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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people                              
Vol. 79/No. 45      December 14, 2015



2002-15 Militant Index
Now Available Online
(lead article)

Rulers in US, France whip up attacks on Muslims


Using the reactionary Islamic State-organized Nov. 13 attacks in France that killed 130 people as a pretext, Paris, Washington and other European imperialist powers continue their assault on working people — especially those who are Muslim or Arab — and are stepping up their military intervention in the Mideast.

Since a state of emergency was imposed in France, cops have searched 2,000 houses, detained 212 people for questioning, brought charges against 250 and put 312 people under house arrest, Bernard Cazeneuve, French interior minister, said in a Nov. 28 speech.

The Paris Climate March, organized with union support and planned for months to take place Nov. 29 on the eve of the United Nations climate summit, was banned. Two dozen environmentalists have been put under house arrest for the duration of the summit, Cazeneuve said, “because they have been violent during demonstrations in the past and because they have said they would not respect the state of emergency.”

Thousands of people, including several rail workers from the Solidaires union, defied the ban and formed a human chain at the site of the cancelled march Nov. 29. Cops tear-gassed the crowd and arrested 317 people.

Repressive actions by the Belgian government have given a green light to anti-Muslim rightists there. A week after Prime Minister Charles Michel threatened to close “certain radical mosques” in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, and after a four-day lockdown of the entire city on grounds of an alleged terror plot, a group calling itself “Christian State” threatened to attack a mosque. “We will slash your brothers throats like pigs and crucify them like our savior to save their souls,” they said.

The German government said Islamist radicals there were trying to recruit newly arrived refugees in the country’s mosques. “They start by saying, ‘We will help you live your faith,’” Torsten Voss, head of the Hamburg branch of the German domestic intelligence agency, told the Wall Street Journal. “The Islamist area comes later — that is, of course, their goal.”

In the U.S., Republicans and Democrats alike claim that Islamic State is growing rapidly, that more attacks are imminent and that Syrian refugees seeking to enter the country are laced with IS operatives. Thirty-one governors have said Syrian refugees are not welcome in their states.

In New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the creation of a special 500-cop Critical Response Command to fight terrorism. During the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 26 the NYPD fielded 2,500 uniformed and plainclothes police officers, including forces from the new anti-terror command.

Many presidential candidates have joined the chorus, scapegoating Muslims and calling for stepped-up U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria.

Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic contender, has taken greater distance from President Barack Obama and his refusal to commit ground troops in the Middle East. At the second Democratic candidates debate Nov. 14, she said IS “cannot be contained, it must be defeated.”

“We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully,” Donald Trump, who’s leading Republicans in the polls, said Nov. 19, adding he wouldn’t rule out registering Muslim Americans with “a special form of identification that noted their religion.”

The vast majority of Muslims find Islamic State abhorrent. IS is a reactionary cult that has been able to establish itself in Syria and Iraq as a consequence of the vacuum of leadership left by decades of betrayals of worker and peasant struggles by Stalinist parties in the region and the exhaustion of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalist forces there.

Increased attacks on Muslims

“I’m going to kill everyone I [sic] there you Muslim f----,” read a death threat received by the Islamic Center of Lexington, Kentucky, Nov. 27. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights organization, reported Nov. 24 “that it has received more reports about acts of Islamophobic discrimination, intimidation, threats and violence targeting American Muslims (or those perceived to be Muslim) and Islamic institutions in the past week-and-a-half than during any other limited period of time since the 9/11 terror attacks.”

The council issued a statement the day of the Paris attacks, saying, “These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification.”

In Peterborough, Ontario, the Masjid al-Salaam mosque was firebombed Nov. 14. The board of nearby Beth Israel Synagogue voted unanimously to invite the Muslim congregation to use its facilities, which the Muslim group accepted.

Imperialist assaults expand

French President Francois Hollande, who launched intensive airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria after the Paris attacks, visited Moscow Nov. 26. The trip followed a meeting with Obama in Washington to drum up support for a “grand, single coalition” to step up attacks.

The effort was set back Nov. 24, when Ankara shot down a Russian warplane it said had entered Turkish airspace. Moscow responded by levying economic sanctions against Turkey. The Russian government claims it is bombing Islamic State, but most of its strikes have targeted opponents of Assad, including the Turkmen forces near the Syria-Turkey border where the plane was shot down.

On Dec. 1 Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced formation of a new special “expeditionary” force to conduct raids in Iraq and Syria. “It puts everybody on notice in Syria that you don’t know at night who is going to be coming in the window,” he told a congressional hearing.

U.S.-led forces have escalated attacks on IS-controlled oil production and transport in eastern Syria. Washington and Baghdad have announced plans to retake the Iraqi city of Ramadi from Islamic State. They dropped leaflets urging residents to flee, but IS, which uses civilians as human shields, has blocked exits from the city. Formerly populated by 500,000 people, Ramadi today is inhabited by several thousand families.

The Obama administration is pressing Ankara to deploy some 30,000 troops along a 60-mile section of Turkey’s border with Syria to cut infiltration by Islamic State forces. Washington is also urging Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States “to build their ground forces and use them,” Carter told the media.

The German government announced plans Nov. 29 to send some 1,200 troops to the Middle East to operate aircraft and ships.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called a Dec. 2 vote in Parliament on joining the war in Syria. New Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, until recently chairman of the Stop the War coalition in Britain, decided against enforcing the “whip” on party members in Parliament, releasing them to vote in favor of Cameron’s motion.
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