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  • 22nd November, 2007

    Opposing 28 days extension

    by Sunny at 12:20 pm    

    Over on Liberal Conspiracy I’ve said that we plan to start a campaign on opposing the extension of 28 days as a pre-charge detention period. Feel free to add your thoughts to it there.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    Pickled Politics’ comment policy

    by Rumbold at 10:09 am    

    Comments policy on blogs is a difficult issue and an ongoing struggle. Pickled Politics has somewhat of an ad hoc policy, deleting comments where appropriate and occasionally banning people if it is felt that there is no other option. What do you think should be the policy? Are we too soft at the moment, or too harsh, or about right? Is there any way to bring in a crystal-clear policy, or does each comment/commentator have to be judged on their own merits?

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Blog

    Meltem Avcil

    by Clairwil at 12:27 am    

    This email just came to me from Positive Action In Housing regarding the plight of Meltem Avcil. If you want to help out email Prime Minister Gordon Brown to protest browng@parliament.uk and the Home Secretary, homesecretary.submissions@homeoffice.qsi.gov.uk.

    ‘We have just been informed that government authorization has been granted to Home Office officials to charter a private jet to remove 14 year old Hall Cross Lower pupil, Meltem Avcil, and her mother, either today or first thing tomorrow. We have been informed that removal is IMMINENT and “use of force” has been authorized.

    Meltem Avcil, whose 14th birthday is today, had been assessed by doctors from Medical Justice yesterday. There was concern about Meltem’s psychological state, as a result of being incarcerated for three months at Yarlswood Detention Centre, after being dawn raided by an immigration snatch squad at their flat in Doncaster, their home for the past six years. Doctors requested she be transferred to Bedford hospital for assessment.

    Until literally minutes ago, Meltem’s supporters believed she had been transferred to Bedford hospital along with her mother. Unfortunately, our sources have informed us that it was “extremely worrying” that Meltem was being taken from Yarls Wood WITH her mother.

    What is most worrying of all is that the Children’s Commissioner has taken up Meltem’s case and Dianne Abbott MP raised her case in the House of Commons yesterday. Meltem’s case was also highlighted in today’s Independent newspaper.

    Meltem’s mobile phone has been cut off. During her time at Yarls Wood she says she was denied access to newspaper coverage of her case. The Home Office has cut off all communication with Meltem’s lawyers, despite counsel standing by to carry out a judicial review of her case.

    We are concerned that Meltem’s school, Hall Cross Lower, responded to Meltem’s predicament by saying they “wish her the best of luck for the future” . We are also concerned that the National Union of Teachers, where protests were held today in Doncaster, have issued no statement on the treatment of Meltem Avcil.’

    21st November, 2007

    Kamila Shamsie and Christopher Hitchens

    by Sunny at 7:28 pm    

    Oh look, the poster-boy of those fighting ‘Islamofascism’, Christopher Hitchens, has turned up to support his mate: ‘Martin Amis is no racist’. Of course, he’s not going to convince anyone other than those liberals feeling a bit guilty of supporting Amis earlier. Phew! Now that Hitchens has also confirmed that Martin Amis isn’t racist we can all enjoy ourselves again and not feel guilty. I mean, some of our best friends…

    Kamila Shamsie, writing on the Guardian books blog, nails it. And why do I keep coming back to Amis again? Because, as I said yesterday on CIF, “the intentional demonisation of Muslims has become legitimate discourse.” I also said the likes of Amis and the Evening Standard are doing the terrorists work for them but for some reason they took that sentence out.

    A view from Pakistan

    by Sunny at 3:38 pm    

    (This is by journalist friend currently in Karachi)

    These are strange times in Pakistan. For those of us who have ferociously supported the right for free speech, this is perhaps the worst place to be alive at the moment. Yet the forces which are standing by carrying flickers of hope are also unparalleled.

    On Tuesday, Police baton charged journalists from Karachi Press club in Sadar. The journalists were holding a peaceful demonstration against ban on Geo Television Network and curbs on media in Pakistan. According to Geo officials, the police have arrested 200 journalists including five women. An eyewitness said the journalists were brutally beaten and most of them were bleeding after the brutal attack. After seeing the situation, senior journalists including Owais Tohid, head of Geo English offered their arrests.*

    After the incident, the journalists observed protest sit-in against police violence and arrests and announced to offer collective arrests in protest. According to reports several injured journalists have been transferred to hospitals for medical aid. Meanwhile, the number of police and Rangers has been increased outside Karachi office of Geo Television.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Media,Pakistan

    Unrest in Bengal

    by Rumbold at 3:19 pm    

    Calcutta has been hit by a wave of riots:

    “Troops have been deployed in the Indian city of Calcutta after protests over a controversial writer turned into riots. Police using tear gas and baton charges were unable to control crowds calling for Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen to leave India. Rioters blocked roads and set cars alight. At least 27 people were hurt. More than 100 arrests have been made.

    Wednesday’s trouble in the state capital began after the predominantly Muslim All-India Minority Forum called for blockades on major roads in the city. The group said Ms Nasreen had “seriously hurt Muslim sentiments”. Many Muslims say her writing ridicules Islam.

    The All-India Minority Forum says Taslima Nasreen’s Indian visa should be revoked and she should be forced to leave the country. Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, but she vehemently denied making the comments. Ms Nasreen fled Bangladesh in the early 1990s after death threats and has spent the last three years in Calcutta after a long stay in Europe.”

    Sunny’s update: In the comments, pounce points out that the riots are actually about the killing of villagers, not the writer Taslima Nasrin. Bad BBC reporting in other words.

    The Indian Workers Association

    by Sunny at 11:56 am    

    The Socialist Worker website has an interesting article titled: ‘How Southall’s Asians fought against racism‘, with some background information to how the Indian Workers Association came about. The IWA is probably the most influential Asian political body of its time, the one and only trade union for and by Asians. Even now it has a huge impact on Southall politics and kept Piara Khabra in power for years.
    (This is an editorial by the SW so take it with a pinch of salt)

    Filed under: Race politics

    The white working class get TV programmes

    by Sunny at 8:46 am    

    BBC 2′s new season of programming, announced yestreday, has a series of programmes examining, “how life has changed for the white working class in Britain.” Fair enough, although if the white working class need a special season of programming to show how their life has changed it means BBC 2 was ignoring them earlier anyway. We know television is an exclusively middle-class institution anyway.

    What I’m partly confused about is why all these changes have to be looked at through the prism of race / religion.

    The dramatic centrepiece is White Girl, written by Abi Morgan and starring Bleak House star Anna Maxwell Martin. The story focuses on an 11-year-old girl, Leah, her family’s relocation to an entirely Muslim community in Bradford and her feelings of isolation, which are heightened when she discovers that she and her siblings are the only white children at school.

    Documentaries are to include Last Orders, telling the story of the embattled Wibsey working men’s club in Bradford, while All White In Barking observes relationships and questions prejudices in a multicultural east London community.

    Tim Samuels, the documentary-maker behind pensioners’ band the Zimmers, will take a subversive look at the reality of immigration in middle England and whether the economy would cope if recent Polish immigrants were to return home. Finally, Rivers Of Blood assesses the impact of Enoch Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, 40 years on.

    All contemporary issues of course, but race politics isn’t the only thing to have affected the white working classes over the last 20-40 years. What about globalisation? How has working class culture and institutions changed? What about their politics? The housing crisis? Life-chances? Increasing wealth inequality?

    It looks like another contrived ratings-grabbing attempt, by bringing in race or religion to every programme, rather than actually examining how things have changed. Sign, if anything, that its middle-class commissioners are just interested in “representing” WWC like every other group.

    Filed under: Media
    20th November, 2007

    We must stand up for Muslim civil rights

    by Sunny at 2:33 pm    

    Rather than treating British Muslims as a monolithic group represented by the likes of the MCB, we should regard them as fellow citizens and actively defend the attack on their civil liberties. If we don’t do it then the Islamists will step in.

    This is vital not only to defeating terrorism but also protecting our democratic rights. On Sunday Henry Porter said “We must not tolerate this putsch against our freedoms”. I agree. Under the threat of terrorism this government is doing everything it can in order to curtail our freedoms, hoping it will succeed by tacitly indicating that it will only apply to Muslims.

    We can either get organised and resist this or be willing participants.

    From my article today on comment is free.

    ‘Shame on us’

    by Sunny at 11:54 am    

    In the Guardian yesterday Ronan Bennett took another well-deserved swipe at the sorry excuse for a chimpanzee, Martin Amis.

    Amis’s views are symptomatic of a much wider and deeper hostility to Islam and intolerance of otherness. Only last week, the London Evening Standard felt able to sponsor a debate entitled: Is Islam good for London? Do another substitution here and imagine the reaction had Judaism been the subject. As Rabbi Pete Tobias noted on Comment is Free, the so-called debate was sinisterly reminiscent of the paper’s campaign a century ago to alert its readers to the “problem of the alien”, namely the eastern European Jews fleeing persecution who had found refuge in the capital. In this context, Rod Liddle’s contribution to proceedings - “Islamophobia? Count me in” - sounds neither brave, brash nor provocatively outrageous, merely racist. Those who claim that Islamophobia can’t be racist, because Islam is a religion not a race, are fooling themselves: religion is not only about faith but also about identity, background and culture, and Muslims are overwhelmingly non-white. Islamophobia is racist, and so is antisemitism.

    We can dispense with Amis’s polite fiction that he is talking about “Islamism”; there are just too many generalisations (“The impulse towards rational inquiry,” Amis wrote elsewhere, “is by now very weak in the rank and file of the Muslim male”), too many references to “them” and “us”. When he says, for example, “they” are gaining on “us” demographically, he is demonstrably not talking about “Islamists”. The danger of being overrun, outnumbered, outbred is a repugnant trope beloved of supremacists everywhere (it was used by the Evening Standard about “aliens” 100 years ago). It is, for example, horribly familiar to Arab Israelis, and to Irish Catholics (from whom Eagleton is descended). When Amis voices his fears of being overrun, he is, and he knows he is, perpetuating and enhancing the spectre of the other, and loading it with the potent imagery of swarming poverty, violence and ignorance.

    Spot on. He ends by saying: “Shame on him for saying it, and shame on us for tolerating it.” Not all of us tolerated it of course, but there were plenty of inbreds calling themselves ‘liberals’ who quietly shuffled their feet. Shame on them.

    Filed under: Race politics,Religion

    ‘Islamic cars’

    by Sunny at 8:50 am    

    The City Circle blog links to an amusing story about Iran, Turkey and Malaysia getting together to build an Islamic car. With tongue firmly in cheek, they add:

    You can just see an Islamist-run advertising agency positioning the new product:

    “The Islamic car is superior and will dominate over all other cars. If you want a fast-track to paradise you must buy the Islamic car, not drive those filthy decadent kuffar cars on their one-way street to the hell-fire. No need for a Satnav when our in-built Qur’an is the only guide you need. Choose any colour, as long as it’s green. No need to follow secular man-made traffic laws any more, Shariah law applies whilst driving. Women drivers must be accompanied by a close male relative. Should you get killed in an accident you will be considered a martyr. And of course no need for car insurance”.

    Brilliant! The comments are funny too.

    Filed under: Humour,Religion
    19th November, 2007

    Damn, these Chinese need energy!

    by Sunny at 5:29 pm    

    The New York Times has another interesting article on China’s energy needs:

    The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Dams are much cleaner producers of electricity, but they have displaced millions of people in China and carved a stark environmental legacy on the landscape.

    At the same time, China’s insatiable appetite for energy is mostly being met with a building spree of coal-fired power plants. Coal accounts for 67 percent of China’s energy supply. Just last year, China added 102 gigawatts of generating capacity, as much as the entire capacity of France.

    To ease its addiction to coal, China wants 15 percent of the country’s energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020, compared with 7.5 percent today. To do that, it is developing solar, wind and biomass projects so rapidly that some experts say it could soon become a world leader in renewable energy. Even so, forecasts show these sources will amount to less than 4 percent of the energy supply by 2020.

    In a few decades people will probably look back and ask how China became such a huge industrial power. This is probably how. If the country becomes a leader in renewable energy then Europe and the US will be left even further behind.

    Breaking the law

    by Rumbold at 11:10 am    

    Right-wing papers have a reputation for standing up for law and order. They condemn the criminals of today’s world, demanding more prisons and longer sentences. Yet the self-same columnists will often turn a blind eye to law-breaking when it is a law that they do not like, or even imply that it is okay to break the law. Thus a chief constable is labelled as the ‘Mad Mullah’ of the ‘Traffic Taliban’ for cracking down on speeding in his patch. Some columnists write about they went on a hunt and managed to evade detection by hunt monitors and the police.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Civil liberties
    17th November, 2007

    The Weekend Open Thread Delayed By SPORT

    by Clairwil at 4:26 pm    

    m>Hello,
    As anyone resident on the British Isles is aware there is no event on earth more important than a SPORTING event. Everything must stop for SPORT and the drinking that goes with it. I often wonder if women would be allowed to gather in such numbers to bellow abuse at folk and sing badly -like a mass hen night. Excuse my rotten mood but I’ve been fighting my way through gaggles of drunk kilted men all afternoon and even I’m starting to hate the Scots.

    Oh it was all so pleasant this morning a few flags, bagpipes and Rod Stewart on the radio -then the crowds came. For some inexplicable reason they’ve blocked the entrance to my flat. I wouldn’t mind but I resent being manhandled by drunks on my own doorstep.

    But enough of my whining I trust your weekends are all a bit happier. Let’s have the usual chit chat below and no fighting.

    Finally today’s clip is from ‘Grey Gardens’ otherwise known as Clairwil’s retirement plan.

    Update! There are now two clips -Thanks to Rohin for his suggestion.

    Filed under: Uncategorized

    Updated: Cyclone in Bangladesh (3000 dead)

    by Sunny at 4:21 am    

    I know it’s the weekend but this needs flagging up. Over 1000 3000 people are now feared dead in Bangladesh after a cyclone hit the country earlier this week. It could have been much worse, the last cyclone of similar strength caused much more damage.
    Blogger Rezwanul has been doing his best to cover this calamity. Mash has a few heart-felt words on blogging about Bangladesh. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is reporting on work they’ve been doing out there and you can donate to them (via).

    Filed under: Bangladesh,South Asia

    Corrupt British soldiers?

    by Kulvinder at 2:08 am    

    Having been a fan of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s writing for a while I try to read whatever articles he posts. His latest piece in the Guardian is astonishing:

    To reach Basra airport, the last remaining British base in Iraq, you have to pass through a series of Iraqi and British checkpoints. I took an official taxi, one that is permitted to drive into the airport. At a British checkpoint, a young soldier with sandy hair and a dirty flak jacket stuck his head through the window and said: “Badges.”

    The driver handed over his ID badge and I gave him my passport. He handed the passport back and kept the driver’s badge. “Money,” he said to the driver.

    “Me no money,” the driver said in broken English, forcing a big smile on to his face. “Money, moneeeyyy,” said the soldier. He pointed at the driver’s shirt pocket. “Me no money … me badge please,” the driver said, laughing.

    “You give money, I give you badge,” said the soldier. “Camera, camera,” said driver, pointing at the nearby British watchtower. “Money, money,” repeated the soldier.

    The driver handed the soldier a 5,000 Iraqi dinar note, worth around £1.50.

    The soldier tucked it in his pocket and said: “No, I want that.” He pointed at a red 25,000 note in the driver’s hand. The driver insisted, “No.” After a bit of haggling, he was handed the badge.

    “Fuck you, British,” the driver said as he sped off. “Isn’t it enough that I am paying at every Iraqi checkpoint? They all want money. My fare is 15,000 and by the time I pay everyone I am left with 5,000, and now you British. Fuck you. You don’t even have a moustache on your face and you want money.”

    I have no reason to suspect he lied about what happened, and for all I know some bizarre administration fee is haggled and charged to anyone entering the British base, but taken at face value some of the soldiers have become little more than another layer of petty corrupt ‘officialdom’.

    Filed under: Middle East
    16th November, 2007

    What is the point of the MCB?

    by Sunny at 9:17 am    

    Earlier this year at a City Circle event someone asked Inayat Bunglwala to cite the Muslim Council of Britain’s biggest achievement over the past ten years. I’m told he was genuinely at a loss to come up with an answer.

    My hostility towards Hindu, Sikh and Muslim “community leaders” is no secret, for reasons I outlined in this article last year. I genuinely feel they make life worse for all of us. One has to pay a bit of attention to understand how they do this.

    The Hindu Forum, run by Ramesh Kallidai, wants to separate Hindus from other brown people so it can get funding as the only Hindu representative. It managed to get some more cash recently by launching something called Hindu Aid. It has whipped up plenty of silly controversies in the past. It is linked to the RSS in India, which has its own anti-Sikh and anti-Muslim agenda. Ramesh Kallidai manifested this by making unsubstantiated allegations about Muslims forcibly converting Hindu/Sikh girls earlier this year. The Met Police has yet to be referred a single case on this claim.

    While the HFB mostly wants money, the Sikh Federation wants Khalistan. It is also frustrated that it doesn’t get enough attention so its chief asks Sikhs to get more angry. And it continually gets politicians to come to its events so it can slowly push the Khalistan agenda. None of the stupid politicians who support it know its background of course. Since Sikhs and Hindus aren’t constantly in the media, these organisations don’t have a media profile and so keep looking for the next controversy to whip up so they’ll get some press attention and eventually some money. They’ve learnt about Labour’s colonial approach to brown people.

    So what exactly does the MCB want? What is its purpose for existing? It has a huge media profile; it doesn’t do that badly for money (compared to the Hindus/Sikhs) and its position as the numero uno Muslim org isn’t under threat. So what is its point?

    It does a bad job of representing since polls constantly put its approval rating amongst Muslims between 10% - 15%. Even Bush has better ratings. It does a terrible job of representing Muslims because the two Bs (Bari and Bunglwala) do a brilliant job of annoying the hell out of everyone when they open their mouths.
    As Dal Nun Strong says:

    I can understand that Muslim representative groups must appear to represent ordinary Muslims in their foibles and attitudes. This seems to me a necessary and laudable position. But surely this could be compatible with offering advice to their constituency as to how best to avoid jarring and damaging situations that might give rise to negative press reports?

    I mean, after all, what benefit is there in representing a community in a manner that doesn’t admit the tensions, contradictions and difficulties that any impartial observer knows full well are there? I’m fairly certain that if the MCB took an approach to multiculturalism that celebrated the multiple cultures within the Muslim communities resident in Britain, it’d make more sense. Then we could have a national-level discussion that was more accurate and better focused.

    I’ll accept that the vast majority of the (right-wing) media is hostile to Muslims. In which case, isn’t it better for the MCB to be more tactful so they don’t exacerbate this paranoia? I think Dal Nun Strong’s point, that the MCB benefits by taking a hardline position, is also correct. By taking a confrontational attitude they satisfy their hardline members, while indicating to Muslims that they are their only saviours. As I’ve said before, if my only impression of British Muslims came from the MCB, then I’d be pretty paranoid too. I suspect the main reason only 23% of people agreed that: “Islam – as distinct from Islamic fundamentalist groups – poses a threat to Western liberal democracy,” was because people know Muslims personally and don’t see the MCB as representing everyone.

    There are serious problems that need to be dealt with: challenging the government’s attack on our civil liberties (especially of British Muslims); dealing with media bias and outright lies about Muslims; openly challenging the extremism of groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir. But the MCB is not up to these tasks because it doesn’t have the credibility, with govt ministers or most on the liberal-left. Labour then has little incentive to listen to its demands and Muslims lose out because people aren’t sympathetic to the organisation pushing that agenda. Someone else needs to step up to the task.

    15th November, 2007

    Religious hate crime in States

    by Sunny at 10:45 am    

    A friend of mine from NY sent me this story yesterday:

    In keeping with his Sikh faith, Harpal had kept his unshorn hair tucked inside a dastaar, a religious turban. The police say that his attacker, a high school senior named Umair Ahmed, had removed Harpal’s turban and cut his hair to punish him for making derogatory comments about Mr. Ahmed’s mother — comments for which Harpal had apologized. The Queens district attorney has charged Mr. Ahmed with a hate crime. The case is one of the few in which anyone has acted to stem bias-based harassment in city schools, though only after the damage has been done.

    And Harpal is not alone. A survey released by the Sikh Coalition this summer shows evidence of a larger pattern of harassment in New York City public schools. More than 75 percent of Sikh boys surveyed who attend schools in Queens complain of being regularly harassed and intimidated by classmates. Students hit them on the head or on their turbans, calling them “terrorists” or “diaperheads.”

    Many of them never report these incidents, because they doubt administrators will respond. Their fears are not unreasonable: the survey found that of those Sikh students who complained about being harassed, nearly one-third were ignored.

    The question is, should “hate-crime” based on a person’s race, sexuality or religion carry extra punishment? I’m not sure because on the one hand crime sentences should be uniformly addressed, on the other hand it looks like unless they are specifically addressed then the powers that be end up ignoring them. What’s also interesting is that this level of intimidation of Sikhs doesn’t seem to be replicated in the UK, going by anecdotal evidence.

    Filed under: Race politics,Religion

    “Govardhan Brown”

    by Sunny at 9:40 am    

    I’ve been sent this press release

    ********

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who opened the Sixth Annual Diwali reception at the House of Commons on 14 November, was given an honorary Hindu name by the Hindu Forum of Britain.

    Welcoming the Prime Minister to the multi-party reception attended by over 100 MPs and 200 community leaders to celebrate the Hindu festival of light, Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindi Forum of Britain said, “One of the meanings of the word ‘Gordon’ in Gaelic is a ‘hill with meadows’ . But in Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus, we have a word for this too. It is a name for Lord Krishna, and it also refers to a sacred hill, called ‘Govardhan’. We would therefore like to welcome you as an honorary member of our community, not as Gordon Brown, but as Govardhan Brown.”

    Replying, the Prime Minister thanked the Hindu Forum of Britain not only for organising this event here today, but also for the important role the Forum plays nationally in Britain. He envisaged this role will continue to grow. He also added that on his visit India early next year he would take the opportunity to speak to Prime Minister Singh about the success of the Hindu community in Britain.

    Other speakers at the reception, which was sponsored by Barclays Commercial, included Caroline Spelman, Chair of the Conservative Party, Vincent Cable, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Tony McNulty, Home Office Minister for Security and Policing, and Harriet Herman, Deputy Leader of the House.

    Harriet Herman launched a guide for Hindu charities published by the Hindu Forum of Britain. The guide, Working with a Hindu Ethos, is an easy reference book for Hindu groups who wish to form and run charitable organisations in keeping with Hindu values.

    ********

    When will these politicians learn not to suck up to “community leaders”?

    In other news…

    by Sunny at 3:56 am    

    Man marries dog. No really. Dang, I hate all kinds of superstition with a passion.

    Go on, best caption for this wins a prize. I know you can’t resist.

    Filed under: Humour
    14th November, 2007

    Electoral shenanigans in Gujarat

    by Rumbold at 12:14 pm    

    Sunny has repeatedly covered the 2002 Gujarat massacres and their aftermath, which saw Hindu mobs attack Muslims after a train carrying Hindus was set alight. Those at the top of the Gujurati political food chain have yet to answer for their complicity in the massacres and are still contesting elections.

    Indian TV station NDTV has now uncovered disturbing evidence that Muslim voters are being intimidated into not voting in the upcoming elections:

    “At a village in Mehsana district of Gujarat, complaints of Kalal Muslims, an extremely backward group, get lost in the din of frustration. Among the many complaints they have, one is the threat to their vote.

    During the last assembly elections their names were suddenly transferred from the polling booth at this government school to the RSS-run Thakker Adarsh High School. ”My parents went to vote and they weren’t allowed to vote. Our vote was in this government school nearby, I don’t know why they had to send us to this Adarsh School farther away,” said Rafiq.

    No one actually has an explanation for why this shift happened.

    In Kadi tehsil alone, 25 polling booths have been shifted to RSS-run institutes, the official reason, there was no other alternative. When NDTV visited the Adarsh School polling booth, we were greeted with a larger than life statue of Bharat mata.”

    Continue Reading...
    13th November, 2007

    Spain strikes a blow against freedom of speech

    by Rumbold at 5:19 pm    

    Spain reminded us today that it had yet to fully shake off the mindset of Franco’s dictatorship:

    “Two Spanish cartoonists have been found guilty of offending the royal family and fined 3,000 euros (£2,100) each. Their cartoon, on the front page of the weekly satirical magazine El Jueves in July, depicted Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia having sex.

    The edition was pulled from newsstands across the country by police. A judge said that El Jueves’ Guillermo Torres and Manel Fontdevila “had vilified the crown in the most gratuitous and unnecessary way”.

    Continue Reading...

    Gordon Brown’s Foreign Policy

    by Rumbold at 11:34 am    

    Gordon Brown spoke about his foreign policy in detail for the first time since becoming Prime Minister. Previously, Mr. Brown was considered to be obsessed with domestic policy, with foreign affairs very much on the periphery:

    Continue Reading...
    12th November, 2007

    Doing the terrorists’ work for them

    by Sunny at 9:12 am    

    Last week the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, warned that Britain faced an increased threat from al-Qaida-inspired terrorism and is now home to at least 2,000 people who pose a direct threat to the country’s security. At which point the Muslim Council of Britain’s stick-foot-in-mouth department promptly sprung into action and they accused him of ‘creating tensions’. Somehow I don’t think the public are going to buy that narrative.

    But then the MCB doesn’t care how silly it looks, because its head Dr Abdul Bari turned up in the Telegraph a few days later to say: “[Salman Rushdie] caused a huge amount of distress and discordance with his book, it should have been pulped.”

    But what about books sold in Muslims bookshops that incite hatred?

    The bookshops are independent businesses. We can’t just go in and tell them what to sell … I will see what books they keep, if they have one book which looks like it is inciting hatred, do they have counter books on the same shelf?

    David from Mediawatchwatch says: “Fair enough. Pity he cannot see the contradiction.” Indeed.

    Anyway, while the headlines focused on the grooming of terrorists, they missed this bit out.

    As for the media, its duty, he informed an audience of editors, is to avoid using any words the colonel’s operation would like it to use. “Anything which enables it to claim to be representative of Islam; anything that gives a spurious legitimacy to its twisting of theology will only play into its hands,” he said. “So we’ve got to be sure that what is said neither explicitly nor implicitly makes this easier for them.” Although he did not, regrettably, favour us with any authorised euphemisms, Evans left journalists in no doubt that the use of terms such as Islamist, extreme Islamist, Islamic terrorist, radical Islamist and jihadist is not only officially deprecated, it has evidently joined the ever growing list of activities which Do the Terrorists’ Work for Them.

    And this is where the MCB, the head of MI5 and I would agree completely. However, I bet you lots of money, that most of those constantly using the statistics cited above by Evans will conveniently ignore that piece of advice.

    9th November, 2007

    Happy Diwali

    by Rumbold at 10:07 am    

    Pickled Politics says a ‘Happy Diwali’ to all those Sikhs, Hindus and Jains out there. Hope there are enough candles to go around, and watch out for many-headed demons.

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