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No book has had a greater impact on me as the Quran. For Muslims, it is literally the word of God, and it acts as a guide in all aspects of life’s journey. Like all religious texts, its messages are contested and often used both by those who seek to oppress and those who seek liberation from oppression.
For me, the passage ‘stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kindred, and whether it be against rich or poor’, is unambiguous, and a constant source of strength.
My children’s photo albums
I have three boys, Hamza (aged 13), Mikael (12) and Aslan (7). They are the centre of my world: they are challenging, bright and funny. I love being around them.
Since 9/11 it feels like all of us have embarked on a new journey together. They too are now veterans of the anti-war movement and have taken part in numerous demos and rallies.
Indeed, my youngest, Aslan, nearly made his mark on the movement in a way that neither of us would have wanted. I was heavily pregnant with him during the 28 September 2002 demo and started getting labour pains just before I spoke on the platform. I remember distinctly praying, ‘please God, not now, not in front of a million people…’
The bond between mother and child is uniquely special, and I love looking at photographs of my children as they grow and develop.
I trained as a psychotherapist and psychology is my first love. One of the costs of political activism has been the lack of time to devote to it.
I am particularly interested in psychological models that are holistic and incorporate both spiritual and societal perspectives. I am also intrigued by psychoanalytical models, with their emphasis on the dynamics within the individual and how we are shaped by our developmental experiences.
However, I am not entirely dismissive of the self-help genre, even though it is often looked down upon by ‘professionals’, and indeed I would recommend some to patients.
Of all the writers in the genre, Susan Jeffers comes out tops for my money. This book is one of her bestsellers and gets the mix of readability, practical guidance and cheesiness just right.
First published 1950
Although this is a fantasy novel for children, I love it. One of the consequences of the recent cold spell has been the way our landscape has been transformed by the snow. The fragile beauty of it evoked images of the magical land of Narnia for me.
The theme of good fighting evil is certainly not new, but this book manages to combine the thrill of an adventure story, the complexities of moral challenges, and enchanting characters who resonate in the imagination for a long time. Certainly long enough for me to name my youngest after the lion in the book, Aslan.
I don’t accept that political models that result in thousands of children dying of hunger each day represent either the height of human ingenuity or the natural order of things.
Naomi Klein’s critique of the dominant economic model is approached with an intellectual rigour that gives both clarity and a formidable weapon to activists. This book is a masterpiece in exposing the fundamental brutality that drives the capitalist system. It is an exposé of how free market fundamentalism leads to ruin and chaos, and a reminder of the ruthlessness of the global elite, whose interests are irreconcilable with those of the vast bulk of humanity.
Rebuilding the Left
We need real, living political alternatives to capture the public imagination that another world really is possible. Developments in recent years in South America are hugely significant in that regard.
This short book is written by a Chilean activist forced into exile after the1973 military coup. Since then she has clocked up decades of activism, first in Cuba and now in Venezuela, engaged in revolutionary processes to build socialist alternatives.
Her book is teeming with wisdom and relevance to those seeking to build broad parties of the radical left here in Britain.
The Algebra of Infinite Justice
As an Asian woman Arundhati Roy is simply an inspiration and role model to me. She knows no fear and speaks the truth, however unpalatable it is to those in power, either in her homeland of India or globally. She is on the side of, and a voice for, those most downtrodden by gender, caste or class.
Her recent writings on the oppression in Kashmir are a further testimony to her fierce compassion. Her courage astounds, and through it she articulates a global perspective with a humanity that uplifts and gives courage to the rest of us.
As well as her personal integrity she is an extremely talented writer, in both fiction and non-fiction. In this short book, she articulates an impassioned critique of the war on terror, which is made even more powerful by her particular eloquent and poetic style.
Salma Yaqoob is the leader of the Respect party and its general election candidate for Birmingham Sparkbrook. Donations to her general election campaign can be sent, payable to Respect Birmingham, to 51 Portman Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B13 0SH. Her selections can be purchased here.
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What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
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The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook
‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali
Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.
Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent
Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art
Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs
Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox
Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite