Tower Hamlets First Hitler sympathiser goes on DCLG-funded jolly to ‘promote integration’ (with some help from the Church)
In the already right-wing enough West of Suffolk.
“The weekend away in Suffolk, however, has been funded entirely by the taxpayer…through a fund set up by the man Mahbub and his Tower Hamlets First colleagues love to hate: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
They were given a grant of £2,000 for their weekend break from the £5million Near Neighbours Fund which was set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2011. The intention was to promote inter-faith dialogue in key areas throughout the UK. East London was of course one such area.”
“There were no Jewish people invited on this weekend away together “promoting integration” and interfaith dialogue. Which is a shame because I wonder whether they’d have discussed this”
“This was posted by Ahad Miah on his Facebook page during the Gaza crisis last summer. You can see that a friend of his has written “miss him” underneath.
So a man who “salutes” Hitler for exterminating Jews has been the recipient of DCLG money that was earmarked for promoting interfaith dialogue and integration. I wonder how many others share his views. What checks did the Church Urban Fund carry out on the people going on this trip?
Originally posted on Trial by Jeory:
Kentwell Hall is a beautiful historic Tudor home in Long Melford, near Sudbury, Suffolk. It’s about 90 minutes away from Stepney and has a moat, wonderful gardens and a rare breed farm.
It also has accommodation for honeymooners and for anyone simply wanting a break from the Big Smoke. Its Hall Barn Lodge and Annexe can sleep up to 14 and a weekend break with a group that size in early May costs £1,150, according to a quote I was given.
The accommodation looks lovely. Here’s the master bedroom, another guest room and the lounge area.
And, thanks to photos posted on Twitter by the Stepney branch of the Salvation Army, these were the guests there this weekend:
That’s the group having dinner on Friday night. On Saturday, they went horse-riding:
They’d also wanted to go quad biking but I’m not sure they did in the end.
Regular readers will have spotted the…
View original 986 more words
British newspaper sends undercover journalists to gathering featuring speakers from Spain, Canada, UK and US
Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers gathered for a secret meeting at a London hotel last week, sparking outrage and prompting many to call for a police investigation, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
The gathering, which took place last Saturday at the Orient Suite in London’s Grosvenor Hotel, reportedly drew a range of speakers from Spain, Canada, the UK and the US.
“The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,” Jonathan Arkush, VP of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted by the Mail as saying. “On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offenses have been committed, including incitement to racial hatred.”
The British daily sent an undercover team of journalists to listen in on the event, which was attended by 113 people.
We would not normally cite the Daily Mail.
But this is important.
Nazi sympathisers at meeting laughed at Charlie Hebdo massacre and cheered at the mention of Spanish Fascists
In a room draped with the Union Flag, as the event called the London Forum unfolded, the audience:
- Sniggered at the mention of ‘ashes rising from the death camps’ crematoria’;
- Applauded as they were urged to ‘identify, counter and break … Jewish-Zionist domination’;
- Laughed at the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and as an African leader at the Paris memorial ceremony was described as ‘some Negro’;
- Cheered at the mention of a brigade of Spanish Fascists who fought for the Nazis;
- Heard gay parents branded ‘monster families’ and mixed race children described as ‘blackos’.
Last night, there were calls from Jewish community leaders for police to investigate the group for race hate crimes.
‘The material from this white supremacist group makes ugly reading,’ said barrister Jonathan Arkush, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
‘On the face of it, their proceedings should be investigated to ascertain whether criminal offences have been committed.
There are many points to be made about the ideology and activities of these people.
This is just one.
The next time people claiming to be on the left indulge in hate-speech against Charlie Hebdo, we hope they remember how the Nazis at this meeting reacted to the deaths of our beloved martyrs.
The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.
These are some comments on one section, About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.
The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with Gérard Noiriel. 2011). I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.
This, nevertheless, suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.
Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.
We have to begin, then, by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics. Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion.
Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.
I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.
Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:
• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;
• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;
• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!
It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.
Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.
It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.
Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.
There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.
UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels, single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.
But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule.
These reservations should not obscure the principal point that across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.
In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.
How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” . Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.
These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.
The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.
As a first step we have to look at what we should not do.
The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach. (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)
Mahamdallie works with this central premise,
Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.
This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.
‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:
local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.
These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….
Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.
But, (we learn)
…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.
It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.
No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..
We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.
Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.
But what of organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……
There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...
Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015) (1)
Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?
Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out
“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”
The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).
“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”
Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.
I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.
To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.
“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “
In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.
There is another example of this in the Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others). Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).
We wonder where this particular journey will end.
In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.
As the comrade says,
It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.
More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.
More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR): Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne ! (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).
Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn bytranslated into English.
The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).
Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……
(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.
Charb: Took Advantage of Own Death to Make Money, Says New Statesman Writer.
These are some extracts (adapted) from the book she is referring to:
“Racism and not of Islamophobia“The term ‘Islamophobia’ is badly chosen to designate the hatred that some cretins have of Muslims. It is not only badly chosen but it is also also dangerous.”Charb wrote:”Communitarian activists try to impose on the judicial and political authorities the notion of ‘Islamophobia’. This has no other purpose than to push the victims of racism to assert that they are Muslims (…) If tomorrow all French Muslims converted to Catholicism or abandoned their religion, this would not change the main racist discourse: that foreigners or those who are French but of foreign origin are and will be always be held responsible for every kind of fault. “
“The Qu’ran or the Bible does not read like Ikea assembly instructions”
If he criticised the term “Islamophobia” Charb recognised that there is indeed a fear of Islam. But if this worry is “absurd”, it “is not a crime,” he said.
“The problem is not the Koran or the Bible, which are sleep-inducing, incoherent and poorly written novels. The problem comes from a believer who reads the Qur’an or the Bible as if they were the instructions of an Ikea shelf-kit.”
The author also believed that racist speech was unclenched under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy and his ‘debate’ on national identity:
“When the highest authority in the State said (in effect) to every moron and fool, “say what you want, you lot’, what do you think these morons and fool will do? They began to say out loud what they had been content to yell at the end of every, well-oiled, family meal. “
Francois-Cerrah has a very different book on the “soporific” romance of the Qur’an.
“The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind. The opening of Al-Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognised, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realised that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible. In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?'”
We knew that she is one of the brigade of vultures who said of flocked around the attack on Charlie.
As she wrote in the New Statesman on January the 9th.
….they mocked the sacred symbols of many groups, but those of Muslims on a particularly frequent basis and in a distinctly racialised tone.
Not that this should ever warrant a violent response, but the eulogising of the magazine for some sort of mastery of European satirical tradition is a white wash of its chequered history as well as a capitulation to a simplistic narrative of “you’re either with the racist satirists or you’re with the terrorists”.
In weasel words she continued,
We must ensure slogans of solidarity become more than just narrow and questionable support for the targeted publication and instead provide resistance to all those voices which seek to divide France, to entrench camps and harden the already worrying divides.
Poor old Francois-Cerrah…..
Just couldn’t resist another dig at the corpses of our martyrs.
More on Charb’s much more interesting book:
A book written by the late editor of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier – known as Charb – is set to be published posthumously.
The book, which upholds the right to ridicule religion, was finished two days before Charb was killed by Islamic militants in January, publishers say.
It argues that the fight against racism is being replaced by a misguided struggle against “Islamophobia”.
Charb and 11 others were killed during a Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting.
The attack on the Paris offices of the newspaper was carried out by two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were later shot dead by police.
Charb had received numerous death threats following Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad in 2006. The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2012.
Charb’s book – which goes on sale on Thursday – is entitled An Open Letter to the Fraudsters of Islamophobia who Play into Racists’ Hands.
It is both a defence of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial stance and an attack on the paper’s detractors.
“The suggestion that you can laugh at everything, except certain aspects of Islam, because Muslims are much more prickly that the rest of the population – what is that, if not discrimination?”
He condemns this position as “white, left-wing bourgeois intellectual paternalism”.
There is also this, just out, on the book which was being written before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Casher supermarket:
Rosie says most of what us lot have to say, “Why aren’t the gutters of Bradford running with streams of urine as people double over hooting at the bombast and sheer grossness of this garbage?”.
Galloway remains worried….
Henry Trojan Hoax Jackson Society have simple agenda; witch-hunt Muslims and defend Israel. They have two horses in Bradford.
But Galloway has one new friend:
Editor Communist Explorations – journal/website. Long-time Marxist and left-wing activist. RESPECT member and advocate of principled…
Donovan had 32 followers.
Now he has 33.
The Weekly Worker, 18.9.2014.
The September 14 meeting of Left Unity’s Communist Platform saw a parting of the ways with a member of its steering committee, Ian Donovan. This followed comrade Donovan’s espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. Donovan says he intends to write a book laying out this ‘theory’ in detail.
Once this line of thinking had been fully revealed to other members of the steering committee, they urged him to step down from the CP. When he refused, the September 14 members’ meeting was called, which had before it a motion from comrades Jack Conrad and Moshé Machover stating that anti-Semitism is “incompatible with membership of the Communist Platform”.
If you really want to see first-hand how mad Galloway’s new best friend, Ian Donovan, is read (or skim) this:
Phil Kent (19 March), trying to fill in for the failure of more substantial figures such as Jack Conrad to justify the Jewish-Zionist chauvinism that pervades the CPGB’s practice, indulges in religious fetishism. He writes that I am blinded by ‘red mist’, so angry at the slaughter and abuse of the Palestinians as to excuse ‘holocaust deniers’. It’s much worse than that, Phil. Thanks to the use of the Nazi genocide (a.k.a. “Holocaust”) as a propaganda trump card to justify murder and ethnic cleaning of Arabs by Jews, large numbers of Arabs and a minority of principled anti-racists of Jewish origin, are so angered that they are inclined to disbelieve not only the instrumentalism of the genocide, but the event itself.
“Throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is a common mistake in instances where a poisonous mixture of truth and lies about history is used to justify contemporary crimes. The reaction of many to Stalinism is a case in point. It is a commonplace that such things need to be debated fearlessly. But Phil opposes this for Israel and the genocide. He regards the latter as like the Holy Grail.
This is because of his pro-Zionist chauvinism, which he learned from his guru Jack Conrad. JC, understanding little of the Middle East and the Jewish Question, defers to would-be ‘Marxist’ promoters of identity politics (Jewish identity as something ‘progressive’ in a transcendental sense), such as Machover and Greenstein. These people vote with their feet against the CPGB’s ‘party project’ – simply by failing to join it or any other ‘Leninist’ party. Thus the ‘party’ has no independent view of the Middle East, possibly the most strategic conflict in the world today, but depends on nebulous ‘sympathisers’. Lenin would have been quite scathing about this.
Phil is saying : ‘Don’t get too angry about Arabs being massacred by Jews, because Jews are more important than Arabs in the scheme of things anyway. If you get too angry about Arabs dying, that is a terrible thing, that leads to ‘anti-semitism”, and questioning of the holocaust.”
And so it goes, including attacks on Moshe Machover for having a “Harry’s Place style Jewish chauvinist position.”
Update: Galloway Supporters Go for Glory!
Relatives rally to mark anniversary of abduction by Boko Haram and demand security from new Nigerian president.
Let us also remember the Stop the War Coalition’s response to this tragedy,
Nigeria, Boko Haram and the fantasies of benevolent western intervention Xavier Best. May 2014 (originally from Counterpunch – where else?)
Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls and US policymakers and the “free press” have exploded into a fit of pro-interventionist hysteria. It’s hard to escape media reports about the ruthless cruelty of Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau and his vow to sell his hostages into slavery.
Outrage has covered a broad spectrum of media and political personalities from Rep. Peter King who said “If the president decided to use special forces, I certainly would not oppose them,” to Michelle Obama who joined the “Bring Back Our Girls” Twitter campaign and released a video condemning the “grown men” in Boko Haram attempting to “snuff out” the aspirations of young girls.
Missing from this hysteria is a serious look at the US role on the African continent and the credibility of its “humanitarian” claims. Since the early post-war period the US has been an overwhelmingly negative force in Africa. Shortly after the Second World War US policy makers decided that the African continent “was to be ‘exploited’ for the reconstruction of Europe.”
The author adds,
It is widely conceded that the popular base of Boko Haram is a response to severe economic inequality that has disproportionately impacted Nigeria’s northern region. Unlike the south, Nigeria’s north faces severe problems meeting basic human needs of education, healthcare and clean water. Unemployment among young males in northern Nigeria “is in excess of 50 percent.”
This stark inequality is largely a symptom of what’s commonly called its “oil curse”, nations which are extraordinarily rich in natural resources but, due to corporate and often western-backed policies, are unable to meet the basic material and educational needs of its citizens. Consequences of this curse can be deciphered in the Pentagon’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review where the Department of Defense outlines a policy “to sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa.” The review also highlights “the security of the global economic system” as one of the primary goals of US “National Security Strategy.”
Many would dismiss these observations as a “justification” of Boko Haram’s crimes but it’s quite the opposite. The crimes of the Nigerian state, amply documented by reputable organizations like Human Rights Watch, have done far more to strengthen the arguments of Boko Haram than any analyst ever could.
The crimes of the Nigerian state apart, as far as one can tell the StWC’s main concern was the stop a Western Military intervention…….in Nigeria!
There is absolutely no analysis of the totalitarian machine and murderous ideology of Boko Haram.
That they regard the kidnapped women as war booty, in line with their version of Islamism, is just pushed aside with a few words. ‘Hysteria’ – they call it.
Nothing about the history of the North of Nigeria, their background as Muslim states, where slavery was continued well into the twentieth century, and where the Sharia is increasingly imposed – making non-Muslims into second-class citizens. Nothing, for these self-declared ‘anti-imperialists’, on the enduring imprint of Shehu Usman dan Fodio (1754 – 1817) who established a government in Northern Nigeria based on Islam before the advent of Colonialism. The British Colonial Government thereafter established indirect rule in Northern Nigeria based on the structure of this Islamic government.
Nothing on how Nigerian governments have failed to tackle the deep-rooted bigotry of the Northern Islamists, and in particular the cultural presuppositions that have favoured the growth of Boko Haram, that interact with social inequalities. Or indeed the rest of the religious-social issues in the country’s complex politics.
In these conditions religious ideology, worked out in proto-state military apparatuses like Boko Haram, are, to put it mildly, material forces.
Instead we had a range of the same commentary from the StWC people about ‘imperialism’.
This is one: How Nigeria’s kidnapped girls have become tools of US imperial policy in Africa. Glenn Ford 21 May 2014.