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No Platform for Fascists and the International Marxist Group in the 1970s.

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Image result for National front protests 1970s

Smithfield Porters March Against Immigration, 1968

“The fascists specialise in organising street demonstrations, pickets, strikes and petitions in favour of their reactionary policies.”

“The aim of ‘No Platform’ is therefore to deprive the fascists of the weapons they are relying on to develop. The streets, the pickets lines, and the factories must be denied to fascists. That is what ‘No Platform’ means.”

The policy is not “to break up private meetings of the (National) Front”

“The essential aim must be to prevent the major propaganda functions of the Front, marches, meetings and demonstrations”.

Fascism- How to smash it International Marxist Group. October 1974.

From  Anti-fascism, anti-racism and ‘no platformThe Red Mole.


In the early 1970s, the term ‘no platform’ was first used to describe the anti-fascist strategy of denying fascist organisations the public space to organise and disseminate their propaganda. The denial of public space had been an integral part of the militant anti-fascist movement since the 1930s, employed by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), various Jewish groups and other assorted anti-fascists.


The Red Mole was the newspaper of the International Marxist Group (IMG), a Trotskyist organisation that built quickly amongst the student and anti-Vietnam War movements in the late 1960s. In the issue for September 18, 1972, the front page headline declared ‘NO PLATFORM FOR RACISTS’. It described the NF and the Monday Club (a pro-empire and anti-immigration grouping within the Conservative Party) as ‘mortal enemies of the working class’ and stated that these two groups ‘must be stopped in their tracks’. The newspaper argued that these groups needed to be confronted and were ‘not going to be convinced by rational argument’, calling for ‘a concerted counter-attack’ at meetings of both groups.

The IMG proposed that groups like the NF could not be afforded ‘free speech’ because ‘their racist campaigns are a means to destroy the organisations of the working class which defend such bourgeois democratic rights’. The same issue claimed:

the only way to deal with fascist type organisations like the National Front is to break up their activities before they grow to a size where they can begin to smash the activities of the working class.

While acknowledging that ‘[w]e are nowhere near a threatened Fascist coup yet’, but said ‘the methods necessary on preventing such a threat must be explained and demonstrated in practice now… We must begin to adopt the right tactics right from the start.’

Evan Smith is now writing a comprehensive study of No Platform in the UK, titled, “No Platform: A History of Universities, Anti-Fascism and the Limits of Free Speech’.

I have just this to add to the study – something that shows the distance from present debates about free speech and No Platform.

After  the Red Lion Square events of 15 June 1974, in which a student sympathiser Kevin Gately was killed in clashes over the National Front (NF) Meeting in Conway Hall,  in  the IMG stepped up its anti-fascist activity. (1)

Action against the NF was, they explained, not a matter of suppressing ideas that we did not agree with. Nor was fascism an imminent danger.

The threat was of a different kind.

Fascist groups, like the British NF, the Italian MSI, or France’s Ordre Nouveau, were part of a wider push towards a ‘strong state’: they were outriders attempting to build ‘mass movements’ that would demand more and more repressive measures against the working class movements that (in the 1970s) were on the rise, flexing real industrial muscle through strikes (as in mass stoppages and demonstrations against the Industrial relations Act).

Racist workers had struck, the IMG noted in Fascism – How to Fight it – against immigrants, in Mansfield Hosiery Standard Telephone and Cables,  and Imperial Typewriters. There had been strikes against admitting the Ugandan Asians, expelled by the racist African regime. The NF organised public protests against them on a scale hard to gauge today. The first far-right anti-European (EEC) campaigns had begun. There was virulent hostility to Irish nationalism.

For the IMG and others on the left the National Front”s acts could be considered to have some kinship with the ‘strategy of tension’ of the Italian far right, a ratcheting up of social conflict in order to establish itself as an effective pressure group on the state to take repressive measures that would bolster their own strength. It had something in common with the ‘strong state’  developed by the Marxist theorist Nicos Poulantzas, “from a “parliamentary State” to a strong State (Etat fort) in which the executive predominates.” in which the extreme right could play a guiding role.

An IMG education session on fascism that I attended circa 1975 involved showing a film about the French Ligue Communiste’s efforts to present the fascist group Ordre Nouveau from holding a meeting at the salle de la Mutualité on the 21st of June 1973 on the theme of  « Halte à l’immigration sauvage ». Violent clashes took place, which led to both groups being officially dissolved (the LC became the  Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, LCR and ON became the Parti des forces nouvelles).

The importance of these events for the LCR is outlined here:  Dissolution de la Ligue communiste (1973)

For the IMG  their action gave us a way of putting the importance of street battles with the far right.

Whether the IMG was right, wholly, or partially misguided, – all at the same time, perhaps, given the arrival of Thatcher – one can see a gulf between the strategy of ‘No Platform’ of the time and the controversy today.



Note: I was at the Red Lion Square protest.




Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

Sara Khan Critic, Roshan M Salih (Editor of 5Pillars) Speaks on ‘Zionist infiltration of Muslim Community’.

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Roshan M Salih is Editor of British Muslim news site 5Pillars  and a journalist at the Iranian Press TV.

Salih loathes  Sara Khan the Lead Commissioner for the Home Office’s Commission for Countering Extremism..

In 2016 he asked in a diatribe titled, Sara Khan’s The Battle for British Islam: A 250 page Prevent press release

Why should Sara Khan, someone without theological credentials, be given a platform to “save her faith”? And why should she have the last word on counter-extremism when there are far more qualified people to pronounce a verdict on it?

Adding to the argument that Khan lacks theological authority Salih considered that violent racist Islamism is not the real problem.

What needs to be looked at?

Rather, it is by holistically addressing issues such as British foreign policy and state and media Islamophobia, having a much more targeted counter terrorism policy, and by working with grassroots members of the Muslim community to root out the extremists rather than people like Sara Khan who have no ability to reach them.

So “reaching out to extremists” by “grass roots” Muslims (who these are is left open, perhaps he could vet a list?) is his domestic policy, for fighting “extremism”.

In the last few days it’s without surprise 5Pillars published a raft of articles denouncing Sara Khan’s appointment….

Salih has “controversial”, some might say extremist,  views of his own.

Here he was on on the Islamist mass murders in Nice (2016),

A former Al Jazeera reporter blamed “French Islamophobia” and the nation’s foreign policy for the Nice terrorist attack that claimed at least 84 lives and injured more than 200.

Roshan M. Salih, who is currently the editor of the British Muslim news website 5Pillars, wrote several tweets in the immediate aftermath of the attack blaming France for the massacre.

France is an Islamophobic nation with a hugely destructive foreign policy and these horrible attacks are a terrible blowback,” Mr. Salih wrote in one tweet.

“West buries its head in the sand about own crimes,” Mr. Salih wrote in another. “ISIS grew out of Western invasion of Iraq and thrived in Syrian war which France supported.”

So the killers  struck at ‘France’ – the whole nation is apparently at fault for Islamophobia and its foreign policy  –  impelled by the irresistible force of ‘Blowback’.

 Press TV, (owned by the blood-stained Islamist regime of Iran), for which Salih works, was in the news yesterday for this,

Ken Livingstone went on show titled ‘Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others?

Saturday was International Holocaust Memorial Day – a day when people all over the world remember the six million people, mainly Jews, who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis.

However, Ken Livingstone marked the day by appearing on a show that asked: ‘Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others?’

The show was published on Iranian state channel Press TV’s UK YouTube channel, and invited callers to call in with their opinions.

Host Roshan Muhammed Salih repeatedly claimed the Holocaust has become ‘an industry’, while a segment in the show showed an alternative event to Holocaust Memorial Day – a more general Genocide Memorial Day – being held at the same time in London.

A number of the listeners who called in then repeated anti-Semitic tropes, with one caller saying that Hitler ‘was extremely fantastic’ for the creation of Israel.

‘If it wasn’t for Hitler there would be no Israel,’ the caller, Ali, said. ‘So this idea that Hitler was a bad guy… He wasn’t so bad for Israel! He was extremely fantastic and it was useful for the fact that Israel has been created.’

Livingstone disagreed, telling Ali that that was a ‘really bad thing to say, it’s deeply offensive to Jewish communities around the world’.

However, he then repeated his claim from last year that Hitler worked with the Zionist movement to move Jewish people to Israel.

‘I mean Hitler wanted to eliminate every Jew who was living inside Germany, and that’s what he did in the 1930s,’ the former mayor said.

He worked with the Zionist movement to move… to get 60,000 to go, but it was about half a million – and then, he changed his policy and went for genocide.’

  It comes as no surprise  that the theme of Salih’s ‘talk’ is as follows


As for 5Pillars, what kind of a News site is it?

This speaks for itself:  (16th of January 2018)

US and Israel plot to establish Kurdish state in Middle East.

It transpires that the active involvement of the US in destroying ISIS in western Iraq and eastern Syria was not primarily to combat terrorism, as its spokespeople have been affirming for the past three years. It was to set up – in coordination with the Israeli occupation state – a Kurdish state in the area between Iraq, Turkey and Syria that could become a permanent US military base and serve as a substitute for the nearby Incirlik base in Turkey.

The bunch at the Sunday meeting included the following:


This is the idea of ‘human rights’ the Islamic ‘Human Rights Commission’ (whose idea of ‘human rights’ be seen here: In 2015, IHRC gave the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo their “International Islamophobe of the Year” award less than 2 months after 12 members of staff at the magazine had been killed by Islamic extremists) talks about.

Revealed: Charity leader Nazim Ali who blamed fire tragedy on “Zionists”

Islamic Human Rights Commission’s Nazim Ali blames “Zionists” for Grenfell fire tragedy

Sara Khan, Islamism, and her Critics.

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Image result for sara khan Inspire

Is there a problem with violent racist Islamism in Britain?

The Independent wrote last October.

More than 400 British Isis jihadis have already returned to UK, report warns.

Thousands of Isis fighters have already returned to their home countries amid confusion over the number of foreign jihadis remaining in the dwindling caliphate, a new report has found.

Research by The Soufan Centre estimated that at least 425 British Isis members have so far returned to the UK – the largest cohort in Europe.

But there are fears many have “disappeared” from the view of security services, who will not publicly confirm how many returnees have been jailed or are being tracked.

These people fought for a group that has engaged in ethnic and religious cleansing and genocide.

How can the support which led to their participation be tackled?

There are many reservations about the Government’s Prevent strategy, beginning with the fact that is initiated by the government, and extending to an appeal to “British values”.

Sara Khan wins over many by this saying this instead, (Mirror).

“The Bradford-born founder of Inspire vowed to tackle Islamism “in the name of our shared values, fundamental freedoms and human rights.”

Her statement  shines in contrast to the following,

Sara Khan’s appointment as the UK’s counter-extremism chief is symbolic of how the problem of radicalisation is ultimately addressed by the state.   Professor Tahir Abbas Visiting senior fellow at the department of government, London School of Economics.

..government rhetoric focuses on ideology, regressive interpretations of Islam, anti-integration sentiment, resistance politics, anger and disaffection towards failed Western foreign policy and lumps them all together as elements of a problem that has a singular solution. The solution is to modify and moderate Islam.

This is the heart of the problem for the last decade and a half.

Everything else that is important in understanding, breaking down and helping to eliminate issues of radicalisation points to a multivariate set of factors that are important in understanding the processes and the mechanisms through which radicalisation can be eliminated.

The research suggests strongly that radicalisation on the basis of religion is a later-stage process, whereas it is the sociological, political and cultural pressures that act as the initial push factors in relation to radicalisation.

In place of this – alas representative – gibberish Shiraz Socialist  In Defence of Sarah Khan  says,

Human rights and anti-extremism campaigner Sara Khan has come under renewed attack for accepting the Lead role in the government’s new Commission for Countering Extremism. Before this she has been condemned for accepting Home Office funding for her Inspire project and for being willing to work with Prevent.

Much of this criticism comes from Islamists and their apologists like the SWP. Some of it comes from left wingers genuinely concerned about Khan’s willingness to work with the government. Bizarrely, one of  the most outspoken critics of Khan’s appointment is former Tory Party Chair, Lady Wasi!

New counter-extremism tsar Sara Khan faces calls to quit BBC.

MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) is another prominent critic of Sara Khan.

This organisation issued a speech about Holocaust Day (Wednesday).

While worthy in its content, in defence of refugees and Muslims facing persecution, manages the hard task of not mentioning once the genocide and ethnic-religious cleansing taking place in Syria and Iraq at the present moment. (MEND Head of Policy speech in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.)

The National Secular Society writes,

Many of those who claim to speak for Muslims do not like Khan because she promotes a positive message. She encourages a degree of integration into British society. She says Muslims should obey the same laws as everyone else and cooperate with the British state. She has called for honesty among Muslims about hateful ideologies and intolerant practices which are specific to, or particularly prominent among, those who share their religion.

Her organisation Inspire encourages girls and women from Muslim backgrounds to be aspirational. It has done important work countering the narrative of grievance and resentment peddled by so many. And Khan wrote a book, The Battle for British Islam, in which she tackled many of those peddlers, as well as their counterparts on the white far right, head-on.

Is this really work that we should explicitly describe as ‘controversial’? Anyone interested in the future of British society should support the general thrust of what Khan has tried to do.

That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be reasonable analysis and criticism of her work. But if such a thing exists it has been drowned out today amid a hurricane of apologism. Advocacy groups such as 5PillarsUK, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee have berated Khan. Politicians such as Sayeeda Warsi, Naz Shah and Diane Abbott have cravenly jumped on the bandwagon.

The Mirror also reports,

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The fight against terrorism requires equal partnership between all parties, including Muslim communities.

“This appointment risks sending a clear and alarming message that the government has no intention of doing so.

“Sadly it will be seen as a move to placate those small sections of society who see Muslims as foreign, alien, rather than as equal citizens in this country.”

This is another comment.

The more moderately toned response from the Muslim Women’s Collective offers problems of its own,

We and the British Muslim women who participate in the online forum we founded – the Muslim Women’s Collective – are keen to ensure that the commission and the government engage with diverse voices in the spirit of partnership. With the increase in Islamophobia that has occurred (particularly the attacks on visibly Muslim women) our concern is that the commission will neglect this idea, and cast an unjustifiably wide net in terms of who it considers religious extremists, in a manner that risks being counterproductive.

Bushra Wasty and Sulekha Hassa

That amongst the extremists we are talking about there are those that have committed war crimes on a scale that can only be compared to those that took place during the Second World War escapes these critics.

It is recommended that these people read what Sara Khan has actually written.

This is how we can reclaim the British Muslim identity from extremists. Independent April 2017.

The rise and appeal of global terror groups are acutely felt here; approximately 1,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq, many seeking to join violent jihadist groups.  Between 1998 and 2015 there have been 269 convictions for Islamist-related offences. Intolerance and extremism has erupted in violence as we saw last year with the brutal killing of Ahmadiyyah Muslim Asad Shah by Tanveer Ahmed. And Muhammad Syeedy, a 21-year-old Isis supporter from Rochdale, murdered 71-year-old imam Jalal Uddin.

These facts depressingly represent the tip of the iceberg. Online, the spread of Islamist beliefs is unprecedented. There are 54,000 searches each month in the UK alone for extremist material.  Teenagers and children as young as 10 have been declaring their support for Isis. In some cases the authorities have had to deal with parents who have been found guilty of radicalising their own children. The challenge of Islamist extremism is anything but insignificant, and the damage done is immeasurable.

Yet despite this clear threat, public debate about Islamist extremism has become toxic and polarised. Entrenched black and white parochial positions, a common feature of our divided post-EU referendum society, predictably emerge.

On the one hand there are those who try to imply that all Muslims are de facto Islamists. Others go into denial mode, play down this reality and erroneously criticise those who dare raise the existence of Islamist extremism as “Islamophobia”.

Part of the reason for this is because both sides are guilty of homogenising British Muslims; terms like the “Muslim community” are woefully unhelpful, outdated and do a great disservice to the highly diverse and complex picture that exists among Britain’s three million Muslims. There quite simply is no single community. Yet when language is so important, this term is repeatedly used by politicians, the media and sometimes by Muslims themselves.

These entrenched positions cloud our inability to recognise the reality about British Muslims.  We fail to recognise the emerging positive trend: how young Muslims are excelling and contributing in many fields, whether in the arts, music, politics, fashion, the arts and drama.  They serve in the Armed Forces and the police, work in the NHS and, much to the displeasure of Islamists, are patriotic, rejecting wholesale the idea of an Islamic caliphate.

But there also exists a negative trend among some British Muslims, albeit smaller yet highly significant.  When third generation British Muslims inspired by Islamist belief want to join Isis or seek to carry out attacks in London because of their hatred for Britain, hard questions about identity, integration and belonging need to be asked.

Khan concludes,

Muslims must define what British Islam stands for: an ethical and moral religious framework which advocates for human rights and equality while weeding out hate, violence and discrimination. Likewise, confronting the wider obstacles facing Muslims in our country – socioeconomic and political issues, as well as widespread anti-Muslim discrimination – is vital. It’s important to remember that no one, apart from extremists, benefits from the presence of Islamist extremism in Britain.

 We can be critical of the Prevent Strategy, we can be hostile to the government’s foreign policy, but as a person Sara Khan comes across as a serious individual deeply committed to human rights who deserves attention and engagement not the kind of  denunciation she now faces.

See also:  Congratulations to Sara Khan  Sarah AB.


Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt Pickets and Attacks Corbyn.

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Labour Aaginst the Witch-Hunt complains, Corbyn “hasn’t spoken up against it.”

There is a serious issue about expulsions and suspensions from the Labour Party.

There is a need for the Labour Party to deal with this in democratic sensitive  way, and some people suggest that this has not always been the case. Others would like to see such cases dealt with as quickly and openly as possible.

But is Labour Against the Witch-hunt, the organisation set up (and suffering recent purges of its own) acting in a manner that helps resolve the issue?

They have had a hard job getting their operation set up.

Image result for tony greenstein picket

They focus, almost entirely, on the issue of anti-Semitism.

At the centre of their campaign, after some ideas on making disciplinary measures open, and “abolishing the Compliance Unit”,  is this demand.

We demand that the Labour Party rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which in its list of examples conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Instead, the Labour Party should adopt a simple, straightforward, definition of anti-Semitism, such as by Professor Brian Klug: “Anti-Semitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are”.

In other words they demand that the Labour Party adopts the LAW definition of anti-Semitism, so that they can say what they like about ‘Zionism’ as long as they do not show a particular form of hostility to Jews in which they “perceive” Jews for what they are not.

The definition they object to is this,

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

It goes on to state, (which, be it noted, is not the definition),

Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Now denying self-determination to the Jews is a wide statement. As are the rest of the items in these bullet points.

But the simple phrase, “hatred against Jews” stands for itself.

Surely anti-Semitism is about hatred, and is directed at Jews?

We can argue about the rest for ever.

And will.

But it does not take a Barrister’s forensics to see how their alternative definition, “how Jews are said to be what they are not”, is full of holes.

“Anti-Zionists” can simply argue that, for example, saying that Zionists are (fill entry in, from insults ownards) such and such, if they are Jewish, and that they are something, not what they are not.

In other words they want to turn the Labour Party into a playground in which they can shout to their hearts’ content anything that comes into their minds against ‘Zionism’ , something which they do not define.

It is little wonder, with a leadership that contains odd-balls like Tony Greenstein, and the heavy involvement of the Weekly Worker, Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Committee)  that few people want to be part of this campaign.

As can be seen in Greenstein’s latest ravings.

Having the JLM in charge of ‘anti-racist’ training is like having the Yorkshire Ripper running a Woman’s (sic) Refuge

It is outrageous that the JLM – which is only open to racist Jews and supporters of Zionism and the ILP – should be lobbying for the witchhunt of Black and Jewish anti-racists.  Perhaps Labour’s General Secretary, Crooked McNicol would like to invite the British National Party and the EDL to provide him with lists of who to expel?

He reports on their Picket of Labour’s NEC yesterday,

The lobby/picket of the NEC was extremely lively and lasted for two hours.  This will be the first of a regular series of pickets of the NEC.

Most members of the NEC slunk in.  Jon Lansman in particular made a quick dash for the door.  The cowardice even of most of the ‘left’ NEC members is shameful.  With one or two exceptions, they did not feel able to discuss the reasons why we were there shows that they cannot justify their turning a blind eye whilst the racist JLM dictates the agenda.


… Tony Benn, Joan Maynard, Dennis Skinner, Norman Atkinson – were giants compared to the pygmies of today.  Even though Corbyn has a left majority on the NEC politically it is weak.  It consists of people like Rhea Wolfson of the JLM, another of those who scuttled in and who has supported the witch hunting of Jackie Walker.

In other reports (Jewish News) of the Picket Jackie Walker claimed an Israeli involvement in a well-organised campaign, financed by “millions” to  expel people from Labour  for anti-Semitism.

One of LAW’s leading figures said,

Stan Keable, the secretary of the protest group, criticised Mr Corbyn for “keeping quiet” about “false” charges of anti-Semitism and called on Momentum to back automatic reselections of MPs.

“I’ve got a criticism of Jeremy, that he’s stood back while all this is going on, while this witch-hunt is going on and the false charges of anti-Semitism is going on, Jeremy hasn’t spoken up against it,” he said.

“There’s a political battle going on, he should have spoken up because the idea that criticising Zionism or Israeli policy and practice is anti-Semitic is absolute rubbish and he should have stood up against it.

Greenstein himself advises the Labour leader to develop a spine and stop “appeasing” “Zionists”.

Jeremy Corbyn needs to develop a backbone and stand up to the racists and Zionists. For 30 years Jeremy supported the Palestinians and called out Zionism. The Zionists detest Corbyn and will do anything to remove him. Appeasing the Zionists and JLM is making a rod for his own back. We have to help Jeremy Corbyn get rid of the racists in our midst.

It seems that Ken Loach is attending a public meeting of this body on the 29th of January.

One wonders if he will join in attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

Tariq Ramadan: Charlie Hebdo Versus Mediapart, Culture Wars Split French Left.

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Related image

Charlie Hebdo Claims Plenel Ignores Ramadan’s Behaviour.

Following the May election of President Macron, and the sweeping victory of his ‘start-up’ party, En Marche! in the following legislative contest, France’s left has yet to recover from the catastrophe. Union opposition to the new head of State’s reform of the labour code has, despite the kind offer of Presidential contender for La France insoumise (LFI) Jean Luc Mélenchon (19,5% in the first round) to play a leading role in the battle, begun to peter out. Last Friday saw, across France, only 80,000 out on the streets. It would seem as if Macron, despite some dissatisfaction inside his party at its simulacra of democracy, intends to keep running faster than his opponents.

Yet few would have expected that the French left would begin to tear itself apart, not on the political balance-sheet of the Hollande years, nor on the incapacity for the left to present a credible electoral alternative to Macron, but on its own version of the ‘culture wars’.

The politics of religion and culture appears to be a new dividing line on the French left.

Inside LFI divisions over secularism, laïcité, erupted at the beginning of November, when one of their deputies, Danièle Obono, expressed “respect” for the anti-Semitic leader of Les Indigènes de la République, Houria Bouteldja (Chez les « insoumis », les voies impénétrables de la laïcitéle Monde 9.11.17). This risks opening up divisions between those who stand for a ‘strict’ republican secularism (from the original Mélenchon group, the Parti de gauche) and those who wish for an ‘accommodating’ approach towards conservative Muslims and the defence of ‘modest dress’, above all the veil. 


But these splits are as nothing compared to the fissure on the left that has erupted in the wake of the Tariq Ramadan affair. Rapidly this shifted from the accusations of rape to more ideological issues. Abdennour Bidar called the (on leave of absence) Oxford Don’s work pitiful “dogmatism”. Despite a call for a ‘moratorium’ on aspects of Sharia ‘law’ such as stoning, and the other Hudud punishments, the doctrine is not questioned. The promotion of a mediaeval Summa of the Law of God is wrapped in modernist language designed to present a progressive veneer to the wider public.

At the same time there remains (as Caroline Fourest famously outlined in Frère Tariq. 2005) enduring radical – intolerant – edge for a more popular, that is, Muslim, audience. (le Monde. 15.11.19). Indeed some have questioned whether he ever really called for a change in aspects of the Sharia, such as women’s testimony being worth half that of a man, non-Moslems in a permanent position of legal inferiority, or indeed of the death penalty for apostates or blasphemers. We know that for all his regrets at the murder of our comrades, Ramadan was outraged at their disrespect of religion, and lowered himself to claim that the Weekly’s criticism of Islam was motivated by “money” (Tariq Ramadan accuse Charlie de lâcheté et de faire de l’argent avec l’islam) and wittered on about complexity, like some Revered Flannel, “Il faut nous réconcilier avec la complexité et non pas nous imposer la simplicité émotionnelle.” Later in the same year, 2015, he refused to show solidarity after the Bataclan slaughter by talking of the “déshumanisation de nos «ennemis» ou perçus comme tels….” 

Readers of Ramadan’s books in an English version can verify the inflexible heart of Ramadan’s Islam quickly. Here are two typical passages from The Messenger (2007). The author states of the Qu’ran in this, “revealed Book the written text, is made up signs (ayat), just as the universe, like a text spread before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Qu’ran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die. This doctrine, based on the “the oneness of God, the status of the Qur’an, prayer and life after death.

In the UK Ramadan has indeed concentrated on his role as a Herald in the Academy, apart from a brief foray into the support for the Ken Livingstone backed international campaign to defend the Veil, and more recently giving his good graces as a government adviser on ‘extremism’. But as Le Monde has more recently noted, as a preacher (prédicatuer), that is on Ramadan’s platform on which he assumes an active political role, is barely known in the country where he resides, Britain (le Monde. 18.11.17)

But Caroline Fourest indicates one aspect of it….

Note the name of Edwy Plenel which will figure greatly in the following.

Hatred Between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart.

Things have not stopped there. After some highly disobliging front page cartoons, a veritable ‘war’ over Islam and Ramadan has erupted between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart (le Monde. 16.11.17). The former accuses the founder of the web based news site, Edwy Plenel of undue comprehension of and indulgence towards Ramadan (by implication, Islamism), including public ‘dialogues’ with the preacher. (Entre « Charlie » et « Mediapart », l’histoire d’une haine). Above all the Editor of Charlie, Riss, has accused Plenel of condemning this to death a second time, even knighting their Islamist enemies, by asserting that they have engaged in “war” against Islam, a claim the Mediapart journalist hotly contests (Dans Charlie Hebdo, Riss accuse Plenel d'”adouber ceux qui demain voudront finir le boulot des frères Kouachi).

Image result for plenel charlie hebdo

This the full Editorial.


Plenel is the author of Pour Les Musulmans, (2014) In that work he states that “assimilation” on the French republican “model” is a call for the disappearance of Muslims as Muslims. For him this stand reflects a hatred of Islam, crystallised secular “intolérance”, “une laïcisme intolérante” and a rejection of the dominates and the oppressed being as they are, “un rejet des dominés et des opprimés tels qu’ils sont.” (2)

With these opinions the present clash comes a great deal of historical and personal baggage, even moments of friendship, or at least, co-operation, outlined in Le Monde, (16.11.17). This has been submerged, Charlie’s harsh language, and disobliging cartoon of Plenel has been met with a growing pile of defences from the Mediapart camp. One charge is that Charlie’s anti-Plenel Front Page is a new version of the notorious Nazi “Affiche Rouge” denouncing Jewish resistance fighters.

Image result for affiche rouge edwy plenel


Which not suprisingly got this reply.

The intervention of not just Caroline Fourest (who published images of public addresses by Plenel and Ramadan) but former Prime Minister Philippe Valls (on the side of Charlie), has injected further venom. There is a petition backing Mediapart and former Fourth Internationalist Plenel, supported by figures from the left of the left. (En défense de Mediapart et d’Edwy Plenel.) It says that Charlie’s comments are “diffamatoire, et haineuse” . It is certainly the case that Plenel immediately registered the present accusations against Ramadan, and compared them to crimes by paedophile preists (Edwy Plenel: le cas de Tariq Ramadan “ressemble à celui des prêtres pédophiles”).

This could be continued for pages but for the moment stops here….

It would be an exaggeration to say, as Le Monde does in the Saturday edition of the Idées Supplement, that there is an almost insurmountable gulf between this “so French” quarrel and elsewhere. In Britain, they observe, Tariq Ramadan’s latest adventures have barely stirred the media. Whether by policy, a long-standing deference to religious figures, or by fear of audience incomprehension. this may well be true. Le Monde’s Philippe Bernard even makes the claim that Ramadan is a “respected intellectual” this side of the channel ( Tariq Ramadan, un intellectuel respecté au Royaume-Uni.)

The British historian Sudhir Hazareesingh offers the interesting suggestion that British  people talk American and talk of “hyphenated” identities, such as British-Asian. (« Charlie » contre « Mediapart » vu du Royaume-Uni : « Une discussion consternante ») Both talk of a “quasi-consensus” around religious tolerance, anchored within a wider policy of multiculturalism. Yet, from the standpoint of some of the left this is not the case. Multiculturalism may be accepted as a fact in Britain, and diversity and tolerance valued aspects of the country’s culture. But as a politique, that is a state policy, many on the left in the UK do not agree with the institutionalisation of the place of religious figures and norms within the public sphere, nor, in particular, with the public funding of separatist faith education.


Let us be clear on one point. There are secularists in the UK, smaller in number than in France, without the Constitutional pillars that define French laïcité. Yet if we not as present as we are in le Monde, we are very visible even in the pages of the Guardian and the Observer. Secularists here are both of the establishment type that parallel La Libre Pensée in France and more radical left-wing secularists – for example in the Teachers’ union (NEU), and, to cite some this Blog has contact with, those around by Southall Black Sisters and Ex-Muslims networks. It was from this quarter that the petition came against Ramadan’s continued teaching at Oxford while he stood accused of serious sexual offences.

It would be true to say that very few British secularist leftists would identify with Manuel Valls and some of the more arid defenders of laïcité. The ex-PM would appear less the reincarnation of 3rd republic Radical Socialist norms, or even the defender of a French particularism posing as a Universalist, than a nationalist demanding assimilation. If the government Prevent Programme remains controversial in the UK, though hardly the dominant issue for the left that Le Monde describes, it could be seen as coming from the same template as French repressive policies championed by the same Valls.

But it would be equally difficult to sympathise with those engaged in ‘accommodation’ with religious difference to the point where tolerance becomes acceptance of reactionary institutions, and, above all, politics. Voltaire had some words about not accepting infamous abuses….

Le Monde editorialised a couple of days ago, recognising the risk of intervening between two enraged assailants, and called for an end to this ever-escalating fight: « Charlie »-« Mediapart » : halte à l’escalade.


Distinct from either side in this dispute some of us find the radical leftists of sites like Ni Patrie ni Frontières  speaking more sense. This section of the French left looks to a grass roots way of fighting reactionary religious-political ideas, from Islamism to the European far-right independently of both Official secularism and Official multiculturalism.

Having said this there remains a further point. Perhaps the most striking parallel between the French and British landscape is the division on the priority given to tackling anti-semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice. This, it can hardly have escape anybody’s attention, is one of the live issues dividing our left, last week, yesterday, today, and no doubt next week.

This leads us back to the Hexagone… To cap it all Gérard Filoche, the respected retired Inspecteur du travail, a well-known figure on the left of the Parti Socialiste, has been  found to have tweeted an image from a far-right site. This is not just any picture, but, taken from the Egalité et Reconciliation, portrays President Macron with an Israeli and US flag, a Nazi style arm-band with a dollar sign on it, while 3 well known Jewish figures, including a Rothschild, hover in the background. (Gérard Filoche, antisémite ? Le naufrage d’un colérique en 6 polémiques.)

There is a serious motion to expel Filoche from the Socialists (Filoche menacé d’exclusion du PS après un tweet antisémite). Filoche has admitted making an arse of himself, says that he was not the person who did the tweet…..but assumes responsibility. (Filoche mis en cause pour un tweet antisémite : «C’était une connerie»)


(1) P 41 and Pages 39 – 40. The Messenger. Tariq Ramadan. Allen Lane. 2007.

(2) Pages 106 – 107. Pour les Musulmans. Edwy Plenel. Nouvelle édition. 2016.

Charlie Hebdo Has a Laugh at Catalan Nationalists.

with 3 comments


Catalans Bigger Bleeding Idiots than the Corsicans. “We Demand a Debate”.

This is all over the Spanish media today.

“¡Idiotez o muerte!” La feroz burla de Charlie Hebdo al ‘procés’ catalán

El Paìs.

The Catalonia based  El Periódico (which publishes in Spanish and Catalan)  is less enthusiastic, describing the cartoon and editorial with the word – who would have guessed it, “provocative” –  but takes it all in good stride.

‘Charlie Hebdo’ se burla del ‘procés’: “Los catalanes, más tontos que los corsos”

Some of the Tweets they publish take exception to the comparison with the violent FLNC, but in our view the journal comes out of this in a good light by indicating this one.

There are too many other reports to signal here, but ask Comrade Google.

The Riss Editorial (pictured on the left, above)  is sure to win Charlie new friends as well:

Stupidity or death !

The Catalan independence referendum has shaken Europe. If all the European regions with their own language, history and culture start claiming independence, the Old Continent will soon break up like pack ice under global warming. Given that there are 200 languages in Europe, why not create 200 new countries?

“the worst dictatorship the world has ever known, the European Union.”

“Independence. A flamboyant word sometimes hiding less noble concerns.”

“We can almost hear the despicable Margaret Thatcher again: “I want my money back”.

“Besides these mercenary considerations… certain voices on the Left claim …a blow for cultural identity”.

“Why should the cultural identity claimed by Catalans be OK when the Christian identity claimed by European xenophobes isn’t?”

“Right wing nationalism and left wing nationalism have one thing in common: nationalism”

“When Catalonia has broken the shackles binding  it to the Spanish Monarchy and the Holy  European Empire what will happen?”

“Proud independentists will march through the streets to the sound of drums and fifes, taking themselves for the Durutti column, young girls will throw rose petals at the militants..”

“And when the evening comes everyone will go home and collapse in front of the telly to watch Wheel of Fortune and  Barça  in the quarter-final of the League. Catalonia will have really deserved that.


And so it goes….

On the Moshé Machover Labour Party Expulsion.

with 25 comments

Leaflet Handed Out at Labour Conference. 

Key Sentences  of Machover’s article,

Nazi collaboration

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism.

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement in support of Dr Moshe Machover

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party.

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party accused of writing “an apparently antisemitic article” and accused of “involvement and support for” two organisations, the Labour Party Marxists and the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The accusation regarding the “antisemitic” article references the controversial, flawed definition of antisemitism, which the JSG and many others on the left have challenged:http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/fight-antisemitism-and-defend-free-speech

Moshe Machover has been a friend of the Jewish Socialists’ Group for more than 30 years. He has spoken at JSG meetings, written for Jewish Socialist magazine, and participated in campaigns for social justice with us. We know him as an outstanding and sophisticated thinker and analyst, a fighter for human rights and social justice, and a consistent opponent of all reactionary ideologies and actions.

The JSG is not affiliated to the Labour Party but we have strongly criticised the right wing-led campaign to smear left wing activists as antisemiteshttp://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/statement-on-labours-problem-with-antisemitism-from-the-jewish-socialists-g

The Labour Party has a duty to take action against genuine examples of antisemitism and other forms of racism and bigotry. In line with the Chakrabarti Inquiry, however, we:
• favour education rather than heavy-handed disciplinary measures
• expect transparent, fair and just process with regard to complaints against members
• support Shami Chakrabarti’s desire to encourage respectful free speech within the Party.

The JSG chooses to support individuals suspended or expelled from the party on a case by case basis. In this case we fully support Moshe Machover and call for his expulsion to be rescinded and for his immediate reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party.

The JSG recognises the article by Moshe Machover, that has been cited, as a critique of the political ideology of Zionism, not of Jews. Indeed the article exposes antisemitic ideas.

The JSG rejects any McCarthyite-style attempt to expel members for alleged “involvement and support for” other left groups on the basis of writing articles and attending and participating in meetings. It is common practice for Labour members of all levels to speak and participate in events of other groups, and have articles published, representing their individual viewpoints, in a range of publications.

Solidarity with Moshe Machover!

The controversy began when the Times reported this leaflet being distributed outside Labour Party Conference.

The Weekly Worker asserts the following:

Expelled for saying the unsayable

Labour Party Marxists attracted much praise and support from delegates at the Labour Party conference, in particular because of the excellent ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ article written by Moshé Machover. Since then the right has taken its revenge. Around the country anyone who has expressed a liking for the LPM online or forwarded an article could well be on the receiving end of an expulsion letter. One of them is Moshé Machover. LPM’s Reg Kingston spoke to him.

The man himself blames Israel and the “useful fools” of Labour’s Right Wing for his loss of Party membership.

Frankly, I enjoyed your article, but I didn’t anticipate it would cause so much fuss. How do you explain the vehemence of the attacks? Why is this happening?

It’s the result of a conjunction of two things. I follow the Israeli press very closely and the wider political discussions in Israel in general. Quite some time ago – and I’m talking about before anyone imagined that Corbyn would be Labour Party leader (least of all himself!) – there was a feeling in Israeli establishment circles that they were losing the propaganda war. They responded with the Hasbara campaign.1

This was part of a decision to go onto the offensive: in a sense, it’s the last-ditch attempt to rescue the international reputation of this state. They are losing credibility in the arena of what could be called ‘international opinion’, but – more importantly – they are losing the Jewish public outside Israel, especially those under 30. There is a clear generational shift in opinion. These people are becoming very critical of Israel and its colonisation project.

You could see a sign of this at the Labour conference on September 27, in Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech. His call for Israel to stop the oppression of the Palestinians and to end their savage treatment won loud applause.2 This was a sign of the times. It’s an indicator of what the general public has come to feel – including a large percentage of Jewish people, especially the youth.

Remember, the Israeli establishment identified this quite some time before Corbyn’s breakthrough was on the agenda. They had already decided to go on the attack internationally, using this ‘dirty bomb’ tactic of labelling as ‘anti-Semitic’ any criticism of Zionism and its colonisation project.

In the UK, they found useful fools in the form of the Labour right wing. The Israeli state’s propaganda tactic of smearing all criticism of itself as anti-Jewish coincided with the Labour’s right’s need to discredit Corbyn and the left of the party.

Now Corbyn has plenty of enemies – both inside and outside the party! So this smear tactic was eagerly seized upon – including by people who care absolutely nothing about the issues of Israel-Palestine, the Jews, Zionism and all these important questions. They are totally cynical in their use of these issues. As Chris Williamson’s phrase goes, the Labour right ‘weaponised’ the sensitive and complex issue of anti-Semitism for the sake of narrow, factional advantage against a left in the Labour Party that was growing and threatening to overwhelm them.

It’s a dirty war.

  1. Hasbara is a Hebrew word for the public relations efforts of the Israeli state to disseminate abroad positive propaganda about itself and its actions. 

More information.

As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’


The grounds for this expulsion appear weak, Manchover’s convoluted, most would say, twisted argument about the details of the relations between ‘Zionism’ and Nazism merit taking apart not being slammed down.
It is a well-known trope – that the Nazis wanted to be rid of the Jews, and the Zionists wanted Jews to settle in Israel, so they could negotiate for new people to populate Palestine. So they did deals. He provides few qualifications for this picture, as can be seen in this sentence, “its collusion and collaboration with anti-Semitism, including up to a point with Nazi Germany”.
He then ends in an extremely contentious, many would estimate, deeply insulting, claim, based on an extension of the phrase “up to a point” to the assertion of systematic “collusion with anti-Semitism.”

We see the flaws in this kind of argument by applying it elsewhere.

It would be interesting for those who claim to support Black Lives Matter to imagine what if people were to go on about the links between Marcus Garvay, considered a founding figure in the movement for black liberation,and the Klu Kkux Klan.

In 1919 Garvey formed the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company. With $10,000,000 invested by his supporters Garvey purchased two steamships, Shadyside and Kanawha, to take African Americans to Africa. At a UNIA conference in August, 1920, Garvey was elected provisional president of Africa. He also had talks with the Ku Klux Klan about his plans to repatriate African Americans and published the first volume of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

Now in point of fact Marcus Garvey was a figure of some courage and stature, who fought John Crow and Racism.

Nobody is going to base a whole critique of his politics on this incident.

Nobody with any honesty, who is not out to launch a stunt, is going to offer a serious set of alternative politics to the Israeli government and the politics of the different strands within the Zionist movement with the kind of tendentious stuff offered up here.

There is a better response to those seeking to pit themselves against the ‘Hashbarh’ with these rusty arms, it is to answer them, and not expel them.

Now we can see some of the results.

This is one recent comment on the expulsion.

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm