Rules of the Game- Detention, Deportation, Disappearance
“The Rules of the Game belongs to those who have suffered the most throughout the ‘War on Terror- the victims and their families.” This opening line of the book gave me goose bumps since exactly eight years ago today, the ‘War on Terror’ came banging on my door and since then things have never been the same again. This book speaks to me but it truly belongs to those less privileged voiceless and nameless victims of the ‘War on Terror’ who are still abused, incarcerated, humiliated and degraded. It is a well researched and detailed document that pieces together how the rules of the game have been suspended for a community expanding two billion people globally.
The book boldly states that “Islam is now the largest suspect community ever to have existed.” Everyone I spoke to in Somalia knew exactly what that meant. The experience of Somalis is also well documented in the book and is even used to highlight the far reaching hand of the ‘War on Terror’. “Those on the most remote corners of the Earth suffered directly from the use of profiling based on religion. In the far north–eastern corner of Kenya, refugees from Somalia were interned when Ethiopians attacked the Union of Islamic Courts…These Somalis have been in a refugee camp for seventeen years and had no tangible links to Somalia– and yet Kenya placed them under internment…In the words of the Somalis themselves, they felt as if they were in Guantanamo Bay because they were Somali Muslims.”
The aim of Asim Qureshi’s book is to present the stories of those who have been personally affected by the ill-conceived reaction to the terrorist threat of the US and her allies. He argues that the ‘War on Terror’ cannot be seen as ‘individual acts separate from one another…rather they must be seen as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, which when placed together in their correct positions produce an holistic picture.”
The book is dedicated to named children and reads, ‘This book is written in the hope that your world is safer than ours.’ It also ends with the same sentiment of hope. “Counter-terrorism measures will never work as long as they continue to be reactionary and devoid of understanding of the group that they seek to tackle…by trying to understand the perspectives of both sides, there is the hope that there can be dialogue, and with that hope comes the hope for change.” This last analysis has been proven right even with the UK Government’s Prevent Strategy that has now been recognised by a cross-party committee of MPs to have not only failed but also backfired.
I share this hope for change and especially the hope for the future generation of young Muslims who are currently growing up in uncertain, frightening, and hateful times. For the last few years I have been volunteering in mediation and conflict resolution. I have recently started studying for a postgraduate degree in the same field. If I have learned anything from my experiences and my studies, it is that while conflict can present opportunities for positive change without addressing the root causes, the vicious cycles can go on and become intractable.
Cageprisoners is a human rights organisation to raise awareness of the plight of War on Terror detainees and prisoners. They are always looking for volunteers who can help with research or even writing to detainees. If you can help their cause in any way please do contact them. Follow them on Twitter.
The author Asim Qureshi, is trained in law and is currently the Senior Researcher for Cageprisoners. At April’s First Wednesday Frontline Club will be looking at the "War on Terror": Following the suicide bombings in Russia on 29 March. Asim Qureshi will be taking part in the second part of the discussion examining the "war on terror".