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6th October, 2005

Muslims demand more change to something!

by Sunny at 6:47 pm    

Every week a new controversy comes up where Muslims have supposedly asked for something to be banned or changed.

But examine each issue and they are mostly either conjured up by the media or the result of “well-meaning but misguided” individuals.

The result is that Muslims are villified even though most are unaware of these controversies or, going by online chatter, scarcely care for them. In all of the cases I mention, there was no consultation or a grassroots campaign - just media hype.

Yet newspapers and blogs jump on board with another excuse to bash Muslims. Shouldn’t “liberals” be rising above it?

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Where is the love?

by Sunny at 5:10 pm    

Leslie from the new blog Points of Jew makes a good point:

I remember going along to an event organised by London Mayor Ken Livingstone a couple of years and I recall both Jews and Muslims there. But they didn’t really talk to each other.

At this time of year when both Jews and Muslims are having holy days, where are the joint events? Why hasn’t the Board of Deputies wished well the Muslim community during Ramadan and likewise, why hasn’t the Muslim Council of Britain wished the Jewish community well during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Ahhh, but that would be too much to ask for wouldn’t it?

Filed under: Religion
5th October, 2005

Tariq Ramadan and Amartya Sen

by Sunny at 12:42 pm    

The Guardian yesterday published a long-awaited interview with the scholar Tariq Ramdan, worthwhile reading. His best points are always on integration.

He picked apart the Islamic scriptures and considered the laws of liberal democracies, and concluded that both were flexible enough to coexist.

But to realise this, everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, had to be able to accept that their values might be different from those of people around them, but that they were still part of one society. He calls it “psychological integration”.

However, her makes a very good point also about Muslims becoming overly defensive and retreating back to their communities than engaging in debate over important issues (MCB take note).

It’s a seductive idea of tolerance and understanding. But when Muslims are being accused of terrorism and extremism, what is easier: to retreat into the safety of their own community, or work their way into the wider society? It’s a difficult psychological leap, Ramadan agrees. “We need an intellectual revolution. First it’s about education. It’s about self-confidence. Don’t look at yourself as part of a marginalised minority. At the moment, there is a ‘protect yourself’ mentality among Muslims. But the best way to be respected is to give something to your society. To give value and presence.”

He also makes a point about the Iraq war that many who support it try to skirt around.

“Of course there is a relationship between what is happening internationally and here. In one of the videotapes, [a bomber] said: ‘You are killing our brothers in Baghdad, we are going to kill you here.’ He is wrong. What he said is unacceptable. But he is building a political link. So give political answers. It’s not right to say this is a Muslim problem. It’s a political problem.”

Another article worth reading is the one written by Amartya Sen, the nobel peace Economics prize winner and generally a fantastic dude, published in the launch issue of Prospect magazine ten years ago. They’ve put it online to celebrate their 10th year. [Link]

Update: Madeleine Bunting has been asked to interview Al-Qaradawi by the Guardian, so that should be interesting to look out for, in about a month’s time.

Telling a thousand words

by Sunny at 12:25 am    

The World Press Photo foundation celebrates the 50th anniversary of its annual photographic competition this year, according to the BBC, and it shows some of the previous award-winning photographs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the pictures relate to war and personal grief. Below shows 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez trapped in debris caused by a mudslide following the eruption of a volcano in Colombia in 1985.

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Filed under: Media, The World
4th October, 2005

Brown, black or … coloured?

by Al-Hack at 2:27 pm    

Trevor Phillips doesn’t stop making headlines does he? At this rate he’ll be more recognised than the prime minister soon. At the Conservative party conference today he said: “Is it really offensive to call someone ‘coloured’?” You mean apart from the fact that it sounds so colonial? He added:

Globalisation means that the rules of multi-ethnic Britain are under constant challenge as we encounter new cultures and our own culture changes. We need a modern highway code for multi-ethnic Britain, our unwritten handbook for getting on with each other.

Jeez! Are race relations so touchy these days that people need some sort of a code? Would it work? And would you like to be called coloured? I think Asian or brown suits me just fine. What about you?

Filed under: Current affairs

It’s festival time

by Sunny at 2:42 am    

Happy Navratri, Ramadan Mubarak and happy Rosh Hashanah to you religious folk!

Filed under: Culture, Religion
3rd October, 2005

Quick web round up

by Sunny at 9:06 pm    

I wrote an article for the Independent, which was published today, on how Asians who want to do comedy on TV still suffer from stereotyping (taking the example Anil Gupta who produced The Office).

The BBC is investigating whether its coverage of Israel-Palestine is biased towards either side as both sides keep claiming (via PointsofJew).

Adloyada has written something nice (for once?) on Muslim-Jewish dialogue, and points out, thankfully, that Irshad Manji and Salman Rushdie are not a good place to start with.

London’s Evening Standard refuses to apologise for wrongly accusing a Muslim bookshop-owner of peddling hatred and carrying extremist literature even after being proved wrong..

Finally, Riz has written a funny piece on The Real Man Fraternity on Gillette continuously expanding the number of razor blades in their products; SA writes on Turkey and the EU; the Globalisation Institute has an interesting piece on Sumo going global.

Any other news or blog entry you want to flag up? Do it below!

2nd October, 2005

Google-bombing President Musharraf

by Sunny at 11:44 pm    

Raven from Reality Cafe has come up with a great idea to Google-bomb President Musharraf as an insensitive jerk.

If enough people link using the words above, typing that term into Google will lead to his website. More on Google bombing here.

This has nothing to do with his nationality or religion, and everything to do with his previous comments on women in Pakistan (one, two).

Support the cause! Get the insensitive jerk to think next time before saying women get raped for a visa. The Washington Post had more on this yesterday.

Filed under: South Asia, Humour

Brain pills, anyone?

by SajiniW at 3:11 pm    

As a society, we are getting increasingly better at managing our own symptoms and signs.

We can see that the increased medicalisation of daily life is an ever-growing phenomenon, with even Bree from Desperate Housewives getting in on the act. She uses her child’s Ritalin to assist her in accomplishing more within her busy schedule. Her husband sees a turnaround in her uptight demeanour, and her children are pleased to see her taking a greater interest in their daily lives.

The trend is increasingly spreading here.

Prescriptions of Methylphenidate - most commonly sold as Ritalin - rose to 359,100 last year, a rise of 344,400 since 1995. Figures from the Prescriptions Pricing Authority reveal that there has been a 180-fold increase in prescriptions since 1991 when only 2,000 were issued in England.

Several newspapers also suggest that an increasing proportion of doctors are giving patients (considered intellectually equal to themselves) free rein with medications designed to support their emotional wellbeing.

After all, they should know right? Plus, choice is the current buzzword of choice in the medical world.

Researchers at Cambridge University foresee a future where ‘cosmetic neurology’ is the way forward in gaining more from our lives.

Ritalin was originally marketed as a treatment for children and adults with attention deficit or hyperactivity problems but, as with many drugs, was rapidly adopted by alternative users.

Many students found it helped them concentrate and calm down before exams. The drug is now frequently sold illicitly on campus and is widely available on the internet.

Given the disparate views on medication and nature prevalent within the populace, I ask you whether you’d be up for using Ritalin to help you with revision in the way that a fifth of American university students have confessed to doing?

Filed under: Current affairs, Science
1st October, 2005

Why Bali will continue to be a target

by Rohin at 7:05 pm    

Today the small Indonesian island of Bali was rocked by bomb attacks on two popular tourist areas, killing at least 22. BBC Coverage.

Bali is one of the most beautiful places I have visited. Nowadays, post-Jason Donovan and Ricky Martin, it’s known for its tourist trade as much as it is for its natural wonders. One can only hope that it doesn’t develop a new, darker claim to fame. However I fear that Bali may become one of the most popular targets for Islamist terrorists.

For those who believe in the supremacy of their warped Islamic beliefs, Bali represents a triple-whammy. Three reasons to target the jewel in Indonesia’s crown.

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MCB plans another BBC complaint after Panorama rejects previous accusations

by Sunny at 5:26 am    

The war of words between the Muslim Council of Britain and the BBC has escalated again after the Panorama editor published a detailed response to accusations that their documentary on August 21st, A Question of Leadership, was “deeply unfair” and made to undermine the organisation.

The BBC published a detailed response yesterday by Mike Robinson of Panorama. In response:

MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala told the BBC News website: “We are not at all satisfied with Mike Robinson’s response and will be taking this up further by writing to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit.”

There is so much to say about this controversy, I don’t know where to start. Funnily enough, the MCB quoted me too in their complaints.

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Filed under: Media, Religion
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