30th November, 2007

Teddybear-gate escalates

by Sunny at 5:57 pm    

Reason #27856 that you shouldn’t listen to politically charged religious “leaders”: ‘Sudan demo over jailed UK teacher‘.

Morrissey and immigration

by Sunny at 4:35 pm    

Jeevan Vasagar at the Guardian has written a piece titled: ‘Why this British Asian doesn’t listen to Morrissey any more‘. Obviously it would be annoying to find out that your music idol was a raving lunatic (although that’s not clear here because Morrissey is suing NME for allegedly twisting around his words on immigration).

On this CIF article, which I broadly agree with, a commenter sums up my own views: “Any chance that someone can let us know what English culture is and how it is being strangled by immigrants?”
Update: ON Cif, Tim Jonze confirms Morrissey was worse than we thought.

Filed under: Current affairs

Denying Genocide and Rape at the LSE

by Sid (Faisal) at 1:07 am    

On Tuesday 4 December, the Indian-American historian Dr Sarmila Bose (Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford) will be delivering a talk, hosted by the Pakistan Society, at the London School of Economics. Today I signed a joint letter to the LSE to voice, in the strongest terms possible, disgust that the LSE has given Dr Sarmila Bose a platform for her work on genocide denial.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Current affairs
29th November, 2007

Free Speech in Denmark

by Shariq at 2:33 pm    

Its been almost 2 years since the world went crazy over some cartoons. In today’s Guardian, there’s a fascinating article about 7 people in Denmark, who have been arrested for ‘sponsoring terrorism’, by selling and publicising t-shirts which support the PFLP in Palestine and Farc in Columbia.

Before you think that this is a simple case of Danish double standards, there are a number of very interesting ironies. For instance, both the PFLP and Farc are listed as terrorist organisations by the EU (and the US), but not by the UK. Also, while most people reading this site will probably have sympathy for the Palestinian cause in general, I doubt that they see Columbian resistance movements in the same way.

On the whole, I think that the people on trial are harmless activists and that it undermines the legitimacy of anti-terror legislation, if it is used to put them away for upto ten years. However, its very interesting and I encourage everyone to read the article and make up their own mind.

Hindus also in faith-school tizzle

by Sunny at 10:27 am    

It’s not just the Jewish possibly falling foul of the law on faith schools. Yesterday the Hindu Council UK sent out a circular stating:

Britain’s first state-funded Hindu Primary school, set to open in Harrow, north London, in September 2008, has outlined an admissions policy the Hindu Council UK (HCUK) says may rule out applications from the vast majority of British Hindu children in the area. HCUK is also concerned the policy may cause division within the local Hindu community.

The Krishna-Avanti school is expected to be oversubscribed when it opens and HCUK has no argument with priority being given to children from ‘practising Hindu families.’ However, the school’s definition of a ‘practising Hindu’ is not one that could be said to be acceptable to the majority of Hindus either worldwide or here in Britain.

According to the admissions policy document, the Krishna-Avanti school defines practising Hindus as those who follow a version of Hinduism requiring daily practice of deity worship and prayer either in the temple or at home; undertake weekly temple-related charity work; participate fortnightly in temple programmes; accept and put into practice the teachings of the Vedic scriptures, in particular the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita; and abstain from meat, fish, eggs, alcohol and smoking.

The admissions policy also allows for available places to be filled by children from families ‘broadly following’ the tenets of Hinduism. But even this requires them to attend a temple monthly, be vegetarian, and attend a local temple for the festivals of Diwali, Janmasthami and Ramnavmi.

How. Funny. Is. That. And someone said faith schools would help create cohesion?

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28th November, 2007

Behold the Gulabi Gang: Crimefighters with a Difference

by SajiniW at 5:50 pm    

They have a uniform of pink saris and go after corrupt officials with sticks and axes. Yes, you’ve heard it – the Gulabi Gang are in town!

After having grown disillusioned with second-class treatment from officials and NGO groups, the local ladies of Banda , Uttar Pradesh, have taken justice into their own hands.

Pink-clad vigilantes have thrashed men who have mistreated their wives over the last two years. They have also unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor. The ladies have also taken caste discrimination into their hands, using the weapons of mass protest and humilation.

They’ve even got male members joining the ranks of rebellion against rural India’s patriarchy and feudalism, unsurprising given the lack of political participation available to the poor.

Here’s to hoping the gang’s actions go on to improve the lives of many, many more.

Should faith schools be allowed to discriminate?

by Rumbold at 5:32 pm    

A faith school was forced to change its admissions policy yesterday for fear that it breached anti-discrimination laws:

“The Jewish Free School (JFS) in London has removed from its admissions criteria a clause favoring ethnically Jewish children after the school was accused of breaking state anti-discrimination laws, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the top Jewish state school was accused of discrimination after it denied a place to a child who did not meet the definition of Jewish set by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

Sacks, who is the school’s religious authority, had stipulated that applicants must have an ethnically Jewish mother in order to be accepted into the school. The mother of the child in question, who heads the school’s English department, had converted to Judaism under supervision of Israel’s chief rabbi.”

Continue Reading...

Petro-dollars and the Middle East

by Sunny at 7:08 am    

This article in the New York Times is interesting:

Flush with petrodollars, oil-producing countries have embarked on a global shopping spree. With a bold outlay of $7.5 billion, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is about to become one of the largest shareholders in Citigroup.

The Dubai stock exchange, meanwhile, is negotiating for 20 percent of a newly merged company that includes Nasdaq and the operator of stock markets in the Nordic region. Qatar, like Dubai a sheikdom in the Persian Gulf, might compete in that deal. In late October, Dubai, which has little oil but is part of the region’s energy economy, bought part of Och-Ziff Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York. Abu Dhabi this month invested in Advanced Micro Devices, the chip maker, and in September bought into the Carlyle Group, a private equity giant.

“The investments are diversifying outside the United States, though the U.S. still has the bulk of it,” said Diana Farrell, director of the McKinsey Global Institute, a research arm of the McKinsey consulting firm, which calculated in October that petrodollar investments reached $3.4 trillion to $3.8 trillion at the end of 2006.

“Europe is a prime target,” she added, “but at least 25 percent of foreign investments from the Persian Gulf are in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.” Though oil-producing countries have been looking at investments in the West since the 1970s, their strategies back then were largely confined to safe assets with a low return, like United States Treasury debt.

Coincidentally, I have an article today on Comment is free about the growing economic power of Dubai and how it may impact the Middle East. I just hope these people would invest the money in building local employment than buying American assets. It would be good for all of us.

Musharraf steps down

by Sunny at 4:43 am    

as General, so he can be sworn in as President.

He will be driven to the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi to hand over formally to his successor, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiani. He is due to be sworn in as a civilian president on Thursday, after bidding farewell to his troops on Tuesday. The move will mean an end to eight years of military rule in Pakistan.

It looks like the pressure wasn’t all international. Dawn reports:

A group of retired senior officers of the armed forces, including two former air force chiefs, one naval chief, six lieutenant generals and four major generals, urged Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday not only to quit the post of Chief of the Army Staff but to also step down as head of state. They urged Gen Musharraf to restore the Constitution and revoke the PCO, pointing out that the apex court had asked him to lift emergency. They called upon him to restore the pre-emergency situation, reinstate the pre-PCO judiciary, withdraw media curbs and release political detainees.

Good to see that the desire for democracy is still strong within Pakistan. Meanwhile, Bhutto wants to have a chat with Nawaz Sharif. Maybe all this won’t come to a messy end?

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27th November, 2007

Talk on ‘Multiculturalism’

by Sunny at 2:50 pm    

I’m going to be speaking today at this talk at 5pm:
Multiculturalism – Dead or Alive?
Rich Mix Centre, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1
5pm – 9pm
Other speaker include: Lord Herman Ouseley, Lee Jasper, Yasmin Qureshi, Arun Kundnani, Douglas Murray and Lurline Champagnie. The debate will be chaired by Barbara Cohen, vice chair of the Discrimination Law Review.

Has multiculturalism done more damage than good, is it an outdated concept? Why have many minority communities in Britain found themselves with little option but to fall back on their own cultural resources, in their own areas, creating their own employment opportunities? Why is White British racism on the rise and are Muslims right in feeling that they are at the heart of the tabloid agendas? Academics, activists, journalists and members of the public are invited to take part and contribute to the discussion that has been making headlines. Speakers representing both sides of the debate will discuss the above issues amongst others.

Filed under: Events

Update on Bangladesh

by Sunny at 10:56 am    

Reuters Alternet has an update on situation in Bagladesh:

U.S helicopters and a C-130 aircraft flew in supplies of food and water for survivors of Bangladesh’s worst cyclone in a decade as a military-led relief operation kicked into high gear on Monday, ten days after the storm struck. A medical team from the U.S. naval ship USS Kearsarge set up a unit in the town of Barisal on the southern coast where survivors requiring urgent attention will be airlifted from remote areas, officials said.

Cyclone Sidr, which hit the impoverished South Asian country on Nov. 15, killed about 3,500 people, left thousands missing or injured, and displaced some 2 million. Despite intensified relief operations thousands of survivors were yet to get food and water. Many crowded river banks and roadsides in the hope of food handouts, reporters at the scene said.

If you know of any fundraising events taking place please mention them below.

Filed under: Bangladesh,South Asia

Letting the BNP speak

by Rumbold at 10:00 am    

BNP leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust-denying ‘historian’ David Irving spoke at the Oxford Union yesterday. There had been intense pressure on the Union to cancel the debate, and the event was marred by protests:

“Thirty protesters pushed their way into the debating chamber to stage a protest about the inclusion of the two men. Earlier, 500 people held a sit-down demonstration outside the gates of the building but the debate eventually began about one-and-a-half hours late.”

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Race politics,The BNP

Double standards on women’s rights

by Sunny at 8:42 am    

Over at openDemocracy, Zohra Moosa (PP reader and commenter) is blogging on ‘16 days against gender violence‘ along with others.
In her latest post she asks: ‘Is violence relative?

What about practices that occur in other countries? Should I not be as concerned with the rape of a woman in Saudi Arabia as I am with that of a woman in the UK? And yet the American government has suggested that the recent decision to sentence a gang rape victim to 200 lashes is an ‘internal Saudi decision‘ that it shouldn’t be interfering with.

Certainly the issue of state sovereignty is an important one, however America itself appears confused about its position. After all, it was the same government that justified invading Afghanistan in the name of women’s rights just a few years ago. As UncommonSense also suggests, it seems to me that the ‘cultural relativism’ card is less often about respect for difference and more often actually just another way of ignoring violence against women.

No doubt the usual suspects will come along in a bit complaining about ‘anti-American bigotry’, but there is a wider point to be made here. Like Zohra, I believe that individuals and organisations should apply the same standards of human rights to everyone, equally. So what if the laws in Saudi Arabia are different, that is no excuse to say it is acceptable for a woman to be treated so badly. And why shouldn’t we hold governments to the same standards?

26th November, 2007

Undercover Asians

by Sunny at 3:36 pm    

BBC.co.uk has an interesting article on British Asians (a Hindu woman and a Muslim man) who work for the MI5 and have spoken out briefly on why they joined and their experiences. Quite interesting. I have no objections to people joining the intelligence services of course (as with any other part of government). It’s exciting work but someone’s gotta do it hey?

Filed under: Culture

Sajjad Karim

by Sunny at 3:13 pm    

Sajjad Karim, 37, was the first British Muslim elected to the European Parliament in 2004, as a Liberal Democrat candidate. Today Conservative HQ announced that he’s ditched the Libdems and defected to the Tories.
Rupa Huq and Chris Paul have interesting analysis on this hilarious development.

Update: Guess who said this on their blog in June this year?

With their failure to support a resolution condemning discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, the Tories have shown their true colours. Tory apathy in the face of rising homophobia should come as no surprise as, today, the Conservative camp is rife with contradiction.

Whilst Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK, he is also desperately trying to get into bed, at European level, with Poland’s openly homophobic ‘Law and Justice’ party. I just hope the British public see Chameleon Cameron for who he really is!!!

And now: “It’s David Cameron and the Conservatives who are now setting the political agenda in Britain. Only the Conservatives are capable of putting right Labour’s continued failure.

Unsurprisingly Iain Dale and Guido are slavishly trotting out the party line. Heh.

Update 2: Duncan Borrowman has more contradictory quotes by Karim.

Filed under: Party politics

Will Kabaddi encourage you to join the Army?

by Sunny at 9:19 am    

Erm, apparently they think it will.

There is more to the Army’s interest in kabaddi than just sport. The recruitment section is funding the game and the tour. They see it as a way of appealing to young British Asians and encouraging them to sign up as soldiers.

Well, none of the quotes by Army personnell state that so it may amount to the journalist’s take. I can’t think of anything more silly. But the idea of British soldiers playing Kabaddi is funny though. During my first year at university, a huge group of us drove down to Margate for the day. Randomly, we decided to play Kabaddi on the beach while onlookers watched in amusement. Happy days, I tell you.

Filed under: Humour,Race politics

Politics and the internet

by Sunny at 4:25 am    

<shameless plug>Yesterday, Radio 4’s Westminster Hour had a special supplement on Power and the Web, presented by Spectator editor Matthew D’ancona. Although I briefly feature near the end (plugging PP), the programme is well worth listening to despite the damage I may do to your ears. The second part goes out Sunday December 2 at 10.45pm and will mention Liberal Conspiracy.</shameless plug>

Filed under: Blog
25th November, 2007

New IVF rules: Demise of the Traditional Family?

by SajiniW at 10:02 am    

It’s rare to find I agree with Minette Marrin. Whilst I admire the way she writes without fear, I find the ‘doom-mongering’ can get a little heavy sometimes.

Alas, she has made some interesting points regarding the new proposals for fertility treatment.

The most contentious of the proposals is to remove the requirement to consider the “need for a father” when deciding whether to offer IVF. This is part of ministerial efforts to make it easier for homosexual couples to have test-tube babies.

This has (unsurprisingly) caused outrage amongst religious and conservative circles, with Iain Duncan Smith saying it would “drive the last nail in the coffin of the traditional family”.

Marrin has also considered the necessity of men in today’s society.

There’s the “widespread use of the word testosterone as a term of blame and abuse”, in addition to women increasingly blaming their difficulties on men. She proposes the argument for a serious revaluation of men thanks to the numbers of women living capably without them, in addition to reprising traditional roles.

She also argues the benefits to offering fertility treatment to lesbian couples.

There is no reason for seeing lesbian couples and their children as the beginning of the end of family life. Nor is it a rejection of men. Anyone who knows any lesbian parents knows they are usually keen on family life, keen to be accepted into the normal world of parenthood and to welcome men into it, too. They just don’t welcome men into their beds.

Lesbian women who go through the misery of IVF treatment to have a baby, and who make the commitment of marriage as well, are people who by definition want to start a family. They support family life and they want to be part of the ordinary family-friendly world. It may not be traditional family life, but it is closer to it than the behaviour of an irresponsible straight girl who gets pregnant the quick and easy way without thought of providing a companion to help her bring up her child and then relies on state handouts. It is those girls who are aggressively banging nails into the coffin of family life, not the tiny number of thoughtful lesbians.

24th November, 2007

Is the Brown Premiership coming to an end?

by Leon at 10:58 pm    

The moment Gordon Brown announced there would be no election something clicked into place for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time but a few weeks later I was struck by this sudden sense that Gordon Brown’s days were numbered.

This fed into a conversation with a good friend (and Labour party supporter I might add), we both concluded that he’d be gone in six months but without doubt within twelve. Uttering out loud those words I was almost shocked to hear myself say them! I had no special knowledge, no divine insight or great analytical skill just this strong instinct that this was it for him. I usually don’t make judgments on such abstract grounds.

Since the ‘no announcement announcement’ the government has come to look more and more like the last days of Major premiership. Crisis and incompetence, one after another have come tumbling out into public view. Brown’s controlling style has become a great deal more transparent and more embarrassing for his Ministers and supports.

It transpires I’m not alone in thinking his time is running short:

Secondly, I think somebody is going to resign. Maybe somebody quite big. Sooner or later a figure important to Mr Brown’s credibility or authority will decide they’ve had enough and quit. This is as likely to be in a fit of pique as a mood of calculation.

Admiral Lord West, the PM’s new big-tent security adviser, must have been tempted to walk out when carpeted and humiliated by Mr Brown last week. Mr Miliband must have had his red-mist moment when his speech was unspoken before he had spoken it. Lords Malloch-Brown and (Digby) Jones cannot surely stay the course for ever. The Governor of the Bank of England must have known private rage recently, as Brownite dweebs tried to undermine him.

This has all been within a few weeks. Can the PM get away with sheer bad manners indefinitely – especially if his stock falls farther, his inner circle narrows and the resources of the protection racket he runs begin to fail? So I’ll nail my colours to the mast. Mr Brown could become the Steve McClaren of British politics. Something is going to happen, something quite nasty. What, we must wait to see.

I agree, that last line is my sense also; I think we’re seeing the last days of Gordon Brown’s Premiership (and possibly the Labour Government).

I think his time as leader and Prime Minister is running out, and running out fast.

Update: Paul Linford and OurKingdom have also picked up the scent. Ben Brogan joins the fray with this piece. And for those that think we’re being far fetched or don’t think it’s possible, ask yourself this: six weeks ago did you know that Ming was going to be gone all of a sudden?

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The Really Very Quick Open Thread

by Clairwil at 4:52 pm    

Hello,
Having been unable to fight my way through the crowds of Winterval shoppers. I have sought refuge in an internet cafe to ensure the weekly happy post reaches you. The bad news is I appear to be at a semi-functioning pc which does not like videos at all so no clip just now, though I’ll add one later at home. In the meantime you could pop over to my blog and view the clip on my last post where a rather plastic looking fool tries and fails to outwit Jeremy Kyle. Until now I’d never have thought failure at so easy a task possible, truly the de-evolution of man is upon us!

Still there’s nothing like fiddling while Rome burns, so lets have your jokes, funny tales, amusing links, weekend plans and banter below please!

Oh and if you’ve spotted anything wonderful on the the net this week, please alert the good folk at the Britblog Round Up at britblog@gmail.com.

Update: Don has very kindly drawn my attention to the above video clip. It’s a hoot- though I suspect Jeremy Kyle would be less than amused by it.

Filed under: Current affairs
23rd November, 2007

Uttar Pradesh hit by multiple blasts; at least 14 dead

by Rumbold at 8:21 pm    

India’s most populous state was today rocked by a series of blasts:

“The bombs placed on bicycles went off simultaneously in and around the court premises in Varanasi, Lucknow and Faizabad. Nine people have been killed in Varanasi, while four deaths have been reported from Faizabad.

Bangladesh based outfit Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islamia (HuJI) is suspected to be behind the blasts but an unknown group, the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. The group apparently sent an email to a private TV channel just five minutes before the blasts. They also said they are purely Indian and not connected to the ISI [Pakistan Intelligence Service], the Lashkar-e-Toiba [Pakistani terrorist group based in Kashmir] or Huji.”

Continue Reading...
Filed under: India

Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth

by Sunny at 12:44 pm    

Sounds like the right decision to make. Hopefully it’ll put more pressure on Musharraf to hold free elections as soon as possible.

Filed under: Pakistan,South Asia

The right terminology for terrorists

by Sunny at 9:26 am    

In yesterday’s Guardian Timothy Garton Ash said Jihadists is the best term he can think for the current threat of terrorism, eschewing that silly term Islamofascism. Works for me.
Osama Saeed prefers Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism and says we should value accuracy. But he ignores the fact that people (including himself) like to use short-hand phrases all the time. The MCB for example uses Neo-con and Zionist quite liberally, without explaining every time what exactly they mean. Enough of the double-standards please.

Anyway, language is constantly evolving and I see this as a good development. Are you confused by all the phrases people use? Provide some examples…

Filed under: Religion

Ministry of Truth / ChickYog

by Sunny at 3:41 am    

Ministry of Truth has a slightly different domain now, please update your blogrolls. And Chicken Yoghurt is down again. Justin, sort out your hosting company mate!

Filed under: Current affairs
22nd November, 2007

Does ‘leftwing’ politics equal welfare politics?

by Leon at 3:00 pm    

I was reading this piece in the New Statesmen about the rise of BME candidates in the Conservative Party when something Shaun Bailey said stood out:

“People are shocked at my conservative views. But left-wing politics equals welfare politics.

It’s an interesting and I assume widely held rightwing belief that leftist politics will always equate to state dependency. A question I want to ask is how true is it? Does ‘leftwing’ (let’s pretend for a moment the right/left dichotomy is still relevant) politics equal welfare politics?

Is the solidarity and dare I say collectivist tendencies of the left always doomed to keep people poor and a slave to the state? Or is this a convenient myth from a political ideology that likes to ignore the corporate welfare state dependency of the private sector?

Filed under: Current affairs
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