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19th December, 2005

Like a bowlful of jelly!

by Rohin at 2:46 pm    

“Of course Santa Claus is Indian. Think about it yaar, big beard, fat belly, bad suit - INDIAN!”

Come Christmas Day, I would far rather be nursing an eggnog-induced heart attack than blogging. Hence I thought I’d get festive little early and give you some background on everyone’s favourite alcoholic mince pie thief. You see, he’s from Asia! Well…Asia Minor.

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Filed under: Culture, Religion
15th December, 2005

When family become the enemy

by Al-Hack at 7:21 am    

It isn’t well known enough that most rape and sexual abuse of women happens by people they know, usually family members. What we do know is that most South Asian families would rather sweep it under the carpet than confront rape.

It is worse if the parents are not around to protect their children, as it increasingly looks to be the case in Sri Lanka, where about 600,000 women work abroad as maids.

That is a phenomenal number and the money they send home is worth a lot to the Sri Lankan govt. Sunny posted an article on ‘sending money home‘ before. But it sometimes has disastrous consequences for their children, the BBC’s Dumeetha Luthra reports.

Children left at home can be vulnerable to child abuse, incest and other exploitation.

“The mother leaves the children, sometimes with the father. Sometimes, when the father feels lonely, he will try and make use of the children to satisfy his needs,” warns Neeta Ariayaratna.

She works for a local NGO Sarvodya, which runs a home for young unmarried mothers.

The Sri Lankan government should be doing more to recognise the problem and put provisions in place, but this may be one of those cases where mothers would still rather trust families than a govt run home to take care of their children. Some efforts would not go amiss though, right?

Filed under: South Asia, Culture
9th December, 2005

Is this too hot for you to handle?

by Sunny at 5:26 am    

“Oh, rosy faced one, are you the personified numen of Respect, Renown or Resplendence, or the Felicitous Lakshmi herself, or oh, curvaceous one, are you a nymphal Apsara, or the numen of Benefactress, or a self-motivated woman, or Rati Devi, the consort of Manmatha, the Love God.

“Your teeth are evenly, smooth and their tips are like jasmine buds, and your whitish broad eyes are spotless, reddish at ends, and pupils are black.

“Your hips are beamy, thighs burly akin to elephant’s trunks, and these two breasts of yours that are ornamented with best jewellery are rotund, rubbing and bumping each other, and they are swinging up and up, their nipples are brawny and jutting out, and they are smoothish like palm-fruits, thus they are covetable for they are beautiful.”

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Filed under: South Asia, Culture, Humour
7th December, 2005

Women in Islam - veils of the mind

by Fe'reeha at 8:22 pm    

One question that I have been asked from everyone about Islam is regarding its message about the role of women.

In fact, it is one question I have often asked myself as a little girl. Coming from a family of three girls which was condoled at male absence by the typical South Asian inquisitors, but raised by a father who never made us feel unequal in any way, I was always dissected by clashing ideas.

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Filed under: Culture, Religion
4th December, 2005

British Muslims, faith and Sharia law

by Shariq at 6:10 am    

One argument used by moderate Muslims to argue against Sharia is the point that Sharia as we see it today is largely the implementation of Muslim values by 10th and 11th century jurists to the world that they lived in. Since then the gates of ijtihad have been closed and there has not been much jurisprudential development to update Islamic law so that it can provide guidance in the modern world.

I would not disagree with this, but I think that it is difficult to win the argument against traditionalist Muslims if the debate is shaped in the above terms. Therefore I would ask those Muslims who would like Sharia law the following.

Reformist Muslim asks why fellow brothers and sisters find it necessary to impose their notions of piety upon other Muslims and Non-Muslims.

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Filed under: Culture, Religion
27th November, 2005

A weekly round-up of blog chatter

by Sunny at 4:36 am    

Ok, so I haven’t actually done a blogosphere round up for three weeks, but I’m trying to make amends dammit. This is by no means comprehensive coverage. Simply mentions of blog entries (and two articles) I’ve found interesting recently.

  • The Renegade of Junk is furious that the Indian Supreme Court is making it worse for rape victims with their use of language.
  • Sakshi finds it bizarre that Jackie Chan wants the Asian (Chinese and Indian) film industry to “unite” against the Americans.
  • Riz has launched a new blog on market trading called Always Bet on Black.
  • Sepia Mutiny points to a Daily Show clip that satirises religious outrage.
  • Rezwan refers to a conference set up to deal with racism in Saudi Arabia.
  • Sonia Faleiro has written another great article, this time on Mumbai’s top transexual actor Bobby Darling.
  • Neha says that Global Voices, who she contributes to, is having a London meet. One for the diary folks.
  • 360 East reports on how the Amman bombings put Jordanian bloggers on the map.
  • Lenin points out the lies during Hurricane Katrina of people supposedly shooting at rescue helicopters.
  • Away from the blogosphere, The Register says there is one man to save the internet. And he is the Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador.
  • And finally, Maniac Muslim has written a funny article on Muslims at Hogwarts university trying to convert everyone.
  • Update: Philobiblion has this week’s Brit-blog roundup. Two entries stand out: Tim Ireland’s flash film for Tony Blair’s son Leo, and The Religious Policeman on executions in Saudi Arabia.

Feel free to add your links in the comments section. As ever, contact me to put forward your entries for next week.

24th November, 2005

The sexual politics behind Harry Potter

by Sunny at 1:58 am    

As Harry Potter mania continues in the UK, it is worthwhile mentioning the fact that the latest installment has two young British actors by the name of Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad, who play Parvati and Padma Patil.

But this being a thinking person’s blog and all, we can’t do gratuitous filmi plugs without anything worthwhile to offer along with it. Blogger Ink Spill has written a piece on sexual politics in Harry Potter and why she thinks Hermoine is letting the girls down.

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Filed under: Culture, Humour
23rd November, 2005

Coming to terms with AIDS in South Asia

by Rohin at 4:51 am    

A UN report, published yesterday, revealed some shocking statistics about AIDS in 2005.

The number of people living with HIV worldwide has doubled in a decade to top 40 million for the first time. 3.1 million people will die from HIV/AIDS this year and over half a million of them will be children. Over 1 in 100 of pregnant women across Asia are HIV positive.

Here is a brief round-up of the latest from India, Pakistan and China.

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17th November, 2005

The south Indian sex scandal beyond belief

by Sunny at 5:50 am    

Indians are not exactly known for their liberal views on sex, but the latest scandal in India is far-fetched by most standards.

In September, an actress by the name of Khushboo, who works in the South Indian (Tamil) film industry, said in an India Today survey that it was ok for girls to indulge in pre-marital sex as long as they took precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STDs. She later justified her statement by saying no educated man could expect his partner to be a virgin. Not exactly earth-shattering one might say, but this is India.

Events since went something like this: First, local political parties protested against her remarks, going as far as calling for her to be ‘deported’ from the state (wtf?). Protests mushroomed as parties tried to make political gain. Her friend Suhasini Maniratnam (wife of the famous Mani Ratnam of Bombay fame) defended her but then also faced protests. Even Miss Universe Natalie Glebova backed her but to no avail.

So what happened? Various groups filed a total of 25 defamation lawsuits against her. After an appearance in court yesterday, she was given conditional bail. The case is now adjourned for December 16th. Apparently she has severly “hurt Tamil sentiments”.

Now close your mouth and please pick up your jaw from the floor. The Indian media has unsurprisingly gone mad over the story. While they’re happy to report it, no one is willing to ask why the politicians are jumping over themselves to condemn her, or even point out that she is simply giving sensible advice that may - you know - help against India’s AIDS problem. The media there really needs a kick up the butt to challenge its politicians.

Filed under: Media, South Asia, Culture, Humour
16th November, 2005

Having a debate on first-cousin marriages

by Sunny at 2:50 pm    

Labour MP Ann Cryer has tried to kick off a debate within the Muslim community on first-cousin marriages. She will be on Newsnight tonight saying it is leading to genetic problems.

A Newsnight investigation reports that British Pakistanis are thirteen times more likely to have children with recessive disorders than the general population. The same research, shows that British Pakistanis account for 3.4% of all births but have 30% of all British children with recessive disorders.

Keighley MP Ann Cryer, says: “As we address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity, we say it’s a public health issue, and therefore we all have to get involved with it in persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle. I think the same should be applied to this problem in the Asian community. They must adopt a different lifestyle. They must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people.”

Following online debates for years, my impression is that this is usually forced on by parents rather than a choice that young Muslims make; in a similar vein to the ongoing practice with some Sikhs to marry within caste. I mean who really cares about caste these days?

The Guardian and BBC have more. Though the BBC’s misleading headline is refuted in the Guardian article by Cryer herself.

Also: England lost to Pakistan in the first test match. Ha ha! *points finger Simpsons style*

14th November, 2005

The oppression of the Brown man

by Nooruddean at 3:02 pm    

The brown man is oppressed. Not by another people holding him down, nor by physical confinements of mortor and steel. No - the brown man is oppressed by the confines of his own mentality.

We cannot demand help from others if we are not willing to help ourselves. Oh no. Self-respect demands respect, not the other way around. And so I say, look inward for the answer brothers and sisters, look inward.

And so I ask you to refer to the attached example to site the pitiful state we are in, dear friends.

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Filed under: Culture, Humour
12th November, 2005

Idiot sets himself on fire

by Sunny at 4:12 pm    

The New York Daily News reports of 48 year old Karnail Singh being seriously burnt in an incident in late October. And how?

Singh sparked the Ozone Park fire by dumping a flammable liquid on the basement stairs and igniting it because he was furious Kaur wasn’t sending money to his son in India, fire officials said.

Singh also accused her of seeing other men, court papers show. … [He] mistakenly set himself on fire and tore off some of his singed clothes as he fled, said Acting Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Robert Byrnes.

Too bad he got away. [Via Sepia Mutiny]. This comes not long after another idiot, Chomir Ali, bullied his sons into stabbing his daughter’s lover Arash Ghorbani-Zarin 46 times to vindicate “the family honour” because he made her pregnant by mistake.

The jury at Oxford Crown Court was told how Muji Rahman was a swaggering bully who, while condemning his sister’s behaviour for flouting the family’s strict Muslim code, had had sex before marriage, drank alcohol and rarely bothered to go to the mosque. After the killing in November last year he went out clubbing with friends in Oxford city centre.

Chomir Ali, who was out delivering takeaway meals while his sons carried out the murder, was arrested after his botched attempt to get rid of the knife and the killers’ bloodstained clothes.

All three were jailed for life, and rightly so.

Before anyone says these are one-off problems, consider this: The UN estimates that annuallly around 5,000 women are killed in honor killings. Indian police say that every year they receive more than 2,500 reports of bride burning. It would be no exaggeration to say that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh dominate the UN figures.

We have a lot to be proud of, eh?

Filed under: South Asia, Culture, Religion
9th November, 2005

Muslim pick-up lines

by Al-Hack at 2:03 am    

I just had to post these:

1. Oh my gosh! I just saw part of your hair, now you’re obliged to marry me.

2. Our parents engaged us when we were little; they must have forgotten to tell you.

3. I’d like to be more than just your brother in Islam.

4. To watch you pray is a sin of its own.

5. Will my platinum VISA cover your dowry?

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Filed under: Culture, Humour
5th November, 2005

Ashamed and disgusted

by Edward at 2:02 pm    

I crossed London Bridge yesterday morning, and there’s a tramp who has his pitch there.

Now, he’s a nice guy - stops for a chat, doesn’t agressively beg, doesn’t drink. Not that I’d give a tinker’s cuss if he did; were I living on the unforgiving streets of London I may well agressively beg, and I’m damn sure I would drink.

However, the point is that he cannot, in any way, be classed as a ‘nuisance’. I sometimes stop off and slip him a fiver and a cigar, and I did so tonight, and noticed he had cuts and bruises on his face. So I asked him about them.

Apparently, he was sitting on the Bridge a couple of nights ago at about 10pm, and two drunks came up to him, and duffed him up.

Then they walked away but, after a few paces, almost as an afterthought, they came back, took the coat off his back, snatched up his blankets, and chucked the whole lot off the Bridge into the Thames.

They walked off, but then turned around, came back again, kicked him and took his boots off his feet, and chucked those in the Thames as well.

This was not an attack motivated by provocation, moral outrage, or even a sense of material gain. It was a simple example of bullying someone who is in a worse position than the perpetrators.

Ok, I’m no stranger to acts of random, senseless violence, but even so I just find this so morally sterile it’s deeply unsettling.

It does seem to me that a great deal of the social problems that are discussed on Pickled Politics could be avoided if people would just say to themselves “Oh, hang on, would I like it if someone did that to me? No? Well, probably best I don’t do it to someone else then.”

I am left with a deep sense of shame over this thoughtless and frankly disgraceful act.

Filed under: Culture, The World
4th November, 2005

The problem with being in fashion

by Kulvinder at 9:35 am    

I write this as a heterosexual man. This isn’t meant to be patronising and i hope it doesn’t read that way.

The depiction of any minority or subgroup of ‘wider’ society always has a tendency towards clichés. The media highlights the differences between communities as a way of distinguishing between them; there is nothing inherently wrong in that, but it does lend itself to stereotypes and bigotry. During and immediately after the civil rights movement in the US, the depiction and characterisation of African-Americans started to focus through blaxploitation inspired individuals. The legacy of that is a bigotry amongst some of how they believe ‘black’ people (all black people) behave.

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Mukhtar Mai the Glamour girl

by Al-Hack at 5:30 am    

For her courage in speaking out against her brutal rape in Pakistan, Mukhtar Mai, aka Mukhtaran Bibi, has become internationally known as a campaigner for women’s rights.

In fact she has become so well-known that the insensitive jerk commonly known as President Musharraf had a stupendous bout of foot-in-mouth disease (rather lot of that going around) a few weeks back when he said Pakistani women who wanted to get a visa or make money would get themselves raped.

Mukhtar was awarded the Woman of the Year prize last night by Glamour magazine in a lavish New York ceremony. It smells slightly of opportunism though - the rape happened three years ago and since then everyone under the sun has interviewed her and discussed women right’s in Pakistan. Glamour’s come late to this party!

3rd November, 2005

To see or not to see…

by Fe'reeha at 5:50 am    

…..the eid moon - this is the question facing Muslim community right now. Within the spectrum of British Muslims, the issue of moon-sighting is fast becoming moon-fighting.

When Regent’s mosque (Central mosque for Muslims) announced day before yesterday that it would not celebrate Eid yesterday, most thought it was probably a new beginning of having ‘one collective eid’ instead of two confused Eid-ul-fitr days every year.

But then Birmingham mosque declared earlier yesterday morning, there was no way they could produce the moon tonight so there could not be a chance of a collective eid. And so it carries on…

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Filed under: Culture, Religion
2nd November, 2005

Festival of light

by Sunny at 6:13 pm    

diya dance, originally uploaded by amrita b.

A day late, but Happy Diwali! And Eid Mubarak for tomorrow!

Filed under: South Asia, Culture, Religion
31st October, 2005

Citizenship tests come into force

by Nush at 12:45 pm    

Immigration Minister Tony McNulty is publicising sample questions ahead of the test coming into force on Tuesday.

People seeking to become British will take the test at one of 90 centres across the country, before taking part in a formal citizenship ceremony. The “Life in the UK” test is the last of a series of changes to how people become British brought in by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett.

The Home Office says that it wanted to create a new more meaningful way of becoming a citizenship in an effort to help people integrate and share in British values and traditions. Prospective new citizens already need to demonstrate sufficient working knowledge of English to help them get on.

Take the test here [more recent link] and see how you get on.

I got a score of 9 out of 15 and apparently that means I should get a seat on the district council, rather than wait for my deportation orders!

27th October, 2005

Where is the Asian outrage over a racist murder?

by Sunny at 4:17 am    

On Saturday a 23 year old man was innocently walking back from the cinema with his brother when he was set upon by ten to eleven thugs and brutally murdered. His brother was also stabbed.

If he had been an Asian kid set upon by white or black youths there would have been outrage within our community. Instead, because it was a young African kid murdered by a gang of Asian youths - there was, and still is, silence.

It took a group of around 70 women and children yesterday to hold the first joint demonstration condemning the brutal murders. Unsurprisingly there was not a single Asian “community leader” to be seen, presumably because there was hardly any media interest.

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