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.

Iraq war re-start explained


Letter to the editor of the Daily Mail in Britain

From daily The Independent in Britain:

If you’re still confused about what’s going on in the Middle East, look no further than Aubrey Bailey from Fleet, Hampshire.

She wrote in to the Daily Mail on September 5 to shed some light on the complex system of alliances and conflicts that exist between the West, states in the Middle East and jihadist groups like Isis.

The United States airstrikes, supposed to stop terrorism, according to this report in British daily The Guardian, have actually strenghtened terrorism by reconciling ISIS with the official al-Qaida branch in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Tony Blair’s ex-deputy against Iraq war re-start


This video from England is called Anti Iraq War Demonstration, London 15/2/2003.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

John Prescott says UK should stay out of Isis ‘regional dispute’

Former deputy prime minister urges all parties to think again over air strikes in Iraq and says history is repeating itself

Tracy McVeigh

Saturday 27 September 2014 23.00 BST

John Prescott has become the most senior British politician to openly criticise parliament’s decision to take military action again in the Middle East.

The former MP and life peer said he lived “every day” with the aftermath of the Iraq war which he, as a member of Tony Blair‘s cabinet, authorised and has since said he regrets. “History,” he said, “is repeating itself.”

At least, John Prescott, contrary to his ex-boss Tony Blair, has learned something from history.

Prescott, who was Blair‘s deputy from 1997 to 2007, urged “all parties to think again” saying too much Arab and British blood had already been shed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his regular Sunday Mirror newspaper column, Prescott writes: “Cameron says we shouldn’t be ‘frozen by fear’ by what happened 11 years ago. But yet again we are being led by the US. This is not our or their war. So here we are again. Parliament backs British military action in the Middle East and we’re bombing by the weekend. This time the enemy is not the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. The latest ‘threat to Britain’ is Islamic State. It is a regional religious dispute that we should leave to the Arab nations. Bombing is never clinical. From Dresden to Gaza, innocent people are often chalked up as ‘collateral damage‘. Do we as a country really want to be responsible for that again?”

On Friday, at a recalled session of the Commons, MPs voted by 524 to 43 to sanction the UK air strikes, limited to Iraq, with 69 MPs not voting. A total of 23 Labour MPs, six Tories and one Lib Dem voted against UK action along with MPs from the SNP, SDLP, Green party and Respect.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Tower Hamlets, resigned as shadow education minister before the vote in order to abstain, saying she believed “further air strikes will only create further bloodshed and pain in Iraq”.

There was also criticism from Labour MP John McDonnell. He said: “This is madness and an absolute disaster. The war on terrorism will be brought to our streets as a result.”

The White House welcomed the British vote along with decisions by Belgium and Denmark to join the military campaign, but Prescott was withering in his criticism of the US tactics.

“The US and our government say the aim is to destroy and degrade the militants. But since America started bombing Isis positions, it’s claimed 6,000 people have joined Islamic State’s army – 1,300 from outside Syria and Iraq.

“Isis desperately wants Britain to join in. The public beheadings of journalists and other hostages were an open invitation for the west to strike. They’re desperate to drag us in …”

To some, it will legitimise Islamic State’s self-proclaimed statehood and lead to further recruitment and funding from around the world.

“Up until a few weeks ago, Obama admitted he had no strategy to combat Isis. Launching solitary air strikes shows he still hasn’t got one.”

Prescott also attacked his former boss: “Tony Blair said air strikes alone won’t destroy Isis. And he’s right. He also said the US and UK should follow up with putting boots on the ground. And on that, he’s absolutely wrong. Because make no mistake, this WILL be a war. Not a limited air strike. We will get sucked in. Again.”

Dutch socialists against Iraq war re-start


This video from London, England says about itself:

25 September 2014

Anti-war campaigners protest over the air strikes against IS

Anti-war campaigners gathered outside Downing Street to protest over the air strikes against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq and Syria. Members of the Stop the War coalition held placards and chanted slogans while U.S. planes continued to pound Islamic state positions in Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted Britain to join U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State militant group after the Iraqi government requested London’s help and he recalled parliament to secure its approval for military action. Britain was quick to join military action in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago. But a war-weary public and parliament’s rejection last year of air strikes on Syrian government targets prompted Cameron to proceed cautiously this time and win cross-party support before acting.

Translated from the site of the Socialist Party (the biggest opposition party) in the Netherlands:

Everyone is eager to bomb ISIS. Why not so the SP?

With air strikes one cannot fight terrorism. The ISIS warriors just mingle among the people who will be the victims of the military campaign which now under the leadership of the United States has begun and about which they say that it will last for many years. In addition, the Sunni population will be driven by the air strikes into the arms of ISIS. …

What lessons can we learn from previous Western military interventions?

The main lesson to be learnt is that these interventions only very rarely ever lead to positive results and that Western military interventions often lead to an increase in violence. Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that. The violence in these countries is at an unprecedented level.