30th December, 2007

Women in South Asian politics

by Rumbold at 8:16 pm    

Over at Comment is Free, Pickled Politics commentator and occasional guest blogger Rupa Huq writes about the political prominence which some women have achieved in South Asia, and contrasts that with the relative lack of success enjoyed by British Asian women:

“UK public opinion often perceives Asian women as passive and submissive. The first ethnic minority MPs of recent times were elected in 1987. They included an Asian man (Keith Vaz) and a black woman (Diane Abbot), but no Asian women. Ten years on and this is still the case. Common opinion has it that Asians “in Asia” are more backward than British-based ones. However Pakistan, Bangladesh and India have all had women at the helm in recent history. In India Indira Ghandi presided over the world’s largest democracy. Bhutto’s election in 1988 made her the first ever woman premier of a Muslim country.

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29th December, 2007

If Ever We Needed an Open Thread!

by Clairwil at 1:25 am    

Hello folk,
I’m just home and may it please you to know I am now Aunty Clairwil to young Angela. Naturally I’m taking my ‘aunty’ responsibilities very seriously -a library has been started! It’s a weird one. I wouldn’t wish bookishness on my worst enemy but I am compelled to foist it on my poor niece. I am diseased.

I realise it’s not the happiest time in history but this thread is for personal triumphs, failures, nothing of consequence, plans, jokes, videos, cute kittens -that sort of thing.

NO POLITICS! NOTHING SERIOUS PLEASE! I HOLD THE DELETE BUTTON AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT!!!!

Filed under: Current affairs
27th December, 2007

Bhutto murdered

by Rumbold at 5:00 pm    

Benazir Bhutto was murdered:

“Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack. Ms Bhutto had just addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi when she was shot in the neck by a gunman who then set off a bomb. At least 16 other people died in the attack and several more were injured.”

Update: Criticism so far has focused on the apparent ease at which the assassins were able to get to Bhutto’s vehicle, with some suggesting that her security detail was either too few, too lax, bribed, or ordered to stand aside for the bombers. However, for all the speculation, no concrete facts about the identity and motivation of the murderers has yet emerged.

Anti-Christian feeling in America, and anti-Muslim persecution in Pakistan

by Rumbold at 12:09 pm    

As the American Presidental race continues, Mitt Romney has seen his religion come under severe scrutiny. He portrays himself as the candidate for the religious right, but many of that group are unhappy with his Mormon faith, which they consider to be un-Christian:

“Although Mormons are known for family centeredness, hard work and clean living, many Americans remain suspicious of them, maybe because so many aspects of their faith remain mysterious. A poll conducted in June by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg found that 35% of registered voters said they would not consider voting for a Mormon for President. Only Islam would be a more damaging faith for a candidate, the poll found.”

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25th December, 2007

Merry Christmas

by Rumbold at 1:23 am    

Pickled Politics wishes everyone a Happy Christmas, and reminds you that this is the one day of the year that you should spend with your families, not reading Pickled Politics, innit.

If you are reading this, then reflect on who you would cast in the Pickled Politics nativity play (to start the ball rolling, I would cast Douglas Clark as one of the wise men, even though he is left-wing).

(This is a time-delayed post, so I am not actually up at this time).

Season’s greetings and happy Winterval!

Filed under: Blog,Religion
24th December, 2007

Modi wins

by Rumbold at 2:57 pm    

Narenda Modi has been re-elected as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, with the BJP taking 117 out of 182 seats in the state assembly, 10 fewer than in 2002, though more than expected:

“Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Hinduvta’s poster boy, on Sunday led the BJP to a spectacular victory in the state, crushing the Congress and catapulting himself firmly on the national political stage.

A triumphant Narendra Modi thanked the people of the state for once again reposing faith in him and appealed to all political parties to have a positive attitude and help him build a ‘Golden Gujarat’.”

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Filed under: Current affairs,India
22nd December, 2007

Pieces of a childhood

by Sid (Faisal) at 3:31 pm    

Here are the first and second prizewinners of the UNICEF Photo of the Year award for 2007.

First Prize: Child Brides [photo: Stephanie Sinclair]

Afghan Bride

Meet the Afghani newlyweds. He, Faiz, is forty and she, Ghulam, is eleven. “We needed the money”, Ghulam’s parents said. Faiz claims he is going to send her to school. But the women of Damarda village in Afghanistan’s Ghor province know better: “Our men don’t want educated women.” They predict that Ghulam will be married within a few weeks after her engagement in 2006, so as to bear children for Faiz.

Early marriages are not only a problem in Afghanistan: worldwide there are about 51 million girls aged between 15 and 19 years who are forced into marriage. The youngest brides live in the Indian state of Rajasthan, where 15% of all wives are not even 10 years old when they are married. Child marriages are a reaction to extreme poverty and mainly take place in Asian and African regions where poor families see their daughters as a burden and as second-class citizens. Already in their younger years, girls are given into the “care” of a husband, a tradition that often leads to exploitation. Many girls become victims of domestic violence. In an Egyptian survey, about one-third of the interviewed child brides stated that they were beaten by their husbands. The young brides are under pressure to prove their fertility as soon as possible. But the risk for girls between the ages of 10 and 14 not to survive pregnancy is five times higher than for adult women. Every year, about 150,000 pregnant teenagers die due to complications – in particular due to a lack of medical care, let alone sex education.

Second Prize: Child Labourer [photo: G.M.B. Akash]

Bangladeshi Child Labourer

Child Labour is pervasive in Bangladesh and it is not uncommon to see children working in all kinds of labour from domestic servants to factory labourers.

According to UNICEF estimates, about 3.3 million children in Bangladesh are involved in child labor – almost 20% of the working population, despite efforts during the 1990s to ban child labor in the textile industry. Many children are forced to carry out hazardous work with dangerous chemicals in paint shops, workshops and tanneries. A child worker receives 60 Taka per day (less than 1 Dollar), about one-third of the regular wage for adults. Factory owners prefer to employ children, thereby keeping trade unions out of their factories. By entering the labor market at such an early age, children have no chance of getting an education and consequently no chance of getting better-paid jobs.

Eid Mubarak and a Happy Christmas to the children who are not going to be sharing in the joy of the festivities, who’s lives have been blighted by forced marriage, child labour and abuse.

Filed under: Uncategorized

On holiday!

by Sunny at 11:23 am    

Hello peeps! I’ve been in Los Angeles for the past week, which has made it difficult to blog. But I see some of the other Picklers are doing a fine job in my absence. I’m going AWOL this weekend until after new years – you have been warned. After that I shall be re-surfacing, once I’ve recovered, to blog about the American elections. They kick off in earnest on 3rd January.

So in the meantime have a great Christmas / Hannukah (belated) / Eid and new years! The party season has begun.

Filed under: Blog

Taking our jobs and our women

by Sunny at 2:19 am    

Typical bigotry from the News of the World:

A girlfriend set to marry her fiancé flushed her relationship down the drain when she started having sex with their Polish plumber. Besotted Lindsey Goodman, 26, has now left Philip Martin and moved in with new love Adam Stojak.

Randy Stojak—one of the millions of East Europeans over here accused of taking British jobs—admitted he had no qualms about stealing our women too. He said: “I have made love to a few girls over here, and so have my friends from Poland.

The NotW might as well be run by Asians since they are great at these stories. In August I pointed out how this was very prevalent during Partition. Good to know that they’re stealing our women bigotry and sexism is alive and kicking in our national media too. *shakes head*
via Parbury

Filed under: Culture,Media
20th December, 2007

Nick Clegg: ‘I don’t believe in God’

by Leon at 10:34 am    

When I read the news yesterday that new LibDem leader Nick Clegg openly admitted he doesn’t believe in god I had one reaction: “Brave man”.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats’ new leader, has defied political convention with a frank admission that he is an atheist.

During a round of media broadcasts on the morning after his election to the post, he was asked by one interviewer: “Do you believe in God?”

“No,” Mr Clegg answered simply, during an appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live. [Via The Times Online]

Continue Reading...
19th December, 2007

Policy Exchange’s unanswered questions

by Sunny at 10:46 pm    

The argument between Newsnight and Policy Exchange is, quite rightly, carrying on. On Monday The Times published an apology to the MCB’s Dr Abdul Bari for claiming the East London Mosque was responsible for hate-literature Policy Exchange had unearthed.

That evening, writing on Newsnight’s blog, journalist Richard Watson said:

A professional document examiner found evidence that three of the receipts may have been fabricated. Later, we had concerns about the authenticity of another receipt – from Al Muntada mosque in south west London – so that makes a total of six questionable receipts.

Now it seems that there are doubts about the quality and reliability of the research in a seventh case – East London Mosque.

This then is very similar to the scenario set out to us by the management at Tawhid mosque in Leyton, a case we did feature in our film. Policy Exchange has accepted its researcher bought books from the bookshop next door but argue it was justified in saying in the report that they came from the mosque because, they say, its researcher was led from the mosque into the bookshop to buy the books – and that means the mosque approved the material. If this was the case, then why is this not spelled out in the report?

And by the way, we still haven’t had an answer from Policy Exchange to that simple question: do they believe all of the receipts are genuine?

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The Media, Faith-hate and the Hero

by Sid (Faisal) at 1:57 am    

By all accounts, race-hate attacks have increased linearly in the last few years here in the UK.

In 2004, a staggering 33,2374 victims of racially-motivated crime were helped by charities in England and Wales. Prosecutions were up 22% to 5,788 racial incidents in the 2004-2005 period.

Included, and often related, in these race-hate incidents are faith-hate incidents which have also risen sharply. Britain suffered the highest rise in anti-semitic attacks of any country in 2004, with 304 incidents (an increase from 163 the year before). Ninety two of these attacks took place in July, a month after the war in Lebanon began. France tops the list of countries with anti-semitic violence with Britain following close behind.

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Filed under: Current affairs
18th December, 2007

Shameless dishonesty

by Rumbold at 8:06 pm    

For a while now, the Brown government has been beset by scandal after scandal, from dodgy donations to losing confidental information. Nothing though seems to sum up the Brown mentality like this story:

“THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) is facing legal action over plans to cut the pensions of Gurkhas by sacking them three years before they are due to leave the army. The move, which means the MoD will avoid having to pay an ordinary Gurkha soldier more than £200,000, is to be challenged in the courts by the British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF).

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Filed under: Current affairs

Nick Clegg: LibDems new leader

by Leon at 2:45 pm    

The BBC has the news:

Nick Clegg has won the race to become the next Lib Dem leader, acting leader Vincent Cable has announced.

Mr Clegg, 40, beat Chris Huhne, 53, to become the party’s third leader in three years.

LibDem Voice has the vote breakdown:

Nick Clegg – 20,988
Chris Huhne – 20,477
Turnout – 41,465

500 votes winning margin? Talk about close!

So, how does this change things, if anything? Consider this a semi open thread for thoughts, reactions and predictions…

Filed under: Party politics

The Indians are coming…

by Sunny at 12:31 pm    

The Indian conglomerate Tata is on the verge of buying Range Rover and Jaguar from American car-maker Ford. Cue a rant from Rod Liddle or Jeremy Clarkson or something… Amusingly, the Sun says:

The ground-breaking deal will be the first time major Western car makers have been bought by an Indian firm. It will also see two of the final components of Britain’s crumbling motoring empire fall into foreign hands.

Erm, except that those two components of the “British motoring empire” were already in foreign hands – American. A Freudian slip maybe? Who knows… Tata already owns Tetley Tea by the way. Heh.

Given the giddy heights that the Bombay stock market reached from July this year, and is expected to climb next year, expect a lot Indian companies awash with cash buying British or American firms. Maybe. Who knows with emerging markets.

Saudi rape victim pardoned

by Sunny at 8:26 am    

Associated Press is reporting that:

A gang-rape victim who was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes for being alone with a man not related to her was pardoned by the Saudi king after the case sparked rare criticism from the United States, the kingdom’s top ally.

Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik said the pardon reported Monday by Saudi media does not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but that he was acting in the “interests of the people.”

What he means is that western media outrage, which led to the issue being raised with President Bush, forced the Saudi king to back down. For the victim this is undoubtedly good news and I would hope this incident would make the Saudi legislative think again next time when they convict rape victims. Though, I doubt it. Governments are understandably reluctant to tell other countries how they should treat their own citizens, lest it comes back to haunt them.

For lefties there are (possibly) added dimensions to such stories. On the one hand there is the “anti-imperialist left”, where activists are convinced that these stories are only highlighted in the western media to indicate how superior the west is, and any attempts by “imperialists” to dictate to the down-trodden East should be resisted. You know who they are – the kind that would happily condemn Iraqi “traitors” to death for helping British armed forces.

Then there is the “anti-totalitarian left” who jump on every such news story as example of how superior “western values” are. After all, we are in a clash of values remember? There’s no space for moral relativism here people; you’re either for freedom or a supporter of “Islamo-fascism”! They develop an interest in women’s rights across the Muslim world but are curiously silent about the attack on abortion rights in the UK or in other parts of the world. As Pankaj Mishra recently pointed out:

Almost every day newspaper columnists berate Islam, often couching their prejudice in the highly moral language of women’s rights: it is not due to oversight that Indian women murdered for failing to bring sufficient dowry – a staggering 6,787 in 2005 – occupy a fraction of the print acreage devoted to the tiny minority of veiled Muslim women.

Despite the unhealthy obsessions that lie on either sides, I believe the broader liberal-left should make a big stink about such issues (including forced marriages / honour killings) otherwise we betray the women who are subjugated. I believe liberal-lefties are guilty of not saying enough on such issues, leaving it to feminists to make noise and try to get support for their causes.

Women’s rights is still an issue

by Desi Italiana at 4:56 am    

Since November, most of the world’s attention has been on the “Emergency” (or rather, martial law) in Pakistan. And rightfully so. But the media has barely mentioned the grueling realities that still take place in Pakistan. The Trend Analysis of Human Rights Violations in 2005-2006 report by the formidable Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (whose chairwoman Asma Jehangir was placed under house arrest by Musharraf and accused of being “quite an unbalanced character“) found that there was a “substantial increase in human rights violations from 2005 to 2006.”

The key findings were:

  • In the category of “killings,” which includes honor killings, adultery killings, and murder unrelated to the two former types, 2006 saw a 29% increase in cases since 2005. In general killings, 91% of all victims were women. The majority of women killed were married, and the primary reason for killings were for adultery. Most of the accused were the women’s husbands. Honor killings rose by 24%, though the number of cases is likely to be underreported.
  • Rape and gang-rape increased by 129% in 2006, and most of the women raped are married.  Rape cases involving minors doubled since 2005. HRCP points out that “the accused in the rape cases are predominantly influential people in the
    community or landlords with the highest number of rapists in both 2005 and 2006, residents of the victim’s community.”
  • Kidnapping cases also doubled since 2005, usually at the hands of  an “acquaintance”, “local resident”, “neighbour” and “close-relative,” as well as the government, especially post September 2001. There has also been an increase in abduction and forced religious conversation of Hindu and Christian female minors who are then married off to older Muslim men.
  • Burning, stove related burns and acid throwing increased, with the latter doubling, with husbands once again the primary culprits.
  • Suicides and attempted suicides increased by 44.5%.Only in this category are the majority of victims men. For Christians and
    Hindus, there was a 145% increase.The most common reasons for suicide/attempted suicide were domestic problems, “admonishment,” and unemployment. The percentage of minors committing or attempting suicide rose as well. The most preferred method was to poison themselves with pesticides.
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17th December, 2007

Will the BNP come to London?

by Sunny at 9:29 pm    

This is a press release sent to me

London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi has issued a call to arms to London’s voters, saying the British National Party (BNP) have a “real and worryingly good chance” of winning seats in next year’s GLA elections.

Because of the electoral system used for the GLA, the far-right British National Party need only 5 per cent of London’s votes to gain a seat on the Assembly; 8 per cent would give them two seats. At the last election in 2004, Nick Griffin’s party were just 0.1% away from winning a seat.

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Filed under: Race politics

Beginnings of the British Empire in India and the Mughal open thread

by Rumbold at 4:05 pm    

The first Englishmen to reach India did so during the reign of Akbar in the 16th century. They were few and far between, and of little significance in the grander scheme of things. It was not until the 17th century that the English really began to leave their imprint on India.

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Filed under: History
14th December, 2007

Send helicopters to Darfur

by Sunny at 9:40 pm    

Steve M writes in to say: “I am shocked to read that no country has contributed any of the helicopters that the UN need to send their troops to Darfur. I have started a petition to Gordon Brown for Britain to set an example by contributing 5 of the required helicopters, in the hope that this might at least stir things up a bit. It must be worth a try.”

Read more on his blog and sign the 10 Downing St petition. We need a peace-keeping force in Darfur.

Filed under: Middle East

Christmas comes early for President Musharraf

by Fe'reeha at 8:40 pm    

It seems as if with the Christmas season in full swing, everyone is looking at the world with Santa Claus eyes. Things are not much different in Pakistan either apparently!

The state of emergency bought the government of Pakistan much needed time. While some may have foreseen that one day the President would magically disperse into thin air by the strong wave of anti-Musharraf rallies which started with the removal of Chief Justice of Pakistan in March, the Washington-backed officials in Islamabad were writing a different thawing agenda for the winters in Pakistan.

As December kicked in, the seemingly civilianised President is presenting a democratic picture to the world as he gave up his post of the Chief of Army staff.

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13th December, 2007

Government still failing on ‘honour’ killings

by Rumbold at 8:48 pm    

Despite all its rhetoric about protecting women, the government has yet to fully come to terms with the steps necessary to reduce the number of ‘honour’ killings. However, it is not just the government at fault, but the state apparatus, which cannot seem to comprehend what is needed. The following story about an Iranian asylum seeker illustrates this point:

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Ho Ho Ho

by Rumbold at 3:37 pm    

It appears that the BNP are having a bit of an internal tiff (via David T):

“The BNP is today in deep crisis after the expulsion from the party of two of its national officers. According to a notice posted on Sunday 9 December on the revamped BNP website, Sadie Graham, the party’s hard-working group development officer, and Kenny Smith, in charge of administration, have been “removed from their posts with immediate effect on the grounds of gross misconduct and now face disciplinary charges over alleged offences against the BNP Constitution and Code of Conduct”.

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Filed under: The BNP

co-comment

by Sunny at 3:43 am    

As a trial, I’m integrating this widget called ‘co-comment’, which allows you to extend the functionality of online debate. Any feedback would be appreciated…. I’m trying it for about a month or so.

Filed under: Blog
12th December, 2007

World’s largest bank? Indian!

by Sunny at 12:57 pm    

In years to come, that Goodness Gracious Me sketch will become legendary. I was reminded of it when reading this NY Times article:

Citigroup, the world’s largest bank, named Vikram S. Pandit, a native of Nagpur, India, as its chief executive on Tuesday. Mr. Pandit joins 14 other foreign-born chiefs who are running Fortune 100 companies. The head of the Altria Group was born in Egypt, for example. PepsiCo’s is from India, the Liberty Mutual Group’s is a native of Ireland and Alcoa’s was born in Morocco.

Their numbers have jumped from roughly a decade ago; there were nine foreign-born chief executives on Fortune’s list of the 100 largest companies in 1996. But the size of the new group does not reflect a noteworthy change — they come from more far-flung countries now than then, when they were more likely to hail from Canada or Europe.

First they take over the crappy menial jobs, then accountancy positions, and then the top jobs! Look out for the upcoming article by Rod Liddle. In the UK, the head of Vodafone is Indian, and so was the head of Orange until recently. It’s political correctness gone mad.

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