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31st March, 2006

Are Hizb ut-Tahrir really dedicated?

by Sunny at 2:03 am    

I really wonder sometimes how strong members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are in their beliefs. You would think a group that keeps berating other “brothers and sisters” about how they’re not “doing their duty as Muslims” would stick to their guns. Evidently not.

Following my appearance on PTV Prime, it seems the Pizza HuT-ters have taken their constitution off their website. Why? Dr Nazreen Nawaz was trying to explain how great the HuT inspired caliphate would be a wonderful place where religious minorities would not only be protected, but be free to practise their faith openly. See the constitution on our website, she said. Hmm.. so why take it down then?

This isn’t the first time HuT have gotten rid of inflammatory material that may embarass them in the media. They previously took down a document about the killing of Jews too. Last week a Pizza HuT member from Denmark was caught urging “brothers” to “eliminate” any rulers that prevented them from joining the Iraq insurgency. So much for non-violence.

Anyway, a copy of their constitution is saved here (courtesy David T). I haven’t read it fully yet, but this caught my eye.

Article 7
c. Those who are guilty of apostasy (murtadd) from Islam are to be executed according to the rule of apostasy, provided they have by themselves renounced Islam.

I wonder what Inayat Bunglawala and Faisal Bodi have to say about that.

At this rate by next year Hizb ut-Tahrir will have flowers and fluffy bunnies on their website, proclaiming their love for everyone. Maybe they’ll even be nice to General Musharraf.

Filed under: Religion, Humour
29th March, 2006

Hizb ut-Tahrir and I, part 2

by Sunny at 1:31 am    

At least they turned up this time. Yesterday I was in a TV debate with someone from Hizb ut-Tahrir and a lady from Education Fund (or something) who represented Shabina Begum. To be honest the debate was much easier than I expected. HuT’s argument that this was fundamentally about intolerance towards Muslims was easy to blow out of the water.

The best bit came half-way when the Pizza HuT member said ‘freedom to express religion was the hallmark of a civilised society’, and I retorted with: ‘But in the HuT caliphate Muslims won’t have freedom to interpret their religion how they want to, will they? Does that mean you’re not civilised?’ Then followed a discussion about how much ‘freedom’ HuT is willing to allow its followers, and the Shabina Begum lawyer trying to distance herself from them.
It’ll be aired today on PTV Prime (Sky 815) at 6pm. That hour is free to air.

Filed under: Media, Religion
28th March, 2006

Royalty visits Sikh Gurudwara

by Al-Hack at 6:25 pm    
Charles and Camilla

The prince and the duchess were shown the nine weapons of Guru Gobind Singh. They greeted priests in the temple - or gurdwara - by performing a nemaste - bringing their hands together in prayer and bowing their heads.

Camilla gave coins and notes wrapped in material to one of the priests to be placed at the shrine as a mark of respect.

The India Express newspaper has described the duchess as being “daisy fresh” on the visit to the country, and having “sailed right through” her public engagements. “The duchess came as a pleasant surprise,” it said.

Filed under: South Asia, Religion, India
27th March, 2006

Treating different races with different narratives

by Sunny at 4:41 pm    

The weekend was an interesting insight into the double-standards that newspaper columnists and bloggers have on ‘free-speech’.

Would the same defenders of Ellis be happy with Hizb ut-Tahrir being allowed to freely berate Jews and all ‘infidels’? I suspect not. No one is asking Ellis to be deported though any British born Muslim with bigoted views would get that accusation.

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Getting high on religion

by Rohin at 3:04 am    

“Hmm, looks like a nasty case of revelations. My advice - take a few paracetamol, have a lie down and whatever you do, don’t found any religions.”

Israeli and Swiss neurologists have diagnosed the children of Abraham as suffering from delusions, as they claim there could be a perfectly rational medical explanation for three world religions.

Moses, Jesus and Mohammed all experienced revelations on mountain tops, but the Jerusalem/Geneva team suggest they were probably just feeling a bit peaky and suffering from altitude sickness. The doctors state that a lack of oxygen can alter brain function in the temporo-parietal junction and prefrontal cortex. The same symptoms have been reported by modern climbers and mountaineers, including those who claim to be atheist or non-spiritual. When I say ’symptoms’ I didn’t really mean receiving commandments or anything, more feeling afraid; seeing a presence and lights.

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Filed under: Religion, Humour, Science
22nd March, 2006

Will it all kick off in Germany?

by Rohin at 7:51 pm    

The World Cup’s coming, excited excited! Ah football - the sport of cultured, educated and refined gentlemen and their lady friends. Right?

A shockingly-mistyped story from Rome reveals that neo-Nazis in Europe want to make the World Cup a battleground between themselves and Muslims. They plan to attack fans from all Muslim countries participating. A member of AS Roma’s hooligan faction claimed:

“We are united. For the first time we are talking and planning together, with the English, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, everyone with the same objective. At the World Cup there will be a massacre.”

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Muslim leaders warn of abuse in madrassas

by Rohin at 2:39 pm    

Muslims could face a child abuse scandal on a par with the Catholic Church, a report has warned.

A group of Muslim leaders says the community is in denial about child abuse in religious schools, known as madrasas. The UK has about 700. [BBC reports]

About 100,000 students study at those 700 schools. Dr. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the co-author of the report and chair of the Muslim Parliament of Britain, said that Muslims are in denial if they think physical and sexual abuse is not taking place. The group want madrassas to be regulated in the same way other schools are. Too often abuse is a taboo subject and victims are left with no one to turn to. Home tuition is also flourishing as parents have lost confidence in their children being safe at madrassas.

Anne Cryer weighed in with some meaningless nonsense:

“Are we saying that British Asian children are not entitled to the protection of the law? It is racist to differentiate between children and to fail to offer that protection.”

Shabina Begum loses jilbaab case

by Sunny at 2:13 pm    

The law lords today overturned a court ruling that teenager Shabina Begum’s human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing full Islamic dress at school.

Shabina, 17, won a landmark victory last March that Denbigh high school in Luton, Bedfordshire, had infringed her human rights after teachers would not let her wear a traditional jilbab covering her body completely.

Today’s judgment was warmly welcomed by headteachers, who feared the earlier ruling would make it impossible to enforce any school uniform policy. [Link]

Good! Although no doubt Kulvinder will trot out some libertarian argument… (boo, hiss!)
Update: You can read the full ruling here [hat tip Jay Singh in comments]

21st March, 2006

Scientist Speaks to Scientologists Stateside

by Rohin at 10:33 pm    

In my last post I promised an account of what happened when I was rude to some Scientologists, in light of Isaac Hayes leaving South Park as it had made fun of the religion. To give my posts some sort of coherence, I’ve decided to make a new one in order to avoid making any too long.

Following in the footsteps of two heroes, Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson, I set out to find some ‘only in America’ weirdness last month. I found plenty to gawk at whilst travelling through America’s heartland along Route 66 and across California. But hicksville, USA nor the insane world of Vegas have anything on Scientology when it comes to the weirdness stakes. First up was the Big Apple.

We were rather polite to the New York Scientologists (branch pictured above), probably as none of us had knowingly met one before. Oh you’re wondering about that time me and Katie Holmes- well, she hadn’t converted back then. I had heard much of Scientology was based on Hinduism and Buddhism and I went with an open mind. NYC was more of a recce. So when I got to the spiritual home of Scientology, Hollywood, I was prepared.

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Filed under: Culture, Religion, Humour

Cartoons! Religion! Again! Oh and scientology.

by Rohin at 7:31 pm    

Now now, don’t worry - nothing more about those cartoons. I’m sure some of you have realised I’m a bit of a cartoon and comic fan. I have been planning on a light-hearted post about the religious affiliations of superheroes for a while, so imagine my surprise when Isaac Hayes quit South Park a few days ago and today TIME ran a story about comics in Asia. Excellent.

Therefore, instead of a succinct and pithy post about superheroes and supervillains, I present to you a rambling and tenuously-linked confusion of a post. Yes that’s right, I’m back.

After the jump is pretty pic-heavy, owing to the subject of the post.

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Critical Thinking - Iqbal’s Shikwa

by Shariq at 12:39 am    

I’ve just finished reading the first part of Muhammad ‘Allama’ Iqbal’s classic ‘dialogue’ with Allah. Shikwa, or ‘Complaint’, first published in 1909 is a breathtaking piece of poetry. Seeing the plight of Muslims across the World, Iqbal passionately questions Allah on why he allowed such a situation to develop.

Not suprisingly the idea that God could wrong his people and was not carrying out his plans justly caused quite a stir. Despite the inevitable response of many traditionalists, Iqbal’s ideas have lived on and he is revered in Pakistan as her national poet.

I am not advocating that people read Shikwa and hold its text as sacred, or something which can not be questioned. There are some elements to do with conversion and Muslim superiority to which my reaction is somewhere, deeply uncomfortable and profound disagreement.

However to use this a stick with which to attack Iqbal completely misses the point. He was at once both a man of his times and ahead of his times. Above all it was his ability to think freely and outside of the traditional mold while contributing to the discourse of his times which made him great. The fact that his ideas were expressed in aesthetic and powerful poetry simply add to his greatness.

I’ll post on God’s response to Iqbal soon.

Filed under: Culture, Religion, Pakistan
19th March, 2006

Tale of two marches, part 2

by Sunny at 11:14 pm    

About 20,000 people braved the cold yesterday in London for the anti-war march. Although I’d like the forces to try and maintain stability in Iraq until the Iraqis can properly take over, it is nice to see so many people are still willing to express their opposition to war in general and show their anger over the WMD lies.

We have pictures and some interesting commentary on that march, and the Freedom March on the 25th…

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Not supportive of Shabina Begum

by Sunny at 5:02 am    

School rules on the uniforms children wear could be thrown into chaos this week by the final law lords judgment in the case of Shabina Begum, the Muslim girl who was banned from wearing full Islamic dress at school.

Headteachers have told The Observer that if the judgment goes in her favour, making it unlawful to exclude children for refusing on religious grounds to wear proper uniform, it would ‘undermine the authority of schools’.

Denbigh High School in Luton, whose case is now supported by the Department for Education, originally sent Begum home because she insisted on wearing a jilbab, or full-length Islamic gown. Begum, now 17, stopped going to school in 2002 and spent two years at home, before enrolling into another one that allowed her to wear the gown. [Link]

One of the stupidest cases to have found currency in UK courts, I hope the law lords chuck this out. Although I’m not in favour of the French model of banning all religious garb at school, this case is about one person’s interpretation of her religion and I don’t see why schools have to play fiddle to that. If she doesn’t like it, she can stop attending school.

17th March, 2006

25th March: a tale of two protests

by Sunny at 9:43 pm    

On 25th March, Saturday next week, two marches will be taking place in central London. The first is the March For Free Expression, organised initially as a response to the Danish cartoons controversy but they cite other concerns such as the Sikh play Behzti and Jerry Springer: TO.

Invoking the Danish cartoons example has made some Muslim groups mad, and thus the Muslim Action Committee is also demonstrating on the same day.

Me? Rather than sit on the fence I’d like to tear it down.

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14th March, 2006

Mindless paranoia

by Sunny at 10:36 pm    

I read with much amusement last night that the departure of Sunday Telegraph’s editor Sarah Sands last week is being blamed on Muslims by some bloggers. The furore revolves around an article in the ST that carried plenty of opinion on Islam from a Muslim convert to Christinanity, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo. The article was recently taken down from the Telegraph website without explanation.

Needless to say such hysteria eventually reached Little Nazi Footballs, which is now busy informing the blogosphere that The Telegraph is also infected by their favourite word ‘Dhimmitude’. You mean the rag that published editorials from an anonymous Will Cummins comparing Muslims to dogs? Yes, infected, as they say. And who is to blame? Islamophobia Watch! That’s even more hilarious.

Rather than constantly churning this pot of conspiracy theories, I suggest the boys from IBlogA just throw in their lot with the BNP’s local election strategy. Apparently it’s becoming ‘too socialist‘. Having all the idiots under one roof would make them easier to deal with. This way is too confusing.

Filed under: Media, Religion, Humour
13th March, 2006

Doubles trouble for Sania Mirza

by Shariq at 4:54 pm    

Sania MirzaIndian tennis player Sania Mirza sure lives an interesting life. After controversies over her clothes and remarks over the Khushboo scandal, another flare-up is brewing - this time over her choice of doubles partner.

Ms Mirza is good friends with the Israeli player Shahar Peer and would like to resume their doubles partnership. Unfortunately the last time they played it upset the usual suspects and, with her profile continuing to rise, this will come up sooner or later. In fact they had intended to play together at a match in recently Bangalore before Mirza thought it would be best that they didn’t.

This irritated some other people, but I actually think it’s the type of principled pragmatism which those who challenge the status quo sometimes need to undertake. Make a principled point by playing in tournaments in other parts of the world but don’t unnecessarily create a big fuss which is then exploited by conservative elements in your country when you are already a highly controversial figure.

As for Muslims and Jews playing tennis together, there is a precedent. Pakistani Aisam-ul-Haq and Israeli Amir Hadad won the ATP’s Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award for playing (well) together at Wimbledon in 2002. (I don’t think they played again, but I think that was more to do with Aisam foolishly thinking he could make it as a singles player, but don’t get me started on that).

10th March, 2006

Road to Guntanamo - opinions?

by Sunny at 3:16 pm    

So, what did everyone think of Michael Winterbottom’s polemic yesterday? I was invited to a screening around two weeks ago, and published a short review here. I do express reservations about the film’s willingness to unquestioningly take whatever the Tipton Three said at face value, however Winterbottom said that the film was clearly and pointedly from their point of view. It was a reconstruction based on what they said and went through - nothing more and nothing less.

Admittedly there is something shady about four boys heading over to Afghanistan just after war had started, but I don’t buy the way some commentators have sought to imply that just because they did that - they must be terrorists. The US and UK authorities had over two years to establish whether these guys were in any way related to terrorism. They utterly failed.

As Garry Smith points out - it’s a very slipperly slope towards outright discrimination and heightened paranoia when people are dismissed just because of their religion.

A rational analysis of terrorism must lead to an acceptance that it is impossible to fully protect a country against all terrorist attacks. It’s a harsh reality to face, but it’s true. This statement does not mean, as is sometimes fatuously claimed, that we should do nothing to combat terrorism. It means that we should do everything in our power to combat it while abiding by the principles we seek to defend. Abandoning those principles is a victory for extremism.

Well said.

9th March, 2006

Mail on Sunday exposed in bribing students to spy on Muslims

by SajiniW at 11:29 pm    

The Mail on Sunday newspaper is offering students money to attend university Islamic society meetings (at £100 per meeting) to spy on Muslims students and report back on any dodgy activities, the London Student newspaper reported today.

The NUS and ULU have condemned the activities of The Mail on Sunday, and are now considering banning the paper from their facilities.

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8th March, 2006

Hindu group calls to burn down Kellogs

by Sunny at 8:47 pm    

Not really, but some of them are really angry. Why, you ask? What did poor Snap, Crackle and Pop (pictured) ever do to hurt anyone? Or did someone get incensed after finding that Special K was absolutely crap as part of a healthy diet? Actually it’s more mundane than that.

The World Council of Hindus (aka the VHP) are pissed off after finally finding out that some Kellogs products contained beef / pork gelatine. It is “outraged” according to a statement I’ve received, and their representative said so on the Asian Network this afternoon.

Bastards! - a fellow vegetarian like me might think. Except the products already state they contain gelatine (no more (pop) tarts for you Gujrati uncleji!) and are “not suitable for vegetarians”. The VHP want better labelling, Kellogs say they can’t be asked. So those who do not read their food labels closely - you have been warned.
File under: ‘Another religious body trying to stir controversy to get noticed‘.

Police to make arrests over cartoons protest

by Sunny at 3:17 am    

Over a month after they took place, the police is planning to make arrests “in the near future” over that infamous protest by the inbreds from Al-Ghuarabaa over the Danish cartoons. BBC reported last night:

Placards were seen threatening a repeat of the 11 September terrorist attacks or the 7 July London bombings. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We have been advised today that there are sufficient grounds to arrest individuals for offences under the Public Order Act.

“This includes offences that are racially or religiously aggravated.” He said the expected arrests related to evidence gathered on 3 February.

About bloody time.

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