31st March, 2006

‘Were they asking for it?’ – the rape/consensual sex debate

by SajiniW at 2:38 pm    

UK Rape Statistics paint a disappointing reality – only 5.6 percent of female rapes end in a conviction.

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Filed under: Current affairs

Are Hizb ut-Tahrir really dedicated?

by Sunny at 2:03 am    

I really wonder sometimes how strong members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are in their beliefs. You would think a group that keeps berating other “brothers and sisters” about how they’re not “doing their duty as Muslims” would stick to their guns. Evidently not.

Following my appearance on PTV Prime, it seems the Pizza HuT-ters have taken their constitution off their website. Why? Dr Nazreen Nawaz was trying to explain how great the HuT inspired caliphate would be a wonderful place where religious minorities would not only be protected, but be free to practise their faith openly. See the constitution on our website, she said. Hmm.. so why take it down then?

This isn’t the first time HuT have gotten rid of inflammatory material that may embarass them in the media. They previously took down a document about the killing of Jews too. Last week a Pizza HuT member from Denmark was caught urging “brothers” to “eliminate” any rulers that prevented them from joining the Iraq insurgency. So much for non-violence.

Anyway, a copy of their constitution is saved here (courtesy David T). I haven’t read it fully yet, but this caught my eye.

Article 7
c. Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtadd) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy, provided they have by themselves renounced Islam.

I wonder what Inayat Bunglawala and Faisal Bodi have to say about that.

At this rate by next year Hizb ut-Tahrir will have flowers and fluffy bunnies on their website, proclaiming their love for everyone. Maybe they’ll even be nice to General Musharraf.

Filed under: Humour,Religion
30th March, 2006

Giving Islam a positive spin

by Sunny at 6:22 pm    

In a documentary tonight, writer and director Nasfim Haque wants to give Islam a positive spin. From AIM magazine:

Under the guise of her company Jihad Media, she sets off to show the religion in a positive light while trying to enlist the help of well known TV personalities.

She says: “As a Muslim myself, I feel Islam has recently been saddled with an image problem, quite unfairly in my opinion, so I wanted to twist this around to ask the real questions about religion in secular society.”

Don’t Panic I’m Islamic‘ will see her ask publicist Max Clifford for advice; get Bernard Manning to make her Muslim Kurdish protégé funny; try and persuade ITV to make Face for Islam a rival to X factor; get Trouble TV to fall for Mighty Mecca Morphing Muslims as a rival to The Simpsons; put together a National Muslims are Nice day and more.

Should make good viewing. BBC Three tonight at 00:25am.

Harmeet Sooden heads back to NZ

by Sunny at 4:58 pm    

The third Christian Peacemaker Harmeet Singh Sooden is quietly heading back to New Zealand, Ekklesia reports.

Sooden is of Indian origins. His sister Preety Brewer said she was delighted to see her brother arrive home at last.

“I’m very thrilled to see him again after the most difficult and longest four months of my life,” Mrs Brewer told One News. She went on: “He is looking forward to seeing his niece again and catching up on some much-needed sleep.” [via FaithinSociety]

There has been a lot of criticism and support for the group, all I can say is I’m glad they’re free. It turns out today that so is Jill Caroll. Huzzah!

How the Indo-Pak rivalry is harming Wikipedia

by Vikrant at 3:09 am    

Wikipedia’s official policy states that in all articles should have a Neutral Point of View. Unfortunately they never took the India-Pakistan rivalry into account.

In a guest article for Pickled Politics, self-confessed ‘Wiki-holic’ Vikrant details how the massive online encyclopedia is getting bogged down by this jingoism and the hilarious headaches being created.

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29th March, 2006

Justice for Jeshma

by Al-Hack at 6:20 pm    

JeshmaA Latvian man who raped and murdered a teenager as she walked home from school has been given three life sentences.

Viktor Dembovskis, 43, attacked Jeshma Raithatha as the 17-year-old made her way along a footpath near her home in Greenford, west London, last May. Her body was discovered eight days later. She had been strangled, raped and then stabbed to death.

Filed under: Current affairs

Anvar Khan, media whore

by Al-Hack at 4:19 am    

It is not compulsory for a white journalist to defend or attack views from minorities, but it is for me. I almost do it as a favour. The liberal, left-leaning media are so terrified of causing offence to any minority that they look to a person of colour to do their arguing for them.

When controversial subjects erupt, regarding Shabina Begum’s so-called right to wear the jilbab at school or the preponderance of ham sandwiches at council meetings, whatever, the white media turn tactician, and, in order to deflect any potential criticism, recruit brown faces. That’s where I come in.

That was journalist Anvar Khan, pictured here, in the Media Guardian on Monday. This is Anvar Khan on her website explaining her TV experience:

As a self-confessed media whore, I am on call 24/7 to give my views on anything from why men cheat to why women stop having sex with their husbands. If I don’t have an opinion I’ll find one.

The very tempting offer of an extra hundred quid or so and a few minutes in front of a camera are enough for me to put away my hoover and abandon more heavyweight projects, like my latest lover.

I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong here…

Hizb ut-Tahrir and I, part 2

by Sunny at 1:31 am    

At least they turned up this time. Yesterday I was in a TV debate with someone from Hizb ut-Tahrir and a lady from Education Fund (or something) who represented Shabina Begum. To be honest the debate was much easier than I expected. HuT’s argument that this was fundamentally about intolerance towards Muslims was easy to blow out of the water.

The best bit came half-way when the Pizza HuT member said ‘freedom to express religion was the hallmark of a civilised society’, and I retorted with: ‘But in the HuT caliphate Muslims won’t have freedom to interpret their religion how they want to, will they? Does that mean you’re not civilised?’ Then followed a discussion about how much ‘freedom’ HuT is willing to allow its followers, and the Shabina Begum lawyer trying to distance herself from them.
It’ll be aired today on PTV Prime (Sky 815) at 6pm. That hour is free to air.

Filed under: Media,Religion
28th March, 2006

Royalty visits Sikh Gurudwara

by Al-Hack at 6:25 pm    
Charles and Camilla

The prince and the duchess were shown the nine weapons of Guru Gobind Singh. They greeted priests in the temple – or gurdwara – by performing a nemaste – bringing their hands together in prayer and bowing their heads.

Camilla gave coins and notes wrapped in material to one of the priests to be placed at the shrine as a mark of respect.

The India Express newspaper has described the duchess as being “daisy fresh” on the visit to the country, and having “sailed right through” her public engagements. “The duchess came as a pleasant surprise,” it said.

News worth reading

by Sunny at 5:05 am    

1) Firstly, anyone know this agitator? Seen at the March this weekend he felt “threatened” by 29 year-old Iranian Reza Moradi holding a poster of the Danish cartoons. Some say he looks familiar. Moradi is apparently now being summoned? Wtf?

2) Simon Barrow has written an excellent article on the release of Norman Kember and other CPT members and unfair accusations by the media and bloggers.

3) Sharif points this poll in Ha’aretz showing most Israeli Jews don’t want Arab neighbours. He asks: ‘Is such racism the result of the conflict, or is the conflict the result of such racism?’

4) Anvar Khan, who got Greg Dyke to admit the BBC was ‘hideously white’, admits she’s become a rent-a-quote race pundit because white writers are too scared to say what they think. Same goes for Yasmin Alibahi-Brown I’d say. [Cheers Kesara].

5) Every week we find another example of the government’s despicable behaviour towards civil rights. This weekend the police arrested anti-war protestor Brian Haw for no particular reason. [via Europhobia]

6) Thousands of women in Pakistan continue to be victims of discriminatory laws, Daily Times reports. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report on the state of women there paints a very sorry picture. [Hat tip Spaceboy].

7) Last week Rohin blogged about missing Chinese blogger and filmmaker Hao Wu. Now the mainstream media has caught up.

27th March, 2006

Treating different races with different narratives

by Sunny at 4:41 pm    

The weekend was an interesting insight into the double-standards that newspaper columnists and bloggers have on ‘free-speech’.

Would the same defenders of Ellis be happy with Hizb ut-Tahrir being allowed to freely berate Jews and all ‘infidels’? I suspect not. No one is asking Ellis to be deported though any British born Muslim with bigoted views would get that accusation.

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Getting high on religion

by Rohin at 3:04 am    

“Hmm, looks like a nasty case of revelations. My advice – take a few paracetamol, have a lie down and whatever you do, don’t found any religions.”

Israeli and Swiss neurologists have diagnosed the children of Abraham as suffering from delusions, as they claim there could be a perfectly rational medical explanation for three world religions.

Moses, Jesus and Mohammed all experienced revelations on mountain tops, but the Jerusalem/Geneva team suggest they were probably just feeling a bit peaky and suffering from altitude sickness. The doctors state that a lack of oxygen can alter brain function in the temporo-parietal junction and prefrontal cortex. The same symptoms have been reported by modern climbers and mountaineers, including those who claim to be atheist or non-spiritual. When I say ‘symptoms’ I didn’t really mean receiving commandments or anything, more feeling afraid; seeing a presence and lights.

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Filed under: Humour,Religion,Science
26th March, 2006

Something for mothers day

by Sunny at 4:36 pm    

It’s Mothers Day today, as I found out to my embarassment in the afternoon after a stern announcement *cough*, despite hints all week and a massive banner stating the same at the local Tescos. Anyway, time for a public service announcement.

India has one of the worst rates of infant and maternal health in the world. Over a quarter of the world’s maternity related deaths occur in India and a staggering 1 in 15 babies die before their first birthday. The charity Child In Need Institute (CINI) are asking people to ‘adopt a mother for mothers day‘. £10 of Mother’s Care will give the mother of a severely malnourished child in India, somewhere to stay, food and emotional support while her child is nursed back to health in the Child In Need Institute’s Emergency Ward.

You’re not advised to tell your mum the reason you didn’t get her a present was because you’ve adopted another mother in India…

Filed under: India,South Asia
25th March, 2006

Confronting difficult issues

by Sunny at 5:05 pm    

The problem with wanting to let racists speak their mind is you end up on the same side of invertebrates as those berating Brownie on this article.

But justifying gagging someone because that group feels under attack is not good enough. It’s an excuse rather like saying: “I don’t feel British because the BNP don’t welcome me with open arms”. If you need citizenship advice from the BNP then you need your head checked.

In such debates people use statistics selectively that reinforce their point because it helps them understand the world. The stats above alone throw racial differences out of the window, and beg questions such as: why do girls do better than boys; why Indians do better than whites and Pakistanis; why do black boys do so badly? Apart from the fact that girls develop faster than boys, everything points at cultural and sociological issues than racial ones. Race campaigners run from this debate at their own peril because the inequalities then don’t get ironed out.

Globalisation and sacred cows

by El Cid at 5:24 am    

Just the other day I was chatting to a Bengali colleague. He was telling me about New Delhi and how it was changing fast: “You can still see cows on the streets. I kind of like that though.” I knew exactly what he meant.

Globalisation brings modernity, economic development, lifts standards of living, brings us into greater contact with each other. But it also makes the world a less diverse, and by extension, less interesting place.

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Filed under: Culture,The World
24th March, 2006

Sikhs as bad as Irish

by Sunny at 6:07 pm    

In drinking excessive amounts of alcohol that is. The British Medical Journal reports:

34% of Irish men drink above the weekly recommended limit of 21 units of alcohol, compared with 29% of the general Irish population and 27% of the general British population. A similar problem exists in south Asian (Sikh) male migrants to the UK, where problem drinking is higher than in the Sikh population in South Asia and similar to that of the UK general population.

If anyone has access to the full article, please post it or email it to me.

Filed under: Culture,Humour

Doing the ‘right’ thing

by Sunny at 3:52 am    

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is frequently said. People want to do the right thing. Not good, or bad. Just the right thing.

Take the Danish imam Ahmed Akkari, who thought he was doing the right thing by sparking controversy over the Danish cartoons four months after they were printed, as an example. He ended up threatening to blow up a Muslim politician who did not agree with violent protests. [via David T]

One could also say the March for Free Expression people meant well, but it was inevitable the bigoted cartoons would attract bigots (though not mostly). Sensibly they have now asked protestors not to bring the cartoons but could it be too late? Anyway, they have my support now.

The students marching against Dr Frank Ellis mean well too I suspect, but I would prefer they didn’t. He is racist idiot who needs his head checked, but his freedom of speech also needs preserving.

I’ve written for Comment is Free on this which elaborates more, but the basic jist is – freedom of speech is an Asian / black person’s best friend in an unequal power relationship. Cherish it and protect it, don’t set bad precedents over idiots.

23rd March, 2006

Shabina Begum’s ruling means more segregation

by Kulvinder at 2:35 pm    

This ruling gives schools nothing less than a quasi-license to discriminate if they so wish. You can argue that a school will take into account whatever needs exist, but it doesn’t matter, because that decision making process is unchallengeable.

Instead of dealing with a patriarchal and deeply insular family head on and doing everything to keep a child in heterogeneous environment the school will find it far far easier to get rid of and exclude the problem child.

Shabina Begum’s case is not about religion but the right of the school to discriminate.

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Britons convicted in Mumbai paedophilia case

by Rohin at 12:08 am    

An Indian judge acts to “wipe the name of India from the map of sexual tourism” as he sentences two former British Navy officers of “unnatural sex acts” and conspiring to “obtain minors for immoral purposes”.

Lt Cdr Allan Waters, 57, and Duncan Grant, 61, were both jailed for six years each and ordered to pay £20,000 to their victims. Subsequently, child rights lawyers have called for a domestic inquiry as Waters worked with the British Sea Cadet Corps for over 30 years. Indeed it has now emerged that he was accused of abusing a sea cadet in the UK during the 1980s.

The court heard that the street boys, aged from eight to 18, were used as objects of “sexual lust” by Grant, Waters and several other foreigners who frequently took boys with them “on holiday” to coastal resorts in Goa.

Boys were also subjected to a brutal regime of corporal punishment in which they were stripped naked and regularly caned by Jesuit-educated Grant and the local manager of his shelter. [Daily Telegraph]

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22nd March, 2006

Will it all kick off in Germany?

by Rohin at 7:51 pm    

The World Cup’s coming, excited excited! Ah football – the sport of cultured, educated and refined gentlemen and their lady friends. Right?

A shockingly-mistyped story from Rome reveals that neo-Nazis in Europe want to make the World Cup a battleground between themselves and Muslims. They plan to attack fans from all Muslim countries participating. A member of AS Roma’s hooligan faction claimed:

“We are united. For the first time we are talking and planning together, with the English, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, everyone with the same objective. At the World Cup there will be a massacre.”

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Muslim leaders warn of abuse in madrassas

by Rohin at 2:39 pm    

Muslims could face a child abuse scandal on a par with the Catholic Church, a report has warned.

A group of Muslim leaders says the community is in denial about child abuse in religious schools, known as madrasas. The UK has about 700. [BBC reports]

About 100,000 students study at those 700 schools. Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the co-author of the report and chair of the Muslim Parliament of Britain, said that Muslims are in denial if they think physical and sexual abuse is not taking place. The group want madrassas to be regulated in the same way other schools are. Too often abuse is a taboo subject and victims are left with no one to turn to. Home tuition is also flourishing as parents have lost confidence in their children being safe at madrassas.

Anne Cryer weighed in with some meaningless nonsense:

“Are we saying that British Asian children are not entitled to the protection of the law? It is racist to differentiate between children and to fail to offer that protection.”

Shabina Begum loses jilbaab case

by Sunny at 2:13 pm    

The law lords today overturned a court ruling that teenager Shabina Begum’s human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing full Islamic dress at school.

Shabina, 17, won a landmark victory last March that Denbigh high school in Luton, Bedfordshire, had infringed her human rights after teachers would not let her wear a traditional jilbab covering her body completely.

Today’s judgment was warmly welcomed by headteachers, who feared the earlier ruling would make it impossible to enforce any school uniform policy. [Link]

Good! Although no doubt Kulvinder will trot out some libertarian argument… (boo, hiss!)
Update: You can read the full ruling here [hat tip Jay Singh in comments]

21st March, 2006

Scientist Speaks to Scientologists Stateside

by Rohin at 10:33 pm    

In my last post I promised an account of what happened when I was rude to some Scientologists, in light of Isaac Hayes leaving South Park as it had made fun of the religion. To give my posts some sort of coherence, I’ve decided to make a new one in order to avoid making any too long.

Following in the footsteps of two heroes, Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson, I set out to find some ‘only in America’ weirdness last month. I found plenty to gawk at whilst travelling through America’s heartland along Route 66 and across California. But hicksville, USA nor the insane world of Vegas have anything on Scientology when it comes to the weirdness stakes. First up was the Big Apple.

We were rather polite to the New York Scientologists (branch pictured above), probably as none of us had knowingly met one before. Oh you’re wondering about that time me and Katie Holmes- well, she hadn’t converted back then. I had heard much of Scientology was based on Hinduism and Buddhism and I went with an open mind. NYC was more of a recce. So when I got to the spiritual home of Scientology, Hollywood, I was prepared.

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Filed under: Culture,Humour,Religion

Cartoons! Religion! Again! Oh and scientology.

by Rohin at 7:31 pm    

Now now, don’t worry – nothing more about those cartoons. I’m sure some of you have realised I’m a bit of a cartoon and comic fan. I have been planning on a light-hearted post about the religious affiliations of superheroes for a while, so imagine my surprise when Isaac Hayes quit South Park a few days ago and today TIME ran a story about comics in Asia. Excellent.

Therefore, instead of a succinct and pithy post about superheroes and supervillains, I present to you a rambling and tenuously-linked confusion of a post. Yes that’s right, I’m back.

After the jump is pretty pic-heavy, owing to the subject of the post.

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Chinese blogger and filmmaker detained

by Rohin at 4:04 am    

Free Hao WuThe Beijing or Bust blog, maintained by Hao Wu, eerily remains stuck on February 22nd. For this was the day that Hao was detained by the Beijing division of China’s State Security Bureau.

Chinese bloggers sat on this news for several days scared that the same fate might await them if they said something they were not supposed to to make sure something was wrong before raising an alarm. Hao Wu was also North East Asia editor for a blog mentioned many times on PP, Global Voices Online, where he contributed under the name Tian Yi.

Ethan Zuckerman, also of GVO, has created a blog where you can learn more about Hao and find out what you can do. His blogging is probably not the reason for his detention, although it is not known for sure. Most think his filmmaking career is what angered the Chinese authorities.

Hao gave up a US-based job to move to Beijing in order to make the film after which his blog was named, Beijing or Bust. Some believe he has been detained so that film he has shot about China’s underground churches may be used to secure prosecutions.

Update: Mentioned on Comment is Free and Harry’s Place too.

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