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Les Salafistes and the Horrors of the Islamic State.

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Ce documentaire montre de façon brute et sans voix off l’idéologie, le quotidien et la violence des djihadistes d’Aqmi. Certains lui reprochent son manque de décryptage de l’image.

Image from «Salafistes» Libération.

In France the film, Les Salafistes, has created intense controversy. At one point it seemed as if it might be banned. Now the documentary has been released, with a certificate than denies cinema entry to under-18s. In Saturday’s Guardian Natalie Nougayréde discusses the picture, which includes videos from Daesh (Islamic State – IS, also ISIS) and al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), with interviews with Salafists (rigorist Islamists) and jihadi leaders (Les Salafistes is gruelling viewing – but it can help us understand terror.)

She states, “The most gruelling moment comes when an Isis propaganda films shows a line of captured men walking towards the banks of a river; jihadi militants then shoot them in the head, one by one. The waters of the river start flowing with blood. And we see the pleading, panic-stricken faces of Isis’s victims, filmed close-up just before they are killed.”

Nougayréde considers that Les Salafistes “opens our eyes to a fanatical world”, that we “need to understand that ideology, however twisted and repulsive” Claude Lanzmann – the director the monumental film on the Holocaust, Shoah, she notes, has defended the film and asked for the age limit to be withdrawn. The screen shows better than any book the reality of the most fanatical form of Islamism. Lemine Ould M. Salem et François Margolin, have created a “chef d’oeuvre”. Its formal beauty brings into sharp relief the brutality of the Islamists, and “everyday life under the Sharia in Timbuktu, Mauritania, in Mali, Tunisia (in areas which have been under AQMI occupation or influence), and in Iraq. The age restriction on entry should go.  (Fleur Pellerin, ne privez pas les jeunes du film, Salafistes! Le Monde 29.1.16.)

Lanzmann also argues (which the Guardian columnist does not cite) that Les Salafistes shows that “any hope of change, any improvement, any understanding” with the violent Islamists it portrays, is “futile and illusory”.

In yesterday’s Le Monde (30. 1.16) there is a fuller account of Les Salafistes and the controversies surrounding it, as well as on Made in France a thriller that imagined a jihadist cell preparing an attack on Paris. With a planned release in November, as the Paris slaughters took place, it was withdrawn and now will be available only on VOD (View on Demand).

Timbuktu not les Salafistes.

Saturday’s Le Monde Editorial recommends seeing the 2014 fiction Timbuktu rather than Les Salafistes. The Islamic State has already paraded its murders and tortures before the world. Its “exhibitionnisme de l’horreur” poses a serious challenge to societies that value freedom of expression. In the past crimes against humanity, by Stain, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Pol Pot or Pinochet, were carried out in secret. The Nazis or the Khmer Rouge’s propaganda was designed to hide the reality of genocide; Daesh’s videos are explicit and open,  produced to terrorise their enemies and to rouse the spirits of their supporters. Margolin and Salem’s film does not, the Editorial argues, offer a sufficiently clear critical approach for a non-specialist audience. The victims only speak under the eyes of their butchers. The drama Timbuktu, where ordinary people in the city of that name are shown grappling with the everyday despotism of AQIM occupation – the rigorous application of the Islamists’ version of the Sharia, is a better way of thinking through the phenomenon of Jihadism. Its quiet and subversive message, the simple acts of playing prohibited music and smoking (banned), many would agree, unravels the absurdity and cruelty – the callous stoning of an ‘adulterous’ couple – of Islamism on a human scale.

Le Monde’s account of the controversy (La Terreur passe mal sur grand ecran) also observes that books about the Islamic State have reached a wide audience. They offer a better way, less influenced by the emotions that the cinema screen arouses, to understand Jihadism. It is equally the case that, through the Web, a substantial number of people have already seen the kind of horrific scenes Les Salafistes brings to the big screen.

The Empire of Fear.

Empire of Fear. Inside the Islamic State (2015) by the BBC correspondent Andrew Hosken is one of many accessible studies that have reached a wide audience. It is a thorough account of Daesh’s origins in the Al-Qaeda milieu and how it came to – separate – prominence in the aftermath of the US-led Coalition’s invasion of Iraq. Hosken has an eye for detail, tracing out the careers of key Daesh figures such as Zarqawi and Baghdadi. He challenges for example the widely claim that Islamic State leader Baghadadi and ‘Caliph’ was “radicalised” in a US prison in Southern Iraq in 2004. In fact “hardening evidence” indicates, “Baghdadi may have started his career as a jihadist fighter in Afghanistan and may even have known Zarqawi there.” (Page 126)

The failure of the occupation to establish a viable state in Iraq, the absence – to say the least – of the rule of law, and the importance of Shia mass sectarian killings of Sunnis in the Islamic State’s appearance. The inability of the Iraqi army to confront them, culminating in the fall of Mosul, were conditions for its spreading power, consolidation in the Caliphate, in both Iraq AND Syria, and international appeal.

Empire of Fear is valuable not only as history. Hosken states that by 2014 it was estimated that there were between five to seven million people living under Islamic State rule. “The caliphate has not delivered security, human dignity, happiness and the promise of eventual pace, let alone basic serves, but it has produced piles of corpses and promise to produce piles more.” (Page 200) He states that the “violent Islam-based takfirism” – the practice of declaring opponents ‘apostates’ worthy of death – has taken its methods from former Ba’athist recruits, always ready to slaughter opponents.

The suffering of those under the rule of Daesh is immense. “Men and children have been crucified and beheaded, homosexuals thrown to their deaths from high building and women stoned to death in main squares.” (Page 228) The Lion Cubs of the Khalfia, an army of children, are trained for battle. Even some Salafists initially allied with Daesh – with counterparts in Europe still offering succour to the dreams of returning to the golden days of the prophet, have begun to recoil. Hosken observes “..they have ended up with Baghdadi and his vision of an Islamic state with its systemic rapes, its slaves and concubines, child soldiers, murder, torture and genocide.” (Page 236)

Totalitarian Islamism.

The Islamic States efforts to capture more territory and people will continue with or without Baghadadi. The film title Salafistes reminds us that the Islamic State’s totalitarian Islamism is not isolated. It is connected to a broader collection of groups preaching rigorist – Salafist – Islamism, not all users of extreme violence, still less the public glorification of murder. The creation of all-embracing State disciplinary machines to mould their subjects to Islamic observance is a common objective of political Islam, from the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia to Daesh’s mortal enemies in Iran. The religious cleansing of religious minorities, Yazidis and Middle Eastern Christians continues under a variety of Islamic forces. Yet the degree of oppression and genocide marks the Islamic State out.

The recent Channel Four Documentary The Jihadis Next Door indicated that there is a European audience, however small, for Daesh’s genocidal propaganda. In Britain alone up to 700 people have been attracted enough by Islamic State death videos to go and join their ranks. One can imagine that amongst them some will be capable of watching Les Salfistes in a spirit far from the critical intentions of the film’s directors. It is to be doubted that they would have been reached by the scorn for Islamist rule and the resilience of humanity displayed in Timbuktu.

Hosken concludes, the “group may end up destroying itself or being destroyed by its many enemies. However, whatever happens, its virulent ideology looks likely to survive in a Middle East now riven by sectarian division, injustice, war and authoritarianism,” (Page 257)

The British left, with no government at its command, is not in a position to negotiate in efforts that try to bring “security, justice dignity and peace to a deeply troubled region”. We have little leverage over Bashar Assad’s own despotism in Syria. But we may be able to help Syrian democrats, and those fighting the Islamic State, to give our support to those fighting for dear life for freedom – from the Kurds to Arab and Turkish democrats – by ensuring that there is no quarter given to Daesh’s Salafist allies in Europe and totalitarian Islamists of any kind, independently and against those who see the Syrian Ba’athists as an ultimate rampart against IS.

To defend human rights we need to align with the staunchest adversaries of all forms of oppression, the secularists, the humanists, the democratic left, and, above all, our Kurdish and Arab sisters and brothers who, with great courage, face Daesh every day on the battle field.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 31, 2016 at 2:27 pm

The demonization of the most popular Russian leader (Vladimir Putin) of all time: More Confusionisme. John Wight, Socialist Unity.

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Most Popular Russian Leader of All Time……..

This Blog commented recently that “Political Confusionism” – (from our French comrades’ “Confusionnisme”) is a growing, if marginal, phenomenon on the left.

Larousse defines Confusionnisme as “Fait d’entretenir la confusion dans les esprits et d’empêcher l’analyse objective des faits.”,  That is, “To bring (and keep)  confusion in people’s minds and to prevent an objective analysis of facts.”

From the anti-imperialism of fools to the defence by the co-Chair of the British Young Greens of the reactionary  full-face veil on the spurious grounds that it is being attacked as part of the government’s Prevent strategy we can see how this works.

Emotions, hostility to the ‘West’ and “Empire”, “Islamophobia”  and “racism” are used to confuse people and prevent solidarity with our sisters and brothers fighting nationalist strongmen,  communalist bullies and Islamism.

It is an entirely appropriate extension of the word in English to call “confusionism”  the much more deliberate ideological strategy taken up by those promoting the defenders of Vladimir Putin.

In the comments on an excellent article on Shiraz Socialist about just how reactionary Putin is, and how he has garnered supporters ranging from the European far-right ( Front National, the Hungarian Jobbik, the Bulgarian Attack, the Slovak People’s Party, and various far-right parties in German) to some people on the ‘left’.

Whether they do so for venal reasons (the Front National has benefited from generous Russian loans) or out of conviction, that the Kremlin leader is a bulwark against decadence, or a much needed-counterweight to Western power, is irrelevant.

The facts – that is the record of Putin’s rule – are obscured and confused.

Prominent amongst British confusionists is a certain John Wight, contributor to the Socialist Unity site, run by Andy Newman, unsuccessful Labour candidate (2015) for Chippenham.

Wight, not surprisingly, pops up on Russia Today (RT).

On the 25th of January Wight wrote on RT’s site.

Alexander Litvinenko: Just another pawn in their game

The sight of retired British judge, Sir Robert Owen, shuffling from a dark ante room into an international press conference in London to pronounce that Vladimir Putin ‘probably approved’ the murder of Alexander Litvinenko was pure comedy gold.

It was also a travesty of justice, given the seriousness of the crime and the implications of yet another barrage of anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda it has unleashed across the Western media. Yet further proof that for Western ideologues Russia under Putin’s leadership can never be forgiven for refusing to stay on its knees after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

But as comrade Dagmar  has pointed out (comments), Wight really excelled himself a couple of days later,

The demonization of the most popular Russian leader of all time.

Vladimir Putin is probably the most popular Russian leader there has ever been, polling up around a phenomenal 80% as recently as November 2015 in a study carried out by a team of American researchers. This makes him inarguably the most popular world leader today, though you would think the opposite given the way he’s routinely depicted and demonized in the West.

Paradoxically, the main reason for Putin’s popularity in Russia is the same reason he’s so reviled in the US and Western Europe. It comes down to the simple but salient fact that when it comes to leadership and political nous Vladimir Putin is playing chess while his counterparts in London, Washington, and Paris are playing chequers.

….

The most populous country in Europe is not and never will be a Western colony or semi colony. For people who currently cannot conceive of any relationship with Russia other than as a deadly or defeated foe, the sooner they accept this reality the sooner will stability be restored in places like Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

While Vladimir Putin and his government are not beyond criticism – in fact, far from it – their misdeeds pale in comparison to the record of Western governments in destroying one country after the other in the Middle East, presiding over a global economy that has sown nothing but misery and despair for millions, at home and abroad, leading in the process to the normalization of crisis and chaos.

Their deeds, as the man said, would shame all the devils in hell.

American Herald Tribune.

This on-line journal (not to be confused with the greatly respected International Herald Tribune) publishes plenty of other articles of a confusioniste tendency:

The Zionisation of Kurdistan: An inconvenient truth (Ahmad Moussa. Janaury 22nd). And by the same author(14th of December 2015) The self-proclaimed ‘Islamic’ State’ and the ‘Jewish’ State: What’s the difference for the Palestinians? Both entities demonstrate similarities between them particularly in relation to Palestine; the only difference is the international community’s double standards when it comes to intervention.

A taste for US far-right militia-men is in evidence:The political assassination of LaVoy Finicum? January 28th.

But pride of (recent) place must go to this article:

LGBT Organization endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Becky Akers  22nd January.

Men pretending to be women support a Gorgon pretending to be human for president. Nor does the syzygy end there: group and Gorgon also share a set of initials.

“The nation’s largest LGBT rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign”—or HRC—“announced that it has endorsed Hillary [Rodham] Clinton”—another HRC—“for president,” the Washington Post trilled. For anyone blissfully ignorant of PC acronyms, “LGBT” translates as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender.” What, no pedophiles or enthusiasts of bestiality? Seems a tad hypocritical that perverts who sue us for “discriminating” when we exclude them nonetheless exclude their fellow pervs.

At any rate, “HRC President Chad Griffin” felt he (yeah, I’m guessing here at Chad’s gender du jour) had to explain HRC’s choice of HRC: after all, the latter has wavered in her advocacy of debauchery as much as she has on everything else. Her vacillation is especially egregious when compared with Bernie “Socialist” Sanders’ devotion to deviants—but of course, Bernie can’t win, or so his unprincipled constituency at the HRC assumes.

Wight is no doubt at home amongst his confusioniste confrères

Written by Andrew Coates

January 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm

On The Jihadis Next Door.

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The Jihadis Next Door was not pleasant, but nevertheless, was essential viewing last night.

It featured interviews with Abu Rumaysah, who’s believed to appear in an Isis execution video.

 The former bouncy castle salesman – whose real name is Siddhartha Dhar but is now more commonly known as Jihadi Sid since he fled the UK for Syria and issued a chilling threat against the UK – features in The Jihadis Next Door for Channel 4 .

“My name’s Abu Rumaysah,” he says in the first trailer for the documentary. “One day when Sharia comes, you’ll see this black flag flying everywhere,” he added as he poses next to a black flag.

Mirror.

The Independent reports,

The extraordinary footage of Abu Rumaysah, who fled the UK to join Isis in 2014 having previously been arrested six times, was shot by the film-maker Jamie Roberts for a Channel 4 documentary, The Jihadis Next Door, screened on Tuesday night.

Channel 4 has declined a Metropolitan Police request for a pre-broadcast viewing of the film, in which two other activists already known to the authorities, Mohammed Shamsuddin and Abu Haleema, laugh while watching an Isis murder video and speak of recruiting fellow British Muslims through “brain-washing”.

Abu Rumaysah, real-name Siddhartha Dhar, has not been officially confirmed as the masked figure in the video, released a couple of weeks ago, which shows the murder of five men accused by Isis of spying for the UK.

In the Guardian Sam Wollonstan was struck by the giggling and smirking of the pair,

Haleema and Shamsuddin were and what they believed. But no, they’re watching a brutal Isis video. People are being drowned in a cage. Others have explosive belts wrapped around their necks which are then detonated. “The guy’s foaming at the mouth, wow!” laughs Shamsuddin. “And I’m eating, hahahaha.”

There were some memorable scenes when Pakistani worshipers at a Mosque confronted, with great anger, this bunch protesting at celebrations of their country’s Independence day and when a Muslim man denounced them as ISIS recruiters in Oxford Street.

Amongst the reactions to the programme most have made the point, amply proved, that these are a very small fringe group.

But there are  over 700 people from the UK who have travelled to the Middle East to join the Daesh Einsatzgruppen.

The scale of the mass killings, the slavery, the oppression of people by the Disciplinary Machine of the Islamic State, the cleansing of religious minorities, means that people across the world are justifiably concerned at the activities of their supporters, wherever they may be, and however marginalised they are.

All of these bigoted supporters of mass murder spoke perfect English – so much for plans to make ‘language tests’ part of the  ‘anti-extremist’  Prevent strategy. Indeed the idea of subjecting people to this, apart from the obvious fact that the government has cut funding for English language teaching for adults, is more than patonising: it is setting up a criterion that’s designed to label and exclude a group of people.

For once we agree with the SWP.

Though we have to add this.

There was one word the Islamists in the documentary  used, ‘kufer‘ which though formally meaning ‘unbeliever’ has come to signify something in the same category as ‘nig-nog’ ‘yid’ or ‘wog’. That is, a racist term.

It is surprising that the word is not treated in the same way as plain racialist abuse.

The scenes of merry laughter at videos of torture and slaughter, a lot more than this case of hate-speech, means that The Jihadis Next Door raises some weighty issues.

The principal one is: how can the Daesh supporters be fought?

They are part of a wider, fractured Islamist movement, some of which is as violent as they are, others are ‘conservative’, and pursue their aims without overt coercion. All gravitate around the idea that the ‘law’ of ‘god’ has priority over human law – and therefore human rights and democracy.

It would be better if the left, while rightly criticising the government’s Prevent strategy, had something of its own to offer that defended human rights.

We would suggest that this should start with alliances not with “Muslim” groups with a ‘moderate’ agenda, but with those people who openly stand for freedom and secularism, such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

Internationally we could not do better than backing the Kurdish people in their life and death struggle against Daesh and the repression of the Turkish state.

Just as we should ally with the left and liberals in countries where Islamists pose a real threat to all, we should be working with their generous, courageous and open-minded counterparts here.

As indeed some of us already are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm

UK Apologises to Turkey for Kurdish Protest at Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Visit

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London protest against Turkish PM Davutoglu invited by David Cameron

UK apologizes to PM Davutoğlu over pro-PKK protests in London: Anadolu Agency

Reports the Turkish English language site The Daily News.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported that U.K. authorities apologized to visiting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for protests staged in London while he was holding an official meeting with his British counterpart, David Cameron, on Jan. 18.

Sajid Javid, the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, visited Davutoğlu at the hotel where he was staying during his two-day visit to London to apologize about the protests, Anadolu Agency quoted anonymous prime ministerial sources as saying.

A group of supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had chanted slogans in favor of the group in front of Downing Street while Davutoğlu and Cameron were holding scheduled talks.

Anadolu Agency claimed that Javid said the protests were “unacceptable” and the U.K. would take “all necessary measures” to prevent such a situation from taking place again.

The Turkish authorities had earlier informed their British counterparts that not enough security measures were taken during the meeting.

Turkey, the European Union, and the United States officially consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reported that Javid said Davutoğlu’s visit, together with a large retinue of businessmen, would contribute to a deepening of cooperation between the two countries on the subjects of innovation, research and trade.

Fracas (from Here)

The Kurdish Question has a different report.

Hundreds of Kurds gathered outside 10 Downing Street under heavy police presence today to protest at the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to London.

People began convening in front of the UK Prime Minister’s offices in the afternoon to protest the Turkish state’s recent atrocities against Kurdish civilians, which has left over 200 people dead, and whole neighbourhoods in ruins.

Protestors shouted, “Terrorist Turkish state,” “War criminal Davutoglu,” and “Shame on you Cameron.” Placards and banners at the demonstration read, “Murderer Davutoglu,” “Davutoglu=War Criminal ISIS Supporter,” and “Stop The Genocide.”

According to Turkish media Davutoglu met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss strengthening business ties between the two states and Turkey’s accession to the EU.

As Davutoglu’s convoy appeared at the gates of 10 Downing St many protestors broke the police cordon to vent their anger at the Turkish Prime Minister. Five demonstrators including our columnist Kurdish activist Mark Campbell were arrested in the ensuing fracas.

Demonstrators were very critical of the police’s approach from the beginning of the demonstration, as officers used heavy-handed tactics against protestors, physically abusing many people.

The five people, including two minors, who were arrested were taken to Charing Cross police station. One of the protestors has been released on bail while the others are still being held.

More pictures:at Demotix.

Update:  MARK CAMPBELL AND OTHER PROTESTORS RELEASED ON BAIL

demotix logo

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Protests at Crimes Against the Kurds as Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu Visits London.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CY_1ZkIWkAAri3k.jpg

PM Davutoğlu flies off to London to promote Turkey’s huge investment potential.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu started his one-week “investment tour” on Sunday which will include visits to London, Davos and Berlin. The first visit will be to London, where Davutoğlu will meet with 350 leading investors, who collectively manage around $10 trillion. Davutoğlu will give the opening speech at the 16th Turkish Investment Conference organized by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a leading investment bank, and will address various business circles as well as invite international investors to Turkey, at various events organized by Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs and the Foreign Economic Affairs Board. He will inform the investors regarding Turkey’s legislative reforms as well as Turkey’s plans for accession to the European Union and will give out the message that Turkey is worthy of investment and has an economic atmosphere which minimizes risks. Davutoğlu will announce the Middle-Term Economic Program and will explain Turkey’s road map until 2018 to investors. Davutoğlu will also attend a lunch with CEOs and other executive managers of 18 of the most crucial global investment funds at Goldman Sach’s European Headquarters. During the round-table meeting scheduled for Chatham House in London, Davutoğlu will be providing insight and express his views regarding regional and international events and developments.

Daily Sabah.

The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is in London to meet UK PM David Cameron. The visit comes at a time when the Turkish state is killing innocent Kurdish civilians, imprisoning dozens of journalists, politicians, human rights activists and academics.

We condemn the Conservative government’s collusion with the Turkish state and its silence in the face of Kurdish massacre.

• We demand that the UK government criticise and pressure Turkey to stop its human rights abuses against Kurds.
• We demand that the UK government impose sanctions on Turkey.
• We ask that you write to your local MP about this issue and pressure them to bring it up in Parliament.
• We request that you boycott Turkish tourism and products.

Support us in our struggle for the recognition, right to self-determination and freedom of Kurds!

Support us in our struggle for a democratic, secular and gender-equal society!

Support us in our struggle for a peaceful and political solution to the Kurdish question!

Protest at 14.30 today Downing Street.

Facebook.

 

Kurdish Question

Support for academics who demanded that the Turkish state stop its atrocities against the Kurdish people with the declaration, ‘We will not be a party to this crime,” is growing.

RELATED: More Than 1000 Academics Call For Peace Talks To Resume Between Turkey And PKK

565 academics, as of date, across UK universities and higher education institutions have signed an open letter supporting Turkish and non-Turkish academics who released the initial declaration calling for the Turkish state to stop violence against Kurds and resume peace talks.

The open letter, undersigned by 565 academics, to the Turkish government is below:

Open Letter of support for academics being victimised in Turkey

As scholars associated with universities and higher education institutions in the UK and internationally, we are extremely disturbed by Turkey’s recent treatment of academics that have spoken out against atrocities being committed by the Turkish state against Kurds.

1,128 Turkish and Kurdish ‘Academics for Peace’ originally signed the statement “We will not be a party to this crime”, calling on the Turkish government to cease hostilities against its Kurdish population. Since the publication of this statement, these academics have been subject to a sustained campaign of abuse and violence from both the Turkish state and its supporters.

In recent speeches, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly denounced these academics. Subsequently, prosecutors have begun proceedings to charge all 1,128 of the original signatories with “propagandising for a terrorist organization” and “overtly insulting the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Government of Republic of Turkey and the judicial organs of the state”.

This has resulted in 22 academics having been taken into custody (at the time of writing).  If convicted of these charges they could face 1-5 years imprisonment. The legitimacy of arrests has already been questioned by prominent legal experts and described as “extra-legal” decisions. Signatories have also been publicly exposed in the press and social media by government supporters and nationalists, leading to fears of reprisals from fascists that have declared they will ‘spill the blood’ of the signatories. Many of the signatories also face disciplinary proceedings and possible sackings from their institutions.

These unjust acts are unfolding in a context of continuing state violence against Kurds- in December 2015 alone 100 Kurds were killed as a result of military operations conducted by the Turkish state. Since August 2015 there have been 52 open-ended and round-the-clock curfews imposed on over one million inhabitants in south east Turkey.  In such a context, the clamp down on academic freedom constitutes another moment in the deepening authoritarianism of the Turkish state. This includes not attacks on not only academics but also the continuing imprisonment and deaths of journalists, lawyers and activists.

We call on the Turkish government to withdraw its prosecutions, immediately release all those imprisoned and commit to the principles of academic freedom and free speech. We moreover reaffirm the Academics for Peace call on the Turkish government to cease their hostilities against Kurds.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Germans and refugees protest against sexism and racism after Cologne attacks

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Köln Demonstration Syrer gegen Sexismus

Germans and refugees protest against sexism and racism in wake of Cologne attacks

Germans, Syrians and others have protested in Cologne against the sexual assaults of New Year’s Eve. As the backlash against refugees grows, some people with migrant backgrounds feel they’re becoming public enemies.

Reports Deutsche Welle. 

Beneath a grey January sky, a handful of men gathered in front of the towering Cologne Cathedral carrying placards and waving German and Syrian flags. Then, as curious bystanders began to trickle over, the men unfurled a banner with a message scrawled in black and green.

“We’re refugees from Syria,” it read in German. “We’re against racism, sexism and war.”

It marked the beginning of the first of two demonstrations on Saturday meant to counter the increasingly negative image of refugees in the wake of the events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

Since that night, in which more than 500 women reported being sexually harassed in front of the main train station by a mob of men, most of them from migrant backgrounds, male refugees from the Middle East feel they’re suddenly the enemy in a country that only a short while ago had celebrated their arrival.

Jabbar Abdullah, a 28-year-old Syrian who organized the first, smaller demonstration, said he wanted to convey to the public that there was a distinction between the men who committed those crimes and ordinary refugees.

Slavoj Žižek wrote some words of sense at the end of last year (In these Times. November).

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humour, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

These comments are easy to extend.

It is the case, as everybody knows, that vicious sexual harassment is a particular problem in many Muslim cultures, in the Middle East and North Africa.

In liberal and tolerant Tunisia the issue has become extremely important. In June last year this (amongst scores of articles) appeared: SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS MAKING LIFE HELL FOR WOMEN IN TUNISIA By Hana Rekik.

One would have wished for  Žižek to show some awareness of this.

Unfortunately he  has reverted to form and this week has written appalling drivel on the topic in the New Statesman.

I will not dignify him by directly citing it.

Those who want to read it it’s here:  The Cologne attacks were an obscene version of carnival.

I would also like to state  that in relation to the controversy about the Charlie Hebdo cartoon that those who have used this drawing for their own ends, to spread hatred of French leftist secularists are also beneath contempt.

This Cologne demonstration is dignified and moving.

There have been many other reactions to the sexual assaults.

It pains me to say this but amongst them the Riss cartoon in Charlie Hebdo is not worth the paper it’s written on.

The hysterical anti-Charlie people who jumped like fleas on the drawing – some claiming that it shows proof that ‘Israel’ was reaping a reward for donating to the Weekly – are beneath contempt.

Some have tried to explain the meaning of the picture:

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The fact remains that Riss is neither funny -nor exactly cutting against the grain.

The Tendance backs Charlie Hebdo to the hilt – not every cartoon in it.

This gives some reasons why the Tendance does not defend Riss’s dessein, and yes, I do get the ‘culture’.

The drawing did not especially disturb me. Nor did it make me laugh. It only brought to mind the spirit of Hara-Kiri [CH’s anarchic 1960s forerunner], the spirit of its Choron-Cavanna-Reiser era, indiscriminately going after everything that moves — the cops AND the protestors, the generals AND the pacifists, the idiots, the government bureaucrats, the fascists, the academics. And so, why not, the migrants too, without giving all that much thought to whether we’re talking about the migrants themselves, or the migrants as les fachos depict them. Throw it all in, it’s all good for ink.

An Open Letter to Riss, Care of The Internet (by Daniel Schneidermann)

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2016 at 11:43 am

Political Confusion in Europe, from the anti-imperialism of fools to racism.

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Berlin last Weekend: Socialist ‘martyrs’ Qaddafi next to Allende.

Our French comrades have a word for it, “confusionnisme” (see this site for more information).

That is the tendency of some to blur the distinction between left and right, mixing the worst of both.

The ‘anti-imperialism of fools’ is one axis, conspiracy theories another, and ‘sovereigntism’, anti-European Union calls for national ‘sovereignty’ another.

The former areas have been well covered on many blogs – or, for the fools just look at the above picture.

It’s the latter that comes up today.

Jacques Sapir, an eminent French economist (really, this is not a joke*), who in 2008 publicly backed the Front de Gauche (to the left of the Socialist Party) , has now passed so far to the extreme right – notably through his opposition to the EU, and the Euro, that his material has just appeared on the front page of one of the vilest racist publications in Europe, Eléments (Nouvelle Droite).

This is their latest issue:

*Since 1996, he has been the director of studies at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, and head of the Centre d’Étude des Modes d’Industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS.

More on how the Front National is courting him, “L’économiste Jacques Sapir, ex-soutien de Mélenchon, courtisé par le FN. ” 11.1.16.

L’économiste Jacques Sapir, ancien soutien de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, susciterait les convoitises du Front national, selon un indiscret publié ce lundi dans Le Parisien.

D’après le titre, il a participé au mois de novembre à un colloque sur l’euro organisé par les élus du groupe européen du parti d’extrême droite. La réunion était organisée par Bruno Lemaire, le secrétaire général du club Idées Nation, un cercle de réflexion créé par Louis Aliot et proche du Front national.”

The economist Jacques Sapir, a former backer of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is said to aroused the interest of the Front National according to a leaked note published this Monday in Le Parisien.

In this context he took part, in November, in a colloquium on the Euro held by the MEP’s of the Extreme Right Party. The meeting was organised by Bruno Lemaire, the Secretary of the Club  Idées Nation, a discussion group created by Louis Aliot, and close to the Front National.

Confusionnisme.info

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2016 at 11:57 am