Paris terrorist attacks - how should the workers' movement respond?

Reactionary Islamic fundamentalist terrorism has struck again last night in a coordinated attack on different sites in Paris leaving over 128 dead and more than 100 severely injured. This is a wholly reactionary attack against ordinary working people, many of them youth, enjoying a night out in restaurants, concert halls and a football stadium. We condemn the murderous gang which carried out these attacks and we express our solidarity with the people of Paris.

The far right and reactionaries in France and elsewhere are already attempting to gain political capital out of this by blaming refugees who've recently come into Europe. We can expect more of this and not only from far right but also more "mainstream" right wing bourgeois politicians. They will also use these attacks to blame Muslim communities.

Furthermore, the ruling class, as in previous occasions, will use this brutal attack to curtail democratic freedoms, increase the powers of the security forces, legalise further surveillance, etc. Similar measures taken after the Charlie Hebdo killing in January have not served to prevent yesterday’s attack.

The workers' movement must resist any attempts to blame refugees, migrants and Muslim communities. and should not fall into the trap of "national unity". Workers and youth in France and elsewhere, no doubt, will be moved by genuine feelings of horror, disgust and sorrow. Already yesterday there was an outpouring of solidarity from the people of Paris who opened their homes to those fleeing the attacks and stranded by the lack of transport.

The ruling class will attempt to use these emotions to rally the whole of the population behind them. But liberty, fraternity and equality do not mean the same to the Air France worker who’s just been sacked than to the Air France boss who callously dismissed thousands of them. There can be no national unity between the two.

We must also reject the hypocrisy of the ruling class and its representatives, in France and elsewhere, who are not innocent victims of these attacks. These terrorist attacks are not separate from the recent rise of reactionary Islamic fundamentalism in countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. which is the direct and indirect consequence of imperialist intervention in these countries. US, UK and also French imperialism and their allies Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, have armed, backed and trained ISIS, Al Nusra, Taliban and other similar reactionary jihadi groups in order to further their own interests and undermine their opponents in the region.

We must reject any attempt to present these attacks in the framework of a “clash of civilisations” or “Islam vs European values” in an attempt to justify national unity against the “common enemy”. This is false. The working people and the poor in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria and other countries in the Middle East and beyond also suffer from this same reactionary terrorism on a regular basis. On Thursday, ISIS terrorists carried out a suicide attack in Beirut in which dozens were killed. This same week hundreds of thousands have marched in Afghanistan against Taliban atrocities . In Afghanistan, of course, it was the US which first funded and backed the forces of dark reaction in their struggle against the PDPA regime and the USSR in the 1980s.

Therefore the struggle against terrorism cannot be separated from the struggle against imperialist intervention and war, and the struggle against the system which creates the conditions in which religious fanaticism thrives.