Category Archives: News

Free Tariq Ramadan

Since Friday, February 2, Prof. Ramadan has been held in a solitary cell in the high security wing of Paris’s Fleury-Mérogis prison. Since last Wednesday, January 31, when Prof. Ramadan voluntarily went to the police station in Paris to answer questions about the allegations leveled against him, his family has been denied access either to visit or speak with him over the phone. It remains unclear when Prof. Ramadan’s family will be able to communicate with him and check on his condition. See more: https://www.facebook.com/FreeTariqRamadanCampaign/posts/1949252545103191

 

Below is an important open letter by Houria Bouteldja, spokesperson for the Party of the Indigenous People of the Republic. In this letter, she calls on feminists and others to condemn the discriminatory manner in which the court has dealt with Tariq Ramadan: “The silence of feminists on this difference in treatment has already had a negative impact on their own cause. Not only does this indifference reinforce patriarchy, it also deepens the already-existing rift between white women and women from post-colonial migrant backgrounds. In truth, closing ranks is what these women need to do in their struggle for freedom.”

Here is the full article:

“Yes to tough, exemplary action against rape
No to the racist treatment of Tariq Ramadan

As a woman, I demand that rape is severely punished, no matter who the perpetrator of the crime is, regardless of whether he is white or black.

As an indigenous woman, I demand the same punishment for perpetrators of rape, whether they are white or black.

Indeed, the French justice system is one that tends to patriarchy, and, yes, it tends to be complaisant towards sex crimes, especially when committed by influential men. Women’s voices are constantly demeaned and dismissed, except when the perpetrator is said to be black, Arab, Muslim or from the suburbs.

Here, justice tends to become racist. The tables turn: Men, who are usually protected at the expense of women, lose this immunity. They could even be condemned in advance. This is true whether it is a petty crime, or a serious offense. It may be the reason why men from migrant backgrounds are overrepresented in prison.

Is it possible to believe that we are championing women’s causes by charging one category of men while ensuring the impunity of another? Is it possible to believe that we are serving women’s causes when the perpetrators of such crimes exploit their positions of power, and enjoy their freedom and presumption of innocence with the support of their peers? And yet Tariq Ramadan, who has already been condemned by the media, has to bear a temporary detention, that the likes of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Patrick Balkany, Georges Tron, Gérard Darmanin, Denis Baupin, Thierry Marchal-Beck, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Gilbert Cuzou, and many others, have evaded or are evading?

Of course, no two cases are similar, but the difference in media, political and judicial treatment of those men, as opposed to the treatment inflicted on Tariq Ramadan, speaks for itself. This is particularly true in the case of Gilbert Cuzou [a politician in the Ile-de-France region, which includes the city of Paris]: Even though he was charged with five accounts of rape, he was released on bail while he awaits his trial. Meanwhile, Tariq Ramadan has been left to rot in Fleury-Merogis prison since February 2.

The humilitation and discriminatory treatment of indigenous people has disastrous consequences on our lives as women. It has a tragic impact on the lives of our children and our communities who pay a collective price.

As for the impunity of white men in particular, it has catastrophic consequences on the lives of women in general.

The silence of feminists on this difference in treatment has already had a negative impact on their own cause. Not only does this indifference reinforce patriarchy, it also deepens the already-existing rift between white women and women from post-colonial migrant backgrounds. In truth, closing ranks is what these women need to do in their struggle for freedom.

Hence, the only dignified course of action available to us women is to demand, regardless of the outcome of the proceedings concerning Tariq Ramadan, and without any prejudgment of his culpability or innocence, that he is treated without humiliation–in other words, with dignity, just like the others were treated… Or else, to demand that the others are treated in the same way. This is imperative and non-negotiable.

Sincerely,
Houria Bouteldja”

 

Ethno-Racial Data Collection: Yes, but with whom? How? And what for?

We believe that collection of ethno-racial data, which has been claimed for years by individuals and collectives who have been combating Institutional Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, besides being recommended by various international organizations, could be an unprecedented step in the combat against racism and inequality among ethno-racial groups in Portuguese society.

 

 

Until very recently, different Portuguese governments had shrouded themselves in the convenient, however fallacious argument of unconstitutionality. The resistance, as the growing collective articulation and mobilization, has created the possibility of ending the year of 2017 with the public commitment of the Portuguese government to move forward in this direction. However, as some options are made publicly known, our concern about the operationalization of this decision increases. Knowing that this process must respect the principles of ethno-racial representativeness and participation from the outset, we reject the idea that it begins in a crooked way, at the serious risk of no longer straightening up. We reiterate that not doing so is not only a glaring political incoherence, but also weakens the transformative potential of this data collection.

 

 

In this regard, it is important to underline the unilateral decision of the government to advance the proposal for Census 2021, consulting the National Statistics Institute (INE), without prior consultation with the racialized communities. It should also be pointed out that the Census Working Group 2021 – Ethnic and Racial Issues, under the coordination of the Office of the High Commissioner for Migration (ACM) and the Secretariat of State for Citizenship and Equality, established its first meeting for the 5th of February. Exactly that day marks three years since the brutal aggressions, with racist motivations, practiced by police agents of the Alfragide Squad, against residents of Cova da Moura, knowing that until today there is no verdict on the case. For our communities, the importance of this date does not allow it to be rewritten as a moment of dialogue and concertation.

 

 

The composition of this working group did not include Afro-descendant or Roma. This way of doing politics is symptomatic of an understanding of democracy that places racialized communities in the position of “beneficiaries” rather than agents of change. Certainly, we attribute to the State the responsibility and the duty to carry out the collection of data and to formulate public policies, but we do not give up the right to be involved and represented in this process in equal circumstances in the decision making.

 

If this involvement were to take place other strategic issues, so far absent from the agenda of the working group, would be on the table: How to broadly involve racialized individuals and the general population so that this collection is for them recognized and appropriate? How to guarantee the good use of this information by the media? How is the data from Census 2021 linked to other sectoral surveys, like in the field of justice and education? How do you articulate this process with the proposal to launch the International Decade of Afro-Descendants made last October by the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, knowing that so far nothing was to be seen in practical terms? But above all, what structural policies to combat racism and ethno-racial inequalities are expected to be implemented in a coordinated way with the collection of this data? It is unreasonable to wait for the results of data collection to finally start thinking about a policy agenda; rather, it is this agenda that should drive the data collection process.

 

But the point where this process is most problematic is exactly the inscription in the umbrella of migration policy. On the one hand, ethno-racial inequalities touch upon several areas of political action – education, justice, housing, etc. – cross-referencing to the forum of citizenship and equality, beyond the restricted competence of migration policy. On the other hand, it is only those who have been very distant from the debate that is taking place in Portugal that have not yet internalized the fundamental character of the unequivocal distinction between migration policies and policies to combat racism and ethno-racial inequalities. Last September, Deputy Minister Eduardo Cabrita said: “Afro-descendants and Roma have been in Portugal for centuries … They are as Portuguese as I am.”

 

We cannot continue to be relegated outside the body of the nation. This is also the message of the Campaign for Another Law of Nationality, where we have been fighting for all those born in Portugal to have the right to Portuguese nationality. We are not appendices of Portuguese society, so, likewise, policies aimed at guaranteeing our full access to citizenship and equality cannot be. Data collection can be a tool at the service of ethno-racial equality, but only if it is a result of the active participation of those who have no voice or statistical footprint.

 

 

 

 

Collective and individual signatories:

Afrolis – Associação Cultural

Associação Cavaleiros de São Brás

Consciência Negra

Fundo de Apoio Social de Cabo-Verdianos em Portugal (FASCP)

KUTUCA – Associação Juvenil do Bairro das Faceiras

MUXIMA

Núcleo de Estudantes Africanos – Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (NEA-ISCSP)

Plataforma Gueto

SOS Racismo

Teatro Griot

We Love Carapinha

Alciony Silva

Alessandra Brito

Alexandra Santos

Ana Fernandes

Ana Rita Alves

Anabela Rodrigues

Apolo de Carvalho

Ariana Furtado

António Tonga

Beatriz Carvalho

Carla Fernandes

Carla Lima

Carla Moura

Carlos Dias

Carlos Graça

Cristina Roldão

Daniel Martinho

David Lima

Diógenes Parzianello

Eduardo Jaló

Ianick Insaly

Iolanda Évora

Joacine Katar Moreira

Joana Mouta

José de Pina

José Semedo

José Semedo Fernandes

Lúcia Lopes

Maíra Zenun

Mamadou Ba

Maria da Graça

Marlene Nobre

Marta Araújo

Matamba Joaquim

Mojana Vargas

Myriam Taylor

Nádia Lima

Nuno Dias

Otávio Raposo

Paulo Taylor

Raquel Lima

Silvia Maeso

Sofia Peysonneau Nunes

Susana Djiba

Telma Gonçalves

Vítor Sanches

 

 

Survey Decolonial Academic Network

The Decolonial International Network (DIN) is considering setting up a service for academics working in/at universities around the world. The service is called Decolonial Academic Network and consists of the following parts:

  • An academic peer reviewed biannual journal where academics can publish the results of their research.
  • An accessible database on current, past and future research (PhD dissertations, collaborative research projects).
  • Publication of books via Amrit Publishers.
  • The organization of conferences for academics working in universities.
  • A vacancy alert for positions at universities (Lecturers, PhD researchers, Post-doctoral researchers, Professors).
  • Facilitating joint research projects.
  • Linking academics to decolonial activism.

DIN will invest in the service infrastructure and will facilitate a steering committee of academics who develop a policy for the network.

Currently the steering committee consists of the following people:

Sandew Hira, coordinator of DIN

Silvia Rodríguez Maeso, Centre for Social Research, University of Coimbra, Portugal

Adrian Groglopo, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

DIN would charge a membership fee for the service.

We want to have an idea whether a service like this would be useful for decolonial academics working in universities by conducting a survey. Click here to conduct the survey.

 

 

 

UK Labour Shadow Education Secretary has wrong end of stick in anti-Semitism claims

IHRC has written to the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner criticising her involvement in attempts by the Daily Mail to paint as anti-semitic the launch of a book by the Palestinian-American academic Dr Hatem Bazian.
In an article dated 17 November on the alleged rise of anti-Semitism on university campuses the Mail quoted Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton Under Lyne, as saying she would speak to party leader Jeremy Corbyn about his attendance at the launch last December of a book whose author the Mail described as ‘extremely anti-Semitic’. The event was hosted by IHRC.
Dr Bazianís book Palestine…it is something colonial frames the creation of the Zionist state as the last settler colonial project to be commissioned in the late 19th early 20th centuries. In locating Palestine’s modern history around settler colonial discourses Dr. Bazian’s book provides a context to understand and relate to the Middle East conflict, highlighting how Zionist settler colonialism shares many features with other colonialism such as the normative deployment of violence, religious justification, garrison state sponsor, transformation of the land and geography, and the constitution of a new colonial epistemology as well as the expulsion of an indigenous population and negation of its very existence.
IHRC refutes any suggestion that we are anti-Semitic or provide a platform to those who are. IHRC has never, and will never, platform any speaker who espouses racist views, including anti-Semitic views.
We view Angela Rayner’s intervention as an attempt to muzzle any criticism of Israel under the pretext of anti-Semitism.
“To describe Professor Bazian’s work or this event as anti-Semitic is deeply worrying. Either you have not read the work or you view all criticism of Israel to be illegitimate and should be silenced. In either scenario, your intervention is extremely damaging for free speech and political debate in the UK,” states the letter. “We find it deeply troubling that a democratically elected official like yourself should seek to demonise pro-BDS political opinions that are critical of Israel by labelling it anti-Semitic.”
Dr. Hatem Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Editor-in-Chief of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and Director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian is also a co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in America, the National Chair of American Muslims for Palestine, Board Member of Islamic Scholarship Fund, and Board Member of the Muslim Legal Fund of America.
The letter also clarifies that Mr Corbyn never attended the event. He was passing by, on his own personal business, and members of the audience asked him for photographs, to which he kindly agreed.

Notes to editors:

The full text of the letter can be read here

For more information please call +44 7958 522196 or email nadia@ihrc.org.

Islamophobia conferences in Europe

In December across Europe events are being organized on islamophobia.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom two events have been organized.

Edinburgh

On Friday 8 Dec 2017 from 6:00pm to 9:45pm SACC will host an event in Edinburgh. A recent survey by Samena Dean found that more than half of Muslim school students interviewed in Edinburgh had experienced Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim racism is commonplace and growing. It is reflected in hate crime, unlawful discrimination, discriminatory and hostile social attitudes and institutional racism. Schools, colleges and universities are not immune to this trend.

Islamophobia has assisted and driven the growth of other forms of xenophobia that are now being felt across the UK by EU citizens threatened by Brexit. It has paved Donald Trump’s path to the White House. Across Europe it is fuelling the growth of far-right parties that, once empowered, threaten Jews, LGBT people and disabled people.

Our educational institutions are uniquely well-placed to shape social attitudes and community relations in tomorrow’s Scotland. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. If you care about education, whether as an educator, a student or a member of the wider community, please come along to the conference. It’s a chance to learn about the experiences of others and discuss the way forward.

There are two parallel workshops from 6-7 pm.

A: “Can we talk about Islamophobia” – workshop mainly for young Muslims, but open to everyone

  1. “Radicalising anti-racism” – round-table discussion on how to move towards radically anti-racist education

There is a break for food from 7.00-7.20pm followed by two plenary session:

7.20-8.30pm: Plenary I. “What is Islamophobia?”

8.40-9.45pm: Plenary II. “Decolonising Education”

Speakers include: Arzu Merali (co-founder and head of research, IHRC, and leading member of DIN), Tasneem Ali (MWAE), Richard Haley (SACC), Sofiah MacLeod (Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) and Yahya Barry. Chaired by Zahid Ali.

The event is at Augustine United Church, 41-43 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH6 4BY. Admission is free. Donations are welcome.

Facebook: http://www.sacc.org.uk/events/2017/islamophobia-conference-2017 / https://www.facebook.com/saccRights/

London

On December 10 IHRC, member of DIN, will host an event to discuss the rise of islamophobia.

Last year’s Islamophobia conference discussed the creation of a police state in the UK. While the policies aimed at surveilling, criminalising and extraditing Muslims, refugees and migrants have continued unabated, we have seen alongside this the alarming growth of nativism in the UK and around the world.

Nativism is the political policy of promoting the interests of “native” inhabitants against those of “immigrants”. It is racism masquerading as patriotism.

This racism reared its ugly head during the Brexit debates. Anti-immigrant sentiments were fanned to ensure a victory for the leave camp. Since then, incidents of racism and Islamophobia have been on the rise. Following the vote, people were attacked on the streets and told they now had to leave the UK since the leave vote was successful. The ‘leave’ result has further legitimised the environment of hate we already exist in.

The election of Trump in America has allowed nativism to enter mainstream politics. He branded Mexicans as lazy and as rapists, Muslims as terrorists and imposed a ‘Muslim Ban’. His anti-immigration stance and his plan for a wall on the Mexican border has resonated with people who feel they have been marginalised and silenced by immigrants, foreigners, the ‘other’ who are destroying their way of life. Trump’s rise to power mirrors a rise in hate crimes against minorities. Black communities continue to struggle against systemic violence, as well as racism from their fellow citizens, while Trump publicly undermines any criticism voiced by black communities. Trump’s presidency has emboldened Nazis to openly march on the streets again, galvanised the so-called alt-right and fractured community relations across America.

Across Europe we see a similar trend; the rise of the far-right has been fuelled by nativist sentiments. Ideas of foreigners taking over, of destroying indigenous cultures and imposing their own alien way of life have been the main talking points for the likes of the Afd in Germany, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. Recent elections in Germany, Austria, France and the Czech Republic saw major electoral gains for far-right parties / candidates. Europe’s shift to the right signals a new era of nativist policies, and foreshadows a future of uncertainty and instability for minority communities.

Location: P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton St, Kings Cross, London NW1 1JD (nearest stations: Kings Cross St. Pancras / Euston / Euston Square).

Date and time: December 10, from 10.30am – 4.30pm

Speakers:

  • Dr Luis Manuel Hernandez Aguilar
  • Arzu Merali
  • Amrit Wilson
  • Hatem Bazian
  • Phil Miller
  • Martjin de Koning

Website: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/events/11979-islamophobia-conference-2017-the-rise-of-nativism

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Islamic-Human-Rights-Commission-109724959498/

Spain

In Madrid, Spain, Kale Amenge, member of DIN, and uMMA in collaboration with Bruselles Pantheres will host an event to confront the growing racism in the Spanish context and to build a Roma-Muslim alliance to fight together both islamophobia and anti-gipsyism as forms of structural racism in the Spanish state. The event will be held at La Enredadera de Tetuán, C/ Anastasio Herrero 10, Madrid on December 10 2017 (start 17.00 hr).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1858522374459001/

France

In France a coalition of organizations are organizing an event on December 10th in Saint-Denis. The coalition consists of the following organizations: AFD International, Association Commission “Islam & laïcité”, CCIF, CFPE, CCI, Femmes plurielles, Fondation Frantz Fanon, Identité plurielle, IJAN, NPA, PIR (member of DIN), PSM, UJFP.

This years conference is entitled “Macron or the permanent state of emergency”.

There are three plenary sessions :

1st plenary session: 9.30 a.m. to 12: Are antiterrorist law efficient in the fight against terrorism?

2d plenary session: 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: The identity attack against public liberties: attacks from everywhere.

3d plenary session: 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.: Silencing political antiracist activists: the other face of the identity attack.

The are followed by two workshops from 4.45 p.m. to 5.30p.m.

  1. The struggle against discriminations on the workplace and the consequences of the labor law.
  2. Stigmatisation of territories: from Saint-Denis to Molenbeek

A fourth plenary session from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. concludes with a discussion on the perspectives for the future.

The location is : Bourse du Travail, 9 rue Genin, Saint-Denis (France).

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Conf%C3%A9rence-Internationale-contre-lIslamophobie-137999883520915/

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/243921642807102/

Sweden

A three day conference in Sweden will present a decolonial analysis of islamophobia.

The conference aims:

  • To create a space for dissemination of decolonial knowledge ;
  • To raise the question of islamophobia and discuss it on local, national and international levels ;
  • To create awareness of Morayma, member of DIN, and facilitate networking between organizations and activists.

Program :

  • Friday Dec 15th (evening) – Workshop, 2 hours
  • Saturday Dec 16th – Conference, 6 hours
  • Sunday Dec 17th – Workshop/lecture, 2-4 hours

Speakers are : Ramon Grosfoguel, Hatem Bazian and Sandew Hira.

The conference will be held in Götenborg, Sweden.

Registration : www.morayma.se

 

Decolonial Summer Schools in Spain

Decolonial Summer Schools in Spain

Dialogo Global, a Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues, is a non-profit and non-governmental organization promoting research, knowledge-making, education. Dialogo Global organizes two Summer Schools in Spain.

In Barcelona the Summer School is on “Decolonizing Knowledge and Power”. The Summer Schools looks into questions of epistemology, activism, decolonizing the mind and power.

In Granada the Summer School is on Critical Muslim Studies: Decolonial Struggles and Liberation Theologies. Critical Muslim Studies is inspired by a need for opening up a space for intellectually rigorous and socially committed explorations between decolonial thinking and studies of Muslims, Islam and the Islamicate. Critical Muslim Studies does not take Islam as only a spiritual tradition, or a civilization, but also as a possibility of a decolonial epistemic perspective that suggests contributions and responses to the problems facing humankind today. It offers an opportunity to interpret and understand Muslim phenomena in ways that does not reproduce Eurocentrism, Islamophobia or takfiri exclusivism.

In the framework of SISUMMA and in collaboration with the Critical Muslim Studies Summer School, the Euro–Arab Foundation hosted the conference “Debates on “Critical Muslim Studies” in Granada (July 2017), video provided by SISUMMA

Video: Hatem Bazian (UC-Berkeley)

Video: Salman Sayyid (Leeds University)

Interview with Salman Sayyid at the Critical Muslim Studies Summer School, Granada

Video: Claire Lienart (Journalist/France)

Interview with Houria Bouteldja at the Critical Muslim Studies Summer School, Granada

 

Five misconceptions on terrorism

Sheher Khan

The popular imagination of terrorism doesn’t always correspond to the actual developments. One such a misconception is that most terrorist attacks in the West are committed by al-Qaeda, Daesh and the likes (from now on Takfiri terrorism). Whilst these violent incidents are very deadly indeed, they don’t constitute a majority of the attacks – especially in the West. Another misconception is that we’re supposed to be living in a so-called “golden age of terrorism”. These misconceptions exaggerate the impact of Takfiri terrorism (as well as the role played by refugees and newcomers therein), deflects from other relevant and related developments (such as the growing threat from the extreme right) and absorbs attention from regions that bear the brunt of terrorism (i.e. the Global South). In this piece, I’ll try to answer the following five commonly heard misconceptions with my own analysis:

  1. Most attacks in the western world are not committed by Takfiri terrorists;
  2. Terrorism is more of a problem for the non-western world than in the western;
  3. Terrorist incidents have been on the decline in Western-Europe, especially since 9/11;
  4. The underestimated increasing threat from the extreme right;
  5. The overrated role of refugees and newcomers in terrorism.

1. Takfiri terrorism: a minority of the attacks

This might come as a surprise to many, but: Terrorism in the west is not the exclusive domain of al-Qaeda, Daesh, and the like. In fact, when looking at it from a quantitative angle, an insignificant amount of terrorist attacks between 2006 and 2013 in the European Union (EU) was committed by the aforementioned groups, namely: 0.7%. The biggest threat, according to Europol, during that period came from separatist quarters.

Think hereby of groups such as the IRA, ETA and PKK. An example: the Irish separatist group Dissident Republicans, also known as the “new IRA”, made one deadly victim in March 2016 when they detonated an explosive that was put under a prison keeper’s van. Another: British Labour-politician Jo Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist, Thomas Mair, in June 2016 because of her position on Brexit.

A similar image can be seen in the United States (US). Figures from the FBI show that 94% of the terrorist attacks, in the period from 1980 to 2005, were committed by perpetrators that did not have an Islamic profile. A study conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism concluded that between 1970 and 2011 only 7% of all attacks were committed by terrorists with a “religious conviction” (hereby referring to al-Qaeda and similar groups). The largest percentage (32%) came from groups motivated by an etho-nationalist or separatist agenda, followed by (28%) single issues parties (such as animal rights or anti-war), 22% from the extreme-left and 11% extreme-right. A famous example is the massacre committed by white nationalist Dylann Roof. The 21-year-old white supremacist unleashed his firepower on African-American churchgoers in Charleston and took nine lives.

The situation changed however after 2013. In 2014 one attack was committed by a Takfiri terrorist; by 2015 it rose explosively to 17 (out of a total of 121 attacks). In 2016 it dropped slightly to 13 (of the total 142 attacks). Even though Europol reiterated in her latest report (2017) that most attacks (i.e. 99 of 142) come from separatist movements , the attacks from Takfiri quarters were very deadly. Between 2000 and 2013 40% of all deaths by terrorism in Europe were caused by Takfiri groups. The violent acts in recent years such as Brussels (2016), Nice (2016) and Paris (2015) took respectively 32, 84 and 130 lives. Their share of the deadly victims of terrorism in Europe has risen in 2016 to include almost all (i.e. 135 victims out of a total of 142). More on this below.

In conclusion: Takfiri terrorist attacks are clearly very lethal, but not the only danger. Extreme-right, separatist and ethonationalist groups constitute also a major threat.

2. The size of the fatal consequences of terrorism in the non-western world

A number of pundits and commentators have highlighted the disparity in reporting on terrorist attacks in the west and non-western world. It seems that terrorist incidents in the Global South doesn’t receive the same exposure and attention as those in the West. As the Lebanese doctor Elie Fares wrote after the 2015 terrorist attack in Beirut (which occurred at the same time as the attack on Charlie Hebdo): “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag” wrote. He further wrote on his blog:  “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

This commonly heard statement is supported by a study conducted by sociologist Sean Darling-Hammond. The researcher collected data from each of the 300 reported terrorist attacks in November 2015 and compared the number of articles devoted to the violent acts. Darling-Hammond observed 392 articles dedicated to the terrorist attack in Baghdad; 1.292 to Beirut and more than 21.000 on the violence in Paris. The researcher concluded that Western victims disproportionately receive more attention than their fellow victims in the non-western world.

The underreporting doesn’t only feed into and sustains indifference of violence inflicted upon the Global South, but also obscures the real impact of terrorism on the non-western world.

A Washington Post research article gives insight in to the actual scale and size of impact felt by terrorism globally. As they write: “Since the beginning of 2015, the Middle East, Africa and Asia have seen almost 50 times more deaths from terrorism than Europe and the Americas” the Washington Post. The graph below visualizes the ratios:

Victims of terrorist attacks beyond Western Europe (period 2001-2014)

Source: Huffington Post (2015)

The top three consists of Muslim-majority countries. The first western country on the list is the US at # 7. When 9/11 is taken out of the equation, no single western country remains in the top ten. Even the total deaths by Daesh in the west wouldn’t earn a top ten spot (443 victims). According to the 2017 ICCT-report, 395 Western citizens died because of terrorist attacks by Daesh from June 2014 to June 2017. I’ve added the Manchester-attack (22 civilians killed), the following London-attack (8 killed), Catalonia attacks (16 killed) and Turku (2 killed).

Terrorist violence thus is mostly felt in the non-western world.

Another way to look at the above figures is through the lens of the Global War on Terror: the top ten consists of countries that were subject to or felt the consequences of the US-led antiterrorism project. This is shown better in the graph below:

Global deaths from terrorism

Source: economist.com

Take Iraq. The US invaded the Arab country in 2003 for two reasons: 1) The then leader, Saddam Hussein, was thought to have chemical weapons in his possession and 2) that he was providing shelter for al Qaeda – both claims turned out to be unfounded.

However, the consequences of the invasion were very real: eleven years after the illegal invasion, in 2014, more Iraqi’s became victims of terrorist violence than the total world number (!) In 2001 – that is, the year in which 9/11 happened and ignited the US-led Global War on Terror.

Iraq – where no suicide bombings were registered before 2003 –  has been completely destabilized by the illegal invasion and more than 40,000 casualties by terrorist violence have been recorded ever since.

The next question that then arises: why are these figures missing out in the public discourse? According to intellectual Noam Chomsky this is not just due to a lack of media-attention, but because of a political culture wherein victims are differentiated between worthiness – i.e. worthy and unworthy victims. Chomsky explains his thesis with the following example: in 2007, a poll was conducted among US citizens asked to estimate the total number of deaths in Iraq. The median was 10,000. The actual number then was between 150,000 and 650,000 deadly victims. According to Chomsky, the disparity is a consequence of a targeted campaign by the US: they aim to suppress media reporting on (deadly) civilian victims caused by their occupation of Iraq. The purpose is to diminish its role in and prevent a discussion of their occupation of Iraq.

And when are civilian casualties considered ‘worthy’ enough according to Chomsky? That’s when their deaths can further Washington’s foreign policy. This was demonstrated in 2014 when the former US president, Barack Obama, used the threat of Daesh to get “boots on the ground” in Iraq. In 2011, then President Nouri al-Maliki refused to extend the stay of the US Army. That led to dissatisfaction and resistance in Washington who preferred not to leave. When Daesh came on the Western radar in 2014 and threatened civilians worldwide, that danger was used as a pretext to increase the number of US troops in Iraq. The (potential) victims of Daesh were in this context seen as ‘worthy victims’ because they could help Washington’s regional agenda.

3. Downward trend of terrorism in Western Europe

Contrary to popular imagination, the years after 9/11 are marked not by an increase but decrease of terrorist violence, especially in Western Europe. This is in opposition to the doom scenarios painted by some pundits and their statements of a “golden age of terrorism”. A statistical analysis shows however a contrary image and depict an overall downward trend. See the chart below:

Kill by terrorist attacks in Western Europe (1970-2015)

Source: Datagraver.com

The figures above clearly show that there were significantly less fatal victims in the period after 9/11 than in the 21 years before. That trend began after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and has continued ever since except for outliers like Madrid (2004), London (2005) and Paris (2015).

Furthermore, when deadly victims of terrorism in Europe are divided between west and east, the following picture shows up: the majority of the victims in the past 15+ years fell in the eastern part of the continent (see below):

Kill by terrorism per month: West versus Eastern Europe

Source: Washington Post

Experts explain it as a consequence of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the conflicts resulting from it such as those in Yugoslavia, Chechnya and Ukraine. An important and lesser known example of such a deadly attack is the Odessa (Ukraine) clashes in 2014. During one of those confrontations, on May 2, 46 people were killed by the neo-Nazi-linked Pravy Sector because of their pro-Russian affiliations. The map below visualizes how these attacks are divided throughout Europe:

Geographical distribution of terrorist attacks in Europe between 1970 and 2015

 

Source: Washington Post

In conclusion, terrorist attacks before 9/11, especially in the 70s and 80s, exceeded today’s level of activity. Violent incidents have overall been on the decline since 9/11. Moreover, the impression that most deadly attacks occur in the Western-Europe cannot be supported by the actual distribution of violent incidents; that burden falls on the eastern part.

4. Growing threat of extreme right violence

The Charleston-attack – whereby a neo-Nazi linked extremist weaponized his car to plow into a group of anti-fascist demonstrators and thereby killing one woman and injuring many others – is one of many examples in the recent history demonstrating an increasing threat coming from the extreme-right.

Indeed, a recent study has shown that 1/3 of all so-called lone-wolf terrorists in Europe are linked to the extreme right. Research from the US shows that far right extremists are even of a greater threat than Takfiri terrorism. Think-tank New America found out that nearly two times more casualties have fallen, between 9/11 and 2015, by hands of white supremacists than by Takfiri terrorists. This study is supported by a recent investigation (2017) held by the United States Supreme Audit Office – a.k.a. the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GOA concludes from their survey that the extreme right is responsible for the bulk of all fatal terrorist attacks: 73% versus 27% by Takfiri terrorism.

However, when terrorist attacks are ranked in terms of casualties, we can make the same observation as in Europe: Takfiri terrorist attacks are on average far more deadly. Nevertheless, this doesn’t negate nor diminish the growing threat coming from rightwing terrorism. The cases of Anders Breivik, the Dutchman Tristan van der Vlis and Dylann Roof are relatively well-known, but as the following examples show, the danger from the right-wing have been building up in recent years and on the rise throughout the western world:

  • In 2013, the 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem was stabbed to death by a terrorist with extreme-right affiliations while he came from a mosque visit. Saleem died soon afterwards. The same fate was inflicted upon to 81-year-old British Muhsin Ahmed two years later. In the following year, in 2016, Labor-politician Jo Cox was shot by an right-wing terrorist because of her political position on Brexit;
  • In the US, Muslims and African Americans have been killed – and in some cases even executed – by white racists because of their religious and/or ethnicity backgrounds. Other (religious) minority groups such as Hindus and Sikhs have also been subjected by a similar fate, often because the extreme right confuses and/or regard them the same as Muslims;
  • In the Netherlands a terrorist attack was committed in a mosque by a group of five extreme right-wing racists in 2016.
  • In Greece, a refugee camp was attacked in 2016 by a group of right-wing extremists;
  • In early 2017, an extreme-right terrorist attacked a mosque in Canada Quebec. The perpetrator shot on worshippers as they were praying and killed 6 civilians.

In short, this select overview makes clear that extreme right-wing terror is not only in the march but a phenomena to be seen throughout the West.

5. The overestimated role of refugees and newcomers in terrorism

A persistent myth spread (but not exclusively) by the (extreme) right is that the inflow of migrants and refugees leads to more terrorist violence. Studies, however, show that the role of migrants and refugees in terrorist attacks have been exaggerated.

The ICCT, a research institute in The Hague (Holland), investigated all of Daesh’ linked terrorist attacks in the west and found out that 73% of all attackers were citizens of the same country where they committed their act of violence. Another 14% were visitors or residents with a (legal) residence status. A further 6% remained in the country without documentation and only 5% were refugees or newcomers (see below).

Graphs of origin attackers

Source: ICCT (2017)

The vast majority of the danger (95%) comes from citizens or residents without a recent history of migration.

The findings from the ICCT report (2017) is broadly shared by other similar studies. British think-tank The Henry Jack Society (2017) found out that, in the case of Great Britain, more than two thirds of the attacks since 2005 were done by individuals “who were either born or raised in the UK”.  In an another research by The New America Foundation “every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident“. This study is corroborated by a recent research conducted under the guidance of political scientist Robert Pape. They found out (2017) that there were zero refugees involved in the 112 Daesh-related crimes. Lastly, liberal think-tank Cato concluded that the role of immigrants and refugees in terrorist attacks is minimal. Virtually all dead whereby immigrants or newcomers were involved come from one single event: 9/11 (98.6%). Apart from that, fatal terrorist attacks by immigrants or refugees are extremely rare in the United States.

However, with recent attacks such as Berlin (2016), Ansbach (2016) and Copenhagen (2016), the proportion of newcomers in attacks has significantly increased. According to the ICCT (2017), the influx of refugees and migrants is not the problem per se, because “the number of criminals and terrorists in mass migration movements has been low” and “terrorists often have a criminal background to begin with”.

Moreover, Daesh focuses its operations primarily on the conflict in their home territories in Iraq and Syria; newcomers and immigrants are fleeing those places because they are against the terrorist groups. The researchers of the ICCT therefore argue that the focus should be on proper regulation of the inflow of newcomers.

Secondly, as Brookings Institute scientist Daniel L. Byman argues, the problem are not the immigrants or refugees, but to them in coming contact with local radicalization-hubs.

Indeed, we see that clearly in the case of the 22-year-old Syrian newcomer, Jaber al Bakr, who was arrested on October 2016 on grounds of planning to commit a terrorist attack.

Jaber al-Bakr arrived in Germany in February 2015 and received legal residence five months later. According to Al-Bakr’s brother, Alaa al-Bakr, Jabr was not politically active or interested in Germany before arriving there. That changed after. In Berlin, Jabr al-Bakr came into contact with extremists. A local imam is thought to have brought him into contact with and urged him to fight for Daesh in Raqqa (Syria).

In September 2015, Bakr left Germany from Syria through Turkey, where he spent about five months and then two in Syria. On his personal Facebook page, it appears that al-Bakr began to sympathize with Daesh from January 2016. About two months before Jabr wanted to commit his violence, he was arrested by the German authorities. He could be detained because another Syrian newcomer arrested and handed him over to the police (after which the suspect, Jabr al-Bakr, hung himself later in his cell).

To conclude, the vast majority of Daesh terrorists are citizens of the same country in which they have committed their violent act. Only a small number of IS-affiliated terrorists are newcomers or undocumented citizens. If then there the goal is to stop or reduce terrorism, more attention should be paid to local radicalized groups rather than border surveillance.

Decolonizing Literacy Instruction

Ashley Wolstein

Literacy instruction too often reinforces the inequities of imperialism, and as a Language Arts teacher, my research involves exploring how the Language Arts classroom can be used to decolonize the mind. While many educators possess both the passion and ‘ike (knowledge) to deliver a curriculum that decolonizes the mind, current assessment models often hinder the actual implementation of such curriculum. I believe that educational policy holds both students and educators in a yoke of high-stakes testing which works to endorse conformity and strengthen the hold of the oppressor, and this is why my research interests involves decolonizing the Language Arts classroom.

As is noted in the introduction of Freire’s book (2000), students should be allowed to study epistemology and understand who produces knowledge, who controls knowledge, and whose interests, in the case of high stakes testing, all this testing really serves. We need radicals, revolutionaries, and comrades to challenge our educational system, to either dismantle the power held by policy makers or at least inject within them a shred of doubt. Too many policymakers, in my opinion, can be classified as either the right sectarian or the leftist counterpart, one that hopes to maintain status quo and the other that believes the future is predetermined (2000, p. 38-9). This is a harmful agenda and not very empowering for anyone.

While Common Core is an improvement from the Hawaii State Assessment, it still expects all students at a specific grade level to have a specific skill and be filled with specific content. The banking notion of education, where a student is a vessel to be filled by the teacher, is still embraced, even though the vessel is supposed to be filled with some skills. The constant testing detracts from our ability to help our students develop critical consciousness, to engage in dialogue and problem-based learning. For this reason, one of my primary interests is exploring how we can decolonize assessment in order to decolonize curriculum, and then, the mind. How can be truly make education bottom-up instead of top down, and truly serve the students it is allegedly designed to serve?

In order to decolonize the assessment, I believe that we need to research how current assessments reinforce a colonial mindset and any correlation this might have with current achievement gaps. Additionally, I want to explore how a decolonial literacy curriculum might improve student literacy skills. For instance, does anyone know if students are better able to make inferences when provided texts from their culture or a similar culture (given they would have more background knowledge) and what does this mean for assessment? How do current state tests detract time spent developing student’s critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving? How does one assess these important traits, and what role can literacy play in developing them?

Changing assessment, of course, will require “how” literacy is taught and “what” text make up the curriculum. It seems that providing students with literature from multiple perspectives (indigenous authors, postcolonial authors) is an important step in decolonizing knowledge, and this is my second research interest. In order for students to be successful and prepared for what the future may bring, a reading literacy curriculum needs to be studentfocused instead of text focused, present multicultural perspectives, utilize both print and digital sources, draw from fiction and non-fiction, offer flexibility, and most importantly, lead students to think and understand deeply. I hypothesize that this deep thinking would be best facilitated by allowing students to see the world through a multiplicity of eyes, instead of jus a Western perspective. In particular, if literature can be used in a transdisciplinary way to discuss and work towards solving real world problems such as racism and poverty, I believe this Language Arts model would help to decolonize the mind and improve student thinking, reading, and writing skills. To do, we must first ask several questions: How can we challenge and imperial view of the world represented in most school books? What critical strategies can be employed and how can these strategies be used to strengthen analytical and disciplinary literacy skills? How does the way we interpret literature shape the way we see ourselves? Our community? The world we live in? How has literature played a role in colonizing the mind, historically, and how can this be reversed? How can literature, instead, by drawing upon the epistemological value of indigenous text, serve as a tool for decolonization?

And we cannot stop with reading. This literacy project also begs the question, how can we decolonize writing practices? How can writing be used to heal, as a voice, and a means to decolonize one’s own mind? As a teacher, I believe it starts by allowing student’s more power and agency when constructing text. We can no longer serve as “dominant” co-authors of our student’s writing, having them write the essays we want them to write, often for no clear purpose, and instead, view “writing as a mode of social action, not simply a means of communication” (Prior, 2006, p. 58). Students need more authentic writing assignments, and they need to understand the goals of writing (purpose). Too often, we dictate some assignment to them that lacks a clear audience or purpose. It seems the academic community needs to conduct more research regarding how to decolonize writing for the purpose of social justice, and I am hoping to connect with other educators seeking to decolonize literacy practices, and of course, think deeply about the world.

Contact: aweber8@hawaii.edu

References

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

Prior, P. (2006). A sociocultural theory of writing. In C.A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 54-66). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Video Links

Freire Project. (2012, April 30). Paulo Freire documentary seeing through Paulo’s glasses: Political clarity, courage and humility.

The European Left and Venezuela

“I have been following the Bolivarian Revolution from its beginning with critical attention and solidarity,” writes renown Portuguese scholar Boaventura de Souza. He continues: “Last May 26, I signed a manifesto prepared by Venezuelan intellectuals and politicians of various political tendencies and addressed to the parties and social groups engaged in confrontation asking them to stop street violence and start a discussion with a view to finding a non violent, democratic outcome without US interference.

After that, I decided I would not again speak about the Venezuelan crisis. Why do I do it today? Because I am shocked at the partiality of European media, including the Portuguese media, a bias resorting to all kinds of means to demonize a legitimately elected government, ignite the social and political fire and sanction foreign intervention of unforeseen consequences.”

There is a big contrast with the eighties when the European left had organized broad solidarity work with the revolutions in Central America. Now they are so intimidated by the capitalist press that they don’t even dare to speak out against the US-led campaign against the Bolivarian revolution. Boaventura de Souza is an example of that courage of the left, that is now lost in the 21st century.

Read the full text of his declaration on Venezuela and the Western media here.