30th September, 2006

Africans in India

by Sunny at 8:36 pm    

One hardly hears the hyphenated identity African-Indians, but the BBC website has this picture gallery with some interesting tidbits. [hat tip Mirax]

India

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Filed under: Culture,India
29th September, 2006

It’s the official end-of-blogging-sabbatical weekend thread!

by Katy at 11:37 pm    

Thank you, thank you… it’s great to be back. (more…)

Filed under: Current affairs

Why is a Hindu temple like a Soho phonebox?

by Sunny at 3:24 pm    

I’m not asking it, but an irate PP reader emails in pointing to this article in last week’s Times newspaper asking that silly question. Is there a better example of modern religious Orientalism? – ‘Ha ha, these Hindoooos with their pornographic temples are so funny’. There is just too much nonsense in that article to take apart.

However, our reader asks: “Are people going too far in the desperate attempt to test their rights for freedom of speech?” – Well, no. Going too far would be to incite violence or hatred against Hindus, this article does neither. So you can complain to the Times but the writer should have the right to their freedom of (uninformed) speech.

This ties in with something else. Some people are complaining against London’s Blag club using idols of Ganesh inside as decoration. [Hat tip: Rakhee]
As ever I think it’s important to understand the issues here.

1) People have the right to be offended.
2) They have the right to protest (peacefully), lobby or boycott the club in order to show their displeasure.
3) But just because you are offended does not give you the right to dictate how others should behave towards you.
4) Saying the other person should change their behaviour out of respect is appealing to their conscience. But if they don’t want to that is their democratic right. The point about freedom of expression in religion or politics is that it applies across the board and to everyone – not just those think they are in the right.
5) Hinduism is a lot more tolerant than is given credit for, even by many Hindus. There have been plenty of movements that rejected idols or embraced a completely non-ritualistic expression of the Vedas. People need to stop fantasising about the Al-Ghuaraaba crew when organising protests.

Filed under: Civil liberties

Never enough blogs

by Sunny at 1:34 pm    

You may have noticed from our ‘Diaries’ section linked on the right that I too have started my personal blog at sunny.pickledpolitics.com. Occasional contributor Vikrant also has his personal blog here now at amey.pickledpolitics.com, as do Sonia and Sid from before. My aim is to bring more progressive opinion and content under the PP umbrella here without overloading the main blog with too much stuff.

So feel free to keep checking out our diaries regularly. Regular commenters interested in having their own diary on here are also welcome to get in touch.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Bush and Mush

by Shariq at 1:09 am    

“The new Pakistani general, he’s just been elected, not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that’s good news for the subcontinent”

We have come a long way since then.

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28th September, 2006

Iraqis want US forces to leave

by Sunny at 10:04 am    

A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers. [Washington Post]

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Filed under: Middle East

The biggest issue for our generation

by Sunny at 1:59 am    

Over a year ago I asked – who killed Navjeet Sidhu? A year after she committed suicide by throwing herself and her two kids underneath a train in Southall, a court is holding an inquest to find the same [via SM].

Navjeet’s death was so traumatic that six months later her mother committed suicide at the same spot.

Notes from the inquest make depresssing but unsurprising reading:

She suffered from depression, which began when she gave birth to a daughter rather than a son. Her condition became worse after her husband, Manjit, who left her to return to his native India, said that he would come back home only if he did not have to do any household chores. The court was told how Mr Sidhu, who arrived six minutes after the incident at Southall station, walked past the bodies of his wife and five-year-old daughter, Simran, to pick up the body of his 23-month-old son, Aman Raj, and take him to hospital.

British Asian women are three more times than average to commit suicide. It is clear what is needed here – a grassroots campaign to challenge this all-pervasive and sickening sexism that claims the lives of women every year. But there seems to be paralysis on ground level and with politicians; how exactly is change brought about? Or is a matter of waiting for the older generation village-mentality people to die out? The politicians can’t even bring themselves to bring about tougher legislation against forced marriages.

Taking a campaign to places of religious worship could help but the management, while stating that the religious texts call for sex equality, want to avoid the issue. They would rather talk about injustices in far-off lands than women dying under their noses.

I’ve come to the conclusion that educating the men is a worthless idea. You cannot teach old dogs new tricks. The only way forward would be to find ways to empower women to find help and support when they are faced with such family hostility. Thoughts? Opinions?

Filed under: Culture,Sex equality
27th September, 2006

Community censorship plagues the house of Islam

by Leon at 4:02 pm    

Bashir Goth writes:

“Freedom of the press in the Muslim world cannot be separated from freedom of expression in general. Journalists, due to their conspicuous public role, risk their lives everyday. They have been targeted and killed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. The Muslim world is not a friendly place for freedom of speech at all.”

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Stating the obvious

by Sunny at 4:52 am    

George Bush yesterday suffered a blow to his argument that the removal of Saddam Hussein had made Americans safer after he ordered the release of an intelligence report warning the war in Iraq had become a “cause celebre for jihadists”.

“The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world. If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.”

The report, reflecting a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, acknowledged some US success in disrupting al-Qaida. But it said these gains were outweighed by other factors, fuelling al-Qaida’s spread: anger at corrupt Muslim regimes, anti-US sentiment, and a decentralised leadership that made it harder to penetrate. [The Guardian]

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Filed under: Middle East
26th September, 2006

The campaign with a hole

by Rohin at 11:11 pm    

India’s polio rates have soared and most new cases are Muslims.

This picture is part of a set documenting the campaign to rid the world of polio, taken by my favourite photographer, Sebastiao Salgado. India is one of the six countries deemed ‘at risk’, along with Pakistan, Somalia, the DR of Congo, Nigeria and Sudan.
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Gordon Brown needs to embrace blogs

by Sunny at 2:09 pm    

It is near certain Brown will be the Prime Minister by next year. (I do not have a problem with this). Almost immediately his eyes will be on the General Election in 2009/10 because, given he has waited a decade for the top prize, he will want it for longer.

The real problem for Brown will be if the electorate view that nothing changed with him in charge. They are screaming for change from Tony Blair and a Labour clone will quickly be dumped for David Cameron. He should know this so he has to be radical. Or to put it more crudely he will have to find his balls.

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Filed under: Party politics

Are quotas the only way?

by Sunny at 1:42 am    

The commentators from Blink seem to think so:

Deputy chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, Bevan Powell, has called for a change in the law whereby quota systems for black and ethnic minority communities can be installed to govern the intake of new officers.

Mr Powell was speaking after Gloucestershire Police had to pay £2,500 to one applicant, Matt Powell, after a tribunal heard that 108 potential recruits had been rejected because they were white and male. The MBPA official said that the Government had to look at attainability of the targets currently in place.

I am generally against the idea of quotas because:
1) They create more resentment and can potentially lead to talentless people being brought in.
2) Give the impression that employees from minority groups are there only because of quotas.
3) Should not exist in a society where the potential for achievement, for the vast majority, is roughly the same.
4) Is illiberal, statist and yada yada.

I am however for quotas in certain situations such as in India where they exist for people from lower castes and very disadvantaged backgrounds. This reflects an understanding there is very little equality of opportunity there.

The problem is the police force, especially in London, is woefully under-representative of the community it polices and continues to remain as such. How might this problem be addressed without using quotas?

Filed under: Race politics
25th September, 2006

Thoughts and generalisations on India

by Sunny at 4:51 am    

The title post is, er, self-explanatory.

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Filed under: Current affairs
22nd September, 2006

Ban blacking up

by Sunny at 9:33 pm    

I agree with Hannah Pool and Michelle Henery – the Independent’s front page yesterday featuring a blacked-up Kate Moss was an absolute travesty.

Could they not find a black model to represent Africa?

A particularly typical example of liberal guilt “we-feel-sorry-for-you” racism. You see they would have liked to to put a black model on the front but she just would not have sold as many copies. So they used a druggie.

It would have been better for the Indy to not even bother.

Filed under: Race politics

The death of debate

by Sunny at 5:51 pm    

The ‘death of debate’ is a term that Katy coined for me when we were discussing how bad current affairs coverage in the media was getting. The article was planned anyway, but spurred on when the BBC Chairman Michael Grade wrote an article yesterday laying out why the BBC needed to remain impartial.

Forget impartiality (OK, not literally), my problem is more than the Beeb has become obsessed with impartiality and entertainment, and in the process killing any meaningful and informative analysis in their current affairs coverage.
[cross posted on comment is free]

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Filed under: Current affairs,Media

Sajini’s Weekend Open Thread

by SajiniW at 11:44 am    

I’m working, all week long,
Dream the days away,
I wanna… sing my song
so let the music play.

I have to get my fix, and fly tonight
and when the clock strikes 6, on Fri-day Night..

I’m gonna blow it all away…

Wise words from Michael Grey of ‘Weekend’ fame. Empathy is all good and well, but exactly how many of you are feeling as exhilarated as I am? Unlike the good Ms Newton (the absence of whom will be sorely missed by the close of of my inane dribble), I happen to be perkier than usual, not due to reasons of intimacy and Inland Revenue, I hasten to add.

I, dear readers, am going to lands trodden by many a medical student in the midsts of time. During my hallowed holiday elective period, I shall be gracing the citizens of Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand with my presence. If any of you are about, I’d be delighted to meet you.

Anyway, onwards and upwards to better things. Here’s to hoping Richard Hammond, Alan Johnson & Gordon Brown recover from the testing times of the week just gone.

Hope y’all have a time as great as mine.
Tchuss!

Filed under: Current affairs

Race conviction without victim

by Sunny at 11:15 am    

This is hilarious.

Robert McGlynn, of Llansamlet, Swansea, was fined by Swansea magistrates for racially aggravated disorderly conduct after abusing an Asian woman. The woman was never traced but witness Lydia Rees reported the incident.

McGlynn, 40, was convicted after the only witness to the incident, Lydia Rees saw him shouting abuse at a traditionally-clothed Asian woman in the Hafod area of Swansea on 13 June this year.

Mrs Rees, 43, told magistrates she was shocked to hear him shout “Sieg Heil” and other abuse at the woman through his open car window.

Well done to Lydia Rees for reporting it. [Hat tip: Bevan]

Filed under: Race politics,The BNP
21st September, 2006

With friends like these…

by Sunny at 10:23 pm    

Human Rights Watch has just published a report on the situation in Azad Kashmir (the part of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan) following the earthquake last year. The report is very critical on two fronts: the government’s policy following the earthquake and its persecution of pro-independence Kashmiris.

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Branson makes $3bn climate pledge

by Leon at 4:47 pm    

The Virgin boss said he would give all profits from his travel firms, such as airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, over the next 10 years.

One of the UK’s best known entrepreneurs, he made the announcement at a news conference in New York.

Worth an estimated £3bn, Sir Richard started his career in the record industry before moving into everything from mobile phones to credit cards.

“We are very pleased today to be making a commitment to invest 100% of all future proceeds to the Virgin Group from our transportation interest, both our trains and airline businesses, into tackling global warming,” he said. [Via BBC News]

Is this is just a cynical ploy to get more people on Virgin planes/trains because this’ll make them look ‘greener’?

Filed under: Environmentalism

Buddhism USA’s 4th largest religion

by Al-Hack at 12:05 pm    

Buddhism is growing apace in the United States, and an identifiably American Buddhism is emerging. Teaching centers and sanghas (communities of people who practice together) are spreading here as American-born leaders reframe ancient principles in contemporary Western terms.

Though the religion born in India has been in the US since the 19th century, the number of adherents rose by 170 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the American Religious Identity Survey. An ARIS estimate puts the total in 2004 at 1.5 million, while others have estimated twice that. “The 1.5 million is a low reasonable number,” says Richard Seager, author of “Buddhism in America.”

“People feel that Buddhist figures like the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh of Vietnam are contributing something, not trying to convert people,” says Lama Surya Das, a highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition. “They are not building big temples, but offering wisdom and ways of reconciliation and peacemaking, which are so much needed.” [CS Monitor]

Filed under: Religion

Where’s the freedom (of speech)?

by Al-Hack at 11:34 am    

A satirical cartoon about Hitler, where he sits on the toilet complaining about Churchill, is causing controversy in Germany.

Illustrator Walter Moers is famous for his comic books depicting the dictator as a frustrated little man who throws fits every time the Jews are mentioned. But with the release of the short film “Der Bonker”, Germans seem to feel he has gone too far.

Despite thousands of Moers fans making the clip one of this week’s top internet downloads, many prominent German Jews have complained at the comic portryal of the mass-murdering dictator. Jewish author Ralph Giordano, one of those speaking out against Moers’ film, said: “You cannot treat the father of the Holocaust in this way.” [Guardian]

Yes you can.

Liberal Democrats look like they’re losing their spine for free speech too. Iain Dale says:

I’ve never understood why people take Jenny Tonge seriously. Even most LibDems share my view of her. Yesterday she was at it again at a fringe meeting…

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party”

In January 2004 Tonge was was sacked as a front bench Liberal Democrat spokesperson after expressing support for Palestinian suicide bombers. Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and BICOM are nbow calling for her to be sacked from the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party (she’s now a Peer).

Tonge’s views veer into “Jews control the world” territory, traditionally used by anti-semites as an excuse for persecution. Or used by MPAC if you’re a paranoid mofo. But does that mean she should be sacked? Don’t think so.

20th September, 2006

Pizza HuT’s Denmark operations

by Sunny at 1:35 pm    

A court in Denmark jailed a radical Islamic party member for three months on Thursday for inciting young Muslims to kill members of the country’s government and Jews, court sources said.

A Copenhagen court handed the sentence to Fadi Abdullatif, spokesman of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir party (Islamic Liberation Party). He was convicted last year for giving out leaflets which urged Muslims to fight in Iraq and told them: “exterminate your rulers if they stand in your way”. [at EJP, via Harry's Place]

Incitement to murder? Doesn’t that go against Hizb ut-Tahrir’s apparent dedication to peace, non-violence and understanding? As Public Enemy once said – don’t believe the hype.

Filed under: EDL

An end to political parties?

by Leon at 11:36 am    

Dizzy picks up on a piece by Danny Finkelstein in The Times today about Clare Short’s desired hung parliament. Danny makes a good point regarding the contradictory world of politicians; represent your electors versus toeing the party line.

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18th September, 2006

What were the real reasons for the Popes ‘insult’?

by Leon at 1:03 pm    

Has the whole world gone mad? So it would seem from the latest round of outrage over the Pope’s ill judged remarks…

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16th September, 2006

Personality test results

by Kismet hardy at 10:47 pm    

It’s the porn film you have all been looking forward to… or not. Just read it dammit!

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Filed under: Humour
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