16th February, 2006
Shadow attorney-general Dominic Grieve stated the obvious to BBC News: “This is a bogus spat generated by No 10 Downing Street for the purpose of the prime minister looking tough.” The torrent of abuse from newspapers yesterday pointed to the same thing.
The most instructive statement however, comes once again from the Muslim Council of Britain.
15th February, 2006
Some people seemed to like the last cartoon I did (or they were being polite), so as cartoons are so damn popular now, I figured I’d do another.
Jon Stewart, Dave Letterman and co. have of course been having a field day with Dick’s tricks. But the biggest laugh I got from them recently was Stewart’s headline whilst talking about that cartoon controversy. It simply read:
Mohammed, mo’ problems.
This is one of my best mates. I thought instead of some generic google image, I’d give you a bona fide example of what I’m talking about: the Indian student. As you can see, with no hair gel or designer labels, it’s patently obvious this is no British Asian. I’m talking about the Indian overseas student.
Long have they been the brunt of American jokes (we treat them far better here) and the stars of awful films like Where’s the Party Yaar, American Desi and Van Wilder. But now the FOB (fresh off the boat) is in demand. Countries around the world are falling over themselves to attract more students from India, as they enjoy the dubious reputation of being more serious, harder-working types. Oh, nerds.
Leslie Bunder reports:
A group of Israelis are taking on an Iranian newspaper which is running a contest inviting readers to submit cartoons about the Holocaust by saying they can do better themselves and inviting Jews around the world to take part.
“Weâ€™ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published,â€ said Amitai Sandy a graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing in Tel Aviv. â€œNo Iranian will beat us on our home turf,â€ he added.
Fighting hate with humour – there’s no better way.
Just shows how maturely Indian and Pakistani cricket fans can behave eh?
A torrent of racist and abusive postings on the BBCâ€™s Test Match Special website has forced the corporation to close its message board.
Part of the site was suspended after the BBC received complaints that a number of users were sending insulting religious messages and promoting terrorism on the South Asian section of the Test Match Special website. [Times Online]
I wonder when people will actually grow up and get laid.
[hat tip Contrarymary]
14th February, 2006
Here at Pickled Politics, we’re against faith-based schools, or at least an expansion in their numbers since they are not going anywhere for now. So with some interest, I see this article about a Catholic school in Glasgow that is 75% Muslim, and now trying to ‘convert its religion’.
We’ve all heard the term coconut before and to be honest I’ve always thought it to be rather crude. So when I found the word ‘cappucino’ in the New Statesman special report on India, I was quite intrigued. Apparently in India, a cappucino is someone who is ‘white and frothy’ on the outside but with deeply conservative and traditional sub-continental ‘values’ on the inside.
Christie Davies points me to an interesting article he has written for the Social Affairs Unit blog, on the Sikh play Behzti.
But before you say – ‘oh no, not again’, I think its worth discussing this because he raises different arguments to the standard ‘freedom of speech’, or ‘Sikh nutters gone crazy’ ones. For a start, he is very disparaging about the quality of the play itself.
But the article is also very critical of the government and the liberal arts establishment. Why are minority groups treated differently? Why did the government not take a stronger stance against the violence? Are there double standards in the way it was all treated? And finally, why it was such a PR disaster for Sikhs.
13th February, 2006
More Euro-blogging from me. The Indian press has been awash with coverage of their poster boy’s European takeover bid. Laxmi Mittal’s hostile bid for French steel giant Arcelor has run into serious difficulty and both sides are crying foul. However, now many Indians are claiming the reason the Europeans are stalling is simple racism. Paranoia or justified claim?
As Asia rises, will we see Europe fall?
American writers have recently damned Europe, insisting a “pall of doom” hangs over the continent [Link]. The criticisms many of them make (Theodore Dalrymple, Michelle Malkin, Fareed Zakaria and more) are quite revealing as to how Americans and some others from both political leanings think of Europe.
Dalrymple asks whether Europe is doomed and seems to think that we and the French experience a “deep sense of existential unease to live in a country perpetually in decline, even if that decline is merely relative.” However he chooses the broad brush so many American commentators use when speaking of Europe, using it to tar us all. Europe’s obsession with Social Security seems to be the root cause of Europe’s fall from grace and power, causing us to be fearful of the future. It is true that especially on the continent, rigid social structures have made change difficult. But if I were to select one major country that allowed fear to dominate its agenda, it would not be on this side of the Atlantic. However, he rightly highlights a vague sense of protectionism which has pervaded the job market in Europe.
Writer Sukhdev Sandhu, author of London Calling, is undertaking an interesting project for his new book. He wants to re-discover the London night.
The point of this “midnight traipse across the metropolis” is partly to protest against the morphing of â€œthe London nightâ€ into something called â€œLondon nightlifeâ€ ruled by real-estate moguls, foreign investors, film directors, etc. But it also partly to restore to the city and to night-time a sense of the street, crime, poetry and grime.
[via Amitava Kumar]
Night Haunts is a project with Artangel, a company “dedicated to making odd, imaginative, impossible projects happen,” Sandhu tells me in an email. He adds:
Itâ€™s pretty common these days to hear hipsters and tastemakers bemoaning the death of London. Lusaka is hot, Sao Paolo is rad, but London is meant to be a sterile, gentrified shadow of its old self. Not to the people I meet and talk too though. Sure the city can be pricey, feral and heart-breaking. But itâ€™s also liquid, alive, exhilarating.
The website is basically a year-long journal which will be serialised in the Saturday magazine section of the Daily Telegraph and published in book form at the end of 2006. You can also drop him suggestions for places to see through the site.
‘It’s nothing to do with religion, its the culture’s fault’
On the face of it, this statement made by many 2nd and 3rd generation Muslims seems perfectly fair. To take one important example, although forced marriages occur in Muslim societies they are not condoned by Islam. Furthermore, one simply has to compare and contrast Muslims from Morocco with Muslims in Pakistan to see differences in culture and even within Pakistan, Baluchi Muslims are distinct from Punjabi Muslims, who in turn have a lot in common with Punjabi Hindu’s and Sikhs).
It’s getting too easy to point out that President Bush’s troubles are growing daily. That, however, won’t stop me from doing so anyway.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the corruption scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of generously oiling the Republican machine. The scandal isn’t going away. A picture the White House tried to supress is now out, showing Bush meeting up with Native American chiefs (who Abramoff ripped off the most), with Abramoff in the background. Not that it means anything of course, according to the administration.
Remember the criticism over hurricane Katrina that forced Bush to fire Michael Brown (head of FEMA, the agency supposed to coordinate rescue)? Well, Brownie isn’t going down without a fight, even if he was Bush’s friend. In a recent testimony to the Senate he said the government knew more than it admitted to, and that he was essentially a scapegoat. He wants all the facts made public. Uh oh…
If that wasn’t enough, the illegal wiretapping scandal unearthed late last year refuses to go away despite Fox News and Alberto Gonzales trying their best to convince the country that it was in their best interests. The president clearly has no time for this liberal democracy palava, and only now are some Republicans waking up.
To make it worse, vice-president Dick Cheney’s also in trouble for authorising classified leaks through his aide Scooter Libby in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
The question is…
For commentators on this side of the pond who keep falling for Bush’s lines – “Hey forget my illegal scandals, here is another terrorist attack we averted earlier and thought we should tell you about now” – it remains to be seen how long it will take for them to admit their folly.
Thankfully, Americans are slowly but surely judging George Bush on actions rather than rhetoric.
12th February, 2006
Without the fanfare, garland exchanging and trumpet blowing , I’d like to present Reformist Muslim, who will be guest-blogging on Pickled Politics for a month starting this week.
And while I’m here… it turns out Patels are not so bac- I mean conservative after all !
At a mass wedding last week 45 couples, including members of the wealthy Patel clan, swore â€œnever to have a sonography (scan) to find out the sex of our childrenâ€. Describing the practice as illegal, they pledged to â€œco-operate with all activities to curb the menace of female foeticideâ€.
The decision of the Patels, influential in Gujaratâ€™s diamond industry, to publicise the new vows was remarkable. The state now has only 878 girls aged six and under for every 1,000 boys.
First thought – a mass wedding… to save money? Need I say more? Secondly – boys, you can forget about going ‘back home’ to find a bride because there ain’t any left!
Fareena Alam of Q-News has an article in the Observer today, worth reading in full. To highlight a few points:
That the future of liberal democracy rests on defending the publication of these insulting caricatures is as ridiculous a claim as that Muslims can defend the honour of their prophet by unrestrained violence and rioting.
Clearly, it’s not just Danish cartoonists and their apologists who are ignorant of the Prophet. I wonder what the parents of the child wearing the ‘I love al-Qaeda’ cap would say had their son been on the number 30 bus that terrible day.
‘We must stop thinking of ourselves as “the tribe of Islam”,’ declared Imam Zaid Shakir, an African-American scholar and civil-rights activist. ‘Until we start to think of ourselves as the children of Adam, concerned about the welfare of all our fellow human beings, we are missing the point of being faithful.’
In the aftermath of the London bombings, many have realised we have to stop hiding behind a false sense of unity and call a spade a spade.
We are among the most politicised and engaged communities in Britain. We belong here. How many times do we have to say this before society cuts us some slack and lets us get on with it?
Religion can be a powerful tool for social cohesion and good citizenship. The trouble is that many Muslims have treated Islam as something inward, exclusive and proprietary.
Brother’s gotta sign a petition before they give him a fruit!
StrangelyPsychedelique has uploaded tons of pictures from yesterday’s march.
It was all good natured, I was told by brothers who went.
Quite a few X-files fans turned up too, as SP shows.
Funny captions too.
11th February, 2006
The News of the World today has a snapshot from a video showing British troops abusing some Iraqis, supposedly shot in Iraq in 2004. The BBC reports:
On the tape, described as a “secret home video”, an unidentified cameraman is heard laughing and urging his colleagues on. It was apparently filmed for fun by a corporal.
The Ministry of Defence said it was aware of the allegations, which are being investigated by the Royal Military Police.
By next week I expect the pages on the NotW website will be changed, but you can read more on that here and here. Video is here for those inclined.
It’s pure tragedy. I hope at least such exposé’s will force the army to be more disciplined rather than being able to hide them. And much as I was against the war in the first place, on balance I’d rather the troops stay there until the Iraqi army and police comes up to speed.
I recently met someone who had been to Iraq recently, and he said the general lawlessness was astounding. Criminal gangs were constantly abducting people for ransom and carrying out gangland style killings to settle scores. The foreign armies don’t want to get caught in the middle of course so the situation keeps deteriorating.
10th February, 2006
I hear some people aren’t too happy that PokerGuru has Guru Nanak (founder of the Sikh faith for the uninitiated) holding a deck of cards and promoting gambling.
The website is part of London based PartyPoker. We do not advise burning their offices down, at least until a few letters of protest have been sent.
Eighty-four year old Victoria looked after the children while her daughter and her husband went to work. Both held down two jobs each.
At about 8.30 in the morning, Victoria walked the two children to school. She arrived back home just before 9am. Victoria was set upon inside the flat. She was gagged, tied up with telephone wire, sprayed with petrol and set alight. She managed to crawl into the kitchen area. The flat was also burned. Victoria died on the kitchen floor.
Nothing was stolen from inside the flat. The family had nothing to steal. No-one has ever been convicted of this crime. No motive has ever been discovered. Victoria was an illegal immigrant. She did not claim any benefits, and was supported by her daughter and son-in-law.
This murder did not appear in the national media.
[Printed in full from World Weary Detective]
Jews should be told quite clearly that our citizens have the legal right to criticise, lampoon, ridicule and mock Jewish leaders to their heart’s content, in any way that they wish: that Judaism and Jews have no special claim to protection from the rough and tumble of post-Enlightenment intellectual, political and social life. If they cannot live in a society in which this is the case, they should go somewhere else…
Outraged? You should be. Theodore Dalrymple in the Spectator. Just substitute Jews for Muslims and Judaism for Islam. [via ]
9th February, 2006
The number of British Muslim organisations have officially exceeded the number of actual Muslims living in the UK this week, after a flurry over activity over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons.
The Muslim Action Committee (MAC), formed by a number of imams and the one that pushed the number over 2 million, said the existing numbers of Muslim organisations were insufficient to demonstrate the anger they felt.
“This is an outrage! Not enough Muslim organisations have signed up to our charter demanding action,” imam Abdul Malik told Pickled Politcs. “We had to form some more of our own.
“We have decided to take action by setting up committees to investigate each blasphemous cartoon, who will report to Council Responsible for Action on BlaSphemy (CRABS).” At this point the imam started scratching himself furiously.
The proposed name was initially signed off as British Islamic Group for Muslims Against Cartoons, until McDonald’s lawyers stepped in.
“What we are calling here for is more action! More Muslim organisations to tackle Islamophobia! Global imperialism! George Bush! Hillary bloody Clinton!”
At this point imam Faisal Choudhary stepped in. “The Jews, you see, they have organisations for everything. Dirty Zionists! Ach-thoo! We want to have more committees than them! Actually can you please delete that… errmm.”
He later added: “We have more affiliated organisations than the Muslim Council of Britain. Surely the government will have to listen to us now?”
It has been estimated by the think-tank ‘Think Islamic ThoughtS’ that by 2050 there will be a Muslim organisation for every citizen in Britain.
8th February, 2006
An interesting situation is developing in Denmark, with Danish Muslims becoming increasingly split on how to proceed over the cartoon row. According to the Beeb, top Muslims are declaring that they are proud of being Danish and “supporting Danish values”. Even the right-wing MPs are suprised, prompting one to declare: “I didn’t know there were so many Muslims in Denmark who are supporting Western values.” Erm, it might help to talk to some of them occasionally you know.
Two months ago, a group of Danish writers warned that “the harsh tone in the national debate about Muslims and integration was comparable to Nazi rhetoric against Jews”. The most instructive part of the article comes after:
However, some of the strongest protests against the cartoons have come from imams who are part of the government’s integration think tank.
For the Danish integration minister, Rikke Hvilshoj, that stance is a wake-up call. “It is very clear that we cannot trust the imams any longer if we want integration to succeed in Denmark,” Mrs Hvilshoj says.
The Labour party and Ken Livingstone could learn a lot from that, not just for Muslims but all Asian communities.
Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, said today he was trying to get in touch with the Iranian paper, Hamshari, which plans to run an international competition seeking cartoons about the Holocaust.
“My newspaper is trying to establish a contact with the Iranian newspaper, and we would run the cartoons the same day as they publish them,” Mr Rose told CNN. [Guardian]
So can we assume that after Jewish organisations complain, othe European papers will also reprint them?
Muslim organisations here, politically useless in this whole joke of a controversy, have decided to stage another rally Saturday. Rather peversely, I’d like to see Al-Ghuarabaa hijack this too.
Update by Sunny: JP has clarified saying it would happen only after it took “a decision on their standard”. And have now backtracked completely.
Another Update: Will you be boycotting Egypt too?
Another update by Sunny: Turns out culture editor of JP, Flemming Rose, had a nice chat with Daniel Pipes in 2004 too. [via Postman].
I searched high and low… I surfed until my modem started crying and my eyes hurt. I sat there and scoffed food to keep up with my growing appetite for wisdom.
Anyway, here’s a good selection of intelligent opinion from the blogosphere on those cartoons. You may detect a hint of bias…
more recent posts » — « previous posts
Forget the cartoons, let’s talk real controversy.
The Church of England’s general synod – including the Archbishop of Canterbury – voted last night to disinvest church funds from companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
The main target of the plan will be the US earth-moving equipment company Caterpillar which has supplied vehicles used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes.
Cue: “It’s an Islamist conspiracyyyy!” If only the rest of the country would take a nod from the Church and force Israel to re-think occupation. Apparently Israelis themselves aren’t too enthusiastic about it either, so maybe a sane debate could be had.
Update: Ekklesia article with more detail.