After London atrocity, no to racism, war

This video says about itself:

23 March 2017

In London a vigil is underway for the victims of Wednesday’s attack.

People have been gathering at Trafalgar Square to pay tribute to them.

Among the victims. 48 year old Keith Palmer, the unarmed police officer who was fatally stabbed as he stood guard at an entrance to parliament. Another victim, was 43-year-old Aysha Frade, She was on her way to collect her two daughters, who are seven and nine years old.

From TIME magazine:

Sughra Ahmed, a Muslim woman who traveled from northwest England for the vigil, said she’d been reduced to tears on the square by a woman who embraced her.

“Britain is one,” she said. “An attack on one is an attack on us all.”

MORE THAN £100,000 was raised online by yesterday afternoon for the family members of those murdered in Wednesday’s Westminster terrorist attack: here.

So far, there are only speculations, no facts about the motives of the perpetrator of this atrocity. Maybe we will never know. He killed and was killed without leaving any message as far as we know now. He had a history of involvement with drugs. Did that play any role?

From the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

22 March 2017

Stop the War condemns the attacks at Westminster today. There can be no justification for the attacks on ordinary people in the street and those working in or providing security in the palace of Westminster. Our thoughts are with all those killed, injured or caught up in the incident. The police have said that they have designated this as a terrorist attack, and it shares some of the features of other such attacks across Europe recently.

Stop the War opposes the wars in the Middle East and South Asia. We believe that these have led to an increase in terrorism which has made life more dangerous not just for people in those regions, but in Britain as well. We have to oppose terrorism but also confront the issues which help to fuel it, and search for a peaceful and just solution to the problems of the Middle East. The role of our government should be to urgently look for such solutions, and not to maintain its involvement in wars which are helping to create this instability around the world.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

Westminster attacker was known to British intelligence

24 March 2017

Much remains unclear about the terror attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament in London that left five people dead and at least 40 others injured, some critically.

Unusually, it took more than 24 hours for the alleged perpetrator to be named. Khalid Masood, 52, a British citizen born in Kent and thought to have been living in the West Midlands, was killed in the incident.

Just before 3pm on Wednesday, he had driven a rented SUV at speed across Westminster Bridge, knocking pedestrians over, and causing one to jump into the River Thames, before the car struck a perimeter wall at the Houses of Parliament. He then jumped from his vehicle and attempted to force his way through an unlocked gate, fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer with an 8-inch blade before he was shot by an armed police officer. He died later in hospital.

Parliament was placed on lockdown for several hours, and Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed to safety as armed police searched the building.

In her lunchtime statement before a reconvened Commons on Thursday, May only confirmed that the assailant was a British-born male who had acted alone. He was known to the domestic intelligence agency MI5, although only as a “peripheral figure,” and he was not “part of the current intelligence picture.”

Some 3,000 Britons are thought to be on MI5’s anti-terror surveillance list, but it appears Masood was not among them. May said that his identity was known to the police and security services and that, when “operational considerations allow,” he would be identified. He had once been investigated by MI5 in relation to “concerns about violent extremism.”

According to the Guardian, the original text issued by Number 10 said only that he had been investigated over such concerns, but not by whom. May did not state what these concerns were based on, or whether the subject had ever been arrested. According to subsequent reports, Masood had previous convictions for assault, criminal damage and possession of offensive weapons, but none for terror-related offences.

The patchiness of the prime minister’s statement was underscored by her assertion that the “working assumption” was that the attacker was “inspired by Islamist ideology,” but police “have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public.”

Despite this, police raided at least six properties in Birmingham, London and elsewhere, making eight arrests.

May also stated that in the absence of “specific intelligence” that a further attack is imminent, the UK’s security level would not be raised and would remain at “severe.” Police patrols would be increased across the country as a “precautionary measure,” including armed police in major cities.

May struck a Churchillian pose, warning that in the face of the terrorists’ efforts to “silence our democracy,” the “oldest of parliaments” would not be cowed and that British “democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

There is something profoundly distasteful about the use of such a horror for political grandstanding. The reality is that the MPs gathered in Westminster were probably the safest people in the country at that moment. The Houses of Parliament is the most heavily fortified building in London, complete with concrete bollards, barriers and heavily armed police officers.

Masood only managed to attack PC Palmer because a side gate had been left unlocked. If not, he would have turned his knife, not just his car, on people outside parliament.

Wednesday’s tragedy follows a pattern seen in Germany, France, Belgium and elsewhere.

A lone operative, known to the security services, launches an attack using a lorry, car, knife or some other unsophisticated weaponry to deadly effect. Once again, it is those going quietly about their daily lives who are the victims.

In Wednesday’s incident, these included Aysha Frade, a college worker, and American tourist Kurt Cochran, celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, who was injured in the attack. The fifth deceased individual was identified Thursday evening as a 75-year-old man.

In addition to the 12 Britons admitted to hospital, the injured include three French children, two Romanians, two Greeks, one Italian, one Pole, one German, one Irish, four South Koreans, one Chinese, one Italian and one American.

May’s statement, like the wall-to-wall media coverage, is aimed not at uncovering the truth of this incident, its origins and implications, but at concealing, confusing and ultimately silencing any discussion.

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian wrote, “The bastion of politics now has a human face, as vulnerable as the rest of us to an act of murderous violence.”

Westminster, like “Washington, DC” or “Brussels”, had been shorthand for a “loathed political establishment or distant, overmighty government,” he wrote. Wednesday changed this. MPs “locked in” the Commons chamber trying desperately to contact loved ones, or the images of Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood giving CPR to PC Palmer; all contributed to parliament being “seen not as the widely despised bastion of the political class, but a real place inhabited by office workers, tourists, security guards and groups of visiting schoolchildren.”

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon summed up the purpose of such wishful prattle, insisting that acts of terror were the responsibility only of the individuals who carried them out. …

The refusal to consider any political or social impulses for terror attacks goes hand-in-glove with the efforts to rehabilitate the discredited and loathed ruling elite, and to excuse the role its wars have played in fostering Islamist terrorism.

Just as the incident unfolded, foreign ministers from 68 countries were gathering in the US to step up their military intervention in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The day before, it was reported that a US-led airstrike had struck a school building in Raqqa, the ISIS capital of Syria, killing more than 33 people. Days earlier, a US strike on a mosque complex in the northwest of the country killed at least 52 people.

While there are no public reports of British involvement in these attacks, in December 2015 parliament voted to authorise UK military airstrikes in Syria.

Then there is the alliance between the US and the UK alongside Saudi Arabia and others, in financing, arming and training Islamic extremists in Syria, Libya and Iraq as its suits their interests. Not only does this increase the danger of terrorism, such reckless actions threaten a global conflagration. But any discussion on these questions is being ruled out of order.

Instead, the UK government follows Trump’s White House in imposing ever more worthless “security” restrictions, such as insisting laptops and tablets carried on certain airlines from specified airports be placed in the hold, rather than in the cabin. This is accompanied by shrill demands for greater police powers.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper demanded a massive increase in armed police, while the Daily Mail argued that such attacks make it seem “increasingly perverse to deny the authorities power to eavesdrop on our electronic communications for the purpose of protecting the public.”

As for Freedland and Corbyn’s calls for unity and solidarity, in reality the attack is being used to create an atmosphere redolent of the vicious anti-Muslim campaigns underway in the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Katie Hopkins said London is a “city of ghettoes behind a thin veneer of civility kept polished by a Muslim mayor [Labour’s Sadiq Khan].” She described a “war” taking place in the country, between “those who think it is more important to tip-toe around the cultures of those who choose to join us, rather than defend our own culture.”

Candles at the Trafalgar Square vigil

By Lamiat Sabin and Steve Sweeney in Britain:

We Won’t Let the Racists Divide Us

Friday 24th March 2017

Britain responds to the far-right trying to whip up hatred after the Westminster attack

FAR-RIGHT efforts to exploit the Westminster attack yesterday were overshadowed by calls for unity.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, Stand Up to Racism, anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged British people to resist being divided by racial and religious hatred.

Despite wide condemnation of the attack from the Muslim community, including from MCB which described it as “cowardly and depraved,” Stand Up to Racism said that fascist mob Britain First has already jumped to “call a march in London to spew their racism, hatred and division.”

Mr Corbyn urged people not to rush to judgement about Wednesday’s incident in which four people died — a policeman, a teacher from Spain, a tourist from the US and the attacker.

A Kent-born man — named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, who had a history of convictions including for assault, weapon possession and public order offences — drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing it into the fence around Parliament.

He then ran into an out-of-bounds area of the parliamentary estate where he fatally stabbed one officer and tried to attack another before being shot several times by police.

The Labour leader paid tribute to Keith Palmer — the officer who was stabbed to death — the security services and NHS workers who took care of the injured and dying.

“We are united by our humanity and by our democratic values and by that human impulse of solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity.”

His sentiments were shared by Mr Khan. Speaking on Sky News, the London mayor said that such attackers “hate the fact that in London, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, those who are members of organised faith and those who aren’t, don’t simply tolerate each other, we respect each other, we celebrate each other, we embrace each other.

“In the past we have risen, we’ve shown our resilience, we’ve returned to work and returned to normality. We have done it in the past and we will do it again now.”

The Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a community-funded NGO dedicated to tackling Islamophobia, expressed shock and sorrow over the incident and paid tribute to the emergency services.

“The Palace of Westminster is the centre of our democracy and we must all ensure that it continues to serve our country and its people with safety and security.”

Hope Not Hate wrote in a statement: “In the coming hours and days, there will be some who call for more hatred. Who want nothing more than to meet violence with violence. That is the path to ruin.”

These statements were made after the former leader of far-right group the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, took to the streets of Westminster to spread hate against Muslims.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage also sunk to a new low when he blamed support for multiculturalism for creating a “fifth column” of terror supporters in Western societies.

… And he praised US President Donald Trump for trying to implement his Muslim ban.

In a bizarre string of Facebook comments, Cambridge Labour county councillor Peter Sarris called for the introduction of internment — the detention of people without trial, as was used against Irish Catholic and nationalist communities during the Troubles.

Stand Up to Racism and Mend have called a vigil outside Downing Street at 6pm today.

Muslims at the Trafalgar Square vigil

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday 24th March 2017

RELIGIOUS leaders and experts described the Westminster terror attack as a “perversion” of Islam yesterday.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, said every ideology, whether religious or secular, has contained elements of extremism, so Muslims should not be blamed for what happened on Wednesday.

He said: “There is no space for hatred for those who are our friends, for hatred for the Muslim population in general in this country — no reprisals, no sense that we are targeting our condemnation at anybody other than those who perpetrate these things.”

Muslim leaders also condemned the attack, insisting it had nothing to do with Islam. Islamic law expert Mustafa Baig, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Exeter University, said British Muslims should not be “wrongfully blamed for acts that they themselves condemn.”

Calling on people to “stand together” with British Muslims, he said: “This grotesque act of violence was a perversion of the teachings of Islam.”

This Hope not Hate video from Britain says about itself:

24 March 2017

Stand together to spread a message of hope with Brendan Cox

whose wife, Labour MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a white supremacist pro-South African apartheid Islamophobe

and Mike Haines, whose brother David was murdered by ISIS.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Don’t Give Way To Hate

Friday 24th March 2017

JEREMY CORBYN’S insistence that we must not allow “fear or the voices of hatred to divide or cow us,” following the deadly events in Westminster, is wise advice.

His counsel of unity and letting the police carry out their responsibilities without a chorus of ill-judged allegations and supposition meets the needs of the situation.

It stands in contrast to the usual self-publicist renta-gob politicians and commentators who are happy to exploit other people’s grief to peddle their divisive obsessions.

Most politicians have followed advice to adopt a united and dignified attitude towards Wednesday’s unmitigated horror.

They have pointed to the magnificent response by the emergency services and NHS health professionals to events as they unfolded and paid tribute to unarmed police officer Keith Palmer who was murdered as he carried out his duties outside Parliament.

Morally stunted individuals of the ilk of Nigel Farage, Arron Banks and Katie Hopkins blame multiculturalism and mass immigration for “inviting in terrorism.”

They propagate the slander that Muslims and their religion, Islam, are directly or indirectly to blame for an atrocity committed by an individual.

In perpetrating this lie, they ignore the reality that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Britain share a similar approach to life, family, friends and neighbours as everyone else.

Farage’s associate Paul Nuttall accepts that only a “tiny fragment” of the Muslim community in this country has been radicalised.

But even then he can’t help attempting to smear all Muslims by concluding that even a lone wolf’s plans would have been shared by other people and adding: “I just wonder whether more could have been done to stop them.”

His demand that Muslim communities “do more to root out this cancer of radicalisation” amounts to guilt by religious association.

Local Muslim associations across Britain are engaged in constant struggles against those who would tarnish a religion that its believers characterise as peaceful by adopting the hateful views of a death cult.

Even unapologetic arch-war criminal Tony Blair has acknowledged the link between radicalisation and the anger and resentment generated by a succession of Western-directed or backed wars against Muslim states in north Africa and the Middle East.

Yet it is remarkable how few British Muslims have been seduced to enrol in the ranks of the Islamic State (Isis) fanatics who proclaim their goal of rolling back the centuries to create a caliphate of their own imagining.

Much more representative of Muslims in Britain is the swiftly set-up group Muslims United for London that collected £3,000 in its first hour of existence to support the families of those murdered or maimed in Westminster.

The same applies to the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) organisation working with Stand up to Racism for tonight’s unity vigil in Whitehall.

Their priority is to bring everyone together in opposition to hatred and fear, to racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and every other shameful pretext to sow division and discrimination.

Those who reach with a knee-jerk reaction towards their pet bugbears of multiculturalism and immigration to justify scapegoating entire communities are objectively allies of Isis.

They have a shared distrust of and antipathy towards a society in which people from many different backgrounds are not only tolerant but mutually respectful, living in peace, love and friendship alongside each other.

The views of the hate purveyors are outdated and will never achieve dominance as long as people stand up, speak out and refuse to be intimidated.

The far right wants to exploit the Westminster attack. London won’t let it, by Nesrine Malik: here.

BRITISH AUTHORITIES: NO EVIDENCE LONDON TERRORIST HAD CONNECTIONS WITH AL QAEDA, ISIS The senior national coordinator for U.K. counter-terrorism policing also said there was no evidence Khalid Masood was radicalized in prison. [Reuters]

London attack perpetrator was monitored by British intelligence six years ago: here.

Big anti-racism demonstration in London

This video says about itself:

Anti-Trump, Anti-Racism Protest in Central London on the 18th March 2017.

By Felicity Collier in central London, England:

Britain stands up to Trump and racism

Monday 20th March 2017

Tens of thousands protest in London, Cardiff and Glasgow

THIRTY thousand activists marched on the streets of London against racial and religious discrimination on Saturday as part of the Stand Up To Racism campaign.

Protesters also gathered in Cardiff and Glasgow, and marches also took place across Europe and in South Korea to mark the UN’s International Anti-Racism Day.

Mohammed Kozbar of the Muslim Association of Great Britain told the rally that the movement should be encouraged by the recent electoral defeat of the far right in the Netherlands and urged for a strategy against racist forces in the forthcoming French elections.

He also questioned the recent European Court of Justice ruling that allows employers to ban the hijab: “Is this justice? Is this equality? Is this freedom?”

Last week, the Brexit Bill to trigger Article 50 was granted royal assent, but more than three million EU workers in Britain are still left uncertain of their residency rights.

Marvina Newton from the action group One Day Without Us, formed to counter anti-migrant rhetoric, said that the government should not use EU citizens such as her as bargaining chips in upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded “an end to the racism of economic injustice” and urged for recognition of the positive role of migrants in our communities.

Labour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green Catherine West said that the red carpet should not be rolled out for US President Donald Trump when he makes a state visit later this year.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg recommended that if Mr Trump wants to fill the notorious prison with “bad dudes,” he should start with himself.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady stated the importance of tackling root causes of racism and prejudice, the need for “solutions not scapegoats” and an end to divide-and-rule.

The march, now in its fourth year, was enlivened by Love Music Hate Racism’s float, which featured MCs such as Zara Sykes and Saskilla, who chanted: “Neo-nazis — get shut down!”

A handful of far-right counter-protesters were embarrassed after failing to take their normal spot on the steps of the Eros statue at Piccadily Circus as anti-fascists got there first and swiftly routed them.

De Menezes killer promoted to London police chief

This video says about itself:

JEAN CHARLES (Henrique Goldman, 2009) – Full Movie

18 May 2013

The tragic true story of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian shot dead by British police in 2005 at the height of the London terrorist alerts.

The film was directed by Henrique Goldman and received its international premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Selton Mello stars as Jean Charles with many of the other roles played by the actual friends and family of Jean Charles de Menezes. Award winning director Stephen Frears was an executive producer for the film.

By Felicity Collier in England:

New Met chief Dick ran op which killed Menezes

Thursday 23rd February 2017

Families express horror at appointment to top job

THE family of Jean Charles de Menezes yesterday condemned the decision to appoint Cressida Dick — who ran the operation that killed him — as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

They have “serious concerns” about the appointment of Ms Dick, who was in charge of an anti-terror operation which misidentified Mr de Menezes as a suicide bomber. He was shot seven times in the head at point-blank range in 2005.

The family said: “We had to face a tragedy that no family should ever have to experience; the tragic death of a loved one at the hands of those we entrusted to serve us and protect us.”

Mr de Menezes was killed while trying to board a train at Stockwell Tube station.

The 27-year-old Brazilian electrician had been on his way to repair a broken fire alarm, but was killed after being misidentified as being involved in a failed bomb attack the previous day.

It was later revealed that prior to his death he had been put under surveillance by the Met as he lived in the same building as two terror suspects.

Then-commander Ms Dick went to trial for breaching health and safety laws before eventually being cleared of blame by a jury.

In 2007 the Independent Police Complaints Commission decided it would not discipline any other front-line or surveillance officers as it said there was no prospect of charges being upheld.

The relatives of Mr de Menezes sought justice and brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights in 2015, but lost on grounds that there was insufficient evidence against any individual officer.

Immediately after killing Mr de Menezes, the police are known to have lied about the circumstances and altered evidence.

It was revealed in 2014 that the de Menezes family had been spied on by the police following their son’s death.

Ms Dick was recommended for the £270,000-a-year top post by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

In making her decision, Ms Rudd took on board the views of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who claimed Ms Dick had had a “distinguished” career.

Ms Dick was promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner just over a year after the execution of Mr de Menezes.

She also holds the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service.

Cuban art exhibition in London

This video from England says about itself:

14 February 2017

The ¡Presente! exhibition gathered, for the first time in London, the work of over 30 contemporary Cuban artists. With curators and artists from the island visiting the city, it also represented an opportunity for conversation and exchange on arts, culture and education.

London against Trump, demonstration report

London anti-Trump demonstrators

By Felicity Collier in London, England:

Nationwide protests push May on Trump

Monday 6th February 2017

City centres left at a standstill as public rallies

MORE than 40,000 protesters demonstrating against US President Donald Trump brought central London to a standstill on Saturday.

The demo “Stop Trump’s Muslim Ban — Stop May Supporting It” marched from the US embassy in Mayfair, through the shopping district of Piccadilly and on to Downing Street.

Labour MPs, Muslim community groups, Jewish organisations, trade unions, and campaign groups such as Stop the War Coalition and Stand Up to Racism all addressed the crowds.

Speaking to the throng outside Downing Street, Muslim Association of Britain president Dr Omer El-Hamdoon said: “One thing Trump has done which is good is to expose people for what they are — he has exposed who are the racists, who are the fascists.”

Muslim Safety Forum head Azad Ali received overwhelming cheers when he told the crowd that if Prime Minister Theresa May did not act to stop Mr Trump’s state visit, then protesters would bring the whole of London to a standstill.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking via video screen, said Ms May and the Conservatives were “on the wrong side of history.”

Mr Corbyn reiterated his stand that Mr Trump should not be invited here on a state visit “while he continues to propagate his anti-women, his anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican policies.”

He pledged to defeat the “nasty policy created to sow division and hatred.”

National Union of Teachers general secretary Kevin Courtney told the crowds that “fear and division” was evident in schools. He said: “I’m here to say that every teacher should be involved in the campaign against Trump.”

More than 500 people also marched through the streets of Leeds in protest against Mr Trump’s attack on refugees and Muslims.

Many carried home-made placards declaring: “This isn’t politics, it’s morality,” “No ban — no wall — no Trump,” “Dump Trump — fight bigotry,” and “Refugees and immigrants welcome.”

The march ended with a rally outside the city’s art gallery.

Mr Trump’s request to reinstate a travel ban, after lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota argued that the ban was unconstitutional, was rejected by the US federal appeals court yesterday.

In the US, there have been protests at several US airports where travellers were being held, including at least 2,000 protesters at New York’s JFK Airport.

See also here.

London demonstrators against Trump

BRITISH LAWMAKER MOVES TO BLOCK TRUMP FROM SPEAKING BEFORE PARLIAMENT Speaker John Bercow spoke out in the House of Commons against allowing the U.S. president to address Parliament. Bercow’s remarks come following controversy over Prime Minister Teresa May’s invitation to the president, which sparked protests and a petition that drew over 1.8 million signatures. [HuffPost]

Opposition to Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban mounts on eve of court deadline: here.

The Women’s March organizers are planning a “day without women.”

Big pro-refugee anti-Trump demonstration, London today

This video from England says about itself:

4 February 2017

In response to the xenophobic and racist executive order signed by Donald Trump, the new president of United States of America, which immediately barred entry to the US to any national of countries (namely Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) which have been most damaged by past and present US adventurism and violence sponsored by the US government or its allies or carried out directly by the US military and/or those of its allies, regardless of whether these nationals were US residents/citizens, protests erupted around the world.

Following a nationwide round of protests on 30th of January 2017, around the UK, a second round of protests were held, in London, on the 4th of February 2017, as a repeat show of public disapproval of the executive order as well as disapproval of the reaction of United Kingdom’s prime minister, Theresa May, who had already invited Donald Trump to a state visit to the UK and refused to rebuke the executive order, which was signed by Trump shortly after her visit with him at the White House, where they were photographed holding hands while walking together.

This video shows highlights of protests held at the US embassy in London, followed by a march toward Whitehall, and further protests opposite Downing Street (the UK prime minister’s official residence).

Some of the common slogans shouted by demonstrators were:

No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here,
Say it loud. Say it clear. Refugees are welcome here,
Say it loud. Say it clear. Donald Trump‘s not welcome here,
Theresa May, shame on you,
Shame on you Theresa (May), Fascist appeaser,
No ban. No wall. Equality for all,
No state visit.

Two-thirds of Britons believe Trump is ‘threat to international stability’. Over half surveyed believe US president is untrustworthy and that UK state visit should be cancelled, new poll finds: here.