I AM a black man from a Christian background. But I feel the attacks on the Muslim community as if they were on me personally. Racists do not discriminate when they turn upon scapegoats. Today it is the asylum seeker and the Muslim. Tomorrow it is the Hindu and the Sikh, and the day after it is all black people.
And the attack on civil liberties affects all, black and white. As black people we have specific issues about racism-from the police, the school system and the NHS. But we cannot hide away and deal with only these issues. We need to support each other.
Winston Edwardes, East London
THE RECENT arrests of a number of local men in connection with an alleged terrorist plot has caused considerable tension in Crawley. On the Friday following the arrests, the mosque in Langley Green was besieged by television crews. Many of the worshippers were extremely intimidated by this presence and the reporting in the local and national press has added to their fears.
The mosque has been characterised as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism but nothing could be further from the truth. The local Muslim community has supported the Stop the War Coalition both locally and nationally. On 15 February 2003 more than 200 people travelled from Crawley to the two million strong demonstration in London. Over half of this number came from Crawley's two mosques.
In the aftermath of the arrests there has been continuing tension. The level of anxiety has been such that members of the Muslim community feel it is necessary to sleep in the mosque to prevent attacks. The BNP has been attempting to organise in Crawley and there is no doubt that they will attempt to exploit this situation in the run-up to local and European elections.
It is essential that we give the Muslim community in Crawley our maximum support. There has been a concerted attempt to criminalise and intimidate them and we must do everything we can to defend them.
Most importantly it means that we must continue to oppose the occupation of Iraq and the war on civil liberties at home. In the 1970s police raids and arrests were used to prevent the Irish community speaking out. We must not allow the same thing to happen to Britain's Muslim community.
Paul Smith, Crawley
Why the US is so violent
MUCH OF the media is having real problems coming to terms with the conduct of US forces in Iraq. The violence with which they confront opposition is being portrayed as counter-productive, making the situation worse for the occupation. For most commentators such behaviour is put down to stupidity (the Bush factor), inexperience at running an empire or as an irrational attraction to the use of massive firepower.
In fact US conduct is perfectly rational once you recognise that they are not in Iraq as liberators bringing freedom and democracy with them. Instead, they intend to install a puppet government in power that will then invite the US to establish permanent military bases and allow American domination of the Iraqi economy.
This, after all, was what the invasion was all about. In order to achieve this, the opposition has to be destroyed by whatever means necessary.
What Bush and Blair underestimated was the extent and determination of the opposition they would meet. The courage of poorly armed Iraqi freedom fighters taking on the might of the US military took them completely by surprise. As it becomes daily more clear that the only way the Americans are going to leave Iraq is when they are driven out, so the resistance will grow.
We have to continue the campaign to end Blair's participation in the occupation, continue exposing the lies of the British and American governments, and support the resistance throughout the Middle East.
John Newsinger, Leicester
Ballot would not have won strike
GEOFF Carson's argument (Letters, 17 April) that a ballot would have helped to unite the miners and win the 1984-5 strike is wrong. The pressure not to have a ballot came from the rank and file, not Scargill and the NUM union leadership.
Rank and file miners had plenty of evidence and experience to suggest that a ballot would have been used to sabotage the strike. A ballot would have allowed the government-and its stooges the Coal Board and the media-to launch a massive propaganda campaign arguing for a no vote. This happened when Welsh miners struck a year previously over pit closures.
Miners in perceived "safe" pits and areas like Nottinghamshire were allowed, through their votes, to prevent people in other areas fighting for their jobs. Welsh miners called off the pickets, went to a ballot, lost the vote-and another pit shut!
At the outset of the strike we were determined not to let history repeat itself. The picketing gave us the chance to take the argument against closures and for the strike across the British coalfields. The argument was largely successful. By the time the furore started about a ballot, over three quarters of miners had voted with their feet and were on strike.
From then on the fight was on and it was a case of which side were you on. A ballot, even if it could have been won, would not have brought victory. A lot more support from the TUC at the time could have.
Ian Mitchell, former Silverwood miner
A safer world?
EVER SINCE George W Bush started his "war on terror" he has made the whole world a lot more unsafe. The insurgency in Iraq is a direct response to the US murder of Iraqi civilians in its attempt to achieve global imperialism. Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. When he was captured there was crowing from the right wing press but no mention of how the US helped him to power.
Let us say it again: the anti-war movement was right. Billions can be provided to feed the war machine but across the world we see that people are not properly fed and housed.
C A Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness
'Very angry at my own party'
MICHAEL LAVALETTE, the Respect councillor in Preston, moved a motion last year to twin Preston with Nablus in the West Bank of Palestine. I seconded the motion. It was defeated. A Labour majority runs Preston. A few weeks ago the Labour Party councillor in the Preston ward with the highest number of Muslims resident in it said he would move the motion again at the council.
He showed the motion to the Labour leader of the council and to Muslims. When it came to the night to pass the motion at the meeting of Labour councillors he didn't turn up and the motion wasn't discussed. It was all a political bluff as the council elections are coming up. Labour lost to Michael Lavalette in that ward last year.
This fake twinning attempt was an attempt to persuade Muslim voters that the Labour Party is on their side, without doing anything. They are taking Muslim people as idiots, waving a piece of paper in front of them hoping that they'll say, "Oh well, Labour tried to get this through." Labour councillors are insulting Muslim people's intelligence. It makes me very angry.
Elaine Abbot, Labour councillor, Preston
Was this film like Goebbels?
MIKE DAVIS (Socialist Worker, 10 April) is mistaken to compare Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ to the anti-Semitic film Jud Suess, made by Goebbels the Nazi propaganda minister. Gibson is a very conservative Catholic whose film uses the parts of the New Testament that were written by one group of Jews in Jerusalem against another group of Jews who ran the Temple.
All this proves is that you can use the Bible to say almost anything. But that doesn't make the film anti-Semitic. Mike says the Romans appear as noble imperialists. Did we see the same film? In the streets of Jerusalem the Romans couldn't move without having to beat back the protesters.
And when the soldiers beat Jesus they were so brutal it made me think of soldiers in another occupation kicking Iraqi prisoners to death. This is a very violent, boring film and Gibson is a right wing religious bigot but he isn't Goebbels.
Sarah Ensor, East London
Indian student's praise for paper
A YOUNG Indian student who attended the World Social Forum in Mumbai wanted to comment on the recent article about the hijab in France (Socialist Worker, 3 April). He thought the piece, by Christine Delphy and Salma Yaqoob, was excellent. He praised its simple language, directness and the ease with which it explained why as a socialist you had to support the right of people to wear the headscarf.
He took it to his caucus of other Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists in and around the university and they are translating it into Hindi. They could not understand why their party paper could not produce something as good as this!
Talat Ahmed from India
Who defeated apartheid state?
I REALLY enjoyed Trevor Ngwane's article (Socialist Worker, 17 April) about the present situation in South Africa. Please could I add that, whatever has happened subsequently, the end of apartheid was a huge victory for revolt from below and, in particular, for black working class organisation.
People who were treated as third class citizens in the land of their birth fought a brutal and ruthless power to its destruction. It was not polite diplomatic pressure or Western troops who brought liberation-it was ordinary people fighting back.
Today many of them still support the ANC but I am sure that an open attitude from socialists and anti-capitalists can bring them into action over crucial issues again.
Danielle Hinds, East London
Cheap labour in care industry
THE ISSUE of using Learning Assistants as "cheap labour" in schools has flared up again. In the caring industry, the use of cheap labour is an absolute given. The community care system, in its present format, couldn't function without it. When New Labour talks about "professionalising" the care sector, it has to be backed up with "professionalised" funding and "professionalised" pay and conditions for its workers.
In reality, the effects of privatisation and subcontracting in community care has decimated the true potential of people that need support in the community.
Alan Scott, Edinburgh
WMD are found close to Glasgow
AROUND 200 protesters gathered on Easter Monday at Faslane nuclear base on an inlet of the Firth of Clyde called the Gare Loch. This is the home of Britain's four Trident nuclear submarines. Alan MacKinnon of Scottish CND spoke of how the Iraq people were in rebellion and then made the point that, unlike Iraq or Libya, Britain actually did have nuclear weapons and they were right behind the miles and miles of razor wire at Faslane.
The Trident submarines have 180 nuclear warheads-enough to destroy the world several times over.