By Jonathan Lee
Another day, another outrage. This time it’s about one-time ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum, a 20-year-old girl from Bethnal Green who has finally had her right to return home recognised, after leaving the UK in 2014 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
Begum had her citizenship stripped from her in February 2019 by the Home Office. This was declared legal on account of her being a Bangladeshi dual national, meaning she would not be made stateless. However, when she was asked by the BBC, she said she did not have a Bangladeshi passport and had never been to the country. Regardless of the decision against her, her son was a British citizen and should have been allowed to return. Perhaps if he had been allowed to he might have survived. As it was he died of pneumonia in a refugee camp in Northern Syria, a month after his mother had her citizenship revoked. You have to wonder if this all would have happened had she been white?Continue Reading
by Sarah Edgcumbe
Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented. Continue Reading
by Yali Banton-Heath
It’s been over a week since Turkey launched a fresh military offensive targeting Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. The death toll in Rojava is rising, and an exodus of civilians from the area has already reached a mass scale. Conflict in Syria thus deepens, becoming ever more complex, with the Syrian regime armed forces now reported to have moved into Kurdish controlled Manbij in order to counter the Turkish invasion. But what has sparked this new wave of insurgency? What role does the US have? What are the Kurds fighting for? And what significance does this have for the wider global justice movement?
by Sarah Edgcumbe
During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.
The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading
By Sarah Edgcumbe
The British press has been in a frenzy recently over nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum and her desire to return to the UK from the refugee camp in Syria where she currently resides. There are probably very few people in the UK who are unaware that Shamima travelled from the UK to ISIS territory in Syria at the age of fifteen, where she married an ISIS militant, conceived and lost two children before giving birth to a third (who also passed away) in the refugee camp in Syria she currently calls home.Continue Reading
By Richard McNeil-Willson
As Islamic State strongholds tumble, the language of counter-terrorism in Europe and beyond expands exponentially.
Binaries lie at the heart of understanding terrorism and modern state security: ‘you’re either with us or against us’; a citizen of here or ‘a citizen of nowhere’; a supporter of the democratic, liberal state or ‘an enemy of freedom’. By targeting ‘us’ – both the individual and the state concurrently – terrorists force citizens into a position in which we all need to look beyond legal convention, to dispense with some rights to preserve others. So has trod the orthodox argument, refracted outwards from media, government and research. Continue Reading
By Gunnar Eigener
“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.”
Napoleon BonaparteContinue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
Everywhere we turn to some sort of crisis or damage control is taking place. North Korea’s recent testing of a hydrogen bomb, the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Hurricane Harvey devastating parts of Texas, the cholera epidemic and famine in Yemen, the failure of Brexit negotiations, US President Trump’s ever divisive actions, the list goes on. Our global problems are racking up and cracks are starting to appear.
Many of these problems have been long coming, but are now gathering lethal momentum. The world seems to be constantly on edge, waiting with baited breath for the next catastrophe or attack, humanitarian or economical, to happen. New problems are being created or the foundations of future conflicts being laid. What is probably most frustrating is that many are avoidable.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
Content warning: mentions terrorism, The Troubles.
Not only has Theresa May’s snap election gamble backfired spectacularly, but the possibility of a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has left a sinister stain on the government going forward. Lurid headlines have been a constant feature of the campaign, attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his alleged links to the IRA and Hamas. But now, ironically, it is the current government that has turned to terrorist sympathisers in order to shore up their position. Time will tell if those tabloids will apply the same standard to the government as they did to Jeremy Corbyn.
Within these developments, there are two worrying aspects that have emerged – both nationally and globally. The first is the ease with which governments are able to use the fear of terrorism to further their own agenda. The second is the ability of governments to ignore or cover up their complicit actions.Continue Reading
by Jess Howard
Content warning: this article contains upsetting images.
In 2015 I wrote an article on an image of a Syrian child’s lifeless body being lifted out of the sea on a beach close to a Turkish resort. The photograph shocked people around the world at the time. It demonstrated the severity of the Syrian conflict, as the child in the photograph, and his family along with him, had been attempting to travel to Greece to seek refuge. September sees the anniversary of the photograph being taken, but how have our attitudes to photography and conflict changed in the past year?Continue Reading
By Faizal Nor Izham
While Islamophobia continues to run rampant on the streets of Europe, one critical aspect that tends to be overlooked by the mainstream media when it comes to the Western world’s relationship with the Middle East is the steady stream of armed aid the former provides to pro-Western regimes in the latter. Understanding the main source of grievances in the Arab world may offer us a clue as to why there is so much tension stemming from the Middle East today. For example, it’s no secret that the British government has for a long time been highly complicit in its arms dealings with Sunni Saudi Arabia, often used by the oil-rich kingdom to exterminate Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. And even more recently, leaked emails from Hillary Clinton also indicate that she is fully supportive of fanning the flames in Syria even further through the export of arms to extremist groups such as ISIS.
by Gunnar Eigener
The Cold War peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ended with the falling of the Berlin Wall. It left scars across the globe, many of which are still felt today. It tore societies apart. It created a feeling of angst and paranoia in those who lived through it. The lack of trust the West and East held for each other hasn’t really gone nor have the players changed that much. For younger generations, it used to be hard to imagine what a time like that must have been like but as this century progresses, but it’s becoming easier.
by Cherry Somersby
On the 20th April, at this year’s NUS Conference, Malia Bouattia was elected as the new president of The National Union of Students, making her the first black, female NUS president, and the first Muslim to ever hold the position. NUS has not seen an incumbent president lose their election since 1969, and this year we feared would be no exception.Continue Reading
By Faizal Nor Izham
Two weeks ago, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened to mixed reviews from film critics, but nonetheless went on to perform spectacularly at the box office. Just this week, the Panama Papers were also unleashed into the public sphere, from the world’s fourth-biggest offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. The 11.5 million document leak featured startling revelations on a web of shady offshore accounting, involving twelve prominent world leaders including David Cameron. Implicating a total of 143 world politicians, their families and close associates, the leaks demonstrated the various ways in which elite rulers have been exploiting secretive offshore tax regimes.
by Jess Howard
Since Daesh first made itself known at the turn of the 21st century, a significant number of religious and historical buildings, artefacts and objects of cultural significance have been destroyed, in what the Secretary-General of The United Nations Ban Ki-moon once described as ‘a war crime’. In response to this, a series of art works have been created to replicate the objects that have been destroyed since Daesh first established itself, which leads us to consider the ways in which artistic reconstruction benefits culture and society.
by Cadi Cliff
On Tuesday night, landmark buildings from Germany to Dubai were lit up with the Belgian flag — a sign of solidarity after the horrific attacks in Brussels. The attacks — two bombs at the city’s main airport, and one at a metro station near the EU headquarters— have killed at least 30 individuals and injured hundreds of others. Daesh (read: the so-called Islamic State) have claimed responsibility for the attacks. It’s the most violent terrorist attack to hit Europe since the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130. But this is not the first, or even 100th, terrorist attack since Paris — though this certainly will be reported on by the Western media far more than the rest combined.
Since Paris there have been hundreds of terrorist attacks worldwide. Attacks that didn’t result in tricolour Facebook profile pictures; attacks that didn’t lead to projected flags on lumps of architecture. Their narratives are only a headline, barely breaking. The descriptions are factual, not empathetic. There is no footage of candlelight vigils played on a loop on the news outlets. The shock factor simply isn’t there for the media splash if it’s a country that gets attacked again and again and again.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.’ – George Orwell
In the aftermath of acts of terrorism — spotlight grabbing though it might be — politicians reach out, indirectly and through other politicians, to those affected. It demonstrates that perhaps they possess some element of humanity themselves. The media briefly shows the caring actions of the people of those countries and cities devastated, physically and emotionally. Then, once all has been said and done, business returns to normal.
We point and laugh across the pond at the circus that is Donald Trump’s presidential bid. We criticise the depths to which the Republicans stoop to find a scapegoat for America’s problems. Yet what we fail to recognise is that the same process is taking place here — it is simply spread across European governments instead of being conveniently bundled up into one laughable narcissistic crazy-haired package. We try to convince ourselves that not in Europe would we allow such bile and hatred come from one individual and we don’t. But nor do we look at the bigger picture and see that very same bile and hatred come in the form of legislation and government actions.Continue Reading
By Jack Brindelli
“More than 1,000 people have taken part in a rally in central London to protest against the Government’s decision to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.” That was how Sky News began their coverage of the latest Stop the War march on the 13th of December. Now I appreciate Sky have form when it comes to underestimating demonstrations, but a demo that can’t have been larger than 3000 gave them ample to chance to do so this time. Even so, the grandiose phrasing seems almost to pity what is a comatose giant of an organisation. Let’s just go over that again; “More than 1,000 people” from an organisation that once boasted a mobilisation of more than a million.
by Josh Wilson
I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how there is no chance for anyone to win outright in Syria. Since that article the tragic events in Paris have taken place and leaders from around the world alongside ordinary citizens have reacted to the news. As with all heartbreaking events, reactions have been fuelled by emotion, with the debate surrounding tricolore Facebook photo becoming a heated element of reaction to the atrocity. Many took up the option offered by Facebook to drape the French flag over their profile picture. I do have my reservations about this, mostly regarding Facebook picking and choosing which tragedies to offer this show of solidarity for. However, in a time of grief and high emotion I think this is a debate best left for another time.
By Dahlia Al-Abdullah
The events that unfolded in Paris have been devastating, as have the other numerous attacks of terrorism that we have seen ripple out across the globe over the last few days, months, and years. To acknowledge the other mass killings in Lebanon, Iraq, Kenya etc. is not a way of trying to play down this act of terrorism. Terrorism exists. Terrorism is absolutely disgusting. What happened in Paris is enough to instil enough fear in me to want to stay away from any big cities for a while.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought back a feeling of despair, that no matter where we live, there is always someone who wants to hurt us. The shaky camera footage of police storming a building, the bangs of smoke grenades, the echoes of gunfire, have sent a shockwave through France, Europe and the world. In the aftermath, a reaction is already beginning and anger will turn on Muslim individuals, communities, businesses and places of worship. Already a petition to “Stop all immigration and close UK borders until ISIS is defeated” is circulating and has got over 383,000 signatures so far. This will not solve anything, nor will blaming Islam.
by Jules Ignacio
In the dark, the reconnaissance units
spread out on the mountaintop—the stage—
gawking at the riots, with their sniper eyes.
by Jake Reynolds
Paris was the place where everyone was all stripes and garlands
and the women were just beautiful cats squashed into Rorschach tests
and chain smokers found afternoon joie de vivre in Sartre’s Huis Clos
By Josh Wilson
I am going to be honest, I have no idea exactly is happening is Syria. Now is when I should stop writing an article about the Syrian War right? Of course, that doesn’t seem to stop everyone else from having an opinion, so I’m going to have a punt.
The Syrian ‘Civil’ War, that seems like it is now as international as the Cold War, has raged for more than 4 long years. The death and displacement it has caused is the most severe in recent history. There are so many players and interests that anyone that says they have a solution that is fool proof is lying to you. With Assad, a plethora of anti-government rebel groups, ISIS all backed by various outside sources, notably the US and Russia as well as other regional powers. The thought that any one of these groups can ultimately win and create lasting peace in the country seems like a fanciful claim to me.
by Robyn Banks
The migrant hoard was coming, a swarm of extremist middle Easterners desperate for new teeth who were going to simultaneously take all of the jobs and all of the job seekers allowance and probably wouldn’t even take a can of lager to the job centre like a proper British. They were going to threaten our way of life, make us all Muslim and were probably responsible for the recession. But somewhere along the way something changed and they became refugees — women, children, young men escaping war torn countries — deserving of our help and accommodation.
Talk of exits and bailouts have been plaguing the EU recently, and for a while it seemed as though the ‘migrant crisis’ was going to be the narrative sold to pull us all together, to make a case for the borders of Fortress Europe and to show that the EU was a big union capable of solving big problems. But then the public mood seemed to change. Suddenly people were ferrying van loads of donations to the camps at Calais and networks of volunteers seemed to spring up across the country. Syria was in the news again and ‘Refugees welcome’ marches attracted thousands. The establishment responded, but only with compromise.Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
Islamophobia appears to be so casual nowadays to the point that it is increasingly becoming the norm. On Friday, during a town hall rally in New Hampshire, US presidential candidate Donald Trump failed to condemn an outspoken audience member who called for the ridding of America of Muslims, and claimed that President Barack Obama is not an American.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man told Trump. “We know our current president is one.You know he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
A photograph of a single refugee, a toddler in a red t-shirt, a lone and lifeless body washed up ashore, face down in the sand. This is what it took for the citizens of Europe to see the refugees for what they are, not as groups of migrants, scroungers and opportunists, but as human beings facing unimaginable horrors. But even the righteous indignation that has followed, galvanising citizens and governments across Europe into opening up their borders, their homes and their hearts, is not enough for this government and they remain as cold and ruthless as the waters that have claimed the lives of thousands of refugees’. Refusing to participate in an EU-wide quota system, David Cameron has instead thrown in a token gesture of accepting just 20,000 over the next 5 years, offering asylum only to those who have yet to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
by Faizal Nor Izham
Despite almost 14 years of Western nations waging a ‘war on terror’, not much has been achieved in the way of making the world a truly secure place for all. With Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden now considered yesterday’s news, the Iraq war that was waged after 9/11 — widely considered by critics to be “pointless” — merely gave birth to another terrorist threat in the form of ISIS. Today, some sections of the Western media continue to be awash with Islamophobic articles on an almost daily basis, further fueling the public’s misconception of Islam and its supposed roots in terrorism. This in turn has affected Britain’s immigration and multicultural policies to an extent, and has only served to further heighten levels of prejudice against Muslims.
It begs the question: has the Western response to 9/11 really been that worthwhile?Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
US President Barack Obama recently gave an impassioned address at the US Coast Guard Academy:
‘I understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world, yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East.’
As expected, this speech was met with derision from the Republican Party and its media allies, claiming that taking further steps to help resolve the environmental issue could affect the US economy. It’s hard to see what steps Obama is taking to prevent climate catastrophe in light of recent events: the US Department of the Interior has allowed drilling in the Arctic region to go ahead, the Keystone Pipeline still remains a dangerously unresolved issue and land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Yavapai-Apache Nation is about to be handed over to a mining corporation. While it’s business as usual for government-corporate relations, a growing threat is dismissed as scaremongering.
by Faizal Nor Izham
So the identity of Jihadi John has been revealed and the local press are now going to town on who Muhammad Emwazi was and what his past life in England was like, presumably to put together the pieces behind his state of mind and what drove him to commit such atrocities. Of course, this writer has been keeping tabs on such developments over the past week or so and, without wanting to sound like an amateur psychologist here, has done so in order to gain an idea of what the mind set of the average ISIS recruit is like.
And, truth be told, there seems very little that differentiates Emwazi’s frame of mind from that of any other garden-variety sociopath, such as Ted Bundy or the infamous Columbine high school shooters. If you’re still under the impression that he believes in a deeply-rooted cause, it’s very likely you’re sadly mistaken.