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‘Trojan Horse’ in Birmingham: Scandal Worsens as Shahid Akmal Faces New Allegations.

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Shahid Akmal, “white women have the least amount of morals.”

The Birmingham Mail has just revealed another scandal behind the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations,

Undercover report reveals Birmingham school chief claimed women are ‘emotionally weaker’ and that British people have ‘colonial blood’.

By Nick Sommerlad

One of the ringleaders of the Islamist plot to take over British schools is exposed today as a sexist, racist bigot.

School chief Shahid Akmal told an undercover reporter from Birmingham Mail sister paper the Mirror, that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood”.

Akmal claimed that women were “emotionally weaker” than men and that their role was to look after children and the home.

He defended jailing or exiling gays and adulterers under Sharia Law as a “moral position to hold”.

Until he was removed last week, Akmal was the chairman of governors at Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, where music was banned and inspectors found pupils were not sufficiently protected from radicalisation.

The hardliner revealed he has plans to set up a series of after-school tuition centres to instil “our morals and our values and our principles” in impressionable youngsters.

Over a series of meetings, Akmal made a string of extraordinary statements and defended Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq as “freedom fighters”.

In a defiant attack, Akmal claimed the Government wanted to keep Muslims “suppressed” so they are easier to control.

Asked if white children were lazy he said: “Exactly. Thank you very much. And they don’t want to accept that.” He insisted: “I tell you, our women are much, much better consciously in the heart than any white women.

“White women have the least amount of morals.”

He argued that girls should be taught skills like cooking and sewing while boys should be taught trades like construction and mechanics.

Akmal attacked women who became “high flying” politicians: “She has to sacrifice her family, she has to sacrifice her children, she has to sacrifice her husband, all in the name of equality. And there are so many marriages that have broken up because of this.”

He appeared to defend British Muslims joining rebels in Syria and Iraq, despite official warnings of a terrorism threat when they return to the UK.

He said: “The fact that he has gone there to fight, they say that he is supporting terrorists. Because they don’t believe in the freedom fight.”

The alleged Trojan Horse plotters had been attacked for “wanting the best for our children”, claimed Akmal. He said: “They basically don’t want the children to do any better because they will demand education, they will demand better qualifications, they will want to go to Oxford and Cambridge and that’s a white only place. Very few non-whites go there.

“They want to keep us suppressed. It’s easier to control. If you get education you get a mind. When you get a mind, you ask questions. They don’t like that.

This comes as the  Clarke report into Birmingham schools was formally presented.

Amongst its findings ITN highlights this,

Teachers at schools involved in the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation allegedly claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was “some kind of staged event or hoax”, according to a government report.

The report’s author, retired counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke, analysed the contents of a social media discussion between teachers at Park View School who called themselves ‘The Park View Brotherhood’.

The teachers allegedly joked about Lee Rigby’s death on the WhatsApp messaging service. Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/Press Association Images

Clarke’s report says the group of teachers exchanged “highly offensive comments about British service personnel” on the WhatsApp messaging service.

He also described the general contents of the teachers’ discussions as “grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own”.

School chiefs and parents ‘involved in promoting Islam’

Last updated Tue 22 Jul 2014

Governors, deputy and acting headteachers, trustees and parents were involved in a pattern of behaviour “moving between schools” in Birmingham, an inquiry into alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ schools has found.

In a 151-page report for Birmingham City Council, Ian Kershaw concluded: “The evidence shows individuals have been seeking to promote and encourage Islamic principles in the schools with which they are involved, by seeking to introduce Islamic collective worship, or raising objections to elements of the school curriculum that are viewed as anti-Islamic.”

Mr Kershaw’s report said the problems had been allowed to run “unchecked” due to what he branded “weaknesses in the system and poor oversight of governance” mainly by the city council, but also by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and the DfE.

In his report, Mr Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, said he “neither specifically looked for, nor found, evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham”.

But he went on to say: “I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”

The inquiry concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.

It said witnesses had expressed three key concerns about the impact of the situation on pupils:

  • The first was that teachers feared that children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity.
  • Secondly, that although good academic results can be achieved by narrowing the curriculum, this means young people are not getting a broad education, and instead their horizons are narrowed.
  • Thirdly, that the evidence of young people being encouraged to “adopt an unquestioning attitude to a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam” raises real concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future.

Criticising the role of Birmingham city council, the report concluded the authority was “aware of the practices and behaviours that were subsequently outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before the letter surfaced”.

It goes on to say that the council has not supported headteachers faced with “aggressive and inappropriate behaviour”.

Mr Clarke also warned that the DfE had allowed Park View Educational Trust (PVET) – the trust at the centre of the allegations – to move from running a single school to being responsible for three too quickly, without systems in place for holding the new academies to account.

” There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism,” she said. “But there is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.

“Individuals associated with PVET in particular have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. Particularly shocking is the evidence of the social media discussion of the Park View Brotherhood group whose actions betray a collective mind-set that can fairly be described as an intolerant Islamist approach which denies the validity of alternative beliefs.”

She said that it was “upsetting” that efforts to encourage more British Muslims to become school governors had been “damaged by the actions of a few” and urged parents to continue to come forward to serve on governing bodies.

A new education commissioner is to be appointed at Birmingham City Council to oversee action to address the criticisms of the authority in the Clarke and Kershaw reports.”

 MSN news.

Shiraz Socialist commented a few days ago,

So we now have a situation in which the two reports commissioned into ‘Trojan Horse’ have both concluded that there was a real issue of organised, ultra-reactionary Islamist influence in some Birmingham schools. The newspaper at the forefront of the campaign of denial that followed the allegations has now relented and faced reality. The leader of Birmingham City Council has acknowledged what happened and apologised. But will those on the left (in particular, but not only, the SWP), who took the Guardian ‘line’ now admit their mistake? More importantly, will the NUT leadership, instead of prevaricating on the issue, now take a clear stand in support of secular education?

One solution: secular education!

Boot Religious Authority out of Schools!

France: Pro-Palestinian Protests and anti-Semitism at Sarcelles, Defending the Right to Demonstrate.

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Defying  the Ban on pro-Palestinian marches in France, on Saturday,

About 6,000 mostly peaceful protesters assembled in the Barbès area of northern Paris in defiance of a government ban. When the march was blocked by police lines after only 500 metres, a minority of young protesters started to hurl stones, bottles and sticks at the riot police.

There is a range of accounts of the responsibility for the incidents that took place, see L’Humanité, and Libération and an important direct reportage in the same paper, here.

A leader of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) said, “«La solidarité avec les Palestiniens doit pouvoir s’exprimer à Paris», a expliqué samedi à l’AFP Sandra Demarcq, membre de la direction du NPA, qui juge l’interdiction «illégitime et scandaleuse». We should be able to express solidarity with the Palestinians, explained to AFP Sandra Demarq, part of the leadership of the NPA, who judged the ban “illegitimate and scandalous”. According to the reporter at around 15.40,

Soudain, des groupes extrêmement équipés et organisés ont commencé à fendre la foule pour monter au contact des CRS. Ils avançaient en ligne, le visage couvert. A l’évidence, ils n’avaient rien de militants venus défendre la cause palestinienne. Certains arboraient des tee-shirts du virage Auteuil, une tribune du Parc des Princes.

Suddenly, extremely well organised and kitted out groups pushed their way through the crowd towards the front row of the CRS (riot police).

They advanced en bloc, faces covered. From what could be gleaned they had nothing of the look of activists who’d come to defend the Palestinian cause. Some of them were wearing the colours of Auteuil, a supporters’ group named after a football stand at the Parc des Princes.

In Sarcelles on Sunday however  events took a clearly and illegitimate  anti-Semitic  turn,

France’s interior minister on Monday slammed “intolerable” acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses.

Sunday’s demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris.

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,”Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.

In the Paris suburb sometimes nicknamed “little Jerusalem” for its large community of Sephardic Jews, the rally descended into chaos when dozens of youth – some masked – set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs.

Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher foodstore and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “Fuck Israel!”.

News 24.

The Independent says,

Riot police held back a mob of youths who tried to attacks two synagogues in the town of Sarcelles in the northern Paris suburbs.

A pro-Gaza demonstration in a town with a large Jewish population began peacefully but degenerated into attacks on Jewish and Chaldean businesses and four hours of running battles between youths and police. Several cars were burned. Three shops, including a Kosher grocery (1), were burned and pillaged. A railway station was severely damaged.

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneve said today: “When you menace synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is  Jewish-owned, you are committing anti-semitic acts…  That is intolerable. Protest against Israel is legitimate. Nothing can justify such violence.”

…..

Roger Cuikerman, head of the French umbrella groups of Jewish organisations, CRIF, said there was a growing anxiety amongst French jews.

Protest against Israeli government actions was one thing, he said. Attacks on Jews for being Jews were “deeply disturbing”. “They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” he said. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews’. They are attacking synagogues which are places of prayer.”

Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking at Sarcelles this morning, said (Le Monde),

Devant la presse, il a estimé qu’il était « légitime » de pouvoir exprimer une position sur les événements de Gaza, où au moins 502 Palestiniens ont été tuésdepuis le 8 juillet. En revanche, il a jugé « intolérable que l’on s’en prenne à des synagogues ou à des commerces parce qu’ils sont tenus par des juifs. Rien ne peut justifier de telles violence ». Dix-huit personnes ont été interpellées après les heurts, selon la police.

In front of the press he considered that it was “legitimate” to be able to express a position on the events in Gaza, where at least 502 Palestinians have been killed since the 8th of July. By contrast he judged that it is “intolerable that people attack synagogues and businesses because they are run by Jews. Nothing can justify such violence.” According to the police 18 people have been asserted after the incidents.

(1) The shop had been already the subject of a grenade attack in September 2013 (see here).

In an important Editorial today Le Monde says that the government’s ban on demonstrations is an admission of its impotence, “Manifestations interdites : l’aveu d’impuissance du gouvernement.”

The statement  notes that President Hollande is right to be concerned about the “importation” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict into France.

But they note that the right to demonstrate, within reasonable limits, is part of the foundations of the Republic.

They cite the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, “ nul ne doit être inquiété pour ses opinions, même religieuses, pourvu que leur manifestation ne trouble pas l’ordre public établi par la loi ». 

Article 10, “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”

Le Monde then accuses the government, through its ban on demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians, of playing, “aux pompiers pyromanes.” (firefighting arsonists, figurative, “fig., personne qui provoque volontairement les maux qu’elle est censée combattre.”, somebody who creates the very problem they claim to be solving).

“Toute manifestation doit être déclarée à la Préfecture de police, en indiquant, au moins trois jours avant, sa date, son heure et son parcours. En d’autres termes, le droit de manifester fait partie des libertés publiques, mais il est légitimement encadré.”

Every demonstration, its timings, and its route,  must be notified to the Police authorities, at least 3 days in advance. In other respects the right to demonstrate, within defined limits, is part of our public freedoms.

Le Monde is absolutely right.

Positions of left parties:

Parti de Gauche “L’interdiction de la manifestation de soutien à la population de Gaza contre l’agression décidée par le gouvernement israélien était bien une provocation et une manipulation.” NPA, “La solidarité avec les Palestiniens est légitime et n’a rien à voir avec de l’antisémitisme !” Front de Gauche, “”Amplifier la solidarité avec le peuple palestinien, défendre le droit de manifester”.

Update: Declaration today (Monday 12st July) against ban on demonstrations by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, GAZA CROULE SOUS LES BOMBES, ISRAËL S’ENFERRE DANS LA RÉPRESSION, LES INTERDICTIONS DE MANIFESTER DU GOUVERNEMENT FRANÇAIS ATTISENT LES TENSIONS

Demonstration  on Wednesday now  authorised, Le Monde. 

Faith Schools Undercover: When Will we Get a Secularist Challenge to Faith Education?

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Humanists Show the Way Forward.

Faith Schools Undercover: No Clapping in Class  (Monday 14th July at 8pm on Channel 4) revealed:

  • Exclusively that even before the so-called anonymous ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light the Prime Minister’s office had been warned of what was going on
  • Claims by current and former members of staff at Park View – one of the schools implemented in the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations – that male pupils were given worksheets saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands and also girls at the school were sent home from a sports event because only a male coach was present
  • The ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish schools in the London Borough of Hackney ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’. Channel 4 Dispatches has shocking evidence that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about the schools for years

The programme began with concerns at  Oldknow Academy Birmingham. A parent had complained at Christmas not being celebrated and got short shrift. He wrote to the PM.

The most important item was on Park View school,

A former teacher said, on camera, but anonymously that,

“about 60 male pupils were given a worksheet saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands.

She says: “The work sheet categorically said that you know the wife has to obey the man. Well I think it makes the boys feel that they have got that power over girls. The east Birmingham area has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country.”

This was flately, and not very convincingly, denied, by the school.

Local MP Khalid Mahmood  says: “I am not talking about here extremism in schools although ultimately it could lead to it, and that’s my fear, is that when you are grooming young people into that sort of a mind-set then its very easy once they leave school is to go that extra additional step.”

He also dismissed suggestions the controversy smacks of Islamophobia.

“Over 200 people complaining to the local authority about what’s gone on and you can’t really claim that it’s a witch-hunt,” said Mahmood, whose own actions have shown him sensitive to the difficulties raised by racist attacks on Birmingham Muslims.

There was a report on Olive Primary School in Blackburn.

During this there was evidence that  music in school was discouraged, that clapping was not encouraged, and that other “un-Islamic,” practices were frowned on.

Olive Primary  is run by the Tauheedul Education Trust, with two other secondaries in Blackburn.

The Lancashire Telegraph draws attention to one feature of the Trust’s activities,

The programme revealed trust schools hosted lectures by three extremist preachers, including Mufti Ismail Menk banned from six UK universities for preaching same-sex acts were ‘filthy’.

It showed him saying of gay people: “With all due respect to the animals, they are worse than animals.”

In Hackney illegal Jewish religious schools (for the ultra-orthodox) exist,

Channel 4 Dispatches discovered that more than 1,000 boys aged 13 to 16 have disappeared from registered schools in the London borough of Hackney.

Instead they are being sent by their parents to be educated in yeshivas – fee-paying schools where the curriculum is solely religious.

We have identified more than ten unregistered, illegal, schools.

And what’s really shocking is that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about these schools for years.

We’ve seen internal government briefing documents that reveal as early as 2008 the Department for Education was aware of the issue. One document states the Department knows a number of schools are ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’.

In 2012 the Department acknowledged those running the schools were breaking the law, but said they preferred to work cooperatively with the community.

There were shots of a school, including a room where Hasidic instruction and disputation was taking place. Students went in an out till late in the day.

The conclusion of this section was very unsettling.

Dispatches contacted the schools featured but have received no response.

Hackney Council, Ofsted and the Department for Education told Dispatches their concerns date back many years and they are aware of all the schools on our list.

They say they’ve been working to get them registered.

The Department for Education, who Ofsted and Hackney say have the power to take action against the schools, told Dispatches that ‘where applications for registration are still not forthcoming we will press for a prosecution as it is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered illegal schools.’

The programme seemed to suggest that the Council, out of concern for religious and cultural feeling, was unwilling to act.

Andrew Gilligam reports,

Government documents obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper say that many of the schools are “operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks”.

Many boys in the Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill, London, “will stop secular studies at the age of 13 or 14 and start attending ‘yeshivas’ where the curriculum is solely religious,” the documents say.

Between 800 and 1000 boys aged between 13 and 16 are “missing” from the school system in the borough of Hackney alone, the papers add.

Undercover filming by Dispatches in and around the schools shows the boys packed more than 50 to a classroom in dirty, run-down buildings, some converted houses. More than a hundred boys were filmed going in to an illegal school in Lynmouth Road, Stamford Hill, arriving from 7.30 in the morning and leaving late at night. The establishment is believed to be one of twelve illegal schools in the neighbourhood.

In 2011, about one third of the 20,000 state funded schools in England were faith schools, approximately 7,000 in total, of which 68% were Church of England schools and 30% were Roman Catholic . There were 42 Jewish, 12 Muslim, 3 Sikh and 1 Hindu  faith schools.

The British Humanist Association says,

“Around a third of all state-funded schools are schools ‘with a religious character’ – the legal term for ‘faith’ schools. This number has grown in recent years as successive governments have increased the influence of religious groups in the state-funded education system.”

That is, with the introduction of Academies and Free Schools, this percentage is believed to have risen.

Faith Schools Undercover noted their role in encouraging  ethnic and cultural segregation.

The idea that parents have the right to run, publicly funded, education that promotes their religion, is fundamentally wrong.

Some liberals seem unable to respond to the issues raised.

There are those who claim to be on the left who find excuses for these arrangements.

They claim that criticisms of, notably, the Birmingham schools, are an ‘Islamophobic’ conspiracy.

This completely fails to look at the problems religiously-run schools create – as indicated by the Channel Four Dispatches documentary.

It indicated that concerns had a solid basis.

The National Secular Society sets out a much better position that those wishing to sweep the subject of Faith education under the carpet.,

Rather than facilitating the segregation of pupils along religious lines, we would like to see steps taken to ensure children of all faiths and none are educated together in a respectful but religiously neutral environment.

As long as faith schools are publicly funded, we campaign for an end to exemptions from equality legislation that allow them to select pupils on the basis of the religion, or religious activities, of the child’s parents.

We are concerned that the Government’s desire for greater proportion of academies and free schools, which are independent and self-governing, will see more and more control of state funded education handed to religious organisations.

Dispatches showed more than enough reasons to back this stand.

The author of many of the pro-religious education policies, Michael Gove, is now Chief Whip.

He has been replaced by even more faith-influenced minister, Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP who voted against same-sex marriage, as  education secretary. She “continues as minister for women and equalities”.

Franklin Lamb (Counterpunch) ISIS, Iraq: Towards the “Liberation” of Palestine.

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ISIS-Iraq-Attack

Organises ‘fun days’ for kids says Franklin Lamb in Counterpunch.

Counterpunch has published some well-informed reports on the unfolding civil war in Iraq, notably by Patrick Cockburn.

The same cannot be said for the latest piece by the notorious Franklin Lamb, who has been linked to the far-right  Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network)  (23 articles, up to 2001).

Will ISIS Create al-Sham Caliphate & Liberate Palestine?

This is written after talks with members of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, presently fighting its way through Iraq , with a serious presence in Syria (which he often cites under its Arabic acronym DAASH).

more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters

Franklin’s main interest is in what he calls the ‘liberation of Palestine”.

This is the key to understanding the following comment,

DAASH insists that it has become less active in killing anyone who works for the government of Syria or Iraq including rubbish collectors, a barbaric practice that alienated the Sunni population and that their support is growing as they increasingly provide the essential social services in the forming proto-Caliphate. “Zionists call us masked, sociopathic murderers but we are much more complicated and representative of those seeking justice than they portray us.  Are we more barbaric than the Zionist terrorists who massacred at Dier Yassin, Shatila twice at Qana, and committed dozens of other massacres?  History will judge us after we free Palestine.”A few years ago the CIA and others estimated that the Zionist occupation of Palestine will collapse in less than a decade.  DAASH claims it can do the job in 72 months.

He then allows them to state,

With respect to events surrounding its takeover of Mosel and other social media broadcast exhibitions of mass brutality, ISIS claims it was done for a purpose, the same purpose that other state and non-state actors have used over the past two decade and that is for 90% of the world 1.5 billion Muslims (Sunni) to free themselves from the oppression of the 10% (Shia).

The Reseau Voltaire contributor records this comment,

ISIS appears uniformly contemptuous of the Zionist regime and its army and also appears eager to fight them in the near future despite expectation that the regime will use nuclear weapons. “Do you think that we do not have access to nuclear devices? The Zionists know that we do and if we ever believe they are about to use theirs we will not hesitate.  After the Zionists are gone, Palestine will have to be decontaminated and rebuilt just like areas where there has been radiation released.”

Like all groups with the interest of the people at heart ISIS (apart from operating a policy of great religious tolerance) carries out the following.

DASH supporters claim that as soon as they ‘liberate” and area  invest in public works such as the  new souk in Raqqa, installs new power lines and conducts training sessions on how citizens can do-it-yourself  for more self-reliance with fixing infrastructure problems. In addition DAASH claims that it quickly fixes potholes, runs a low fare bus system, has established  a ‘green’ program to build parks and plant trees and flowers, helps farmers with harvests and runs a zakat (almsgiving) organization.

Moreover, ISIS has established a number of religious schools for children, including ones for girls where they can memorize the Koran and receive certificates if successful, while also holding “fun days” (1)  for kids including all the ice cream they can eat and inflatable slides. For their older counterparts, ISIS has established training sessions for new imams and preachers. Schedules for prayers and Koran lessons are posted at mosques. In a more worrisome development, ISIS runs training camps for “cub scouts” and houses these recruits in the group’s facilities.

Several social media reports and a few eyewitness accounts appear to confirm that DAASH has developed health and welfare programs, operates bread factories and distributes free fruits and vegetables to needy families, passing the goods out personally as well as setting up a free food kitchen in Raqqa as well as an adoption agency to place orphans with families in their areas. Unlike the Taliban and some other regimes which exhibit paranoia about vaccination campaigns, DAASH claims to be more ‘modern” and actively promotes polio-vaccination in its areas to try stop its spread.

There are no plans to attack Europe or “other places”.

With one exception,

 With respect to exactly how DAASH intends to liberate Palestine, the Iraqi’s and now the Obama administration is in possession of an encyclopedia of information about detailed DAASH plans, and tactics it will confront the Zionist occupiers with,  according to a congressional staffer via email with this observer. Reportedly the employment of large numbers of militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers, moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives is just the tip of a deep iceberg of what DAASH is planning…

The visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University comments,

Time will reveal if DAASH achieves one or both of its objectives.  Many believe if they eject the Zionist regime from Palestine, the expanding Islamist group will set in motion historic currents that in all likelihood will be rather different from the Ehud Omert-Condeleeza Rice fantasy of “a New Middle East.

 

One feels deep disgust at anybody relishing the kind of ‘liberation’ ISIS would bring to Israel.

Certainly it would be unlikely to involve fun days and all the ice-cream you can eat.

 

(1) Compare: Video: Al-Qa’ida holds family fun day in war torn Aleppo (2013).

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

Left Unity and the Affaire Laurie McCauley.

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Is this Working Out?

Left Unity notched up a success last week with its Homes Not Spikes campaign in London,

“The spikes are gone. Tesco buckled under the outcry after it was found to have put in ‘anti-homeless spikes’ outside a central London store, and the company was forced to remove them.”

The Tendance welcomes this result.

Left Unity has many good policies, and, unlike some of the inward looking UK left, resembles  the rest of the  (stronger)  radical European left . These include calling for continental cooperation to ‘refound’ the EU on a social basis, backing for far-reaching democracy, feminism,  and a ‘radical reformist’ set of domestic economic and social policies.

Left Unity has some respected and energetic activists and has inspired a wider audience.

These features outweigh the potential damage caused by the influence of one figure on its race policies, which look like a step backwards to 1980s  and Left Unity’s  confusing adaption to ‘intersectionality’.

While rightly opposing the deep-seated hostility to migrants and minorities, it treats “communities” as blocs. Indeed it falls victim to its own attack on hostility to “the representation of Muslims as a monolithic bloc” by defending ‘Muslims’ ….en bloc!

It is right to give priority to the racism of the government and parties like UKIP.

But without a strategy to build unity against the oppression that religious ‘communities’ can create Left Unity risks isolating itself from activists fighting for their own emancipation from “community leaders”.  This misguided approach can be seen when Left Unity ‘defends’ community leaderships, distant from the left and the labour movement,  in the Birmingham academies. The failure to see groups like Islamists as part of an international extreme right-wing movement, further weakens Left Unity’s politics

But I digress.

One area seems to have created rising tension is linked to the ‘safe spaces‘ policy.

The key contentious points include guidelines :

To behave decently toward each other and try to consider other people’s needs (as would be normal in a well unionised workplace).

Venom should be reserved as far as possible for those who would destroy our organisation and our political actions .

Tolerance of other habits and norms will be expected - for example, The Youth and elders might make more noise!

We will not ignore examples of oppression or of transgressions in matters of safe spaces, or situations where transgressions occur.

Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and will be challenged.

Respect should be offered to each other’s physical (and emotional) boundaries.

Members are asked to try to be aware of the positions and privileges they may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others

If a member of an oppressed group requests that you change your use of language, be respectful and change your use of language. Do feel free to ask for clarification on this.

……

There follows a section of Bullying.

The way out of any dispute is said to be through Resolution procedures” operated by “Reconciliation teams.”

These are real problems, shouting, screaming, bullying and harassment, are endemic in political parties of any stripe.

But will these guidelines help solve them?

Anybody with any political experience, or at least most of them, can see the potential for destructive disputes that could come from this policy. Choices of “language”, a call to be aware of “privilege”, “emotional boundaries” “tolerance ” of other people’s habits – all are open to exactly the kind of emotional manipulation (not to say intolerance) that they claim to “protect” people from.

Mike Macanir has unpicked this policy to death. He observes that, “the proposed method of addressing these issues of oppression - by mixing them up with party disciplinary/disputes procedures – has been tried and failed, over and over again, and not merely failed, but proved positively destructive.” “The method of ultimatums backed by prominently displayed anger – “speaking bitterness” – is clearly visible in comrade Dowling’s contribution and those of her supporters. It is inherent in tying together the equalities policy with the disputes/disciplinary procedure in the draft ‘safe spaces’ policy. It was unsuccessful and destructive in the movements of the oppressed in the 1970s-80s and it will be unsuccessful and destructive if we try it again in Left Unity”

Cde Macnair’s detailed argument against rules which encourage people to “speak bitterness”  can be seen here.

The Affaire Laurie McCauley.

Now with the Affaire Laurie McCauley some people’s boundaries are being sorely tested.

According to the latest Weekly Worker Left Unity “have suspended Laurie McCauley from membership for having the temerity to write a “public article” in the Weekly Worker.1 Specifically his ‘crime’ was to include “personal attacks”, “breaches of members’ privacy”, “unreasonable attacks on our branch” – and other such outrages against socialist morality. Frankly, the comrades responsible for this move should hang their heads in shame.

Is it a straightforward matter of free-speech?

For those willing to go into the “Affaire Laurie McCauley” this is the offending article, Left Unity: What ‘Safe Spaces’ lead to. (22nd May).

It begins,

I approach this short report with a certain amount of trepidation. Not because of concerns about ‘exposing’ Left Unity’s right wing here in Manchester, but because the levels of dishonesty and sheer lack of vision on show are simply embarrassing. Nevertheless it is important, as a service to the movement – and in the hope of rescuing the branch – that recent goings-on, culminating in the shutting down of the branch’s email discussion list and attempted censure of one member for comments thereon, are documented.

Left Unity was supposed to be different. A pluralist party, we were told, which could accommodate varied views within its ranks. The mistakes of the ‘old left’, of enforcing a false ideological unity that only led to splits, would be avoided. Openness and transparency were to be the order of the day.

Regular readers will know how quickly this has fallen apart in LU’s Manchester branch, where the email discussion list was shut down amidst the unedifying spectacle of one comrade – former deputy leader of Respect Dawud Islam – being demonised for the heinous crime of not coming to a snap judgement on the guilt or innocence of Steve Hedley.1Hedley had been accused of domestic violence by a former partner, but was found to have no case to answer by the RMT union and is not under investigation by the police. Comrade Islam declined to immediately sign an e-petition calling on the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to withdraw comrade Hedley’s candidacy for the May 22 local elections. He explained, reasonably enough, that he did not know enough about the specific case, and also expressed his view that candidates’ politics are the most important thing.

Comrade McCauley now chronicles the response to this piece (19th June),

This triggered an avalanche of outrage, accusing him of at best not taking violence against women seriously, and at worst of defending those men who perpetrate such violence. Dawud refused to be hounded into signing, however, and restated his position. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a two-line email from myself suggesting that “innocent until proven guilty” was a pretty progressive principle. This prompted Ian Parker of Socialist Resistance, who had initially posted the petition, to declare the topic “no longer suitable for discussion on this list” – an ad-hoc committee put the list under moderation tout court: all “political” and “personal” postings are blocked, with only banal organisational stuff slipping through the net.

Comrade Parker actually submitted a motion at the next meeting to censure Dawud for his comments – which were not even public statements, existing only on the branch’s internal discussion list – and refer him to LU’s disputes committee. At the most farcical point in this meeting, Ian proposed that comrade Islam actually put his own name to the motion! In the end, comrade Parker backed down after a pseudo-apology from the ‘accused’.

….

Incidentally, the dispute involving Dawud was resolved shortly after publication. But having the branch’s dirty laundry given a good airing in the pages of the Weekly Worker was clearly too much for comrades Parker and Keenan. Their appetite for cracking the bureaucratic whip was evidently only whetted by Dawud’s dressing down, as on June 8 two motions were circulated on the email list calling for myself to be referred to the disputes committee. The first motion claimed that comrades’ interventions in meetings and on email lists should be treated confidentially – hardly the model of transparency LU is supposedly committed to. The second called for my suspension from the branch, until the disputes committee had reached a decision on the case being brought against me. Both motions were unsigned, as if comrades had taken my description of Dawud’s experience as “Kafkaesque” as an encouragement.

And the case against me? The second motion condemned the “personal attacks” and “reports in public of our internal branch discussions” in my Weekly Worker article. The first point can be usefully translated as ‘criticising what someone actually said’. My report did not focus on a critique of comrades’ hairstyles or fashion sense, or anything else that could be remotely construed as a ‘personal attack’. Rather it was the politics – or lack thereof – that I had targeted. As for the second allegation, I have already made the point about transparency.

The second motion also contained nebulous and entirely unsubstantiated claims of “persistent oppressive conduct towards other members” and “persistent disruption of LU internal meetings”. No examples of this “oppressive conduct” or “disruption” have been given – nor had anyone previously pulled me up for such alleged misdemeanours. Anyone present at the meetings I have attended – or who has more than a passing acquaintance with me frankly – can only find these claims risible. I have volunteered to lead off two branch discussions, with no-one complaining. In fact the one time we had a genuine political newbie along was at one of these meetings, and we later learnt that she had decided to join her London branch of LU following our meeting.

For those still with the will to live after reading this, all we know from Left Unity’s site is that the June NC minutes record , “Report to executive on Leeds dispute, with call for Disputes and Appeals Committees to convene ASAP – Felicity Dowling – Endorsed.”

Not knowing the people involved we are not going to get bogged down in personal rancour.

Or in pub gossip.

One thing looks more than probable.

The charges relate to the Safe Spaces policy, even if apparently the Manchester Branch puts them down to behaviour that would not be accepted in any political party.

It could well be that this is not a free-speech issue, or one dependent on the rules we have discussed.

But for many it seem that this is involved, and is being used to settle scores not to end them.

The resulting row must surely exacerbate personality clashes.

It is not, as one Left Unity theorist might say, an aleatory happenstance.

It’s hard not to hope matters will be clarified, but things do not look promising.

There is already talk about another dispute erupting in Leeds involving Workers Power.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am