Two important articles


by Sunny
26th October, 2006 at 1:01 am    

Over on AIM magazine, I published two quite important and interesting articles last week, I felt.

1) In Trying to justify ‘honour killings’, Sabina Ahmed is not happy that after years of getting ‘honour killings’ on the agenda and recognised for what they are: premediated murders, there is now an attempt by an academic to play them down again.

Having looked into this a bit further since, I’m even more convinced that Professor Roger Ballard’s thesis rests on the assumption that oppressive practices (as how we progressives would see them) within Asian cultures should not be challenged because they should first be understood. That is of course not how we work.

2) The writer Gurpreet Bhatti, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the play Behzti when it was rocked by protests in 2004, delivered a speech at the Cambridge University Union last week.

It was in opposition to the motion: ‘This House believes that religion is the opium of the masses’. She discussed reaction to her play, her own beliefs in Sikhism, and the importance of understanding religion properly. Her team won the debate. Here is the speech. Well worth reading.


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  1. Galloise Blonde — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:21 am  

    I don’t understand where Roger Ballard gets this assumption that too many cases are being investigated as HK. You’ll remember that in the wake of the Heshu Yunes case over a hundred cold cases were reopened. Of these, so far, 22 cases have been investigated. Four were found not to be ‘honour’-related. That’s not an outrageous error-margin.

  2. Galloise Blonde — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:43 am  

    And the case of Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha does not show that the police are over-informed on honour killings: she contacted the Met on several occasions to voice her fears and was sent back to her family on each occasion, until she was found dead in a suitcase in a garden in Birmingham (Petition). It’s our belief that while specialist policemen understand the whole ‘honour’ ethic, that lower levels can be clueless. One problem is, we think, that without training, some coppers go off their own experiences and prejudices: these being that teenage girls are irrational and melodramatic and that families do not conspire to murder their children.

    The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (I work for IKWRO) last year found safe shelters for 14 young women and men escaping threatened honour killing, where we judged the risk to be deadly. This makes us suspect that the 12 per year figure from the police is certainly no understatement, as we’re dealing with a small demographic (speakers of Kurdish, Farsi and Arabic in London).

    While we’re on the subject, Bharati Yadav is due to depose today on the Nitish Katara case. Does anyone have any recent news?

  3. Leon — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:29 am  

    I didn’t think much of Gurpreet Bhatti’s speech to be honest. It was a tedious example of a religious person entirely side stepping the crucial point about faith/religion: it’s irrational. The danger from religion is always there because of that inherent component.

    The ‘bad people’ that lead the ingorant masses ‘astray’ wouldn’t get away with it if the masses were more rational and questioning…

  4. soru — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:33 am  

    Is a ‘premediated murder’ one you announce to the papers beforehand?

  5. sabinaahmed — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:49 am  

    Professor Ballard has written to me and sent various case reports and papers he has written. There is no denying that he has put in a lot of work in getting to know the family stucture and how Asian families work. But the general impression he gives is that the rest of the British society and the police,since they dont have his extensive knowledge on the subject cant possiably understand honour killings and the motives behined this practice. He also quotes police incompetence in investigating these murders.
    I dont have the qualifications or the knowledge the Professor has but i believe that whatever love and pride and Izzat or honour the families have, nothing but Nothing justifies killing anyone in cold blood.He is also of the opinion that police are hampered by the lack of translators and officers who know the culture. May be we should volunteer to be translators, and join more police advisory bodies. So if you are reading this Mr chief commissioner iam the first one to volunteer my time,am fluent in Urdu/hindi and can understand punjabi.
    I think we, who have the first hand knowledge of our culture can provide better understanding accross the board than one learned professor, however distinguished he maybe.

  6. Galloise Blonde — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:00 am  

    Sabina, can you share these reports with us? I promise not to publish them or whatever, but it would be good to read about police errors. We do have a lot of contact with the police and it would be good to know. Incidentally, we will be holding a conference on HK this December in London and the tickets are very cheap. I will post details once all the speakers are confirmed.

  7. Chris Stiles — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:07 am  


    I dont have the qualifications or the knowledge the Professor has but i believe that whatever love and pride and Izzat or honour the families have, nothing but Nothing justifies killing anyone in cold blood.

    I didn’t see the bit in your article where the Professor was claiming that honour killings were justified.

  8. sonia — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:35 am  

    It was all very well and good what she ( gurpreet bhatti) said, but at the end of the day faith/religion is simply one aspect of a belief system – simply another kind of personal belief. so what? it’s subjective, that’s what. we humans use our belief systems to justify/contextualise what we do or don’t do.

    leon has a good point.

    Just cos you believe in something – doesn’t mean it actually exists per se – obviously !- its your internal belief – nothing to do with anything or anyone else! so in itself it doesn’t actually mean anything outside of that. one person could believe in something and as a result behave one way, and another person could believe something similar – and behave another way. It’s a highly individualized process. There is nothing intrinsic in a ‘belief’ – that would suggest person x if they subscribe to belief y will necessarily act in z fashion.

    ignoring ‘religious’ beliefs but just looking at beliefs in general – a belief can help you be optimistic – or not – e.g. some people have a belief that one must make the best of things, and others have quite the opposite belief. and some people believe that their parents and partners love them ( well that’s a common belief for example) Doesn’t make it good or bad in itself. Naturally it affects one’s behaviour – beliefs are essentially how we as individuals contextualise and justify our actions. (*Psychologically speaking*) You can choose to believe that you have the right to do something to someone because ‘you know better’ or ‘its good for them’ and use that to make yourself feel better if you some rather unpleasant things. depending on what kind of person you are, or who you are, you’ll use whatever you believe in to justify some shitty things or not so shitty things.

    she would have been better off using the language of social psychology in framing religious beliefs as simply another type of belief to give substance to her comments re: ‘oh it makes me this that and the other, compassionate etc.’ . But similarly, someone could have come along – some nasty fundamentalist type – and spoken up about how their beliefs have shaped them etc. etc. given them justification for x and y – and – people would have been like – aha! So where would that leave the ‘debate’ then. Clearly the debate was framed ( as they usually are) in rather silly absolutist one way or the other terms. So in that sense, one could then argue that yes beliefs overall are how we justify what we do – bad or good. Sure, that much is clear. Probably not something people want to hear in ‘debates’ though.

    And as for what seems to me the crux of the matter – this business about “opium of the ‘masses’” – well – what’s so interesting about the study of social psychology for me is trying to understand how groups can manipulate individual beliefs to try and encourage group conformity. i.e. conformity of an individual’s belief to a wider group. { “peer pressure”} those beliefs can be about religion, about patriotism…so..the sociology of religion is very interesting as this aspect ( i feel anyway) is a primary focus.

    and at the end of the day – groups and individuals – the relationship between the two definitely depends on how much the group can manipulate the beliefs of the individuals within the group.

  9. sonia — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    yes i agree with chris stiles – where does he say that they are justified?

    we might not be happy with monsieur professor said, or agree that it is a ‘setback’ but was he ‘justifying’ killings? did he say – yes yes you lot go out and kill these women – good for you? no? well maybe we have a different understanding of ‘justification’. one can possibly certainly accuse him of ‘hindering’ the process of raising the importance of the honour killing issue…but…apart from that.?

  10. sonia — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:40 am  

    frankly i’m surprised she won – it was a very ‘emotional’ argument – might resound with some people but the sort of thing that make atheists roll their eyeballs expressively :-)

  11. genghis — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Sonia,

    keh?

  12. sonia — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:11 pm  

    what’s ‘keh’ Genghis? go on you know you can enunciate if you try

    lol

  13. genghis — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:22 pm  

    It would be useful to have summary of waht the professor says exactly about the specific practice of ‘Honour Killings’.

    I dont think he is encouraging the practice. Other than that, isnt it logical to understand the underlying causes and issues sorrounding ‘Honour Killing’? certainly would help to identify the why of it.

    Sonia,

    ‘Keh’ – usually used to express ‘What are you on about and can i have some of what you’ve been taking?’

    Could you summarise what you’re trying to express in the psychology-belief-religion post! ta!

  14. Roger — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:34 pm  

    Where does Dr Ballard say what he is supposed to have said? Going by the article, he isn’t down-playing the murders, but rather is saying that many spur-of-the-moment oubreaks of rage leading to murder and the families’ attempts to conceal the murder are being interpreted as planned conspiracies beginning before the killing. If that is the case, an obvious way to reduce the number of deaths would be to provide women with a temporary safe place so that they may inform their families safely without immediate responses.
    Unfortunately, there is reason and logic behind honour killings and one of the aims of preventative measures should be to understand them the better to show it false reason and logic. That’s a completely separate topic, though.

  15. Galloise Blonde — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    I’d give up a pound of ‘why’ for an ounce of ‘stop that right the fuck now.’

    I don’t know this guy, and I can’t even listen to the broadcast because my speakers are duff, but I doubt he is encouraging HK. If his position is that formerly the police didn’t recognise the signs of HK when investigating suspicious deaths within the communities where it is practised, and that now, with an incomplete understanding, they see them everywhere, well, I don’t know, he could be right. However, it’s our experience that young people going to the police for protection are frequently dismissed and sent back into risky situations. And across the public sector in general, practise on HK and FM is poor.

  16. Roger — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:58 pm  

    “I’d give up a pound of ‘why’ for an ounce of ’stop that right the fuck now.’”
    We have academics for “why”, the police for “stop that right the fuck now”, but knowing why means the police are better at stopping.

  17. genghis — on 26th October, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    Roger

    “I’d give up a pound of ‘why’ for an ounce of ’stop that right the fuck now.’”
    We have academics for “why”, the police for “stop that right the fuck now”, but knowing why means the police are better at stopping.

    Ditto! Agree completely. Good point!

  18. Kismet Hardy — on 26th October, 2006 at 1:35 pm  

    Can we please stop adding the honour prefix? If a bunch of paedophile satan worshippers called their actions Child Protection, would you refer to what they do as Protection just because they call it that? Those evil fuckers that abuse women so horrifically claim they do so in the name of Honour. Everytime we use their term, we just sound like we’ve accepted it to be such

  19. Leon — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:07 pm  

    Point taken but there is a reason why it’s usually refered to as ‘honour killing’ or ‘honour’ killing, not honour killing…

  20. soru — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:13 pm  

    What Kismet said.

    There should be a word for the mental state of someone who is about 30% likely to commit such a crime over the next few weeks.

    If that word came to exist, and held that meaning (as opposed to being distorted into ‘brown-skinned person’, ‘traditionalist’, ‘bad man’ or whatever), then that’s about the best single contribution anyone could make to improving the lives of people affected by that kind of situation.

    Maybe it exists already. If not someone, should invent it.

  21. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    My own view is that ‘honour’ is a trope based on an archaic anthropological category aimed at highlighting the mysogny and barbarism of the primitive other, especially Muslims, in order to detract from the femicidal violence in the majority culture.

    All mysgonistic murder has its origins in the patriarchal loathing of women, but attempting to draw connections between the dominant culture’s treatment of women (as e.g. commodified sexual objects) and domestic violence is now derided as ‘excessive political correctness’.

    I condemn all murder, but let’s ensure all cultures are comparably analysed to understand why women (and indeed children)in both majority and minority cultures continue to murdered on a regular basis, rather than using minority crimes to detract from the same horrors committed by the majority.

    Wasalaam

    TMA

  22. NorahJones — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    As long as we live in a world where ‘Do as I say or I will punish you’ is the norm, these things will happen. The only people that should be punished are those who hurt someone else. Next time you get the urge to berate someone for doing something his/her own way but you don’t approve of, don’t berate that person. Maybe your children will learn something from you and the world will be a better place

    (weeps gently into the pillow of optimism, fluffs it up, then soapy tit wanks it)

  23. Electro — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:34 pm  

    Gurpreet Bhatti raises some very good points. Her remark that we need to re-exproriate traditiolnal religions from the grip of fundamentalists is something my own experience can attest to. Her comments, as well, concerning the need to fess-up to our failings and to find the humility to do so could certainly apply to some politicians these days.

    I graduated from university in 1980 ( poli-sci). People who study poli-sci are generally atheists. At the time my entourage thought themselves enlightened and would often denigrate religious beliefs; so much so in fact that I never revealed to them that I sometimes ( just sometimes) went to Sunday Mass.

    Of that groups, three are now fundamentalist Christians (wacked out) and one is a Koranic literalist.

    From Marx to Mohammed, from Faucault to Falwell.

    Their self-described “transformation” is nothing of the sort. All are just as arrogant and know-it-all as they ever were.

    In light of that, Ms Bhatti’s remarks concerning the need to re-expropriate traditional religions certainly ring true for me.

    And yes, I still sometimes go to Sunday Mass.

  24. soru — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:46 pm  

    Yakoub: ‘western/anglo/brit/whatever’ culture, having been around in modernity for a while, does have words and concepts for most of the pathologies it is prone to in that economic environment.

    ‘Stalker’, ‘wifebeater’, ‘alcoholic’, ‘paedo’, and so on. Note how they are all strongly negative, and that they are likely to become recognised as applicable before a law is broken.

    If there are any that are missing, it would be interesting, if off-topic, to work out what they are.

  25. Electro — on 26th October, 2006 at 2:59 pm  

    didn’t think much of Gurpreet Bhatti’s speech to be honest. It was a tedious example of a religious person entirely side stepping the crucial point about faith/religion: it’s irrational. The danger from religion is always there because of that inherent component

    Leon, it might interest you to know that people with faith are represented in many areas of activity that require high levels of intelligence. Some are evn mensa members.

    And as for religions leading people astray?

    Well, we’ve just finished a century that was among the most violent and murderous in human history, and that century was characterised( at least in The West) by an abandonment of traditional religious values.

    When people stop believing in their tradition faith systemes, they can led to believe just about anything. What’s more, the whole world’s present situation can be summed up in one samll phrase; our appetites are out of controle. Humanity has become so rapacious that we run the risk of consumming ourselves.

    Ms Bhatti promotes traitional faith beliefs as a form of innoculation against the more violent and virulent strains (heresies really) that are now stalking the globe. Her words are words of caution. They need to be savoured, pondered and mulled over with quiet, studied patience.

  26. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 3:18 pm  

    Well, we’ve just finished a century that was among the most violent and murderous in human history, and that century was characterised( at least in The West) by an abandonment of traditional religious values.

    Yep. The two biggest Murderers of the age (Mao & Stalin) were both militant atheists.

  27. genghis — on 26th October, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Did they kill more than Hitler? and or Western Alliances in WW1 and 2?

  28. Not Saussure — on 26th October, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

    I’m pretty much with Electro on this one. The irrational is part of human life, whether you discuss it in terms of man’s fallen nature or the power of unconscious drives (‘psychology’, it should be remembered, means ‘study of the soul’ only it sounds more scientific to use a Greek term). No point in pretending this aspect of human experience doesn’t exist, ‘cos it does.

    Traditional faith beliefs and practices are a way people have developed over centuries — millenia in some cases — of dealing with these powerful and potentially dangerous aspects of being human. Quite possibly they’re dealing with them in a metaphorical fashion, but there are some things that can only be approached through metaphor — most people would agree, for example, that the experiences of love or bereavement are very real, but the only way you can try to describe is through the metaphors and symbols of language, art and music.

    As Electro says, savour, ponder and mull over what Ms Bhatti has to say; dismissing it just on the grounds it’s written from a religious viewpoint is as simple-minded (and, dare I say it, religiously bigoted) were Electo (or I, come to that) to dismiss it on the grounds that what a non-Catholic has to say about religion isn’t worth hearing.

  29. sonia — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:17 pm  

    well genghis im not very good at expressing things. such is life eh? if you’re actually interested in learning something about what i was talking about: try this book:

    Exploring social behavior : investigations in social psychology / James A. Schellenberg.

    its nice and simple :-)

    the titles of the chapters are fun and along the lines of ..the mystery of intelligence, the mystery of attraction, the mystery of beliefs, and so on and so forth.

    enjoy..

  30. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

    Anyone read the works of Norman Cohn?. If not do so and stop spouting nonsense such as this; Yep. The two biggest Murderers of the age (Mao & Stalin) were both militant atheists.

    You missed out Hitler and Pol Pot.

  31. Leon — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

    I’m not sure about this “Militant Atheist” tag that certain people of a, shall we say, religion persuasion are bandying about. Seems like a contradiction in terms if you ask me, at least going by my understanding and relationship to the idea/pursuit of Atheism…

  32. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

    Well they both persecuted religion and the adherents of religions and professed to be believers in an atheist/materialist doctrine.

  33. soru — on 26th October, 2006 at 5:54 pm  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide lists:

    Qing Dynasty, mainly Empress Dowager Cixi 1859-64, 12,000,000
    Genghis Khan 1215-1233 4,000,000
    Adolf Hitler 1933-1945 21,000,000
    Chiang Kai-shek 1921-1948 10,000,000
    Khubilai Khan 1252-1279 19,000,000
    Vladimir Lenin 1917-1924 4,000,000
    Leopold II of Belgium 1885-1908 10,000,000
    Pol Pot 1968-1987 2,000,000
    Joseph Stalin 1929-1953 43,000,000
    Hideki Tojo 1941-1945 4,000,000
    Mao Tse-tung 1923-1976 77,000,000

    Kind of sad that all those people are famous, and the rulers in between who killed fewer aren’t. I bet they all have biographies in print, and the top 3 have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books about them.

  34. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    Wow, are the Leopold figures referring to the genocide of Africans in the then Belgian congo? It’s funny about 10 Million are supposed to have died and yet it’s barely discussed or acknowledged here in Europe. It’s funny that at least 2 of the figures in that list are from the civilised West.

  35. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:41 pm  

    It’s funny about 10 Million are supposed to have died and yet it’s barely discussed or acknowledged here in Europe.

    Actually BBC4 have screened a documentary on the Belgian Congo in the past 18 months.

    As for the civilised west remark this is contemptible. How about “who remembers the Armenians” in fact anyone who does such a thing in Turkey faces a prison sentence. I could bring up the prophets warmongering but i won’t bring it up.

  36. Sunny — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

    Are you boys going to point fingers at each other whole day or actually have a useful discussion. Any standards, if there any to be set, have to be consistent and apply to all.

    I also reject the idea that religion can lead more people to kill than other motivations.

  37. Not Saussure — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

    Partly technological advances, Anas; given sufficient planes, high explosives, trains, machine guns and so forth, I’m sure Genghis Khan could have achieved a far higher death toll than in fact he managed.

    The real shocker is the Qing Dynasty, a period which covers the 14-year Taiping Rebellion. That had an astonishing death toll, considering it was fought primarily with small arms and only primitive artillery. The Third Battle of Nanking had a death toll of over 100,000 in three days; using the traditional definition of a battle as something that lasts days rather than months (e.g. Ypres, Stalingrad) it was probably the most bloody battle in human history.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Rebellion

  38. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    Emmm, ZZ, the Armenian holocaust happened under secular rule, and Turkey is still a secular country.

    It’s rather telling that the program you mention was on a freeview channel and not on BBC1 or 2. Most of the coverage of the Belgian holocaust is extremely low-key — even compared to the Armenian holocaust. I suspect it’s because the victims were Black and African and not white and European.

    Bring up as much alleged warmongering as you like, you’ll notice no Muslims in that list of democidal leaders (that’s NOT to say there aren’t many historical Muslim figures implicated in genocide).

  39. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

    Bring up as much alleged warmongering as you like, you’ll notice no Muslims in that list of democidal leaders (that’s NOT to say there aren’t many historical Muslim figures implicated in genocide).

    D-A-R-F-U-R
    Spoke too soon.

  40. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

    Yes ZZ, thanks for reminding me that there are also contemporary Muslim figures culpable in genocide.

  41. Roger — on 26th October, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

    “Most of the coverage of the Belgian holocaust is extremely low-key — even compared to the Armenian holocaust.”
    It was covered thoroughly just after it happened, though- Roger Casement was knoghted for his part in revealing it, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was inspired by it and there have been quite a few studies- most recently by Adam Hochschild.

    My own hypotheis is that it isn’t religion but belief- unqualified certainty of the truth of an ideology and the need for it to be imposed on the entire human race- that inspires exterminatory policies, less what people think but the way they think it.

  42. sabinaahmed — on 26th October, 2006 at 7:25 pm  

    The Profrssor did say in the broadcast that “in the social context there is a logic behined thses killings.” He is though,as he tells me in his latest email is “very happy that he has ignited a debate on this site”.
    He has also sent me a link to his writing which is;
    http://www.art.man.ac.uk/CASAS/pages/papers.htm#kinship
    I apologise i dont know how to post a link.
    Galloise Blonde, I have now obtained the professor`s permission so i can let you have some of the papers. Others are still ongoing. But you will get the gist of it.Please email me and i will send them to you.

  43. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 7:34 pm  

    Not necessarily, Roger.

    Sometimes it’s just ruthlessness, a combination of indifference to suffering & wilful ignorance with sheer expediency.

    How many millions of native peoples died during the European expansion through America, or Australia (the Tasmanian Aborignes were wiped off the face of the earth)?

    These people were considered somehow less human, or less civilised than the Europeans, and the corpses continued to pile up. That kind of attitude’s still there in the background today. I don’t need to spell it out for you.

  44. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 7:41 pm  

    Anas there is a major difference between the West and the Islamic world. The West is self-reflective and the Islamic world is not your dissembling on the Armenian genocide is evidence of this and why Muslim community leaders fail to condemn suicide murderers unequivocally.

    Roger good point but Communism and Nazism are ideologies which have borrowed heanvily from the book of revelations.

  45. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:02 pm  

    The West is self-reflective

    In theory Yes, in practice No.

    How am I dissembling on the Armenian Genocide. It was presided over by officials who were also dedicated to Secularizing Turkey, no?

  46. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:20 pm  

    How am I dissembling on the Armenian Genocide. It was presided over by officials who were also dedicated to Secularizing Turkey, no?

    It was carried out during World War one by the Ottoman Empire during World War One. In fact Armenians as they were Christians had second class status in the ottoman empire and had been victims of state sponsored pograms in the 1890s long before the secularizing officals came to power.

  47. terry fitz — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:23 pm  

    What exactly is Sabrina Ahmed talking about ? She seems to be speaking in what my good friend Mala Sen called, Babu English.

    If people have not read Mala’s two books “Bandit Queen” and “Death by Fire” then they should. Until they do they will not understand the hatred for Women that exists in, not merely India and the sub continent, but generally.

    I will be back tomorrow on other sites to carry on the story of how UAF are scumbags.

    Terry Fitz

  48. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:24 pm  

    From Wikipedia:

    The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն, Turkish: Ermeni Soykırımı) — also known as the Armenian Holocaust, Great Calamity (Մեծ Եղեռն) or the Armenian Massacre — refers to the forced mass evacuation and related deaths of hundreds of thousands to over a million Armenians, during the government of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1917 in the Ottoman Empire

    And then if I click onto the link for the Young Turks, I find:

    Another guiding principle for the Young Turks was the transformation of their society into one in which religion played no consequential role. In this ultra-secular and somewhat materialistic structure, science was to replace religion

    So I was right. And if you want to talk about pogroms and suchlike I think you’ll find them far more prevalent in the Christian West than in the Islamic East.

    BTW, what’s Boris Johnson’s connection with all this, wasn’t his great great grandfather an official in the Turkish empire?

  49. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:41 pm  

    My source is Niall Ferguson and although you will inevitably raise issues about his politics as a historian he is beyond reproach.

    Wikipedia is not an academic source, Anas you would not get any respect in academia if this was the basis of your argument. Anas if you believe that the Armenian Genocide happened because the Young Turks took power then you are a fool. Genocides are usually many years in the making perhaps the Armenians religion as christianity and as a result being dhimmis(sub-human) made them targets for genocide.

    “So I was right. And if you want to talk about pogroms and suchlike I think you’ll find them far more prevalent in the Christian West than in the Islamic East.”

    “The West is self-reflective

    In theory Yes, in practice No”

    Anas you don’t appreciate how much irony is in such statements.

  50. soru — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:52 pm  

    ‘Partly technological advances, Anas; given sufficient planes, high explosives, trains, machine guns and so forth’

    Plus, more people to kill. Not a coincidence that 5 people on that list were rulers or invaders of China.

    Interesting study:

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/JCR.ART.HTM
    From 1900 to 1987 state, quasi-state, and stateless groups have killed in democide (genocide, massacres, extrajudicial executions, and the like) near 170,000,000 people. Case studies and quantitative analysis show that ethnic, racial, and religious diversity, economic development, levels of education, and cultural differences do not account for this killing. Rather, democide is best explained by the degree to which a regime is empowered along a democratic to totalitarian dimension and secondarily the extent to which it is characteristically involved in war or rebellion.

  51. Sunny — on 26th October, 2006 at 8:54 pm  

    Terry, please spare us the regular ruminations on how Lancaster UAF are scumbags. Frankly I’d say there is little interest in such political bickering. No really. Give it a rest now.

    As for “Babu English” – what’s that, another way of calling someone a Punkahwallah, like my Faisal Bodi does? I know, it’s terrible isn’t it. How dare these brown people stand up against oppression within their own community. It must clearly be because they want to be like the white man. Sabina clearly hates women too, right?

    Until they do they will not understand the hatred for Women that exists in, not merely India and the sub continent, but generally.

    Tell us something we don’t know. Nothing riles me up more than colonial era slurs though. You’ve suddenly dropped massively in my estimation. You may as well join Faisal Bodi’s campaign to abolish refuge houses because they supposedly break up families.

  52. terry fitz — on 26th October, 2006 at 9:14 pm  

    Suuny, you don’t know me. How can I have dropped in your estimation? The quote about Babu English came from a woman from Bombay. It was from her that I first heard it. And I spoke of UAF generally not just from Lancaster.

  53. TheBhangradr — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:37 pm  

    Where is the honour?

    It demonstrates how sickening and real this is
    And what lengths and extremes people are willing to go to, if their child defies them. All in the name of honour
    I ask where is the honour. The honour that many say they act in when this happens. This is the underling issue here.
    There is no honour and this must be heavily stated and supported by all.
    It is not honour with in any sense of the word. It is senseless murder, a crime and an
    un honourable act. It is the deliberate murder without a purpose, those who carry it out only do so for their own self-gratification in mind. And for the public and social image of their so-called families.

    The fact that they would kill their own child is beyond everything,

  54. Sunny — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:51 pm  

    “The quote about Babu English came from a woman from Bombay” – So you’re applying it without knowing what it means? If not then kindly explain the context.
    No I don’t know you but you haven’t made a good start.

  55. Douglas Clark — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:24 pm  

    Sunny,

    The most important article you posted was your own.

    And I suspect you know it. You wrote what no-one else has written, that freedom of speech is something Muslims should embrace. It was quite the most brilliant bit of judo I have ever seen.

    Are you really going to stand as a Tory?

    BYW will you let me put my piece up? Your audience is the only one I want to talk to.

  56. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 26th October, 2006 at 11:46 pm  

    In 1990, I was asked to help a family accused of an honmour killing to seek out academic tesrimony to counter the expert evidence of the prosecution (from Akbar Ahmed, then still in the UK). All the academics I spoke said ‘they probably did it’, and they did indeed. The two brothers charged got life.

    Most folks I spoke to in the community were absolutely outraged and I’m glad, for whatever reason, more such killings are being investigated. One of my concerns is how honour killings are talked about in the mainstream media, and why.

    I remember Fareena Alam writing about honour killing and the ‘cultural pressures’ that led to them in The Observer. I emailed her to disagree. I knew these two aforementioned brothers long before they were sent down. One was an ex pimp. Both were very very nasty pieces of work. Murdering their sister will have been something they almost relished – ‘honour’ merely provided the justification.

    I had a white friend who lived unmarried with a Pakistani girl. The shame she bought on her family was public. They didn’t kill her. They disowned her, refusing to even acknowledge her though she lived down the road from them. Homour is not automatically linked to violence and murder.

    It’s a complex issue. Shame Roger Ballard, whom I admire for his ethnographic work, got it so badly wrong on this occasion. But ‘expert bashing’ hardly constitutes an intelligent analysis, although it makes good copy.

    I suspect the basis of Roger’s difficulty is that he recognises the complexities surrounding honour, but like other male ethnologists, his contact with Muslim/Asian women will be extremely limited and he is thus not engaged with their concerns.

    Wasalaam

    TMA

  57. Anas — on 27th October, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    My source is Niall Ferguson and although you will inevitably raise issues about his politics as a historian he is beyond reproach.

    Wikipedia is not an academic source, Anas you would not get any respect in academia if this was the basis of your argument. Anas if you believe that the Armenian Genocide happened because the Young Turks took power then you are a fool. Genocides are usually many years in the making perhaps the Armenians religion as christianity and as a result being dhimmis(sub-human) made them targets for genocide.

    “So I was right. And if you want to talk about pogroms and suchlike I think you’ll find them far more prevalent in the Christian West than in the Islamic East.”

    “The West is self-reflective

    In theory Yes, in practice No”

    Anas you don’t appreciate how much irony is in such statements.

    Z-Z, Firstly Wikipedia was investigated by Nature who found it to be comparable in accuracy to the Encyclopedia Britannica (http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051212/full/438900a.html) — I’ve used it plenty of times in lieu of textbooks or academic sources and never found it wanting. Secondly, the information in the quotes I gave is uncontroversial and generally uncontested. The Young Turks definitely were in power at the time of the Armenian Genocide, and they were in the process of trying to secularise Turkey.

    As for Niall Ferguson, he is not beyond reproach as a historian. Many academics challenge his claims about the history of the British Empire. But in the case of the Armenian genocide, from my admittedly scant knowledge of Ferguson’s work, I think he’s claiming that ethnic hatreds were the main motors behind the genocide, and not religion per se (although religion is a way of separating off different groups). Compare it with his analysis of the persecution of Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav conflicts, he sees both of them as being the result of underlying ethnic hatreds.
    Whereas, you seem to be insinuating that Muslims are somehow more bloodthirsty or prone to violence than say Christians.

    As for the genocide itself, yes, it may have been made possible by attitudes among Muslim Turks themselves, just as the Holocaust was made possible by anti-Jewish feelings among non-Jewish Germans. But ultimately the genocide was part of a program that had been devised by the Young Turks in order to further their own aims, they were directly responsible for what happened.

    There is no irony intended in my statements. Compare the treatment of minorities in Christian countries, right up to the holocaust, and the Yugoslav war, to the treatment of Dhimmis in Islamic countries. Countless Sephardic jews chose to flee to the Islamic East rather than stay in Spain after the re-establishment of the Christianity. I don’t really need to go through the history of pogroms, of the Catholic Inquisition do I?

    As for the West’s not being quite as self-reflective as you might think I present the following piece by Noam Chomsky makes my point better than I could:

    http://www.chomsky.info/talks/1990—-.htm

  58. ZinZin — on 27th October, 2006 at 9:12 am  

    Anas
    I am dropping the issue as this thread is in serious danger of being derailed. I am also not interested in entering into a your atrocities were bigger than mine argument.
    However Anas i would like to ask you one question. Where is the Islamic equivalent of Noam Chomsky bringing to light the wrongs that the Islamic world have committed?
    Chew on that.

  59. Anas — on 27th October, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    Four words for you, ZZ: ad hominem tu quoque.

    RE: human rights in the Islamic world. The problem is that most of the governments in the Muslim world are repressive totalitarian regimes in which dissent is effectively criminalized — hence the lack of Muslim Chomskys. Same reason there aren’t many African Chomskys, Chinese Chomskys, etc.

    However, there are several brave Muslim journalists/academics in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey (Orham Parmuk was in trouble recently for his comments on the topic we were discussing above, as have other writers and publishers who’ve refused to toe the govt’s line) and in many other Muslim countries who do stand up to repression and human rights abuses. In Afghanistan there was the very courageous organisation RAWA which stood up for Women’s rights and against the cruel and inhuman treatment of the female population.

    A few months back I went to see a lecture by Tariq Ramadan, and whatever else you might think about him you can’t deny that he isn’t extremely critical indeed voiciferous about human rights abuses and torture in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt (where he was made to watch torture of prisoners as a threat against making vocal condemnations of the Egyptian regime).

    To quote him from a recent prospect interview:

    But if you are telling me the content [of his talks to Muslim and non-Muslim audiences] is different, I would say that is not true. If this was the case, I ought to have few problems with Muslims, or with Muslim countries. But I am not allowed to enter countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    Q Why can’t you go to Tunisia, Egypt or Saudi Arabia?

    A Why? Because they know exactly what I am saying. I criticise the fact that they are dictatorships and that the Saudi government is betraying Islamic teachings. When I called for a moratorium on Islamic punishments (death penalty, corporal punishment and stoning) I said it on French television when 6m people were watching, as well as in Islamic majority countries.

  60. ZinZin — on 27th October, 2006 at 5:31 pm  

    Malek Boutih, an Arab moderate Muslim and head of the French antiracisim organization SOS Racisme has called Ramadan a “fascist.”

    This is from Wikipedia. A good starting point but in itself not enough. Unfortunately Ramadan is against Free Speech unlike Chomsky.

    Anas you are right about the repressive nature of many Islamic states. However despite this there are Human Rights groups and other opposition groups of a liberal hue in Africa and Asia even the Middle East. Unfortunately in the Middle East the main opposition to such repressive states is the fundis.

    Your choice of Ramadan is laughable he is a suspect figure in my book and i say this having read two articles on him in The New Statesman which were very positive. The Grandson of Al-Banna.

    If you put forward Hisi-Ali i would have held my hands up.

    Where is the Islamic equivalent of Noam Chomsky bringing to light the wrongs that the Islamic world have committed?
    That was the question i asked.

  61. Anas — on 27th October, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    Malek is a “controversial figure” himself having cozied up to Sarkozy ( http://mondediplo.com/2003/11/11leftright )

    Ramadan has been called names, sure, but it proves little since so has Chomsky (self-hating Jew, holocaust denier, anti-American, etc, etc). You asked me to give an example of an Islamic figure who has brought “to light the wrongs that the Islamic world have committed”. Prof Ramadan has been vocal about condemning human rights abuses in the Islamic world — something which you haven’t contradicted.

    Regardless of her other qualifications and character traits, Hirsi Ali cannot technically be called an Islamic equaivalent to Chomsky, as she is an atheist and not a Muslim having renounced Islam (it’s on her Wiki page).

  62. ZinZin — on 27th October, 2006 at 6:47 pm  

    Ramadan is still suspect but running through this exchange is an attempt to play down the wrongs that have been carried out in the name of Islam.

    Ramadan is essentially an Islamist who tell lie to kufrs and speaks a truth that would shock is liberal supporters.

    The words Muslim Brotherhood run through Ramadan as Blackpool does in a stick of rock.

    “For her 2004 book Brother Tariq, Caroline Fourest, a French expert on Islamic fundamentalism, studied Ramadan’s 15 books, 1,500 pages of interviews, and–most important–his 100 or so tapes, which sell tens of thousands of copies each year. Her conclusion: “Ramadan is a war leader.” When an interviewer from the weekly L’Express asked Fourest how she could be so sure that Ramadan was indeed the “political heir of his grandfather,” Hassan al-Banna, here’s how she replied:

    Because I’ve studied his statements and his writing. I was struck by the extent to which the discourse of Tariq Ramadan is often just a repetition of the discourse that Banna had at the beginning of the 20th century in Egypt. He never criticizes his grandfather. On the contrary, he presents him as a model to be followed, a person beyond reproach, nonviolent and unjustly criticized because of the “Zionist lobby”! This sends chills down one’s spine when one knows the extent to which Banna was a fanatic, that he gave birth to a movement out of which the worst Jihadis (like Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number 2 man of al Qaeda) have emerged, and that he wanted to establish a theocracy in every country having a single Muslim. Tariq Ramadan claims that he is not a Muslim Brother. Like all the Muslim Brothers . . . since it’s a fraternity which is three-quarters secret. . . . A Muslim Brother is above all someone who adopts the methods and the thought of Banna. Ramadan is the man who has done the most to disseminate this method and this thought.

    In response to her book, Ramadan calls Fourest an agent of Israel but doesn’t refute her findings.”

    A tactic that the Maududists of the MCB use if in doubt play the Israel card.

    Chomsky is wrongly slurred. In Ramadans case there is ample evidence to back up such claims that he is an Islamist, fascist and a liar.

    Interesting that you use Chomsky as a stick to beat the west. Chomsky is a defender of the enlightenment. For the record Anas many Enlightenment figures criticised the brutality of European Imperialism. Suggesting that the Islamic world has a bloody history comparable with the west is something you can not face.

    Also Anas Secular societies are successful, religious societies are abject failures.

  63. Anas — on 28th October, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    It seems appropriate to quote the man himself at this stage (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040830.wramandan30/BNStory/Front/):

    Lately, I have been going through an interesting experience. I am constantly being told “the truth” about who I am: “You are a controversial figure”; “you engage in double-talk, delivering a gentle message in French and English, and a radical – even extremist – one in Arabic, or to a Muslim audience in private”; “you have links with extremists, you are an anti-Semite”; “you despise women” etc.

    When I ask about the source of this information, invariably the response is: This is well-known, it is everywhere, check the Internet and you will find thousands of pages referring to this.

    A closer examination reveals that what we have is journalists or intellectuals quoting each other, conclusively reporting and infinitely repeating what others said yesterday, with caveats. Rather than using this as an occasion for reflection, the response to this finding is usually: “Well, there has to be some truth in all that.”

    Strange truth, indeed! I have written more than 20 books and about 800 articles; 170 tapes of lectures
    are circulating, and I keep asking my detractors: Have you read or listened to any of my material? Can you prove your allegations? To repeat them is not to prove. Where is the evidence of my double-talk? Have you read any of the numerous articles where I call on Muslims to unequivocally condemn radical views and acts of extremism?

    How about my statements of Sept. 13, 2001, calling on Muslims to speak out, to condemn the terrorist attacks
    and acknowledge that some fellow Muslims are betraying
    the Islamic message?

    What about the articles in which I condemn anti-Semitism, criticizing those Muslims who do not differentiate between the political Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unacceptable temptation
    to reject the Jews simply because they are Jews?

    Are you familiar with my chapters and taped lectures promoting women’s rights and a revival leading to an Islamic feminism, and rejecting every kind of mistreatment (domestic violence, forced marriage, female circumcision etc.) and all sorts of discrimination?

    Finally, are you acquainted with my extensive study of the Islamic scriptural sources and efforts to promote a new understanding, a new way for Muslims to remain faithful to their principles and, at the same time, able to face the challenges of the contemporary world?

    To seek “the truth,” one must read, listen carefully, check and recheck for clarity and consistency, and be willing, if for a moment, to be decentred. Very often, even within the academic field, I encounter individuals who are not familiar with my writings. When this becomes obvious in the course of discussion, their final argument is: “Well, aren’t you the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood?” As if this was sufficient proof of all the allegations.

    My response is: So what? And what do you really know about him and his life history anyway?

    Furthermore, are one’s thoughts genetically transmitted or do one’s morals and ethics descend from the vices or virtues of one’s pedigree? This obsession with my genealogy is frankly disconcerting, for it is dismissive. Those so focused on my genealogy should examine my intellectual pedigree, which along with my grandfather and father includes Descartes, Kant and Nietzsche.

    And from the NY times.

    In 1928, Hasan al-Banna, Mr. Ramadan’s maternal grandfather, founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a revivalist movement that advocated a return to Islam as a defense against Western colonialism and decadence. In 1949, Mr. Banna was assassinated at the age of 42. Mr. Ramadan never knew his grandfather; he studied him.
    He is critical of his grandfather’s sloganeering – “The Koran is our constitution” was one motto – disagrees with him about “many things about the West,” and scoffs at the idea of an Islamic state.
    But he says his grandfather is misremembered in several ways.

    For instance, although the history of the Muslim Brotherhood is dotted with violence, and the group gave rise to more militant organizations, Mr. Banna himself was not personally violent, nor did he legitimize violence, Mr. Ramadan said. His empathy for the poor was admirable, Mr. Ramadan said, and his thinking was more nuanced than many followers and critics understand.

    Mr. Ramadan has said repeatedly that he is not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which renounced violence in the 1970′s but has been periodically banned in Egypt, as it is now. He has relatives who are members but, he said, “they are not happy with me.”

    Still, Mr. Ramadan’s genealogy is a big part of what makes him suspect to European intelligence services, just as it is what affords him a platform from which to preach about making Islam more modern.

    “People make a big issue about his lineage,” said Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies and Muslim-Christian relations at the Hartford Seminary. “But there are millions of Muslims who will listen to him precisely because of it. That’s why it’s crazy, keeping him out. “

    I doubt you can do little better in substantiating your allegations than by re-posting second hand material sourced from the internet. And, regardless of his supposed secret motivations and his dissimulations (and unproven fraternal links to the Muslim Brotherhood), Ramadan has repeatedly spoken out on Islamic human rights abuses and has given a prominent voice to criticism of Islamic regimes. As the quote states, given the size of audience his genealogy affords him, the fact that he has the ear of millions of Muslims, means that his anti-torture, pro-human rights message will have a very large and receptive audience in the Muslim world.

    Interesting that you use Chomsky as a stick to beat the west. Chomsky is a defender of the enlightenment. For the record Anas many Enlightenment figures criticised the brutality of European Imperialism. Suggesting that the Islamic world has a bloody history comparable with the west is something you can not face.

    Chomsky’s a defender of Enlightenment values and the institutions that uphold them (to an extent since he’s an anarchist), but a thoroughgoing critic of how these values are implemented in reality, and how democratic institutions are abused and circumvented by the powerful. I mean, you can endorse the democratic values and standards of Ancient Athens and still criticise it for maintaining a system of slavery, and for not allowing women to vote – that’s what Chomsky does, the distinction between theory and reality I suggested above.

    Finally, I’m sorry, but Islam’s bloody history (and it is bloody) is nowhere near comparable to the West’s. You’ll recall such episodes as the genocide of the native peoples of Australia (they managed to wipe the Tasmanian aborigines off the face of the Earth) and the America’s, the genocides undertaken by many European countries in Africa (e.g.,the Belgians in the Congo and the Germans in Namibia), the decimation of Africa’s population through slavery (Islam also had a slave trade but its effects were nowhere near as disastrous as the European Slave trade which was practised on an industrial scale and helped underpin the Industrial revolution) , the holocaust, Uncle Joe’s mass genocides in Russia.

  64. ZinZin — on 28th October, 2006 at 6:51 pm  

    Thats right Anas bring up the wests crimes play down the Islamic worlds crimes. The Muslim worlds only banned slavery in the 1960s.

    Ramadan came to prominence when he tried to censor Voltaire. Or is Dennis McShane a dubious source.

    Also don’t lecture me on Chomsky. I have read his works and respect his politics but Chomsky references the works of enlightenment figures to highlight such crimes.

    Anas this is turning into a victims poitics discourse. How about you acknowledging the prophets warmongering.
    Then i will drop the issue.

  65. Sunny — on 29th October, 2006 at 3:03 am  

    Anas this is turning into a victims poitics discourse. How about you acknowledging the prophets warmongering.
    Then i will drop the issue.

    Surely this isn’t the sort of lame discourse you came here for zinzin? When you can’t win an argument you want the other to “admit” to something irrelevant so you can feel good about “western civilisation”?

    Tariq Ramadan is ok. I’ve gone to many of his talks and I usually end up agreeing with him. Contrary to popular belief he is very critical of Muslim regimes and even the victim mentality of British Muslims. I’m not as a big fan of his as Ziauddin Sardar but he is way better than most such commentators.

    Anyway, this thread has seriously derailed. Please stop comparing who has the hardest dad.

  66. ZinZin — on 29th October, 2006 at 9:55 am  

    Fair point.

    But i have serious concerns about Ramadan

  67. Anas — on 29th October, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    Correction of post #63:

    “I doubt you can do *ANY* better in substantiating your allegations than by re-posting second hand material sourced from the internet.”

    I’m with Sunny, I can’t see any value in prolonging this argument since it’s just become a series of diversions from the central issue.

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