This is public interest note… I’ll be speaking at the launch of a new think-tank based at Goldsmiths college called ‘Centre for Identities and Social Justice’.
The event will take place on Wednesday, 5th October, 6pm.
LG Theatre 1, The New Academic Building
TOPIC THE PREVENT AGENDA: What are its unintended and intended consequences?
LORD CARLILE (Liberal Democrat, House of Lords)
SUNNY HUNDAL (Editor, Liberal Conspiracy)
FARZANA SHAIN (Public Policy, Keele University)
AKEELA AHMED (CEO, Muslim Youth Helpline)
JAMES HAYWOOD (President, Goldsmiths Students Union)
Yesterday saw the London march of the now worldwide campaign known as Slutwalk. The movement began in Canada after a police officer speaking about rape told an audience that they should avoid dressing like ‘sluts’ if they didn’t want to get raped. The was a lot of talk about the march being about reclaiming the word ‘slut’, but the vast majority of people were there to simply reassert something that should be patently obvious: that rape is the fault of the rapist, not the victim, and that a woman (or man) should be able to wear what they want without being sexually assaulted.
Many women on the march were dressed in a revealing way to try and hammer home this point; that it is their choice, not anyone else’s. The protest saw a good number of men turn up too, with some dressed in bras and short skirts in solidarity with the female marchers. It was gratifying to see the media give the protest so much attention, though that was probably more to do with the photo and video opportunities afforded than anything else.
The Socialist Workers’ Party attempted to hijack the march by handing out placards with their name on it, but nobody seemed to be paying much attention to them. Given that they only recently formed part of a woman-hating coalition (with Respect), perhaps this was an attempt to make amends. Most surreal was the builders who stopped to watch the march, perhaps feeling unable to wolf whistle whilst they clutched their Starbucks frappuccinos.
The march finished with speeches in Trafalgar Square, the best one being (in my opinion), by a prostitute who spoke about the brutality of her work and the dangers of criminalising either prostitute or seller, as it would drive the practice underground.
Given the huge levels of domestic violence still prevalent in this country, and repeated incompetence in dealing with it, my thanks go to the organisers for helping ensure that this event took place.
The Home Office released this statement yesterday:
It is not for government to say what people can and cannot wear. Such a proscriptive approach would be out of keeping with our nation’s longstanding record of tolerance. Accordingly we do not support a ban on wearing the burka.
That’s a welcome statement. There’s also a demo today at the French embassy to protest against the French ban, which comes into effect today.
Monday 11 April, 6pm
Outside the French Embassy: 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT (nearest tube Knightsbridge)
Called by Unite Against Fascism and One Society Many Cultures
Alchemy is Southbank Centre’s 11-day journey into the richness, contrasts and confluences of the relationship between the UK, India and South Asian culture. The festival returns for a second year, taking over the site with contemporary and traditional music and dance, debate, literature, film, craft and fashion.
Building on relationships between Southbank Centre and leading artists and cultural organisations in the UK and the Indian subcontinent, the festival looks at the region’s fast-changing economic and cultural landscape, exploring its relationship with and influence on the UK, the juxtapositions between classical and folk traditions and notions of urban and rural progress. Festival-goers can discover classical masters alongside emerging British Asian talent, folk traditions alongside contemporary experimentation, traditional dance, top writers and popular entertainment, probing debate and the latest fashion.
I’m heading for a few events (quite a lot are free!)…
IKWRO, a group which aids Iranian, Kurdish and other women on the run from ‘honour’-based violence, is hosting an awards ceremony in June. Details below:
Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the fight against ‘honour’ based violence?
In 2011, IKWRO will grant two awards in recognition of the hard work and dedication of individuals and organisations who are working to end ‘honour’ based violence in the UK. By showcasing some of the most exceptional work, we believe that we can inspire others to take action to prevent ‘honour’ based crimes.
The award is also about turning the concept of ‘honour’ on its head. For us, true honour means respect for human rights. We hope that by hosting this award we can help to restore the sense of pride among survivors of ‘honour’ based violence, and can honour the memory of those who have been murdered.
We will launch a call for nominations later this month, and if you know a person or an organisation who has done inspirational work to prevent ‘honour’ killings, protect victims or bring offenders to justice, then we are very keen to hear from you.
The winners will be announced at a high profile gala awards ceremony in London in June, attended by survivors of honour based violence, women activists, politicians, journalists, civil servants, staff from public sector bodies and other charities and IKWRO supporters.
Can you help to fund the awards? IKWRO urgently needs funds for the True Honour Awards to help ensure that they are as big a success as possible. If you can help us by making a donation please email campaigns.ikwro[at]gmail.com
On Thursday 27 January at 6.30 for 7.00 pm, Amnesty International will host the launch of “Ricin: The Inside Story of the Terror Plot That Never Was”, a new book from the foreman of the jury in the renowned ‘Ricin trial’.
The 2004 trial set out to prove that Al Qaeda had been planning an attack on the UK. Following a landmark case lasting seven months, the jury cleared four of the five Algerian men who had been accused of a plot to manufacture poisons and explosives.
One common criticism from many lefties who attended Saturday’s Netroots was that it was too Labour centric. I want to respond to that criticism. I recognise many lefties are still angry over Labour’s past mistakes, and over Ed Miliband’s continual decision to try and straddle the middle-ground rather than articulate the outrage many feel at the Tory cuts.
I asked some people how it was too Labour-centric, and one reply was that ‘because people [most pointedly Labour MP Tom Watson, in the audience] said lefties should join Labour’. This is ludicrous – I’m not going to stop people from expressing their view on how they think people should fight the Coalition. At no point did any of the organisers (the bloggers, or the TUC reps) stand up and encourage anyone to join the party. Tom Watson had his view, and others disagreed that Labour will ever be for the left. We disagree with each other shocker!
Speakers Alom Shaha, a Bangladeshi-born science teacher and writer, will talk about the experiences that led him to reject religion and embrace atheism.
Riaz Patel, Educationalist, Government advisor, ex-journalist will also discuss his personal journey from sceptic to a believer in the power of faith.
Nabila Pathan is a writer and broadcaster. She blogs as Word Play, commenting on socio-political issues.
Bob Churchill is Head of Membership at the British Humanist Association, the national charity supporting and representing people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. http://www.humanism.org.uk/
Monday, 13 December 2010 at 18:30;
The Cafe, Rich Mix Centre, London
The musician Salman Ahmad (from the Pakistani Sufi rock group Junoon; previously discussed on PP here and here) and Deepak Chopra, who has previously written the bestselling books Buddha and Jesus, will be discussing his latest book Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet, where he shares the life and insights of Muhammad.
Dr Chopra was recently interviewed by the New York Times about the book’s contents and his motivations for writing it. It’s a very interesting article, and indicates that as a “semi-fictionalised biography”, the nature of the book may not necessarily be quite what many people may expect. The article also includes some comments about Sufism and current issues such as the ongoing controversy surrounding the Sufi Imam Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative’s Park51 (the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”). Three quotes in particular stand out:
Are you concerned someone will issue a fatwa against you?
I wrote the book factually and with respect. Beyond that, I can’t control anyone’s reaction.
You refer to Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is overseeing the planned Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. Are you saying Sufism represents the reform branch of Islam?
Yes. Traditional Islam is a mixture of all obedience to Allah, and if that requires militancy, so be it. Whereas Sufism exalts beauty, intuition, tenderness, affection, nurturing and love, which we associate with feminine qualities.
If someone asks what religion you are, what do you say?
I say God gave humans the truth, and the Devil came and said, “Let’s organize it, we’ll call it religion.”
Social media has opened up new ways for people to communicate, organise and campaign.
But in what ways are people using social media for political ends? Looking at examples from around the world we will be examining the ways in which new tools are being used and the ways they have been used to challenge authority.
What can we learn about both the potential of web and phone technology and what are their limitations. Can online buzz be translated into tangible effects? Or has as been claimed with the case of the Green protests in Iran, has the role played by social media been hyped by an over-excited mainstream media?
Phillip Blond talks about his controversial book Red Tory and the direction of a new politics. Joining him on election night are broadcaster and entrepreneur Julia Hobsbawm, founder of media networking business Editorial Intelligence and Martin Bright, political commentator and political editor of The Jewish Chronicle. Share your opinions on the future of progressive politics on the site where New Labour celebrated victory in 1997.
They forgot to add my name but I’m meant to be speaking too. Obviously, I’m the star attraction
I’ve been asked to speak about the future of progressive politics. Not figured out what exactly I’m going to say yet. Thoughts?
The RFH is also showing the results coming in on a big screen with Twitter feeds and all the rest, from 10pm, if you want somewhere lively to go. The second event is free to attend.
This looks like an interesting book launch. It’s tomorrow, so apologies for the late announcement. Press release below:
Eric Kaufmann – Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth: Demography and Politics in the 21st Century – Book Launch
Eric Kaufmann will speak about his new book followed by a drinks reception. The book will be available at reduced rate.
Thursday 25th March 6pm Room 403 Birkbeck Main Building, Malet St., London
Free and open to all
Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have convinced many western intellectuals that secularism is the way forward. But most people don’t read their books before deciding whether to be religious. Instead, they inherit their faith from their parents, who often innoculate them against the elegant arguments of secularists. In the race for souls, demography counts for more than eloquence.
And demographic reality is very much slanted against secularism: what no one has noticed is that far from declining, the religious are expanding their share of the population because secular birthrates have plunged below replacement. Based on a wealth of demographic studies, Kaufmann shows that the more religious people are, regardless of income, faith tradition or education, the more children they have. Religious countries have faster population growth than secular ones which is why immigrants are typically much more religious than their secular host societies. The cumulative effect of immigration and religious fertility will be to reverse the secularisation process in the West.
Exclusive: I’ve managed to get a statement by Moazzam Begg on why he pulled out of the Amnesty event tomorrow. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.
* * * * *
It has been my pleasure to have worked closely with Amnesty since my return from Guantanamo on highlighting the cases and campaigning against the human rights abuses that have occured in the name of fighting terrorism since the outset of the ‘War on Terror.’ The relationship I have with Amnesty goes back to the years when I was incarcerated in US custody and my father was receiving immense moral and practical support from the organisation – something both he and I will never forget.
I’m speaking at an event later this month (23rd Feb) on how the media needs to ‘expose the BNP‘.
The political and media consensus appears to be that the way to tackle the BNP is to meet it half way, by talking up tough anti-immigration measures and airing this racist partyâ€™s lies. This conventional wisdom must urgently be challenged.
Dealing with the press on a daily basis it is hard not to develop a healthy disrespect for the people who quite rightly can be blamed for the state this country is in today. However, certainly over the last year I am not the only one here at BNP Towers that has noticed a distinct thaw in the attitude towards us from some aspects of the media.
It has occurred to such an extent that the latest move by a small gaggle of z-list journalists to deliberately spike coverage concerning the BNP looks almost prehistoric. I used to worry about these things a few years ago, but now I welcome them safe in the knowledge that many within their own profession will find this sinister, clumsy or just plain comical.
Come and hear me (and others) listen. I’m going to be talking about strategies to tackle the media’s love of the BNP.
We hear endlessly in the media that European Muslims are failing to integrate; that they should stop wearing the burqa and building mosques with minarets; that like the rest of us, they must learn to tolerate insults to their religion however painful that may be. But isnâ€™t the boot really on the other foot?
By constantly criticising their traditions and beliefs and insisting they be more like the rest of us, arenâ€™t we breaching our own hallowed principle of live and let live? Far from Muslims failing to be good Europeans, isnâ€™t it Europe that is acting illiberally and giving a raw deal to its Muslim citizens?
British Muslims for Secular Democracy (bmsd) and the British Council invite you to: ‘Free Muslims: Autonomy and Creativity‘
SOAS Brunei Gallery, Thornhaugh Street, London
Tuesday 16th February 2010
10am to 2pm
We know that in certain Muslim homes, children are strongly discouraged from partaking in drama, art and music. This message is reverberating in schools across Europe. Fourteen hundred years of Islamic contributions to art, culture, literature, and history have been pushed aside in favour of a hardline interpretation of religion that denies the legitimacy of any form of artistic expression whatsoever.
Over 70% of women seeking asylum are rape survivors. Over 400 women and their families are currently detained at Yarlâ€™s Wood Removal Centre. Many are detained in other Centres throughout Britain.
While the brutal detention of children is finally widely condemned, there is still little said about the detention of mothers and the impact of this on families, including children, as well as on other vulnerable people.
Recently I went to see the Maharaja: the Splendour of India’s Royal Courtsexhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum, in South Kensington. The show, which runs until mid-January, features treasures, paintings and other artefacts from noted maharajas. The period covered is roughly from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries (though there is some material from before and after), and it is a good all round exhibition, with plenty of variety and history. I would recommend it, but allow plenty of time.
(The fort of the Maharaja of Gwalior, one of the princely houses featured in the exhibition)
As is traditional, this time of year brings complaints about the Political Correctness brigade (an elite commando unit based in Islington) attempting to suppress Christmas by nefarious means. Most of it is utter nonsense (though there are always a few idiotic attempts that are real), and this elicits the usual complaints about ‘PC going mad’ (an angry computer springs to mind). Now David Cameron has been accused of not representing the Christian message on his Christmas cards, prompting another wave of harrumphing.
In response, the wonderful Anton Vowl has created his own non-PC Christmas cards, designed to appease even the most rabid Daily Mail reader (Baz, expat, EUSSR).
Is the iconic (but short-lived) ‘Women Against Fundamentalism’ back?? I hope so
Today, the need to challenge the rise of religious fundamentalism in all religions is more critical than ever. At the same time we need to safeguard secular spaces (both physical and intellectual) where people of all religions and none can participate in public life and express themselves on equal terms.
Struggle not submission; 20 Years of Women Against Fundamentalism
A public meeting organised by Women Against Fundamentalism