British Rock against Racism and photography

This 2013 video from Britain is called Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock against Racism.

By Bob Oram in Britain:


Monday 30th October 2015

Syd Shelton’s photographs are a great record of how ‘70s music helped black and white youth stand their ground against racism, says BOB ORAM

Rock Against Racism
by Syd Shelton
(Autograph, £30)

NEXT year marks the 40th anniversary of a heavily intoxicated Eric Clapton blurting out racist crap on stage at the Birmingham Odeon.

“Britain is overcrowded,” he said. “Enoch will stop it and send them all back.”

Music’s response was immediate. Rock Against Racism (RAR), a collective of artists and political activists, came together for the next five years to fight fascism, racism and the rise of the National Front through music.

Syd Shelton, a British photographer and graphic designer, chronicled a unique visual record of its activities and a country gripped in racial and political tension.

This glorious book is a sumptuous collection of his photographs, work he says was a “socialist act,” and a “graphic argument” on behalf of marginalised lives.

From 1976 to ’81 the insubordinate, angry spirit of punk meshed with a rising generation of alienated black youth to find that they both had “no future in England’s dreaming.”

This video is called Rock Against Racism-Nazis Are No Fun Pt1.

And these videos are the sequels.

As Paul Gilroy says in a thoughtful essay accompanying the book: “It is essential that readers who are encountering these images for the first time appreciate how exciting it was to see them at the time they appeared.”

Anyone who lived through that period recognises how life-changing politically infused and committed art can be.

One of the highlights of the era was the April ’78 all-day concert in London’s Victoria headlined by the Clash, which drew thousands from all over the country to march to Victoria Park. RAR publication Temporary Hoarding described it as: “A park full of unity. Right in the middle of depressed, despondent, broke little Britain. Bands playing for free. The pinks and browns melt in sound.”

This music video from Britain says about itself:

Poly Styrene with Helsinki: Oh Bondage, Up Yours : Love Music Hate Racism

2 May 2008

Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex performs Oh Bondage, Up Yours! live at the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in Victoria Park, London E3 on Sunday 27th April 2008.

Poly was one of a number of special guests appearing with Drew McConnell’s Helsinki. Also appearing were Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69, Fyfe Dangerfield of Guillemots, Jon McClure of Reverend And The Makers and Ed Larrikin, formerly of Larrikin Love.

Poly Styrene appeared with X-Ray Spex at the original Rock Against Racism Carnival in Victoria Park in 1978.

The Bob Oram article continues:

The stunning pictures of the concert —including performances by Misty in Roots, Tom Robinson Band, Aswad, Angelic Upstarts, The Beat, Matumbi, Elvis Costello, Steel Pulse, The Members, X Ray Spex, the Specials and Sham 69 — are counterpoised alongside powerful, intense images of people in Belfast and on the streets in Britain.

They contextualise what was an important moment in our nation’s understanding and history of race relations.

The clarity and directness of RAR’s trademark Love Music, Hate Racism slogan did more than anything else at that time to stop the possibility of any real connection between youth culture and racism and ultra-nationalism in its tracks.

As cultural commentator David Widgery said: “The great thing about RAR was its way of having a revolution without stopping the party.”

Even Cromer joined in the fun when The Ruts on the Militant Entertainment tour descended on the sedate Norfolk seaside town. The image of a punk girl lying on the stage of the West Runton Pavilion was a one-shot moment that Shelton recalls with pride, marking him put as someone who captured “stills from life” not “still life.”

As with all Shelton’s work, the mind wonders what is happening behind the image or just out of sight.

The brilliant picture of Joe Strummer on stage messing around with Paul Simonon’s bass guitar indeed raises more questions than it answers and among the 100 images included are two which at first look like one picture but are actually two bomb sites in which children are playing — one in London’s Brick Lane and one in Belfast.

With images as well from the pages of Temporary Hoarding and concert fliers and posters, this is a truly wonderful treasure trove that needs to be seen by everyone agitating and organising with imagination and passion today.

A perfect seasonal gift.

A free exhibition of Syd Shelton’s RAR photography runs at Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London EC2 until December 5.

Don’t abuse ISIS terror for xenophobia against refugees from ISIS

This video from the USA says about itself:

Over Twenty Governors Reject Syrian Refugees Fleeing ISIS

16 November 2015

Here in the United States our reactions to terrorism are oftentimes unfortunate. Several states are closing themselves to Syrian refugees out of fear of ISIS. The sad thing is that ISIS is the very group the refugees are fleeing. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“As of Monday afternoon, 23 governors had issued statements saying they would bar Syrian refugees from settling in their states, citing fears that violent extremists will masquerade as refugees in order to gain entry to the United States.

Legally, these proclamations have little effect; states don’t have the authority to bar refugees from settling within their borders. But that hasn’t stopped governors from issuing statements. The growing list of states that will not accept Syrian refugees currently includes Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Twenty-two of those states are led by Republican governors. Just one, New Hampshire, has a Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan.”*

Read more here.

Islamophobia seen as US states shun Syrian refugees: here.

Paris attacks: United Nations urges states not to demonise refugees. “We are deeply disturbed by language that demonises refugees as a group. This is dangerous as it will contribute to xenophobia and fear”: here.

Paris attacks: Isis responsible for more Muslim victims than western deaths. International organisations have documented multiple instances of Isis killing Muslims: here.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Amnesty: Refugees no threat to the European Union

Tuesday 17th November 2015

Labour: We must stand with both French and Syrian victims of Isis

CAMPAIGNERS and politicians warned Europe’s leaders yesterday against knee-jerk, anti-refugee reactions to the Paris massacre after France demanded an end to the EU’s open internal borders.

Labour refugee policy spokeswoman Yvette Cooper told Parliament that Britain must “continue to give sanctuary to those fleeing barbarism.”

But France confirmed early yesterday that, following the Islamic State (Isis) attacks in its capital, it would call for border controls to be reinstated across the European Union at a summit this Friday.

“Europe faces two urgent challenges. The first … is terrorism. The second … is an increased number of refugees and asylum-seekers on its borders,” said Amnesty International Europe director John Dalhuisen.

“They are not the same challenge and only one of them is a threat.

“European leaders must be careful to distinguish between them and be clear that Europe’s security is not best served by turning its back on a global refugee crisis, but by ensuring the orderly, organised and humane admission of those fleeing similar horrors.”

Diplomats have confirmed to the press that France will demand a suspension of the Schengen agreement, which allows people to travel across European countries without identity checks.

The measure will be proposed at an emergency summit of European Union interior ministers in Brussels.

During Home Office questions in Westminster, Ms Cooper told Home Secretary Theresa May that “many of the Syrian refugees that Britain expects to help over the coming months are fleeing exactly the same Isis brutality that we saw so terribly on the streets of Paris this weekend.

“Would she agree with me that as we stand in solidarity with Paris it’s important both that we strengthen our security against such barbarism, but also that we continue to give sanctuary to those fleeing that barbarism, so that we ensure that those terrorists cannot win?”

Her concerns were echoed by some Conservative MPs. Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew asked Ms May for assurance that the government would take steps to guard against Islamophobic reactions to the Paris killings.

His request came after Ukip deputy chair for welfare Suzanne Evans implied on Twitter that the Paris attack had been a by-product of the migrant crisis.

She faced a backlash on social media, with users accusing her of “making capital about tragedy.”

Mr Dalhuisen said: “Now is also the time for world leaders to show true statesmanship and refuse to bow to the conflated anti-refugee rhetoric which is already emanating from some quarters.

“We have to remember that many of those trying to gain sanctuary have fled violence, fear and conflict, and indeed often by the very same group known as the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.”

Paris attacks: Hating refugees is exactly what Isis wants you to do. Perhaps one of the most persuasive arguments against equating refugees with terrorists is simple: It’s exactly what Isis wants: here.

This November 2015 video from Arnhem in the Netherlands is about Syrian refugee musicians, who had to leave their instruments behind, playing a benefit concert for other refugees with new instruments they received in Arnhem.

Europe anti-refugee rhetoric swells after Paris attacks: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Refugees are human too

Tuesday 17th November 2015

Those seeking safety in Europe are fleeing the same terrorists who struck in Paris on Friday. We must not turn our backs on them

A FEW short days after the horrific scenes in Paris the risk is growing that this atrocity will claim more innocent victims.

But it carries a heavy cost for the families forced to flee Syria. Isis is their enemy too.

We know with chilling certainty what they are trying to escape, because it visited itself upon Paris so savagely last week. Then the killers targeted football fans, people enjoying a night out, people at a rock concert.

At the weekend more evidence of Isis cruelty emerged, as Kurdish forces uncovered mass graves in recently liberated Sinjar. One contained the bodies of 78 elderly women. The other was the last resting place of over 50 men, women and children.

We don’t know what these people were doing when they were killed, but like the victims in Paris we can be sure these were not fighters on a battlefield.

Most probably they were slaughtered for who they were: Sinjar is a predominantly Yazidi city. We know from Isis’s conquest of Mosul and other Iraqi cities that hundreds of Shia prisoners were tied up and murdered, that massacring the innocent is standard practice for the terror group.

This is what has been unleashed in Syria and Iraq, with the assistance of Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the connivance of Western governments so determined on regime change that they ignore the nature of the rebel armies doing their dirty work.

That millions then flee for their lives is natural.

The desperate bids to keep refugees out of Europe have lethal consequences, whether that means the drowned children washed up on beaches or the families who, unable to get out, are left at the mercy of groups like Isis.

It would be heartless to close our doors to people who need for our help to save their lives and those of their children, whatever the danger they were fleeing.

But in the case of refugees from the Middle East, where country after country has been torn apart as a result of decisions made in Western capitals, it would also be a failure to take responsibility for a crisis of our own making.

Already at the weekend the governors of Alabama and Michigan in the United States declared that in the wake of the Paris killings their states would not allow any Syrian refugees in.

The stance is being echoed by senior figures in the Republican Party over there, although Barack Obama is resisting the trend.

It seems almost pointless to call on Britain’s government to do the decent thing here, since David Cameron’s response to the refugee crisis so far has been pitiful in any case: 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years is the token effort of a man who does not care.

But we should remind MPs that slamming the door shut doesn’t help. As President Francois Hollande said yesterday: “We know it is cruel but French people killed other French people on Friday.” Just as eight years ago when terror struck London three of the four perpetrators were British-born.

Hollande’s stated priority of working together with Russia and the United States on a joint strategy to crush Isis is welcome and overdue. In the meantime we should extend our solidarity to those forced to flee and welcome them with open arms.

DAVID CAMERON admitted yesterday that British bombs won’t bring peace to Syria: here.

Paris attacks: Video showing ‘London Muslims celebrating terror attacks’ is fake. The footage actually shows British Pakistanis celebrating a cricket victory in 2009: here.

Syrian passport found near dead Paris bomber almost certainly fake: here.

British Muslims condemn Paris murders

This music video from Britain is called Yusuf Islam – Peace Train (Peace Train lyrics on screen).

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Not in our name

Monday 16th November 2015

Muslim communities condemn atrocity

MUSLIMS in Britain united in solidarity over the weekend with victims of the atrocious shooting and bombing spree in Paris that left 129 people dead.

The world recoiled in horror on Friday night after gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a concert hall, restaurants and the vicinity of Stade de France in seven near-simultaneous bloody attacks.

The so-called Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have also left more than 350 people injured, with 99 in a critical state.

As many as 89 of the dead victims were shot with Kalashnikov rifles in the Bataclan Hall while watching Californian band Eagles of Death Metal.

Nick Alexander, a 36-year-old from Essex, was gunned down while selling band merchandise.

British singer and musician Cat Stevens — who changed his name to Yusuf Islam after becoming a Muslim in the 1970s — paid tribute to Mr Alexander.

He said: “Just read Nick Alexander was killed in Paris. He was our tour merchandiser on last year’s tour. Sending love and condolences to his family.

“We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives or were injured by violence and terror around the world.”

At least seven suspects — the first of whom was named as 29-year-old French citizen Ismael Omar Mostefai, whose six relatives were detained on Sunday for questioning — are believed to be dead.

An eighth man was reported to have been “on the loose.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said there was “no justification for such carnage whatsoever” and that the “remaining people responsible” should be “brought to justice and face the full force of the law.”

Muslim Women UK has warned of increased intimidation and violence against innocent Muslims in the wake of the second terrorist shoot-out in Paris this year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.

The feminist charity said: “Everyone regardless of faith or no faith, even with an ounce of morality, would condemn the Paris attacks.”

Members of British Islamic organisations carried flowers, candles and French flags in a Trafalgar Square vigil on Saturday night to show solidarity with those affected by the massacre.

Representatives from the Christian-Muslim Forum, Muslim British Youth and the Muslim Association of Britain also attended.

MCB secretary-general Dr Shuja Shafi also said: “The attacks once again in Paris are horrific and abhorrent and we condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms.

“My thoughts and prayers for the families of those killed and injured and for the people of France, our neighbours.

“This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves Islamic State. There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”

Christian-Muslim Forum director Catriona Robertson said: “Terrorism has no religion. We are all united in our prayers for those killed and injured.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned against “feeding a cycle of violence” with hateful and divisive responses against the Muslim community after the “horrific and immoral” event.

He added: “We are proud to live in a multicultural and multifaith society and we stand for the unity of all communities.”

Also by Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Labour warns against Syria panic attack

Monday 16th November 2015

Dropping bombs is not the solution, says Benn

THE Labour Party warned Britain against resorting to “dropping bombs” on Syria after the so-called Islamic State (Isis) claimed responsibility for massacring 129 people in Paris.

Only a “diplomatic solution” to the Syrian civil war should be considered in countering threats made against Britain, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said.

This is good news, and a bit surprising, as Hilary Benn is a right-winger within Labour; closer to Tony Blair than to his father Tony Benn.

Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott also told Sky News that a solution was now “even more urgent” following the second spate of tragedies in the French capital in less than a year.

On Friday night, seven suicide bombers stormed restaurants, a football stadium and a concert hall with machine guns before setting off explosives to kill themselves. More than 350 people were injured.

Mr Benn said: “If the government wants to bring [a comprehensive plan] forward, then we would look at it. But I’m afraid you are not going to defeat Isis/Daesh in Syria just by dropping bombs.”

Tory PM David Cameron has decided to withhold proposals to extend the RAF mission to Syria for votes in the Commons unless there was a “consensus” backing them, including from Labour MPs.

Home Secretary Theresa May reiterated this standpoint yesterday, while stating that refugees would be “vetted” for any signs that they could somehow harbour terrorist tendencies.

However Labour would only consider military action in Syria if there are enough resources to cope with refugees who would seek safety in Britain as a result of war, according to Ms Abbott.

The Stop the War Coalition also rejected bombing as a viable solution.

It said: “There is absolutely no evidence that this will do anything but make the situation worse. The only solution can lie in political and negotiated solutions.”

“There can be absolutely no justification for the horrific shooting and bombing of very large numbers of innocent people, in concerts, bars and cafes.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” it added.

Meanwhile the horrific incident has been used as an opportunity to call for Ms May’s Investigatory Powers Bill — also known as the Snoopers’ Charter — to be rushed through Parliament within a month.

The Bill — which Mr Cameron described as “absolutely vital” — would allow police and intelligence agents access to the browsing history, emails and messages of everyone in the country.

LEBANESE authorities have arrested seven Syrians and two Lebanese suspected of involvement in the weekend of terror attacks. Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk announced the arrests yesterday, three days after a double suicide attack — claimed by islamic State (Isis) — in the southern Beirut district of Burj al-Barajneh killed 43 people and wounded more than 230: here.

Britain: There is an unequivocal connection between Western foreign policy and terror. And already Theresa May is hinting that this attack on Paris may need to be followed up by a fresh round of attacks on civil liberties, renewed strengthening of powers for the security services and tighter immigration controls. Opposing the rising tide of racism, anti-immigrant hysteria and ensuring that this tragic loss of life isn’t used by those who wish to pour more petrol on the flames will, as always, fall to the labour and progressive movement: here.

After Paris attacks, French government steps up police state measures: here.

The terrorist atrocity carried out in Paris by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been seized upon by the United States, France and the other imperialist powers to intensify the policies of war and plunder that destroyed entire societies in the Middle East and created the conditions for the growth of reactionary forces such as those that killed 129 people and wounded hundreds more last Friday night: here.

The G-20 summit of world political leaders being held in Turkey to discuss the economic issues impacting on the world economy has been turned into a council of war. The major imperialist powers are moving rapidly to escalate their military intervention in Syria in the wake of Friday night’s terror attack in Paris: here.

Jeremy Corbyn says a military response in Syria could cause ‘yet more mayhem and loss’. The Labour leader says the West needs to ask difficult questions about Saudi Arabia and arms sales: here.

Sky News takes down article which referred to Jeremy Corbyn as ‘Jihadi Jez’ after petition: here.

HEAVILY ARMED special SAS forces were ordered onto the streets of the UK, yesterday and told to ‘shoot on sight’ suspected terrorists as the UK hires 1,900 more spies: here.