Hello everyone, I’m back from my trip to Strasbourg. It was my second time to France and reinforced my growing affection for the French, primarily because they cheerfully put up with my total lack of knowledge about their language, and despite their terrible food (I’m vegetarian, see).
I come back intellectually energised, with lots of ideas and thoughts and plans (as ever). In particular there is a lot to be said about identity (I’m currently reading Amartya Sen’s latest book Identity and Violence) and usage of language, and how they relate to recent events. More on that later this week as I get settled back in and catch up with my work.
In the meantime here is something interesting…
1) Remember Yvonne Ridley’s hilarious diatribe about Britain being the “third most hated country in the world”? The target of her ire was singer Sami Yusuf, who got so pissed off he published an open letter on this website, beautifully lambasting her. No really, you should read it because it tears her to shreds. I selectively quote:
This leads me to another important issue which you raised â€“ that of identity and culture. Who are we? How do we define ourselves? What do we stand for? Let me remind you again â€“ I am a British Muslim. Proud to be Muslim and proud to be British! Why? Because this is what Islam teaches me to be â€“ loyal towards my faith and my country. Throughout our rich history, wherever Muslims settled they adopted and fused the best aspects of the local culture/society with Islamic teachings and traditions.
Such emotional fist-pumping and chest-pounding about renouncing our British identity may seem attractive to a minority of Muslim youth, but as Muslims in positions of influence like yourself, we should not play to these base instincts. Rather, we should try to be more far-sighted and responsible in our discourse and not sacrifice this in the pursuit of tabloid-style sensationalist journalism.
Although we have our fair share of racism, Islamophobia, discrimination, under-representation â€“ and in no way am I claiming that we live in a utopian society, but I still believe that British society is amongst the most tolerant, open, liberal, multi-cultural and inclusive societies in the world. We donâ€™t need to go far but Muslims in the Continent would envy the liberties and opportunities that British Muslims take for granted.
2) Didn’t I say Lakshmi Mittal was going to buy out Arcelor? Guess what.
3) Remember that Telegraph interview with Mohammed Abdul Bari? I thought it was ok. Anyway, Dominic Lawson of all people, former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, has come to his defence. Bizarre, but justified.
4) AP has an interesting (and pretty obvious) article on why Muslims have remained somewhat silent on European terrorist attacks.
5) BBC’s director of television Jana Bennett responds to my last week’s article on diversity. Heh.
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