Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2338

What about Muslim workers’ right to religious freedom?

The European Court of Human Rights this month ruled on four cases of Christians who claimed that their right to religious freedom had been violated.

These were high profile and contentious cases concerning the European Convention. The court upheld only one of the complaints, that of Nadia Eweida.

She argued that her employer, British Airways, had discriminated against her by banning her from wearing a cross.

Those wearing symbols of other faiths, she argued, had been treated differently.

Many on the far right have used this as an example of Christians being marginalised.

But if you look at any crime figures or the media coverage it’s clear that those being targeted most in our society for their beliefs are Muslims.

You only have to look at the racist policies of the French government against Muslims in recent years to understand the possible threat.

Fortunately the left, and the SWP in particular, have been central to fighting Islamaphobia.

Few people in Britain argue for a ban on the headscarf. But things were different not so long ago.

Then there were attempts to pick on ethnic minorities by forbidding them to dress according to their religions.

In the 1960s attempts were made in places such as Leeds and Bristol to stop Sikhs working on the buses because of their turbans.

In the 1970s young Rastas could expect to be sent home from school because of their dreadlocks.

These forms of discrimination were only beaten back because of hard, anti-racist struggles.

That struggle continues today as we mobilise to push the English Defence League off our streets.

We must also build the widest coalition against the cuts and not allow the Tory government to divide us.

Nahella Ashraf, Manchester

French left and Islamophobia

Tragically, there was a call by a very significant group of left wing Muslim activists and intellectuals to join the demo against gay marriage in Paris last month.

It didn’t help that almost all the radical left has been so hopeless on opposing Islamophobia.

The space left open by the radical left has been partly filled by other forces, such as black nationalism, which are not clear on gay rights.

However, at least 40?percent of Muslims in France support equal rights to marriage.

So there is no need for despair, but there is plenty of work to be done.

This will be extremely difficult if the far left continues its habit of insulting believers, whether Muslims or Catholics.

John Mullen, Montreuil, France

It’s sick to celebrate a prince killing Afghans

With the news that the 440th British soldier has died in Afghanistan, I feel I must reiterate my thoughts of 2001, before the invasion took place.

The intrusion was not worth the death of one single life, Afghan first and foremost or of one British soldier.

But whoever the faceless people are who benefit financially from the atrocities, the queen clearly has a lot more soldiers to expend for the purpose.

Of course, we are not isolated in our splendid ignorance. The US has lost 2,175 servicemen.

William Burns, Edinburgh

The scripted, saccharine media frenzy over prince Harry’s boasting of killing Afghans turned my stomach.

The media, royalty and the government were all applauding the murder of thousands of people.


Melanie Nicks, Liverpool

Humans are not a plague on the planet

David Attenborough said last week that humanity is “a plague on the earth”.

Referring to famine in Ethiopia he has said there are “too many people there. They can’t support themselves”.

Attenborough has argued that we need to prioritise animals and the environment over human activity.

The problem isn’t too many people—it’s the kind of society we live in.

We produce more than enough food for everyone in the world but up to half of it gets wasted.

The way humans relate to nature under capitalism causes environmental destruction.

But this isn’t the only kind of society we can imagine. Marx recognised that humans have the ability to produce things of value.

We are not just mouths to feed but have enormous creative potential as well.

Trying to control population size in the Global South won’t help.

We need a society where the needs of humans and other animals are put before profits.

David Attenborough makes great TV shows—it’s a shame he has leant his name to such outdated and repressive views.

Camilla Royle, East London

I support blacklisting

I run a small construction company and there are many workers out there worthy of blacklisting, take my word for it.

If someone came to work on your home pretending to be a skilled tradesmen, caused a whole lot of damage, stole from you, or was rude to you, then you’d probably want to make damned sure that they didn’t ever come back again.

But in a commercial environment it’s probably a bit unfair to share that list with other corporations.

Robert Brown, North London

EDL racists sent off to jail

Seven men connected with the English Defence League (EDL) have been jailed for a race hate rampage in Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire.

The EDL demonstrated there last year.

Their behaviour was described as “sustained and unprovoked” racial violence.

All seven men have been banned from EDL demos for five years.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Orwell was a critic of Stalin

At the time when George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four many on the left were afraid to criticise Stalinist Russia.

But he sought to attack the totalitarian regime because of its opposition to what he saw as socialism’s fundamental values.

This doesn’t mark him out as a traitor to the Left, but a man of integrity. Orwell was willing to call out injustice at either side of the political spectrum.

James, Manchester

Flood of bigots coming

This is a xenophobe warning about a “flood” of racists and bigots.

They are expected to appear in the media imminently with warnings about a “flood” of migrants they expect from eastern Europe.

Sasha Simic, East London

The price of parenting

I read last week that it is now £82,000 more expensive to bring up kids to the age of 21 than it was ten years ago.

University and childcare costs are making it impossible for working people to give their kids the lives they want to.

It’s little wonder that fewer and fewer people are applying to go to university with the fees as they are. Young people are sinking.

The Tories dare to tell people to “live within their means” but they make it impossible to do so.

Annie Short, Bedford

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Article information

Fri 15 Mar 2013, 15:32 GMT
Issue No. 2338
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