Tag Archive: middle-east



Dressed in black shirts with faces hidden by helmets, ten men on motorbikes came to find him on a Saturday, after darkness fell.

Finding the door bolted at his home in a pot-holed Athens side street, they smashed the windows, broke in and trashed the place. Then, their dirty work done, the neo-Nazi gang roared away into the hot evening. It had taken less than a minute for them to sound an ugly warning that foreigners were not welcome in Greece.

Their target was Imam Shahbaz Siddiqi, a 42-year-old spiritual leader of the Greek capital’s 500,000 Muslims. ‘I was at the mosque praying when they searched for me the other night,’ he told me yesterday. ‘I thank God for that, or else I might now be dead.

‘During the night I went three times to the police station to report the break-in. At the desk I was told that the officers did not have time to investigate my complaint. They were too busy. There is one law for the Greek people and another for us immigrants.’

The attack on Imam Siddiqi is the latest racist outrage by neo-Nazis in a country riddled with xenophobia. In an era of crushing debt and poverty, the immigrant is blamed for almost every Greek ill.

On the same weekend, a young Pakistani immigrant, Hussein Abbas, was viciously attacked outside his home in Elefsina on the outskirts of Athens by the men in dark shirts. He ended up in hospital, his face smashed to a bloody pulp.

So dangerous are the streets for foreigners that the U.S. State Department has sent out a warning to dark-skinned American visitors that they must be careful of their safety when they leave their hotels.

A shocking internet video shows leaders of the anti-immigrant Far-Right Golden Dawn party — which has 18 MPs — marching into an ethnic street market at Rafina, an hour’s drive from Athens, destroying the stalls with wooden clubs and scattering the merchandise to the ground.

‘We found a few illegal immigrants selling their wares without permits,’ says Giorgos Germenis, one of the party’s MPs. ‘We did what our party has to do and then went to church to pay respects to the Madonna.’

Of course, it is not just immigrants who are subject to the fury of the Greek masses. Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens to taunts from 50,000 protesters, many waving swastikas and dressed in Nazi uniforms.

There were banners proclaiming ‘From Hitler to Merkel’, which harked back to the hated Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II — and which surely made a mockery of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU last week.

The German Chancellor, too, is blamed for the social turmoil crippling this country, which faces further austerity cutbacks on her orders and those of eurozone finance ministers.

The descent of Greece into chaos could not be more different from the halcyon days after the country joined the European Union 31 years ago, and then milked the system for all its worth.

Early retirement, generous state-paid pensions, countless millions on the public payroll and institutionalised tax fraud were a way of life. Hairdressers, for example, were listed among the 600 ‘professions’ allowed to retire at 50 with a state pension of 95 per cent of their final year’s earnings on account of the ‘arduous and perilous’ nature of their work.

Now the big, fat EU gravy train has hit the buffers, drastic austerity measures mean pay rates and pensions have been slashed and taxes are going sky high in a frantic bid to balance the books. The retirement age is to be raised to 67.

Greece is in its fifth consecutive year of recession, something that no European country has endured in the past 65 years, except in wartime. Half of the young are jobless and a third of stores in Athens have closed.

And yet the EU is demanding a further £12 billion of spending cuts before they will hand over another emergency bailout of £35 billion to stop the country going bankrupt.

Soup kitchens are feeding once well-to-do Athenians and homeless hostels are full of the middle class who have been forced to sell their homes and are struggling to take in what has befallen them so fast. Little wonder there is such anger on the streets.

Some speculate that civil breakdown and the unravelling of democracy in Greece may be just around the corner.

Last week as Chancellor Merkel visited, protests were outlawed in Athens. No one took the slightest notice of the rules, as Molotov cocktails were hurled by rioters at police guarding parliament and ordinary people cheered them on.

It is from this cauldron of bewilderment and fury that the neo- Nazis and their triumphant party, Golden Dawn, have emerged with such sudden popularity.

As 71-year-old Doukas Thanassis, queuing for lentils in a smart grey suit at a church-run soup kitchen in central Athens, told me defiantly: ‘I voted for the party. They are the only ones who help us in this time of trouble.

‘Every Wednesday you can buy the party’s newspaper at the local street kiosk. It prints a list of places where Golden Dawn hand out food and even medicines to the Greek people. They pay for ambulances to take us to hospital if we are ill.’

Mr Thanassis, the former head chef on a Greek cruise line who lives in a homeless hostel, adds: ‘These free gifts are only for us Greeks, not for foreigners. The meat in the sandwiches they give us is pork so the Muslim migrants don’t come and scrounge it. These foreigners shouldn’t be here anyway.’

Beside him, others in the queue nod approvingly.

Even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party (Centre Right) running an unruly coalition with Left-wingers, blames Greece’s woes on ‘waves of illegal immigrants’ from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and north and sub-Saharan Africa, who smuggle themselves over the Turkish border for a new life.

Mr Samaras says that with 1.5 million recent arrivals in a country of 11 million Greeks, the immigrants are ‘creating extremism’ and feeding the extraordinary popularity of Golden Dawn.

When I visited Greece in May, Golden Dawn was a name that was barely whispered. Today the party has a foothold in parliament — with 18 of the 300 seats — and talk of the neo-Nazi party’s popularity is on everyone’s lips.

In cafes, taxis and bars, Greeks of all ages and social backgrounds discuss the latest official poll prediction that Golden Dawn would claim 22 per cent of the vote — rather than the 6.9 per cent it garnered in June’s national poll — if a general election were called tomorrow. Almost a quarter of those under 25 support the party.

If the same political swing was happening in Britain, it would mean that 60 Parliamentary seats would be in the hands of extreme Right-wingers.

‘And don’t compare these people to the British National Party or the English Defence League,’ a Greek professor warned recently. ‘They make the BNP look like Julie Andrews.’

It is an open secret that a Greek who thinks he has a problem with migrants can call a special number at Golden Dawn to get their brutal style of help.

I was told the disturbing story of an Athenian lady of 60 whose central city apartment with wood floors and fine drapes was taken over by Pakistani and Bangladeshi squatters while she visited her family in Crete.

She returned to find the door barred and graffiti at the entrance to the block telling the owner to stay away.

She called the special number. A man on the line told her to stay with friends for a week and everything would be all right, so she took the advice.

Seven days on, she went back to her apartment. The place was empty of the interlopers. The curtains had been cleaned, the floor polished, and she moved back in. Urban myth, ethnic cleansing or proof that Golden Dawn gets things done? Many Greeks prefer to believe the last of these.

As 54-year-old Agnes Bakas, sitting in the sun at a coffee bar in Attika Square, Athens, said: ‘Every Athenian knows Golden Dawn will send their people to help a Greek.’

On the white wall behind her, a Nazi swastika is painted and the kiosk selling newspapers under the trees is a known meeting place for young Golden Dawn supporters who gather menacingly with their motorbikes and black shirts.

But this does not bother Agnes. She says: ‘This square was full of immigrants, but Golden Dawn cleared them out. I was robbed seven times before that near my home down the road. Even my necklace was pulled from me by an African. I could not have sat here safely, even in the day, a year ago.’

Whatever the accuracy of her story, Golden Dawn has taken full advantage of claims of immigrant crime. The party has widespread support among the rank-and-file Greek police (the Golden Dawn vote soared at the polling booths near police stations in Athens) and peddles the line that 37 Greeks have been killed by immigrants in the past few years.

A vicious attack and rape of a 15-year-old Greek girl by a Pakistani illegal migrant aged 23 on the island of Paros this summer played into the party’s hands. The Pakistani admitted the crime and the girl, battered over the head with a rock, is still in intensive care in a hospital near her home in Athens.

Academics in Greece warn of disturbing parallels between the rise of the Right today in an economically crippled country indebted to the EU and the rise of the Nazis in the Thirties after hyper-inflation in Germany’s Weimar Republic led to economic collapse.

Between the wars, you may recall, an indebted Germany was forced to make huge reparation payments to the victorious Allies of the Great War as a punishment for starting the conflict. The German people felt humiliated, just as the Greeks feel hostile to their eurozone masters and Mrs Merkel today.

The Nazis claimed their first parliamentary seats even as they were garnering the local support of Germans by sending out gangs of ‘storm troopers’ to terrorise Jewish and immigrant communities and blame them for the troubles of the time. It sounds horribly familiar.

As Nickos Dermetzis, a professor of political science at the Athens University, explains: ‘We have a major socio-economic crisis in which native Greeks are losing ground. You also have a rising number of immigrants, many illegal.

‘This is a volcanic situation where all the classic parameters for the flourishing of a Far-Right force such as Gold Dawn are present.’

Of course, it does not help that police are struggling to cope with the huge numbers of illegal immigrants arriving daily in Greece. Their sweeps of immigrants happen regularly in Athens and the port of Patras, a three-hour drive away, where a thousand immigrants doss down in disused factory buildings near the promenade. They wait, hoping to smuggle themselves on to freight and passenger ferries going to Italy.

Ten days ago, 350 Afghanis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were picked up in Patras and put in holding centres. As one disgruntled resident, a man in his 50s living near the promenade, said: ‘They only took a few and so many are here. I am no racist, but this town used to be paradise. The police sweeps are a merry-go-round. The ones they took today will be back next week, wait and see.’

It is a viewpoint supported by Andreas Nicolacopoulos. The 59-year-old architect is a leading light in the Patras Golden Dawn party.

‘The Greek people don’t want illegal immigrants,’ he says. ‘They have to be deported to their own countries. We have to stop them coming in, too. We will lay landmines at the Turkish-Greek border to blow them up so they do not enter our country. We have promised our voters this.’

Golden Dawn also wants to make immigrant criminals serve double the prison terms of their Greek counterparts and introduce capital punishment for foreign murderers.

Back in Athens, I meet Golden Dawn’s spokesman, MP Iliopoulos Panagiotis, at the Greek Parliament building.

The face of this 34-year-old former internet marketing executive can be seen clearly on the video of immigrants being attacked at the market by Golden Dawn’s louts.

Mr Panagiotis is in bullish form. He boasts that the party is so popular that at the next election it will be the second biggest in Greece. ‘In a few years, we expect to be the biggest of them all,’ he says.

The party’s MPs arrogantly puff on cigarettes even though smoking is banned inside the parliament building. They wear black shirts with the word ‘Hooligans’ emblazoned in orange on the sleeve. They have tattoos on their arms.

And on the walls are the blue flags stamped with the party’s swastika-style logo, an ancient Greek symbol.

The official Golden Dawn line is that they are not Nazis, even neo-Nazis, but nationalists wanting to save Greece for the Greek.

So what does Mr Panagiotis plan for illegal immigrants? ‘We will fly every one of them home,’ he says.

‘Even Pakistan would not dare shoot our planes down when their own people are on board and would be killed.’

And what does he think of the racist Golden Dawn gangs that systematically beat up those who were not born Greek?

‘We have a million supporters, some of them wilder elements. We cannot control them all,’ he says with a smirk.

It is hard to believe that his words are those of an elected MP in the Parliament of a modern democracy. Yet anything is possible now in Greece, as the unpalatable face of fascism makes an unwelcome return to Europe.

Liz Fekete talks about whether Islamophobia serves a function; drawing on her recent research into the Oslo massacre and the European-wide assault on multiculturalism, Liz contextualises Islamophobia in terms of the policies that give credence to the new politics of hate. She warns that as austerity measures begin to bite, processes which scapegoat and stigmatised foreigners, vulnerable minorities and anyone deemed ‘different’ for society’s ills are strengthened and the politics of fear and the manipulation of division are part and parcel of wider pro war, neo-liberal and neo-conservative agendas

Below is a video of an egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy arrested for defacing a ‘savage’ anti-Jihad ad and therefore protesting against its racism connotations

More than 10 years ago, the 9/11 attacks left a gaping hole in New York – and across the US as a whole. This open wound continues to divide communities to this day. In this two-part documentary, Al Jazeera follows the stories of some of those caught up in the anti-terrorist crackdown that followed 9/11 as they speak out about the injustices they have endured and their fears of a rising Islamophobia.

Part 1

Part 2


By Max Blumenthal

The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three US diplomats were killed in attacks and rioting provoked by an obscure, low-budget anti-Muslim film called “The Innocence of Muslims.” The producer of the film is a real estate developer supposedly named “Sam Bacile” who claims to be an Israeli Jew. Bacile told the AP the film was made with $5 million raised from “100 Jewish donors.” He said he was motivated to help his native country, Israel, by exposing the evils of Islam.

While Bacile claims to be in hiding, and his identity remains murky, another character who has been publicly listed as a consultant on the film is a known anti-Muslim activist with ties to the extreme Christian right and the militia movement. He is Steve Klein, a Hemet, California based insurance salesman who claims to have led a “hunter-killer team” in Vietnam.”

Klein is a right-wing extremist who emerged from the same axis of Islamophobia that produced Anders Behring Breivik and which takes inspiration from the writings of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Daniel Pipes.

It appears Klein (or someone who shares his name and views) is an enthusiastic commenter on Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugged, where he recently complained about Mitt Romney’s “support for a Muslim state in Israel’s Heartland.” In July 2011, Spencer’s website, Jihad Watch, promoted a rally Klein organized alongside the anti-Muslim Coptic extremist Joseph Nasrallah to demand the firing of LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, whom they painted as a dupe for Hamas.

Klein is also closely affiliated with the Christian right in California, organizing resentment against all the usual targets — Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, and even Mormons. He is a board member and founder of a group called Courageous Christians United, which promotes anti-Mormon, anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim literature (including the work of Robert Spencer) on its website. In 2002, Klein ran for the California Insurance Commissioner under the American Independent Party, an extremist fringe party linked to the militia movement, garnering a piddling 2 percent of the vote.

Klein has been closely affiliated with the Church at Kaweah, an extreme evangelical church located 70 miles southeast of Fresno that serves as a nexus of neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist, and militia movement elements. The Southern Poverty Law Center produced a report on Kaweah this spring that noted Klein’s long record of activist against Muslims:

Over the past year, Johnson and the church militia have developed a relationship with Steve Klein, a longtime religious-right activist who brags about having led a “hunter killer” team as a Marine in Vietnam. Klein, who calls Islam a “penis-driven religion” and thinks Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca is a Muslim Brotherhood patsy, is allied with Christian activist groups across California. In 2011, as head of the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, he worked with the Vista, Calif.-based Christian Anti-Defamation Commission on a campaign to “arm” students with the “truth about Islam and Muhammad” — mainly by leafleting high schools with literature depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed pedophile.

Klein, based in Hemet, Calif., has been active in extremist movements for decades. In 1977, he founded Courageous Christians United, which now conducts “respectful confrontations” outside of abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques. Klein also has ties to the Minuteman movement. In 2007, he sued the city of San Clemente for ordering him to stop leafleting cars with pamphlets opposing illegal immigration.

Like many other activists who fashion themselves as “counter-Jihadists,” Klein has organized against the construction of mosques in his area. While leafleting against a planned mosque in Temecula, California, which he claimed would herald the introduction of Shariah law to the quiet suburb, Klein remarked, “It all comes down to the first amendment. I don’t care if you disagree with me. Just don’t cut off my head.”

Klein appears to be allied with the National American Coptic Assembly, a radical Islamophobic group headed by Morris Sadik. Sadik claims to have discovered the film and began promoting it online. Once it went viral, the trailer was translated into Arabic, sparking outrage in the Middle East, and ultimately, to the deadly attacks carried out by Muslim extremists today.

Klein claims credit for inspiring “Sam Bacile” to produce “The Innocence of Muslims,” promising him he would be “the next Theo Van Gogh,” referring to the Dutch columnist who was murdered by a Muslim extremist. Of the attacks in Libya, Klein said, “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”

Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) is an NGO that actively works towards abolishing the arms trade.The arms trade has a devastating impact in the fields of security, human rights and human rights. Arms dealers (such as Lockheed Martin) have a history of selling to tyrannical regimes with recorded human rights abuses and in terms of conflict, an arms dealer can supply weapons to both sides which can exacerbate the conflict. Arms dealers have sold weapons at extortionate rates, weapons which have proved to be worthless and many of which never have fulfilled the purpose for which they were made in the first place.

The arms trade is an industry that has raked profits by taxation and war.

In seeking to end the arms trade, CAAT’s priorities are:

-to stop the procurement or export of arms where they might:
–exacerbate conflict, support aggression, or increase tension
–support an oppressive regime or undermine democracy
–threaten social welfare through the level of military spending

-to end all government political and financial support for arms exports
and to promote progressive demilitarisation within arms-producing countries.

CAAT considers that security needs to be seen in much broader terms that are not dominated by military and arms company interests. A wider security policy would have the opportunity to reallocate resources according to actual threats and benefits, including addressing major causes of insecurity such as inequality and climate change.

CAAT values the diversity of opinion amongst its supporters and is committed to nonviolence in all its work.

To find out more about CAAT, please check their website here

related documentaries:

Merchants of War
Why We Fight? Documentary on the US Military Industrial Complex

In this excellent lecture Jeremy Scahill, author of the book Blackwater: The rise of the worlds most powerful mercenary army, gives insight in to Americas current covert operations in the Muslim world including the targeted use of drones, Islamophobia , authorisation of killing american citizens without due process and more…an excellent lecture

Salaams and peace to everyone I am Mizan and i am the research director for VIP minds and I am a member of a movement called the peace network.

Since tonights event is called ‘Peace Not War’. It is really important for us as a community to talk about one of the ideological undercurrents that is serving to sustain and drive western imperialist ventures abroad, specifically in the middle east.
In the last decade we have seen the rise of various Islamophobes and Islamophobic groups such as the Dutch MP and Zionist geert wilders in the Netherlands, his friend, fellow US blogger and supporter of Zionism Pamela Geller and the most successful group in Europe, the English Defence League who are also supporters of Zionism.

We are living at a time where the anti-muslim movement is really reaching its peak. Any act that is deemed anti-muslim is categorised under the term ‘Islamophobia’ but as we as a community respond to the outward manifestations of Islamophobia, in order to respond appropriately we need to understand 2 things 1) what exactly is Islamophobia and 2) where does it fit within politics today?

In order to give a definition of Islamophobia, many muslim organisations and individuals have defined it as a type of racism, but Islamophobes respond to this claim by saying that Islamophobia is not racism because Islam is not a race. In order to derive a correct definition of Islamophobia, the author and academic Chris Allen in his new book which he entitled ‘Islamophobia’ described the chronological evolution of the term and all acts related to it in the UK, before redefining Islamophobia as

“an ideology, similar in theory, function and purposes to racism and other similar phenomena that sustains and perpetuates negatively evaluated meaning about Muslims and Islam in the contemporary setting in similar ways to that which it has historically, although not necessarily as a continuum, subsequently pertaining, influencing and impacting upon social action, interaction, response and so on, shaping and determining understanding perceptions and attitudes in the social consensus – the shared languages and conceptual maps – that inform constructive thinking about Islam and Muslims as the other” (pg 190)

So Islamophobia is an ideology that depicts muslims as the ‘Other’ but why is it so big now and how does it help sustain imperialism abroad?

In their report ‘Islamophobia and anti-muslim hate crime: UK case studies 2010’ the authors Dr Robert Lambert and Dr Jonothan Githens Mazer state

“Above all the war on terror has set the tone for creating a climate of fear in the UK in which suspicion depicted towards fellow citizens who are Muslims has become intrusive and pejorative creating negative stereotyping of the worst kind” (pg 99)

So what is it about the war on terror that is creating so much hatred?

Page 362 of the 9/11 commission report states

“But the enemy is not just terrorism, some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by islamist terrorism, especially the al qaeda network, its affiliates and its ideology”

In his article ‘War on ideology’ for the New York times, David brookes wrote

“The 9/11 commission report argues that we have to fight this war on 2 fronts. We have to use intelligence, military, financial and diplomatic capabilities to fight al qaeda. Thats where most of the media attention is focused. But the bigger fight is with the hostile belief system that cant be ransomed with but can only be isolated or utterly destroyed”

It is this aspect of the war on terror, the ideological war that has created an industry where funds can be allocated to groups or individuals who are critical of Islam and promote western democracy as the organisation FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) Stated in their publication ‘Smearcasting: How islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation’

“The war on terror has bolstered a class of Islamophobic self proclaimed Islamic terrorism experts”

So if i could just give you one example, on the 12th February 2009 Far Right Dutch MP Geert wilders attempted to enter the UK to show his first anti-islam film called “Fitna” at the house of lords through the invitation of 2 members of the house of lords Lord pearson and baroness cox. He was turned away at the airport as the Home office deemed his presence ‘not conducive to the public good’ but this was one of the biggest stories of that time and he got worldwide publicity for his film fitna whose viewership went in to the millions not just in the UK but worldwide. However what the mainstream press is that his views on Islam and Muslims didn’t develop due to his visits to the Muslim world as he states, they developed because in his teens, he went to Israel and stayed in an Israeli settlement which was pioneered by labour Zionists which is illegal under international law.
The exact settlement that he stayed in was called Moshav Tomer which is located near the Jordan Valley which is in itself a strategic location for Israels security. According to the grassroots Palestinian movement the Jordan Valley Solidarity

“The Israeli cabinet adopted a project to encourage young Israeli couples to settle in the Jordan Valley, including promising and plans to develop the agricultural and tourism levels in the area and to confiscate more Palestinian land for settlement expansion”

It was here where he developed his views on Israel and Muslims. This was confirmed in the BBC documentary called ‘Wilders: Europes most dangerous man’, where his long term friend who wilders met at the settlement, Arieh Eldad, a staunch supporter of Israel as an independent Jewish state and MP of the Islamophobic racist Hatikvai party was asked if Wilders needed any convincing in regards to the idea of Israel being a sovereign jewish state, Mr eldad replied
“I didn’t think i have to convince him. I thought. I thought he was very familiar with the plan and i think he realised that maybe the realistic plan to assure stable situation in the middle east where Israel is safe”
Upon returning to the Netherlands, Geert wilders became an MP. During his tenor as an MP, the dutch secret service noted he had visited the Dutch Israeli embassy over a dozen times and they suspected that he was giving them information and subsequently receiving instructions from the Israeli embassy.

In regards to his film, Fitna, which has been seen worldswide, the dutch news network in the Netherlands stated in their article ‘Wilders and the US Israel lobby’

“So what of Israel? Vrij Nederland covered that angle last year. Interesting part of the narrative was the trail behind wilders film fitna, which appeared in many scenes to be very close (if not an identical copy) of the earlier 80 minute documentary Obsession: Radical islams war against the west”
This DVD documentary called ‘Obsession: Radical Islams war against the west’ Was funded by a US pro-Israeli group called the Aish Hatorah foundation and distributed freely among 28 million newspapers in America which spread Islamophobia to get more people to vote for senator mccain and not barrack obama in the US presidential elections. The fact that wilders film fitna contains scenes from this DVD film ‘Obsession’ shows that fitna contains within it, scenes that were created for pro-israeli propaganda purposes that millions of people have been manipulated by. He said he is working on a second instalment of the film.

So Islamophobia is an ideology that is being used to sustain Imperialism, but what can we do about it? Since islaophobes want to influence policy and their messages regularly get out in to the media that influence the public, Muslim youth can get involved with various Muslim civil liberty organisations such as MPAC, Iengage etc to lobby against the many islamophobia MP’s that we have in parliament. We should also engage with the media, write letters to the editors if there is a story in the newspapers or on TV about Muslims that is simply isn’t true. However i’d just like to end of by saying that Islamophobia is an ideology that seeks to win hearts and minds, if we are to win the hearts and minds of the public, muslims should get involved in Dawah activities and organisations such as the Islamic Education and Research Academy. So in order to tackle politically get involved with muslim civil liberty organisations, lobby MP’s and write letters to the media however if you want to tackle Islamophobia from a grassroots perspective, commit acts of violence against groups like the EDL wont serve any purpose except to reinforce Islamophobia so if you want to tackle it ideologically, be good practicing muslims, do good things for your neighbours and the local community and get involved in dawah initiatives that will contextualise the misinformation that is out there about Islam and muslims because that and only that, will win hearts and minds.