When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

17 February 2007

Friends like these

As George Bush prepares to send more troops to Iraq, his critics all over the Western world are bringing more protesters onto the streets—and the range of people who are angry enough to fill the icy air with chants of rage seems broader, and in some ways stranger, than ever.

On February 24th, for example, gallery-goers and pigeon-feeders should probably avoid London's Trafalgar Square, on which tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of people will converge from all over Britain, and farther afield, to demand the withdrawal of Western troops from Iraq—and while they are at it, oppose the renewal of Britain's nuclear arsenal. Tourists who do venture near the square will notice the odd sociology of the anti-war movement: the unkempt beards and unisex denims of old-time street fighters rubbing shoulders with the well-trimmed Islamic beards and headscarved ladies.

This leftist-Muslim partnership exists not just on the streets, but in the protest movement's heart. Britain's Stop the War coalition, which has organised more than 15 nationwide protests and hundreds of smaller events, was largely forged by two small, intensely committed bodies—the far-left Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Muslim Association of Britain, which is close to the international Muslim Brotherhood. These tiny groups have co-ordinated street protests by up to 1m people.

Muslims and socialists: With friends like these (Economist, Feb 8, 2007)

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