Friday, 31 January 2014

Six arrested Fijian union leaders need your help

Fijian union leaders arrested after a strike at Starwood hotels

Fiji is governed by a harsh military dictatorship which maintains a permanent crackdown on civil, political and trade union rights. Six leaders of the island’s hotel workers union now face trial on criminal charges – while their union is negotiating with the employer!

On January 9, six union leaders from the National Union of Hospitality Catering and Tourism Industries were arrested and charged as a result of what the government claims to have been an "unlawful strike" that took place on New Year's Eve at Sheraton Fiji Resort and Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa (owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.) at Narewa village, Fiji. Workers in fact held a spontaneous protest against the unilateral removal of their staff benefits.

The military government declared the strike illegal and arrested the leadership of the union. Now they are out of jail but harsh bail conditions prevent them from exercising their role and their rights as union leaders.

Although it is believed Starwood played no direct role in their imprisonment, the Company was responsible for workers taking action as a result of management's unilateral withdrawal of workers' benefits.

CLICK HERE to urge Starwood management to use their influence to persuade the authorities to drop the case against union leaders.

More from the IUF here

Thursday, 30 January 2014

SWP join Islamists in protest against Jesus & Mo

Just when you thought the antics of the Socialist Workers Party can't shock you anymore, along comes a demonstration at Plymouth University organised by a bunch of Islamists. The Plymouth Herald takes up the story:

A PROTEST against a speaker specialising in Islamism and counter-extremism has taken place at Plymouth University tonight.

Around 30 people gathered to show their anger at Sheikh Dr Usama Husan giving a lecture at the uni.

It comes after he failed to condemn an image from the online cartoon 'Jesus and Mo' showing Jesus and Mohammed saying 'hey' and 'how ya doin' to each other.

Dr Hasan is a senior researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam was speaking at the Jill Craigie cinema tonight on the topic of Islam and democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Members of the Socialist Workers Party selling their dreadful rag can clearly be seen amongst the tiny group of protesters. One thing is noticeable, the SWP members are rather middle-aged and are highly unlikely to be students at the University.

The SWP are backing the Islamists demands which the Herald tells us:

Around 30 people from the university's Plymouth Islamic Society protested at the event as he had not condemned the actions of Quilliam co-founder Maajid Nawaz, a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn who retweeted the controversial image.

The university’s Plymouth Islamic Society protested to Vice Chancellor, Wendy Purcell, saying Quilliam instigated “Islamophobia” and demanded the event be cancelled.

Taking part in a clear assault not only on freedom of speech and expression and backing a general campaign that has led to death threats against Maajid Nawaz shows how demented the politics of the SWP have become.

You would have thought the comrades would have learned a lesson when they got their fingers burnt in the Respect fallout.

Then again since the delta affair the Professor and his crew have become pariahs in the labour and trade union movement so the old phrase "any port in a storm" comes to mind.

What is surprising is the presence of two Socialist Student members at the front of the photo. This is the student front of the Socialist Party. Normally this group is far too "workerist" for this kind of thing. 

Previously, when the Danish cartoon row exploded, The Socialist  (9th Feb 2006) published the following statement:

.... seeing faith as a personal issue means that socialists support the complete separation of church from state, the right to polemicise against religion and oppose the attempts of any religion to dictate to other religions or non-believers.

We defend the democratic rights of all, non-believers and believers, to express their views. This includes the right to produce anti-religious material, whether it is philosophical or satirical.

A perfectly reasonable position, so one has to ask why they were on this reactionary demo?

Human rights always come before religious rights!

Defend freedom of speech and expression!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Say no to Channel 4's censorship of Jesus & Mo cartoons!

The continuing controversy over Maajid Nawaz took a sinister turn last night as Channel 4 censored the offending cartoon thus:


Jesus and Mo themselves have responded today:

You can find more Jesus and Mo: here

Say No to Censorship!

Hat tip: Tendence Coatsey

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

No sects please, we're Labour!

Over the last few days we have seen some of those who (arrogantly in my opinion) consider themselves part of the “Vanguard”, the most “advanced thinkers of the working class” fall out over some obscure consensual sex practice. Combined with the inability of the Socialist Workers Party to understand a basic concept such as justice in its’ handling of the “delta affair” and Left Unity managing to have factions existing before their “party” was even launched shows how much time and energy is wasted amongst people who claim they want a better world.

We have seen the long term fallout of the collapse of British Maoism with the “slavery” business and not to be outdone the Socialist Party has had a bun- fight over obscure Marxist theory.

Really “comrades” you should all know better.

Frankly I do not think the leaderships of these sects (for that is what they are) can be changed, but for the rest, and those still sitting on the fence, the time has come for some serious thought on what you are doing (or not) as the case may be.

The Conservative led Government has been engaged in an offensive against the trade unions, particularly those in the public sector for the last couple of years. Currently Francis Maude is trying to persuade the various civil service departments to end the “check off” system by which union subscriptions are automatically deducted from pay at source. This arrangement which has been in place for years actually costs very little to do, so no real “savings” would be achieved by ending this arrangement. What it does do is undermine the funding of the various civil service unions and is motivated by an ideological need to reduce the membership and the influence of the unions.

Already the main PCS union has notified reps that it is undertaking a massive drive to collect subscriptions by Direct Debit” and the other unions may have to follow suit if they have not already done so. The main danger is that many members will not renew their subscriptions and membership will inevitably decline. PCS has already estimated a loss of 5% of its’ members will cost it one million pounds a year.

All this is happening now but there are other plans afoot to attack the remaining unions. The Times reported on 27th January that:

A future Conservative government is likely to introduce measures to outlaw strikes that do not have the consent of at least 50% of the workforce Boris Johnson revealed yesterday.

This would lead to a monumental change in the way ballots are conducted inside trade unions. No vote that has taken place in my own union has ever involved 50% or more of those eligible to vote, at least not the national or departmental strikes. In fact only up to a third normally vote, of whom on some occasions include more than just a few votes against. One assumes from the direction taken by Johnson that a strike could not go ahead without 50% of all members voting yes. The devil is in the detail.

Given that Governments these days do not attract the support of 50% or more of the electorate there is something a little hypocritical here. No other votes have such a requirement and this policy is simply designed to emasculate the unions. Whatever the intention the prospect of basically losing the ability to strike will remove a basic human right and leave trade union members unable in extreme circumstances to defend themselves.

That is what the Tories and the employers want.

The need to remove the Conservatives and their Liberal partners from office has never been more urgent. There is of course only one practical alternative, that of the Labour Party.

With our rights under attack and employment law going backwards the forward march of the Conservatives must be halted. That means unity in the Labour and Trade Union movement itself. We do not have the luxury of arguing about how many dialectical concepts can be balanced on the head of a pin. There are far to many activists side-lined in hopeless organisations and causes attempting to provide an alternative to Labour. They are not only failing, they are doing so badly and are detracting for the need for a major reformist government.

Its’ time frankly for those on the left to wake up to reality, place their collected works of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky back (at the bottom) of their bookshelves along with the Bibles, Torahs and Korans of this world to collect the dust they deserve and work for real reform. 

There is no possibility of revolution and where there have been in the past these have always led to brutal civil war and dictatorship. This is not what working people want.

Its' time to unite around the Labour Party.

Leave your baggage at the door, we don’t want a scenario like UKIP where all the nutters seemingly come out the woodwork. Be serious, be real, be practical.

The demand is for jobs, better wages, more homes. A decent standard of living for all. And democracy, something that most of current left seems to lack an understanding of.

Those who choose to remain on the fringes preaching hell-fire and damnation will be part of the problem.

The task ahead is to defend ourselves against the ideological offensive launched by the right. That means unity. That means Labour.

Time to be part of the solution.

Musical Interlude - Acker Bilk.

Acker Bilk is 85 today!

So I thought, time for a "Musical Interlude" with a timeless piece of music from 1961, Stranger on the shore.

This performance is from 1988.

A beautiful number. Enjoy

Monday, 27 January 2014

Seymour & Mieville resign from the International Socialist Network

Earlier I published a statement by the International Socialist Network about their current crisis over the "Race Play". The latest development is this letter from Richard "Lenin" Seymour and China Melville plus a couple of others.

Trotskyists never seem to be able to play nice together. 

Must be their authoritarian politics methinks. Or maybe its' a religious thing?

One thing I do know is the old adage that if you put three trots in a room you get two parties and a faction.

Discuss over a pint, have a laugh and then get on with politics in the real world.

To the SC and our comrades in the ISN

With great regrets, we are resigning from the ISNetwork. Many of us were involved in the setting up of the network, and we are very sad that it has come to this. We remain in full solidarity with ISN comrades, and look forward to working with them on campaigns.

Despite the repeated characterisation of us as a 'right bloc', we do not represent any unified political position beyond our concerns about both the political direction and internal culture of the ISNetwork. It has been clear for some time that our critiques put us in a minority: contrary to a common smear, we have always been willing to argue from this position, and welcomed this political debate. However, there has been an increasing breakdown of trust between us and various leading members of the organisation. It is now clear that we are not welcome in the ISN.

One of us is a woman sex-worker and bdsm practitioner. After many years of self imposed isolation from politics, she believed she had finally found a space where even those comrades who disagreed with her positions would discuss controversial topics of sexuality and desire in respect and comradeship. Instead she has been browbeaten, patronised, marginalised and moralised against, and the topics she wishes to discuss with her comrades dismissed as, in the words of one SC member, self-evidently 'sordid.' She has been made to feel so unwelcome that she feels forced to leave the SC and ISN.

The SC has put out a statement strongly implying racism and claiming 'inappropriate' argumentative techniques against three of our members. We entirely reject these insinuations and urge anyone interested to examine the threads in question

and judge for themselves. That they are over a controversial and charged topic -and one on which the signatories to this letter do not necessarily agree- is not in doubt: however, if there is a single statement made by any comrade that can reasonably be judged 'inappropriate', let alone racist, we urge their accusers to state it.

It is claimed, on the basis of a leaked email thread of a private conversation, that we have been politically dishonest, and set out to split or even destroy the network. This is wholly untrue. As has been made clear in this week's bulletin, we had intended to launch a platform within the ISNetwork in order to argue for our position. However, recent events had given us an increasing sense that we might not be able to remain members, due both to legitimate political differences and to the personalised politics of vituperation at the brunt of which we have felt. Accordingly - as is explicitly allowed in the ISN constitution – we have been discussing among ourselves to work out how best to argue our position within the network, our chances, and our contingency strategies if we felt unable to continue.

At issue here is not just the conduct or content of recent discussions or even the political direction of the ISN, but the question of making a habitable culture of discussion on the Left. When some of us recently wrote an article criticising a politics of anathema within the ISN, we were derided by opponents who denied any such thing exists. Unfortunately, it does. One SC member has recently publicly insisted that 'no one is being targeted personally'. The very same SC member recently seconded a denouncement on Facebook, by another SC member, of several of us as 'arrogant fucks' and 'bad rubbish' to whom 'good riddance'. One leading member expressed a desire on Facebook to strangle one of us - referring to her as a 'nauseating tosser' - and not one of the SC members to whom she said this suggested it was an inappropriate comment to make. Several SC members openly expressed their agreement with a status referring to us as 'parasites'. Another SC member wrote 'they should count themselves lucky they haven't been expelled' – particularly galling to two of the 'Facebook Four' involved in our thread. There are further examples, but this culture is one in which we can no longer work: we also would like comrades to consider whether left organisations can hope to attract a new generation of members if they treat each other in this way.

We look forward to working in a left culture that has ended certain practices inherited from the SWP. These include moralistic browbeating; the implicit claim that various controversial topics are inappropriate for discussion; that certain comrades can not be argued with on them; and that dissenters from these nostrums deserve to be attacked in personalised terms. We know many ISN members look forward to this with similar enthusiasm.

Jamie A
Magpie C
Kieran C
A. M.
China M
Richard S
Len T
Rosie W

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The forgotten Armenian genocide

Today, Monday 27th January is Holocaust Day, a time for us to remember not just the extermination of Six Million European Jews between 1941 and 1945, but also to remember the other genocides in places such Rwanda, Dafur and the first such act in modern times Armenia.

You can find out more about the European Holocaust at the website of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

However for today I have chosen to highlight the Armenian Genocide that took place in Turkey in 1915, which even today remains illegal to write about or discuss in Turkey, where various Governments have remained in total denial of what actually happened.

The following photo captures what was a common scene in those dark times.

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

It is believed something like one and a half million Armenians were massacred in events which started with the arrest of 250 intellectual and community leaders on 24th April 1915.


All were later executed en-mass by the Young Turks

The Turkish perpetrators used mass burnings, drowning and poisoning (in a chilling prelude to the future times of the Nazi Third Reich), whilst the rest of the World (with the exception of the USA) was embroiled in the First World War.

The sheer scale of the massacres can be seen on this map of the Armenian Holocaust below:

File:Armenian Genocide Map-en.svg

  • Each size shows a massacre. There are three types of massacre: in a control centre (red dot), in a station (pink dot), in a concentration and annihilation center (black dot). The size of the dot shows the relative number of killed Armenians.
  • Each pair of swords shows an area of Armenian resistance: greater resistance (red swords) or lesser resistance (black swords). The different size of swords is to save space into the map, it means nothing.
  • Dots in Black Sea representing Armenians (mainly women and children) drowned into the sea (see Armenian Genocide for references).

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Further information: Armenian National Institute

International Socialist Network issue statement

There has been a lot of interest in the internal arguments of the International Socialist Network over the "Race Play" issue. The following statement has just been issued by the ISN:

Statement by the IS Network Steering Committee on the recent controversy.
Dear comrades,

Some of you may have seen, on Facebook and elsewhere, that there has been a serious disagreement breaking out in some parts of the Network recently. Three members, including a steering committee member, engaged in a long argument with a number of people, including a number of black RS21 and IS Network members regarding “race play,” and many felt, including an overwhelming majority of steering committee members, that their opinions on the subject were deeply problematic with regards to racial and gender politics, and further than their tone and method of handling criticism was not in keeping with the spirit of allowing people to challenge their own oppression.

Furthermore, you may have seen circulating among RS21 and IS Network members a discussion between some IS Network members, including two steering committee members, about plans to leave the Network and join RS21. While this is a pity, and a failure on our part in some respects (given that we have a responsibility to all our members), we hope that any such a move can be done in as amicable and fraternal way as possible. Charlotte B., one of those steering committee members, has resigned already, so we felt the need to inform members as we don’t want to hide such disagreements.

To be clear, Charlotte was not involved in any of the arguments about race-play referred to above, but this was the context in which these divisions came to light. We remain committed to full transparency, and the right of minorities in the Network to express disagreements. We hope that other participants in that discussion will remain in the Network, and we welcome a recent platform document which hopefully will allow these discussions and debates to be conducted openly and in a serious and comradely manner.

IS Network Steering Committee
(Magpie C. dissented from
the above message and did
not support its circulation)

The shame of John Wight & Socialist Unity

The human tragedy of the Syrian civil war continues unabated with well over 100,000 dead and millions displaced starving and homeless both inside and outside the country. Like all civil wars  there are atrocities as countryman fights countryman, but add to the conflict a religious as well as a political divide then things are bound to get brutal.

The news that medieval Jihadists have been terrorising those unfortunate enough to get caught in an area they control with summary executions as part of the Islamists imposition of Sharia law is widely known. Even the normally pro-Islamist website Socialist Unity had John Wight calling the Jihadis "savages". He must have a point as his mate Bob Pitt of the disingenuous Islamophobia Watch didn't condemn him as is Pitt's normal tactic of refusing to accept any criticism from anyone about any aspect of Islam or Muslim without condemning them for "Islamophobia".

Perhaps this has something to do with the blatant attempts by the Syrian Government to use the Jihadists for their own ends as the Telegraph reports:

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has funded and co-operated with al-Qaeda in a complex double game even as the terrorists fight Damascus, according to new allegations by Western intelligence agencies, rebels and al-Qaeda defectors.

Jabhat al-Nusra, and the even more extreme Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), the two al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria, have both been financed by selling oil and gas from wells under their control to and through the regime, intelligence sources have told The Daily Telegraph.

Rebels and defectors say the regime also deliberately released militant prisoners to strengthen jihadist ranks at the expense of moderate rebel forces. The aim was to persuade the West that the uprising was sponsored by Islamist militants including al-Qaeda as a way of stopping Western support for it.

However Socialist Unity has a strong pro Islamist agenda and backs not just the terrorist groups like Hamas (under the guise of so-called anti-Zionism), Hezbollah and of course  that bastion of progressive thinking Iran. So it's hardly surprising that John Wight backs the brutal Syrian regime.

The Guardian reported that:

Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the "systematic killing" of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers.

The three, former prosecutors at the criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined thousands of Syrian government photographs and files recording deaths in the custody of regime security forces from March 2011 to last August.

Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

The UN and independent human rights groups have documented abuses by both Bashar al-Assad's government and rebels, but experts say this evidence is more detailed and on a far larger scale than anything else that has yet emerged from the 34-month crisis.

You can read the full investigation here:

Whilst the rest of the pro-Assad left like the Morning Star and the misnamed Stop the War Coalition have simply chosen silence, Wight asks the following question:

Do they think we are stupid?

The question is relevant in light of the concerted anti Assad media, diplomatic, and political onslaught that has been unleashed over the past week, starting on the eve of the Geneva II peace talks over the Syrian conflict, when a dossier purporting to provide incontrovertible evidence of the mass torture and massacre of detainess by the Syrian authorities was released.

Heaven forbid that the authors have produced substantial evidence, including photographs obtained at great risk by their informant. Its just "purporting" in Wights narrow view of the world.

Nothing to see here, move along is the response from the Islamo-Stalinists of  Socialist Unity.

John Wight is a leading so-called "anti-Zionist" campaigner who writes on occasion for the Putin media outlet RT. He got into hot water over linking to a far right website on at least one occasion as the Engage website reported here. Samples of his thinking included:

"The state of Israel is a hydra-headed monster, comprising Zionist ethnic cleansers, US imperialists, and Arab collaborationist regimes. Arrayed against this monster are the forces of human progress."

"As soon as the scales fall from the eyes of international Jewry with regard to the racist and fascist ideology that is Zionism, the world will begin to emerge from the iron heel of war and brutality in the Middle East."

Charming stuff.

Yet the Syrian conflict hasn't exactly been kind to the Palestinians that Wight claims he supports as reports of Assad's regime-caused starvation at the refugee at Yarmouk, South Damascus that Harry's Place reported here.

A man who seemingly denies atrocities by his regimes of choice is not one I would trust on solving the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The various campaigns that purport (to borrow Wight's phrase) Palestinian "Liberation" have long attracted unsavoury types.  Its' widely known that the former Chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Francis Clarke Lowles was expelled for being a Holocaust denier.

The real question that was never really addressed was how did a man with such disgusting revisionist historical views ever get to lead the PSC in the first place?

And of course given a fifth of the meeting that expelled him still supported Clarke Lowles, how many people like him are still in the PSC?

So the "comrades" at Socialist Unity will have to be seen as promoting hate, not hope and cannot be considered part of any "progressive" trend at all.

They are without doubt reactionaries of the worst order.

Finally a short video promoting hate from a Syrian Official, lest we forget the true nature of this barbaric regime.

Hat tip to Gene of Harry's Place for additional material

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Russia: Union leaders arrested at Aeroflot - urgent action appeal

Eric Lee of LabourStart writes

Three leaders of the pilots union at Russian airline AEROFLOT -- Alexei Shlyapnokov, Valeriy Pimoshenko and Sergei Knyshov -- were arrested in October during a bitter fight to secure a collective bargaining agreement.

Their union believes that the three were framed as a retaliation for the union's recent success in a court battle.

The Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), a national trade union center affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Sheremetevo Trade Union of Airline Pilots have called for an international campaign to demand that the company negotiate rather than try to jail union leaders.

Please take a moment to show your support - click here.

Friday, 24 January 2014

International Socialist Network splits over sex acts

Trigger warning: Some readers may find the material offensive:

Until today I had never heard of "Race Play", a form of sexual activity that according to the Urban Dictionary is defined thus:

An avant-garde, but increasingly accepted form of sexual role play in which people of different races consensually reject all political correctness (especially verbal) and propriety in favor of sexual pleasure and fulfillment.

An outline of what this involves can be found at Jezebel

Mollena Williams, who blogs at The Perverted Negress, has done race-play both for her own pleasure and as a demonstration at kink conventions. She's also currently in a relationship with a "sort of white" man (he's also part Native American), where she's the slave and he's the master. Williams told me her interest in slavery started early. She remembers seeing Roots on TV at age eight and thinking to herself, "wow, I have fantasies about really bad things." When she became involved in the kink community as an adult, many other kinky black people were critical of master/slave relationships — some threatened violence toward anyone they saw treating a person of color as a slave. She describes this time in her life as "really difficult," but she ultimately said to herself, "I will not, after so many years of struggling, have someone who doesn't know me dictate my sexuality." She adds, "if you go back and look at what feminism is about, it's about us taking charge of our bodies and our destinies." And she sees her ability to choose a master/slave relationship "with intent" as "a mark of how far feminism has come."

This matter caused a row on a Face Book discussion that Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb and guru of the International Socialist Network had with a number of comrades who took exception to his seemingly "liberal" views on the whole question of whether "Race Play" was racist. According to the blog The Charnel House:

“the whole of the ISN Steering Committee has turned on Richard Seymour, denouncing him as some sort of racist mansplaining pervert.”

The article gives a link to the entire argument, which before you try to plough through it is god knows how many pages long. However a poster at the Urban 75 chat room helpfully summarised the argument succinctly thus:

His argument was that "race play" carried out by two (or more) consenting adults doesn't necessarily make them racist or reproduce racism in day to day life. This seems like a pretty fair comment, whilst those jumping up and down accused him of being racist for having the audacity to disagree with some black people on the matter. The fact that some black people happily partake in race play apparently isn't something he can mention as to do so is to use black people as puppets for his own racism.

As a result the whole of the ISN is apparently in uproar, with some members quitting and defecting to the newer and possibly larger Revolutionary Socialism 21 organisation that has been formed from a more recent split in the Socialist Workers Party.

This must count as the most bizarre split in the Trotskyist milieu, like ever.

Personally I find the whole idea of "Race Play" somewhat distasteful like many other such practises that people indulge in like the "Donkey Punch", another act I had never heard of until the film of the same name came out.

But at the end of the day with so much injustice going on in the world I have to agree with comments made by Gene of Harry's Place who remarked that this argument was;

..about as far from the needs and concerns of ordinary people as it's possible to get.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Vincent Price On Racism And Religious Prejudice

I came across this short video on You Tube tonight whilst searching for old comedy songs from the sixties. Yeah I know its far from comedy, but when you click on various items you never know what you will find.

So in lieu of a post tonight here's a short message from the great man, Vincent Price.

Originally broadcast at the end of a radio episode of The Saint, in which Simon Templar was played by Vincent himself (who knew!).

The series ran from 1947 to 1952 and this appeared after an episode called Author of Murder.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Update: Liberal Democrats are failing to support Maajid Nawaz

Chris Moos writes:

While Maajid Nawaz is receiving death threats, instead of unequivocally supporting him, the Liberal Democrats are now urging him to be "more sensitive" and "not to cause offence". Their statement says:

"The Liberal Democrats are a party of respect, tolerance and individual liberty. We fundamentally believe in freedom of expression and as such defend Maajid’s right to express his views. But as a party we urge all candidates to be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence."

The LibDems have also failed to take action against party member Mo Shafiq, who is effectively inciting violence against Maajid Nawaz through his deliberate use of the term 'Gustagh-e-Rasool', which translates as 'enemy of the prophet' and usually results in murder.

It is shocking to see that a party that has freedom of speech as one of its core values is utterly failing to stand up for a progressive Muslim and take action against this dangerous anti-liberal campaign.

Clearly, we need to increase the pressure. What you can do:

Share this petition on Twitter, Facebook and with your contacts! #TeamNawaz
Contact Liberal Democratic party members, counsellors and MPs. 

If there is more you want to do get in touch with Chris Moos

Meanwhile here's the latest from


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Say no to Hungarian fascists coming to the UK!

HOPE Not Hate

Nick Lowles writes:

Gábor Vona, the extremist leader of the Hungarian nationalist party, Jobbik, is on his way to the UK with plans to host a gathering of racists and antisemitics on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.

We can stop his mission of hate, but we must act quickly. Sign our petition demanding that Home Secretary Theresa May deny Gábor Vona entry into the UK.

We fight extremism every day, but our efforts take on even greater meaning as we remember the Holocaust on Monday.

If we miss this window of opportunity, Jobbik will be through the border and in London preaching antisemitic words of hate while our voices of hope pause to remember one of the most atrocious genocides in human history.

There's no time to waste, the Home Office must make their decision soon. Sign the petition now to stop Gábor Vona from marking this day of remembrance with antisemitism and hate:

Monday, 20 January 2014

Give full support to LibDem PPC Maajid Nawaz and take disciplinary action against party member Mohammed Shafiq

Petition launched by Chris Moos

Give full support to LibDem PPC Maajid Nawaz and take disciplinary action against party member Mohammed Shafiq

On January 12th, Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat PPC for Hampstead and Killburn, posted an innocuous 'Jesus and Mo' cartoon on his Twitter timeline and stated that he, as a Muslim, was not offended by the content. This followed a BBC Big Questions programme in which the cartoons were discussed and Maajid Nawaz was included as a studio guest. The cartoon depicts Jesus and Mo saying 'Hey' and 'How ya doin'" to each other.

Islamists and political opponents have now mounted a campaign against Maajid Nawaz, resulting in numerous threats to his life. We note that this campaign, rather than being based on legitimate concerns of Muslims, is a political campaign which is being spear-headed by a group of Muslim reactionairies with a track record of promoting extremism. They are seeeking to use Muslim communities in order to whip up hatred against a liberal and secular Muslim. We are concerned that this campaign will also be used by anti-Muslim extremists as evidence of Muslim intolerance and incompatibility with liberal values which could, in turn, fuel anti-Muslim bigotry.

We note with concern that this attempt to silence Maajid Nawaz is fuelled by Liberal Democrats party member Mohammed Shafiq. Freedom of expression are essential to the functioning of a liberal democracy, and core values of the Liberal Democratic party. The agitation of a party member against a designated PPC is antithetical to these core values.

We, the undersigned, extend our full support to Maajid Nawaz, and condemn the campaign against him. We call on Liberal Democratic party leader, Nick Clegg, to support Maajid Nawaz and commence disciplinary proceedings against party member Mohammed Shafiq for acting against the core values of the Liberal Democrats.
Sign the petition here:
Defend free speech!

PCS: Facing the Abyss?

Last week I reported the news that Francis Maude had written to all civil service Departments asking them to consider ending the “check off system” of collecting union subscriptions via the payroll. To date there has been no official news issued by the PCS union nationally, though the National Executive Committee(NEC) has now discussed the implications of such a policy.

According to information received, all Departments are under “serious pressure” to comply with Maude’s directive, and Ian Duncan Smith is more than keen to implement this within weeks. With the exception of the Department of Transport (Dft), there is no legal barrier other than a requirement to give due notice of withdrawal of the facility, to removing the check off scheme.

Undoubtedly this will be a serious blow to all the unions in the civil service and sets a precedent for Local Government to follow suit as the Coalition Government continues its’ anti-trade union drive. However it is likely that PCS of all the unions will be put in the most difficult position. PCS is already in the midst of a serious financial crisis and is a moving factor behind the desire of some to merge with Unite.

Whether Unite would either want or be able to take on the cash strapped PCS is of course another matter.

According to a paper at the PCS NEC if they manage to retain even 95% of the current membership that will mean a shortfall of £1,000,000 a year. Of course there is a strong possibility in both the current economic and political climate that PCS could shed a far greater percentage of it’s members than just 5%.

Many members are known to be unhappy with the way the union is run and that combined with the continued desire of the PCS’s far-left leadership to continue a “campaign” against the Government could backfire at attempts to keep the union afloat. Only last week a circular sent out by the South East PCS indicated a search for other unions to “ally” with over potential strike action on areas of “mutual concern. Strangely these “areas were not specified, but the long lost Pensions issue is believed to be one of them. They also seek action in Departments that can “sustain” strikes, though are not specific about these either.

The circular also makes reference to the unions intervention in elections and calls on branches to set up “town and city committees” for campaigns. A rather odd demand since most of these locations will already have Trades Councils which theoretically fulfil that function. One can only surmise that Serwotka and the Socialist Party are setting up “soviets” under their control to build for this mythical 24 hour General Strike that they have been blathering about for far too long now.

The Socialist Party leaders of PCS are also planning on intervening in the local and European elections this year under the tired and irrelevant banner of the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition and No2EU along with Bob Crow. Given the current attacks on our jobs, our rights and our futures I would have thought their priority would be to err.. help remove the Coalition at the General Election in 2015.

But no. That would mean a little compromise to a thing called reality like voting Labour. That’s not on their agenda. They just want a bloody revolution and nothing else will do.

Perhaps the members of PCS would welcome an opportunity to walk away from this and find a real trade union rather than a group of political charlatans whose only interest are their own barmy ideologies.

There may be better prospects elsewhere. Time will tell.

Watch this space.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

George Galloway issues "Fatwa" on twitter

jesus & mo comic masthead

The self publicising creature George Galloway hasn't been in the news recently (unless you count his appearances on the Russian propaganda channel RT) so it comes as no surprise that he has decided to join the ranks of the easily offended brigade by complaining about a Jesus and Mo cartoon image being tweeted by Maajid Nawaz.

George Galloway ‏@georgegalloway18h

No Muslim will ever vote for the Liberal Democrats anywhere ever unless they ditch the provocateur Majid Nawaz, cuckold of the EDL.

The reason for his latest intervention is of course totally opportunistic following complaints by so called "leading Muslims" (also self appointed of course) who have written to Nick Clegg about the action of one of his wannabe MPs. The reactionary blog 5 Pillarz reports:

Prominent members of the Muslim community have written to the Liberal Democrats and their leader Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to ask them to reverse their decision to back Maajid Nawaz’s attempt to become an MP at the next election.

The campaign comes after Nawaz posted a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) on his Twitter feed. Any depiction of the prophets is considered offensive to most Muslims and has traditionally been prohibited by the majority of scholars.

Nawaz, who’s the chairman of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, defended his decision to post the cartoon by saying that it was not offensive and that scholars were split over the depiction of the Prophet. He also accused others of inciting his murder by calling him “a defamer of the Prophet.”

But Irfan Ahmed, who is an executive member of the Pendle Liberal Democrats, called on Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem leadership to sack Maajid Nawaz as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC).

Ahmed has written to the leadership of the Lib Dems and says he has also had a leading Lib Dem agree with him that Maajid’s comments are “childish” and “impolite”.

Of course as we are all aware these so called Islamic "scholars" rely on extreme penalties within Islam itself to maintain their hold and power over their community (see here). Free speech and satire are alien concepts to these wizened old men.

Islam is not above criticism or ridicule for a set of superstitious ideas that are man-made (there is no God).

Fortunately we still live in a country where we can express our opinions freely. 

A tradition that needs defending every day against backwoodsmen (and women) of every religion (not just Islam) who wish to impose their religious nonsense on us.

Maajid Nawaz has every right to to say what he wants.

Not that I'd vote for him or any other Liberal Democrat after their role in the reactionary Coalition Government for the last three years.

Freedom of speech and expression are non-negotiable.

George Galloway should be ashamed of himself, but he won't be. He's just after some votes for his almost defunct (and misnamed) Respect Party.

Update: Maajid has received death threats. See here:


Human Rights always come before religious rights!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

5.3 billion suffer restrictions on religious freedom around the world

Cross post from the National Secular Society

5.3 billion suffer restrictions on religious freedom around the world

As national religious freedom day is celebrated in the United States, a report by the Pew Research Center reveals violence and discrimination against religious groups by rival faiths and governments have reached a six-year high worldwide. In its report on religious restrictions around the world, the Pew Research Center shows that, in 2012, 5.3 billion people (74% of the world's population) experienced high levels of restrictions on their religious freedom (this compared to 52% in 2011).

Whilst the greatest levels of social hostilities toward religion were felt in Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Israel, Pakistan, and Somalia, an increase in hostilities in China was what was understood to have caused such a sharp increase overall for 2012, where the level of religious strife was categorised a "high" for the first time in the survey's six-year history. In 2012, China experienced an increase in sectarian conflict, religion-related terrorism and mob violence.

The research takes social hostilities to include armed conflict, terrorism, sectarian violence, harassment, intimidation or abuse motivated by religious factors.

The study reveals that abuse targeting religious minorities occurs in nearly half of the world's countries, and that that in 39% of countries there was an increase in violence, or the threat of violence, used to compel people to adhere to religious norms. This compares to 33% in 2011 and 18% in 2007.

Intensified violence in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka against Muslims and Christians and in Muslim-majority Egypt against Coptic Orthodox Christians was noted by the report, as was terrorist-related violence such as the March 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in France, by an Islamic extremist.

Some of the greatest increases in hostilities against those of religious belief were seen Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Syria and Tunisia. In only seven countries, was a significant improvement seen, those included Cambodia, Cyprus and Ethiopia.

The study shows that harassment against Christians occurred in 110 countries, against Muslims in 109 and against Jews in 71. The harassment of Hindus, Buddhists, and members of other smaller religious groups (which includes atheists) also increased. Whilst Sikhs and Baha'is experienced government restrictions more than social harassment, the opposite was the case for Jewish people.

Whilst showing a rise in socially restrictive forces on religious freedom, the study finds that governmental restrictions on religion remained relatively unchanged between 2011 and 2012. 64% of the world's population lives under severe legal and political conditions when it comes to religious freedom; these include limitations on preaching, banning conversions, or privileging some or one religious group over others. In nearly half of the world's countries, states were shown to have used force against religious groups. Those countries imposing the strictest government restrictions, included Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

The regions of the Middle East and North Africa continue to have the highest median level of government restrictions. Nine out of ten of the most restrictive countries for religious freedom in terms of state policy were Muslim-majority states.

This report comes a month after the publication of the International Humanist and Ethical Union's 2013 Freedom of Thought report, which revealed that the non-religious also suffer severe discrimination and restrictions on freedom because of their beliefs. It found that non-believers are discriminated against, or outright persecuted, in most countries of the world. It noted 12 states in the world in which a person can face the death penalty for being an atheist, and 39 in which the law mandates a prison sentence for blasphemy, including six western countries.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Alex Callinicos faces protest at Warwick University

Alex Callinicos faced some unwelcome well deserved attention when he went to Warwick University yesterday.

Methinks the days of the Socialist Workers Party recruiting students is long over......


  1. Yesterday's protest against Alex Callinicos - letting him know we don't accept rape apologists on our campus.

Embedded image permalink

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Colombia: More trade unionists beaten and killed - urgent action needed

Eric Lee of LabourStart writes:

Óscar Arturo Orozco, a trade unionist in Colombia, is President of the Caldas branch of the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT).

He was recently brutally attacked while attending a peaceful demonstration, and is currently in hospital in a very serious condition.

IndustriALL global union have launched a major global online protest campaign demanding an end to the attacks against trade unionists. Please take a moment to send your message:

Meanwhile, other Colombian trade union leaders have been murdered.

Most recently we've learned about Ever Luis Marín Rolong, a regional leader of the SINALTRACEBA brewery workers union who was murdered on January 4 by unknown gunmen who fired six times at him, as he was waiting for a bus in the town of Soledad.

The IUF has just launched an online protest campaign demanding an end to the murders and for the government to ensure the security of trade unionists at risk:

I don't normally ask you to support two campaigns on the same day, but in this case I think it's so important that I have to ask.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Francis Maude calls on Civil Service to end "check off" for Unions

News has reached me that Francis Maude has written to all Civil Service Departments instructing them to consider ending the "check off" system with trade unions. This is the system whereby union members subscriptions are collected at "source" by being deducted from their wages. Whilst the text of the letter remains unseen it is believed that any such action is "optional".

I understand that in the largest part of the Civil Service, the Department of Work and Pensions Secretary of State Ian Duncan Smith has instructed management to end it within 6 weeks. 

Other Departments are understood to have until the end of January to report back to Maude on what they are planning to do.

This will hit unions hard, especially the largest of them the PCS which is in clear financial difficulties as seen by the union being unable for the first time not to have issued a dairy to its members, causing consternation amongst many who wonder where all their subscriptions go.

Hence the option to merge with the far larger Unite union has been mooted by the Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership.

PCS will not be the only union hit, (the others include Prospect, the FDA, POA and NIPSA) and will be seen as a major attack or challenge to the already hard pressed reps across the civil service.

This is not the first time that the Government have attempted this. The Daily Mirror  reported at the time:

Top Tory Eric Pickles has been slammed for costing taxpayers £90,000 in a failed attack on the trade unions.

The roly-poly Communities Secretary tried to stop civil servants’ union subs being automatically docked from their wages.

But the Cabinet minister’s attempt to end the decades-old “check off” system was humiliatingly blocked by the High Court today.

The PCS union, which launched the legal challenge, said that the system only costs £300 a year to administer.

There was a warning sign at the time which seems to have been ignored:

However, a spokesman for Mr Pickles insisted that he would press on with his attempt to end the practice.

The spokesman said: “This is a ruling on a technical point of employment law, based on a staff handbook drawn up under the Labour Government.

“We have already saved taxpayers’ money by abolishing full-time trade union ‘pilgrims’ and cutting back so-called ‘facility time’ to private sector levels.

“It remains ministers’ intention to abolish check-off, which is an outdated and unnecessary practice given to trade unions, and epitomises a cosy and unhealthy relationship between the unions and the state.”

The unions will need to co-ordinate with their lawyers urgently to prevent a rather unnecessary and ideologically motivated attack on trade unionism.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Defend the right to not beleive

Living in a Western democracy its' easy to take our rights for granted. We have freedom of speech and association, the right to vote and can choose whichever religion we wish to follow or none.

That's the way things should be.

Most of the major religions abandoned the death penalty for blasphemy. The Inquisition is long gone and the last person to be executed for such a crime in Britain was over 300 years ago, in Scotland 1697 since you ask. The poor chaps name was Thomas Aikenhead. Judaism no longer smites non believers and Hinduism does not even have the concept of "blasphemy", though people still find reasons to kill each other.

Not so in Islam.

The penalty for "apostasy" under Sharia is death. The law of "blasphemy" is quite extensive and you can be prosecuted if you write Mohammed's name on a toilet wall (in Pakistan) and you'll all recall the almost farcical spectacle in Sudan when some nutters took exception the naming of a teddy bear after the prophet.

So why is this?

The hate preacher Yusuf Qaradawi says its because Islam would not exist if you allowed people to leave. Or question or convert or......

Seeing the way they treat people, women, gays, Jews, and everyone else who doesn't follow their desert cult its' actually not surprising people might choose to leave.

Here's the man himself:

It gets worse. According to this man you can even be beheaded if you fail to pray five times a day.

He didn't get a school thankfully.

Thankfully the Judicial system in this country has finally recognised that Atheists are in danger if they return to their country. The Scotsman reports today:

AN Afghan citizen has secured asylum in the UK over fears of religious persecution for his atheist beliefs, in a case believed to be the first of its kind.

The case was submitted to the Home Office under the 1951 Refugee Convention on the basis that if the man returned to Afghanistan he would face persecution on the grounds of religion, or in this case his lack of religious belief.

The man involved fled to the UK from a conflict involving his family in Afghanistan and was allowed to stay in the UK until 2013, a university spokeswoman said.

He was brought up as a Muslim but after arriving in the UK, aged 16, in 2007, he gradually turned to atheism, she said.

The case involved the Law Clinic lodging an extensive written submission with the Home Office, drawing on recent Supreme Court decisions, and including detailed evidence that the man’s return to Afghanistan could result in a death sentence under Sharia law as an “apostate” - someone who has abandoned their religious faith - unless he remained discreet about his atheist beliefs.

‘Lack of religion can lead to religious persecution’

Evidence also showed that because every aspect of daily life and culture in Afghanistan is permeated by Islam, living discreetly would be virtually impossible, the spokeswoman said.
The Telegraph adds:

It goes on to explain how the man had recently made a visit to another predominantly Muslim country, to visit friends, and had been “shocked” by how his lack of belief made him stand out.

“He was shocked by how everyone talked as if life meant nothing to them,” it says.

“People said ‘this is not the only world’ and that you have to believe. People said ‘you cannot sit and eat with people who are not Muslim’.

“He noticed that to the people he met, this life meant nothing to them and all their expectations were focused on the other world, life after death.”

Muslims need to start asking themselves questions about these men who threaten death about all and sundry when it comes to faith. Whose interests are they really serving?

They are afraid.

Afraid of losing their power over you.

There's too much killing going on in the name of "Islam". The pernicious influence of the Islamists threatens everyone, ordinary Muslims as well. 

Believe what you will, but learn to recognise not only that others do not think like you, but no one has the right to kill someone just because they are different.

That includes Atheists.

The right to not believe is a basic Human Right.

And Human Rights always come before religion.

Time for Islam to grow up.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Musical Interlude on a Monday

One of the things I miss about the "modern" music scene is the "novelty record". I've been listening to a few of them on-line recently and came across some wonderful (if sometimes dated) stuff by Charlie Drake, Jimmy Edwards, Bernard Cribbins and more.

However one of my all time favourites has always been this song by the Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band released in 1967 and simply called The Intro And The Outro.

Vivian Stanshall had such a wonderful crisp voice on this and many other records with both the band and solo.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Additions to the "57 Varieties"

After a brief Christmas respite, a number of former members of the Socialist Workers Party have re-entered the fray under new names and new banners.....

The first to be declared were the Portsmouth Socialist Network. Former SWP hack Gareth Edwards posted:

Yesterday a number of Portsmouth comrades who left the SWP over the past nine months met to discuss how we plan to organise in 2014. There were 10 people in the room while another 4 sent apologies. By unanimous vote we agreed to form the Portsmouth Socialist Network.

None of us have followed identical political trajectories over the past year. Some of us had left in March (a few joining the ISN), some had left over the course of the summer after participating in the Fault Lines blog, others stayed inside the SWP until December. Yet all of us remain revolutionaries. All of us remain committed to the idea of socialism from below. It is crystal clear that we need to be working together as a single group.

Constituting ourselves in this way enables us to invite people to something we put on, it means we can approach other groups and propose joint activity, it means we can go to picket lines and offer our collective solidarity. It doesn’t preclude people having membership of, for instance, the ISN or ACI, and it would allow us at some point in the future to affiliate to a new *national*organisation if we so wished.

We are all agreed that the formation of a new revolutionary organisation must be the central, strategic long-term goal. What that organisation should look like is another matter entirely. We will all, no doubt, have drawn a variety of organisational conclusions from our time within the SWP, and it would be surprising if we were to all agree on what a new organisation should look like. To which I say, “Good!” For too long we have been part of a party that treats the questioning of organisational form with a mixture of contempt and distrust. Let’s debate the options, experiment, learn from what works and what doesn’t.

But. At some stage *all* of the people who have left the SWP in the past twelve months (and, indeed, those who left earlier) need to sit in the same room and discuss in an honest and comradely way what we are going to do. There is something in the region of 700 people in search of a new political home. A political landscape that looks like an explosion of Scrabble tiles is unlikely to appeal to them or anyone else for that matter. The opportunity to forge something new is the one thing we can salvage from this miserable period but without a degree of unity and trust amongst those who have left we run the risk of many hundreds of activists drifting away from revolutionary socialism altogether.

No longer "Socialism in one country" but one port it would seem.

Not to be outdone a small group of SWP members in Kent, who took a small print shop with them have established their own group and published a newspaper called Solidarity, which would confuse the masses a wee bit if they came across the other Solidarity published by the long standing Alliance for Workers Liberty. 


The founding statement of Kent International Socialists contains "fighting talk":

A large number of members have resigned from the Socialist Workers Party in east Kent. We are leaving over the failure of the organisation's national leading bodies to handle the accusations of sexual predation against a former member and National Secretary in line with the party's politics on fighting women's oppression.

We are proud of our time in the party. Locally we have a history going back decades. We have been key activists in the fight against council house sell offs, closure of A&E departments and led many successful battles to drive the Nazi National Front and BNP from our streets. Further, we were at the centre of raising solidarity for the Kent Miners in their epic fight against Thatcher's Tories. We campaigned against the Poll Tax in the 1990's and the Bedroom Tax in 2013. Ten years ago we were among those that mobilised thousands of Kent people to march on the historic anti war demonstrations.

We are not leaving the field of battle, but will be fighting under a new banner.

We hope to launch, with others, a new organisation in east Kent that returns to the politics that once informed our old party. It will be based on the tradition of socialism from below, international solidarity and a liberating interpretation of Marxism that sees workers' revolution as the key to the emancipation of all mankind.

Socialism in one County?

Last, but by no means least is the biggest of the new organisations and boy have they chosen a long winded name. Welcome to Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century (RS21?). This group with some 130 members has taken over the name of the pre-existing website of the same name which you can find here:

Socialism in one sentence?

How long these groups will last is not clear. The first of the breakaway groups the International Socialist Network is already falling apart in internal squabbles.

Meanwhile readers may be interested in a forthcoming book, Against the grain: the British Far Left since 1956 by Evan Smith and Matthew Worley, due for publication in April May this year by Manchester University Press.

Stop hunting rhinos!

Like most people I was outraged to hear that hunters in the USA were "auctioning" the life of an endangered species of animal, a black rhino. The Irish Times reports:

A permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia sold for $350,000 (€250,000) at an auction in Dallas last night with proceeds going to protect the endangered animals despite protests from animal rights groups that saw the sale as immoral conservation.

The license allows for the killing of a single, post-breeding bull, with Namibian wildlife officials on hand for the hunt to make sure an appropriate animal is selected.

The Dallas Safari Club had been expecting the permit to bring $250,000 to $1 million at an auction held during its annual convention.

The following report is from Al Jazeera TV:

Sign a petition here:

Save the rhino:

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A crime against reason

Book burning has always been associated with bigots, Nazi's and their like, as is the prejudice behind such actions. So it should come as no surprise to learn a bunch of Islamists have decided to burn a Library in Tripoli (Lebanon) as the Liberty Voice website reports:

Muslims in Tripoli torched a private library belonging to a Greek Orthodox priest because of a perceived insult. The library, opened up for locals to use freely, was the private collection of 72-year-old Farther Ibrahim Sarrouj who has overseen the Al-Saeh (Travelers’) Library in the Libyan capital since 1972.

There are conflicting reports about what caused the incident. The Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper, reports that a fatwa or an Islamic legal pronouncement has been issued against Father Sarrouj because of an article he wrote which was published on a Danish website in 2010. The French news agency, AFP, has a slightly different story. Their account says a pamphlet was discovered hidden inside one of the books in the library. That pamphlet, considered blasphemous, triggered a scuffle which was followed by the burning of the library. Still other anonymous sources imply that the burning followed a long-term dispute between Father Sarrouj and a local businessman who had expressed an interest in buying the library building and grounds.

Of course such a barbaric act is far from unexpected in the Middle East where amidst growing civil war between the two main currents of Islam has been growing in intensity following events in both Syria and Iraq. However it is a disturbing act of intolerance and persecution in a world where it is dangerous to be a Christian.

However there is hope as the report continues:

Following the blaze, many locals joined together in cleaning up the library. Local supporters also have launched a fund to rebuilding the structure. Approximately 60,000 of the 80,000 books in the library are believed to have been damaged.

Thanks to the blog Atheist Oasis for bringing this to my attention. They comment:

This truly is a despicable act of ignorance and terrorism.....

An act of persecution to all of us everywhere that love to read. Love to wander the aisles of good bookstores and libraries everywhere. To thumb through a book and smell the history of its pages through time. To wonder who else sat here and read the same words and were filled with wonder and joy.

The extremists are everywhere and have no such use for books. Yet they expect us to respect them for their “beliefs”. Forget it. They get zero respect from me. They are complete assholes, ignorant of their own ignorance.

Spot on.

People who burn books are barbarians and a threat against reason.