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LETTERS: We’re fighting Islamophobia and sexism at our university

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Issue 2582
Stand Up To Racism student campaigners at Queen Mary University
Stand Up To Racism student campaigners at Queen Mary University (Pic: Stand Up To Racism)

Schools inspectorate Ofsted’s decision to question Muslim girls wearing a hijab is racist.

It’s disgusting. I went to a really diverse secondary school and know people who will be affected by this.

It places Muslim girls under suspicion. If they did have an issue, policies like this stop them from being able to talk to anyone.

It’s the same with the Prevent strategy, aimed at looking for signs of “extremism”. The whole mentality of it will affect how Muslim women feel as part of society.

At university you hear loads of racism and sexism. There’s such a problem with “lad culture” on campus. People pretend everything’s “banter” and they can say whatever they want.

I’ve heard men sexualising women or discussing whether women should be wearing a hijab. It makes me feel really uncomfortable.

But a lot of students experience Islamophobia—and we’ve decided to hold a meeting on Women and Islamophobia. We’ve been having Stand Up To Racism stalls and got a good response.

Sometimes it’s hard getting through to people. But having an anti-racist presence matters, because even if people don’t get involved, they can see us challenging racism. Hearing other anti-racists talk about it makes me feel more confident in challenging bigotry.

And the meeting is an important space to allow people to overcome their ignorance, and take part in the discussion.

They can see that actually talking to each other is effective.

And when people talk about racism, it makes me more confident in taking on sexism as well.

We have Muslim women on the panel of the meeting because their voices should be elevated in this debate. Everyone should get involved in the fight against the racists.

Stephanie Onamade, Queen Mary University of London

Ratko Mladic is not the only war criminal

I am pleased that Ratko Mladic, chief of the Bosnian Serb army during the Yugoslav wars, has been jailed for his role in the massacre of 8,000 Bosniaks.

Mladic deserves jailing, and I hope the families of his victims sleep easier knowing that Mladic is paying for his crimes.

But there is a problem with the “justice” handed out by the international court in the Hague. Mladic’s conviction is being used to endorse the West’s narrative.

It portrays the wars of former Yugoslavia as the result of “bad” Serbs attacking “good” Croats, Bosnians and Kosovars. This absolves the Western powers of their own role and justifies their military intervention in the region.

Why was there never an attempt was to bring the Croatian president Franjo Tudjman to the Hague? He was a man who oversaw the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Krajina Serbs from Croatia in 1995. But he was also an important ally of the West.

Under capitalism “justice” and “war crimes” are elastic concepts in the service of the political objectives of the state.

Otherwise why are those who invaded Iraq still at liberty? They killed 1.2 million and created nearly 4 million refugees.

The Hague will only show the world it can credibly dispense “justice” when Tony Blair and George W Bush are sat before it.

Sasha Simic, East London

Don’t buy the bosses’ fracking propaganda

My local newspaper the Derbyshire Times seems to be intent on pumping out pro-fracking propaganda.

Fracking company Ineos flew journalists out to Pennsylvania in the US on an all-expenses trip to show them around sites run by fracking giant EQT.

Now they publish articles which could have come straight from a press release.

They’ve boasted that fracking in the US has led “to an economic boom” for the local community. They could have reported the fact that EQT has been criticised for adopting “aggressive tactics”. It has been fined over a million dollars because chemicals leaked into the water supply.

They are trying to persuade us that they are not destroying the local environment. But local anti-fracking campaigners have developed a simple but effective response—“No fracking way!”

James Eaden, Chesterfield

Nick Cave is not ‘principled’ for aiding Israel

It was horrible to see rock artist Nick Cave decide to play in Israel and even hold a press conference attacking the Palestine solidarity movement.

Cave accused artists such as Roger Waters and Brian Eno, who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, of “bullying” fellow musicians.

Saying that he “loves Israel”, Cave insisted that he was taking “a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians.”

“The BDS made me play Israel”, he continued.

His attack on BDS and gig in Israel are not only extremely disappointing, they are also very painful.

Cave is an artist of great intelligence and sensitivity.

His screenplay for the 2005 movie The Proposition, for example, reflects powerfully on the genocidal racism at the very roots of the colonial project in Australia.

Like the artists who broke the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s boycott and played Sun City in South Africa, he is siding with the oppressor against the oppressed.

Mark Brown, Glasgow

Immigration is not a crime

The legal system is showing further evidence of the government’s racism towards migrants.

Now all defendants in criminal trials are required to state their nationality.

But the only relevant detail in a criminal trial should be whether they are guilty or not. Their nationality should have no relevance.

Adam Cochrane, Harlow

Russia, then Zimbabwe

If Russia could be transformed from its backward self after the 1917 revolution maybe there is hope for Zimbabwe today.

People on the street are determined to demand fundamental change.

Moyra Samuels, West London

Art should be for everyone

I hate it when art is bought by those that have no interest in the cultural value of their work and just stored away.

Some people just want to keep it in their homes to show people how wealthy they are. Art should be made public, for current and future generations to enjoy.

Lindy-Lou Nicholson, on Facebook

Train bosses’ desperation

During the recent rail strikes the bosses used dirty tricks to undermine union activists. BBC South has run reports accusing RMT union members of bullying. But workers are determined to stay united and the fight will continue.

Name and address supplied

Parties not the problem

You report that jobcentres are having Universal Credit (UC) rollout parties (Socialist Worker, 22 November).

I don’t hold UC against the jobcentre workers. If they get a few drinks out of it, good for them. It’s this vile government we should direct our disgust at.

Wayne O’Dell, On Twitter

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