Unpacking the ANC’s response to ISIS attack on Russia: Andrew Kenny

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By Andrew Kenny*

How does the ANC feel about this?

On Friday 22 March, gunmen broke into a big rock concert at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow and started shooting into the audience. They set fire to the hall. 143 people were killed. At least 140 were wounded. More are missing. There was massive damage to the buildings. Some of the gunmen escaped but eleven were arrested, including four ‘directly involved’.

A branch of Islamic State (ISIS), called IS-K, said it was responsible for the attack. ISIS said it was in retaliation for Russian atrocities against Muslim people. There were photographs and videos of the four suspected gunmen in a Moscow court. Their faces were swollen, bleeding and disfigured. They looked as if they had been horribly beaten up. One was in a wheelchair. There were rumours that another’s eye was missing and another’s ear had been cut off and stuffed into his mouth.

How does the ANC feel about this? It supports Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that invaded Israel on 7 October 2023. Does it also support ISIS, another Islamist terrorist group? Shortly after the 7 October attack on Israel, Dr Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign minister, sent a message to Hamas. Did she send a message to ISIS shortly after the 22 March attack on Russia? (Did she send a message to the Houthis after they started attacking Western shipping in the Red Sea?)

If the ANC supports Islamist terrorism, it also supports communism. Who does the ANC support when communists persecute Muslims, or when Islamist terrorists attack Russia? Communist USSR was responsible for countless atrocities against Muslim people and the brutal occupation of Muslim lands. Russia is no longer communist but remains a dictatorship that hates the West – in other words, Russia is the sort of country the ANC loves. Does the ANC now sympathise with Russia after this attack and condemn ISIS? Or does the ANC condemn the Russian torture of the four suspected gunmen?

Full of contradictions

The history of Islam and Marxism is complicated and full of contradictions. In 1916, Vladimir Lenin wrote a book entitled ‘Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.’ It was nonsense. Imperialism and capitalism are independent things, with little relation to each other.

The biggest empire ever by area was the Mongol Empire, started by Genghis Khan in the 13th Century. It had nothing to do with capitalism. Ditto the Roman Empire and the Aztec Empire. The modern European empires had various causes, including inter-European rivalry, love of adventure, employment for ambitious young men and missionary zeal. Greed was, of course, a cause, with South Africa being the outstanding example, but European imperialism was certainly not initiated by the search for new markets and places to invest, or by any surplus of capital.

One of the most successful capitalist countries was Switzerland, which had no colonies at all; one of the least successful was Portugal, which had several huge colonies. Lenin’s book is ironic because the biggest empire of modern times was the Soviet Empire of communist Russia, set up by Lenin himself.

Tzarist Russia was expansionist and aggressive, accumulating more and more territory to add to the enormous amount it already owned. It took in many Muslim peoples and lands. Tzarist attitudes and policies towards Islam were complicated and inconsistent, but a strong thread of Islamophobia ran through them all, especially when Muslim countries sought political independence from the Russian Empire. Tzarist Russia was also notoriously anti-Semitic, with its horrible pogroms and the infamous nonsense of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Genuine revolution

In February 1917 there was a genuine revolution in Russia, brought on by the hardships of the First World War. In October 1917, there was a coup by a small group of men belonging to Lenin’s communist party, and from then until 1989, communist Russia controlled an expansionist empire, which ruled over at least six colonies with Muslim majorities, including the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek. Chechnya, which is 95% Muslim, was part of Russia herself. All of these countries have been persecuted by the Tzars, the Communists and now Putin’s Russia.

The official creed of communism is atheism. (Marx said of religion: ‘It is the opiate of the people’.) Communist oppression of Muslims had two purposes: to stamp out all religious practice, and to end political autonomy in all regions of the Soviet Empire. Mosques were closed down. In Russia in 1917, there were 25 000 mosques; in the 1970s only 500. Religious schools were shut down. There were mass deportations, leading to deaths on a large scale. (Christian churches were also destroyed, including the magnificent Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. It was rebuilt in 1997.) After the fall of communism in 1989, Russia granted independence to many of these Muslim colonies. Chechnya remained part of Russia.

In the 1940s, there was an attempt at ethnic cleansing by the deportation of Muslim Chechens. Over 25% of the population was thought to have been exterminated. In 1994 and 1999, following terrorist attacks on Russia, which the Russians blamed on Chechnyan Islamists, there were two brutal Russian invasions of Chechnya, in which over 50,000 people are said to have been killed (although the estimates are hazy). Putin was highly aggressive in the second invasion.

Collapse

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, which it occupied until 1989, when communism ended. (The huge expense of occupying the country probably hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union.)

ISIS said that the 22 March attack on Russia was in retaliation for Russian atrocities against Muslims, including in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Syria (where Palestinians are dying in large numbers in the Yarmouk refugee camp.)

I ask again, what is the ANC response to all of this? The ANC responds quickly and loudly to what it sees as wrong. It thundered against Israel’s counterattack on Hamas, which it condemned in the ICJ; it sings Hamas’s praises to the skies; and it keeps reminding us of the long history of Israel and Palestine. Why does it not say a word against Russian attacks on Muslims, and why does it not remind us of the history of brutal oppression of Muslim people by communist Russia? Why does it not praise IS-K for its attack on the Russian tyranny under Vladimir Putin?

In Africa, the ANC’s response to Islamist terror groups is even more dishonest and has much more serious consequences for ordinary African people. The problem is that the ANC is not interested in ordinary African people. It cares a lot about Palestinians in Israel (not Palestinians in Syria) but it cares absolutely nothing about African people in the Sudan, who have been slaughtered in their hundreds of thousands in a programme of genocide. The ANC did not take the perpetrators of that genocide to any international court.

Terror groups

There are several Islamist terror groups killing and kidnapping African people. Al-Qaeda killed over 200 and wounded over 4 000 people with huge truck bombs in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1978. Boko Haram (roughly meaning ‘Western education is forbidden’), allied to ISIS, has killed tens of thousands of African people in West Africa and caused the deaths of over 300 000 African children. In the Cabo Delgado Province, in the north of Mozambique, Al-Shabaab has abducted children, destroyed schools and hospitals, killed large numbers of people, often by beheading, and displaced over a million.

The ANC praised Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group. Does it also praise Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab? Has Dr Pandor sent them messages after they attacked African civilians?

Western policy towards Islamic terror and Muslim dictatorships has been confused and hypocritical. In fact, the foreign policies of the USA since the end of the Second World War have been a complete mess – with two exceptions: in Korea in 1950 and Kuwait in 1991. In Kuwait, President Bush (Snr) liberated the country from Iraqi occupation but did not go on to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Other than that, the USA has been wildly inconsistent.

It helped Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda when they were fighting against the Russians in Afghanistan, and then turned against them. It helped Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran, and then turned against him. It was pretty obvious that the instigators of the 911 terror attack on New York in September 2001 came from Saudi Arabia, yet there was no condemnation of Saudi from the USA, which proceeded to suck up to her.

Far worse regime

The USA then invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with 911, and overthrew Saddam. He was replaced by a far worse regime, resulting in widespread chaos and a massive increase in Islamist terror throughout the region. The USA toppled Gaddafi in Libya, who too was replaced by a far worse regime, resulting in more chaos and bloodshed. I’m not for a moment saying that the West has behaved sensibly and morally towards Islamist terror, but it has not been nearly as immoral, dishonest and callous as the ANC.

I must emphasise that I am attacking Islamist terrorists and not Islam. I am an atheist myself, but was brought up in the Christian culture, which I respect and admire. Christianity, like Islam, has gone through many moods, sometimes enlightened, sometimes benighted, sometimes tolerant, sometimes intolerant, sometimes promoting civilisation, sometimes retarding it.

The two great Christian groups, Catholic and Protestant, have fought terrible wars against each other, even worse than the Islamic wars between Sunni and Shia. Islam was very tolerant and enlightened in the Middle Ages, and helped greatly to bring about the Renaissance. Now I’m afraid it is going through a time of bigotry and darkness, in which Islamic terror is the worst manifestation. All I want is an honest, consistent, rational approach to it, placing the highest value on human life and human rights. The opposite approach is coming from the ANC.

Ups and downs

While Christianity and Islam may have their ups and downs, communism can only have downs. It has been a hideous failure wherever it has been practised, which is in many countries since 1917. Oppression, hunger, stagnation and deprivation always result from communism. It can never be otherwise.

Even Putin acknowledges this. He has had his successes since he took over in 1999, but seems permanently entrapped in some communist ideas, such as state control by a single party. Floundering after the awful attack on 22 March, he made the most stupid remark of his whole career when he blamed the Islamist attack on the Ukraine. Oh, for heaven’s sake!

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Andrew Kenny* is a writer, an engineer and a classical liberal.

This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission

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