8th May, 2009
This is such a bizarre story.
Sikh police want bulletproof turbans to be developed so they can serve as firearms officers and deal with public order, a newly-formed body says.
The British Sikh Police Association says Sikh officers cannot currently do such jobs, as their religion prohibits removing turbans to wear helmets. But the organisation’s chairman says he now intends to push for more research on suitable ballistic turban material.
I mean, really?
Related: Anton Vowl tried to add a positive comment on the Daily Mail story, via BristleKRS.
Being a member of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force based throughout the country, sounds grim:
“Sher Afzal is a young soldier who joined the FC seven years ago and belongs to Tank in Pakhtoonkhwa province. He leaves for duty [in Islamabad] in the morning after having only one cup of tea and nothing else. No, itâ€™s not about any freaky dietary habit but a compulsion of poverty.
â€œWhat else do you expect me to eat on my salary? It costs me Rs12 just to go to Aabpara and I have to maintain my family back home. It has been one year since I received my ISD (special allowance to serve in non FC area), and now from this summer this special allowance will also be stopped as Islamabad is now an FC area. At times I wonder what I am doing here. Some of my colleagues here have not received ISD for the past four yearsâ€, laments an otherwise proud looking Afzal.
7th May, 2009
The Independent reports:
A startlingly candid snapshot of the views and beliefs of Muslims living in Britain today has been uncovered by the first-ever study of Islamic interfaith relations across the world. The reseach, a collaboration between Gallup and the Coexist Foundation, challenges the view that the country’s 2.4 million Muslims are largely intolerant of the British way of life. British Muslims were found to identify more strongly with the UK than the rest of the population, and have a much higher regard for the country’s institutions.
However, the poll also found that the vast majority of Muslims have extremely conservative views on moral issues such as homosexuality and the death penalty, which differ dramatically from those held by the rest of the UK population.
I find the stat on homophobia a bit suspect, because I know quite a few Muslims who are very tolerant of homosexuality, and a few gay Muslims too. I wonder if they applied the question to themselves rather than others.
6th May, 2009
On Tuesday it was reported that that Luton Mosque was fire-bombed in what may be a deliberate arson attack. Unsurprisingly, the media coverage has been negligible. To their credit, this has now also been picked up by the Quilliam lot.
Quilliam calls on the Bedfordshire police force to conduct a full and transparent investigation into the apparent arson attack carried out against a mosque and Islamic centre in Luton early on Tuesday morning. Although no-one was injured in the attack, the mosque – whose Islamic classes are attended by dozens of children every day – was badly damaged.
The incident has already provoked considerable disquiet in Muslim circles. Some British Muslim blogs have even voiced fears that the authorities will not treat this apparent attack on an Islamic centre with the seriousness that it deserves. The arson attack also comes just days after a court in Scotland heard a white racist plead guilty to threatening to execute British Muslims and to blow up Glasgow Central Mosque.
Ed Husain, co-Director of Quilliam, said: “The police can only win the trust of minority communities by showing that they are serious about tackling all forms of extremism. By getting it right in Luton, the Bedfordshire police will go some way towards tackling the breakdown in trust that has occurred over recent years. This is an opportunity for them to show that they are serious about protecting all of Britainâ€™s citizens.”
I’m sure newspaper coverage has nothing to do with stirring up hatred amongst nut-jobs and leading to such attacks. Anyway, there are worries now that extremists on both sides will use this to stir up hatred, and most likely play into the hands of the Daily Mail brigade.
From the Strangers Into Citizens rally on Monday. More pictures here.
They also have a blog.
Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s London Assembly member, having been a bit quiet since his German Crusade (against Muslims) ended with him running away, has recovered his nerve and now seems ready to set out again to fight the good fight, as shown by the photo below.
What an awesome sight. (Image via 5cc)
Update by Sunny: Also, Nick Griffin has been caught pictured with a KKK extremist banned from coming into Britain, in other shock news.
5th May, 2009
I recently wrote about the Dutch MP Geert Wilders being slammed by the right-wing lobby group Anti-Defamation League, but forgot to put his comments in context. The Dutch MP made an acceptance speech for the Freedom Award he was given by the Florida Security Council in Miami. And Geert Wilders certainly believes in ‘freedom’, because he advocates a ten point plan to Save Western Civilisation:
1. Stop cultural relativism. We need an article in our constitutions that lays down that we have a Jewish-Christian and humanism culture.
2. Stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Islam is a totalitarian ideology. In other words, the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.
3. Stop mass immigration by people from Muslim countries. We have to end Al-Hijra.
4. Encourage voluntary repatriation.
5. Expel criminal foreigners and criminals with dual nationality, after denationalization, and send them back to their Arab countries. Likewise, expel all those who incite to a â€˜violent jihadâ€™.
6. We need an European First Amendment to strengthen free speech.
7. Have every member of a non-Western minority sign a legally binding contract of assimilation.
8. We need a binding pledge of allegiance in all Western countries.
9. Stop the building of new mosques. As long as no churches or synagogues are allowed to be build in countries like Saudi-Arabia we will not allow one more new mosque in our western countries. Close all mosques where incitement to violence is taking place. Close all Islamic schools, for they are fascist institutions and young children should not be educated an ideology of hate and violence.
10. Get rid of the current weak leaders. We have the privilege of living in a democracy. Letâ€™s use that privilege and exchange cowards for heroes. We need more Churchills and less Chamberlains.
via BenSix. The BNP could certainly learn from Geert Wilders because I think they only got as far as ‘voluntary repatriation’, closing Islamic schools and ending all immigration.
In the UK, among Wilders’ biggest fans is Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion (supposedly), who has written various articles in slavish support, for the Spectator and The Times. Most recently, when Wilders was banned from coming into the UK, Murray loudly defended him on ConservativeHome by saying, “Wilders attacks Islam, not Muslims.” — which is now of course shown to be rubbish. Yet Murray will no doubt keep defending Wilders.
Ben has more on the nutjobs who attended the conference alongside Wilders. What nice company Wilders and Douglas Murray keep.
Today the home office published a list of 16 people it had banned from entering the UK.
Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal
Yunis Al Astal
Stephen Donald Black
Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim
Abdul Ali Musa
Fred Waldron Phelps Snr and Shirley Phelps-Roper
Samir Al Quntar
Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky
Michael Alan Weiner (also known as Michael Savage)
You can read more about them at the Guardian. A few points occur to me:
1) why aren’t al-Qaradawi and Louis Farrakhan on the list, and the reasons for banning stated? Is this is an incomplete list or only covers certain criteria? Maybe they’re on the hidden list.
2) I bloody hate banned lists. If someone is actually inciting hatred and violence – then I would be fine with banning them or jailing. I’m not sure how Phelps’s: ‘god hates fags’ is inciting violence though.
3) Half the people on this list are Muslim. I’d be interested in finding out who invited them in the first place. And furthermore, anyone who claims this government is soft-touch on terrorists should perhaps re-think their stance.
4th May, 2009
Good article in the Independent about something I wanted to blog about:
The martial art that the men are practising is shastar vidiya â€“ a now little-known fighting technique from north India that virtually died out when the British Raj banned it after the final, bloody defeat of the Sikh empire in the mid-19th century.
But one man is determined to bring it back from the brink of extinction. Nidar Singh Nihang is a 41-year-old “gurdev” (master) who has spent 20 years studying the secrets of shastar vidiya in order to pass it on to younger generations. It is a journey that has taken him from being a food packer in a Wolverhampton factory to one of the world’s top authorities on ancient Indian fighting styles. Now he is looking for young apprentices willing to devote their life to learning the secrets of an art that he believes risks dying out altogether.
There’s more about the book this is based on – In The Masters Presence – The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib, on this Facebook page/group.
3rd May, 2009
My article on CIF went live today – on the drama that is the infighting on the anti-jihadi far-right in the United States. As I also say in my article there are plenty of players in the UK who are also related those nutjob, but who are studiously trying to avoid condemning their friends. I’ll come back to that theme later.
Unsurprisingly, many of the commenters think that somehow by attacking the Melanie Phillips and Douglas Murray crew I’m making excuses for jihadis. I wrote in a comment later: “I’m against racism and religious bigotry and terrorism – for that the Islamists and more radical religious fanatics have always been in my sights. But I’m not to blind to the fact that there are plenty of nutters on the other side – many of whom are given space in mainstream news media like the Spectator and Telegraph. So why not point that out?”
It’s amusing to see how many people are so obsessed by jihadis that they completely ignore the naked racism and bigotry on the right directed at ordinary Muslims. I’ve said this before – that is what many Muslims liked about the Islamist ‘community leaders’ – that they claimed to act as defenders for their flock. Now that the community leaders have been sidelined, there is a vacuum that liberals and lefties have to fill, otherwise it only leaves the likes of Inayat Bunglawala to offer himself as the heroic defender of British Muslims.
Coalition allies of the Maoist government in Nepal have been angered by the sacking of the army chief, who had refused to make more effort to integrate Maoist rebels into the country’s armed forces:
“The army chief has been refusing to integrate former Maoist fighters that he views as politically indoctrinated. The Maoists fought the army for more than a decade before giving up their armed revolt, and the relationship between the two sides has been tense since the former rebels came into power last year.
Thirteen-thousand people died in the conflict.”
2nd May, 2009
Stories like this are both depressing and uplifting:
“WHEN Pooja Chopra was 20 days old, her mother Neera was forced to make a choice – kill her child or forfeit her marriage.
Neera decided to keep her daughter, defying the wishes of a bullying husband who wanted the baby destroyed. She knew she would be thrown out of the family home.
Twenty-three years later, Poojaâ€™s survival is being celebrated throughout India. Now a vivacious young woman, last month she won a beauty contest to become Miss India World.”
Sadly, many women do succumb to the pressure (or are responsible for it in the first place).
“I’m a proud racist and National Front member. We as an organisation have decided to deal with the current threat from Muslims in our own British way, like our proud ancestors. Our demands are very small. Close all mosques in Scotland.” — that was Neil MacGregor’s emails being read out in court yesterday in Scotland. This was the guy who threatened to blow up Glasgow Central Mosque and execute a Muslim a day unless all Mosques in Scotland were closed. Once again the media coverage has been minimal.
Anyway, MacGregor wanted to outlaw Islam and close all Mosques – sounds a bit like what Geert Wilders would advocate, doesn’t it?
1st May, 2009
Last week Dutch MP Geert Wilders, the western world’s knight in shining armour against the Global Plan by Muslims to Take Over the World, made a speech:
In his speeches, he claimed that “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply to this totalitarian ideology called Islam.” Mr. Wilders also stated that the Koran is a book of hatred, and that Mohammed was both “a pedophile and a warlord.”
For that, he was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League (more here, via Tom Griffin) When you get condemned by a right-wing American Jewish group you know you’re in trouble! This of course comes after Little Green Football’s Charles Johnson was quoted:
“Some people at that summit in Belgium were not people we should have been associated with,â€ Johnson said, pointing out that since 2007 the terrorism-focused conservative bloggers have become supporters of Dutch politician Geert Wilders , who wants to outlaw Islam in his country. â€œSome of these people outright want to ban Islam from the United States, which I think is crazy, completely nuts. Thatâ€™s not something we do in this country. These people will outright defend banning the Koran or deporting Muslims. Thatâ€™s popular with the Geller/Spencer crowd.”
More on that Belgium conference soon. In the meantime – just remember that Douglas Murray of the ‘Centre for Social Cohesion’ and Melanie Phillips from the Spectator magazine are big fans of Geert Wilders. This is gonna be so much fun…
Last week the Daily Mail splashed on a big story about a how a Muslim politician in Birmingham allegedly said another female candidate was “too white and Jewish” to be selected. The alleged point is important because nothing has actually been proven – but pretty much everyone thinks all Muslims must be anti-semitic so its taken as gospel. I’ve been emailed more about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans over this saga but for legal reasons I can’t publish any of that. If the guy did say that obviously he is a racist idiot. Anyway – the story is all over the press and blogs – OMG didn’t I tell you all these nasty Muslims are evilllll and racist!?
A couple of years ago, when the Conservative candidate Ali Miraj, was doing the rounds trying to get selected by a seat, he was told by senior Tories: “Good luck Ali, but I would be shocked if they didnâ€™t pick a White middle-class male.” — at the time of course he was told off for embarrassing his own party by bringing up allegations of racism. Neither the blogosphere nor the media was that upset by the saga.
More recently, when the Telegraph ran a hatchet job on Channel 4′s Aaqil Ahmed because he is seen as a “front-runner” for the religion job at the BBC, the Daily Mail followed it up with an even nastier story implying he was only getting it because of his colour and that he would end up marginalising Christians. Wait, I thought the Daily Mail was against such racism?
Then, I also wrote an article for Guardian CIF pointing out that the group Christian Concern For Our Nation had actually sent out a blatantly bigoted alert to its readers and subscribers. Bizarrely, no one picked that up. CCFON isn’t an obscure Christian group – it funded and supported the campaign by high-flying Tory MP Nadine Dorries to reduce abortion limits. Complete silence from the mainstream press and other blogs.
Have a good weekend amigos!
30th April, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to get to interview Yasmin Hai about her memoir, ‘The Making of Mr Hai’s Daughter: Becoming British’. We discussed a range of issues from what has happened to her childhood friends who were more ensconced in the ‘community’, the interaction between class and identity and the role of the media in covering racial issues. The interview is after the jump and my review of her book can be found here.
A new report from The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq makes for depressing reading:
“The report shows that gender-based violence remains one of the key unaddressed problems throughout Iraq. Numerous murders of women under the guise of so-called â€œhonour killingsâ€ are still being recorded as suicides, the report shows, while in the Northern Region of Kurdistan the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains a tolerated practice.”
Not that this sort of behaviour is unique to Iraq, but it is dispiriting that it is happening right under our noses, and in a climate that we have helped create.
The Tribune in India reports:
Taliban militants have demolished 11 homes of members of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan’s troubled Aurakzai tribal region after they failed to pay jiziya or a tax levied on non-Muslims.
Though the Sikhs have been living in Aurakzai Agency for centuries, the Taliban asked them earlier this month to pay Rs 50 million a year as jiziya. The militants claimed this was being done as Shariah or Islamic law had been enforced in the area and all non-Muslims had to pay “protection money”.
50 million rupees? It’s obvious that the Taliban are trying to drive out or kill anyone non-Muslim in Pakistan.
I was asked to contribute an article to X-Bow, the publication by the centre-right thinktank Bow Group. Here it is.
The Death of Capitalism
If capitalism isnâ€™t dead then someone should certainly strangle it and put it out of its misery. And once that is done, it would be nice to have a sane economy back. The precipitous decline of financial companies and the knock-on effect on other industries has been described by many as a â€œonce in a centuryâ€ event. But it is clear that in many ways, capitalism and Milton Friedmanâ€™s free market model, which had become prominent since the late 70s, is now beating a hasty retreat.
Laissez-faire, as John Maynard Keynes famously said, could be at an end. Again. Here are some reasons why. For one, government intervention as a lender of last resort has become fashionable again to the point where even analysts on the American network CNBC, a haven for free-marketeers, have opined that the government may have to nationalise large parts of the financial sector to ensure it doesnâ€™t go under.
With government intervention and rescue of banks comes added regulation. Many blame the hands-off approach in the US and UK that led to companies developing lax lending standards, but the problem here is two-fold. Not only has it become painfully obvious that governments have to maintain tight regulation in sectors including finance, but that those companies failed overwhelmingly to adequately assess their own risks and financial models. As Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said recently, â€œthose of us who have looked to the selfinterest of lending institutions to protect shareholderâ€™s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.â€
29th April, 2009
The Islam Channel is the largest satellite channel aimed specifically at British and European Muslims. The Islam Channel says it is committed to giving a platform to a range of views from across Britain’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This is a complete fiction.
What it is has done is to give an un-due prominence to Islamist voices that represent only a small minority of British Muslims. This over-representation has also led to other voices â€“ for instance from the UK’s Shia community or from non-Islamist Muslim groups â€“ being under-represented on the channel.
Many of its speakers are Islamist extremists from organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir who use the channel to promote intolerant and bigoted interpretations of Islam. Others are Wahhabi graduates of Saudi universities who have denied the Holocaust and promoted hatred of Shia Muslims. Other presenters are Islamists who have been suspended from their jobs in government due to their extremist statements or who are from organisations that the government has broken ties with due to their leading membersâ€™ alleged support for terrorism.
One of the most worrying aspects of Islam Channel is the promotion of its extremist agenda via the views and politics of its presenters. Amongst these have been the Wahhabi cleric and anti-semite Yasir Qadhi, and Azad Ali of the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), who was suspended from his position of civil servant earlier this year, following the publication of extremist jihadi literature on the IFE blog.
An article in the Economist summed up the behaviour of the two sides very well.
“A well-organised and vicious terrorist group, expert in brainwashing and suicide-blasting, the LTTE has maintained its fiefâ€”which until late 2006 extended over almost a third of the countryâ€”by murder and fear. Moreover, having sabotaged a peace initiative of the previous government, and helped it lose an election by imposing a boycott on Tamil voters under its sway, Mr Prabhakaran has had the war he was asking for.”
“In its rush to exterminate the Tigersâ€”partly in justified fear of their skill at manipulating foreign opinionâ€”the army has shown a cruel disregard for Tamil civilians crowding the battlefield. Earlier this month the UN estimated that since early January, when the Tigersâ€™ fled their northern capital, Kilinochchi, driving perhaps 200,000 civilians before them, some 4,500 had been killed and 12,000 wounded. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has evacuated over 10,000 wounded civilians and their relatives from the no-fire zone, said on April 20th that hundreds more had been killed or wounded since the army made its breach.”
The question is, how does the international community ensure that the Tamils are treated well in the post-war period?
28th April, 2009
There is an absolutely fascinating article in the Washington Independent about how the anti-jihadists in America are fighting a massive civil war.
To summarise, one one side stands Charles Johnson of LittleGreenFootballs, and on the other side stands Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and a whole bunch of blogs that include Atlas Shrugs, Gates of Vienna, Brussels Journal and Gateway Pundit. Now this may come as a surprise to many who follow the lunatic anti-jihadis in the United States, but Johnson is actually attacking Robert Spencer for being a racist idiot who will join with anyone, including racist nutjobs, to further his agenda. It doesn’t get any mind-bending than this but for the first time I actually have some respect for Charles Johnson.
I’ve written an article about this for CIF which should be published soon. But what’s doubly fascinating about all this is that LGF is a really massive website and basically it’s targetting the core of the lunatic anti-jihadis in the United States – who mostly coalesce around Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch – so the repercussions will be huge.
In fact there are so many things to say about all this that I don’t even know where to start. In many ways it feels like the car crash, which was happening in slow motion since the debacle of Iraq, is now accelerating. The neocons and their supporters are heading straight for the wall – a point underscored by the fact that now only 21% of Americans identify as Republican and Obama is on the verge of a 60 seat majority in the Senate. But rather than watch this explode while eating popcorn – I have this strange yearning to add fuel to the fire. I want the neocons and their supporters, in the US and the UK, to be burnt badly. To explode gloriously. Watch this space.
Quite a bit has been happening in Pakistan recently. We’ve had Taliban advances to within 100km of Islamabad (though they then abandoned that position), the increasing adoption of Sharia law in various parts of the country, and renewed contempt for a government that seems incapable of dealing with this threat. Oh, and don’t forget an economy hit by the world recession (though not as badly as one might think), widespread corruption and heightened tensions with India. However bad the government has been though, I am not sure whether any power could solve these problems easily.
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Janic Turner wrote in The Times recently:
The disturbing thing about Alistair Darling’s Budget was not that it extracted a few extra thou from the few, the fortunate 350,000 or so who already enjoy six times the average British salary. It was the implication that taxation for the rich is a punishment, some vindictive redress for the misdeeds of the bankrupting bankers called for by a torches-and- pitchfork-wielding posse, rather than what it should be, what it is for the rest of us: an enduring social obligation, a mark of citizenship, a duty.
And a decade of wealth worship perpetuated the notion that money turns people into delicate super-beings who might take fright at mortal rules and financial regulation. The Â£30k flat tax imposed on non-doms last year – a sum Notting Hill bankers might spend unthinkingly on flying their family to Antigua for Christmas – was received with threats, as yet empty, of escape to Gstaad. And now we learn that if our wealthiest few pay 50 per cent tax on earnings over Â£150,000 it could kill their work ethic entirely. While most of us toil to pay the mortgage, to keep our jobs or – weird thought – to contribute to society, the rich… well, take away a tiny fragment more and they might just stop trying, or give up altogether. If people now revile the rich – and The Times poll yesterday suggests that 57 per cent regard the tax hike as fair – it is because so many have spent a decade being loathsome.
All spot on, of course. What I find interesting are the hypocritical arguments used by many about the economy.
1) Where is the actual evidence that raising taxes to 50% will lead to lower tax receipts? The Laffer curve is a theory – I’d like to see actual evidence.
2) Why is the thinking that lower pay will lead to a flight of talent not applied to public sector workers? That’s the first thing Tories want to cut – why not assume talent will also leave there, leaving us with less talented teachers, doctors and police constables?
3) How it is ‘class-war’ if it only affects less than half a million people out of a population of 60 million? The right-wing media really is insane.
4) Why should we have sympathy for ‘wealth creators’ who only destroyed all the wealth created over the last decade? Where is the evidence that courting these tax dodgers is good for the economy over the long term, instead of ordinary people who earn less than Â£100,000? We should be rewarding the hard-working middle-classes not the freeloading, tax evading super-rich.