Islamophobic death threats in Britain

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

British MPs threatened, worries about ‘Punish a Muslim day

Today, 9:32

In Britain, four MPs of the Labour Party have received suspicious packages, presumably because they are Muslims. In fact, three of the packages included a letter that calls for violence against Muslims, according to the British newspaper The Times.

The document refers to a special day to punish Muslims, a ‘punish a Muslim day’, on 3 April. The letter surfaced for the first time in social media last week and was also sent to the homes of several Muslims in London. The letter states that people can earn points eg, by verbally abusing a Muslim, by snatching a woman’s headscarf away, and by throwing acid into a Muslim’s face.

Death threats

London mayor Sadiq Khan is sick of threats against Muslims and has posted a video on Twitter in which he read aloud several death threats addressed to him.

He was called a homosexual Muslim terrorist who had to die. Others said he should be deported, or that he should commit suicide.

The anti-terror police is investigating.

Meanwhile, people have also launched a counter-action. Under the heading Love a Muslim day you can earn points by smiling to a Muslim or by participating in Ramadan.

USA: Mosque Terror Attack Suspect Put In Detailed Bid To Build Trump A ‘Great’ Border Wall. The former sheriff’s deputy submitted an extensive proposal that would make the border wall a recreational attraction: here.



National Geographic about its racist history

This video from the USA (showing, eg, German nazi SS and Italian fascist symbols on right-wing demonstrators’ shields) says about itself:

See the Sparks That Set Off Violence in Charlottesville | National Geographic

19 August 2017

Warning: This video contains profanity and disturbing scenes from the Charlottesville, Va. demonstration on August 12, 2017. It also includes footage of James Fields, Jr., who has been charged with second-degree murder in an attack that day.

From National Geographic in the USA:

In a full-issue article on Australia that ran in 1916, Aboriginal Australians were called “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.”

For Our Members: The Race Issue

For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It

We asked a preeminent historian to investigate our coverage of people of color in the U.S. and abroad. Here’s what he found.

By Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief

This story is part of The Race Issue, a special issue of National Geographic that explores how race defines, separates, and unites us. Tell us your story with #IDefineMe.

National Geographic April 2018 issue

It is November 2, 1930, and National Geographic has sent a reporter and a photographer to cover a magnificent occasion: the crowning of Haile Selassie, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. There are trumpets, incense, priests, spear-wielding warriors. The story runs 14,000 words, with 83 images.

If a ceremony in 1930 honoring a black man had taken place in America, instead of Ethiopia, you can pretty much guarantee there wouldn’t have been a story at all. Even worse, if Haile Selassie had lived in the United States, he would almost certainly have been denied entry to our lectures in segregated Washington, D.C., and he might not have been allowed to be a National Geographic member. According to Robert M. Poole, who wrote Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made, “African Americans were excluded from membership—at least in Washington—through the 1940s.”

This story helps launch a series about racial, ethnic, and religious groups and their changing roles in 21st-century life. The series runs through 2018 and will include coverage of Muslims, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

In 1941 National Geographic used a slavery-era slur to describe California cotton workers waiting to load a ship in California: “Pickaninny, banjos, and bales are like those you might see at New Orleans.”

“Cards and clay pipes amuse guests in Fairfax House’s 18th-century parlor”, reads the caption in a 1956 article on Virginia history. Although slave labor built homes featured in the article, the writer contended that they “stand for a chapter of this country’s history every American is proud to remember.”

I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here. It hurts to share the appalling stories from the magazine’s past. But when we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others.

Race is not a biological construct, as writer Elizabeth Kolbert explains in this issue, but a social one that can have devastating effects. “So many of the horrors of the past few centuries can be traced to the idea that one race is inferior to another,” she writes. “Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods, and our sense of self.”

How we present race matters. I hear from readers that National Geographic provided their first look at the world. Our explorers, scientists, photographers, and writers have taken people to places they’d never even imagined; it’s a tradition that still drives our coverage and of which we’re rightly proud. And it means we have a duty, in every story, to present accurate and authentic depictions—a duty heightened when we cover fraught issues such as race.

We asked John Edwin Mason to help with this examination. Mason is well positioned for the task: He’s a University of Virginia professor specializing in the history of photography and the history of Africa, a frequent crossroads of our storytelling. He dived into our archives.

What Mason found in short was that until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile it pictured “natives” elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages—every type of cliché.

Unlike magazines such as Life, Mason said, National Geographic did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture.

“Americans got ideas about the world from Tarzan movies and crude racist caricatures”, he said. “Segregation was the way it was. National Geographic wasn’t teaching as much as reinforcing messages they already received and doing so in a magazine that had tremendous authority. National Geographic comes into existence at the height of colonialism, and the world was divided into the colonizers and the colonized. That was a color line, and National Geographic was reflecting that view of the world.”

Some of what you find in our archives leaves you speechless, like a 1916 story about Australia. Underneath photos of two Aboriginal people, the caption reads: “South Australian Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.”

Questions arise not just from what’s in the magazine, but what isn’t. Mason compared two stories we did about South Africa, one in 1962, the other in 1977. The 1962 story was printed two and a half years after the massacre of 69 black South Africans by police in Sharpeville, many shot in the back as they fled. The brutality of the killings shocked the world.

National Geographic’s story barely mentions any problems”, Mason said. “There are no voices of black South Africans. That absence is as important as what is in there. The only black people are doing exotic dances … servants or workers. It’s bizarre, actually, to consider what the editors, writers, and photographers had to consciously not see.”

Contrast that with the piece in 1977, in the wake of the U.S. civil rights era: “It’s not a perfect article, but it acknowledges the oppression”, Mason said. “Black people are pictured. Opposition leaders are pictured. It’s a very different article.”

Fast-forward to a 2015 story about Haiti, when we gave cameras to young Haitians and asked them to document the reality of their world. “The images by Haitians are really, really important,” Mason said, and would have been “unthinkable” in our past. So would our coverage now of ethnic and religious conflicts, evolving gender norms, the realities of today’s Africa, and much more. …

“If I were talking to my students about the period until after the 1960s, I would say, ‘Be cautious about what you think you are learning here’”, he said. “At the same time, you acknowledge the strengths National Geographic had even in this period, to take people out into the world to see things we’ve never seen before. It’s possible to say that a magazine can open people’s eyes at the same time it closes them.”

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a worthy moment to step back, to take stock of where we are on race. It’s also a conversation that is changing in real time: In two years, for the first time in U.S. history, less than half the children in the nation will be white. So let’s talk about what’s working when it comes to race, and what isn’t. Let’s examine why we continue to segregate along racial lines and how we can build inclusive communities. Let’s confront today’s shameful use of racism as a political strategy and prove we are better than this.

For us this issue also provided an important opportunity to look at our own efforts to illuminate the human journey, a core part of our mission for 130 years. I want a future editor of National Geographic to look back at our coverage with pride—not only about the stories we decided to tell and how we told them but about the diverse group of writers, editors, and photographers behind the work.

We hope you will join us in this exploration of race, beginning this month and continuing throughout the year. Sometimes these stories, like parts of our own history, are not easy to read. But as Michele Norris writes in this issue, “It’s hard for an individual—or a country—to evolve past discomfort if the source of the anxiety is only discussed in hushed tones.”

Racist anti-Muslim letters in Britain

This video says about itself:

12 March 2018

Letters encouraging people to take part in ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ have reportedly been sent to houses across the UK. We spoke with Shazad Amin, CEO at Muslim Engagement & Development (MEND).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Letters fomenting hatred of Muslims

LABOUR MP Yasmin Qureshi confronted the Tories yesterday with their failure to address urgent issues of race and religion.

“Can I ask the minister if she can explain why no government minister in the last eight years has ever made a speech on the rise of anti-Muslim hatred”, enquired the Bolton South East MP of Policing Minister Victoria Atkins.

It was prompted by reports that anti-Islamic letters have been posted across the country.

Ms Qureshi said the letter calling for an attack on Muslims offers rewards of 10 points for verbal abuse, 50 points for throwing acid, 1,000 points for bombing a mosque and 2,500 points to “nuke Mecca”.

Former [Conservative] minister Anna Soubry described the letters as “an act of blatant incitement to terrorism” and called on the government to introduce a “proper legal definition of Islamophobia”.

Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh called the letters “despicable” and said they contained “insidious beliefs,’ while Ealing Central & Acton MP Rupa Huq said: “You don’t have to have taught media studies or be a Muslim to have noticed the anti-Muslim sentiment is becoming quite common in much of our tabloid printed press.”

After five forces received reports of the letters, Counter Terrorism Policing North East is leading the investigation into the messages.

A suspicious package was delivered to the parliamentary office of Labour MP Mohammad Yasin yesterday.

Emergency services were called and detectives are investigating after the package, which contained an unknown liquid, was delivered just before 1pm.

Police confirmed later that the liquid in the package, which the Bedford MP did not personally open, was non-hazardous.

No-one was injured, but two people were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Police are reportedly concerned the incident may be linked to the Punish A Muslim Day letters.


Dutch racist threatens election candidate

This June 2017 video says about itself:

Discrimination is on the rise in the Netherlands

Rotterdam was once known for welcoming newcomers, but the rise of the Dutch far-right is making life there more difficult for foreigners.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

A 61-year-old man from Barendrecht was arrested because, according to the police, he threatened a Rotterdam local council election candidate on social media. The target is a member of the Ubuntu Connected Front, which in the city council mainly wants to represent Rotterdam people with an African and Caribbean background.

The Barendrecht man posted death threats on the Facebook page of the local council candidate yesterday. He also threatened to start a fire.

Fast performance

UCF, which already expected racist or discriminatory reactions in election time, immediately reported the threats to the police. “The suspect could quickly be tracked down by the police’s fast actions”, says the UCF.


Islamophobic violence in Germany

This video from Germany says about itself:

Germany: Berlin mosque set ablaze in alleged arson attack

11 March 2018

People gathered outside the burnt out DITIB [Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs] Koca Sinan Camii mosque in northern Berlin on Sunday morning, after a fire broke out at the venue earlier that day.

Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel visited the scene. Standing outside the mosque he said, “I can only call on people to live with each other peacefully, here in Berlin.”

Chair of the Alliance for Innovation and Justice Haluk Yildiz maintained that this was an act of terror, rather than an arson attack. He said, “This is a terror attack on the largest Turkish community in Europe.”

Yildiz went on to criticise German politicians for not visiting the site of the fire. He said: “I’d also wished that the CDU leader, the SPD leader, all those so-called democrats were here, so that they can also say that they distance themselves from this. It’s not enough that just the Interior Senator is here.”

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 11 March 2018:

Turkish mosques and clubhouses set on fire in Germany

In several places in Germany the past few days there has been arson of Turkish buildings, including mosques. …

In Berlin, a mosque and an association building of the same mosque were set on fire. The police assume it was an attack with a political background.

There were also fire attacks in Sauerland and in the town of Itzehoe north of Hamburg. In Sauerland three Molotov cocktails were thrown at a home and in Itzehoe a window of a mosque was smashed and fire set at a Turkish greengrocer’s shop. A passerby warned the residents in the building above the store that there was a fire ….

On Friday there had already been arson in a mosque in Baden-Württemberg. The chairman of the representative organization Türkische Gemeinde in Deutschland called this a terrorist attack. The police deal with that case as attempted murder and is looking for five suspects.


French political establishment nice to neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen

This AFP news agency video says about itself:

France’s Le Pen insists Nazi death camps were ‘detail’

25 March 2009

French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen caused a storm in the EU parliament Wednesday by insisting that the Nazi death camps were a “detail of second world war history”.

By Francis Dubois in France:

French ruling class promotes memoirs of neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen

9 March 2018

When on March 1, bookstores started selling the memoirs of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the neo-fascist National Front (FN) and father of its current leader Marine Le Pen, the French corporate media largely moved to promote the book. A vast operation to rehabilitate the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime, to defend torture and the crimes of French imperialism in Algeria and to downplay the Holocaust is underway.

The book was published by a small ultra-right publisher, who “shares the national values that are at the heart of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s political activity” according to one of its representatives, but it was the mass media that was tasked with promoting it—publishing large extracts of the book and interviewing its author.

The extracts they cited present the pro-Vichy former supporter of the Algerian-colonialist Organisation armée secrète (OAS), a fanatical anti-communist and founder of France’s principal far-right party, as a credible political commentator on events after World War II.

Newspapers and magazines presented as good coin the image that Le Pen gave of himself, as a man of the people, humane and cultured, “who loves poetry”. News magazine Le Point led its issue that week with this subject, calling Le Pen a “born storyteller about himself [who] seeks to reveal, over the course of many pages, a personality the general public does not know, more humane, more romantic, less hysterical.” The newspaper Le Parisien hailed the memoirs as “a story with the allure of a picaresque novel, where he particularly stresses his military adventures, even if he sometimes dresses them up a bit.”

A politician who led a parachutist unit that tortured countless people during the Algerian war, who specializes in historical falsification, anti-Semitism and denials of the crimes of the Nazis, and who was repeatedly convicted in the courts due to these views, is now presented as an “honest man” or even a “son of the people”. What is taking place?

It is impossible to answer this question without understanding the current political needs of French imperialism, and above all the international degeneration of capitalism.

As the French financial aristocracy builds a new Franco-German military axis around a policy of neo-colonial war in the Middle East and great-power conflict, it is forced to rehabilitate even the most extreme expressions of nationalism and militarism—Vichy and the colonial war in Algeria. In order to prepare the next wars it is planning, and overcome the opposition of a population deeply disillusioned with war, it must falsify the history of its past crimes.

This is why the memoirs of Le Pen, hailing the colonial army and its methods, defending Nazi-collaborationist forces and falsifying history, finds such a warm response in official media.

Just as German professors are excusing and minimizing the Nazi crimes of the World War II era to rehabilitate Hitler and militarism, the French bourgeoisie is trying to whitewash its participation in the Holocaust as well as its crimes against the people of the countries it colonized.

Le Pen’s memoirs are full of hymns to the glory of French imperialism in Indochina (i.e., Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) and Algeria, which he fully defends. Already in 1960, long before he founded the FN in 1972, as the OAS stepped up its terrorist activities in Algeria, as well as within France itself, Le Pen had founded the “National Front for a French Algeria.”

Le Point, which is close to the current government of President Emmanuel Macron, quoted without any critical comments Le Pen’s cynical legitimization of the large-scale use of torture by the French army in Algeria: “People spoke of torture. Those who carried it out were denounced. The French army was coming back from Indochina. There it had seen horrific violence that went beyond what could be imagined, and made pulling people’s fingernails out seem almost humane. … Our job was to put an end to the horror. … So yes, the French army indeed used interrogation methods to obtain information during the battle of Algiers, but the methods it used were the least violent possible … there was nothing that touched people’s physical integrity.”

Another theme of Le Pen to which Le Point gives a pass is the defense of the Vichy regime and collaboration with the Third Reich. Echoing the post-war myth that Vichy leader Marshal Philippe Pétain collaborated because he wanted to “protect” the French people, Le Pen insists that the Pétain regime was “legal and legitimate, it made a normal and binding agreement with the Reich.”

He continues, “The Marshal [Pétain] had the enormous responsibility of getting by [with the surrender to the Nazis] to allow his forty million fellow citizens to survive. … One can then discuss the collaboration policy, its errors, its excesses, that is fine as long as everyone’s errors and excesses are examined, too, but it does not change what I have described.”

Le Pen’s remarks show how the FN and Jean-Marie Le Pen speak for broad sections of the French bourgeoisie that ardently supported Nazism and still did so after World War II—though they could not speak openly in the face of deep anti-fascist sentiment in the working class. Today, as they move to spend hundreds of billions of euros on war and slash social programs for the working class, these forces feel they can safely venerate their political ancestors.

The FN, founded in 1972, is directly descended from the French Popular Party (PPF) of Jacques Doriot, one of the pillars of the collaboration. Among the FN’s initial leaders were Victory Barthélemy, the former PPF general secretary whose participation in the Rafle du Vél d’Hiv mass round-up of Jews for deportation is well documented, and who became the FN’s first general secretary. The FN leadership embraced other ex-PPF figures, including André Dufraisse, a member of the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism (LVF), which went to fight in the Nazi war of annihilation against the Soviet Union.

Another associate of Le Pen was Paul Malaguti, the “killer of Cannes” who worked for the Gestapo in Cannes and later took care of the FN’s finances. Other founding FN members include Henry Coston, who launched the Anti-Jewish Youth movement in 1930 and an explicitly pro-Nazi party in 1933; François Brigneau of the fascist National Popular Rally of Marcel Déat; and the former Waffen-SS member Pierre Bousquet, the FN’s first treasurer.

Another stock-in-trade of the former FN leader is Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic statements. In the interviews Le Pen gave about the publication of his book, he again asserted that the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps were a “detail of history”, statements for which he has repeatedly been convicted. He has also cynically declared in an interview that he “might maybe recognize that the Holocaust happened” in the second volume of his memoirs, but that he felt no need to apologize for his previous statements: “I will not ask for forgiveness to anyone. I feel compassion for those who suffered, as I did also, of the war.”

By favorably quoting Le Pen’s remarks, Le Point and broad swathes of the French bourgeois media are doing their part to rehabilitate the crimes of French imperialism and the Vichy regime during World War II, which the French financial aristocracy sees as a critical priority. Class-conscious workers and youth will reject these attempts with contempt, and see in them a warning as to the reactionary policies French imperialism is preparing today.