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.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence
On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.
The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.
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.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: hate speech, antigypsyism, inclusion of derogatory language.
After a Hope Not Hate survey revealed the not-so-shocking discovery that two thirds of Conservative Party Members are islamophobes, pressure has been mounting for the Tories to launch a party inquiry into Islamophobia. In a time when Jeremy Corbyn’s hummus eating habits spur fresh cries of antisemitism, it is encouraging to see that the ‘Nasty Party’ are not immune from scrutiny for the widespread racism amongst their members. Though the survey results were damning, the response from the media has been somewhat subdued. Can you imagine the backlash if a survey found that two thirds of Labour Party members believed antisemitic conspiracy theories? Or if 43% said they would prefer the UK was not led by a Jew (as Conservatives members indicated at the possibility of a Muslim Prime Minister)? The next Tory leader will inherit this scandal and may not be able to brush it off so easily.
Now that the lid has been blown off the rampant islamophobia within the Conservative Party, it’s high time other widely held racist beliefs in the party ranks were examined; not least, antigypsyism.
by Sean Meleady
Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.
by Jonathan Lee
After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.
“I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.”
by Jonathan Lee
I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.
My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.
If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.