31st October, 2006
According to the easily excitable Melanie Phillips, the BBC has gone from the Brazen Bias Corporation to the British Bigotry Corporation. “But this is much more than political bias. This is deep, culturally embedded, venomous bigotry. Yet to my knowledge there has been no inquest at the BBC, no expressions of concern by staff, no sign of life from the Governors. Astounding.”
And what have they done to attract her ire (this time)? It was an episode of Spooks don’t you know. Well at least she’s getting better than the SWP at spinning those acronyms!
30th October, 2006
A couple of months or so ago, there was a minor uproar surrounding a Sikh wedding ceremony in India where the bride was asked to walk ahead of the groom for two of the four laavan.
Now, it seems, the organisers have backtracked over the event. But should these out-of-touch religious conservatives be allowed to dictate how we conduct our weddings? Especially when their only excuse is it’s too similar to Hindu weddings?
In India some belated attempts are being made to deal more harshly with domestic violence. There are some very worrying stats here:
Every six hours, a young married woman is burned, beaten to death or driven to commit suicide, officials say. Overall, a crime against women is committed every three minutes in India, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
“We have been trying for long to protect women from domestic violence. In India alone, around 70% of women are victim of these violent acts in one or the other form,” junior minister for women and child development Renuka Chowdhury told the Press Trust of India news agency.
A survey by the International Institute for Population Studies showed 56% of Indian women believed wife beating to be justified in certain circumstances. The reasons varied from going out without the husband’s permission to cooking a bad meal. Domestic abuse is often denied by the victims themselves.
The real problem here is of course that women themselves don’t stand up against the domestic abuse or are pressured by ‘the community’ to keep quiet.
I was at a debate recently which was primarily attended by first-generation older British Asians. Eventually the issue of culture came up and many lamented that Asian culture was “being lost” or values were “deteriorating” amongst the youth. Rubbish, I said.
While it is true that young British Asians are adopting a more individualistic culture as opposed to family-led traditions, in many ways this can be quite liberating; epecially when it comes to exposing issues such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, dowry demands, sexism and more. In theory a more traditional and family-led culture sounds great; but in practice we see many social ills being swept underneath the carpet in favour of preserving so-called izzat. Where is the nobility in that?
This has been around for some time and itâ€™s a real favourite of mine. Itâ€™s a conversation with God. Itâ€™s not real (or could be depending on your point of view) but itâ€™s always food for thought and a good conversation starter. Itâ€™s a touch long but worth a read, enjoy.
Tonight at 8pm on Channel 4, Women Only Jihad:
“Women in mosques will change the nature of Muslim community in Britain,” a woman tells the camera. Is there a battle of sexes going on within British Islam?
There are around 1600 mosques in Britain. Well over a half do not allow women access to worship and hardly any allow women a say on how they are managed and run.
In a special film for Channel 4, to be broadcast later today, journalist Tazeen Ahmad follows a group of young Muslim women who are waging a determined campaign to force these mosques to open up.
“A mosque would go beyond a place of worship and transform into something close to a thriving community centre, where men and women can access all kinds of services – counselling, education, employment advice – and that’s just for starters. But based on the resistance I witnessed, which was at times pretty shocking, it still seems as if there’s a long road ahead til we get to that point.”
Jihad, by the way, has many meanings. Opinions on the programme welcome.
29th October, 2006
A few weeks ago or so a colleague remarked that the Right had won most of the big arguments over the last few decades or so over the Left. Hah, I scoffed, Capitalism may have prevailed over Communism but on social issues it is the Left that continues to reign supreme.
Consider climate change. Long ignored by those on the right of the political spectrum this issue has finally, and I would would say it is bloody long overdue, become a mainstream issue.
On BBC News today:
Climate change could cut global growth by a fifth, costing up to Â£3.68 trillion in total, unless drastic action is taken, a review is to warn.
But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, economist Sir Nicholas Stern says. Without action up to 200 million people could become refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood, he adds.
The dismal science is not really known for accurate predictions of course but the fact that major economists are weighing in this debate should be welcomed. Providing they agree with environmental campaigners (me, biased?). But identifying the problem is only half the issue; now we have to figure out a course of action. And given this government’s terrible record at managing anything, this is a serious consideration.
While it is impossible to say anything meaningful on this subject in a quick blog, I would make a quick point that this is an issue where I definitely want much more government intervention in the form of industry regulation, subsidy of pro-environmentally household applications and investment in renewable energy sources. Market intervention in the form of carbon trading and carbon off-setting has its place but I fear time is running out too fast.
Update: The excellent George Monbiot has ten tips to save the planet.
28th October, 2006
1) A few readers have emailed in with this brutal murder of an Afghan-American mother shot point-blank in the head. The local community see it as a hate crime and it certainly looks that way.
2) Today’s Observer Sport has an article on Britain’s “hidden (mixed) race” and their prominence in sport. “Six out of seven of the players described as ‘black’ were mixed race, but this was not mentioned on TV or in the written press. Mixed-race people account for about 1.4 per cent of Britain’s population, so for mixed-race footballers to make up 26 per cent of England’s elite is a huge achievement. ”
Update: A mother gives birth to black and white twins! [via Ethnicloft] Razib has the science.
3) Flag burning could become a crime. Wtf, one initially thinks. But I noticed that Tarique Ghaffur has proposed this and then it makes sense. He wants to clamp down on the media-friendly activities of the extremists and recently declared he wanted to take a hardline against Al-Ghurabaa because they always grab the limelight. An attack on civil liberties maybe, but I think Chief Supt Ghaffur has noble intentions in mind. I’d go with it, as long as the legislation is extended every year. [hat tip: Nyrone]
4) The Observer has a feature on deaths in Italy, including the honour killing of young Hina Saleem. I’m glad the whole family has been hauled into court.
It also has an interview with Monty Panesar.
27th October, 2006
*wiggly fingers for added spookiness*
Mock me at your peril, Picklers, for tonight is the scaaaaaaaaaariest night of the year!
*more wiggly fingers*
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Oh but Katy Halloween is the 31st October and today is the 28th October so actually it is Tuesday what is the scariest night of the year and tonight isn’t very scary at all so please put your wiggly fingers away for now, okay? Okay. Thanks. Thanks – no, that’s a wiggly finger – that’s better – good girl. Good. Okay? Good. Thanks.”
Well, you are half right. In fact, technically you are entirely right. But I am going to a Halloween party tonight, and I am going in fancy dress. And that is scary on many, many levels. Whereas on Tuesday I will probably not do anything particularly Halloweeny at all. So as far as I am concerned tonight is in fact the scariest night of the year, and I declare a special early Halloween celebration here on Pickled Politics to mark it.
Share with me your dastardly secrets and dark, doomy weekend plans, Picklers, and make sure you do wiggly fingers with it. They add atmosphere.
The sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed a curious new addition to the blog roll. Point your eyeballs in the direction of the â€˜Familyâ€™ section on the blogroll and behold; Pickled Politics has a Google Calendar!
Not quite the dramatic addition perhaps but we now have a space to log all manner of upcoming appointments, events, or generally items of interest. As you can see itâ€™s pretty bare right now so we need youâ€™re help. All suggestions are welcome for what to fill it with, not limited to events as already mentioned, anything you think Pickled Politics writers and readers would be interested in e.g. interesting TV progs, public events, cultural events/celebrations or event dates to remember (like the alleged BNP chemical plot trial in the New Year). Leave suggestions in the comments; alternatively email us at the usual address.
26th October, 2006
Well that took all of two weeks. Education
Health secretary Alan Johnson has done a complete u-turn on plans to force new faith schools to accept up to 25% of people from other religions. Money quote:
Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Sarah Teather said the whole affair had been a “dog’s dinner”. “The government first of all announce there were going to be quotas and then they found out that in fact there was a huge backlash to that and they had to row back from it.
“They don’t seem to have been clear about what the problem is,” she said, adding: “If we’re going to deal with this kind of problem you need to build consensus, you need to take a long term view.”
Expecting a long term view from Labour on community cohesion…you cannot be serious Sarah? I expect the letter did it. Another example of how this government has become fond of announcing policies before thinking them through.
My view on faith schools is that taxpayers should not be funding any of them and we need a complete separation between the goverment and religion. They should be private, set their own admissions policies and rules and have curriculums regulated by Ofsted. At least one school is doing it voluntarily.
After ticking off Muslim parents for not controlling their kids and getting into silly things like terrorism, commander-in-chief John Reid has now turned his sights to the internet.
Ministers from the six largest European Union countries have agreed to work together to make the internet a “more hostile” place for terrorists.
Home Secretary John Reid said they would seek to crack down on people using the web to share information on explosives or spread propaganda.
He said the interior ministers wanted to use the internet and other media to target young audiences with messages from “secular Muslim” role models, rather than those believing in radical ideologies.
The idea is so proposterous it beggars belief. Maybe Reid should explain: (a) How exactly will he control the internet? Will British jurisdiction extend to countries such as Indonesia for example? (b) Which intelligent Muslim will want to work with this charging bull? It don’t matter how secular or liberal one is – going near New Labour acts like a plague for your credibility. (c) What is “propaganda” defined as? Answers on the back of a postcard to Belmarsh please.
25th October, 2006
Over on AIM magazine, I published two quite important and interesting articles last week, I felt.
1) In Trying to justify ‘honour killings’, Sabina Ahmed is not happy that after years of getting ‘honour killings’ on the agenda and recognised for what they are: premediated murders, there is now an attempt by an academic to play them down again.
Having looked into this a bit further since, I’m even more convinced that Professor Roger Ballard’s thesis rests on the assumption that oppressive practices (as how we progressives would see them) within Asian cultures should not be challenged because they should first be understood. That is of course not how we work.
2) The writer Gurpreet Bhatti, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the play Behzti when it was rocked by protests in 2004, delivered a speech at the Cambridge University Union last week.
It was in opposition to the motion: ‘This House believes that religion is the opium of the masses’. She discussed reaction to her play, her own beliefs in Sikhism, and the importance of understanding religion properly. Her team won the debate. Here is the speech. Well worth reading.
24th October, 2006
A Danish court ruled Tuesday that it was illegal for a Sikh man to carry the “kirpan” ceremonial knife that he traditionally gets at baptism. The Eastern High Court said that although Indian national Ripudaman Singh wore the blunt knife as a “religious symbol,” it was still a violation of a ban on bearing weapons, including knives, except for carrying out a trade, hunting, fishing or other recreational activities.
The ceremonial knife that Ripudaman Singh carried concealed under his clothes was detected two years ago when he visited the US embassy in Copenhagen and presented it at a security check.
Uh oh. This is going to pose a big problem for Sikhs, since it’s central for baptised (or Amritdhari) Sikhs to carry the knife/sword as part of the 5 Ks. I hope other European nations don’t follow suit.
[hat tip: Uncleji]
I’m posting here in full a piece by Evening Standard columnist Andrew Gilligan on Trevor Phillips’ comments over the weekend. I’m doing this because it captures what I (and many others) think of his scare-mongering soundbites. And because it’s not available online.
Despite the fact that two former BNP members were caught with a “record haul” of chemical explosives, some rocket launchers and nuclear/biological suits, most of the media is curiously still treating it as a non-story.
So far: 24 Dash, BBC, ITV, Channel 4. But they are all only a few lines long, and seemed to be derived from a wire-story sent out by PA this morning.
I’ve also just been told there are severe media restrictions placed on the coverage of this story.
23rd October, 2006
Remember this story in the Sun which featured outraged journalists telling us how Muslims yobs wrecked a house “to stop four brave soldiers” moving in after returning from Afghanistan? They even got Tory MP Philip Davies to say of the attack: “This is outrageous. If thereâ€™s anybody who should f*** off itâ€™s the Muslims who are doing this kind of thing. Police should pull out the stops to track down these vile thugs.” Very nice of him…
Well it turns out the story was rubbish. A pile of crap. Made up. Concocted out of thin air. Ministry of Truth points to this article quoted Thames Valley police as saying:
Inquiries carried out to date conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that this was racially motivated. The MoD has also informed me that Combermere Barracks did not receive any threatening calls from Muslims or people claiming to be Muslims in relation to this incident.
The Sun article quotes premiere rent-a-gob Sir Andrew Green, director of Migrationwatch UK, as saying: “Incidents like this are absolutely inexcusable and seriously undermine efforts by all sides to achieve integration. Those who choose to live in this country owe a loyalty to Britain.”
He should have said: “Rubbish stories like this are absolutely inexcusable and seriously undermine efforts by all sides to achieve integration. Those who choose to write articles for a living owe a loyalty to good journalism.”
Complain to the PCC and demand a retraction. And put Unity on your blogroll dammit.
Update: Clive Davis and Obsolete also covered this recently.
This is excellent!
You are probably familiar with the â€œCows and Governmentsâ€ piece, where all kinds of governments are compared to one another by using two cows for comparison. Well, this is my take off on this aiming at the Web 2.0 sites and the Internet sphere.
Google: You have two cows. One is sponsored and the other is irrelevant.
Life Hacker: You have two cows. You can turn the first cow to a car with this download and the second one is an open source cow.
digg: You have two cows. We have millions that are willing to discuss it.
YouTube: You have two cows. So what, we have 1.65 billion dollars.
A big thank you to Rachel From North London for reminding us that today is the court date for the two accused BNP members. I await the facts and outcome of this case with interest.
Update: The case has been adjourned, a date set for next year, both men will remain in custody until then: source (Hat Tip: Lancaster UAF in the comments)
Sunny adds: A journalist called me up today and said that one of the main reasons this story did not get much coverage is because Lancashire Police simply sat on it without telling many people, for no particular reason.
Further to that, and more curiously, I was told they also warned journalists trying to cover the story that there were “heavy media restrictions”, although enquiries with the Home Office later revealed no such restrictions.
As an aside, this is also wierd. The BNP has written an article sounding miffed that New Labour is trying to outdo their own party in the Muslim-hysteria stakes. No, really. They say, “media pundits are reveling in their new found liberty to take a daily dig at Muslims.” Erm… I don’t quite know what is going on here. They add:
Itâ€™s a dangerous game the Labour establishment has chosen to play, one which could lead to serious disorder and bloodshed. Do Blair and Straw really want to see a civil war on the streets of West Yorkshire, Birmingham and Oldham?
Benedict White points out that on this they are also in agreement with Trevor Phillips. And apparently banning the veil is a “cheap snipe”.
But they also add that the “…still powerful Zionist lobby is in part stirring up war propaganda as a prelude to an inevitable attack on Iran.” Well at least they haven’t changed their spots completely.
That there was a third YouTube co-founder? According to Bengali FOB, his name is Jawed Karim and he’s Bengali! Another reason why we love the website. Jawed was recently interviewed by the New York Times and CNBC, and posted the first ever video on YouTube. It’s been a good month for Bengalis.
22nd October, 2006
Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim readers! This was the cutest picture I found on Flickr (by Vida). Heh.
Asian women earn 28% less than white, says the Independent on Sunday. Thankfully they quoted go-getting women who wanted to break that glass ceiling instead of serial complainers such as Karen Chouhan of the 1990 Trust. The obvious point is still made – that dealing with “integration” isn’t a one way street.
[hat tip: Nyrone]
In other news, Swedenâ€™s new integration and equality minister, an African-Swedish lady called Nyamko Sabuni, has “caused a storm” by arguing that: 1) All girls should be checked for evidence of female circumcision; 2) Arranged marriages should be criminalised; 3) Religious schools should receive no state funding; and 4) immigrants should learn Swedish and find a job.
What’s the storm about exactly? All of them, including (2) where I suspect the Times has conflated forced marriages with arranged marriages, sound sensible to me. Ah, but the hard-left is not happy. God forbid these SWP types start standing up for womens rights or for immigrants to play an equal role within their country.
By the way, I’ll be on a panel discussing the state of race relations tomorrow (Monday) morning on Asian Network at 10am.
21st October, 2006
In today’s Sunday Times the CRE chief Trevor Phillips has written an article. It’s mostly a sensible article (surprisingly) without much of the scare-mongering language he usually uses to grab the headlines. In my mind the most significant (and agreeable) is this bit:
Strawâ€™s comments could have liberated us to say that sometimes we donâ€™t like the way others behave, without turning it into an accusation about their faith or race. The so-called Muslim leaders who initially attacked Straw were wrong. They were overly defensive and need to accept that in a diverse society we should be free to make polite requests of this kind.
Then something went wrong. This important but fragile piece of ground that needed a gentle, nuanced discussion about how we talk to each other with respect in a diverse society turned into what the political folk call an air war, fought on TV studio couches and radio phone-ins across the land.
On one side of the trenches we have those who want a fully fledged auto-da-fÃ© against British Muslims, in which anything any Muslim does or says must be condemned as a signal of their wilful alienation and separation…
As I indicated in my recent comment is free article, I would agree with that. The most interesting thing is this. Phillips ends with a quote: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, Said no more water, but the fire next time.” Whatever. But this leads The Times to declare that “Race boss warns of â€˜fireâ€™ on streets.” That is possibly the most idiotic extrapolation I’ve read.
Happy Diwali everyone! Today Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists world over are celebrating the festival of lights, the Indian answer to Christmas.
Even though I am a self-described agnostic Hindu, Diwali remains one of the few observances of my faith that I keep. Being in Jaipur at Diwali for first time in many years, Iâ€™m having an authentic festive experience with my paternal folks. None of those namby-pamby rain soaked dull English Diwalis this time!
Despite the fact that I got up at 4 am today, 16 hours later Iâ€™m still finding energy
to do my bit to add to air and sound pollution to continue on with the celebrations. Given that Iâ€™m being treated as some exotic specimen by the family (and hot girls in the neighbourhood , Iâ€™m having the time of my life. Nevertheless I did have to endure all the comments from Chachijis and neighbourhood Auntiejis about my weight (or the lack of it!). My gran seems to have taken their comments to the heart, she has been over-indulging me on sweets eversince!
Since I am the eldest grandson, Iâ€™m currently surpervising an army of lilâ€™ Singhs and an assortment of Bhattis,Solankis and a lone Varich with their firecrackers. Well rather I was, until one of the brats lit one of those annoyingly noisy jute-rope â€˜atom bombsâ€™ under me whilst i was working up my charm on one fine young lady. The smug lilâ€™ pest is about to learn a lesson or two in humility. Do drop by and tell us what you are doing this Diwali weekend, while I plan my revenge.
P.S Dont worry guys, Weekend Open threads very much remain an exclusive Katy-domain. Normal Weekend Threads will resume next week.
P.P.S. As soon as we find a picture of a beautiful Indian woman celebrating Diwali we’ll use it. Picture courtesy of NehaVish.
20th October, 2006
In today’s Daily Mail Peter Oborne has written a very interesting article that does well to capture the events of the past few weeks and related issues. Yes I know, it’s the Daily Mail. But I find the analysis quite compelling and worth examining. After all it is the pulse of Middle England.
I’ve highlighted the main points in red. My brief comments are below them.
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It was a year ago that riots broke out in the Lozells area of Birmingham between black and Asian gangs. This was the thread on PP that covered the tensions before they sparked into something bigger, and led to us being covered in the Observer and Independent on Sunday.
The BBC reports that crime in the area has fallen significantly since then. Mostly as a result of handing out sentences to fools such as these.