Tuğba İyigün used to be a journalist in Turkey. But she moved to the UK after facing violent repression from the authoritarian Erdogan regime. Now a student at the University of York, she has recently been targetted by North Yorkshire police for raising pro-Palestinian slogans on her Twitter account.
Last month, on Sunday 19 November, two police officers turned up at Tuğba’s house to discuss the tweet in question, and the possibility that – by raising the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’ – she might be harbouring terrorist sympathies.
This absurd event is only one expression of a concerted campaign by the ruling class – through their state apparatus and media mouthpieces – to repress pro-Palestinian activists and marches.
Before she was ousted from office, for example, Suella Braverman referred to pro-Palestinian demonstrations as “hate marches”, with demands that the police crack down hard on these protests.
In response, the Met has pursued comrades of the International Marxist Tendency on similar grounds to Tuğba: suggesting that standing in solidarity with the oppressed masses in Palestine – and in particular, our call for a new ‘intifada’ – is tantamount to a hate crime.
And clearly North Yorkshire police have also heeded the Tories’ calls for a harsher clampdown on Palestine supporters.
Threats and intimidation
It is clear that the British ruling class is hellbent on defending its imperialist allies, including the criminal actions of the Israeli state.
There is, however, another motivation for the establishment’s ferocious attacks on Palestine solidarity activities.
The breadth and depth of support for the Palestinian cause is an expression of the developing mood of discontent and anger amongst workers and youth. And a section of the ruling class are conscious and fearful of this, and are hoping that threats and intimidation will be enough to subdue the movement.
This is why the British state is targeting activists like Tuğba for standing in support of Palestine. They hope to make an example out of certain individuals, as a warning to others.
Tool of repression
To do this, the government has made use of Prevent legislation and other repressive laws. As Tuğba correctly noted when we spoke to her, the “police get the courage to stop people, and harass them in their homes” as a result of the Tories’ policies and rhetoric.
Prevent exists as part of the government’s anti-terrorism strategy. Its stated aim is to root out extremists – including Islamists and white supremacists – from communities.
Of course, as with many other laws and state ‘schemes’ in the hands of the capitalist state, Prevent’s real, primary purpose is as a tool for the ruling class to enforce its own interests.
In general, Prevent mainly targets young boys from a Muslim background. Over the years, where convenient, it has been consistently used by the Tories to whip up fear and xenophobia.
In this case, the policy is being deployed on the premise that support for Palestine could amount to an endorsement of Hamas. This was the reason given by the police for their surprise visit to Tuğba’s home, with officers saying that she had been referred to the Prevent programme due to her aforementioned social media post.
This same line has been repeated ad nauseam by the entire establishment and its puppet press in the recent period: that anti-Zionism is equivalent to antisemitic racism; and that showing solidarity with Palestine is effectively glorifying terrorism.
This is nothing but another cynical attempt by the ruling class to demonise and attack the left. Politicians and police know, just as well as we do, that there is a great difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Yet they continue to parrot this mantra, in order to justify their reactionary actions.
Intifada until victory!
Increasingly, however, workers and youth are tiring of this dross. When Sunak, Braverman, and Starmer repeat the same tired lies, ordinary people see straight through it.
The hypocrisy and cynicism of the ruling classes is plain for all to see. And millions are taking to streets: in defiance of the establishment’s propaganda and bullying, and in defence of the Palestinian people.
Such mass action shows how powerless the state really is. Nothing can stop the working class when it is organised and mobilised. As Tuğba told us: “It is easier to instil fear in people one by one.” But the workers united will never be defeated.
We must not be cowed by these repressive threats, but continue and deepen our struggle in solidarity with Palestine.
This means taking the movement against Israeli occupation into every community, workplace; into every school and university. It means organising workers’ boycotts against the manufacture and shipping of weapons destined for Israel. And it means linking the fight for Palestinian freedom to the fight against ‘our own’ imperialist ruling class, and to the fight against capitalism.
That is why we say: Join the communists! Intifada until victory! For a Socialist Federation in the Middle East!