Islamophobia

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9/11 horror triggered new wave of US terrorism and war

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/09/2021 - 1:48pm in

Western leaders often declare that the world changed forever on 9/11. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington caused incredible shock and killed around 3000 people. But what 9/11 represented more than anything was the violence the US had inflicted worldwide for decades coming home.

The US response was to launch further conflicts as part of a “war on terror”. Alongside this came a frenzy about the supposed threat from “Islamic terrorism” that created a new wave of racism against Muslims and Arabs.

Twenty years on, the lead-up to the anniversary was marked by a further humiliation for US imperialism. As it retreated from Afghanistan, the government it had installed disintegrated.

This symbolised the failure, as well as the bloody cost, of the wars the US launched after 9/11. The Australian government was an enthusiastic backer as the only country apart from the UK to send troops as part of the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the dominant global military power after 1945 the US took upon itself the right to rain destruction on any country that stood in its way. In Vietnam it killed three million people, including through indiscriminate “carpet bombing”. In 1991, when it invaded Iraq for the first time, it killed over 100,000 civilians and military conscripts. Then it bombed the country virtually every day for the next 12 years. US sanctions on basic medicines killed more than half a million children.

The US fuelled other wars through funding armed groups to destabilise governments it disliked, including the death squads unleashed on central America like the Nicaraguan Contras.

Academic Chalmers Johnson described the 9/11 attacks as “blowback” from the history of US intervention globally. Osama Bin Laden, who staged the attacks, had begun his career with the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Russians—another operation the US funded.

In 2001, Al Qaeda struck at symbols of American power, in New York’s financial centre and the Pentagon building. The US wanted revenge.

Its first target was Afghanistan, where it accused the Taliban of harbouring Bin Laden and his network. The Taliban were toppled after 72 days. Around 1000 civilians were killed by US bombs and up to 20,000 died from displacement and starvation.

US President George W Bush moved quickly to launch another war against Iraq. His officials had discussed invading Iraq in the days following 9/11, debating how to link Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein to the terrorist attacks. Millions saw through the lies that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction”, with an enormous worldwide anti-war movement.

A new American century?

The Bush administration saw 9/11 as an opportunity to cement US global dominance for decades to come. Key figures including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were part of a gang of Republican Party figures associated with the think-tank Project for a New American Century. They argued that the US needed to use its military power more aggressively to ensure it could never be rivalled by a potential competitor.

This was echoed in the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy document which endorsed unilateral US military action in order to “dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in the hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States”.

It was a response to growing US weaknesses. After the Second World War the US economically dominated the world, with half of global manufacturing. Today it has declined in relative terms, commanding about a quarter of global production and rapidly losing ground to China.

But the US gamble on using its military strength to bolster its position has backfired disastrously.

The US strategy showed the continuation of imperialism in the 21st century.

The classical Marxist theory of imperialism, produced to explain the First World War by Nikolai Bukharin, showed how the major powers divided the world between themselves, to advance the interests of the large capitalist firms within each state. It was an outgrowth of capitalist competition for control of markets and raw materials.

Imperialism is not simply a system where the largest states dominate weaker states, but one of competition between the major powers. This remains true today, with the US focused on maintaining its dominant position against China and Russia, as well as attempting to push allied powers in Europe and Asia to work alongside it.

The US has written the rules of the global economic order since 1945 and wants to maintain this framework, allowing it to dominate the global economy.

US imperialism’s defeat

Invading Iraq was meant to give it control of the country’s vast oil reserves. It was to be the first of a series of military adventures. In early 2002 George Bush listed an “axis of evil” in the US’s sights, including Iran and North Korea.

Toppling Iraq’s Saddam Hussein proved easy. But disastrous mismanagement combined with a popular resistance movement eventually humbled the superpower.

Almost immediately, there was armed resistance to the US occupation. The city of Fallujah was one of the first to rise up, after US troops shot 13 people at a protest in April 2003. The US laid siege to the city, sealing at least 30,000 civilians inside as they bombed medical clinics and unleashed illegal white phosphorus explosives.

The US regained control of the country only through encouraging vicious sectarian divisions between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. Up to a million Iraqis died in the violence that resulted.

But it failed to secure the pliant puppet regime it wanted. The result strengthened Iran, a long-term US adversary, which gained significant influence over the new Iraqi government.

The sectarian system the US left led to the rise of Islamic State, which briefly overran large areas of the country.

US imperialism has been left far weaker. Its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed the limits of its military power. The wars cost it $6.4 trillion with little to show for it.

Meanwhile the Chinese economy continued to grow through the global economic crisis after 2008 while the US hit the skids. China has also handled the COVID crisis far better than the US, where 650,000 have died.

Yet a weakened US, increasingly desperate to maintain its position, is only more dangerous. Its military power still outpaces that of any other country.

US President Joe Biden has continued Donald Trump’s confrontational approach towards China, declaring, “We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off.” He has moved to strengthen military alliances with its neighbours, including Japan, India and South Korea. Naval patrols around the disputed areas of the South China Sea are increasing.

The US military is repositioning its forces to face China. Biden explicitly defended the decision to quit Afghanistan as necessary “to focus on the challenges that are in front of us” with an “increasingly assertive China”.

As it did over the past 20 years, the Australian government is urging on the conflict, talking up the prospect of war and pursuing its own arms build-up. It wants an expanded alliance with the US to lock the superpower into aggressive military action in our region.

This is only increasing the prospect of a major conflict between two nuclear-armed states. Just as the left did over Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to oppose this new drive to war and the racism and xenophobia that comes with it.

Twenty years of Islamophobia and the “war on terror”

In the aftermath of 9/11, world leaders were quick to blame “Islamic terrorism”. Islam as a whole was depicted as a “backward” or “violent” religion and all Muslims treated as suspect.

This served to justify the wars in the Middle East. Instead of recognising terrorism as a result of US policies that had devastated the region, Western leaders claimed they were the result of an evil ideology opposed to “Western values”.

Then Prime Minister John Howard accused the Muslim community in Australia of failing to “integrate” and claimed that “extremism” among Muslims was “not a problem that we have ever faced with other immigrant communities”. The Liberals claimed refugees arriving by boat, mostly from the Middle East, could be terrorists, using this to justify racism and anti-refugee policies.

Howard admitted that most Muslims had nothing to do with terrorism. But he continued to tar them all by claiming terrorism was a product of Islam and demanding that Muslim leaders do more to prevent it.

In late 2005 this led to the shocking racist riot at Cronulla beach, where Lebanese Australians were physically attacked by a racist mob. John Howard’s responded by claiming there was no “underlying racism” in Australia.

The Islamophobia has never stopped. After the emergence of Islamic State in 2014, Tony Abbott launched another scare campaign about terrorism and youth “radicalisation”. Scott Morrison has done the same, declaring after a mentally ill man stabbed one person to death in 2018 that, “The greatest threat to our way of life is radical, violent, extremist Islam.” There have been continual anti-terror raids, sometimes involving hundreds of police.

All this has been accompanied by a tidal wave of media reporting designed to terrify people.

Individual racist attacks have become common. A study in 2004 showed two-thirds of Muslims had experienced abuse or violence on the street since 9/11. Surveys have consistently fond that around 40 per cent of people admit to negative feelings about Muslims.

Islamophobia will be a lasting legacy of our rulers’ response to 9/11. We need to keep fighting the racism and insist that working class people unite against the government and bosses who pose the real threat to our living standards and lives.

By James Supple

The post 9/11 horror triggered new wave of US terrorism and war appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Please Stop Using Islam to Critique the Abortion Ban: It Only Excuses the Very Christian, Very White Roots of Anti-Choice Movements

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/09/2021 - 6:08am in

Like many other women living in Texas, news of the Supreme Court’s refusal to block...

Solidarity, Inc. Part I: The Industrialisation of Solidarity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/07/2021 - 11:00pm in

Introducing the 'teenage anti-imperialist', the 'solidarity market', and 'contrarian continuity' between anti-imperialists and 'their 'establishment parent'/'imperialist' governments.

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The post Solidarity, Inc. Part I: The Industrialisation of Solidarity appeared first on New Politics.

Big Brother is watching French academia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/06/2021 - 9:24am in

Anyone teaching or researching racism, colonialism or Islamophobia will be accused of ‘Islamo-leftism’

It was not enough for the Macron government to prevent any discussion of ‘state racism’ by issuing a controversial imam charter that equates the denunciation of the state’s racist acts and policies with ‘defamation’, which ‘exacerbates both anti-Muslim and anti-France hatred’ (Article 9 of the charter). Now, it looks like the French government envisages issuing a good academics charter. The good academic is defined as a disciplined teacher who, according to the French minister of higher education, Frédérique Vidal, separates their lectures, tutorials and research from what she sees as their ‘opinion’ or ‘activism’. In fact, this control-and-punish approach creates an Orwellian educational system where Big Brother robs researchers of their autonomy. This dictatorial surveillance of academics clashes with the values of the Republic and with the values of the Enlightenment, which opponents of so-called ‘Islamo-leftism’ pretend to ‘protect’.

But what is the reason for all of this? What led Emmanuel Macron, who presented himself as ‘neither left, nor right’ during the last elections, to adopt this right-wing stance and discourse? The 2018 gilets-jaunes protest movement led to a huge decrease in Macron’s popularity. The next presidential elections are scheduled for April 2022. Therefore, in recent months Macron has been determined to prove that his government is cracking down on Islamist extremism. However, many argue that his strategy to win electoral votes has turned out to be an anti-Muslim campaign that heightens Islamophobia. A cornerstone of this Islamophobic campaign is the problematic accusation of ‘Islamo-leftism’.

So, what is ‘Islamo-leftism’? Pierre-André Taguieff coined this very problematic term in his 2002 book The New Judeophobia. Taguieff used it to describe a conspiracy between conservative Muslims and the left to ‘bring down’ France. Taguieff believes in the racist colonial ideology of French exceptionalism and in the need for France’s ‘civilizing mission’. Therefore, he considers the Left’s anti-war rhetoric and rejection of imperialism to be in opposition to France’s historical mission. While there are many leftists who are against French colonialism, the proponents of Islamo-leftism use it to indict what they see as an alliance of Islamists and leftists against Western values. It becomes a conspiracy theory when it alleges that a coalition between left-wing academics and Islamists has taken hold in Macron’s government. Believers in this conspiracy theory want the government to crack down on the supposed movement in French universities. While supporters used to belong to the far Right in France, mainstream society has become involved in this debate over the feared spread of ‘Islamo-leftism’ in France.

The far-right leader Marine Le Pen used the accusation of ‘Islamo-leftism’ against her leftist opponents to suggest that their ‘alliances’ with Muslims have weakened the French state. Recently, Macron has started to use the term in order to appeal to far-right voters. This move has made what used to be a fringe talking point, heard only among members of the French far Rright, gain unprecedented visibility because the debate has reached the mainstream. The deliberate mainstreaming of this populist far-right notion has allowed French politicians to blame leftist forces in universities for the critical views many French students have of French society. The argument goes that the students’ outlook is due to their tertiary educators’ focus on racism, imperialism and structural discrimination.

In June 2020, Macron’s electoral strategy had him telling journalists: ‘The academic world has its share of blame. It has encouraged the ethnicization of the social question, thinking this was a good line of research. But the result can only be secessionism. This means splitting the Republic into two’. Following him, in October the minister for education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, criticised the ‘intellectual complicity in terrorism’ and warned that ‘Islamo-leftism’ was ‘wreaking havoc in society’.

On 14 February 2021, Frédérique Vidal declared on the right-wing channel CNews—the French equivalent of Fox News—that ‘Islamo-leftism is corrupting society in its entirety, and universities are not immune’. Vidal went on to say: ‘I am going to call for an investigation into all the currents of research on these subjects in the universities, so we can distinguish proper academic research from activism and opinion’. In the French parliament, Vidal said that the state would conduct an assessment of all the research that takes place in French universities.  Following the fury that Vidal’s suggested investigation created, Blanquer asserted that ‘there is something at work that is ideological and must be explicit in academia’.

Many people were offended by Vidal’s announcement and saw it as an attempt to kill academic autonomy. More than 22,000 people signed a petition calling for the minister’s resignation. France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) has condemned the government’s move to investigate the research academics’ conduct. According to the CNRS, Islamo-leftism is a ‘political slogan’ that has no scientific basis. The CNRS considered the term ill-defined and accused the attempt to investigate universities as a move to stifle academic freedom. The CNRS insisted that it ‘particularly condemns the attempts to delegitimize various fields of research, like postcolonial studies, intersectional studies, or work on the term “race” or any other field of understanding’.

In light of what has been said, I would like to highlight the amalgamation and problems of the term ‘Islamo-leftism’, which conflates the religion of Islam with the Islamist political movement. This slipperiness is dangerous and misleading. As a Muslim feminist (and there are millions like me), I can be put under the Islamo-gauchisme umbrella—even though I am a fierce opponent of Ennahdha, the religious party in my country, Tunisia, and even though I loathe its leader, Rached Ghanoushi, who has destroyed my country and whose party tried to make Tunisian women lose their rights—simply because I teach courses and write articles that criticise racism, colonial patriarchy and anti-immigrant sentiment.

I would like to end this piece by saying that the authoritarian policing of thought advocated by the Macron government represents the real source of discord. The attempt to criminalise the research of those who introduce students to the atrocities of xenophobia and colonialism, and the new reality of an academic thought police that will allow research approving the government agenda only, will bring about the main sources of national division.


Universities and Palestine: three kinds of silence

Nick Riemer, 8 Apr 2021

If antiracism can be switched on and off as a principle—repeatedly asserted in print, but abruptly suspended when the question of Palestine is raised—then its expressions are degraded into mere performances.

American Progressives and France’s Surge to the Right

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 23/05/2021 - 4:46am in

Macron’s newest orders banning demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine reveal even more clearly the real nature of France’s anti-Muslim campaign, one that the U.S. and French Left have with few exceptions mostly ignored.

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The post American Progressives and France’s Surge to the Right appeared first on New Politics.

Beyond the Middle East: The Rohingya Genocide

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/05/2015 - 10:43pm in

RohingyaEuroComm.jpgBy Ramzy Baroud

[Photo: Rohingya refugees. Evangelos Petratos for EU/ECHO.]

"Nope, nope, nope," was Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott's answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.

Abbott's logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world's most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. "Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good," he said.

But Abbott is hardly the main party in the ongoing suffering of Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar, or Burma. The whole Southeast Asian region is culpable. They have ignored the plight of the Rohingya for years. While tens of thousands of Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed, having their villages torched, forced into concentration camps and some into slavery, Burma is being celebrated by various western and Asian powers as a success story of a military junta-turned democracy.

"After Myanmar moved from dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, newfound freedoms of expression gave voice to Buddhist extremists who spewed hatred against the religious minority and said Muslims were taking over the country," reported the Associated Press from the Burmese capital, Yangon.

That "newfound freedom of expression" has cost hundreds of people their lives, thousands their properties, and "another 140,000 Rohingya were driven from their homes and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded displacement camps".

While one may accept that freedom of expression sometimes invites hate speech, the idea that Burma's supposed democracy has resulted in the victimisation of the Rohingya is as far from the truth as it gets. Their endless suffering goes back decades and is considered one of the darkest chapters in Southeast Asia's modern history. When they were denied citizenship in 1982 - despite the fact that it is believed they descended from Muslim traders who settled in Arakan and other Burmese regions over 1,000 years ago - their persecution became almost an official policy.

Even those who take to the sea to escape hardship in Burma find the coveted salvation hard to achieve. "In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights, and are heavily restricted. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects," reported the BBC.

And since many parties are interested in the promotion of the illusion of the rising Burmese democracy - a rare meeting point for the United States, China and ASEAN countries, all seeking economic exploits - few governments care about the Rohingya.

Despite recent grandstanding by Malaysia and Indonesia about the willingness to conditionally host the surviving Rohingya who have been stranded at sea for many days, the region as a whole has been "extremely unwelcoming," according to Chris Lewa of the Rohingya activist group Arakan Project.

"Unlike European countries - who at least make an effort to stop North African migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean - Myanmar's neighbours are reluctant to provide any assistance," he said.

Sure, the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya may have helped expose false democracy idols like Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi - who has been shamelessly silent, if not even complicit in the government racist and violent polices against the Rohingya - but what good will that do?

The stories of those who survive are as harrowing as those that die while floating at sea, with no food or water, or sometimes, even a clear destination. In a documentary aired late last year, Aljazeera reported on some of these stories.

"Muhibullah spent 17 days on a smuggler's boat where he saw a man thrown overboard. On reaching Thai shores, he was bundled into a truck and delivered to a jungle camp packed with hundreds of refugees and armed men, where his nightmare intensified. Bound to shafts of bamboo, he says he was tortured for two months to extract a $2,000 ransom from his family.

"Despite the regular beatings, he felt worse for women who were dragged into the bush and raped. Some were sold into debt bondage, prostitution and forced marriage."

Human rights groups report on such horror daily, but much of it fails to make it to media coverage simply because the plight of the Rohingya doesn't constitute a "pressing matter". Yes, human rights only matter when they are tied into an issue of significant political or economic weight.

Yet, somehow the Rohingyas seep into our news occasionally as they did in June 2012 and months later, when Rakhine Buddists went into violent rampages, burning villages and setting people ablaze under the watchful eye of the Burmese police. Then Burma was being elevated to a non-pariah state status, with the support and backing of the US and European countries.

It is not easy to sell Burma as a democracy while its people are hunted down like animals, forced into deplorable camps, trapped between the army and the sea where thousands have no other escape but "leaky boats" and the Andaman Sea. Abbott might want to do some research before blaming the Rohingyas for their own misery.

So far, the democracy gambit is working, and numerous companies are now setting offices in Yangon and preparing for massive profits. This is all while hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men are being caged like animals in their own country, stranded at sea, or held for ransom in some neighbouring jungle.

ASEAN countries must understand that good neighbourly relations cannot fully rely on trade, and that human rights violators must be held accountable and punished for their crimes.

No efforts should be spared to help fleeing Rohingyas, and real international pressure must be enforced so that Yangon abandons its infuriating arrogance. Even if we are to accept that Rohingyas are not a distinct minority - as the Burmese government argues - that doesn't justify the unbearable persecution they have been enduring for years, and the occasional acts of ethnic cleaning and genocide. A minority or not, they are human, deserving of full protection under national and international law.

While one is not asking the US and its allies for war or sanctions, the least one should expect is that Burma must not be rewarded for its fraudulent democracy as it brutalises its minorities. Failure to do so should compel civil society organisations to stage boycott campaigns of companies that conduct business with the Burmese government.

As for Aung San Suu Kyi, her failure as a moral authority can neither be understood nor forgiven. One thing is sure, she doesn't deserve her Noble Prize, for her current legacy is at complete odds with the spirit of that award.

Ramzy Baroud - www.ramzybaroud.net - is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).