IranMarch 16 2023, 10:12 am

Strange Bedfellows Reunited, A UK Iranian Influence Group & Its Embrace of the Far-Left

The so-called “Red-Green Alliance” – a polit­i­cal coali­tion that fus­es left-wing polit­i­cal groups and Islamist orga­ni­za­tions – has always been a chal­lenge to con­ven­tion­al polit­i­cal analy­sis. You might think these groups would be at each oth­er’s throats, but they’ve long joined forces to bat­tle what they see as their com­mon ene­mies: West­ern impe­ri­al­ism and capitalism.

This unlike­ly coali­tion first flexed its mus­cles in the UK dur­ing the mas­sive 2003 march­es against the Iraq War. That was when the far-left Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty and Stop the War Coali­tion teamed up with a group rep­re­sent­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in the UK, mak­ing head­lines and turn­ing heads.

Fast-for­ward to today and the Islam­ic Human Rights Com­mis­sion (IHRC) has tak­en up the Red-Green Alliance man­tle with gus­to. Tied to the Iran­ian regime, this UK-based NGO has a his­to­ry of orga­niz­ing Inter­na­tion­al Quds (Jerusalem) Day events, an event ini­ti­at­ed by the Iran­ian rev­o­lu­tion­ary regime. The IHRC’s chair­man, Mas­soud Shad­jareh, is linked to the vehe­ment­ly anti-Israel web­site, while his wife, Arzu Mer­ali, co-founder and researcher at the IHRC, is knee-deep in post-colo­nial and decolo­nial activism.

On March 13, the IHRC launched a book by Sandew Hira, “Decol­o­niz­ing The Mind – a guide to decolo­nial the­o­ry and prac­tice.” Twelve years in the mak­ing, the IHRC says the book aims to change how we think and learn about colo­nial­ism, tear­ing down the walls of euro­cen­tric education.

(The con­cept of “decol­o­niz­ing the mind” was first intro­duced by Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in his epony­mous book. Thiong’o empha­sizes the impor­tance of reclaim­ing African lan­guages and cul­ture, high­light­ing what he sees as the insid­i­ous nature of cul­tur­al oppres­sion that lingers long after the phys­i­cal chains have been broken.)

Arzu Mer­ali is not one to shy away from con­tro­ver­sy. She’s involved in ini­tia­tives such as “Why is my cur­ricu­lum White?” and the “decol­o­niza­tion” of the Eng­lish syl­labus at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge, attack­ing the foun­da­tions of tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion. Mer­ali also col­lab­o­rates close­ly with Hira, co-direc­tor of the Decolo­nial Inter­na­tion­al Net­work, to cri­tique Euro­cen­tric val­ues in move­ments like Extinc­tion Rebel­lion and call for noth­ing less than a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of the system.

Mer­al­i’s ties to the Mal­colm X Move­ment (MXM) fur­ther solid­i­fy her com­mit­ment to decolo­nial anti-impe­ri­al­ist resis­tance in Britain. In 2014, Mer­ali spoke at an event co-spon­sored by the IHRC and the MXM, laud­ing the Islam­ic rev­o­lu­tion in Iran and Hezbol­lah as shin­ing exam­ples of suc­cess­ful rev­o­lu­tions. NATO and the West were sin­gled out as the enemies.

In 2015, Mer­ali spoke at the Mal­colm X Film Fes­ti­val, endorsed by groups such as the PFLP and fea­tur­ing incen­di­ary speak­ers like Leila Khaled, a plane hijack­er, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ZANU-PF, the Com­mu­nist Work­ers Peas­ants Par­ty of Pak­istan, and con­vict­ed IRA ter­ror­ism offend­er Ger­ry MacLochlainn. The MXM played a piv­otal role in orga­niz­ing Black Lives Mat­ter-asso­ci­at­ed demon­stra­tions in Lon­don in June 2020, using social media to pro­mote and even cel­e­brate inci­dents of vio­lence dur­ing the events.

The March 13 book launch was part of the IHRC’s “Decolo­nial Dia­logues,” fea­tur­ing con­ver­sa­tions between Hira and Ramon Gros­foguel, anoth­er far-left aca­d­e­m­ic. Dia­logues fea­ture top­ics such as “the demise of Israel” and “the prospect for civ­il war in the Unit­ed States.” It looks like the Red/Green Alliance is here to stay, at least for now.




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