British Muslim women against ISIS


This music video is about a song by a young Syrian Kurdish singer.

By Louise Raw in Britain:

The British Muslim women making a stand against Isis

Tuesday 30th September 2014

As the US-led coalition launches air strikes, LOUISE RAW talks to Muslim women who reject ‘Islamist’ extremism and misogyny

LOOKING at a huge, rather beautiful poster of a young Muslim woman wearing a vivid Union Jack hijab, I know I’m not in standard leftie territory — and that’s before Theresa May pops in to press the flesh.

Not many media launches are both timed to coincide with the school run and surrounded by heavy security either. But Sara Khan is used to doing things differently.

Khan is the driving force behind new anti-extremism group Making a Stand, launched last week in Whitehall.

She is also the Director of Inspire, a group which I note is described by the Guardian as a “women’s human rights organisation.”

I don’t particularly want to give Alan Rusbridger a heart attack, but women technically are human beings. There, I’ve said it.

And while an increasing number of men accept that “women’s issues” are everyone’s issues, there’s still a tendency to see anything particularly affecting the female population as niche.

If it affects Muslim women, it’s usually even more a case of Nothing to Do With Us.

Khan is not letting Britain off the hook that easily, however, and is trenchant on the wrong-headedness of using supposed “cultural sensitivities” as an excuse not to oppose extremism and gender inequality wherever they’re found.

On this basis I’d asked her to speak at this July’s Matchwomen’s Festival, and she did so passionately, happily answering some “Everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-Islam-but-were-afraid-to-ask” questions from guests afterwards.

However, she was criticised for Islamophobia by two delegates over her condemnation of the murder of Lee Rigby.

The line on such atrocities from some on the British left is that the West has only itself to blame for “retaliations” to its foreign policy.

She replied that she was a practising Muslim who rejected such violence as outside her faith. The same went for the radical preachers who encouraged it.

As for the Islamic “women question,” Khan says that those in favour of gender inequality “don’t know [their] own faith. The prophet’s wives weren’t submissive women.”

She is adamant that we will see more and more young British women joining Isis, and about where part of the blame lies.

“We need to educate women better to improve this marginalisation problem in Muslim communities. For far too long mosques have marginalised Muslim women and their participation.”

However she’s also keenly aware that the perception of Islam as the ultimate oppressor of women is manipulated by the far-right, which publicly condemns the religion on this pretext even as supporters attack Muslim women on the street.

Some women won’t speak out against gender-based discrimination even though they loathe it, precisely because to do so may fuel anti-Muslim attacks, of which they could end up the victims.

So they can be caught between a rock and a hard place, suffering both fascist violence and gender discrimination from within their own communities. The resultant trauma and alienation is a risk in itself.

Khan says: “We know Muslim women who wear the headscarf are more likely to experience attacks. Will that make them feel they don’t belong? Are they [joining Isis] because all they’ve come across in this country in Muslim communities is a narrow view of women?”

This is the sort of difficult, and potentially dangerous, political terrain Khan has to constantly navigate.

It goes without saying then that “making a stand” will have required considerable courage for at least some of the women present at the launch last Wednesday. This was underlined by a total advance publicity embargo launch for security reasons.

But Khan made it clear on the day that silence was no longer an option when young British Muslims were being drawn to Isis — and there have been reports of British female recruits joining the al-Khanssaa brigade, an all-women militia set up by Isis which punishes women for “unislamic” behaviour.

“They have bought into a pack of lies,” says Khan.

“They think they’re following Islam, but actually it’s a patriarchal ideology that seeks to treat women as second-class citizens.”

Making A Stand has practical proposals for British Muslim communities — they ask mosques to start treating women more equally, communities to take more responsibility for women and women and young people to speak out on social media using the hashtag #MakingAStand, to directly challenge Isis sympathisers.

Later, over lunch, I spoke to some of the women present about the causes of radicalisation.

Sufiya Ahmed, Tamina Mir and immigration lawyer Piya Mayenim identified multiple factors that they saw as contributing.

High unemployment and institutionalised racism which limited Muslim young people’s futures made them feel they didn’t belong in Britain.

The three women saw Isis as something of a trend, though no less dangerous for that.

A generation with generally more liberal parents could only rebel by becoming more extreme, and Mayenim was aware of instances of teenagers criticising their parents for being “too Western.”

The black-clad, macabre chic of Isis could seem an appealing alternative to Western decadence and consumerism.

We talked about the government’s response to date. The Prevent initiative was launched in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11 2001 to counter radicalisation at community level, and continues to do so, but with significantly less funding under the coalition.

It hit another major roadblock in 2010 when it emerged that CCTV cameras placed in Muslim areas of Birmingham, 72 of them covertly, were partly funded by Prevent cash.

The resultant loss of confidence and trust was enormously damaging.

The women had also seen secular youth clubs close due to cutbacks, to be replaced with self-organised single-race or religious groups, decreasing cultural cross-pollenation.

Although May had come to praise the launch, there were no new commitments that day either — while promising the government would support Making A Stand “if you can do this” (ie counter and monitor extremism) we were left not knowing if this would mean an occasional fist-bump or anything more concrete.

I spoke also to Mehmoo Dah, an older Muslim woman living in sheltered accommodation who had travelled from Leicester for the launch.

She was visibly distressed as she spoke about the racism she says she personally experiences after every Isis incident, with locals saying: “You’re all terrorists.”

Khan has her work cut out for her, but is deeply committed to her mission.

“Extremist views from both sides blight the lives of British women and weaken our country,” she says.

“As a country that stands for equality, justice and women’s rights, we cannot allow extremists of any kind to deny British women their rights.”

Louise Raw is author of Striking A Light: The History of the Bryant and May Matchwomen’s Strike (Continuum). She will be chairing and speaking at the Freedom For Sussex 2014 Conference: Children and Young People on Thursday October 16 at the Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 3PX, 10.15am-4.30pm (registration opens at 9.45am). For more information visit http://www.safeinsussex.org.

As US and allied warplanes continued to strike targets inside Syria, the Obama administration is marshalling support for a war that is more and more explicitly aimed against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

This week, to bestow legitimacy on the US war on Syria, the US media suddenly discovered the coalition “leader”, Hadi Al-Bahrah, and highlighted his calls for US bombing of his country. But none of the US media mentioned the revolt against him and the call by his own Military Council to oust him: here.

Le Monde is serving as a mouthpiece of the French state’s war propaganda, trying to browbeat the public into accepting a massive, long-term escalation of war in the Middle East and Africa with mendacious claims that Paris and its imperialist allies are waging a “war on terror”: here.

Turkish government, NATO allies and ISIS allies


This is a Syrian Kurdish music video by GULEN EFRIN.

By I. Zekeriya Ayman:

Turkey’s war on Rojava

Saturday, September 27, 2014

With the US and allied nations, including Arab countries, carrying out air strikes in Syria, the Turkish government is trying to convince the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is targetting.

Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the very first time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United Nations climate summit.

“Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically,” he said.

But the truth is that IS has received vital support from the Turkish government. It is known that IS has received crucial support from Turkey, which includes:

* Turkey positioning itself as an easy bridge for IS foreign militants to reach Syria, and Iraq;
* Trapped IS militants in Syria and Iraq escaping to Turkey to regroup and train;
* IS casualties being treated in Turkish hospitals and even having an hospital exclusively for their use;
* Turkey providing basic needs to IS under the guise of “humanitarian aid”;
* The Turkish government providing weapons and ammunitions directly to IS and providing safe passage for arms deliveries from elsewhere; and
*Turkey opening and closing its borders to suit IS.

The main reason the Turkish regime has supported IS, besides its interest in the toppling the Syrian regime, is the growing Kurdish resistance in Syria and the creation of a revolutionary “liberated zone” in the Kurdish territory of Rojava.

The “Rojava Revolution” is the first revolutionary project in the Middle East not supported by any major political power since the 2011 Arab Spring. This is a real people’s revolution, led by the Kurdish liberation movement, that is generating hope in the Middle East. It suggests that revolution may be possible without the backing of the super powers.

The Turkish government had a secret policy of maintaining a “buffer zone” on its border with Syria to stifle the Rojava revolution.

So what has changed? The US has declared its intention to “destroy IS” and the Turkish government believes this may revive its failed attempts to demolish the Rojava uprising.

Turkey has been the most enthusiastic government in the world about the demise of the Assad regime. At the start of the Syrian uprising the then-Turkish foreign minister, now Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, boldly predicted that “Assad’s days were numbered.”

The Turkish government believed it. But it was the prediction that collapsed, not the Assad regime. These recent US air strikes have renewed hopes that Assad may go.

The Turkish government also seems to have calculated that it cannot rely on the IS to crush Kurdish resistance. Its best bet is actually the US.

If a ground operation follows air strikes in Syria, Turkey will be more than happy to occupy Syria from the north ― providing an excellent opportunity to deal with the Kurds.

The US attacks on IS in Iraq and Syria send a clear message to all that the US is not finished in the region, yet. The US pushed hard for Sunni Arab countries and Turkey to come on board with the air strikes.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Turkey had no choice but to support the US-led anti-IS “coalition”.

Turkey won’t change its policy to kill the Rojava revolution but will try to kill it from within this coalition.

The Turkish government will pay a hefty price, domestically, for its support of the US led coalition against IS. Its religious base will ask questions. But it is a lower price than it would pay if it went against US interests.

The Turkish left is well aware of US plans in Iraq and Syria. The People’s Democracy Party (HDP), which gained significant support at the recent presidential elections, is leading a huge campaign in solidarity with defence of the Rojava city of Kobane against IS attack.

Thousands of Turkish-Kurdish youth trying to enter Syria to join the war against IS have clashed with Turkish police at the border ― but many have managed to join the fight. HDP MPs have visited the Syrian border to show their solidarity with Kobane resistance and now many other groups are visiting in solidarity.

I. Zekeriya Ayman is a Kurdish–Turkish leftist living in Melbourne [Australia].

Anti-war demonstration, London, 25 September


This music video from the USA is called Edwin Starr – Stop The War (Rare Single).

By Will Stone in Britain:

Wednesday 24th September 2014

ANTI-WAR activists will stage an emergency demonstration outside Downing Street tomorrow amid fears Britain is poised to join US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed yesterday the first wave of airstrikes launched yesterday by the US and five allied Arab countries on Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria.

Mr Cameron, who is in New York for the UN general assembly, is expected to use a speech today to set out further details of Britain’s involvement, with speculation growing that he will announce that Britain will join the bombing.

The PM has indicated that he wants to consult the House of Commons, raising the prospect of a Parliament recall on Friday.

Mr Cameron will be anxious to avoid a repeat of last year’s humiliating Commons defeat over airstrikes against Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria.

Labour joined rebel Tories and Lib Dems to vote down that act of imperialist aggression, but senior party figures, including leader Ed Miliband, have backed US-led military action against militants, arguing however that Britain shouldn’t commit forces unless the mission is legal, well-planned and includes a clear exit strategy.

CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “When David Cameron beat the war drum over Syria a year ago, Ed Miliband urged caution and the Tories suffered an historic anti-war defeat in Parliament.

“He seemed to understand that a bombing campaign by the West would do little to resolve the crisis there. And he was vindicated.

“But in his speech to Labour Party conference today Ed Miliband has all but written a blank cheque to David Cameron, as President Barack Obama leads the charge with airstrikes against Isis in Syria and Iraq.”

A spokeswoman for Stop the War added: “If this vote passes British forces will be back in action in Iraq just three years after the last troops were withdrawn from the catastrophic occupation of 2003-11.”

Stop the War is calling on supporters to lobby their MPs and protest outside Downing Street from 5.30pm.

More about this Thursday 25 September demonstration is here.

Following yesterday’s massive air attacks inside Syria, the Pentagon made clear that the operations were just the start of a protracted war: here.