Community responses to the war on terror

The Institute of Race Relations publishes a briefing paper on the ways in which community organisations are combating the fall-out - in terms of racial violence, Islamophobia, anti-terror policing and human rights abuses - from the war on terror.

Since September 11 2001 and, especially since the London attacks of 7/7, community organisations in the UK have had to face up to the impact at home of the government's so-called war on terror and the concomitant demonisation of Muslims in the media and popular discourse.

Representatives from a number of community organisations spoke at the IRR's conference on 'Racism, liberty and the war on terror' on 16 September 2006. Four contributions have been included in this briefing paper - two from long-standing anti-racist groups, two from organisations set up specifically to defend human rights.

Shobha Das of the Bristol-based Support Against Racist Incidents (SARI) shows how the war on terror has led to a generalised increase in racial violence and presented new challenges to community organisations and state agencies alike. Cilius Victor of Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), which has worked to support victims of racial violence and police harassment since 1980, tells how police 'anti-terror' raids in East London have poisoned community relations and undermined attempts to make policing more accountable. For Beena Faridi of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, set up in the late 1990s, the problem is getting the authorities to acknowledge and tackle the extent of hate crimes against Muslim individuals and institutions. Anne Gray explains why the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) was established in 2001 to campaign against internment, and later, control orders and house arrest under anti-terror legislation.

The attacks on civil liberties and justice under the Labour government rest on certain unjust principles: a presumption of guilt, punishment without a fair trial, and pre-emptive restraints on liberty. These principles lie behind not only the 'war on terror' but measures against asylum seekers, demonstrators and those subject to ASBOs because they are accused of 'anti-social behaviour'... All these measures have met overt defiance and everyday resistance. Indeed, to persist is to resist.Briefing from the Institute of Race Relations

Community responses to the war on terror - IRR briefing