The Uighurs: 5

Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post talks to the Uighurs’ translator, Rushan Abbas, about their reaction to Newt Gingrich’s column:

“Gingrich pushed further in an op-ed, claiming that ‘[b]y their own admission, Uighurs being held at Guantanamo Bay are members of or associated with the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an al Qaeda-affiliated group designated as a terrorist organization under U.S law.”

No, they have never admitted that, says Abbas, adding that the Uighurs call the claim “baseless, factless slander against them.” Abbas returned from Guantanamo Monday. She now works with the Uighurs’ defense attorneys.

The Uighurs call relatives in the United States and Europe often, she says, so stay up on the news. They were surprised to hear the accusation from the former Speaker of the House.

“Why does he hate us so much and say those kinds of things? He doesn’t know us. He should talk to our attorneys if he’s curious about our background,” Abbas relates. “How could he speak in such major media with nothing based in fact? They were very disappointed how Newt Gingrich was linking them to ETIM which they never even heard of the name ETIM until they came to Guantanamo Bay.”

The Uighurs are apparently under the misconception that American columnists are fact-checked for accuracy. “They just cannot understand,” she says. “How come the media doesn’t even verify the story? How could they just publish something like that without checking whether what he says is true or not?””

Beats me.

Grim also says this about the story about the Uighurs smashing a TV set that showed a woman with bare arms:

“Abbas, however, says that the detainee who went off on the TV has already been released to Albania and that it had nothing to do with any bare arms. Rather, he had repeatedly requested to speak to camp supervisors and had been ignored, so he chose to cause a scene. Scandling said Wolf’s account of the TV smashing came from a story in the L.A. Times.”

I had heard that as well, after writing my last post on the subject, and was waiting for confirmation before publishing it. Note not just that neither an objection to bare arms nor any other sort of Islamic fundamentalist anything had anything to do with it, but also that the detainee in question is presently living peaceably in Albania.

That means that even if you don’t think, as I do, that it is perfectly understandable that someone who had been imprisoned unjustly for seven and a half years might throw a TV to the ground in frustration, and even if you overlook the many US citizens who have tossed the odd appliance around during (say) a bar fight without thereby showing themselves to be terrorists, there is no need to worry about any TV-throwing Uighurs being released into the US. The only Uighurs still in Guantanamo have never thrown any TVs at all.

I can only hope that I would have shown that much forbearance.

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