Tendance Coatesy

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Syria: Air Strikes on the Way? How Should the Left React?

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Two RAF Tornado GR4's

Is ISIS massacre of 30 UK holidaymakers in Tunisia only the beginning?

Comments Paul Rogers on the Stop the War Coalition site.

He notes:

“..the great majority of people in the UK are hardly aware that this is a major war – and that Britain is at the centre of it.”

That,

While one intention was seriously to wreck the Tunisian tourist industry, leading to higher unemployment and more anger and resentment, providing a better environment for recruiting young people to the IS cause, it was probably part of a much wider intention to bring the conflict home to the coalition of countries now engaged in the air war.

This makes for uncomfortable connections, especially as most people in Britain simply do not recognise that the country is part of a large coalition that has been waging a major air offensive on IS forces in Iraq and Syria for almost a year.

He concludes,

One of the grim ironies of the Sousse attack is that the appalling loss of life might alert more people in the UK to the true extent of the war. Equally, IS will no doubt encourage further attacks on the countries at war with it; counterterrorism forces in countries as far afield as the US, Australia, Canada, France and Britain will accordingly be intensifying their work.

It is just possible that the Sousse massacre will turn out to be an isolated attack on British nationals, but it’s very unlikely. The reality is that the war with IS in Iraq and Syria is beginning to extend beyond those countries and the region – even beyond the established battlegrounds ofAfghanistan and Libya. What happened to the holidaymakers in Sousse may only be the beginning of a new phase.

 

If it is a “war” against Daesh we can be sure we know today where the UK government stands.

Consider Syria IS strikes, defence secretary urges MPs

MPs should consider allowing Britain to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria, the defence secretary is to say.

The RAF has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since September but Michael Fallon will say Parliament should look at the case for missions in Syria too.

The UK does not need the backing of MPs to launch raids but Mr Fallon has said the Commons will have the final say.

He will suggest terrorist attacks, such as Friday’s tourist murders in Tunisia, may have been planned by IS in Syria.

Thirty of the 38 tourists killed on the beach in Sousse on 26 June have been confirmed as British. Student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, said to have had links to IS, was shot dead by police after carrying out the attack.

Prime Minister David Cameron later said IS posed “an existential threat” to the West, and its members in Iraq and Syria were plotting “terrible attacks” on British soil.

The Mirror also notes,

Britain edged closer to bombing Islamic State extremists in Syria after the Defence Secretary said it was “illogical” to attack jihadists in Iraq but not over the border.

Michael Fallon said a new Commons vote would be needed before the RAF carried out air strikes against Islamist fighters in Syria.

But he insisted there was no “legal bar” blocking Britain from attacking extremists in either country.

RAF Tornados and drones have been bombing the jihadists in Iraq since last September as part of a US-led alliance.

But Mr Fallon said: “ISIS is organised and directed and administered from Syria and there’s an illogicality about not being able to do it there.”

Where does the StWC stand?

Will it ‘defend’ the genociders of Daesh, and the European volunteers for its racist Einsatzgruppen from this bombing?

We say:

Another foreign intervention in Syria and Iraq is a bad idea, ethically and in terms of Realpolitik. The UK and the West have not opposed support for the reactionary forces of Al Nusra and other Islamist murderers. Their allies, such as Saudi Arabia, actively back these reactionaries. They have not stood against the threat of Turkish ‘Neo-Ottoman’ policy. They had not stood against Shia sectarian killings in Iraq.

The possibility that they will encourage any kind of democratic outcome to the civil war, and a replacement for the Assad regime with a progressive alternative is non-existent.

But to make opposition to this  bombing our chief objective is wrong.

We should be backing the democratic, largely Kurdish forces, of the People’s Protection UnitsYekîneyên Parastina Gel,, battling the genociders and their International volunteers on the ground.

There is little we can do in this tumult, but we are must use all the resources we can to help our Kurdish sisters and brothers who are fighting for dear life.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am

Peter Tatchell: Britain should treat Saudi Arabia as a pariah state. Free Raif Badawi!

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 Free Raif Badawi !

Peter Tatchell writes,

It is exactly three years ago today that the pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi was arrested and imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, the Saudi Supreme Court upheld the draconian sentence handed down for his ‘crime’ of setting up a liberal website: ten years jail and 1,000 lashes.

Meanwhile, Badawi’s lawyer and brother-in-law, Waleed Abu Al-Khair – himself a human rights activist and founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia – had his 15 year jail sentence confirmed in February.

This is happening in a country that successive British governments have allied with, diplomatically and militarily, despite its tyrannical nature and its sharp divergence from our stated democratic, liberal and human rights values. Our foreign policy on Saudi Arabia doesn’t match what we say we stand for.

Indeed, as well as Raif’s and Waleed’s persecution, Amnesty international has documented ten different forms of gross human rights abuse perpetrated by the regime in Riyadh.

Despite UK government silence, human rights campaigners have kept the Badawi case in the public eye. English PEN has been holding weekly vigils outside the Saudi Embassy in London, and the Amnesty International petition calling for his release has over 1 million signatures. People worldwide are sharing the #FreeRaif appeal on social media, calling for his immediate, unconditional release.

Badawi is one of the human rights heroes of our age. He has been awarded several prizes, including PEN Canada’s One Humanity Award, and has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Numerous Nobel laureates have voiced their support for Raif, as have well-known public figures such as Patti Smith, Jimmy Wales, Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky.

…….

Today, on this third anniversary of Badawi’s arrest, we will be taking our campaign to Downing Street, with a delegation including representatives from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, English PEN, Index on Censorship, International Front for Secularism and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Our letter to the Prime Minister urges him to publicly call for the release of Raif and other political prisoners, and to condemn all human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. We also want David Cameron to make trade with Riyadh conditional on the regime’s respect for human rights and ethical norms of governance – particularly in relation to the sale of weapons that could be used to oppress Saudi citizens. These demands will be reiterated at a public meeting this evening in the Houses of Parliament with MPs, peers and campaigners.

Until it conforms to international human rights standards, Saudi Arabia should be treated as a pariah state. Arms sales must end, the British ambassador should be recalled, and key regime figures sanctioned internationally.

The letter:

Dear Prime Minister

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is currently imprisoned in a Saudi Arabian jail having received the first 50 of a threatened 1,000 lashes. If Raif survives these floggings he faces another 10 years in jail. His ‘crime’ was to have set up a website that called for peaceful change of the Saudi regime away from the repressive and religiously exclusive regime that it is.

In another shameful act his lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair, and other human rights activists were also later arrested. On February 20th this year Waleed had his sentence confirmed as 15 years in prison.

The European Parliament in its resolution of Feb 12th made clear its demands on Saudi Arabia to release Raif, as well as his lawyer Waleed and others imprisoned there for exercising their freedom of speech.

But to free Raif from this nightmare needs more than politicians saying that they disapprove of his punishment.

The total EU trade with the Saudi regime is currently close to €64 billion a year. The UK alone has approaching £12 billion invested in Saudi Arabia whilst it continues to invite Saudi investment in the UK, particularly in the property market. Saudi investment in the UK is currently over £62.5 billion.

As the regime inflicts beheadings and floggings on its people, questions have to be asked about why more cannot be done to promote the human rights of citizens of a country with which there is such extensive business. Particularly questions have to be asked about the morality of providing such a regime with arms, particularly the weaponry and facilities they use in their brutal penal system.

We ask that you make publicly clear your complete opposition to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and demand the immediate release of Raif and Waleed as the EU parliament has done. We also ask that you make publicly clear what measures you will take as a government to put any trading with this regime on an ethical basis and what conditions you will demand from the Saudi regime if all of that trade is to continue – particularly in relation to weapons that might be used in oppression or imprisonment.

If nothing is done to stop the brutality, beheadings and floggings that are committed there – then any moral stand taken against similar horrors committed elsewhere by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria can only be compromised.

In the spirit of consistency, transparency and humanity we ask you to take action to Free Raif and promote human rights in Saudi Arabia

Yours

List of Signatures and more information: Free Raif Badawi.

Day of action for Raif Badawi (from English PEN).

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

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https://i0.wp.com/img.over-blog-kiwi.com/0/94/72/48/20150517/ob_1f8eab_url.jpg

 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Raif Badawi, Saudi Blogger, may receive second Whipping on Friday

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“Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone … Secularism … is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world.”  Raif Badawi.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi may receive second set of lashes on Friday reports Human Rights Watch.

Beirut) – Saudi authorities could resume lashing liberal activist and blogger Raif Badawi on June 12, 2015. On June 7, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld a sentence of 10 years and 1,000 lashes against him. Badawi, convicted in 2013 for setting up a liberal website and allegedly insulting religious authorities, has no more appeals. Prior to the Supreme Court review Saudi authorities lashed him 50 times on January 9.

On May 29, the Saudi embassy in Brussels sent an official statement about the case by the Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry to members of the European parliament. The statement condemned any “interference in its internal affairs,” saying that “some international parties and media … drifted into an attempt to infringe and attack on the sovereign right of states.”

“Saudi authorities believe they are the ones under attack while Raif Badawi waits to be publicly flogged merely for expressing his peaceful opinions,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “All Saudi efforts to improve the country’s image internationally cannot overcome this ugly message of intolerance.”

The charges against Badawi are based solely on his peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, Human Rights Watch said. Badawi established his online platform in 2008 to encourage debate on religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities have detained Badawi in Jeddah’s Buraiman prison since his arrest on June 17, 2012.

More here.

Facebook: Free Raif (France) Free Raif (English Language).

Amnesty International UK SAUDI ARABIA, FREE RAIF BADAWI

This happened a few days ago, (7th of June)

Saudi Arabia hosts UN-backed human rights summit ‘on combating religious discrimination’

Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which has its headquarters in Jeddah – convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom’s Supreme Court preparedto rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.

The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.

 And the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch accused HRC president Joachim Rücker of giving “false international legitimacy” to the two-day conference on religious freedoms held in Jeddah on 3 and 4 June.

According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the participants in the conference “began with an agreement to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect” – a pledge by all member states to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.

In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.”

Invited to make the opening statement at the conference, Mr Rücker told the summit: “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”

But Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

“But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing

Independent.

Raif Badawi commented in 2010.

As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.

For more see Writings of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

Update:

DAY OF ACTION: 17 JUNE 2015

From 1.30pm – Delivery at Downing Street

Organisations and individuals actively campaigning for Raif Badawi’s release will be holding a rally opposite Downing Street from 1.30pm. At 2pm, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and activist Peter Tatchell will join Jo Glanville (Director, English PEN), Maryam Namazie (International Front for Secularism), Pete Radcliff (Free Raif UK) and Melody Patry (Index on Censorship) to deliver our letter to the Prime Minister. MPs and peers including Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas MP, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Natalie McGarry MP, Stewart McDonald MP, and John McDonnell MP will also join the delegation.

You can read the full text of the letter and add your name here

From 6.30pm – Public meeting at Portcullis House

Representatives of campaigning organisations will come together with MPs to discuss and consider how best to secure the release of Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair. Speakers include:

  • Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party
  • Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Co-ordinator , Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN
  • Stewart McDonald, Scottish National Party
  • John McDonnell, Labour Party, Hayes and Harlington
  • Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All
  • Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

The meeting will take place in the Boothroyd Room on the first floor of Portcullis House. The entrance to Portcullis House is on the Victoria Embankment. Please be aware that there will be standard security searches as with many other government buildings.

Please let us know if you plan to attend either or both of these events

TAKE ACTION

Written by Andrew Coates

June 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Justice for George Galloway: International Campaign Launched.

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Justice for George Galloway (Facebook Page).

 Free the Galloway One!

Ex-MP George Galloway referred to police over parliamentary expenses

A complaint against former Respect MP George Galloway over his use of parliamentary funds has been referred to the police, the parliamentary standards watchdog has confirmed.

Mr Galloway’s former parliamentary assistant Aisha Ali Khan reported him to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority earlier this year.

She has alleged she was required to run personal errands for him.

The former Bradford West MP said the claims were “news to me”.

Following an assessment of Ms Ali Khan’s claims, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Aurthority (IPSA) compliance officer Peter Davis has passed the case to the Metropolitan Police.

An IPSA spokesman said: “IPSA’S compliance officer has completed his assessment of the George Galloway complaint and has passed it on to the Metropolitan Police Service.”

Mr Galloway lost his Bradford West seat at the General Election earlier this month.

GALLOWAY GOES TO LAW TO SET ASIDE ELECTION RESULT

George Galloway, who lost his seat in Bradford West to Labour’s Naz Shah, has begun the legal process to have the result of the election set aside.

The ‘Green Shorts‘ of Respect say:

Fight the Zionist Hydra!

Please read: “The Bent Copper, his Jail-Bird Lover, the Manhattan Zionist & the Tel Aviv Law Firm: a Curious Tale”

Two appendixes included!

http://redmolucca.net/…/the-bent-copper-his-jail-bird-love…/

Justice for George Galloway's photo.

Justice for George Galloway's photo.

Rumours that an ‘unofficial’ Justice for Galloway Facebook Page has been launched have so far  been denied. 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Vote Labour! Back the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory.

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Vote Labour Tomorrow!

SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY: WHERE WE STAND

Another Tory government – ruling by themselves, with the Lib Dems or, worst of all, in coalition with UKIP – would be a disaster for the working class. As socialists, we want a Labour victory, not because we support Labour’s current position – a softer version of austerity and anti-migrant politics – but to throw out the Coalition, and because Labour is linked to workers’ basic organisations, trade unions. If the unions choose to fight, they can change Labour’s direction.

We don’t want to “hold our noses” and vote Labour as a lesser evil. We want to combine campaigning for a Labour government with making clear working-class demands, to boost working-class confidence, and strengthen and transform our labour movement so it is fit to fight.

We must challenge the idea that the working class should pay for the capitalist crisis through increased inequality, lower pay, job insecurity, workplace stress, draconian ‘performance management’ and cuts to services. The labour movement should be championing every working-class fightback against the bosses’ drive to squeeze more and more profit out of our work and our lives.

In place of the dog-eat-dog, exploiting society of capitalism, we socialists are fighting for a world of collective ownership, equality and sustainable planning for people’s needs, not profit. We want to spread these ideas in the working class and among young people.

A socialist transformation of society is not immediately on the cards. Socialism is only possible when a majority of workers are convinced and organised to make it happen. But if we work to strengthen the left and working-class struggles, and reinject socialist ideas into political debate, we can push Labour to shift course and deliver at least some positive changes for the working class.

Whether on the Living Wage or the NHS, free education or zero hours contracts, rail renationalisation or fracking, we need to up the pressure on Labour. We need to advocate radical policies like reversing all cuts, taxing the rich and taking the banks into democratic public ownership. The labour movement should aim for a government that serves the working class as the Coalition serves the rich.

We are fighting for democracy in the Labour Party so that working-class voices, muffled by the New Labour machine and union bureaucracy, can be heard.

We need a labour movement responsive and accessible to the working class in all its diversity, fighting bigotry and oppression. We oppose Labour’s shameful accommodation to anti-migrant agitation by UKIP and other right-wingers. British and migrant workers have the same interests. We support freedom of movement and equal rights for all. We want working-class solidarity across Europe and the world.

In the run up to the election, we are building a network of socialists to carry out this fight. Help us, get involved!

Demands:

As part of fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism, we are fighting for the labour movement to campaign around a “workers’ plan” of demands in the interests of the working-class, such as:

1. Stop and reverse the cuts. Make the rich pay to rebuild public services. Tax the rich! Expropriate the banks!

2. A decent income for everyone: attack inequality and precariousness. Tax the rich, curb high pay. Nationalise companies that axe jobs; create decent, secure jobs in the public sector. Wage rises that at least match inflation for all workers. Raise the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage. Full, equal rights for part-time and agency workers; ban zero hours contracts. Stop the war on the poor, unemployed and disabled: decent benefits. Good pensions for all, public or private, at no older than 60.

3. Rebuild the NHS. A comprehensive public health service providing high quality care for all, not a logo above a marketplace of profit-making companies. End outsourcing, marketisation and PFI. A free, public social care system.

4. End privatisation and outsourcing. Expand public ownership, starting with the railways, Royal Mail, the energy companies and other utilities, under democratic and workers’ control.

5. Stop scapegoating migrants. Freedom of movement and equal rights for all. End deportations and detention.

6. Promote workers’ rights. Scrap the anti-union laws. Introduce strong rights to strike, picket and take solidarity action, and for union recognition and collective bargaining, in individual units and sectorally.

7. End the housing crisis. Build millions of council houses. Repopulate empty homes and estates; take over property left empty; tax second homes; end the sell-off of public land. Control rents.

8. Free education. A good local, comprehensive school for every child. Abolish “free schools”, academies, grammar schools, public funding for religious schools. Reverse cuts in FE. Scrap tuition fees, a living grant for every student. Reverse cuts to Sure Start, invest in early years education.

9. Strong action for equality. Crack down on police and state racism. Ensure and make real civil rights for LGBT, black, disabled people and women, and expanded social provision and redistribution to fight inequality. Universal, free public childcare and nursery provision so no parent is forced to choose between work and care. Ensure equal pay and a Living Wage for all. Free abortion on demand.

10. Slash military spending: scrap Trident. Aid for working-class and democratic movements around the world, not support for dictatorships and imperialism.

11. Drive down carbon emissions. Public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Stop fracking. A public, integrated transport system with radically reduced fares. Workers’ plans for a just transition to a sustainable economy.

12. Expand democracy. A federal republic of Britain: abolish the monarchy and House of Lords. Votes at 16. Re-empower local government. Extend civil liberties and rights to organise and protest. Disband MI5 and special police squads, disarm the police. MPs should only be paid a worker’s wage.

We need to transform our unions so we stop just adopting good policies on paper and start fighting effectively for the interests of the working class – in strikes and struggles, but also by putting forward a working-class political alternative, including demands on Labour. What we can win depends on to what extent we can convince, organise and mobilise people to fight, and in the process renew our movement and change it for the better.

We will prioritise support for Labour candidates who advocate these kinds of policies and represent a voice of working-class opposition within the party.

Tendance Coatesy supports this campaign (see list of signatories).

With  our own secularist angle:

Gunmen shot dead at Texan “Draw Mohammad” Contest: Background and Comment.

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Garland shooting: Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest organisers condemn attack as ‘war on free speech’ after police kill two gunmen.

Independent.

Two gunmen have been shot dead in Texas after attacking an anti-Islamic event exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, in what the organiser has called an act of “war on free speech”.

Extra security including SWAT teams had been posted to the event at a school building in the city of Garland, and the event had faced criticism for being openly inflammatory and anti-Islamic.

Police said the incident at around 7pm on Sunday evening lasted “seconds”. Two suspects drove up to the building as the event was ending, got out and open fire with automatic rifles on an unarmed member of the security staff.

The event was organised by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI) – which has been described as a hate group by civil rights advocates and has previously sponsored anti-Islamic advertising campaigns across the country.

Organisers themselves linked the event heavily to the Charlie Hebdo magazine shootings, when gunmen killed 12 people in Paris over satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The venue for Sunday’s event was chosen, Geller said, because it was where American Muslim leaders held a conference on combating Islamophobia a week after the Paris attacks.

Background (Guardian)

“The co-founder of the group behind the contest to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad is a New Yorker who runs a blog that campaigns to stop the “Islamification” of America.

Pamela Geller used her blog Atlas Shrugs to declare “this is war” in the hours after the shooting of two gunmen at the contest. The event had been organised by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group she set up with Robert Spencer in 2010.

Geller, the winner of numerous awards from far-right organisations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is credited with coining the term “ground zero mega mosque” as part of highly publicised campaign against the development of a community centre, which included a mosque, a few blocks from where the twin towers once stood in New York.

She became politically active after 11 September and has told various newspapers she had never heard of Osama Bin Laden until the day of the attacks but started educating herself as a housewife living in Long Island raising four children. She eventually started a blog, Atlas Shrugs.

A prolific poster – the blog usually has between 10 and 15 posts per day – Geller took to it soon after two armed gunmen were shot outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Sunday.

“This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters? Two men with rifles and backpacks attacked police outside our event. A cop was shot; his injuries are not life-threatening, thank Gd. Please keep him in your prayers,” she posted.

“The bomb squad has been called to the event site to investigate a backpack left at the event site. The war is here.”

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed under its other name Stop Islamization of America as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre. It has previously gained publicity for funding advertisements which the group says are to encourage people who want to leave Islam but feel unsafe doing so. The group has had to fight for the right to run some of the advertisements, which refer to Muslims killing Jews, in court.

Dutch anti-Islam activist, Geert Wilders, was due to speak at the event on Sunday and has previously worked with Geller and Spencer. In 2009 they hosted a talk by Wilders at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. Wilders ca

Posting on her blog ahead of the event, Gellers criticised media coverage that referred to the event as anti-Islam.

“How is free speech an attack on Islam? And why are they portrayed as the victim when we are the victims of supremacism and jihad?” she wrote.

In another post after the shootings, Geller accused the Daily Mail of being cowards for blurring out the face in cartoons depicting Muhammad.

“The cowardice of the ‘enemedia’ has reached monstrous proportions. They will stop at nothing to appease bloodthirsty jihad terrorists. They are not journalists. They are water-carriers for the forces of oppression, hatred, and forcible censorship,” she wrote.

Geller lives in New York after receiving almost US$10m from the combination of her divorce settlement in 2007 and the life insurance policy of her ex-husband, Michael Oshry, who died in 2008.

She is credited with helping start the Obama birther movement, which questioned if Barack Obama was really an American, after she posted a theory from a reader that Obama was the love child of Malcolm X.

Geller has repeatedly said she is not anti-Muslim but does not believe moderate Islam can exist.

‘They say I’m anti-Muslim. I’m not anti-Muslim. I don’t see how anyone could say I’m anti-Muslim. I love Muslims,” she told the New York Village Voice in 2012.

Atlas Shurgs, a reference to one of Geller’s heroes Ayn Rand, was one of the blogs referenced in the online manifesto of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. He feared a Muslim takeover and shot and killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, 69 of whom were part of the Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp on the island of Utøya.

You can make up your own minds on how offensive the Blog and Exhibition are at LIVESTREAM: AFDI/Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.

In our opinion nothing whatsoever can justify this attack.

In this respect, and this respect alone, we do not care that the people mounting this exhibition are from the right-wing, or that we loathe the rest of their unsavoury opinions.

Indeed anybody who names a Blog afte one of the most wooden and arrogant novels by Ayn Rand gets our everlasting contempt (and pity).

But it is wrong, wrong, wrong, to attempt the slaughter of them for their unfunny ‘cartoon’ show.

We sincerely hope that there will be no ignoble attempts to find excuses for those who wished to commit murder.

 

Mohammad-Contest-Drawing-1-small