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Islamic State Says Bangladesh the New Battleground.

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Islamic State Says it is Expanding to Bangladesh.

Islamism has been a major problem in Bangladesh since the Liberation War for National Independence in 1971.

The fight for freedom was met by genocide. This had the active support of Islamist groups, including the forerunners of the present Bangladeshi branch of the  Jamaat-e-Islami – an organisation which has a strong British organisation, notably in London’s East End.

The genocide in Bangladesh began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight,[3] as West Pakistan began a military crackdown on the Eastern wing of the nation to suppress Bengali calls for self-determination.[4] During the nine-month-long Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting militias killed an estimated 26,000[5] to 3,000,000[2] people. According to more recent statements by Bangladeshi and Indian sources, some have estimated that between 200,000 to 400,000 Bangladeshi women were raped in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.[6][7] Other sources put the level of rapes as only a few hundred.

The Bangladesh Genocide Archive posts this:

There is no doubt whatsoever about the targets of the genocide. They were: (1) The Bengali militarymen of the East Bengal Regiment, the East Pakistan Rifles, police and para-military Ansars and Mujahids. (2) The Hindus — “We are only killing the men; the women and children go free. We are soldiers not cowards to kill them …” I was to hear in Comilla [site of a major military base] [Comments R.J. Rummel: “One would think that murdering an unarmed man was a heroic act” (Death By Government, p. 323)] (3) The Awami Leaguers — all office bearers and volunteers down to the lowest link in the chain of command. (4) The students — college and university boys and some of the more militant girls. (5) Bengali intellectuals such as professors and teachers whenever damned by the army as “militant.” (Anthony Mascarenhas, The Rape of Bangla Desh[Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1972(?)], pp. 116-1

Bangladesh is currently in turmoil as members of Islamist groups, notably senior members of parties like  have been sentenced to death for their participation in these atrocities.

This follows this: (Wikipedia)

The 2013 Shahbag protests, associated with the Shahbag central neighbourhood of Dhaka, Bangladesh, began on 5 February 2013 and later spread to other parts ofBangladesh, and became known as Gonojagaran Mancha (National Awakening Stage; gono means people, jagoron means awakening, and moncho means platform).[peacock term][dubious ] The people demanded capital punishment for Abdul Quader Mollah, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, and for others convicted of war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.[5][6] On that day, the International Crimes Tribunal had sentenced Abdul Quader Mollah to life in prison after he was convicted on five of six counts of war crimes.[7][8] Later demands included banning the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party from politics including election and a boycott of institutions supporting (or affiliated with) the party.[9]

As a counter movement this was formed, (Wikipedia)

In 2013 Hefajat-e-Islam was formed after the allegation that some of the protestors in the Shahbag movement, were involved in publishing of content offensive to Muslims on blogs.[15] which is demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh liberation war criminals.[4] They arranged a rally towards capital city Dhaka, demanding enaction of capital punishment of the “atheist bloggers” involved in the Shahbag movement and a blasphemy law.[16][17][18]

The 13 points of the Islamist group includes:[19]

1. Restore the phrase “Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution

2. Pass a law in parliament keeping a provision of the capital punishment of death sentence to prevent defaming Islam.

3. Taking measures for stringent punishment of against self-declared atheists and bloggers, who led the Shahbaghmovement, and anti-Islamists who made derogatory remarks against the Muhammad. Also taking steps to stop the spread of “propaganda.”[20]

4. Stopping infiltration of all “alien-culture”, including shamelessness in the name of individual’s freedom of expression, anti-social activities, adultery, free mixing of male and female and candle lighting.[15] Stopping harassment of women, open fornication and adultery, sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women and an end to the tradition of dowry;[20]

5. Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels canceling the women policy and anti-religion education policy.

6. Officially declaration Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim.[15][20]

7. Stopping setting up sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities across the country.

8. Lifting restrictions on prayers for ulema in all mosques across the country, including Baitul Mokarram National Mosque;

9. Stopping Islamophobic content in media;[20]

10. Stopping anti-Islam activities by NGOs across the country, including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts;[20]

11. Stop attacks and extrajudicial killing of ulema;[15]

12. Stopping harassment of teachers and students of Qawmimadrassas and ulema;[15]

13. Freedom for all arrested ulema and madrassa students and withdrawal of all cases filed against them, compensation for the victims, and bringing the assailants to justice.

This is happening now:

Bangladesh government has summoned the Pakistan high commissioner in Dhaka after his government said it was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the execution of war criminals Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

A senior foreign ministry official on Sunday night told bdnews24.com that High Commissioner Shuja Alam had been asked to visit the ministry on Monday.

He would have to explain his government’s comments on the internal matter of Bangladesh, the official added.

Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Mujahid and senior BNP leader Chowdhury, both sentenced to death two years ago for 1971 war crimes, were hanged in the early hours of Sunday.

And this.

In the latest edition of the militant group’s online propaganda magazine, IS calls for strategic expansion to Bangladesh or as it refers to the country ” Bengal”

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has warned that it is preparing for fresh attacks in Bangladesh “to rise and expand in Bengal.”

The group dedicated a full article to their activities in Bangladesh or “Bengal” as it refers to the country in the latest edition of its online propaganda magazine Dabiqwhere its strategic expansion to countries like Bangladesh is discussed at length.

The article titled The Revival of Jihad in Bengal claimed that while IS was busy preparing for further attacks, the secular Awami League government continued to “twist the facts” on the ground and play a blame game. That perhaps refers to the claims by the Bangladesh government that there was no Islamic State presence in the country and that elements out to destabilise it were behind the murders of two foreigners.

The IS also referred to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-Jamaat alliance as a ‘coalition of murtaddin (apostates)’.

“The former government, which consisted mainly of a coalition of murtaddin from both the BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, foolishly thought that the call of tawhid, jihad, and khilafah would be crushed by the martyrdom of a few righteous scholars,” read a paragraph of the article.

However, the IS article calls the banned Islamic militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) a “proper jihad organisation in Bangladesh based on the Kuran and Sunnah.”

The Hindu. 21st November.

Our beloved comrades, the secularist Bangladeshi Bloggers, are caught at the centre of these conflicts. The report linked to below, on Al Jazeera, which was broadcast last night, cannot be too highly recommended.

Blogging is a dangerous business in Bangladesh.

Four secular bloggers have been brutally murdered this year and a publisher linked to one of them was recently slashed to death.

Police blame religious hardliners for the killings, and there are fears that more attacks could follow. But it is not just hardliners who are causing concern.

The government, too, appears to be cracking down on free speech. Some bloggers are now leaving Bangladesh, while others have gone into hiding.

In this edition of 101 East, we meet people whose lives are in peril because of the opinions they share online.

Al Jazeera

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

A State Jew? Léon Blum – David A. Bell on Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum.

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Blum: a Generous Humanist Socialist, not a “State Jew”.

A State Jew. David A. Bell. Review of Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.

London Review of Books.

Thanks Jim D.

Bell begins  his review with this, which should give some pause for reflection,

The newspaper Action française habitually referred to Léon Blum, France’s Socialist leader, as the ‘warlike Hebrew’ and the ‘circumcised Narbonnais’ (he represented a constituency in Narbonne). On 13 February 1936, Blum was being driven away from the National Assembly when he encountered a group of ultra-right-wing militants who had gathered at the intersection of the rue de l’Université and the boulevard Saint-Germain for the funeral procession of Jacques Bainville, one of the founders of Action française, a reactionary political movement as well as a newspaper. Glimpsing Blum through the car windows, the militants began shouting: ‘Kill Blum!’, ‘Shoot Blum!’ They forced his car to stop and began rocking it back and forth. Blum’s friend Germaine Monnet, sitting with him in the back, tried to shield him with her body. Her husband, Georges, who had been driving, ran to look for police. But one of the militants managed to tear a fender off the car, used it to smash the rear window, and then beat Blum repeatedly over the head. Only the arrival of two policemen saved his life. They dragged him to a nearby building, where the concierge gave him first aid. The next day pictures of Blum, his head heavily bandaged, appeared in newspapers around the world.

We halt there.

To internationalist socialists Blum is above all known not for his Jewish identity – despite the book – but for his socialist humanist republicanism.

Blum defended French democratic republicanism, from the Dreyfus affair onwards. He was profoundly affected by the “synthesis” of socialism, including the Marxist view of class struggle, with democratic republicanism, that marked the life and work of one of our greatest martyrs, Jean Jaurès, assassinated in 1914 by a sympathiser of the far-right,  for his opposition to the outbreak of the Great War. Blum did not, however, play a part in the anti-War left.

That is the context in which we would take the shouts of “kill Blum”.  Political, not ethnic.

Blum was a leading figure amongst the minority of the French Socialists, the SFIO (Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière), who opposed what became in the 1920s the French Communist Party, the PCF. He was one of those who opposed affiliating the party to the Third International at the Congrès de Tours (SFIO).

Speech at the Socialist Party Congress at Tours, 27 December 1920 (best known under its French title, background Pour La Veille Maison, Text).

This is the crucial objection from the ‘reformist’ (but at this point, still Marxist) democratic socialists to the Third International – the Leninist one.

You are right to declare that the whole party press, central or local, should be in the hands of pure communists and pure communist doctrine. You are certainly right to submit the works published by the Party to a kind of censorship. All that is logical. You want an entirely homogeneous party, a party in which there is no longer free thought, no longer different tendencies: you are therefore right to act as you have done. This results – I am going to prove it to you – from your revolutionary conception itself. But you will understand that envisioning that situation, considering it, making the comparison of what will be tomorrow with what was yesterday, we all had the same reaction of fright, of recoil, and that we said: is that the Party that we have known? No! The party that we knew was the appeal to all workers, while the one they want to found is the creation of little disciplined vanguards, homogeneous, subjected to a strict structure of command – their numbers scarcely matter, you will find that in the theses – but all kept under control, and ready for prompt and decisive action. Well, in that respect as in the others, we remain of the Party as it was yesterday, and we do not accept the new party that they want to make.

To show how radical Blum was at this point, this is how he defended the dictatorship of the proletariat,

Dictatorship exercised by the Party, yes, but by a Party organized like ours, and not like yours. Dictatorship exercised by a Party based on the popular will and popular liberty, on the will of the masses, in sum, an impersonal dictatorship of the proletariat. But not a dictatorship exercised by a centralized party, where all authority rises from one level to the next and ends up by being concentrated in the hands of a secret Committee. … Just as the dictatorship should be impersonal, it should be, we hold, temporary, provisional. … But if, on the contrary, one sees the conquest of power as a goal, if one imagines (in opposition to the whole Marxist conception of history) that it is the only method for preparing that transformation, that neither capitalist evolution nor our own work of propaganda could have any effect, if as a result too wide a gap and an almost infinite period of time must be inserted between taking power as the precondition, and revolutionary transformation as the goal, then we cease to be in agreement.

Bear this in mind: these words are memorised almost by heart by many on the left.

The minority, for which Blum spoke, opposed to the Third International, retained the name, French Section of the Workers’ International. This was significant: it referred to a claim to continue the traditions of the Second International, of Marxist, if moderate and reformist,  inspiration.

Blum offered social reform on this foundation. He led, during the Front Populaire (1936 -38)  a government (as President du conseil) of socialists and radical-socialists, backed by communists from the ‘outside’ and a vast movement of factory occupations and protests,  to implement some of them, on paid holidays, bargaining rights limiting the working week. He had great limitations – one that cannot be ignored is that his government did not give women the right to vote – and his role in not effectively helping the Spanish Republic remains a matter of controversy to this day. Indeed the absence of feminism – as well as a rigorous anti-colonialism (the FP “dissolved” the North African, l’Étoile nord-africaine of Messali Hadj –  in the Front Populaire, is something which should cause a great deal of critical investigation.

The review in the LLB is about a book, and this is what he has to say specifically about it:

Birnbaum, a well-known historian and sociologist of French Jewry, has written a short biography that focuses on Blum’s identity as a Jew, as the series requires. It cannot substitute for the more substantial studies by Joel Colton, Ilan Greilsammer and Serge Berstein, but it’s lively, witty and draws effectively on Blum’s massive and eloquent correspondence. Arthur Goldhammer has, as usual, produced a lucid, engaging English text. Birnbaum seems to have written the book in some haste: he repeats facts and quotations, and makes a few historical slips – France was not a ‘largely peasant nation’ in 1936; Hitler did not annex the Sudetenland in the summer of 1938, before the Munich Agreement. The chapters proceed thematically, highlighting Blum the writer, Blum the socialist, Blum the lawyer, Blum the Zionist and so forth, which produces occasional confusion as Birnbaum leaps backwards and forwards in time. But overall, the book offers a knowledgeable and attractive portrait. If there is a serious criticism to be levelled at it, it doesn’t concern the portrait itself, so much as the way Birnbaum draws on it to make a broader argument about French Jewish identity.

But there are issues of much wider importance in that broader argument which do not depend on discussing that text and its content.

Bell makes two points about his legacy as described in Birnbaum’s book,

As Birnbaum himself repeatedly notes, despite his ‘quintessential’ Frenchness, Blum always expressed pride in his Jewish heritage, often in the highly racialised language of the day. ‘My Semite blood,’ he wrote as a young man, ‘has been preserved in its pure state. Honour me by acknowledging that it flows unmixed in my veins and that I am the untainted descendant of an unpolluted race.’ While he could speak disparagingly of Jewish ritual, he recognised and respected a Jewish ethical tradition. In 1899, in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair, he insisted that ‘the Jew’s religion is justice. His Messiah is nothing other than a symbol of Eternal Justice.’ He went on to identify ‘the spirit of socialism’ with ‘the ancient spirit of the race’ and to comment: ‘It was not a lapse on the part of Providence that Marx and Lassalle were Jews.’ Blum, in short, thought the Jews could change the French Republic for the better by drawing on their own traditions to push it towards socialism.

This attempt to bring up Blum’s references to his Jewish background, even in terms more democratic than Disraeli’s novels, voiced above all by the character Sidonia, owes more to pre-1930s racial romanticism to racialism.

Does this prove Bell’s point that, “The republican model allows strikingly little space for what immigrant communities can contribute to a nation. Visitors to France can see at a glance just how much immigrants have brought to its music, literature, sport and even cuisine. But the republican model treats difference primarily as a threat to be exorcised in the name of an unbending, anachronistic ideal of civic equality. Even in the heyday of the Third Republic, many committed republicans recognised that different ethnic and religious groups could strengthen the republic.”

Yes it does: secularism is freedom for difference, not the imposition of homogeneity.

Blum could be rightly proud of his cultural heritage,as indeed in a ‘globalised’ world of migration many other people from different backgrounds should be, and are, within the democratic framework of secular equality.

There is little doubt that the spirit of nit-picking secularism can be as unable to deal with these backgrounds, as say, state multiculturalism, which treats ‘diversity’ as if this were a value in itself. If the first tends to be hyper-sensitive to, say, reactionary  Islamic dress codes, the second abandons the issue entirely.

But there are far deeper problems than superficial insistence on  Laïcité

The first is ‘Sovereigntist’ efforts to claim secularist universalism for French particularism. This is the rule amongst the supporters of the far-right Front National, historians and writers like Éric Zemmour bemoaning France’s ‘decline’ , though we should underline, not the novelist Houellebecq, who expresses disdain for things, not hate). There are those who call for all Muslims to be expelled from Europe, those  to those milder nationalists of right and left who commemorate “le pays et les morts” (and not anybody else – a return to the culturalist (not to say, racial)  themes of Action française to Maurice Barrès and to Charles Maurras. This is indeed “communalism”.

It is the major threat to French republicanism.

There is also the issue of anti-Semitism in France, woven into another kind of ‘communitarianism’. Alain Soral, his close friend the comedian Dieudonné, popular amongst young people from the banlieue and the more refined inheritors of the Marrausian tradition, the partisans of the  Indigènes de la République, (including those associated in the English speaking world) rant at thephilosémitisme d’Etat” in France.

It takes all the effort of refined ‘discursive analysis’ from academics to ignore that at its heart this is a current  which indulges in Jew baiting. The mind-set of these people was classically described by Sartre, “« Si le juif n’existait pas, l’antisémite l’inventerait.» (Réflexions sur la question juive 1946). They indeed spent an enormous amount of time ‘inventing’ the presence of Jews in politics, and giving them influence ‘behind the scenes’.

In words which might have been designed to pander to the world-view of the  Indigènes, Bell cites Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist,

Blum ‘the first of a new type of state Jew interested in giving greater weight to democratic sentiment within the framework of a socialist project.’ One wonders, though, what Birnbaum might say about a French Muslim politician today justifying an ideological position by reference to Muslim tradition and ethics (or sharia law). Would he have quite so favourable an  opinion? Or might he see the move as a ‘communitarian’ threat to ‘the unifying logic of the nation’ and to ‘French exceptionalism’? It is well past time to recognise that a nation can have many different unifying logics, and that a political model forged under the Third Republic fits the France of the Fifth Republic very badly.

Blum celebrated his Jewish heritage. It is hardly a secret. Nor is his post-war Zionism, or support for Israel, a stand shared in the immediate aftermath of the conflict by the USSR.

But did he become a  man of the  ‘state’ because he was a ‘Jew’, and does this aspect of his person matter politically – that is in terms of the state?

For us Léon Blum is only one of the sources of a generous humanist secularism, but a significant one. That he did not tackle issues like feminism, anti-colonialism, and a host of other issues, goes without saying. But it would be a great shame if his legacy was reduced to being a “State Jew”.

And it could equally be said that republican secularism has many strands, that it is being transformed by the views of secularists from North Africa, the threat of the Islamist genociders of Deash, the mounting oppression in Erdogan’s Turkey, backed by his Islamist AKP, and – no doubt – Israel’s evident failings. Every one of these cases shows that religious law is not any part of a “tradition” that socialists – believers in equality – would recognise.

The logic at work here binds us to our French sisters and brothers, binds internationalists across the globe, in the way that the Je Suis Charlie moment briefly melded our hearts and minds together.

That is perhaps the real ‘end’ of all exceptionalisms.

Seumas Milne’s New Best Friend, Neil, “Belarus”, Clark.

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Censored Photo.

Neil Clark: Seumas Milne’s New Bestie.


New Photo.


Neil Clark.

Yesterday one Neil Clark, apparently a journalist who writes for the New Statesman and the Guardian, amongst others, published this on the Russian backed site, Sputnik.

The news that Seumas Milne, anti-war journalist and Guardian columnist, has been appointed the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications has caused uproar among Britain’s McCarthyite pro-imperialist faux-left.

Milne, we’re told is a “terrorism apologist”, a “Stalinist” an “extremist”, ”apologist for dictators”, “apologist for murderous dictators”, “Kremlin/Putin apologist” and “facism (sic) apologist”.

Clark continues,

You’d think from reading these attacks that Milne was some kind of wild-eyed, foaming at the mouth madman who needs to be tethered on a leash for public safety. Just about the only very bad thing he hasn’t been accused of is being an “apologist” for Jack the Ripper — though no doubt, Cyril Waugh-Monger is working on that article right now.

Anyone who knows Seumas in person — as I do, can only laugh out loud at these ludicrous portrayals of a thoroughly decent and very thoughtful man

This may well be true.

We have concentrated on a few issues which concern us.

  • Milne supported the Islamist – and relatively moderate – right wing pro-business Tunisian party, Ennahda, against the Tunisian left, notably the by far largest workers’ organisation, the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT, in the period proceeding and immediately following Tunisia’s first free elections (2011)
  • That he failed to a give proper support for Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression. Making the claim, a  few days after the slaughter at the Weekly’s offices, and the Hyper-Cacher,  that suggested that their “repeated pornographic humiliation” of Muslims – underlined amongst other factors such as poor conditions in the French banlieues, helped to explain this blow back.

In today’s New Statesman Oliver Bullough sums up the underlying reasons for our gripes extremely well,

For Milne, geopolitics is more important than people.

Whatever crisis strikes the world, the West’s to blame.

Why did a group of psychopaths attack a magazine and a supermarket in Paris?

“Without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly couldn’t have taken place”.

These – serious – disagreements pale into insignificance compared to the revulsion people on the left will feel about the full spread of Clark’s politics.

Here is an example.

Belarus and Venezuela are natural allies: both are progressive, independent, socialist democracies who are following entirely different economic and social agendas to the neo-liberal one laid down by the Empire, one which benefits only multinationals and the very rich. Because of their independence, the leaders of Belarus and Venezuela have been demonised: both President Lukashenko and President Chavez have been called ‘dictators’ despite their regular election successes and the overwhelming popularity both men command in their respective countries.

Clark’s Blog 2007.

And this, Bright light on the Dniepe 2011.

Isis Threaten Sylvania: Banned from Passion for Freedom Exhibition.

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Isis Threaten Sylvania by the artist Mimsy is removed from Passion for Freedom exhibition at London’s Mall Galleries, after police raise security concerns. Below, Guardian critic Jonathan Jones reviews the artwork.

Isis Threaten Sylvania is a series of seven satirical light box tableaux featuring the children’s toys Sylvanian Families. It was removed from the Passion for Freedomexhibition at the Mall galleries after police raised concerns about the “potentially inflammatory content” of the work, informing the organisers that, if they went ahead with their plans to display it, they would have to pay £36,000 for security for the six-day show.

In Isis Threaten Sylvania, rabbits, mice and hedgehogs go about their daily life, sunning themselves on a beach, drinking at a beer festival or simply watching television, while the menacing figures of armed jihadis lurk in the background. “Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquility. Until Now,” reads the catalogue note. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hardline version of sharia law.

The Metro says,

The controversial piece shows loveable hedgehogs, rabbits, and mice living their everyday life in the fictional land of Sylvania – all while ISIS militants are seen lurking in the background.

A description for the piece in the exhibition catalogue reads: ‘Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquillity.

‘MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hard-line version of sharia law.’

The artwork was created by London based artist Mimsy, who reacted angrily to suggestions that her piece was not ‘real art’.

I love my freedom’, she said.

‘I’m aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I’m not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.

Explaining the police decision, a gallery spokeswoman said: ‘Mall galleries was approached by Westminster Police who expressed concern about the potential risks of including Mimsy’s work.

They made it clear there would be an additional policing cost if the work was included in the exhibition and indicated this cost would be passed on either to the artist or to the exhibition organiser.’

Background to the pictures (Metro March 2015).

All is not well in Sylvania…

An artist going by the name Mimsy has created a scathing satire of ISIS, and the west’s reaction to the terrorist group, using Sylvanian Family dolls.

The project, which is called MICIS, comprises of two images depicting the happy, care-free world of Sylvania, with threatening figures clad in black clothes and carrying guns and ISIS flags, lurking in the background.

Talking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, Mimsy explained what motivated her to create this project: ‘I was inspired by the theocratic barbarism of ISIS, the obvious fear of terrorism in the west, and the neo-liberal denial of any actual threat.’

Mimsy then went on the tell us why she chose to express these views with Sylvanian Family dolls.

She told us: ‘I played with Sylvanian Families frequently as a child of the early 90s, and for some reason thought they were the perfect depiction of innocence.’

She went on: ‘there is also a one-dimensional childish element to the image that perfectly summarises the mentality of religious fundamentalists. They are blowing themselves up and murdering for a cause that is as so flat, thin and childish, it may as well be depicted as if it were a toy set in an ARGOS catalogue.’

As the staff of Charlie Hebdo learnt in the most horrific of way, religious fundamentalists don’t like satire. So it’s hardly surprising Mimsy has decided to remain anonymous.

When asked to give us more information about herself, the artist simply said: ‘I’m a person who loves the free world, loves democracy (with all it’s flaws) and most of all loves satire.’

We love the Sylvanians.

We love you Mimsy. 

Shame on the Censors!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2015 at 11:17 am

Will Russian Israeli Military Alliance and US-Russian ‘Tacit Agreement’ throw Stop the War Coalition and Eustonites into Confusion.

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Obama and Putin

‘Tacit Agreement’ on Syria in Sight?

Russia-Israel military alliance in Syria is a breakthrough.

Pravda. 23.9.15.

The agreement reached in Moscow between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on a “mechanism to prevent misunderstandings between Israel and Syria” is to influence the power balance in the Middle East, Avigdor Eskin, the Israeli publicist told Pravda.Ru in an interview.

The Russian-Israeli joint military group will coordinate operations in Syria. This military cooperation is the first one since foundation of the Israeli state, Eskin noted. The military alliance will operate without the US as well as other Western countries. The parties have one opponent, that is the Islamic State, and misunderstandings can occur only on the Syria’s helping Hezbollah, which is declared a terror organization in Israel.

What about Bashar al-Assad, the expert says that the Israeli authorities realized that only his army can oppose the radical Islam, and he is the only intelligible negotiation leverage in Syria. Jihadists, which are currently in the Golan Heights (a disputed area between Israel and Syria) for instance, are backed by the US, and attack the Israeli territory.

Russia and the United States have reached a “tacit agreement” on ending Syria’s bloody crisis, a senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said.

Damascus (Agence France Press 24.9.15.)

“The current US administration wants to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. There is a tacit agreement between the US and Russia to reach this solution,” Bouthaina Shaaban said in an interview with state television late Wednesday.

“The US recognises now that Russia has profound knowledge of this region and a better assessment of the situation,” she said.

“The current international climate is heading towards detente and towards a solution for the crisis in Syria.”

Shaaban said there was a “change in the West’s positions” over Syria’s war, which has killed more than 240,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.


Yesterday on Newsnight the consequences of the Russian-US tacit agreement were discussed in some detail by a former UK ambassador to Moscow and Timothy Snyder (author of Bloodlands).

The main message of the former diplomat was the Russia was focused on the threat from violent Islamism, Daesh. The US had not been able to create an alternative to Assad and to the genocidal Islamists. In present conditions – not least the humanitarian crisis – it was important to get rid of the Islamic State before anything else.

Snyder noted that Putin had a long history of backing authoritarian regimes and had created problems in the Ukraine.

Which did not answer the point about the Middle East and defeating the Islamic State.


Today: Syria: U.S., Russia Reach ‘Tacit Agreement’ On Ending Syrian War; Obama And Putin To Meet Monday. (HGN)

“Russia has provided and will provide adequate support to the legitimate government of Syria in the fight against extremists and terrorists of all kinds,” Ilya Rogachev, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for New Challenges and Threats, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

Moscow announced Thursday it plans to hold naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in September and October. On Wednesday, the Syrian military for the first time began using Russian drones, and the army has previously received at least five fighter jets along with tanks and artillery.

Now that Russia is militarily involved in Syria, there has been “a change in the West’s positions” over the Syrian war and the crisis “is heading towards detente and towards a solution,” according to Assad’s adviser.

As Stratfor writes, “Russia has rightfully judged that its direct intervention in Syria will force Washington to begin direct military-to-military talks with Moscow on the conflict.”

The White House announced Thursday that Obama and Putin will meet Monday afternoon in New York during a three-day session of the U.N. General Assembly, reported The New York Times. The two will discuss the conflicts in both Syria and Ukraine.

The wider consequences of this change are too great to be examined here.

The mention of Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia,  and Iran should make it obvious that the complexities of whatever is being negotiated are enormous.

But we can observe some effects on UK domestic politics, specifically on the left and foreign policy:

  • The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has been a leading voice in this country criticising the US and its allies’ interventions in the Middle East. But it has done more than that: it has asserted that the US, and Israel, have been responsible for both the conditions that gave rise to the Islamic State, and that their present actions have to be firmly opposed.
  • The StWC has refused to offer anything remotely realistic to secure the minimal objective of defeating the Islamic state, or indeed, to defend the group which many on the left strongly identity with, the Kurdish people’s armed wings – the principal  democratic fighting opposition to the Islamist killers.
  • Will they continue to do this when Russia is a ‘tacit’ ally of the West?
  • What alternative will they  offer? Or simply, what will they say?
  • The Eustonites, such as Harry’s Place and their right-wing allies in Parliament and the media, have been vociferous in denouncing the StWC and their former Chair, Jeremy Corbyn, for complicity towards Russia and  anti–Israeli forces, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
  • The Eustonites have advocated (without about as many specifics as a StWC policy-statement) forceful intervention in Syria to create a democratic replacement to the Assad regime – without going into the slightest detail about what this will consist of. They have been prepared to fight to the last Syrian and last Kurd to secure that end.
  • Will they now continue to do so when Assad’s ally, Russia is now about to reach an understanding with the West, and when Moscow has already made an agreement with Israel?
  • What will they say?


It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how these two opposing groupings react to  developments in the coming days.

Political Confusion on the European Union Gains Ground on the Left: Jacques Sapir and the Front National.

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Selling Your Soul to Mr. Putin

Jacques Sapir: Red/Brown Alliance Against European Union. 

There is an excellent French Blog site which deals in “political confusionism”.

Back in July it picked up on a development that’s hit the headlines in France over the last few days: the call by “left” economist Jacques Sapir for an alliance with the Front National. (JACQUES SAPIR, UN HOMME DE GAUCHE ?).

Like many people (including we note floating voter Tariq Ali who got a column in Le Monde recently hinting darkly at ‘the left’ turning against Europe) he is claiming that the crisis in Greece shows the need for a left-wing anti-European Union stand.

Sapir has gone one stage further than the NO2EU UK left and indicated that he would be favourable to this:

 L’économiste «hétérodoxe» préconise une alliance des partis anti-euro, regroupant le Front de gauche et le Front national.

Like certain British Labour politicians he has a fondness for evoking memories of the Resistance.

Sapir gave the Conseil national de la résistance (CNR) as his model.

Sapir is no unknown: a prominent economist, and Director of the Centre d’études des modes d’industrialisation (CEMI-EHESS), he has been close to the Front de Gauche, to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de Gauche and to the “sovereigntist” former Socialist Minister (and leader of the left tendency inside the Parti Socialiste, CERES), Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

On the Confusionisme site  Ornella Guyet adds,

Prominent in the current debate surrounding the Greek crisis, a prominent supporter of  “de-globalization” – whose theories inspired the Arnaud Montebourg’s (1) discourse on the question – he is also an expert on Russia, known for his softness towards  the Putin regime, equally famous for his careerism, his homophobia and his alliances with the far right in Europe. His site Russeurope, given legitimacy by legitimized by its academic pretensions Jacques Sapir is a frequent guest of  the salons of the Russian embassy, ​​as well as seminars of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank based in Paris to promote the image of Putin’s Russia in Europe. Not surprisingly, we find his name in several pro-Kremlin media, Voice of Russia and Sputnik News.

More recently, obsessed by the Euro, he has become ever closer to the “sovereigntists” of the Right:  the groupuscule Debout la République

Sapir claims that the Front National has “changed” from its far-right origins, and that in any case he was talking about an alliance of the right and left involving a party that has “come from” this transformed FN.

Immediate reaction on the left to Sapir’s ideas was not favourable.

Eric Coquerel, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s close ally,  called this strategy “an aberration”. He continued, “Given the scale of the current crisis, we must offer an alternative to  fascist and xenophobic reactions. Their nation is not ours. ”  Clémentine Autain (Ensemble), a leader of the Left Front  has said that “The phenomenon is not massive…but it  gives credibility to the FN . “

It is however well known that Mélenchon’s party is openly flirting with the idea of a “Plan B”, that is, leaving the Euro, “if a renegotiation of EU treaties fails .”

They plan an “internationalist summit for Plan B” to be held in late 2015 which bring together those in the like minded  “left” who agree to work together on the subject. (More here)

Sovereigntism, that is the belief that the “nation” has the supreme right to decide “its” fate – faced with international forces, from the European Union to NATO – appears to be gaining ground on the British left as well. The collapse of sections of the left to the belief that Scotland would be better off governed by its “ain folk”  in the SNP was one indication. After the Greek crisis, anti-European Union voices have become louder, promoting perhaps a return to a belief in a road to socialism outside of the EU.

At a time when fear of ‘foreigners’ – migrant workers, refugees in particular – is reaching an all-time high in Europe, playing with nationalism seems a dangerous gamble.

(1) Left-wing of the Parti Socialiste. Montebourg scored  17,19 % in the first round of the open PS French Presidential “primaries” of the party, which involved 2,700,000 voters who signed a declaration saying the backed the values of the left – without anybody wetting themselves about “infiltration”.

Istanbul Peace Rally Against against Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS on 26th of July.

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A photo showing two young women, Ezgi Sadet and Büşra Çetin, lying side by side with Çetin holding Sadet’s hand tightly after the bombing in Suruç has become one of the symbols of the tragedy. Both women were thought to be dead, but Çetin survived. She was first treated in Şanlıurfa, from where she was sent to İstanbul for further treatment ( Story from Zaman)


The Islamic State brutally attacked the internationalist youth group who met in Suruç on July 20. They had gone there to support the struggle for great humanity being waged in Kobani, and help rebuild the city.

As a result of this attack, 32 people were killed and over 100 people were injured. Although Islamic State has been held responsible for this attack, Turkey’s AKP Government, by resisting the taking of effective measures to prevent Islamic State and other reactionary forces, bears the real responsibility for these massacres of civilians.

Being part of the progressive international community, we hold it to be a historical duty for us to develop further cooperation against Islamic State (ISIL) and similar organizations. The Peace Bloc, in which HDP takes place as well, will organize a big march in Istanbul on July 26 in order to act in solidarity with peoples who are yearning for freedom and peace everywhere in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, in order to give a powerful response to Islamic State barbarism.

In this context, we invite everyone who believes in democracy and freedom to support our struggle for humane values against barbarity and Islamic State by participating in this march on July 26 in Istanbul.

Co-Presidents of HDP

Date: 26.07.2015, 4:00 pm
Place: Şişhane, Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas calls for a mass rally in Istanbul against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham(ISIS) after Suruc incident

Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called people for a mass rally in Istanbul on Saturday against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) over the Suruc incident in which 32 people were killed.

“We shall organise an international ‘peace rally’ against ISIS in Istanbul” Demirtas said at his party’s board meeting on Tuesday.

The ‘peace rally’ is organised by Peace Blog, consisting of different civil society organisations, women organisations, political parties, labor and profession groups.

The rally is planned to begin on July 26 from the front of Turkish National Television (TRT) building in Sishane to Aksaray district of Istanbul at 16:00 (GTM)

32 people were killed on Monday when the massive explosion hit the garden of the Amara Culture Centre where members of the far-left pro-Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) gathered for a press meeting in Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa.

The suicide bombing suspect is confirmed to have links to ISIS on Wednesday, after he was identified with DNA test.

Chaos and violence hit Turkish streets in aftermath of Suruç

Protesters took to the streets and clashed with riot police throughout Turkey on Tuesday due to widespread public anger over the massacre of over 30 activists in a suicide bomb attack in the town of Suruç in the southeastern province Şanlıurfa on Monday.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 23, 2015 at 5:11 pm