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Tariq Ramadan’s ‘Debate’ ‘Within the Islamic Tradition’ on Female Circumcision.

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Ramadan Faces, “campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims…”

Tariq Ramadan (Arabicطارق رمضان‎‎; born 26 August 1962) is a Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Qatar), the Université Mundiapolis (Morocco) and several other universities around world. He is also a senior research fellow at Doshisha University (Japan). He is the director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha.[3] He is a member of the UK Foreign Office Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.[4] He was elected by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the seven religious innovators of the 21st century and in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world[5] and by Foreign Policy magazine (2005, 2006, 2008-2010, 2012-2015) as one of the top 100 most influential thinkers in the world and Global Thinkers. (Wikipedia)

To get an idea of why this Blog has nothing but disdain for Ramadan his reaction to the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher is a good place to start,

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning, Prof Ramadan condemned the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that, “these are very difficult times and a very sad situation” and expressing his “deepest sympathy for the victims’ families.”

“We must start by condemning what happened and what was done in the name of Islam… what they did in fact was to betray our principles, our values and the overall message of Islam,” he stated.

Prof Ramadan also outlined the need for a more nuanced reaction to the atrocities, and for there to be a real attempt to understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence.

The Oxford Don is perhaps best known for calling for a “moratorium” – not the abolition – of some  Sharia law penalties as stoning people to death (An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World. 2005)

A new controversy about Islamic Legality  began last week (June the 14th).

It has not stopped growing.

Tariq Ramadan Defends Female Genital Mutilation: ‘Part of Our Tradition’ and an ‘Internal Discussion’ for Muslims Only.

… on Monday, influential Islamist thinker and activist Tariq Ramadan released a 10 minute video on Facebook expressing support for Elsayed staying on. Ramadan stated Muslim leaders who advocate for FGM should be understood as “brothers,” part of “our community” and Muslims who disagree should engage them with “internal discussion” and are instructed “not to expose them.” Here are some of the highlights from this video.

The author continued,

First Ramadan starts by framing opposition to FGM as a critique coming from “outside the community” and stating that he opposes the calls for firing Elsayed:

“I’m reacting to what I heard and some questions that I had about what happened in Washington with this controversy round a shaykh who was not yet fired – I hope he is not going to be, but he was asked to stop preaching and to stop being active within the community or within the mosque in Washington. And I think that some of the brothers and the sisters even wrote a letter after the controversy around female genital mutilation and excision asking for him to be fired from the mosque and reacting to a video that was posted about what he said in the gathering with Muslim students, men and women. Let me say three things about this because I think this [sic] are critical times and we have to be quite serious about the way we are reacting to controversies and the way we are reacting to some critiques that are coming from outside the community and we have to ask ourselves what we are doing.”

Next Ramadan makes his argument that because FGM is defended by some Muslim scholars it qualifies as “part of our tradition” and is therefore worthy of being “promoted”:

“My position as a Muslim scholar, my position: it’s wrong that we should not promote this because I think that first, it’s not in the Koran and second, it’s part of the Sunnah that we have, and it’s something that is done in African countries, among the Christians and the Muslims and it’s not religious. Having said that, I cannot deny the fact that some scholars at the highest levels of their institutional position are supporting the fact that this is possible that you can go for excision, not to go up to the mutilation and infibulation as it is known in African countries, but we have this in our tradition and it’s part of the internal discussion that we need to have. So to please people who are attacking Islam by saying ‘Oh no, no, no, this is not Islamic. It’s illegal,’ it’s not even faithful to our tradition. We need to have an internal discussion… So, once again, we have to be serious. Any one of the six months of any basic Islamic training, no one can say it’s not part of our tradition. It’s controversial, it’s discussed… you need to take a position, but you then cannot deny the fact that this is something which is part of our tradition.”

Then Ramadan shifts to attacking opponents of FGM, decrying them as Islamophobes, attacking MEMRI by name, and criticizing Muslims for wanting “to be perceived as moderate, open-minded”:

“You need to ask yourself: who are these people who are using videos, putting them and creating controversy? If you are reacting only when Islamophobes – and the people, MEMRI, we know who they are, we know what they want to do, we know in which way they want to make Islam problems, not only in the United States of America but around the world through the translation, distorting and covering in ways that are very specific, they have a very specific objective, they have a very specific way of dealing with scholars, intellectuals, and Islam. These are Islamophobes, and you react to them by just exposing one of your leaders, a shaykh that has been serving the community for more than 30 years and you ask for him to be fired so quickly just to be on the safe side of the political discussion in the United States of America by saying ‘Oh, we have nothing to do with this’ while your tradition is there and it’s discussed within your tradition and whoever is attacking you at least you have to be cautious with the people who are using this and are putting you in a situation which is yes, problematic, but you have to stand for your rights to have opinions, and at least to have internal discussion and not to react so quickly to these issues… And the last thing that I wanted to say: we disagree. I don’t agree with the statement. I don’t with one brother, I don’t agree with one leader. Can’t we take the time to have an internal discussion? To say ‘Look we are not going to respond to the controversy, we are not going to fire the people just to be on the safe side and to be perceived as moderate, as open-minded.'”

Ramadan’s concluding comments are perhaps the most revealing [emphasis added]:

At least we take the time and we let the people know these are internal issues, these are discussions that we want to have among ourselves and it’s not for you to decide when we have to fire somebody or even what are our priorities, because at the end of the day the context is now deciding for us, and people around us are deciding for us what are our priorities, what are the main principle of Islam, and we are not able to come with dignity, with consistency, with confidence and say, ‘Ok, this is who we are, we don’t have all the same opinions, there are discussions, there are internal discussions, we will take our decision, we will have our Shura, our deliberation with it, and it is for us to decide, not for Islamophobes, not for racists, not for people who have political agendas that are now deciding for us… The way you have to be dignified as a Muslim is to rely on him [points upward] to be consistent with yourself and to respect your brothers, not to expose them, not to expose your sisters, even though you disagree, even though you don’t agree. And no double standards, no selective indignation, or selective rejection of some of our brothers because they are exposed outside. And as to our internal business, we talk about it but we let the people, we let the brothers say whatever they want to say.

This insistence on “no double standards” is loaded with irony, as double standards are inherent in Ramadan’s worldview. He advocates for one moral standard for his Muslim “brothers” and “sisters” to engage in “internal discussion” and for imams to “say whatever they want to say.” But for non-Muslims who oppose the barbaric (and illegal) practice of FGM – that makes one a racist and “Islamophobe.”

The international religious authority has tweeted,

Ramadan’s further  reply:

I thought it was not needed as I repeated three times in the video that I do not support either excision or FGM. In any way and I have been involved around the world against both practises. I disagree as well with the comments made by Shaykh Shaker about hyper-sexuality. Yet, this was not my point and I made it clear in the video. To say this discussion has no ground within the Islamic tradition is wrong : it has been debated and still is. Even though I am against these practises as I think it is not the right Islamic interpretation, it cannot be denied that it was condoned by some Muslim scholars (even contemporary ones). So let us be clear about it and address the issue the way it should be, in a clear, wise and scholarly manner. My other point was about our reactive way to deal with issue when vicious islamophobic agencies, such as MEMRI, are attacking people and leaders within the Muslim community. This is the time where we should be wise and decide for ourselves how we have to deal with these issues and prioritise our struggles. Instead of exposing people, let us have an open internal debate even if it has to be heated, tough with no compromise. This is where I stand and I hope it is clear enough by now.

 

In a more forthright vein, in French the scholar talks of,

A new campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims, and propagandists from all sides…claims that I am a defender of female genital mutilation! Not satisfied with altering my remarks and twisting their meaning, these imposters are waging a campaign in all directions, at Muslims, at Africans, and my self…I have campaigned for 30 years in Africa, and across the world against female circumcision, and all forms of mutilation. These claims are abject smears.  But there is no greater deafness than the deafness of liars, racists and the dishonest.

 

One assumes that the erudite savant was referring to this report in French language media,

Après la lapidation, Tariq Ramadan voudrait avoir une discussion « interne » sur l’excision : « Elle fait partie de notre tradition » toute l'information et l'actualité sur Israel, sur l'Europe, les news sur Israël et le Moyen Orient

Ramadan’s response is, one might observe, in just the kind of tone which we need in the present climate.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

The Disappearance of Émile Zola. Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case. Michael Rosen. Review.

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The Disappearance of Émile Zola. Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case. Michael Rosen. Faber & Faber 2017.

The Dreyfus Affair, which began in 1894, was the supreme battle against a miscarriage of justice. The anti-Semitism of those who opposed the Dreyfusards is seen as the template for hostility to Jews ever since. The public polemics between defenders and opponents of the Jewish officer’s conviction are credited with the origin of the idea of an intellectual.Theodor Herzl said that the Dreyfus case turned him into a Zionist. For the left it was the moment when human rights, not without resistance and ambiguities, became an important issue within the socialist movement. The Affair continues to make its mark within French politics, on both the open-minded and the less tolerant sides of Republican orthodoxy.

There would appear little new to say about Dreyfus, although Ruth Harris’s The Man on Devil’s Island (2010) offers a fresh look alongside rigorous research. Yet Michael Rosen casts new light on an episode familiar to those acquainted with the history. He begins, “on the evening of Monday, 18 July 1898, Émile Zola disappeared”.

J’accuse.

The publication on the 13th of January 1898, in the daily L’aurore, of J’accuse had inflamed opinion. This immortal defence of Dreyfus was met by riots and attacks on Jewish homes and shops, as nationalists and the Ligue antisémitique railed at its author. The Minister for War, General Billot, brought charges of libel against Zola. In a Court, surrounded by hostile crowds and police, he was convicted to 3 years in gaol, and a 3,000 francs fine. Facing an appeal, which the writer felt was certain to fail, he had fled to London.

Over the pages of Disappearance of Émile Zola the writer’s London exile is brought to life with a fine touch. Zola was bemused and far from at ease in the British capital. He did not speak English. Boiled potatoes failed to work their charm on him. The housing, shops and surroundings in the South London suburbs were uneasily different. The houses lacked shutters, which we still seem to able to do without.

With his translated novels enjoying a mass readership Zola was already a celebrity. But this was infamy as much as fame. While religious figures and organisations such as National Vigilance Association had, a more than a decade previously, been hostile to “his odious indecency”. His translator Henry Vizetelly served time in Pentonville prison for publishing his more explicit works. Unabridged versions of books like Nana (1880), the story of the prostitute offspring of the alcoholic couple in l’Assommoir (1877), with its lesbian and sado-masochistic scenes, were only available, at £25 a copy and marked “For Private Distribution”. Rosen justly remarks, that this was not a simple moral or prudish issue; it was about social order “Those who were opposed to Zola’s fiction felt that he undermined that order”. Readers of Germinal, the epic of working class struggle in the Northern French mines, can only agree.

Zola’s Two Households.

Rosen excels in portraying one of the least appealing sides of Zola’s biography His two households, his wife Alexandrine, and the mother of his two children, Denise and Jacques, Jeanne Rozerot. Their correspondence, presence, and, for the latter, visits to England, are warmly and fully described. For many this set-up, like Dickens’s relationship with the Other Woman, Nelly Turnan, is less than attractive, but Zola’s two hearths dominated his life during the exile as much as the campaign for Dreyfus’s innocence.

The Disappearance of Émile Zola recounts that one of the activists for that cause, the Socialist Jean Jaurès, made the voyage to London to see the writer. In Les Preuves (1898) Jaurès had placed the duty of the working class movement to cast aside the questions about the class background of Dreyfus in the name of “humanity” and to take the side of the victim of injustice. In France’s Parliament the Deputy had defended Zola, and attacked a court case brought to defend the “honour” of the army (Discours du 24 Janvier 1898 devant la Chambre des députés).

Truth Will Prevail. 

Rosen signals that readers of the British The Social Democrat would have been aware of the link between left-wing politics, the Dreyfus case, and Zola’s protests. An interview with the British based German socialist, Max Beer, author of the pioneering A History of British Socialism (1919) illustrates Zola’s take on the left and anti-semitism. Held in Paris before the forced London stay, it was not published until 1902. At the start the novelist remarks that previously he had portrayed “despicable” Jewish characters – something that readers of L’argent (1891) with characters such as the swindling financier Gunderman, and Korb’s nose, “en bec d’aigle” (Eagle beaked) indicating his Jewishness, would not hesitate to endorse. Some socialists, he remarks, reproaching him for backing a “rich Jewish captain”. But, “he is for me only a symbol, a victim of terrible forgeries, a witness of the degradation of our republic, which inscribed on its portals the democratic trinity: Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. But, after all truth is almighty. It will prevail.”

In Britain, a 120, 000 strong petition on behalf of Dreyfus and a demonstration in Hyde Park on 1899 attracting between 50,000 and 80,000 illustrates that the issue was also of burning concern to those in this country who stood by that “democratic trinity”.

Michael Rosen is, I confess, not an author I would have expected to bring new light on one of the important moments in the Dreyfus Affair, or on the life of one of its leading actors. Yet The Disappearance of Émile Zola does exactly that. It does not gloss over the less appealing aspects of Zola’s beliefs – his “natalism”, a wish for the growth of a healthy population, set out in the work he began writing in England, Fécondité, and published in 1899, not to say his fear of ‘hereditary degeneracy’ – once described by Philippe Muray as the idea that the dead are reborn in us. It resists the temptation to make facile comparisons with contemporary politics or 21st Century anti-Semitism. The book covers exactly what the title indicates, “love, literature and the Dreyfus case.” It is is a success and, one hopes, will encourage not just interest in the history but bring new readers to Zola’s path-breaking, and enduring, novels. Congratulations.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2017 at 11:51 am

Anti-Semitism in Europe Documentary Ditched Amidst Accusations of Censorship.

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Arte und WDR: Senden Sie die Dokumentation!

A comrade in Germany has told us that the controversy over the censorship of a documentary on anti-Semitism in Europe, Auserwählt und Ausgegrenzt. Der Hass auf Juden in Europa (« Un peuple élu et mis à part : l’antisémitisme en Europe » Le Monde), (Zensur einer Antisemitismus-Doku. Taz)   has not stopped growing.

It was due to be shown on the German-French channel, Arte.

Then it was withdrawn.

He comments, “WDR won’t let Arte send it because it is “anti protestant, and islamophobe” apparently “anti protestant” being the main problem, I presume i.e. they interviewed people at the “Kirchentag” (like the churches version of “Marxism 2017″ but much larger and funded almost completely by the German state) and they were clearly anti-semites.”

A French journalist, one of the authors of the film, considers however that Arte was embarrassed by the way the director tried to show a link between historic European anti-semitism, more recent anti-semitism amongst Islamists,  and the connection between anti-semitism  and anti-Zionism. Bringing in radical Islam was unacceptable for some at Arte, because they consider that this would feed hatred of Muslims. (Europe 24)

“”Ce qui gêne je pense, c’est que le réalisateur tente de montrer un lien entre l’antisémitisme d’antan et l’antisémitisme islamiste plus récent, et il fait aussi le lien entre l’antisémitisme et l’antisionisme”, ce qui n’est pas acceptable pour une partie des gens d’Arte, car ils considèrent que cela alimente la haine des Musulmans, explique la journaliste.

The controversy already has its own – German language – Wikipedia page: Auserwählt und ausgegrenzt – Der Hass auf Juden in Europa

Arte defends decision on European anti-Semitism documentary

The Franco-German TV channel’s director has denied charges of censorship and anti-Semitism lobbied at the broadcaster. His defence also hinted at tensions between German broadcasters.

Arte Program Director Alain le Diberder  on Thursday defended his broadcaster’s decision to pull the documentary entitled “Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe” from its planned Arte airtime because the film did not meet approved project requirements.

He laid out the reasons for Arte’s cancellation in a letter to Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who had previously criticised the broadcaster’s decision in his own letter to Arte and German public broadcasters WDR and ZDF. Schuster had asked the Arte to reconsider the decision, saying he could not understand why formalistic considerations would derail a broadcast of the documentary.

In his response to Schuster, Diberder said he was deeply affected by accusations of censorship, although he could understand why the Jewish leader was perplexed by the decision. The Arte head reiterated that “honourable and good reasons” had formed the basis of the channel’s decision to pull the plug on the documentary’s broadcast.

RT continues,

RTE, a Franco-German public TV station, has been accused of censorship over its decision to remove a 90-minute documentary titled ‘Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe’ from its planned broadcasting schedule, saying the film lacks “balance.”

ARTE’s program director, Alain Le Diberder, said in a press statement that the film’s producers, Joachim Schroeder and Sophie Hafner, failed to make a documentary about anti-Semitism in Europe because they used too much footage from Israel and too little from European countries.

Schroeder told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday that “it is impossible to make a film [in Europe] today about anti-Semitism that shows a pro-Jewish perspective.”

Michaela Engelmeier, a Social Democratic deputy in the German parliament (Bundestag), said in a written statement to the Times of Israel that “a documentary that aims to present the problem of anti-Semitism in a reflected manner has to consider the relationship between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel. In order to do so it is necessary to refer to the situation in the Middle East.”

She said the public tax-funded German TV networks ARTE and its sister outlet in Germany, WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), “increasingly promote anti-Israeli narratives, while at the same time refusing to show a documentary on anti-Semitism that has been hailed by experts.” Volker Beck, a German Green Party lawmaker and president of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group of the Bundestag, said the decision not to show the documentary “is even more disturbing when considering that ARTE and WDR have shown programs which could be seen as criticizing Israel one-sidedly.”

Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of German Jews, urged Le Diberder, who previously rejected the film because it lacked “balance,”  to reconsider the decision, noting that the film is “highly relevant.”

Schuster’s request fell on deaf ears, however, with Le Diberder saying that ARTE has “like almost no other outlet in Europe, committed itself to education about the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” and that “the decision-making process was so as to ensure editorial quality and responsibility.

Diberder went on to stress in a statement to Deutsche Welle that ARTE had “good reasons” for its decision not to air the film. He said the documentary was a WDR production, approved by ARTE back in 2015. It was designed to focus on rising anti-Semitism across Europe, namely in Norway, Sweden, the UK, Hungary and Greece. But in late 2016, ARTE realized that the film “did not correspond to the proposal which had been submitted: it concentrates primarily on the Middle East and does not address the five designated countries in any way.”

This explanation did not satisfy Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the Munich Jewish community and a Holocaust survivor, who said that ARTE is on a “dangerous path.

German dailies Focus and and Der Tagesspiegel asked whether it was a case of censorship.

In the letter to the Franco-German public broadcaster, seen by the Jerusalem Post, Knobloch described the documentary as an “honest” presentation of anti-Semitism in Europe, saying that ARTE owes it to its viewers, who pay a fee for public programs, to show ‘Chosen and Excluded’ because it fulfills the outlet’s educational mission to “fight anti-Semitism.”

Historian Michael Wolffsohn told German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week that the feature is “the by far best, smartest and historically deepest documentary on this topic, while at the same time being very much up to date and true.”

The Jewish Chronicle:

Alain le Diberder, Arte’s director, said that “honourable and good reasons” had informed the network’s decision not to broadcast the documentary. He claimed the network had taken a “necessary procedural decision taken to ensure editorial responsibility and quality,”

According to the network, the documentary had been commissioned to focus on antisemitism in five countries – Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Greece. Arte claimed the documentary “concentrates primarily on the Middle East and does not address the five designated countries in any way.”

However, the documentary did look at antisemitism in Belgium, France and Germany.

It included an interview with François Pupponi, the Socialist mayor of Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris which has been a flashpoint for antisemitic incidents.

Mr Pupponi said that “French Jews think they have no future in France, that they have to leave the country to live in security and peace.”

He also said that hatred of Israel, encouraged by Pro-Palestinian groups, had led to some of the problems.

“For a certain number of young people ‘Jew’ and ‘Israel’ are one and the same so if you’re against Israel, you’re also against synagogues,” he said.

Here is the film:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2017 at 12:49 pm

George Galloway Fails to Turn up to Election Count as he’s crushed in Manchester Gorton.

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“I used to be George Galloway”. 

The victory of Sandy Martin and the defeat of ‘Mr Ipswich’ and a key author of the Conservative Manifesto (Headline in Le Monde, “Défait de ‘l’homme de l’ombre de Theresa May) , Ben Gummer in the Suffolk County Town, has meant that  we are only just now catching up with the results elsewhere.

Our old friend George Galloway is down in the dumps – 5,7% of the vote.

Labour kept hold of Manchester Gorton following the death of veteran MP Sir Gerald Kaufman after the by-election was overtaken by Theresa May’s snap election.

Afzal Khan romped home to victory with a majority of 31,730 – comfortably defeating a challenge by George Galloway.

The seat had been up for grabs before the General Election following the death of Sir Gerald, the party’s longest serving MP secured 67pc of the vote and a 24,079-strong majority in 2015.

Former Labour MP and Respect Party leader George Galloway had tried to win back his Westminster pass by standing as an independent in Gorton this time around.

Despite a flurry of hype when he announced his candidacy, he failed to turn up on the night. Labour activists shouted ‘where’s George?’ as the candidates took the stage for the result.

Mr Galloway came third.

Instead the seat went to former police constable, solicitor and Manchester councillor Mr Khan elected as an MEP for the north west in 2014, romped home to victory with 35,085 votes – on a turnout of 61pc.

Manchester Evening News.

The detailed result should be available (but is not yet when I checked) on the BBC site here. Manchester Gorton. Parliamentary constituency

Update: Galloway 5.7% , 2,615.

2,615 _vote_share

There is also this, (Yorkshire Post)

Labour MP Naz Shah increased her vote by just under 10,000 votes after a bruising campaign in Bradford West she said was worse than the one she fought against George Galloway two years ago.

Ms Shah polled 2,944 votes compared with 19,977 in 2015 in one of the largest increased majorities seen so far in this election.

Ms Shah told The Yorkshire Post: “The level of misogyny I received in this election was incredible, I didn’t think there was anything that could have topped Galloway. “But here we are. “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. “The people of Bradford West were very clear about what they wanted to see. They chose hope over division. “Bradford West is one of the poorest constituencies in the country, that is not the sign of a prosperous nation.

George Grant, Conservative candidate, came second to Ms Shah and ahead of the independent candidate Salma Yaqoob who polled 6,345. Mr Grant said he was proud of the clean campaign he had ran but said the “personality-based” campaign had been as bad as 2015.

He also declined to criticise Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election.
“The time frame of the snap election meant we had very limited resources and very little time to build a team. And not having a network of local councillors on the ground makes for a tough time. But we have had a positive impact and pushed the Respect candidate into third place.”

The seat of Bradford West has been one of the most hotly-contested and controversial in modern political history. A solid Labour seat from the early 1980s, it was the location of the so-called ‘Bradford Spring’, in which Respect candidate and former Labour MP Galloway won an unexpected by-election in 2012 caused by the resignation of former Labour MP Marsha Singh.

Mr Galloway’s party went on to gain seats on the council, including that of Labour leader Ian Greenwood. However infighting among Respect candidates quickly set in and Mr Galloway was defeated in 2015 when Ms Shah won just shy of 50 per cent of the vote in a contest that was mired in acrimony. Mr Galloway made accusations regarding Ms Shah’s forced marriage in which she disputed her version of events. He also found himself in hot water for tweeting the results of an early exit poll, prohibited under the Representation of the People Act.
Despite the crushing defeat inflicted upon him by Ms Shah which saw him lose 34.7 per cent of the vote, he indicated his willingness to contest the result. However he would fail to file the relevant papers within the three-week window required of candidates to contest results.

Naz Shah (Labour) 29,744

George Grant (Conservatives) 7,542 

Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem) 712

Celia Hickson (Green Party) 481

Muhammad Hijazi (Independent) 54

Derrick Hodgson (UKIP) 885 

Khadim Hussain (independent) 65

Salma Yaqoob (independent) 6345

Written by Andrew Coates

June 9, 2017 at 4:38 pm

On the Fundamentally Flawed Stop the War Coalition Statement on the London Attacks.

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StWC: Deeply Flawed Response to London Atrocities. 

The events on Saturday have left millions deeply saddened.

It is to be welcomed that the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has responded to the murders with a serious  statement.

Nevertheless, it is deeply flawed. 

Enough is enough: the government must change course.

The Stop the War Coalition is unequivocal in its condemnation of the latest terror attack in London which has left 7 innocent people dead and many more injured. We extend our sympathy to the relatives of the dead and injured.

For those that committed this crime killing was a means to an end. Like the Manchester attack which preceded it, these murders aimed at disrupting the election, at inflaming racial and religious divisions, and at provoking the government into repressive measures. Theresa May and her ministers show every sign of doing exactly what the terrorists hope they will do.

There is a cycle of violence here in which the role of successive governments is a central part. To destroy Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria by military intervention and not expect that these ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers and provoke violent responses was always a policy blindness bordering on the perverse. And of course, UK military forces remain deployed in all these countries to this very day.

Nor will repression based on religious or racial profiling work. The Prevent programme has not prevented terrorism. Internment in Guantanamo did not work. France has continued to suffer racist attacks despite a State of Emergency that has lasted from 2015 to the present and has seen protests banned and tens of thousands arrested.

We urgently need a serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism, not knee-jerk, populist rhetoric.

What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad; an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology; an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

This, and only this, will begin to drain the swamp in which the terrorists thrive. Anything else perpetuates a mutually reinforcing cycle of violence.

The difficulties with this statement centre on  the sentence that as a result of Western interventions,  ” ruined and abandoned societies would spawn killers “. The West is to be blame for having sown dragon’s teeth. The dragon is fearful, but its the sowers who are the ones responsible.

But who are the people who aim at inflaming racial and religious hatred and disrupting the election?

Not a word.

Islamic State.

 A genuine debate on these issues has to begin with this: who are the Islamic State and what are their aims?

Daesh, ISIS, the group which has claimed that its supporters carried out the killings is a Salafist jihadi group, as Gilles Kepel has called them (for a discussion of Kepel’s. Le Prophète et Pharaon 1984. and  La Fracture 2016 see here) That is, they are rigorist pietist Islamists who, in distinction to some ‘quietist’ (inward looking) Salafists  are engaged directly in violence to impose Sharia law, an Islamic society, fitted out with a totalitarian state, to impose their views. Daesh is also highly sectarian, in the original religious sense. They are marked not just by their hatred of non-Sunni Muslims but for all Sunnis who do not accept their particular ‘line’ of Quranic literalist  interpretation.

Daesh is only the most notorious Salafist Jihadist organisation. If it is, at present, within a broader mouvance, the leading group, there have been many predecessors and their continue to exist competitors. Amongst the best known early example of Salfist jihadis were the Groupe Islamique Armé  (GIA) which slaughtered  thousands during the 1990s Algerian civil war – a conflict that does not fit at all into the “Western intervention causes Terrorism” pattern. Think about it. Just ask this question: what Western military presence was there during a conflict that cost several hundred thousand lives?

At present part of the GIA forms Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the first part of whose name, Al-Qaeda leads us to a group which needs no further introduction.

The rise of Jihadi Salafism is not doubt the result of complex conditions. But once formed it has a concrete existence. Its development can outlined, from “Micro-powers” centred around ultra-pious Mosques, attempts to create ‘zones’ where Sharia law becomes part of everyday life, to efforts to capture state authority and the means of repression that guarantee religious ‘law’ and function in the total absence of any form of democracy.

At present the most visible  material form of this Salafist Jihadist  ideology, that is a power, with its military and political presence in Iraq and Syria, is ISIS.

The Islamic State is the proximate cause, the inspirer, if not the commander, of the London bloodbath. Daesh is at present the immediate cause of these attacks.

There are is much more to discuss. Whether, as many people believe, the ground for this totalitarian entity was prepared not just by the civil war in Syria and the US-allied occupation of Iraq, but by the finance of Wahhabist Islamist teaching by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (which formally support Al-Nusra in Syria and not ISIS), is open to discussion.

What is not open to debate it that religion not international politics, still less “imperialism” plays the major part in Daesh’s  strategy and actions.

How should we look at this? One false route is to ignore the role of faith and simply dismiss their ideas as a “perversion” of Islam.

In the Way of Strangers  Encounters with the Islamic State |(2017) Grahame Wood observes,

The notion that religious belief is a minor factor in the rise of the Islamic State is belied by the crushing weight of evidence that religion matters deeply to the vast majority of those who have travelled to fight. Not only does it issue mountains of Fatwas and other pious declarations, but also, Wood demonstrates, the Islamic state cannot be understood without a deep immersion in the ideology of Salafism and a variety of Islamic schools. The “simplest explanation” for their roots is that their founders were “extreme Islamists”. As for effort to dismiss their faith basis, those doing so rarely have any knowledge of the clerics and scholars in its ranks.

“Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theoretic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.”

As the Blog you are reading commented,

As one reads The Way of Strangers happy talk about Islam as a “religion of peace” quickly evaporates. The ‘literalist’ Islam of the Islamic, baked by scriptural authority, state sanctions the most severe forms of Hudud punishment, slavery, infamously including sexual captives, and the regulation of all aspects of personal life fused around loathing of the non-licit and the ‘kuffer’. It is obsessed with, The Way of Strangers continues, the takfir¸ the “sport” of declaring those who disagree with them and claim to be Muslims “apostates” under sentence of death. It has genocidal intentions, already put into practice against Yazidis. Wild dreams of a worldwide apocalypse the Islamic state’s followers, to come in decades not months, round off the picture.

Attacks by ISIS inspired, or organised, individuals and groups did not start in Britain.

In 2014 a man opened fire in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, leaving four people dead. On 30 May, Mehdi Nemmouche, who in 2013 had fought for Islamists in the Syrian Civil War  was arrested at a bus station in Marseilles and admitted to the shooting. This was the first incident of a European jihadist committing an act of terrorism after returning from Syria.

Without continuing this list, marked by the heart-rending terrorist murders that have been inflicted in France, Germany, Belgium, Turkey and elsewhere, the common cause is the existence of the Islamic caliphate, Daesh, in Syria and Iraq (Islamic terrorism in Europe (2014–present)

StWC confuses  one of the conditions for the rise of Daesh, military intervention in the Middle East, with the existence of ISIS, the immediate causal force behind these atrocities.

It does not mention explore in any detail the all-important regional and religious and inter-state  aspect to the war in the Middle East, between Iran and its Shia allies and the Saudi backed forces, a division from Syria all the way to Yemen.

It does not mention the Syrian civil war, with its own internal causes, either out of a deliberate wish to avoid its own failure to oppose resolutely the Assad regime or back the only forces consistently fighting against ISIS, the Kurdish armed militias of the YPG, their Arab allies or their  internationalist brigades.

Many will say that this absence is more than “policy blindness”. It is a sign of moral cowardice.

The Statement does not mention the StWC’s leaders (in the groupuscule Counterfire)  own past reactions to terrorism, notably during the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher to ‘explain’ the murders in terms of a ‘blow back’ against the “West”, nor the vile suggestion by people such as George Galloway, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali and  Seumas Milne, that Charlie Hebdo “had it coming to them”.

Nor does it even begin a “serious and in depth discussion of the causes of terrorism.”

Let us have one.

The Present Terrorist Wave.

France is perhaps the place where such a discussion has taken place.

Gilles Kepel’s Terreur dans l’Hexagone, Genèse du djihad français,, with Antoine Jardi. 2015) just now out in paperback, traces how Jihadi Salafism gained an audience in France.

In a narrative that closely parallels  Kenan Malik‘s writings the authors portray a generational shift from a Muslim community in which secular anti-racism had an audience (in France, La Marche des Beurs 1983), to the present day inflection of Salafism and religious intolerance  in the banlieue. Social conditions in these quarters are perhaps fertile ground for the religious ideologues.

Does this explain the way they have taken shape?

Kepel’s critic, Olivier Roy, by contrast talks of the “Islamisation of radicalism” and the growth of a nihilistic ‘death cult” (Le Djihad et la mort. 2016). Roy considers that the historical sequence, from SOS-racisme, to increased pious observance,  to present day genocidal Islamism ignores a fundamental break in ideology. Salafism is not ‘one’ thing, a continuum from ultra-orthodox to violence. There is a new dimension: the willingness to kill and die.

Roy asks, “why, for the past 20 years, have terrorists regularly chosen to die? “

Roy has written (Guardian April 2017) of this “youth movement”,

My argument is that violent radicalisation is not the consequence of religious radicalisation, even if it often takes the same paths and borrows the same paradigms. Religious fundamentalism exists, of course, and it poses considerable societal problems, because it rejects values based on individual choice and personal freedom. But it does not necessarily lead to political violence.

The objection that radicals are motivated by the “suffering” experienced by Muslims who were formerly colonised, or victims of racism or any other sort of discrimination, US bombardments, drones, Orientalism, and so on, would imply that the revolt is primarily led by victims. But the relationship between radicals and victims is more imaginary than real.

Those who perpetrate attacks in Europe are not inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Libya or Afghanistan. They are not necessarily the poorest, the most humiliated or the least integrated. The fact that 25% of jihadis are converts shows that the link between radicals and their “people” is also a largely imaginary construct.

It is less sure that his conclusion will be accepted, but it ought to be debated,

The systematic association with death is one of the keys to understanding today’s radicalisation: the nihilist dimension is central. What seduces and fascinates is the idea of pure revolt. Violence is not a means. It is an end in itself.

How does the StWC propose to deal with Jihadi Salafism, if Roy is to be believed, a death cult? That is a group prepared to kill the ‘kuffer’ the mecreants not just aimed at (as the StWC mind-readers claim), “provoking the government into repressive measures” but because they wish everybody who does not agree with them to submit or be murdered.

They start by asserting that Guantanamo Bay, the French state of Emergency and the Prevent Programme, have had no success.

This may well be the case.

StWC Proposals.

But what does the StWC offer?

Let us untangle their proposals.

  • What is needed is an end to the failed wars abroad.

Clearly this will not affect the armed forces of ISIS nor its blood-thirsty supporters. There is only way one can begin to defeat them, by physical force against their ‘Caliphate’.WHy not back, if the StWC is so reluctant to back the West, with support for the YPG, the Kurdish armed groups?

  •  an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a major international incubator of terrorist ideology

If arms sales are stopped how will this alter the Saudi’s finance of Wahhabist hatred?

  • an end to racial and religious profiling which so often ends in the demonisation of Muslims.

It is hard to take this seriously.

How is not doing something – I had no idea that “profiling” was the cornerstone of anti-terrorist policing in the first place – going to stop terrorism?

The StWC statement offers a paradigm of radicalisation-attack-repression-radicalisation, the “mutually reinforcing cycle of violence”.

Or to put it more simply: the more you repress a radical group the greater its support and radicalisation.

Perhaps instead of not doing things – that is, not repressing – the StWC might consider that that, regardless of what the State or the government does, they could begin by making allies with secularist forces, like the Kurds cited above, and with liberal secular voices in the countries they express such concern about.

They could also make a far more effective reply to Theresa May’s appeal to ‘British values’ by stating support for universal human rights.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Egypt launches air raids on Libya after Christians killed.

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Nile News TV showing the remains of the bus.
By Ahmed Aboulenein | MINYA, EGYPT
Reuters.

Egyptian fighter jets carried out strikes on Friday directed at camps in Libya which Cairo says have been training militants who killed dozens of Christians earlier in the day.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished.

Egyptian military sources said six strikes took place near Derna in eastern Libya at around sundown, hours after masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29 and wounding 24.

The Egyptian military said the operation was ongoing and had been undertaken once it had been ascertained that the camps had produced the gunmen behind the attack on the Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, on Friday morning.

“The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed,” Sisi said. “We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained.”

He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country.

Egyptian military footage of pilots being briefed and war planes taking off was shown on state television.

East Libyan forces said they participated in the air strikes, which had targeted forces linked to al-Qaeda at a number of sites, and would be followed by a ground operation.

A resident in Derna heard four powerful explosions, and told Reuters that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group.

Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Christians, which followed a series of church bombings claimed by Islamic State in a campaign of violence against the Copts.

Islamic State supporters reposted videos from earlier this year urging violence against the Copts in Egypt.

At a nearby village, thousands later attended a funeral service that turned into an angry protest against the authorities’ failure to protect Christians.

I leave it to ‘anti-imperialists’ to protest against the Egyptian action.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

You are “Death and Nothingness”, Says Mélenchon of Left-wing ally, Pierre Laurent

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 Image result for Jean luc melenchon caricature

Mélenchon :Hero of the Sovereigntist Left who likes to call people ‘cunts’.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has long been known as somebody who likes to call people he does not like ‘connards’ (cunts, I am being precise,  this it not the word ‘cons’ which means prats) and indulge in, not in private  but publicly, in the language that would have him tossed out of a trade union meeting, in France or in the UK and made him a pariah.

Or indeed in  any normal democratic party.

His latest is a mad diatribe which includes  this:  Vous êtes la mort et le néant”, a notamment écrit le chef de la France insoumise à Pierre Laurent. Publié le 18 mai 2017 à 20h24

That is against the well respected leader of the French Communist Party, Pierre Laurent he had  has launched an wild barrage of insults.

Notably, “You are Death and  Nothingness.”

More colloquially, you are Dead and Buried.

 I cannot retain myself from remarking that this Man of Destiny does our French comrades our great disservice.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm