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      The New Era of War and Occupation and the
      Necessity of Building an Antiwar Movement

      MAWO discusses and protests Islamophobia
      and imperialist aggression at home and abroad

      By Janine Solanki

      Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, our world has been defined by a new era of war and occupation. Year after year we have seen yet another country invaded and occupied as we have seen in Iraq, or subjected to military intervention such as in Libya. We have seen sanctions imposed on countries resistant to foreign domination such as Iran, and imperialist backed mercenaries wreak havoc in Syria and tear the country apart. We have seen drone wars silently terrorize innocent people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia. Today we see that the result of constant war, occupation and imperialist arming of so-called “moderate rebels” and mercenaries has created the rise of the terrorist organization Daesh. Now the US and their allies have a new justification to wage war on Iraq, Syria and Libya, with the tired claim of fighting terror once again. All of this death, destruction and devastation has been part of the new era of war and occupation conducted by the US government and their allies such as Canada, the UK and France. While imperialist governments -such as Canada- and mainstream media outlets would like you to believe that this is part of a “war on terror”, the truth is that it is a war OF terror, in order to save a failing capitalist economic system with a band-aid fix of plundered resources and new markets.

      It isn't difficult to see the brutality of these wars and occupations. So then how does the US and their allies -like Canada- get away with carrying out these bloody crimes? The answer is with the age-old tactic of fear and division, today seen in the form of Islamophobia. Mainstream media and rhetoric from imperialist politicians skillfully deceive the general public into believing that they are in imminent danger of Islamic terror and that Muslims are to be feared. Once that fear is gripping someone's sense of reality, it is a lot easier to carry out their wars and occupations. This is a tool in the war abroad, but also carried out in the war at home. If people in the US, Canada and other Western countries were united and not taken over by racism and fear, then maybe we would focus on more important things. Like why is the government of Canada or the US not investing in education, healthcare, housing and employment, instead of spending billions or even trillions of dollars on war, occupation and destruction of other nations? How is it that these governments can introduce laws which cut back on our human and democratic rights and get away with it? If racism and fear, and especially now Islamophobia, were not used to divide people here at home, I think we would see more people of all faiths and backgrounds, ages and ethnicities organizing together for our rights and against war. And that is a very scary thing for imperialist governments which rely on the complacency of their populations.

      As the only truly active antiwar coalition in Vancouver, Canada, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) has the responsibility of countering the Islamophobic lies and media manipulation. We may not have mainstream media on our side, but what we do have is the truth, and from discussion to protest we are speaking truth to power. On Wednesday May 18th, MAWO organized a community forum titled, “Islamophobia: the War at Home, Why Imperialist Governments Use Racism and Fear.” The forum speakers included Mamdoh Ashir, Iraqi-Canadian and Muslim community social justice organizer; Wala Zaidan, an Iraqi high school student and poet; Azza Rojbi, a North African social justice organizer from Tunisia and executive member of MAWO, as well as Thomas Davies, an organizer with the Working Group to Stop Bill C-51 which is demanding a full repeal of Canada’s so-called “anti-terrorism” law. Following the insightful presentations from the panel, there was a lively discussion between participants on how to work together to defeat Islamophobia.

      On Saturday May 28th MAWO took to the streets with slogans against war and Islamophobia, with an antiwar rally and petition campaign in Downtown Vancouver. Protesters talked to many people who stopped to sign petitions against Canada's participation in the war on Syria and Iraq, as well as to demand that Canada end it's arms deal with Saudi Arabia. These actions, which combine public outreach and protest, have been organized monthly by MAWO over the last 13 years. MAWO will continue bringing antiwar demands to the streets of Vancouver until this new era of war and occupation is stopped.

      MAWO encourages all peace-loving people to join in standing up against war, occupation and Islamophobia. Check out www.mawovancouver.org and @mawovan for upcoming events and actions, and get involved!

      No to war and occupation, yes to self-determination!

      No to Islamophobia!

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