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14th August, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pakistan

by Sunny at 6:52 pm    

On its 59th birthday, today, Haroon Moghul writes an essay to ask questions about what could have been. When will we know if the ‘Pakistan project’ has been successful?

Those of you who follow this blog know that I used to be a very staunch supporter of the Pakistan project, and a defender of Jinnah’s plan and the ideal of a Muslim homeland. You may also be reminded hereby of my allusions to the Sunni minority in Iraq, whose course to separatism may not, in the short-term, be inexplicable, yet in the long-term may turn out to be a very bad decision. Which leads me to this question:

Was Pakistan a bad decision? Was Pakistan a mistake?

I am certainly not saying Pakistan has not done any good, nor that Pakistan was categorically and exclusively a mistake. I’m just thinking out loud and wondering: In the long-run, would it have been better for Indian Muslims to have remained in India, albeit with some sort of significant autonomy, than it was for them to strike out, ill-prepared and poorly led, into independence, not once – 1947 – but twice – 1971?

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Filed under: South Asia

Good News From Australia

by Shariq at 1:37 pm    

John Howard’s efforts to introduce draconian legislation requiring all asylum claims to be processed offshore have been defeated. Interestingly, the bill was allegedly more to placate the Indonesian government than a result of Mr Howard’s own biases (although I’m sure they contributed).

For some facts and figures about migration to Australia and a very interesting discussion about Australians hopes and concerns over multiculturalism, see this post by Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett.

13th August, 2006

Let’s treat the plotters as common criminals

by Leon at 10:18 pm    

Excellent piece by Mathew Parris:

Some will see this as a good week to bury liberal scruples. Prepare yourself for the distinct possibility of a flight home by the Prime Minister, a recall of Parliament, one of those impassioned rallying speeches at which Tony Blair excels, and for renewed talk that “the rules of the game have changed”. Prepare yourself for a crude conflation of Israeli war aims with the security of the West, and of Hezbollah with al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgency. Prepare for a Reid-fest on the airwaves, and for renewed muttering about arrest without trial, house arrest and shifting the burden of evidence. “Join up the dots,” Mr Blair urged us last week. This weekend, dot-joiners will be on the rampage.

How sides seem to have been switched since the last century turned. Rebels and mutineers used to insist that there was a war on, and governments used to insist that there wasn’t. Hardliners took the view that people who blew things up were common criminals, to be dealt with case by case. Liberals argued that it was more useful to see them as idealists in a warped and misguided army.

Now it’s the other way round. Hardliners see a war between opposing forces. Liberals see a more fractured picture, a rebel cast of dangerous but messed-up people, idiots, nutters and psychopaths, some organised, some clever, others out of control: essentially a matter, however grave, for the police.

Some good points but the overall one about how this should be seen is pertinent and may even be the only way to stop this lunacy. I’ve long thought characterising these acts/people as ‘evil’ is pointless. It confuses the real issue of criminal activity as well as giving its supporters/adherents a greater sense of importance. Further to this it places a heavy political burden on police officers/security services that would rather just get on with their jobs than produce spectacular plot foiling dramatics for the TV cameras…

The language used to describe a current set of situations (and the actors behind) them is creating a higher sense of drama than is needed to solve this mess. Perhaps it’s time for calmer heads to prevail?

Filed under: The World, Middle East
12th August, 2006

Judges must hate Asians

by Sunny at 7:48 pm    

That can be the only explanation after you read of another idiotic judge who lets off an Asian crime perpetrator because of his culture. How does one stop this?

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Filed under: Culture, Race politics

It’s the weekend lemon curd thread!

by Katy at 4:39 pm    

This weekend Sunny and Leon will be fulfilling their pickly destiny by making lemon curd.

Well, technically lemon curd is not a pickle, it is a preserve, but the two are similar in the sense that you cook them and put them into sterilised jars whilst they are still hot and then they keep for a very long time and are very good to eat with bread or, if you are me, sneakily by the spoon out of the fridge. So it is close enough to being a pickle to be called a pickle. But please don’t tell Delia Smith that I said that because although she is a superb cook and her recipes never fail if you follow them, nonetheless she scares me in her television programmes with her sprayed-into-submission 50s housewife hair, toothy smile, blank dead eyes and staccato delivery.

Except when she is drunk at Norwich home matches, when she scares me with her slurred speech and foul language instead.

In the meantime, those of us who aren’t making lemon curd will be using the weekend lemon curd thread to report their cheery weekend activities, for example amusing anecdotes about the week that has gone and notification of any weekend plans that might be in the offing. If you have something political to say, say it elsewhere please. Thank you very much thank you thanks bye thanks.

Filed under: Current affairs

Letter by Muslim MPs and organisations

by Sunny at 1:43 pm    

The Guardian reports:

Leading UK Muslims have united to tell Tony Blair that his foreign policy in Iraq and on Israel offers “ammunition to extremists” and puts British lives “at increased risk”.

An open letter signed by three of the four Muslim MPs, three of the four peers, and 38 organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, was greeted with dismay in Downing Street. It has courted the MCB and several of the signatories, such as key Labour MPs Sadiq Khan (Tooting) and Shahid Malik (Dewsbury), whom it believes can shape Muslim opinion.

Now updated

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Filed under: Current affairs
11th August, 2006

On political blogging

by Sunny at 7:08 pm    

Taking a break from the usual articles about race and religion, my article for CIF this week asks why newspapers hate political bloggers. There are a few comparisons to the American media, where they built up Daily Kos in time for the Lamont/Lieberman election in the hope they could tear him down after. And they failed. Hah!

Filed under: Media

‘tea-towels on their heads’

by Al-Hack at 2:44 pm    

The conflict has sent this tendency into overdrive, with not just the usual Masochist Hacks For Mohammed such as Robert Fisk (beaten up by Islamists, says they were right to do it) and Yvonne Ridley (kidnapped by Islamists, then became one) getting their chadors in a twist about big swarthy men with tea-towels on their heads treating the West mean and keeping it - in their case at least - keen. [Haaretz]

Hey Burchill, joined the BNP yet? You must have because they’re quite good at using these ‘ragheads’ and ‘tea-towels’ slurs. Idiot. [via IW]

Filed under: Media

Hizb ut Tahrir’s different faces

by Sunny at 1:43 pm    

In my last comment is free article I fleetingly referred to New Civilisation magazine as a front for the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The group has a habit of setting up fronts constantly to try and gain legitimacy.

Late last year it was exposed how the group set up a front called ‘Stop Islamophobia’ in order to preach its message on campus. One supporter was caught on-record saying: “Stop Islamophobia is set up by us. But we don’t actually push it like that. The moment they link Hizb ut-Tahrir with Stop Islamophobia, they’ll bring the whole campaign down.” Doh!

This resurfaced recently when the Guardian’s (excellent) Middle East editor Brian Whitaker agreed to participate in a talk hosted by New Civilisation magazine. Fortunately he realised in time and pulled out.

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Filed under: Organisations, Muslim
10th August, 2006

BBC Panorama responds to our criticism

by Sunny at 5:56 pm    

The BBC’s John Ware, not happy with criticism from AIM magazine, Pickled Politics and the MCB (we didn’t go anywhere as far as them) on the recent Panorama programme Faith, Hate & Charity, has responded to us with some points rebutting accusations. We published the full statement on AIM. I’m quoting here the response to the points I made.

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Filed under: Media

Plot to blow up airlines

by Sunny at 1:30 pm    

As many have already pointed out…

A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said. It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.

Police are searching premises after 21 people were arrested. Home Secretary John Reid said they believed the “main players” were accounted for. High security is causing delays at all UK airports. [BBC Online]

News 24 is reporting that houses around Walthamstow and other parts of High Wycombe and East London were raided last night and this morning.
Updated with news and bloggers reactions

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Filed under: Current affairs
9th August, 2006

The new Britons

by Sunny at 9:59 pm    

Pakistan may be licking their wounds after losing the Test series to England yesterday, but the real winners will be two rising stars, Monty Panesar and Sajid Mahmood, who may form the cornerstone of England’s bowling attack if they develop their game nicely.

The Guardian said today: “By any standard this was a memorable day for the future of multiculturalism in modern Britain.” But this does not explain the extent of what is going on here.

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Filed under: Sports

Meanwhile in Sri Lanka…

by Sunny at 2:16 am    

A veteran political opponent of the Tamil Tigers was wounded yesterday and three people were killed when his vehicle was torn apart by a bomb in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

The bomb, the first in Colombo in nearly four months, coincided with the funerals of 17 local tsunami aid staff shot dead in north-eastern Sri Lanka at the weekend, and brought the death toll over the past fortnight to 440.

Yesterday’s remote controlled bomb marked a change in tempo in the fighting which, since it erupted last December, had been confined to the north and east, and raised fears that a tattered three-year-old ceasefire had finally given way to all-out war. [The Times]

I hate to be the constant harbringer of bad news and writing about one bombing after another but, as Raz pointed out earlier, let’s not lose track of the escalating violence in SL.

Filed under: South Asia, Sri Lanka

Understand what is at stake

by Sunny at 12:06 am    

I said recently that the problem with Tony Blair’s approach to world events is what looks like a limited understanding of religious and non/religious politics.

In this weekend’s Observer Henry Porter made a similar point quite succintly:

That is not the thinking of neocon policy makers, so it is well to remind Mr Blair what Henry Kissinger said to the World Affairs Council in 1999. ‘In America, there has been a tendency to divide foreign policy into two schools of thought. One that identifies foreign policy as a subdivision of psychiatry and another that treats it as a subdivision of theology. The psychiatrists think relations among nations are like relations among people and you bring peace through this strenuous exercise of goodwill. The theologians believe that all foreign policies are a struggle between good and evil and the thing to do is to destroy the wrongdoer once and for all, after which normalcy returns.’ Kissinger was psychiatrist; the Prime Minister and President Bush are theologians.

Exactly right.

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Filed under: Religion, Middle East
8th August, 2006

The left or the right?

by Sunny at 12:06 pm    

The left isn’t perfect, but it still looks more capable than the right of dealing with religious fanaticism.
My latest article for comment is free.

Filed under: Media
7th August, 2006

Sex, drugs and British Muslims

by Sunny at 10:37 pm    

It’s then that it hits me: This is so much bigger than Francis. In a culture where cheap and portable video technology lets everyone play at stardom, and where America’s voyeuristic appetite for reality television seems insatiable, teenagers, like the ones in this club, see cameras as validation. “Most guys want to have sex with me and maybe I could meet one new guy, but if I get filmed everyone could see me,” Bultema says. “If you do this, you might get noticed by somebody—to be an actress or a model.”

I ask her why she wants to get noticed. “You want people to say, ‘Hey, I saw you.’ Everybody wants to be famous in some way. Getting famous will get me anything I want. If I walk into somebody’s house and said, ‘Give me this,’ I could have it.”

Above the dance floor, the stage is full of girls who rotate, twist and shimmy their way up and down three strip poles. One of them is Jannel Szyszka, a petite 18-year-old who prances around the stage like a star. At her feet, a crowd of hundreds is gyrating to the pounding house music. Dozens of polo-shirted boys shout up to her, making requests like “shake your titties” and “get crunk” (meaning crazy-drunk).

So writes Clare Hoffman in a brilliant feature for the Los Angeles Times, published yesterday about Joe Francis, the guy behind the ‘Girls Gone Wild’ soft-porn franchise in America that has made him millions.

Let’s examine this article in context to the (quite annoying) documentary presented by Jon Snow today on Channel 4.

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Filed under: Media, Culture

George Galloway vs. Sky News

by Leon at 1:34 pm    

I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Mr Galloway but this exchange was amusing to say the least. Rarely has an interviewer been rebuked so effectively by an interviewee…

Update: It’s also on YouTube.

Why American TV sucks

by Al-Hack at 9:36 am    

Filed under: Media, Humour
6th August, 2006

What do Muslims want?

by Sunny at 9:50 pm    

It’s not a question. Tomorrow evening Jon Snow presents a Dispatches programme titled ‘What Muslims Want‘.

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow tackles one of the most difficult and controversial questions facing our country today: to what extent do Muslims in Britain pose a threat to this country and its values? There is a growing fear that the 1.6 million Muslims in Britain are rejecting the majority liberal, tolerant beliefs in this country for a radicalised version of Islam in which violence can be justified. Dispatches has conducted the most comprehensive and rigorous survey to date of Muslim opinion in Britain, with startling results.

The problem is, I’m not sure Jon Snow is really the right person to ask this question, given an article he’s written for today’s Sunday Times.

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Filed under: Media, Current affairs
5th August, 2006

It’s the real, non-political, non-scary weekend open thread

by Katy at 5:20 pm    

And now that you have all finished reeling from my first ever overtly political post, I bring you the weekend open thread, which frankly I now desperately need.

I don’t know how people can do that sort of posting on a daily basis. I have broken out in a light sweat, which obviously only throws my muscle definition and razor-sharp bone structure into strong relief. And you have to post links and things, which is hopelessly complicated, and then check that they all work, and all that sort of malarkey. So I am very glad to be back on the weekend open thread where I belong, and I hope that I will never have to leave it again, because there is no place like home.

So what’s everyone got planned for the weekend? And has anyone done anything amusing over the last week? Tell me tell me tell me. I am playing croquet tomorrow, which I am ridiculously excited about. In Alice in Wonderland they used flamingoes as mallets, which appeals to my sense of the bizarre gratefully. Although I intend to insist that my flamingo dons protective headgear first…

Filed under: Current affairs
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