that illegal detention centres around the world existed
and were set up by the CIA, in effect to kidnap and torture people
from whom the USA wished to get information.

It really is the smoking gun as it were, of what has been suspected and
hinted at for so very long.

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June 03, 2007


Later, in Basra, Blair would tell the troops that the struggle they were engaged in was "infinitely more important than Northern Ireland", for the simple reason that it would shape "the future of the world".

On the plane, in a brief audience with the PM, I said that the events of the day were of course exhilarating but also intimidating. How long does it take to evolve from terror to politics? Could he imagine, in the Iraqi parliament of the future, the ghosts of Muqtada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi gazing at each other with smiling eyes?

"It must happen," he said. "Something like that must eventually happen."

read The Long Kiss Goodbye by Martin Amis

June 01, 2007


Its been brought to my attention that I may have pictures of these guys outside the Mosque. I may well have. I've dreaded having to trawl through crowd scenes etc for pictures especially in this weather but I should have done it ages ago really.