As former members of the armed forces of the YPG who left the UK and volunteered to fight the Islamic extremist group ISIS, we wish to make it clear we oppose attempts by the Far Right to co-opt the fight against ISIS and Jihadism, and we support the counter demonstration against the upcoming right-wing mobilisation on the 14th July.
As those that fought against ISIS and had many friends who died in that fight, including some of the 8 UK citizens who have died, we want to make it clear that Tommy Robinson, the EDL, Generation Identity and the FLA are not part of the fight against Islamic extremism and are only trying to make things worse.
Like the whole of the Far Right, Tommy Robinson offers no solutions, only more divisions. He is a Far Right career politician who started out in the neo-Nazi BNP, founded the EDL, then a party called British Freedom Party for other ex-BNP members, then Pegida UK, and is only now presenting himself as some kind of independent journalist. He is not; he is movement building, and the kind of movement he wants is clear from his past groups listed here and from his current association with Generation Identity, a group made up of ‘former’ neo-Nazis.
Violent Islamic extremism, like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, is not part of traditional Islam. It is a recent development that only took shape after the 1950s. Similarly, what is commonly called Islamic Fundamentalism is also not part of traditional Islam, is just over 100 years old, and only started to become prevalent in the last 50 years. Although we need to oppose these reactionary backward movements, Islam itself is no worse than any other major religion in its doctrines: when we oppose Islamic fascism we need to be very specific about which groups or individuals we oppose.
The Far Right has no interest in this. They deliberately tar all Muslims as supporting Jihadi terrorism and wanting to conquer non-Muslim countries. They whip up tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims for racist ends, as Muslims are overwhelmingly non-white, and they intend to use this tension and distrust to build a right-wing movement that scapegoats first racial minorities, then others. This is the same pattern followed by far-right movements across the globe. By creating societies where ordinary Muslims feel unwelcome and unsafe, they will only help recruit for extremists.
If you have genuine concerns over segregated communities, place the blame on the New Labour and Tory governments that allowed and encouraged segregation, and support a socialist solution of united and equal communities and secular (non-religious) education.
If you have genuine concerns over grooming gangs, place the blame on the New Labour and Tory governments that allowed and encouraged disregard for working-class women and girls and support a socialist answer to classism and neglect, and proper funding for social services.
If you have genuine concerns over Islamic extremism:
- Call on the government to break all ties with Saudi Arabia whose laws are almost identical to ISIS’ and exports extremist ideology worldwide.
- Call on the government to break all ties with Erdoğan’s Turkey, which has nurtured and allied with ISIS to attack the Kurds, supports Jihadis in Syria, and is enforcing more and more reactionary fundamentalist laws in Turkey itself.
- Look for solutions and allies from within the Muslim and migrant communities who are most affected by Islamic extremism.
The YPG did not beat ISIS by promoting one religion over another or one race over another, but through its ideology of secular (non-religious), democratic, multi-faith, multi-racial, socialism. Left-wing ideas and policies beat ISIS in Northern Syria, and the same will be true fighting other movements like ISIS here too.
Photo: British citizen Anna Campbell, who was killed fighting Turkish-backed jihadists in Afrin, wears the logo of the International Brigades who fought Franco’s fascist forces in Spain in the 1930s