Climate of fear

Climate of fear

By Lindsey German

Morning Star, 16 November 2006

The wave of attacks on Muslims and the current attempts to further curtail civil liberties can only be seen as the desperate ploys of a government whose war on terror has been an absolute failure and who are now trying to scapegoat those who have pointed this out from the very beginning.

Government ministers have queued up to attack the Muslim community, starting with Jack Straw on the veil, but rapidly moving on to questions of integration and separatism.

A government which calls on a visible minority to integrate, to stand up and be counted, to denounce extremism, is in fact attacking that minority. The equation of Islam with terrorism and violence is now commonplace in the media and among many politicians.

They condemn all “extremism” and “radicalism.” While we would all condemn terror attacks of the sort perpetrated last July with the London bombings, the definition of extremism and radicalism goes far beyond this. Government ministers are, in effect, saying that anyone who challenges their foreign policy and warmongering is an extremist. Unfortunately for them, that includes the majority of the population, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

But the attacks on Muslims are insidious, leading to a wave of racism unlike anything we have seen since the late 1970s. One of the main beneficiaries of this is the fascist BNP.

This is a time to stand up and be counted, but not in the way that the government means. The anti-war movement has been a totally integrated movement where people from all races and religions and none have come together to fight to make the world a better place.

Muslims stood up and were counted against war. Stop the War has been one of the main bulwarks against racism and against terrorism, because it has presented an alternative political strategy. Now that our sisters and brothers in the Muslim community are under attack, the anti-war movement should stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

An injury to one is an injury to all. That’s why we should defend the right of Muslims to dress as they please and to practise their religion and culture without fear of attack.

This Saturday, hundreds of delegates from anti-war groups, trade unions, student unions, mosques and community groups are coming together to discuss the connection between the growing Islamophobia and the war on terror and how we can organise against it.

Make sure that you are part of it and strike a blow against racism and war.

For details of Saturday’s conference, see the Stop the War Coalition website