Islamophobia

Anti-fascists keep BNP on the run

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The Nazi British National Party (BNP) had hoped to build on the election of their two MEPs in June. Instead they have found themselves hounded wherever they go. Their first post-election press conference ended in farce as leader Nick Griffin was covered in eggs and forced to flee.

But their biggest setback came with the protests outside their annual Red, White and Blue "festival" in Codnor, Derbyshire, last month. Unite Against Fascism (UAF), the Midlands TUC and local groups called a national protest that mobilised over 2,000 protesters.

A government's revenge

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It's beginning to look as if the government is out for revenge on the Muslim community for its resurgent mobilisation over Gaza.

That is surely the explanation for the pressure now being put on the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to force one of its leading officers, Dr Daud Abdullah, to resign. Dr Abdullah is the deputy general secretary of the MCB and has played a staunch and active role in opposing the "war on terror" and the attacks on the Palestinians. He is a regular speaker on demonstrations and at meetings.

Tabloid Islamophobia - the web of deceit

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"They sometimes say if you give a fool a piece of rope he'll hang himself, and it seems that in this case this person has done exactly that." So said "terror expert" Glen Jenvey to CBS news in 2004, referring to his "sting" of cleric Abu Hamza, which he claims was pivotal in Hamza's arrest. Perhaps Jenvey should have chosen his words more carefully.

On 7 January the Sun ran a front page story with the headline, "Islamic fanatics name Alan Sugar, Mark Ronson and Lord Levy in a hit list of Britain's leading Jews." The story was based on claims by Jenvey that fanatics were using the online Ummah forum to orchestrate revenge attacks for the siege of Gaza. "Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs," said Jenvey.

Islamophobia: a new strain of bigotry

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Attacks on Muslims by politicians and the media have been on the rise since the 9/11 attacks. Now, when author Martin Amis's abusive tirades against Islam are broadcast and published without qualm, Hassan Mahamdallie asks if Islamophobia has become society's acceptable racism.

The new imperialist era that Western leaders have embarked upon, and its repercussions, have wrought extraordinary transformations on sections of the intelligentsia. Take the example of Martin Amis. Since the 9/11 attacks the once voguish novelist, author of books including London Fields, has been steadily building up a body of work that has essentially argued that Islamism is the new fascist threat akin to Hitler's regime.

Algeria: torture last time

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When Algerian journalist Henri Alleg published his account of being tortured at the hands of the French colonial regime it became an instant bestseller. Ian Birchall tells us why the book is still as relevant today as it was 50 years ago during the Algerian War of Independence.

More than 50 years ago France was fighting a vicious colonial war in Algeria. The enemy were so-called "terrorists", North African Muslims who wanted national independence. Many episodes from that war have striking parallels with the world today.

Henri Alleg was editor of Alger Républicain, the only daily newspaper in Algeria to oppose the French colonial regime, and a member of the Algerian Communist Party. In 1955 Alger Républicain was banned and the following year it was decided to intern most of its contributors. Alleg went into hiding.

Sarkozy's raids of the playgrounds

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At the recent inauguration of a Moscow memorial to the victims of the gulag Nicolas Sarkozy made a fervent speech about the importance of human rights, underlining the necessity of interaction between authorities and population.

In accordance with the republican tradition, he stressed that in France "no one is above the law". Curiously, the French president seemed to have forgotten that in his country the law is currently being reformed so as to contradict the very human rights he was referring to.

Sarkozy's newly created ministry for immigration and integration maintains an image of support for immigrant families and their descendants, while its new policies are by far the most aggressive France has witnessed in the last decades.

The Threat to Reason

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Dan Hind, Verso, £14.99

The Enlightenment tradition is under attack - at least if a series of recent books are to be believed. The source is apparently a rising tide of irrationality, manifested by intellectual fashions such as postmodernism, but more seriously by the revival of religious belief. So, while earlier works dedicated to "defending the Enlightenment", like Francis Wheen's How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, attacked what they perceived to be irrationality in all its forms, the latest crop have focused almost exclusively on religion.

Blaming the Victims

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What does a politician do when a war they started goes badly wrong? Pick a fight with those who have opposed it, of course.

George Bush tells us he's disappointed with progress in Iraq. How does he think the rest of us feel? The occupiers have now admitted they cannot control Baghdad or Basra. No wonder generals, former warmongers and even the politicians are now discussing withdrawal from Iraq. This is about much more than the US midterm elections, where Bush looks like he'll get a pasting. It is about a complete failure of strategy in the region, and the sudden realisation that things can only get worse.

India: Songs That Sow the Seeds of Division

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Readers of this magazine will doubtless be familiar with the rampaging anti-Muslim bias which afflicts the media in the West. Unfortunately, the same attitudes are also rooted in large sections of the media in India - even those which pride themselves in being "secular" and "progressive".

Some weeks ago, they were awash with reports about Muslims who were protesting against the suggestion that all children studying in schools be forced to sing the Vande Mataram song - with numerous newspapers, television channels and politicians declaring that it was India's "national song". Refusal to sing, they claimed, was thoroughly "unpatriotic" and even "anti-national". Once again, Muslims in India were forced to prove their loyalty.

Respect and the 'Muslim Vote'

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Jacob Middleton picks apart the claims that Respect has set aside class politics and is instead pushing a "communal" agenda that will appeal only to Muslims.

Respect's stunning election successes last month have roused up a torrent of abuse. Some of it is predictable, lambasting support for Respect among British Muslims. In a piece that compared Respect to the Nazi BNP, Nick Cohen wrote in the Observer that, "Once again, we find a slice of the electorate in a poor part of Britain that is so lost in identity politics and victimhood that it will vote for those who stoke their rage, no matter how worthless they are." Cohen's fixation says much about the prejudices of pro-war hacks.

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