Solidarity 100, 20 October 2006

Yes to secularism, no to racism

Published on: Sat, 10/03/2007 - 10:44

By John O’Mahony

Jack Straw’s article three weeks ago about the wearing of the hijab has unleashed a large and very important public discussion about the relationship of Muslims to the rest of British society.

Ministers including the Prime Minster have taken sides with — in the case of most of those who have spoken — or against, Straw’s position that Muslims are at fault in holding on to social-religious mores and practices which cut them off from others in Britain, behind self-erected and self-sustained cultural walls.

Straw in his article, and Blair in his comments, have been at pains to

Gangster Rap! Lenin and Joe Columbo

Published on: Sat, 25/11/2006 - 13:15

Sean Matgamna

by Sean Matgamna
The story of Joe Columbo, the Mafia boss who briefly turned ethnic politician, is one of the most frightening stories I've come across. An instructive story, too. It sheds some light on the "nihilist", quasi-Anarchist attitudes of some of those involved in the recent riots, and of the issues thereby posed to socialists.


Perhaps significantly, the year is 1970. In the USA there is a huge anti-Vietnam-war movement. The USA has also experienced the black civil rights movement and the black ghetto uprisings. It is a highly political period in American history.

When the

Defend abortion rights!

Published on: Mon, 23/10/2006 - 18:57

130 MPs have signed a parliamentary “Early Day Motion” calling for a review of abortion law. This is despite a recent government review of the law. No prizes for guessing that they don’t have an “objective”, “neutral” review in mind. The EDM is sponsored by Geraldine Smith MP, a member of the All Party Parliamentary “pro-life” group which is opposed to all abortion. Indeed a large proportion of the signatories — including one George Galloway MP — are on record as being opposed to abortion.

The sponsors want to reduce the legal time limit for access to abortion down from the current 24 weeks —

More strikes as Iraq spins into abyss

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:33

BY martin thomas

According to the Federation of Workers’ Councils of Unions, reporting on 11 October, health workers in Kerbala (southern Iraq) have held a sit-in protest, after a strike in early October calling for wage rises.

In Nasiriya (also southern Iraq), health workers have struck four times over wages.

FWCUI says: “The strikes in the health sector have expanded to many provinces” as far as Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq.

This revival of the Iraqi workers’ movement — previously very much on the defensive since a small strike wave in early 2005 — is of tremendous importance, and

Shootings in Venezuela

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:32

As many as twelve miners were gunned down by Venezuelan army troops at the end of September, after taking part in illegal gold mining activity. The incident occurred in the mining zone of La Paragua in Bolivar state.

William Saúd a miners’ union leader said: “The government decided that the environment in the zone should be protected, and that we have to shift to different kinds of work. That’s fine. But where are the programmes, and until they’re implemented, how can miners make a living for their families? There are about 40,000 of us — we support about 200,000 people in Bolívar.”


Bolivian miners fight privatisation

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:30

Sixteen miners have been killed in fights over the control of Huanuni, the biggest tin mine in Bolivia.

The fight was over whether the mine would remain in state hands, or be given to a “co-operative” - essentially privatisation, as such co-ops have a strictly tiered managerial system, no effective workers’ involvement and very low wages for workers employed by the privately controlled board. Trade unions are prohibited.

The Bolivian state company COMIBOL took over control of the mine after the bankruptcy of British owners RBG Resources, leaving management in the hands of the workers. The

Turkey, France and their victims

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:29

By Joan Trevor

On 12 October, the French National Assembly gave a first reading to a bill that would make it a criminal offence to deny the Armenian genocide of 1915-17. The punishment could be up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros. The bill passed by 106 votes to 19.

The bill had been delayed from the spring. In the interim, the Turkish government had objected to its being introduced, but to no avail. The fallout from the vote might include Turkish economic sanctions against France. The European Commission, pursuing negotiations over Turkey’s entry into the EU, said the bill

Workers’ revolt in Bangladesh

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:27

By Sacha Ismail

Bangladesh is convulsed by fierce class struggles, centred around the country’s garment industry. Many tens of thousands of workers have gone on strike, blocked roads, attacked factories and other buildings, demonstrated, fought the police and rioted in the streets. Every day comes news of fresh strikes in a variety of industries — mainly the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, but also mill workers, river transport workers, rail workers, journalists, lecturers and teachers.

The revolt began on 20 May with garment workers’ strikes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka — beginning in a


Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:23

Over 500 Thai textile workers defied the military junta’s ban on public protests to demonstrate in a dispute at their factory.

Workers from the Gina Form Bra Company marched to the US embassy in Bangkok to protest at plans by the company’s owner, Hong Kong’s Clover Group International, to shut their factory at the end of October and relocate to China. The workers manufacture lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, The Gap and other American companies. The factory employs 1,600 workers, 95% of them women.

Workers marched behind a handmade banner made of bras strung together. Many held sticks with

Free to chose?

Published on: Sun, 22/10/2006 - 17:22

By Amy Fisher

The furore over Jack Straw’s comments on the niqab has generated hundreds of column inches from liberal commentators at The Guardian. Many, including David Edgar, quite rightly rail against state bans on religious clothing and stand up for the right to wear whatever you choose. As Edgar says "if we want to have a leg to stand on when we stand up for The Satanic Verses or Behzti or Jerry Springer, we must defend to the death the right to wear it [the niqab]". However, the issue of choice is much more complicated than this.

The spectre of the silenced, oppressed, helpless Muslim

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