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‘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 among IS’.

Harry Rijpkema

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 (photo Indymedia).


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