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Criticising the burqa means lining up with racists – says SWP.

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Defiant woman rips off her black burqa after ISIS were driven away. (Raqqa October. 2017)

The fall out from Boris Johnson’s comments on the Burka continues.

Nobody doubts that they have given the wink to the far-right and legitimised prejudiced diatribes against ‘Muslims’.

But there is also a pro-body veil reaction from some quarters.

Liberal people who (as a Facebook friend in the US remarks) are up in arms about the world imagined in The Handmaid’s Tale. But often the same individuals give weight to the idea that the religious obligations inflicted on women by this interpretation of Islam, are a choice to be celebrated.

There is talk – I thought it remained safely relegated to distant memories of courses on ‘theory’ – about the way it may free the female shape from the ‘male gaze’.

As if Islamic Law is about anything other than the behaviour of the believers in the sight of god enforced through violence if need be.

Not surprisingly the British SWP, with its long history of complicity with Islamism, has bent to this wind.

They are not trying to shout down criticisms of the burqa by linking them to the far-right.

Why criticising the burqa means lining up with racists

Boris Johnson’s attack on the burqa has left some liberals with a problem.

The article begins with this bold assertion:

“when supposed progressives criticise the burqa, it gives more credibility to the more overt Islamophobes.”

It then jumps to this statement,

Some liberals see the burqa as a reflection of sexist ideas.

They assume that women are pushed to cover themselves because female flesh has been deemed dirty or too exciting to men.

Of course there will be some Muslims who think this. But the idea is hardly Islamic—it’s deeply rooted in Western capitalist societies.

So that’s all right then.

Or not.

Think of rape trials where women are told they were “asking for it” because of what they wore. Or the Canadian cop who said that women should “avoid dressing like sluts” to escape sexual assault.

The SWP claims that

Many liberals, and right wingers, claim they want to “liberate” oppressed Muslim women who they assume have been forced to cover up.

Are they alone.

Apparently not:

We should oppose women being forced to wear coverings. And we should stand with the women in Iran who have defied the state and removed their hijabs in public, imprisoned as a result.

This is what the SWP said about these protests (4th of June):

Women are resisting the compulsory wearing of the headscarf—which is another very good thing happening at the same time.

Even women who want to wear it are saying it should be the right of women to choose.

As the left we have to support the women fighting back, and not leave the issue to the pro-imperialist right.

The problem is that the issue grabs attention in the West because it resonates with the Islamophobic representations of Iran.

The issue is being hijacked by Islamophobia by some in the media in the West.

End of story for the SWP until this week.

But its not Islam that’s at fault

But it isn’t true that Islam forces women to cover themselves. Like other religions, Islam suggests that men and women dress “modestly”. What this means is open to interpretation, which is why different Muslim women choose to wear different coverings, or none at all.

Women often say they choose to wear coverings to feel closer to Allah. It’s patronising to assume that every women who wears a hijab, niqab or burka has been told to do so by a man.

So they do it for Allah.

If religion is not a problem what is?

This also treats the main source of oppression facing Muslim women as Muslim men. In fact, the main oppressor of Muslim women is the state.

The state is of course the principal form of oppression for ‘women’: no doubt the ‘state’ has a special function in oppressing women……

Apart from wishing away decades of feminist debate about patriarchy, the family, and the old saying that the “personal is political’,

The confusion reaches its apex in confusing state legislation about the full body veil, ‘forcing’ women to give up the ” veils, headscarves or burqas  with the idea that criticising the burka is to “line up with racists”.

Socialists should defend a woman’s right to choose what she wears. That includes the right to wear a burqa—and the right not to wear one.

Forcing Muslim women to give up wearing veils, headscarves or burqas isn’t liberating, just as encouraging women to wear skimpy clothes isn’t. Instead it’s just another form of judging women on their appearance and dress, and taking control and choice away from them.

Is siding with the legislation, in say France, when it was backed by all the political parties at the time, the same as being on the same side as the ‘far right’?

Is ‘forcing’ people to not wear the oppressive full-body veil the same as “criticism”?

This argument gets nowhere.

Rather than point out that the SEP feels no compunction about lining up with the far-right over Brexit the issue at hand should be taken seriously.

This is a ‘liberal’ view  of a Muslim woman the SWP and others are trying to  shut up.

Boris Has Made it Almost Impossible for Muslims to Critique Veiling.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

In my view, scarves, cloaks and masks symbolise the negation of the female form, female inferiority and menace, and most troublingly, a wilful distancing from other humans in the public space.

One of Britain’s foremost scholars Ziauddin Sardar, has this to say on the controversial subject: “In a total perversion of Qur’anic advice, dressing modestly has been interpreted as dressing like a nun, covered from head to foot, showing only a woman’s face (in some circles only the eyes), wrists and feet.”

Females thus accept the burden of modesty while men do not, though both have this obligation. Millions of Muslim women do not submit to these pressures. One of them, a senior TV producer unloaded her frustrations in an email: “We came here to get away from these oppressive expectations. Britain offered hope, a place where you were protected by the law, could be educated, go out, be free. “You could make your own decisions, strive to be equal to men.

Now this freedom is crumbling away because of a few shouty, veiled women. Our voice remains unheard.”

She is right. Vast numbers of white Britons give us their support when most we need it. They did this week. We Muslims need to give a little too – abandon regressive customs and integrate for the greater good and our survival. With the hard right marching again across Europe, Muslims face an existential threat. This is no time for cultural and religious obstinacy.

These are her views (2015) in more depth:  As a Muslim woman, I see the veil as a rejection of progressive values.

They are much more materialist and historically rooted than airy abstractions about the ‘state’.

Muslim feminists of the past critiqued and repudiated the veil. One of them was a man, Qasim Amin, an Egyptian judge and philosopher, who in 1899 wrote The Liberation of Women.He was the John Stuart Mill of the Arab world. Huda Shaarawi set up the Egyptian women’s union in the early 1920s. One day in 1923, as she disembarked from a train in Cairo, she threw off her veil and claimed her right to be visible. Educated Iranian women started feminist magazines and campaigned against the veil around the same time. These pioneers have been written out of history or are dismissed as western stooges by some contemporary Muslim intellectuals.

After the transformative 60s, Muslim feminists resumed the fight for equality. European rule was over. It was time. The Moroccan academic Fatema Mernissi, Egypt’s Nawal El Saadawi and the Pakistani scholar Riffat Hassan all argued for female emancipation. They rightly saw the veil as a a tool and symbol of oppression and subservience. Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil ( 1975) is a classic text. So too El Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve (1975). But more conservative Islamic tenets have taken over lands, communities, families, heads and hearts.

The promise of this version is a return to certainties and “purity” of belief, a mission backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Deobandi revivalists, funded by Arab money, now run more mosques in Britain than any other Muslim subgroup. Women are told not to travel without male relatives, not to work, to be subservient, to veil. This movement began as a reaction against the Indian raj and mutated into a fundamentalist creed. Today their pushback against “cultural imperialism” appeals to many alienated young Muslims. And, in part, it explains the growing popularity of the hijab, jilbab and full veil .

But in the Qur’an, the veil is mostly used metaphorically to describe barriers between good and bad, believers and nonbelievers. In two verses, women are told to lower their gaze, and to cover their private parts and bosoms. Men are also instructed to lower their gaze, and to dress modestly. One verse commands the women in the prophet’s family to fully veil, partly to protect them from enemies and supplicants.

Sahar Amer, associate professor at the University of North Carolina, has studied these sacred injunctions: “[Nowhere] is the hijab used to describe, let alone prescribe, the necessity for Muslim women to wear a headscarf or any other pieces of clothing often seen covering women in Islamic countries today. Even after reading those passages dealing with the female dress code, one continues to wonder what exactly the hijab is: is it a simple scarf? A purdah? A chador? Or something else? Which parts of the body exactly is it supposed to cover? Just the hair? The hair and neck? The arms? Hands? Feet? Face? Eyes?”

 

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times

 

Veils, in truth, predate Islam. Zoroastrian and Byzantine upper-class ladies wore them to keep aloof from the hoi polloi. When Islam’s armies first reached Persia, they were shocked at this snobbery; then they adopted the custom they loathed; the control of women was hard-wired into their psyches.

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times. Women have to be sequestered or contained lest they raise male lust and cause public disorder. Some young Muslim women argue that veils liberate them from a modern culture that objectifies and sexualises females. That argument is appealing; but if credible, why would so many hijabis dress in tight jeans and clinging tops, and why would so many Muslim women flock to have liposuction or breast enhancements?

It is complicated: veils for me represent both religious arrogance and subjugation; they both desexualise and fervidly sexualise. Women are primarily seen as sexual creatures whose hair and bodies incite desire and disorder in the public space. The claim that veils protect women from lasciviousness and disrespect carries an element of self-deception. I have been at graduation ceremonies where shrouded female students have refused to shake the hand of the chancellor. Veiled women have provoked confrontations over their right to wear veils, in courts, at schools and in colleges and workplaces. But I regard their victories as a rejection of social compromise.

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Chris Williamson MP Praises Assad Apologist.

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The “Rebel” tent at The Levellers festival: Who on earth would want to attend this event?

Or this:

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Or this?

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Well now we know:

Not surprisingly Williamson has already got some stiff replies:

Vanessa Beeley — the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda

Brian Whitaker. 

One spin-off from the Syrian conflict has been a war of words that reaches far beyond the Middle East. It’s a battle in which honest reporting and the search for truth have come under sustained attack.

Those leading the attack claim they are simply asking questions that need to be asked. It’s healthy scepticism, they say. But it’s a selective kind of scepticism where reports from some sources, primarily mainstream media in the west, are dismissed as untrue — not because evidence shows they are wrong but because they don’t fit the desired narrative.

At the same time, reports that do fit the narrative win praise on social media, regardless of supporting evidence, and people who venture to question them are liable to be assailed with abuse.

A prominent example is the work of Vanessa Beeley, a supporter of the Assad regime whose reports from Syria have turned her into a social media celebrity. The Russian propaganda channel, RT, describes her as “an independent investigative journalist” and, in addition to her Russian TV appearances, she is associate editor of 21st Century Wire, the conspiracy theory website that publishes most of her work.


Beeley (fourth from right) with President Assad in 2016. She described it as her proudest moment.
 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Moroccan feminist activist, Ibtissam Lachgar, arrested for Public Drinking and Disturbing Order.

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Solidarity with Ibtissam Lachgar!

ABAT, Morocco (AP) — A prominent Moroccan feminist activist has been arrested for alleged public drinking and disturbance of order, in what her association called an attempt to quash its campaigning for abortion access and LGBT rights.

An online campaign was launched soon after Ibtissam Lachgar’s arrest Friday in Rabat, demanding her release.

Lachgar’s group Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms, or MALI, said in a statement that “we strongly condemn these arbitrary arrests and intimidation of members of the movement.”

Hours earlier, MALI criticized the Health Ministry in a press release for banning sales of a drug used to induce abortion. The group also created an online platform to provide women with abortion pills.

Women who intentionally attempt or undergo abortion in Morocco face up to two years in prison and a $50 fine.

AP News.

Mouvement Alternatif pour les Libertés Individuelles – Maroc

(from Face Book)

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Betty Ibtissame Lachgar was assaulted in town, and unjustly detained at the police station while she wanted to file a complaint against her attackers ” with knives ‘: change of police stations, interrogations, degrading situation in the jails…

According to Betty’s family and friends, she’s supposed to be out in the morning to get past the da.

If Betty was to be a victim of violence, human rights violations or humiliation during her detention, the Moroccan state will be held in full responsibility by Mali, such violence will be prosecuted.

My house was smiling to thank you for being assaulted in the ancient city of Rabat, and was unjustly detained at the police station while she wanted to file a complaint against her attackers “with knives”: changing police stations, interrogations and humiliating situation at the theoretical guard.

According to Betty’s family and friends, you’re supposed to come out tomorrow morning to go to the d.a.

If Betty is a victim of violence, human rights violations or humiliation during her detention, the Moroccan state will be fully responsible by ” Mali and this violence will be pursued legally.

She has now been released.

There is a ‘debate’ about the MALI  including allegations that they have been “provocative”.

That is, they have organised a campaign about the dramatic position of Moroccan women who wish to have an abortion and have to resort to clandestine methods. The movement is also charged with “muscular” activism having held a picnic in the month of Ramadan, a  ‘kiss in’ to support two adolescents charged with embracing in public, backing gay rights and supporting Femen.

Ibtissam Lachgar alleges that before her arrest she and a friend were threatened by a group of young men for their “libertarian” lifestyle and, in the process of complaining to the local police, she was again menaced and insulted before finding out, later, that charges against her had been made. (Here)

Huffington Post reports on this:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 19, 2018 at 12:12 pm

As ISIS Massacre in Sweida Druze call for “international force” protection as charges of Assad and Russian complicity surface.

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Druze Women Kidnapped by Daesh.

“She thinks reports of the demise of Isis are exaggerated and dangerous. “Every politician wants to be the one to prove he has made real headway against this group. Granted, 97% of the territory it held is now gone. But 3% is still around 1,000 square miles. That’s not a small amount of land. And its caliphate was never just Iraq and Syria. It was this global project. It is growing in Niger, it’s growing in Nigeria, it’s growing in Afghanistan, in Libya. It’s like seeds that have gone to the wind.”

Rukmini Callimachi: the podcasting terror expert getting into the minds of Isis.

Yazidis in Afrin forced to convert to Islam

5th of August. ANF News (Kurdish News Agency)

Occupation forces are forcing the Yazidi people in Basufane village of Afrin to send their children to mosque. Those refusing to do so are subjected to torture.

According to the sources, Yazidi citizens A.S. ve F. S. were tortured by the gangs because they refused to obey this imposition.

According to sources from Kaxira village of Mabata district, Furqat al-Hamzat gangs under the command of Abu Amsha have turned the village school into a center where religious lessons are lectured.

The house of villager Henan Ebdo stated has been turned into a mosque where children are given religious lessons. Another resident’s house has been burned down by the gangs.

Two months ago, the gangs tore down the Afrin Yazidi Union building, detonated the Zarathustra statue and burned the books about the Yazidi faith kept in the building.

After a New Massacre, Charges That ISIS Is Operating With Assad and the Russians

Daily Beast.   

The slaughter in the Druze region of Syria cost hundreds of lives last month. It happened after the Druze told the Russians they wouldn’t fight for Assad.

July 25 in the Syrian province of Sweida a massacre began in the early morning. Ten jihadists from the so-called Islamic State entered Sweida town. They wore the traditional baggy trousers and loose-fitting overgarments of Druze men, but beneath the clothes they had hidden explosive vests. Three detonated in the main vegetable market, then one of them accompanied the many injured to the hospital and set off his explosive charge there. The other six suicide bombers were overcome before they could detonate, according to senior officials in the Druze community.

At the same time, hundreds of ISIS fighters entered three nearby villages, moving house-by-house slitting throats and shooting to death men, women and children. Some reported that the killers left a witness from each family alive to tell their hideous story. In all, 273 Druze were killed and 220 injured, Druze officials told us.

They strongly suspect that the attack by ISIS was carried out in cooperation with the Russian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and this is corroborated to some extent by ISIS prisoners we have interviewed who are being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces here in northern Syria.  The Druse politicians and officials came here to try to forge an alliance with like-minded Kurds for mutual self-protection, which is when they told us the details of the massacre.

The horror of the Sweida massacre in an area most considered safe—and in these last moments when ISIS rule in Syria appears to be all but over—was magnified when the Druze learned that some of their women and children had been taken captive by ISIS cadres. “Most of the Daesh attackers were killed,” a Druze official told us. “The only escapees were those who were kidnapped in the first village: 29 women, teenagers and babies.”

One 19-year-old student already has been beheaded by ISIS, which also quickly posted pictures of their Druze female captives and demanded that the Syrian regime stop attacking them and exchange ISIS prisoners held by the regime for these women and children.

In addition to the sensational pictures of the helpless women holding their hands above their heads in the desert, ISIS sent a video of one of their Druze captives, 35-year-old A Shalguinz, who delivered her baby in the desert.

“Daesh said they will make them sabaya [slaves] if the regime doesn’t’ give 100 prisoners to them and the regime refused,” one of our interlocutors told us.

The article, by respected reporters of the horrors of the Syrian events gives details of why the Druze suspect Syrian state complicity.

“We think there is complicity between Daesh and the regime,” another of the Druze leaders said. “It’s so obvious to us. The regime refused to send ambulances to assist the population. They cut the electricity as well and the local telephone service to make it difficult to communicate. They couldn’t cut the mobiles.”

One of the 10 captured ISIS attackers admits on an interrogation video shared by the Druze leaders that in the village massacres a man from the Syrian government guided them from house to house, knocking on the doors and calling the inhabitants by name so they would unwittingly open their doors to the ISIS attackers.

This is the heartfelt conclusion,

The leaders of Druze mountain tell us that they are now also appealing to the international community to be protected by an international force, as the Kurdish area is protected by the Americans, and to assist them to bring back the kidnapped women to their families.

“To safeguard our community and to protect the diversity in the future of Syria, we need to create a crescent against aggressors,” said one of the politicians. Running from north to south, including parts of Iraq, it would protect the Kurds, the Yazidis, Christians, and Druze. “The minorities are looking to the Coalition as the only credible force in the area,” he said, adding, “The crescent strategically speaking would also cut the Iranians from access to the regime.”

The world must decide whether or not to respond, but the record thus far does not hold out much hope.

Background:

Lebanon’s Druze leader attacks Syrian government over massacre

Reuters 27th of July.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The main leader of the Druze sect in Lebanon on Friday attacked the Syrian government for failing to stop an Islamic State massacre of Druze in Syria, saying it should have noticed the militants gathering to attack.

No one can tell me that the squadrons of many American, Russian and foreign planes did not see this gathering which suddenly took the regime by surprise and raided Jebel al-Arab,” said Walid Jumblatt.

Islamic State’s assault on the city of Sweida and nearby villages in the Jebel al-Arab area on Thursday killed more than 200 people, many of them civilians.

Syrian state media said the army had intervened and battled the militants with both ground forces and air strikes.

Jumblatt, who heads the largest Druze political party in Lebanon, is a strong critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other Druze parties are pro-Damascus.

The Kurdish led YPG issued this statement,

People’s Defense Units (YPG) Press Office released a statement condemning the ISIS attack in Suwayda city of Syria.

The statement by YPG Press Office reads as follows;

On July 25, more than 250 people were killed and hundreds more got injured due to IS attack on the Druze people in the city of Suwayda. During the attacks, hundreds of other people, mostly women, were kidnapped by IS. The attack carried out through suicide bombings and the following random shootings, caused us great sorrow.

The attack reveals once again the true face of IS and shows clearly that this terrorist group must be destroyed as soon as possible. IS terrorist organization continues its existence as a threat to the Syrian and all Middle Eastern peoples. As People’s Defense Units we will continue to intensify our efforts to struggle against the IS. As YPG-YPJ defense forces, we will continue our struggle in every place where the IS terrorism is present. We once again emphasize our determination to fulfill our responsibility concerning protection of all the peoples of Syria, including the Druze people, and we declare that we are ready to protect them everywhere where it will be necessary. This attack is as burdensome and painful as an attack on Kobanê and Cizir for us.

We give our condolences and respect to the Druze people, to those who lost their lives in this massacre.”

There is an entire Wikipedia pages in English, and in French on these massacres:  2018 As-Suwayda attacks.  Attaques de Soueïda.

The lack of an international response led the French weekly Marianne to write with indignation:

SILENCE, DAECH MASSACRE LES DRUZES

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

As Controversy Rages on Boris Johnson, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Backer of the Burqa Ban, is invited to Momentum Labour Fringe.

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Image result for Photo by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

‘Disparition’ by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

Boris Johnson should be kicked out of Conservative party for burka comments, Muslim peer demands.

Plenty of people have commented on the words of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party’s relationship to Islam, not to mention those who’ve joined in, with glee at the opportunity to attack the prejudices revealed amongst the Tories and their supporters.

In a different vein I began writing on the wider European and international context of the controversy this morning.

Johnson may speak for a ‘liberal’ attitude peppered with a  few rude words (personally I find his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, prisoner of the Islamic Republic of Iran far far worse).

An obvious point to begin with is that  that the Danish Social Democrats,  Socialdemokraterne, backed the public ban on the burqa,

“The Liberal, Conservative and Danish People’s parties all voted in favour of the bill, as did the opposition Social Democrats with the exception of MP Mette Gjerskov, thereby securing the majority.” The Local. 

The full law needs looking at it:

Another issue would be the silence of most of the people now shouting about Johnson faced with this: (March 2018): Iranian woman who removed headscarf jailed for two years. “Prosecutor says woman took off obligatory hijab in Tehran street to ‘encourage corruption’.”

But, to return to the issue of the burqa in general,  France, the best known secular country,  has, with the support of many sections of the left, prohibited the full face veil since 2011 (Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public.The bill was passed by the National Assembly by a vote of 335–1.

Amongst the left who backed the ban was Jean-luc Mélenchon, vocal in his enthusiasm for Laïcité, secularism.

It did not take long to draw some connections here, and the Spectator had got there before me:

Man who supported a burka ban to speak at Corbynista festival

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The French socialist veteran who ‘inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017’ will be speaking to a Momentum-heavy crowd at the event. And what is his view on Muslim dress? Well, it turns out he has advocated a full face veil ban, as well as stating that the burkini was ‘a provocation’ – and the ‘fruit of a Salafist religious offensive’:

‘It is not impossible or contrary to public freedoms and fundamental rights to legislate on dress practices if the defence of public order and human dignity justifies it. The complete concealment of the face is problematic from this dual point of view. It prevents any recognition of the persons concerned, which disturbs public order. And it also deprives them of social existence and undermines their physical and moral integrity which puts into question the dignity of the human person. It is therefore on this double basis that the law could affirm the obligation to have the face discovered in all public places.’

The Spectator gives no source for this quote but it a pithy and accurate summary of the views of the leader of La France insoumise (LFI).

Here is the site of The World Transformed 2018.

As a service to those attending the rally here are Some further indications of his stand:

From Tendance Coatesy: (2016).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”.

Dans Le Monde d’aujourd’hui, JLM condamne les “militantes provocatrices en burkini”.  Michelle Guerci.

«L’instrumentalisation communautariste du corps des femmes est odieuse. C’est un affichage militant, mais quand on est l’objet d’une provocation, mieux vaut ne pas se précipiter dedans […] La masse des musulmans est excédée par une histoire qui les ridiculise. Valls a eu tort d’en rajouter. »

The ‘communitarian’ * exploitation of women’s bodies is vile. It’s a militant badge, but even so when we are the target of a provocation the best thing to do is not to get involved…The majority of Muslims are frustrated by this row, which makes them look ridiculous. Valls (Prime Minister) is wrong to add to it.

Il ressort de cette interview que JLM, ne condamne ni les maires qui ont pris ces arrêtés, ni Manuel Valls qui les a soutenus,  ni la droite sarkoziste qui a orchestré cette campagne, ni le gouvernement qui laisse faire (3), mais des femmes accusées d’instrumentaliser leur propre corps ou de l’être par leurs maris, pères, cousins… Bref la fameuse COMMUNAUTE.

It is apparent in this interview that JLM neither condemns the Mayors who have instituted these by-laws, nor Manuel Valls (Prime Minister) who backs them, nor the (ex-President) Sarkozy’s right-wing which has orchestrated the campaign, nor the the government which has allowed this to happen, but the women involved, who have used their own bodies, or have been ‘used’ by their husbands, their fathers, their cousins…to put it simply, the famous “community”.

Le burkini est le fruit d’une offensive religieuse salafiste qui ne concerne qu’une partie de l’islam […] La question politique à résoudre reste celle du combat des femmes pour accéder librement à l’espace public.

The burkini is the product of a Salafist religious offensive which only affects a part of Islam….There still remains the political issue of women’s struggle for free access to the public sphere.

Michelle Guerci points out that the Burkini is in fact a relatively new phenomenon, which would itself be prohibited under the rule of severe Wahhabist codes.

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When the law banning the bukha was first debated in 2010 this post was on Tendance Coatesy.

French Left Leader Backs Secular Freedom Against Religious Garb.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Here

On proposals to ban the Burka.

What is wrong with the Burka (voile intégral) ?  “D’abord parce qu’il est obscène.”

To start with it’s obscene.

“Si l’objet de la nouvelle loi est bien de garantir la liberté, l’égalité et la dignité de toutes les femmes qui vivent sur notre territoire, d’autres mesures seraient opportunes dans ce cadre.

If the object of the new law is  to guarantee freedom, equality and dignity of all women who live in our land, there are other measures which should be taken within this structure.

The Parliametary Left should amend the law (he is a Senator).

The aim should be to extend secularism.

It is time to impose the principle of ‘mixing’ (that is women and men should allowed to be together) in all public places. Today this principle is not guaranteed by law, even in schools.

For example, one cannot accept the rule that reserves certain hours in swimming pools for one gender. Or that certain types of sport should be reserved for one gender.

Finally, if the legislators are really coherent they should extend secularism to French overseas territories and to Alsace Moselle (where there is still recognition of religion as part of the state and the education system).

The LFI chef has not dropped his hostile views on Islamic ‘modest’ dress, as can be seen in this furious attack on his opinions on the veil  in 2017.

Sur la question du voile, les propos choquants de Jean-Luc Mélenchon dans « L’émission politique »

During the 2017 Presidential elections the (now)  Candidate for the  Élysée emphasised his backing for banning the burka (voile intégral).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon est pour l’interdiction du voile, s’il est intégral, mais n’envisage pas de légiférer s’il ne l’est pas.

And in May 2018 the LFI leader criticised the fact that the new leader of the student union Unef, Maryam Pougetoux,, who has a veil, comparing it to himself advertising religion by wearing an enormous cross.

Mélenchon sur le voile de la présidente de l’Unef à la Sorbonne : “C’est comme si j’arrivais avec une énorme croix”.

Many people will be uncomfortable with legislation on the issue of the face-veil, the burqa.

And with La France insoumise’s vision of a top-down administered secularism.

But from that to go and speak of this as if it’s simply a fashion choice, or worse, ‘celebrating’ it as a sign of diversity, is both insulting and reactionary.

The blood-stained tyrannies which have enforced this dress remind us that it is not, in the view of some currents of Islam, a ‘choice’ but an obligation.

As Terri Murray has put it, Why feminists should oppose the burqa.

The claim that covering yourself up in public is an empowering choice insults the intelligence and dignity of women everywhere, just as the theological claim that the burqa is a necessary defence against predatory male sexuality insults Muslim men insofar as it treats them as fundamentally incapable of responsibility for their sexual behaviour.

The reason Western feminists (male or female) object to seeing women in burqas is not that we can’t tolerate diversity, but that the burqa is a symbol of patriarchal Islam’s intolerance of dissent and desire to contain and repress female sexuality.

Without challenging the burqa we cannot challenge the oppressions it is bound up with.

At the minimum it is hard to disagree than nobody in a public function should  enforce their religious ideas of “Purity” and sexual segregation through the display of this oppressive costume.

Marie Laguerre on Street Harasser’s Slap “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent'”.

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Harcelée dans la rue, elle publie la vidéo de son aagression (Le Monde)

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation Monday after a young woman was assaulted by a street harasser for telling him to stop, in full view of a terrace full of people and CCTV cameras in Paris’s 19th arrondissement.

France 24.

This outrage has been all over the francophone media – with good reason.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation Monday after a young woman lodged a complaint against a street harasser who hit her in the face after she told him to stop making obscene remarks.

The victim obtained a CCTV video of the incident that has since gone viral on social media.

The investigation involves sexual harassment and violence with a weapon after he threw an ashtray at the victim, resulting in an injury that will cause her to miss some work, French media reported.

Marie Laguerre, 22, posted footage of the incident on her Facebook page, describing how the man launched a series of “humiliating” comments coupled with whistles and explicit language as she was on her way home in northeastern Paris. (1)

So I let out a, “Shut up!” while making my way,” she wrote. “Because I do not tolerate this type of behaviour. I cannot keep silent and we must not be silent.”

But “this man didn’t like that”, she continued, explaining that he first threw an ashtray at her before following her and then “hitting her in the face in the street, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses”.

Her Facebook post was accompanied by the video surveillance from the bar in front of which the incident took place. The video has so far been retweeted hundreds of times and the public video on Facebook has received hundreds of comments.

The French government announced in March that sexual harassment on French streets or in public transport will soon be punishable by an on-the-spot fine of €90. In announcing the measure, a government spokesman cited a 2016 survey that found 87 percent of women who use public transport had experienced harassment such as wolf whistles or comments on their appearance, intrusive staring or someone pressing up against them.

Only 2 percent of these women went so far as to file a police complaint, although in more than 85 percent of cases at least one witness was present.

The BBC has just reported on this:

France shocked by video of woman being slapped by harasser

Everyone at the cafe had found her response normal, she said, and the owner gave her the video to help catch the attacker. It has now been viewed more than a million times.

Ms Laguerre said fighting back against such aggression was hard, but all women were affected by it and it was time to say stop. “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent,” she wrote on Facebook.

(1)”Hier soir, alors que je rentrais chez moi, vers le Boulevard de la Villette dans le 19ème arrondissement à Paris, j’ai croisé un homme.

Il s’est permis de m’adresser des bruits/commentaires/sifflements/coup de langue sales, de manière humiliante et provocante à mon passage.

Pas de chance, c’était pas le premier de la journée et j’étais fatiguée. J’ai donc lâché un “ta gueule” en traçant ma route. Car je ne tolère pas ce genre de comportement. Je ne peux pas me taire et nous ne devons plus nous taire.

Ça n’a pas plu à cet homme. Après m’avoir jeté un cendrier dessus, il est revenu sur ses pas et m’a suivi dans la rue.

Il m’a frappé au visage, en pleine rue, en pleine journée, devant des dizaines de témoins.

J’ai porté plainte.

Ce n’est pas le seul. Le harcèlement c’est au quotidien. Ces hommes qui se croient tout permis dans la rue, qui se permettent de nous humilier et qui ne supportent pas qu’on s’en offusque, c’est inadmissible. Il est temps que ce genre de comportement CESSE.
#NousToutes

The reason why the video has been so widely shared can be see immediately.

 

Now in English:

 

While Marie Laguerre has received enormous support, some remark on the passivity of witnesses (a dubious point for reasons too obvious to cite):

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Labour NEC Elections. Vote Ann Black!

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Ann Black: the Members’ Voice.

As the Labour Ballot papers arrive I am voting for Ann Black and am deciding who else to back.

Many of us are unhappy about being called to vote for a left slate for which we – that is the overwhelming majority of the left activists – have had no say in drawing up.

No doubt like other left-wingers I will put a cross by some from the JC9. But how they were ‘selected’ remains a mystery, well it’s not a mystery, but it had nothing to do with 99% of the voters.

In these conditions while it is clear that many of the JC9 candidates are fine people it is up to us to decide who to cast our ballot for-just as it was for those who decided on the list to decide who was on it and who was not

Loyalty to ‘Jeremy’ is not enough.

Clearly a left-wing European socialist is not going to support long-standing right-wingers – a list which includes admirers of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Some may have a soft spot for Eddie Izzard, who has made a point of standing up for the pro-European left.

But his other views are not particularity left-wing.

As I say, I make one choice already, independent of the JC9: Ann Black.

I have known Black since the Original Grassroots Alliance (and Labour Reform) in 1998.

Like many I would then, and now, not agree with her views on everything.

But Ann has made it her business to stand up for ordinary members.

She has continued this while many of us left the Party.

Ann Black is a great people’s tribune: she stood up to Blair acolytes, and is now smeared for not being at a different group of people’s beck and call.

These are some of her guiding themes:

When I joined the NEC Tony Blair was the leader, followed by Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and now Jeremy Corbyn. Throughout that time my personal politics continued firmly on the left. I voted against austerity, privatisation, selective education, war in Iraq, Trident, and for public services, fair taxation, decent pensions and social security benefits, restoring funds to local government, and large-scale social housing, sometimes in a minority of three or four, now, with the popular 2017 manifesto, in the party mainstream.

While I have my own views, I consult widely and listen to what you tell me. All of us, particularly those with public profiles, owe loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn as our democratically-elected leader. However our party is a broad church, and In these polarised times it’s particularly important that every member is heard with respect, not treated as the enemy within.

Exactly: she is an independent centre-left voice who listens to the grassroots.

This is her reply to one of the best known smears against her:

The veteran activist, who lost the support of Momentum last month, said that the grassroots group had falsely accused her of robbing 125,000 members of a vote in the leadership election of 2016.

She countered that in fact Corbyn himself was to blame, after he appeared before the TV cameras instead of backing an NEC move to enfranchise thousands of members in that year’s ballot.

..

The ruling NEC infuriated Corbyn supporters that year when it voted to impose a ‘freeze date’ of January for eligibility for the ballot.

But Black said that she had proposed amending the cut-off date to June but her plan failed because the vote was tied.  Corbyn and fellow MP Jon Trickett left the meeting to give TV interviews about winning an earlier vote to put the leader automatically on the ballot paper

“If Jeremy had stayed, many thousands of additional members would have been able to vote,” Black wrote. “I may have committed other crimes, but that is not one of them.”

Huffington Post. 20.2.2018.

I talked to her properly at the Chartist AGM a few weeks ago: she is 100% approachable.

She is great.

Whatever else: Vote Ann Black!

Here are some reasons why:

Why Non-Factional Members Are Supporting Ann Black For The NEC

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Labour Party can be divided simply into the two camps that tend to dominate our internal affairs discourse. For the current NEC elections, on the left, there’s Momentum with Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA), and towards the centre, Progress and Labour First. But there is a growing number of middle-of-the-road members paying their annual subs, socialists appreciative of the leftward shift catalysed by the consecutive elections of Jeremy Corbyn yet loyal to neither slate and looking for a broad, pluralist left. In this year’s NEC elections, this group is presented with a highly appealing option in Ann Black and Open Labour.

Formerly the NEC chair and head of the disputes panel, and currently the National Policy Forum chair, Black’s non-factional bid for re-election to the NEC has been launched without the support of either key slate. This marks a change, given that Black had previously stood on the left slate before being (falsely) accused of supporting the exclusion of new members in the 2016 leadership election, and subsequently being removed.

Instead, she now stands independently on a decisively proud record of commitment to socialist policies and party democratisation. She has the respect of individuals from all parts of the party, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. She spoke truth to power throughout the New Labour years, opposing privatisation, the Iraq War and the centralisation of power; she fought for the extension of one-member-one-vote elections to different parts of our party and secured increased funding for CLPs. When some opposed Corbyn’s automatic inclusion on the 2016 leadership election ballot, Black voted for his inclusion, giving members a say.

With the political backing of only Open Labour – an impressive group that, since renewing its strategic aims, is emerging as a directional and potentially influential section on the left of the party, calling for diverse, tolerant socialism – Black stands distinguished as a formidable, experienced candidate able to represent large swathes of our membership and to build a broad, radical left where the two main factions cannot do this alone.

Although Momentum and Progress can be applauded for offering cohesive and consistent choices to some members in line with their values, this duality inevitably means that complex issues are condensed and independent thought is limited to parameters set by those leading the factions.

And what about those members who I spoke about earlier, socialists who may not be factionally engaged? We are a democratic socialist party of over 500,000 members, and many of us don’t relate entirely to a faction. There are valid criticisms of the dominant left and centrist wings of the party – and this doesn’t amount to rejection of them completely, or their contributions.

Without outspoken, independent socialists like Ann Black on the NEC, a large section of our party risks being deprived of representation. There is a reason that turnout in our internal elections is consistently so low. Debate is restricted and voting options are few. Members are expected to pledge allegiance to one of two factions, which do not represent plurality and breadth of opinion.

This can change. An organised, diverse left in the Labour Party is emerging and this is why the activity of Open Labour and activists like Ann Black is so important. As we debate our future relationship with Europe and how to rebuild Britain after eight years of Tory destruction, we should realise that our future lies in the enfranchisement of as many activists as possible – not just those who are factionally engaged. I genuinely look forward to using one of my votes to re-elect Ann Black to our NEC.

Luke Hurst is Co-Chair of Leeds Labour Students.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm