Asim Qureshi: Rules of the Game
October 27, 2009   By:    Book Review   Comments are off   //   398 Views
Following the 2005 bombing of London’s transport infrastructure, Tony Blair declared that “the rules of the game have changed.” Few anticipated the extent to which global counterterrorism would circumvent cherished laws, but profiling, incommunicado detention, rendition, and torture have become the accepted protocols of national security. In this book, Asim Qureshi travels to East Africa, Sudan, Pakistan, Bosnia, and the United States to record the testimonies of victims caught in counterterrorism’s new game. Qureshi’s exhaustive efforts reveal the larger phenomenon that has changed the way governments view justice. He focuses on the profiling of Muslims by security services and concurrent mass arrests; detaining individuals without filing charges; domestic detention policies in North America; and the effect of Guantánamo on global perceptions of law and imprisonment.

About the Author


Asim Qureshi is the senior researcher for Cageprisoners and with his team has published numerous reports on the use of unlawful detention, rendition, and torture in the “War on Terror.”

The purpose of this book for me was to present counter-terrorism operations in the global ‘War on Terror’ as a single phenomenon – but importantly – through the perspective of its victims. Over the last five years of being with Cageprisoners, I have managed to gather hundreds of testimonies from individuals all over the world and the common feature between them all is the way in which human rights and due process have been completely destroyed – all in the name of ‘international security’.

Reviews for the book:



“In a panic stricken response to the attack on the twin towers in New York on 9/11 the US government sought to allay the anger of its citizens and to exact revenge by launching a “war on terror”. In doing so it abandoned its adherence to principles of justice developed over two hundred years. Asim Qureshi documents the tragic and shameful history of this cruel and counter-productive policy which has particularly impacted on many Muslims who have been subjected to torture and imprisonment in intolerable conditions without legal safeguards. The great importance of this well researched book is its emphasis on the experience and suffering of the victims whose voices are eloquently transcribed.”
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, chair of the British Institute of Human Rights

“Asim Qureshi’s meticulous research has produced a book which gives the widest picture yet of the impact of 9/11 on the destruction of fundamental human rights and legal norms by the most powerful of Western politicians. His story is a horrifying one, but his sober tone makes it possible to follow him and the tormented Muslim men he has spoken to, from Bosnia to Pakistan, from Egypt to Syria, and even further afield, into an area of lawlessness, lies, torture, and degradation that no one who has not lived it can imagine. The importance of this scholarly book and the years of recording and reporting that have gone into it, is that it tells a story of what has happened to our civilization. No one can afford not to know these things.”
Victoria Brittain, journalist, writer, and former associate editor of the Guardian

“Before the September 11th attacks, who would have imagined that the foremost opponents of human rights abuse and injustice would degenerate into become advocates and practitioners of torture? And yet, imprisonment without charge or trial, extraordinary rendition, enforced disappearance, ghost prisons, water-boarding, degrading and inhumane treatment are all instruments in the arsenal justified under the US led – and British-backed – ‘War on Terror’. What Asim Qureshi has most aptly detailed in these pages is the lengths to which the rules of this very dangerous game have spanned continents and permanently changed societies, particularly ones that once boasted – as part of their heritage – how no man would be wronged in their land.”
Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo detainee, author of Enemy Combatant and director of the NGO Cageprisoners

“This is an important book on a subject that is crucial to the rather frightening era we are living through. Asim Qureshi writes from a knowledge as deep as anyone in the field. A must read.”
Clive Stafford Smith, lawyer for Guantanamo detainees and director of Reprieve

“Rules of the Game thoughtfully highlights aspects of our modern historical narrative that the ‘war on terror’ discussions have long-neglected. Qureshi’s survey of practices in multiple nations offers an insightful overview of the global impact of international human rights violations against the Muslim diaspora. More importantly, Rules of the Game offers first-person portraits of the impact of these violations not only by the Muslim men who survived these practices, but also the women who husbands disappeared, children whose fathers were wrongfully detained, and parents whose sons have been abused. Qureshi reminds us that international human rights are not simply abstract principles, but concrete safeguards designed to protect individuals and communities from the abuse of Executive power.”
Gitanjali Gutierrez, US attorney for Guantanamo detainees at the Center for Constitutional Rights

“Rules of the Game successfully documents the devastating impact of counter-terrorism policies since September 11 by giving voice to the survivors of enforced disappearance, prolonged arbitrary detention, extraordinary rendition, and torture. Asim Qureshi’s experience of the cultural, political and religious realities of of those most affected by these policies — through his years of research and field work accross the globe — makes this work unparalleled in authenticity of perspective. This book not only tells the story of how our fundamental human rights and civil liberties have been erroded, but does so from the perspective of those most affected.”
Tina M Foster, attorney for Bagram detainees and director of the International Justice Network

“The testimonies presented by Asim Qureshi are individually horrific, however, when laid out together in this way, paint a truly terrifying picture global picture. This work is important because of the way it presents counter-terrorism policies in the War on Terror as a single phenomena – one that has destroyed not only the value of human rights, but the value of human beings.”
Mahvish Rukhsana Khan, attorney for Guantanamo detainees and author of My Guantanamo Diary

“This book makes a very important contribution to the small but growing literature on the human rights implications of the US-led “War on Terror”. Drawing on hours and hours of accounts from victims and their families, it is relevant to scholars of international relations, international law, and human rights. It also appeals to human rights and civil liberties organisations, Muslim communities, political parties, and the general public, whose scepticism of British and US activities is growing.”
Ruth Blakeley, lecturer in International Relations at the University of Kent

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