Bits to read and listen


by Sunny
25th January, 2007 at 4:20 am    

1) Priyamvada Gopal has a brilliant article in today’s Guardian about the CBB / Shilpa Shetty controversy. She has solidly hit the nail on the head (she is a NGN signatory after all).

For British Asians, the public display of familiar battles poked at raw wounds, inspiring large numbers to protest. I would feel a lot more excited about this apparent resurgence of anti-racist awareness if recent years had shown more evidence of a genuine activist spirit among us. Where were these tens of thousands of protesting voices when young Zahid Mubarak died at the hands of a white racist cellmate with whom he should not have been made to share a cell? When a few hundred Sikh women protested alone at discriminatory treatment by British Airways meal supplier Gate Gourmet?

A large part of the problem is that, apart from the sterling work done by a few dedicated individuals and organisations, anti-racist politics has become a facile “representation” game that involves appeasing the fragile sensitivities of a vocal few claiming to represent the whole community. It is about harassing artists and writers, demanding that they conform to “right” ways of representing the community.

Just as nauseating is the play-off between ugly white slags and beautiful Indian princesses – a familiar Orientalist male fantasy.

2) The Fawcett Society has published a report from a round-table discussion it held in December on the subject of feminism and Muslim women, taking into account the veil controversy last year. Worth reading for sure and I’ll be publishing an article about it this week.

3) I’m not sure if the big G wants to attract more British Muslim readers or get more non-Muslims to engage in a controlled (but relaxed) media space. Either way the first of the paper’s Islamophonic podcasts by journalist Riazat Butt went online yesterday. But I have a few issues:

Firstly they seem unsure of their audience otherwise they wouldn’t be reycling old arguments most British Muslims would have already heard on the war and terrorism.

Secondly: what about British Hindus and Sikhs? I say this because it’s meant to be a humorous and relaxed insight into British Muslim life but the obvious subtext is – ‘we’re only doing this because people are interested in Muslims since they’re blowing people up’. If that is not the subtext or they want to avoid it, they should include other minority groups at least so it develops a broader feel that hasn’t got the T-word hanging over it.


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  1. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 10:11 am  

    I would feel a lot more excited about this apparent resurgence of anti-racist awareness if recent years had shown more evidence of a genuine activist spirit among us. Where were these tens of thousands of protesting voices when young Zahid Mubarak died at the hands of a white racist cellmate with whom he should not have been made to share a cell? When a few hundred Sikh women protested alone at discriminatory treatment by British Airways meal supplier Gate Gourmet?

    Very well said.

  2. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 10:52 am  

    Nihal said something rather pertinent the other day. When asked whether he thought people should be showing more unity on a political platform instead of condemning some nonsense TV show, he retorted: ‘I’m more interested in people knowing how to behave with one and other and learning to show tolerance toward those from other backgrounds than go out and show their support for some political party.’

    Even better said :-)

  3. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 10:55 am  

    hmm i fing it interesting that “ugly white slag” wasn’t in inverted commas in her article.

    actually one of the interesting things about this whole hoo ha is what it reveals about what sorts of insults are ‘acceptable -ish’. ‘ugly’ appears to be one of these..i wonder if there will be soon a society for standing up to not saying bad things about ugly people?

  4. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 10:55 am  

    find…rather than fing! :-)

  5. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 10:59 am  

    me and my typing..”soon a society against saying bad things about ugly people?” or sth like that.

    catering to ‘british muslim’ voices seems to me just reinforcing divides – but then what do i know. sunny has a good point.

  6. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    “Welcome to Islamophonic, the first Muslim podcast from a national newspaper. Muslims already dominate our international pages and g2 specials. No doubt the Guardian will soon print a wallchart on Muslims.”

    amusingly tongue-in-cheek – :-)

  7. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:01 am  

    ‘I’m more interested in people knowing how to behave with one and other and learning to show tolerance toward those from other backgrounds than go out and show their support for some political party.’

    Dear me what a backward view, first, no one is saying support one party over another, two, change wont come without political participation of some kind. Is he really saying that to achieve equality we should all disengage from politics??

  8. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:02 am  

    I mean, it’s not like it has to be an either or decision when you think about it…

  9. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:20 am  

    I’m not reiterating my point. People who aren’t political getting together to show unity is a good thing. Full stop.

    Stop sulking man

  10. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:28 am  

    I’m not reiterating my point. People who aren’t political getting together to show unity is a good thing. Full stop.

    Stop sulking man

    Mud slinging aside, don’t you see that this is inherently political?

    Like the article questions, what is the substance of this outrage (my main question all along)? How many of the complainers will actually become politicised? How many will get active? I mean in reality, how many will even be talking about this in a few months?

    They just seem like the pertinent questions (I’m sure there are others…) in this.

  11. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:36 am  

    At the expense of repeating myself until I bore a hole into my brain…

    Political people should be applauding a show of unity by non-political people. How many will get active, you ask. I say they already have been.

    When couch potatoes stand up to say they’re not standing for something, that’s far more pertinent to me than someone making a speech at city hall

  12. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:42 am  

    im having fun reading the comments..

  13. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:42 am  

    heh. did they ‘stand up’ or text their complaints to Ofcom is what i want to know…!

  14. Sahil — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:43 am  

    HEHE Sonia, me too. These two are like a bickering couple at the moment.

  15. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    You twist everything I say!

    I’ve had enough of this

    Where am I going?

    OUT!

    I don’t know if I’m ever coming back. Don’t wait up for me. You’ll be sorry one day

    Oh look, peanuts

  16. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    i cant listen to the podcast at work unfortunately – so what are they actually saying?

  17. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    there there kismet :-)

  18. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 11:55 am  

    When couch potatoes stand up to say they’re not standing for something, that’s far more pertinent to me than someone making a speech at city hall

    The fact that you keep trying to characterise this in such unrealistic contrasting terms speaks volumes. Isn’t there room for some naunce in your view of this?

    You were the one claiming this was the beginning of a revolution (aint they political?), you were the one, oddly, claiming no single issue had ever united all the world like this!

    Again, apart from texting or ringing a complaint show me the numbers of these “couch potatoes” (and you call me arrogant in regard to ordinary people…) that are doing anything now? How many will be “united” next week, next month, next year?

    Beyond your lovely and enthralling rhetoric just what has changed?

    Genuine questions Kismet because I really can’t see this great sea change that’s apparently happened in the world…

  19. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

    I happen to be one of those couch potatoes. You’re the one after a sea of change. Carrying a placard and going marching is noble, yes, but it didn’t get Tony Blair to change his mind over ploughing into Iraq now did it? My issue is that these people who did nothing but text and talk about it to everyone got a result. And YOU dismissed them.

    What has changed? I don’t think Bernard Manning & Jim Davidson will be offered sit-coms, that’s for sure.

    Those in charge of television, the voice of the nation, have got the message that they have to be cautious before airing things that people find racially insensitive

    That’s a good thing. Fuck knows why you can’t see it

  20. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 12:22 pm  

    are these the same people btw who normally vote people into and out of the BB house… ? would be interesting to know.

  21. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    You’re the one after a sea of change.

    You were the one calling for a revolution and implying this was the start of one…

    Again, you’re talking about politics in narrow terms of this or that, not a whole ecology of thought and action.

    As for Manning and Davidson I think you’ll find they weren’t being offered sit coms long before this.

    I never dismissed them, all I’ve done is question the substance of their “action” just as you question the action of protesting the Iraq war (we may have not stopped that one but we’ve made it damned hard for them to start another).

    I don’t have any problem with you questioning the millions upon millions of people worldwide who were outraged against that, so why is it a problem to question the thousands who complained about a TV programme?

    I think the crux of this is the reaction you sometimes get when an individual questions the group. And yeah I can be a cantankerous sod at the best of times but that’s born out of experience and a sense of importance for this work.

    Fuck, that WAS a bit pompous!:D

  22. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    I just believe when the revolution comes, it’ll come from those that aren’t ‘active’ in politics. Just people who’ve had enough. I want to be on their side :-)

    Now come on, I’m bored of this. You’re a good person and you have the same goal as me – a better, more tolerant world – so enough of this pointless going round in circles just because we want to do things differently.

    So come, HUG ME

  23. mirax — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    Gopal’s article is good and nails this bit of Indian insecurity and hypocrisy quite nicely too.

    >>As India anxiously finds its place within the community of big global players and tries to reconcile its economic successes with the glaring (and often deepening) inequalities that still mar its social landscape and self-image, it is increasingly obsessed with disseminating the myth of the nation as fundamentally middle-class, professional and successful. The task has partly fallen on the feminine shoulders of India’s flourishing glamour industry.

  24. mirax — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:17 pm  

    Kismet, you contrast the outcome of political struggle ie the anti Iraq war march with the people power struggle* against BB. Maybe you genuinely don’t realise that the latter was a totally trivial goal in contrast to the first and that’s the very reason why the powers-that-are were willing to throw you the crumbs of that ‘success’.

    * even that word is rings false for the flash in the pan outcry that really didn’t achieve anything really as Leon and now, Gopal say.

    I know that you will not be at all upset with me as you were with Leon cause I have a set of XX chromosomes….

  25. Katy — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

    Some of us would like to see a bit more of the Kismet-on-Leon love action. Your T-shirts are offending me…

  26. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:20 pm  

    Who says we won’t be topless?

  27. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:23 pm  

    Mirax, you can kick my balls till I bleed and I’ll still fall at your feet.

    I just work with a lot of Asians that don’t give a toss about anything ‘important’, you know? I saw their reactions to this ‘trivial’ thing of not toleratinf racism as heartening. What can I say? I’m proud to be among them

  28. mirax — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    >>Kismet-on-Leon love action

    Does Kismet really have that kind of stamina, given his recent acquisition of an entire harem? That man is a luuurvve machine!

  29. Anas — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

    The Gopal article is interesting. She’s basically saying that the anti-racist movement has foundered in large part because Asians no longer really consider themselves “Asians” but have split themselves off into groups that define themselves in terms of religious affiliation. So that these now disperate groups are no longer able to “rally” around the single term Asian.

    But this separation also means that British Asian Muslims now identify themselves more closely with other Muslims across the world, which means in turn that they have become very politicized by Iraq and Palestine among other instances of gross injustice worldwide — as well as with discrimination specifically targeted against Muslims in this country. This means that a sizeable proportion of the British population can be potentially mobilized against some of the utterly disgraceful things that are going on around the world that we in the West are aiding and abetting. So in that respect this dissolution of the asian identity might be more positive than negative.

    Funnily enough I think the whole Jade incident has seen a resurgence of a wider sense of “asian” identity amongst many Asians in this country. For that and other reasons I think you and your fellow NGN cohorts are scoring an own goal by dismissing the whole Shetty/Jade incident as just a bit of mass popular hysteria over a bunch of celebs,rather than something to build upon (I think that kind of betrays an elitist attitude). For one thing it made extremely visible an instance of racist bullying of the kind that Asians have been suffering for decades in this country, so that it was difficult for those in the wider British community to avoid or to dismiss — visible in a way that Gate Gourmet or Zahid Mubarak never were. For example, I hope and suspect that a large number of white people (if I can use that term) learned a lot from that show about what it is to be in the minority and to be subject to (albeit mild) racist bullying.

    Politics and social change should start at the grassroots level.

  30. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

    heh anas is definitely right in pointing out the jade/shilpa business is seeing “a resurgence of a wider sense of “asian” identity amongst many Asians in this country”

    a lot of closing of ranks ‘against outsiders’ is the way it comes across to me.

  31. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:39 pm  

    *steps away slowly from thread*

  32. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:44 pm  

    Thread carefully, my friend…

    Peace

  33. Leon — on 25th January, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    *runs*

  34. Katy — on 25th January, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

    Oh dear, what have I started?

    *attempts in vain to shut out mental image of male Picklers wrestling topless*

  35. Anas — on 25th January, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

    what about British Hindus and Sikhs? I say this because it’s meant to be a humorous and relaxed insight into British Muslim life but the obvious subtext is – ‘we’re only doing this because people are interested in Muslims since they’re blowing people up’. If that is not the subtext or they want to avoid it, they should include other minority groups at least so it develops a broader feel that hasn’t got the T-word hanging over it.

    Pot. Kettle. Black. Sunny, why do so many of the thread topics on PP focus on Muslims — disproportionately so?

  36. Jazz Singh — on 25th January, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    I guess the focus on Muslims in PP is only due to the focus in the media upon ‘Islamic’ news, i.e. “Muslim who don’t want to live like the rest of us in this fine green land of England”.

    If Sikhs and Hindus want to be more in the news, I guess they have to generate some “negative press” in the eyes of the mass media…

    Right – time for a Sikh PC to insist on all people under arrest to cover their heads when going past gurdwaras, i think(!)

  37. Kismet里超過漠不Hardy — on 25th January, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    None of this would have happened if Yasser Arafat hadn’t score that own goal in that game of rounders

  38. Anas — on 25th January, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    My point is that the Guardian are obviously going to focus on Muslims more than other minority groups, cause they’re constantly in the fecking news — which very clearly is the subtext of their featuring that topic in the podcast — and that Sunny shouldn’t be taking the moral highground here given that PP also gives a disproportionate amount of coverage to Muslims and Muslim related issues.

  39. Sunny — on 25th January, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

    Sunny shouldn’t be taking the moral highground here given that PP also gives a disproportionate amount of coverage to Muslims and Muslim related issues.

    But I’m not pretending that PP is ‘for Muslims and by Muslims’ in the way that the Guardian podcast is meant to be. We discuss current affairs and right now those current affairs are quite focused on terrorism. I’m not shirking from that issue, rather I want to present a more nuanced and (I think) informed view on that issue. I frequently take issue with how many lefties and people on the right present terrorism and the war on terror.

    The Islamophonic podcast on the other hand is trying to give the impression it is only speaking to Muslims in a safe and relaxed environment. If it’s speaking to everyone, or trying to, then it should editorially embrace that idea.

  40. Rumbold — on 25th January, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

    This apparent apathy in the British Asian community over most issues is especially strking when you consider the ferocity of some of the protests in the sub-continent itself (such as the recent ones in Bangalore).

  41. soru — on 25th January, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    ‘My point is that the Guardian are obviously going to focus on Muslims more than other minority groups, cause they’re constantly in the fecking news’

    That seems like a circular argument of the form ‘it’s ok for me to take your money, as I am already wealthy from the profits of previous thefts, so it doesn’t really change anything’.

    The Guardian is a newspaper, it chooses what to print and not to print. It can’t use the fact that is has already printed something as an excuse to print more of that thing, or to not print something unlike what it has previously printed. Like the BNP rocket launcher story, which wasn’t news so didn’t get reported).

  42. sonia — on 25th January, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    well in that case one may as well turn around and ask why the disproportionate focus on minorities anyway

  43. Bert Preast — on 25th January, 2007 at 4:06 pm  
  44. zahed — on 25th January, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

    From the Islamophonic comments: “I’ve just managed to have a listen to it. It’s nothing novel for those of us who have been following Muslim affairs. There’s much better podcasts being produced by Muslims: altmuslim and Ihsan which is broadcast from the states come to mind.”

    :)

    http://www.altmuslim.com/am_podcasts.php

  45. ZinZin — on 25th January, 2007 at 9:32 pm  

    Anas
    Muslims are very interesting as they have a lot of extra-curricular activities.

    As for Sikh and Hindu fundis they are not as interesting as that Stephen Green fellow. A high profile campaign to censor is what they need.

  46. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    The Gopal article is too bloated and hysterical to say anything coherent beyond, well, yeah, there’s more important shit in the world going on, so, like, uhhh, you’re all a bunch of hypocrites, and I’m not.

    For a start, Gate Gourmet was an industrial dispute, not a racial one. This kind of mindset is part of the freakin’ problem —- because it’s a bunch of mostly Sikh women on strike, the full machinery of Britain’s anti-racist Asian activists is to go charging in with daggers drawn? Please….

  47. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

    Sunny, I would rather Sikhs and Hindus didnt become part of the ‘Islamophonic podcast’ (is it as funny as Ricky Gervais’s) because you know, if there are issues that Sikhs and Hindus want to podcast about I would rather it be an agenda led in a secular way, rather than tagging on at the end of a 30 minute discussion of ‘weekly ummah issues’ and all that kind of malarkey.

  48. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:24 pm  

    This means that a sizeable proportion of the British population can be potentially mobilized against some of the utterly disgraceful things that are going on around the world that we in the West are aiding and abetting.

    And blow themselves up in Tel Aviv and London every now and then too! Not a good thing.

    So in that respect this dissolution of the asian identity might be more positive than negative

    It depends on how you look at it. For Muslims who want to distance themselves from Hindus and Sikhs, it’s a good thing, and vice versa.

  49. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:31 pm  

    I think that Gopal’s ideas regarding colonialism and imperialism maybe need updating.

    Nowadays the greatest victims of Western(Neo)imperialism live in Iraq, or Palestine or in the dictatorships of the Arab and Muslim world — and the main targets of racism and discrimination in this country and in most of Europe are Muslims. What use is uniting under the banner of “Asian” in this context? I mean it’s obvious, that although British Hindus and Sikhs (and Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, etc from the subcontinent) may feel a great deal of sympathy, they won’t feel as much resentment and upset as a group, against what’s happening in, say, Palestine, and so won’t be likely to feel strongly enough to take action. In this connection I recall Sunny’s writing about the response he’d got from an elder in a Gurdwara to his leafleting against the War in Iraq, namely, who cares if Muslims are getting killed. It’s sad but true, that’s the way things are nowadays, solidarity is in short supply — and in fact it’s never really been particularly strong anyway. People tend to split off into different tribes depending on who they perceive as the common threat.

  50. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    And blow themselves up in Tel Aviv and London every now and then too! Not a good thing.

    No, not a good thing. But then neither is reducing much of Lebanon to rubble, or wiping out whole families of people in Gaza.

  51. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:36 pm  

    I feel your pain Anas. It’s why you spend so much time on an Asian orientated blog rather than the Ummahood ones. You are one of these ummah lite Pakistanis — yyou just can’t keep away from th eInjuns no matter how hard you try :-)

  52. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:37 pm  

    No, not a good thing. But then neither is reducing much of Lebanon to rubble, or wiping out whole families of people in Gaza

    Right on brother! As if anyone here said it was.

    (fill in counter-example here, ad nauseum)

  53. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    You got me there Jagdeep. Just felt I had to mention it in case anyone forgot.

  54. ZinZin — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    Anas, Please tell me if you suffer discrimination on the basis of race or your religion? Because you have been confusing me of late.

    “People tend to split off into different tribes depending on who they perceive as the common threat.

    Which tribe are you splitting off into Muslim or Asian? Promoting pointless and self-defeating identity politics that is what you are doing. Be a proper socialist and promote some solidarity amongst Asians and other communities.

  55. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

    feel your pain Anas. It’s why you spend so much time on an Asian orientated blog rather than the Ummahood ones. You are one of these ummah lite Pakistanis — yyou just can’t keep away from th eInjuns no matter how hard you try

    Sad but true. I can’t help myself.

  56. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    ZZ, I wasn’t trying to be normative. Personally I think it is only through greater solidarity that cuts through boundaries of nationality, colour, religion, that the human race has any chance at all on this fucked up planet. Sadly, and you’ll have difficulty finding much evidence to the contrary, that doesn’t seem to be the way that people operate — and I don’t hold out much hope that it’ll change. That might set me apart from someone like Chomsky but ultimately I’m a pessimist when it comes to these things.

  57. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:54 pm  

    Anas, Please tell me if you suffer discrimination on the basis of race or your religion? Because you have been confusing me of late.

    Mostly I suffer discrimination on the basis of being an idiot, if truth be told.

  58. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 2:56 pm  

    Don’t worry Anas, I love ummah-lite Pakistanis, they’re so cute — always ummah this and ummah that, but when it comes down to it, they just can’t keep away from the sexy Injuns! So funny.

  59. sonia — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:02 pm  

    “Personally I think it is only through greater solidarity that cuts through boundaries of nationality, colour, religion, that the human race has any chance at all on this fucked up planet.”

    well you certainly said something sensible there Anas! a pleasant thought for a friday afternoon..

  60. Clairwil — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    ‘Mostly I suffer discrimination on the basis of being an idiot, if truth be told.’

    Anas,
    I want to hug you.

  61. ZinZin — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    Bloody hell
    I never knew Anas was so popular?

    I want to hang with you and play Twister.

  62. ZinZin — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    Thats UnIslamic. Damn

  63. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:07 pm  

    He’s just saying that to try and get some sympathy Clairwill. The old self-deprecating-vulnerability shtick.

  64. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:08 pm  

    Jagdeep, damn, you’re reading me like mirror today.

  65. Jagdeep — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:12 pm  

    I use that method myself all the time — the wife used to find it endearing but she sees through it now so I reserve it for when I wish to ingratiate myself with my in-laws (don’t have to use it on my kids yet — they still think of me as God like)

  66. Anas — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

    I want to hang with you and play Twister.

    Yeah, they made that fatwa after the photos from Abu Gharib.

  67. Sunny — on 26th January, 2007 at 3:40 pm  

    Personally I think it is only through greater solidarity that cuts through boundaries of nationality, colour, religion, that the human race has any chance at all on this fucked up planet.

    Hence why I keep emphasising solidarity instead of splitting up into smaller tribes.

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