After the Charlie Hebdo shootings: Religion, free speech and racism

Leeds SWP meeting on Charlie Hebdo: Thursday 15 January, 7pm, Swarthmore Educational Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds LS3 1AD – all welcome.

After horror of Paris attacks – say no to racist backlash

The appalling killings of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and four more at a kosher supermarket have caused shock and horror.  But the worst reaction would be to allow these sad events to be used in order to ramp up racism or Islamophobia. Nor should we let cynical politicians such as David Cameron and Nigel Farage hijack people’s feelings for their own ends.

It was disgusting that the racist Farage blamed the attacks on the “gross policy of multiculturalism” and targeted immigration as a cause of the killings. He later called for the defence of “Judeo-Christian culture”.

We stand against any backlash against Muslims. Right wingers and racists across Europe were scapegoating migrants and Muslims for problems in society long before the Paris attacks.

The Islamophobic Pegida movement in Germany is just one example of a dangerous trend. We have to oppose it totally. When white Norwegian Anders Breivik killed 77 people at a Labour youth gathering in 2011 nobody demanded that every Christian must disassociate themselves from the horror.

Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994. Nobody called for every Jew to say they were horrified by it and pledge to help hunt down extremists. One rabbi said at Goldstein’s funeral that one million Arabs are “not worth a Jewish fingernail”. There was no media frenzy in response.

Hypocrites

The “world leaders” who paraded through Paris last Sunday are gross hypocrites.  Many have backed imperialist wars across the globe for decades—wars that have murdered hundreds of thousands of people. And many preside over regimes with few freedoms. How dare Israel’s leader Binyamin Netanyahu, the butcher of the Palestinians, march in Paris claiming he supports peace and liberty?

Now governments will seek to strengthen state powers.  In France president Francois Hollande has ordered 10,000 armed troops onto the streets. There are moves to force through a version of the US Patriot Act that would give the state virtually unlimited powers.

In Britain the SAS and other special forces have already been deployed, dressed in civilian clothes. The Special Reconnaissance Regiment is said to be “intercepting communications”. This is the same organisation that monitored Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent man who was gunned down after the 7/7 bombings in London.

The Tories want more powers for the spies of MI5 and MI6 and the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ). They hope to ram through the “snoopers charter” that was blocked last year. And they want to grab the chance to further intensify their surveillance of anyone they deem “the enemy”.

The best response to the horror in Paris is to encourage united struggles.  We need to bring people together to battle austerity and imperialism. We must build the anti-racist demonstrations in Cardiff, Glasgow and London on 21 March and the demonstration against the fascist English Defence League in Dudley on 7 February.

And we must stand against every attempt to whip up racism or strengthen the state.

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/39749/After+horror+of+Paris+attacks%E2%80%94say+no+to+racist+backlash

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