Posts filed under 'The World'

The tide against Al-Qaeda gets stronger

by Sunny, on 10th December, 2005

Though the rudeboys in suits and self-important clowns continue to scream hysterically about Zionist conspiracies, Muslims around the world are no longer keeping quiet about their anger against religious militancy.

The bombings in Amman, Jordan, which sparked the huge anti-Zarqawi backlash and support for the USA, has inspired plenty of Jordanians to start blogging and get themselves heard, Black Iris reports.

More bombs in Bangladesh (Rewzan has good analysis) prompted leading Muslim clerics in BD to protest and denounce them. “Islam prohibits suicide bombings. These bombers are enemies of Islam,” the chief cleric, Obaidul Haq, told worshippers. Zulfikar Ali is hoping they won’t become the next Afghanistan, Salam Dhaka reckons the ruling BNP may face a rebellion.

In Indonesia, volunteers from the largest Islamic organisation will guard churches across the country on Christmas amid fears of terrorist attacks on those places.

Here, the biggest legitimate apologists for Al-Qaeda are holding a rally today to demonstrate against the government’s upcoming laws on inciting terrorism. Even most politically active Muslims ignore them on the issue, and when HuT get invited on TV to discuss it, they hide. Not surprising that the MAB is sharing a platform with these extremists.

Lastly, it looks like the rudeboys from MPAC are getting defensive over their Zionist conspiracy bollocks too.

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Do you hate Islam?

by Al-Hack, on 8th December, 2005

This is the question the very, very funny Saudi Arabian blogger The Religious Policeman answers on his updated FAQ.

He answers thus:
No, but I detest the people who have hijacked the religion for their own perverted ends, be they Wahabbi fundamentalists or Al Qaeeda terrorists. They don’t represent the vast majority, but are bringing shame on all Muslims. In response to this, Muslims react in one of four ways:

(i) To ignore the problem, to perform their own devotions, but otherwise keep their heads down.

(ii) To deny that there is a problem, or when the problem is obvious, to deny that Muslims are involved, or when it’s obvious that Muslims are involved, to deny that Islam is anything to do with it, or when it’s obvious that Islam is a factor, to say that it’s a “special case”, etc. etc.

(iii) To become apologists. “You need to understand our history / our culture / our being victims of colonization /our persecution etc. etc.”

(iv) To criticize. Again, this makes (i) to (iii) feel very uncomfortable. So internal critics get labelled as “apostates”, “Islamophobes”, “bad Muslims”, “traitors” etc. However, history tells us again and again that (i) to (iii) don’t bring about change; it either comes from internal criticism, or it is forced from outside. And I don’t want to see Islam “reformed” by some neo-conservative Christian fundamentalist “Holy War”.

Technorati tags: Muslims, Islam

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Doctors deny treatment on religious grounds

by Al-Hack, on 6th December, 2005

Two fertility doctors refused to treat a lesbian patient because it would have violated their religious beliefs. First, the court ruled they had violated the law, but an appeal court later overturned that ruling, saying they were perfectly within their rights to do. It is now likely to go to the Supreme court.

But the case was in America and and the ruling, coming over the weekend, was closely watched in the country for the implication it may have for the medical profession and lesbians and gay rights. Sooner or later this is an issue that will come to the UK. How would we respond here?

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Darling, a cross is just so passé, I want a crystal!

by Rohin, on 5th December, 2005

Representatives from all 192 countries that signed the Geneva Conventions are discussing the merits of a new, third emblem for the Red Cross.

I am a big fan of the Red Cross. Me dad worked for them for several years, in both Bangladesh and Indonesia, both Muslim countries. I was about 10 years old when I first heard that he was working for the ‘ICRC‘ and got rather confused. Then I heard about the ‘IFRCRCS‘ and was completely flummoxed. I soon learnt what an intensely complex setup the Red Cross and its various subsidiary/contributory bodies have. However the main thing that struck me was when I saw pictures of my dad’s team in Jakarta, it was all crescent moons. Where were the crosses?

Update: The crys-taaaal has been adopted.

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Thoughts on kidnappings in Iraq and Al-Jazeera

by Sunny, on 1st December, 2005

I wanted to say about the recent kidnappings in Iraq which tie together a few stories in the media. As I can’t be asked with a proper article, here they are in point form.

1) The government (FO I think) initially asked the media not to refer to the kidnapped as members of Christian Peacemaker Teams because it might make things worse. Word got out eventually anyway. The four Britons and Canadians are: Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

Simon Barrow has more on CPT, an organisation that not only opposed the war from the start, but has also tried to mediate in other dangerous flashpoints such as the Israel-Palestine border. But, as he says,

The difficulty is that militants are often unable to distinguish Christians who oppose violence and injustice from those they characterise as ‘crusaders’ and ‘occupiers’.
I view them more as glory-hunting murders so I doubt they care about the impact to their image or support for the war. I hope the four get back safely. Incidentally, the Stop The War crew have condemned the kidnappings, like it would make any difference.

2) Al-Jazeera broadcast a video from the kidnappers, once again helpfully giving the kidnappers that oxygen of publicity and letting them parade around like sado-masochists.

I’ve argued against Al-Jazeera being bombed by Bush, even happy to publish the memo, and they plead the same on their blog, but I am of the opinion that broadcasting these videos only makes things worse. Why can’t they exercise more restraint? Don’t expect any ‘I believe in Al-Jazeera’ badges on here.

3) More killings of innocent Iraqis by these terrorists yesterday. Anyone still see them as ‘liberators’ for the Iraqis?

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White Phosphorus, ‘trophy videos’ and ending this foolish war

by Sunny, on 28th November, 2005

Every day in Iraq new probems emerge, more people get blown up and kidnapped, the military gets caught using White Phosphorus, making ‘trophy’ videos and all sorts of other actions, and al-Qaeda becomes bloodier.

Meanwhile the anti-war and pro-war left keeps arguing over silly issues like definitions and agendas without looking at the bigger picture. Do we stay in Iraq or not? Is it still worth it? Is the government upholding the values it is promotes? And shouldn’t we (the left) be taking them to task if they are not?

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A weekly round-up of blog chatter

by Sunny, on 27th November, 2005

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.

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Publish the Al-Jazeera memo and be damned

by Sunny, on 25th November, 2005

It must be said that subsequent events have not made life easy for those of us who were so optimistic as to support the war in Iraq. There were those who believed the Government’s rubbish about Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then the WMD made their historic no-show.

Some of us were so innocent as to suppose that the Pentagon had a well-thought-out plan for the removal of the dictator and the introduction of peace. Then we had the insurgency, in which tens of thousands have died.

Some of us thought it was about ensuring that chemical weapons could never again be used on Iraqi soil. Then we heard about the white phosphorus deployed by the Pentagon. Some people believed that the American liberation would mean the end of torture in Iraqi jails. Then we had Abu Ghraib.

Some of us thought it was all about the dissemination of the institutions of a civil society - above all a free press, in which journalists could work without fear of being murdered. Then we heard about the Bush plan to blow up al-Jazeera.

Some of us feel that we have an abusive relationship with this war. Every time we get our hopes up, we get punched by some piece of bad news. We yearn to be told that we’re wrong, that things are going to get better, that the glass is half full.

That’s why I would love to think that Dubya was just having one of his little frat-house wisecracks, when he talked of destroying the Qatar-based satellite TV station. Maybe he was only horsing around. Maybe it was a flippant one-liner, of the kind that he delivers before making one of his dramatic exits into the broom-closet…

Boris Johnson MP is not happy that the Attorney General is stopping the media print the infamous memo.

Meanwhile, Nosemonkey reckons that the whole episode looks too rosy for Blair and is not convinced. Tim Ireland and others say they’d also be happy to print the memo and risk jail if anyone gets hold of a copy.
Update: To clarify, I would also be happy to publish the memo here, providing it has something interesting in it. Though I’m more worried about my family beating me for going to jail over that than actually going to jail :|

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Coming to terms with AIDS in South Asia

by Rohin, on 23rd November, 2005

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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Hearing only what you want to hear

by Sunny, on 22nd November, 2005

The Daily Mirror today had the exclusive that George Bush planned to bomb Al-Jazeera but Blair talked him out of it.

A source said: “There’s no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn’t want him to do it.” Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation. A source said last night: “The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush. “He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

If this comes as a surprise to you… then stop being so naive. After all, this is the same administration that bombed Al-Jazeera’s offices twice ‘accidentally’ (in Afghanistan and Iraq) despite knowing the exact coordinates, and even tried to take down its website.

Update 1: A civil servant has been charged for leaking the memo to the Mirror.

Update 2: The govt has legally banned newspapers to reveal more.

Meanwhile, The Sun has apologised for falsely accusing a Moroccan-born British citizen for being a fanatical terrorist. Don’t go overboard lads - if they had to apologise for everytime they falsely accused someone of being a fanatic, we’d be here all day.

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The Guardian (and me) on British Muslims after 7/7

by Sunny, on 21st November, 2005

The Guardian today publishes its annual report on what British Muslims are thinking about and how they see themselves. It was first published last year and given the events in July, they saw it fit to carry on.

This is how it works: they gather about 60-80 Muslims in a room, send them off to discuss various issues, then report back on the consensus. A discussion ensues with (this year) Tariq Ramadan and govt. minister Paul Goggins there to address the issues. I know this because I was present at the event last week and the only non-Muslim to take part.

There is a lot to say about the event and how it reflects (or not) what young British Muslims are thinking. I have to be honest though, the extent of denial over 7/7 took mine, and Tariq Ramadan’s breath away…

[Update: Guardian Newsblog has a discussion on this (with a PP plug), while David T has focused more on the alcohol issue.]

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Film on Islam’s attitude to homosexuality

by Sunny, on 18th November, 2005

The Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali is planning to make a film on Islam’s attitude to homosexuality, BBC reports. Considering ‘Submission I’ got Theo Van Gogh killed, people will be watching this one closely.

“I examine the position of homosexuals in Islam in the film Submission II,” she told the De Volkskrant newspaper. “In the movie, they are called Allah’s creatures,” she added. The MP is an outspoken critic of Islamic values and describes herself as a “lapsed” Muslim.
I wonder if Qaradawi will have a starring role.

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Paris riots: ‘justifiable’ means to an end?

by Sunny, on 14th November, 2005

Gary Younge wrote a piece in yesterday’s Observer arguing that the riots in France may have been justified in order to force change through French society. He makes a powerful case, using the situation of African-Caribbeans in America.

Those who wondered what French youth had to gain by taking to the streets should ask what they had to lose. Unemployed, socially excluded, harassed by the police and condemned to poor housing, they live on estates that are essentially open prisons.
He also points out that the riots have had the desired effect in waking up Chirac from his slumber.
“We need to respond strongly and quickly to the undeniable problems facing many inhabitants of the deprived neighbourhoods,” said President Chirac. From the man who once said that immigrants had breached the “threshold of tolerance” and were sending French workers “mad” with their “noise and smell” this was progress indeed.
After the 1967 riots in American cities, President Johnson set up the Kerner commission. It concluded: “What white Americans have never fully understood - but what the Negro can never forget - is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” How else was such a damning indictment of racial discrimination in the US ever going to land on the president’s desk?
There is some truth in that, though I said earlier I did not support the violence. Younge acknowledges the criminal element, but says the end may justify the means in this case.

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How Islam got political

by Sunny, on 10th November, 2005

Aminul Hoque, a 28-year old journalist and PhD student, says that although support for violence is low, alienation has grown steadily in his Muslim neighbourhood in London’s East End. “This resentment, this level of anger aimed towards anybody who is a non-Muslim has been there for a long time.”

A bit of a ‘things-to-watch’ roundup today - plenty of food for thought.

1) Frank Gardner presents Koran and Country: How Islam got Political on BBC Radio Four, tonight at 8pm. Journalist Ehsan Masood, campaigner Asghar Bukhari, Cosh Omar, a former member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and Omar Faruk, a member of the Islamic Society of Britain. They describe how events like the war in Bosnia, The Satanic Verses affair and the Israel/Palestine situation have politicised British born Muslims.

The article illustrates how religious leaders use controversies to gain power. I’m sure we’ve seen recent examples from the Sikh and Hindu communities.

2) If you’re horrified by Radio 4 giving a platform to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, don’t worry. Ziauddin Sardar, who we love here on Pickled Politics, has written an article for New Statesman on the violence behind the facade. Via Mr T.

3) On a lighter note Morgan Spurlock, of Supersize Me fame, is presenting an edition of 30 Days tonight at 8pm on More 4.

Dave Stacey, a 33-year-old insurance salesman who loves pork will go and live with a Muslim family for 30 days. When asked what he pictures when he hears the word ‘Muslim’ he says: “I picture men with an AK47, and women with a sheet over their heads”.
Call it Religion-Swap if you will. I’m sure there’s a whole series in there just on that topic.

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Freedom for Tibet

by Sunny, on 8th November, 2005

The Chinese President Hu Jintao received a loud reception today from pro-democracy supporters and people calling for the independence of Tibet. Though it is unlikely that Tony Blair or the Queen will raise either of those topics when they meet him.

While the USA and Britain keep pointing fingers at Iran and the Middle East for human-rights abuses (quite rightly), we must ask why they don’t do the same for China. Is the repression of the Tibetan people or their constant threats against Taiwanese independence not important enough?

Rohin wrote about this previously, asking:

Both Falun Gong and the Free Tibet movement are, unsurprisingly, banned in China. But why the hell do we have to pander to their dictatorial oppression of free speech by doing their bidding and stifling legitimate protestors?

Heck, it’s not just old eager-to-please Tony; German officials prevented any Tibetan flags being unfurled at a recent Germany-China football match. Why? Because the Chinese asked.

The BBC at least has good coverage of the protests greeting the President.

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Muslims march against Al-Qaeda

by Al-Hack, on 7th November, 2005

Yeah, you read that right baby. Today’s Lebanese Star reports that it was in response to Al-Qaeda’s actions in Iraq.

Thousands marched through Morocco’s biggest city on Sunday to protest Al-Qaeda’s decision to kill two Moroccan hostages in Iraq. Holding banners and chanting “Muslims are brothers. A Muslim does not kill his brother” and “‘Yes’ to freedom, ‘No’ to terrorism and barbarity,” the protesters marched through Casablanca, a city of six million and Morocco’s financial capital.
Will Fox News report that I wonder? Any Americans killed? No. So probably not then.
Morocco’s influential organization of Islamic scholars, known as the High Council of the Ulema and the Councils of Ulema in the Moroccan Kingdom, said Al-Qaeda members in Iraq will suffer the “horrors of hell” if they kill the Moroccan hostages and the victims will die as martyrs. It dismissed Al-Qaeda’s argument that its verdict to kill the two embassy employees was “God’s judgment.”
Organizers and local government officials said more than 150,000 people took part in the peaceful march while reporters said the anti-Al-Qaeda protesters numbered more than 10,000.

Moroccan media, trade unions, human rights activists and state officials have issued appeals to save the two men’s lives and a mass demonstration is planned in Casablanca on Sunday.

They dismissed Al-Qaeda’s piss-poor excuse! I bet that riled up Ol’ Bin Laden.

Al-Jazeera also covered the rally. The Gateway Pundit has more. Via The English Guy.

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Why I don’t support the riots in Paris

by Sunny, on 7th November, 2005

There is a lot of sympathy in Britain, particularly within minority-ethnic communities, for the Paris riots. We have endlessly debated on the inequalities in France and how minorities should “integrate”, and what this means for a government policy on multi-culturalism. It goes on and on.

The problem is that, as my debate on BBC Asian Network showed this morning, it is difficult to find a middle-ground in a heated debate when people take such strong stances. If you heard it then my apologies. It was all over the bloody place and I did not get a chance to say what I wanted. But my point is this.

I fundamentally disagree with the riots, possibly against the opinions of most of my peers, on many levels. On the most basic level it is a very lazy form of political activism, and one that takes you backward not forward.
Updated with analysis closer from home

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Paris riots spread across France - who is to blame?

by Sunny, on 6th November, 2005

The riots in Paris have continued into their tenth night, and have spread to other cities in France. The country is teethering on the edge of anarchy.

In addition to setting schools, nurseries and cars on fire, some criminals did the same to a disabled woman. Organised criminal gangs are likely to be behind the riots.

But this could be a watershed for France and how it deals with its minority-ethnic citizens. I’ll be on radio tomorrow morning talking about this.

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Ashamed and disgusted

by Edward, on 5th November, 2005

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.

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The problem with being in fashion

by Kulvinder, on 4th November, 2005

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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