The connection between the Afghan war and prejudice against Muslims here is getting stronger.
One of the main arguments put by defence minister Bob Ainsworth - the latest in a line of Labour cheerleaders for the military and all its works - is that this war is necessary to protect us in Britain from terrorist attack.
Think about it. There were no terrorist attacks in Britain before the war on terror began in 2001. There were no attacks before the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. In other words, any attacks on Britain took place after we were part of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Surely that points to the fact that the wars helped to worsen the terrorism, not the other way round.
It's impossible to list all that Britain and the US have done in the past eight years to exacerbate this threat of terrorism, but they include bombing and killing innocent civilians on a horrific scale; the torture at Baghram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay; support for the Afghan government, one of the most corrupt in the world; the concoction of evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; the vote for a war which the vast majority of the world's population opposed.
No wonder that some people around the world want to respond, in however misguided a way, by hitting back. In response, the level of repression in Britain and the US has increased. The terror laws are far more drastic than anything passed during the IRA bombing campaigns. There is growing evidence of torture, the latest and shocking case described by David Davies in parliament being where the British secret services effectively outsourced arrest and torture of a suspect to their counterparts in Pakistan.
And the latest calls to 'ban the burkha' are a direct attempt to link the war in Afghanistan (where most women wear burkhas) to Muslims here (where hardly any women wear the burkha). There is something of a deluge of stories about attacks on Muslims: an attack on an Islamic charity shop in Glasgow, on a mosque in Greenwich, an anti Muslim demo in Birmingham.
Most horrifying is the story of the Egyptian woman in Germany who took her Islamophobic neighbour to court, where he produced a knife and killed her. Her husband was shot by a security guard when he tried to protect her.
The equation of Muslim with extremist with terrorist is the one which creates an atmosphere where these vile attacks are able to flourish. Muslims become 'the enemy within' and become fair game for every racist and fascist. And the war in Afghanistan is fuelling these ideas.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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