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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

Absolute love and solidarity to the families and friends of the victims of Nice.

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Absolute Love and Solidarity to the families and friends of the victims of Nice.

At least 84 people have been killed after a lorry ploughed into a crowd attending Bastille Day celebrations in the French city of Nice on Thursday night, in what is being investigated as a terror attack.

France 24.

Here are the main developments so far:

  • A lorry ploughed into a crowd of people in the southern French city of Nice at around 11pm local time towards the end of a fireworks display to celebrate the Bastille Day holiday.
  • The lorry drove at a high speed for a distance of around 2km through the crowd, according to witnesses and officials.
  • The driver of the lorry was shot dead by police. He has been formally identified as a 31-year-old French-Tunisian citizen.
  • The death toll rose to at least 84 people, including children, with around 18 more critically injured, the interior ministry said Friday.
  • French President François Hollande said the attack was “clearly of a terrorist nature”. It is being investigated by France’s anti-terror unit.
  • Hollande said a state of emergency implemented after the November terror attacks in Paris and due to end on July 26 will be extended by another three months.

Attaque de Nice : 84 morts, trois jours de deuil national décrétés

Par LIBERATION 14 juillet 2016 à 23:31 (mis à jour le 15 juillet 2016 à 12:38).
Un camion a foncé sur des spectateurs du feu d’artifice sur la promenade des Anglais, faisant 84 morts et 18 blessés en urgence absolue.

• Jeudi, peu après 22h30, un camion a foncé dans la foule réunie pour le feu d’artifice du 14 Juillet sur la promenade des Anglais, à Nice.

• Un nouveau bilan du ministère de l’Intérieur vendredi matin fait état de 84 morts et 18 blessés en «urgence absolue».

• La préfecture des Alpes-Maritimes a évoqué un attentat et le parquet anti-terroriste s’est saisi de l’enquête.

• Le chauffeur du camion a été abattu par la police. Il a été formellement identifié.

• François Hollande a annoncé la prolongation de l’état d’urgence de trois mois et a déclaré un deuil national de trois jours samedi, dimanche et lundi.

Le Monde,

Un camion a foncé dans la foule qui était réunie sur la promenade des Anglais à Nice pour assister au feu d’artifice, jeudi 14 juillet. Au moins 84 personnes ont été tuées, selon le ministère de l’intérieur. Les témoins évoquent des scènes d’horreur et de panique.

« On a entendu des bruits. Comme il y avait les feux d’artifice, on ne s’est pas inquiétés. C’est après qu’on a compris ce qu’il se passait », raconte Auriane sur France Bleu Azur. Cette habitante du haut du boulevard Gambetta est restée cloîtrée chez elle, comme le recommandait la préfecture.

Initiative communiste-ouvrière

These words show great dignity.

15 juillet 2016

Un meurtre de masse a été commis ce 14 juillet, jour de fête populaire, à Nice. En fonçant avec un camion dans une foule de femmes, d’hommes et d’enfants qui revenaient du feu d’artifice, il s’agissait de tuer un maximum de monde dans un minimum de temps. Ce vendredi matin, on compte plus de 80 morts dont de nombreux enfants.

Il n’y a pas de mots pour exprimer l’horreur face à ce nouveau crime. Un tel crime ne peut qu’horrifier toute personne ayant un minimum de sentiments humains. Nous exprimons nos plus sincères condoléances à toutes celles et tous ceux qui ont perdu des proches, des amis ou des collègues dans cet attentat terroriste barbare.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CnXQuUpXgAAeP2T.jpg

Written by Andrew Coates

July 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

Socialist Workers Party leader “failure of the US in Iraq was a “bigger defeat” than the one it suffered in Vietnam.”

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Writer Tariq Ali introduced a meeting on The American Empire and its Discontents. He argued that the US was an “ultra imperialist” power that had united other advanced capitalist powers under its leadership.

Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali Genial Friend of the People.  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

He said, “The dominance of the US remains unchallenged.” In the discussion others argued that Ali underplayed the weaknesses of US imperialism.

Alex Callinicos introduced a meeting on Imperialism Today.

He said the failure of the US in Iraq was a “bigger defeat” than the one it suffered in Vietnam.”

“Courses explored aspects of Marxist theory including alienation, the dialectic, exploitation and accumulation. Other meetings debated the origins of women’s oppression, gene editing, art and revolution and Shakespeare.”

More on Socialist Worker site.

And people wonder why we hold them in contempt.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

Posted in Anti-Fascism, Culture, Islamism

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Solidarity and Love to Families and Friends of Victims of Islamist Dhaka Attack.

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Bangladesh has a special place in the hearts of all progressive humanity.

In its fight for freedom the country suffered one of the worst Islamist genocides of the last century.

Our deepest sadness at this outrage.

Dhaka attack: 20 hostages killed Friday night, says ISPR.

Daily Star. (Bangladesh)

As per instruction by the honourable head of the government, Bangladesh Army  conducted Operation Thunderbolt, Brig Gen Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury, director of military operations, told journalists at a press briefing this afternoon.

Joint security force led by army recovered 20 bodies during a search on the compound of the Spanish restaurant, Holey Artisan Bakery after the operation was launched, Brig Gen Nayeem said.

The BBC reports.

Twenty people, all of them foreigners, were killed during an attack by suspected Islamists on a cafe in Bangladesh, officials say.

Gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka late on Friday before troops entered almost 12 hours later.

Six of the attackers were also killed and one was arrested, a government spokesman said. The attack was claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The siege began as diners were gathering to break their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“It was an extremely heinous act,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a televised statement. “What kind of Muslims are these people? They don’t have any religion.

“My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper said the gunmen tortured anyone who was unable to recite the Koran. They provided meals overnight for only the Bangladeshi captives, it said.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2016 at 11:07 am

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

Armenian Genocide Recognised by Germany: Turkey’s Indecent Response Knows no Bounds’

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A banner reading ‘Nuremberg says: The Bundestag is not a tribunal’ is held aloft during a protest in Berlin against the German parliament’s resolution condemning the Armenian genocide.

Turkish Banner Makes Reference to  Nuremberg to Dismiss Genocide Charge.

Deutsche Welle covers this historic vote,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the leader of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, failed to attend the vote on account of other appointments. Critics have said, however, that they deliberately attempted to dodge a difficult vote. Chancellor Merkel did, however, announce after the passing of the resolution that the Bundestag decision to designate the Ottoman killings of Christian Armenians as genocide did not detract from Germany’s “amicable and strategic” relationship with Turkey.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian praised the decision as “Germany’s valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity.”

Reactions

Steinmeier told DW that the vote was an “independent decision by the German Bundestag”

“Turkey reacted as expected,” he added. “I hope that in the coming days we will be able to ensure there is not an overreaction.”

Recently elected Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed “the racist Armenian lobby” for the passing of the resolution and announced that he has called Turkey’s Berlin ambassador Hüsein Avni Karslioglu to report in Ankara in response to the vote in the Bundestag. Yildirim claimed that Turkey had nothing in its past that it needed to be ashamed of.

“Ours is a country that prides itself with its past,” Yildirim said and added on Twitter that the resolution was “truly testing Germany’s friendship with Turkey.”

The co-leader of Germany’s Green party, Cem Özdemir, who has a Turkish background, told reporters that Germany was even involved in the massacres 101 years ago, highlighting that the German Empire at the time provided the Ottoman Empire with the weapons needed to carry out such war crimes. Özdemir added that the German Empire had also sent military consultants, who supported and fought with the Ottomans.

Green Party co-chair Cem Özdemir held an impassionate speech in the Bundestag calling for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians

“They knew exactly what was going on,” Özdemir said. “In this respect we’re guilty of complicity, and have to admit this.”

Armenian representatives  welcome the decision.

The report outlines the Turkish reaction,

Meanwhile Burhan Kuzu, a top member of the ruling AK Party, called ethnic Turkish members of the German parliament like Özdemir who voted for the bill “traitors” and added that they “should not set foot” back in Turkey.

The BBC adds this information:

In the latest response:Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim blamed a “racist Armenian lobby” for the resolution

The Guardian continues,

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Berlin after German MPs approved a motion describing the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a century ago as genocide – a decision that the Turkish president said would “seriously affect” relations between the two countries.

The five-page paper, co-written by parliamentarians from the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Green party, calls for a “commemoration of the genocide of Armenian and other Christian minorities in the years 1915 and 1916”. It passed with support from all the parties in parliament. In a show of hands, there was one abstention and one vote against.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had voted in favour of the resolution during a test vote at a party meeting on Tuesday, but was absent from the actual vote on Thursday, as were the deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and the minister for foreign affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Gregor Gysi of the Left party described Merkel’s absence as “not very brave”.

Complementing its reports on the decision,  Le Monde reminds us that Christians today face ethnic and religious cleansing and the threat of genocide from Islamists:

Le drame des chrétiens d’Orient

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Bernard-Henri Lévy Tries to Get Involved in Labour Party ‘Anti-Semitism’ Controversy.

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Interviewed on Channel Four News last night Bernard-Henri Lévy, French ‘public intellectual’ is the latest in a long list of  figures to have their say on the Labour Party ‘anti-Semitism’ controversy.

He solemnly declared, “something is rotten in the state of the Labour Party”.

The former New Philosopher expressed horror that there was backing for Hamas and Hezbollah – not something, he opined, we see much of in France.

Yes but….Er… (2014)

 

While awaiting further ex-Cathedra pronouncements, and the pie-throwing actions of  Noël Godin here are some things worth recalling about  Lévy relevant to the debate about anti-Semitism and the left. For those who wish an overview of the man and his works this, Wikipedia,  is a good place to start,  although the French version is much, much, better.

Casual attitude Towards Facts.

Lévy’s  the Testament de Dieu (1979) is a lengthy, one might without condescension call it a rambling, disjointed diatribe (I have read it believe me) , which argues for the centrality of the Law of Moses at the foundation of human rights.

It was amongst the first of his books to be riddled with errors.

Pierre Vidal-Naquet pointed out (the list is too long to reproduce) that Lévy put the birth of ‘original sin’ on the 7th Day of after the world was created.  That is on the day of rest (Monsieur Bernard-Henri Lévy place au « 7e jour » (p. 238) de la création le péché originel. Il faut croire qu’Adam et Ève ont profité du repos du Seigneur ; mais cette précision surprendra les lecteurs de la Genèse ).

More recently, Lévy was publicly embarrassed when his essay De la guerre en philosophie (2010) cited the writings of French “philosopher” Jean-Baptiste Botul.Botul’s writings are actually well-known spoofs, and Botul himself is the purely fictional creation of a living French journalist and philosopher, Frédéric Pagès.

Polemics as History. 

L’Idéologie française (1981) is a ‘reading’ of French political history that discovers the origins of  its specific form of Fascism in a wide, to say the least, sources. For the author these included most of the founders of French socialism, from Revolutionary Republicans, Marxists, Mutualists to anarchists,  the pre-Great War anti-Parliamentary left, blasted for the tiny group known as the le Cercle Proudhon, uniting radicla Monarchists and syndicalists, the 1930s neo-socialist, modernising social democrats,  the ‘personalist’ Christian review Esprit (better known today for its ‘anti-totalitarianism’), intellectuals, Bergson was an impulse to racism,  and, above all French Communism, as well as better known sources, notably those which were actually fascists, such as Action française, Charles Maurras and company. All of France, to the author, was riddled with anti-antisemitism.

In other words French fascism, and Pétain’s ‘national revolution’ were the product of just about everybody who wrote or was politically active in the inter-war years.

Informed readers will immediately recognise that the book draws on the, also controversial, histories of the origin of the French far-right national revolutionary current by Zeev Sternhell. Sternhell has read the original literature, although amongst many critiques cast doubt on his arguments and sources : Un fascisme imaginaire ).

It is far from clear that Lévy had more than glanced at the writings he cites. A leaf through the book last night revealed him citing Georges Sorel’s La révolution dreyfusienne (1908). He describes it as a virulent anti-Dreyfusarde tract, hinting at anti-Semitism.  In fact the short pamphlet was about the end of the conservative  ‘republican aristocracy’ whose unity was shattered by the Affair. This had led to the the political triumph of a ‘social’ republican wing that, Sorel believed, was the occasion for the working class to secure its own autonomous interests.

That aside Lévy may have skimmed one section. Sorel has some harsh words for literary figures (he included Zola in this list) who value more the effect of their literary positions (parti pris)  than the positions themselves. These stray lines, we may conjecture, might have seriously rankled Lévy.

The book was roundly criticised, when not laughed at. Amongst those writing hostile reviews  figured left-wing firebrands  Raymond Aron, Pierre Nora, Immanuel Le Roy Ladurie, and others too numerous to list.

This might be some time back, but we  expect this talent for anti-Semitic spotting will be put to use in his interventions about the Labour Party.

Backing for Islamists.

During the 1980s and 90s Bernard-Henri Lévy was more than a literary supporter of the Afghan Islamists’ fight against the  Communists and their Soviet backers. His most celebrated, by himself and no doubt others (including President Chirac) was his involvement with  ‘Commander’ Massoud’s faction of the Mujaheddin (the depth and reality of that acquaintance remains contested).

Massoud became an enemy of the Taliban, but was far from a liberal: his call to arms began against the Communist PDPA, well before the Soviet intervention. No doubt a case could be made that he was a “good Islamist’, but he was part of that mouvance, as the name of his original group,  Jamiat-i Islam, indicates. (see Quand les djihadistes étaient nos amis.  BHL en Afghanistan ou « Tintin au Congo » ?). He was, for those who backed the Mujahideen, above all anti-Soviet. It would be interesting, nevertheless,  to know if Lévy asked his friend about the group’s attitude towards Israel….

A comparison might be made with those ‘anti-imperialists’ who suddenly found a great deal of virtue in the Islamic  ‘resistance’ to the American occupation of Afghanistan.

Bernard-Henri Lévy and Human Rights

This question is often asked: Why Does Everyone Hate Bernard-Henri Lévy? ( )

Whole books have been dedicated to criticising the man, his works and his actions (Le B.A. BA du BHL, Enquête sur le plus grand intellectuel français, de la journaliste Jade LindgaardUne imposture française, ouvrage des journalistes Nicolas Beau et Olivier Toscer 2006. Un nouveau théologien de Daniel Bensaïd, 2008.)

Bernard-Henri Lévy is in short, often a figure of fun.  Many of those who enjoy French language polemical literature are keenly aware  of the pitfalls of taking his language too seriously. Sometimes the ‘public intellectual’s’ views are more widely shared – he is opposed to the nationalist enthusiasm for ‘sovereigntism’; he can – sometimes –  make stirring speeches against racialism. Sometimes they are not: the claim that religious dogma is the bedrock of human rights cannot be sustained.

People are entitled to be wary of somebody whose chief object is more often to impress than to convince. His occasional ability to rise above phrase-mongering does not translate well – a quick look at Sartre: The Philosopher of the 20th Century by BernardHenri Levy (Le siècle de Sartre, 2000) may put people off the French political and intellectual pamphleteering for life. The contorted syntax faithfully reproduces the original – which just about lumbers along in French. The florid  expressions could serve as a template for a factory of purple patches.

The contrast between his clumsy, hammering, style and the lucid writings of other modern French political essayists – I cite a few I’ve read recently, all from different political sides,  Alain Finkielkraut, Emmanuel Todd, Jean Birnbaum – is startling.

Bernard-Henri Lévy is  also politically – a rhetorician who aspires to the court of power.  Sarkozy indulged him; Hollande appears to keep him at a distance. To the wider public he is often out to make a case effectively, to convince us with a skilful show, and less positively, a person who trades in bombast.

That his words may, to evoke Sartre’s images, serve as a sword, as pistols, is, post-Libya, possibly true. That these are used in the service of justice is less than clear.

A principled politics of human rights does not involve backing for groups like the Mujahidin, or, more recently, unbridled enthusiasm for Western interventions everywhere, from Syria to Libya.  It means supporting people, not states and certainly not posing as a political player in armed efforts to impose rights.

It is our hope that we are not about to endure another bout of Lévy’s histrionics, at the expense of the British Labour Party.