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Catholic Worker invites Mother Agnes of Syria to Speak after she is "No Platformed" by StWC

Ciaron | 20.11.2013 10:19 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Terror War | London

The Catholic Worker, a small anarchist pacifist community in Harringay London has extended an invitation to Mother Agnes to address its members on a two day retreat next week. Mother Agnes was recently pressured to withdraw from addressing the Stop the War Coalition meeting in London on Nov 30th.

The Harringay group is part of the larger Catholic Worker movement founded by Dorothy Day in New York City in 1933 during the Great Depression. There are over 200 autonomous communities mostly in the United States, but also in Oxford, Rickmansworth & London. Dorothy Day, an anarchist suffragette who converted to Catholicism, has recently been put forward for canonisation by the American bishops.

The Harringay group offers hospitality to destitute refugees fleeing wars and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere. The group is also active in nonviolent resistance to war preparations, many of its members have served time in prison for such nonviolent direct actions. The group has also played a significant role in solidarity for imprisoned whisltleblower Chelsea (formerly) Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

A longstanding member of the London group Ciaron O'Reilly was recently arrested trying to blockade the limousine of U.S. Vice President John Kerry. O'Reilly stated:

"The Catholic Worker has always had a strong position on free expression, often not shared by the authoritarian and moderate left.

"Free expression is very dear to us and it doesn't look good when privileged activists from imperial nations like Britain and the U.S. bully a Palestinian nun offstage. 'No platforming' is a form of authoritarian censorship and in this instance we find ourselves echoing Winston Churchill that 'Jaw jaw is better than war, war!'

"I myself, for example, have been physically attacked twice in the past month for expressing an opinion on the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden & Chelsea Manning.

"How can 'Stop the War' on the one hand host speakers from the pro-war Labour Party while on the other failing to defend Mother Agnes' right to share her views about what our governments are doing to the Syrian people by fuelling a proxy war. The war in Syria that seems to be escalating and expanding by the day across the Middle East. We note the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut in recent days and fear that this proxy war in Syria is a prelude to an eventual full scale attack on Iran.

"We want to learn more about the situation in Syria from the varied voices of those who live there. We have been disappointed for a long time in Stop the War's lack of solidarity and abandonment of Manning, Assange & nonviolent resisters generally - both military and civilian. 'Stop the War' seems to have mutated into a financial life support system for a small Trotskyist group servicing the Labour Party. It is frightening that the anti-war movement in Britain is so corrupt and deflated on the eve of an expanded war over the Middle East.

"I have never been too timid to 'share a platform' with anyone, so I can't understand why these people are scared of sharing a platform with Mother Agnes.

"I have shared platforms with Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson, Monseigneur Alker a senior chaplain of the British army, former members of the I.R.A. former members of the British S.A.S. and even members of Stop the War - this of course does not mean I agree with their perspectives or their beliefs. We have had initial feedback that Mother Agnes will try to fit us into her busy schedule and visit us while we are on our Catholic Worker retreat this Monday.

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