Kamala Emanuel gave this speech at a rally against Islamophobia in Perth on October 18.
Like many of you here, I remember when the world’s biggest anti-war demonstrations took place in many cities in 2003. Millions of people rallied around the world and came together to say no to the West’s intervention in Iraq.
I think it is important that once again we build up the kind of movement that says no to Western aggression in the Middle East.
For too long, the Middle East has been the playground of Western powers who have tried to divide it up — divide it along ethnic or religious lines, divide it in any way they can so they can get their hands on the oil and other resources.
Why is it that suddenly there is a Muslim threat? Why are they suddenly wheeling out the same kind of lies that they brought out in 2003 — that Muslims pose a threat to our society? Because they want to undermine our democratic rights and they think that if there is a scapegoat to fear we will just go along with having our democratic rights taken away.
They think that if we are frightened enough of some threat, somewhere in the world, we will say yes to their war. But we are here today to say no to their war; no to their intervention and their aggression; no to their attempt to dominate the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria.
We say no to their attempts to dominate these countries and take their oil, take their resources and control their political and economic life.
We remember that every time they go to war, they start it with a lie. When they went to war in Iraq in 2003, they lied about weapons of mass destruction. No evidence ever emerged that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction.
You will remember back in 2001, after the terror attacks on the Twin Towers, they also used the so-called “Islamic threat”, along with a promise to liberate women, as the reason to go to war in Afghanistan.
I am not a supporter of the Islamic State (IS). In Australia today, Muslims are expected to distance themselves from the IS to prove how much they are part of “Team Australia”. I say no to that.
I think it is important for us to recognise who is resisting the IS. In Syria today, it is the Kurdish people. The people of Rojava, in Western Kurdistan, have been standing up against [Syrian president Bashar al-] Assad and standing up against the IS for a couple of years. They are the ones who have driven back the IS several times already.
Their revolution is about equality with men and women, equality between people of different races and religions. They have managed to unite Christians, Muslims, people of no faith, in a revolutionary movement that is standing up for itself.
They are not asking for the West to come in and bomb the place. They are asking for weapons – but the US is not providing them. The West has ignored the plight of the people of Rojava but is willing to allow them to sacrifice themselves heroically in a struggle against the IS.
What we should be doing is supporting their cause for justice but resisting attempts by our government to wage war in our name, on the people of Iraq and Syria and Kurdistan.
We must refuse to let them wage war on our civil liberties. People will remember that there have been several big demonstrations this year where thousands of people have protested against the Abbott government’s budget cuts. So who is it attacking our way of life? It is not Muslims, it is the Abbott government and its attacks on welfare, education and health.
Islamophobia is not feminism; feminism is standing up for women’s rights. It is not cutting women’s services and it is certainly not waging war in the spurious name of defending women.