Over the past three weeks, CAGE has been the subject of what appears to be a co-ordinated attack from the right-wing media and the British political establishment, with the express intention to cast the organisation as ‘extremist’ in order to malign us and compel us to shut down.
In an unprecedented attack on a small organisation of only 6 full-time staff, eight newspapers ran 28 headlines in the space of four days, all of them attacking CAGE for our successful opposition to the government’s failed counter-terrorism programme, PREVENT. Several politicians and conservative leaders joined the fray.
Rounding on CAGE
The Daily Mail acted as the attack dogs, publishing headlines that echoed the opinions of neo-conservative think tanks, state security services and conservative MPs. Their articles directly quoted Home Secretary Theresa May, who supported the Daily Mail “investigations” even though they were conducted underhandedly and with the express intention to cast CAGE as “extremist”. This despite our remit being to campaign for the rule of law and an end to torture.
The clear line journalists had to the Home Secretary showed these stories ran with the approval of the Home Office. It is not surprising then that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has recently joined May, Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, London mayor Boris Johnson, and Conservative MP Jo Johnson, all of whom have very deliberately and specifically sought to smear CAGE.
What’s behind the raucous?
But why dedicate so much time and energy to go after a small organisation that has already felt the brunt of political, legal, economic and media pressure for several years?
CAGE has been successful in challenging the government’s narrative around “radicalisation”. This narrative seeks to group all forms of dissent under the banner of “extremism” and in so doing quell opposition to its neo-conservative aims. Its end goal is a surveillance state, in which Muslims are placated into accepting a state-sanctioned version of Islam, in which opinions that counter the government’s are policed and open debate is shepherded by rubber-stamped organisations and individuals.
We have consistently and intensively highlighted this since the inception of the PREVENT strategy. Using case study based research we have shown how PREVENT is a danger to civil society, intellectual debate, individual expression and religious freedom. Far from “extreme”, the problems we have highlighted and the questions we have posed of the security state are now being echoed by academics, civil society groups and by key members of the public sector including Her Majesty’s Opposition itself.
The government is losing the intellectual and political argument over the growth of the security state through PREVENT. CAGE has been at the forefront of the counter-argument, consistently stating that ideology does not cause political violence, but socio-economic factors and foreign and domestic policy play a far more prominent role. This argument is gaining traction because of its central validity. This is why major players are employing the whole apparatus of the conservative establishment to try to close us down.
CAGE position has broad and high level support
The main global dissenters to the surveillance state including the likes of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and Intercept have endorsed CAGE and the work we do. Secular academics and student organisations have signed up to the CAGE narrative on campus. Trade Unions are now coming on board. The number of loyal supporters is growing.
In a landmark High Court victory, the lord chief justice Thomas ruled that the Charity Commission – headed by neo-conservative William Shawcross – had no right to compel charities not to fund CAGE. This was a major blow to an arm of the conservative establishment, and demonstrated support for CAGE amongst the highest echelons of Britain. In forcing the Charity Commission into retreat, our victory was heralded as a victory for all of civil society by key opinion makers in the sector.
Our consistent and well-grounded view that terrorism laws are too broad and that they threaten human rights was echoed in the Court of Appeal this week, which ruled precisely this in the David Miranda case, concluding that the Terrorism Act violates the fundamental freedom of the press.
CAGE will continue to grow in credibility and effort insha’Allah
Despite co-ordinated attempts to demonise CAGE, the organisation has been resilient and strong. We continue to campaign successfully for due process and the rule of law. We continue to support individuals and organisations whose rights have been infringed upon by PREVENT and counter-terrorrism legislation in other countries, referring them to lawyers and publicising cases where necessary. We are in the process of opening offices overseas to challenge PREVENT narratives that strengthen the neo-conservative establishment further afield.
It is thanks to the countless numbers of people who continue to donate to CAGE despite the systematic campaign against us, that we are able to continue to do this crucial work.
We intend to launch more projects calling for transparency around PREVENT and advancing the debate. We will continue to call for more constructive solutions to end the cycles of violence that characterise the War on Terror, as opposed to reinforce it. We will continue to campaign for a return to the principle of the rule of law, an end to torture and a world free from oppression and injustice. We invite you to lend your support to keep us going.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)