‘Honour’-based violence nearly claims another victim:
“Police were appealing for witnesses today following the attempted murder of a man who was doused in petrol and set on fire in east London. The 20-year-old, who is fighting for his life in hospital, was torched as he sat in his car in Forest Gate. It is believed the Hindi victim, who suffered 65 per cent burns in the attack, was targeted because he was dating a Muslim girlfriend. He had just parked his car, a green Honda Prelude, in St Georgeâ€™s Road when he was approached by the suspect or suspects and had petrol poured over him before being set alight…
Two men aged 20 and 21 have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and released on bail.Today’s appeal comes as a 15-year-old girl and a man in his 20s are both still critically ill after being set alight in two separate attacks in the Greater London area last weekend.”
Update: Police have charged 24 year old Nadim Kurrimbukus from Hounslow with attempted murder.
Boris Johnson has admitted that he had not read a key document setting out how the 2012 Olympic Games will be funded and insisted “I doubt it exists” – even though it is publicly available on the Culture Department’s website.
In the continuing saga of David Davis’ courageous fight for freedom there will be electoral casualties, there will be the politically wounded, there will be lectures telling you you’re Just Plain Wrong Because You Don’t Get What’s At Stake and there will serious happenings like the following:
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is threatening to sue a Cabinet minister she says “set out to smear” her dealings with ex-Tory MP David Davis. Ms Chakrabarti said that she would sue Culture Secretary Andy Burnham if “you continue down the path of innuendo and attempted character assassination.”
There are smarter ways to make your views known about this emerging coalition of liberals, bloggers and David Davis. Mr Burnham’s way isn’t one of them.
Update: David T over at the much lamented Harry’s Place thinks Shami should ‘Fuck off’…
The latest piece of culture relating to Iraq has come in the form of Brian De Palma’s film Redacted, a fictional documentary set around the rape and klling of 14-year-old Iraqi girl who shot in the face and burned, along with other members of her family, by US soldiers two years ago. I welcome any film about Iraq, if only to keep it on the agenda and its memory alive as it fights to survive whilst in the clutches of a crippling invasion and civil war. “The true story of the war in Iraq has been redacted from the mainstream corporate media. The pictures are what will stop the war. If we get these pictures and stories in front of a mass audience, maybe it will do something.” Says De Palma. Other films on the Iraq war include Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah and Nick Broomfield’s Battle for Haditha which was brilliant yet harrowing.
Sarfraz Manzoor argues in the Guardian that the use of embedded journalists make coverage of the war more partisan than Vietnam, for instance, where the media weren’t dependant on the invading force and were therefore partially responsible, as some have argued, for turning American public opinion against the war.
But what about the countless Iraqi voices? The new tools of mass communicaiton that have made it possible for soldiers to film mobile phone footage, a medium used in De Palma’s mockumentary, have also given ordinary Iraqi civilians a voice. We of course have the famous Baghdad blogger Salam Pax and the Iraqi civilian-turned-journalist Ghaith Abdul Ahad, who is now a widely acclaimed, award winning reporter, writing independently of any country or political group from the frontlines and from his own home. He would have made Edward Said proud.
Of course the latter had his reservations about the Iraq war being another Orientalist imperial adventure, which it was. He argued that “Without a well-organised sense that these people [Iraqis] over there were not like ‘us’ and didn’t appreciate ‘our’ values â€” the very core of traditional orientalist dogma â€” there would have been no war.” Indeed, ‘The Arab Mind’ by Raphael Patai, a classic Orientalist reductionist tome about the alien Arab other, was used to “educate” US army officers before sending them to fight in Iraq. The Guardian’s Middle East editor Brian Whitaker has his qualms about the unavoidable Orientalist taint when a Westerner covers the Iraq war. He needn’t worry about that, especially when there are so many jobless Iraqis now who would be more than perfect for the job.
Terry Sanderson, the head of National Secular Society, argues that faith groups should not receive government money to carry out charitable activities:
” Indeed, many church organisations do carry out wonderful work with hard-to-reach people and they should be applauded for their efforts. But should they receive public money to do it? Surely the very definition of charitable work is that it is done and financed from the pockets of people of goodwill, not by the taxpayer. More importantly, should these “faith groups” be invited to take on even more social and welfare work that has traditionally been done by secular local authorities and central government?”
“Pakistani Finance Minister Naveed Qamar has revealed the details of his country’s defence budget to parliament for the first time in 40 years…The army accounts for 188bn rupees ($2.80bn) out of a total defence expenditure of 294bn rupees ($4.39bn). The country’s air force gets 71bn rupees ($1.07bn), while the navy gets a comparatively measly 29bn rupees ($432m). Most of the army’s budget is going to be spent on its staff. The case is similar as far as the air force and navy are concerned. Operational costs for the two services are listed as 16bn ($238m) and 4bn rupees ($59.56m).”
The overall level of government spending is two trillion rupees, or around Â£15 billion, which suggests that the official budget for the military is not excessive given the circumstances. What would be more interesting to know is the real cost of the military, as the military controls so many companies.
Boris Johnson’s “cultural advisor” Munira Mirza goes from bad to worse. As Dave Hill pointed out last week, the annual Rise Festival has this year been expunged off its anti-racism message. The festival is held annually in London.
Munira Mirza then wrote this piece for CIF, which was so bad that it was fisked very nicely on BorisWatch for its gratuitous amounts of bull. The BNP representative in London, who pushed on this issue, is very happy.
All this shouldn’t be surprising – after all she is following the party (Policy Exchange) line. A few years ago she published this report, arguing that the arts were being damaged by targets that focused on “social exclusion” and other political goals than the pursuit of arts in itself. I mean, who the hell wants social exclusion anyway? This is simply the outcome of that view.
The view is naive on several levels. Firstly, the arts is predominantly a middle-class white activity and its practioners self-reinforce that by commissioning art from that demographic and then attracting audiences who primarily relate to that. So some money is used to fund arts activity by people of more deprived backgrounds and of ethnic minority backgrounds (which usually overlaps) for the sake of widening the scope of British Arts and the audiences that consume it. Not very different to when I argue that television production has become a middle-class activity and that leads to crap like the BBC White Season.
Secondly and more importantly, Munira Mirza seems to ignore the social impact of political messages through music and arts. The point about Rise was to keep the anti-racism message the predominant narrative. It was big events like Rock Against Racism that made anti-racism the socially acceptable position. She seems to think that despite a BNP member being elected on to the assembly, there’s no evidence of racism becoming more socially acceptable. Instead, because only around 70% of the audience were white, it meant the festival wasn’t diverse enough (yes, that’s her argument!). Sheesh.
Next up: the London Mela a bad idea because there’s too many Asians there.
The question is, what should us liberal-minded folk do? We didnâ€™t pick this fight or choose Davis to be our champion, but can we really afford to sit back and watch? Iâ€™ve lost count of the number of blog posts and facebook groups Iâ€™ve skimmed past denouncing Davis for being a hypocrite on the issue of civil liberties. That may be so, but what is more hypocritical? A hang â€˜em, flog â€˜em politician standing up for fundamental civil liberties or a smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence because the one person taking a stand doesnâ€™t pass a â€œpurityâ€ test.
I’m very attracted to this view. But I think in order to bring over the lefties in general, something else will be required James. Though, I do share your concern too.
Americans, who have debated race relations since the dawn of the Republic, may find it hard to grasp the degree to which race, like religion, remains a taboo topic in France. While Mr. Obama talks about running a campaign transcending race, an increasing number of French blacks are pushing for, in effect, the reverse.
Having always thought it was more racially enlightened than strife-torn America, France finds itself facing the prospect that it has actually fallen behind on that score. Incidents like the ones over the weekend bring to mind the rioting that exploded across France three years ago. Since it abolished slavery 160 years ago, the country has officially declared itself to be colorblind â€” but seeing Mr. Obama, a new generation of French blacks is arguing that itâ€™s high time here for precisely the sort of frank discussions that in America have preceded the nomination of a major black candidate.
When he sat down to talk the other morning, the first two words out of his mouth were Barack Obama. “The idea behind not categorizing people by race is obviously good; we want to believe in the republican ideal,â€ he said. â€œBut in reality weâ€™re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesnâ€™t make them equal.”
He ticked off some obvious numbers: one black member representing continental France in the National Assembly among 555 members; no continental French senators out of some 300; only a handful of mayors out of some 36,000, and none from the poor Paris suburbs.
Careful! I might be promoting a supremacist racist agenda here! Sunny the communalist in action! I admit that I find American discussions on race in the media far more frank than here or in Europe. Apparently, just mentioning the word “brown” or “black” in Britain makes you a foot-soldier for the Muslim Council of Britain.
A Sikh schoolgirl who was excluded from lessons when she refused to remove a religious bracelet should not have been told to take it off because it is a symbol of faith and not a piece of jewellery, the High Court heard.
Lawyers acting for Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, referred the judge to a photograph of Monty Panesar, the first Sikh cricketer to play for England, wearing a similar plain steel bangle, known as a Kara. Sarika claims she was was the victim of unlawful discrimination. Helen Mountfield, for Sarika, told the court: “there is no string of authority to say that school uniform rules may trump religious dress codes”
From the Telegraph. Interesting! I thought banning her wearing the Kara was silly anyway. It is a key tenet to Sikhism.
Recently a Conservative member of the Welsh assembly was disciplined by the Tories for calling Italians â€œgreasy wopsâ€. While this was evidently a racist insult, the whole story has a faintly comical tone:
â€Welsh politician Alun Cairns made the slur in a radio phone-in show. He was discussing which football team he was supporting at Euro 2008. A guest on the BBC Cymru show said she wrote “nice food” next to Italy. Mr Cairns said: “I’ve written greasy wops!” He has since apologised.â€
So you are a politician appearing on live radio, are handed a sheet of countries playing at Euro 2008, and your first instinct is to write â€œgreasy wopsâ€ next to the Italians. One can only wonder what he wrote next to the other countries. This got me thinking about why we consider certain words to be insulting, and more specifically, about the term â€˜Pakiâ€™, happily heard less and less.
Most labels used to define a group, whether an ethnic one or a religious one, have come from outsiders. Many of these terms were meant as an insult. Thus the first Protestants called themselves members of the â€˜Reformed Religionâ€™, while it was Roman Catholics who labelled them as â€˜Protestantsâ€™ (for protesting against an edict hostile to the new religion), â€˜Lutheranâ€™ (followers of Martin Luther), or â€˜Calvinistâ€™ (followers of John Calvin), in an attempt to discredit them.
I was literally about to post the same thing but the excellent RecessMonkey got there first so the hat tip is his:
Attention seeking egotist, David â€œbasherâ€ Davis has launched his new website. The masthead – featuring a load of fuzzily-unidentifiable â€œendorsersâ€ makes it clear that this is a â€œWhites Onlyâ€ campaign.
According to the scooptastic PR Week, Lobby firm Fleishman Hillard is thought to be behind the Davis campaign.
Sunny was right; Brown people better watch out freedom aint for us!*
*please note this is a joke, I feel the need to add that given the large number of over the top postings these past few days…
One of my main themes on Pickled Politics has always been to explore identity politics. The process isn’t always one way – it’s for me to learn about, but also for me to communicate with a white audience that doesn’t always seem to get it. So given that its the raison d’etre of this blog, I’m going to explore it further, given yesterday’s amusing responses.
So here’s another start on Identity Politics 101.
1) People have multiple identities, whether racial, religious, cultural, national, lifestyle, sexual etc. Those identities exist in context. When you’re at home, the cultural and religious side matters more; at a restaurant, your vegetarian side becomes more applicable. It is also true that if you feel one of those identities is under attack, unfairly, then you may decide to drop it or become more attached to it. This is one of the reasons why the media paranoia about Muslim self-identification effectively perpetuates it.
2) When it comes to politics, we usually vote along self-interest. If you’re poor you’re more likely to support a party promising better tax redistribution; feminists will look for women friendly policies; minorities may look towards parties who support immigration or aren’t overtly racist against them. After all, who the hell would vote for a party that goes against their self-interest?
3) Identity politics cannot die unless the state physically stops people having identities. What I’ve always campaigned against is undemocratic organisations claiming to represent religious identities, and that too when they have ulterior motives. I can no more stop Muslims identifying with their religion than you can stop me from caring about animal rights.
4) Identities also don’t go away if inequality exists. So, the existence of racism will always keep alive some sense of victimisation and self-identification with others in the same boat (to varying degrees). Similarly, patriarchy isn’t something dreamt up by feminists – it exists. Which is why feminists self-identify around women issues. Is it wrong for them to do so?
I also made this point in this article on Obama, arguing why its natural he attracts overwhelming black support in America. Neil, if you can handle something nuanced, try reading it.
But Olbermann contends that the labored pretense of neutrality in the news business is a fruitless exercise. â€œThere are people who, with absolute conviction, believe that Brian Williams is a Communist,â€ he said. â€œThere are people who, with absolute conviction, believe that Katie Couric is in the pay of the Pentagon. There are people who are absolutely certain that Charlie Gibson sleeps with Hillary Clinton, based on the last debate. This is an old schoolyard thing I learned from being repeatedly beat up in the fourth grade. It finally dawned on me one dayâ€”they are going to keep beating me up whether I respond to them or not.â€ Olbermann continued, â€œBrian sometimes looks like his collar button is going to burst from the restraint that he has. I know the pain that he goes through; he measures each word like an apothecaryâ€”and they beat him up, too. The point is, why not? Why not add something to the discourse?â€
Two new writers are going to be writing semi-regularly for Pickled Politics from tomorrow. One is Zeenat, and the other is Ala Abbas. Zeenat has already published something here recently about Banglatown. Ala is a British-Iraqi Londoner, whose parents hail from the city of Najaf. She dabbles in a bit of journalism relating to British Muslims and current affairs, and will blog on… well whatever takes her fancy really. Say hello!
What a hilarious response to my earlier post. Let me clarify a few points:
1) I am firmly on the political left and have always been, unashamedly so. Voting Tory or asking people to vote Tory is not something I advocate regularly. I might have done so haphazardly last night but there is a serious point to be made here, that not many engaged with.
2) I’m not claiming to speak on behalf of brown people. I don’t know how anyone came to that conclusion. There’s no newspaper that I spoke to saying: “This is how all brown people think, and I know that because I represent them”.
3) Any idiot (Morgoth et al) who says just using the word “brown people” is racist is too stupid to engage with. They don’t understand the meaning of the word racist.
4) And here is my main point. I feel like I’m explaining politics 101. People in different groups, according to different identities, will vote depending on the incentives they are offered. Richer people vote Tory because its in their material interests to do so, and the same reason poorer people support Labour. Ethnic minorities have generally supported Labour in this country due to their pro-immigration policy and relatively less racist rhetoric.
But why shouldn’t that change given the anti-terrorism laws? Uncomfortable Fact 1: most anti-terrorism legislation may apply to everyone but will disproportionately be used to harass or lock up brown people (primarily Muslims, but I’ve had plenty of non-Muslim brown friends “randomly” harassed).
Uncomfortable Fact 2: The new Conservative home office minister Dominic Grieve has said that 28 days detention for terrorist suspects as “much longer than I would like to see” and says the Tories will consider “an opportunity to reduce it”. Think about that for a second. Labour wanted to increase it to 90 days. Then settled on 28. Then tried 56 days, then settled on 42 days. And all because of some posturing.
I know some hardcore Labour supporters will be uncomfortable with this, but I find it more patronising to assume that ethnic minorities in Britain should automatically support a Labour govt which is daily passing legislation that is designed to make their life harder. Why should they? Brown people should consider making Labour MPs in Asian areas sweat heavily for siding with the government. Get rid of Keith Vaz. Get rid of Virendra Sharma. Get rid of Jack Straw. Target Labour MPs in Birmingham.
If I was in the United States I’d already have set up a Political Action Committee and started actively fundraising and lobbying against Labour MPs that have significant ethnic minority constituents. Why shouldn’t British Asians worry about the impact of anti-terrorism legislation on their communities and organise themselves politically in response? Because it makes some people uncomfortable when brown people represent a political force? Hah!
The estate became home for hundreds of families escaping persecution and torture in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda and Congo. Most had their request for asylum in the UK turned down, and when the Home Office began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. “It was like watching the Gestapo – men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I’ve never seen people living in fear like it,” says Donnachie. “I saw a man jump from two storeys up when they came for him and his family. I stood there and I cried, and I said to myself, ‘I am not going to stand by and watch this happen again.’”
Update 17th January 2011: A number of people keep referring to this post I wrote several years back, so its worth putting it in context as most won’t bother wading through the debate below and posts that followed this one.
I have never voted Conservative and never will. But during 2008 the Labour party was loudly supporting the use of racist stop-and-search powers, 90 days pre-charge detention and a constant barrage of anti-terrorism legislation used to target minorities, and hysterically shouting about how people in “ethnic ghettoes” were “refusing to integrate”.
It is paternalistic racism to say that minorities should stick with voting Labour under such circumstances given they were being targeted by this barrage. Most minorities are already quite socially conservative – they have stayed loyal to Labour primarily because of its relatively more open stance on immigration.
The only way lasting way to register your disapproval with a political party in a parliamentary democracy is to vote for a different political party. That is what I advocated here. I am not some Asian ‘community leader’ who can control people’s votes or force them in a particular direction. I merely stated my opinion that if people were pissed off with the spate of legislation then they should vote for another political party, after having discussed this with several people during that time.
I have since joined Labour, but only once Ed Miliband disowned much of the party’s earlier stance on civil liberties (stop and search, 42 days). My aim within Labour is to push for a more liberal and compassionate vision of politics. My point here could have been made less crudely, but there it is: I have a bad habit of writing tabloidy headlines.
—– Original post
Word from the street (ok, the Compass annual conference then) is that ethnic short-lists are not entirely dead, contradicting an earlier newspaper report.
To recap: the Labour party has been considering allowing only candidates from non-white backgrounds to stand for specific parliamentary seats. They’re doing this because New Labour is still very racially monolithic. It comes on the back of the success of all-women shortlists, which the party had to sneak through internally because of the intense opposition it was expecting.
The word is that while they’re not entirely dead, they won’t be exclusively non-white but mixed with women shortlists. In other words a white woman and a black man could both stand under these new hybrid shortlists. Harriet Harman, who is pushing this, said quite sensibly (shocker, I know) that she didn’t want to create competition between race and sex discrimination. Given the routing Labour will probably get at the next election though I doubt this will be pushed through; it’ll be every middle-class white man for himself, the women and ethnics be damned. Heh.
Saying that… given that New Labour wants to extend anti-terrorism legislation until every brown person in the country is locked up until proven innocent (or once the police can be bothered to let you out), it makes more sense for brown and black people, who will overwhelmingly face the brunt of this police-state legislation, to vote Conservative. At least the Tories have finally found some balls regarding the erosion of our civil liberties. And yes, I felt slightly sordid saying that. But its worth thinking about – if you’re brown, then its not worth voting Labour for the sake of your own security.
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A Conservative councillor has apologised for her “ill-advised comments” after she accused immigrants of causing a litter problem.
In an e-mail, Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Lucy Ivimy said rubbish thrown from Woodford Court in Shepherds Bush, west London, must stop. She wrote that it is common in India to throw rubbish out of windows and that immigrants need to learn UK rules.
Maybe some Indians could take the initiative and dump some rubbish in front of her house in order to demonstrate their manners.
I’ve been swamped with work past few days so posting has been a bit light. Hopefully will be back to normal this week. In the meantime, use this thread to share idle non-David Davis related news and information! I’ve been talking about this all weekend already and now need a break.
In the wake of David Davis’ honourable resignation, many commentators are suggesting that this will somehow hurt the Conservative party, as it takes away attention from the decline of Gordon Brown and the good showing of the Conservatives in the opinion polls. It is likely to do the opposite in fact. The Conservatives, despite leading in the polls, have looked shaky recently. Their utter lack of policies on most issues is becoming an increasing embarrassment, while their refusal to make any concrete promises on the 10p tax band or fuel duty has just confirmed that they don’t really have any ideas, or at least ones which they are willing to share with us. The financial scandals surrounding Caroline Spellman and the MEPs have reinforced the public view that politicians are all as bad as each other. David Cameron comes across as a smooth-taking PR executive.
Enter David Davis. A former SAS reservist, he not only resigned on a matter of principle, but went against the opinion polls, which suggested public support for the 42 day limit. Thus in one stroke the Conservatives can point to a principled Tory grandee, who also has concrete proposals on this issue. David Cameron should be thanking his lucky stars.
Shadow home secretary David Davis has resigned as an MP. He is to force a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency which he will fight on the issue of the new 42-day terror detention limit.
Mr Davis told reporters outside the House of Commons he believed his move was a “noble endeavour” to stop the erosion of British civil liberties.
1) Anyone naive enough to believe the 42 days vote was actually about dealing with terrorism, and not about Brown trying to look “hard on terrorism”, where Labour’s rating are low, should stop writing about politics.
2) Word on the street is Keith Vaz MP, chair of the home affairs select committee, was bought off with the promise of a title. This was the man until recently one of the bill’s strongest critics. I’m really glad Diane Abbott gave him a smackdown during the debate because it confirms Keith Vaz will do absolutely anything shamelesslyto further his political career.
4) There were only a few people in the media who supported 42 days. ConservativeHome editors, Matthew D’ancona (editor of the Spectator) and Melanie Phillips. That is the company Gordon Brown was in: right-wing nutjobs. The same Melanie Phillips who is currently trying her best to point how Barack Obama is apparently still a Muslim. Just read that last line again. My benchmark view, that the sensible option is always opposite to what Mad Mel advocates, still stands.
5) I think it is wrong of John McDonnell to boycott the Compass conference (this weekend, I’m attending) because Jon Cruddas and Jon Tricketts votes with the govt. This is what is called factionalism on the left. Obviously I don’t agree with what the two Jons did, but the bloody Labour left need to work together, not fight even more over moral purity!
6) Unrelated, but some racist fool has posted this xenophpobic drivel on the ConservativeHome site (surprise surprise) which I will respond to later. Its the equivalent of someone posting “a question for my Jewish friends” and then asking when they stopped beating their wives. But hey, its Muslims, and they’re just asking “brave, politically incorrect” questions!
Thought I’d post a couple of links on globalisation. Tyler Cowen has an interesting piece on how the benefits of free trade continue to be underestimated.
More than 400 million Chinese climbed out of poverty between 1990 and 2004, according to the World Bank. India has become a rapidly growing economy, the middle class in Brazil and Mexico is flourishing, and recent successes of Ghana and Tanzania show that parts of Africa may be turning the corner as well.
Despite these enormous advances, however, there is a backlash against globalization and a widespread belief that it requires moderation. Ordinary people often question the benefits of international trade, and now many intellectuals are turning more skeptical, too. Yet the facts on the ground show that the current climate of economic doom and gloom simply isnâ€™t warranted. The classic economic recipes of trade, investment and good incentives have never been more successful in generating huge gains in human welfare.
It is important to understand this because it provides an important clue as to why domestic and international trade are different. Domestic trade takes place within thoroughly embedded markets; there are clear rules and they apply to all transactions equally. International trade, on the other hand, is conducted in only weakly embedded markets: the rules either do not exist or apply unevenly. I believe this is the fundamental reason why their consequences are often perceived so differently.