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8th March, 2007

Stop the clash!

by Sunny at 5:18 am    

A group called Avaaz (meaning ‘voice’ in Hindi/Urdu) have created this video and so far gathered 42,000 signatures in support of people asking their political leaders to sort out the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

I agree with their sentiments and believe neither in the ‘clash of civilisations’ nor the ‘civilisation v barbarism’ narratives. But. Although the conflict needs resolving, I hardly think it is the source of world problems. It’s a fight over land! Neo-con unilateralism and Al-Qaeda are far more to blame (though may not equally).

It should be sorted out because the locals are being shot or blown up, not because arm-chair activists all around the world (who have nothing directly to do with the conflict) carry little icons of the Palestinian (or Hizballah) flag, or carry ’support Israel or else…’ banners. They are the ones who elevate it to a clash of civilisations narrative. And if these activists really cared about people dying then they’d be more stressed about the dead in Darfur and Iraq (at the same time, not according to their politics).

That said, the video has a poignant (but obvious) message.

Filed under: The World, Middle East
7th March, 2007

Taking on the BNP

by Sunny at 6:21 pm    

A new campaign called Hope Note Hate is being launched later this month to take on the lies that the BNP spread during Local Elections. Lies like the leaflet that said Africans were being paid 50,000 to move into Barking & Dagenham.

I think this is a worthwhile campaign. There should be a two-pronged attack on the facists: dealing with their lies on the ground, and dealing with the social problems that lead to resentment and move people to vote for the BNP in a protest vote. We know the vast majority of people in this country abhor the racist, anti-semitic and Islamophobic ideas of the party. They just have to convinced that one of the three main parties care for them and be exposed to the real nature of the BNP.
Support the campaign!

Filed under: Race politics, The BNP

Aussie and German Independent Jewish Voices

by Sunny at 5:54 am    

Britain’s recently launched Independent Jewish Voices have set off a bit of a chain reaction it seems. Yesterday a group from Australia launched a similar petition.

In a letter published in The Age yesterday, the group said it was recognising “the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians with a solution that protects the human rights of all”. The group’s founding by 120 Jewish Australians, including Peter Singer, Robert Richter, QC, and Eva Cox, of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, follows the creation of a similar body in Britain that has accused the Jewish establishment of supporting Israel above the human rights of Palestinians.

This new group has expressed similar concern with Australia’s Jewish establishment, saying “it does not represent the full range of Jewish opinion … We feel there is an urgent need to hear alternative voices that should not be silenced by being labelled disloyal or ’self-hating’ “.

You can read the petition on their website. In particular note:

We condemn violence by all parties, whether state sanctioned or not. We believe that Israel’s right to exist must be recognized and that Palestinians’ right to a homeland must also be acknowledged.

Uncritical allegiance to Israeli government policy does not necessarily serve Israel’s best interests. Our concern for justice and peace in the Middle East is a legitimate opinion and should be met by reasoned argument rather than vilification and intimidation.

The Sidney Morning Herald has more. IAJV also link to a new group in Germany making the same call.

That comprehensively destroys the argument that Zionist Jews don’t care for Muslim lives in Palestine doesn’t it? I agree with every word of that above, including Israel’s right to exist. Oh, and any troll planning to accuse me of fostering anti-semitism need not bother commenting.

New Statesman socks it to Guido

by Sunny at 12:37 am    

This is in the latest edition of the magazine by Kevin Maguire:

Hilarity in Strangers’ at a pompous threat by the right-wing blogger Paul Staines, aka Guido Fawkes, to sue the former defence minister “Tommy Gun” Watson and assorted lefties. Gossipmonger Staines exposed himself as able to dish it out but not take it back over an approach he once made to the BNP. Worried of Cyberspace claims he wrote seeking common ground to expose fascists rather than to sign up, and has issued OTT legal threats to Tommy Gun and any fellow bloggers reprinting a 20-year-old Grauniad story about his youthful activities. Occasional victims of his site are enjoying the squeals of a hunter who so publicly dislikes to be hunted. [hat tip: Justin McKeating]

Filed under: Media, Blog
6th March, 2007

Idiots from FIFA FA ban hijab

by Sunny at 1:29 am    

I cannot imagine what was going through the thick brains of the Football Association FIFA management when they decided to ban women footballers from wearing the hijab. As the old saying goes: when God was handing out brains, did they miss out?

It is not only discriminatory, with no useful consequence whatsoever than make it more difficult for Muslim women to join the sport, but I bet it will be reversed soon enough when they come to their senses. Why? Because I bet the Indians (once they wake up from their slumber over the impact of this decision) will soon enough point out that it also discriminates against Sikh men from wearing the turban on the pitch. As Osama Saeed points out, the key passage states:

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery).

How the hell is a hijab dangerous to others? This is typical of orientalist thinking - that world football should only be preserved for those following western cultural norms. If the woman (or the man) is in normal uniform, wearing the hijab or turban should have little impact on play. Dimwits.
[Update: Apologies, I blamed the FA instead of FIFA]

Filed under: Culture, Sports, Sex equality
5th March, 2007

‘Sikh-ing his Britishness’

by Sunny at 3:45 pm    
chaz singh

Are people taking this Britishness malarky too far? Heh. “My project was to show I’m a Sikh but I’m a British Sikh, all these pictures are powerful to show my Britishness in Plymouth. This is my way of saying I can blend in anywhere I like but still, as a Sikh I’ll always have that identity,” Chaz Singh told BBC Devon recently.

He has an exhibition at the Barbican in Plymouth starting today on this. Although it’s interesting he talks of Britishness while playing up English symbolism.

Filed under: Culture
4th March, 2007

Blair to ban forced marriages!

by Sunny at 3:25 pm    

This is one TB change of mind I can wholeheartedly support. Was emailed this morning to say Tony Blair has decided to support the ban of forced marriage. Found the exclusive in the Observer today. About bloody time!
This is the Bill introduced by Lord Lester along with Southall Black Sisters that I covered here. I also wrote for comment is free saying it’s time the govt took action and Galloise Blonde covered the discussion in the House of Lords.

Just to clarify something: this is a civil remedies bill which means that, “offenders would not go to jail, but victims could sue for damages. Lester’s bill also allows for a third party to bring charges.” The Conservatives favour criminalisation, as does Labour MP Ann Cryer and groups like Karma Nirvana. I’m not yet fully convinced either way despite discussions with people from SBS. Let’s see how this works in action.

I don’t know if my articles had any impact or not but it was certainly frustrating to see that while there is obvious and widespread support for this bill amongst Asian families, there was very little coverage and discussion of the Bill within the MSM and ethnic media. I think I was the only one to write an article about it since it was introduced!

Filed under: Sex equality
3rd March, 2007

It’s The Style Error Open Thread

by Clairwil at 4:40 pm    

Inspired by the post below and the utterly hilarious words ‘white satin bomber jacket’ I have decided to make the main theme of this weeks open thread, style errors. Let’s hear about your past clothes of shame, see your links to incredibly badly dressed people and just to show we’re not all completely catty let’s have your nominations for the world’s best dressed men, women and animals.

Of course the usual random off topic stuff is still welcome.

I’m horribly busy at the moment having taken on several new blogging duties (see my own blog) . So my weekend will consist of being glued to the internet and typing with one finger. Well I suppose I’ve always wanted to write.

On a different matter entirely The Metro are currently a blogging contest. Far be it from me to try and influence the result but if any of you fancy nominating Pickled Politics in the politics category, here’s the link.

Finally I don’t suppose I’m going to get away without confessing my own style sins. I will own up to wearing jumpsuits, catsuits, knickerbockers, legwarmers in public during the 1980’s.

As for the 90’s to the present the wounds are still too raw.


Sunny adds: Worse than a style error may be the facebook stalker! Hilarious! (via Isheeta)

Filed under: Uncategorized, Humour, Blog
2nd March, 2007

Nirpal Dhaliwal and the white satin bomber jacket

by Sunny at 3:22 pm    

You’ve surely made it as a blog when desperate authors try and use you to grind their own axe. Speaking of which, the other day us Picklers got an email from a certain ‘Nirpal Dhaliwal’. I cannot be certain it is the real Nirpal Dhaliwal who wrote Tourism but I have a feeling it is given the contents. Anyway, the email started with…

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Culture, Humour

How not to get raped

by Sunny at 12:48 pm    

Again and again, women are told that we can avoid rape if we don’t go out alone, don’t get drunk, carry our car keys as a weapon, take self-defence classes, don’t dress revealingly, don’t talk to strangers, and on and on. We get it. We live it. And we still get raped.

Here’s a radical suggestion: direct the rape prevention message to men. Write emails and advice columns that say: don’t rape. Don’t rape drunk women, solitary women, sleeping women, flirtatious women, any women. Seriously, just don’t.

Men who rape may be in the minority, but that’s no reason not to direct the message to all men. Not a single woman has caused her own rape, not ever, and yet women are bombarded with advice that can do nothing except cause our would-be rapist to find a different victim.

Am I arguing that women shouldn’t be held responsible for their behaviour? No. If a woman drinks to excess then falls over in the street, loses her wallet and vomits all over herself, she has only herself to blame. But rape is not a consequence of getting drunk. It’s a consequence of a man deciding to rape someone.

Telling women they’re responsible for rape doesn’t keep them safe; it just keeps them scared. It also lets rapists know they can get away with their crime as long as they pick the right victim - one who “makes herself vulnerable” by refusing to live according to the edicts of a rape-tolerant society.

The full article is here, via Incurable Hippie. I agree with the sentiments wholeheartedly.

Filed under: Culture, Sex equality
1st March, 2007

Rod Liddle responds…!

by Sunny at 4:56 pm    

Well this is most amusing. In my article for CIF last week a comment has been posted by a certain rodliddle. I can’t ascertain whether it is the real one but here is what he says in full:

Good Lord, Sunny. What self-regarding toss. So, you are fine criticisng the MCB because you do so from a position of enlightenment? My point is that the MCB, in its way, is more damaging to the cause of Britain’s Muslim community than any rogue bunch of nutters with explosive backpacks. Those handful, the majority of the population understand, are the terrible exceptions. The MCB - through its pretensions, its public profile and the gullibility of white journalists - purports to be the majority view. As you say, the MCB hurts the very people it claims to represent.
And please don’t class me with that bone-headed, illiterate, right wing imbecile Jon Gaunt. Or indeed the substantially cleverer right wing Melanie Phillips, good though she can be. I’m a LIBERAL: that’s why the MCB annoys me.

Hold on a second. When did Rod Liddle become a liberal? More importantly, since when did he start holding a torch for British Muslims to defend them from the evil tyranny of the all-powerful MCB?

Is this the same defender of British Muslims who wrote the hilariously rubbish ‘Eurabia’ leader for The Spectator, an exemplary example of xenophobic scare-mongering. What did it say other than: “You better watch out from those Muzzies, they breed fast and they’re gonna take over and destroy Europe soon enough!!

The same Rod Liddle who wrote this for the Sunday Times: “The Pope should have been aware that Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence.” Note, in particular, his nuanced argument here. It’s not that out of a billion or so Muslims a few hundred rent-a-riot idiots like Anjem Choudhary and his ilk went apeshit. No. You see, the entire religion in its abstract theological construction, went apeshit. His argument makes as much sense as saying “Christianity reacts” in such a way.

No really, our Rod Liddle, if that was indeed a comment posted by the real one, is a real defender of British Muslims. He only wants the best for them while he’s bashing the MCB. And yes, we should take him and Melanie Phillips seriously. All this time I’ve been so foolish…

Filed under: Media

Stupid home office officials

by Sunny at 1:52 am    

A British Asian was held in a detention centre for nearly two months and threatened with deportation to Pakistan because Home Office officials believed he was a foreigner. Immigration officials assumed that Sabbir Ahmed, who speaks with a Lancashire accent, was Pakistani despite the fact that he was born in Blackburn and has a British passport. His parents come from India but also have British citizenship.

Frances Pilling, manager of the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (South), who met Mr Ahmed in the detention centre, said: “It was obvious straight away that he was British. He had a northern accent. Once you’ve detained somebody how can they reasonably be asked to produce evidence? All they can produce is what they have in their pockets.”

Mr Ahmed’s case is not an isolated one. A report last year on foreign prisoners by Anne Owers, chief inspector of prisons, found regular failings in establishing the nationality of prisoners. In one case an inspection team which interviewed 12 juvenile prisoners identified as foreign found that five of them were British. It quoted one prisoners’ representative as saying: “If you are black officers assume you are a foreign national.” [Guardian]

Filed under: Race politics
28th February, 2007

Never forget Gujarat

by Sunny at 5:44 am    

Five years after unprecedented communal violence swept through Gujarat after arson on a train, the search for the truth behind the gory events and justice to the victims is still on — so are the survivors’ attempts to mend their lives.

At 9 a.m. on Feb 27 in 2002, the S-6 coach of the Ahmedabad-bound Sabarmati Express was set on fire - or, according to a railway ministry inquiry, caught fire - at Godhra, until then for most a little known town 140 km from here. The blaze killed 59 Hindu passengers, a majority of them members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) returning from the temple town of Ayodhya, sparking off one of the worst cases of sectarian strife in the country.

The violence, according to official estimates, left 1,169 Muslims and Hindus dead across the state over the next few weeks. Several activists belive the toll was higher. The city-based Centre for Social Justice, for example, reckons at least 2,000 people were killed, nearly 400 women raped, 563 places of worship destroyed and about 250,000 people were left homeless. The property damage has been estimated at Rs.38 billion (nearly $860 million).

An estimated 5,000 families continue to languish at some 50 makeshift refugee camps, without civic amenities, without employment for the adults and education for children. Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government continues to face flak over their plight and the simmering communal divide. [from here]

Justice? Indian government? Hah! Sikhs are still waiting over 20 years later. I wish I could write more on this but I’m seriously strapped for time. Any trolling in the posts will be deleted immediately.

Filed under: India
26th February, 2007

Caught in the middle

by Sunny at 7:48 pm    

This is the second part to an article I wrote for comment is free today…

There is another part that we briefly covered in the documentary that I’d like to explore here - that of being called “a traitor” or similar when raising controversial issues within minority communities. I’m not the first, nor will I be the last.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Culture, Organisations

Marrying abroad and abuse of immigrant brides

by Sunny at 1:21 am    

Today is the day my first radio documentary - Lost in Translation - is broadcast at 6:30pm on the BBC Asian Network. I’ll be on the station at 9am in a debate discussing why so many British Asian men every year choose to marry a bride from South Asia.

I have also written an article (my first) for The Times newspaper today. You can buy a copy to see my picture or read it online here. I believe some of the Indian press will also be running something. I’m working on something for comment is free too.

25th February, 2007

Stop using women for your own battles

by Savita at 7:56 pm    

The story about Hindu and Sikh girls being forcibly converted by Islamist fundamentalists on university campuses, so carelessly thrown around in the media last week, has a whiff of urban myth about it.

Apparently, as reported by a number of papers yesterday including The Metro, Hindu leaders want their own “security force” to protect these vulnerable, empty-headed girls who are being targeted by sinister Muslim radicals and are paid “up to £5,000 for each success”.

Continue Reading...
24th February, 2007

It’s a great big happy weekend open thread!

by Katy at 2:33 pm    

And boy do we need one. This website looks positively cloudy this weekend. You are a miserable bunch of gloomy people and no mistake. “Oh isn’t America horrible.” “No! America is lovely and YOU are horrible!” “No, YOU are horrible!” “No, YOU are horrible!” If these threads were in writing we’d have no rainforest left - and for what?

Now, cheer up, damn you all. It’s spring! Sort of. And it’s sunny! At least when it isn’t raining torrentially. And although someone drove straight into me whilst I was stationary at a zebra crossing earlier in the week and totalled my exhaust, I now have a lovely big silver car with a proper computer screen that tells you how to drive and has exciting buttons all over the steering wheel whilst they sort out the old one for me. It is a time for celebration.

So come and join me on the Open Thread for a big party about stuff which is good, like the fact that Dragnet is going to be on TV today, and where stuff that is bad is banned. No arguing about America. No mention of the hijab, the niqab or anything else with the suffix -ab. No monologues about education, no justification of cannibalism - it is not for nice people. No bad news, no political bombshells, no ranting, raging, haranguing, arguing, fighting, squabbling, nitpicking, henpecking, whingeing, bullying, carping, grouching, nidgying or insulting allowed. And anyone who breaks these rules will be set on fire. You have been warned…

Filed under: Current affairs
22nd February, 2007

Overseas brides and learning English

by Sunny at 3:10 pm    

Last week the Manchester Evening News wrote of a young Pakistani bride who managed to escape from home after months of abuse from her husband and in-laws.

Over the course of six months, she was treated as a slave, deprived of food and water and banned from speaking to relatives back home.

She was often punched, kicked and dragged by her hair by her husband and even his mother. On several occasions, she was so badly injured she required hospital treatment. But staff failed to realise what was happening and allowed the husband’s relatives to act as translators.

On her blog, the journalist Ciara Leeming writes more (thanks to Ally for the link).

For anyone who has done a bit of research around this area, stories such as this are not new. For me and many others, helping brides who come to the UK learn English is one of the key areas of empowerment. Yesterday the Commission for Cohesion made a similar suggestion - immigrants and brides coming to the UK should learn English to help integration. It makes sense, as Rehna Azim points out on CIF today, but it’s more important for me that learning English is seen as a tool of empowerment, especially for brides since they’ve come to a country where they have no one.

On Monday the BBC Asian Network will be airing a documentary authored and presented by me at 6:30pm on, co-incidentally, the very same issue. You can download and listen to the trailer. I’m also writing various articles that I will link in due course.

Regular readers will know that I’ve never been in favour of sweeping social problems underneath the carpet, pretending as if any discussion will demonise people and make things worse. If anything, inaction over these pressing issues makes things worse and means that thousands of women continue to be abandoned by society (and especially the Asian community) every year. That to me is more unacceptable.

Filed under: Culture, Sex equality

Love thy neighbour

by SajiniW at 1:58 pm    

Who would’ve thought it? It seems a significant minority of “ethnic-friendly” Lib-Dem councillors in Burnley have made friends in all sorts of places.

The Liberal Democrats have since taken steps to suspend John Jones and Jeff Sumner. Both men are known to have backed a BNP representative for a key local position. They’ve since retracted an apology for their actions, telling the Guardian that they had ‘no regrets’ about voting for BNP councillor Sharon Wilkinson - over her Labour rival - to join the board of a publicly-funded regeneration initiative.

Whilst the votes cast had no bearing on the final outcome (Cllr Wilkinson was not elected), words were exchanged between the gentlemen concerned and their fellow Lib-Dem council leader, telling them that “this was conduct not becoming of an elected Liberal Democrat representative”.

It’s interesting to note these individuals have supposedly ‘breached’ the party line. Given the furore over the BNP ballerina, I’d like to know whether you think it is acceptable to have members of racist parties on publicly-funded initiatives?

Filed under: Party politics, The BNP
21st February, 2007

Niqabs and schools

by Kulvinder at 3:51 pm    

It was almost a year ago during the Shabina Begum case that I said banning girls from wearing the niqab would probably lead them to being home schooled, and as a result they’d have less contact with the ‘outside world’

Another case has come up in Buckinghamshire. The girl in question has been taking lessons at home since October, and I for one am doubtful if she’ll go back to school now. Her three older sisters were apparently allowed to enroll whilst wearing the niqab. The justification for the ruling is a tad odd

the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions - a key element in effective classroom interaction

Says who? Personally I much prefer written text to spoken presentations. Regardless I’ve interacted with women who wear the niqab, and have never had a problem understanding them.

the necessity to enforce a school uniform policy under which girls of different faiths would have a sense of equality and identity

Forced ‘equality’ is nothing but the act of a despot. If the parents have contributed, via their taxes, to the funding of the school they should be allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like.

security - the head teacher had said an unwelcome visitor could move around the school incognito

It would take a pretty spectacular level of incompetence to miss someone moving about a building in a niqab. Besides which I hate decisions based on ’security’

the need to avoid peer pressure on girls to take up wearing the veil

Ah there we go, knew we’d get there eventually. Its really about social engineering.

The glee with which some greet the stripping of these girls of their identity is quite frankly shocking. I have no doubt that some will do little more than rejoice at this ruling, but I for one feel desperately sorry for a girl who has had her sense of self undermined by school bureaucrats. Costs were awarded against the family. I’m sure she feels happy and free.

Filed under: Current affairs
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