How could Amnesty share a platform with the Henry Jackson Society?

Abdul-Rahman Ali expresses his grave concerns about Amnesty International’s recent decision to share a platform with the Islamophobic neoconservative organisation, the Henry Jackson Society.

On Tuesday 24 March 2015, Amnesty International will be taking part in an event organised by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) entitled ‘The Radicalisation of Youth in the UK and Beyond: Causes and Effects‘.

Abbas Faiz, who is a senior researcher at Amnesty International will be sharing a panel with former Indian foreign secretary, Kanwal Sibal, managing director of the Quilliam Foundation Haras Rafiq, and director of Student Rights at the HJS, Rupert Sutton.

This is a shocking decision made by the renowned human rights organisation, considering that the HJS advocate and promote views which are fundamentally at odds with Amnesty’s own aims and objectives.

Who are the HJS?

When it was first created in 2005, the London-based HJS sought to portray themselves as offering a base for those on the centre-left and right who believed in a variant of “muscular liberalism”. Much like the senator after whom it was named, the HJS sought to fuse a concern for social justice at home with a hard-line approach to totalitarianism and autocracy abroad. HJS, however, has since degenerated into something that is anything but liberal.

While touting their purported support for freedom, liberalism and democracy as their core organisational remit, in practice they are a neoconservative trojan horse for the very opposite: state-expansionism, state-militarisation, military interventionism, rampant market deregulation and privatisation in the interests of Western investors, coupled with anti-Muslim hostility and White Supremacism.

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HJS endorses torture

In a shocking appearance on BBC’s ‘This Week’ (please see below), Douglas Murray, the Director of the HJS downplays the revelations from the report investigating the CIA’s torture, where he states that there are “degrees” of torture in response to Diane Abbot’s reprimanding.  The allusion of “legitimate torture” will no doubt be a reference to the US Justice Department’s authorisation of waterboarding.  Waterboarding is torture.  There is no question about it.  Murray’s defence that there may be justification because it can give credible intelligence (citing a US Democrat), and September the 11th is decrepit as it is discredited.  Moreover, Irving Kristol, his neocon role model doesn’t agree with him either. Kristol writes,

“Civilized opinion properly decided long ago that there is no justification [for torture], whatever the circumstances.

BBC’s ‘This Week’:

Here is a video of its Vice President, Jim Murphy who is a founding member of the HJS, where he supports the concept of torture.

Robin Simcox, HJS
Robin Simcox, HJS

And here is HJS’s Robin Simcox defending torture: 

The associate director of the HJS is Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator and Standpoint, who joined the organisation in April 2011. Douglas Murray has previously defended the use of US drone attacks saying, despite its impact of collateral damage, is both moral and ethical as seen in the video below:


Furthermore, it should also be pointed out that whilst Amnesty have campaigned for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last Briton remaining in Guantanamo Bay, Simcox authored a hate-filled dissertation where he effectively justifies why the innocent detainee was tortured.

HJS wants the Human Rights Act scrapped

Further, on the Human Rights and Rule of law, Douglas Murray does not believe universal human rights, should be equally applied.  He thus violates the rule of law. He writes:

“Under Article 2 of the ridiculous and newly invented European Convention of Human Rights, European countries are “forbidden” from deporting or rendering culprits if their lives may be in danger… To win this war, lives of terrorists and inciters to terrorism should be considered as pitilessly on our streets and within our society as they are on foreign battlefields… The rights of the West’s people override those of the Islamist’s in their midst. And extradition should also include sending suspects away from our shores.”(Douglas Murray, Neo-conservatism: Why We Need It, Encounter Books: New York, 2006, p.215)

He also opposes the Human Rights Act where he states:

“Laws which are deemed risible when they fail as well as where they succeed cannot be good laws”.

HJS and White Supremacists/ Far Right

In the end notes of his book (Douglas Murray, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, Encounter Books: New York, 2006,), Murray references on p. 239 a book by an anti-Muslim extremist, Robert Spencer, called Islam Unveiled.  Murray has called Spencer a “spectacular scholar”.  Spencer’s book, which demonises Islam as a religion, is filled with fallacious half-truths and is celebrated by the far right. Despite this, he has called him a “spectacular scholar” and has said that,

“In America I respect Robert Spencer, he is a brilliant scholar”

Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer

Spencer, an ordained Catholic deacon who is the main writer for the anti-Muslim Jihad Watch website, has been behind other websites named f*** and f***

His incitement to hatred is such that even Theresa May the extremist banned him from entering the country.

Spencer’s writings have also inspired the anti-Muslim Christian terrorist, Anders Breivik who has committed the largest terrorist attack in Europe.

In March, Murray wrote an article following the release of the results of the 2011 census in which he bemoaned the fact that in “23 of London’s 33 boroughs ‘white Britons’ are now in a minority”.

It wasn’t so much integration that Murray wanted to talk about, however, but skin colour:


“We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country. ‘Get over it. It’s nothing new. You’re terrible. You’re nothing’.”

And here, Murray effectively endorsed UKIP in an article for the Wall Street Journal, who of course recently made clear they would like to scrap legislation prohibiting race discrimination.

HJS on Muslims

Douglas Murray has particularly bigoted views reserved primarily for Islam and Muslims.  Murray explicitly calls for exceptional discriminatory treatment of Muslims. He has gone on record to say the following regarding Muslims:

“It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop.”

He has also stated that,

“Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

With regards to Muslim schools (and ignoring other faith schools), he has written,

ISLAMOPHOBIA“The attitude towards Muslim schools should be exceptional… if any Muslim academies are allowed to exist; they should be funded entirely privately, with no taxpayer assistance and should be subject to uniquely strict regulation and inspection. If such conditions are considered unbearable, then Muslims will have to try their luck in other countries…

“To defend our tolerance we must be intolerant to those who are opposed to

(Douglas Murray, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, 2005, p.177-8)

Murray insinuates executing “Islamists” as a final solution for ending the “cold war” with Islamism”:

“The fact is this at the end of the Second World War the Nazi leaders were tried and executed. At the end of the Cold War it didn’t happen, one of the biggest problems we have is that it wasn’t resolved.”

With regards to the religion itself, he has stated:

“Islam is not violent per se, though they’re quite good at it when they’re in charge.”

What Amnesty previously said of Douglas Murray

Only as recently as January 2015, an independent advocate invited to speak by Amnesty, Niall McCluskey has called upon Jim Murphy to consider his position with the HJS. McCluskey, who has dealt with cases involving people facing extradition to oppressive regimes, said:

“The problem with the Henry Jackson Society at the moment is Douglas Murray, who has been articulating certain viewpoints that are of concern, that appear to be anti-Islamic.

“The question arises whether or not it’s appropriate for the leader of Scottish Labour to be associated with a society like that, if that’s the sort of message it appears to be espousing.

Douglas Murray of Henry Jackson Society
Douglas Murray of Henry Jackson Society

“Jim Murphy is not alone [among Labour MPs], but is it time he made a break? It seems to me it’s the wrong kind of message for someone in his position to be associated with.

“I would encourage him to consider his position.”

Professor David Miller, co-founder of Spinwatch, which complained about the HJS in the Commons, said:


“When you look at what Douglas Murray has said about Muslims, I don’t understand how it’s ­possible for the Scottish Labour Party leader to endorse the Henry Jackson Society.

Amnesty acting against its charitable objectives

Amnesty’s objectives according to its constitution are as follows:

“To promote human rights (as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) and subsequent United Nations conventions and declarations and in regional codes of human rights which incorporate the rights contained in the UDHR and those subsequent conventions and declarations) throughout the world by all or any of the following means:-

(a) monitoring abuses of human rights

(b) obtaining redress for the victims of human rights abuse;

(c) relieving need among the victims of human rights abuse;

(d) research into human rights issues;

(e) educating the public about human rights

(f) providing technical advice to government and others on human rights matters;

(g) contributing to the sound administration of human rights law;

(h) commenting on proposed human rights legislation;

(i) raising awareness of human rights issues;

(j) promoting public support for human rights;

(k) promoting respect for human rights among individuals and corporations;

(l) international advocacy of human rights; and

(m) eliminating infringements of human rights.

It is abundantly clear from the above that Amnesty’s primary function is to promote and advocate human rights and to ensure that it is maintained. It is therefore remarkable that Amnesty sees it fit to share a platform with an organisation which not only endorses torture, but more importantly and pertinent to Amnesty’s principle purpose, opposes the Human Rights Act – this clearly marks a clear departing from their charitable aims and objectives, and clearly places the organisation’s name into disrepute.

amnesty-intl-logoAmnesty’s decision to share a platform with Douglas Murray and the HJS shows that they have failed to safeguard the interests of the charity and therefore, an investigation should be conducted by the Charities Commission to reassure the public’s confidence in them following their ill-conceived decision.

What is particularly worrying is that only in January 2015 (as seen above), Amnesty were advising Jim Murphy to sever his ties with the HJS on the basis of what the organisation stands for and more importantly, because of its links with Douglas Murray. It therefore flies in the face of logic to understand how it could share a platform with the very same organisation and individual who they were warning against without either of them ever retracting their previous statements.

It is therefore incumbent on Amnesty to publicly disown the HJS.

Action alerts

1. You can contact Amnesty UK and voice your concerns directly on: 0207 4135500 /

2. Tweet this article to the Charity Commission and Amnesty: @AmnestyUK @Amnesty

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