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  • 20th August, 2009

    Forced Marriage website

    by Rumbold at 11:36 am    

    I recently came across this excellent website dedicated to forced marriage, which was set up at the end of April. The section on what one should do if a friend/relative is being forced into marriage is particularly useful.

    (Hat-tip: Mixtogether)

    And now some Sikh group is ‘angry’

    by Sunny at 9:28 am    

    The Independent today has a story:

    The BBC’s Asian Network was at the centre of a fresh race row last night after Sikhs accused the digital radio station of being insensitive towards their religion. BBC bosses were forced to remove a show by the popular Muslim presenter Adil Ray from their website after the morning show DJ received threats from angry Sikh listeners who accused him of denigrating an important religious symbol.

    The big story is that Adil Ray is now getting threats, presumably by email, by some angry Sikh nutjobs. In fact I’ve had emails myself asking why I haven’t covered this story. You know why: because it’s rubbish. Adil Ray is neither biased against Sikhs and neither would he be stupid enough to even go near denigrating or making fun of any religion.

    The problem is that there are Sikh, Hindu and Muslim groups constantly watching the BBC Asian Network for any slip-up so they can accuse the station of bias against their ‘community’. After all, making a stink helps them get some recognition and support. As an editor 90% of the time you get such a press release you just delete it. Occasionally the situation gets out of hand, as it seems to be in danger of now, and the stink reaches the national media. These people give religion and race relations a bad name.

    Another point, before someone turns up claiming ‘this is the fault of multiculturalism‘ - I’ll point out that Christian groups have been doing this for decades. The BBC really needs to start ignoring these people… but I suspect the controllers are too scared to do that.

    Filed under: Media,Organisations,Sikh
    19th August, 2009

    Racism in Italy ramps up; no one cares

    by Sunny at 9:44 pm    

    Claude highlights some craziness in Italy:

    After a wave of ugly rhetoric and dubious policies, a number of northern Italian councils run by the far-right Northern League (Silvio Berlusconi’s biggest coalition partner in government) have gone on the rampage against anything foreign.

    Top of the list, the town of Capriate, 20 miles from Milan, where the council announced a ban on kebab and ‘ethnic’ shops from the town centre. The news hasn’t reached the foreign press yet, so you’ll have to be able to understand Italian if you want to find out more here and here.

    In a nutshell, a council ordinance tabled by the Northern League bans all ‘ethnic’ shops and businesses from Capriate town centre.

    This is what happens when you have a population over-run by the sort of wingnuts who go around screaming about ‘dhimmification’ and ‘multiculturalism gone mad’. Italy is about half a step away from an official fascist state and yet hardly much is said about it. Why isn’t anyone taking the entire country to the European Court of Human Rights? Why aren’t we chucking Italy out of the EU?

    Far left crazyness

    by Sunny at 12:02 pm    

    At the first year of university I briefly decided to go to some Socialist Society meetings. But that effort at broadening my political horizons turned out to be very short-lived because I realised that most of the people there, rather than expanding their view of the world, were trying to shoehorn every event and situation into one set narrative.

    And over the years this is why I’ve stayed away from far-left politics: there is only one prism through which events are interpreted, leading to some very stupid thinking. For example, here are some reader letters sent to the Socialist Worker:

    Should the left call for Taliban victory?
    As Socialists, we support the right of oppressed peoples to fight for self-determination unreservedly, just as we oppose imperialism, without caveat.

    The idea that the Taliban, as a movement fighting against U.S. occupation, is a force we should be supporting is, unfortunately, a somewhat controversial position to hold, even on the far left. This is a serious mistake and speaks both to the extent to which Islamophobia has penetrated the left, as well as to the lack of understanding of the social dynamics of an oppressed and devastated country like Afghanistan.

    To put it another way, if we, as avowed anti-imperialists, intend to wait around for a resistance movement that agrees with us on every issue, including the need to fight the oppression of women, gays, racial and religious minorities, etc., we’ll be waiting a long time. The Taliban is the resistance in Afghanistan and we must support it, critically, but unreservedly.

    See, if I got an email like that I’d laugh for a bit and press delete. You don’t print it for discussion. But even then, it displays the extent to which stupidity runs deep in some sections of the far left.

    Climate Camp next week

    by Sunny at 6:04 am    

    The Guardian reports:

    Senior officers have told representatives from Climate Camp, who are planning to construct a huge campsite next week at an undisclosed location in London, that they will be met with a “community-style” policing operation that will limit the use of surveillance units and stop-and-searches wherever possible.

    Activists have also been assured that there will be no “ring of steel” around their camp and that sleep deprivation tactics, used when officers blasted loud music at campers at last year’s Climate Camp at Kingsnorth power station in Kent, will not be repeated.

    The amazing thing is that the police is actually trying to be “lenient” simply by letting a peaceful protest take place. We’re living in a country where environmental protests are routinely subjected to the most authoritarian practices and yet the libertarians, the left and right, and other groups obsessed with civil liberties say very little. It’s as if no one cares for the environmentalists because they’re seen as a nuisance.

    Well, screw that. I’ll be at Climate Camp next week again….documenting any abuses of civil liberties like at the G20 protests. Who else is coming?

    Filed under: Environmentalism
    18th August, 2009

    Universities struggle with disabled students

    by Rumbold at 9:05 pm    

    A recent survey has revealed that many universities aren’t meeting the needs of some disabled students:

    “A report by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign suggests one in 10 disabled students were not be able to live or eat on university sites. About 40% of the 78 institutions surveyed did not have rooms for carers, resulting in students living at home. Universities UK says disabled students benefit from a wide range of support.

    The report, by the charity’s Trailblazers nationwide network of 16-30 year olds, questioned universities across the UK. Almost all said they could provide support in lectures or seminars for students with mobility difficulties. But only four universities said that every one of their buildings had a fully accessible toilet for disabled students.”

    Now, there are obviously limits to how much universities can do, given the cost and time needed to convert certain buildings, but there is clearly room for improvement.

    This highlights a wider problem for me though. I think that one of the problems that some organisations have when dealing with disability is that they (unintentionally) tend of think of it mainly in terms of purely physical disability, with the focus on things like wheelchair ramps. While this is admirable and necessary, often too little thought is spared for those with mental difficulties (though again, there is only so much an organisation can do).

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Disability

    Segregated weddings and opportunistic MPs

    by Sunny at 5:11 am    

    Rumbold has already written that its difficult to know what to do in situations when confronted with things you don’t like. But I do know what I don’t like - opportunistic MPs such as Jim Fitzpatrick throwing a tantrum and using that to score cheap political points.

    Let me put it this way. One of these days I’ll hopefully get married and a ceremony is likely to be held at a Sikh Gurdwara (more because my parents will want to have a ceremony there rather than on account of my own religiousness). In a Gurdwara the guys sit on one side and girls sit on the other side, and the bride-groom in the middle. If some MP came and didn’t like it, buggered off, and then sent a press release to all the media going on how about insulting he found it - I wouldn’t speak to that tosser ever either.

    It’s one thing to raise the issues of female foeticide, forced marriages or other activities where people are forced to do things against their will. It’s entirely another to try and squeeze votes out of a situations you may not agree with. Let minorities deal with their own issues as long as it’s within the law. How about that for a revolutionary idea?

    I have a suggestion: why don’t Labour MPs ban the practice of British women adopting the surname of their husband once they get married? That’s a pretty unequal situation too and I know plenty of feminists who won’t do it. It’s only right these MPs register their disgust and refuse to stand for it.

    17th August, 2009

    Israelis sour on Obama’s Emanuel

    by Sunny at 4:36 pm    

    Just after the American elections I attacked people like John Pilger who said that Obama was an ‘Uncle Tom’ because he surrounded himself by people like Rahm Emanuel. The chief of staff was a ‘committed Jew’ according to reports and thus a right-wing Zionist to Pilger.

    And this is why I believe people like Pilger now don’t understand politics. I said at the time that: first, you had to wait and see what stance Obama was going to take on the Middle East; secondly that employing Israel-supporters actually made the job easier for Obama because right-wing Israeli parties could not easily point the finger at him and say he was biased against them. And this article in the Politico supports my reading of what is going on:

    As the Obama administration presses Israel to cease settlement expansion as part of a renewed push for a Middle East peace deal—a course of action that many Israelis have interpreted as evidence of the president’s favoritism towards Palestinians—Israelis have increasingly focused their disappointment not on Obama, but rather on his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

    But in a dramatic emotional shift, Israelis have become increasingly disenchanted with Emanuel, and the disappointment is especially intense on the Israeli right, which supports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his opposition to Obama’s call for ceasing settlement activity.

    Israelis across the political spectrum were skeptical of Obama’s commitment to the Jewish homeland during the presidential campaign but many viewed Emanuel as a guarantor of their interests, the best hope for continuing the U.S. government’s favorable treatment of the Jewish state. Today, however, widespread unhappiness with their treatment at the hands of the Obama administration has led to feelings of betrayal—and Emanuel is bearing the brunt of it.

    You see my point. People like Pilger just want to scream ‘betrayal’ at the earliest opportunity and to a certain extent that harms the far-left. They don’t understand realpolitik and thus everything is seen through a simple prism, without understanding context or strategy.

    Now I think Obama needs to get Israel to stop the settlements while stopping Iran from developing nukes. I’m a supporter of Israel’s right to exist (under the 1967 borders) as I keep stating. But American policy has traditionally been far too favourable to Israel in the past. And thus having Clinton and Emanuel on side was use to neutralise accusations that Obama was anti-Israel while gently pushing them to recognise the new reality. That strategy is much more likely to be effective than Pilger’s wild ranting that such ‘Zionists’ just signals betrayal. It’s about as uninformed opinion as you can get.

    The NHS debate

    by Rumbold at 11:22 am    

    Before this whole fiasco, I rather liked Daniel Hannan (notwithstanding his bizarre attack on Sunny). Yet he has sparked off a deeply flawed discussion about the NHS and the American healthcare system, with too many of the participants falling into the ‘loving it’ or ‘hating it’ camp. This is unfortunate as the fallout from this row will help to stifle debate about the need for reform in the NHS.

    The NHS deserves a lot of praise. Every time I have visited someone in hospital recently I have been struck by the nurses and doctors, not just by their competence but also the way in which they will go the extra mile in order to help out their patients. We are lucky in this country to have a health service which is free at the point of use. I do think that one of the hallmarks of a civilised society in the modern age is ensuring a minimum standard of healthcare for the entire population.

    Yet there are also things wrong with the NHS. There is too much bureaucracy, and too many doctors and nurses have to spend too much of their time filling out pointless forms. Patricia Hewitt was the ultimate expression of this mentality, cutting the numbers of beds while increasingly the number of managers (and claiming that less beds made for better care). America does do better in some areas of healthcare, such as cancer survival rates, so we also have something to learn from them.

    As the money begins to run out in the coming years, cutting NHS bureaucracy will be more important than every. Let us hope that this debate has not made that task impossible.

    Filed under: Current affairs
    16th August, 2009

    Round up of stories

    by Rumbold at 2:06 pm    

    Richard Bartholomew on the English Defence League’s/Casuals United’s desperate attempts not to appear racist, by sucking up to other groups that don’t like Muslims.

    Afghanistan brings in more repressive laws for Shia women in order to suck up to voters (Hat-Tip: Amrit). Jess McCabe reports on what we can do to help.

    Unity on the authoritarian state of Singapore.

    Julie Bindel defends supermarkets.

    And finally, the fallout from the imposition of direct British rule on the Turks and Caicos islands continues. Ironically enough the imposition of direct rule by a Labour minister is a result of widespread corruption in the islands’ governance. Pot/kettle anyone?

    Filed under: Current affairs
    15th August, 2009

    Segregated weddings

    by Rumbold at 11:34 am    

    Recently Jim Fitzpatrick, the food, farming and environment minister and MP for Poplar and Canning Town, walked out of a constituent’s wedding after being told that he could not sit with his wife.

    The case itself wasn’t clear cut. The minister was friends with both the bride and groom, so it wasn’t the usual case of an MP trawling the Asian wedding circuit for votes (which happens quite regularly I am told). The couple said that they only had a segregated wedding out of respect of their elderly relatives, and anecdotal evidence supports this.

    It is difficult when faced with a situation like this. I am certainly not a fan of segregation, and I think that it is rather insulting to both men and women, as it suggests a lack of control. Too many people either hide behind religion to justify it, or else simply invent traditions that have no basis in scripture (for example, I don’t believe that there is any prohibition on men and women sitting together in the Guru Granth Sahib, yet most gurdwaras are segregated- albeit in the same room).

    Yet there is also the question of politeness. This was a couple’s special day, and Mr. Fitzpatrick must have known that his action would upstage them and turn an unwanted media spotlight on them. He could have sat there quietly and then voiced his concerns afterwards. That is not to say that we must always be silent when faced with practices we don’t like (such as forced marriage), but I don’t regard this as being in the same league.

    There doesn’t appear to be an easy answer to what do to in such situations.

    (Hat-tip: Sarah Ismail)

    14th August, 2009

    Is female feticide declining in Asia?

    by Rumbold at 9:08 pm    

    For a long time China and South Asia were recording an increasing gap between male and female children, as a result of female feticide. Amartya Sen estimated that in China and India alone, there are 83 million fewer women than there should have been. It seemed like it would only get worse, with the gender imbalance making little difference. Supply and demand seemed irrelevant as females continued to be aborted in record numbers. Some areas short of girls even took to raiding other areas for brides.

    However, new information suggests that the tide might be turning. Firstly, reports from China show that girls are becoming a more attractive prospect as a result of increasing urbanisation and rising house prices:

    “Sons are seen as more valuable, especially in the countryside, because they have been traditionally responsible for caring for their parents in old age. Many families take advantage of cheap ultrasound tests and abortions to guarantee their one child is male.

    However, the traditional roles are now being reversed in urban China. “The reality is that having a son or daughter makes no difference when parents need support. Unlike in rural areas, city residents are covered by social security,” said Chen Youhua, a demography and sociology professor at Nanjing University.

    In most marriages, it is the son’s family which is required to buy a house for the couple - a ruinous expense in many cities. Property prices in China’s major cities soared by as much as 60 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and are expected to rise another 10 per cent this year.”

    Meanwhile, in Delhi, the number of girls being born has outstripped the number of boys born, for the first time in decades.

    Yes, neither report represents a comprehensive change, but it is a sign of progress.

    Admiring the Republican counter-attack on healthcare

    by Sunny at 9:01 am    

    As I’ve repeatedly stated in the past - Republicans are just bat-shit crazy. If you need evidence just watch some of the debates going on there now about healthcare. But as tacticians go Republicans are frighteningly successful and therefore it’s worth watching them to see why exactly they’re successful.

    First: go completely overboard. Sarah Palin is a brilliant example and her ‘death panel’ meme isn’t the only one. Obama is being called a socialist, a marxist, a communist, fascist and everything else under the sun despite being more right-wing than we would in the UK. There’s a book out by Michelle Malkin on how is administration is completely corrupt - and it’s only been six months since he took power. There Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to put out these books under the genuinely corrupt Bush administration.

    The point about going completely overboard is that it moves the territory somewhat in your direction. Of course most people won’t believe that Obama will create Death Panels, but they might believe there is no smoke without fire. They’ll start thinking the big fuss is there for a reason. That automatically moves the centre of debate in your favour.

    Second: have complete discipline. Moderate Republicans rarely criticise their wingnut counterparts. Sure they might argue about which direction the party should go in, but when it comes to opposing a policy they’re united. And when they have a common enemy (the Democrats) the moderates will never ever ever ever criticise the loony-fringe for saying absurd things. Why? Because of the first point. It gives the moderates more of a license to push the boat out, and it makes them sound sane. Discipline also ensures you spend less time fighting each other and more time fighting the enemy.

    Third: exploit the media. The media has to try and remain somewhat non-partisan and it’s driven by the chatter and whatever else everyone is talking about. Which means that if everyone is talking about Sarah Palin’s ‘death panels’ because it sounds so absurd - then it becomes part of legitimate conversation on Cable TV and then people start expounding other crazy theories. This means Democrats are constantly on the defensive and end up losing the battle. You never win on the defensive - only on the offensive.

    The second part to exploiting the media is to constantly accuse it of misrepresenting you and being biased against you. It doesn’t matter what the truth is - the aim here is to build a siege / victim mentality so your followers get even more angry and take action. If they think their views are being represented in the media then they won’t do anything further.

    But…. You may argue that this culture-war business is what drove the Republicans to become so small. Not exactly - there are demographic reasons for that. But the point is that for a small southern party the Republicans are still completely punching above their weight and outmaneuvering the Democrats on all fronts. If Obama makes one big mis-step then Healthcare is doomed and maybe his presidency.

    These Republicans are vicious. But it’s worth learning tactics from them otherwise lefties will keep losing.

    13th August, 2009

    A new wave of malaria?

    by Rumbold at 9:13 pm    

    Johann Hari highlights a worrying development in Cambodia:

    “Up until this year, the world was making remarkable progress in whittling down this disease. Since the year 2000, seven of the worst-afflicted countries in sub-Saharan Africa have slashed malaria-deaths by 50 percent. It has a great knock0on effect too: for every £1 spent on malaria prevention, Africa gains £12 in economic growth, because people can work instead of lying sick and dying. It was a sign that aid, matched by good African government, can produce inspirational results.

    But then something began to change – at first imperceptibly – in the forgotten forests of Western Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge held their last stand-off. The drug that is most effective at treating malaria is called artemisinin: it shocks the parasite out of your system and saves your life. But in South-East Asia, horrified doctors have discovered that the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to it. In a Darwinian arms race, it has begun to evolve a way to beat the treatment. It is taking twice as long to work – and soon it will have defeated the medicine altogether.”

    Filed under: Science

    Good video of Birmingham mass-brawl

    by Sunny at 2:46 am    

    Made by Jason Parkinson, who says:

    This time, as the video shows, the EDL members that avoided being “kettled” by police went straight for the anti-fascist protest, goaded the Birmingham youth, then got beaten and chased out of town. 35 people were arrested and three people were injured.

    The video is shot really well and much better than anything on YouTube. Shows to me there wasn’t a big brawl really, just mostly some EDL twats looking for a fight running away as soon as they got chased. One runs off shouting ‘dirty pakis’ in the video. This kind of raw journalism is way better than even the national broadcasters.

    Filed under: Media,Race politics
    12th August, 2009

    Thoughts on Birmingham brawl and fighting racism

    by Sunny at 5:57 pm    

    I’ve written an article for the Guardian website which went up this morning. An extract:

    But there are a few broader points to make, too. I’m not going to condemn the need for minorities to defend themselves in the streets or fight against fascists if necessary. Our forebears fought them off in Southall and it remains as important as ever to keep our streets free from constant far-right intimidation. If the police don’t do their job then people will step in to protect themselves.

    But that doesn’t mean extremist Muslims should be let off the hook. In 2004 the extremist group al-Muhajiroun, in all likelihood also behind the Luton anti-soldiers demonstration, had planned a rally in London where Hindus and Sikhs would be openly converted to Islam. They nearly caused a mini-riot then because Sikh gangs and BNP members had also planned to show up.

    So here are the choices: the group could be banned for activities on a par with the National Front (it keeps changing its name, the latest being Islam4UK). The police could also become more proactive against extremist groups, and stop local councils giving them any space. And lastly, Muslim groups themselves need to step up campaigning against these extremists or they will continue making life more difficult for them. More like this, basically.

    Britons also need to get re-acquainted with our tradition of free speech and expression, even if it involves people of different skin colour and religion saying outrageous things.

    But the real people to blame for these riots are the journalists willing to run inflammatory headlines – playing straight into the hands of extremists on both sides. Anjem Choudhary remains a constantly invited figure, even on the BBC, because he offers them entertainment.

    11th August, 2009

    Idolising historical figures

    by Rumbold at 5:38 pm    

    There has been quite a heated debate in the post below about Subhas Chandra Bose. I argued that he was a fascist, since he raised an army to fight on the side of the Nazis and Japanese. It was clear that if the British were driven from India, a Japanese army would have almost certainly filled the gap. If they had behaved anything like it had in the rest of Asia, then Indian civilian casualties would have numbered in the millions, if not higher. Other people on the thread argued that since Bose was fighting for Indian independence, this shows that he wasn’t pro-Japanese/Nazi, as he was simply using the Japanese help free India. Bose has also been accused of being naïve, which seems unlikely when you consider that he was a Cambridge-educated politician with plenty of experience.

    Now, as with most things in history, whether Bose was a fascist/Nazi is open to interpretation. What I want to focus on though is the dangers of idolising historical figures simply because you agreed with some of their views and/or actions. Winston Churchill was a great war leader. He was also a racist and an imperialist. Are the two contradictory? No. Can one admire Churchill’s war record while condemning his views on race? Yes. Historical figures, especially those who make a massive impact on the world, are very likely to have controversial aspects to their life. I admire Oliver Cromwell’s striving for religious liberty, while condemning his military dictatorship.

    It is perfectly fine to admire historical figures for certain things. However, the danger comes when that admiration is transferred to an uncritical acceptance of said figure (which is why I always though that the ’100 Greatest Britons’ and such polls were always flawed and wrong). Was it right for Indians to struggle for independence? Of course. But that does not excuse all behaviour by those who did struggle. To do so would be to accept that the ends justify the means. A few figures from the past, such as Hilter, Stalin or Mao, can be safely dismissed without the need to hunt for any elusive virtues. Yet for the vast majority of historical figures, we do history a disserve when we try and defend or condemn everything they said or did. We in the present are not all good or bad, and neither were they.

    Filed under: History

    Virendra Sharma and Indian independence

    by Sunny at 3:33 pm    

    Everyone needs a laugh during the day eh? So how about this? Tory blogger Iain Dale is outraged…. OUTRAGED I say because Southall MP Virendra Sharma recently gave a speech praising Subhas Chandra Bose.

    So a Labour MP praises a wartime axis leader because he was, er, Indian, and prior to the war had supported Indian independence. Mr Sharma is a disgrace. Those of his constituents in Ealing Southall who had fathers and grandfathers who fought in the Far East should be informed of this act of treachery by their local MP.

    He says. Oh no! The constituents of Southall will be so pissed off that Sharma praised someone agitating for Indian independence! It’s an act of “treachery” and any other similar words you can find!

    For a start, Dale’s headline: “Labour MP Praises Indian Wartime Fascist Leader” - is libellous to Sharma. Bose was never a fascist, though he did want to work with the Japanese and/or Germans to get rid of the British. But he wasn’t a race supremacist. Meanwhile, Dale makes excuses for MEP Roger Helmer despite him saying homophobia doesn’t exist. No outrage there - only solidarity. Pathetic partisan grandstanding at its best.

    Filed under: History,Party politics

    Apparently Muslims should apologise for all the heroin

    by Sunny at 10:28 am    

    This is the leaflet a man in Preston, Lancashire, had been distributing in his area. According to Lancaster UAF:

    Anthony Bamber, 53, of Greenbank Street, Preston, will appear at Preston Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with incitement to commit religious hatred. Three other people arrested last year in connection with the investigation have been released from their police bail.

    A 41-year-old man from Nelson, a 44 year-old man from Darwen, and a 57-year-old man from Nelson were all arrested on Wednesday, November 19 2008 on suspicion of the publication and distribution of written material intended to stir up racial hatred and the possession of racially inflammatory material. However they will not now face any charges.

    These people are popping up everywhere eh? And yet there are people apparently concerned about ‘extremism’ that are not writing about any of this (especially right-wing blogs).

    Filed under: Race politics
    10th August, 2009

    From a NF supporter at B’ham riots

    by Sunny at 11:02 pm    

    This was posted to a blog called ‘British Freedom Fighters’:

    I was there yesterday. Had a kick off with some muslim and nigger scum just up the road from where these low lives were having their ‘protest’

    Walking up the road with 10-15 lads looking for the EDL protest as it was meant to be at the Bull Ring. When from behind us we heard a shout of ‘come on then you BNP cunts’ which we was then confronted by around 30 pakis and niggers, some running to a nearby restaurant table to grab knives off it.

    Brave bastards. Anyway a stand off ensued and we went toe to toe with them. The police then arrived and we ran off down a side street to get away from them. Luckily, faced with bigger numbers and they were armed, we only had a couple of minor injuries amongst us. Well done pakis HAHA

    We will be back bigger and more prepared next time fucking filthy bastards!

    I’ll post some more views and thoughts later.

    Filed under: Race politics,Religion

    Nazis: uniting Asians and blacks from day one

    by Sunny at 6:25 pm    

    The Times reports:

    A rightwing group which promised a summer of peaceful demonstrations against British Islamic extremists was in disarray today after its first significant protest ended in violence and 35 arrests. The English Defence League staged a march near the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham this weekend but its small band of supporters was drastically outnumbered by anti-fascist campaigners and riot police. The protest ended in violent skirmishes and running battles through the city’s busy shopping streets on Saturday evening.

    Members of the League resorted to bitter in-fighting today as supporters labelled the organisers “ridiculous” and the event a “shambles”.

    Oh dear. Well I’m not going to shed any tears for the fascists that got their heads kicked in, but I will say that Unite Against Fascism have to be very careful to ensure that their counter-protests don’t get infiltrated by gangs. If innocent by-standers get hurt that will only end up helping the fascists.

    I have no problem with anti-fascists organising themselves and reclaiming the streets for everyone. Don’t let the racist scum dominate the streets and take over the streets with fear. But they need to be very careful and be in control otherwise the tide of opinion could turn against them very quickly.

    UAF have also called a demonstration against Richard Barnbrook on Wednesday afternoon.

    Filed under: Race politics

    Govt finally sees sense on War on Terror

    by Sunny at 2:23 pm    

    The Guardian has an encouraging report today:

    The communities secretary, John Denham, is to attempt a fresh start in the government’s relationship with British Muslims after acknowledging that mistakes have been made in the drive against violent extremism in the UK. Denham said he wanted to see a clear policy shift away from defining the government’s relationship with Muslim communities entirely in terms of tackling extremism.

    The new approach is expected to ensure that funding goes to a wider range of organisations, while a more explicit strategy to resist white racist extremism is also being developed.

    Residents’ meetings to discuss concerns about immigration are to be organised, and councils will be urged to be more transparent about local housing allocations. “Although the most significant terrorist threat comes from al-Qaida groups or al-Qaida-inspired ideology, there is a perception that government is only interested in violent extremism of one kind,” Denham told the Eastern Eye newspaper.

    In recent months, there have been renewed complaints that the Prevent programme has been used to fund community groups to spy on potential extremists, and that cash has been given to organisations with little credibility among UK Muslims.

    All of this is very encouraging, but not surprising since I think John Denham is a very intelligent minister. In fact I can’t even quibble with any of this.

    There is a growing chorus of people complaining that PVE money is being used to push ‘social cohesion’ and ‘engage Muslims’. This is dangerous because social cohesion is seen only as issue to be dealt with in the context of terrorism. It also ends up encouraging Hindu and Sikh groups to pretend they’re under massive threat and therefore also need some of that money.

    Update: The Tories released this comment today. Hah!

    John Denham needs to explain why his Party continues to treat the Muslim community as if it is the only source of extremism and terrorism facing this country. He must set out what the Government will do to help protect people from the entire spectrum of political and religious extremism.

    Filed under: Islamists,Terrorism
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