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  • 10th September, 2010

    Eid ul-Fitr and Rosh Hashanah

    by Jai at 10:00 am    

    Muslims and Jews around the world will currently be celebrating Eid and Rosh Hashanah respectively. Islam and Judaism, along with Christianity, are of course from the same “Abrahamic” group of religions.

    Eid marks the last day of Ramadan (or “Ramzan”, as we South Asians pronounce it), and is a major public holiday in India due to the country’s large Muslim population. Non-Muslim Indians often join in the festivities with Muslim friends. In the subcontinent, the night before Eid is called “Chand Raat”, meaning “the night of the moon”, and it is upon the sighting of the new moon that Eid is declared.

    Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the Jewish New Year. The majority of Indian Jews (many of whose ancestors had been there for thousands of years) migrated to Israel after the formation of that country, but there are still small communities of Jews in India. Historically they frequently lived in the same residential areas as Muslims. India is still a popular tourist destination for large numbers of Israelis every year.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Muslim,Religion
    1st September, 2010

    Fox News confirmed as bankrolling Republican Party

    by Jai at 11:45 am    

    As recently discussed on Pickled Politics, last week Jon Stewart and The Daily Show brilliantly exposed the fact that the unnamed person Fox News had been repeatedly claiming was allegedly financing Park51/Cordoba House (aka the “Ground Zero Mosque”) and with implied ties to radical Islamist extremists was actually the Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the second-largest shareholder of Fox News’s parent company News Corp and an individual closely affiliated with News Corp’s primary owner Rupert Murdoch himself. Fox News have subsequently completely dropped their stories about the shadowy “unnamed financier”, and are apparently also refusing to respond to post-Daily Show queries about the matter. Nevertheless, the issue raises the following questions:

    · Why is Prince Al-Waheed continuing to work closely with an American news channel which is a) actively involved in pandering to negative stereotypes about Muslims en masse and b) is simultaneously playing an active role in damaging relations between the West (especially the United States) and Muslim populations overseas ?
    · Why are Fox News violating the principles of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, considering that the latter was signed in 1797 directly by the Founding Father & 2nd US president John Adams and ratified & unanimously approved by Congress, and explicitly states that “as the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion….it has in itself no character of enmity towards the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen [ie. Muslims]” ?
    · Why are Fox News effectively promoting militant Wahhabism as the “default” version of Islam ?
    · Why are Fox News persecuting Sufis, the Muslim group which is the most forcefully opposed to Islamist extremism (particularly militant Wahhabism) and whom both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have a murderous level of hatred for ?
    · In summary, why are Fox News effectively doing Al-Qaeda’s dirty work for them ?

    Some further facts about Fox News have also subsequently come to light. Despite the channel’s claims of being “fair and balanced” and their repeated denials of any bias towards, or association with, any of the major American political parties, the channel’s parent company, News Corp, has now been confirmed as making a $1 million donation to the Republican Party. This is actually the single largest donation by any corporation, and has a number of ramifications, as summarised in the extracts below:

    Continue Reading...
    31st August, 2010

    Happy Janmashtami (Krishna’s Birthday)

    by Jai at 11:45 am    

    Hindus worldwide celebrate today as Krishna’s birthday, so “Happy Janmashtami” to PP readers who are marking the occasion.

    According to Indian tradition, Krishna was born approximately 5000 years ago, although modern-day historians have estimated that the period of ancient Indian history described in the semi-mythological Mahabharata was more accurately around 3500 years ago. Festivities are held at Hindu temples around the world, including major temples in Britain such as the Swaminarayan temple in Neasden and Bhaktivedanata Manor near Watford. The late George Harrison left the latter building to the associated Hindu sect when he passed away and they usually hold large-scale festivities every year, involving tens of thousands of visitors during the course of several days and including music, free food etc. I’ve been to these annual events many times and they always have a nice, relaxed atmosphere, especially if the summer weather at the time is warm and sunny.

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Hindu,Religion
    27th August, 2010

    Alleged “Ground Zero Mosque” financier is Fox News co-owner

    by Jai at 11:45 am    

    Fox News have recently been at the forefront of whipping up hysteria about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. This is actually quite a major turnaround for them, considering that Fox had previously interviewed both Imam Rauf (the head of the Cordoba Initiative) and his wife Daisy Khan, and their attitudes towards these individuals and their efforts were very positive indeed. Park51/Cordoba House was even explicitly discussed with Daisy Khan during an interview in December 2009, and the Fox anchor at the time stated “I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it….I like what you’re trying to do.”

    With the exception of the upbeat interview with Daisy Khan on Fox News after the New York Times published a detailed front-page article on 9th December 2009 about the plans for Park51/Corboda House, there was no reaction from the “conservative Right” and no newspaper articles about the subject at all for the next five months…..until Fox News began taking a stridently hostile view towards the building in May 2010.

    Someone who has been a particularly vociferous opponent – and an individual who has subsequently been provided with considerable public exposure by Fox News — has been Pamela Geller of “Stop the Islamization of America”, who is allied with racist white supremacists in South Africa and has also openly praised the English Defence League/EDL on a number of occasions, to the extent that she’s repeatedly been in contact with the EDL’s leadership; apparently she also firmly believes that US President Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim.

    Fox News’s own promotion of consistently anti-Muslim stories has of course become an established characteristic of the channel. And most recently, Fox News have run multiple news segments making sinister insinuations about a shadowy Saudi Arabian figure with alleged ties to radical Islamist extremists who owns the “Kingdom Foundation” (aka Kingdom Holding Company) and has allegedly been a major financier of Park51/Cordoba House. Fox News have never named this person on-air.

    Continue Reading...
    25th August, 2010

    Organisation urges British Sikhs to help Pakistan aid effort

    by Sunny at 11:07 pm    

    Got this from the Network of Sikh Organisations today, thought it was worth sharing:

    Yesterday, Brenden Gormley, Head of the Disasters Emergency Committee commented that generous donations by the British public to flood relief in Pakistan were shaming politicians across the world. His words remind us how political concerns, like those over terrorism or corruption, can all too easily trump basic humanitarian considerations.

    The suffering evokes poignant memories for many Sikhs The floods are in the land of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith; a land that saw the forceful expulsion of their grandparents during the partition of the sub-continent 63 years ago this month, in a frenzy of religious hate. Despite this, most Sikhs see it as their basic religious duty to help. Many Sikhs like others have contributed generously to the aid effort, while others are helping in Pakistan. But for some, the hurt of the past remains. So how do we break the chains of history to look to the needs of the present?

    For Sikhs, the answer lies in two incidents. The first occurred a little over 300 years ago, when the infant Sikh community was defending itself from attack by the Mughal rulers. . In a particularly fierce battle, a Sikh water carrier called Kanyia was seen supplying water to the enemy wounded Angry Sikh soldiers dragged him before Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru asked if the charge was true. The bewildered Kanyia replied that it was, and said that he was simply doing what the teachings of Sikhism required him to do: look to those suffering whoever they might be. The delighted Guru embraced him, calling him ‘bhai’ or brother and gave him medicines and bandages to continue his good work.

    The second incident lies in the experience of the war between India and Pakistan in 1971 when Punjabi Pakistani prisoners of war and their Punjabi Sikh captors embraced each other and swapped stories like long lost brothers. The incident showed the utter absurdity of man made borders drawn on maps to divide communities on the basis of politically induced communal fear and hate. Yet this has been done over and over again, and is still being done around the world today.

    Helping those in need is not only a basic human duty, but here it can also play a small part in boosting confidence, trade and prosperity. More importantly, it can give a lie to the myth that people of different faiths cannot live together.

    DEC donate page

    Filed under: Organisations,Sikh
    24th August, 2010

    Junoon’s Salman Ahmad interviewed on BBC HARDtalk

    by Jai at 4:45 pm    

    This is a follow-up to the previous PP article discussing the Pakistani Sufi rock group Junoon and its founder/current lead singer Salman Ahmad (recently also interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine). As discussed previously, Junoon have been heavily involved in opposing Islamist extremism along with promoting pluralistic interfaith understanding & friendship; Salman himself is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, and has worked in conjunction with both the Clinton Global Initiative and Dr Tahir ul-Qadri’s Sufi organisation Minhaj ul-Quran, along with giving a concert at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 2007.

    Salman Ahmad, who is currently based primarily in New York, recently visited the UK and was interviewed at length by Stephen Sackur on BBC 24’s HARDtalk programme. They discussed a range of topics, including Islamist extremism, terrorism, Sufism, the West, and American Muslims, and you can see the full interview in three parts via Youtube below:

    Continue Reading...
    21st August, 2010

    The “Ground Zero Mosque”: Ignorance, Prejudice and Historical Precedents - Part 2

    by Jai at 7:00 pm    

    (This article is an immediate continuation of Part 1. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read that part first before continuing below).

    Indian history and “the Sikh 9/11”

    Firstly, during India’s “Great Mughal” era, the 6th Sikh Guru actually had a mosque built for the ordinary Muslims who had settled in the town he had founded in Punjab – despite the fact that his own father had been severely tortured over a period of several days upon the orders of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, and ultimately died of his horrific injuries. In fact, that same mosque was very recently jointly renovated by Sikh and Muslim volunteers in India as part of a major restoration project. There are even mosques in Amritsar itself, the “holy city” of the Sikhs. It’s certainly a far cry from Newt Gingrich’s “no mosques until there are churches in Saudi Arabia” rhetoric, given that he’s effectively recommending that the United States should duplicate fundamentalist Wahhabi Saudi Arabian attitudes towards places of worship; furthermore, the notion of holding your own country’s citizens hostage to – and penalising them for – the actions of a foreign government because they happen to be affiliated with superficially the same religion (despite being from very different “denominations”) isn’t just irrational and barbaric, it’s also morally bankrupt.

    Continue Reading...
    19th August, 2010

    The “Ground Zero Mosque”: Ignorance, Prejudice and Historical Precedents - Part 1

    by Jai at 7:15 pm    

    “It is rash to condemn where you are ignorant.”

    Much has recently been said about the proposed Cordoba House facility in New York, dubbed the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”. As is now widely known, CNN anchor and Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria returned his award to the ADL and explained his rationale extremely well (he’s subsequently also summarised Sufism and the reasons for Al-Qaeda’s hatred of it); Alex Massie also recently discussed the issue and made a number of brilliant points. This article in the New York Times by the acclaimed historian William Dalrymple about the Cordoba Initiative’s Sufi connection is excellent too, as is this article by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. This segment from MSNBC by Keith Olbermann forcefully argues against the escalating bigotry towards Muslims and also discusses the potential ramifications for America if these attitudes are allowed to continue. US President Barack Obama himself has now emphatically voiced his support for the right of the founders of Cordoba House to build the proposed centre (also see here). Even Christopher Hitchens has been demolishing the arguments of many of the people opposed to Cordoba House (including Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin) and has condemned their sectarian prejudice and often staggering level of ignorance. The quote at the top of this paragraph by the Roman philosopher Seneca clearly still has great resonance 2000 years later; coincidentally, the great man was born in Cordoba himself.

    Continue Reading...
    7th August, 2010

    Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria returns ADL’s award over ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

    by Sunny at 12:14 pm    

    Good for him. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek has returned an award back to the Anti-Defamation League in the US after the Jewish group came out against the supposed ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.
    He explains:

    Bloomberg’s speech stands in stark contrast to the bizarre decision of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly side with those urging that the center be moved. The ADL’s mission statement says it seeks “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” But Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings.

    “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?

    Spot on. I linked to an excellent piece on the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ controversy by Alex Massie earlier.

    In other news: The Guardian reports that the repulsive Iranian regime is trying to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in secret, and want to do so because she’s a woman.

    The answer is quite simple, it’s because I’m a woman, it’s because they think they can do anything to women in this country. It’s because for them adultery is worse than murder – but not all kinds of adultery: an adulterous man might not even be imprisoned but an adulterous women is the end of the world for them. It’s because I’m in a country where its women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights.

    Well done to her for speaking out.

    And lastly: Muslim group Minhaj ul-Quran runs ‘anti-terrorism’ camp

    5th August, 2010

    The only libertarian worth reading

    by Sunny at 10:22 am    

    Other than our own Rumbold of course, Alex Massie is the only other libertarian worth reading this side of the pond.

    He has a very fine post on the whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy that the Republican right have been playing up. A few important points from it:

    Nevertheless, Bush and Blair and others had a point: if you convince yourself that the west is fighting some kind of Holy War and that muslims are the enemy then, pretty soon, you find yourself unable to differentiate between the different strands of Islam. Soon after that, once it’s a matter of “them” and “us” (even though some of “them” are also part of “us”) then there simply can’t be anything that can plausibly call itself moderate Islam or, consequently, moderate muslims. Deep down, you see, they’re all just the same.

    But while there are evident tensions and areas of difficulty (and these should not be downplayed or denied) the bigger truth is that the conflict - and there is one - is only tangentially about us. This is much more a civil war within the Islamic world than it is a confrontation with the west (though it is that too). Osama bin Laden’s real enemies are the muslims he considers heretics and moderates. That’s the struggle he’s interested in and the fight with “the west” is merely a means to achieving that final, internal, triumph.

    This being so, among the very worst things we can do is lump all muslims together and, by doing so, suggest that we don’t think there’s any salient difference between the brands and branches of Islam. But, on the other hand, this also doesn;t mean we must demand that British (or American) muslims divest themselves of their religion or their attachment to their layered, over-lapping identies.

    What it does mean, however, is trying to avoid postures, rhetoric and policy that will convince British (or American) muslims that they’re regarded as suspect or somehow only enjoy second-class status (which, now that the GZM rumpus has gone national is what opposing the mosque, no matter how well intentioned your reasons, effectively does).

    Read the whole thing - it’s bang on target.

    And here’s the thing - this is what the left in the UK has been saying for years. The right hasn’t - they’re dominated by wingnuts like Melanie Phillips, Rod Liddle, Douglas Murray etc. Most of who, er, write for the Spectator (I say Alex Massie is a left-libertarian. He’s just giving the right an undue good name by aligning himself with them).

    Filed under: Muslim
    4th August, 2010

    Why would Muslims play up Islamophobia?

    by Sunny at 9:44 am    

    This kind of bullshitery also annoys me. Yesterday the Guardian reported on a poll on British Muslims:

    The study for the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) also found that 63% of people surveyed did not disagree with the statement “Muslims are terrorists” and 94% agreed that “Islam oppresses women”. It included qualitative as well as quantitative data. One respondent said: “If I had my way I’d kick them all [Muslims] out of here.”

    Sounds scary right? Has Daily Mail / BNP propaganda taken over? Not exactly.

    George Readings from the Quilliam Foundation points out that the iERA itself is fronted by some dodgy people.

    Neither Sky nor the Guardian noticed, for example, that the home secretary has banned two of the eight advisors listed on iEra’s website (Zakir Naik and Bilal Philips) from the UK; Naik has been quoted as calling Americans “pigs” and saying that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” whilst Philips has advocated stoning people to death and public lashings, but “only [...] on Fridays”.

    The Guardian quotes someone called Hamza Tzortzis who has previously said: “We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even of freedom.”

    Frankly, if this guy was trying to improve the perception of Muslims then they really are in trouble.

    But actually it’s worse than that, because the Guardian also misrepresents the poll results.

    Continue Reading...
    19th July, 2010

    Burka ban unlikely in UK

    by Rumbold at 10:01 pm    

    The private member’s bill introduced by a backbench Tory to ban burkas is even less likely to succeed after two Conservative ministers attacked the proposed ban as ‘unBritish’ (perhaps because the French are now debating one). There are plenty of campaigners for a burka ban who are motivated by a genuine concern for women’s rights, and plenty more who aren’t. But I am glad, for three reasons, that a burka ban is unlikely to come into effect.

    Firstly, it is difficult to enforce. Do you arrest or fine everyone who has their face covered? For how long must it be covered? What if you are in fancy dress, or have had your face painted? Serious crimes (crimes against other people) would, cet par, rise, as police and the courts would have this extra law to deal with.

    Secondly, it is an attack on civil liberties. People should have the right to wear what they want, providing they are not harming another person (I would back the right of nudes to walk around too). Once the state starts to regulate dress, you are on a very slippery slope.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t tackle the root causes of what campaigners like Diana Nammi are trying to stamp out. It doesn’t make women any less oppressed, or make their relatives/in-laws any more liberal. It may in fact lead to greater restrictions on women’s rights as the sort of families who force women to wear burkas are the sort who wouldn’t let a woman go out uncovered.

    In order to help the women forced or pressured into wearing the niqab/burka, other measures need to be undertaken. The state needs to ensure that such women have full access to state services, whilst vigorously prosecuting cases of domestic/’honour’-based violence. British society meanwhile must resist bowing to cultural relativism by arguing that pressuring women to wear burkas is okay because it is part of someone else’s culture. It is not okay to oppress women.

    14th July, 2010

    Prevent Violent Extremism comes to an end

    by Sunny at 7:15 pm    

    Some Muslim orgs will be happy, others will be livid. Be interesting to see how it all pans out.

    The government’s £60m “preventing violent extremism” programme is to be dismantled after a widespread loss of confidence in it within Muslim communities, it was confirmed today.

    The plan to spy on Muslims in Birmingham especially was the last straw. It also sounds like the programme to tour imams (run by Radical Middle Way) will also come to an end. Big development, although entirely expected.

    Filed under: Muslim,Organisations
    7th July, 2010

    Sikh centre given an award by the Queen

    by Jai at 5:01 pm    

    The Queen has recently given the Sikh Nishkam Centre in Birmingham an award for its exemplary voluntary services to society.

    The group running the centre is headed by “Bhai Sahib” Mohinder Singh, whom I previously discussed in the “Music of Unity/Politics of Division” article here (pictured).

    3rd July, 2010

    Muslims And Music Lessons

    by guest at 10:15 am    

    This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs at Same Difference.

    I love music. I’ve grown up listening to music and playing songs on everything from a Walkman to an Ipod. Today I rarely sit in a car without the radio on. And in school, a few too many years ago, I sang along at assembly and loved the songs used. I even tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to play a couple of musical instruments.

    I’m also, usually, proud to be Muslim. What’s the connection, you may ask? Well, when I heard reports on BBC London News that hundreds of Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from primary school music lessons because their beliefs forbid them from learning an instrument, I was more than a little unpleasantly surprised.

    The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said music lessons were potentially unacceptable to about 10% of Muslims. This could equate to hundreds of Muslim children being withdrawn from the lessons, the MCB said. Eileen Ross, its head teacher, told BBC London: “Some of the parents don’t want children to play musical instruments and they don’t have music in their homes.

    “There’s been about 18 or 22 children withdrawn from certain sessions, out of music class, but at the moment I just have one child who is withdrawn continually from the music curriculum.”

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Culture,Muslim
    2nd July, 2010

    No turban searches at airports

    by Rumbold at 4:14 pm    

    Sikhs travelling through British airports will no longer have their turbans unravelled by airport staff if the metal detector goes off. It is not clear how many Sikhs were actually subject to this procedure, but the changes followed a campaign against the practice:

    A spokesperson for Birmingham International Airport said: ‘On Thursday the Department for Transport advised all UK airports to continue using the previous methods of screening religious headwear, which eliminates the need to carry out hand searches. We have reacted accordingly.’

    Sikhs who set off alarms at airport body scanners will now have their turban scanned by a hand held wand, and will only be subjected to searches by hand if metal is detected in the turban.

    This seems a sensible compromise to me, as it eliminates the need for turban removal unless there is metal contained within the turban, which there shouldn’t be.

    This ruling also drew comment from Sikhs in England, a Sikh organisation which suggested that Sikhs were being unfairly targeted (yet failed to provide any evidence of this), with the implication that security staff should focus on Muslims:

    Continue Reading...
    Filed under: Current affairs,Sikh
    16th June, 2010

    But will Muslim leaders condemn….?

    by Sunny at 11:07 am    

    Weren’t conservatives against this policy of multiculturalism and segregating Muslims into blocks led by community leaders? Oh right, except when Muslims are required to condemn other Muslims for something.
    Nile Gardiner at the Telegraph: British Muslim leaders must condemn Islamist anti-troop protests. Will white community leaders also condemn the BNP and EDL? No? Yes! Confused? That’s because most Telegraph writers are un-thinking ideologues.

    Gardiner goes on to say:

    There is a fundamental difference between legitimate, peaceful protest, and this kind of mob behaviour, that clearly threatens public safety.

    To offer a bit of context, it looks like Al-Muhajiroun aka Al-Ghuraaba aka Islam4UK - have now morphed into ‘Muslims Against the Crusade’. The Daily Mail reports that they had a predictable rally against British troops. The rally wasn’t violent really, but as I’ve said before - the right to protest must be protected. Anyway, I like how Gardiner tries to turn it into “mob behaviour” and call for it to be banned. Typical.

    14th June, 2010

    Oh no, the idiots are unhappy with a positive Muslim campaign

    by Sunny at 7:31 pm    

    The desperation of neo-con and the “decent left” never ceases to amaze me. A few weeks ago a group of Muslims got together to launch a campaign called ‘Inspired by Muhammed‘ that wanted to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims. It features Muslims saying they also believe in women’s rights, protecting the environment and social justice (among other things) and so does their religion.

    Of course, everyone has a different interpretation of their religion. I suppose someone like Anjem Choudhary might not care much for those ideals. Can’t see Abu Hamza caring much for the environment, nor Omar Bakri for women’s rights. But hey, isn’t it good that some Muslims do want to challenge those negative interpretations and say they also care for those ideals?

    Oh nooooo. We can’t have that can we?

    Continue Reading...
    31st May, 2010

    Rock and Roll Jihad

    by Jai at 12:51 pm    

    ”Follow the music and it will show you the way.”

    As discussed in my previous article ”The Music of Unity and the Politics of Division”, music can be a very powerful medium to overcome boundaries between different groups of people and convey the humanitarian message by the sheer emotional force of the music itself.

    In religious terms, this is also a concept integral to Sikhism, most mainstream South Asian versions of Sufi Islam, and many devotional versions of Hinduism. The famous 13th century Persian Sufi Rumi eloquently summarised it: “Follow the music and it will show you the way”.

    Continue Reading...
    28th May, 2010

    Why we need to stop using the word “Islamism”

    by guest at 3:06 pm    

    A guest post by Mohammed Amin, vice-chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum

    Words matter. A simple example is George W. Bush’s use of the “C word” shortly after 9/11, a word which he used only once and was careful never to repeat. To Britons and Americans raised on tales of Richard the Lionheart, a crusade is a noble activity.

    To Muslims the first crusade was a barbarous assault by European invaders culminating in the slaughter of all of the Muslims and Jews living in Jerusalem. Given the need for cooperation with Muslim majority countries, even George Bush realised that repeated use of the word “crusade” would not be helpful.

    Our politicians would do well to learn the same lesson in vocabulary selection that George W. Bush did. My proposition is a very simple one: British politicians need to excise the word “Islamism” and its variants such as “Islamist” from their vocabularies.

    Continue Reading...
    24th April, 2010

    South Park falls victim to censorship

    by Rumbold at 11:32 am    

    South Park has been censored again after attempting to mock some its favourite targets, including religious figures and Tom Cruise. The controversy came after they showed Muhammad in a bear suit, which led to two people posting a death threat on a well-known extremist Islamist website. Given the history of agent provocateurs on Muslim websites who stir up trouble, there was always the possibility that this was just an attempt to make Muslims look bad, but it seems that the posters were ‘genuine’ Muslims. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, pointed out the hypocrisy of some (including Comedy Central) when they noted that they had depicted Muhammad before, in an episode where the Islamic prophet teams up with other religious figures in order to defeat an out of control David Blaine, without stirring up much anger. Only after the publication of the Danish ‘Motoon’ cartoons did non-Muslim depictions of Muhammad become a lot more controversial.

    People have rightly focused on the threat to free speech that this represents, and the need to re-emphasize that religious beliefs are no more entitled to protection than any other point of view. Yet it also is another excuse to smear Muslims. Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, censored the episode after one death threat on one website. Understandable from their perspective, but it is the equivalent of censoring something because a drunkard in a pub was overheard threatening the show’s creators. I doubt that many Muslims like that Muhammad is being depicted, but neither are millions posting death threats and rioting. As Zahed Amanullah points out, the threats were made by two converts who apparently aren’t even welcome in most mosques.

    The right to mock and satirise has to be absolute; there cannot be compromise on this even if people are offended. No one has a right to have their views placed beyond satire, but nor should the reaction of less than a handful of fringe extremists be used to demonstrate that all Muslims are rabid killers who want to murder anyone who mocks them or their religion.

    Filed under: Culture,Muslim,Religion
    23rd April, 2010

    Turbans banned from some police operations

    by Sunny at 2:43 pm    

    Not the biggest news around, but here you go (via Sarah):

    Sikh police officers who wear turbans cannot join firearms teams, following a ruling from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
    Officers can choose instead to wear a smaller head covering known as a patka, which will fit under a helmet.

    The Acpo guidance follows consultations with the Home Office and a range of police associations representing Sikhs.

    Sounds sensible to me frankly, can anyone see the problem with this?

    Filed under: Organisations,Sikh
    21st April, 2010

    British Muslims and the ballot box

    by guest at 5:34 pm    

    contribution by Anwar Akhtar

    Personally, my instinct is anybody claiming to be a community leader should automatically be disqualified from being so, but that can unfairly denigrate the valuable work of some committed individuals who deserve such a title.

    However, I have an issue with decrees on how Muslims should vote coming from organisations such as MPAC, an outfit that frequently labels those not sharing its myopic worldview as ‘Zionist scum’ or ‘coconut sell-outs’.

    Meanwhile Roshan Muhammed Salih, the London head of news for Iran’s state-funded Press TV, issued instructions that all Muslims should vote solely on foreign policy grounds - specifically Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    According to Salih, “every single election issue, including the economy, education and health, pales in comparison” to the Iraq war.

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    19th April, 2010

    Demos report: The Edge of Violence

    by Rumbold at 8:14 am    

    I have been reading Demos’ recently published report, The Edge of Violence: a radical approach to extremism. The report focused on radicalism and terrorism in Muslim communities in Europe and Canada, and examined the relationship and difference between non-violent radicals and radicals who are terrorists. The reports shows the difference between non-violent radicals (who, for example, might call for a Caliphate but don’t advocate a violent revolution) and radicals who become terrorists or support terrorism in the West. With these findings, the report’s authors make some recommendations on how Al-Qaeda inspired/linked terrorism can be combated the West, and how British Muslims can be turned from this path; this is what I am going to focus on.

    The report found that non-violent radicals (henceforth radicals) often have a greater understanding of Islamic jurisprudence to support their views, while terrorists tended to quote and misquote selectively from a few sources, including the Qur’an. The authors recommend a greater focus on open debate about Islamic theological issues, as has been tried in countries like Saudi Arabia. This would take place not just in the media but at a local level, in town halls, mosques and in similar venues. This seems like a good idea, as we rarely see experts in Islamic theology on our screens or in our newspapers, with the media preferring to give space to extremist voices who then become representative of Islam in the eyes of some on the public. We on Pickled Politics have found that this has worked with the likes of the BNP, who like to avoid detailed challenges to their policies and ideologies, instead preferring to focus on broad, simplistic slogans.

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    Filed under: Muslim,Terrorism
    16th April, 2010

    Times to be reported to PCC over shoe-throwing story

    by guest at 11:30 am    

    contribution by Ben White

    I recently wrote of the front-page story appeared in The Sunday Times, reporting that apparently the Metropolitan Police had “bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest”.

    To elaborate further, the Times article omits to mention in its article that the CPS could not, “… be certain on viewing the CCTV footage whether the item thrown was a shoe or not.”

    The CPS prosecutor refers to the shoe-throwing purely in the context of the act being “a political statement”. Nothing about ‘Muslims’ or ‘Islamic sensitivities’.

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