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Focus on Islamism
Friday 19th November 2010
Earwicga and the pieties of the Left

SHIRAZ MAHER

‘Earwicga' is a blogger on Pickled Politics and a very angry woman.

In the comments thread to a piece written by Sunny Hundal she has bizarrely taken to calling me ‘dishonest'. Later, my work and that of bloggers at Harry's Place is described as being characterised by ‘dishonesty' and ‘arrogance'.

Where to begin with all the pieties of enraged Earwicga?

What Amber objects to so much is that when I quoted a judgement where Moazzam Begg is described as having weapons in his house, I did not point out that the judge also said those weapons were ‘ineffective'.

Begg, you will recall, is the British citizen who left his home in the West Midlands to go and live under the Taliban in Afghanistan and who was subsequently sent to Guantanamo Bay.

My reason for quoting the judgement was to rebut Begg's claim that his character has never been tested in a court of law. That is partly true. He has never stood trial, but his activities were tangentially scrutinised when his close associate and one-time business partner appeared in court in 2003.

So, what did the judge say about Begg? Well, he noted that Begg is an ‘extremist' who associates with ‘practised and accomplished liars'. It is worth pointing out that the man in question, Begg's business partner, was himself described as ‘an active supporter of the GIA'. The GIA is, of course, an Algerian terrorist group.

Does any of this provoke the ire of enraged Earwicga? No.

What has sent enraged Earwicga into a tizzy is that I quoted the judgement as saying:

It is right to say that the Secretary of State was in error in suggesting that weapons were found at the book shop when D was working there: they were not — they were found at Begg's house.

What enraged Earwicga would like you to know is that the full passage reads:

It is right to say that the Secretary of State was in error in suggesting that weapons were found at the book shop when D was working there: they were not — they were found at Begg's house, before D started working at the book shop, and, in any event, as weapons they were ineffective.

I am happy to set the record straight and apologise unreservedly to enraged Earwicga.

Incidentally, the ineffective weapons about whose utility enraged Earwicga is so concerned were, according to the Telegraph: ‘night-vision goggles and a flak jacket'.

It would be interesting to know what is meant by the term ‘ineffective' in this context. Did the judge mean they were ineffective by military standards, or were they simply defective and not working as they should have? Did Begg know they were defective? With what intention did he acquire those (ineffective) weapons?

These are unanswered questions, but none of that concerns enraged Earwicga. Her argument is that my failure to point out that an ‘extremist' who associates with an active supporter of the GIA and ‘practised and accomplished liars' makes me guilty of dishonesty and arrogance.

Presumably enraged Earwicga thinks that if an armed robber uses only a replica gun to terrorise his victims — rather than a real one — then the crime is somehow less reprehensible.

Is this what enraged Earwicga really considers to be the material point of fact under discussion here?

Enraged Earwicga then launches into the kind of sophistry that only the lost and lunatic Left is capable of. She says:

In 2003 what could have possibly been considered a weapon if it was found in a Muslim's house?

What could enraged Earwicga possibly be trying to imply here? The terrible post-9/11 climate? The rise in Islamophobia? Prejudice? Discrimination? That Muslim political activist can't expect a fair trial after 9/11?

Whatever her point, none of that is relevant because the weapons were not found in 2003. They were uncovered and confiscated by the police years before 9/11. D'oh!

In fact, Begg had been arrested twice before 9/11. Once was in 1994 and the other was in 2000 when the Maktabah al-Ansar bookshop which he ran with ‘an active supporter of the GIA' was raided by police.

Maktabah al-Ansar was not just a bookstore. It was also a publishing house. Among the literary greats it commissioned and published was Esa al-Hindi. If that name doesn't ring a bell it's because that was the pen name used by Dhiren Barot — the man who pleaded guilty in 2006 to planning terrorist attacks in the UK.

The book he published gives a pretty clear impression of where his sympathies lie: The Army of Madinah in Kashmir. What humanitarian principles were the publishers thinking of when they commissioned that?

This is the background for the incident where the ineffective weapons were found in Begg's house.

For now, however, I must beg for enraged Earwicga's forgiveness and thank her for reminding us all of what really matters here: not that Begg possessed weapons, but that they were ineffective.

Phew, thank goodness for that.

 

 
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About Focus on Islamism

Focus on Islamism is a blog dedicated to analysing and exposing the modern ideological phenomenon known as Islamism.

Shiraz Maher is a writer and broadcaster.

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens is a PhD student at King's College, London.  He has contributed to various online and printed publications including, The Daily Telegraph, Lebanon's Daily Star, Standpoint and NOWLebanon. 

To contact the authors, click here

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