Solidarity 354, 18 February 2015

After Copenhagen: fighting Islamism, the racist backlash and state repression

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 2:09 Author: Bjarke Friborg

We join the comrades of the Red-Green Alliance of Denmark in unequivocally condemning the attack on a meeting to debate free speech and a Jewish synagogue in Copenhagen on Saturday-Sunday 14-15 February.

Comments

Submitted by Dr Paul on Thu, 19/02/2015 - 16:07

I think we should not overlook that the original cause of these events in Denmark was the publishing of cartoons of Mohammed in the Jyllands Posten, one of which portrayed him as a terrorist complete with a bomb as a hat, and another as a dog. These were not an innocent venture; they were intentionally published in order to provoke an angry reaction from Muslims, and after a while some obscurantist clerics in the Middle East duly took the bait, and all hell let loose, thus 'proving' what the paper wished to prove, that Muslims were a humourless, easily-offended lot lacking the requisite sophisticated qualities of civilised society. The Jyllands Posten is a right-wing paper, it supported the Nazis in the 1930s, and the cartoon episode was within its right-wing agenda, a deliberate attempt to whip up anti-Muslim sentiments.

Whilst it is essential to defend the right to free speech and publication and to criticise and if needs be mock religious dogma and obscurantist clerics, this does not mean that we should view the question outwith the social and political context in which it has been raised. In the case of the Jyllands Posten, we should say that whilst it had the right to publish material which people find offensive, we would not endorse the sentiments behind its doing so; indeed, we would be very critical of them, as socialists do not support the idea of whipping up religious hatred or dividing people along religious lines.

In defending the right to free speech and publication, we must be very careful that we do not allow any campaign for it to become hijacked by people with a reactionary agenda, or allow such people to hide their reactionary agenda behind a call for free speech and publication. The Jyllands Posten is no more a friend of genuine freedom than the Islamists it goaded into an angry response, and ironically enough they share the same agenda: both wish to divide Muslims from the rest of humanity.

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Increased police powers are not the answer

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:57 Author: Simon Nelson

Almost half of Syria’s population now requires humanitarian assistance of some kind. Almost three million people have fled Syria, with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey dealing with increasing numbers of refugees.

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Bus strikes suspended

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:51 Author: Gemma Short

On February 11, Unite called off planned London bus drivers’ strikes scheduled for February 13 and 16.

In a press release Unite described this as laying down the “gauntlet” and “challenging the 18 bus companies to enter talks”. Yet there has been no news of these talks actually happening.

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Health deal: vote No!

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:47

Ballot papers are arriving with Unison health workers this week for voting on the derisory pay offer from the government.

As discussed previously in Solidarity, the offer for 2014/15 which was the cause of our dispute has not changed at all. The 1% [+ £200 for bands 1&2] offered for 2015/16 is still a real terms pay cut for the vast majority and comes with strings attached of negotiating on all our terms and conditions. The fact that our negotiators saw fit to even present this offer shows the weak state of our organisation.

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Save Lambeth Libraries!

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:21 Author: Ruth Cashman, Lambeth Unison Shop Steward

Lambeth Council has announced devastating cuts to the Library Service.

The proposals include:

• Closing half of Lambeth’s libraries

• The immediate sell-off of Minet and Waterloo Libraries

• Stopping funding to Carnegie, Durning and Upper Norwood Libraries

• Reducing the size of West Norwood and Brixton Libraries

• Replacing Libraries with bookshelves in pubs

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FBU: “we will not go away”

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:14 Author: Darren Bedford

The FBU has called a further 24 hour strike in England on Wednesday 25 February, starting at 7 am, in its long-running pensions campaign. The union has also called a demonstration at Westminster at noon on the day of the strike.

The strike was called after the union exposed a sham “guarantee” given in parliament to enable ministers to force through their unworkable proposals.

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Stop evictions!

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:11 Author: Ruth Cashman

Shorthold tenants at the Loughborough Park Estate are being threatened with eviction so that Guinness Trust Housing Association can tear down their houses to build expensive new flats.

There is an occupation on the estate to help build the campaign against the evictions. There are daily meetings at 7pm to organise the campaign and demos at the office at 9am.

On Thursday morning at 9.30 am there will be a protest against the bailiffs that are  coming to evict someone from their home.

Meet at Elveden House, Loughborough Park, Brixton, SW9 8NN.

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Hope, not strike?

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 1:05 Author: Liam Conway

On January 29, National Union of Teachers (NUT) National Executive voted 24 to 12 not to call two days of strike action in the run up to the General Election.

In October a survey of members returned 80% in favour of strikes. This despite the failure of the NUT to develop a serious strategy to wring concessions from the Government over pensions, and then pay, since 2011.

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Confiscate the banks!

Submitted by Matthew on 18 February, 2015 - 12:58 Author: Editorial

A thousand, a million, a billion, a trillion? Paradoxically, one of the ways the HSBC bank can hope to ride out the current storm is that the numbers are so far beyond experience for most of us that we glaze over.

HSBC is under fire because of documents which have filtered through to the Guardian which show that a Swiss subsidiary facilitated, helped, and even prompted tax avoidance and money-laundering.

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