Human rights campaigner Azmat Begg passes away

Azmat Begg with his son Moazzam

Azmat Begg, who led a three year campaign to get his son Moazzam released from Guantanamo Bay, has passed away at the age of 71.

A retired banker from Sparkhill in Birmingham, Begg became a familiar face in the British and international media, always maintaining his son’s innocence and highlighting the fact that he had never been charged with any crime.

Moazzam Begg was arrested by the CIA in Pakistan shortly after the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 on vague suspicions that he had ties to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. He was then held in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for three years but Azmat Begg was finally reunited with his son in 2005 after he was freed without charge.

After Moazzam’s release Azmat Begg gradually receded from the public limelight.

Moazzam wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: “This morning my beloved father passed away and returned to his Lord. He showed me the way to dignity, hope, courage, resilience, patience and faith and fought for me in ways that few ever could during the darkest of times. I will never forget his teachings and will pass them down to future generations. He was loved by the inhabitants of this world. Let that love pass to the inhabitants of the next – may Allah ease his passage into it. Please remember him – and us – in your prayers.”

This morning he added: “I’m overwhelmed with the messages of support that have streamed across from both home and around the world. I tried after fajr to view some of those messages but after almost two hours I wasn’t even half way through. The most powerful messages however have been from a doctor, a nurse and an aid worker – all from Syria who even as we speak are administering treatment, medicine and aid under the shade of barrel bombs and missiles. When such people are praying for you what do you need to worry about?

“I’m reminding myself, as my friend Shaker Aamer kept saying yesterday, to not be sad for my father for his temporal journey is over and what’s left behind are his deeds and his legacy but, to be mindful of ourselves and ensure that we do not forget his courage, patience, strength and conviction of faith, along with our own purpose. I kept remembering the beautiful words of the Messenger following the death of his son:

‘Our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased.’

“We are still attempting to get his body released from the hospital – which is actually much harder than expected – but once that happens I will announce the day, time and place of the janazah prayer and burial. May Allah bless and reward you all for your kind words of support and prayers.”

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