Archive article from The Socialist Issue 452
Wars and terrorism
THE LATEST alleged terror plot in the UK has brought memories of 7/7 flooding back, when more than fifty people were killed while travelling to work in London. At the time of going to press twenty-four people had been arrested and eleven charged over the alleged plot to blow up planes mid-flight.
Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary
The Socialist Party utterly condemned the horrific 7/7 and 9/11 bombings and all similar attacks. If the charges against those arrested are proven, it will mean that this was a plot aiming to kill ordinary people, mostly going on holiday, who would bear no responsibility for the policies of Bush, Blair and the warmongers. Without doubt, whether or not this plot is proven, the government holds responsibility for making Britain, and the world, a more dangerous place. More than 70% of people now believe government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists.
At the same time, correctly, the reaction of most people, including the vast majority of Muslims, is condemnation and horror that anyone would conceive such a plot.
However, after the police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and the Forest Gate shooting there is also understandable scepticism about the alleged plot amongst many.
The charging of the suspects alone will not completely alleviate this suspicion. There are good reasons for that. For example, between the introduction of new anti-terror legislation in 2000 and the 7/7 bombings, 700 people were arrested under the new legislation. Only 17 were convicted of any crime, and only three were convicted of crime relating to terrorism!
Those include the 'ricin plotters' who were arrested in 2003 in a fanfare of publicity about the threat of a chemical weapons attack on London. When the case eventually came to trial it transpired there was no evidence of ricin in the suspects' flat and the charges were dropped.
That is not to suggest that it is excluded that the alleged plot will turn out to be all too real. The 7/7 bombings demonstrated that there is a tiny minority of young Muslims in Britain who are desperate enough to plan and carry out such profoundly misguided, horrific attacks.
However, given the appalling record of the police, the Socialist Party believes it is vital that elected representatives of the trade unions and the communities involved should be allowed to see all of the evidence against those who have been charged. It would be very damaging for the government and Blair in particular, if those arrested were later shown to be innocent; this therefore increases the danger of a repeat of the Birmangham Six and Guildford Four cases where innocent Irish men were sentenced to life imprisonment.
As after 7/7, the government and media explanation for why British-born young men could be motivated to carry out such an attack is to simply say they are in the grip of an 'evil ideology'. Of course, anyone who could carry out such acts will be considered 'evil'. However, if the plot is proven this will only be the third time suicide bombings have been seriously planned in Europe, and the first two occasions were the 7/7 and 21/7 plots in Britain last year.
It is inadequate to use 'evil' as an explanation for this change. If we do not analyse the different factors that have led a tiny minority of young men to be prepared to carry out such horrific acts we will inevitably face future indiscriminate bombings.
Without doubt the occupation of Iraq has had a profound effect on the consciousness of Muslims worldwide. How can it not when we hear on the news of the continuing bloody occupation and slide towards civil war, with an average of 100 Iraqis being killed in Baghdad every day. Israel's brutal assault on Lebanon, with the full backing of Blair, will have enormously exacerbated that anger.
US IMPERIALISM, backed by British imperialism, used 9/11 as a justification to invade Afghanistan and especially Iraq. In reality, Bush's regime did so partly to increase its prestige in the wake of 9/11 by flexing its military might, but also to follow the dream of cheap oil for US imperialism.
For millions of Muslims worldwide, however, Iraq, along with the plight of Palestinians, the invasion of Lebanon, and the devastation being wreaked in Chechnya, is understandably perceived as a war on their religion.
Blair has brushed this argument aside, pointing out that 9/11 took place before Iraq or Afghanistan was invaded. This is a facile argument. Imperialist oppression of the Arab peoples did not begin with the invasion of Iraq or even the brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people over decades, but goes back at least as far as the imperialist carve-up of the Middle East and its natural resources almost a century ago.
The oppression of the Palestinians over the last decades has undoubtedly angered the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, as did the first Iraq war and the sanctions against Iraq which resulted in the death of half a million children, described as 'a price worth paying' by Madeline Albright, then US Secretary of State.
That anger has been enormously fuelled by events since 9/11. And unlike the oppression of the Palestinians, the British government has been directly and unequivocally involved in the occupation of Iraq. Blair has enthusiastically supported every nuance of US foreign policy to a greater extent that any previous British prime minister. This has inevitably had a particular effect on British Muslims.
The vast majority of Muslims in Britain are completely opposed to terrorist attacks. Nonetheless, the increase in the tiny numbers who not only support, but are prepared to take part in, such plots, is directly linked to the US and British imperialism's brutal policies.
However, the experience of Muslims here in Britain also plays a part. Muslims as a whole are one of the poorest sections of British society. One in seven of economically active Muslims are unemployed, compared with one in 20 for the wider population. Unemployment and social deprivation is particularly high amongst Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims.
British Muslims have also suffered an increase in prejudice, with racism increasingly being expressed in 'anti-Islam' terms. Immediately after the 7/7 bombings there was a 600% increase in racist attacks. Every Muslim, and person who might be 'seen as Muslim', must now fear that the latest alleged plot will lead to another rise in racism.
The Socialist Party nationally, and in Walthamstow and the other areas most affected, will counter this by initiating a campaign to unite working-class people from every community against war, terror and racism.
Campaigning to unite working-class people
Such a campaign, mobilising workers of every religion and of none, would have an important effect in uniting working-class people and showing to Muslim youth that it is the workers' movement that offers a way forward for them.
We will also fight against attacks on democratic rights. Even high-ranking Asian police officers have publicly objected to the government's proposal for 'passenger profiling' which Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei and Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur have described as creating a new criminal offence, "travelling while Asian".
Young Asians, particularly men, are facing a huge increase in police harassment. In London, for example, from 2001 to 2002 there was a 41% increase in 'stop and search' of Asians by the Metropolitan police.
For the last six years the government has introduced endless rounds of repressive 'anti-terror' legislation. Yet, as the campaign against the IRA proved in the 1970s, no amount of draconian laws can prevent terrorist attacks. Instead such legislation further alienates Muslim youth.
We also have to warn the workers' movement that in the future such legislation could be used against it. Already the anti-terror laws introduced in 2000 have been used against anti-war protests, and have been used as a threat against protestors against world poverty at the G8 summit last year.
Recent events in Britain show again show the need to struggle to build a socialist alternative of all working people to Blair and Bush and the system they defend.
Capitalism is a system where the 400 billionaires own more than the poorest 50% of the planet. It has created incredible wealth, science and technique, but cannot provide clean water for 1.2 billion people or food for the 841 million who are seriously malnourished.
It is a system that rides roughshod over the national and religious rights of whole peoples, ultimately in order to defend the profits of the giant multinationals that dominate the world economy. Only by ending capitalism will it be possible to begin to build a society, based on need not profit, which is capable of meeting the national aspirations of all humanity.
It is urgent to fight to build a mass socialist alternative of all working people that will oppose terrorism, imperialist wars and fight Blair, Bush and their capitalist system and struggle for a socialist world.
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