Socialist Worker

'Terror' hype sparks racist backlash against Asians

by Kelly Hilditch
Issue No. 2015

Tabloid headlines, broadsheet comment pages and ministers’ speeches are once again full of lurid claims about Muslims and 'integration' in the wake of the decision on Monday of this week to charge 11 suspects over the alleged 'terror plot' to blow up planes with liquid explosives.

Whatever the truth about these allegations, one thing is certain - Asian men and women across Britain are facing a racist backlash that has been given the green light by the government.

Two Asian passengers on a Monarch Airlines flight from Malaga to Manchester last week experienced this racist hysteria at first hand.

Some passengers overheard the two men speaking what they took to be Arabic. They refused to board the plane, while others already on board stormed off.

Disgracefully the airline bowed to this pressure and called the police to escort the two passengers off the plane.

Such incidents have been taking place even before the latest hype over terrorism. Back in June, Syed Husain, a 65 year old Londoner, was sightseeing with his sister and brother-in-law who were visiting from Dubai.

He tried boarding the London Eye attraction on the South Bank of the Thames, but was prevented from boarding because his sister was speaking Arabic.

Attitude

“As soon as the security guard heard my sister speak to her husband in Arabic, the attitude towards us changed,” Syed told the BBC. He was searched and told to go to Waterloo station and place his bag in a locker, while his sister and her husband were held in a “secure area”.

The three then returned to the queue - but were stopped again by the same security guard. “He had already searched me, now he is asking for knives,” said Syed. “I said no, then he pushed his hand inside my pocket, searching for knives. He couldn’t find any.”

It would be wrong to dismiss these cases as isolated incidents - just a few racists on a plane, just one overzealous guard. In fact they are a direct result of the climate of fear whipped up by the government and the media.

Ministers and right wing media pundits are openly pushing the idea that terrorism is the fault of Muslims as a group. They are being cast as the “problem”, rather than Tony Blair’s wars across the Middle East.

This racism has even led two Asian officers in the Metropolitan Police to speak out.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur and Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei warned earlier this month that proposed methods such as racial profiling amounted to creating a new offence of ­“travelling while Asian”.

This comment earned them a swift slapdown. Scotland Yard’s Chief Superintendant Simon Humphrey attacked the two officers in the Daily Mail, saying it was “wholly unacceptable to continue to portray the Asian community as victims”.

Scapegoating

He added that their warnings against scapegoating Muslims were an attempt to “hijack the terrorism issue and turn it into a debate on racism”.

But the “war on terror” and racism are inseparable. The assaults launched by Blair and George Bush have cost hundreds of thousands of lives across the world. They have to stoke up hatred and bigotry against Muslims in order to justify and excuse their own crimes.

And it is at their feet, not those of Muslims or Asians, that the ultimate responsibility for terrorist attacks must lie.


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