This Should Be the Last Straw for Anyone
Maryam Namazie: Let’s talk about the horrendous and tragic situation in Beslan. We know that over 1,000 people were held hostage. Over 300 were killed. 150 plus of those so far are children. It is an immense human tragedy. Are there any words that can describe what’s happened there?
Bahram Soroush: It is extremely difficult to come up with the right words to describe this tragedy. It is on a horrendous scale; of an unbelievable magnitude. It is very hard to try to put yourself in the place of those parents who lost their loved ones. I don’t myself remember having witnessed a terrorist action where children were taken hostage on such a scale and used as a bargaining chip. It is comparable to the 9/11 tragedy and it will be remembered for years to come. People will look back and try to make sense of what happened on that day. One’s first reaction, apart from deep grief, is outrage that such a monstrous attack against innocent civilians, against children is possible.
Maryam Namazie: Who is responsible for this slaughter? Is it the Islamic terrorists that took the hostages? Or is it the Russian government and its violent suppression of the so-called Chechen liberation movement?
Fariborz Pooya: The world is facing waves of Islamic terrorist atrocities. We are seeing that on a daily basis now. It seems there are no depths to which these people would not sink. The Islamic movement has shown its capacity for savagery and brutality and this is the ultimate that they could have done. Initially, we have to make sure that we condemn this brutal act. At the same time, on a much broader scale, we have to recognise that the world is hostage to the two poles of terrorism. On the one hand, you see the US in Iraq and Russia in Chechnya who have destroyed whole cities and slaughtered civilians. On the other hand, you have the political Islamic movement who does not have the slightest regard for human life. They have shown the depth of their barbarity by actually killing so many children.
The attention of the media has occasionally focused on whether Putin is going to survive this or not! But this is not the issue. The question that the world is facing is how to combat international terrorism of the Islamic kind. Clearly, military actions like that of the US and Russian armies are incapable of preventing this; in fact they strengthen the grounds for the growth of such forces. The people who can stop the Islamic movement are the progressive movement that can uphold the standards and expose the Islamic movement and its capacity to sink to such levels. The Islamic movement has to be defeated – in all its fronts; whether you are fighting the hijab in Europe, the Islamic government in Iran, Al-Qaeda in the Middle East or Chechen terrorists in Russia. It is the fascism of today and must be defeated. At the same time, we know that the military action of the United Sates and the Russian army is incapable of defeating this movement.
Maryam Namazie: In the newspaper Independent there was an article saying that the Chechen movement is a national liberation movement, that it is not a political Islamic movement and it has been given this image in order to allow the Russian government to place it within the framework of the war on Islamic terrorism. Would you agree with that?
Bahram Soroush: I wouldn’t. This is very clear from the features of that movement. It is not easy to try to hide the Islamic or political Islamist character of that movement. This is not the only atrocity that they have committed. This tragedy, although an enormous tragedy compared to the earlier ones, was one in a chain of attacks recently inside Russia and over recent years as well. The attack bears the hallmarks of a very organised force. In the media there have been suggestions that other local, tribal, nationalist movements were involved. But when you look at the scale of the attack, it is very similar to, for example, two years ago, when a theatre in Russia was seized and where many people died. So clearly the indications are that this was the work of political Islamists; I don’t think there is any doubt about that. And if anyone in the world had the slightest doubt about the capacity of the Islamic movement in committing such atrocities, this carnage should have dispelled that. This should be the last straw for anyone. From now on there should be an enormous campaign by all progressive people to discredit, oppose and crush this movement. When it comes to people like Putin and Bush, although they try to pose themselves as people who are waging war on terror, they are themselves part of the problem. They are part of the terrorist contest that is creating catastrophes for civilised humanity, for all of us. So we are not expecting Putin to come and fight political Islam. It is up to us, to workers, to the progressive movement throughout the world to do that.
Maryam Namazie: Obviously it is very clear that there can be no guilt put on the children. They are not to blame for anything that has happened in Chechnya or elsewhere, but sometimes you do see in the media that there is a sort of collective guilt put on people who are the victims of terrorist acts or of the hostage-taking of Islamists. You see the two French journalists who were held hostage. The French government went and negotiated with them and said, well, we were against the war, so you shouldn’t be holding French journalists hostage. If you continue that line of reasoning, then you could say, well, it’s OK to hold an American hostage or it’s OK to behead a Turkish worker or driver because of the US and Turkish governments’ involvement in the war. The justification they sometimes offer is that these are acts of revenge, like they said, for example, about September 11th. What’s your analysis on that?
Fariborz Pooya: Historically, there have been people who try to justify taking civilian lives. There are people who justify the killing of civilians based on the interests of a national liberation movement, for example. But killing civilians must be condemned under any circumstances. We know that the US forces bomb civilian areas in Iraq. They are doing it today. We know that the Islamic terrorist movement has no regard for civilian life. There needs to be a Left progressive movement that raises its banner against them. If there’s a war between armies, we need to defend civilians.
Maryam Namazie: Should there be a justification for the decapitation of an American soldier, for example, who has been taken hostage?
Fariborz Pooya: There shouldn’t be. Absolutely not. These are acts of barbarism and need to be condemned. At the same time, the attacks against civilians these days, the scale of them, are unbelievable. There is no justification for such actions. We know that the true source of this is both state terrorism and the political Islamic movement. That needs to be condemned and the world has to be protected against this. At the international protest on 15th February last year against the war on Iraq, world humanity showed that it can raise its voice and say, enough is enough! People need to come out on the streets and condemn both the Islamic movement and international state terrorism.
The above is an International TV interview dated September 6, 2004.
Maryam Namazie hosts International TV English. Prior to the English programme, Maryam Namazie also hosts a half-an hour long Farsi programme. Fariborz Pooya is the co-editor of WPI Briefing and Bahram Soroush is a civil rights activist.