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  • 19th August, 2007

    A Veil Of Secrecy?

    by Clairwil at 4:27 pm    

    Todays Herald carries an story about the founding of a new charity aiming to tackle what it regards as a culture of shame and secrecy surrounding abuse in the Asian and wider BME communities.

    It’s founder businessman Ali Khan was inspired to act after attending a meeting at a Glasgow mosque regarding a paedophile assault that was alleged to have taken place on the premises. He was angered and horrified that it was suggested that the alleged abuser be allowed to remain in the mosque. The police were not involved and the matter was hushed up.

    Khan and his charity ‘Roshni’ state than many within minority ethnic communities regard the police, social services and children’s charities as ‘white’ organisations and so rarely seek advice or report abuse to them. Equally worrying is the possibility raised by the charity that many religious and ethnic groups are not making those who work on their behalf with children subject to Disclosure checks.

    The article details two further incidents of abuse at the Central Mosque in Glasgow. Thankfully on this occasion the mother of one of the boys called the police and the abuser was convicted. For those with even a passing knowledge of the abuse scandals surrounding the Catholic Church the similarities are startling. In each case the ‘good name’ of the organisation as a whole is treated with more care the the welfare of the individual.

    Roshni believe that this is linked to notions of shame and honour prevalent within the Asian and other minority communities. Khan argues that ‘…denouncing one family member is like denouncing the whole family’. Indeed research carried out by the charity indicates that whilst 85% of Muslims surveyed think abuse is a problem within their community around 75% would not report it to the police. The figures for the other groups surveyed namely Black, Sikh, Hindu and Refugee make similarly depressing reading.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly forced marriage raises it’s ugly head. Roshni’s director Ferzanna Riley was herself subject to physical abuse throughout her childhood which reached it’s peak as her parents lured her and her younger sister to Pakistan under false pretences with a view to forcing them into marriage. The verbal and physical abuse suffered by the two girls was horrendous and it is down to the intervention of a male cousin that this did not become an honour killing. The girls ‘crime’ was to attend university which in their parents eyes made them little better than prostitutes. The last thing Ferzanna recalls before losing consciousness is her mother exhorting her father to finish her off. Despite her current work and having written a book on her experiences Ferzanna states ‘even as an adult, I wouldn’t have dreamed of reporting him because of the element of shame.’

    I should stress that Roshni are not solely concerned with the Muslim community or religious groups. Whilst their initial campaign will focus on what they call ‘the big three’ Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs they intend to expand their operations to cover all BME groups.

    How effective Roshni’s work will be remains to be seen, their research indicates that they have something of an uphill struggle facing them. However that groups are being set up to challenge the culture of secrecy and shame is in itself encouraging. The charity’s founder Ali Khan seems to have done well in life which should mean the charity is well resourced and according to the article he is regarded as a ‘senior Muslim figure’ which may give the group a bit of the clout it needs to succeed.

    Roshni’s initial campaign will focus on ensuring that everyone working with children is subject to Disclosure checks, however this, whilst a good common sense measure, will not solve the problem, particularly where under-reporting of abuse has been a problem in the past.

    So over to you Picklers, what would you like to see done? Do you think Roshni have over or underestimated the extent of the problem? Is a BME children’s charity necessary? What can be done to encourage victims to come forward and their communities to support them in doing so?
    To what extent is lack of integration, if any contributing to this state of affairs?

    18th August, 2007

    It’s The Weekend Open Thread

    by Clairwil at 1:00 pm    

    As Katy has hung up her golden open thread robes I’ll be filling in. Be warned I’m fierce and spoling for a fight! So to keep this thread pleasant and jolly let’s have no politics, religion or any squabble fodder at all.

    But enough of what you can’t do. Here’s what you can comment about. Romantic mishaps, hilarious anedotes, your weekend plans, your summer hols, the weather, puppetry, hobbies, insects and anything else you think might tickle the picklers collective fancy. Just keep the mood light please.

    This has been amusing me very much this week. I don’t care what anyone says but you can’t beat a bit of ‘Trapped In The Closet’.

    I shall leave you now with a plug for one of my little projects. You don’t have to be Scottish or even remotley connected to the place to join just a bit of a skiver looking for a message board to while away the hours on when you should be working.


    Filed under: Blog,Uncategorized
    17th August, 2007

    The sexual politics of partition

    by Sunny at 2:28 pm    

    This was published today on comment is free.

    In 2004, just before local elections, the British National Party aired a party political broadcast featuring a Sikh man talking of the hardships his family faced during partition. He recounted how his family were killed by Muslims and said they were not to be trusted. Mr Singh made another appearance later on BNPtv, where he talked of his experience at length.

    Continue Reading...

    Will someone teach Guido Fawkes economics?

    by Sunny at 10:09 am    

    The huge losses at the FTSE 100 stockmarket index this week have prompted big daddy of the right-wing British blogosphere, Guido Fawkes, to blame Gordon Brown. “Well didn’t he tell us he had abolished boom to bust?“, he crows happily.

    Firstly, how is Brown to blame for the collapse of the US sub-prime mortage lending market, and the resulting liquidity crunch in markets around the world? Secondly, the markets have been in panic for only just over a week. For a recession to occur British output would have to contract for two quarters in a row. So we’re not in a recession either (yet), even if all this was Brown’s fault. You have to laugh at Guido’s terrible attempt at pointing fingers.
    As usual, Chris Dillow explains better why this issue matters.

    Filed under: Economics
    16th August, 2007

    Climate Camp pictures and views

    by Sunny at 11:59 pm    

    Tim Ireland (from Bloggerheads) and I met up today to head down to Climate Camp. We expected the place to be teeming with police and media but thankfully by the afternoon most had gotten bored and went off, leaving people at the camp to get on with things.

    People were still arriving as we left late in the afternoon, after attending a workshop on student activism. Was surprised at how many of them did not say much about using the internet to organise themselves and make links with other people. And these are bloody students for god’s sakes.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Environmentalism
    15th August, 2007

    “A new star rises” - Part Two

    by Rohin at 6:47 pm    

    Sixty years of a free India have passed. Where is it now?

    “We have hard work ahead”

    Amartya Sen, a man who has watched India change over this time, divided an assessment of India‘s progress since Independence into three categories. First, the practice of democracy, second the removal of social inequality and backwardness and lastly the achievement of economic progress and equity.

    He wrote this on the 50th anniversary of Indian independence and essentially concluded whilst democracy was intact in India, it was failing on the second count. India’s economy, of which we hear so much today, was beginning to gather pace in 1997, but it is surprising that the monumental leaps and bounds the GDP and purchasing power have made occurred in only the last decade.

    Sunny Hundal, another famous thinker, said in response to Part One that “religious minorities in India snort in derision when India is declared as a democracy.” Well, they may scoff all they like, but the democracy central to Gandhi and Nehru’s aspirations for India is standing tall.

    Continue Reading...

    Climate Camp tomorrow

    by Sunny at 4:30 pm    

    I’m heading down to Climate Camp tomorrow to check out what’s going on, take some pictures and meet people. If anyone wants to coordinate going there, email me.

    Filed under: Environmentalism

    Can Britain learn from India?

    by Anthony at 2:41 pm    

    A short while ago Sunny suggested on the OK blog that Britain needed a written constitution to resolve its many different identity problems. Very kindly he suggested that OurKingdom could host the debate about this, which we would be very happy to do in partnership with sites like Pickled Politics.

    But today, to celebrate independence, I’d just like to drop in a note about a brilliant must-read article published a couple of years ago on India’s pioneering constitution. It’s by Rajeev Bhargava who write it for OurKingdom’s mothership It’s here.

    Rajeev argues that the Indian constitution is a model. It created a framework for multiculturalism – long before Canada - and, indeed, before the word was coined which is perhaps why it is not recognised for its achievement. He also sets out a case for the way the Indian example redefines ‘secularism’. It has no Jeffersonian ‘wall’ between the state and religion. The latter is recognised as a public and not just a private force and is both protected and limited by the constitution. In this way the Indian constitution shows how modern democracy can adapt to the emergence of multiple religions which are themselves making public and not just private claims

    The point for Britain is that a constitution and, more important still, the process of arriving at one, is not just technical or legal. Anyway, for today, let’s celebrate the way India, at least, managed to create a new constitutional settlement in 1950 which, despite some speed-bumps, has lasted and remains well ahead of Britain’s.

    Anthony Barnett writes for
    This is a guest post.

    Filed under: South Asia

    “A new star rises” - Part One

    by Rohin at 12:00 am    

    The other father of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru, ushered in a momentous change in Asia with one of the greatest speeches ever recorded. As part of his legacy he left behind decades of economic folly, but I will always have a tremendous admiration for the man, if only for that amazing oratory which, even now, encapsulates the myriad complexities of a vast nation.

    In a split article, a brief look back at the last 60 years sets the scene for gazing ahead.

    “The soul of a nation, long supressed, finds utterance”

    Despite the spilled blood now mixed with the dusts of Bengal and Punjab, despite the largest movement of people in history, despite shameful conduct on the parts of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and the British, Partition remains a footnote to many.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Economics,India
    14th August, 2007

    Pakistan and India joint 60th birthday thread

    by Sunny at 8:37 pm    

    Today is Pakistan’s 60th birthday, tomorrow it will be India’s. So here’s a joint thread in the name of closer partnership between the two countries. Comment is Free is running articles on ’60 years after the raj’. I’ll be contributing too.

    Filed under: South Asia

    Iraqi employees campaign on radio

    by Sunny at 7:07 pm    

    Dan Hardie, who started the Iraqi employees campaign on blogs, was recently interviewed on Five Live regarding the issue. You can hear it below (thanks to Unity for hosting).

    Filed under: Current affairs

    David Miliband wants your foreign policy ideas

    by Sunny at 9:23 am    

    This is somewhat amusing:

    In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary, David Miliband argued that, under Gordon Brown’s leadership, UK foreign policy has the strength to make a difference in the world, and thereby make a difference to Britain. But how do we ensure that the FCO makes the most effective contribution possible to that drive?

    He is inviting thoughts and ideas on three key questions:

    • What should our priorities be?
    • What is the best way to co-ordinate across UK government?
    • How can the FCO engage beyond Whitehall?

    Well, what would you tell our new Foreign Secretary? And would something like this work, given the propensity of bloggers like Guido Fawkes to send idiots to such initiatives and ruin them (if he hasn’t already tried with this one)?

    Filed under: Current affairs
    13th August, 2007

    Your say on Tory proposals on forced marriages

    by Sunny at 10:33 am    

    The Conservatives unveiled new proposals today to crack down on forced marriages. This is what they sent me.

    Update: A Home Office committee is also looking into forced marriages and “honour” killings, it has announced today.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Sex equality

    ‘Why the Mega Mosque should not be built’

    by Sunny at 4:17 am    

    The Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s (MPAC) own Zulfi Bukhari explains in a podcast why the Mega Mosque project was badly conceived from the start.

    This is partly amusing because Islamophobia Watch branded anyone declaring this view to be a racist. Curiously, they’re now a bit silent that one of their own is arguing this has badly impacted community relations. Arif Ahmed made the same point recently on Pickled Politics.

    Tangentially related: The Guardian published the first column of a new (and first) regular Muslim columnist (G2 women’s section, every fortnight) on Friday. Congratulations to Noorjehan Barmania, although I wasn’t too impressed by this piece.

    Filed under: Muslim,Organisations

    What’s the context?

    by Sunny at 4:07 am    

    Last week Channel 4 was censured by the police and CPS over it’s documentary Undercover Mosque in January. Writing in the Observer yesterday, Andrew Anthony says:

    For here is [Abu] Usamah spreading his message of inter-communal respect and understanding, as captured in Undercover Mosque: ‘No one loves the kuffaar! Not a single person here from the Muslims loves the kuffaar. Whether those kuffaar are from the UK or from the US. We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of kuffaar. We hate the kuffaar!

    ‘Kuffaar’ is a derogatory term for non-Muslims. The police and CPS suggest that comments like these were taken ‘out of context’. I’ve read extended transcripts of Usamah’s quotes and I’m satisfied that they were perfectly ‘in context’. But let’s ask what conceivable context could make these quotes acceptable or reasonable? Was he rehearsing a stage play? Was it a workshop on conflict resolution? Or perhaps it was the same context in which a spokesman from those other righteous humanitarians, the BNP, might attempt to aid community relations by repeatedly stating that his followers ‘hate Muslims’.

    If someone could explain the “right context” for that racist bile, I’d love to hear it.

    Filed under: Muslim,Organisations
    11th August, 2007

    My last open thread!!!

    by Katy at 5:24 pm    

    Unfortunately I find that I have so much work to do that I can’t really maintain posting for three websites. For various reasons I think that I am not making much of a contribution to PP anymore - I very rarely post here anyway - and so that’s the one that I’m going to let go. I hope to carry on commenting here because there are so many people who I like and enjoy discussing things with, but I’m not going to be writing any more articles.

    So this is really a “farewell Katy” thread, except that it isn’t because I am still going to be around, just not actually writing anymore. Usual open thread rules apply…

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Everyone’s talking about it

    by Sunny at 3:34 pm    

    This video was mentioned in most of the papers yesterday, having now racked up over 11 million views. I’ve seen it before but I think it’s worth posting. Who says animals don’t have emotions? Watch it ’till the end, it has twists.

    Filed under: Humour
    10th August, 2007

    The campaign video

    by Sunny at 1:58 pm    

    Hahaha!!! via Tim Ireland. And sign the petition!

    Update: Neil Clark has written a despicable article on CIF, arguing the “quislings” (these Iraqi employees) should be abandoned. There’s two points to make here, both pointing to the tendency of the far-left to live in a parallel universe.
    Firstly, this campaign was kicked off mostly by anti-war bloggers of the left and yet Clark focuses only on the few pro-war writers in a pathetic attempt to make his case. Secondly, he is callously condemning people just because they didn’t support his cause rather than highlighting injustice regardless of who is involved, as those on the left should be doing. These people don’t stand for humanitarian values - they’ll stab the first person who opposes their agenda.

    Update 2: Brownie has written an email to CIF editors expressing his disgust for publishing the article. (1) I doubt CIF editor’s commissioned his piece. (2) They were right to run it, however despicable his views, because that is the nature of free speech. Why should Brownie determine what falls outside polite conversation? (3) His mate Oliver Kamm recently wrote an article in the Guardian justifying the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima & Nagasaki 60 years ago. Should that idiotic view also have been silenced?

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Between a rock and hard place

    by Sunny at 4:47 am    

    The Times of India rarely publishes any good editorials. But I found this article via Neha and it hits the nail on the head: Why You Don’t Understand Indian Muslims:

    Azmi’s helplessness is symptomatic of the Muslim leadership’s collective weightlessness and worthlessness. Divided into two clear categories, the orthodox and the liberals, Islamic socio-political leadership in this country is hollow, myopic, marginalised and often opportunist. Both the god-fearing, fatwa-fascinated Mullahs and the not-so religious moderates (some of them are known atheists) share a common quality: They are not the real voice of India’s largest minority.

    Yet, the desperate search for good quotes and sound bytes makes the media court the members of these two camps. As a result, the average Indian thinks that an uneducated Muslim (who is represented on television by radical loose-canon mullahs) is dangerously communal, and that a suave educated Muslim (represented by English-speaking cliché-afflicted liberals) is ludicrously political correct and knows how to make the right noises. In between these two extremes, lies the average Muslim on the street, and his personality is lost in the sound bytes of the faces media likes.

    In the UK we have the Muslim Council of Britain on one side, and possibly British Muslims for Secular Democracy on the other. It is even worse for British Sikhs and Hindus, I would argue, because there is no pressing need for the progressives to speak out. There’s no one attacking them. So it is left to rabble-rousers like the Hindu Forum and Sikh Federation to “represent” while constantly trying to create controversies they can get media attention in.

    9th August, 2007

    Are they serious?

    by Sunny at 3:39 pm    

    “Someone’s been watching too many bad sci-fi flicks,” a reader said today when sending in an email about this: Security firms working on devices to spot would-be terrorists in crowd.

    Iraqi translators campaign - MPs response

    by Sunny at 9:07 am    

    The Guardian is reporting today that in a case earlier this year the Home Office made special considerations for an Iraqi translator, and this precedence may have an impact on this campaign.

    There is no doubt now that this issue has ratcheted up the media agenda and the government may be forced to take action. Through gritted teeth, even Guido admits it.

    Continue Reading...


    by Sunny at 2:12 am    

    Yesterday the Guardian’s Riazat Butt put together a particularly good edition of her weekly podcast - Islamophonic. Listen to it from here. Talking about radicalisation this week, it is a good discussion (after the first bit on Muslim Women’s helpline) on how better parenting can play a part, the role of Muslim women and how that’s changing etc. Feminist and occasional PP writer Zohra Moosa is a guest on the show and provides some good commentary.

    Why can’t Channel 4 or the BBC produce something intelligent like this?

    Filed under: Muslim,Organisations
    8th August, 2007

    Exclusive: Kulveer Ranger appointed Tory vice-chair

    by Sunny at 4:02 pm    

    I’ve just been told by a source within the party that the Conservative Party candidate Kulveer Ranger has taken over Sayeeda Warsi’s old job - as vice-chair of the Tories and responsible for Cities (whatever that means). Congratulations to him, he is a credit to the party. And kudos to the Tories for appointing him.

    Update: Press release and quote from him here.

    Filed under: Party politics

    C4 criticised over Mosque programme

    by Sunny at 2:18 pm    

    [Post Updated, see comments]
    Today Channel is being criticised over its January Dispatches programme - Undercover Mosque:

    West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service have criticised the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Undercover Mosque for distortion and broadcasting speeches out of context. The CPS said it had considered charging Channel 4 with broadcasting material likely to stir up racial hatred, but decided not to proceed with this course of action.

    After their initial investigations, the police investigated the editing and portrayal featured in the documentary and asked the CPS to consider charging Channel 4 under the Public Order Act for broadcasting a programme including material likely to stir up racial hatred. Before that, West Midlands police and the CPS investigated three individuals featured in the documentary for possible criminal incitement after the programme was broadcast in January, but decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges.

    On Monday the director of a similar Dispatches programme, Phil Rees, had an article published in the Media Guardian in which he says, “Journalists need to present the views of radical Muslims in a way that does not push them toward further violence.”

    But I find that logic slightly wierd. Firstly, angry Muslim voices are over-represented in our media, with everyone from Abu Izzadeen and Omar Bakri to the less-crazy-but-still-very-angry Asghar Bukhari constantly on TV telling us that foreign policy is to blame for everything. The voice being under-represented is actually of those Muslims who say these are crazed pychopaths who are hell bent on destroying democractic societies regardless of the Iraq war.

    Secondly I find the argument patronising: that if these angry nutters are not represented on screen, more young Muslims will turn to terrorism. It’s good journalism to reflect voices relevant to a crisis but to think that it will reduce terrorism (on the assumption that most young Muslims are on the verge of turning to terrorism) is just a crap argument. And a bit prejudiced really.

    On the latest C4 programme, Adrian Monck has a good point to make.

    Food for thought

    by Katy at 1:51 pm    

    What do we think of this, people?

    I think it may be one of the scariest things I’ve ever read. Read it through (it’s longish) and tell me what you think.

    Filed under: Current affairs
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