Communists domiciled in Britain from seven different countries met in London at the weekend to discuss issues of Islamic fundamentalism. Members of communist and workers parties in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Cyprus, Greece, Bangladesh and Guyana as well as Britain condemned Islamic State (ISIS) and similar movements as fundamentally reactionary, sectarian and anti-communist. But they also warned that this should not obscure the role of Western imperialism in promoting and utilising them when necessary and possible.

Navid Shomali, international secretary of the Tudeh Party of Iran, pointed to the record of the theocratic regime in his country in using state power to suppress the left-wing, trade union and women’s movements, even executing most of the former leadership of the Tudeh Party.

He accused Islamist movements across the Middle East and North Africa of adopting and enforcing neoliberal economic policies against the interests of the masses of people.

Iraqi CP central committee member Salam Ali said that Islamist forces served imperialist purposes by seeking to fragment nation-states such as Iraq and Syria, deepening sectarian divisions and destroying people’s unity against foreign intervention and domination.

In northern Iraq, the communists have set up their own armed units alongside Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces to defend communities against the ‘fascist’ Islamic State.

A number of participants in the seminar organised by the Coordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain outlined the parts played by NATO member Turkey and Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar in facilitating the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Abdel Rahim Hassan of the Sudanese CP explained how the main imperialist powers had supported Islamic fundamentalists in their drive to split Sudan, enabling the Islamist regime in the largely Muslim north to consolidate itself while placing oil and other valuable resources in the hands of a fragile government in the new and mostly Christian state of South Sudan.

‘For more than two decades, the Western-backed Islamic regime in Khartoum provided a safe haven, training, money laundering and diplomatic facilities for Bin Laden and jihadis from Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa’, he pointed out.

The Coordinating Committee urged friends and supporters, men as well as women, to attend its annual International Women’s Day celebration at London’s Marx Memorial Library on Saturday evening, March 7, when the theme will be ‘Women and the Struggle for Peace’.

It also agreed to take part in the ceremony at Highgate Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, March 15, when Yuri Emelianov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation will deliver the annual Karl Marx Oration on the 70th anniversary of the defeat of fascism.

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