The convictions of five men for plotting to attack targets in Britain has set off a predictable furore in the mainstream media.
Much of the coverage has been marked by the Islamophobia made respectable by New Labour.
The Sun called for a clampdown on “Muslim hotheads ranting in our streets”. “We must demand loyalty from peaceful Muslims. Refusing to get involved with extremism is not enough,” said the Daily Express.
The verdicts are being used by police and security services to press for more powers of surveillance and further erosions of civil liberties.
These calls are echoed by establishment commentators. Yet such crackdowns only serve to further alienate Muslims.
A government funded report last year spelled out the contradiction. “Ministers were assuring Muslim leaders of the need for partnership,” it concluded. “But in press briefings they were talking of the need for Muslims to ‘get serious’ about terrorism, and put up with inconveniences in the greater good of national security.”
Government policy at home and abroad cannot be separated. Calls for more surveillance, or more “taskforces” to “engage with the Muslim community” avoid the crucial question – why is Britain a target for terrorism in the first place?
The answers here are simple – Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine. The naked injustice of the government’s support for imperialist occupation of these countries fuels justified outrage among both Muslims and non-Muslims in this country. This injustice will lead some people to turn to the illusion that terrorism is the answer to imperialism.
No amount of extra police powers or preaching about “British values” can alter these facts. The anti-war movement must resist calls for further attacks on an already embattled Muslim minority and pin the blame on the real “extremists” – the warmongers in Downing Street.
Blair and Sarkozy
A diabolical lunch
Would you feel comfortable lunching with a man who calls young immigrants “scum”? Tony Blair certainly does.
He is supporting right winger Nicolas Sarkozy in this weekend’s French presidential elections.
Bizarrely, given Blair’s unpopularity, Sarkozy even came to London last summer to ask for campaign advice. Sarkozy’s aides say that he is “impressed” with Blair. And it’s not just a Blair thing. Gordon Brown is also reported to have “clicked” with Sarkozy when they met.
It is a sign of how far right New Labour has moved that it so unashamedly allies itself to such a right wing thug.
Racism blights lives
“Tolerance is part of what makes Britain Britain. Conform to it – or don’t come here,” said Tony Blair last year. Yet a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that Blair’s Britain is scarred by racism and inequality.
Only 20 percent of Bangladeshis, 30 percent of Pakistanis and 40 percent of black Africans of working age are in full time jobs, compared to over 50 percent of white Britons.
Over half of Pakistani and black African children – and 70 percent of Bangladeshi children – are growing up in poverty.
This institutional racism is something people should not want to conform to.