BOOK RELEASE: The Political Appropriation of the Muslim Body: Islamophobia, Counter-Terrorism Law and Gender

In April 2021, “The Political Appropriation of the Muslim Body: Islamophobia, Counter-Terrorism Law and Gender” by Professor Susan Edwards of the University of Buckingham was published. For those interested in guantanamo and looking to deepen their knowledge, Chapter 6: ‘US Counter-Terror “Law” and the Chronicles of Torture’ demonstrates how torture has come to symbolise American “exceptionalism” where executive power is out of control. The chapter concludes by considering the impact this state terrorism and its ever-continuing presence in memory and celluloid has on the psyche and identity of Iraqi people, Muslims and right-thinking people everywhere. This chapter can be bought for £19.95 via the link below.

US Counter-Terror Law and the “Chronicles of Torture” | SpringerLink

Generally, the book examines the Muslim female body and the Muslim male body as gendered sites of political struggle. It draws upon law, politics, sociology and gender studies to explore the ways in which the Muslim body is stereotyped, interrogated, appropriated and demonised in Western societies. Chapters explore a range of issues including Western legislation and foreign policy against the ‘Other’, orientalism, Islamophobia, masculinity, the intersection of gender with nationalism and questions about diversity, inclusion, religious freedom, citizenship and identity.

Latifa Akay, Director of Education at Maslaha and trustee at the Inclusive Mosque Initiative writes ““In this powerful and far-reaching analysis, Edwards charts how the dehumanisation and essentialising of Muslim communities historically has paved the way to the manifold denial of fundamental rights and diminishing of Muslim lives that we see today. Essential reading for anyone interested in how the unconscionable Islamophobia we see in media, state policy, legislation and popular culture has come to be so frighteningly normalised.”

In the current global climate of increased nationalism, right-wing politics and Islamophobia, works such as this are of paramount importance for both professionals and non-experts. It can be purchased from the link below. 

Lewes Amnesty vigil for those still detained in Guantánamo – 20 Years on

LEWES Amnesty Campaigners were joined by other Amnesty campaigners from the South East on Saturday 6th November to protest against the continued detention of 39 men in Guantanamo (some of whom are being held without charge or trial). Members of the Brighton and Hove and Haywards Heath Amnesty groups were amongst those who headed to Lewes to join the protest.

Wearing orange jumpsuits, the campaigners held a silent vigil for one hour whilst holding photos of each of the men who are still detained. They were keen to raise awareness about the continued operation of the illegal detention centre where dozens of men continue to languish without ever having been charged or faced a trial. Being held without charge or trial is outside the rule of law and is a practice which has no place in a modern democracy and is unreservedly condemned by the United Nations.

Many of those passing by the vigil were shocked to learn that Guantánamo was still open and several people joined the vigil on the spot – some even putting on orange jumpsuits to join those already taking action.

The campaigners also wanted to show the detainees, all of whom have not seen their family members during their detention, that they have not been forgotten. At a recent cinema screening of ‘The Mauritanian’ at Lewes Depot Mohamedou Ould Slahi (who was detained for fourteen years without charge or trial before being unconditionally released) explained how important it is for those still detained to feel that the outside world are still aware of their cruel and unjust plight.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi will be one of the keynote speakers to open an international on-line conference on Guantánamo being hosted by the University of Brighton on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th November. The conference, which has attracted a wide range of expert participants from around the world, including lawyers who are representing those still detained in Guantánamo. To register for the conference please visit the University of Brighton online shop.

Sara Birch, one of the organisers of the vigil, said, “It is likely that the detainees will become aware of this action and so by taking this action at the very least we will show these men that they have not been forgotten by the outside world. Amnesty International aims to shine a light on the darkness whenever and wherever human rights violations are taking place and this is what we were aiming to do last Saturday on behalf of those men still detained in Guantanamo”.

by Sara Birch

Film Screening – The Mauritanian


The University of Brighton’s screening of The Mauritanian, supported by the Lewes Amnesty International and University of Brighton Amnesty International groups, took place at the Lewes Depot on Tuesday 2nd November. 

The film, The Mauritanian, directed by Kevin Macdonald, depicts the story of ex Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi and is based on his memoirs, Guantanamo Diary. It tells the story of his unlawful detention and experiences of torture whilst at Guantanamo. 

The screening was followed by an interesting and informative Q&A with the director Kevin Macdonald, ex detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi and his lawyer Nancy Hollander, as well as Andy Worthington, investigative journalist and activist with expertise on the Guantanamo detention camp. 

Through the telling of Mohamedou’s experience, the film seeks to raise awareness of the continued existence of the Guantanamo detention camp, the treatment of detainees, their continued detention and the obstacles the remaining detainees face for justice. This is particularly important in the lead up to Guantanamo Bay detention camp’s  20th anniversary and the efforts being made by activists to close the detention camp. 

As with other films impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Mauritanian has not reached the audience it would ordinarily have, had cinemas been open, despite the stellar cast and the excellent job it does telling the personal story of a man unlawfully detained and tortured. This is a real shame as Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s story as told in The Mauritanian is one more weapon that could be used to raise awareness about the ongoing existence of Guantanamo Bay, detainees still being held there without charge or trial, and the inhuman treatment the detainees have suffered. 

The Mauritanian is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. Click here to watch a trailer. (Parts of the movie, in particular scenes depicting torture, may be difficult to watch for some viewers.)

To read about Andy Worthington’s work on Guantanamo Bay’s detention camp, visit his website, Andy Worthington.

Nancy Hollander, Andy Worthington and Mohamedou Ould Slahi himself will be present at the University of Brighton’s virtual conference ‘Guantanamo: 20 Years After’ on the 12th and 13th November. Tickets for the conference can be bought on this page.

What is Guantanamo Bay? How can you help?

For some in Britain, Guantanamo Bay is a recognizable phrase with little significance, perhaps relating to an action film or used colloquially – “this was the Guantanamo of placements.” Admittedly, until recently the phrase meant rather little to me. The explanations I heard on occasion throughout my youth were so dystopian and unimaginable my subconscious had obviously rendered it fiction. And on the other side of ignorance, you have those for whom prioritizing Guantanamo Bay doesn’t quite make the cut, falling behind the trials and tribulations of our everyday life.

In short, Guantanamo Bay is a military prison in Cuba set up by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11 and the genesis of the ‘war on terror.’ It is used as an “island outside the law” to hold suspected terrorists and enemies of the US. It has been there for nearly two decades, but America first seized the land in 1898. Many of the detainees are innocent, did not have a fair trial and are subject to gross human rights abuses like torture and inhumane conditions. Forced feedings, humiliation, imprisonment in cages and sensory deprivation are said to be commonplace. Since 2002, around 800 men, mostly Muslims, have been held there, with 39 prisoners remaining. The camp truly represents the darkest capabilities of the human species.

Why does Cuba tolerate it?

Besides disbelief, you might be thinking ‘why does Cuba put up with it?’ Legally, Cuba was forced to grant the US a permanent lease to the land in 1903 but has since demanded the US return the base on a number of occasions. In essence, however, there is nothing they can do about it. Cuban armed forces simply do not have the power to drive out one of the biggest militaries in the world. The base is a constant reminder of America’s dark heart, imperialism, and abuse of unfettered power.

How can you help?

Like many global issues, (climate change, coronavirus, world hunger and government corruption- to name just a few), it can be disheartening to think about how on earth to go about tackling them. The trick is to take it bit by bit. Just by telling those around you about Guantanamo, you are spreading awareness. And for those that have time, going to a protest represents one more person insisting the UK government put pressure on the US to close Guantanamo. For released prisoners, for the families of detainees, it represents one more person’s support. You can sign petitions such as ‘Close Guantanamo’ and join societies like Amnesty International and Guantanamo Justice Campaign. You can write to your MP, urge Joe Biden or Boris Johnson, or encourage your local independent cinema to screen ‘The Mauritanian’ – a film about Guantanamo. Doing just one of these things makes a difference. In the words of historian and anarchist Howard Zinn, “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world.”

Read about how British resident Omar Deghayes survived Guantanamo

Watch this Vigil against Guantanamo in Brighton 2021

Come to see the Mauritanian at Lewes Depot

Come to a vigil run by Lewes Amnesty and Brighton Uni Amnesty Society (6th Nov 2021)


Come to a protest outside Parliament (8th Jan 2022)


“The Mauritanian” with Post-Screening Q&A at The Depot, Lewes

Post-screening Q&A with the film’s director Kevin MacDonald, Mohamedou Ould Slahi and lawyer Nancy Hollander.

The Lewes Group of Amnesty International and the Brighton University Amnesty Society are delighted to be supporting the University of Brighton’s screening of Kevin Macdonald’s The Mauritanian at Depot, as a prelude to the University of Brighton’s international online conference on ‘Guantanamo – 20 Years On’, which will be taking place on the 12th and 13th of November

Captured by the U.S. Government, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) languishes in prison for years without charge or trial. Losing all hope, Slahi finds allies in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). Together they face countless obstacles in a desperate pursuit for justice. Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually reveals a shocking and far reaching conspiracy.

To book: The Mauritanian | Lewes Depot