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LETTERS: Stand with refugees against councils and media smears

This article is over 5 years, 11 months old
Issue 2515
Pro-refugee campaigners on the Convoy to Calais in June
Pro-refugee campaigners on the Convoy to Calais in June (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Residents on the Scottish island of Bute have hit back at pernicious claims made in the Daily Mail newspaper last week that Syrian refugees here “want to leave”.

The excellent Bute Welcomes Refugees website calls the article “abhorrent”. Its clear implication is that the 15 families who fled war are ungrateful and should go back to Syria if they hate it here.

This is a paper notorious for its daily front page rants attacking refugees and migrants.

One local Facebook post has gone viral, slamming the Mail for its “shocking abuse” of trust of the family it interviewed. Another accused it of “the stirring up of resentment and division”.

Local paper The Buteman responded with an excellent online editorial praising the contribution made by the refugees since their arrival on the island.

One Syrian, Mounzer Darsani, called the article “nonsense” and said Syrians were “proud to be on the island” where they had been “welcolmed very well”.

Not everything is great on Bute, any more than anywhere else. But it is a gross misrepresentation to claim that refugees would rather be living in a war zone.

Jack Robertson, Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute

Norfolk County Council voted last week to accept 50 Syrian refugees to settle in Norfolk. Pressure from lobbies, petitions and demonstrations has paid off.

Stand Up to Racism, refugee groups, faith groups, councillors and the People’s Assembly campaigned together.

A delegation from Norwich went on the convoy to Calais, and held a public meeting to report back. We sent a coach to the recent national demonstration in London.

A demonstration called at short notice saw hundreds outside a local Romanian shop damaged in a racist arson attack.

We have more work to do now against Islamophobia and racism, and to make sure there is no delay in getting refugees settled.

Mary Littlefield, Norwich

Change in Spain is right up our street

I enjoyed your feature on the Spanish Civil War (Socialist Worker, 12 July).

One street in Madrid is named after fascist general and Spanish Legion founder Jose Manuel Millan-Astray.

Interrupting a speech by academic Miguel Unamuno he cried, “Death to Intelligence!” Unamuno had criticised the Legion’s motto, “Long Live Death”.

Left wing Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena wants the street renamed Intelligence Avenue. I know from Northern Ireland that fiddling with street names can be a way to hide a lack of real progress, but this is overdue and welcome.

John Shemeld, Nottingham

Owen goal for Labour in Wales

Owen Smith says he is proud to represent the Welsh town of Pontypridd.

He claims Welsh Labour is a different beast to Labour in Westminster. This simply isn’t true.

In 2010, as Smith took the safe seat, the council forced 10,000 employees to take a pay cut or lose their jobs. The area has one of Britain’s highest levels of welfare claims yet Smith abstained on the Tories’ Welfare Bill.

Smith’s comments on migration didn’t come as a surprise to constituents.

We all received a newspaper from his general election campaign pledging to “tackle health tourism”.

He tried to out-Ukip Ukip, with the result that Ukip gained seats in the Welsh Assembly.

Smith’s record discredits his new-found left rhetoric.

Marianne, Pontypridd

Help Greek courtroom fight against fascists

Greek Nazi party Golden Dawn has been on trial since April 2015—with a five-month gap due to a lawyers’ strike. All its MPs and dozens of its members are in the dock.

Witnesses for the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas recently testified.

Other deadly assaults the court will examine include attempted murders, arsons and raids against migrants, communists and anarchists.

The decision on whether Golden Dawn constitutes a “criminal conspiracy” will determine the future of the fascist threat in Greece.

The state turned a blind eye to their crimes—when not complicit. This is why the intervention of victims, families and the anti-fascist movement is so vital.

To help with the legal expenses of this crucial anti-fascist battle, go to

Thanasis Kampagiannis, Lawyer, Athens, Greece

Sexism is the enemy’s weapon

Some on the left are calling Theresa May “Cruella” or “a witch”.

But when we use such words, we condone the right’s view of women.

Capitalism gives women two roles to aspire to—childbearer and homemaker.

Walt Disney was a capitalist in whose films the “good” women are doe-eyed doormats.

Women who break with this lose their humanity as evil characters like Cruella and the witches.

Let’s not give Disney’s stereotypes new life. Let’s not reinforce the right by using the weapons they made to hurt us.

May is not Cruella or a witch—she is a Tory.

Julia Richardson, Swansea

Injustice in Guantanamo

The US is now set to release Abdul Zahir from Guantanamo. He has been held there for 14 years and has never seen his youngest child.

They admitted that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

They also admitted that the chemical warfare ingredients allegedly found in his home were in fact everyday items such as sugar and salt.

John Newsinger, Brighton

Neither for nor against

The Kurdish PKK is firmly neither for or against the Turkish coup.

This is the only sensible position. So why is Socialist Worker taking a position that supports the Turkish state? It confuses a right wing Islamic street movement with people power. This will lead to disaster—as in Iran in 1979.

Jon Fanning, York

Wake up and smell Trump

Your article on the US reports, “Sanders said, ‘Trump is a bully and a demagogue.’ People shouted back, ‘So is Hillary!’” (Socialist Worker, 27 July).

It is true. If Trump wins it will rock the establishment. Hillary represents everything Bernie fought against.

Andres Viveros, on Facebook

People booing him did nothing. Revolution is more than him and will keep going. Crucial to stop Trump.

@StushPhoen, on Twitter

Crude bigotry for filthy oil

An advert promoting the Canadian tar sands oil industry asks, “Why are we getting our oil from countries that don’t think lesbians are hot?”

Isn’t it great to be objectified by Western men instead of Saudis?

This oil ad exploits our sexualities as if they were the Canadian wilderness. It uses “gay rights” as a weapon of Islamophobia in such a crude manner it’s homophobic too.

Vala Biggart, Bristol

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