Boycotts targeting products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.
Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.
Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.
Sanctions are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.
Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category
“Isis is tweeting, often with a wry, sardonic edge that makes them sound like New York hipsters turned salafists.”
Bombs won’t solve the Isis problem, but “Even the left is demanding quick solutions to the horror and immediacy of the Isis beheadings. But the situation in Iraq is too complex for simplistic thinking.” writes Richard Seymour in his latest cromulent discourse (Guardian Bombs won’t solve the Isis problem. 15.9.14).
Everybody’s favourite intersectionalist and opponent of liberal murder observes, “beyond the Westminster spear-carriers for American empire, there is a muted, hardly enthusiastic, but nonetheless real sentiment in parts of the left. It runs something like this: “I marched against the war on Iraq, I detest US domination, but in this case I have no problem with American airstrikes.”
“The answer is Islamic State. Isis goes to your head and gets under your skin; it leaves you feeling infested. Back in the days when one didn’t know much about the jihadis carrying out beheadings, it was possible to think that they were just – as David Cameron has denounced them – “monsters”, savages, beasts.”
Infested, goes to your head, under your skin, is Seymour describing some malady, or as he would put it, something that creates astheneia?
That detesting ISIS is an illness that saps our will to ‘resist’ ?
From this pleasing thought Seymour moves into explanations for the rise of Islamic State and ISIS.
Was the force behind by the Islamic State created by the US-led occupation?
That is, “A brutal occupation produces a brutal insurgency.”
No, “that argument was always vulgar, and it would be even more vulgar now to say that Isis’s success can be explained by reference to an occupation that no longer persists.”
Vulgar: another example of how poor fools are unable to grapple with phenomena like mass ethnic and religious cleansing, slaughter, torture, and the butcher videoed beheading David Haines, and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are “infested”.
In reality, Seymourian wisdom tells us,
Isis succeeds because of the support it enjoys within much of the population it seeks to rule. And this support, be it noted, is gained on the basis of vicious sectarianism.
Be it noted! Indeed! Islamist genociders have support on the basis of hatred of other religious groups!
Yet, the hegemonic discourse that articulates the formation is a novelty,
Whereas “al-Qaida in the Land of the Two Rivers” communicated principally in the medium of shaky videos with hostages reading bombastic messages from their host-killers, Isis is tweeting, often with a wry, sardonic edge that makes them sound like New York hipsters turned salafists.
Shit, dude, my bad!
“Take the character who has been referred to as “Jihad John”, the man supposedly behind a number of the killings. The immediate dilemma faced by the anglophone press is explaining how a British person “from a good area” could be tempted to participate in such grim spectacles. The desperate search for motives, sifting hopelessly through his rap lyrics for clues, is indicative of how misplaced this approach is.”
Indeed we have spent hours, if not days, going through his rap lyrics for some textual discursive clues. All we found was a blood-thirsty racist and sadist.
We were mislead, totes!
It’s all much more complicated!
The Wissenschaftler (as Seymour would say) points out that, “of course (indeed….. ‘of course’) .. in the absence of explanation, we are very quick to believe anything we hear about Isis. For example, the story of 40,000 Iraqis stranded and starving on a mountain – invoked by supporters of intervention – turned out to be exaggerated. The Isis siege, far from requiring the flexing of US muscle, was broken by Kurdish peshmerga.”
Perhaps he might explain what was exaggerated?
And what exactly is his explanation for why somebody becomes a sadistic killer in a gang with more than a little in common with the World War 2 Einsatzgruppen?
Except that “vicious sectarianism” is rife.
Seymour and Ethical Austerity.
Back to the politics and morals of the present dude...
How does our intersectional chum intend to back the same Kurds who broke the genociders’ hold?
Nothing is offered.
Instead Seymour turns his gaze at the Other elsewhere, and scorns any form of “humanitarian intervention.”
Or, ” the illusion that there is a simple techno-military solution to grave humanitarian exigencies”.
Airstrikes can destroy bodies, but they can’t destroy political antagonisms. Nor would a renewed occupation solve the problem. The formerly occupying coalition which constructed that authority are in no position – even if they had the ability – to replace it with something plural and democratic. There simply are no shortcuts.
How exactly something “plural and democratic” will emergence remains a mystery of the dialectic.
To repeat: What is he going to do?
He has his column to discourse……
What does he say to people fighting for dear life?
What does he say to the victims of ethnic and religious cleansing?
That there are no “short cuts”.
That it’s all too complicated for “simplistic thinking”.
Forget the Genociders of Daʿesh: we need to chillax!
The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines – an act described by the British prime minister as “pure evil”.
The video, released late on Saturday, shows Haines, 44, being killed in a desert location by a masked man. The father of two children, from Perth in Scotland, was abducted last year while working for the French aid agency Acted.The video comes after the murder of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both American journalists, in similar settings and manners.
The masked man in the latest video states Haines was killed because the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, had promised to arm Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq against the Islamic State fighters.
“This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.”
The Guardian states,
In the video, entitled A Message to the Allies of America, a masked man is shown carrying out the beheading of Haines, whose life had earlier been threatened in a film showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff. The video, which runs to two minutes and 28 seconds, ends with a warning that a second British hostage would be the next to die. He has been named in international media and on social media as Alan Henning, a British aid worker.
The killer, swathed in black, then makes a statement in which he makes a direct reference to the British government’s aid to Kurdish fighters.
He says: “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.
“Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam will only accelerate your destruction. And playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.”
The BBC adds, that the killer, “appears to have a British accent.”
This is a terrible event, and we are deeply saddened.
But let us avoid rhetoric about an “‘an act of pure evil’ (David Cameron).
Some more precise points:
- It is to be hoped that nobody from the Stop the War Coalition or elsewhere will blame this killing of an innocent aid worker on Western foreign policy. The murder is the responsibility of the person who carried it out, and the Islamic state leaders who directly ordered the beheading . The person killed, David Haines, bears no collective responsibility for the actions of the West. He bore no responsibility for what the Royal Air Force is doing now. He was an aid worker. The butcher who decapitated him had no right to take the right over his life to himself.
- It is equally to be hoped that the StWC and others will not repeat the phrase about a “bloody and unwinnable war”. This is not a matter of Cameron “not saying no” to the Americans, a lapdog of the White House. It may be wrong it may be right, but if the West did not arm the Peshmerga, the Islamic state will not stop religious cleansing, torture and genocide.
- The murderer says, “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.” The killer is not an agent morally capable of making Haines “Pay” anything. You cannot transfer a debt – real or metaphorical – from one unrelated individual, the Prime Minister, to another person, particularly one who is independent of his field of action
- Nobody can lay the Haines’ death directly at Cameron’s door: it is the decision of Islamic state, an act of their will, in order to further their aim of enforcing a Caliphate over the corpses of ‘heretics’ and ‘unbelievers’.
- The individual who slaughtered Haines was, according to all accounts, British. Will he, and other foreign Jihadists, continue these actions and try to kill other British people that he considers responsible for attacking the Islamic state?
It would be appreciated as well if people would stop repeating that Islamic State/ISIS/Daʿesh has nothing to do with real Islam.
We are not in a position to know what ‘real’ Islam is.
Daʿesh claims to be Islamic: it is one form of actually existing Islamism. (1)
Fawaz A Gerges on Radio Four this morning underlined that it is marked by unrelenting sectarian hatred, above all of Shias.
This clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Western foreign policy.
This is not to deny the complications at work in Iraq and Syria and few would be inclined to lay out the battle lines in black and white.
There remain plenty of contradictions at the heart of the US-led operations, ranging from the lack of fixidity in the roles of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab League, to the (sectarian) nature of much of the Baghdad government and the long-term goals of the Kurdish regional authority (see Rue89).
One aspect of Daʿesh, nevertheless, does concern us here with absolute clarity: every European jihadist may be held accountable for their crimes, tortures and murders.
They should be brought before a War Crimes Tribunal.
British Islamists earlier this year.
The brutal beheading of Scott Sotloff is fresh in people’s minds.
A couple of days ago Owen Jones wrote, ” Middle Eastern dictatorships that have played a pernicious role in the rise of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism.”
The article, published originally in the Guardian and posted on the Stop the War Coalition site, makes a refreshing change from one-sided denunciations of attempts to create an “American caliphate”.
He then says,
While there is no evidence to suggest Qatar’s regime is directly funding Isis, powerful private individuals within the state certainly are, and arms intended for other jihadi groups are likely to have fallen into their hands. According to a secret memo signed by Hillary Clinton, released by Wikileaks, Qatar has the worst record of counter-terrorism cooperationwith the US.
And yet, where are the western demands for Qatar to stop funding international terrorism or being complicit in the rise of jihadi groups? Instead, Britain arms Qatar’s dictatorship, selling it millions of pounds worth of weaponry including “crowd-control ammunition” and missile parts.
Then there’s Kuwait, slammed by Amnesty International for curtailing freedom of expression, beating and torturing demonstrators and discriminating against women. Hundreds of millions have been channelled by wealthy Kuwaitis to Syria, again ending up with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra.
But the worst example comes from Saudi Arabia,
And then, of course, there is the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. Much of the world was rightly repulsed when Isis beheaded the courageous journalist James Foley. Note, then, that Saudi Arabia has beheaded 22 people since 4 August. Among the “crimes” that are punished with beheading are sorcery and drug trafficking.
Around 2,000 people have been killed since 1985, their decapitated corpses often left in public squares as a warning. According to Amnesty International, the death penalty “is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe”, with the use of torture to extract confessions commonplace. Shia Muslims are discriminated against and women are deprived of basic rights, having to seek permission from a man before they can even travel or take up paid work.
Even talking about atheism has been made a terrorist offence and in 2012, 25-year-old Hamza Kashgari was jailed for 20 months for tweeting about the prophet Muhammad. Here are the fruits of the pact between an opulent monarchy and a fanatical clergy.
This human rights abusing regime is deeply complicit in the rise of Islamist extremism too. Following the Soviet invasion, the export of the fundamentalist Saudi interpretation of Islam – Wahhabism – fused with Afghan Pashtun tribal code and helped to form the Taliban. The Saudi monarchy would end up suffering from blowback as al-Qaida eventually turned against the kingdom.
The regime is not just tolerated; it works in close cooperation with Western countries like the UK.
Owen notes that as a result,
So much rhetoric about terrorism; so many calls to act. Yet Britain’s foreign policy demonstrates how empty such words are. Our allies are up to their necks in complicity with terrorism, but as long as there is money to be made and weapons to sell, our rulers’ lips will remain stubbornly sealed.
One could add that Saudi Arabia has a regime of sexual apartheid, that it is riddled with racist discrimination against migrant workers, not to mention against non-Muslims of any stripe. And that it is utterly committed to the most vicious anti-Semitism imaginable.
What will the Stop the War Coalition do to change this position?
Will their lips remain sealed as well?
Here is an example of a movement to exert pressure on a state that they support.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights” encourages the following actions to fight for Palestinian rights.
Of these strategies, the cultural and academic boycott is probably the most contested. It appears to make individuals pariahs, not institutions.
In the UK the Boycott Israel movement has targeted Sainsbury’s and has mounted protests at the shop and other outlets for Israeli goods which have also met with criticism.
Controversy has arisen about the Sainsbury’s campaign, which makes the claim (which looks rather small in comparison with what is happening in Iraq and Syria) that this is a protest against the “genocidal attacks on the Palestinians of Gaza.”
Perhaps these methods are not the best way of expressing opposition to Israeli killings and brutality in Gaza, as incidents have erupted during every protest, including one in which the shop in Holborn withdrew Kosher products from the shelves.
Members of the public could be forgiven for thinking that this is a call to “not buy Jewish“.
Europe has, as is well known, a history of campaigns against “buying Jew.”
A better kind of campaign could be created to protest against the totalitarian regime in Saudi Arabia,. A programme for human rights, demanding that it tolerates all faiths, is democratic, respects women’s rights, allows people to express their own sexual preferences, and ends its own racism, religious and ethnic, that responds to the demands of what exists of a democratic opposition, would be promoted.
We could begin by putting pressure on companies involved in the country to pull out and calls for international sanctions.
We await the Stop the War Coalition’s forthcoming initiatives to force the British government to act against the Kingdom.
This is Islamist ‘Freedom Fighters’.
Pictures of a father and son proudly posing with the decapitated head of a Syrian soldier were posted on Twitter.
The 7-year-old child who was pictured holding the decapitated head of a Syrian soldier is believed to be the son of Australia‘s most-wanted terrorist and jihadi fighter, Khaled Sharrouf.
The horrific picture was captioned “That’s my boy.”
Another picture showed Sharrouf holding the same decapitated head with the caption “What a head.”
Glory to the Iraqi Communists!
As news came in from Iraq on Thursday that the troubled nation’s low-key communist party had scored a rare military victory over Islamic extremists of the ISIS near Baghdad, their Indian counterparts were passively watching the spectre of large-scale desertion from their ranks to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its quasi fascist Hindu revivalist agenda.
The Iraqi Communist Party spokesman announced that the party in control of the Red Army fought a ground battle with armed Islamic State (ISIS) in the vicinity of the Northwest of Baghdad.
The Red Army killed 38 armed rebels and captured 107 people. They achieved “tactical victory in the full sense”.
They stated that at first many people began to join the Islamic fundamentalists after the collapse of the existing government forces but are now joining the Communist Party.
According to media reports from Qatar, a spokesman for the Iraqi Communist Party Mikhail Grew spoke publicly to the world. He called on the world proletariat to unite in support of their Iraqi Red Army against the Islamic extremists and fight against religious extremism who endanger people’s lives and safety.
Saturday, 9 August 2014
Statement of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party
In solidarity with our Yazidi people
Concerted national efforts are needed to recapture the areas seized by criminal Isis gangs
We have been following with great anger and condemnation the brutal practices and horrific crimes committed by the criminal gangs of “Isis” against our Yazidi people that aim at eliminating this indigenous cultural and religious component of Iraq. These terroist and rogue gangs have killed the children of Yazidi people, captured and enslaved their women, destroyed their temples and desecrated their religious symbols. These heinous crimes are classified under international law as crimes against humanity.
These crimes represent another episode of the series of barbaric attacks waged by the terrorist gangs of “Isis” against the Iraqi homeland and people. It is part of the suspicious scheme that has extended over the whole of Iraqi territory, affecting all citizens, including Arabs, Kurds, Turcomans and Shabak; Muslims, Christians and Yazidis; Sunnis and Shiites.
While reaffirming the Iraqi Communist Party’s full solidarity with our Yazidi people in their cruel plight and sharing their pain as a result of this ordeal, we express our readiness to provide all possible help and contribute to the joint efforts to alleviate their suffering. We call on the Iraqi state and all its institutions to speed up the delivery of relief aid to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who sought refuge in the mountains and caves under deteriorating conditions, and to provide the human, material and technical resources needed to accomplish these urgent tasks. In this regard, we call upon international organizations and the international community to deal with what is happening in Iraq as crimes against humanity.
In the difficult circumstances caused by this ordeal, our party calls upon all the political and social forces, parties, blocs and organizations, and in particular the forces that are in power at the level of the federal government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the local authorities in the provinces, to unify their stance and efforts in the face of terrorism and the gangs of “Isis” and their barbaric acts.
The recapturing of the areas seized by “Isis” and eliminating it are urgent and immediate objectives that require mobilizing all national efforts. This necessitates accelerating the efforts to overcome the existing differences between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and to achieve the broadest possible cooperation and coordination at both the political and military levels to ward off the dangers threatening Iraq. This also requires resolving speedily the naming of the Prime Minister nominee and embarking on forming an all-encompassing national unity government that is able to address the daunting tasks facing our country at this historic juncture.
BAGHDAD – 6 August 2014
Warsi resigns (1)
Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi has resigned from the government, saying its policy on the crisis in Gaza is “morally indefensible”.
She wrote on her Twitter feed that she was leaving with “deep regret”.
Lady Warsi, who was previously chairman of the Conservative Party, became the first female Muslim cabinet minister when David Cameron took office in 2010.
She grew up in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and worked as a solicitor before entering politics.
Lady Warsi was demoted from the cabinet to a middle-ranking Foreign Office post in 2012. She was made minister for faith and communities at the same time.
She wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”
Lady Warsi’s resignation letter says it is “morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term effect on our reputation internationally and domestically”.
She adds that the decision “has not been easy” but there is “great unease” within the Foreign Office over “the way recent decisions are being made”.
The Huffington Post reports,
Now that she has quit the government, the Tory peer wants to “speak more freely” on this issue and her first demand after handing in her resignation letter is for the UK to introduce an arms embargo. “It appalls me that the British government continues to allow the sale of weapons to a country, Israel, that has killed almost 2,000 people, including hundreds of kids, in the past four weeks alone. The arms exports to Israel must stop.”
Unusually this has been reported, straight away, on the French media, “Démission d’une secrétaire d’Etat britannique en désaccord avec la politique du pays sur Gaza” Libération.
And the German, “Protest gegen Gaza-Politik: Britische Außenstaatssekretärin Warsi tritt zurück” Der Spiegel.
This is the right decision and one can only agree with her statement.
Warsi has also made this admirable reflection (November 2013),
Warsi: Christian minorities ‘endangered’ in Middle East
Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.
Syria’s civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.
Baroness Warsi said politicians had a duty to speak out against persecution and appeal for religious tolerance
But before anybody goes overboard in admiration for the unelected Warsi this should be remembered,
“Warsi was the unsuccessful Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury at the 2005 general election, becoming the first Muslim woman to be selected by the Conservatives. During the election campaign she was criticised for election literature which was described as “homophobic” by the gay equality group Stonewall.” Wikipedia.
Unable to get elected this happened:
“On 2 July 2007, Warsi was appointed Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. To take up the post, she was created a life peer as Baroness Warsi, of Dewsbury in the County of West Yorkshire, on 11 October 2007 and was introduced in the House of Lords on 15 October 2007. On joining the House of Lords, she became its youngest member.”
Then there is this (National Secular Society),
Baroness Warsi’s partnership with the OIC means it is only a matter of time before we are completely silenced in the name of religious freedom, argues Anne Marie Waters.
Baroness Warsi, our unelected “Minister for Faith”, in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington on Friday, stated that the UK is “committed to working with the United Nations Human Rights Council to implement Resolution 16/18.”
We are? I can’t remember agreeing to this – can you?
She then went on to make this hilarious statement: “The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also remains a key partner in our quest to promote religious freedom.”
I genuinely don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It is difficult to know where to begin with this, so I’ll start with Resolution 16/18 – a proposal which received the support of the United States back in 2011. Hillary Clinton, who could well be the next US President, set up a meeting in Washington D.C. that year. The aim of this get-together was to explore ways to implement the provisions of Resolution 16/18 around the world.
Resolution 16/18 calls upon UN member states to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.” It was initially introduced in March 2011 at the UN Human Rights Council by the OIC. This coterie, dominated by Islamist states, had made several previous attempts to have a resolution passed which aimed to criminalise “defamation of religions” but had failed. This time, due to some clever re-wording, the tactic worked and non-binding resolution was agreed.
Following this, the Istanbul Process was created in July 2011. This meeting was attended by Hillary Clinton who praised the US and the EU for agreeing the resolution at the Human Rights Council. The conference had been convened by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC. This is a man who frequently speaks out against Islamophobia, and calls for a “proper understanding of Islam“.
The Istanbul Process continues and last met in Geneva in June 2013.
Baroness Warsi’s commitment (on behalf of the UK) to work with the OIC to implement Resolution 16/18 seems to be grounded in the idea that the OIC are equally committed to religious freedom. In making such claims, Warsi shows herself to be either a) completely stupid, b) a damn liar, or c) both.
So to summarise; Sayeeda Warsi, a woman who failed to secure an elected place in Parliament in 2005, now enjoys a seat at the Cabinet table despite the fact that she remains unelected. She has used this position to commit the UK to assisting in the implementation of a resolution which will effectively criminalise anyone who dares to tell the truth about what happens in the name of Islam (this would be “negative stereotyping” you see). She has no mandate for this, and she wouldn’t have if the people were ever asked our opinion on the matter.
And if anybody on the left doubts where she stands there is this (November 2013),
Faith is being put back at the “heart of government,” as it was under Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher, a minister will say today.
The Coalition is one of the “most pro-faith governments in the West,” Baroness Warsi, the Minister for Faith, will say. “More often than not, people who do God do good.”
Churchill and Thatcher would have welcomed the Coalition’s promise to protect the right of town halls to hold prayers and the creation of more faith schools under Michael Gove’s Free Schools programme, she will say.
Public policy was “secularised” under the previous, Labour government, Lady Warsi will tell an audience at the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge.
But Churchill saw totalitarian regimes as “godless” while Thatcher regarded politics as second to Christianity in defining society, she will say.
“We see flickers of Churchill’s flame and echoes of Thatcher’s sermons in all we do,” she will say. “But this was never inevitable. When we came back into power in 2010, I felt that some of the reverence for religion had disappeared from politics. I found that the last government didn’t just refuse to ‘do God’ – they didn’t get God either.”
The Coalition ruled out a ban on the full-face veil out of respect for religious liberty, she will say, also citing the welcome it gave to a ruling which saw Nadia Eweida win the right to wear a small crucifix at work for British Airways.
Lady Warsi, a former chairman of the Conservative Party, will say that religious groups must be allowed to provide public services without the state being “suspicious of their motives”.
“I know that Mrs Thatcher would have approved of devolving power to faith communities,” Baroness Warsi will say.
“As she once said: ‘I wonder whether the State services would have done as much for the man who fell among thieves as the Good Samaritan did for him?’ ”
Cynics (hat-tip DO), may also recall this (2012),
And Lo and Behold!
Baroness Warsi’s resignation has more to do with the reshuffle than it does with Gaza
Baroness Warsi has just resigned from the Tory front bench over the Government’s policy towards Gaza. At least that’s the official line. In truth Baroness Warsi has resigned over the government’s policy towards Baroness Warsi.
It’s been an open secret in Westminster that Warsi has been angered since her demotion from Tory party chair. “She’s going to do a Clare Short,” one Tory MP told me a few months ago.
Well, she has done a Clare Short, ostensibly resigning over an issue of foreign policy.
As the first Muslim Cabinet minister Warsi adopted some brave stances on a number of controversial issues – such as proposals to ban veils – and had spoken out about wider Islamophobia. Neither stance saved her from abuse and threats of violence from extremist elements in the Muslim community.
But the reality is Warsi was an ineffective party chair, and an unpopular member of the Government. “She was proof of why most ministers – from whatever party – should always come from the elected House of Commons, rather than being parachuted in via the Lords. She really didn’t understand the grass roots at all,” said one Tory MP on news of her resignation.
The loss of Baroness Warsi is a blow to David Cameron’s attempts to give his government a more diverse face. But her resignation is more to do with events in last month’s reshuffle than events in Gaza.
(1) “Dear Prime Minister
For some weeks, in meeting and discussion, I have been open and honest about my views on the conflict in Gaza and our response to it.
My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.
Particularly as the Minister with responsibility for the United Nations, The International Criminal Court and Human Rights I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice. In many ways the absence of the experience and expertise of colleagues like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve has over the last few weeks become very apparent.
This decision has not been easy. It has been a privilege to serve for 3 years in your Shadow Cabinet and over 4 years in your Cabinet. Introducing you in Blackpool in 2005 as you made your bid for leadership I had the pleasure of being there at the start of the journey and it would have been rewarding to have been there til the end.
The last decade has given me the opportunity to work with some of the best in the Conservative Party and indeed in Government. William Hague was probably one of the finest Foreign Secretaries this country has seen and has been inspirational. He dismantled foreign policy making by sofa government and restored decision making and dignity to the Foreign Office. There is however great unease across the Foreign Office, amongst both Minister and senior officials, in the way recent decisions are being made.
Eric Pickles has supported me tirelessly in our work on combating hate crime. Challenging anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia and the pioneering work of celebration faith in the public sphere. This new found confidence in Government has allowed me to take the very public International lead on religious freedom, specifically on the ever growing crisis of the persecution of Christians. However, early evidence from the Home Office and others shows that the fallout of the current conflict and the potential for the crisis in Gaza and our response to it becoming a basis for radicalisation could have consequences for us for years to come.
From both Eric and William I learnt the art of reconciling passion and idealism with pragmatism and realism, but I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.
It is therefore with regret that I am writing to resign.
You will continue to have my personal support as leader of the Conservative party as you continue to ensure that our Party evolves to meet the challenges we face in Britain today and ensure that the Party is relevant and responsive to all communities that make up today’s Britain.
More updating (prompted by reading below).
Sayeeda Warsi’s Tory colleagues are really, really sad that she has quit. A Tory source tells Guido:
“Warsi’s resignation is classic Warsi. Attacks her own team, pure grandstanding, and shows that she is a quitter. Her resignation does nothing to help the innocent civilians on both sides who are suffering. She had a much better chance of helping support the ceasefire if she had stayed inside Government. But instead she has thrown in the towel.”
Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.
SWP Placards, No Answer to Real Problems.
Is the Guardian finally seeing sense?
This report has just appeared.
Birmingham council a ‘disastrous failure’ over Islamism in schools
Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.
Birmingham council “disastrously” failed to act when a group of Muslim men began to promote, sometimes illegally, a fundamentalist version of Islam in some schools, because officials were afraid of being accused of racism or Islamophobia, a report has found.
The investigation, carried out by the independent adviser Ian Kershaw, was commissioned by Birmingham City council (BCC) as a result of concerns raised in a letter dated 27 November 2013, known as the “Trojan horse” letter, which suggested a number of schools in the city had been “taken over” to ensure they were run on strict Islamic principles.
The Birmingham report, compiled by Kershaw and overseen by a review group that included senior Home Office official Stephen Rimmer and representatives of the West Midlands police, interviewed many of the same witnesses and reviewed the same documents as the former counterterrorism police chief Peter Clarke, who was commissioned by the then education secretary Michael Gove to address extremism in Birmingham schools.
The article continues and states this,
The report found that a small group of governors had:
• placed unreasonable demands on head teachers to “modify curriculum provision, which denies students their right to access a broad and balanced curriculum, including the right to understand other world religions and the right to sex and relationship education”.
• placed “inappropriate demands on head teachers by repeatedly requesting information”.
• been “overly challenging and sometimes aggressive in the management of head teachers”.
• inappropriately appointed friends and relatives to the school staff.
• undermined head teachers during Ofsted inspections.
Kershaw found that elements of the five steps referred to in the Trojan Horse letter for taking over schools were present in a “large number of the schools considered as part of the investigation”.
These five steps were to: target poorly performing schools in Muslim areas; select parents to turn against schools; install governors to encourage Islamic ideals; identify key staff to disrupt from within; and to instigate a campaign of pressure.
Kershaw found evidence of all five steps at Golden Hillock School, Moseley school, Nansen primary school and Saltley school. All of those schools, with the exception of Moseley, were recently put into special measures after emergency Ofsted inspections downgraded them to “inadequate”.
There was no evidence of all five at Park View Academy, which has been at the centre of the controversy.
Kershaw concluded that the evidence collated to date “does not support a conclusion that there was a systematic plot to take over schools”.
He added: “There are concerns which require immediate attention, but the evidence is not sufficient to lead me to construe the behaviour to be a coordinated plan to improperly influence the direction and management of schools (or academies) serving schools of predominantly Islamic faith or Muslim background.”
Has the Guardian changed? Have all their writers now dropped the automatic resort to charges about ‘Islamophobia’ when these problems were reaised.
It remains trapped in religious multi-culturalism, as this accompanying article by Usama Hasan illustrates.
….we need to clarify the place of religion in state schools. For example, is it reasonable to expect a school with a majority Muslim population to hold Christian prayers during assembly, daily worship apparently being a legal requirement? Should it offer Islamic prayer instead or different assemblies for pupils of different religious and non-religious backgrounds? Does modern religious diversity mean we do away with collective worship at school or adopt a multi-faith approach? Schools around the country regularly grapple with such issues.
As a result of this unfortunate episode, we need to put measures in place to ensure that the teaching of religion in schools is objective, balanced and non-discriminatory, while all school activities and practices are inclusive and devoid of narrow religious or political influences. While state schools must remain sensitive to the cultural needs of all pupils, isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice. Governance structures also need to be improved so that schools are more careful about whom they appoint. Extremists, even if they are non-violent, should not be allowed to work in schools or be governors, and attempts to impose puritanical agendas on schools in the public sector must not be allowed to happen again.
How about simply removing religion from “school activities and practices”, and teaching about it within the context of philosophy and cultural anthropology in schools?