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14th March, 2006

Asian unemployment and crime?

by Sunny at 2:15 pm    

Getting money from Asian businesses is like drawing blood from stone. Yes - you know what I’m getting at, Asian businessmen didn’t become rich by lending money for sponsorship, let alone charitable causes. So I think Tarrique Ghaffur is being rather optimistic with his latest scheme. I got this note yesterday:

Since the bombings of 7 July 2005, the MPS has received many offers of help. I am asking the business sector to show their support by ‘signing up’ to become partners of Operation Quadrant, a long-term crime prevention initiative focusing on building confidence within the Asian community. We are asking businesses to pledge a donation of £250 for a partnership certificate, which we hope, you will proudly display within your organisation. All funds will be directed to the Safer London Foundation, to help set up long-term crime prevention and youth diversion projects.

My job as the Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard and head of the Specialist Crime Directorate is to focus on crime prevention, gathering intelligence and catching the criminals. However, long-term solutions are needed to deal with the social and economic deprivation and the lack of ‘legitimate’ job opportunities.

It’s interesting that this is being billed as a community project as if Asian unemployment is different to others. In London this is primarily a problem in East London’s Tower Hamlets with the Bangladeshi community. I don’t really see a point to this? Maybe Mr Ghaffur wanted some money from the government, who turned around and said “Your Asian community keep having rich award ceremonies so why not ask them for money?

13th March, 2006

Guardian’s Comment Is Free previews

by Sunny at 7:02 pm    

I don’t know if this is a mistake or not, but if you go to commentisfree.com - the pages for the Guardian’s upcoming group blog loads up. It previously redirected to the newspaper’s website.

Justin says they’re recruited around 200 people to write for the superblog. though only Guardian columnists are listed as yet. Jeff Jarvis reveals that Arianna Huffington will also write be writing. Is it pitched as a liberal voice for Britain or will it encompass the whole political spectrum? We shall have to wait and see…
It should be launching tomorrow.

Filed under: Media

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).

Uneasy relationships with people ‘back home’

by Sunny at 1:52 am    

To be sure, British Asians have a wierd relationship with people “back home”. Anyone who has been on a holiday there can attest to that. There is a plethora of issues to cover, but a few persistent ones keep cropping up in the media. Immigration; religious education (aka enrolling into a madrasaa); sending back money; providing aid during natural disasters; going back for abortions (more recent); and the perennial - getting married to someone from south Asia.

Hundreds of British Asian men have been accused of abandoning new brides in India after securing lucrative dowry payments,” the Times declared this weekend following an investigation by its reporters. I hope no one is naive enough to believe this is something new.

Marriage scams have been going on for years, and the problems associated with this practice are easily sweeped under the carpet. Abandoned women, abandoned men, runaway brides, dowry deaths, extortion rackets, immigration problems, winding up in Guantanamo Bay (see Tipton Three) etc. The list is not only endless, it’s bloody growing. And it’s giving us British Asians a bad name you scamming bastards (you’re out there somewhere!).

In such a climate I’m surprised more Indian women there don’t balk at the sight of some Asian “businessman” (ie chipshop owner) coming over to get married. How long before they all realise it’s a bad idea?

Filed under: South Asia, Culture
11th March, 2006

What price are we paying for freedom?

by Amit S at 6:27 pm    

We have to ask ourselves, in good conscience, is the government dealing with issues in the right way? I cannot be the only one who has noticed that very often nowadays the government will set up some sort of target, but then try their best to fudge it up or change the targets themselves later.

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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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The Blank Noise project

by Sunny at 3:17 am    

Yesterday was International Women’s Day which I nominally regard as a silly PR stunt. However this time it would be right to plug The Blank Noise project - a blog based campaign against harassment of women in India. The Indian blogosphere has quite admirably been very supportive of the project but that should come as no surprise since it’s populated by educated, liberal types.

I hope the project moves out of the blogosphere in a sustainable and concrete form so it can move away from preaching to the converted so to speak. Also admirable is their unwillingness to tolerate statements such as “Wear what you want! You just want to be leeched at right?” My hats off to the women, who have been running the project for a year now.

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‘.

The global conspiracy machine

by Sunny at 3:47 pm    

There are some people who cannot see a conspiracy without Jews behind it, others who cannot see a society without emphasising racial discrimination. There are also those who cannot see a Muslim without talking about terrorism / ‘Islamo-fundo-krypto-stupido-fascism’, and the ones who make it their business to scream Islamophobia at every given opportunity.

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Filed under: Current affairs

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.

7th March, 2006

Political plagiarism on immigration

by Nush at 1:51 pm    

This morning started off like any other, my usual morning ritual of the alarm going off and me turning over and switching on my radio. The headlines came on and in my half sleep-like state I bolted up stunned by what I was hearing. It may sound a tad dramatic for most but I was infuriated by what I heard.

Charles Clarke had announced this morning a “new system” to somewhat tackle, in my opinion, the disastrous scheme that Labour have in place to tackle immigration. But the “new system” has blatantly been plagiarised from the Conservative’s policies outlined just over 6 months ago. Does no one else apart from me remember the Conservative Party Manifesto from the General Election?

Is the general public not outraged, as I am, that once again Tory Party policy has been ripped off and bootlegged? Especially when Labour criticised this exact scheme when the Conservatives proposed it. It seems all too hypocritical of this corrupt government. Forget that the new series of Hustle starts on Friday (BBC1), “the Con is already on”.

An attack on freedom of speech

by Sunny at 3:32 am    

It would be no exaggeration to say there is a bit of paranoia in certain circles on what Muslim students at university are doing. Or more specifically, about the potential for ‘recruitment’ by extremist such as Al-Ghuraaba and Hizb ut-Tahrir. But where do you draw the line?

Last year two friends, Assed Baig and Darrell Williams, were expelled from Birmingham’s Matthew Boulton College for producing a newsletter that discussed their frustrations at how the college behaved, including its refusal to let them establish an Islamic Society and general political antipathy of fellow students.

Kitty Killer writes about the background on Liberty Central. The NUS has also backed the boys, who were recently interviewed on Channel 4 News.

Having wearily watched Al-M and HuT recruit at university and intimidate others into silence, I’m unsure on where the boundaries lie. Former HuT member Shiraz Maher advocates universities keep a close eye on activity in that C4 interview and I agree. But it is definitely going too far when educational establishments don’t even allow religious societies, like in this case, until an extremist element can be proven.

As an aside, C4 News started a blog on News From Iran on Monday, much more informative than the hysterical drivel in the MSM and blogs these days.

6th March, 2006

A better way of living

by Sunny at 10:36 pm    

Today marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, an initiative to spread the word about the benefits it brings to farmers and workers in developing countries.

Spending on Fairtrade products has jumped massively in the past few years. I know some of us advocates get zealous occasionally but there’s no need for the BBC to list it under religion dammit. Anyway, forget Tony Blair’s empty promises to Make Poverty History, just buy Fairtrade - it’s much more effective.

A politicised Oscar ceremony

by Sunny at 5:21 am    

With Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Syriana, Munich and Good Night and Good Luck headlining the ceremony - it’s no surprise this year was probably the most political Oscar yet, and not to the delight of conservatives either. If I was bothered, I would have watched it for Jon Stewart.

The biggest controversy arose in the foreign film category over Paradise Now, of which I’m sure many of you are aware.

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5th March, 2006

Tories “welcome immigration” shock!

by Sunny at 8:50 pm    

No really, it’s not a trick - the Tory minister for immigration Damian Green says so in today’s Observer. [hat tip Peter in the comments]

In a previous article I mentioned that such noises may increasingly come from the party since Cameron’s election. So what are we to make of this latest shift of ‘compassionate conservatism’?

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Muslims should learn “art of peaceful dissent”

by Sunny at 4:09 pm    

Lady Kishwer Falkner yesterday:

Muslims should have “broader shoulders” when it comes to issues of free speech such as the Danish cartoons, a Lib Dem home affairs spokesman has said.

Kishwer Falkner, who is a Muslim, said her community must be “tolerant” and “learn the art of peaceful dissent”. She said freedom of speech was not just a Western concept but it was necessary in any pluralistic society.

She has also said Britain should repeal blasphemy laws, and there should be equal standards on freedom of speech - i.e. David Irving should not have been jailed and neither Ken Livingstone suspended. I agree.

I also consider Lady Falkner to be more informed, in tune with British Muslim sentiment and credible compared to Trevor Phillips, hence my reason for ignoring his speech last week. Another point that many hysterical ranters forget:

Sajj Karim MEP said Muslims in the European Union had “by and large” responded to the publication of the cartoons democratically, even though they had been offended by them.

Filed under: Party politics, Religion
4th March, 2006

Has India sold out to the USA?

by Sunny at 6:54 pm    

The more I think about Bush’s visit, the more I come to the conclusion that there is a tinge of colonial mentality to this.

On the one hand it is important for the country to have good relations with the world’s super-power for trade as well exchanging intellectual property. It also helps having the USA put pressure on Pakistan to reel in its support for terrorist groups in Kashmir. And maybe to act as a counterweight to China in case a diplomatic spat arises.

But India hasn’t suddenly turned into a democracy that George Bush has woken up to. For one, the latter wants allies to play off against China too. But I feel there is also an element of wanting India not to become too independent with energy.

It was already unhappy with India’s traditionally close relationship with Iran. So with a bit of *wink wink nudge nudge* it provides some technology in return for stabbing Iran in the back. It’s previous policy of denying India access to technology and hitting it with sanctions following the nuclear tests got it nowhere - the country has built a nuclear programme in isolation since the 1970s and is in some ways ahead of developed countries in the field. So why would India want the USA to provide technology that it does not even need? Randeep Ramesh:

But India’s energy policy has already come under serious pressure from America; the last petroleum minister had ambitious plans to build an Asian grid of oil and gas pipelines stretching from Ukraine to Japan. This plan, to be kickstarted by a pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, ran counter to Washington’s interests. Last month the minister lost the oil portfolio.
As Bush’s own nuclear negotiating team has made clear in testimony to Congress, the administration wants to “lock in” India to a deal before moving to tie down and restrain the country’s nuclear potential in non-proliferation discussions.

It makes great headlines and boosts the Congress party’s stature with the middle-classes, but there is something amiss in the bigger picture.

Filed under: South Asia, The World, India
3rd March, 2006

Canadians allow Kirpan at school

by Sunny at 10:32 pm    

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled it ok for Sikh kids to wear the Kirpan (dagger, pictured) at school.

The specific case that went to the Supreme Court involves Gurbaj Singh Multani, now 17. Five years ago, he accidentally dropped his kirpan in the schoolyard of a Montreal elementary school.

Parents of other children pressured the local school board to ban the dagger, because of a zero-tolerance policy concerning weapons. Gurbaj’s parents sued, and the case wound its way through the courts for several years.

Not everyone is happy though and this ruling is likely to spark a debate about religious symbols in classrooms. Anyone know if the Kirpan allowed here?

For the uninitiated, the Kirpan is one of the five K’s that baptised Sikhs, known as Khalsa Sikhs, are obliged to wear. Although most of the Sikh Gurus did wear them anyway, it was codified by the tenth Guru - Sri Gobind Singh.

As an aside, United Sikhs is challenging a French government on allowing turbans in driver’s licence photos.

Has multi-culturalism led to racism?

by Sabina Ahmed at 4:03 am    

In everyday life, it seems as if some people in the “national conversation” have found it their daily routine to find episodes and news items which show immigrants in general and Muslims in particular in a bad light.

I wondered why this is the case. It occurs to me that Muslims especially have done nothing to clarify their position or establish a dialogue with others . This has been left to others: the councils, focus groups and various commissions who in their wisdom say what they think rather than what the minorities think.

The existence of this multiplicity of semi-official, semi-philanthropic bodies dealing with the “problems” the migrants face conjures up vision of mass helplessness of communities expected to sink rather than swim.

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Filed under: Race politics
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