Socialist Worker

Call for troops home wins wide support at Scotland United Against Terror rally

A Glasgow rally against terrorism last weekend received much media coverage. But what wasn’t so well reported was the deep feeling at the demonstration of opposition to the war in Iraq, writes Keir McKechnie, secretary of Glasgow Stop the War Coalition

Issue No. 2059

Keir McKechnie

Keir McKechnie

The Scotland United Against Terror rally held in Glasgow last Saturday was called by a coalition of Muslim organisations.

It was backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, the Office for Muslim Affairs and all the mosques across Glasgow.

There were about 2,000 people at the rally – a very good mix of Muslims and non-Muslims from across the city. It was also supported by the Unison union which campaigned to build the event.

Many Unison shop stewards came after receiving letters about it from the union.

Speakers at the rally included Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Matt Smith from Scottish Unison, the imam from Carrington Street mosque in Glasgow’s West End and the assistant chief constable of Strathclyde police.

Speakers talked about Scotland taking a united stand against terrorism.

All of them made clear statements that Scotland would also stand united against racism and Islamophobia.

Matt Smith in particular said that Unison would actively oppose any racist backlash against Muslims – and underlined how important it was that people had turned out from different communities to state that opposition.

I spoke at the rally on behalf of the Stop the War coalition.

I said that we deplored the car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, but we also opposed the cluster bombs being dropped on children in Baghdad and Kabul.

This was very well received. I also asked why Britain had become a target for terror attacks, and argued that it was because of the British and US occupation of Iraq.

When the call was put out for the troops to be withdrawn as the solution to terrorism, the rally erupted in applause.

It was clear that there was a strong anti-war mood on the demonstration.

Despite the fact that the organisers didn’t have the confidence to tap into that mood, many of them were very pleased that the Stop the War Coalition had called for the troops to come home.

It is important to oppose attacking innocent people at airports. But it also important to say clearly that the root cause of terrorism is war and occupation – and that to stop our cities and towns becoming a target, we need to withdraw the troops.

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