• Family

    • Ala Abbas
    • Clairwil
    • Daily Rhino
    • Leon Green
    • Liberal Conspiracy
    • Sajini W
    • Sid’s blog
    • Sonia Afroz
    • Sunny on CIF
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Aqoul
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Blairwatch
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Butterflies & Wheels
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Clive Davis
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr StrangeLove
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feministing
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • Indigo Jo
    • Liberal England
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Humanist Editor
    • New Statesman blogs
    • open Democracy
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Septicisle
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Ariane Sherine
    • Desi Pundit
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Isheeta
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Real man’s fraternity
    • Route 79
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Smalltown Scribbles
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head
    • Ultrabrown



  • Technorati: graph / links

    Yvonne Ridley and Islam Channel


    by Sunny on 5th December, 2007 at 5:37 am    

    According to this week’s Eastern Eye newspaper, Yvonne Ridley is planning to sue the Islam Channel for unfair dismissal. On grounds of her sex and her religion, apparently. I must be missing something here; she’s suing a Muslim channel for discriminating against her on the basis of being Muslim? That. Is. Hilarious.
    I wonder if this had a part to play:

    The Islam Channel has been fined £30,000 by media regulator Ofcom, it announced today, for “serious breaches” of the Brodcasting Code applicable to all television stations.

    The first was former Sunday Express journalist and Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley, a presenter of the current affairs show ‘The Agenda’, who stood as a Respect Party candidate in local elections last year. Shortly after Ofcom began its investigations she was taken off air.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Media, Muslim, Organisations




    102 Comments below   |  

    1. Indy — on 5th December, 2007 at 7:41 am  

      Yvonne Ridley could be in the Guinness book of world records. Oprah Winfrey or Larry King might even interview her, and grant her the chance to get all teary eyed and describe her “so-called” trauma.

      Ah it is all a publicity stunt. But it does make sense to indulge in such stunts, litigations are big business. So many people have made millions by resorting to litigations.

      Here is my secret - I am planning to sue my employer too…

    2. Boyo — on 5th December, 2007 at 7:52 am  

      She’s a strange woman. I would be interested in what makes her tick - from hard-bitten news reporter to hard-line Islamist. She may be bizarre, but no one could acuse her of being less than sincere.

    3. Leon — on 5th December, 2007 at 10:22 am  

      I would be interested in what makes her tick

      Stockholm Syndrome?

    4. Morgoth — on 5th December, 2007 at 10:37 am  

      Permit me a “guffaw” or two here. Shame both can’t lose the court case.

    5. BD — on 5th December, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

      This was indeed very funny!, lol

      She is indeed a clown, see here

      http://hotcoals.org/?p=84

    6. scimitar — on 5th December, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

      BD - Your posting is unrelated to Sunnys article and appears to be more an intent to somehow deride her, whilst the hotcoals article does the opposite!

      Yvonne Ridley appears sincere and has her perspective, there are different schools of thought on shaking hands with a person of a different gender if they are not related to you.

      IMO as a muslim, Yvonne Ridleys perspective is the majority perspective amongst muslims in the UK from South Asian countries.

      Whilst Niyyat or intent is important, the overriding ruling should not be culture or (maybe) arrogance which that article conveyed to me from the male figure.

    7. Sofia — on 5th December, 2007 at 4:16 pm  

      Scimitar..i think the article is related, in that it shows how trivial things are blown out of proportion and thus indicates how ridiculous a person can get..thus enter Yvonne Ridley…

    8. Abu Jafar — on 5th December, 2007 at 5:38 pm  

      The real story is that the Agenda (ridley’s programme) because of the Ofcom complaints. She was then reassigned to another job within the Channel. She claims this was constructive dismissal.

    9. Abu Jafar — on 5th December, 2007 at 5:39 pm  

      Sorry i meant to write the Agenda was cancelled

    10. vader — on 5th December, 2007 at 5:56 pm  

      OT, but Sunny should think twice about running ads like the one on the right of the screen for freederm hc- it is a well-known eczema scam.

    11. scimitar — on 5th December, 2007 at 10:54 pm  

      Agreed in that the article is trivial and a waste of cyber real estate (if that was what you meant! ;)).

      However, I would disagree re Yvonnes presence in that article. A persons sincerity and desire to observe their faith by not touching/shaking hands with a male figure unrelated to one is not ridiculous in Islam.

      The fact that persons of opposing views to Yvonne (and I would guess majority muslims in the UK) have made an Blog/Article out of a ‘non-issue’.

      Highlighting the male figure in question is a scholar and that Yvonne was somehow arrogant/wrong to refuse his handshake portrays the author of the article as a ridiculous figure not Yvonne (in this case at least as I don’t know much about Yvonnes background!)

    12. Morgoth — on 5th December, 2007 at 11:10 pm  

      Currently the ad is “Date Muslim Girls
      Meet & date Muslim girls free Photos, chat, email. Join free now.”

    13. Adnan — on 5th December, 2007 at 11:52 pm  

      Interesting, the web ads business. I saw one for subscribing to get Ann Coulter’s latest thoughts. Also, there was a Muslim dating ad which I also saw on the Daniel Pipes’ site :)

    14. Adnan — on 5th December, 2007 at 11:53 pm  

      I should’ve said I saw the Ann Coulter and Muslim dating ads. on PP. The same Muslim dating ad. was also on Daniel Pipes’ site.

    15. Sunny — on 6th December, 2007 at 1:35 am  

      Lol. Well, I can’t control the Google ads unfortunately… so I don’t know what scream / dating websites they advertise.

    16. The Common Humanist — on 6th December, 2007 at 10:01 am  

      “A persons sincerity and desire to observe their faith by not touching/shaking hands with a male figure unrelated to one is not ridiculous in Islam”

      BUT it is incredibly insulting and infantile to non-Muslims.

      So if you do insult non-muslims with the none shaking hands thing then don’t be put out when they take umbridge.

    17. Sofia — on 6th December, 2007 at 10:22 am  

      it was not her choice i was questioning..rather her going on about it..

    18. Pounce — on 6th December, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

      Scimitar writes;
      “BD - Your posting is unrelated to Sunnys article and appears to be more an intent to somehow deride her, whilst the hotcoals article does the opposite!”

      Actually I think you will find it is. (As Sofia kindly points out) I remember when this story first hit the press and they somehow linked the fact with her refusing to shake a sheiks hand (While in Jeddah reporting for the Islam channel) and her subsequent removal from the TV channel.
      But then what do I make of a Islamic revert who berates Muslim women for going to a music concert and applauding the Union Jack. The same woman who berates the Police and the same woman who lets be honest will never marry into a Muslim family Now that is deriding the silly moo. But hey what can Ridley say about it, she took up Islam and as such must respect the fact that according to the Koran she is a second class citizen or do the rules change when you want to sue.

    19. scimitar — on 6th December, 2007 at 7:36 pm  

      Why should not shaking hands with a person of an opposite sex who is unrelated to you (can we abbreviate that as I cant keep typing that!)be insulting to a non-muslim?

      Why are there double standards in promoting a certain facet or cultural stance and then deriding others? (even when an explanation is provided)

      I do not take offense when people eat bacon sarnies, when they dress/act in a particular way etc., as that is their choice and they can enjoy whatever they choose to do as responsible mature adults.

      I will respect their choice as long as it doesn’t affect or remove my choices.

      Why wont people accept and respect Yvonnes choice and sincerity in her religious commitments?

      I haven’t seen any articles where Yvonne is “going on about it” until I came across this post and the blog mentioned earlier.

      A music concert isn’t IMO classed as an event where muslims (male or female) should be rushing to!.

      Unsure re the Union jack reference.

      The Police deserve to be berated IMHO (having just come off the phone to a Sgt where the police lied to having knocked on a door when CCTV captures them reversing their car and then driving off! :/ )

      A woman isnt a second class citizen in the Quran - in fact there is greater importance on the role of a woman e.g the door to heaven is at the foot of the mother.. not the father is a rough quote. There are other equal responsibilities on Paternal and Maternal figures.

      Unfortunately, there will always be “blipverts” from the media and people who don’t understand the Holy Quran and misquote or try to propogate their own impressions.

      p.s im not a scholar, Sheikh or from the Yvonne appreciation society!

    20. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 9:36 am  

      “A woman isnt a second class citizen in the Quran - in fact there is greater importance on the role of a woman e.g the door to heaven is at the foot of the mother.. not the father is a rough quote”

      And the Soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of the press, of association and the right to form a trade union……and then there was the reality……

      The hand shaking thing is insulting, especially if it is directed at one personally - yup has happened to me.

    21. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 9:52 am  

      As you say TCH

      We should just have a Quran study class and be done with this. The simple fact of the matter is that it says a lot of contradictory things in lots of places, which leaves it open for Scholars to interpret to produce principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, which allowed slavery for example, and making it legal for an “owner” to have sex with a 9 year old female slave.

      And yes, this business about the “special” role of a woman has meant that its paved the way for effectively what are inequalities - the difference in how much women can inherit ( and im sorry, saying no woman inherited anything before doesn’t make up for half&half laws, if you’re going to do sth and call it ethical, do it properly,)difference in how a woman can get divorced, = all of these effectively amount to a difference in how a woman is treated legally, as a legal entity. And the most convenient phrase “..what your right hand possesses” has been for some Most Mysterious reason taken to mean “goods” i.e. women you OWN. Which in turn has justified keeping sex slavery legal all those years. So yes, you can say, the Quran says all these “wonderful” things about women and their rights, but there are plenty of loopholes as well we know and have seen in history. A woman has a special role! Wife & mother! These are wonderful things, we are “honouring” our women!

    22. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:16 am  

      its insulting to both parties who might otherwise have been involved in a handshake. Seems to Sexualise a perfectly ordinary greeting - that’s the problem.

      because the assumption is that you are such a Sex Maniac that to touch your hand would be haram! Might lead to all sorts of things! It might corrupt the person who touches their hands!It might be too sexual! Oh no what are we going to do then! Since we have been told we are only silly giggly girls, WHO KNOWS what might happen if we SHAKE the HAND of an UNRELATED man!! Squawk!

      I find it very offensive, these alleged rules on how a Muslim woman should behave. I feel it absolutely reduces one to a sex tool and breeding object.

    23. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:17 am  

      now if someone randomly wanted to not greet you, that’s their business, and then they should accept the personal responsibility for not engaging with someone on whatever level. Don’t then blame it on “your religion” and say well its my religion that doesn’t let me.

    24. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:25 am  

      sonia..although i respect most of your opinions and views..i’m do think the last post was a bit ott..as a muslim woman i don’t feel like a second class citizen; again this will go into interpretation etc which we have covered and i do understand your points on who does the interpreting etc. Although I understand your frustration and anger at the points you’ve mentioned, I do think that modern muslim societies should be able to evolve..i’m not sure whether you believe in the basic concept of islam or not, and it possibly is not place to question..but i do think for those muslim women who want to remain muslim, it is better to question and try to work “from within”…
      i know muslim women who have divorced with ease, and i have met those who haven’t..again, i have read other interpretations of the right hands possess thing in the contemporary context and also about the “role” of women…yes motherhood and marriage are promoted..but this is by no means the only thing that women do or are expected to do..if this is what narrow minded ppl think then that is their problem..most muslim women (who also practise their religion) i know have amazing careers, choose their own marriage partners, and then choose when they would like to start a family..they feel no compulsion to conform to a particular (saudi inspired), form of religion…

    25. Morgoth — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:27 am  

      I find it very offensive, these alleged rules on how a Muslim woman should behave. I feel it absolutely reduces one to a sex tool and breeding object.

      Exactly.

      Veiling/Purdah and so on invariably led to the hypersexualisation of society.

    26. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:30 am  

      Sonia,
      I agree.

      And so from a non-Muslim perspective, particularly a non-religious English one, the whole thing looks infantalising and, as you point out, has the effect of sexualising a distinctly non sexual event.

      Islam does seem obsessed with sex and controlling women - but them its origins are in a desert environment of endemic warfare and blood feuds so perhaps in sociological terms we shouldn’t be that surprised.

      However, I also cannot help but notice an awful lot of British Muslims (Ok, largely ones I have met through doing two degrees) mostly don’t seem to have these hangups or are, in a very british way, too polite to voice them as they are aware of how contrary to the rest of society they are.

      TCH

    27. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:41 am  

      I disagree..islam is not obsessed by women..men are obsessed with women…there are plenty of rules and regs for men..which they conveniently ignore…

    28. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:48 am  

      Sorry Sonia is right. In Muslim societies the public role of the ordinary woman is relegated to spouse or child-bearer. Education and secularisation seems to improve women’s rights by endowing the *choice* to women.

    29. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:52 am  

      that is because for some reason many muslim men think it’s ok to pidgeon hole what women do

    30. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 10:59 am  

      But where do these “many muslim men” derive their power from?

    31. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:04 am  

      Whilst I agree it is men who are obsessed with women, being backed up by a mysoginistic holy book with no definitive interpretation certainly does make the perpetuation of boys club patriarchy much easier.

      Ever more so if there is a green light to domestic violence within said book.

    32. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:10 am  

      so as a muslim woman i must be stupid to follow it..

    33. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:13 am  

      I don’t think it was so much the Book as the Practices, and by that I mean the ahadith or practices of the Prophet, always relayed by a string of interlocutors, often a hundred plus years after the event. Often these “best practices” have become ossified and held as principle and as “war”, being applied open to myriad interpretive situations and thus allowing strange, disjointed tribal practices from seventh century arabia being applied to attitudes and customs. It ain’t the Quran, its the Sunnah that is to blame.

    34. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:14 am  

      oops, should say:
      “Often these “best practices” have become ossified and held as Principle and as “Way”.

    35. Morgoth — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:16 am  

      so as a muslim woman i must be stupid to follow it..

      “Masochistic” is the word that springs to mind.

      One feature that most of the “white” female converts to Islam share (from the many documentaries that you see about them) is that they actually *like* being treated like utter shit. The regulations, the strictness, the enforced inferiority - it all appeals to their dominant masochism. They remind me of an ex’s sister - who would only have relationships with men who were utter bastards and treated her like complete shit. (the ex in question memorably punched the complete crap out of one of her sister’s boyfriend who went too far)

    36. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:17 am  

      To put up with it says volumes about your strength of charactor and respect for your cultural inheritance.

      Also, you are probably just better at interpreting - itijihad etc….am guessing so anyway.

    37. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:30 am  

      morgoth..i don’t get treated like shit when it comes to religion..if anything..i have problems with culture…and cultural expectations..so that’s where my battle is..
      and i also find your gross generalisation on “white” converts quite silly…i’m supposing you’ve met all the “white” converts in the world to come to this assumption..plenty of ppl convert for the wrong reasons..and plenty of others do it for the right reasons..what about “black” converts…or are these women also mugs…or don’t you know any to make such an assumption? instead of making a valid point, your ott comments just come across as daft…why not qualify what you want to say and i would agree with you on some points..such as there are women who convert to islam out of some dumb reason of either marrying a muslim man or feeling like it will automatically give them some self respect.

    38. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:37 am  

      yeah but morgoth is the weakest link, the puddle of piss, the broken flush. why concentrate on him?

    39. pounce — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:39 am  

      Scimitar wrote;
      Why wont people accept and respect Yvonnes choice and sincerity in her religious commitments? I haven’t seen any articles where Yvonne is “going on about it” until I came across this post and the blog mentioned earlier.A music concert isn’t IMO classed as an event where muslims (male or female) should be rushing to!. Unsure re the Union jack reference.

      ……………………….

      Please allow me to help you with the above. The article I referred to is this one;
      Pop Culture in the Name of Islam - by Yvonne Ridley
      The reason I am expressing concern is that just a few days ago at a venue in Central London, sisters went wild in the aisles as some form of pop-mania swept through the concert venue. And I’m not just talking about silly, little girls who don’t know any better; I am talking about sisters in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, who squealed, shouted, swayed and danced. Even the security guys who looked more like pipe cleaners than bulldozers were left looking dazed and confused as they tried to stop hijabi sisters from standing on their chairs. Of course the stage groupies did not help at all as they waved and encouraged the largely female Muslim crowd to “get up and sing along.” (They’re called ‘Fluffers’ in lap-dancing circles!) The source of all this adulation was British-born Sami Yusuf, who is so proud of his claret-colored passport that
      he wants us all to wave the Union Jacks. I’m amazed he didn’t encourage his fans to sing “Land of Hope and Glory.”Brother Sami asked his audience to cheer if they were proud to be British ,and when they responded loudly, he said he couldn’t hear them and asked them to cheer again. How can anyone be proud to be British? Britain is the third most hated country in the world. The Union Jack is drenched
      in the blood of our brothers and sisters across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. Our history is steeped in the blood of colonialism, rooted in slavery, brutality, torture, and oppression. And we haven’t had a decent game of soccer since we
      lifted the World Cup in 1966. Apparently Sami also said one of the selling points of Brand UK was having Muslims in the Metropolitan Police Force! Astafur’Allah! Dude, these are the same cops who have a shoot-to-kill policy and would have
      gunned down a Muslim last year if they could tell the difference between a Bangladeshi and a Brazilian. This is the same police force that has raided more than 3000 Muslim homes in Britain since 9/11. What sort of life is there on Planet Sami,
      I wonder? If he is so proud to be British, why is he living in the great Middle Eastern democracy of Egypt
      http://yvonneridley.org/yvonne-ridley/articles/pop-culture-in-the-name-of-islam.html

      Why is it always born-again people who are more pious than the run of mill folk. I have an aunty (by marriage) who became a born-again Christian every time she visited she took great pleasure in telling me I was going to Hell and what not. Hang on what is it with pious people and godliness. Jeez give me a break…Mind you it didn’t help at family get-togethers by me telling her I was a Satanist and asking her “How many wars have started in Gods name and how many in the Devils?” I rest my case. But back to Yvonne (I’m a better Muslim than thou)Ridley. What gives her the right to berate women who go to a pop concert? Something I note that you Scimitar agree to. Then you go and try to claim that women are afford equal rights under Islam.
      Excuse me.. is this a case of “Do as I say and not as I do” because all I see is religious bigotry.

    40. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:43 am  

      so as a muslim woman i must be stupid to follow it..

      In a word: yes.

      However, your constant harping on about Muslim societies ‘evolving’ - just another word for reform - shows that you are actually uncomfortable with Islam as it is.

      So there is hope for you.

    41. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:47 am  

      #40 is morgoth’s ugly sister - Muzambrose, surely.

    42. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:48 am  

      Pounce..you’ll also find the born again muslim “brothers”..preaching on street corners to redeem themselves from their alcohol ridden, shag fest of their university days..yes the days where they hid from the islamic societies on campus, looked the other way when they clocked a “sista” in hijab, turned up with hangovers to their 11am lectures and then guiltily turned up to friday prayers every now and then..yup these boys now “men”..now have the gall to preach to the ppl that remained “normal”..and therefore aren’t guilt ridden and have very little to regret..

    43. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:49 am  

      nathaniel..no i’m not hoping for islam to evolve..rather muslims to actually look at the spirit of islam and rediscover what it is..not the narrow definition of what they think it is..

      and nathaniel..do you have adhd..or some sort of personality complex…as your numerous names are beginning to confuse

    44. Morgoth — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:57 am  

      your ott comments just come across as daft…

      They’re not ott or daft - Islam is a belief system that totally destroys the self, and turns its followers into nothing more than Borg drones. It is utterly contemptable.

    45. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 11:58 am  

      actually look at the spirit of islam and rediscover what it is

      This is Romanticism of the most pathetic kind. I’m sure sonia will tell you that the so called ’spirit’ you refer to never actually existed; hence you get the quite disturbing stories of mass rape - legitimised by Islam - occuring in the early conquests of Muhammed himself. Hardly a great ’spirit’.

      What spirit are you referring to? Or was it just a random word you came up with?

    46. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

      Nathaniel, based on your previous efforts, your own belief system needs an hard objective look as well. Are you sure you’re up to looking at your own warts?

    47. Ravi Naik — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

      “Why is it always born-again people who are more pious than the run of mill folk. I have an aunty (by marriage) who became a born-again Christian every time she visited she took great pleasure in telling me I was going to Hell and what not. Hang on what is it with pious people and godliness”

      That was a pretty good post, Pounce. And I believe Sofia is right when she says that it might be that people get so remorsed by what they have done before, that they go into another extreme.

    48. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:14 pm  

      nathaniel..i’ll shake my head sympathetically as I really have nothing more to say to you.

    49. Ravi Naik — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:17 pm  

      “They remind me of an ex’s sister - who would only have relationships with men who were utter bastards and treated her like complete shit. (the ex in question memorably punched the complete crap out of one of her sister’s boyfriend who went too far)”

      Heh. So you like dominant and physically strong women who can beat the crap out of men? Is it because it gives you a sense of security and protection? Or you have a sense of inferiority? (See, we can play this game of gross generalisation and mocking others…)

    50. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

      sid

      What are you talking about?

      Sofia

      This isn’t the first time you have walked away from a critical look at your faith. One day, however, you will have to confront it: and you won’t like what you see.

    51. Sofia (borg drone) — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

      yay

    52. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

      Well I’m sorry Sofia, but i totally fail to see what is OTT about my opinion on such a thing. Sorry if it offends you, but that’s precisely how I see it. I didn’t say anything about you personally, so I hope you would not take it that way. You don’t have to feel personally oppressed, or a second class citizen, for me to think Islam and its rules are oppressive towards “women” in general. It isn’t about you - my comments. And as you have said yourself, everyone has a different experience. An idea can be oppressive, without necessarily everyone who subscribes to that idea - applying it in an equally oppressive manner. You have said too on occasion that you felt you had a choice about Islam - which again - is highly unusual in Muslim families - so clearly, there are many of us, who find it oppressive - regardless of gender - because our families have felt it their Islamic duty to pass on religion, and questioning that usually leads to trouble. For some of us to not be able to speak up freely, because others feel they are not personally oppressed, would be a bit silly. Again, I’m sorry if you take my comments about the religion we both came out of - personally, but please don’t. This is much bigger than either of us.

    53. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:22 pm  

      also sofia, i don’t know where you’ve grown up, so i shan’t presume that you haven’t been subject to the laws of Muslim countries. But again, for those of us who have and continue to do so, religion simply isn’t just a personal choice, its much more.

      Often, Muslims who grow up in the West forget this and take their freedom for granted.

    54. Sofia (borg drone) — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

      nathanial..no i don’t shy away from debate..i do shy away from freaks

    55. Sofia (borg drone) — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:30 pm  

      and yes sonia i haven’t lived in a muslim country for very long so can’t comment on how it must feel..i have however commented on what i have seen in S.A..and would agree with you on that…

    56. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:36 pm  

      And also finally, i would like to say that i would not want my criticism to mean that all people who are Muslims should be “indicted”. The simple fact is that most of us have had no choice ( i dont see anyone much in the indian subcontinent having ‘choice’ about following their families values) and have been subject to huge amounts of family propaganda if nothing else, and I definitely emphathize with people not wanting to look too deep.

      however that people do need to realise what it is - the wider picture- they are contributing to. This is significant particularly when it comes to being a parent and passing on certain kind of thinking.

      And lastly I would like to point out AGAIN that as a Bangladeshi female citizen, I am not entitled to pass down my Bangladeshi nationality to any child i may have,unless the father is also bangladeshi. so effectively, i do become a second-class citizen by being a woman - and this is the same problem for many women in much of the Middle East and North African region. It doesn’t take a feminist to put two and two together, that perhaps the different ways of perceiving men and women legally within Islam ( how many women do we need for testimony) has a lingering impact on nationality concerns for women today. Of course for those with British citizenship, all that doesn’t matter. But for the rest of us it does. And it is real, and it is affecting us, are we to sit quietly and accept it because generations of female ancestors have taken it lying down? I am sure Sofia as a kind-hearted person you would not want that either would you. So the fact is that there are many many issues that affect us Muslim women from Muslim countries. For a start, I will never be recognised as not being a Muslim woman in Bangladesh - either I declare myself a non-Muslim and bring down fatwas on my head - or I subject myself to the law that governs a Muslim woman. With respect to marriage, if you are a Muslim woman, or if you are a Hindu woman, the laws are different. So again - religion is not something you can avoid if you want to. So for all the fuss about Muslims here, people might want to go and live in a Muslim country to really understand the link between state and religion.

    57. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

      Claiming Equal Citizenship - the campaign for Arab women’s right to nationality

      Sofia, i urge you to please look at this link, and pass it around if you can. This is a major human rights issue, and affects not only Muslim women, but all women in many muslim-majority countries.

      Problematically, not enough Muslim women in the West are very interested in this kind of stuff. Or possibly even aware.

    58. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

      TCH i would say that most muslims ( im not talking about in bRITain because i didnt grow up here)who grow up in muslim majority countries havent a clue whats in the quran or hadith because they shy away from it and would have fits if they knew much about Islam’s history, and stories about the Prophet in the hadith, and what Islamic jurisprudence has allowed in the past. Until early this year I had no idea about sex slavery, thought that -at least in theory -Islam had called for the complete ( not partial and institutionalisation of) abolition of slavery. and I know a sizeable no. of Muslims i grew up with - still don’t know. And i’ve tried talking about it to others, like ’shit, can you believe this, they never told us this when we were young! ‘ and sadly, a lot of them said, ‘just as well, it might have made me question everything else!’ . and now don’t really want to think about it at all.

    59. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:59 pm  

      Until early this year I had no idea about sex slavery, thought that -at least in theory -Islam had called for the complete ( not partial and institutionalisation of) abolition of slavery.

      Ahh, that must be the ’spirit’ Sofia is referring to.

      The good old days of Islam…

    60. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 12:59 pm  

      And Sofia, sorry I don’t know why you think by what I am saying I was suggesting all Muslim women should stop being “Muslim”. In the first place, I believe in individuality, if someone wants to be “Muslim” whatever the hell that involves, that is ENTIRELY their business. And of course Muslim societies evolve. Thank
      god for the fact that most of us actually have no CLUE about what ridiculous rules the Books of Islam are filled with, just in the same way many Christians today are fluffy and ignore all the nasties in their text. I am certainly not one to stick to texts and say this is what it is. it is a pretty alien thing in Bangladesh to wear a niqab, increasing now, but for absolutely ages it would have made you stick out like a sore thumb.

      However - again - it depends if you are able to practise your interpretation of religion independently. That is the CRUX of the matter. And also pretending there was nothing wrong with the original, because we owe our reverence to the Prophet, and to God. I’m sorry - but if the Prophet came down today with the same stories - I would still say that by moral standards, including the moral standards my parents claimed were ISLAMIC, he is a bad man. There lies a contradiction which you will see very few people address. And why is that?

    61. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

      So - in the tradition of Sonia typing faster than everyone else - I shall say one more thing: having the freedom to interpret religion, having to freedom to do as you want, would be absolutely fine, and luckily, many Muslims around the world are able to do this. Whether the Mullahs would agree they are good Muslims or not, well that’s another matter, so who cares. Women like Amina Wadud - I have respect for - and Asma Barlas - who are still ‘believers’ - they are not afraid to be controversial, they are not afraid to think outside the box, they are not afraid of being OTT and of fatwas, and they have their own interpretation of their religion which they appear to have thought through. Such women are generally dismissed - not only by the Mullahs and the Qaradawis of this world - but by many other muslim women who think they are way out of line, and stepping out of “their place”.

    62. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:21 pm  

      Sonia
      You are great!

      Keep on spreading the questioning word! Have you thought of a career in journalism? I would much rather see someone like you on the news rather then the hardline fundamentalists that the Beeb, Sky and ITN habitually invite on.

      TCH

    63. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

      TCH

      Are you crazy?

      Put her on TV or in the Guardian and she will have a death fatwa on her in about 3 seconds.

      I prefer sonia alive and well.

    64. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

      33- Sid, i hear you, and you know what - until i looked into what Tafsir was, and how scholars interpret verses, I thought the same. I have heard many people say this about the Quran - its not the Quran, its the Sunnah. But this is the trick - Scholars have used the Sunnah to interpret the Quran. This is documented in Quranic exegesis- how scholars have interpretes Surahs, using the Sunnah as guidance, and to fill in context. what God meant when he said this, what God really meant here. (of course we can choose to ignore this interpretation, and come up with our own. In order to do that, first we must be aware of the exegesis that has taken place to date, and what sources have been used)

      For example, looking at the exegesis pertaining to Surah 66, which “apparently” -so Scholars say - refers to the incident where one of the wives of Muhammad was pissed off, because she caught him sleeping with her slave - on HER day! and then admonished him, and made him promise not to do it again or some such thing, or kicked up some kind of fuss. a lot of “in-fighting/bitching” between wives and concubines basically. This context is provided to us to understand the explanation of why God is in that verse, telling Muhammad what he is -

      “066.001
      YUSUFALI: O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. ”

      066.002
      “YUSUFALI: Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths (in some cases): and Allah is your Protector, and He is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom”

      which is again interpreted to mean, that God has stepped in on behalf of Muhammad, and admonished him for trying to please his wives, and admonish the wives for bugging the poor prophet. Now if you just read the phrases- in the Quran- on their own, you might have no clue as to what it was all referring to. its the Scholars, who have used the Sunnah, who have come to the conclusion - that it means xy or z and refers to happenings in Muhammad’s life ( which they find out from the Sunnah) And they record this in the tafsirs.

    65. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

      TCH/thanks but i would hate to go on TV! and what would i say anyway? people would just get defensive, they need to think for themselves really.
      all i would want to do is get people to actually go do some studying on the religion they follow, to think about it carefully, work out what they will disregard, and why, and what applies to them now etc. And be able to realistically point to the bad, alongside what good they can take. and not forcing it on family members.

      nathaniel - yep i’d rather be alive and well too ( and not with an angry family who simply wouldn’t understand and simply think i am out to reject THEM and OUR family values. and my mother would say she is going to hell because of me..and horrible things like that )

    66. Cover Drive — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

      Put her on TV or in the Guardian and she will have a death fatwa on her in about 3 seconds.

      One woman has a fatwa on her head: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3007677.ece
      She’s the daughter of a British imam who converted to Christianity. She’s been moved house 45 times under police protection to escape detection from her OWN family since she converted to Christianity 15 years ago.

      I was quite shocked to learn that the Koran says that anyone who leaves Islam should be killed.

    67. Nathaniel bin Sabat — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:45 pm  

      Cover Drive

      The Quran doesn’t say that apostasy should be punished with death, that’s in the Ahadiths.

      But yes, it is nevertheless pathetic how Allah is so paranoid and lacking in self-confidence that he had to slap a death sentence on people who dared to leave Islam’s fold.

      Also, I think it’s hilarious how ‘Allah’ banned bacon sarnies but allowed slavery and concubinage. But then, most of the Quran is just really bad plaigarisms o Jewish and Christian mythology, so the pork ban is probably just a rip off of Judaism.

    68. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

      Sonia - I am not offended by what you are saying..so please do not think that. I suppose I have had different experiences than a lot of Muslim women and have not found religion but culture to be my problem.
      Having said that, I do understand the problem with muslim societies and the subjugation of women and think that without sorting this out, the muslim community will never truly move on…

    69. Cover Drive — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:53 pm  

      Ok Nathaniel. I believe the Koran also says that followers should obey the law of the land whatever country they live in. So the family of that woman are not following the Koran. And what is the Ahadiths?

    70. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 1:57 pm  

      wow, come back from a lovely Singaporean lunch and people have moved on. cool. Even Muzumdar sounds less bipolar!

    71. The Common Humanist — on 7th December, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

      Sonia

      Just out of interest/noseyness (and not a come on) how old are you? And what do you do?

      (Am 32 and feeling every year today! Plus it is Baltic in Leeds today)

      TCH

    72. Boyo — on 7th December, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

      The TV point is actually a good one. I’m sure there are plenty of sensible people about but the mad minority bully them off the airwaves.

    73. Morgoth — on 7th December, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

      Also, I think it’s hilarious how ‘Allah’ banned bacon sarnies but allowed slavery and concubinage. But then, most of the Quran is just really bad plaigarisms o Jewish and Christian mythology, so the pork ban is probably just a rip off of Judaism.

      Oh indeed. Though I would categorise it as a particularily nasty Catholic heresy more than anything.

    74. Sid — on 7th December, 2007 at 4:58 pm  

      Sonia - good one

    75. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 5:06 pm  

      TCH ( don’t worry i didnt think it was a come-on!) :-) its natural to want to know more about people in RL! ( hah ive been saying that a lot) i turned 30 this year..and i work for an environmental charity in London, have done so for the last 3 years. so you’re up in Leeds eh? the good ‘ol north. i went to uni in sheff, hung about there for a bit afterwards as well..what a time!

      ooh its friday, have a brill weekend everyone!

    76. sonia — on 7th December, 2007 at 5:09 pm  

      Sofia, thanks for your understanding, again, I didn’t mean to offend you personally. i think we have a lot of shared ground, and from reading your comments, i know you’re definitely not someone who shys away from criticism.

    77. Sofia — on 7th December, 2007 at 5:14 pm  

      Sonia…didn’t take any of it personally at all…I am totally open to criticism as long as it’s constructive..which is what most are on PP..apart from a few ppl..who i don’t really want to name…I think most ppl here whatever their views, are able to be civil towards one another…
      Sometimes with opinion, it’s good to express, but when it comes to consensus..or rather lack of it, on a particular issues, sometimes it is better to agree to disagree..
      Anyway, I hope all have a good weekend…

    78. Raju — on 7th December, 2007 at 9:12 pm  

      Yvonne Ridleys is a strange curious creature. What will her next career move will be? I dread to think lol :S

    79. Sunny — on 8th December, 2007 at 1:25 am  

      Nathaniel bin Sabat - oh look, our resident saddo, who refuses to go away despite having his comments deleted every day, is back.

    80. Desi Italiana — on 8th December, 2007 at 8:34 am  

      Sid and Sonia (?):

      “Sorry Sonia is right. In Muslim societies the public role of the ordinary woman is relegated to spouse or child-bearer. Education and secularisation seems to improve women’s rights by endowing the *choice* to women.”

      Yes…but I’d like to point out that it’s not only in “Muslim” societies. Biggest and most populous example of a nominally non Muslim country where women’s primary role is mummyji, wife, and bahu is India.

      And you will be surprised to know this, but it is similar in Mexico. A Catholic country.

    81. Desi Italiana — on 8th December, 2007 at 8:38 am  

      Reading over some comments on this post and elsewhere, I just want to ask without meaning to be rude- why is religion so important to some folks? I mean, does it have to be the basis of support, justification, angst, identity, debate, indignation, and more worriedly, of knowledge, our point of reference, and logical framework?

      Like, are there no other thinking venues?

      Sid, quick- Tell me what you ate, please.

    82. Boyo — on 8th December, 2007 at 7:31 pm  

      Because it’s not actually about religion - whose rules get you into heaven - it’s about culture. And what is culture but an extention of “the tribe”? And at the end of the day, from an anthropological POV, isn’t that what it’s all about?

      Debates about suras, hadiths, the Old Testament etc are symbolically tribal struggles, fought out in cyber space (preferably).

      Look at it this way - if Christianity or Islam hadn’t “delivered”, ie made their followers ultimately wealthier and more powerful than their “heathen” or “infidel” neighbours, we wouldn’t be discussing them. We wouldn’t be in the position to do so.

      The “umma” is a big tribe, as is “christendom” or “the West”. But it’s the same old scrap.

    83. Desi Italiana — on 8th December, 2007 at 9:32 pm  

      Boyo,

      Interesting take.

      But IMO (and I hope to offend no one here, even though I know I’m being a bit judgmental), I think religion here is serving as some sort of crutch or safety net to counteract some kind of back-up to ideals that can stand alone without religion tagged onto it. For example, why vociferously affirm that you are a “Muslim woman” and “proud” of it when you are talking about women’s rights? Like, does this matter whether you are a Muslim or not? It’s like people for human rights who argue that “It’s not acceptable in Islam/Hinduism/Sikhism/etc to curb freedom of speech, kill others, not implement democracy, etc [insert stricture].” Honestly, who cares? Any religion can be used to justify good and bad things. Women’s rights, freedom of speech, democracy, giving equality to everyone are common human ideals; it doesn’t need to have the stamp of whatever religion.

      But maybe those human ideals are a set of beliefs like religion is, so maybe that’s why it’s hard for people to stop arguing for things like instituting “Islamic democracy” and “Hindu human rights.”

    84. Boyo — on 9th December, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

      “But maybe those human ideals are a set of beliefs like religion is, so maybe that’s why it’s hard for people to stop arguing for things like instituting “Islamic democracy” and “Hindu human rights.””

      I think that’s an interesting point, although “democracy” springs from Greek and “human rights” spring from French philosophical thinking. My point is, even these concepts are cultural constructs. To me, that’s one of the reasons they are important - people take them for granted, yet even within modern European history they are far from given.

    85. Desi Italiana — on 10th December, 2007 at 4:44 am  

      Sofia:

      “rather muslims to actually look at the spirit of islam and rediscover what it is..not the narrow definition of what they think it is..”

      This to me sounds very static, romanticist, and uncritical. I have also heard this often from some folks: “Islam is equipped for [insert whatever progressive ideal] and there is nothing incompatible about Islam and “democracy”, blah blah”. Yes and no. You can make anything compatible or incompatible with whatever religion; as such, I don’t understand why it’s necessary to say what you have said above.

      ***

      Boyo:

      “I think that’s an interesting point, although “democracy” springs from Greek and “human rights” spring from French philosophical thinking. My point is, even these concepts are cultural constructs.”

      I totally agree with you. However, I find it much easier to define and follow the arguments for “democracy” and “human rights” than I can for the logic and legitimacy of an “Islamic democracy,” “Muslim civil rights,” and “Hindu human rights.” I have totally heard people out, engaged with them, and asked them questions, and no one has really explained any of these concepts without them being deeply flawed, contradictory, static, and narrow [or, another good way to dismiss any criticism about religion playing a role in the affairs of the state is to accuse people of "You don't know what 'secularism' means! It doesn't mean that there is no state religion!" and then not really answer any of your questions :)]

    86. Morgoth — on 10th December, 2007 at 10:02 am  

      why is religion so important to some folks?

      Because they’re weak-minded fools?

    87. The Common Humanist — on 10th December, 2007 at 11:03 am  

      Desi

      Also, religion remains important because it is being used as a means and/or as a justification to deny or retract particular human rights.

      E.g. womens rights in the Islamic World.

      And for balance, the Christian Rights fight to prevent basic human rights to their fellow citizens who happen to be gay.

      In both scenarios reactionary religion is being used in a deeply negative manner to inflict control on groups in society.

      To fight such attempts you need to understand the religious viewpoint. Hence the importance.

    88. sonia — on 10th December, 2007 at 11:59 am  

      Desi - good point about India. Precisely - religion has played a massive role in keeping women ( and other individuals, and groups) in their “places”.

      Hinduism/Islam - all the same thing to me. Caste-system in one word. Which is why I don’t see any difference ( apart from the god/s invoked, the ritual in use) in how religion has been used to perpetuate inequalities and re-inforce groupthink, and your place in the world.

      So for me, religion - is only significant as a means to reinforce group psychology and keeping individuals in places. It is by no means the only one - patriotism and the nation-state as far as i can see uses the same psychology (minus the fairy/god in the sky.)

      In any case, the reason why I personally go on about religion in the indian sub-continent is because it affects what happens to you/what laws apply to you. For example, in India, what law will apply to you depends on what religion you are! And again, given the traditional social institution that religion is, how many people get to really say what they want to be? If you are a Muslim woman in India you are subject to different rules than if you are a Hindu woman. Now if you could choose religion freely, perhaps that might not be a problem. But as far as i can see, religion usually is about belonging to a certain group, usually means its what you have been born into, what your family believes, and effectively you are then subject to whatever laws are deemed applicable to that group. U nless you have been able to freely choose that group, it is effectively - tyranny. You can’t break free of the group easily, certainly not Islam, and the State sees you as a “Muslim” and thereby “delegates” you to be subject to the power of whatever those rules are. Personally - I don’t see this as very free. It might not be the State that is interfering with you, but it is nonetheless, some strong institution that is defining your parameters.

      That’s why Desi, religion is significant in in the Indian sub-continent context - because it helps to set those parameters. I don’t think it should do - I think religion should be a purely personal individual thing, not a group-thing. Again, if you get religion out of the picture, naturally the “problem” doesn’t go away, i.e. you can have a concept of caste/divisions without a God construct propping it up, as we can see. For me, its all about those human social group dynamics. “God”, as far as i can see, is problematic when used towards legitimising those group dynamics, i have no issue with
      “god” otherwise. similarly, i have issue with the concept of “fatherland” or “motherland” because i think it is used - in the same way as the “god” construct - to reinforce group boundaries and create divisions amongst humans. These are all stories we tell ourselves at the end of the day - and use them to legitimise inequalities.

      i should have thought these kinds of things, are rather obvious though, if one takes a look at society, social dynamics, the use of myth/folklore to prop up social structures etc. Religion has been a very powerful myth, for a long long time. (Now whether God is true or not, I don’t know and don’t really care, its the impact on humans i’m interested in.

    89. sonia — on 10th December, 2007 at 12:03 pm  

      Good point TCH
      #

      the way i see it, God is a distraction. Whether It exists or not hardly matters. Its about how people who believe in It, historically, have behaved towards the people around them, and used it for legitimacy for their actions ( that they would otherwise have carried out anyway as we have seen elsewhere)

    90. sonia — on 10th December, 2007 at 12:13 pm  

      And you will be surprised to know this, but it is similar in Mexico. A Catholic country.

      Suprised? Why? :-) Surely again rather obvious from any study of history. Catholicism again is another wonderful case-study of how religion has been used to justify hierarchies and power domination. (and sexual control)

      Catholicism, in my opinion, has also been clever tool of Empire and imperialism - what better clever trick than to imbue your subjugated millions and their descendants - with the same ’story’ so that 100s and 100s of years later, they are effectively identifying with their ‘masters’ beliefs. what better way to create a “common culture”? in much the same way Islam has been used to make it look like we Muslims now have something in common with the original Muslim marauders who burst out of Arabia. But they were Muslims, we are muslims. Never mind how so many People became Muslims, as if all of our ancestors spontaneously converted. Essentially - its very clever because it mitigates the ‘foreigness’ of the ‘foreign invader’ ( obviously this doesn’t work immediately) but as folklore - its very convincing.

    91. sonia — on 10th December, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

      Personally, if i were going to have a good go at being some Charismatic Leader, I would definitely be using Religion as a tool. Why attribute my thoughts/desires to myself, when i can attribute what i want, what i think - to an Eternal Creator King in the Sky?

    92. sonia — on 10th December, 2007 at 12:24 pm  

      Yes and no. You can make anything compatible or incompatible with whatever religion;

      Yep, absolutely spot on.

      I guess what I would say is that some people believe that there is a ‘good’ spirit to religion, that isn’t all just a made-up manipulative tool, that there was something “real” behind it. and the other “stuff” that’s bad, is just ‘in the way’.

      And i can emphathise with that desire to believe that - I think we all prob. can to some extent or other. And i don’t negate the possibility that to so many millions of people, religion does mean something, and I wouldn’t try and take that away from them, or invalidate it because in my opinion, the original was a scam or something. People can make something beautiful out of shit, however, again, it comes back to group dynamics and power. Unfortunately, lots of ‘religion is nice and fluffy’ type people don’t seem to be aware how religion through the ages has been used to perpetuate social divisions. And that’s what i’m out to highlight -not get at people’s pet desires and cherished beliefs.

    93. Desi Italiana — on 10th December, 2007 at 6:13 pm  

      Yo everyone,

      Thanks for the comments. But I think I wasn’t clear. It’s not that I think religion shouldn’t be discussed; am I just curious as to why people who defend and/or state their arguments tie it into their religious identity, ie “as a Muslim,” or “As a Muslim woman,” etc. It seems to me- if I can be very honest- a very weak support that one is relying on, as if just rationality, logic, free thinking aren’t enough. Perhaps continuously asserting one’s religious identity is a type of comfort zone, and that it’s just easier to revert to an already packaged set of logic, views, positions and so on rather than be forced to assess each situation, each complexity, etc on its own (this also goes for people who claim some political affiliation and always see things through pre-constructed lens- ie “As a Marxist,” or “as a Republican” etc).

      An example: a little while ago, I read an article on Chowk about freedom of speech in the subcontinent and the religious fundamentalists of every color who attempt to control speech and how religion is really stifling people’s voices. The writer made good points, until he offered this (lame, IMO) argument: Islam does not confine speech; in fact, Islam encourages free speech, and thus, it is the Muslim thing to do to allow speech. He was arguing for secularism by using religion as back-up. My reaction? Who cares?! ALL religions can be argued for and against freedom of speech! And really, isn’t it enough to simply say- “Look- I don’t care what religion you are, but you cannot play the moral police”?

    94. Don — on 10th December, 2007 at 7:50 pm  

      Sonia, Desi,

      All good points. I think it is worth remembering that this is probably the first generation in Western Europe where not having a religious identity is considered unremarkable.

      Put crudely, it is a way of saying, ‘This is what I think, and my gang thinks so too.’ I am frequently at a loss to see any connection between the claims and demands of religious groups, and the deity they insist inspires them. Honestly, how much time and energy do religious groups put into asserting the power of the hierarchy and jostling for primacy over rival groups, compared to the time and energy spent sincerely trying to commune with the eternal creator they purport to have as central to their lives?

      I freely admit to being anti-religious, but that does not mean I lack respect for those who have concluded that there exists a god with whom a personal relationship is possible and who seek to understand and deepen that relationship. I might find the concept alien to me but I can respect such people precisely because they do not demand my ‘respect’.

      Those for whom god is a fetish to be carried into battle, as a rallying point and a sufficient justification for any action, seem to form the majority of any religion (perhaps because the first group tends not to engage in partisan conflict and so remains unheard) and against these I set my face.

    95. Desi Italiana — on 10th December, 2007 at 9:56 pm  

      Sid:

      “come back from a lovely Singaporean lunch and people have moved on. cool.”

      For God’s sake, will you PLEASE answer my question as to what you ate?????

    96. Desi Italiana — on 10th December, 2007 at 9:59 pm  

      Don:

      “I think it is worth remembering that this is probably the first generation in Western Europe where not having a religious identity is considered unremarkable.”

      Good point. And even then, it’s not entirely true that not having a religious identity is considered unremarkable in Western Europe. Sicily and north and south Italy has a surprising number of Catholics who are extremely religious (especially in the North. Actually, the religious people in northern Italy are way more dogmatic than those in the south, for whom the Church is more of a socio-cultural phenomenon).

    97. Sofia — on 11th December, 2007 at 10:30 am  

      Desi italiana…I was talking about narrow interpretations..and yes it can be levelled at most things..it’s my point of view which is why I expressed it.

    98. bananabrain — on 11th December, 2007 at 11:27 am  

      I think religion here is serving as some sort of crutch or safety net to counteract some kind of back-up to ideals that can stand alone without religion tagged onto it. For example, why vociferously affirm that you are a “Muslim woman” and “proud” of it when you are talking about women’s rights? Like, does this matter whether you are a Muslim or not? It’s like people for human rights who argue that “It’s not acceptable in Islam/Hinduism/Sikhism/etc to curb freedom of speech, kill others, not implement democracy, etc [insert stricture].”

      it certainly matters if it means that the goal of the ideals is not met in practice and if it is experienced as something other than what is intended, or if it is simply translated into a programme of action.

      I think that’s an interesting point, although “democracy” springs from Greek and “human rights” spring from French philosophical thinking. My point is, even these concepts are cultural constructs. To me, that’s one of the reasons they are important - people take them for granted, yet even within modern European history they are far from given.

      what i don’t think people are getting here is how modernity has been experienced by traditional society. as boyo pointed out, so-called “universals” are very often the product of specific externalities which are in fact manifested as imperialistic impositions from outside. this is the basis of much of modern fundamentalism, which is based upon a rejection of what it experiences as an invasive, alien disintegration. i am not saying there is anything wrong with human rights or women’s rights or any of that. what i am saying is that these movements developed in certain societies, particularly those of western europe and their context was very different as an internal change than as externally imposed change. now i’m not at all being “orientalist” about this, but it’s the difference between how, in the UK, the question of free speech is handled in the name of “liberty” and how, in france, the question of religious clothing is handled, in the name of “secularism”. this “secularism” acts for all intents and purposes like a religion in its own right which is seeking to suppress all competition and it is that that is counterproductive. we ourself experienced this a long time ago, in fact nearly 2300 years ago today with the then “universal humanity” peddled by hellenic society. what this translated into in practice was in fact the repression of our own traditional culture and the banning of practices like circumcision in favour of gymnasia, the worship of the greek gods and the denial of our particularist heritage. needless to say, we didn’t go along with this quietly and committed many outrages of our own against our own assimilationists in resisting it. similarly, the so-called “enlightenment” may be assumed here to be an unequivocally good thing by all you self-described “progressives”, but it hasn’t always been a positive, liberating experience but rather an unsettling, dislocating, destruction of the familiar.

      You can make anything compatible or incompatible with whatever religion;

      that’s not right. there are many things that are incompatible with my religion and simply to treat it as an infinitely elastic label is to fall into what i generally refer to as the “bacon bagel fallacy” - ie that something can be “jewish” (or whatever) if it is simply described as such or has some proportion of link to traditional content. at a certain point (when you put bacon in your bagel) you are violating some of the basic assumptions of the label.

      In both scenarios reactionary religion is being used in a deeply negative manner to inflict control on groups in society.

      i certainly agree with this - and contrariwise, imperialistic universalism is being used in a deeply negative manner to impose uniformity on groups in society. there’s a balance to be maintained.

      Perhaps continuously asserting one’s religious identity is a type of comfort zone, and that it’s just easier to revert to an already packaged set of logic, views, positions and so on rather than be forced to assess each situation, each complexity, etc on its own

      now this i certainly agree with and it’s partly why i am, “as a jew”, so careful to point out precisely why this very responsibility to assess situations and complexities in their context and specificity is so central to my traditional identity - that’s what talmudic inquiry is all about.

      Those for whom god is a fetish to be carried into battle, as a rallying point and a sufficient justification for any action, seem to form the majority of any religion (perhaps because the first group tends not to engage in partisan conflict and so remains unheard) and against these I set my face.

      as do i.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    99. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 11th December, 2007 at 3:02 pm  

      Sonia is The Girl.

      A joy to read your posts as ever.

      TFI

    100. The Common Humanist — on 11th December, 2007 at 10:47 pm  

      Sonia is definately The Girl!

      [Sweeps outlandish Cavalier Hat off head in salute]

    101. douglas clark — on 11th December, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

      TFI, TCH,

      Have you noticed that all the bees are standing upright?

      No?

      It’s ’cause Sonia is all the bees knees that there ever was!

      Boom, boom!

    102. The Common Humanist — on 12th December, 2007 at 3:23 pm  

      All we need now is a small two piece seaside hotel turn to play the drums at every joke!

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2009. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.