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Free Ashraf Fayadh. Sentenced to Death for “Apostasy” from Islam.

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Leading international cultural figures have joined human rights campaigners in calling for the release of Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet and artist facing execution in Saudi Arabia.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, historian Simon Schama, playwright David Hare, and Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif are among the those calling for the death sentence imposed on Fayadh by a Saudi court last week to be overturned.

More than a dozen organisations for artists, writers, musicians and freedom of expression from the UK, North America and Africa – including Index on Censorship, literary association PEN International and the International Association of Art Critics – have also signed a joint statement condemning Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam, a charge which he denies.

The statement, which will be delivered to the Saudi embassy in London by English PEN on Friday, says: “We believe that all charges against him should have been dropped entirely, and are appalled that Fayadh has instead been sentenced to death for apostasy, simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”


Amnesty International. Poet faces death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia: Ashraf Fayadh.

Human Rights Watch.

The trial documents, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, indicate that members of Saudi Arabia’s Committee on the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, arrested Fayadh at a café in Abha, in southern Saudi Arabia, in August 2013. The religious police went to the café after a man reported that Fayadh had made obscene comments about God, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Saudi state. The man also alleged that Fayadh passed around a book he wrote that allegedly promoted atheism and unbelief.

After Fayadh was arrested, the court documents indicate, the religious police discovered on his phone photos of Fayadh with several women, whom Fayadh said he met at an art gallery.

The religious police held him for a day, then released him, but authorities re-arrested him on January 1, 2014. Prosecutors charged him with a host of blasphemy-related charges, including: blaspheming “the divine self” and the Prophet Muhammad; spreading atheism and promoting it among the youth in public places; mocking the verses of God and the prophets; refuting the Quran; denying the day of resurrection; objecting to fate and divine decree; and having an illicit relationship with women and storing their pictures in his phone.

During the trial, which consisted of six hearings between February and May 2014, Fayadh denied the charges, and called three witnesses contesting the testimony of the man who reported him to the religious police. The defense witnesses said that the man reported Fayadh following a personal dispute, and that they had never heard blasphemous statements from Fayadh. Fayadh also said that his book, Instructions Within, published a decade before, consists of love poems and was not written with the intention of insulting religion.

During the last session, Fayadh expressed repentance for anything in the book that religious authorities may have deemed insulting, stating, according to trial documents, “I am repentant to God most high and I am innocent of what appeared in my book mentioned in this case.”

On May 26, 2014, the General Court of Abha convicted Fayadh and sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes. The court rejected a prosecution request for a death sentence for apostasy due to trial testimony indicating “hostility” between Fayadh and the man who reported him, as well as Fayadh’s repentance.

The prosecutor appealed the ruling. Human Rights Watch was not able obtain a copy of the appeals ruling on the initial verdict, but the case was eventually sent back to the lower court. On November 17, 2015, a new judge with the General Court of Abha reversed the previous sentence and sentenced Fayadh to death for apostasy.

According to the judge’s ruling, he dismissed the testimony of the defense witnesses in the initial trial and ruled that Fayadh’s repentance was not enough to avoid the death sentence.

“Repentance is a work of the heart relevant to matter of the judiciary of the hereafter; it is not the focus of the earthly judiciary,” the ruling said.

The case moves next to the appeals court. The sentence must be approved by the appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Saudi Arabia has executed 152 people in 2015, which according to Amnesty International is the highest recordednumber since 1995. Most executions are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. The vast majority are for murder and drug crimes, but Saudi courts occasionally hand down death sentences for other “crimes” such as apostasy and sorcery.

In February 2015, a Saudi court sentenced a Saudi man to death for apostasy for allegedly posting a video to YouTube showing him tearing pages of the Quran. A local activist associated with the case told Human Rights Watch that the man suffered from a mental disorder.

Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and under all circumstances. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and it is inevitably and universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.

Saudi authorities regularly pursue charges against individuals based solely on their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, in violation of international human rights obligations. The Arab Charter on Human Rights, which Saudi Arabia has ratified, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression under article 32.

“This death sentence against Fayadh is yet another indictment of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record,” Whitson said. “The Saudi authorities should immediately vacate this sentence and order Fayadh’s release.”

Apostasy in Islam (Wikipedia)

More than 20 Muslim nations have laws that declare apostasy by Muslims to be a crime, many imposing the death penalty for apostates. In addition, some Islamic countries without laws specifically addressing apostasy have prosecuted individuals or minorities for apostasy using broadly-defined blasphemy laws. In many nations, the Hisbah doctrine of Islam has traditionally allowed any Muslim to accuse another Muslim or ex-Muslim for beliefs that may harm Islamic society. This principle has been used in countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and others to bring blasphemy charges against apostates.

Saudi Arabia has no penal code, and defaults its law entirely to Sharia and its implementation to religious courts. The case law in Saudi Arabia, and consensus of its jurists is that Islamic law imposes the death penalty on apostates.[211]

Apostasy law is actively enforced in Saudi Arabia. For example, Saudi authorities charged Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi writer, in 2012 with apostasy based on comments he made on Twitter. He fled to Malaysia, where he was arrested and then extradited on request by Saudi Arabia to face charges.[212] Kashgari repented, upon which the courts ordered that he be placed in protective custody. Similarly, two Saudi Sunni Muslim citizens were arrested and charged with apostasy for adopting the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.[213] As of May 2014, the two accused of apostasy had served two years in prison awaiting trial.[214]

Saudi Arabia school textbooks include chapters with justification for the social exclusion and killing of apostates.[215]

According to the “Online Saudi-arabian Curriculum مناهج السعودية الألكترونية”,[216] taught at schools, we read under the title “Judgements on Apostates أحكام المرتدين” the following (in Arabic):[217]

“An Apostate will be suppressed three days in prison in order that he may repent ….. otherwise, he should be killed, because he has changed his true religion, therefore, there is no use from his living, regardless of being a man or a woman, as Mohammed said: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”, narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.”

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

ISIS (Daesh) Must be Eliminated: Kurdish Worker-Communists’ Declaration.

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ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

ISIS (Daesh) must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement

Address by Dashty Jamal, of the Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan to the AGM of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. November the 22nd.

Published by the, highly recommended,  libertarian Marxist site La Battaile Socialiste.

Dear Comrades,

I am glad to be here with you on behalf of Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan and Worker-communist Party of Iraq- Abroad Organisation I express our gratitude at being invited to your conference. We hope that this conference steps forward towards radical changes for workers. The AWL and our party have always had joint points in our struggle for gaining a better life for working people regardless of where they come from. The cooperation between us has ever helped us be keen to fight for our goals. At the same time we adopted necessary constructive criticism about any political stance we thought we needed to change for the benefit of our class struggle.

Today you are holding your conference at a chaotic time when working people are put under the military boots of the world bourgeoisie. Just look at what happens from the very heart of Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. There are many who think that we are experiencing a third world war. The warmongering policies of the American, European and Russian bourgeois governments directly led to military and political intervention in counties in the Middle East and North Africa. This policy has caused carnage; death of hundreds of thousands; havoc; displacement and devastating any trace of modern and urban society in those countries.

The world bourgeoisie supported the reactionary states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, it has helped many Islamic groups under the name of “moderate Islamists” rise in America and Europe. These groups get massive financial supports either from the reactionary Islamic countries or American and European countries. These governments build mosques and other religious foundations under the name of multiculturalism and “respecting tolerance”? The paradox is clearly visible when we see that some of these foundations recruit for IS and other terrorist groups or nurture many suicide bombers in Europe itself. As we see this also revives racism in European countries in a very extreme level.

All this is the outcome of the aims of the world bourgeoisie and the imperialistic blocs, the USA and its allies in Europe and Russia and its allies. Their race is all about having control over the world, and divides the world between themselves. They compete on having their hegemony over other countries and expand their capital markets. They don’t care about the death of hundreds of thousands and destroying many parts of the world. It is not important for them to plunge the whole world in blood. As Marx put it this system is a like a vampire which sucks the life out of the working class.. But we have to do something. They must be stopped. They don’t fight IS; this vicious Islamic force is a project and they use it as a justification to achieve their goal. IS must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement.

We need a socialist platform to end the chaotic humanity lives in. We have to have a clear stance against imperialistic policy of the bourgeoisie and their state allies in the world and in the area. It is our duty to defend freedom, safety and stability of these societies. The working class and deprived mass must restore the political will to decide about their future and the political system, which can guarantee a dignified life. The freedom-loving people and the civilised humanity have the intention to put an end to this savage stage we are in. But the communists and the socialists must be in fore front of this struggle.

As far as Britain is concerned, we are overtly witnessing two different poles in our society. The Conservatives, who merged themselves into the imperialist pole and are a part of what happens in the Middle East, want to drive the British society into more dismal conditions. See how they cut the budget; follow austerity policies; cut social and housing benefits; increase tuition fees and so on. They are definitely supporting political Islam in Britain. We should undoubtedly stand against the Conservatives’ policy.

This is a chance to turn to the other pole, the working class, the left, and the socialists in Britain. Let me honestly say something about Labour Party. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a turning point for the party and the whole society. His policy, for instance against cutting budget, refusing nuclear weapons, suggesting national education service, better health service, and so on, is good for the society. We have to support these and any other suggestions, which can lead to the betterment of people’s life. But we still need to ask ourselves: is the Labour Party socialist? Does it work for abolishing wage labour and thus gaining full equality between all humans? We are now talking about reformism and socialism. Is what is going on inthe Labour Party enough? To have a better life conditions is good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to essential changes if we don’t have a strategy to do that. Reform can pave the way to socialism, but itself is not socialism. This is the boundary between us, as socialists, and the reformists. We need a worker revolution to end all what we have seen and experienced, a revolution leading to socialism.

We need now, more than ever, to polarise British society into capitalism and socialism. We need more than what is suggested till now. A socialist platform needs to be put before society: higher wages; lower work hours; better housing, free education and health services; stopping imperialist agenda; stopping support to the reactionary governments in the Middle East…. can be among many other demands. If we don’t have such a party that carries out such a strategic agenda, we might try to make the Labour Party a tribune for an independent socialist platform and strengthening a political and theoretical struggle to prevent that Labour Party goes towards right wing moreover.

We hope that your conference would insist on such a socialist strategy and platform. Good luck!

Long live socialism.

Comrade Jamal has also written this in June 2015 (Workers’ Liberty)

Where did ISIS come from?

His conclusions are important.

Some points worth fighting for

1. Mass resistance against ISIS, follow the example of Kobani people.

2. Establishing a secular and progressive government to guarantee the influence of the mass of people.

3. Changing the laws, all over the world, in favour of freedom and prosperity for all the humanity (wherever they are)

4. The universal support for freedom, secularism and mass resistance in the Middle East.

5. Immediately help all who have been displaced disregard from their religion or race. Any country which supported ISIS and especially Turkey must not only be condemned; but also  be interrogated.

6. To ask the France and European countries to grant asylum to Yazidis, Christians and every one forced to flee from ISIS.

7. Any activities and demonstrations by ISIS supporters must be opposed by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing.

Tolerating these groups may give justification to other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.

8. As a part of maximum combat against ISIS, and its ideology, any financial support to the Islamic organisations and centers who work under the name of Islamic community must be cut. Their activities must be put under control. The religious schools must be shut down and mosques must not be allowed to be used as centres for nurturing terrorists.

After last night’s Channel Four, ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled  point 7 has particular resonance.

Tomorrow night, Channel 4 will broadcast an undercover investigation which has uncovered some of the key British women who are supporting Isis – right here in the UK. Led by young British Muslim reporters, the production team managed, over 12-months, to infiltrate an inner circle of British women glorifying jihadis and promoting extreme Isis ideology both online and directly to women and young impressionable girls – often in the presence of very young children.

Captured before the deadly attacks in Paris, the undercover footage shows female Islamic State sympathisers in Britain who, in weekly two-hour lectures in London, are: using racially abusive language to describe Jews and Israelis, telling young Muslim women Britain is waging a war against them and urging them to abandon democracy and travel to Syria to join ISIS.

One of the women the programme identifies is the former leader of the female wing of the banned terror group once known as al Muhajiroun whilst another is known to have resided with an extremist preacher, also a former member of Al Muhajiroun.

The three women, identify themselves as Umm Saalihah, Umm L and Umm Usmaan on Twitter. Two operate in positions of authority within their circles and lecture women in secretive study sessions.

They are first identified in the investigation after promoting pro-Isis ideology on social media platforms. After extensive direct messaging on Twitter and making key contacts at a demonstration outside Regents Park Mosque, the undercover reporter is able to meet them face-to-face at an Islamic roadshow on Lewisham High Street, London. Gaining their trust, she is able to join them at their closely-guarded women-only study sessions which are strictly by invitation only.

The investigation was brought to a close four weeks before the attacks on Paris when the women – who were all established close contacts – became suspicious of the undercover reporter. The leader of the study circles Umm L challenged the reporter, preventing her from leaving unless they can look through her possessions. Eventually the reporter was able to leave but was banned from future contact and attending future sessions.

You can Watch the Documentary Here.

This is also extremely important: Les attentats du 13 novembre à Paris : la terreur de l’Etat islamique, l’état d’urgence en France, nos responsabilités 22 novembre 2015, par ROUSSET Pierre, SABADO François – the authors of some of the best writing and thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher massacres.  The present analysis is simply brilliant., working with the premises of solidarity with the victims and “ Quel que soit le rôle de l’impérialisme, l’Etat islamique est responsable de ses actes”.

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

French Communist Party: Democracy is a Weapon in the Fight Against Islamic State.

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Press release from Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party after the Paris killings.

Our country has just experienced one of the worst events in its history. Last night’s simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, for which Daesh [short for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham] claims responsibility, and which, at this moment, have resulted in 127 deaths and 200 casualties, were horrifying. France is in mourning.

The day after the carnage, our first thoughts go out to the victims, their families, to those close to them, to the witnesses and to all those whose lives were threatened. For all, the pain is immense. Each and every one of us in France feels deeply wounded.

We salute the work of law enforcement, the emergency services, the Accident and Emergency doctors, healthcare workers and public service personnel, whose response to the situation has been exemplary, as has the people’s solidarity, which was felt straight away.

Less than a year after the attacks in January [on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7], the Republic has been struck at its heart.
Even as a state of emergency has now been declared by the government, reinforcement of the police and of the justice system’s resources is an imperative. The state must find suitable ways to guarantee the people’s safety in the long term.

I ask our people not to give in to fear, and to stand together for freedom, equality, fraternity, and for peace. We must make careful distinctions between issues, and avoid stigmatization. Together, we must firmly reject hatred and racism.

France is affected by the war and the destabilization that is plaguing the Middle-East. The fight against terrorism calls for increased engagement and international solutions.
It can only be won by coming together to create a united society that places, at the heart of all its decisions, human emancipation, the values of the Republic and peace.

The French Communist Party, its representatives and its elected officials, will support all initiatives that, in the days to come, will allow our fellow citizens to take on together this challenge and to open up a path of hope for our people.

In this tragic time, the French Communist Party has put all election-campaign activities on hold.

Translated Sunday 15 November 2015, by Ciaran Edwards

Reposted from l’Humanité in English

Friday 20th November: for the French Communists the fight against the Islamic State, Daesh, must take place within democratic framework.

In a special issue of l’Humanité today they make this clear, above all calling for Parliamentary control of the state of emergency.

No democracy is not an obstacle in the fight against Daesh. The state of emergency has been extended to three months: the need for Parliamentary surveillance and control is more than ever indispensable.

Nos libertés contre la terreur Patrick Le Hyaric.

This follows the important  interview with  leading Communist Pierre Dharréville “National unity around the values ​​of the Republic” on the PCF’s site:

The day after the speech of François Hollande before Congress,  he warned,

A response in the spirit of revenge will only lead to further disasters. The President has declared  war. But I have not heard any analysis on the results of the international policy of France and the effects of repeated interventions over the last fifteen years in the Middle East, and Africa, often outside the framework of international law. Since 2007, France has broken with the best traditions of  its foreign policy. We must redefine our objectives and those of the international community whose eagerness to intervene militarily for neocolonial objectives has only been equaled by the weakness of its diplomatic efforts to build peace in the world.

Pierre Dharréville also stated,

We must  find ways taking democratic control over tje  emergency measures. I can hear in them the influence of forces that were already  going in reactionary directions using this opportunity to drive home reactionary approaches  that will sweep away elementary principles of laws. law.

He listed the proposal to remove French nationality from people convicted of terrorist offences, the stigmatising of groups, notably refugees, and Muslims as of great concern.

Notably Dharréville stated that Deash is a political not a religious enemy,

The Islamic State – Daesh –  has a totalitarian project, grounded on the logic of purification, which has taken the flag of Islam like a Bullfighter takes his muleta.


Secularism is the guiding principle of our Republic, but I would warn against any attempt to divert into a way of stigmatising and dividing our people.

On National Unity he concluded,

For us, national unity can only take on the values ​​of the Republic and around building a society of peace. It can not be done on the basis of obedience to the leader. We will approve what we think is good for the security and defence of our freedoms.

More: Win the War? No, Put an End To It

Translated Tuesday 17 November 2015, by Isabelle Métral

Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Remembers Victims of Terrorism.

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Rassemblement pour la paix à Molenbeek

Le Soir.

Molenbeek : Entre 2.000 et 2.500 personnes au rassemblement en mémoire des victimes de Paris

Up to 2,500 people assembled in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, yesterday, in memory of the victims of terrorism and political violence, in Paris, and throughout the world.” le Vif.

Videos and report on RTBF: Un rassemblement en hommage aux victimes des attentats de Paris à Molenbeek

Paris attacks: Is Molenbeek a haven for Belgian jihadis? BBC.

There has been great deal of discussion about French secularism in recent days.

Little has been favourable.

Some people have tried to implicate  French  Laïcité for the attacks in Paris – asserting that it is one means by which Islam and Muslims are excluded from France’s republic. .

This is the position in Belgium – where the members of the  jihadist Einsatzgruppen planned their killings, and where some of the murderers come from.

Belgian law: Currently, section 181 of the Belgian Constitution provides as follows:

  • “§ 1st. Salaries and pensions of ministers of religion are the responsibility of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget.
  • § 2. Salaries and pensions to representatives of organizations recognized by law as providing moral assistance according to a philosophical non-religious charge of the state the amounts necessary to deal with them is the annual budget. “

Under § 1st, recognized the Catholic religion, the Protestant, the Anglican, Orthodox worship, Jewish worship and the Muslim faith.

Under § 2, “Act of June 21, 2002 on the Central Council of Philosophical non-denominational Communities of Belgium, delegates and institutions responsible for the management of financial and material interests of recognized non-confessional philosophical communities” recognizes a “non-philosophical confessional community” by province and at national level a “Central Secular Council“, composed of the “Secular Action Center” on the French side and the “United Liberal Associations” on the Dutch side.”


Put simply the country is not at all laïc on the French model, let alone a republic.

Belgian has a minority population from Central Africa, or descent, notably the former Belgian Congo.

As a colonial power – de facto ruled by Leopold lll – the Belgian state was responsible for forced labour and acts of mass murder that are generally described as genocide. (see: Congo Free State)

A terrorist group from a Congolese background that slaughters people in Europe has yet to appear.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

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 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

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

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).


The Aftermath of Friday: for a Left Politics against Islamism.

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The Aftermath of Friday: for a Left Politics against Islamism.

“Croire que la religion dans laquelle on a été élevé est fort bonne et pratiquer tous les vices qu’elle défend sont des choses extrêmement compatibles, aussi bien dans le grand monde que par le peuple.”

To believe that the religion in which one has been brought up in is kind and practice every evil that it forbids are two very compatible things, amongst the highest ranks as much as within the masses.

Pierre Bayle.  Pensées sur la comète, 1682

To watch, to listen, as the slaughters in Paris unfolded, to read and to think, as they sank in, was to be overcome by sadness and fellow-feeling. As witnesses told their stories, still shaking, the dignity of the survivors stood out. Fluctuat nec mergitur! Paris is shaken but has not sunk.

These are moments of high emotions. Love, solidarity, loathing and compassion. For yesterday reason was, rightly, the slave of the passions. Today and tomorrow we have to cast a colder light on what has happened and what should happen.

That ISIS, the Islamic State, Daesh, was prepared to murder is not news. Their killings in Iraq, in Syria, in Africa, and now in Beirut – scene of a tragedy shortly before Friday, and Paris, are present in the minds of millions. ISIS joins, as Hannah Arendt described totalitarian parties, these “secret societies established in broad daylight’.” (1) Modern media have made that daylight darker.

 The Middle East is now, it is observed, the site of  “phantom states” in large parts of Syria and Iraq. Not only ISIS but also al-Nusra are trying to build Islamic disciplinary regimes grounded on the Sharia. For the Islamic State religious governance is combined with, Weiss and Hassan claim, a “remarkably successful war economy”, with oil revenue supplemented by other contraband. They regulate and control prices. But it is the operation of their Sharia commissions that are at the heart of the machinery. The murder or enslavement of all who refuse to convert or bow to their form of Islam is only one side of their operation. Detailed rules for administrative and daily life are issued. The population is placed in a “Panoptican” of religious Gaolers. (2)

State capitalism to neo-liberalism? 

The left has tended to look at ISIS in terms of the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. Patrick Cockburn, with field knowledge, has described the “takeover of Iraq by a Shia government, an event which began a process at the heart of the present conflicts, between those supporting this branch of Islam and the Sunnites. A quasi-official article by Anne Alexander in the Socialist Workers Party’s journal, International Socialism, follows this.  She talks of the transition from Arab nationalist (‘Baathist’) “state capitalism to neoliberalism”. Daesh appeared in the post-occupation chaos made worse by economic plundering, and above all because of the Iraqi Maliki – Shiite dominated – government (‘sectarian state’) tolerated/or encouraged death squads against Sunnis and opponents. The crushing of Islamic ‘reformism’ by authoritarian government during the Arab Spring, above all in Syria itself, destroyed an alternative. In these conditions ISIS, an elitist guerrilla force, began its march towards the Caliphate, outflanking even Al-Qaeda. (3)

The SWP speaks of the “counter-revolution”. In fact one ‘Islamic reformist’ movement, once hailed as a counterpart to European Christian Democracy, predating and largely unaffected by the Arab movements, has consolidated its power: Erdogan’s AKP. With Turkey in mind it is to be wondered just how any self-declared “non-sectarian” form of Islamism, however apparently ‘democratic’, is when put to the test of political power. In Tunisia concern that Ennahda would follow the same path helped remove the Islamists from power – in a country where democratic freedoms remains relatively unrestricted The Syrian anti-Assad movement in 2011 indeed had non-sectarian and democratic parts. They not longer feature with any weight on the battlefield.

Alexander makes much of the view that Marxists do not consider that ideas have a “life of their own”. But the most important “social content” of all the groups she considers is their ‘sectarianism’, the growing violent division between Shiites and the Sunnites.  It would be hard-going to find any uniform class explanation that could cover the vast regions this affects, from Pakistan to Lebanon, from Iran to the Gulf to Yemen. To discover the effects of imperialist interventions in the murderous acts of Islamists in Bangladesh and Nigeria, or the tyranny portrayed in the film Timbuktu would be equally ambitious. How Boko Haram is a product of the failure of ‘state capitalism’, that is ‘socialist’ nationalism, or Third Worldism,  is also of interest.

A Utopian Disciplinary Machine.

If we consider that ideology is a “lived relationship” we might begin by considering at least some of the views of Tom Holland. He traces one of the sources of Daesh to do-it-yourself interpretations of the Qur’an. Abandoning the fruitless effort to assert that they are not “real Muslims” Holland suggests that the Jihadists offer, in their terms, citations always to hand, their readings of scripture. We could say that the administrative apparatus of the Islamic State, from its bureaucratic eyes of god, to those eager to inflict the Hudud punishments, is a utopian disciplinary machine. Whether its version of Islam ever had any element of kindness is beyond the point. That it competes with others, including Al-Nusra’s own blood-strained contraption, and the Assad regime’s bringers of death, indicates that it is far from established. (4)

One of the main problems is not to frame the Islamic state within class oppression and exploitation. ISIS is clearly a bourgeois state, based on an exploitative war economy, and social oppression. The difficulty is that its appearance represents more than a “phantom” at the margins of already dislocated countries, or in the heart of the Syrian civil war, poised not only against Assad but against one of the few rays of hope in the region, the battling Kurdish forces and their allies. The Islamic state has attracted support in Europe, and elsewhere, from the Maghreb to further afield, as Paris so sadly indicates. And it appears to cut right across the view that the world had seen the last of totalitarian attempts to create sweeping tyrannies that crushed the life out of millions.

The idea that religion had become a private matter between believers and their god had won wide acceptance over the years. This did not mean that faith had evaporated. It related to the principle that the Divine no longer ruled the public domain. In Britain multi-culturalism was based on the idea that one of the pillars of multiculturalism was that religious groups ‘communities’ would be protected as part of civil society, with political clout, but not a decisive say in politics. In frame the secular assimilationist state, laïcité, distanced politics from religion. Yet as Kenan Malik notes, neither country has been successful in removing all support for the Jihadists. (Observer. 15.11.15)

Marcel Gauchet has set out the influential view that in the latest turn of secularism, this  “pluraliste-identaire-minoritaire” model, behind the apaprent divergence between the two types outlined above,  is becoming universal. Serious efforts to impose religion had retreated to the margins, becoming an attempt to escape society, not dominate it. (5)

Yet now the religious flame that burned right through counties seems to have returned. In the face of Islamic both militant secularism and the fuzziest multiculturalism met something which is truly ‘Other’. Daesh is not a classical ‘totalitarian’ movement. There is no ‘Egocrat’ representing the People as One. But the concept of an embracing Ummah, functions as if it were the European far-right’s Volk, or Race. No difference from the Word and no division, religious, social or political,  within the ‘Community’ is permitted. The ideology is far from free-floating: it has a material shape in a state machine “capturing” territory and suffocating populations, pulverising and condensing class conflicts. There is no room for pluralism, different identities, or minorities. The impure have to be subdued, converted, enslaved, or exterminated. Postmodernist leftists were accustomed to claim that Orientalism, including the ‘rationalist’ Marxist and Enlightenment left  made Islam into the Other. Now we have something hard and really Other, in the….Orient. (6)

This is, as they say, a limit point. Daesh fights more against Islamic heresy than against anything else. But it is plain as a pikestaff that no form of state where the Shariah, which by its principles denies equal rights to all, starting with women, and non-believers, rules, is compatible with human rights and the ‘divisive’ labour movement.

Absolute Opposition to Islamism.

The mood remains sombre. For Malik we should be “celebrating diversity while treating everyone as citizens, rather than as belonging to particular communities.” This are good principles. Nobody should exaggerate. We should not lose our nerve. The Islamic far-right, no more than the much more influential European xenophobic and racist parties, is not in a position to put millions to the sword.  But Islamism, taken state form, is not just a problem for the Middle East. It is, as Daesh, is the object of armed intervention, from Russia, from the US, from France from – still in debate – the UK. How can these conflicts be settled by bombing? Will there be more atrocities in Europe? What will happen if those who have joined the Daesh Einsatzgruppen return? It is a political issue for us all. If only some of the previous sentences are true, the first principle the left should work with is: absolute opposition to the political-religion of Islamism and support for the left and liberal forces opposing them on the ground.

  1. Page 376 The Origins of Totalitarianism. Hannah Arendt. André Deutsch. 1986 (1951) She developed the point, “Secret societies also form hierarchies according to degrees of ‘initiation’ regulate the life of their members according to a secret and fictitious assumption which makes everything look as though it were something else, adopt a strategy of consistent lying to deceive the no initiated external masses, demand unquestioning obedience from their members who are held together by allegiance to a frequently unknown and always mysterious leader, who himself is surrounded by the half-initiated who form a ‘buffer area’ against the hostile profane world.”(Page 376) They are “based on absolute hostility to the surrounding world, is very different from the ordinary parties; tendency to divide people into those who belong and those who don’t.”(Page 377).
  2. ISIS Inside the Army of Terror. Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. Regan Arts. 2015. Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents. 
  3. The Rise of Islamic State. ISIS and the new Sunni Revolution. Patrick Cockbrun. 2015. ISIS and counter-revolution: towards a Marxist analysis Anne Alexander. International Socialism.. 2015. No 125.
  4. Tom Holland: We must not deny the religious roots of Islamic State. New Statesman 15.3.15.
  5. La Religion dans la démocratie. Marcel Gauchet. Folio. 1998.
  6. On totalitarianism: Un homme en trop. Réflexions sur l’Archipel du Goulag. Claude Lefort. Belin edition. 2015. (Original 1974). This picture of the state is a very brief synthesis of the ideas of Mille plateaux.Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari. 1980. Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la Prison. Michel Foucault. 1975 and L’État, le pouvoir, le socialisme.Nicos Polunatzas. 1978.
  7. The answer is a global human resistance to Islamism.