Tag Archives: Europe

‘Why can’t we protest against cuts like the French?’

‘Why can’t we protest against cuts like the French?’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, October 19, 2010

Many thousands have protested in France against cuts; we have a proud history of dissent in Britain, so why aren’t we on the streets?

A few years ago, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an interviewer that he knew the French better than most. Today they were admiring the good looks of his wife; tomorrow they would cut his throat. It hasn’t quite come to that just yet, but the French—students and workers, men and women, citizens all—are out on the streets again. A rise in the pension age? Impossible. The barricades are up, oil supplies running out, trains and planes on a skeleton schedule and the protests are still escalating. More than three million people a week ago. Hundreds of thousands out this week and more expected this weekend. And what a joyous sight: school students marching in defence of old people’s rights. Were there a Michelin Great Protest guide, France would still be top with three stars, with Greece a close second with two stars.

What a contrast with the miserable, measly actions being planned by the lily-livered English trade unions. There is growing anger and bitterness here too, but it is being recuperated by a petrified bureaucracy. A ritual protest has been planned, largely to demonstrate that they are doing something. But is this something better than nothing?

Perhaps. I’m not totally sure. But even these mild attempts to rally support against the austerity measures are too much for dear leader Ed Miliband. He won’t be seen at them. The rot of Blairism goes deep in the Labour party. A crushing defeat last year might have produced something a bit better than the shower that constitutes the front bench. Balls the bulldog might have gone for the jugular but he has been neutered. Instead, the new front bench is desperate to prove that it could easily be part of the coalition and not just on Afghanistan. read more

‘The People of Greece Are Fighting for the Whole of Europe’

‘The People of Greece Are Fighting for the Whole of Europe’, an interview with Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbrot for Democracy Now!, May 11, 2010

‘The Assault on Ilhem’

‘The Assault on Ilhem’ by Tariq Ali for Le Monde, republished in English for Counterpunch, February 25, 2010

Forgive an outsider and staunch atheist like myself who, on reading the recent French press comments relating to Ilhem Moussaid the hijab-wearing NPA candidate in Avignon, gets the impression that something is rotten in  French political culture. Let’s take the debate at face-value. A young  Muslim woman joins the NPA [New Anti-Capitalist Party]. She obviously agrees with its program that defends abortion, contraception, etc, i.e. a woman’s right to choose. She is then told that despite this she does not have the right to choose what she wears on her head. It’s astonishing. There is no Koranic injunction involved.  The book says: “Draw their (women’s) veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty”, which can be interpreted in several ways but is disregarded most blatantly by hijab-wearing Egyptian women I see in Cairo and Karachi wearing tight jeans and T-shirts that contradicted the spirit of the Koranic message.

Patriarchal traditions, cultural habits and identity are what is at stake here and they vary from generation to generation. Pushing people back into a ghetto never helps.

I grew up in a Communist family in Lahore. My mother never wore a veil. She set up a feminist group in the Fifties that worked with working class women in the poorest quarter of the city. Half of them covered their heads in public. It did not affect their activism in the slightest. Similar stories can be told of women in different parts of the world, Muslim and non-Muslim. The Algerian women who fought in the resistance against French republican colonialism did so as anti-imperialists. Some were partially veiled, others not. It did not affect the way they fought or the methods used by the French to torture them. Perhaps the torturers should have been more brutal to the hijabed freedom-fighters to help integrate their progeny better in the  Republican tradition. read more

Interview: ‘L’immigration à deux voix’

An interview with Tariq Ali for Le nouvel observateur, November 1, 2008

read the interview

‘Official politics in the west ignores public opinion at will’

‘Official politics in the west ignores public opinion at will’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, February 27, 2007

The government crisis in Italy over US bases and Afghanistan reflects the increasing gap in Europe between rulers and ruled

The states of western Europe continue to resist harmonisation. On the same day last week that the chicaneries of every antiquated careerist vying for the New Labour deputy leadership were made public, each justifying his or her grotesque decision to support the war and occupation of Iraq, the centre-left Italian government—not yet a year old—fell after a debate on foreign policy in the upper chamber.

It was not Iraq that was at issue here. Unlike New Labour (protected by undemocratic electoral laws and MPs unmoved by the suffering in Iraq), all of the Italian left and 80% of the population opposed that war. The dispute concerned two issues: Operation Enduring Freedom – the satirical self-description of the Nato occupation of Afghanistan – and the expansion of the US military base in Vicenza in northern Italy. read more

From the archive

  • A Review of The Clash of Fundamentalisms

    November 1, 2002

    The Clash of Fundamentalisms reviewed by Sara Powell for The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2002.

    There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. With Tariq Ali’s latest offering, however, many people do. You can’t miss it: a picture of George Bush in Osama bin Laden’s beard and turban, against a blood red background. As we have taken it to conferences throughout the summer, the cover has sold a lot of books, and generated even more double takes. (The back cover shows Bin Laden in a Bush suit and tie behind a presidential podium.)

    But it’s the interior of a book that counts, and what is enclosed between Bush and Bin Laden is a treasure that both men—and you—should read. Written in response to the terror attack on the  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • 1963: from the Stones to Dr Strangelove, a year of social and cultural upheaval

    May 10, 2013

    “1963: from the Stones to Dr Strangelove, a year of social and cultural upheaval” by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, May 7, 2012

     

    Was it a prefigurative year? I think so. Not that one thought of it as such at the time or even a few years later, when it was totally forgotten in the turbulence that engulfed the world. I am trying to recall that year, to find deep down some memories, even a few impressions on the basis of which I could reconstruct a misted-up past without too many distortions.

    When I arrived to study at Oxford in October 1963, the bohemian style was black plastic or leather jackets for women and black leather or navy donkey jackets for men. I stuck to cavalry twills and a duffle coat, at least for a few months. The Cuban  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘Famed as a favourite attack dog in the imperial kennel’

    May 11, 2007

    ‘Famed as favourite attack dog in the imperial kennel’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, May 11, 2007

    Blair’s first loyalty was to the White House. The result has been a legacy of hatred that ultimately ended his premiership

    The departure, too, was spun in classic New Labour, Dear Leader fashion. A carefully selected audience, a self-serving speech, the quivering lip and soon the dramaturgy was over. He had arrived at No 10 with a carefully orchestrated display of union flags. Patriotic fervour was also on show yesterday, with references to “this blessed country … the greatest country in the world” – no mention of the McDonald’s, Starbucks, Benetton that adorn every high street – nor of how Britain under his watch came to be seen in the rest of the world: a favourite attack dog in the  …