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Court approves legal challenge against EHRC report on ‘Labour antisemitism’
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone and former Labour councillor Pam Bromley have won the first stage in their battle to overturn the findings of the controversial and widely-criticised Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report that singled them out in its findings on antisemitism in the Labour party.
The pair have been granted a judicial review against the EHRC, after a fight that began at the beginning of this year.
A judicial review is a two-stage process, with the first stage being to obtain permission from a judge for a substantive court hearing. The judge in the first stage agreed that the two have an arguable case against the EHRC that its findings were legally unsound under human rights laws:
It is arguable that the Defendant [the EHRC] made an error of law in relation to Article 10 ECHR.
In its long-delayed and controversial report in October 2020, the EHRC found that Livingstone and Bromley had ‘contributed’ to alleged ‘unlawful harassment related to Jewish race and religion’ by the Labour Party – comments that represented almost the only substantial finding in the report of any actual discrimination. Other findings of an unfair process made clear that those accused had been discriminated against or treated unfairly as much as any accusers, with ‘political interference’ targeted at speeding up disciplinary processes against the efforts of right-wing Labour staff to prolong them.
Such nuances have, of course, been ignored by the media and by critics of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, as were findings that %20
interference’: what the EHRC report says that you won’t hear from the ‘MSM’ – and the blockbuster email it omits – SKWAWKBOXalmost all of the unsatisfactory conduct the EHRC found took place under the old right-wing regime and improved markedly when left-winger Jennie Formby took over the party’s admin.
A press release on behalf of Bromley and Livingstone today said they had already raised substantial funds for the next phase of the battle:
In reaction to the court’s decision, Ken Livingstone said:
I’m delighted the court believes we have an arguable case against the EHRC. The Commission cobbled together a half-baked case against me last year, justified by a flawed legal analysis. “It was simply absurd to accuse me of ‘harassment’. This judicial review will be a vital step in correcting the record and turning the tide against the wave of McCarthyism that has engulfed Britain over the past few years.
Ms Bromley added:
The EHRC Report represents an erosion of freedom of expression in Britain. It serves part of a broader effort to undermine pro-Palestine campaigners and critics of the State of Israel. “This legal case isn’t about me or Ken, it’s about making sure that the EHRC’s dubious legal analysis isn’t used in future to crush people who dare to speak up for Palestinians.
The writer has refused to sell Hebrew translation rights to her latest novel Beautiful World, Where Are You due to her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict
Sally Rooney has turned down an offer from the Israeli publisher that translated her two previous novels into Hebrew, due to her stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The Irish author’s second novel Normal People was translated into 46 languages, and it was expected that Beautiful World, Where Are You would reach a similar number. However, Hebrew translation rights have not yet been sold, despite the publisher Modan putting in a bid.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Rooney explained her decision, writing that while she was “very proud” to have had her previous novels translated into Hebrew, she has for now “chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.
The statement expressed her desire to support theBoycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), a campaign that works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.
“Of course, many states other than Israel are guilty of grievous human rights abuses. This was also true of South Africa during the campaign against apartheid there. In this particular case, I am responding to the call from Palestinian civil society, including all major Palestinian trade unions and writers’ unions.”
She went on to acknowledge that not everyone will agree with her, but that she did not feel it would be right to collaborate with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.
The statement confirms the news published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last month, which reported that “when Modan approached Rooney’s agent in an attempt to sign another translation deal, the agent announced that Rooney supports the cultural boycott movement on Israel and therefore does not approve translation into Hebrew”.
Gitit Levy-Paz, a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, wrote a column for the Jewish news platform Forward criticising the author’s decision. “The very essence of literature, its power to bring a sense of coherence and order to the world, is negated by Rooney’s choice to exclude a group of readers because of their national identity”, she claimed.
Others have argued that Rooney was right to take this stand and support BDS. Tribune magazine editor Ronan Burtenshaw wrote that the writer’s decision was “no surprise”, based on her previous assertions. “You can’t publish with Modan and respect the boycott. Simple as.”
Rooney is not the first author to refuse translation into Hebrew on political grounds. Alice Walker, author of Pulitzer prize-winning The Color Purple, refused to authorise a Hebrew translation of her novel in 2012 because of what she referred to as Israel’s “apartheid state”.
The headline of this article has been amended to include the word “an” to clarify that just one Israeli translation was rejected
This Thursday, 14 October, Declassified UK premieres a new film on Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Investigators Matt Kennard and Phil Miller will be joined by myself and by Declassified UK board member Andrew Feinstein. Andrew is a former MP of the African National Congress in South Africa who resigned in protest at the party’s refusal to allow a meaningful investigation into a £5bn arms deal, which was tainted by allegations of significant, high level corruption. He is the author of the best-selling After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future and the critically acclaimed The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.
Declassified UK investigates an arms factory in Warton, Lancashire making warplanes to bomb Yemen – the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Interviewing local residents and a former Foreign Office lawyer, our team tracks down a secretive supply flight that Britain’s largest arms company BAE Systems sends every week from Warton to Saudi Arabia, and questions whether the air war could continue without UK support.
Declassified UK will be joined by the Local Outreach Coordinator for Campaign Against Arms Trade, Kirsten Bayes. Kirsten argues that the UK’s addiction to arms trading is a vestige of empire and great power politics that continues to empower despots and immiserate the world’s most vulnerable people.
As well as by Declassified UK board member Andrew Feinstein. Andrew is a former MP of the African National Congress in South Africa who resigned in protest at the party’s refusal to allow a meaningful investigation into a £5bn arms deal, which was tainted by allegations of significant, high level corruption. He is the author of the best-selling After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future and the critically acclaimed The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade
Watch the film on our YouTube channel from Thursday 14 October at 5pm and join our Q&A at 6.30pm.
The arms industry is a multi-billion pound industry that relies on extensive political and economic support from complicit governments.
Arms companies rely on secrecy. We aim to expose the deadly consequences of this terrible trade, and the role of arms dealing governments like the UK in promoting it.
This section of the website will explore what we mean by the arms industry, the ways that it has gained so much power, the ways that it uses that power, and the different challenges that it presents for campaigners.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, was dissolved on Wednesday in a wide-ranging bankruptcy settlement . . .But the agreement includes a much-disputed condition: It largely absolves the Sacklers of Purdue’s opioid-related liability. And as such, they will remain among the richest families in the country. -The New York Times, Sept 17,2021 (1)
Steven Donziger, the US indigenous rights campaigner and lawyer who spent decades battling the energy firm Chevron over pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on Friday for criminal contempt charges arising from a lawsuit brought by the oil giant. Friday’s sentence, handed down by federal judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan, came a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years was a violation of international human rights law. The UN experts’ opinion said the US breached international law by putting Donziger under house arrest for about four times the maximum sentence of six months that he has now received in his contempt case. -The Guardian, Oct 1, 2021 (2)
The cases above are just two of the hundreds of examples of how corporations and their owners and executives get away with heinous crimes in the United States while individuals who seek to expose such crimes are persecuted.
Whether members of the Sackler family personally prescribed opioids or Donziger is guilty of contempt of court should not be the driving issues. The simple fact is that countless numbers of Americans and Ecuadorians died because of decisions made by ruthless, greed-driven Purdue Pharma and Chevron executives. And not one of them is held responsible.
Over and over, we hear of corporations that are found guilty of criminal actions. However, buried beneath the sensationalized stories is the real news: Individuals within corporations are the guilty parties. People, not corporations, make decisions. And yet the guilty parties, the criminals, almost always go free.
The list of corporations that have been found guilty or pleaded “no contest” to felonies in the US and not had their convictions overturned on appeal is extensive and reaches across the spectrum of business sectors. It includes such giants as Archer Daniels Midland, BP, British Airways, General Electric, Pfizer, International Paper, PG&E, Samsung, Tyson Foods, Waste Management Inc., and many more. (3)
Wall Street is a prime example. As reported in The Marketplace:
Why didn’t any Wall Street CEO go to jail after the financial crisis? . . .The financial crisis of 2008 altered so many lives: Millions of people lost their homes, their jobs, and their savings. It set off a recession that collectively destroyed over $30 trillion of the world’s wealth. And though the crisis grew out of big banks’ handling of mortgage-backed securities, no Wall Street executive went to jail for it. (4)
Americans like to point the finger at corruption elsewhere. We rail against the power elites and attacks on civil rights and freedom of the press in China, Russia, and other countries. While such condemnation is totally justified, it has little or no impact on those other countries, especially since it is seen throughout most of the world as American hypocrisy.
By turning a blind eye on the failures of our own justice system, we perpetuate a global model that allows the rich and powerful to quite literally “get away with murder.” Yet, it is difficult to define these many US examples as anything other than corruption. Whether judges accept outright bribes, own stock, or are driven by some other motives, it seems clear that many of them are strongly biased in favor of Big Business.
It does not have to be this way.
Iceland provides a model of a judicial system that took a very different path. From Bloomberg:
Kviabryggia Prison in western Iceland . . . is where the world’s only bank chiefs imprisoned in connection with the 2008 financial crisis are serving their sentences. . . In sentencing these financiers to serve terms of up to 5½ years, the Icelandic courts have done something authorities in the world’s two great banking capitals, New York and London, haven’t: They’ve made bankers answer for the crimes of the crash. (5)
If the US is to have a chance of offering the world a model of anything approaching democracy, social justice, and a fair legal system, we need to demand that our judges, our media, and our elected representatives focus on the real issues. The human decision-makers behind the opioid, banking, environmental, and other corporate crimes must be punished. Those humans that fight against such crimes, like Steven Donziger, should decorate the covers of our magazines as heroes the world’s children will want to emulate.
The current blog post considers the failure of the current judicial review reform process, fromIRAL onwards, to give proper consideration to compensation for unlawful government acts. This has been less discussed than the discretion over the temporal effect of quashing orders (which I considered here).
It may be that the Realpolitik of this omission is too obvious to need extended discussion (given the notorious failure of the Law Commission’s project on public authority liability in the 2000s). Even so, IRAL missed a valuable opportunity to consider the question again. No very good reason was offered for this failure. It is most regrettable.
I share the view of (e.g.) Sir Michael Fordham and Lord Carnwath that the absence of a power to award compensation for unlawful actions is a serious gap in our public law remedies.
It is too late for the general problem to be addressed in the Judicial Review and Courts Bill now before Parliament. But I recommend that an express power to award compensation should be inserted into Clause 1, as an integral part of the reform of quashing orders. It would further increase the court’s flexibility. It would, importantly, help answer some of the concerns raised about the potential unfairness of temporal limitations on quashing orders. Thus the main point of this post, having lamented the failure to consider the general question of compensation in the review process, is to call for such an amendment to the Bill. Clause 1 currently states that the power to make a time-limited quashing order can be made ‘subject to conditions’. The legislation should explicitly state that such ‘conditions’ may include ordering compensation for those adversely affected by the postponement or curtailed retrospection.
Compensation for unlawful acts: a missing principle
As many commentators have persuasively argued, the absence of a damages remedy for public law unlawfulness is a significant gap in English administrative law. The prerogative remedies are unquestionable strong weapons in the judicial arsenal. Quashing unlawful acts is a powerful remedy, as are mandatory and prohibitory orders. But often, specific relief of this kind needs to be supplemented by a monetary remedy if full protection, or restoration, is to be achieved. A brief glance across the ‘public-private divide’ makes the point clear. Courts routinely grant injunctions to restrain ongoing trespass to land or nuisances, once the claimant has established liability in those torts. This remedial approach is rightly seen as giving strong protection to landowners’ rights. But no tort lawyer would suggest that injunctions should be the only remedies. Courts routinely award damages to a successful nuisance claimant inaddition to an injunction. These damages compensate the loss suffered up to the point when the violation of property rights is actually enjoined. (It is especially pertinent to note that when an injunction is suspended in nuisance cases, for example to give the defendant the opportunity to modify or relocate their activities, it is standard practice to award the claimant damages in lieu of injunctive relief during the period of suspension.)
It is common enough for a successful applicant for judicial review already to have suffered loss which will not and cannot be redressed by one of the prerogative orders. Even though quashing takes effect retrospectively in theory, an applicant who has been unlawfully deprived of a permit necessary for them to work, or to reside in the UK, will still have suffered loss in fact. Hence why it is, to quote Sir Michael Fordham, a ‘recognised injustice’ that the courts have no power to award compensation ‘where unlawfulness by a public authority cries out for a monetary response’: Judicial Review Handbook (7th ed 2020, at 25.3). (At 25.3.4, Fordham J collects calls for reform by other senior judges, the Council of Europe (1984), and the Justice/All Souls Report (1988)).
The absence of a public law compensation remedy is probably no more than an historical accident. A legacy of path-dependent development within historically separate jurisdictions. Liability for (e.g.) contract and tort historically developed in the courts of common law around the remedy of damages; equity developed in the Court of Chancery around injunctions, declarations and other equitable remedies; and judicial review in the King’s Bench around the prerogative writs. It is striking that whereas the remedial divide between equity and common law has long since become porous, the absence of damages in the judicial review jurisdiction has hardened into unchallengeable axiom. But in truth there is no strong reason of principle to perpetuate the absence of a monetary remedy in public law (see Peter Cane, ‘Damages in public law’ (1999) 9 Otago Law Rev 489).
Not only does the absence of compensation lead to clear injustice. It can produce unacceptable anomalies too. Monetary remedies are (or in the EU example, previously were) available for analogous government failings. For example, ombudsmen can recommend compensation for loss flowing from maladministration. Why, as Lord Carnwath asked, should the courts not be able to order compensation when loss is caused by unlawful government action? (R Carnwath, ‘The Thornton heresy exposed: Financial remedies for breach of public duties’  PL 407). Courts can award compensation under the Human Rights Act 1998 and for the final 25 years of EU membership, could and did award damages against the state for breach of EU law, under the Francovich principle. Private law, too, orders restitution of payment following an ultra vires demand by a public authority (Woolwich BS v IRC  AC 70). This is widely accepted as an exemplar of unjust enrichment liability. But there is no equivalent principle requiring compensation for loss caused by an ultra vires act. Anomalies could easily arise.
From Law Commission to IRAL: opportunities missed
It is not entirely clear why IRAL did not look at the question of compensation, despite its detailed engagement with remedies (i.e. the limitation of temporal effect of quashing orders). A plausible speculation is that IRAL, with the failure of the Law Commission’s 2000s project on public authority liability squarely in mind, decided not to risk the same wasted effort. Given the powerful case of principle favouring a monetary remedy, this is highly regrettable.
The Law Commission proposed sweeping changes to public authority damages liability in its 2008 Consultation Paper. Notoriously, the government (and some commentators) were so hostile to the proposals that the Law Commission effectively withdrew them in its final Report of 2010. Is the problem de facto insoluble, given the government’s direct financial interest in and (presumptive) opposition to any expansion of liability?
Sedley LJ thought so. He commented, just after the Law Commission’s failed project (which he labelled a ‘débâcle’), that the government ‘would frustrate any reform, however wise or necessary, which would make government’s life more difficult’ (Mohammed v Home Office  1 WLR 2862 at ). This might seem cynical, yet justified.
Some problematic features of the Law Commission project should be noted. The project began as an examination of monetary remedies in judicial review in the narrow sense. Perhaps such a limited project could have succeeded. However, the Law Commission was persuaded to widen its focus to include ‘private law remedies’ following discussions with lawyers, judges and academics. Those private law proposals proved to be much the most controversial aspect of the Law Commission’s 2008 Consultation Paper. Thus what had started off as a public law compensation project was derailed by the enlarged focus (as the IRAL Report at  notes, ‘Judicial review was essentially peripheral to the later  Law Commission study of monetary remedies in public law’).
The Law Commission was unlucky in the coincidence of its proposals with very hard economic times (the 2008 ‘credit crunch’ crash) and retrenchment in government spending (especially by the coalition elected in 2010). Such a climate was unpromising for any reforms that might increase state liability. The wide-ranging nature of the Law Commission project, concentrating ultimately on tort liability, would have exacerbated contemporary government concerns about the costs. A more limited project, confined to judicial review, would be considerably easy to model (by considering what compensation might realistically have been ordered in the (known) numbers of successful judicial review applications in recent years). It would be harder to block by raising (legitimate) questions about the unquantifiable and potentially enormous cost—the fate of the Law Commission’s grander project.
The launch of IRAL was an excellent opportunity to revisit this narrower question. By definition IRAL’s remit would have been limited to judicial review, avoiding the expanding remit and (arguably) the over-ambition that doomed the Law Commission project. It is puzzling that IRAL defined its own remit to exclude damages. It is not easy to understand its rationale. Having interpreted its terms of reference as requiring it to consider whether judicial review ‘should be moderated … (b) by altering the remedies that are available’, there was no discussion of compensation in Chapter 3 of the IRAL Report. Compensation was mentioned only in the report’s Introduction at para 6: discussing the Law Commission’s abortive project, the IRAL report commented:
Noting that “the current regime had significant gaps in it”, the Law Commission [Report] came down on the side of a new remedy in damages in judicial review proceedings. The gap still remains – but thankfully it is not the task of the [IRAL] Panel to close it.
No actual reason is provided here for IRAL’s avoidance of the question—save the hint that they did not want to engage with a subject that had defeated the skills of the Law Commission. This is curiously timid given IRAL’s apparent acceptance that the absence of compensation is a ‘significant gap’ in judicial review remedies. It should be noted that those who responded to the IRAL consultation had certainly construed its remit to include damages. The IRAL report at C.21 states that ‘On damages, respondents generally argued that damages need to be more freely available, on the basis that other jurisdictions allow damages for maladministration’. Those respondents deserved a better response than IRAL gave.
In summary, I believe that English law is seriously defective in not containing a compensatory remedy in judicial review. It should not be available ‘as of right’ (unless, as at present, a tort, breach of contract etc can also be shown). Compensation should rather be in the discretion of the court as with other judicial review remedies: declarations, injunctions and the prerogative orders. (See also M Fordham, ‘Reparation for Maladministration: Public Law’s Final Frontier’  Judicial Review 104). It is disappointing that IRAL did not consider the case for such a reform.
Compensation as a condition for postponement of quashing
It would be unrealistic to expect the Judicial Review and Courts Bill now before Parliament to include compensation as a general remedy in judicial review. It is too late, alas, to revive the debate which IRAL conspicuously avoided.
Nevertheless, compensation should be included in the remedial reforms in Clause 1 (inserting a new s.29A Senior Courts Act 1981). This is the provision on limiting the temporal effect of quashing orders, analysed in my previous post. The temporal remedial discretion would be given maximum flexibility if it included a power to award damages in lieu of an immediate / retrospective quashing order. Such a compensatory power would help address concerns that the new discretion could work harshly against individual applicants, successful in their judicial review but awarded a second-best (postponed or prospective-only) remedy.
When invited to make use of the power to limit the temporal effect of a quashing order, the court would need to weigh up the interests of ‘good administration’ favouring such temporal limits against the interest of the applicant (and other individuals) who would be adversely affected by them. Such interests could clash sharply, with no easy way of striking the balance since individual rights and the public interest may be more or less incommensurable. A power to order compensation as a condition for limiting the quashing order’s temporal effect could help resolve such dilemmas. The government would gain the ‘good administration’ benefits of a postponement. The individual, although the quashing order would be postponed (or made prospective-only), would be compensated for ongoing loss flowing from the preservation in force of the ultra vires act.
Obviously there would be a cash cost for the respondent in such cases. But before the government rejects the idea out of hand on grounds of cost, as it did with the Law Commission’s (much wider-ranging) proposals in 2008, it should consider. The court is more likely to exercise the power to limit temporal effect if the costs of that limitation do not fall upon an individual applicant who has successfully brought a claim (at considerable expense) showing that the government acted ultra vires. In my previous post I argued that the presumption in sub-clause (9) should be deleted during the parliamentary scrutiny of Clause 1. But if it is enacted as it stands, the court would be considerably more likely to find that the time-limited order gave ‘adequate redress’ if it could be supplemented by an order for compensation. I criticised the government’s attempt to direct the court’s discretion so as to ‘encourage’ it to use the power to time-limit quashing orders. A more effective way to encourage the court to do this would be to permit the award of compensation as a condition for postponed relief.
A distant analogy is with the power of courts of equity to award damages in lieu of an injunction or other specific relief (the jurisdiction famously created by Lord Cairns’s Act (Chancery Amendment Act) 1858). A court will be readier to refuse, limit or postpone specific relief (an injunction in equity, or in administrative law a quashing order) if it can award compensation in lieu. From the perspective of equitable remedies in private law, administrative law suffers a curious omission. The prerogative remedies offer strong protection (specific relief) and therefore lie in the discretion of the court. But unlike a court of equity, the Administrative Court cannot award compensation in place of a prerogative order. In judicial review the choice is starker: to quash (or make a declaration) or decline all relief entirely. But why?
Clause 1 as it stands permits the court to make a time-limited quashing order ‘subject to conditions’ (new s.29A(2)). Could such ‘conditions’ include imposing a condition that compensation be paid to the applicant (or other individuals), as the ‘price’ of denying immediate / retrospective quashing? As the Bill’s Explanatory Notes say, ‘The clause provides no limit or prescription on the type or nature of the conditions, leaving this determination to the court’ (para ). It is clearly within the ordinary judicial function to require financial payments or undertakings as conditions for particular kinds of relief. However, against this is the axiomatic unavailability of compensation for ultra vires acts. It seems implausible to suggest that such compensation has in fact always been available, since the Administrative Court could make payment a condition for refusing or limiting a prerogative order. As the very full consideration of remedies in Sir Michael Fordham’s Judicial Review Handbook shows, there is no precedent for such a bold approach (and Fordham J is, as seen, a prominent advocate of creating a damages remedy in public law).
Given the misguided ‘axiom’ about damages in public law, it is at least doubtful whether the court could order damages as a ‘condition’ under s.29A(2) as it stands. I therefore recommend that s.29A(2) should be amended to read ‘… may be made subject to conditions, including the requirement that compensation be paid to the applicant or any other persons who may suffer loss from the impugned act’s being upheld’ (italicised subclause inserted). This would put beyond doubt the availability of compensation as a supplement to limitations on the temporal effect of a quashing order.
This would improve the reform proposed in Clause 1. It would allow courts to mitigate hardship to who would otherwise lose out by the postponement of quashing, or the restriction of its retrospective effect.
In an ideal world, I would prefer a more sweeping reform giving a power to award compensation for loss flowing from ultra vires action in all cases. There is no satisfactory stopping point as a matter of principle. Yet there is no current prospect of legislation to give effect to that general principle. The lesson of the Law Commission’s report may be that grand reforms are best left to philosophers in their studies, since they will face stiff opposition from government itself. What is proposed here would be a significant improvement on the reform proposed in Clause 1 by clarifying what is currently (or so it seems to me) a doubtful point. It answers some criticisms of Clause 1—that limiting the temporal effect of quashing orders could work (uncompensated) hardship for the successful applicant. And if it shows that (albeit in one rather specific situation) compensation for ultra vires acts is available in English administrative law, it could be the seed for future useful reforms.
Jonathan Morgan, Reader in English Law, University of Cambridge
(Suggested citation: J. Morgan, ‘IRAL’s Missing Remedy: Compensation for Unlawfulness’, U.K. Const. L. Blog (12th October 2021) (available at https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/))
From the entire female population, it could have been any of us. But it was Sarah Everard, the young woman from London who was tragically murdered by the ruthless maniac PC Wayne Couzens.
On the evening of 3 March 2021, Couzens used his Metropolitan police warrant card and handcuffs to abduct Ms Everard under the guise of an arrest. She was walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London.
With Sarah bundled in his car he drove 50 miles before raping and strangling her to death. Days later Couzens even burned her body in an attempt to hide it.
As details of the police investigation emerged during the trial this week, public outcry turned towards the Metropolitan police force for the catalogue of failures they were responsible for during the murder investigation.
Failures that reflect an institution
To add to this blatant negligence, the trial also revealed that Couzens was on a WhatsApp group with five other police officers who are currently being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for gross misconduct. The court heard that together they exchanged with one another “discriminatory” messages, which included “misogynistic content”. At least three of them face criminal investigations under Section 127 of the Communications Act, which addresses material that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing nature”.
As if further proof of Couzens’ depraved character was needed, his colleagues admitted to the court that they provided him the nickname “the rapist”.
In light of such undeniable institutional failings, police chiefs and government members are desperately focusing on rebuilding the public’s trust in the constabulary force. Currently, the focus seems to be on reiterating safety precautions which include not walking alone after dark, avoiding the use of headphones, staying in well-lit areas, texting your location to friends, wearing dark clothes, and carrying keys in your hand as a weapon.
Understandably, the collective pain which women feel and the fallout of the investigation has galvanised another generation of women intent on challenging prevailing attitudes towards violence against women. Subsequently, amid the vigils and protests, ‘Reclaim the Night’ is being invoked again since Sarah’s death. This was a 1970s movement sparked by the murderer Peter Sutcliff, who was also known as the Yorkshire Ripper. As such, the broader public discourse now revolves around misogyny in the police force, the marginalisation of women, toxic and sexist attitudes, and outing the grossly misinformed. A shocking example of these concerns can be found in North Yorkshire commissioner Philip Allott, who sparked fury when he said that Ms Everard “never should have submitted” to the arrest by her killer!
However, what is missing from this all too necessary discussion is a holistic view towards the interactions that men and women will naturally share in society, and what real governance looks like. This is important because the overall view towards women among wider society will obviously affect police officers, given that they too are a part of that association.
It is widely recognised that toxic attitudes towards women are widespread in all secular liberal societies, and these are predominantly nurtured via pop culture and the entertainment industry. The social sphere now includes social media and applications, through which all forms of explicit personal freedoms are expressed.
Islam as an alternative view
Islam is an alternative doctrine to that of today’s secular society, as it deals with men and women systematically. The Shariah rules that Muslims are required to uphold in their interactions with the opposite gender in public and private life are exquisitely orchestrated by our Lord Allah عز و جل alone.
For example, the laws relating to our dress codes, gender separation in certain environments, and the license to interact freely at times of necessity all work in harmony with the recommended mannerisms that are best suited to the nobility of our God given human nature (fiṭrah). These are just some of the divine standards which give us knowledge about the honoured status and value of a woman. They are Islamic standards which indicate the worth of every woman, old or young. This is the case regardless of her social status, wealth, beauty, physique, or abilities.
So any crime against a woman in a society where she is deemed so precious will of course be viewed in the most serious way – and the seriousness of the crime will be reflected in the measures taken by the authorities against the perpetrators.
This is epitomised by the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammed ﷺ , when he lay siege at the fort of the Banū Qaynuqāʿ for fifteen days. This occurred after the abuse of a Muslim woman, in which the Muslim man who came to her aid was killed. Similarly, when Muhammed ibn Qāsim was sent by al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf in 88 AH to free the Muslimah captured by pirates in Sindh, the value of a woman and the duty of government was perfectly established as the gold standard of just rule.
The revival of proper Islamic governance in the Muslim world based on the noble truths of prophethood – as promised by our leader Muhammed ﷺ – could restore the value of women throughout society. This is because Islam is the only way of life with detailed social laws – that, when combined correctly – organise the relationships between men and women. Additionally, Islam’s highly accountable governing structures could simultaneously provide security for all.
Allah عز و جل says in the Qur’an,
“The believers, male and female, are friends to each other. They bid virtue and forbid vice and establish ṣalāh and pay zakāh and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those are the ones whom Allah will bless with mercy. Surely, Allah is Powerful, Wise.”
The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history.
Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
They expose the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state. They also shine a light on the secret finances of more than 300 other public officials such as government ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries.
The files include disclosures about major donors to the Conservative party, raising difficult questions for Boris Johnson as his party meets for its annual conference.
More than 100 billionaires feature in the leaked data, as well as celebrities, rock stars and business leaders. Many use shell companies to hold luxury items such as property and yachts, as well as incognito bank accounts. There is even art ranging from looted Cambodian antiquities to paintings by Picasso and murals by Banksy.
The Pandora papers reveal the inner workings of what is a shadow financial world, providing a rare window into the hidden operations of a global offshore economy that enables some of the world’s richest people to hide their wealth and in some cases pay little or no tax.Quick Guide
What are the Pandora papers?
There are emails, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports and complex diagrams showing labyrinthine corporate structures. Often, they allow the true owners of opaque shell companies to be identified for the first time.
The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington. It shared access to the leaked data with select media partners including the Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde and the Washington Post. More than 600 journalists have sifted through the files as part of a massive global investigation.
The Pandora papers represent the latest – and largest in terms of data volume – in a series of major leaks of financial data that have convulsed the offshore world since 2013.
Setting up or benefiting from offshore entities is not itself illegal, and in some cases people may have legitimate reasons, such as security, for doing so. But the secrecy offered by tax havens has at times proven attractive to tax evaders, fraudsters and money launderers, some of whom are exposed in the files.
Other wealthy individuals and companies stash their assets offshore to avoid paying tax elsewhere, a legal activity estimated to cost governments billions in lost revenues.
After more than 18 months analysing the data in the public interest, the Guardian and other media outlets will publish their findings over the coming days, beginning with revelations about the offshore financial affairs of some of the most powerful political leaders in the world
They include the ruler of Jordan, King Abdullah II, who, leaked documents reveal, has amassed a secret $100m property empire spanning Malibu, Washington and London. The king of Jordan declined to answer specific questions but said there would be nothing improper about him owning properties via offshore companies. Jordan appeared to have blocked the ICIJ website on Sunday, hours before the Pandora papers launched.
The files also show that Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family has traded close to £400m of UK property in recent years. One of their properties was sold to the Queen’s crown estate, which is now looking into how it came to pay £67m to a company that operated as a front for the family that runs a country routinely accused of corruption. The Aliyevs declined to comment.
The Pandora papers also threaten to cause political upsets for two European Union leaders. The prime minister of the Czech republic, Andrej Babiš, who is up for election this week, is facing questions over why he used an offshore investment company to acquire a $22m chateau in the south of France. He too declined to comment.
And in Cyprus, itself a controversial offshore centre, the president, Nicos Anastasiades, may be asked to explain why a law firm he founded was accused of hiding the assets of a controversial Russian billionaire behind fake company owners. The firm denies any wrongdoing, while the Cypriot president says he ceased having an active role in its affairs after becoming leader of the opposition in 1997.
Not everyone named in the Pandora papers is accused of wrongdoing. The leaked files reveals that Tony and Cherie Blair saved £312,000 in property taxes when they purchased a London building partially owned by the family of a prominent Bahraini minister.
The former prime minister and his wife bought the £6.5m office in Marylebone by acquiring a British Virgin Islands (BVI) offshore company. While the move was not illegal, and there is no evidence the Blairs proactively sought to avoid property taxes, the deal highlights a loophole that has enabled wealthy property owners not to pay a tax that is commonplace for ordinary Britons.
The leaked records vividly illustrate the central coordinating role London plays in the murky offshore world. The UK capital is home to wealth managers, law firms, company formation agents and accountants. All exist to serve their ultra-rich clients. Many are foreign-born tycoons who enjoy “non-domicile” status, which means they pay no tax on their overseas assets.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was elected in 2019 on a pledge to clean up his country’s notoriously corrupt and oligarch-influenced economy, is also named in the leak. During the campaign, Zelenskiy transferred his 25% stake in an offshore company to a close friend who now works as the president’s top adviser, the files suggest. Zelenskiy declined to comment and it is unclear if he remains a beneficiary.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, whom the US suspects of having a secret fortune, does not appear in the files by name. But numerous close associates do, including his best friend from childhood – the late Petr Kolbin – whom critics have called a “wallet” for Putin’s own wealth, and a woman the Russian leader was allegedly once romantically involved with. None responded to invitations to comment.
The Pandora papers also place a revealing spotlight on the offshore system itself. In a development likely to prove embarrassing for the US president, Joe Biden, who has pledged tolead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, the US emerges from the leak as a leading tax haven. The files suggest the state of South Dakota, in particular, is sheltering billions of dollars in wealth linked to individuals previously accused of serious financial crimes.
The offshore trail also stretches from Africa to Latin America to Asia, and is likely to pose difficult questions for politicians across the world. In Pakistan, Moonis Elahi, a prominent minister in prime minister Imran Khan’s government, contacted an offshore provider in Singapore about investing $33.7m.
In Kenya, the president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has portrayed himself as an enemy of corruption. In 2018, Kenyatta, he told the BBC: “Every public servant’s assets must be declared publicly so that people can question and ask: what is legitimate?”
He will come under pressure to explain why he and his close relatives amassed more than $30m of offshore wealth, including property in London. Kenyatta did not respond to enquiries about whether his family wealth was declared to relevant authorities in Kenya.
The Pandora papers also reveal some of the unseen repercussions of previous offshore leaks, which spurred modest reforms in some parts of the world, such as the BVI, which now keeps a record of the real owners of companies registered there. However, the newly leaked data shows money shifting around offshore destinations, as wealthy clients and their advisers adjust to new realities.
Some clients of Mossack Fonseca, the now defunct law firm at the heart of the 2016 Panama papers disclosures, simply transferred their companies to rival providers such as another global trust and corporate administrator with a major office in London, whose data is in the new trove of leaked files.
Asked why he was migrating the new company, one customer wrote bluntly: “Business decision to exit following the Panama papers.” Another agent said the industry had always “adapted” to external pressure.
Some leaked files appear to show some in the industry seeking to circumvent new privacy regulations. One Swiss lawyer refused to email the names of his high-value customers to a service provider in the BVI, following new legislation. Instead, he sent them by airmail, with strict instructions they should not be processed in any “electronic way”. The identity of another beneficial owner was shared via WhatsApp.
“The purpose of this way to proceed is to enable you to comply with BVI rules,” the lawyer wrote. Referring to Mossack Fonseca, the lawyer added: “You are obliged to keep secrecy for our clients and to not make feasible at all a second ‘Panama papers’ story that happened to one of your competitors.”
Gerard Ryle, the director of the ICIJ, said leading politicians who organised their finances in tax havens had a stake in the status quo, and were likely to be an obstacle to reform of the offshore economy. “When you have world leaders, when you have politicians, when you have public officials, all using the secrecy and all using this world, then I don’t think we’re going to see an end to it.”
He expected the Pandora papers to have a greater impact than previous leaks, not least because they were arriving in the middle of a pandemic that had exacerbated inequalities and forced governments to borrow unprecedented amounts to be shouldered by ordinary taxpayers. “This is the Panama papers on steroids,” Ryle said. “It’s broader, richer and has more detail.”
Pandora papers reporting team: Simon Goodley, Harry Davies, Luke Harding, Juliette Garside, David Conn, David Pegg, Paul Lewis, Caelainn Barr, Rowena Mason and Pamela Duncan in London; Ben Butler and Anne Davies in Sydney; Dominic Rushe in New York; Andrew Roth in Moscow; Helena Smith in Athens; Michael Safi in Lebanon; Robert Tait in Prague.
Conviction of Steven Donziger, said one critic, “perfectly encapsulates how corporate power has twisted the U.S. justice system to protect corporate interests and punish their enemies.”
Environmental justice advocates and other progressives on Friday condemned a federal judge’s decision Friday to sentence human rights lawyer Steven Donziger to six months in prison—following more than two years of house arrest related to a lawsuit he filed decades ago against oil giant Chevron.
The sentence, delivered by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York City, represents “an international outrage,” tweeted journalist Emma Vigeland following its announcement.
Donziger represented a group of farmers and Indigenous people in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador in the 1990s in a lawsuit against Texaco—since acquired by Chevron—in which the company was accused of contaminating soil and water with its “deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of cancer-causing waste into the Amazon.”
In 2019, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York—a former corporate lawyer with investments in Chevron—held Donziger in contempt of court after he refused to disclose privileged information about his clients to the fossil fuel industry. Kaplan placed Donziger under house arrest, where he has remained under strict court monitoring for 787 days.
In addition to Kaplan’s own connections to Chevron, the judge appointed private attorneys to prosecute the case, including one who had worked for a firm that represented the oil giant.
Preska, who found Donziger guilty of the contempt charges in July, is a leader of the right-wing Federalist Society, which counts Chevron among its financial backers.
As I face sentencing on Day 787 of house arrest, never forget what this case is really about.@Chevron caused a mass industrial poisoning in the Amazon that crushed the lives of Indigenous peoples. Six courts and 28 appellate judges found the company guilty. Fight on. pic.twitter.com/gjN0YDeYDu
Donziger indicated Friday afternoon that he plans to appeal the sentence.
“Stay strong,” he tweeted along with a photo from a rally attended by his supporters Friday.
BREAKING: Flouting the U.N. decision ordering my release, Judge Preska sentenced me to 6 months in prison. Still on house arrest until the appeals court rules on my motion for release pending appeal. Picture is from rally this morning.
350.org co-founder and author Bill McKibben said on social media that Donziger “deserves our thanks and support” for “daring to point out that Big Oil had poisoned the rainforest.”Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen, tweeted that Donziger’s case “perfectly encapsulates how corporate power has twisted the U.S. justice system to protect corporate interests and punish their enemies”—noting that as Donziger is ordered to prison for six months, members of the Sackler family recently won immunity from opioid lawsuits targeting their private company, Purdue Pharma.
“This ruling was done to deter ANYONE from crossing corporate special interests,” said progressive former congressional candidate Jen Perelman.
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Judge orders prison for indigenous rights campaigner despite UN experts’ opinion that his treatment broke international law
Steven Donziger, the US indigenous rights campaigner and lawyer who spent decades battling the energy firm Chevron over pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on Friday for criminal contempt charges arising from a lawsuit brought by the oil giant.
Donziger, who was disbarred from practicing law in New York last year, was found guilty in May of defying court orders, including by failing to turn over his computer and other electronic devices.
Friday’s sentence, handed down by federal judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan, came a day after he asked the court to consider an opinion by independent United Nations experts that found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years was a violation of international human rights law.
The UN experts’ opinion said the US breached international law by putting Donziger under house arrest for about four times the maximum sentence of six months that he has now received in his contempt case.
The experts, appointed by the Geneva-based UN human rights council, said that “the appropriate remedy” would be to “accord [Donziger] an enforceable right to compensation”.
Amnesty International also petitioned US authorities “to promptly implement the decision by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling for the immediate release of Steven Donziger”.
While Preska was not bound to consider the UN experts’ testimony that Donziger had been unlawfully confined, she imposed an unexpectedly tough sentence. “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law,” she said from the bench.
Donziger was charged in August 2019 with criminal contempt and placed under home detention to address concerns of flight risk. Five months ago, the judge found him guilty for “repeatedly and willfully” defying court orders.
The criminal case turns on a ruling from an earlier, 2014 civil case in which a Manhattan judge barred US enforcement of a $9.5bn judgment against Chevron Corp that Donziger had won in the Ecuadorian courts in 2011.
Chevron has never paid up, claiming “shocking levels of misconduct” and fraud by Donziger and the Ecuadorian judiciary. In the US, a judge agreed and said the Ecuadorian decision had been secured through bribery, fraud and extortion.
Donziger was ordered to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices. That later escalated into a criminal case when he failed to do so.
Friday’s decision is likely to raise condemnation of Donziger’s treatment by US authorities. In March, he claimed he was being tried “by a Chevron-connected judge and prosecuted by a Chevron-connected lawyer? It’s just wrong,” Donziger said.
“This is all part of a plan concocted by Chevron to dismantle my life. They want to do this to avoid paying up and to turn me into a weapon of intimidation against the whole legal profession.”
The shocking case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, an esteemed Muslimah and neuroscientist who became the poster girl of America’s ‘War on Terror’, is one of the most horrendous examples of American exceptionalism in recent years.
In 2003, Aafia was kidnapped by the Pakistani security service known as the ISI under the Musharraf government. She was then handed over to the American authorities, to be held in the notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Her three young children were missing for years, allegedly incarcerated themselves. Sadly, the whereabouts of her then newborn baby has to date never been established.
Aafia’s supposed link to a 9/11 suspect was enough to warrant the brutality and injustice she has suffered at the hands of successive American administrations ever since her capture. It was Yvonne Ridley – the British investigative journalist – who uncovered the truth about Aafia’s whereabouts, calling her “the most wronged woman in the world”.
Yvonne discovered that Aafia, Prisoner 650, was also known as the grey lady of Bagram. Her screams from her five year long torture and repeated rape haunted the corridors of the military prison she was held in.
ANUCHA PONGPATIMETH / Shutterstock
As though this was not enough, after spending five long years in Bagram Aafia faced trial in the US on the most dubious of charges: this petite young woman weighing only a mere 44 kilograms allegedly took up arms against prison guards in a bid to escape! However, no evidence demonstrating that she was a high level Al Qaeda operative – as is alleged – was ever produced. The case itself ignited international condemnation, a wave of emotion, and criticism of America’s War on Terror.
Unbelievably, our sister Aafia was sentenced to 86 years of incarceration in a high level prison, FMC Carswell, which is located in Fort Worth, Texas. This made it glaringly obvious to commentators that despite the dubious evidence the disproportionate sentence did not fit the alleged crime. In addition to the obvious torture and abuse she had already suffered, the US was intent on making an example of Aafia to silence their own Muslim population. They also wanted to legitimise their agenda against any voice of truth which tried to resist the malicious war of hegemony that US troops inflicted upon the entire populations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The agenda of President Bush and his hawkish government was continued by subsequent administrations. The ‘long war’ intended to suppress the rise of Islam and Muslims globally, and also ensured that Aafia’s case went largely unmentioned within the US.
The two British charities CAGE and JFAC have ensured that Aafia has had access to lawyers, who have also received funding for her case throughout this time. They have also maintained contact with her family, and have always been at the forefront of generating global awareness and concern for our oppressed sister.
However, despite the sincere efforts of even the most aware and accomplished individuals and notable organisations, Aafia continues to languish in the Texas prison. She has been kept in solitary confinement for years at a time, beaten, and tortured into near insanity. Even more disturbingly, she was also brutally attacked last month by an inmate. In the latest assault, the inmate smashed a mug of scalding coffee into her face, “almost blinding” her, as she herself stated. Being “unable to walk”, she “had to be removed in a wheelchair”.
Dr Aafia Siddiqui is the most honourable of Muslim women. As a dedicated mother and noble daʿwah carrier, she excelled in her profession and was an inspiration to all who knew her. She perfectly epitomised the many roles and responsibilities of a pious Muslimah. Despite the huge honour and value that Islam places upon every woman, this exceptional lady has been completely abandoned by the Muslim leaders, who have never even bargained for her release, let alone demanded it.
Muslim rulers and the Pakistani government in particular have the diplomatic clout to threaten the withdrawal of political and military support they provide to the US throughout the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
It is, after all, every nation’s prerogative to demand the release of its prisoners through legal measures, if not diplomacy. Securing the release of prisoners is a universal law, a norm, and a right that has existed throughout time and civilisations. It is one which maintains that the true legitimacy of any leadership rests with the measures it takes to protect its own people.
So why are Muslim governments impotent in the face of the West? When will their fear and awe of the West be replaced with fear and awe of Allah عز وجل instead?
Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq رضي الله عنه reported the following narration from the Prophet ﷺ:
“When people see an oppressor but do not prevent him from (doing evil), it is likely that Allah will punish them all.”
In light of this, prisoners and all men and women subjected to oppression and injustice patiently await the return of a genuine Islamic authority. They desire a government body which prioritises the Muslim Ummah according to the perfect speech of Allah عز وجل, the Qur’an.
Furthermore, they demand a leadership that is both willing and courageous enough to confront the greed of man which drives him to commit great injustice.
The Shariah mandates that Muslim armies show their strength to the oppressors. This is achieved by freeing our prisoners and carrying out what is necessary to make Allah’s word the highest. For He عز وجل says in the Qur’an:
“What is the matter with you that do not fight for the cause of Allah and those oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, ‘Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors! By Your grace, give us a protector and give us a helper!’”
So this must be the call of this great global Ummah: it must be one which reverberates in the palaces and corridors of power. The call must be based on conviction and applied in a way which is consistent with traditional and holistic Islamic rulings. That way, we will fulfil our collective duty to obey Allah عز وجل regarding the matter of Islam, and firmly establish this Dīn in the lands of the Muslims. Through these measures we may return the honour of so many innocent souls, the same honour which has been snatched away by the imperialist oppressors through their ideology of self interest.
Mukhtar was born into the Minifa tribe between 1856 and 1862 — the exact year isn’t known for sure — in the village of Zawiyat Janzur near the eastern port city of Tobruk. The Minifa were Arabised Amazighis from the ancient region of Marmarica situated between Libya and Egypt. At the time, this part of Libya became known as Italian Cyrenaica, which along with Italian Tripolitania in the west, was taken from the Ottoman Empire during the 1911 Italo-Turkish War.
Upon being orphaned at a young age, and in accordance with his father’s will, he was adopted by Sharif Al-Ghariani, a renowned scholar and family friend. Mukhtar would go on to receive an education at the local madrassah (Islamic school) where he memorised the Qur’an. He continued his religious education at the University of Jaghbub, which was affiliated with the Sufi Senussi Order, and served the movement’s spiritual headquarters in the remote oasis in the desert of eastern Libyan.
Having studied there for eight years, Mukhtar graduated as an imam and scholar and joined the Senussi brotherhood under the leadership of the Shaikh Muhammad Al-Madhi Al-Senussi (1844-1902). He was the son of the movement’s founder, Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Ali Al-Senussi, and the father of King Idris of Libya (1890-1983). Mukhtar returned to Tobruk to serve the community, but in 1897 was called upon by Al-Mahdi to become the shaikh of the eastern town of Zawiyat Al-Qusour before travelling to Sudan where he was appointed as a deputy to the Senussi leader. It was during this caravan trail that he earned his famous nickname, “Lion of the Desert”.
In 1899, aged 37, he was sent to Chad where he and other Senussi forces joined the local resistance against French colonialists. Then he was recalled and reappointed as head of Zawiyat Al-Qusour by the Senussi order’s new Supreme Leader, Ahmed Al-Sharif, following Al-Mahdi’s death in 1902.
However, when the Italians invaded Libya in 1911, the movement diverted its resistance efforts from Chad to face the new, more immediate threat. By now in his fifties, Mukhtar drew upon his experience of fighting colonial forces and desert warfare to become the unofficial leader of the mujahideen in their struggle to liberate their country. When the Fascists came to power in Italy under the dictator Benito Mussolini in 1922, the Italians carried out what they referred to as a “Reconquista” of ancient Roman colonies in North Africa.
Under the rallying slogan “We will win or die!” Omar launched a daring guerrilla campaign against the Italian forces who were often vulnerable to ambushes and raids in the unfamiliar desert terrain. Crucially, he also enjoyed extensive local support in the form of fighters, food and supplies.
The Italian forces were unable to defeat Mukhtar’s forces tactically, and so instead targeted his support base and supply lines. They used heavy-handed tactics, including barbed wire strung along the Egyptian border, poisoning wells and setting up concentration camps where tens of thousands perished. Mass executions were carried out to try to crush the morale of the resistance fighters.
It all actually emboldened the mujahideen and support for Mukhtar and the cause. However, after years of humiliating setbacks for the occupation forces, the Italians eventually wounded and captured him in an ambush on 11 September 1931.
He was put on trial three days later and sentenced to death by hanging. Aged 73, Mukhtar is said to have reacted to the sentence by reciting the Qur’anic verse, “From God we came and to God we must return”.
On 16 September 1931, the elderly Omar Al-Mukhtar was hanged in front of his supporters in the Suluq concentration camp, south of Benghazi. Symbolically, at least, his execution put an end to the Senussi resistance and “unified” Italian Libya.
Omar Al-Mukhtar’s legacy has had a lasting impact on Libyans ever since that fateful day. The late Libyan dictator Muammar Al-Gaddafi as well as the NATO-backed rebels who overthrew and killed him in 2011 claimed or adopted the “Lion of the Desert” as their own. His image is still used on the 10 dinar Libyan banknote.
In 1981, actor Anthony Quinn played the part of Mukhtar in the 1980 biopic Lion of the Desert directed by Syrian-American director Moustapha Akkad. Such was its impact on the Italian psyche that the film was banned for decades in Italy and was only broadcast on TV for the first time there as recently as 2009.
‘Omar Al-Mukhtar was born in 1858 to a family in the town of Zanzur near Tobruk, in the region of OttomanCyrenaica, belonging to the Senussi (who were seen as Libyan Ashrafs) Arab clan just like Emir or King Idris es Senussi, eventually becoming chief or leader of the clan. As a child, Omar lost his father early on and spent his youth in poverty. He was adopted by a sheikh, and was friends with the nephew of Hussein Ghariani, Sharif al Geriani. His uncle was a political-religious leader in Cyrenaica, and received his early education at the local mosque, before continuing his studying for eight years at the Senussi university in Jaghbub, the holy city of the Senussi Tariqa. He became a popular expert on the Quran and an imam, joining the confraternity of the Senussi. He also came to be well informed of the social structure of his society, as he was chosen to settle intertribal disputes.
Mukhtar developed a strong relationship with the Senussid Movement during his years in Jaghbub and in 1895, Al-Mahdi Senoussi traveled with him south to Kufra, and on another occasion further south to Karo in Chad, where he was appointed as sheikh of Zawiyat Ayn Kalk. When the French Empire encroached on Chad in 1899, he was sent among other Senussites to help defend Chad from the French, as the Senussi considered their expansion dangerous due to their missionary activities in Central and West Africa. In 1902, Omar was recalled north after the death of Al-Mahdi, the new Senussi leader Ahmed Sharif as-Senussi appointed him as Sheikh of the troubled Zawiyat Laqsur in Northern Cyrenaica.
In October 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) under the command of Admiral Luigi Faravelli reached the shores of Libya, then a territory subject to Ottoman control. The admiral demanded that the Ottoman administration and garrison surrender their territory to the Italians or incur the immediate destruction of the city of Tripoli and Benghazi. The Ottomans and their Libyan allies withdrew to the countryside instead of surrendering, and the Italians bombarded the cities for three days, and then proclaimed the Tripolitanians to be ‘committed and strongly bound to Italy’. This marked the beginning of a series of battles between the Italian colonial forces and the Libyan armed opposition in Cyrenaica.
A teacher of the Qur’an by profession, Mukhtar was also skilled in the strategies and tactics of desert warfare. He knew local geography well and used that knowledge to advantage in battles against the Italians, who were unaccustomed to desert warfare. Mukhtar repeatedly led his small, highly alert groups in successful attacks against the Italians, after which they would fade back into the desert terrain. Mukhtar’s men skilfully attacked outposts, ambushed troops, and cut lines of supply and communication. The Regio Esercito (Italian Royal Army) was left astonished and embarrassed by his guerrilla tactics.
In the mountainous region of Jebel Akhdar (“Green Mountain”) in 1924, Italian governor Ernesto Bombelli created a counter-guerrilla force that inflicted a severe setback to guerilla forces in April 1925. Mukhtar then quickly modified his own tactics and was able to count on continued help from Egypt. In March 1927, despite the occupation of Giarabub from February 1926 and increasingly stringent rule under Governor Attilio Teruzzi, Mukhtar surprised Italian troops at Raheiba. Between 1927 and 1928, Mukhtar reorganised the Senusite forces, who were being hunted constantly by the Italians. Even General Teruzzi recognized Omar’s qualities of “exceptional perseverance and strong willpower.”[This quote needs a citation]MarshalPietro Badoglio, Governor of Libya from January 1929, after extensive negotiations, concluded a compromise with Mukhtar (described by the Italians as his complete submission) similar to previous Italo-Senusite accords. At the end of October 1929, Mukhtar denounced the compromise and re-established a unity of action among Libyan forces, preparing himself for the ultimate confrontation with GeneralRodolfo Graziani, the Italian military commander from March 1930. A massive offensive in June against Mukhtar’s forces having failed, Graziani, in full accord with Badoglio, Emilio De Bono (Minister of the Colonies), and Benito Mussolini, initiated a plan to break the Libyan Mujāhideen:100,000 population of Jebel Akhdar would be relocated to concentration camps on the coast, and the Libyan-Egyptian border from the coast at Giarabub would be fence-closed, preventing any foreign help to the fighters and depriving them of support from the native population. These measures, which Graziani initiated early in 1931, took their toll on the Senusite resistance. The rebels were deprived of help and reinforcements, spied upon, hit by Italian aircraft, and pursued on the ground by the Italian forces aided by local informers and collaborators. Mukhtar continued to struggle despite increased hardships and risks, but on 11 September 1931, he was ambushed near Slonta.
Mukhtar’s final adversary, Italian GeneralRodolfo Graziani, has given a description of the Senusite leader that is not lacking in respect: “Of medium height, stout, with white hair, beard, and mustache. Omar was endowed with a quick and lively intelligence; was knowledgeable in religious matters, and revealed an energetic and impetuous character, unselfish and uncompromising; ultimately, he remained very religious and poor, even though he had been one of the most important Senusist figures.”
Capture and execution
Omar Mukhtar entering the court room.
Mukhtar’s struggle of nearly twenty years came to an end on 11 September 1931, when he was wounded in battle near Slonta, and then captured by the Italian Army. On 16 September 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with Italian hopes that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar was hanged before his followers in the Suluq prisoner of war camp at the age of 73 years old.
A statement by the man used in the movie captured the tongues and ears of millions of Muslims, نحن قوم لا نستسلم ، ننتصر أو نموت. ..”We are people that will not surrender, we win or we die.”
In 2009, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi wore a photograph of Mukhtar in Italian captivity on his chest while on a state visit to Rome, and brought along Mukhtar’s elderly son during the visit.
With the Libyan Civil War beginning 17 February 2011, Omar Mukhtar again became a symbol for a united, free Libya and his picture was depicted on various flags and posters of the anti-Gaddafist forces. Rebel militias named one of their brigades the “Omar Mukhtar brigade” after him.
A masjid is named after Mukhtar in Tampa, Florida, USA, known as Masjid Omar Al Mokhtar.
^ as Salab, Ali Muhammad (2011). Omar Al Mokhtar Lion of the Desert (The Biography of Shaikh Omar Al Mukhtar). Al-Firdous. p. 1. ISBN978-1874263647.
^ Mnifa is “a generic name for many groups of ‘Clients of the Fee’ (Marabtin al-sadqan).”A Libyan Arabized Berber tribe. These are client tribes having no sacred associations and are known as Marabtin al-sadqanbecause they pay sadaqa, a fee paid to a free tribe for protection. Peters, Emrys L. (1998) “Divine goodness: the concept of Baraka as used by the Bedouin of Cyrenaica”, page 104, In Shah, A. M.; Baviskar, Baburao Shravan and Ramaswamy, E. A. (editors) (1998) Social Structure and Change: Religion and Kinship (Volume 5 of Social Structure and Change) Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California, ISBN0-7619-9255-3; Sage Publications, New Delhi, India, ISBN81-7036-713-1
^New Times. Newspaper “Trud, “. 1948. A major role is assigned to the Arab, Emir Idris es Senussi, who aspires to become ruler of the fairly large Senussi tribe in Cyrenaica.
^ Britain), Royal United Service Institution (Great (1932). Journal. Senussi chief , Omar el Mukhtar