Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pope Joins War on Terror

Pope Benedict XVI’s speech last week supported George Bush’s propaganda line on the Middle East. The pope’s comments about Islam and violence last week have provoked outrage. They were more than simply misjudged.

The most striking aspect of Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on Islam at Regensburg on 12 September was the way they harmonised with George Bush and Tony Blair’s propaganda line on the Middle East.

This cannot have been an accident. Nor can it be entirely coincidental that he delivered his message so close to the fifth anniversary of 11 September 2001.

These men are defending intervention in the Muslim world to sort good Islam from bad Islam.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 atrocity, Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, declared on Vatican Radio, “It is important not to attribute simplistically what happened on 11 September to Islam.

“It is true that the history of Islam also contains a tendency to violence, but there are other aspects, too - a real openness to the will of God.

“It is thus important to help the positive line... to prevail and to have sufficient strength to win out over the other tendency.”


At Regensburg, Benedict drew a more basic distinction between Islam as a whole, which “is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality”, and Christianity, in which “not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to god’s nature”.

Compare these comments with Tony Blair’s speech in Los Angeles in August, which was his most comprehensive justification to date of the US/British “war on terror”.

Blair said, “What is happening today out in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and beyond is an elemental struggle about the values that will shape our future.

“It is in part a struggle between what I will call reactionary Islam and moderate, mainstream Islam.We want moderate, mainstream Islam to triumph over reactionary Islam.”

More broadly, said Blair, the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon were part of “the wider struggle for the soul of the region”.

The Independent’s longtime Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn commented on this speech, “I only hope Al Qaida, Hizbollah or Hamas do not translate [the] speech into Arabic.

“Every paranoid paragraph confirms their claim that they are battling a Western crusade against Islam.”

The same can be said of Benedict’s remarks on 12 September.

This is the reason many Muslims around the world are outraged. It has nothing to do with the supposed irrational sensitivity of religious fundamentalists. It has to do with the war.

Aggressors in all wars lie in order to elevate their own purpose while demonising that of their enemy.

Benedict’s specific charge at Regensburg was that, historically, Islam has justified “spreading the faith through violence”.

The dishonesty is not unexpected, but is nonetheless breathtaking.


It was in the context of Western invasion of what we now call the Middle East that the notion of suicide killers being rewarded by instant paradise was sucked from the thumb of a pope a thousand years ago.

Pope Urban II raised an army in 1009 to avenge the destruction by the caliph al-Hakim of the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem (built around the tomb from which Jesus supposedly rose up from the dead).

He promised a plenary indulgence to any volunteer who died in battle.
In 1198, Pope Innocent III extended the offer to those who chose not to go to war themselves but who donated enough money to pay the costs of somebody who did.

Not even the most demented imam in Islam has endorsed the idea of sponsoring suicide bombers as a fundraiser. Nor is the idea of killing for Christ in the hope of salvation a quaint episode from dusty history.

There’s scarcely been a Western army gone into battle in the last millennium without some version of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” speeding them on their way.

Some of us can remember Cardinal Spellman of New York ceremonially blessing US warplanes on the runway before they set off to napalm villages in Vietnam.
In the meantime he invited US forces to see themselves precisely as “warriors for Christ.”

All religions are religions of peace, in that they can provide the personally troubled with an artificial sense of ease.

They are all, too, and more importantly as far as the rational world is concerned, ideologies of war, supplying a justification for slaughter transcending all earthly considerations.

Institutionalised religions have ever been available to endorse the wars waged by their patrons.

Benedict’s Regensburg speech cannot meaningfully be seen other than in the context of the invasion and occupation of Muslim lands by Western armies.
He’s a war propagandist for imperialism.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Rule of Law

ZCTU President, Lovemore Matombo, Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe (Pic above) were shown democracy, Robert Mugabe style, last week.

Before they and others could even attempt to start a peaceful march, the regime's lawful, armed, thugs, the ZRP, descended on 30 demonstrators and whisked them away.

While Mugabe was globe-trotting as usual, his dogs in blue and grey savaged several ZCTU demonstrators, including women officials of the ZCTU. They ended up with cracked skulls, broken arms, hands, feet and ribs.

Now we know what Mugabe meant when he talked about "Stupid" Democracy.

It is when you stupidly believe you can exercise your rights to protest about the lack of Anti-Retrovirals because bosses have raided the state-owned NatPharm.

It is when you stupidly believe you can protest about daily falling conditions of living while bosses like Philip Chiyangwa import the latest American Hummer vehicles or can still go boating on Lake Kariba.

Real Democracy is when the kombis have no fuel to carry workers to work yet bosses like Chiyangwa and others have more than enough fuel to globe-trot and drive fuel-guzzling American and German limousines.

It is when "Zim 1" and his family spend thousands of US Dollars on each shopping trip to Singapore and Malaysia while there is "not enough" foreign currency to import desperately needed ARV's or water treatment chemicals or ZESA components.

It was shown brutally clearly last week exactly what this regime thinks of the poor and how it will keep them in line. Its message was clear - "Organise your tea-parties and we will bloody them".

As the ZCTU has rightly proclaimed "This is just the beginning"

Proud to be ZCTU! Qina Msebenzi Qina! Shinga Mushandi Shinga!
(pic above: ZCTU Info Dept)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

20 Arrested in Bulawayo

The mood of the late 90's is back. We saw it live in today's protests. The
last few years of police repression have taught the workers to fight on. As
early as 11:30 workers had started to gather at the assembly points for
the planned action. All those there were in a mood to fight. However
not to be outdone were the police who were on high alert were busy milling around
the venue. Nevertheless, the mood to fight is on and it is time to build on

The police have just picked up about 20 cdes and are still rounding up more. Among the arrested are a number of young workers, the Regional ZCTU Chairpersons, Reason Ngwenya and Gertrude Mthombeni. They have been taken to the Central Police Station in Bulawayo. Lawyers have been alerted but protest messages ca n be sent to the police station on Phone +263 9 72515, or +263 9 61706.

For more updates, contact Pesy on +263 11 416374 or Tom +263 23 780066


* The protest venue in Harare was cordoned off by police. As the time of publishing (2:15pm local time) the protest had not yet started.

Heavy Presence of Armed Thugs

A heavy presence of police armed with AK-47 guns are in place around the venue of the protests in Harare. A unknown number of ZCTU leaders were arrested last night at a temporary co-ordinating cente in the city centre.

Details will be published as soon as available.

Socialist Worker

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Action Against Poverty - Jambanja Ndizvo!


The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will be organizing processions country-wide on Wednesday 13 September 2006 from 12.00 PM to 2.00 PM to show government and employers that workers have gone this far with their suffering and cannot go any further. 80% of Zimbabweans are living in poverty because workers “take home” salaries cannot even take them home. Now is the time to SAY NO!

The ZCTU demands the following;

* Minimum Wages and Salaries linked to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) (currently $96,000) Reduction of Income Tax to a 30 % maximum. Workers earning below the PDL (96 000 as at end of Aug 2006) should not be taxed.
* Availability and Free Access to Anti Ritro Virals (ARVs)
* Government to address economic meltdown and allow democratic space to civic society
* A stop to harassment of Informal Economy Workers by local authority police and the ZRP

The ZCTU leadership will lead processions in the following centres
HARARE, BULAWAYO, GWERU, MUTARE, CHINHOYI, MASVINGO, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Marondera,Norton, Redcliff, Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Mvuma, Mvuma, Chivhu, Gokwe, Kwekwe, Hwange, Plumtree,Victoria Falls, Gwanda, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Nyanga, Rusape, Chiredzi, Gutu,Beitbridge,Triangle, Mashava, Kadoma, Kariba, Karoi and Chegutu

(All from 12:00 pm - 2:00pm Wednesday 13 September 2006)

In Harare the Procession will leave from the Construction House to deliver a petition to the Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare, the Minister of Finance and to EMCOZ while in other centres the petitions will be delivered to the offices of the Chief Labour Relations Officer who in turn has to forward them to the Ministry of Finance.

Shinga Mushandi Shinga !! Qina Msebenzi Qina

For more information on the action please contact the ZCTU Information and Organising Departments on (04) 794742 / 794702 / 793093 E-mail,

Details of local ZCTU offices:
Bulawayo (09) 882093 / 61737 – 129 George Silundika Ave
Chinhoyi (067) 24246 – 9 North Drive
Gweru (054) 223312 – 3rd Floor, CABS Building, Robert Mugabe Way
Kadoma (068) 27895 / 23365 – 40 Union Ave
Kwekwe (055) 24448 – 52 Third Street
Masvingo (039) 265857 – 12 Guni House, Herbert Chitepo Street
Mutare (020) 60083 – 115 Herbert Chitepo Street

Proud to be ZCTU