London murder, and wars

A horrible crime was committed yesterday in London, England. Police still don’t know the identities and backgrounds of the two perpetrators.

Evidently, there should be no premature conclusions. Such reasonable caution, however, seems to be wasted on the British extreme Right. Based on still unclear reports that the crime might have anything to do with Muslims, the neo-nazi “English Defence League” violently attacked police near the crime scene. While fellow Islamophobes attacked mosques which had nothing to do with the London murder.

This video from Britain is called EDL Nazi Salute Compilation.

From BreakingNews in Ireland:

23/05/2013 – 07:04:10

Two men have been arrested after separate attacks on mosques following the terrorist incident in Woolwich.

A 43-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex.

Local MP Brooks Newmark tweeted last night: “Local mosque in Braintree attacked by man with knives and incendiary device. Man arrested. No one injured.”

Mr Newmark added: “Just met with leaders of local mosque in Braintree which was attacked this evening. Thanked local police for their swift response.”

Essex Police said a 43-year-old from Braintree was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and attempted arson after the incident in Silks Way at 7.15pm.

The spokesman added that police were investigating the “full circumstances” and said “it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time”.

Meanwhile police in Kent were called to reports of criminal damage at a mosque in Canterbury Street, Gillingham, at 8.40pm.

A spokesman said a man is in custody on suspicion of racially-aggravated criminal damage. The force has stepped up the police presence after a man was butchered in broad daylight on the streets of London.

Supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) gathered at Woolwich Arsenal train station near the scene and threw bottles at police.

By Lindsey German, of the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

The lessons to learn from the Woolwich killing are obvious: but not to David Cameron

23 May 2013

Any rational balance sheet of the last decade would show that the ‘war on terror’ has been a failure in its own terms: it has not prevented terrorism but caused it to spread.

The attack in Woolwich yesterday was horrific. There can be no justification for a murderous attack on an individual soldier in the streets of London. It must have been awful too for the local people who witnessed it.

Unlike with most terrorist attacks or indeed other crimes, we have been able to see film footage of the perpetrators, hear testimony from the witnesses who saw or talked to them. So we know what these men say motivated them. They claimed that the killing of the soldier was in response to the killing of Muslims by British soldiers in other countries. One said that the government did not care for people and should get the troops out.

The Boston bombers last month were supposedly similarly motivated. The Woolwich attack, carried out by two men now shot and wounded and under arrest in hospital, appears to represent a phenomenon that was pointed out nearly a decade ago by the security services in Britain: that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would lead to a growing threat of terrorism in Britain. Those of us in Stop the War have long predicted that these sorts of attacks would happen because of the war on terror.

Unfortunately there is little sign that the government, media and military will draw any of the conclusions that they should from the attack. The instant response was to brand it as a serious terrorist attack, although already many commentators are saying they believe it more likely that this was a one off and isolated incident, and unlikely to be part of a wider conspiracy. David Cameron cut short a visit to Paris in order to fly home.

This reaction is one which manifestly fails to deal with the political causes underlying such attacks. The simple truth is that there were no such cases in Britain before the start of the ‘war on terror’ in 2001, which led to the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. The consequences of those wars have been devastating for the people of those countries and further afield. Up to a million died in Iraq and 4 million were made refugees. Tens of thousands have died in Afghanistan. Fighting still continues and in Iraq looks like descending into civil war in some parts of the country.

The US and its allies have been involved in bombing attacks on these countries which have been responsible for many thousands of deaths.

A media comment that this was the day Baghdad came to the streets of Britain shows a grotesque ignorance of the country the invasion was meant to rescue for democracy, where daily sectarian bombings and killings are escalating on a scale not dreamt of in this country.

The interventions have spread in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’: drone attacks are taking place in a number of countries including Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The bombing of Libya by the west in 2011 led to at least 30,000 dead. British troops are aiding the French in Mali. The British are intervening in the war in Syria for their own ends, and want to lift the EU arms embargo there in order to escalate the war and achieve regime change. The US and EU continues to back Israel despite its treatment of the Palestinians, even sending the architect of the Iraq war, Tony Blair, as envoy for peace in the Middle East.

Any rational balance sheet of the last decade and more would demonstrate that the war on terror has been a failure in its own terms. It has not prevented terrorism but caused it to spread.

The failure of politicians and military to face up to this has further damaging consequences: if the government refuses to change its own policy it has one simple solution — ‘blame the Muslims’. Muslims are expected to condemn any such attack whereas no such demand is put upon people of other faiths when a killing is carried out by Christians. Muslim is also equated with black or Asian, as when one television reporter described the men as of ‘Muslim appearance’.

Again, atrocities by white gun men, in Norway and the US for example, which are often highly politically motivated, are not regarded as needing to be defined by race. They are also rarely described as terrorism, but as the acts of fanatics or madmen.

It is an integral part of the war on terror that the invasion and occupation of mainly Muslim countries abroad has to lead to the dehumanising of the victims of the wars: so Muslim comes to equal extremist and terrorist. Racists like the EDL turned up in Woolwich to try to further foster Islamophobia. But this treatment of Muslims goes to the top of government and is spewed out daily in the press.

Similar views of the Irish were much more common in the 1970s and 80s when the IRA had a major bombing campaign in Britain. In the end there had to be a political solution which recognised genuine grievance.

In the end there has to be a political solution to terrorism. But it can only start with recognition of the disastrous effect of western foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia for decades now, exacerbated by the consequences of 12 years of wars. That means acknowledging that those of us who said these wars were not the answer and would make things worse were absolutely right.

UK soldier killed in London in reprisal for Afghanistan and Iraq wars: here.

See also here.

Update: here.

3 thoughts on “London murder, and wars

  1. Pingback: Mosque opens doors after fascist threats | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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