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2nd November, 2005

France’s version of multi-culturalism up in flames

by Sunny at 2:44 pm    

The argument that France’s version of dealing with ethnic minority cultures is better - i.e. calling them part of the Republic but not bothering to acknowledge them - is up in flames.

Clashes between angry youths and French police spread to at least six Paris suburbs Tuesday night, with police firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at street fighters who lobbed Molotov cocktails and burned cars and trash bins.

With unrest expanding through the northern suburbs of high-rise apartments that house some of France’s poorest immigrant populations, senior government officials were debating how to curb the violence during [today] morning’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Unsurprisingly some are making this into a a Muslim thing, but let’s leave that to the bigots right now.

For a bit of background - The clashes began last Thursday after two African Muslim teenagers were electrocuted to death in the northeastern suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois while trying to evade police. Local youth blamed the police’s heavy-handedness.

The wider implication is that the French model of integration, hailed by many on the British right when the country banned the headscarf in schools, is effectively up in flames. Many, notably Rod Liddle, said that calling them all part of the Republic and forcing them to be the same would solve all the problems. Some even called for a headscarf ban here.

Although French Muslims have generally accepted and lived with the ban, the idea that you can integrate ethnic minorities simply by calling them part of the country, yet ignoring them and casting them to the fringes of society, does not work. Only earlier this year did French television have its first non-white TV presenter read the news on primetime television.

The country does not count its ethnic minorities, which sounds great in practice if everyone is on a level playing-field, but also allows you to carry on discriminating without being caught out.
BBC story, NY Times, The Guardian.

1st November, 2005

Hindu painting on Royal Mail stamp shocker!

by Al-Hack at 8:55 pm    

Another day, another religious body offended over something. This time, the Hindu Forum of Britain is not happy that a Royal Mail stamp has a Hindu family fawning over baby Jesus. [via Mediawatchwatch]

The stamp, featuring a man and woman with Hindu markings, is one of six depicting images of Madonna and child from around the world.

The Hindu Forum of Britain has asked for it to be re-designed without the Hindu markings or withdrawn. Royal Mail, while apologetic, said it was not possible to amend or withdraw.

BBC story. And pray, why exactly is the HFB offended this time?

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the HFB: “…it would be insensitive to use it at a time when the issue of conversions in India has been a subject of heated debate.”

Commented Ishwer Tailor, President of the HFB, “Would the worldwide Christian community feel comfortable if the Government of India issued a Diwali stamp with a Christian priest offering worship to Baby Krishna?”

That’s some funny shit. I can just imagine them writing an angry letter to the Congress party to do exactly that just to spite Royal Mail. Kallidai adds:

Even if we accept that an artist in 1620AD took the artistic license to portray practising Hindus worshipping the baby Christ, we should be asking if this is politically and sensitively correct in the 21st century…. blah blah…bitch bitch…moan moan

To be fair, they had a reason to be annoyed over the picture of Hindu gods being put on shoes, but this takes the piss. Update: More at the Telegraph.

Filed under: Religion, Humour

Israel exists and will exist. Get. Over. It.

by Al-Hack at 12:16 am    

Hitler couldn’t have put it better, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says in the Indy today, and she is - to put it mildly - right on.

On Saturday I speculated why the Iranian President said he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map”. Now I know why: he’s bonkers and completely inept. But let’s allow YAB to put it more succintly:

Hitler couldn’t have put it better. The Führer would have played the audience similarly - a conference of emotive students marking Jerusalem Day, who would readily rise to imagine the glorious obliteration of the Jewish state.

You know the type, furious people like millions of others across the Middle East, disenfranchised and stamped on by their own leaders, who displace their anger by turning their eyes on Israel, lusting for its annihilation in a kind of political pornography which provides temporary relief but can only lead to a greater sense of hopeless impotence and homeless rage.

Of course, you gotta stump up the cash to read the whole shebang but her point is: Israel exists. And it is vital for progressive Muslims to stand up and say so.

To many, including the Palestinians, that would be pointing out the obvious. The Palestinian Authority’s own chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said his comments were “unacceptable” and that the PA itself “recognised the state of Israel”. So why can’t the rest of the Muslim world do the same instead of trying to make things worse for the Palestinians? It’s not like the Arabs have been lining up to help the Palestinians financially, is it?

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