'Blame hate, not Islam': Europe's Left responds to terror attacks

A memorial in Brussels for those killed in the March 22 terror attacks.

Grassroots groups across Europe are warning against succumbing to misguided and bigoted speech in the wake of the latest terrorist atrocity in Belgium.

Reacting to the terror attacks in Brussels on March 22, an Israeli state official echoed the typical narrative conflating Islam and terrorism, and the idea of a clash of a civilisation.

"This is a Third World War against our common values," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, according to the Jerusalem Post. "Terrorism must unite Western countries to unite for a determined, creative, and uncompromising fight against its origins, funders, and operators." Western culture is under attack from extremist Islamic terrorism, which is relentless and indiscriminate, Ya'alon added.

In Europe, calls for increasing security and tightening borders pushed anti-racist groups to issue both condolences and warnings against Islamophia amid the sorrow.

The Belgian Revolutionary Communist League immediately called for defending democracy in the face of “the new security, war hawkish, racist and Islamophobic push that these terrible events risk evoking in Belgium and, above all, the political class and mainstream media”.

Alternative media outlet Indymedia Bruxsel published an ironic message thanking “paternalists, racists” and the “idiots who think they are in war, while it's still just an operation of colonial control on a global scale”.

Another activist group, the Citizen's Platform for the Support of Refugees in Brussels, posted on Facebook: “We must refuse to remain stuck in fear, disgust, horror and hatred. We must refuse to be silent and apathetic.”

Chair of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) parliamentary group in the European parliament, Gabi Zimmer, called it "a black day for all of us" and insisted: "More than ever we will stick to our values of solidarity, peace and freedom."

Some took another approach to the hateful rhetoric. Jean-Luc Melenchon, leading member of France's Left Front, said: “Hatred against killers is healthy. Then breathe deeply and start to think again.

“We will retake the polemics later. Political brawls and ethnic or religious blaming play into the game of the enemy. It's their victory.”

Brushing away heated polemic, some groups instead opted for a sober anti-imperialist analysis.

“Our leaders decided on imperialist wars and created this cold monster that is terrorism,” Houria Bouteldja, spokesperson for France's anti-colonial Party of the Indigenous of the Republic, posted on Facebook. "We are paying for their recklessness. We say that war is not inevitable. We can even hope to love ourselves."

The Belgian anti-racist Movement X looked forward: "As a civil rights movement we will also assume our responsibility and continue our work on achieving greater solidarity among the communities and join the fight against any form of injustice."

Brussels-based anti-war activist Frank Barat echoed the call for a fight in an op-ed for Ceasefire Magazine: "This time, we are going to need more than demonstrations, we are going to have to do more than putting the Belgian flag as a profile picture on Facebook, we are going to need more that GIFs, tweets and petitions.

"What we need is a total, radical and deep rethinking of the way we see society, of how we see each other within it, of who makes decisions on our behalf. In short, a spiritual and philosophical revolution is what it required."

Islamophobic comments flooded social media following the attacks, with #StopIslam trending on Twitter in major European countries including Belgium, France, Turkey, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands.

"We must put an end to placing an equals sign between Islam and terrorism," Sabby Dhalu, Co-Convenor of Stand Up to Racism, told TeleSUR. "This is the narrative that is leading to increasing anti-Muslim hate crimes. Muslims are always portrayed as the perpetrators and never the victims of terrorism, even though many Muslims in Europe and across the globe are victims in terrorist attacks."

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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