Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Turkey Promotes Religious Schools, Often Defying Parents

And David Cameron wants this Islamising Turkey to join the EU...

Is Hong Kong heading for irrelevance within the country?

Headed for irrelevance within country?        Courtesy SCMP
From the South China Morning Post yesterday.  Alex Lo is usually pretty astute. I hope he's wrong about this assessment... that Hong Kong will become just like any other Chinese city.
The article is behind a paywall, so copy it below:

Alex Lo 
Beijing has announced that the people of Hong Kong need to be re-educated, oops sorry, I meant "re-enlightened". At the same time, our naughty students are calling on us to mess up basic government functions by delaying payment of public housing rents and taxes.

The way things are going, Hong Kong will either become an orphan or a ward of the state. Neither outcome bodes well for our future.
A senior member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Zhang Rongshun , said over the weekend Hong Kong and Macau need "re-enlightenment" on "one country, two systems", national identity and national security after the disaster of the Occupy movement.
Visions of re-education camps pass before my eyes. Maybe we should have taken national education in our classrooms.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Federation of Students have started their Occupy follow-up: citizen non-cooperation with the government.
Call it passive-aggressive resistance. The post-handover government has already proved inadequate in formulating long-term policies that Hong Kong desperately needs in education, health care, welfare and economic competition.
If our young activists succeed, even basic government functions like tax collection will be challenged.
Where does this all lead? In fighting an imposed "fake" democracy, we will end up with no democracy at all.
We face the prospect of being permanently stuck in the 2012 regressive election system, with a government, no matter who heads it, being considered illegitimate, dysfunctional and unpopular by many people. That is if Beijing allows existing civil liberties to continue. Hong Kong may keep its freedom but become a basket case. Having concluded we are hopeless, it will just let major mainland cities eclipse and replace us.
Alternatively, Beijing will just say, "Enough is enough. Screw one country two systems." A cadre will become the new governor while the chief executive, democratically nominated or not, will become a ceremonial post.
But what about Western-style democracy? The idealists among us can dream on.

Betting on the Need, Scientists Work on Lighter, Cleaner Nuclear Energy - NYTimes.com

Interesting article in the International New York Times (née , International Herald Tribune), on new developments in the nuclear industry.

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More women in Chinese tech companies than in any other country.

 Eg, Alibaba.
Others in Financial Times, 12 December (paywall)

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sydney Hostage Taker: “Islam is the Religion of Peace”

I wondered a few posts ago, how long it would take for people to say that "this has nothing to do with Islam".
It wasn't long.
And now the narrative, by BBC, Australia TV, and the rest, is set: it was a nutter.  A lone wolf. Nothing to do with Islam.
Oh really?
Look at this.
"Sheik" Man Haron Monis makes his agenda abundantly clear.  We are infidels, Australia is a land of infidels and we shall fall to the might of Islam.
He made the hostages hold up a banner with the Arabic of "There is no god but Allah; and Muhammad is his messenger".
Now that's written off -- by the likes of our PM, Tony Abbot -- as simply being his attempt to "cloak" his madness in Islam.
Well, he had his moment in the sun (as it were).  And he decided on one, and only one, sign. That was  a sign of Islamic supremacism.
I wonder, if the hostage-taker had been Aboriginal and held up a sign calling for "Aboriginal land rights", if we would say that that person was simply using that as a "cloak".

American Foreign Policy Council: Is the Islamic State Islamic?

The conclusion, with which I agree...
I think that so long as the main theology of Islam, which is Ash'arism, posits a God of pure will and power, it will not be able to get out of the grip of violence and the religious justification for it. So long as it can't, one has to say that Islamism is a true interpretation of Islam insofar as Islam is not able to resist it. And I don't mean resist by force of arms, but theologically. Islam currently does not have sufficient antibodies, and Western medicine has nothing to offer—because the problem is fundamentally religious.
The State Department's new Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, Rick Stengel, said in a recent speech that
There is no battle of ideas with ISIL. ISIL is bereft of ideas, they're bankrupt of ideas. It's not an organization that is animated by ideas. It's a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.
This is hugely mistaken. It's giving up while sounding tough. Once again, Islam gets a free pass. It is not enough for the West to call these people barbarians. Recall that Adolph Hitler exclaimed, "We are barbarians. We want to be barbarians. It is an honorable title." Calling him a barbarian was useless. In the Nazi case, it was the ideology that made barbarism honorable that had to be attacked in a war of ideas.
With ISIS, we must object not only to their barbaric acts but to the Quranic principles that inspire and justify them.It is time to stop the whitewashing and call them out on it. Doing so would be the single most effective thing we could do to help reformers in the Muslim world—and to help ourselves, as well. Otherwise, our exculpatory reflex will keep us in denial and enable the very forces in Islam that are against reform.
Read the rest of this thoughtful and well informed article here

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Sydney Siege: Islam will have nothing to do with it....

.... not if we, the mainstream media, politicians and pundits have anything to do with it.
PM Tony Abbott said it was "politically motivated". Then the police and various academic pundits have said we have "no idea" of his motivations.
The banner held up, in Arabic, was translated this morning: it says "there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger". But none's touching that! Career- wrecking stuff, that would be.
By this evening, the BBC is saying simply that there was a banner "with Arabic writing" on it. Nothing about what it said.
Let me go out on a limb here: the guy is motivated by the Koran. The Koran repeatedly urges Muslims to attack we infidels.
I'm guessing, supported by that banner, that that's pretty strong motivation for a pious muslim.
But no one dare say that.

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Two Muslims lock down Sydney

I'm watching a hostage situation in Sydney, live on Bloomberg and BBC.
The two muslims have taken over the Cafe Lindt in Martin Place with up to 40 people held hostage inside.
The Sydney Harbour bridge has been closed down and the Opera House evacuated. George at closed and a couple of subway stations as well.
The jihadis have put up an Islamic banner with the shahada: " there is no God but Allah".
I'm waiting for the first one to say "this has nothing to do with Islam".
Maybe it'll be out PM, Tony Abbott who's due to speak shortly.

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Saudi Arabia calls atheists "terrorists"

Ricky has rather the opposite take...
Yes, that's right, atheists are "terrorists" according to this joke of a country.

Of course! I remember all those atheists, rampaging across the countryside, beheading believers, kidnapping schoolgirls, making them remove their veils and renounce God.  I recall atheist terrorists killing over 5,000 people a month.... Atheists hounding and killing Christians, Jews and Muslims; atheists hanging gay people, and subjugating women.  All to the shouts of "God is Not Great!"

Who could forget this?

This would be funny, if it weren't so obscene. Saudi Arabia, surely one of the most horrible countries in the world, and consistently connected with the financing of extremist Wahhabi ideology in schools and mosques throughout the world, now says that the problem is "Atheist Terrorists".

How very dare they!

(I just heard this on BBC World Service Radio.  There's a story here, in the The Independent).

See also Pat Condell on Saudi Arabia, here.

Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks

Goodness me, this is surprising:
The BBC co-sponsoring a study, with King's College London, into the number of murderous Jihad attacks in the month of November.  My, soon they'll be promoting JihadWatch, which has been doing this for years, and usually excoriated and demonised for its troubles....
Jihadist attacks killed more than 5,000 people in just one month, an investigation by the BBC and King's College London has found. 
Civilians bore the brunt of the violence, with more than 2,000 killed in reported jihadist incidents during November. Islamic State carried out the most attacks, adding to the spiralling death toll in Iraq and Syria....
The data gathered by the BBC found that 5,042 people were killed in 664 jihadist attacks across 14 countries - a daily average of 168 deaths, or seven every hour.
About 80% of the deaths came in just four countries - Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan, according to the study of media and civil society reports.
Iraq was the most dangerous place to be, with 1,770 deaths in 233 attacks, ranging from shootings to suicide bombings.
In Nigeria, 786 people, almost all of them civilians, were killed in 27 Boko Haram incidents. These tended to be large and indiscriminate bombings and shootings such as the attack on the central mosque in the northern city of Kano, which left 120 dead.
Leader of the study, Prof Peter Neumann, was just on BBC World Service Radio.  He said something along the lines that "we were all naive to believe that after the death of Osama bin Laden, and the Arab Spring that these problems would go away".
But "we" weren't all naive about that.  We didn't all believe that the "Arab Spring" would bring the blush of democracy. There were plenty sceptical at the outset, including the aforementioned JihadWatch, but all they got for their far more insightful analysis was labelling as hateful "Islamophobes".  Of course JihadWatch and others were right.  
So, if you want to know more about what's happening in the Islamic world, specifically from the jihadist angle, you should be reading Robert Spencer's JihadWatch. (with links to other sites rather more insightful than the good Prof Neumann has shown himself to be).
Interestingly the BBC/King's College study has even more people killed in November than recorded in The Religion of Peace which recorded "only" 2,515 people killed in that month (screenshot left). Like JihadWatch, the TROP blog has been following Jihadi attacks since 2004.  For its efforts, it's been routinely labelled "far-right", and "Islamophobic".  Now that the BBC and King's College have noticed, perhaps there will be a bit more common sense on the issue: the connection of Jihad, Jihad murders, and Islam. (Though don't hold your breath...).

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Karen, Bill and Sam show: Islam in the frame

One of the (many) things I don't get: why Karen Armstrong should be revered as a non-Muslim commentator on Islam.  She has been showered with honours for her work in the field, which is more, to my mind, Islamopology than genuine analysis.
I have read her books.  She clearly misrepresents Islam (in the positive), and is often outright duplicitous (I can't imagine that she doesn't know whereof she speaks; but rather that she lies about its uncomfortable tenets: that is, rather knave than fool).
I have written about her before: 28 July 2013, 22 May 2012, 24 Feb 2012, 30 Jan 2012 and 25 Jan 2012.
Lately, she has a bee in her bonnet about two of the too-few lefties who speak out about the supremacist tenets of Islam: Sam Harris and Bill Maher.
Criticism of Islam is, she says, the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps.
Bill Maher says this is "beyond stupid":
“It doesn’t sting because it’s beyond stupid. Jews weren’t oppressing anybody. There weren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay. It’s idiotic.”
The late, great Christopher Hitchens (one of those too-few lefties who face squarely this issues of Islam), skewered the Armstrongian view that criticism of Islam is the same as the holocaust:
Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.
Robert Spencer has a spirited and reasoned take-down of Armstrong's "beyond stupid" statement here.

There is no fun in Islam....

... I didn't say that.  Goodness me, I'm not an "islamophobe"....

No, not me.  It was the still-revered Ayatollah Khomeini who said it:
Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humour in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. Islam does not allow swimming in the sea and is opposed to radio and television serials. Islam, however, allows marksmanship, horseback riding and competition ...[94] 
  1.  [94]: Meeting in Qom "Broadcast by radio Iran from Qom on 20 August 1979." quoted in Taheri, The Spirit of Allah (1985) p.259).  [ref]
Just to drive the point home that 35 years later this still holds, we have the following, from Malaysia, often cited as an example of a "moderate" Islamic country:
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 ― Islam allegedly forbids Muslims from playing musical instruments like guitar, piano or trumpets as they go against the hadiths, a religious scholar said today.
In his paper on Islam and entertainment presented at a national forum here, Abdul Raof Nurin said the Shafie stream of Islam only allows Muslims to listen to music that touches on love for the religion, and urged those who want to play musical instruments to preferably stick to the gong or kompang. [ref]
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Monday, 8 December 2014

Thomas Friedman: Islamic State is driving Muslims from Islam - Times Union

Two interesting points here, in Thomas Friedman's article (linked below).
One, that there's an increasing number of Arab Muslims calling for an end to Sharia, for an effective separation of mosque and state. In short, for secular government. That, I did not know.
Second, the amazing YouTube clip from a former Muslim addressed to president Obama, making clear that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and their viciously brutal brethren, are indeed inspired by the Koran and their prophet Muhammad...
/snip:
Another voice getting attention is Brother Rachid, a Moroccan who created his own YouTube network to deliver his message of tolerance and to expose examples of intolerance within his former Muslim faith community. (He told me he's converted to Christianity, preferring its "God of love.")
In this recent segment, youtube.com/watch?v=QxzOVSMUrGM, which has been viewed 500,000 times, Brother Rachid addressed President Barack Obama:
"I ask you, Mr. President, to stop being politically correct — to call things by their names. ISIL, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, al-Shabab in Somalia, the Taliban, and their sister brand names, are all made in Islam. Unless the Muslim world deals with Islam and separates religion from state, we will never end this cycle. ... If Islam is not the problem, then why is it there are millions of Christians in the Middle East and yet none of them has ever blown up himself to become a martyr, even though they live under the same economic and political circumstances and even worse? Mr. President, if you really want to fight terrorism, then fight it at the roots. How many Saudi sheiks are preaching hatred? How many Islamic channels are indoctrinating people and teaching them violence from the Quran and the hadith? ... How many Islamic schools are producing generations of teachers and students who believe in jihad and martyrdom and fighting the infidels?"
http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Thomas-Friedman-Islamic-State-is-driving-Muslims-5940116.php

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

India court: Sharia trumps ban on child marriage

Islamic apologists in the West routinely deny that Muhammad married a child or that Islamic law sanctions child marriage. Stories like these show that they're lying. In reality, few things are more abundantly attested in Islamic law than the permissibility of child marriage. Islamic tradition records that Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, was six when Muhammad wedded her and nine when he consummated the marriage:
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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Low profit and weak standards hamper Islamic banks, say experts - Your Middle East

The reason for that low profit would be the inefficiency inevitably a result of having to structure deals to comply with Sharia. That makes them more cumbersome, convoluted and crappy.
That's the nature of islamic finance. It's hypocritical because it has to try to be profitable (as all businesses do), but it can't do by the simple method of putting a cost on money (aka interest), because that would be "usury". So islamic finance structures deals that involve a sale and buy-back of assets generating the same return as the current rate of interest, but with much more paperwork and cost. In short, costly hypocrisy.
Actually, Muhammad didn't quite say that all interest was usury. But that's how it's chosen to be seen in today's resurgence of Islam. The promoters of islamic finance want to distance themselves from anything western, as they do with all other spheres of western life.
Hence this conundrum.
Go Sharia.
Go inefficiency and cost.
But, they made their bed...
http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/business/low-profit-and-weak-standards-hamper-islamic-banks-say-experts_28355
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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Brand Unawareness | National Review Online

"Russell Brand is — let's get this out of the way up front — a dope, a witless Hollywood poseur who having made himself a splendid fortune and having been cured of his various addictions now seeks new avenues of satisfaction."
Quite....
(I've also seen Brand described as a "priapic berk". That'll do too. Since I saw his tussle with Jeremy Paxman, I've thought him a total dope. But dangerous, for the wide, dim-witted following he has).
[via David Thompson's blog]
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/393525/brand-unawareness-kevin-d-williamson

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Monday, 1 December 2014

Feminists ignore the real root of misogyny

Rita Panahi, on the wonderful, the brave, the true, the truth-teller, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
We can’t have a fiercely intelligent woman talking about worthy issues when there’s trivial nonsense to be bleating about; why worry about female genital mutilation when Tony Abbott is brazenly winking and looking at his watch?
Hirsi Ali’s principled and uncompromising approach to equality and human rights is at odds with the vacuous attention seeking ways of the shrill feminists who dominate the agenda in Australia, UK and the US, though it could be argued that our local frightbats have set a new standard in faux fury.
It’s not just Hirsi Ali’s preoccupation with justice that infuriates the sisterhood but it’s her determination to highlight what she sees as the root cause of much of the world’s entrenched misogyny — Islam.
Many on the left simply cannot abide by the only religion they don’t find abhorrent being scrutinised; time and again leftist feminist have sided with radical Islam instead of standing with the subjugated women from communities who adhere to backward cultural practices.
Who can forget the idiocy of Australian women donning hijabs in solidarity with their Muslim sisters at a time when women in Iran were being blinded in acid attacks for breaking the strict hijab code?
Then there’s Germaine Greer who has likened FGM or female circumcision, carried out on millions of women every year, to getting a boob job or piercing. It takes a truly twisted mind to compare a young girl being held down while her clitoris and labia are excised without anaesthesia to a woman choosing to change her appearance through cosmetic surgery, piercings or tattoos.
For educated, Western women to liken the agonising pain and lifelong devastating effects of FGM to plastic surgery is not only offensive, it is depraved. But this cultural relativism is popular among some feminists, who see condemnation of FGM as an attack on cultural identity.
The rest... 

Peace With Islam in Our Time

The Western idea of peace is a wholly alien one to Islam. In Islam, peace does not come from men transcending their differences, but from destroying men who think and live differently. That is the function of the religious police of our allied “moderate Muslim” countries who seek out the practice of other religions and other ways of living in places like Saudi Arabia and suppress their practitioners.
Tough, but true.  Read the Koran, or the Trinity of Islam, to see that what Greenfield alleges is the true face of Islam.

Islam, Christianity share some beliefs, traditions...

Yes, but...
  • Both traditions believe in Jesus, but what they believe about Jesus divides them sharply....
  • On the issue of who Jesus actually was, Christians and Muslim are polar opposites....
  • “The concept of the Trinity is blasphemous to Muslims and Jews,” said Imam John Ederer of the Islamic Society of Tulsa....
  • “If you take an honest look at the Quran vs. the God that Jesus Christ revealed, you have two very different pictures of God...”
Just to take some points of difference.