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Statement of the African and Caribbean Progressive Study Group, December 8, 2005
The aftermath of the tragic events in Lozells, Birmingham, in September, in which two people lost their lives, point to the great dangers facing not just people of African, Caribbean and South Asian origin in Birmingham, but all sections of the population up and down the country. The disturbances themselves, the loss of life and the mistrust and hysteria that have been generated, have to be seen in the context of the psychosis of fear and uncertainty that the present government is attempting to establish. It is also part of its preferred policy of racism, a policy perfected by British governments over the centuries, at home and abroad, with the aim of creating diversions and mistrust, setting one section of the people against another, as a tried and tested means to divide and rule.
As many commentators have rightly pointed out, the responsibility for the unrest in Birmingham lies squarely with the government, state and media. There has been, for example, the constant hysteria about Muslims and terrorism, presented in such a way as to constitute an attack on, and an attempt to isolate, all those of South Asian origin. Then there are also the various attempts to sow divisions between what are presented as various distinct communities, based on the governments own racist logic and ideology. This ideology not only attempts to establish a hierarchy of communities, some being superior and some inferior to others, but also presents the notion that such communities are insular and isolated from each other, that they have nothing in common and are constantly in contention, squabbling over various resources. The picture that is often presented is of latent hostility between such communities, which at various times forces the government, police and other state agencies to step in as the peacemakers. In the case of the recent events in Birmingham, it also cannot be forgotten that attacks and provocations have also been carried out by the police, media and the fascist BNP, as well as by other sinister elements.
In these circumstances, all people of good will have, since those tragic events, done their utmost to diffuse tensions and mistrust and to remain united against those attempting to create divisions. In this context it is most unfortunate, to say the least, that some people are trying to present the tragic events in Birmingham as terrorist acts, launched on the Black African community and carried out by a terrorist Asian group. Amongst other demands, they then call on the government and police, the very forces responsible for creating all the conditions for the tragic events, and who themselves carried out racist attacks in Birmingham and elsewhere, to deal with the events in Lozells as racist terrorism.
In the current climate, as is well-known, it is the government, police and other state agencies which bandy around the term terrorist, although not applying it to the policies of state terrorism or state-sponsored terrorism in Iraq, Palestine, Sierra Leone and Britain itself, nor to the crimes carried out over centuries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. In Britain, the term terrorist is used largely to attack both those of African and Asian origin, while under the guise of combating terrorism the government attacks the rights of all. In this context then there can be no grounds for any community using such a term in respect of any group of people from any other community and on this basis calling for the intervention of the state authorities.
At this time what is clearly necessary is for all sections of the population to oppose the psychosis of fear and hysteria that is being whipped up. The maximum unity is required against racist attacks and provocations, against any attempts to set people at loggerheads, and in defence of the rights of all. The meetings, debates and discussions that are taking place on the internet and elsewhere should continue with the aim of strengthening this unity and directing it against all those who attempt to encourage communal strife, all those responsible for creating the conditions for the recent unrest in Birmingham.
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