This year's sixth international Cairo Conference against imperialism and Zionism continued the same themes as last year: dialogue between the left and Muslims, the struggle against Islamophobia, press censorship, torture and dictatorship, and the chance for Western peace groups to network on Middle East issues. The most inspiring project was the growing campaign to boycott Israel in the West and plans to coordinate this on an international level with the long- standing Arab and Muslim boycott campaign.
Otherwise, there was little to gladden activists, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue apace, not to mention the increased brutality of Israel against the Palestinian people. There are changes going on in Western countries, with increased activism of students and trade unionists. But the political scene is dismal, despite the overwhelming unpopularity of US-NATO/Israeli wars, as governments continue to bow to Zionist pressures — both internal and external.
A case in point is Canada, which was unofficially represented at the conference by 14 members of the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) and others from student organisations. Delegates to last year's conference were attacked in the right-wing National Post and Ottawa Citizen for consorting with "terrorists" and "shouldn't be surprised if they come under scrutiny of the Canadian security services", simply for their willingness to dialogue with Muslims fighting the various wars now being inflicted on them. But they were not intimidated and returned full of energy. The conference gave them the opportunity to continue to share their experiences and make valuable contacts in the anti-war struggle. Al-Ahram Weekly spoke with several delegates about what is happening in the land of the maple leaf.
The Canadian political scene has been transformed in the past year, and not for the better. The 2,500 Canadian troops in the dangerous southern Kandahar region of Afghanistan had their mission extended to 2011 on 13 March in what was billed as a fateful parliamentary vote, as the pro-war Conservatives have only a minority government and the war is deeply unpopular among Canadians. In a recent poll, only 15 per cent favoured extending the troop presence to 2011, with 60 per cent in favour of bringing the troops home now. In fact, the vote was a walk-over, with the Liberals voting alongside the minority Conservative government, with only the small social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Quebecois voting against.
Let me say that I don't agree with the term Islamophobia. Mohammed's teachings are violent. Christ's are not. However, many people who are Muslims are not violent. They should convert, but many don't know the real message of Jesus. They have received their information about Jesus from the Qur'an, which is incorrect concerning Jesus. Mohammed said Jesus is a true prophet, but then Mohammed rejected Jesus's total pacifism. That's illogical and hypocritical. Every person calling himself or herself Muslim ought to do some soul searching on that. They need to come to grips with the flat facts and overcome intimidation.