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  • 30th August, 2011

    Eid Mubarak

    by Jai at 1:00 pm    

    Pickled Politics would like to wish our Muslim readers “Eid Mubarak”, as today marks the end of Ramadan (or “Ramzan”, as we South Asians pronounce it).

    Some suitable music to mark the occasion:

    A live performance of an extract from “Man Kunto Maula”, by the Pakistani singers Atif Aslam and Riaz Ali Khan. Dedicated to Ali, this devotional song was written by the Indian Sufi poet and musician Amir Khusrau in the 13th century; it is regarded as the first qawwali in Indian history. Amir Khusrau, the Sufi Muslim saint Nizamuddin Auliya’s most famous disciple, is widely regarded as one of the founders of North Indian classical music as an organised art form. Atif Aslam is the younger singer in the video below; he often contributes to the soundtracks for Indian films, and has become very popular during the past couple of years.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: History,Muslim,Religion
    25th August, 2011

    Does Howard Jacobson look at Asians and think ‘terrorist’?

    by Sunny at 5:55 pm    

    I can’t tell if the Independent columnist Howard Jacobson has lost his god damn mind or if he’s always been like this.

    In an interview with the Evening Standard today he says:

    The good thing that came out of the riots was a renewed sense of community. “How does one put this without sounding gross … it was terrific to see the Asian communities on telly and not to have to think about terrorism, and not to have to think about the thing I’m always thinking about… do they want to kill Jews?”

    Is that meant to be a joke?

    Jacobson looks at an Asian person and thinks they might be terrorists or want to kill Jews? What is he smoking? Has the paranoia got to him?

    Does he look at me and think ‘Hmmm, this guy has brown skin. Maybe he wants to kill me. I better run and hide!‘. Perhaps he should stop reading Jihad Watch or something. Idiot.

    Update: a few people on Twitter say he’s saying it positively.

    Let’s try a thought experiment. If I say: “Isn’t it great we can stop thinking of these white people as morally degenerate savages for a bit and see them as nice people who cleaned up after a riot” - that wouldn’t be highly patronising?

    Filed under: Media,Race politics

    Bend it Like Beckham part 2

    by Sunny at 3:26 am    

    Oh bloody hell - why can’t brown people write original storylines? WHY?!

    This isn’t actually called BiLB2 but it may as well be.

    Filed under: Humour
    23rd August, 2011

    Caste discrimination case goes to the courts

    by Sunny at 10:03 am    

    Very interesting (and worrying!) story in the Daily Mail (via Shariq):

    An Indian couple who met at a legal firm have become the first in Britain to claim ‘caste’ discrimination, saying they were forced from their jobs following their marriage.

    An employment tribunal was told that solicitor Amardeep Begraj, 33, was from a higher caste than her husband Vijay, 32, the practice manager.

    He belonged to the Dalits, formerly known as the Untouchables because of the nature of their work in roles such as cleaning, pest control or scavenging, and the lowest class of people according to the ancient Indian caste system.

    Mrs Begraj has told the tribunal that a senior colleague warned her against marrying Mr Begraj because people of his caste were ‘different creatures’, while he was told his position at the firm was ‘compromised’.

    What’s worse is that both are of Sikh background, which theoretically eschews the caste system as false. I hope she wins the case. Urgh.

    Filed under: Culture

    Sharia courts investigative survey

    by Rumbold at 9:16 am    

    IKWRO, a charity dedicated to helping women of Middle Eastern origin escape domestic/’honour-based violence, is conducting an survey into the experiences of Muslim women who use the courts to settle family disputes. Sunny has written on Sharia courts in the past, and the issues surrounding them.

    It is for staff in organisations which have advised women who have used or considered using Muslim Arbitration Tribunals or Islamic Sharia Councils to resolve family disputes.

    The aim of the survey is twofold, as it seeks to discover:

    1. The experiences of women using Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Islamic Sharia Councils to resolve family disputes.

    2. The level of experience and knowledge about Muslim Arbitration Tribunals and Islamic Sharia Councils among the women’s sector, and the sector’s information needs.

    Relevant individuals can take the survey here.

    Filed under: Muslim,Organisations
    22nd August, 2011

    Interfaith unity from the ashes of the riots in England

    by Jai at 8:00 am    

    Despite all the violence and destruction that occurred across England during the recent riots, there were also some heartening developments. Most well-known, of course, is the reaction of Tariq Jahan, the inspirational father of one of the young men murdered in Birmingham as they attempted to protect the local population from the rioters. Mr Jahan’s extraordinary dignity and calls for peace on the basis of our common humanity played a huge part in preventing the situation from spiralling into even worse violence.

    Tariq Jahan’s actions have effectively resulted in him becoming a national hero in Britain, and some of the most moving articles have come from unexpected sources such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The outpouring of support and praise for Mr Jahan has included commenters who are openly expressing deep regret for their previous prejudice against Muslims.

    A prayer event in Birmingham ahead of the funerals of Shazad Ali, Abdul Musavir, and Tariq Jahan’s son Haroon was attended by approximately 20,000 people, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and invited speakers included visitors from one of the local synagogues. An online book of condolence has also been launched by Birmingham city council.

    Interfaith unity and friendship

    Inspiring examples of interfaith unity and friendship also occurred across the country during the riots. For example, Sikhs were heavily involved in joint efforts to protect the local towns & cities as a whole and the associated places of worship, including the defence of mosques. Correspondingly, Muslims also volunteered to protect Sikh temples. And a joint Sikh-Muslim prayer vigil was held at the site of the murders of the young Asian Muslims in Birmingham, attended by several hundred people and involving both Sikh and Muslim prayers. A photo of the candlelit vigil is displayed at the top of this article. You can also watch an interview of Harpreet Singh, one of the Sikh organisers of the joint vigil, in the video below.

    Continue Reading...
    21st August, 2011

    Reviewing papers with Nigel Farage, on Sky (video)

    by Sunny at 11:54 pm    

    This was Friday night - and don’t say anything about the shirt I was wearing!

    Filed under: Media
    19th August, 2011

    EDL member charged with mosque vandalism

    by Rumbold at 10:54 am    

    Another blow to the EDL’s purported claim to be only against Islamic extremism:

    A member of the English Defence League will appear before a judge today accused of racially-motivated vandalism after a mosque was sprayed with graffiti.

    Charlotte Davies, 19, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was charged after an attack on the Nasir Mosque in Hartlepool and a shop and guest house in Shotton Colliery in November last year… Two men also accused of the attacks will enter pleas at a later date

    Filed under: EDL
    15th August, 2011

    EDL tried to take advantage of looting

    by Rumbold at 9:55 pm    

    Throughout the looting/riots, the EDL attempted to capitalise on the situation, and use it as an excuse to promote themselves and as an excuse for some violence.
    Cambridge saw EDL vigilantes clear Mill Road (an important road in the town centre) of imaginary looters, only to be told by local traders that they were not welcome. Meanwhile a senior Met police officer warned of more attempts by the EDL to hijack local communities defending themselves, with places like Enfield being hit.

    Nor did the EDL stick to its alleged belief of only being anti-Islamic extremism. An EDL gang attacked a bus with black youths on it in London, whilst EDL posters online flooded forums with racist language directed primarily against blacks:

    The English Defence League have reverted to type, with torrents of sickening anti-black racism on their divisional Facebook walls, peppered with the N-word, and description of black people being “monkeys” and “apes”. Since their existance, the moderators have tried to brush all of their non-Muslim racism under the carpet, pretending that the EDL have only one enemy, Muslims, but since the rioting began in London, the far right group have switched tack to virulent anti-Black racism of an extreme and disturbing nature.

    Now graffiti is going up condemning the riots, signed by the EDL. Compare and contrast such behaviour with how many victims of the looting reacted. In Birmingham, Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the three men killed by looters, called for calm:

    Today we stand here to plead with all the youth to remain calm, for our communities to stand united. This is not a race issue. The family has received messages of sympathy and support from all parts of society … I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home – please.”

    Others held vigils or banded together to clean up the area. If there is a silver lining in all this senseless violence and destruction then it will be the renewed bonds that now exist between many people in the worst affected areas, which is what a healthy society depends on.

    Filed under: Current affairs,EDL
    11th August, 2011

    It’s a Girl! film trailer

    by Rumbold at 3:51 pm    

    A film examining the mass killings of baby girls in India and China is to be released in early 2012 (trailer below). Researchers estimate that the gender imbalance in these two countries is such that it could only have been achieved through the mass abortion of female foetuses and the murder of millions of baby girls. Look out for Pickled Politics contributors Rita Banerji and Mitu Khurana at 1:41-1:54 in the video.

    The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice.

    9th August, 2011

    Why there’s a good chance the London riots have already peaked

    by Sunny at 7:56 pm    

    I said this earlier on Twitter so I best justify it quickly:

    I’m going to stick my neck out and predict tonight will see a lot less trouble than yesterday. I think this has peaked.

    Of course there is a good chance people will read this later tonight and laugh. But that is the whole danger with predictions.

    My thinking is this. Whatever ‘alienation’ and ‘dispossession’ these youths feel from society (and why are they mostly men?) - the looting has flared up mostly because there is a widespread perception that the police cannot do much about it, and this is their chance to get some free stuff and have one over the police.

    This has become a socially driven event, where the expectation that they can get away with it drives it further. Without that expectation, it should in theory die quickly.

    I say ‘in theory’ because the other problem is that a lot is dependent on flash-points. Without the spark, a tense situation can easily dissolve into nothing.

    The police talking up their numbers and showing shots of them suiting up in heavy armour should have an impact. So will the raids last night on some of the looters.

    If London is much quieter last night - it will show that the flare up of the London riots (following Tottenham on the first night) was driven more by the sense of weakness with the police (or ‘shorting the law’ as Alison Charlton called it) than by deep rage (though I accept there is low-level rage present regardless).

    Filed under: Media
    8th August, 2011

    Did EDL ally Pamela Geller already know about Norway terrorist ?

    by Jai at 8:00 am    

    Pickled Politics senior editor Sunny Hundal briefly mentioned the following subject in his recent article discussing the fact that the atrocity in Norway highlights “a new form of prejudice”, but it’s worth providing further details. Pamela Geller is the American author of the virulently anti-Muslim blog Atlas Shrugs and the executive director of the organisation “Stop Islamization of America”; like SIOA’s co-founder Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Geller was repeatedly cited in the 1500-page manifesto of the Far-Right Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”).

    Geller herself, who is originally from a Jewish background but describes mainstream liberal Jews as “lost souls” and “self-hating wretches”, was given a huge public platform by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News last year during the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy. She has consistently been at the forefront of promoting extremely bigoted anti-Muslim propaganda; you can read a comprehensive list of examples via Media Matters for America here and here, and via The American Muslim here.

    It turns out that Pamela Geller received an email in 2007 from a Norwegian contact who sounds disturbingly similar to Breivik. Geller approvingly published the email on her Atlas Shrugs blog on 24 June 2007 without naming the author; in response to a query from one of the commenters there, Geller confirmed that she was deliberately hiding the author’s identity so that he would not be investigated and prosecuted. After the recent massacre in Norway, Geller quietly edited her article in order to remove the email’s explicit references to weapons, ammunition and equipment; unfortunately for Geller, her actions have been noticed by multiple readers and the original unedited version of the article had already been cached elsewhere. (More details, including relevant URL links, can be found here).

    Therefore, this has the following possible implications:

    1. Pamela Geller had personally been in contact with Anders Breivik and even promoted his email on her own website, but she deliberately hid his identity in order to protect him (and did not report him to the authorities) despite being aware of Breivik’s extremely violent rhetoric and the fact that he was stockpiling weapons & ammunition;

    2. Alternatively, Geller was not emailed by Breivik himself but there is currently another violent Norwegian out there with aims and attitudes which are disturbingly similar to those of Breivik, and whose identity Geller is deliberately hiding.

    Continue Reading...
    6th August, 2011

    Sweden draws up plans to fight ALL sorts of extremism

    by Sunny at 10:44 am    

    Looks like Sweden has woken up from its one-dimensional approach to extremism:

    Stockholm - Sweden has drawn up a plan to fight extremism in response to attacks in neighbouring Norway that killed 77 people last month, government ministers wrote in an opinion piece published Friday.

    They identified the fringes of three extremist groups as the most dangerous: the white-power far-right, the far-left and Islamists.

    “We need to have a broad concept of violent extremism and not limit our line of vision,” Reinfeldt, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask and Democracy Minister Birgitta Ohlsson wrote in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “There are many similarities in the processes that lead individuals to use violence to reach political goals, regardless of the political or religious content of their extreme ideas,” they wrote.

    This is a much better approach than one that just focuses on Islamist extremists. Wonder if UK will now also take note.

    Filed under: Terrorism
    5th August, 2011

    Friday fun - the ‘fair and lovely’ cream pisstake

    by Sunny at 1:10 pm    

    An American guy (@soodsandeep) has done this funny parody of the Indian skin-whitening cream ‘fair and lovely’ (via @sharanjit)

    4th August, 2011

    Top BNP member gives a Hitler salute at Breivik tribute

    by Sunny at 5:11 pm    

    The Sun has done some good digging today:

    TWISTED BNP chief Chris Hurst gives a Nazi salute at a fascist gig by the singer who inspired massacre monster Anders Breivik.

    Hurst, the BNP’s London Regional Secretary, cried “Sieg heil” as pop girl Saga sang the Norwegian fiend’s favourite songs at a rally in Hungary.

    The warped 22-year-old reckoned the victims were needed to “breed” to increase the white population.

    And blaming immigration for Breivik’s shocking slaughter, he added: “Isolated incidents like that are going to happen more and more as the problem gets worse.”

    Read the full piece here

    Two points to note: he blames immigration for Breivik’s actions, echoing other people on the right who predict more such far-right terrorism on the basis of immigration.

    Second, note how he also focuses on the demographics of white identity versus minorities.

    Against capital punishment

    by Rumbold at 10:17 am    

    After a vigorous online campaign, it looks as if the return of capital punishment may be debated in parliament soon, with pressure on the government to announce a free vote. Campaigners want the death penalty restored for crimes such as the murder of police officers or children, and have the support of a number of MPs.

    I have never really been convinced by the moral arguments against the death penalty. There are some who argue that executing a criminal for murder is stooping to their level. On that basis then, imprisoning a kidnapper for ten years is also stooping to their level, as they are being confined and held against their will. Nor is killing someone relatively quickly and painlessly notably more inhumane then locking them up for years in a drug-addled and violent prison, where the risk of assault is common and gangs control the situation.

    What makes me opposed to capital punishment is the possibility of error. Courts and juries make mistakes. It is awful every time this happens, but it does and will continue to do so, whether because certain evidence hasn’t come to light, or the defence is poor, or because of other factors. Given that jailing an innocent is the ultimate failure of a justice system, there needs to be as many safeguards in place in rectify any such situation. If someone has been imprisoned and is later freed as a result of a miscarriage, they cannot be given those years back, but they can be compensated and be free from then on. There is no such recourse with the death penalty.

    The other common argument used in favour of the death penalty is cost. Yet in America, whose legal system is largely based on the same principles as ours, the average death row prisoner spends around fourteen years there before being executed. In terms of expense, the state of California has found that is costs an extra $90,000 per prisoner per year to keep a prisoner on death role then jailed ordinarily for life without parole. Assuming similar figures for this country, the average criminal sentenced to death would therefore cost around £775,000 more than someone who is in prison for fourteen years.

    3rd August, 2011

    China and India move ahead of USA and UK on green technology

    by Sunny at 1:31 pm    

    This article from Foreign Policy mag has some eye-popping stats:

    But before you pack up the kids and move to higher ground to avoid rising sea levels, consider this: China’s fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles are already around 25 percent tougher than those in the United States. The country generated 667 terawatt-hours of electricity from hydro, wind, and nuclear electricity in 2009, a 50 percent increase on four years earlier (and 10 percent more than Brazil’s or India’s current annual electricity consumption). China already accounts for one-quarter of the world’s installed capacity of wind, small-scale hydro, biomass, solar, geothermal, and marine power facilities. And the overall amount of energy used to produce a dollar of GDP in China has dropped 5 percent every year since 1980, according to Qi Ye at the Climate Policy Initiative in Beijing.

    China’s attempt at a green leap forward isn’t entirely new news — but this isn’t just a Chinese story. Developing countries as a whole accounted for two-thirds of the growth in renewable and nuclear power generating capacity worldwide between 2002 and 2008, according to my colleague David Wheeler at the Center for Global Development. The developing world is now home to more than half of the world’s renewable energy generating capacity, and it is likely to extend that lead.

    Going forward, Wheeler reports that India is planning to generate 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, up from less than 2 percent today. Ten thousand megawatts of that — a little under 10 percent — would come from new solar energy installations (to put that in perspective, that’s more than total global solar photovoltaic capacity in 2007). At the U.N. global warming conference in Cancún, Mexico, last year, developing countries pledged to restrict their carbon emissions considerably more than did rich country delegations. In particular, China’s promised reductions from what would happen under “business as usual” were a lot larger than promises made by the United States. Indeed, in the U.S. case, some calculations suggest the pledge may amount to the commitment to do nothing, which sounds all too plausible

    Its actually not a surprise that developing nations are taking a lead on the UK and USA.

    First, they have more to lose from global warming.

    Second, they don’t suffer from a small but well-financed and vociferous group of idiot right-wing libertarians who say investment in green technology is a bad idea.

    Third, they see alternative energy and other green technology as the future, and want to get ahead while the USA and UK twiddle their thumbs with political paralysis.

    I, for one, welcome our soon-to-be overlords.

    Filed under: Environmentalism

    Norway highlighted ‘a new form of prejudice’

    by Sunny at 10:24 am    

    I rarely agree with Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League, but he has written an excellent piece for the Washington Post:

    Europe and the United States have been no strangers to violence motivated by anti-Islamic sentiments over the past decade. Muslims have been assaulted and killed, their mosques and institutions damaged and destroyed. Yet the majority of the attacks have fallen into only a few categories:

    Hate crimes typically motivated by culturally or religiously based anti-Islamic prejudice.

    Acts of retaliatory or reactionary violence.

    Violence by white supremacists, who usually hate the race and religion of the majority of Muslims.

    For example, this month Texas executed a white supremacist, Mark Anthony Stroman, who in 2001 targeted and fatally shot convenience store clerks of perceived Middle Eastern appearance in “retaliation” for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The attacks in Norway seem to stem from a different source. They are the first to emerge from a relatively new, specifically anti-Islamic ideology that moves beyond religious or racial prejudices to incorporate anti-Islamic sentiment as the focal point of a larger worldview.

    Growing numbers of people in Europe and the United States subscribe to this belief system; in some instances it borders on hysteria. Adherents of this ideological Islamophobia view Islam as an existential threat to the world, especially to the “West.”
    This belief system goes far beyond anti-Islamic prejudice based on simple religious or racial grounds. In a sense, it parallels the creation of an ideological — and far more deadly — form of anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on the backs of the previously dominant cultural and religious forms of anti-Semitism.

    Meanwhile, Melanie Phillips here believes this was some lone madman and we don’t really know what drive him to kill all those people. Yeah, right.

    Two of the people Foxman mentions are Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. I’ll come back to Spencer later, but here is the latest from latter - Pam Geller Justifies Breivik’s Terror: Youth Camp Had More ‘Middle Eastern or Mixed’ Races Than ‘Pure Norwegian’.

    It turns out Geller also posted a letter a few years back from a Norwegian fan who said he was “stockpiling ammunition” and preparing for the upcoming battle. She said she had deliberately taken his name off the email she posted to make sure he wasn’t traced back.

    Filed under: Terrorism
    1st August, 2011

    EDL financier’s murderous “Final Solution” for Muslims and political opponents

    by Jai at 8:00 am    

    The Guardian have now confirmed that English Defence League financier Alan Lake was indeed the author of a horrific “Final Solution” blueprint targeting Britain’s entire Muslim population, anyone perceived to be sympathetic towards them, and senior members of the current British government such as Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also included in the list of targets for execution. Lake wanted to open a debate on the subject and therefore requested in his message that supporters should provide further suggestions for people who should be killed.

    The millionaire businessman Alan Lake, who wrote “it would be great to see them executed or tortured to death”, posted the message on his “4Freedoms” website on 23 May 2010. According to The Guardian, although Lake removed the references to execution and torture the next day, he still claims that “the fundamental point of that piece is correct” and that he is “holding people responsible for the consequences of their actions”.

    As discussed in the Pickled Politics article summarising recent developments involving the EDL’s public response to the atrocity in Norway along with the organisation’s connections to the terrorist Anders Breivik (described by the Norwegian police as a “Christian fundamentalist”), during his BBC interview with Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman on 25 July 2011, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) claimed that he does not know Alan Lake despite the fact that Lake himself has publicly admitted to his considerable involvement with the organisation. A detailed overview of Lake’s background, his affiliations with multiple extreme Far-Right groups and Christian fundamentalist organisations, and his extensive activities in both Europe and the United States to further the EDL’s agenda can be read via Hope Not Hate/Searchlight here.

    A screenshot of the original message by Alan Lake is displayed below (via EDL News and 1 Million United). Along with the threats of extreme violence, particularly noticeable are the similarities to the virulent hostility towards Muslims en masse and the death threats against politicians which are also present in Anders Breivik’s 1500-page “manifesto”. Incidentally, according to Channel 4 News, it turns out that Lake was interviewed on Norwegian television in April 2011.

    Continue Reading...

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