Abu Qatada: a tale of injustice
The job of this paper is not to promote any religion – most of them have the funds and expertise to do that for themselves. When, however, a religion is attacked and demonised in order to create a smokescreen for imperialist brigandage around the world under the flag of ‘war on terror’; when this attack is used to divide the working classes in order to destroy any possible unity against their very real oppression and exploitation; and when in order to do these things a religious man is denied basic human rights and is persecuted on the basis of flimsy evidence acquired through torture, we have a duty to speak out and lay the facts before our readers.
The case of the Moslem cleric, Abu Qatada, has been in the news of late with the tabloids frothing over European interference in British justice in the interests of a ‘known terrorist’ – when they weren’t lambasting the hapless Theresa May for literally not knowing what day it was.
A look behind the scenes, however, shows the cruel, calculating monster that is British imperialism always working away in its own interests without regard to the cost to individual humans or humanity in general. Moreover, British imperialism has no regard even to the laws it makes itself since it breaks or ignores them to suit its current goals. The British press, owned by the bourgeoisie, is a main bourgeois propaganda outlet, and it has a ready made ‘standard’ background to all such stories which doesn’t even have to be clearly expressed to be understood; Moslem equals potential bomber, devout Moslem equals leader of bombers!
So who is Abu Qatada? What has he done?
Born in Bethlehem on the West Bank in 1960 should have made Abu Qatada a Palestinian but it was at that time occupied by Jordan and so he has Jordanian nationality and passport.
Abu Qatada at various times made his home in different parts of the Middle East. In 1991 he was in Kuwait when the first Gulf War erupted. Consequent on this, he, along with many other Palestinians, was expelled from Kuwait from where he returned to Jordan. Two years later he fled Jordan with his family, travelling on a forged UAE passport, the only way to make such an escape. He asked Britain for asylum on the grounds of religious persecution. This was granted in 1994 and Abu Qatada and his family settled in Acton, West London.
Back in Jordan, based on ‘evidence’ gleaned from torture, Abu Qatada was sentenced in abstentia to life imprisonment with hard labour in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks and in 2000 he was given a further fifteen year sentence there for additional alleged terrorist actions.
As a preacher, he preached in various mosques both in the Middle East and here in Britain. Many of his sermons were taped, as is usual with popular preachers, which is what first led to his problems with the British state. In February 2001 he was arrested and questioned in connection with a ‘terror’ investigation in Germany – but there was no evidence and he was released without charge.
Post ‘9/11’ however, when a tape of his sermons was found in a Hamburg flat used by the ‘9/11 hijackers’, the Home Office announced that he was the ‘spiritual’ guide to Mohamed Atta, the so called ‘ring-leader’ of the 9/11 hijackers. Abu Qatada went underground fearing for his safety again. In 2002 he was arrested in a South London flat and taken to Belmarsh prison. The then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, ordered his indefinite detention without trial under Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. This was the start of his long legal battle against deportation to Jordan where he feared he would be tortured. He stayed in prison from that arrest until 2005 during which time he was not allowed to see the evidence against him. His legal representative was a special advocate who was not allowed to speak to Abu Qatada or his lawyer. He was released on bail with very strict conditions but re-arrested just five months later and kept in Jail until May 2008 when the Court of Appeal ruled that he could not be returned to Jordan as he would face a further trial where there was a strong possibility that evidence obtained by torture would be used and that would amount to a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights which Britain was signed up to. Released again under strict bail conditions, including a 22 hour per day home curfew, eight months later he was again re-arrested after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission revoked his bail, stating that he had not broken his bail conditions but might do so at some time in the future!
In February 2009 the Law Lords ruled that Abu Qatada could now be deported to Jordan. Yet in the same month he was awarded £2,500 by the European Court of Human Rights after he had filed a lawsuit against the British State on the basis that his detention without trial in the UK constituted a breach of his human rights.
On 17 January 2012 the European Court of Human Rights once again ruled in favour of Abu Qatada saying, once again, that he could not be deported to Jordan as this would still be a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
13 February 2012 saw Abu Qatada once more released on strict bail conditions: he was not allowed to use a mobile phone, a computer or access the internet by any means and was again subject to an electronically monitored 22 hour per day curfew that only allowed him to leave his home twice a day for a maximum of one hour each time. And by 17 April 2012 he was once more re-arrested after Theresa May claimed that she had been given reassurances by the Jordanian Government re Abu Qatada’s expected treatment if deported there and that his deportation could now go ahead. Abu Qatada’s lawyer lodged an appeal within two hours of a deadline set by the European Court to do so and that is pretty much where we are now.
If you think that this misery has been inflicted upon Abu Qatada solely by those nasty Tories, remember it was a Labour Government who first imprisoned him without trial. And just in case you are misled into thinking it was only Blair’s ‘New Labour’ project that would do such a thing, Labour’s Yvette Cooper MP, while asking questions about Theresa May’s capability to do her job, wanted to know re the deportation: “what is happening now to ensure this process is put back on track?”. In addition, Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s justice spokesman, said “All of us want Abu Qatada to be deported to Jordan; we also want the Home Secretary to go through the proper processes.”
Regardless of whether you agree with Abu Qatada’s beliefs or not, what should really be examined by British workers is the reality of bourgeois democracy which is democracy for a small number of exploiters at the expense of democracy for the masses.
The continuing demonisation of Moslems in the West in general and Britain in particular is only of use to those blessed by bourgeois democracy/dictatorship and must be challenged to help us move towards the working class unity necessary to overturn bourgeois democracy/dictatorship and replace it with proletarian democracy/dictatorship (democracy for the majority and the curtailing of some of the rights of the deposed ruling class) which is the only way we can progress towards a socialist future. It is also necessary for British workers to realise that the negation of legal and human rights to people like Abu Qatada by the bourgeois state sets a precedent for their denial to all or any of us should we start to challenge the increased exploitation and misery that we are facing and will continue to face for the foreseeable future as a result of the capitalist crisis of overproduction.
Organisation of the working class and allies under the leadership of a Party committed to socialist revolution and with a good understanding of Marxism-Leninism is our only protection and hope for a decent future for all our children.