‘IS do have terrorism nostalgia’
22 June 2007 - Should alterglobalists renounce
violence and distance themselves from the Internationale Socialisten
(IS)? Harry Rijpkema responds to articles by Koen Vink and Peyman
Jafari. “It struck me that many actions and demonstrations
the IS are involved with, get out of hand”.
See also: Social movement controversy
over violence; ‘No terrorism nostalgia
Anybody could see at the G8 summit in the German Heiligendamm:
groups of people dressed in black aggressively stormed forward holding
sticks and stones and throwing stones at the police. Their actions
were clearly well-coordinated and prepared. It is a myth that the
police would have provoked violence. It is no surprise that activists
who wanted to protest peacefully were irritated and distanced themselves
from the left-wing extremist violence. Koen Vink therefore calls
on the social movements to distance themselves from the IS.
Koen Vink’s appeal in the June issue of Milieudefensie Magazine
to the Dutch Social Forum (NSF) to expel groups and individuals
who do not renounce violence, such as the IS, from the organisation
of the alterglobalist protests is therefore no surprise.
In his article ‘No terrorism nostalgia among IS’, published
at News from Amsterdam on 19 June, Peyman Jafari of the IS attacks
Koen Vink. While Vink substantiates his claim by facts and references;
Jafari opts for a personal attack. He immediately starts by accusing
Vink of a transparent attempt to create confusion and divisiveness
through lies and insinuations. He accuses him of using the same
rhetoric as Bush and of issuing a ‘fatwa’ saying that
the alterglobalist movement should make a clean sweep. That is far
from moderate rhetoric. It is also striking that he goes into all
kinds of issues that are hardly relevant to the argument and rather
seem to express the articles of faith of the IS. The reader is overruled
by a mess of quasi-intellectual language. No-one with a good education
will fall into that trap. What is clear is that Jafari does not
distance himself from violence at demonstrations.
The articles of faith of the IS are well-known and are summarised
at Wikipedia: a Trotskyite organisation that targets capitalism,
war, racism, sexism and homophobia. They also systematically choose
the side of the Palestinians in the Israeli conflict and justify
the violence from that side. Members are obliged to participate
in activities and to help sell ‘De Socialist’ [the organisation’s
magazine - Ed.]. They are represented on a number of platforms,
but these are not always happy with their infiltration. For example,
the board of the SP wants members to choose between SP or IS membership,
although the Amsterdam department tolerates them. Among ‘Keer
het Tij’ [a platform created to protest against the policies
of previous Balkenende governments - Ed.] and the NSF not everybody
appreciates the IS.
I collided with Miriyam Aouragh (IS) in February last year during
a debate titled ‘Tough measures versus unemployment’
at the Quellijn community centre, on the occasion of incidents in
the Diamantbuurt where I live. I went there with an open mind. Afterwards
I learned that the meeting had been organised primarily by the IS,
but at the time I was not very familiar with them. Council members
had been invited to participate in a forum, but they were far from
representative. Two were PvdA members from the Oud Zuid district,
Job van Amerongen and Laurent Chambon, as well as SP city council
member Sadet Karabulut [now MP - Ed.], joined by Miriyam Aouragh.
Incidentally, Chambon’s website reveals that he has affinity
with the IS and is a friend of Aouragh.
At some point, the debate focused on the role of the police. Strikingly,
IS members among the audience and Moroccan youth severely criticised
the police. I got the feeling that there were figureheads playing
a part. According to ‘witnesses’, the police was tough
on kids who were forced to show their ID when leaving school. A
young Muslim woman told about an outrageous scooter inspection at
the Van Woustraat, resulting in many youth being unable to ride
their scooter anymore. Well, if you ride a stolen or tuned up scooter,
you have to hand it in. I remember the moped inspections of the
1960s and there were no ethnic minority youth involved then! I have
been living in the Diamantbuurt for 26 years and I can state that
it is nonsense that children are asked to show their ID’s
on the streets.
The Aouragh took the stand. She suggested that terrible things
happened, in which the police played a dubious part. For example,
the young Moroccan boy A. from de Pijp killed himself in an accident
when being chased by the police. At the mosque and the Diamantbuurt
community centre, commemorations were held, and the magazine of
the Ceintuur Community Centre published a nice article on this boy,
who had been so actively involved in youth work. Social worker Karima
Aouragh (...) of the community centre argued in the media that the
accusations that A. was a car thief were incorrect.
The man behind me protested, for he had been driving a stolen car
and A. was a known by the police as a repeat offender! Aouragh drowned
this message in a lengthy argument that distracted from the real
issue. Then I addressed the meeting and said that I disagreed with
the witch hunt against the police. Aouragh tried to overrule me
as well, but I raised my voice and made it clear that I refuse to
be silenced in such a dictatorial way.
After the meeting, I spoke with young, indoctrinated IS members,
who insisted that the police are racist and that scientific studies
would prove that. I know the situation in the Diamantbuurt very
well. The guys, who are bored, hang around on the streets and come
into contact with the street culture, the youth gangs and the criminals.
That is how they slip away. That process has been addressed quite
effectively by a collaboration of neighbourhood residents, parents,
police, politics, social welfare and youth organisations. The starting
point is that no one discriminates and that you have to be careful
not to stigmatise entire groups because there are some bad elements
among them. That anti-Semitism and homophobia are prevalent among
those Moroccan youth was evidenced by the fact that they called
me a Jew and a gay even though I am neither. I consider this a form
of racism too. When the windows of a Jewish resident were smashed
I wrote a letter to the neighbourhood residents equating this behaviour
with right-wing extremists smashing the windows of Islamic schools.
Aouragh found that letter tendentious.
At the Oud-Zuid district council, I was the first who, on the occasion
of incidents in which Islamic schools and mosques had been targeted
by right-wing extremists, pointed out that there is not only Muslim
extremism but also right-wing extremism. After the meeting at the
Quellijn community centre, I also pointed to left-wing extremism
in an article called ‘IS set Moroccan youth against the police’.
As a historian, I hold the principle that extremes meet. History
provides many examples which show that it does not matter much from
which side extremism and violence come. If one analyses the structures
and behavioural characteristics, they are very similar and ideological
extremes quite often go together very well too. For example, Wilders
(PVV) and Marijnissen (SP) are appealing to racist sentiments among
the same target groups. And anti-nationalist IS members get along
well with Arab nationalists and even with Muslim terrorists. In
the Oud-Zuid district, a former city council member of the CD [an
extreme right-wing party] was welcomed by the party Zuid- en Pijpbelangen,
known to be extreme left-wing. Examples abound.
I arrived at this conclusion when I studied the activities of the
IS. It struck me that many actions and demonstrations the IS are
involved with, get out of hand. For example, Aouragh played a part
in the organisation of a demonstration at the Mercatorplein after
the death of Driss Arbib. This Moroccan got into a fight at a restaurant.
He walked out of the door angrily and returned with a large knife.
The policeman who had arrived by then told him to drop the knife,
but he angrily approached the policeman with his knife. The policeman
had to respond to this threatening situation within a fraction of
a second, shot and killed Arbib. Many witnesses were present and
their statements were clear. But according to the anti-racists of
the IS headed by Aouragh, the police had been terribly wrong as
always. Speaking of prejudices! This demonstration got out of hand
when a number of excited Moroccan youth went into the neighbourhood
and smashed shop windows. The same happened at an anti-Israel manifestation
at Dam square in which Aouragh was involved as well.
It is reprehensible that the University of Amsterdam, where Aouragh
works, hosts meetings organised by the IS. Within the university,
many criticise this. The Free University has a clear policy. IS
members selling ‘De Socialist’ and trying to recruit
students are thrown out, being told that the university is a place
for science and not for this kind of ideologies.
For me, it is clear that the IS are an extremist political organisation,
which legitimises violence and tries to gain influence through infiltration
and under cover organisations.
Illustration: meeting of Samen tegen Racisme (Together Against
Racism), an organisation in which the IS play an important role
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