Anti-war Activist Fires Up Crowd / Treatment of Muslims Spawned Hate

Anti-war Activist Fires Up Crowd
Fonda A No-show But Brit Doesn’t Disappoint

The Capital Times :: FRONT :: 1A

Monday, September 19, 2005
By Samara Kalk Derby The Capital Times

“Hanoi” Jane Fonda may have helped British Member of Parliament George Galloway fill the Wisconsin Union Theater Sunday night, but it was Galloway who kept a crowd of about 1,000 in their seats — and on their feet.
The actress, who was scheduled to introduce Galloway, was a no-show. Instead, she sent word that she was recovering from hip surgery.

“I do intend to speak out about Iraq,” Fonda said in a statement. “Those of us who were opposed to the Vietnam War were right. And those who oppose the Iraq war are right.”

She also put in a pitch for audience members to travel to Washington, D.C., for an anti-war protest Saturday.

Galloway — who along with grieving-mother-turned-activist Cindy Sheehan is scheduled to speak Saturday — has been calling for U.S. troops to pull out of Iraq.

Early in his 75-minute lecture, Galloway referenced the two dozen or so college students and others protesting his speech in front of the Memorial Union, many holding signs in support of U.S. troops.

One protester wore a T-shirt that read, “We love our troops,” Galloway said.

“Well, we love them, too. We love them so much, we don’t want them either killing or being killed anymore in Iraq as a result of these liars in the White House and in No. 10 Downing Street,” Galloway said.

Many soldiers join the armed forces because of the bleak job prospects in the post-industrialized United States and Britain, Galloway said.

“It’s because we don’t hate our armed forces that we say it’s time to bring them home from these occupations,” he said.

Galloway was ousted from British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party because of his outspoken opposition of the Iraq war. He then formed a new party, Respect, and was returned to Parliament.

He became a player in the American anti-war movement after appearing before a U.S. Senate sub-committee in May to defend a report accusing him of benefiting from the united nations oil-for-Food program.

During the hearing, Galloway condemned the war in Iraq and the Bush administration and subsequently wrote the book, “Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington: The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq.”

His current tour, which he calls, “Stand Up and Be Counted: No To War and Occupation 2005,” is in support of the book. In Madison he nearly filled the Union Theater at $20 a pop, with students paying half price.

While the protesters didn’t come into the theater, Galloway did have to contend with a heckler in a camouflage shirt who continually disrupted his speech. At one point Galloway chided his detractor as not being a student of British Parliament.

“I’m an expert at dealing with hecklers, so keep it coming,” Galloway joked.

Galloway acknowledged that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were monstrous, criminal acts of mass murder, but called it naive for Americans to believe that the attacks came out of the clear blue sky.

“They emerged from a swamp of hatred and bitterness and enmity against us in the Muslim world as a result of the injustice upon injustice visited by your country and mine against Muslims all over the world,” he said.

He pointed out that the killing of innocent people in Baghdad, Fallujah or Afghanistan is as reprehensible as the killing of innocent people on Sept. 11 or in the London bombings of July 7.

Galloway got one of the loudest reactions when he defended himself against the charge that he is on the side of Osama Bin Laden.

Galloway said he despised it when the U.S. and British governments were giving him guns and money and diplomatic and political support to invade Afghanistan and to occupy the land.

“Don’t try to hang Osama Bin Laden around my neck. He was your creation. He was the creation of the neo-cons and the American and British political establishment,” he claimed. Galloway charged that the crisis between the East and West, the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world, is fueled by 50 years of injustice toward the Palestinian people, supported and financed by the United States.

If this point is not grasped soon, he added, it will continue to take the West further into the current cycle of violence, terror and counter-terror, he said.

In his closing remarks, Galloway noted Iraq’s rich history: It was where the alphabet was first written, where the number zero was invented, where paper was first used to communicate, and where agriculture started.

“Iraq is perfectly capable of working out how to govern itself,” he said.

Then he warned that the U.S. and its British allies are in the process of setting the entire Muslim world ablaze.

“If we stay there and the current trajectory in Iraq continues, you will have a Yugoslavia-style war on top of the biggest oil field in the world,” Galloway said.

“And you are worried about oil at $70 a barrel? You won’t be able to buy a barrel of oil at any price if that Yugoslav-style war begins” in Iraq, he said.

If civil war begins in Iraq, neighboring countries will be drawn in: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, as well as Sunnis and Shiites from all over the Arab world, he said.

“Be careful what you wish for,” he said.

Anyone who thinks the Iraq war is making the world safer is “as daft as George W. Bush!” Galloway said as the audience rose for a long and loud standing ovation.

Kelly Schultz, a recent UW-Madison graduate, said she hasn’t been involved in the anti-war movement until this summer when Cindy Sheehan and Galloway stepped up.

“I’m going to do anything I can to get to Washington,” she said about Saturday’s rally.

UW freshman Robert Lewis of Lake Geneva was impressed by the enthusiasm of Madison’s political left and called Galloway’s points “unarguable.” His friend and fellow freshman Ainsley Schumann, of Naperville, Ill., noted that one heckler was able to interfere with the lecture and not get tossed out.

“There is a very open environment for political debate here,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Charlie Deming, 51, a driver for Badger Cab, said he was surprised by Galloway’s candor. The heckler just “helped stir the caldron a little bit,” he added.

The heckler’s selfishness is indicative of the mess the country is in, Deming said.

“There’s no end in sight as far as I can see,” he said.

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Treatment Of Muslims Spawned Hate, Brit Says

Wisconsin State Journal :: LOCAL/WISCONSIN :: B1

Monday, September 19, 2005

British MP and anti-war activist George Galloway told a crowd of about 1,000 at the Union Theater on Sunday night that the governments of the United States and Britain had created a “swamp of hatred” among Muslims worldwide that led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and al-Qaida.

Galloway, speaking in Madison as part of his “Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington” North American tour, said that while he did not excuse the actions of terrorists — calling the Sept. 11 New York and July 7 London attacks “criminal acts of mass murder” — he believed that the past actions of the U.S. and United Kingdom toward Muslims helped motivate the attacks.

“Many thought that these monstrosities that struck the Twin Towers, committing mass murder on 9/11, came out of a clear blue sky,” he said.

But, said Galloway, Muslim anger toward the U.S. and Britain was caused by three things: Western support of Israel, American support of Arab dictators like King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and, most importantly right now, the sanctions against and invasion of Iraq.

Galloway was supposed to speak with fellow activist Jane Fonda, but Fonda recently had hip replacement surgery and wasn’t able to travel.

Fonda’s absence didn’t deter about 20 student protesters who waved signs with slogans like “Not Fond’a Fonda” and “Galloway Go Back To Damascus” outside the Union before the speech.

“We’re out here with the College Republicans, making sure that people know this campus supports the troops,” said UW-Madison senior Robert Thelen. “We will support the troops whether they come home tomorrow, in a year or in 10 years.”

But Galloway emphasized that supporting the troops doesn’t necessarily mean supporting the war.

“We love (the troops) so much we don’t want them either killing or being killed in Iraq,” he said.

“It’s because we don’t hate our armed forces that we say it’s time to bring them home.”

Galloway had harsh words for President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his speech. He said that Bush claimed to be a Christian but did not actually hold Christian values.

“Christians believe in the prophets, peace be upon them,” Galloway said. “Bush believes in profits and how to get a piece of them.”

Lake Mills residents Jill Haycock and Margot Peters attended Galloway’s lecture together, and both said they were happy with what they heard. Haycock called Galloway a “dynamo” speaker and said she believed he was telling a truth many people didn’t want to hear.

When asked about the largely older composition of the audience, Peters said it was a sign that discontent with Bush and the U.S. government wasn’t just for college students anymore.

“It’s a whole frustrated part of the country that’s been cheated out of two elections,” she said. “We are restless.”

Galloway’s speech will be rebroadcast on WYOU, Channel 4, Thursday at 7 p.m.


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