Ken does it again
This paper has reported before on Ken Livingstone’s strange admiration for the fundamentalist Kuwaiti/Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Now he has thanked an organisation set up to campaign against gay Muslims for supporting his pro-Qaradawi stance.
“Your support is very much appreciated”, Ken wrote to the “Straight Way Foundation”, an allegedly Muslim organisation with links to the Christian fundamentalist “National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality”. Both organisations seek to “convert” gay people to heterosexuality by dubious “therapy” which causes serious psychological harm to gay people.
Another aim of “Straight Way” is to force gay people of Muslim background back into the closet by putting pressure on them in their communities and denouncing gay Muslim groups such as al-Fatiha.
The “Straight Way Foundation” has also republished on its website an article by al-Qaradawi advocating the death penalty for gay sex, and it republishes articles from the “Islamic Party of Britain”, a tiny far-right group, which goes even further, advocating the death penalty for any public display of same-sex affection. Perhaps this is what Ken means when he calls al-Qaradawi a “moderate”!
Clearly these people are fanatical reactionaries, and Livingstone’s “appreciation” for them has given rise to a great deal of anger, both inside and outside the Greater London Authority. As Brett Lock of Outrage! points out, “If the BNP had written to the Mayor expressing its support for the congestion charge, I doubt he would have sent back a polite and grateful reply”.
Starving? Have an oil well
A new report, “Pumping Poverty: Britain’s Department for International Development and the Oil Industry”, investigates the role of the oil industry in the allocation of aid to developing countries by the DFID. This money is supposed to go to help the world’s poorest people, but the report finds that, in the name of “development”, it often finds its way into the pockets of large oil companies.
These companies often pay poverty wages when they operate in developing countries and do nothing to help the local communities. Sometimes — like Shell in Nigeria — they are even guilty of human rights abuses against local people who do not want the capitalist model of development.
“Pumping Poverty” will be released on 17 March.
Stop the war?
Five Iranian asylum seekers, members of the Political Association of Iranian Refugees, are walking from Birmingham to London to express their opposition to Bush’s sabre-rattling against Iran (see page 2).
They will arrive in London in time for the Stop the War demonstration on Saturday 19 March.
On their way they have been welcomed by everybody from the Greens and Respect to pro-asylum campaigns and Labour Party branches.
Stop the War itself, however is less than enthusiastic. When asked if the brave Iranians could speak at the demo, they refused, saying they would not have the platform used for attacks on the Iranian government! Our enemy’s enemy is our friend, and if you happen to be under threat of death from our enemy’s enemy, shut up.
TV dog's dinner
Channel Four screened two programmes last week putting the case for and against immigration. The first, presented by Kenan Malik, argued a forceful and statistically-based case in favour of abolishing immigration controls. The most telling statistic is that the average British person thinks Britain takes 25% of the world’s refugees; the actual figure is 2.5%. The media and politicians have inflated the issue out of all proportion.
The second programme, presented by the well-known reactionary Rod Liddle, was frankly racist. Bizarrely, Liddle claims that no-one is prepared to speak out against asylum (what about the Sun and the Daily Express, every day?!) Liddle’s argument for Britain being “swamped” by immigrants: an observation that commuter trains were overcrowded (it’s the blacks’ fault, apparently) and at describing immigrants as “rabbits who are giving everyone AIDS”.
Pending your prosecution for inciting racial hatred, Mr Liddle, go back to whining about nothing in the stinking pages of the Spectator, and leave TV alone!
Taking the money
On 9 March the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) voted the Cambridge Socialist Alliance (CSA) our of existence — at its first meeting since February 2004 — and walked off with over £900, 75% of its funds for the SWP’s favoured fronts.
In February 2004 the SWP had pushed through decisions which gave them carte blanche on when to call meetings and to get the CSA to “fully engage in the creation of a ‘Respect’ coalition locally and support ‘Respect’ national initiatives”. But there were no CSA meetings. And non-SWP members, with certain targeted exceptions, were not circulated with information about ‘Respect’.
Procedural confusion and an amendment for which the SWP had not been prepared split the SWP bloc vote, resulting in agreement that 50%, rather than 80% originally proposed, go to Respect. This left a proposal on the table that 25% go to ‘Stop the War’ and 25% to an anti-deportation campaign. A further amendment was then proposed: 12.5% to the “Stop the War Coalition”, and 12.5% to the TUC Appeal for Iraqi Trade Unionists.
But the SWP were not prepared to donate a penny to Iraqi trade unionists. In an incredible display of ignorance, the SWP argued that the TUC had had “the wool pulled over its eyes” (sic), that the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions was run by the Iraqi Communist Party, and that the Iraqi Communist Party were collaborators.
Have any other local SA groups been plundered in this way? Write to us and let us know.