ISLAMIC STATE has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 100.
The whole working class movement should stand united in condemning these indiscriminate acts of terror and extend our sympathy and solidarity to the families, friends and bystanders traumatised by these horrific events.
The terrorist campaign across Europe – in Nice, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, London and Manchester – is inspired or orchestrated by IS as it shifts its strategy in response to the approaching destruction of its ‘caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq.
As long as there are small cells or individuals inspired by the terrorist-jihadist ideology of IS or al-Qaeda to launch these suicidal missions, the minimal coordination and basic but brutal methods used, means such attacks cannot ultimately be prevented by the security services.
In the aftermath of these attacks, the labour movement and progressive forces should prepare to strongly oppose attempts by the media and politicians to hold Europe’s Muslims or refugees collectively responsible.
The spike in anti-Muslim violence after the London and Manchester attacks, the firebombing of refugee centres in Germany, and attacks on refugees in Calais, is a reminder of the racists’ and fascists’ determination to exploit grief and anger to turn working people against each other.
The suspicion and fear of Muslims and refugees encouraged by the racist press and politicians whipped up in the aftermath of these atrocities is a deliberate goal of those who orchestrate them. The isolation and alienation of Europe’s Muslims through state harassment and persecution fertilises the soil from which terrorists recruit.
‘Islamic terrorism’ is a conscious attempt to provoke state repression and hostility amongst non-Muslims. That’s why the labour movement should oppose the emergency powers and repressive measures demanded by the state in the wake of these attacks – measures which have signally failed to protect people, and only reinforce the sense that all Muslims are under suspicion.
France is an example of how such measures start out claiming to protect us but are then used to police and suppress labour and progressive movements. Following the atrocities in Nice and Paris, a Sate of Emergency was introduced, allowing the police to ban demonstrations and violate citizens’ rights. President Macron is threatening to transform these ‘emergency measures’ into a permanent state of siege. These measures not only legitimise official persecution of minorities’ but are then used to prevent the working class uniting and organising against them.
The antidote to this is to reject the hypocrisy of our governments and media, and organise a sustained effort to develop links and solidarity and common struggle between European workers, migrants and refugees.
The terroristic targeting of civilians has no justification in any circumstances. But we have to recognise that Europe and Russia has become a target for this terrorist camapaign, because of their record in colonising, exploiting and brutalising North Africa and the Middle East.
For decades our hypocritical ‘democratic’ governments have been pursuing their imperialist interests by systematically bombing and fomenting sectarian and ethnic conflict across the whole region, in defence of ‘human rights’ - alongside our dictatorial ‘allies’.
Their bombings and invasions have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and brought not peace, democracy or human rights but indescribable levels of destruction and suffering. In Syria the work of generations of the country’s workers, the cultural treasures of millennia, have been reduced to rubble. In Yemen, British army officers have coordinated a Saudi scorched earth campaign that has unleashed a ferocious cholera epidemic.
‘Islamic fundamentalism’ is a reaction to the self-serving cynicism and hypocrisy of our rulers – enthusiastically aided by a racist media. Catapulted to power and influence by US support for the Mujahideen in the Afghan civil war, these movements were reinforced by the first Gulf War, the proclamation of the War on Terror, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and then the West’s contrarian support or opposition for the genuinely revolutionary-democratic movements of the Arab Spring. They are a Frankenstein’s monster of our own creation.
At the onset of the 2000s the response of the working class movement to Bush and Blair’s war on terror was a mass antiwar movement, with millions strong demonstrations uniting workers of every colour, religion or nationality against naked imperialist aggression.
But our rulers overcame this opposition and pressed on. Terrorist actions – like the Madrid train bombings of 2004, which killed 192 people, disoriented and diminished the antiwar movement. Tragically, workers in Spain had been in the forefront of the worldwide antiwar movement.
Today, the immediate background to the atrocities in Barcelona and Cambrils’ is the US and its’ allies claim of imminent victory over IS – at the expense of huge indiscriminate loss of life in its strongholds. As allies’ indifference to the scale of destruction wrought by US bombers and sectarian militias becomes known, it will provide fuel for more terrorist ‘revenge’ attacks.
15 years of the war on terror has subjected the populations of the Middle East to unprecedented levels of terror. It has turned Europe’s population into targets for terror.
The only way to escape this vicious cycle is to rebuild a powerful anti-imperialist movement against our rulers’ wars; a movement which can offer real solidarity to the revolutionary, democratic and secular movements fighting dictatorship, religious reaction and imperialist aggression in the Middle East.
Such a movement can play an essential role in ending the suffering and will stand as a powerful tribute to all the innocent victims of terrorism and imperialist war.