The National Secular Society on 23rd April published an article claiming “NUS votes to work with group accused of supporting Islamic extremism”.

The National Secular Society has raised a number of inaccuracies and baseless assertions, despite evidence to the contrary being publicly available. CAGE issues this response.

“Cage spokesman Asim Qureshi described Mohammed Emwazi, known as ‘Jihadi John’, as a “beautiful young man”.”

This is simply false. The words used by CAGE Research Director, Asim Qureshi, referred to the Mohammed Emwazi of 2011 as a “beautiful man…extremely kind, extremely gentle, extremely soft-spoken…”. This was before the Syrian conflict began and even well before the creation of ISIS. This description is clearly not in reference to an alleged killer of innocents including aid workers.

“Fellow CAGE leader Cerie Bullivant refused to condemn Emwazi’s actions”

CAGE throughout the revelations surrounding Emwazi has been calling for clear accountability and transparency by putting across detailed documentation of the role the security services played in the actions of “Jihadi John”.

Ben Hayes’ piece in Open Democracy demonstrates the contradiction of how serious and credible points detailing Emwazi’s treatment can be simply dismissed in return for an expectation that Muslims must condemn the actions of others:

“Kay Burley of Sky News duly began her interview with a CAGE spokesman by asking “What level of harassment by the security services here in the United Kingdom justifies beheadings?” – a plainly preposterous straw man argument that literally no-one was making.
Liberal pin-up Jon Snow also glossed over the evidence produced by CAGE, before getting down to the most important business of the day: demanding that their spokespeople condemn terrorism, and seeking to belittle them when they question why this demand is only ever made of Muslims, or worse still, refuse to participate in the ridiculous spectacle.”

CAGE spokesperson Cerie Bullivant throughout the Emwazi revelations has persistently expressed shock at the war crimes committed in Syria, whether it be by extrajudicial beheadings or by barrel bombs. While at the same time reaffirming that:

“No one is trying to apologise or make an excuse for what has happened…We are shocked by beheadings, we are shocked by barrel bombs. We shouldn’t have to justify our humanity by apologising for something as brutal as this…Everybody should be held accountable for any torture or killing without due process. That is a blanket statement for all people in all times.”

“Two charities withdrew funding from Cage after the revelations.”

This claim is misleading and highly inaccurate. Both Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) and the Roddick Foundation suspended their funding to CAGE due their inability to access our bank account. As has been reported previously, CAGE bank accounts have been closed down. Something which has been confirmed as being the causal reason for them having being unable to continue their generous support.

Such a highly politicised move by the Charity Commission to open investigations into both the Roddick Foundation and JRCT as the funding was suspended to CAGE warrants further investigation. Peter Oborne formerly the Telegraph’s chief political commentator has written extensively on subsequent events surrounding the withdrawal of bank services and suspension of charitable funding. One thing that is clear, this critique of the Commission overstepping the mark has been made constantly by many others:

“But the commission’s recent intervention with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust over that body’s past funding of the advocacy group Cage – not a charity – has been seen by many as a step change and has prompted accusations that the commission is going beyond its remit. It is difficult to find anyone with experience in the sector or knowledge of charity law who is prepared to endorse the commission’s actions, and some suspect it of responding to a tabloid or political agenda. A tiny proportion of charities among trusts and foundations are potentially affected, but there are fears that it sets a dangerous precedent.”

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust further clarified: