Condemn bombings and attempted bombings
A statement issued by the Stop the War Coalition
The attacks on London by suicide bombers on July 7 and July 21, together with the killing of an innocent man by police on July 22 have led to a major increase in tension throughout the country.
This situation imposes new responsibilities on the anti-war movement in articulating the desire of the majority of the British people to see an end to the occupation of Iraq and the "war on terror" and to preserve our fundamental civil liberties in the face of both terrorism and the palpable risk of an authoritarian backlash by the state.
The Stop the War Coalition has condemned unequivocally the bombings and attempted bombings in London. No disagreements with government policy can justify these acts. Those killed and maimed are not the authors of that policy, nor its instruments, nor its beneficiaries. Their killing is as unjustifiable as the killing of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, killings StWC has always condemned.
We have likewise condemned the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. He committed no crime other than having the wrong coloured skin and wearing the wrong clothes. His death is in large part attributable to the anti-Muslim hysteria whipped up by sections of the media, allied to disastrously faulty police intelligence. There can be no question of any support for a "shoot-to-kill" policy implemented in such a climate and in such a fashion.
Regrettably, it is more than likely that we have not seen the last of either suicide bombing or police killings in this country. Under these circumstances, the critical issues we all face are the need to continue to address British foreign policy, to prevent any backlash against the Muslim community and the broader defence of civil liberties.
We reject any attempts to close down debate on these issues, any tendency for analysis to be equated with appeasement, debate with treachery. The search for the root causes of the present problems is not merely defensible, it is essential. Those supporters of the Iraq war in government or in the media who are presently trying to deny debate, lest it implicate the policies they have advocated, are not serving the interests of the British people.
85% of the British people now believe that there is a connection between the London bombings and the Iraq conflict. This linkage is acknowledged by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the famous Chatham House think tank, amongst others. This argument is all but over.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq is shorthand for wider concerns about Anglo-US foreign policy, as well as being a catastrophe in itself. These other concerns include the failure to secure justice for the Palestinian people, the occupation of Afghanistan, the imprisonment for years without trial at Guantanamo Bay and the continued support for despotisms like that in Saudi Arabia, as well as earlier problems such as the immense suffering caused by the sanctions regime against Iraq. We repeat that none of these issues can justify what was done on July 7 or attempted on July 21, but nor can they be ignored if there is to be any hope of avoiding a repetition.
We reject the view that the terrorism is rooted in Muslim fanaticism. This mistakes form for content. It is no more real than saying that George Bush is following a "Christian fundamentalist" foreign policy, or that the IRA was animated by Catholicism rather than the Irish national question.
The attempt by the Prime Minister to locate the problem as simply "evil ideology" stokes the danger of a violent backlash against British Muslims, as well as being a wholly inadequate explanation of events. It may be convenient for Tony Blair to avoid confronting the part played by his own mistakes, but this rhetoric can only add to the climate of panic. The Stockwell shooting is the most extreme expression of this panic to date. It must be said loud and clear: neither Muslims nor Islam are the problem. Terrorism is rooted in real problems here on earth.
In particular, the StWC expresses its solidarity with the Muslim Association of Britain, our partners in the anti-war movement. Major attempts are being made to demonise MAB, no doubt because of its active political role in opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Immense pressure is presently being placed on British Muslim leaders to back the government's policy in this crisis. This seems to have less to do with the security situation and more to do with giving the government shelter from criticism of its policies which have contributed to the disaffection of large numbers of people, both Muslim and others.
It is totally unacceptable for ministers and media pundits to nowassert that Muslims must "choose between democracy and terrorism". British Muslims have already overwhelmingly rejected terror for democracy. It was the government itself which ignored the views of the British people when it took this country to war against Iraq in defiance of majority opinion. Hundreds of thousands of British Muslims marched on February 15, and protested around the country against the war, most for the first time. They were ignored, democracy was denied. This contributes to the conditions that drive desperate and foolish people to commit terrible criminal acts.
Today, the unity of the anti-war movement is more vital than ever. We must stand up for peace and freedom. The trade unions, peace and human rights organisations, socialists, liberals and Greens, the nationalists in Scotland and Wales, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and other religious groups must stand together for our common values.
We must stand with the Muslim community in its time of trial and resist panic legislation which will do little to make people safer while handing vast new powers to the state and the expense of individual and collective liberties.
Above all, we must redouble our campaign to secure the complete withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. We should not do this because of July 7, but because it is right.
It is right because of the 100,000 civilian deaths recorded since the occupation began, many of them violent, and most of these attributable to the occupying forces. Right because of the terrorism that has mushroomed in Iraq since Britain and the US unlawfully constituted themselves the authority there.
Right because of the terrible economic and social dislocation after two years of occupation. Right because of the torture and degradation of civilians carried out by British and US forces at Abu Ghraib and Camp Breadbasket. Right because the reasons advanced for the war have all been shown to be false, because the war was illegal, and the occupation is a continuing affront to international law. And right because of the 92 British soldiers killed, and the hundreds wounded, in the course of this adventure which has demonstrably failed to make our country safer.
We must campaign for the troops to be withdrawn no later than Christmas this year. This is the policy of many trade unions, of the Liberal Democratic Party, of many other political forces and a considerable body of Labour opinion. It is also supported by most of the country.
This campaign cannot be silenced by the tragedies in London. It must be redoubled. That must be the priority for our great people's movement for peace and justice.