The socialist youth organization Resistance produced this badge 'Stop the Racist War' in response to an American-led offensive in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001. The badge was used to promote Resistance demonstrations and the organization's beliefs concerning the war in Afghanistan. American President George W. Bush led a coalition including Britain and Australia in an attack on Afghanistan with the aim of capturing Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which was behind the September 11 attacks. The multilateral offensive was justified as a response to Islamic radicalism emanating from Afghanistan, rather than as retaliation for the deaths suffered as a result of September 11. Immediately following the terrorist attack in America, Prime Minister John Howard pledged Australian support in the fight against terrorism, stating that Australia would stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with the Americans. By October 17 Prime Minister Howard had announced that 1,550 military personnel would join the US-led campaign.

Although the rhetoric of many western leaders focused on the "war on terrorism", public sentiment emerged which identified Muslims and Islam as something to be feared and as the ideology which drove the acts of terror carried out by Al-Qaeda. This polarization was encouraged by leaders of radical Islamic groups such as the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who urged Muslims throughout the world to unite against the US and its allies after the offensive on Afghanistan began. He stated that Afghanistan's only 'sin is that we have enforced Islamic laws in the country. We have given shelter to an innocent and shelterless Muslim who is not even allowed to spend an hour in another country.' Such rhetoric served to further emphasize the racial and religious divide already emerging in Australia in the wake of September 11.

Resistance, along with other socialist organizations began to organize action in protest to Australia's involvement in what they termed a 'racist war'. On September 30, 2001 around 2,000 protesters rallied for peace at City Square in Melbourne. Amongst the demonstrators were members of Christian, Islamic and Jewish organizations, representatives of the Greens, the Australian Democrats, socialist organizations, Kurdish activists, Zimbabwean trade unionists and student and refugee advocates. The rally called for John Howard to keep Australia out of any US-led retaliation for the September 11 attacks. The message protesters conveyed, was that rather than go to war, the world must aim to alleviate the social inequalities that allow terrorism to grow. The march proceeded up Swanston and Bourke streets as protesters chanted 'good for the rich, bad for the poor, we don't want your racist war'. Hundreds more peace protesters rallied in City Square again on October 8, calling for Australia to halt support for the military strikes on Afghanistan. After a sit-in on the corner of Swanston and Bourke streets the group made their way to the Liberal Party campaign headquarters on Lonsdale Street. On the weekend of November 3-4 more than 10,000 demonstrators mobilized in 11 cities across the country to once again protest the war in Afghanistan and to demand changes to Australia's policy on refugees. In Melbourne 1,000 people mobilized to show their support and demand change.

Physical Description

Round plastic yellow badge, with a black border. There is text on the front in black, blue and red. There is a metal pin of the back of the badge.

More Information