14th June, 2011
12th June, 2011
Robert Fisk reports from Bahrain, where 48 surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses were put on trial for allegedly attempting to overthrow the monarchy. Their crime was to have treated anti-government protestors. Mr Fisk argues that the trial is going ahead at the behest of Saudi Arabia:
In truth, of course, the Khalifa family is not mad. Nor are the Sunni minority of Bahrain intrinsically bad or sectarian. The reality is clear for anyone to see in Bahrain. The Saudis are now running the country. They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini “security forces” from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man. They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.
The subsequent destruction of ancient Shia mosques in Bahrain was a Saudi project, entirely in line with the kingdom’s Taliban-style hatred of all things Shia. Could the Bahraini prime minister be elected, I asked a member of the royal court last February? “The Saudis would not permit this,” he replied. Of course not. Because they now control Bahrain. Hence the Saudi-style doctors’ trial.
Disgraceful. This show trial should certainly be the last straw in any UK co-operation with the Bahrainis.
9th June, 2011
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.
7th June, 2011
The United States has recently seen a whole raft of bills aimed at ‘stopping shariah law’, introduced by lawmakers in individual states that have hardly any Muslims. Most of the inititiatives are led by tinfoil-hat-wearing kooks who shouldn’t even be allowed near a microphone let alone introducing bills.
The Guardian today reports on an initiative here too:
Islamic courts would be forced to acknowledge the primacy of English law under a bill being introduced in the House of Lords.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill will introduce an offence carrying a five-year jail sentence for anyone falsely claiming or implying that sharia courts or councils have legal jurisdiction over family or criminal law. The bill, which will apply to all arbitration tribunals if passed, aims to tackle discrimination, which its supporters say is inherent in the courts, by banning the sharia practice of giving woman’s testimony only half the weight of men’s.
This makes sense to me. I would go as far as saying these Shariah law and Beth Din (Jewish) courts should not even be allowed in this country (a reversal from an earlier position, I accept) because there is a grave chance that some people’s rights are abused.
For example, we recently reported the case of a top Sharia judge saying that husbands raping wives isn’t really rape. I don’t think those sorts of orthodox and misogynist views are rare.
The Muslim Council of Britain’s Khurshid Drabu objects:
Yet again, it appears to be a total misunderstanding of the concept that underpins these arbitration councils. Sharia councils operate under consent. If there is a woman who suffers as a result of a decision by one of these councils a woman is free to go to the British courts.
She is indeed, but that doesn’t mean she will always be free to do so. She might face a lot of pressure from locals not to do so.
In fact the above bill makes Sharia courts more likely to become entrenched because it removes the key objection that the courts are seen as above English law. I would rather they did not become entrenched. Nevertheless, if they are to stay then this should be a minimum requirement.
The counter-terrorism think tank Quilliam Foundation, who are broadly supportive of the government’s proposals on the matter, sent out this statement today:
The new strategy is a step in the right direction. It is good that the government has recognised that extremism lies at the root of terrorism and that extremism must be tackled as a result. It is also right that the government has acknowledged the problem of radicalisation at universities and that action is needed against campus hate-preachers.
At the same time, however, the strategy is plagued by muddled thinking that risks undermining its positive achievements. In particular its definition of Islamism is so broad that it fails to distinguish between Islamists and politically active Muslims inspired by Islam, this unnecessarily smears ordinary politically active Muslims and works to the favour of Islamists who benefit from hiding behind such blurred distinctions.
Ouch. That’s fairly harsh, coming even from an ally.
But that gets to the heart of why this review will be ultimately counter-productive.
Yesterday, a meeting was held to oppose Nadine Dorries’ agenda, which includes female-only abstinence classes and further restrictions on abortion. Campaigners also wanted to further liberalise abortion services in Britain, particularly in Northern Ireland. A number of interesting points emerged from the debates (I didn’t attend), but what it is notable is that debate on abortion tends to focus almost exclusively on the supply side; at what point can a woman have an abortion, what she needs to go through to get it, and so forth. This is understandable, but it does polarise the debate, since on one side you have people who believe you are killing a human being and on the other people who feel you are interfering with a woman’s right to choose.
These positions are unlikely to change, but there is a way to please both sides, and that is reducing demand for abortion. To do this you first have to work out why women have abortions. Though there can be a number of reasons, two of the most common are not using contraception and women being pressured into sex. Therefore the way to deal with this, as Cath Elliot pointed out a while ago, is to increase contraceptive use amongst men and help women escape domestically violent situations. Thus you have less unwanted pregnancies and so less demand for abortions.
Who could object to this? Campaigners for liberalising access to abortion don’t actually enjoying the thought of abortions, so a reduction in demand wouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, as well as rescuing more women from abusive relationships. For those who genuinely think it murder, they should also support a plan that would see a reduction in the number of abortions. The only people who would object are the misogynists, who see abortion as a way to control women, and view sex education and promoting contraceptive use amongst men as immoral, but they wouldn’t be able to hide behind the excuse of protecting the unborn anymore.
6th June, 2011
Prevention is better than a cure. A proverb that was probably the inspiration for government strategy intended to combat the spread of extremist Islamic views, Prevent.
As Theresa May calls for Universities to drop their complacency and be more aware of the ideologies being bred on their campuses, I ask, how do you even prevent terrorism?
Clearly, I’m not equipped to know what exactly motivates somebody towards extremist religious views. But as a theologian (well, a philosophy and theology graduate), and as a 23 year old British Indian, I have my own insight – be it correct or not.
The key for me is identity. A sense of belonging. When economic motivations found Indians and Pakistanis entering the UK en masse, I guess identity wasn’t exactly something the travellers considered. But, as a member of the transitional generation I’ve witnessed the difficulties young people have had in this respect. My parents both predominantly grew up in England so it is a problem that I, personally, have never faced.
Though many peers in my generation have found it difficult to marry a traditional Indian / Pakistani upbringing, usually founded in religion, with life growing up in a Western culture that has endured the 60s 70s and 80s.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has criticised universities for not doing enough to tackle extremism on campus. The comments come ahead of the release of the updated Prevent (terrorism) strategy:
“I think for too long there’s been complacency around universities,” she said. “I don’t think they have been sufficiently willing to recognise what can be happening on their campuses and the radicalisation that can take place. I think there is more that universities can do.” Mrs May said universities had to “send very clear messages” and “ask themselves some questions about what happens on their campuses”.
She also criticised the Federation of Student Islamic Societies for not challenging extremism sufficiently. “They need to be prepared to stand up and say that organisations that are extreme or support extremism or have extremist speakers should not be part of their grouping,” Mrs May said.
Universities should (and often do) make clear what is acceptable, and societies breaching these rules should have their funding withdrawn and barred from using campus facilities. But beyond this, there are limits to what they can do. There are dozens of societies on campus, and universities cannot be expected to vet all their speakers and events. Nor can they ban societies unless they get proof about what they are up to, which can be difficult. Universities should stop societies using campus facilities from hosting extremists if they are warned in advance (with proof provided), but they lack the resources to do much more.
Some of the Prevent proposals do seem more well thought out however; the government is going to withdraw funding from a number of groups, on the basis that although they do not support terrorism, they are not moderate. This is right, as it moves away from the narrow ideal that the world can be divided between those who support terrorism and those who don’t.
The greater focus on white far-right terrorism is welcome too, as there have been a number of far-right terrorists convicted. It also helps dispel the myth that Muslims are the only ones capable of supporting and carrying out terrorist attacks, which encourages people to ‘other’ Muslims by viewing them as uniquely dangerous.
5th June, 2011
There have recently been a series of further Sikh signatories to the joint statement condemning the English Defence League and any Sikhs who join them. Examples of notable individuals who have recently publicly voiced their support are several popular UK-based Sikh musicians along with Sikh councillors such as Hardial Singh Rai (Barking & Dagenham) and Pavitar Kaur Mann (Slough).
However, the most high-profile Sikh signatory so far has been the acclaimed Indian ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, who was recently in the UK for a major concert tour. Jagjit is extremely famous among more than a billion South Asians worldwide, and continues to have a successful career which has spanned approximately 40 years. Although he is trained in Indian classical music and also occasionally records albums of religious music, he is most famous as a ghazal maestro. In fact, he is widely regarded as the world’s greatest modern-day Indian proponent of the genre. Jagjit regularly performs at international concerts to huge audiences.
3rd June, 2011
Today’s Observer has this nugget:
The Conservative manifesto named Hizb ut-Tahrir as a group it wanted to proscribe; in 2009 the then shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, promised to “immediately ban” the group if the Tories were elected.
But they won’t. The new Prevent review – on how the government deals with counter-terrorism – will avoid anything on Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Its hardly surprising though. I’ve been pointing out for ages that banning HuT is like banning the BNP – idiotic and an attack on free speech. But while banning the latter would have raised hackles amongst Conservatives, attempts to ban HuT have been met with embarrassed silence by Conservatives who claimed to be for defending free speech.
The main observation in the article is that:
Home Office sources say that Cameron has quashed Nick Clegg’s argument for a more tolerant attitude to Muslim groups by insisting on a strategy centred upon the notion that violent extremism is incubated within the ideology of non-violent extremism.
The shift in approach will be outlined when the government’s counter-terrorism strategy is unveiled by the home secretary, Theresa May, on Tuesday. Central to the Prevent strategy is a broader definition of extremism that will be extended beyond groups condoning violence to those considered non-violent but whose views, such as the advocacy of sharia law, fail to “reflect British mainstream values”.
I suppose I’ll have to dust off my arguments on why this is a bad idea and makes us all the more unsafe.
2nd June, 2011
Nesrine Malik has a good piece on the Women2Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia and the difficulties faced by campaigners who are protesting against customs rather than just laws:
Manal al-Sharif, the woman who attracted global attention to the Saudi Women2Drive campaign when she posted videos of herself driving on YouTube, was released earlier this week from Dammam prison. As a condition of her release she signed a pledge that she will not participate in the Women2Drive initiative and has officially withdrawn from the campaign. In her statement, she expressed “profound gratitude” to the king, who apparently had ordered her release…
Campaigns of this kind need to be personalised – to have a galvanising figure who can provide a role model and inspire others. But becoming that person in a traditional society can be nothing short of social suicide. Although Sharif is feted in the media and celebrated online, she still has to survive and raise her children among fellow Saudis who might be more disdainful. In an attempt to deflect attention, she said in her statement that she hoped the “Manal al-Sharif file is now closed”.
Ms. Malik points out that there are no written laws relating to female driving, yet it is banned because a ban in enforced in practice.
31st May, 2011
Regular readers will be aware of my recent article (Part 1, Part 2) highlighting the full scale of the English Defence League spokesman’s continuous lying in his extremely dishonest, rambling “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. The next day, Guramit posted the following message on Facebook, suddenly announcing his resignation:
Readers can make up their own minds about the accuracy of the “reasons” stated for his departure, considering Guramit’s extensive track record of disingenuously being somewhat economical with the truth.
The EDL’s main website has been noticeably silent about Guramit’s resignation; there were also no tributes to (or mention of) him by the senior speakers at the EDL’s demonstration in Blackpool during the weekend. The lack of a public tribute or any words of gratitude by the EDL’s leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) is also glaringly conspicuous.
However, during the past few days, Guramit’s secretary Hel Gower has posted the following “goodbye message” on Facebook. She uses some — shall we say — interesting words to describe Guramit:
Hel Gower, of course, is also on record as openly supporting the BNP and the neo-Nazi “British First Party”, as per the following screenshot from Facebook:
One of the very few honest public statements made by Guramit included the following assertion about Sikhism:
“My religion teaches that the truth will always prevail.”
Indeed it does. Ironically, it has been proven that Guramit himself was repeatedly lying his head off during his ignominious tenure with the EDL. How unfortunate for the EDL, although some would correctly describe it as poetic justice.
Guramit has posted a characteristically petulant Facebook response to my article:
It’s quite revealing about his own mentality that Guramit assumes that was what I was referring to, not to mention his embarrassingly hypersensitive reaction. And, of course, Guramit once again hypocritically accuses other people of “making up lies”.
Having said that, since Guramit has no objection to his BNP & neo-Nazi-supporting secretary openly referring to him as a “Paki” then he’s clearly taking self-abasing sycophancy to previously uncharted depths.
And once again, Guramit’s unwise public outburst betrays his ignorance of the following very pertinent advice by the late great President Abraham Lincoln:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Pakistani TV is reporting that the body found today of a dead man was indeed that of journalist Saleem Shahzad. I hadn’t heard of this case earlier but I’ve been horrified by it.
A few days ago Shahzad wrote an investigative article for Asia Times pointing out that Al-Qaeda elements and the Pakistani navy had been negotiating over some prisoners. When the talks broken down, Karachi naval base got bombed.
Al-Qaeda carried out the brazen attack on PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi on May 22 after talks failed between the navy and al-Qaeda over the release of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda links, an Asia Times Online investigation reveals.
Pakistani security forces battled for 15 hours to clear the naval base after it had been stormed by a handful of well-armed militants.
Shahzad was Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He pointed out that the Pakistani security forces were getting worried that senior people were harbouring sympathies for al-Qaeda. When these people were arrested, al-Qaeda elements got involved and eventually stormed the base.
A few days ago, before the second part of the investigation was published, Saleem Shahzad went missing. Human Rights Watch pointed said the Pakistani ISI had him. Now he’s found dead, with signs that he was tortured. Sickening.
Ahsan Butt on FiveRupees is spot on:
I literally cannot believe that the ISI acted with such impunity. They can pick someone one up, torture and murder them, and expect absolutely no legal recrimination.
Remember, these people’s job is to protect us. But they torture and kill us, and protect Osama bin Laden and Hafiz Saeed instead.
They do this in Balochistan most every day, what with student activists, nationalists, and regular party workers ending up in gutters, but they have made the entirely rational calculation that no one in Pakistan cares about Balochistan — watch the video in this Cafe Pyala post if you don’t believe me. This feels somehow different, because his abduction was front page news. And yet they still went ahead and killed him.
This isn’t just about the intimidation and murder of journalists. This is also about hiding the truth that Pakistan has more to fear from Al-Qaeda and militants than it does from the Americans. But since the media is intimidated into keeping quiet the true extent of al-Qaeda infiltration.
30th May, 2011
Peter Tatchell, who went to Moscow to protest against the government’s decision to ban the gay pride march, reports on the violence directed against him and others by both neo-Nazis and the police. A number of observers pointed out the collusion between the neo-Nazis and the police:
I went to City Hall to protest but was separated from our Moscow Gay Pride group. Neo-Nazis identified me for attack. Being alone and with the police refusing to protect us, I had to escape down alleyways to avoid a beating. I was not arrested.
By banning Moscow Gay Pride, Russia has defied a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it must be allowed to proceed. Some of us now plan to press the Council of Europe to suspend Russia’s right to vote in the Council’s parliamentary assembly. Russia must not be permitted to defy the European Court with impunity.
The two non-white protestors at the march were both arrested and put in solitary confinement, before eventually being released. Russia has long seem homophobic attacks and official harassment of LGBT activists and individuals.
28th May, 2011
Professor Steve Jones, a highly respected geneticist, has warned about the dangers of inbreeding. Using Bradford as an example, he pointed out that 75% of Pakistanis in Bradford marry their cousins:
‘There may be some evidence that cousins marrying one another can be harmful,’ he told an audience at the Hay Festival.
‘We should be concerned about that as there can be a lot of hidden genetic damage. Children are much more likely to get two copies of a damaged gene. ‘Bradford is very inbred. There is a huge amount of cousins marrying each other there.’
The problem occurs not as a result of a one off marriage between cousins, but rather through persistent inbreeding.
He was criticised by Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation:
‘I know many Muslims who have married their cousins and none of them have had a problem with their children. ‘Obviously, we don’t want any children to be born disabled who don’t need to be born disabled, so I would advise genetic screening before first cousins marry.
‘But I find Steve Jones’s comments unworthy of a professor. Using language like “inbreeding” to describe cousins marrying is completely inappropriate and further demonises Muslims.’
27th May, 2011
There’s an interesting study into the demographics of the different Asian communities in the USA.
Jeanne Batalova examined the size, distribution, demographics and socioeconomic characteristics of immigrants from Eastern Asia, South Central Asia, South Eastern Asia, and Western Asia.
Using the most recent government data available, it was found that:
· Immigrants from Asia number more than 10.6 million, accounting for 27.7 percent of all foreign born currently residing in the United States. The largest groups of immigrants from this region are from the Philippines, India, China (including Hong Kong), Vietnam, and Korea.
· While California, New York, and Texas are home to nearly half of all Asian immigrants in the United States, nearly or more than half of the immigrant population in Hawaii (78.2 percent), Alaska (51.6 percent), West Virginia (51.6 percent), Michigan (45.5), and Virginia (41.4) are from Asia.
· Immigrants from Asia are more likely than the overall foreign-born population to be proficient in English and be naturalized US citizens, and are more likely than both the foreign born and the native born to have a Bachelor’s degree.
· Asian immigrants accounted for about 58 percent of immigrant physicians and surgeons and for roughly 60 percent of immigrant registered nurses practicing in the United States.
· South Eastern Asians made up the largest proportion of the Asian-born population, followed by those from Eastern, South Central, and Western Asia.
What is with Asians and becoming doctors huh? And why are so many of them settling in Texas of all places?
26th May, 2011
It has been revealed that David Cameron spent around £680,000 of taxpayers’ money on Downing Street last year:
Records of all government spending reveal nine bills for the refurbishment of Downing Street including £30,000 for work he and his wife Samantha carried out on the No 11 flat last summer. The centrepiece of their revamp was the kitchen, revealed this week in official photographs of the President Barack Obama’s state visit…
The other £653,192.34 was spent on external and internal renovation work to the offices and reception rooms in Downing Street, including cabling, plumbing and energy efficiency improvements. No 10 declined to specify further what the money was spent on and has previously refused Freedom of Information requests asking what changes have been made to the Grade I listed building since the election and the costs.
Clearly the Camerons should have a small taxpayer-funded allowance for repairs and renovations for their flat, since they live in Downing Street for work and security reasons. The money allocated should also reflect the cost of Central London and the need for vetting of staff. Yet the money spent seems excessive. It would be useful to have a breakdown of the money spent of thing like plumbing (it might or might not have needed doing, since there are offices there too).
However, the £30,000 for a kitchen, unless it was a complete shambles, is expensive, and David Cameron shouldn’t been lecturing the nation on the necessity of cutting back whilst spending excessive amounts of taxpayers’ money on a kitchen as opposed to something a rape crisis centre. Is it a small amount of money in the grand scheme of things? Yes. But it is the principle of it, as well as being real money which could help people. Some will also say that Labour were more wasteful in government. They were, but assessing the proper use of taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be measured at the lowest common denominator.
25th May, 2011
The latest figures from India’s national census make for grim reading. Between 2001 and 2011 the gender ratio (number of girls compared to number of boys per thousand) worsened, with only 914 girls for every 1000 boys being recorded, down from a ratio of 974:1000 in 1961. Some of the worst offending states, especially Haryana, did see slight improvements, but this was more than offset by the decline in Southern India, which traditionally has been less anti-female than the north. Much of the gap is due female foetuses being aborted. But infanticide (the killing of babies/infants) is also widespread, with young girls being murdered all over India.
What though can be done about it? Lifting people out of poverty is often the answer to many issues, but not this one. In the last twenty years, India has got richer, yet the gender imbalance is worse. It is often richer families who abort female foetuses, as they have access to ultrasounds and the money to pay for an abortion. As Rita Banerji’s article last week showed, such attitudes still exist in the (comparatively) wealthy Indian diasporas in the West, and this is only likely to worsen, as more Indians get access to affordable ultrasound machines.
24th May, 2011
This is a guest post by Sarah of Same Difference
I read a heartbreaking story yesterday. There are plans to deport a five year old girl back to Algeria. And Rania Abdechakour has severe disabilities- quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, heart problems and partial eyesight.
Rania was sent to the UK on a six month visa in 2008 to live with her aunt and uncle and receive medical treatment. Her stay was then extended so that her medical treatment could continue. Now, she is making good progress, and even attending a mainstream school.
However, an application for permanent leave to remain in the UK has been rejected. The Home Office says that Rania must return to Algeria. Her family say that there is no chance of her receiving appropriate medical treatment there. And epilepsy, says her aunt, Jo Taleb, is still seen as possession in Algeria. They fear that if she is deported, she faces death.
So the family are appealing the Home Office decision. They have set up a petition to the Home Secretary and a Facebook group called Rania Must Stay.
I hope you’ll agree that this campaign needs as much publicity as possible.
The Guardian reports:
People from ethnic minorities are up to 42 times more likely than white people to be the target of a counter-terrorism power which allows the stopping and searching of the innocent yet grants them less rights than suspected criminals, official figures seen by the Guardian show.
The power is contained in schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to stop people at ports and airports for up to nine hours without the need for reasonable suspicion that they are involved in any crime.
The figures have led to accusations that police have resorted to “ethnic profiling”, which they deny.
It’s odd that conservatives rarely raise their voice on stuff like this, since they constantly claim that institutions should not make decisions based on a person’s race or gender etc. Odd, isn’t it?
23rd May, 2011
This article is a direct continuation of Part 1, which was published yesterday, and discusses further extracts from the EDL spokesman’s recent open letter to numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read Part 1 first before continuing below.
“One of my closest international allies is Rabbi Shiffren.”
This is the same Rabbi Shifren who has been condemned by numerous senior Jewish leaders for his anti-Muslim fanaticism, ended up having to be forcibly thrown out of a conference by five conservative rabbis after he started screaming abuse at Reverend Jesse Jackson, and is on record as making the following extremely derogatory remarks about Muslims during a speech at an EDL demonstration in October 2010: “In those so-called freedom centres, they plot to destroy and kill us. We’re still waiting for the Muslims to make peace with each other. They eat each other alive, like the dogs that they are…”
It is worth remembering that the EDL also have international links to Jewish convicted terrorists who are not only completely banned from entering Israel, but are also part of groups which the FBI have officially designated as terrorist organisations.
“A Sikh who truly understands his or her religion will understand the true message of the English Defence League. Our battle against militant Islam”
False. As a result of multiple interviews by the BBC (see here and here), Guramit is on record as publicly claiming that there is absolutely no difference between “militant Islam” and Islam in general. In fact, his public speeches at EDL rallies have repeatedly included remarks demonising Islam full-stop along with Allah, the Prophet Mohammad, and Britain’s entire Muslim population, frequently using extremely obscene language (see here, here and here). Therefore, when Guramit uses the term “militant Islam”, he means that Islam itself is by definition inherently militant.
Former BBC journalist Tim Llewellyn has a damning article in the Guardian today, exposing the BBC’s failings when reporting on Israel / Palestine.
There is no attempt to properly convey cause and effect, to report the misery, violence and pillage that demean and deny freedom to the Palestinians and provoke their (limited) actions.
>> In the bulletins they examined, the BBC gave 421.5 lines of text to Israeli explanations of why they attacked Gaza: the “need for security”, “enemy rockets”, “to stop the smuggling of weapons”. The BBC devoted 14.25 lines to references to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories and 10.5 lines to the blockade. The BBC repeatedly stressed the word [Israeli] “retaliation”, and also implied that police stations bombed by the Israelis were military targets, describing other casualties as “civilian”. It described these civilian installations as “targets”. Newspapers such as the Guardian did point out the distinction.
>> “The offer that Hamas was said to have made, to halt this exchange [rockets v shells and air strikes] … was almost completely absent from the coverage,” say the authors. They cite a BBC reporter saying: “Israel feels itself surrounded by enemies, with reason.” They add: “We have not found a commentary noting that ‘Palestinians feel themselves to be subject to a brutal military occupation, with reason.’ Israel’s official view is given as fact, they say, but the Palestinian view, on the rare occasions it is found at all, is not. Israelis “state”, Palestinians “claim”.
>> Any Israeli casualty is headline news, shown in high quality images. BBC teams are based in West Jerusalem, de facto Israeli territory, and are on hand. Arab casualties may be shown in reports of a funeral, usually agency film, the victim anonymous. The Israelis, it seems, are for the BBC “people like us”. The Arabs are “the other”.
>> For example, the BBC consistently describes illegal Israeli settlements as “held to be illegal”. But they are illegal. Even the Foreign Office says so. The BBC always adds “Israel disputes this.” Well it would, wouldn’t it? Why these caveats?
Shame on the BBC for not improving its coverage of the Middle East.
And I’m sure people will say ‘just watch Al-Jazeera instead’, but that ignores the BBC not only has a duty to proper journalism but also reaches vast parts of the country in a way al-Jazeera can’t.
22nd May, 2011
Further to my recent article highlighting Guramit “Singh’s” ongoing doublespeak and religious hypocrisy in his public statement responding to the excommunication ultimatum, the English Defence League’s “Sikh” spokesman has issued a very long, extremely dishonest “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikh supporters & signatories of the joint statement which condemned the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. I’m not going to link to the EDL’s website directly, but if you Google “EDL open letter ideological opponents” then you’ll be able to locate the letter. Alternatively, you can read it in full via another website here.
As a Sikh myself, I’ll address a series of extracts from Guramit’s rambling letter:
“I’m writing with regard to the document you signed, a document issued to you by members of the turban campaign, something that slanders not just myself but also the English Defence League…..This is me reaching out to all those people who have been hoodwinked into believing slander from the ideological opponents of the EDL…..This was the turban campaigns next lie, as you can probably guess this is getting ridiculous considering that members of the turban campaign claim to represent the whole of the Sikh community, I would never claim such a thing. I only represent those who are sincere to our cause no matter what colour creed or religion”
19th May, 2011
After their electoral disaster in last year’s elections, the BNP have increasingly faded from view. As the author of a new book on the BNP, Matthew Goodwin, points out, the BNP has only really been focused on electoral success for the last decade or so:
Born into the spring of 1982, during its early years the party steered clear of elections. It was not until the arrival of Nick Griffin as chairman in 1999 that a serious quest for votes commenced. Influenced by his time in the 1970s National Front, and inspired by its more successful French counterpart, Griffin went about revamping the BNP under a strategy of “modernisation”. The goal was to attract a broad and stable electorate by detoxifying the brand, adopting community-based activism and throwing resources at local and European elections.
At this point, it seems unlikely that the BNP will pose a serious electoral threat in the near future, as the anti-Griffin rebellion grows and senior figures leave or have left already. But, as Matthew Goodwin argues, there is still space for an “anti-immigrant populist party”. This opens the way for the EDL.
This is a guest post by Rita Banerji
Many assume The 50 Million Missing Campaign I run is about the female genocide – the mass and deliberate annihilation of women — in India. However, this is a phenomenon that concerns other countries too with sizeable Indian communities, like the U.K., the U.S., Norway and Canada.
In India the elimination is systemic and in many forms. But in expatriate communities, while issues like dowry violence and honour killings do exist, the most prevalent method of elimination is female feticide. The reason is, while western governments are compelled by law to deal with homicides, they are unwilling to address the systematic extermination of women through sex-selection.
A study published [subscription required] by researchers at Oxford University, reveals that 1500 girls went ‘missing’ from the Indian communities in England and Wales between 1990 and 2005. The 1500 figure indicates that 1 in 10 girls, who should have been born according to normal birth statistics, had been selectively aborted. The study raises another important question. This practice is not evident in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities in the U.K., even though all three countries share a common history and culture, and the same social preference for sons.
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I know, I’m just as shocked as you are. The brown babies have multiplied manifold and soon their numbers will be so big that the entire Daily Express readership will be devoured. Mwahahaha!
The non-white British population of England and Wales has grown from 6.6 million in 2001 to 9.1 million in 2009 – nearly one in six of the population.
The figures, which give a detailed ethnic breakdown for every one of the 423 local authorities, were published on Wednesday in an “experimental” data release from the Office for National Statistics. They also show there are now almost a million mixed-race people in the two countries.
Just 2.5m extra minorities in a decade? That’s a pretty pathetic rate of growth when compared to brown people in India and Pakistan. What’s going on?
Brent in north London is the most ethnically diverse borough, while parts of Wales the least diverse. Haringey has the most amount of mixed-race people apparently.
The Daily Express is naturally alarmed by all this. That makes me happy.