A reader has emailed in to say that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, also known as “the butcher of Gujarat” for his complicity in the violent riots of 2002, is coming to London.
Apparently he will be here for the “India Summit 2009″, May 19-20. Anyone know more on this? If true, this is going to be a massive controversy.
I’ve written an article for the Guardian’s Face to Faith column, which is out today in the paper. This is the link. There is lots to say on this issue of course, and 675 words really aren’t enough. I guess my starting point was: when does religion say its ok to people? Other than for Buddhism or Jainism, none of the other religions really abhor violence. My problem is more that when people blame religion for everything, or people try to absolve religion of all blame – both are missing the mark. Religious instruction can inspire violence. The question is: when is that justified?
A lot of right-wingers complain about ‘political correctness gone mad’. According to them, lefties are collectively guilty of trying to impose their thoughts, values etc on the rest of society. In fact the “think-tank” (and I’d use that phrase loosely) Civitas once even published a pamphlet by former journalist Anthony Browne which was essentially a badly written rant against political correctness that wasfull of distortions.
Now, Civitas has a new publication out on some nasty things they found at Muslim schools. Well, anything to get media hits these days I guess… the credit crunch must be affecting the think-tanks too. Let’s be clear, if my kid was at such a school, whether Muslim, Sikh or Hindu, I’d personally kick the teacher in the nuts and send my child to somewhere that had better standards. In fact, I wouldn’t send my child to a religious school anyway. But, you know, it’s a free society. Oh I forgot. When it comes to British Muslims it isn’t exactly a free society. We want free speech, when it’s cursing Muslims, but when they criticise us then we must absolutely demand they stop! Civitas recommends:
Imams and preachers currently associated with schools as principals, sponsors, trustees etc. must be vetted for fundamentalist tendencies. If the views they hold are opposed to the basic values of British society, their role in schools must be restricted or terminated. If someone is incapable in conscience of teaching loyalty to Britain and love for the majority of its citizens, their competence as educationalists must be called into question.
Here we go again. Of course, let’s shut down faith schools. But who’s going to tell the Church of England? The Vatican? If you can’t do that, then force the Muslims to teach British values at their school! Will Catholic school teachers be forced to teach children that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable? Civitas was curiously silent.
Meanwhile, a blogger at the we stand for liberty and against mind control blog Harry’s Place endorsed this Orwellian enforced teaching of “British values”. No surprise there then. Liberty, If It Means Anything, Is The Right To Tell Muslims What We Want Them To Hear.
See, I was under the impression this whole democracy and free speech malarky was about the right for people to say or teach whatever they wanted within the law, however disgusting others found it. But as I pointed out in my recent column on CIF, these so-called defenders of free speech don’t really believe in what they advocate. They only use it as a stick to beat minorities.
I’ve been wondering for a while exactly how much Japan lost during its ‘lost decade’. Thankfully Martin Wolf and Paul Krugman try to provide some answers.
The good news is that by using fiscal policy and increasing government spending, Japan managed to avoid a depression. The bad news, that Japan’s recovery was based largely on increased exports.
As Wolf says,
As a result, we confront a balance-sheet deflation that, albeit far shallower than that in Japan in the 1990s, has a far wider reach. It is, for this reason, fanciful to imagine a swift and strong return to global growth. Where is the demand to come from? From over-indebted western consumers? Hardly. From emerging country consumers? Unlikely. From fiscal expansion? Up to a point. But this still looks too weak and too unbalanced, with much coming from the US. China is helping, but the eurozone and Japan seem paralysed, while most emerging economies cannot now risk aggressive action.
Last year marked the end of a hopeful era. Today, it is impossible to rule out a lost decade for the world economy. This has to be prevented. Posterity will not forgive leaders who fail to rise to this great challenge.
Amongst Britainâ€™s radical preachers, Abu Qatada usually distinguished himself as the most erudite and productive in literary terms of â€œLondonistanâ€™s unholy trinity.â€ Omar Nasiri, who worked undercover in London for British and French intelligence and attended a number of his lectures, identified him as â€œvery intelligent [and] very learned,â€ speaking a language of jihad that Nasiri noted as â€œalmost identicalâ€ to that used in the Afghan training camp he had attended . Qatadaâ€™s writing advocates the separation between the Muslim and non-Muslim world; his most cited text, Islamic Movements and Contemporary Alliances, details the dangerous development of Muslim â€œinvolvement in alliances with modern non-Islamic powers,â€ providing an analysis of numerous instances across the Muslim world where this has not worked .
Do you have any evidence that [Qatada] has [been involved in terrorism]? If so, I suggest you do us all a favour and get in touch with the police.
If Abu Qatada has been involved in terrorism – and we have evidence of that – then charges should be brought against him and he should be and tried [sic] properly in our courts. I mean isnâ€™t that meant to be how we are supposed to do things in the UK. Oh wait, Qatada is a Muslim and has a scary beard..silly me.
I am in favour of laws and actions which target de-facto Islamists rather than laws which attempt to criminalise Muslims en-masse. Or opinions, like Bunglawala’s, which are made specifically to obfuscate the difference between ordinary Muslims and Islamists, by suggesting that violent extremists like Abu Qatada are deported simply because they are Muslims with “scary beards”.
According to a draft of the strategy, Contest 2 as it is known in Whitehall, people would be considered as extremists if:
â€¢ They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries.
â€¢ They promote Sharia law.
â€¢ They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.
â€¢ They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah.
â€¢ They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Are these stupid idiots reading Melanie Phillips for guidelines? There are many Sikhs who advocate a Sikh state based on Sikh principles, will they be criminalised? Armed resistance against the Israeli military is perfectly defensible, even David T of Harry’s Place admitted it. And anyone who thinks their religion bans homosexuality (will we be locking up conservative Christians and Jews too?) is an extremist too? And on the last point, I can just imagine these people playing the ‘Decent Left’ game of: But will you condemn this or that?
Anyone who has spent time with more than five Muslims can tell you that some of the most conservative Muslims are very anti-terrorism. In fact they sometimes don’t even believe in political engagement and think a person should focus on God alone (as many religious folk tend to do, generally). So the proposals fall flat from the start.
I’ve adopted Hutton as my go to writer for analysis on the state of the world economy and what should be done about it. You can do a lot worse than going through his column archive from the last few months.
A common theme to his work is making the case for a more European style, Social Democratic Capitalism which I wholeheartedly agree with. Hopefully we remember the lessons of unfettered capitalism in the future, but at the same time don’t regress to an economy in which countries stop trading with each other and where the govt stifles enterprise and innovation.
Could this video, taken from the scene when the unions gave an hour’s notice to 850 agency workers at the BMW Mini plant, be a sign of things to come? (via Shiraz Socialist)
We’re likely to see many more redundancies at short notice, and we’re likely to see rising tensions and anger as people scramble for jobs. I almost get the feeling its in danger of spiralling out of control and almost anything could spark it off.
Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has accused the Government of exploiting public fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties. Her comments came on the same day as a report published by international jurists suggested that Britain and America have led other countries in “actively undermining” the rule of law and “threatening civil liberties” in the guise of fighting terrorism.
“It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state.”
Well, talk about stating the obvious but when the former head of the MI5 says it then suddenly it takes a whole new meaning. But there’s no point really just blaming the government. Since 9/11 and 7/7 we’ve seen a whole industry of bloggers, national journalists (Melanie Phillips, obviously, but plenty of others too) and think-tankers (Policy Exchange) and general wingnuts (Douglas Murray) who have become obsessed with finding ‘Islamists Under The Bed’.
Now, some of those concerns may have been real but they weren’t the only ones raising them. The difference is that this whole industry wanted to push as far as they could, even arguing at times (wave to Martin Amis!) that Muslims could – possibly, maybe, just having a thought experiment you know – singled out for further curtailment of their civil liberties. All those people who cheered on the neoconservatives in the US as they used and abused surveillance powers, as stood by New Labour while they talked up ID cards – they are also to blame. The fact that it has become illegal to even take a picture of a police constable is not just the fault of New Labour, it’s also the fault of the apologists on the left and right who went along with that agenda. Dame Remington’s comments must come as a stinging slap. How does that make you feeeeeeeel?
A lot of the time, I quote other people simply because they’ve said what I wanted to but never got around to it. I frequently get criticised on here for taking a hardline stance on environmental issues, especially on supporting groups like Plane Stupid, because they’re seen as too alienating. Because Middle England won’t agree, the argument goes, these people are a danger to the cause. I always disagree.
This article by Peter Malchett hits the spot.
Now environmentalism has gone mainstream, Hickman argues, we need to “embrace mature political debate”. I agree with a lot of what he says, but not his conclusion that compromise and pragmatism are now the order of the day. This isn’t the first time that environmentalists have won an argument. Nor is it the first time that there has been a significant backlash as a result.
“Former prime minister Tony Blair has won a one million dollar (Â£697,000) international prize for his “exceptional leadership”, it has been announced. Mr Blair, now a Middle East mediator, will receive one of the three gifts from the Dan David Foundation in past, present and future categories.
The foundation announced he will receive an award in the “present” category “for his exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict”. Mr Blair is the representative of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers — the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.”
From these people. Partly based on his performance in the Middle East. Yes, that Middle East.
The Geert Wilders episode has been a self-fulfilling farce. A Dutch MP in a blonde bouffant, who happens to be a neo-Nazi and a race supremacist, wins accolades for himself by pretending to stand up for freedom of speech by demanding the ban of the Quran, thus depriving the right of others to read it. On the other side, a number of agitated and perturbed Muslims confirmed the perception that Muslims transform into angry, violent thugs whenever they feel their “deeply held beliefs” have been personally insulted by threatening to kill Wilders by violent means over the screening of his film.
To add to the hilarity, take a look at the video (below) of a Newsnight report broadcast last Thursday night. Keith Vaz, Labour MP of Leicester, pretends to engage knowledgeably on the intricate points of the issue of freedom of speech that underlies the whole episode. Instead his ruse is blown when it becomes apparent that not only does he wilfully misunderstand the fundamentals of FoS, he has come on a discussion on Wilders’ 18 minute film on national television without even having seen the film.
It is good that Jacqui Smith has decided to act humanely:
“A lesbian who fled Iran after her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to death in Tehran has won her battle to be granted asylum in Britain.
Supporters of Pegah Emambakhsh, 41, who claimed she would be executed if she was deported back to her homeland, welcomed the Government’s change of heart last night after their hard-fought, four-year campaign.
Ms Emambakhsh came to the UK in 2005 fearing for her life, but last year she lost a court battle to stay in this country. Following a high-profile campaign involving gay rights groups, MPs and The Independent, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, agreed to reconsider her case.”
However, it does rather contradict her previous statement, made in June last year, that homosexuals could safely be deported back to Iran provided that they didn’t flaunt their sexuality once returned.
The BBC’s “landmark” 3 part documentary series, ‘Iran and the West‘ began last week, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
With interviews and first hand commentary from key players from the events, who include two ex-presidents of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammed Khatami and leading westerners including ex-US President Jimmy Carter as well as Secretaries of State George Schultz, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright.
Amnesty International said Hamas forces and militias were involved in a “campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of ‘collaborating’ with Israel, as well as opponents and critics”. It said at least two dozen men had been shot by Hamas since the end of December and “scores of others” shot in the legs, kneecapped or beaten.Amnesty gave detailed accounts of some of the cases and said there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Hamas security forces and militia were “responsible for grave human rights abuses”. Hamas officials have admitted hunting for suspected collaborators, but they have denied this campaign of attacks.
A few quick points. First, this is why I don’t support Hamas – they kill their own people and are interested only in power rather than the higher purpose of Palestinian liberation. I’ve not supported Sikh Khalistani separatists in the past for the same reasons (despite human rights abuses by the Indian government and other reasons) because its just a power-grab under religious garb.
Various papers covered the story this week about how a Domino’s pizza outlet in Birmingham had stopped putting pork products on their pizzas, replacing them with a selection of halal meat. The Daily Mail, never one to miss an opportunity to attack Muslims, even had a picture of James Savage (looking glum), who was unable to order pizza with pork on, and had to drive two miles to another outlet (and then presumably proceeded to ring up the papers). As Mr Savage put it:
“I’m all for racial and religious tolerance but if anything this is intolerant to my beliefs and discriminatory against me. I had to travel two miles out of my way to their next nearest branch – I was appalled.”
Once again, this is one of those non-stories, which, while true, is so irrelevant that its only purpose can be a way in which to attack Muslims. As Tim Worstall pithily points out:
“No, itâ€™s not discrimination you fool… theyâ€™re a private business and they can serve what the f*** they like.”
Exactly. But ‘business tailors products to customer demand’ doesn’t have quite the same ring about it as ‘Muslims stop English eating pork- must eat halal instead’, does it?
â€œSome casting sheets actually said â€˜No Blacks,â€â€™ the 19-year-old model Shawn Sutton was saying on Friday, backstage at the Duckie Brown show in the Bryant Park tent. He was referring to the model castings at the recent menâ€™s wear shows in Milan.
Mr. Sutton was one of 24 models in a show whose casting, for once, reflected some ethnic diversity. It is early days in New Yorkâ€™s Fashion Week, but already there are signs that the recent industry habits of exclusion may be undergoing a shift. Call it the Obama effect, if you will. “Oh, itâ€™s totally about Obama,” said Marcus Lloyd, a 22-year-old African American model from Dallas. “I remember my agent was like, ‘If Obama does become president, thereâ€™s going to be a lot more work for you guys.’ “
As much as people like to pretend that the world runs by meritocracy, I suspect an Obama presidency will have huge and continuing impact such as this. We already saw it affects black pupils at school – I have a feeling there will be more.
It has incestuous, pig-breeding, drunken Irishmen, snooty Frenchmen, farcical Jewish anarchists and the animated presence of a mad mullah ranting about how women must be subservient to men. It reminded the Daily Telegraph of the Carry On films and the London Evening Standard of “the slick, cruel, abusive style that Bernard Manning perfected ages ago”. Its director and writer may well have anticipated controversy, but shortly after opening at the National Theatre, England People Very Nice, a new play by the award-winning dramatist Richard Bean about successive waves of immigration to the east end of London, has been labelled racist and offensive by the communities it portrays.
I call bullshit. The play must go on and I bet its actually lampooning the racism that immigrants face when they come into the country. Either way, I have no problem with such stuff – theatre is meant to provoke people.
I’ve written an article for today’s Times on Salman Rushdie and the Satanic Verses controversy, which is published in the newspaper. The jist is: The Salman Rushdie affair prompted all of us to examine what it means to be British.
I’m also bloody exhausted and tired. Blogging might be light as I catch up on a mountain of emails.
On Harry’s Place, it seems finding intelligent writing requires scraping a barrel. Yesterday I wrote for an article for CIF comparing different kinds of racial insults that are used to dehumanise people. Rather than understand what the article is getting at, which he always fails to do, Neil D on HP uses a picture of a Muslim extremist, though anyone with two brain cells to rub together can replicate that; to make an an argument. It amounts to: I don’t like Sunny’s comparisons so I’ll assume the person making racial insults is harmless and the Muslim making religious insults is a potential terrorist. And to drive home the point I’ll cleverly put in a picture there.
Lord Ahmed denies allegations in the Spectator that he had “threatened the House of Lords authorities that he would bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the Lords if Wilders was allowed to speak”. Lord Ahmed told The Times that he was considering legal action against the Spectator. A spokesman for the House of Lords did not comment on the allegation. Lord Ahmed said he had received â€œdozens if not hundreds of hate mail and threats as a result of Fitnaâ€ but told The Times he would not protest the screening of the film in Mr Wildersâ€™ absence.
Baroness Cox said the original screening was delayed not because of alleged threats but because she was made aware of Mr Wilders’ calls for the Koran to be banned shortly before the event and she disagreed with them. In a joint statement, Baroness Cox and Lord Pearson insisted that they were promoting freedom of speech: “We do not agree with Geert Wilders that the Koran should be banned…. Geert Wilder’s ‘Fitna’ film is not a threat to anyone.
He may not be a threat to anyone here because we ignore such stupid fools. But there’s two points here.
First, Wilders is no believer in free speech, so for him to try and play the victim is rather hypocritical.
Secondly – where has this claim come from about Lord Ahmed ‘summoning 10,000 Muslims’?
Thirdly, Geert Wilders wants:
all immigration from Muslim countries halted, Muslim immigrants paid to leave and all Muslim â€˜criminalsâ€™ stripped of Dutch citizenship and deported â€˜back where they came fromâ€™.
Deported where they come from? That is of course no different to the anti-semitic libel that Jews (in this case Muslims) have no relevance to the country they hold citizenship in, and are all traitors to its values. No surprise to see Melanie Phillips is supporting his cause. Incidentally, what did he say in Netherlands that led to charges of incitement to violence? I’m interested in knowing that.
Nesrine Malik has a fascinating post on the irony of older female relatives in enforcing patriarchal values on subsequent generations of women.
As I grew older and became more familiar with the world of women, I saw the men in my family as less and less the petty female-obsessed guardians of the status quo and more like its final enforcers. When my Sudanese female cousin recently wed a white Canadian, the women of the family were whispering nastily on the wedding night at how the standards of the family had fallen, while the men maintained silence in the face of a fait accompli. The mothers, aunts and grandmothers mocked or criticised the men’s silence behind their backs and saw themselves as the family’s moral foundations, with the men wielding only material and physical power.
For more, check out the comments thread on this post from a couple of months ago. It explores similar themes and more and Nesrine asked me to hat tip everyone who helped make that a great discussion and which influenced her CIF piece as well .
This is the response of the Quilliam Foundation to the news that Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who takes ownership of the “controversial” film Fitna has been barred from entry to the UK to attend a screening of the film:
The Quilliam Foundation has announced its opposition to the decision by the Home Office to ban Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP, from the UK. The Quilliam Foundation believes that although many of Wilders’ public statements are bigoted, ill-informed and offensive to people of all faiths, this is not an adequate reason to prevent him from coming to the UK.
The Quilliam Foundation says that Wilders’ ideas should be challenged through debate â€“ not through government intervention that may only make him a martyr to his supporters.
The directors of the Quilliam Foundation therefore challenge Geert Wilders to an open and public debate on Islam and its compatibility with European values.
In the aftermath of the Mangalore attacks, and the campaign to send pink underwear to Sri Ram Sena, the group Save the Earth Foundation has promised to deploy martial-arts trained volunteers to protect courting couples from thugs:
“In groups of five or six people, at least ten teams of young men and women, trained in tactics of self defence will patrol major areas in Delhi and will be particularly vigilant against attacks on gift galleries that house special paraphernalia for Valentines Day.”