In this set of devastating essays, Gareth Peirce analyzes the corruption of legal principles and practices in both the US and the UK that has accompanied the ‘War on Terror’. Exploring the few cases of torture that have come to light, such as those of Guantánamo detainees Shafiq Rasul and Binyam Mohamed, Peirce argues that they are evidence of a deeply entrenched culture of impunity among those investigating presumed radicals among British Muslim nationals and residents, who constitute the new suspect community in the UK.
Peirce shows that the British government has colluded in a whole range of extrajudicial activities – rendition, internment without trial, torture – and has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal its actions. Its devices for maintaining secrecy are probably more deep-rooted than those of any other comparable democracy.
If the government continues along this path, Peirce argues, it will destroy the moral and legal fabric it claims to be protecting.
This essay is excerpted from Sohail Daulatzai's Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue, published by the University of Minnesota Press. A new 4K restoration of The Battle of Algiers is currently touring theaters across the United States.
Though it is both troubling and telling, the screening of the film by the Pentagon in the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan is only the latest chapter in the afterlife of The Battle of Algiers. In many ways, the film is a battleground and a microcosm of the enduring struggles between the West and the Rest, whiteness and its others. But in a post- 9/11 moment, it’s hard to ignore the ways in which the centrality and omnipresence of the figure of the Muslim and the “War on Terror” have not only coded and shaped every aspect of social life but have also sought to undermine the power and politics of The Battle of Algiers.
Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it.