Socialist Worker

Tories use a panic over Isis to clamp down on Muslims

Politicians are in a frenzy over three teenagers alleged to have left to join Isis, writes Judith Orr

Issue No. 2442

Still from Isis video apparently showing new recruits

Still from Isis video apparently showing new recruits

The families of three east London school students who have travelled to Turkey to try and get into Syria have made a public plea for them to return. 

The three young women, Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, attended Bethnal Green Academy in east London. 

One of their friends there left to go to Syria three months ago.

They are assumed to be intending to join sectarian Islamist Isis forces in Syria. Isis is fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and Western bombing.

There have been calls for yet more police surveillance of young Muslims to stop them travelling to join Isis. 

But this case has shown just how much surveillance these young people are already under, for instance on Twitter.

Surveillance won’t stop people wanting to join Isis.


Many young Muslims have become politicised by opposition to Western imperialist wars, and because they face racism and police harassment.

Halima Hassan is from Newham and is active in her local Stop the War group. 

She attended a meeting about the situation with Rushanara Ali, MP for Bow and Bethnal Green, where the young women came from.

Halima told Socialist Worker, “It is really sad what has happened to the girls. 

“But people are very worried, very scared about what will happen now—the school and the teachers are going to be under investigation.

“People think that this will make Islamophobia even worse.”

For all the calls for the young women and other British Muslims to return from Syria there is no incentive for them to do so. 

The state will treat them as terrorists and they could face arrest if they try to return.

Another London Muslim teenager, 19 year old Brusthom Ziamani, faced a jail sentence after a court found him guilty of “preparing a terrorist attack”. 

The police admitted he was “vulnerable”. He was under surveillance on the day of his arrest and found to be carrying a knife and a hammer.

Brusthom became a Muslim four months earlier and was kicked out of his home. He said he joined the Islamist group Al Muhajiroun “because they were giving me places to stay and they did not like moderate Islam”.

He said he posted threats on Facebook to “fit in” with them. Brusthom will be sentenced next month.

Contrast the treatment of Muslims going or considering going to fight in Syria with that of white ex-bouncer Tim Locks. 

He has sold everything to fight against Isis in Iraq. He has been interviewed live on television news as a principled hero. 

There is no talk of him being arrested as a terrorist when he returns to Britain.


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