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HDP and Party of European Socialists and Party of the European Left Declarations on Turkish Situation as Amnesty Raises Torture Evidence.

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Erdoğan  Regime Faces Torture Charges after Failed Coup.  

Amnesty International:

Turkey: Independent monitors must be allowed to access detainees amid torture allegations

Amnesty International has gathered credible evidence that detainees in Turkey are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centres in the country.

The organisation is calling for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, which include police headquarters, sports centres and courthouses. More than 10,000 people have been detained since the failed coup.

Amnesty International has credible reports that Turkish police in Ankara and Istanbul are holding detainees in stress positions for up to 48 hours, denying them food, water and medical treatment, and verbally abusing and threatening them. In the worst cases some have been subjected to severe beatings and torture, including rape.

“Reports of abuse including beatings and rape in detention are extremely alarming, especially given the scale of detentions that we have seen in the past week. The grim details that we have documented are just a snapshot of the abuses that might be happening in places of detention,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Turkish authorities halt these abhorrent practices and allow international monitors to visit all these detainees in the places they are being held.”

HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan) statements: 

The Way Out of This Crisis is not Declaring State of Emergency, but Democracy

HDP Imrali Delegation’s Press Release on Ocalan’s condition.

The concerns and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, kept in solitary confinement in Imrali Island since April 5th 2015, increasingly continue, particularly after the coup attempt on July 15th.  Both the analysis made by Mr Ocalan regarding how Imrali Island might be affected by a likely coup attempt, and news and information taking place in Turkish media, as well as, inadequate and careless attitude of government officials, towards the requests concerning worries and unlawful treatments regarding Mr. Abdullah Ocalan increase mistrust between the public and the state.

Our committee contacted government and state officials right after the coup attempt and delivered these concerns. We have stated the need for Ocalan’s family and lawyers, as well as, an unbiased committee’s visit to remove these concerns. As a matter of fact, the information gathered from these talks with officials was announced to the public, and we repeated our warnings applying their historical significance. While our concerns remain without response, Mr. Ocalan and other prisoners kept in Imrali Island, hindered from their rights to write and receive letters, receive phone calls and visits from family members and lawyers long before the coup attempt, are once again aggrieved by the declaration of state of emergency and its consequences by local court order.

This court order creates a more vicious solitary confinement. It is a provocative order targetting the common future of peoples seeking a way out of the civil and military coup vortex. It is an illegal and unlawful move against law, justice and democratic resolution. Withdrawal of this order carries a great importance. We also would like to stress the urgent need and importance of direct contact with Mr Ocalan to eliminate concerns and prevent increases in social tensions. Turkey’s only and main way out of this crisis is the resolution of the Kurdish question and other accumulated,long-standing problems. What needs to be done for this resolution is not imposing  solitary confinement, but providing conditions for a democratic negotiation. It’s essential to provide equal and free negotiation conditions for Mr. Ocalan, who foresaw the coup mechanics which are recorded in official reports, and he had warned state officials long before the attempt. A contrary move will serve the benefit of coup-plotters and risk bringing  our people into darker days.  This concerns not only the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, but also all peoples of the Middle East and the world without a doubt.

Within this context, we urge the attention of particularly the United Nations, the European Parliament, institutions of the European Union, CPT, Amnesty International, and national and international institutions, as well as, our people and public who stand with democracy and peace….

 

Wikipedia. “The Peoples’ Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP), Kurdish: Partiya Demokratîk a Gelan[12]), or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, minority rights, and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.”

 

Party of European Socialists:

REINTRODUCING DEATH PENALTY IN TURKEY COULD HARM COUNTRY’S RELATIONS WITH THE EU

The Party of European Socialists would like to express its concern about the thousands of suspensions in the military, in the police, in the justice system following the attempted coup in Turkey. The PES is worried the most about the debate on the re-introduction of the death penalty, initiated by the Turkish Government.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said: “Death penalty is brutal and fundamentally unjust. We are deeply worried that the Turkish leadership is promoting the idea of re-introducing it. We call on the government for maximum restraint and caution in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Any step in the direction of reintroducing the death penalty could harm the relations between Turkey and the EU. Rejecting the death penalty is a specific request to all the countries which apply for EU membership.”

As it was made clear in the initial statement of the PES from the 16th of July in support of democracy in Turkey, the coup, should not be used as a pretext to undermine human rights.

Stanishev said: “Any attempt of a power grab through major constitutional changes will push Turkey farther away from the EU and will jeopardize a much needed reconciliation in Turkey”.

 

European left (alliance of left European parties)  declaration.

 

No military coup in Turkey and no civilian coup either

The European Left sharply condemns the attempt of a military coup d’etat in Turkey. This is no way to establish democracy and no way to secure human rights.

At the same time we are very clear in our condemnation of the current arbitrary reprisals against real or presumed enemies of the Erdogan government. The perpetrators of the military coup have to face the judicial consequences of their deeds but the imprisonment of thousands of people on the flimsiest of pretexts is in contravention of the rule of law and creates new divisions in an already fragmented society.

We strongly warn against the reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey and we are appalled about the way Erdogan and his AKP government are using the current situation as a chance to reinforce the authoritarian presidential regime.

The Party of the European Left supports a real democratic perspective for Turkey. We therefore request the European Union to cancel the dirty refugee-deal with Erdogan and to apply pressure towards an end of curfews in Kurdish cities, of hostilities and massacres in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and the re-establishing of parliamentary immunity for the HDP parliamentarians. Our solidarity belongs to the progressive and democratic forces in Turkey and offer our solidarity in their fight against repression.

More statements:

French Communist Party (PCF):

 

Turquie : “La France doit cesser son soutien au régime sanguinaire d’Erdogan” (PCF)

Turkey:  France must end its backing to the bloodstained Erdogan regime.

 

We have witnessed a coup process second by second on 15th July evening with all its uncertainties, hesitations, countermoves of opposing sides and ferocities. This bloody night, which will be remembered with the clashes between the soldiers and the police, occupations in the media channels, images of massacred civilians and lynched soldiers and bombing of the National Assembly as a peak point, appear as one of the last scenes of the power struggle between the old partners inside the state that AKP and Gülen congregation built in cooperation. Based on the fact that Erdoğan regime does not hesitate to have resort to chaos and civil war atmosphere in order to maintain his hegemony since the elections on 7th June 2015, following the push down of the coup attempt in a very short time and reappearances of the government members on the media channels with refreshed images, many conspirative evaluations, that this attempt was designed for Erdoğan’s dictatorial lust to be actualized, had broad repercussion. Under the circumstances where the regime was consolidated with almost 50 percent of the votes in the last elections, a more reasonable interpretation is that Gülen supporters, who faced a huge discharge operation, and some sections in the army they are in cooperation with, have drawn the coup plan forth in a hurry.

Support our Turkish and Kurdish sisters and bothers against this Islamist despot!

An important article on the background to the present crisis.

Review of Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Verso: London and New York 2016,

CE TEMELKURAN  GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? Latest New Left Review – just out.

Extract:

 

The ‘fall of the Turkish model’ announced by Tuğal in his book’s title could have multiple, overlapping meanings. Has the model failed because it could not be exported to the rest of the Middle East—Egypt and Tunisia in particular? Was that because of its inherent flaws, or because social and political conditions were very different in those countries, as Tuğal demonstrates? However tarnished it may now be, we should not assume that the AKP’s political model has ‘fallen’, in the sense of being incapable of retaining power or mass support. Its followers have been encouraged to believe that social rights are a form of political charity that should only be available to those who vote AKP. They are mobilized by a gigantic propaganda machine which promotes a visceral hatred of the party’s adversaries; Erdoğan can break his promises whenever he sees fit, and anyone who dares to raise the matter will find themselves branded as the enemy. It is considered perfectly acceptable for AKP leaders to incite crowds to boo the family of a fifteen-year-old, Berkin Elvan, who was killed by a police bullet during the Gezi uprising. Turkey’s Constitutional Court was also anathematized when it ordered the release of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. Between August 2015 and February 2016, sixty people were charged with insulting Erdoğan and prosecuted, with each ‘criminal’ facing a year or two in prison. Recently, a woman in the process of divorcing her husband accused him of insulting the President, hoping to get the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Business owners of all kinds are kept in line, with the AKP’s sword hanging over their heads.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Honour and Glory to the Memory of Feminist Qandeel Baloch.

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Honour and Glory to the Memory of Qandeel Baloch.

Karachi, Pakistan – Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch, who was known for her daring posts, has been killed by her brother.

Al Jazeera. 

Police on Saturday told Al Jazeera that Baloch’s father, Mohammed Azeem, had filed a case against his son Waseem Azeem. The father also testified against another of his sons, who works in the army and reportedly encouraged his sibling to carry out the killing.

Waseem was in the family home in Multan when Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, died.

Both sons went missing as news of the killing spread.

But late on Saturday, Waseem was found some 100 kilometres from Multan in Dera Ghazi Khan and arrested. Police presented him with his face covered during a press conference, during which he said he “killed for honour” and had “no regrets”.

Baloch divided opinion in Pakistan, a largely conservative nation, as she appeared on television to speak about female empowerment, often dressed in non-traditional, revealing clothes.

She began her career by auditioning on Pakistan Idol and soon after launched a social media enterprise, posting videos that went viral.

On her final, July 4 post to her Facebook page, which has almost 800,000 fans, she wrote: “I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”

Her apparent “honour killing” has caused outrage.

‘Honour killings are epidemic’

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won an Oscar for a film about honour-based violence, told Al Jazeera that such attacks were an “epidemic”.

“I’m very shaken up today. Activists in Pakistan have been screaming hoarse about honour killings; it is an epidemic, it takes place not only in towns, but in major cities as well.

“What are we going to do as a nation?”

Chinoy added that an anti-honour killing bill should be passed.

“It’s upon the lawmakers to punish these people. We need to start making examples of people. It appears it is very easy to kill a woman in this country – and you can walk off scot-free.”

Nabila Ghazzanfar, a Punjab Police spokeswoman, said that the initial post mortem showed that the 26-year-old’s nose and mouth had been pinned shut before she died, blocking off her airways.

More reports.

Pakistani authorities have barred murdered social media sensation Qandeel Baloch’s family from “forgiving” her brother for strangling her under an Islamic law, taking a rare stand against “honour killings”.

Police in Qandeel’s hometown of Multan confirmed that Section 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code had been added to her murder case, barring her family from pardoning the alleged killer under the “Qisas and Diyat” law.

City police chief Azhar Akram said the Islamic law, whereby the family or heirs of the victim can pardon the murderer, could not be applied in Qandeel’s case after police added Section 311, through which the state becomes the plaintiff.

Read: Cleric in selfie with Qandeel Baloch provoked her murder, alleges mother

Qandeel’s brother Muhammad Waseem drugged and strangled her on Friday in a murder that shocked the conservative Muslim nation, where the 26-year-old had titillated and outraged people with her racy social media photos and videos.

Waseem, after being arrested on Monday, said he had no regrets because his sister had dishonoured the family by making a controversial video with Mufti Abdul Qavi.

Read: Qandeel Baloch’s brother ‘proudly’ accepts drugging, killing her, has no regrets

Qandeel’s father would not be able to forgive Waseem and other suspects in his daughter’s murder if he decided to do so at any point, Akram explained. Under Section 311, the discretion of accepting a pardon from the victim’s family is left to the judge handling the case.

Hindustan Times.

What the “honour killing” of celebrity feminist Qandeel Baloch reveals about Pakistani liberals

KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID

The cultural icon, known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”, was killed by her brother, in a country where more than 1,000 such murders occur per year.

Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death by her brother at her residence early Saturday morning, in the most high-profile of the over 1,000 honour killings that take place in the country on average annually.

Qandeel, whose official Facebook page has 783,667 likes, gathered her huge following through her social media posts that had, over the past year or so, evolved from eccentric trolling of Pakistan’s patriarchal tendencies to a powerful feminist rallying cry

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Turkey “Shoulder to Shoulder Against Fascism” as the Spirit of Mustang Rises.

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The Spirit of Freedom Against Islamism.

Al Jazeera reports,

Turkish Radiohead fans attacked for ‘consuming alcohol’.

Turkish police have fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people protesting after an attack on Radiohead fans for attending a listening party in an Istanbul record shop and “drinking beer” during Ramadan.

Unidentified attackers, apparently upset that people were listening to music and consuming alcohol during the Muslim holy month, forcibly entered the Velvet Indieground record shop, shouted at employees and beat fans of Radiohead with pipes on Friday, according to Turkish media reports.

Skirmishes between police and protesters broke out on Saturday near the shop as hundreds of people rallied against the previous night’s attack.

Several people were detained, the DPA news agency reported, while Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

The protesters shouted “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism!” and denounced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a “thief” and a “killer”.

Last night I saw Mustang.

This film is the best I’ve seen this year.

The scene begins in North Turkey.

Emma Jones introduces the themes,

A family wants to find husbands for their five daughters – but this is no Pride and Prejudice. Instead, the storyline of Turkish-French movie Mustang, a first feature film by director Deniz Gamze Erguven, turns the desire to marry off the teenage sisters into a psychological thriller set in modern-day Turkey.

The film, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, won five Cesar Awards in France and 2015’s Lux Prize – a cultural trophy given annually by the European Parliament to films tackling issues of social debate.

After the five girls are caught playing on a beach with local boys, their home turns into a prison, with bars on the windows, they are withdrawn from school, dressed conservatively, and marriages are arranged so no more “shame” is brought on the family.
However, the youngest girl, Lale, is determined not to lose her freedom, and she and her sisters begin to fight back.

In a powerful tribute to the strength of the human spirit Lale,  who loves football, is forbidden from attending Trabzonspor matches, resists her and her sisters’  oppression,  her patriarchal uncle’s physical and sexual abuse, and the religious rules of the prison-house.

Mustang is intimate, finely photographed, and scripted, and extremely funny.

Leaving the cinema in Ipswich people spoke of how brilliant the film was.

Many on the left, academics and those in some parties, think in terms of the ‘Other’. Having read this word in the blurb of a yellowing existentialist paperback they gauge events in countries like Turkey in terms of an opposition between ‘the’ West and ‘the’ Islamist world.

Tariq Ali, a romancer of sorts, has just written an introduction to a Kipling tale for Le Monde.

This may remind us of the imperialist’s famous lines, no doubt still resonating amongst those who view the world in terms of the ‘Other’.

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

 

That, cardboard deep poesy, was never true, as the history of  internationalism indicates.

Many of us have long shrugged off this approach.

We know people from the ‘East’ and the ‘West’.

We know that our lives are intermingled, that our ideas, our joys, our hopes, can meet and be celebrated together.

As Lale showed, and as our sisters in brothers in Istanbul show, our common fight against oppression, nationalism, religious bigotry, unites us.

As Turkey’s President Erdoğan wages war against our Kurdish comrades, as he prepares again to build a monument to Ottoman tyranny on Gezi Park, we know whose side we will be standing shoulder to shoulder with.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

Leading Bangladesh Gay Activist Xulhaz Mannan Hacked to Death as Islamists’ Rampage Continues.

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Murdered Bangladeshi gay activist Xulhaz Mannan (From Paul C).

Homage to the Martyrs!

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The Hindu reports,

Two people were hacked to death Monday at an apartment in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, police said, with a local television channel identifying one of them as a leading gay rights activist.

“Unidentified attackers entered an apartment at Kalabagan and hacked two people to death. Another person was injured,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Maruf Hossain Sorder told AFP.

He did not identify the dead, but private television Channel 24 said one of them was the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s only magazine for the LGBT community.

The BBC  continues.

A leading gay rights activist and editor at Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine has been hacked to death, media reports and officials say.

Another person was also killed and one person injured when attackers entered an apartment in Dhaka, police said.

Julhas Mannan was an editor at LGBT magazine Roopbaan and previously worked at the US embassy, friends said.

The killing comes two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.

Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist writers and members of religious minority groups.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, which had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.

Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.

Meanwhile Bangladesh’s best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday.

Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed “very soon”.

Earlier this month, a Bangladeshi law student who had expressed secular views online died when he was hacked with machetes and then shot in Dhaka.

Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were also killed with machetes.

The four bloggers had all appeared on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

There have also been attacks on members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Hindus.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 25, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Malia Bouattia: “Condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia.”

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Anti-Jewish Riots and Killing in Constantine 1934.

Malia Bouattia, new President of the NUS,  stood on a radical grassroots platform and made headlines last year after opposing a motion to condemn Isis reports the Guardian.

The new president is a controversial figure among many students, coming to prominence in the national press after speaking against an NUS motion “to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention”.

The motion failed to pass and Bouattia said she had objected to the wording, issuing her own statement expressing solidarity with the Kurds against Islamic State and condemning the group’s “brutal actions”.

“We recognise that condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia,” she said at the time. “This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”

Obviously this issue interests an audience on the left far wider than the student movement.

A particularly ridiculous response is offered by Lindsey German of Counterfire, who simply ignores the subject of the Kurdish fight and ISIS and states this,

Her most recent profile has been round a series of meetings opposing the government’s Prevent strategy. Her background as someone of Algerian descent gives her a first-hand knowledge of imperialism and racism. That means she understands the concerns of many of the students she will be representing.

The backlash against her has begun on day one. She will need all the support and solidarity that she can get. But today marks a victory for those who oppose war and racism. And a defeat for those who don’t.

Counterfire.

We note that anybody from an Algerian background, which saw a civil war in 1991 break out between the repressive Algiers state and violent Islamism (MIA, GIA, GSPC and the still active, AlQaïda au Maghreb islamique,  AQMI)  should express a position not just on imperialism and racism, and not only the blood-drenched Algerian military,  but on a very specific type of racism and persecution: that embodied in various forms of Islamism (Guerre civile algérienne).

This is what she says,

….describing how her family had been forced to flee civil war in Algeria when she was child .

“I know too well the price of terrorism, the consequences of racism and oppression,” said Ms Bouattia, a leading figure in the Students Not Suspects campaign against the Prevent anti-terrorism agenda.

“I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was forced into exile,” she explained, adding: “I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution.”

She explained how her university lecturer father was almost killed by a bomb and her school had been attacked by gun-wielding militia, causing her family to flee.

“I know many of you will have seen my name dragged through the mud by rightwing media, and might think I am a terrorist and my politics driven by hate,” she said, adding: “How wrong that is.”

THSS.

Bouattia comes from Constantine, Algeria. 

The city is also infamous for the French far-right Parti Social Français, PSF, and their successful efforts to incite Muslims against Algerian Jews that led to the antisemitic pogrom of 1936 (link gives another version of the causes) in which 25-34 Jews were killed and some 200 stores were pillaged. There is a long history of anti-Semitic activity in Algeria (by both pieds-noirs and Muslims) and the Vichy regime instituted official anti Jewish legislation.

In the present example 1941 around 18 to 20% of the City’s population were Jewish.

There have been no Jewish community in Constantine since the end of the Algerian war of Independence.

We would be interested to hear her views on this and more details about her – horrific – experiences in Algeria.

Indeed we would be curious  to know how the Algerian civil war was a creation of ‘imperialism’.

But it is about a contemporary Islamist movement, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that the present controversy has erupted.

Here is the background: Report on that Motion (2014) by Daniel Lemberger Cooper

Two motions debated at NUS NEC

The meeting then turned to motions submitted by NEC members. Unfortunately this part of the meeting was no feast of reason. There are two motions I want to focus on: Iraqi solidarity and Israel/PalestineI urge you to read the motions before continuing.

The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).

The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.

(I must also put on record that after only a single round of speeches, Toni Pearce moved the debate on. This was wrong: there was no opportunity to respond to Bouattia’s allegations. I had my hand up to speak in response, but was not called.)

Let us look at Bouattia’s arguments: is the motion anti-Muslim or pro US intervention?

The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the International students’ officer, Shreya Paudel. I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism.

Pro-intervention?

The US occupation, and its aftermath, has been an utter disaster for the people of Iraq. Resulting governments, led by Nouri Al-Maliki, have been authoritarian and carried out virulent Shia sectarianism. A civil war in the mid 2000s killed 34,000 civilians. Today there are 1.6 million refugees.

The dynamics in 2014 are complex. ISIS, who have grown out of Al-Qaeda, have seized huge swathes of the country; there is a new, shaky, shia-sectarian government; and a Kurdish regional government, whose self determination I believe we should support.

The ultra-Islamist group ISIS is a threat to all the people of Iraq. It is repressing and persecuting minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Sunni Muslim Arabs. On the 29th June it declared a “caliphate” (a religious dictatorship). It has carried out rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas.

These developments have been exacerbated and driven by US policy deliberately fostering sectarianism.

The situation is desperate.

In this situation, it is fundamental that the political Left, trade union and student organisations, like NUS, show our solidarity with the Iraqi people, in particular the hard-pressed student, workers and women’s organisations, and those fighting for democracy and equality.

It is unclear whether Western forces (which congregated in Paris the day before the NEC meeting, on the 15th of September, to announce a “game plan” to defeat ISIS) will send boots onto the ground in Iraq. We know already that French aircrafts have begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq; and that US aid has assisted the Kurds and Yazidis. However it is unlikely they will want a re-run of a war that even they believe to have been a colossal failure. It may be more likely that the USA assists established forces from afar to defeat ISIS.

However, the motion cannot be clearer in saying that such forces cannot be relied upon to deliver democratic change in Iraq: “no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.” If one were to believe it is not sufficiently clear or that the motion is not worded strongly enough, fine: make an amendment to the motion; or seek to take parts to remove or strengthen a particular aspect. Instead, the whole motion – which calls for solidarity with oppressed forces in Iraq – was argued as wrong. This is a grave shame!

It is also true – and Left-wingers should think this over – that the Kurds and Yazidi’s thus far would not have been able to survive if it had not been for aid from the Americans. Calling simply for an end to this intervention is the same as calling for the defeat of the Peshmerga forces by ISIS. The policy is based on a negative criteria – opposing the US and UK – instead of positive criteria – solidarity with the oppressed.

Perhaps this is what Bouattia meant when saying that the motion is pro-intervention? Such a suggestion is arrived at only when one’s “analysis” becomes an issue of principle: that even within limited parameters, that to suggest that imperialism is not the only problem is somehow to “support” imperialism. This is the basis of “Stalinist” politics on international questions: that one considers forces that oppose the US as either progressive or, at worst, not the real issue -no matter how barbaric and reactionary and fascistic that force is. This is not a useful or effective way of looking at the world

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty published a short time afterwards some important qualifications about this report: Fact and fiction about the Kurdistan row in NUS.

Daniel Cooper: I objected to Malia opposing the motion on Iraq proposed by me, Shreya Paudel and Clifford Fleming, and responded to her claims that it was Islamophobic and pro-imperialist. Some people have claimed I misrepresented Malia. The only justification I have heard for this is, firstly, that I did not state that Malia condemned ISIS. That is because it was so blindingly obvious: before the right-wing attacks on Malia, the idea that anyone on NUS NEC would not condemn ISIS had not even occurred to me. And, secondly, that I failed to report that Malia offered to support a different motion on Kurdistan at the next NEC if it fitted with her politics. Whether or not I should have reported this or not, it is hardly decisive! Does anyone seriously believe that if I had stated either of these things it would have prevented right wingers distorting and making use of what I wrote?

The AWL now comment,

The controversy surrounding Bouattia’s attitudes to Islamism and to anti-semitism over the last two weeks is not simply a matter of interpreting this or that comment at a meeting, or exchange on the internet. It has deeper political roots, which we are precisely attempting to sketch out here

Last year, Bouattia denounced a left-wing motion to NUS NEC in support of the Kurdish national liberation struggle as “racist” and “imperialist” and helped get it voted down. This sparked wide criticism from Kurdish and left-wing students, but when some right wingers including in the press noticed this and tried to whip up a storm against her by absurdly and shamefully portraying her as a supporter of Daesh, she responded by whipping up a storm against the proposer of the motion, Workers’ Liberty comrade Daniel Cooper.

We remind the movement of this because we believe that Bouattia behaved like a petty and unprincipled factionalist, putting her resentment at her bad luck, her prestige and the chance to attack a political grouping she doesn’t like above the massive issue of the Kurdish struggle. Although the NEC eventually, two months later, passed a motion about Kurdistan, NUS circles spent far more time and energy on the row than on supporting the Kurds. So much for anti-imperialism!

We have little confidence that an NUS led by Malia Bouattia would be more habitable for political minorities and dissenters, more democratic or more serious about political debate and discussion than one led by Megan Dunn.

There remain a host of other  issues about the new NUS President, not least the fact that some on this left backed her.

That is a matter for students.

The Gerry Downing-Socialist Fight  style  anti-imperialism of fools which led, and justified a rejection do support for the Kurdish people in their hour of need  signals a broader problem.

The central question for a wider activist public is: what is Bouattia’s stand on Islamism?

How does she qualify, judge and assess the different Islamist movements?

If she does not support the misguided state ‘Prevent’ strategy does she offer any other way of combatting and fighting these anti-working class, anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-left, and violent groups?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Saudi religious police now to be ‘kind and gentle’ to encourage “virtue”.

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Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Viceهيئة الأمر بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر

There has been much talk of ‘conservative’ Islamic values.

Here’s somewhere where one version of them are  put into practice by a special politice force.

The BBC reports.

The Saudi authorities have moved to curb the powers of the notorious religious police, or “mutawa”.

Members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will no longer be permitted to chase suspects or arrest them.

They must instead report observations to security forces personnel.

Religious police officers, who roam the streets enforcing strict standards of social behaviour, are frequently accused of abusing their powers.

Several were reportedly arrested in February for allegedly assaulting (YouTube video) a young woman outside a shopping centre in the capital, Riyadh.

In 2013, four officers were accused of causing a fatal car crash when they pursued two brothers who had refused to turn the radio down in their vehicle. However, a court subsequently acquitted them.

‘Gentle and humane’

The new law governing the religious police was approved by the cabinet on Monday, but was not published by the official Saudi Press Agency until Tuesday.

Officers will continue to help enforce strict segregation of the sexes, an absolute prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, a ban on women driving and many other social restrictions.

But the new law stipulates that their mission has been amended to “carrying out the duty of promoting virtue and preventing vice in a gentle and humane way, after the model set in this regard by the Prophet [Muhammad] and his rightful successors”.

They will also be obliged to display clear identification, showing their names, posts, jurisdictions and official working hours.

The law stipulates that officers will no longer be permitted to pursue suspects, arrest them or ask for identification – only report suspicious behaviour to regular police and anti-drug units, who will decide whether to take the matter further.

 

Gulf News:

Riyadh: The powers of the powerful Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the religious police in Saudi Arabia have been limited and they have been banned from chasing, arresting or asking for the identity papers of anyone.

As per a new structure and set of regulations endorsed by the cabinet at its weekly meeting, the commission will not move into action themselves and will report suspicious cases to the police or the anti-drugs squads who will be fully in charge of all the measures including chasing, arresting, detaining and questioning suspects.

The role of the commission will be limited to promoting Islamic values and supporting the specialized anti-drugs agencies in the fight against drugs by explaining their negative effects on families and the community.

Commission members will carry out their tasks in markets and public places and will work within specific times scheduled by their centres.

According to the new regulations, every member must display prominently a badge that carries his name, position, centre, and official working hours.

Conditions for recruiting new members include a high education degree, competence to promote virtue and prevent vice, a good reputation and satisfactory behaviour.

The commission has often waded into controversy over its specific role and immense powers, following incidents, clashes and standoffs with Saudi citizens that triggered calls to reduce its prerogatives and hand them over to the police.

In February, a video clip that showed a girl being beaten up in front of the Nakheel Mall in the capital Riyadh sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia. The girl and her friend were reportedly walking near the mall when they had a ‘bitter standoff’ with members of the commission.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Morocco: Two Victims of Gay Hate Attack, Imprisoned, Freed.

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Outside the Trial a Demonstration Against Homosexuality (4th April).

This story broke a few weeks ago.

A Moroccan court has convicted one man and is trying a second for homosexual acts, after a group of youths attacked and brutalized them on the night of March 9, 2016. The youths broke into the home of one of the men in the city of Beni Mellal, beat them, and dragged them naked onto the streets.

The case attracted international attention when a video clip appeared online on March 25, showing two men cowering naked, one of them covered in blood, being beaten, kicked, and dragged outside, while anti-gay slurs and “Call the authorities!” – apparently uttered by the assailants – can be heard on the soundtrack.

“Beaten, bloodied, and pushed naked into the street, and then sent to prison for your private life,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “This verdict will discourage victims from seeking justice and increase the likelihood of homophobic crimes.”

In March 15, the Beni Mellal Court of First Instance convicted one of the victims, A.B., for “acts of sexual deviancy with a person of the same sex,” under penal code article 489, and “public drunkenness.” The defendant, who according to his police statement had waived his right to legal counsel, was sentenced to four months in prison and a 500 dirham (US$52) fine and remains in prison. The same court that day convicted two of the attackers for assault and sentenced them to suspended two-month sentences.

Libération reports today that after spending 26 days in Prison the two victims have finally been released.

Homosexuality in Morocco is punished by six months to three years in gaol.

Two of the attackers have been discharged, two others who had been sentenced to two months suspended sentences have now been sent respectively to to four and six months. A fifth attacker, who is a minor, will be judged on the 20th of April.

The case drew international attention when a video appeared of the two men, their faces covered in blood, being dragged by their attackers along the street (La vidéo insoutenable de l’agression homophobe d’un couple homosexuel).

On Monday members of the group Femen appeared and attempted to demonstrate, with bare chests. “«Alors qu’une centaine de personnes manifestaient en défense des agresseurs homophobes, Femen est venu dénoncer l’homophobie d’Etat au Maroc», indique un communiqué des Femen qui réclame la libération des personnes «emprisonnées du fait de leur simple orientation sexuelle». While a hundred people have showed up to defend the homophobic attackers, Femen has come to denounced State homophobia in Morocco, they indicated in a communique, who demanded the people imprisoned for their sexuality be freed.

 Femen protesters arrested.

FEMEN MAROC

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2016 at 3:57 pm