Posts Tagged ‘march’

Salma Yaqoob: The real debate we should have about Afghanistan

Salma Yaqoob, chair of Birmingham Stop the War, says If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out.

Wootton Bassett

Crowds watch as the hearse carrying the body of the 100th soldier to die in Afghanistan returns home.

By Salma Yaqoob | guardian.co.uk | 5 January 20105 January 2010

When I was invited to appear on Question Time at Wootton Bassett, I did feel a hesitation because of the programme’s location. I was very mindful of the fact that this is where every soldier who has been killed is honoured and where respects are paid.

Regardless of where you stand politically, their loss is a very real and human tragedy for their families.

But these are more than personal tragedies. Our soldiers and military families put their trust in the politicians who send them into battle. They trust them to tell the truth.

The political tragedy is that, once again, we are fighting a war that is based on lies and that will not make us safe.

So it is necessary to hold our politicians to account for their decisions. And that debate should not be silenced.

There is a subtext that if you support our troops, then you have to support the war itself; because if you question the purpose of the occupation, then you are accused not only of being unpatriotic, but also even of endangering the troops by undermining morale.

That silencing of debate leaves a huge vacuum in our politics, because all three parties back the line that we have to get behind the troops and “finish the job”.

There is also a double standard also about deaths in Afghanistan. On the one hand, with the parades in Wootton Bassett we congratulate ourselves that we’re so civilised that no loss goes unmourned; yet, if you’re Afghan, no one even counts your death.

Afghan suffering

From British politicians there’s absolutely no acknowledgment of Afghan people’s suffering, or the fact that their lives are not better-off because of the west’s intervention – although that is the lie that continues to be told. Thousands have been killed and seven million made refugees, but that’s not on anybody’s radar.

Anjem Choudary

Anjem Choudary

This dignified and serious debate is the last thing on the mind of Anjem Choudary and Islam4UK. He is a bigot whose goal in life is to provoke division. He engages in these provocations because he is deeply hostile to any coming together of Muslims and non-Muslims. For him, the fact that a majority of the British people – Muslim and non-Muslim – oppose the war in Afghanistan is not something to be celebrated, but is something to be feared.

If we are genuinely concerned about the troops, as we are about the Afghan people, we must have an open debate about why we are in Afghanistan and whether we should pull out. Instead, the airwaves are dominated by the rantings of a marginal provocateur.

My experience on Question Time confirms to me the need for a genuinely open political debate, conducted with seriousness and sensitivity. I wasn’t surprised to be received at first in silence, given the programme’s pro-war bias, but by the end, people were saying that the majority was behind me.

I do trust the conscience of ordinary British people, even if I am cynical about our political leadership.

Original article (The Guardian) here.

Stop the War Coalition (STWC) article here.

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Salma Yaqoob: Why the EDL march must be banned from Birmingham

“The English Defence League claimed they only came to protest against Islamic extremism but they actually came to spread hatred and division.

One of their ringleaders, Paul Ray, made his intentions very clear when he stated, on TalkSport Radio, ‘his opposition to all Muslims practising their faith in Britain’.

Everyone has a right to their opinions but no one has the right to incite hatred on the basis of faith or race.

I am concerned there is an equivalence being made between these people, who came to provoke trouble, and people who stand against fasicsm and racism. There is no equivalence and it is wrong that people have been allowed to come into the city centre with this intent for trouble.

The fascists wants to see social disorder, especially scenes of violence between Muslim youth and white people, because then they can hold it up as ‘evidence’ of the ‘failure’ of multiculturalism.

Of course, our message is ‘do not be provoked’. We don’t want to see any scenes of violence in our Birmingham city centre; but the reality is they know some of these tactics have worked as in the past in Burnley, Oldham and Stoke where they instigated race riots and since that polarisation, they have benefited in their votes.

I believe the English Defence League’s so-called ‘protests’ are simply a repeat of this formula which they want to bring to Birmingham and other cities across the country.

I call on politicians from all parties, civic leaders and faith representatives to condemn the racist intent behind these so-called demonstrations and also call for the banning of any future such protests in our city.

Luton has also seen protests by the EDL and Casuals United, which have resulted in violence, and the police there have actually responded to a public outcry about this by calling for a ban.

Chief Superintendent Andy Frost, Divisional Commander for Luton police, said:
“The risk the proposed marches pose to public safety has left us with no alternative but to apply for a banning order.”

Alan Johnson, the Home Office Minister, granted this banning order in Luton, because he received over 14,000 letters directly to himself and the Chief Constable there, saying that they wanted a ban.

I urge people in Birmingham to write to Alan Johnson, as well as to the Chief Constable here to urge for a similar ban.

I love being a Brummie, I’m proud that Birmingham is a multicultural and diverse city. Let’s not be divided by the racists.”

To request a ban, please write to:

Alan Johnson MP (Home Secretary): public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Chief Constable Chris Simms (West Midlands Police): contactus@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

VIDEO: Salma Yaqoob | Public Meeting: Birmingham united against fascism



Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob, joined by Adrian Goldberg, Khalid Mahmood MP, John Hemming MP, Cllr Judy Foster, Chief Insp Adrian Atherley and Apache Indian, calls on the West Midlands Police to ban a march by far-right groups planned for September; following the violence erupted amidst an EDL – Casuals United demonstration on 8th August in the city.

Date: Sunday 23rd August 2009
Venue: Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1.

Gallery: Birmingham United against Racism meeting – 23.08.09

Images from the cross-party meeting in the Birmingham Council House calling for a ban on EDL and far-right marches in the city; attended by Adrian Goldberg, John Hemming MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, councillor Judy Foster, councillor Salma Yaqoob, Apache Indian and Chief Insp Adrian Atherley. Chaired by Waseem Zaffar.

More to come…

Gallery: Gaza rally, march & demonstration, Birmingham – 17.01.09

Images from the 5000-strong Gaza rally, march and demonstration, which took place in Victoria Square, Birmingham, on Saturday 17th January, 2009.

More images at the Birmingham Respect facebook group here.

Images: Adam Yosef

Gallery: ‘Stop Gaza Massacre’ National Demonstration 02.01.09

Images from the first national demonstration against the Israeli massacre in Gaza. The demonstration and rally took place on Saturday 3rd January, 2009 and attracted 100,000 demonstrators.

More images at the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition facebook group here.