Socialist Worker

Gordon Brown tries to hide war link to bomb attacks

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2059

Demonstrators gather in Glasgow’s George Square for the Scotland United protest

Demonstrators gather in Glasgow’s George Square for the Scotland United protest


Gordon Brown has a problem – and a plan for how to deal with it.

He knows that it was anger at the Iraq war that ultimately brought down Tony Blair.

But he is just as committed to pressing ahead with the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as Blair was.

That is why Brown is determined to stop people from blaming the Iraq war for terrorist attacks in Britain. But he’s going about it in a different and more subtle way than his predecessor.

Blair would lash out at the Muslim community for harbouring “extremism”.

The implication was that Muslims were collectively responsible for terrorist attacks – rather than those attacks being a reaction to his wars.

Brown has been less openly vicious. He does not explicitly single out Muslims and instead talks in general terms about all communities standing firm against terrorism.

The reaction from many Muslim groups is also slightly different.

Most leading Muslim organisations are openly opposed to the presence of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the past they have explicitly linked the issue of the war to the issue of terrorism and called for the troops to come home.

And it has been the solidarity of the anti-war movement that has given them the space to say this openly and boldly.

But in their reactions to the latest bombing attempts, many Muslim groups have decoupled the issue of terrorism from the issue of war.

It is as if Brown has tacitly offered them a deal – “I won’t blame you for terrorism, if you don’t mention the war.”

But any analysis that does not mention the war fails to explain why it is that innocent people in Britain are the targets of terrorist attacks.

Nor does it explain what makes ordinary men and women attempt to bomb airports, buses or tube trains.

Yassin Omar, convicted of the 21 July 2005 bomb attempt in London, fled war torn Somalia as a young boy. The civil war which has engulfed that country has been enflamed by Western intervention and arms sales.

Iraq

Bilal Abdullah, charged with the attempted Glasgow bombing, grew up in Iraq. He opposed Saddam Hussein but was enraged at the suffering and death brought by occupation.

It is Britain’s support for George Bush’s war that leads to terrorism. The right wants to hide that fact and direct people’s anger towards Muslims instead.

The fact is Muslims have nothing to apologise for, since they are not in any sense collectively to blame for terrorism.

Nor do Muslims have any kind of special responsibility to condemn terrorism more loudly than anyone else.

Decoupling the war from terrorism also depoliticises the issue of domestic security.

It makes it easier for Brown to hand more power to the police and pass more repressive legislation that erodes everyone’s civil rights.

It also does nothing to quell Islamophobia. The last few weeks have seen the right wing press lashing out against Muslims even more strongly.

Far from acknowledging the condemnation of terrorism from Muslims, they have ramped up their paranoid rhetoric painting Muslims as the “enemy within”.

These hate filled rants lead to racist attacks. Police in Glasgow are investigating at least 24 incidents against Muslims in the city, ranging from graffiti on mosques through to firebomb attacks.

Keeping quiet won’t stop Islamophobia or terrorism.

The anti-war movement has a duty to state loudly and clearly that Muslims are not to blame for terrorism – and that the responsibility lies with Brown to end the war by bringing the troops home now.


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