Frequently Asked Questions
CAGE has been in existence as an organisation since 2003, and in that time we have achieved much. This article aims to answers some common questions that we face about our work and our aims, and to hopefully correct some misconceptions that may have grown up around what we do. We hope that the information provides clarity and that it encourages you to support us.
How did CAGE start?
CAGE began as CagePrisoners in 2003 as an online information portal that documented the most comprehensive listings of cases of prisoners held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay. For more on our history click here.
What are the aims and objectives of CAGE?
CAGE is an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”. The organisation highlights and campaigns against repressive state policies, developed as part of increasing securitisation. In doing so, we strive for a world free from oppression and injustice. As such, we seek the application of principles like the presumption of innocence, the rule of law, due process, freedom from arbitrary imprisonment and torture; freedom from religious and racial discrimination; the right to privacy and freedom of movement and holding power to account.
Is CAGE a human rights organisation like other well-known ones?
CAGE calls for and believes in the basic concepts of universal human dignity and the right to fair treatment in all societies. Our ethos is based on Islamic principles of justice.
Who are the people that run CAGE?
CAGE’s founders include doctors, lawyers and homemakers. It is staffed by a mixture of academics, professionals, activists, campaigners, students and former prisoners from diverse backgrounds who believe in the objectives of CAGE. Several of our members regularly lecture at universities and appear or write in both mainstream and alternative media addressing anti-terror laws and state accountability.
Are CAGE apologists for extremism and terrorists?
From the outset of the War on Terror CAGE has advocated for the return to the rule of law and against human rights abuses conducted against those accused of connections to terrorism. We understand that in doing so, some of our opponents label us as apologists for extremism and terrorism. We are apologists for neither – our goal is to simply ensure that the pursuit of justice is carried out fairly.
How does CAGE tackle radicalisation?
The term “radicalisation” has been co-opted by the state and media to malign those who dissent. All radicalisation is not bad or in need of being tackled. Individuals and movements are celebrated in Britain for their radical politics and resistance to various injustices over the years.
CAGE encourages all those who feel alienated and marginalised by War on Terror policies to actively dissent and hold the state to account for any violations and excesses therein. CAGE also utilises its own vast experience of vilification by the state, imprisonment, torture and expertise in conflict zones to advise those with grievances to seek redress through legal and ethical channels.
Where people are suspected of potentially committing acts of violence we believe Britain has a more-than-adequate policing system to deal with the problem. We oppose the use and implementation of pre-crime strategies that inadvertently create state informants and public suspects.
Is CAGE a pro-jihadist Islamist organisation?
CAGE does not use, endorse or recognise the terms ‘Islamist’ or ‘jihadist’. CAGE is a pro-justice organisation with an Islamic ethos. CAGE recognises the complexities within the debate pertaining to civil liberties and security and calls for the use of sensible, responsible and precise language when debating these matters.
Do you defend convicted terrorists?
CAGE was primarily established to expose the injustices that arose – and remain to this day – following the imprisonment without charge or trial of 779 men in the US military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A handful of these men were convicted after being tried at kangaroo-style, juryless courts. None of these trials were conducted in fair, open and transparent courts.
Further, the breadth of terrorism laws in the UK has grown exponentially over the years and has created new terrorism crimes that have little to do with acts of violence. In this regard, we call for a complete overhaul of anti-terror laws, resultant convictions and ensuing prison sentences. Further, just as in the case of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four during the Irish Troubles, we recognise that there have and will be some miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions. We make no representations if we believe processes and convictions to be sound.
We also take great inspiration from a convicted terrorist by the name of Nelson Mandela.
Does CAGE condemn terrorism?
CAGE opposes and rejects all unlawful violence whether committed by state, organisational or individual actors. CAGE is deeply sympathetic to the victims of violence and their loved ones but avoids engaging in this reductive binary and incessant calls to condemn terrorism.
This requirement comes from a place where Muslims are required to establish their own humanity first, before they can be permitted into the conversation on citizenship and equal rights. The underlying reasoning, is “if you do not condemn then by default, you condone.” Solutions to terrorism or politically motivated violence often exist in the most undesirable and unexplored places and CAGE is in search of them.
We regularly engage in dialogue and mediation as a means to conflict resolution and find the language of repeated condemnation unhelpful in seeking solutions.
Does CAGE co-operate with the security services?
CAGE operates within the parameters of the law and understands the importance of law enforcement agencies in challenging crime. However, we also recognise multiple failures of the security services that have at home intruded pervasively into lives of “suspect communities” under the guise of national security and have been complicit in gross human rights violations against foreign and domestic nationals abroad. CAGE believes that like everyone else, the security services must be accountable to the law and the people.
Who are CAGE’s supporters?
CAGE’s supporters hail from all backgrounds and sectors of society. Our events up and down the country are very well attended and that is where we find most of our supporters. We also have a strong and active online presence within social media where we attract a great deal of national and international support. Our supporters – past and present – have included actors, playwrights, authors, journalists, lawyers, artists, politicians, peers, clerics, teachers, trade unionists, anti-racists, former soldiers, former prisoners, former hostages, housewives, students, business people and young people – and the list is growing.
Does CAGE only advocate for Muslims?
CAGE advocates for those wrongfully or unjustly targeted as a result of the growing securitisation. This, by necessity, mostly means men, women and children from the Muslim community. However, we are not oblivious of the struggles of other peoples – past and present. Thus, we regularly comment on and seek just and equal treatment for non-Muslims who face similar injustice at the hands of the state. We also recognise and appreciate the political struggles of various non-Muslim individuals and movements around the world who were at some point in history regarded as radicals, extremists and terrorists but are today celebrated as statesmen and peacemakers.
Where does CAGE’s funding come from?
For several years our funding came from charities like the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation. However, following bank account closure in 2014 that has no longer been available. The truly remarkable thing about CAGE is that it continued to work and grow, unimpeded, from strength to strength, despite imprisonment of our staff, harassment at airports, closure of our bank accounts and state and media vilification. Today, CAGE is a community-based organisation that is only funded by donations from ordinary people who support our work.
Why should people support CAGE?
CAGE’s work has been at the forefront in standing up to and challenging the state whether in relation to complicity in torture and false imprisonment or in facing laws and measures that criminalise growing numbers of dissenting voices within Britain’s diverse communities. We are from those directly and adversely affected by state repression and form part of the civic machinery that helps keep government in check at a time of heightened fear and anti-Muslim rhetoric, laws and crimes. Our track record shows that we stand firm for our principles and are – and have always been – prepared to pay the the price for them.
We have also facilitated the hand of friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation by organising meetings and tours between former Guantanamo guards and prisoners in a truly unique way, finding ways to construct bridges where none existed.
Are supporters of CAGE put on ‘watch-lists’?
Part of CAGE’s Islamic ethos is the belief that we are all accountable for our actions and, as such, are on ‘watch-lists’ of sorts from the cradle to the grave. However, when it comes to unreasonable state invasions of privacy we firmly oppose it. Unfortunately, being placed on one government list or another is an increasing phenomena that has grown unchecked because of the lack of unified resistance to such intrusions. This, however, does not mean that association with CAGE necessitates being put on government lists. The support for CAGE is so wide that such a thing would be very hard to maintain.
Does CAGE accept Zakat?
Yes. CAGE is an organisation that works for the defence of the oppressed, and for the release of the unjustly incarcerated. We also stand for the principles of Justice. Running an NGO with this purpose in mind is something Scholars such as Shaykh Jafar Idris and other qualified Islamic Jurists we’ve consulted have said is permissible for Zakat insha’Allah.
Differences do exist on this issue. Since Zakat is an individual obligation and each person must dispense of it in a way they believe is appropriate, we encourage you to seek counsel from scholars you trust as to how your Zakat should be spent, should you have any questions.
How can I support CAGE?
- Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
- Arrange awareness events and workshops in your locality by contacting CAGE.
- Remember us in your prayers