THE DISCUSSION on the hijab was led off by a platform of speakers from various groups who argue for a woman’s right to choose.
French feminist Christine Delphy spoke about how the ban in French schools only applies to the hijab.
You can still wear a cross as long as it’s not “of excessive size”.
Salma Yaqoob explained how racism has increased: “Since 9/11 there has been a green light for every bigot to spew their bile against Muslims.”
There was a lively discussion. A small French contingent spoke out against the platform, but the vast majority of those in the room were in support.
In closing Salma, who was greeted by hisses by the same small group, said, “The real emancipation of Muslim women can only come from themselves. If you have a problem with Muslim women, come and see me.” She was received with a standing ovation and cheering.
Hannnah Coleman and Kelly Hilditch
Music and politics
IF YOU weren’t at this meeting you missed an absolute gem.
The place was buzzing as hundreds of people crammed in.
Martin Smith kicked off the meeting by talking about how music has a tradition of supporting mass movements, from Dizzy Gillespie to Bob Dylan, The Clash and Rage Against the Machine,
His conclusion was that music really does matter because we live in a terrible world, and music can give us a glimmer of something beautiful and creative.
Billy Bragg talked about his involvement in Rock Against Racism. His main message was that it’s not the artist’s job to change the world—it’s the audience’s responsibility.
Debt, aid and the G8
THERE WERE 600 people in this meeting on “Debt, aid, poverty and the G8”—it was standing room only and an excellent debate.
The chair, Alexander Buzgalin, told us that poverty is not just a problem in the developing world as70 percent of Russians are living in poverty.
He said, “The G8 is an attempt to create new empires in which the solution to everything is more capitalism”.
Walden Bello from Focus on the Global South said, “Globalisation failed to deliver on economic growth. The growth rate was better in the 1950s and 1960 than in the 1980 and 1990s. There is more poverty now than in the 1990s.”
Ashok Sinha, from Jubilee Debt UK, said, “We are in the middle of a development catastrophe. Debts are killing millions. Little has been cancelled in spite of promises.”