Solidarity 100, 20 October 2006

Yes to secularism, no to racism

Submitted by cathy n on 10 March, 2007 - 10:44

By John O’Mahony

Jack Straw’s article three weeks ago about the wearing of the hijab has unleashed a large and very important public discussion about the relationship of Muslims to the rest of British society.

Ministers including the Prime Minster have taken sides with — in the case of most of those who have spoken — or against, Straw’s position that Muslims are at fault in holding on to social-religious mores and practices which cut them off from others in Britain, behind self-erected and self-sustained cultural walls.


Submitted by Janine on Sun, 12/11/2006 - 21:32

I did mean "looked like Muslims". The point being that at least some of the other passengers thought they looked like Muslims and therefore might be terrorists.

If someone "looked like a terrorist", I could only assume that meant they were visibly carrying a bomb. How else could you look like a terrorist other than in the eyes of a bigot?

Submitted by Clive on Sat, 21/10/2006 - 09:13

I agree with this article. But it seems to me its centre of gravity is off. There seems currently to be emerging a serious wave of racism directed towards Asian people, especially Muslims and using hostility to Islam as its ideological flag - attacks on mosques, hostility to people in the street (women having their veils torn off, etc). Combined with that, and running through the tabloid press, for example, is a 'concern' that these intolerant Muslims are swamping our fine liberal culture, and all that.

Compared to all that, I think the PC/liberal-left (and SWP) tendency to shout 'racist' at everything - though something to fight - is rather secondary.

The vast majority of Muslims in Britain are not 'fundamentalists'. There is a growth of Islamism; and soft versions of Islamist arguments are widespread, I think. We - socialists - need to find ways to combat this. Being absolutely scrupulous in making the distinction between Muslims and Islamists is an essential starting point.

Submitted by Clive on Sun, 22/10/2006 - 23:47

Where to begin? Muslims have existed since Muhammed. Islamists have existed since, say, 1928 when Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamism is a modern political movement, or set of ideologies, which adapts the Muslim religion to modern political objectives (to simplify; there are many different versions of it). The vast majority of practising Muslims are not Islamists. It's roughly equivalent to the difference between most Christians, and explicitly political Christian movements.

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 24/10/2006 - 17:12

I don't understand the last part of your comment. But the first part ...

OK, I disagree with Muslims' religious beliefs, and absolutely defend the right to criticise Islam. But a lot of the unreasonable attacks on Muslims at the moment are not rational criticism of their beliefs by atheist commentators. They are bigotry, often from adherents of another religious creed.

Take for instance the two young Asian men who were turfed off an aeroplane because other paasengers became hysterical with fear that they were going to blow it up becuase they "looked like Muslims". Do you think that is reasonable? And do you really think there was no element of racism?

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Gangster Rap! Lenin and Joe Columbo

Submitted by Anon on 25 November, 2006 - 1:15 Author: Sean Matgamna

by Sean Matgamna
The story of Joe Columbo, the Mafia boss who briefly turned ethnic politician, is one of the most frightening stories I've come across. An instructive story, too. It sheds some light on the "nihilist", quasi-Anarchist attitudes of some of those involved in the recent riots, and of the issues thereby posed to socialists.


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Defend abortion rights!

Submitted by Anon on 23 October, 2006 - 6:57

130 MPs have signed a parliamentary “Early Day Motion” calling for a review of abortion law. This is despite a recent government review of the law. No prizes for guessing that they don’t have an “objective”, “neutral” review in mind. The EDM is sponsored by Geraldine Smith MP, a member of the All Party Parliamentary “pro-life” group which is opposed to all abortion. Indeed a large proportion of the signatories — including one George Galloway MP — are on record as being opposed to abortion.

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More strikes as Iraq spins into abyss

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:33

BY martin thomas

According to the Federation of Workers’ Councils of Unions, reporting on 11 October, health workers in Kerbala (southern Iraq) have held a sit-in protest, after a strike in early October calling for wage rises.

In Nasiriya (also southern Iraq), health workers have struck four times over wages.

FWCUI says: “The strikes in the health sector have expanded to many provinces” as far as Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq.

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Bolivian miners fight privatisation

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:30

Sixteen miners have been killed in fights over the control of Huanuni, the biggest tin mine in Bolivia.

The fight was over whether the mine would remain in state hands, or be given to a “co-operative” - essentially privatisation, as such co-ops have a strictly tiered managerial system, no effective workers’ involvement and very low wages for workers employed by the privately controlled board. Trade unions are prohibited.

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Turkey, France and their victims

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:29

By Joan Trevor

On 12 October, the French National Assembly gave a first reading to a bill that would make it a criminal offence to deny the Armenian genocide of 1915-17. The punishment could be up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros. The bill passed by 106 votes to 19.

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Workers’ revolt in Bangladesh

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:27

By Sacha Ismail

Bangladesh is convulsed by fierce class struggles, centred around the country’s garment industry. Many tens of thousands of workers have gone on strike, blocked roads, attacked factories and other buildings, demonstrated, fought the police and rioted in the streets. Every day comes news of fresh strikes in a variety of industries — mainly the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, but also mill workers, river transport workers, rail workers, journalists, lecturers and teachers.

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Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:23

Over 500 Thai textile workers defied the military junta’s ban on public protests to demonstrate in a dispute at their factory.

Workers from the Gina Form Bra Company marched to the US embassy in Bangkok to protest at plans by the company’s owner, Hong Kong’s Clover Group International, to shut their factory at the end of October and relocate to China. The workers manufacture lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, The Gap and other American companies. The factory employs 1,600 workers, 95% of them women.

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Free to chose?

Submitted by Anon on 22 October, 2006 - 5:22

By Amy Fisher

The furore over Jack Straw’s comments on the niqab has generated hundreds of column inches from liberal commentators at The Guardian. Many, including David Edgar, quite rightly rail against state bans on religious clothing and stand up for the right to wear whatever you choose. As Edgar says "if we want to have a leg to stand on when we stand up for The Satanic Verses or Behzti or Jerry Springer, we must defend to the death the right to wear it [the niqab]". However, the issue of choice is much more complicated than this.

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