24th July, 2010

Muslim women refused bus services because of the veil

by Sunny at 10:29 am    

The BBC reports (via Left Outside)

Two Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil.

The students, both 22 and from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London.

But they said when they presented their tickets on Tuesday, the driver told them they were a “threat” to passengers and ordered them off the bus.

If this were the other way around the Daily Mail etc would be supremely outraged. But if the victim in question is a Muslim woman they just carry on.

Not surprisingly either, most of the comments under the ES article blame the women themselves for wearing it.

Filed under: Culture
3rd July, 2010

Muslims And Music Lessons

by guest at 10:15 am    

This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs at Same Difference.

I love music. I’ve grown up listening to music and playing songs on everything from a Walkman to an Ipod. Today I rarely sit in a car without the radio on. And in school, a few too many years ago, I sang along at assembly and loved the songs used. I even tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to play a couple of musical instruments.

I’m also, usually, proud to be Muslim. What’s the connection, you may ask? Well, when I heard reports on BBC London News that hundreds of Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from primary school music lessons because their beliefs forbid them from learning an instrument, I was more than a little unpleasantly surprised.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said music lessons were potentially unacceptable to about 10% of Muslims. This could equate to hundreds of Muslim children being withdrawn from the lessons, the MCB said. Eileen Ross, its head teacher, told BBC London: “Some of the parents don’t want children to play musical instruments and they don’t have music in their homes.

“There’s been about 18 or 22 children withdrawn from certain sessions, out of music class, but at the moment I just have one child who is withdrawn continually from the music curriculum.”

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Filed under: Culture,Muslim
19th June, 2010

Anupam Kher pulls out of Bollywood Hitler film

by Rumbold at 2:14 pm    

Anupam Kher, who was due to play Hitler in a Bollywood film showing the dictator’s ‘love for India’, has pulled out of the main role after an adverse public reaction:

The project drew protests from Jewish groups in India and outside and was condemned by historians.

“Thanks for your varied reactions to my opting out of Hitler. After 400 films in 26 years I have the right to be wrong and still be happy,” the actor wrote on Twitter.

In a statement to news agency Reuters, Mr Kher said: “Considering the ill-will that the project is generating among my fans, I wish to withdraw from it as I respect their sentiments.”

The problem with the film is that it is completely inaccurate historically (even more so than Braveheart), which Anupam Kher doesn’t seem to have understood. What this film has done though is (unintentionally) taught a number of people about Hitler’s attitudes to India, which they might not have been aware of beforehand. To quote Alex von Tunzelmann once again:

Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

Filed under: Culture,History,India
18th June, 2010

Pakistan through a lens (ends this Sunday)

by Sunny at 11:37 am    

guest post by Anwar Akhtar

A recurring theme when you speak to many Pakistanis, both in Pakistan and among the diaspora, is a prolonged list of complaints about how Pakistan and Pakistanis are presented in the media.

The diversity, cultural heritage and complexity of Pakistan, a vast, beautiful, complex country, which encompasses the great metropolises of Karachi, Faisalabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi, to the mountain regions of North West Frontier Province and Balochistan, and also hundreds of villages, towns and the fertile plains of the Punjab.

Pakistan Through a Lens showcases a Pakistan rarely highlighted by the mainstream media.

It is a Pakistan that is thankfully being highlighted by increasing interest in the photography coming out of Pakistan as well as its neighbours, as seen in the recent Three Dreams exhibition in Whitechapel.

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13th June, 2010

Hitler goes to Bollywood

by Rumbold at 4:16 pm    

Alex von Tunzelmann reports on the news that an Indian film director is planning to make a film about Hitler, with Anupam Kher (best known to Western audiences as the dad from ‘Bend it Like Beckham’) as Adolf. It is billed as a serious film (which, given the possibilities of song and dance numbers, is quite a shame), and is titled ‘Dear Friend Hitler’. The director chose the title because of Hitler’s alleged fondness for India and his role in helping to end British rule of India. That Hitler was a friend of India is historically illiterate. As Alex points out:

Hitler never supported Indian self-rule. He advised British politicians to shoot Gandhi and hundreds of other leaders of the freedom struggle. Repeatedly, he expressed support for British imperialism. He only regretted that it was not harsh enough. “If we took India,” he once threatened, the Indian people would soon long for “the good old days of English rule”.

The second world war did fatally weaken Britain’s grip on her empire, but it was America who pressed the moral case for it to be dismembered, not Germany. The director was also swayed by Hitler’s alliance with Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, which worked with the Japanese forces in an attempt to invade the then British-ruled India:

In fact, the Nazi regime’s disgust when Bose became romantically involved with a German woman revealed its true feelings. Hitler was happy to let Bose’s recruits die fighting the British. But he never stopped believing that Indian people were racially inferior to white Europeans, and that any attempt at Indian independence would inevitably lead to reconquest by a “superior” race.


(Hat-Tip: KJB)

Filed under: Culture,History,India
5th June, 2010

Forcing marriage partners to learn English – I’m all for it

by Sunny at 11:53 pm    

The News of the World reports:

IMMIGRANTS who want to marry Brits will be forced to take an English language test in a new crackdown on sham weddings. Immigration Minister Damian Green will unveil the plans this week, we can reveal.

Potential brides and grooms from outside the EU will be required to prove they can speak the same language as their partner, as well as English. The test is designed to prove that anyone who moves to Britain is planning to integrate themselves into society.

I don’t know this is being reported as a “crack-down”. I suppose that would represent the NotW’s news values, but actually I think this is a good idea.

I’ve long argued that there’s only one way to ensure brides who comes into the country learn English: by forcing them to. I made a documentary about this for the Asian Network a few years ago, highlighting that 1000s of women come into this country as brides every year, and many don’t know or aren’t allowed to learn English when here.

Which means that if some face domestic violence or other forms of abuse here, they are reluctant to seek help or do anything about their situation because they don’t know the local language. So in many ways this helps those women too.

2nd June, 2010

Why Bristol council got it wrong

by Rumbold at 8:25 pm    

Bristol council is at the centre of a media storm after advertising two posts for ethnic minorities only. The council defended its decision by citing the Race Relations Act (1976), as only 7% of its workforce is from ethnic minorities, as opposed to 12% of Bristol’s population as a whole. Whether or not this would fall foul of discrimination laws is debatable, but whatever the legality, I think it was the wrong thing to do, for a number of reasons.

There is a great deal of debate over how to tackle the historical inequalities that exist in the labour market, namely discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, whether it be in hiring or promotion. One school of thought tends to see the solution in terms of positive discrimination, with devices such as all-women shortlists and jobs like the pair mentioned above. The other school rejects this as simply repeating the mistakes of the past (by treating people as blocks rather than as individuals), and puts the focus on meritocracy and treating candidates as individuals. Yet this approach is criticised for refusing to recognise persistent inequalities in the labour market.

I used to be firmly in the second school of thought, and believed that merely creating an ostensibly meritocratic application process would be enough, as this would allow inequalities to be ironed out over time as the best people got chosen. However, while I still believe that should be the main approach, we also need to examine continuing structural issues. Applicants with ‘non-white’ names are more likely to get rejected from jobs then candidates with ‘white’ names, despite having exactly the same CV, which demonstrates continued racism in the job market. Factors like these show why Bristol council got it wrong.

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Filed under: Culture,Economy
24th April, 2010

South Park falls victim to censorship

by Rumbold at 11:32 am    

South Park has been censored again after attempting to mock some its favourite targets, including religious figures and Tom Cruise. The controversy came after they showed Muhammad in a bear suit, which led to two people posting a death threat on a well-known extremist Islamist website. Given the history of agent provocateurs on Muslim websites who stir up trouble, there was always the possibility that this was just an attempt to make Muslims look bad, but it seems that the posters were ‘genuine’ Muslims. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, pointed out the hypocrisy of some (including Comedy Central) when they noted that they had depicted Muhammad before, in an episode where the Islamic prophet teams up with other religious figures in order to defeat an out of control David Blaine, without stirring up much anger. Only after the publication of the Danish ‘Motoon’ cartoons did non-Muslim depictions of Muhammad become a lot more controversial.

People have rightly focused on the threat to free speech that this represents, and the need to re-emphasize that religious beliefs are no more entitled to protection than any other point of view. Yet it also is another excuse to smear Muslims. Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, censored the episode after one death threat on one website. Understandable from their perspective, but it is the equivalent of censoring something because a drunkard in a pub was overheard threatening the show’s creators. I doubt that many Muslims like that Muhammad is being depicted, but neither are millions posting death threats and rioting. As Zahed Amanullah points out, the threats were made by two converts who apparently aren’t even welcome in most mosques.

The right to mock and satirise has to be absolute; there cannot be compromise on this even if people are offended. No one has a right to have their views placed beyond satire, but nor should the reaction of less than a handful of fringe extremists be used to demonstrate that all Muslims are rabid killers who want to murder anyone who mocks them or their religion.

Filed under: Culture,Muslim,Religion
27th March, 2010

Regimental unions

by Rumbold at 7:27 pm    

It has always bemused me when people attack homosexuals who wish to serve in the military. Often the critics are those who like to trumpet their patriotism, so it seems odd to criticise those who are willing to defend their country. It is good to see that the British army has gone one step further than mere acceptance (eleven years ago it was discharging people because of their sexuality) and is now blessing homosexual partnerships:

The Household Cavalry, famed for escorting the Queen during state occasions and the fact that it counts both her grandsons among its officers, celebrated its first gay wedding in style. L/Cpl Wharton was joined in a civil partnership with his boyfriend, the Virgin air steward Thom McCaffrey, 21, surrounded by members of L/Cpl Wharton’s regiment, the Blues and Royals.

“The entire regiment has been really supportive,” he said. “When I went to ask the Squadron Leader, Major Nana Twumasi-Ankrah, for permission to get married, he just said ‘This is fantastic, congratulations’.”

Filed under: Culture
22nd March, 2010

Marriages between cousins

by Rumbold at 12:26 pm    

Baroness Deech, who is a member of the House of Lords and a professor, has called for greater awareness about the impact of first cousin marriages on children of said unions:

Fifty-five per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and in Bradford the figure is 75 per cent. British Pakistanis represent 3 per cent of all births in Britain but one third of children with recessive disorders.

The problem is not cousin marriages per se, as one off cousin marriages don’t have much of a genetic impact on children, but rather repeated intermarriage between first cousins:

Lady Deech calls for measures short of a ban to prevent the genetic problems arising from cousin marriage.

She says: “There is no reason, one could argue, why there should not be a campaign to highlight the risks and the preventative measures, every bit as vigorous as those centring on smoking, obesity and Aids.” While there was reluctance to “target or upset Muslims over cousin-marriage issues” the practice was not mandated by religion, only permitted, so it is not at heart a religious issue, she argues.

A campaign of education needs to start in schools so they understand about genetics and what it means to carry a mutant gene.

The Baroness’ suggestions seem sensible, though I am not sure about her plan to test genetic defects in those who have arranged marriages. It makes sense, but how would you differentiate between arranged and love marriages?

The problem is that, like in Europe a few centuries ago, first marriages are still an attractive prospect for families: they help to solidify alliances and keep property within a family. This is an issue that needs to be discussed a great deal more.

16th March, 2010

Bella: fidei defensor

by Rumbold at 2:01 pm    

Bella Gerens has posted a wonderfully splenetic rant against Ed Balls, the education secretary. Mr. Balls attacked Latin as a ‘useless subject’, presumably as a way to appeal to the Labour left in the battle for supremacy in the party. Mr. Balls’ support for the workers is well known, such as when he claimed £27,000 for his second home (money of course collected from some of the lowest paid in society). Bella laments the crassness of Mr. Balls, and muses on why he attacked her subject:

It would be a pointless waste of time to allow you to observe the teaching of such an elegant and complex subject. Not only would you be incapable of understanding the material, much less appreciating it, the superior knowledge of the students would show you up in a Tennessee heartbeat. Could you even begin to grasp the idea of an ablative absolute, or listen with any light of comprehension in your eyes to a discussion of the sexual puns in a poem by Ovid? Students can. Could you find in your shrivelled soul an inclination to laugh at the comedy of Aristophanes or experience a pang of sympathetic horror at the tribulations of Oedipus? Students can.

It is a light-hearted rant in some senses, but Bella highlights the fact that it is dangerous to judge subjects solely on what some perceive to be their immediate utility to the world of work. The skills required to master a subject like Latin (or classics generally) are valuable. And before anyone asks, my Latin is virtually non-existent and I could never master the subject.

Filed under: Culture
10th March, 2010

‘Excellent journalism’ from the Daily Mail

by Kulvinder at 9:58 pm    

In the midst of the current hysteria surrounding the internet and children, and given the tragic murder of Ashleigh Hall; the Mail obviously thought it would be a good time to tap into the fear of thousands of ‘predators’ posing online. Facebook in particular has come under attack as unfortunately it was the site where Ashleigh Hall first met her killer.

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4th March, 2010

Same sex partnerships in temples

by Rumbold at 6:59 pm    

This seems to be an eminently sensible amendment, which lifts the ban on religious premises holding same-sex civil partnerships:

The amendment to the Equality Bill, which was tabled as a free vote by gay Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming backing in the Lords, including from a number of prominent Anglican bishops.

Under current UK law religious venues are forbidden from holding civil partnerships, although some liberal denominations within Christianity and Judaism have been willing to bless gay unions once a partnership ceremony has taken place elsewhere.

There shouldn’t have been a ban in the first place. it should be up to the individual religious houses what they want to do, free of legal pressure. If people wish to be bigoted, let them be. As long as the rest of us aren’t paying for it. I also agree with this:

The liberal Christian think-tank Ekklesia yesterday called on the government to entirely overhaul Britain’s marriage laws and separate the legal process of registration from religious ceremonies. Many believe such a step would allow both objectors to gay marriage and supporters to find a way of expressing their beliefs freely and openly within British law.

Filed under: Culture,Religion
2nd March, 2010

A Christian country

by Rumbold at 8:38 am    

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has attacked what he perceives to be the failure of people to stand up for Christian culture in Britain:

‘I cannot imagine any politician expressing concern that Britain should remain a Christian country. That reticence is a scandal and a disgrace to our history.’

Britain has been a Christian country for much of the past two thousand years. Our laws and culture have been shaped in part by Judeo-Christian ideas. Anyone who disputes that is in error.

However, it doesn’t follow that is an inherently good thing that Britain remains a Christian country (if indeed it is one now). That is not a plea for moral relativism, but rather a recognition that the foundations of a civilised society do not depend on religion, or on one particular religion. Religiously-inspired laws and actions can be good or bad. So can ones without the impact of religion.

What does is matter what a person believes about deities and the afterlife? A more atheist, or agnostic, or Sikh, or Jedi-worshipping country wouldn’t by definition be a worse place to live in (or a better one for that matter). People of all faiths and none live in Britain, and no one faith should retain a monopoly on Britain.

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion
7th February, 2010

Muslims, Modernity and the West: Remembering Nusrat

by Jai at 9:11 pm    

This is a follow-up article to the previous two-part article published during the autumn (Part 1, Part 2).

Some fantastic official clips of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s huge UK concerts last October in conjunction with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in tribute to his late uncle, the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, have finally surfaced on Youtube, so a selection is presented below along with a few more videos I thought it would be constructive to include. You can also read some reviews of the concerts at the end of this article.

”Jhoole Lal”, a tribute to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274), the most famous historical Sufi from Sindh and a friend of Baba Farid (the Punjabi Sufi whose hymns were later included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scriptures of Sikhism). Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was renowned for his message of mutual religious tolerance and friendship between Muslims and Hindus, and is still venerated by members of both groups in the subcontinent (video here).

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Filed under: Culture,Muslim
2nd February, 2010

Yasmin A-B on Channel 4′s Indian Winter

by Sunny at 9:33 am    

Ouch!

One dancer said it all: “I tried to watch. I don’t mind them being critical of ‘Incredible India’, which does not look after its poor. But these guys were clueless, flying in and taking over our stories and realities. I object to that.”

We now have black and Asian newsreaders but note that after 30 years Newsnight has had no black interrogator. Multiracial casting in soaps and drama is now common and top roles do now go to black and Asian actors – Adrian Lester in Hustle, Nina Wadia in EastEnders. Yet watch The Bill and Midsomer Murders – two very different worlds – and almost all the actors are white.

Black and Asian Britons are still not considered good enough when it comes to witty shows. The same old, same old white comedians appear on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Argumental, QI, Mock the Week. Omid Djalili, Shappi Khorsandi and Shazia Mirza do gain entry and maybe a couple of others, but night after night after night, like Alan Davies? Of course not. Go on the comedy circuit and you get the many faces of our laughing nation, from hilarious Sikhs to outrageously un-PC Muslims and Zimbabweans.

Why are we still having to bang on about the obvious? Laziness, nepotism, a self-limiting circle of contacts and information, lack of curiosity and humility and most of all the hubris that defines and holds back British TV.

The last bit is true, and applies to the media industry as a whole, but it is also what will kill the industry. So while Y A-B is spot on about most of the stuff in that article, she still has too much regard for the TV industry in a way I don’t.

I sometimes watch news television, which is now also very formulaic – but the idea that the next generation is going to be defined by this closed industry no longer holds true. Oh and the bit about the Indian Winter is bang on too.

Filed under: Culture,Media
21st January, 2010

Meet the English Defence League’s Asian poster-boy

by guest at 9:30 am    

contribution by Secunder Kermani, published first at The Samosa

Ever since its formation last year, the English Defence League (EDL) has insisted it is not racist and doesn’t have a problem with ordinary Muslims, just radical extremists.

Amit Singh is a British-born Sikh and EDL activist who will address the EDL’s demonstration in Stoke this Saturday to try and show British Asians that the group is neither racist nor anti-Muslim. But as I discovered, scratch beneath the moderate surface and a very different picture of the EDL’s Asian poster boy emerges – one of vitriolic rants against Muslims in general.

Amit Singh is a British-born Sikh in his late 20s, and one of the leading EDL activists in his hometown in the Midlands. He was introduced to me by an EDL spokesman, himself of mixed-race descent. He told me that people like Amit were of crucial importance in highlighting the fact that the EDL weren’t racist, and in helping spread the group’s message within their own communities.

Amit’s doing his speech to highlight the fact that we’re not white supremacist, skinhead boot boys basically,” the spokesman explained. “It would be a hell of a lot nicer to get more multicultural people there.” He said he wanted support from as many different communities as possible, including, he said, moderate Muslims.

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17th January, 2010

Valentine’s coming – and I hate it!

by guest at 9:37 am    

guest post by Rupy Kaur as part of Sunday Speaker’s Corner

In a months time it’ll be Valentine’s Day (VD) and soon there will be lovey dovey gifts in all the shops along with love hearted balloons. Well it’s time for those balloons to be POPPED! Like venereal disease, VD has also become diseased. When people make a show and a dance from expressing their love, it is questionable as to whether their love is actually real.

Being a disabled activist I have noticed that within the disability world there is the constant debate and presumption that disabled people find it hard to find a partner due to their disability. I avoid reading articles about ‘disability and sex/relationships’ as I find them stupid! Especially when reading things like, ‘a mother of a 21 year old, autistic boy, wishes to pay a woman to have sex with him…’ awkward silence and feelings of WEIRDNESS will then follow…

WAKE UP people!!! Yes, disability is a variable when choosing the right partner but there other variables too. Perhaps you are just boring, or have green teeth and smell real bad? Maybe you’re culturally different and therefore have different opinions on certain values? Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 1/3 people will find you attractive anyway, disabled, or non-disabled.

Choosing a life partner is like choosing the right pair of shoes. A shoe shop may be filled with lots of lovely shoes. However only s few will have the right balance – shoes which are comfy, yet stylish at the same time. Sometimes it can take years to find the right pair of shoes, but when you do, you’ll never want to chuck those shoes away.

Filed under: Culture,Disability
14th December, 2009

New poll shows why multi-culturalism works

by Sunny at 8:37 am    

The Times reports:

…on average 78% of Muslims identified themselves as British, although this dropped by six points in east London. This compares with 49% of Muslims who consider themselves French and just 23% who feel German. The findings, based on more than 2,000 detailed interviews, suggest that Muslims may be better integrated in Britain than in other parts of the European Union.

The report will reopen the debate about the merits of multiculturalism, a policy that has actively promoted cultural and religious differences among minorities in Britain but has been criticised as a barrier to integration by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. France prides itself on its secular notion of citizenship and has banned Muslim pupils from wearing the hijab, or headscarf, in classrooms. Yet the study, by the Open Society Institute, found only 41% of Muslims in Paris see themselves as French.

In Britain, researchers focused on Leicester, which is often held up as a successful model of multiculturalism, and Waltham Forest, east London, where bungled police raids on nearby Forest Gate in 2006, targeting suspected extremists, had alienated many Muslims.

The survey found that levels of patriotism are much higher among second-generation Muslims. In Leicester, 72% of Muslims born abroad said they felt British; this figure jumped to 94% among UK-born Muslims.

The study and report is a slap in the face for right-wing dogma on the issues concerned for many reasons.

Firstly, it shows that Britain’s relaxed attitude to differences in religion and culture has made British Muslims more likely to identify with this country and be proud of the liberal traditions they live in, rather than constantly face state-sanctioned discrimination like in Switzerland and France.

Secondly, it shows that Muslims (and this goes for minorities generally) feel much more British than their parents. The figure for British born Muslims is 94% and similar for non-Muslim minorities. In other words the offspring of minorities end up taking the identity of the country they’re born in – rather than become the fifth columnists that right-wing columnists portray them as.

Third – Britain is a model for other European countries to follow. Not only for its relaxed attitude towards differences between people, but also because it is moving away from Britishness being defined as a genetic, ethnic or cultural identity. It’s the idea of a nation as a people together – whether towards a common purpose or towards commonly shared ideals, that makes it cohesive. Neither of these need to be defined by trying to exclude people, as Germany and France have consistently tried to do.

This is what makes Britain great and this is why the percentage of minorities who feel ‘British’ is so high.

21st November, 2009

Dangerous art

by guest at 10:14 am    

This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs here.

I’m never one to argue with anyone who tries to raise awareness of any DisAbility. Until now, that is. A dancer, who happens to have epilepsy, has come up with a rather… erm… original way to raise awareness of the condition. Rita Marcalo plans to try to induce a seizure on stage at The Bradford Playhouse as part of the 24-hour Involuntary Dances event on 11 December, which will also include dance and poetry readings. The audience will be invited to film the event on mobile phones. Ms Marcalo has stopped taking her medication ahead of the event.

Arts Council England, which is funding the performance, said it aimed to raise awareness about the condition. The organisation has provided about £2000, which they say includes £932 for medical risk assessment and support.

Their spokesperson, Diane Horton, said: “This project raises awareness of a disability through the artist’s personal experience of epilepsy and we support this. We have made sure that a full risk assessment of the project took place, including medical advice, and that appropriate medical support is available during the performance. Rita is an important artist whose work deserves to be seen and the Arts Council both respects the creative decisions she makes in her work and supports her right as a disabled person to be heard.”

However, Ms Marcalo has been criticised by the epilepsy charity Epilepsy Action. Their deputy Chief Executive, Simon Wigglesworth, urged her to reconsider the idea, saying that she will put herself at risk, and that she may also put at risk other people with epilepsy who may wish to copy her behaviour. He added that: “Throwing away seizure control treatment trivialises the condition and does not respect the fact that some people have spent time trying to get it under control.” As I said earlier, I certainly think the idea is original. However, I’m really not sure about the safety of intentionally stopping medication for that long. From the little I know of epilepsy I would say that is a very dangerous thing to do.

Filed under: Culture,Disability
18th November, 2009

Stories round-up

by Rumbold at 3:46 pm    

Lawyers give thanks for the new educational bill, as it creates opportunities for many more court cases.

Richard Bartholomew reviews Peter Oborne’s programme on the pro-Israel lobby and finds it flawed.

Richard again on the Sun’s initial response to the fake ‘Alan Sugar terror’ story.

South Asian babies in Britain are more at risk of death than other babies, and doctors do not know why.

The Telegraph is harrumping at the news that children are being taught not to stereotype by having to disprove such statements as “all white children are fascists” and “all Muslims are extremists” (the paper edition takes the former quote as its headline). This seems a sensible way of proceeding to me, as it doesn’t allow people to indulge in generalisations.

And finally, Unity and friends respond to fears that the Press Complaints Commission will now try and regulate blogging.

Filed under: Culture
17th October, 2009

Happy Diwali

by Rumbold at 5:26 am    

Pickled Politics would like to wish all of our Sikh and Hindu readers a happy Diwali.

Ram

Sikh Diwali

Filed under: Blog,Culture
16th October, 2009

Bollywood film about HBV

by Rumbold at 12:29 pm    

A Bollywood film about ‘honour’-based violence (HBV) in Britain, called Honour Killings, is set to be released next year. It focuses on three generations of families:

“Firstly, there is the story of an affluent Sikh businessman – played by the veteran of Hindi cinema Prem Chopra – who is jailed for murdering his daughter after she fell in love with a Muslim man.

When his grandson then also begins a secret relationship with a Muslim woman, it leaves her father racked by indecision, as he weighs up whether he too must kill to protect his family’s honour.

The tension builds with the prospect of history repeating itself as romance again crosses the religious divide. In spite of the heavy subject matter, no Bollywood-style film could go without fizzing song and dance routines to draw in the crowds.”

I hope it does well.

(Hat-tip: MixTogether)

4th October, 2009

Coming over here, spelling our words

by Rumbold at 12:48 pm    

This made me chuckle:

“British undergraduates are nearly three times more likely to make errors in English than those from overseas, according to new research.

A study of written work produced by final-year students revealed that, on average, they had 52.2 punctuation, grammatical and spelling errors per paper compared with just 18.8 for the international students.”

British words for British people anyone?

In one sense this is merely a return to a few hundred years ago, when there were no standardised spellings for most words. English was a spoken, not a written, language, while Latin (used in the church and the law) tended to have more standardised spellings. Since few people who spoke English could read and write, there wasn’t really much need to spell a word a particular way, though this does make life difficult for the historian who is trying to decipher unintelligible writing, only to discover that the same word has been spelt differently in the same piece of writing.

Filed under: Culture,History,Humour
10th September, 2009

Popular names non-story

by Rumbold at 9:55 am    

The annual list of most popular boys’ and girls’ names has been released, and it seems that one name in particular has caused controversy by being left off the top ten list: Muhammad. This is because people spell it in a variety of different ways (Mohammad, Mahomet, etc.), the combined total of which would have placed Muhammad third. This should have sparked a minor debate amongst compilers and linguists about whether a name’s variants should be amalgamated in such a list (ONS practice is to keep the variants separate), but this being Muhammad, there was far more controversy.

Noted list compiler and statistician Douglas Murray felt the need to comment, while Max Hastings thought it necessary to write a long piece on it, and why it represented the beginning of the end:

“The Muslim population is now close to two million, over 3 per cent, and rising fast because Muslim families have more children than most of the rest of us, many of them named Mohammed or Muhammed…

Britain, two generations hence, threatens to become a mere camp site for 77 million people of many races, for whom this represents a mere place to sleep, eat and make money. To avert this, we must address a series of related challenges.”

Maybe it is right to have all the variants under a single heading. But that is not the reason for the fuss. This is another example of the non-story, in which something which shouldn’t make the news does because Muslims are involved. For those who doubt this, do you think there would be columnists in national newspapers writing about what the failure to amalgamate Ian/Iain in a list represents?

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