Dealing with terrorism: we need a real alternative

Felicity Dowling argues for an alternative of justice and peace, based on mass involvement in the political process.

The bombing, stabbing, and vehicle attacks perpetrated in London and Manchester, and wherever else they appear in the world, must be utterly condemned.

The injured people have our huge sympathy. We share the pain of bereavement, the anger, the anxiety and fear felt for family, friends, colleagues and indeed strangers, damaged in such a way. The shock felt also by those who have suffered no individual loss is equally real and serious.

Their suffering is shared by Muslim communities across the globe – in endless wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Palestine and in terrorist atrocities throughout the world, all of which fuel the anger and outrage upon which the far right of Islam feeds.

We must reject entirely the statement from Theresa May on the attack in London on 3rd June 2017.  “Yes, that means taking military action to destroy Isis in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home.”

We must protest against any intensification of reprisals based purely on links to Islam. The British imposition of internment in Ireland fuelled a war of resistance lasting decades and aided recruitment to terrorist organisations. There should be no return to these policies.

Creating a class of political prisoners in the UK prisons will only strengthen the appeal of right-wing fundamentalist Islam. Attempts to impose restrictions on basic freedoms can only encourage recruitment to such organisations. The government Prevent strategy has failed and must be fundamentally reformed.

In contrast, a government of social justice such as Corbyn proposes could recruit huge numbers of urban Muslim youth to its cause and offer a real alternative – an alternative of justice and peace which promotes mass involvement in the political process and stands resolute against any form of fascism and against all imperialist wars. It would need to be a government that refuses to pervert the collection of information to support adventures abroad.

The world situation is complex and troubled. More wars like Iraq will do more harm.

Censorship run for the benefit of the existing power structures will do only harm.

Additional powers for the police are all too often perverted to more sinister aims. We cite as an example the use of “Prevent” against anti-fascist demonstrators and the deployment of special branch to blacklist trade union activists.

The misuse of information given to the security forces to “run” agents in foreign conflicts appears to have viciously backfired in Manchester, as did similar adventures by the security forces in the North of Ireland.

The terror attacks in London and Manchester, as many in other countries including Pakistan and France, are aimed directly at harming strangers, ordinary people going about their business. In Manchester, the bomb was aimed mainly at young girls enjoying themselves. These attacks are not aimed at the rulers of states, as was 19th century terrorism. These attacks are no different to other kinds of fascist attack aimed at hurting ordinary people, hoping to creating an ever-more repressive and right-wing society, and furthering the poisonous aims of their cause. Like many (though not all) earlier forms of fascism, their brand simply takes a religious bent.

We should make no apology for confronting the complexities of the situation. We must aim to open a discussion rather than claim to provide all-encompassing answers.


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