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  • 19th September, 2009

    Libdems, Yasmin A-B and Muslims

    by Sunny at 4:46 pm    

    - Libdem leader Nick Clegg will be in conversation with journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown discussing what it means to be British in the wake of protests outside a Harrow mosque last week. The interview comes on the back of the paper ‘Imagining New Britain’ which Alibhai-Brown will launch at the party’s Autumn Conference. You can read the paper here (PDF file) as I’ve been given an exclusive copy.

    - As Britain’s Muslims begin to prepare for Eid, far-right fascists may protest in Luton and gather in Manchester next month. Quilliam Foundation have (quite rightly) sent a letter to mosques asking for their active role in minimising local tensions. The letter calls on imams and mosque committees to do the following:
    1. Hold open-days in UK mosques for the local public.
    2. To raise money on Fridays for local schools and hospitals, not just for Muslims.
    3. To refuse platforms to Islamist and extremist Muslim groups who bolster the message of the far-right.
    4. To ensure that young members of their congregation do not respond to the far-right with violence.

    - Fringe event at the Labour Party conference: Magali Rheault, Senior Analyst with the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, will present key findings from opinion polls conducted in over 35 predominantly Muslim countries around the world.

    The Q & A Session will be hosted by Muslim West Fact Project (MWFP) joined by Henry Hogger and Salman Shaikh respectively. Monday 28 Sept from 5pm - 7pm at Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Brighton.

    Filed under: Events,Race politics

    Another tabloid victory

    by Rumbold at 1:44 pm    

    As a result of changes in immigration laws, Britain is now facing a 5% shortage in junior doctors:

    “In some cases, hospital departments had to rely on just six junior medics to do the job of ten. The shortage started after recent changes to the immigration system which prevent people from outside the EU from coming to train as doctors in Britain.

    Now the BMA fears the it has got worse this year as a result of a new European Working Time Directive, introduced in August, which prevents the UK’s 60,000 trainee doctors from working more than 48 hours a week.”

    Thanks to the tabloids and the EU, we now don’t have enough people to heal the sick. The incompetence is striking.

    Filed under: Current affairs

    Ahmedinijad does Holocaust denial, again

    by Sunny at 6:36 am    

    Well, that should settle the question once and for all whether Ahmedinijad is a vile anti-semite or not. He deserves all the abuse he gets.

    18th September, 2009

    Time for festivities again

    by Sunny at 6:53 pm    

    Happy Rosh Hashanah to our Jewish readers, and Eid Mubarak in advance to Muslim readers. I’ve been a bit past few days so it’s been difficult to blog. But lot’s going on and will be back in full swing next week…

    Filed under: Blog

    No more Mayawati statues?

    by Rumbold at 4:48 pm    

    The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati, has been reprimanded by the Indian supreme court for continuing to spend taxpayers’ money on statues of herself throughout Uttar Pradesh. A Dalit (formerly known as ‘untouchables’), Ms. Mayawati commands significant support from many in that group, and her supporters point out the hypocrisy as Congres and other parties build statues of those associated with them. Ms. Mayawati might be labelled a ‘champagne socialist’ were she in this country, as she earnt enough money to pay around 250 million rupees (over three million pounds) in tax for 2007-08.

    Filed under: Current affairs,India
    17th September, 2009

    Sikh PC discrimination case

    by Rumbold at 12:00 pm    

    PC Gurmeal Singh is suing Greater Manchester Police for £200,000 on the basis of racial discrimination, since he alleges he was subjected to abuse from other officers, and was pressured to remove his turban for certain exercises. From the Daily Mail’s report (which is far better than the one in the Telegraph’s), it seems that there was a number of flashpoints (though the reporting is quite confused).

    For me, allowing people to wear religious clothing at work is fine, and I think that it should be up to employers how to proceed. The flipside of this though is that people wearing religious clothing should not be able to claim any special treatment as a result of wearing said clothing. If there are health and safety issues, they should be made to sign waivers excusing their employers from any liability, or else remove their clothing (PC Singh did the former when asked to ride a bike).

    Filed under: Civil liberties,Sikh
    16th September, 2009

    English Defence League release a new video

    by Rumbold at 9:19 pm    

    Here’s a screen shot from it:

    The English Defence League: clearly not anti-Muslim at all.

    Filed under: EDL
    15th September, 2009

    Rod Liddle makes his blogging debut

    by Rumbold at 9:11 pm    

    This should be interesting. After the obligatory parish hello, Rod Liddle tells us what he thinks (and not for the first time) of Mary Seacole, the mixed-race Victorian nurse. Mr. Liddle is incensed to learn that his children know only two famous Victorians, Her Majesty Queen Victoria and Ms. Seacole:

    “So, the Victorians, then. I asked them to name some famous Victorians – they were able to name two. Queen Victoria and Mary Seacole. There you have it: a racially balanced all women shortlist of Victorians.”

    We are not told how long the boys having been learning about the Victorian era, so we have no idea how much they should know. Nor do we know about their expertise in the Roman and Tudor periods, of which Mr. Liddle speaks of earlier in the article. But why do the children know about Mary Seacole, and not other famous Victorians? He suggests that educationalists considered Seacole one of the two most important figures in Victorian history simply because she was an ethnic minority:

    “What about the writers, Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin? Or the politicians, Gladstone and Disraeli?… For the educationalists, Mary Seacole was one of the two most important figures of the century, solely and utterly because she was black.”

    Given that Benjamin Disraeli was a minority as well, the comparison is invalid, but let’s assume that Mr. Liddle’s historical knowledge doesn’t extend to actually knowing anything about those whom he lists. Even so, does he have a point about the alleged over-emphasis on Mary Seacole?

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: History

    What Vince Cable would cut

    by Rumbold at 4:21 pm    

    I think this is what is needed. While more must be cut, at least the Liberal Democrats are willing to set out what they think should be abolished. The Conservatives make small suggestions, but they should be more open. People aren’t opposed to cuts in administration, but want to protect frontline services. The only way to do that is for politicians to take the lead, rather than leaving it up to civil servants, who will invariably protect themselves (at the expense of frontline services):

    • Zero growth overall for public sector pay (saving £2.4bn a year), a 25% reduction in the total pay bill of staff earning over £100,000 and a salary freeze and end of bonuses for the civil service (saving £200m a year).

    • Tapering the family element of the tax credit – saving £1.35bn.

    • A radical review of public sector pensions with the view to moving to higher employee contributions and later retirement ages. There is currently a £28bn subsidy to unfunded schemes.

    • Scrapping several major IT systems including the ID card scheme (£5bn over 10 years), Contactpoint (£200m over five years), the NHS IT scheme (£250m over the next five years) and the proposed “super database” (£6bn).

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Economics,Economy

    On counter-terrorism and counter-extremism

    by Sunny at 9:54 am    

    Over at Guardian CIF, Yahya Birt and Asim Siddiqui tackle two different parts of the puzzle.
    Asim says:

    The EDL say they are protesting against British jihadis, such as “Islam4UK” (an al-Muhajiroun offshoot) which seeks Sharia law in Britain. If this is the case, they would have common cause with British Muslims as the group has such little support. Its leader, Anjem Choudary, is a hate figure who would be hard pressed to even set foot in Harrow mosque. So if this was really about the Islamifcation of Britain, why not simply hound Choudary and his acolytes? Instead the EDL chose to provoke one of the largest and mainstream mosques – and its mainstream congregation who have no association with these fringe groups nor any wish to impose Sharia law.

    The simple answer of course is that the EDL are using extremists only as a cover for their agenda to rid Britain of all Muslims. Their top organisers have admitted this in various interviews. He adds:

    The feeling of alienation amongst the white or Muslim working classes must be dealt with, their recruitment by violent extremists must be tackled in the same way. Extremist groups prey on the same vulnerabilities, sense of exclusion and lack of belonging – and each feeds off the other.

    Yahya Birt is on the same theme - tackling alienation. His point is that the government’s Prevent agenda ends up treating British Muslims as an “at risk” set of communities, rather than simply citizens. And he rightly says that focusing on far-right white extremism could simply replicate the problem - treating young, white working class youths as “at risk”.

    Most of the commenters seem to misunderstood his point - that Muslims should be treated as ordinary British citizens (something the very same people are always banging on about) rather than dangerous basket cases.

    The problems are obvious, the solutions less so. Is the Prevent agenda more like a band-aid that fails to heal the underlying wound? Perhaps. But it’s difficult to see what straightforward alternatives there are.

    Alan Johnson refuses to share platform with fascists

    by Sunny at 4:34 am    

    And well done to him:

    “I’ve gone 59 years without sharing a platform with a fascist, and I don’t intend to start doing it now,” he told yesterday’s BBC Politics Show after being asked by presenter Jon Sopel if there was any circumstances in which he would change his mind.

    The Labour party has made clear that no minister will be forced to debate with the BNP, but it is reconsidering its customary ban on sharing a platform in the light of the BBC’s invite to the BNP following their success in the European elections. I wonder how many other cabinet ministers will go down the same road?

    Filed under: Race politics,The BNP
    14th September, 2009

    Asian clothes makes Daily Mail readers’ heads explode

    by Sunny at 7:32 pm    

    You have to laugh at this, since there’s little point in getting annoyed at the kind of scum who inhabit the comments section of the Daily Mail website.

    So Asda have unveiled their range of Asian clothes in area where there may be a demand. That’s capitalism for you. I could buy the cinnamon sticks for my tea from Tesco these days but it’s still cheaper from the local Indian grocery. Anyway, enough about my tea habits. The point is is that none of this is new.

    But the heads of Daily Mail readers inevitably asplodes. Here are some comments:

    The problems caused by mass immigration and failure of cultures to integrate will not be eased or increased by ASDA’s decision…. Be more concerned about the numbers of people being offered British passports when they can’t even speak English - and remember that concern when it comes to voting in the next election.
    - Nick, Dubai, 14/9/2009 16:54

    When I shop in an English shop, I want to see English things… that so hard to understand? Asda, you’ve seen the last of Mrs. Daley’s lolly.
    - Sue Daley, England, 14/9/2009 12:22

    thats ASDA thinking ahead, soon there will be no need for western dress in the new shia law run country!!!
    - patrick walker, halifax, 14/9/2009 15:52

    stopped going to ASDA a while back due to customer service there at my local store, definitely will not be going back now, love sainsburys
    - phoebe, rossendale lancs, 14/9/2009 12:22

    What is happening to the UK?
    - Ex pat, Switzerland, 14/9/2009 12:27

    Don’t you just love Brits in other countries complaining about immigrants? I absolutely love them. To be fair, there are loads of comments on that article by people disgusted by the small-minded racism. A little war of words is currently going on…

    More on this:
    Sim-O: [hat-tip] I’m not racist but…
    Jamie: Do Mail commenters create a toxic environment for brands?
    Hannah: Mail Fail of the Day

    Filed under: Humour,Race politics

    Now the BNP claim Owain Glyndwr

    by Rumbold at 11:10 am    

    The BNP are championing a man who revolted against the Anglo-Saxons (i.e. the English):

    “Clothing depicting the last native Prince of Wales are on sale through the BNP’s merchandising website Excalibur, accompanied by the slogan, “British By Birth, Welsh by the Grace of God” across the front. Costing £10, the T-shirts are for sale alongside other items of clothing as part of the party’s “British Heroes” range, which includes merchandise adorned with the faces of Richard the Lionheart and Horatio Nelson.

    Glyndr, who led the historic uprising against the English rule of Wales, was proclaimed the last native Prince of Wales on September 16, 1400. The image used on the BNP T-shirts is taken from a statue of Owain Glyndwr on a horse that was presented to the people of Corwen, Denbighshire, in September 2007, the town where Glyndr was born.”

    Given that Owain Glyndwr was opposed to English rule in Wales, will the BNP now support Welsh independence? The BNP’s use of the Welsh prince as a hero makes about as much sense as the BNP praising Nehru.

    It is unclear what the BNP’s take on history is. At times it appears to be a very English nationalism, at other times the focus is on ‘shared’ British or European heritage. Some BNPers are very Christian, others worship Norse gods. I don’t think they have a unified view of history beyond the notion that non-whites are foreigners. They struggle to reconcile a British nationalism based on racial purity with the fact that most Britons are of immigrant stock in some shape or form.

    (Hat-Tip: Persephone)

    Filed under: History,The BNP
    13th September, 2009

    RSS and Shiv Sena: not fans of Mills and Boon

    by Rumbold at 8:48 pm    

    Oh dear:

    “In the socially conservative subcontinent, where kissing in films is censored and couples can be fined for public displays of affection, women are rushing to buy romantic tales of dashing heroes, ravishing beauties and happy outcomes. Last week Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu nationalist party, called for a government investigation into the legality of romantic fiction.

    “This kind of literature should be banned. It is against the cultural values of the country and is likely to have an unhealthy impact on the minds of teenagers,” said Vinod Bansal, a party spokesman. Another Hindu party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, also called for a ban, saying: “We don’t think these vulgar things should be allowed.”"

    They must not have watched any Bollywood films recently. They certainly have too much time on their hands.

    Filed under: India,Moral police

    Was it al-Muhajiroun that turned Harrow nasty?

    by Sunny at 5:22 pm    

    The Independent’s Jerome Taylor has a really good blog entry on what happened in Harrow on Friday.

    His main point is that despite the best efforts of the Harrow Mosque management and many people who came to defend the mosque, there were some who wanted trouble. Among these were the predictable self-publicists (extremists) al-Muhajiroun.

    But as the sun began to set it was clear anger amongst a small but hardcore number of Asian youths was building. Shortly after the 15 anti-Muslims were carted off in a police van for their own safety (about 5:45pm) I and a number of other journalists watched Asian youths, many of them masked, throw bottles, rocks and fireworks at riot police. The chants of “F##k the BNP [sic]” had quickly changed to “F##k the police”.

    It is important to point out that every time objects were thrown at the police there was a much larger group of people calling on the violent demonstrators to protest peacefully and return to the mosque. One young man in a yellow hi-vis jacket was particularly brave, wading into the crowd on numerous occasions to try and persuade leading troublemakers to calm down. At one point a group of men tried to drive a commercial bin into the police lines but were stopped by fellow protestors. When one group of men turned on me and The Times’ Fiona Hamilton, others stepped in to help us.

    However, as these confrontations continued throughout the evening it soon became apparent that the angry skirmishes with the police were going to become the main story

    Now I’ve said this before - the media cannot be ignored. And just because the Daily Mail journos will turn up to take pictures of angry Muslim men, while ignoring the fascists from the EDL, doesn’t mean that we excuse what happened. The people who attend these counter-demonstrations need to be controlled and disciplined otherwise they give everyone a bad name. And if some idiots are throwing rocks at the police, that inevitably means the media narrative will change.

    Right now most of the media is not giving the EDL an easy ride, because it’s obvious they’re full of football hooligans and straightforward fascists from the BNP and National Front. But Ajmal Masroor was completely right in saying that if a dog bites you then you don’t retaliate by biting the dog.
    Jerome Taylor adds:

    The media are obliged to lead on the most newsworthy angle and the violent protests against the police lasted longer, were angrier and involved more people than the anti-Muslim protest so it had to be covered prominently.

    Unfortunately, this is exactly what the EDL and their kind wanted. They had come to provoke young Asian men into masking their faces and throwing rocks so that their actions would also be pictured - that way they can return to their supporters and say “Look, we can’r even protest in our own country without having rocks hurled at us”.

    Al Muhajoroun will also be happy because they will now be able to persuade more young followers that there can never be a compromise with the kuffar (their leader Anjem Choudhary has just posted a video to that effect).

    Overall the vast majority of protestors were peaceful. The person who summed it up best was Tony McNulty, the Labour MP for Harrow, who was watching the skirmishes unfold.

    “For many of these teenagers what they are doing is simply an expression of frustration brought on by the original threat of a protest outside the mosque,” he said. “Emotions are running a little high. But the vast majority of people protesting on both sides are not even from here. A load of young teenagers chasing ghosts should not detract from an overwhelmingly peaceful and multi-racial protest which stopped fascist groups from targetting Harrow.”

    Tony McNulty is completely right. But the people who will exploit these disturbances - the religious extremists, the fascists and their enablers in the mainstream press - have been given a boon to push their narratives. Hence, I don’t like the ‘ha ha, we chased them away‘ narrative - the UAF side has to be extremely disciplined to win the media and public opinion narrative. They cannot ignore it as if it is irrelevant.

    12th September, 2009

    These fights do no one any good

    by Sunny at 5:44 am    

    So the Stop Islamisation of Europe and EDL people didn’t really show up in the numbers they promised in Harrow yesterday. But this isn’t a victory for anyone. Does anyone really think the video clips of huge numbers of Muslim youths throwing things at the police does their cause any good?

    Let’s rewind a bit here. The recent events require a few points to be made.

    1. For many BNP & EDL types, the enemy are Muslims, not Asians or even all ethnic minorities. Muslims are easier to bait, easier to target and easier to demonise. I’ve said this repeatedly in the past: any examination of BNP / EDL activities that ignores their shift in focus to Muslims, is highly naive.

    2. The SIOE and EDL people haven’t sprang up as a direct result of terrorism, otherwise they’d have started in July 2005. They’ve become more prominent recently because the rhetoric around Muslims taking over, the “demographic problem of Muslims”, the growing number of mosques etc has become fever-pitch, especially in the mainstream media. The kind of people who now daily scream about how many kids have Muslim names or how their babies are swelling in numbers are to blame for this hysteria.

    3. These large confrontations make it even more difficult to challenge Islamists and racists on either side for obvious reasons. Muslims will become less tolerant of internal and external criticism given they feel under attack; while the xenophobes who peddle the scary demographics will point to the TV reports and say: ‘see, told you the Muslims were taking over, we can’t even stop them from building mosques now!

    4. This is why I’ve increasingly shifted my focus on attacking these mainstream xenophobes, because they play very nicely into the polarising atmosphere that religious extremists want.

    5. Unlike Lenin I’m not euphoric over what happened yesterday in Harrow. I said earlier that sooner or later these brawls will get out of hand and a rogue gang of youths will beat up someone so badly the entire anti-racist movement will be smeared by association. This thing is getting out of control, and the UAF and associated anti-fascists need to think harder about how to control the crowds.

    11th September, 2009

    Update on Harrow mass-brawl

    by Sunny at 6:35 pm    

    The mass brawl didn’t happen. Apparently hundreds of Muslims turned up (as expected, given the text messages and emails that were flying around) because they expected 1,500 BNP supporters.
    According to Jerome Taylor at the Indy:

    In an emotional speech during midday prayers the mosque’s imam, Ajmal Masroor, called on his followers to go ignore any protestors and resist the temptation to retaliate.

    In one reference which generated widespread laughter he remarked: “My father always said to me, ‘If a dog bites your leg do you turn around and bite the dog back?’ Of course not.” Unlike other far-right groups such as the British National Party – which campaigns on an anti-immigration ticket – both the EDL and SOIE seem to campaign primarily against Islam, rather than all immigrants.

    According to a BBC report I just saw about 20 Stop Islamisation of Europe people turned up. They were protected by the police and are now on their way home. Damp squib.

    Filed under: Race politics

    How to further reduce volunteering

    by Rumbold at 3:49 pm    

    People volunteering to help out with others is one of the hallmarks of civil society. It represents a way of thinking that says ‘even if I don’t have to help out I want to help out’. For many clubs and organisations, particularly those who help the less well off, it is volunteers that allow those groups to operate. Therefore, a government that cared about civil society would do all it could to encourage volunteering.

    Yet the government has just announced plans to extend the vetting of volunteers further, via a new system known as the Independent Safeguarding Authority. Even those who have already been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau will need the new check.

    In part this is a job creation scheme, as it is one of those agencies that once set up is very difficult to get rid of (no politician wants to abolish it, then have something happen to a child and be blamed for abolishing the agency that would have protected the child). The Daily Mail and Sun share the blame with the government for things like this, as they whip up the hysteria which leads to such demands. Yet it is also an example of the government’s desire to control civil society, as it is independent from the state, and therefore suspect.

    Filed under: Civil liberties

    Will there be a mass-brawl in Harrow today?

    by Sunny at 8:51 am    

    Today is the 8th anniversary of 9/11. For that reason it seems, the English Defence League and ‘Stop Islamisation of Europe’ (SIOE) have chosen the date to hold a rally in London’s Harrow Central Mosque.
    SIOE say on their blog:

    This will be the largest mosque in England with minarets 40 metres high. That is not integration that is triumphalism.
    It is Harrow now, the next place could be your community.

    I’ve also received a text that is going around among Muslims saying:

    The BNP have re-scheduled their protest & have threatened to attack the harrow mosque on 11th september from 5pm. They are calling it out 9/11, its predicted there will be 1500 of them. Its our duty to protect the mosque. circulate this message. PLEASE be there for jummah if you can Insha Allah, the least we can do is let others know & make a difference.

    At this point it seems to me the whole situation could turn very nasty, very quickly. Wouldn’t it have been better to ban the protest?

    Local community activists have released a statement:

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Race politics,Religion

    Stop and Search abuse of power

    by Sunny at 3:44 am    

    The IPCC is investigating this complaint by a member of the public:

    On the morning of Wednesday 29 July 2009 the 43-year-old man was walking from Woolwich Arsenal station towards the bus station in General Gordon Square, with his 11 year-old daughter and his neighbour’s six-year-old daughter, when two men approached him. According to the complaint, one of the men identified himself as a plain clothes police officer and carried out a stop and search of the man and the children.

    The man has complained that the officers seized his mobile telephones, USB sticks and a CD; that the children with him were subject to a street search and that he was asked to stand in front of a CCTV camera in order to have his photograph taken, as well as having to have his photograph taken by the officers. The complainant states that, when he asked under what legislation his property was being seized, he was told it was under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    He also complained that he was given no information as to when he could retrieve his goods or who to contact in order to do so, and that there was no communication from police despite assurances that he would be told when he could collect his things.

    Got it in a press release. And yet there are still people who argue for Stop and Search…

    Filed under: Terrorism
    10th September, 2009

    Andy McNab slams the BNP

    by Rumbold at 9:53 pm    

    Author and ex-SAS man Andy McNab has attacked the BNP for auctioning off signed copies on his books, which might have given the impression that he was backing the BNP. As Mr. McNab said:

    “”When someone called me to say that the BNP was using one of my books in a publicity stunt, I was sick to the stomach. I served with men of all colours and from many nationalities. They were all equal to me. That’s what the army teaches you.

    Nick Griffin thinks differently. He thinks the British Army should be for whites-only. He thinks heroes like Johnson Beharry, our only living VC, should be sent back to Grenada. He doesn’t understand that what makes the British Army great, and what makes this country great.”"

    (Hat-Tip: A number of readers who sent this in)

    Filed under: The BNP

    Popular names non-story

    by Rumbold at 9:55 am    

    The annual list of most popular boys’ and girls’ names has been released, and it seems that one name in particular has caused controversy by being left off the top ten list: Muhammad. This is because people spell it in a variety of different ways (Mohammad, Mahomet, etc.), the combined total of which would have placed Muhammad third. This should have sparked a minor debate amongst compilers and linguists about whether a name’s variants should be amalgamated in such a list (ONS practice is to keep the variants separate), but this being Muhammad, there was far more controversy.

    Noted list compiler and statistician Douglas Murray felt the need to comment, while Max Hastings thought it necessary to write a long piece on it, and why it represented the beginning of the end:

    “The Muslim population is now close to two million, over 3 per cent, and rising fast because Muslim families have more children than most of the rest of us, many of them named Mohammed or Muhammed…

    Britain, two generations hence, threatens to become a mere camp site for 77 million people of many races, for whom this represents a mere place to sleep, eat and make money. To avert this, we must address a series of related challenges.”

    Maybe it is right to have all the variants under a single heading. But that is not the reason for the fuss. This is another example of the non-story, in which something which shouldn’t make the news does because Muslims are involved. For those who doubt this, do you think there would be columnists in national newspapers writing about what the failure to amalgamate Ian/Iain in a list represents?

    9th September, 2009

    More on the English Defence League

    by Sunny at 9:30 pm    

    That picture is from the Daily Mail. The t-shirt says: ‘British By Birth; English by the grace of god’. It’s sold by the BNP here.

    The picture below was taken from the most recent Birmingham demo.

    via Lancaster UAF

    Bizarrely, some skin-head protesters were also carrying an Israeli flag.

    Update: I’ve now updated the post to reflect new information sent to me.

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