Sunday, 30 January 2011

“Good news from the Middle East (really)”


It’s not often I read an article on Arab-Israel issues and find myself nodding in agreement through it all.  Most anything by Dershowitz, Christopher Hitchens or Jeffrey Goldberg, and some others.  As for regular op-ed columnists like Cohen, Friedman, Kristof, I read them, but nodding in agreement... fuggedaboutit
Good news from the Middle East (really)is one such by Goldberg and Hussein Ibish (who I’ll call “Gold-bish”). 
Many argue that the peace process is moribund or on “life support”.  Gold-bish challenge this judgment.

Hazhir Teimourian - Middle East Analyst and Commentator

I just came across Hazhir Teimourian, commentator on Middle East and Islamic issues.  I like his stuff. From his website:

Hazhir Teimourian is one of the best-known commentators on the Middle East. He gives hundreds of radio and television interviews each year to major Western broadcasters, from ABC in Australia to NBC and CBS in the United States.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Egyptian futures: Tiananmen or Gaza?

What's the future for Tunisia? For Egypt?  For Arab states in the Middle East?
Last night on the BBC World Service a couple of commentators talked of their "excitement" at the developments in Tunisia and Egypt, and hopes for democratic transformations throughout the Middle Easet.  Neither they nor the interviewer mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood.  Rather like discussing, say, the Chinese revolution without mentioning the Communists.

Friday, 28 January 2011

"Don't panda to China", response to letter in 22 January Spectator

Letter to the Spectator, in response to a letter implicitly lambasting China for its incarceration rate:
Jonathan Mirsky takes a cheap shot -- presumably because he couldn't resist the word play -- when he says, apropos China's ursine gifts, that "... Like so many mammals of interest to Beijing, the pandas will end up behind bars".
But the incarceration rates of China (120 per 100,000 population) are less than the UK's (150), multiples less than the US (750), and even below the world average (145).
Does he not see the beam in his own eye?

Are bicycle helmets really safe?


Letter to South China Morning Post today:
Andrew Cheng Kar-foo has called for the wearing of bicycle helmets to be compulsory (SCMP, Jan 28). But we should be wary of bringing in such a measure. Even the most well-intentioned laws can have unintended outcomes. 
In Western Australia, which has had compulsory bicycle helmet laws since 1992, studies on the effects of helmet legislation suggest that it has (i) increased hospital admissions per cyclist on the road (ii) reduced the popularity of cycling and (iii) reduced public health.
A 2009 study by Macquarie University suggests that bicycle helmet laws incur a health cost to Australia of more than half a billion dollars a year ($HK 3.8 billion). 
Information on these seemingly counter-intuitive outcomes is at cycle-helmets.com


Tim Winter: member of the Muslim organisation of Very Very Moderate Extremists

Remember Farshad Kholghi?  You don't? Shame on you, not paying attention to my posts.  He's a Danish actor who has a stand-up routine as Mohammed al-Whatever, president of the Muslim Organisation of Very Very Moderate Extremists.
I'm thinking that Timothy Winter (aka Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad) is a member of the OVVME.


Free Lars Hedegaard!

We know that international pressure can have results -- even in the execrable Iranian government seems to take note of international outrage at its plans to stone women to death for having sex.
In the case of Lars Hedegaard, the Danish journalist charged with "hate crimes", there's been an avalanche of protest to the Danish government and my own modest contribution is below. Go on, add to the pressure, send your email.

Not all critics of Islam are “right-wing extremists"

Contemplating his participation at a conference in Denmark last September of the Danish Free Press Society, headed by Lars Hedegaard – now on trial in Denmark for so-called “hate crimes” –  Mark Steyn commented:

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

"Lars Hedegaard: Defending Free Speech from Western Enablers of Totalitarian Islam"

We’ve been talking about blasphemy lately, what with the killings in Pakistan, and the on-going shenanigans of the Oganisation of the Islamic Conference.  In the terrific article below, Andrew Bostom reports on the trial of Lars Hedegaard in Denmark, through their proxy of a blasphemy law, Article 266b,  under which “the only thing that determines whether one is convicted or not is a matter of the perceived insult whereas one is barred from proving the truth of the statement.”

Hedegaard’s statement is a powerful, robust statement in defence of free speech, however hurtful it may be to a group of people.

Marrickville councillors engage in some ill-advised and ignorant foreign policy


I signed the petition recently, to object to the above -- the resolution of Australia's Marrickville Council to carry out their own little bit of boycott against Israel --  and recently got a message from the organisers of a petition, which I urge readers to visit and sign:

BBC does more apologising for Islam: this time in Sweden's Malmö

Letter to BBC in response to their World Service program, heard just now in Hong Kong, on the alleged problems facing Muslims in  Malmö, Sweden.  
This program is part of what seems to be a growing pattern in the BBC -- as apologist-in-chief for Islam.  


The Blasphemy of anti-Blasphemy laws

The cartoon at left relates to the ongoing efforts of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to criminalise any criticism of, and even comment on, Islam. UN committees have passed resolutions on an "anti-blasphemy law", though it has yet to be passed by the General Assembly.  If and when it is, UN member countries will pass laws to bring that law into effect domestically, thus criminalising blogs (such as this one) and mainstream media commentators who express their concern about, and opposition to, the march of Sharia laws in the west.  Critics of Sharia are supporters of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and the equality of women and minorities -- concepts to which Sharia is clearly, unequivocally, explicitly and innately inimical. (Cartoon, H/T: "Thinking is Real" blog).

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

"Full-bred Aussie with longing for sharia law"

Check this guy out: Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon.
"One day Australia will be ruled by sharia, no doubt," he declares. "That is why non-Muslims are worried, because they know one day they won't be able to drink their beer, they won't be able to eat their pork and they won't be able to do their homosexual acts, because one day they know they will be controlled."[1]
For sure many will say that Siddiq-Conlon is just a lone nutter, that he doesn’t represent the true nature of Islam, that he is “hijacking the religion of peace”, that he is a “misunderstander” of its peaceful tenets, and so on.  Indeed that line’s already started on some of the Blog-ments.

"Hidden dangers of the politicians' happy talk"

Tom Holland in the South China Morning Post’s Monitor column always writes interesting pieces, the one below about the correlation between Happiness and three factors: wealth, freedom and equality.  Turns out that the closest correlation is with wealth, which led to the exhange of emails below.  [Link to Tom's column is here, but it needs login, so I have copied it in full below].

Friday, 21 January 2011

"Islamophobia" on the rise: in media mentions, not in reality

Once again the bogus term “Islamophobia” is in the limelight.  First, courtesy in the last few days of the complaints of baroness (“Lady”) Warsi.  It was picked up by the BBC ad nauseam yesterday on the radio and then in The Telegraph, a somewhat muddled piece by Ed West (h/t RH).  All the agonizing over how to handle it, how to control it – of course no debate as to where or not it’s a valid term, which of course it’s not.  We can criticise the Catholic church for its kiddie-loving priests, just a little bit too loving, without being called “Cathophobes”.  In any case, the statistics show that so-called “hate crimes” against Muslims are in fact down.[1]

Tunisia et.seq: Democratic Dominoes or Islamic Brotherhoods?

The good thing about differing views of where the Tunisian revolution is headed is that it’ll be sorted one way or t’other in coming months, maybe a year.
The two main views are simply put.  There will be a flowering of democracy in Tunisia and the Arab world.  Or the Islamists will take over.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

"Islamophobia" is an invented term

Well, I guess we all knew that.  Still, the report below of the birth of the term, out of the bowels of an Islamists' confab, makes fascinating reading.   From Claire Berlinksi at Ricochet, Nov 24 2010, full post here, extract below.
... Now here's a point you might deeply consider: The neologism "Islamophobia" did not simply emerge ex nihilo. It was invented, deliberately, by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the International Institute for Islamic Thought, which is based in Northern Virginia. If that name dimly rings a bell, it should: I've mentioned it before, and it's particularly important because it was co-founded by Anwar Ibrahim--the hero of Moderate Islam who is now trotting around the globecomparing his plight to that of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the IIIT who has renounced the group in disgust, was an eyewitness to the creation of the word. "This loathsome term," he writes,
is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.
In another article concerning the many moderate Muslims whose voices have been drowned out by Saudi-financed Muslim Brotherhood front groups, Muhammad describes the strategy behind the word's invention:
In an effort to silence critics of political Islam, advocates needed to come up with terminology that would enable them to portray themselves as victims. Muhammad said he was present when his then-allies, meeting at the offices of the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Northern Virginia years ago, coined the term "Islamophobia."
Muhammad said the Islamists decided to emulate the homosexual activists who used the term "homophobia" to silence critics. He said the group meeting at IIIT saw "Islamophobia" as a way to "beat up their critics."
Really imagine that scene: a bunch of Islamists admiring how astutely the queers--people who in their ideal world would be served with the lash or hanged--had portrayed their critics as mentally disturbed. Brilliant. Let's take a leaf from them and then kill them....

Baroness Warsi plays, yet again, the victimhood card, and BBC buys it

Letter to BBC, after they've repeatedly replayed the good Lady's complaints.  I felt like, "enough, already"....  I know they won't read this one out; it's more along the lines of hoping some of their sub-editors may read it and consider some of its points.


Baroness Warsi complains (20 Jan) that "anti-Muslim prejudice is seen as normal".  'Prejudice' means to pre judge from ME, from OF, from Latin, praejudicium, from prae 'in advance' + judicium 'judgement'.

In my case, concern about Islam did not arise from "judgement in advance", but from study of the basic documents of the ideology of Islam.  



Obama is a Muslim, Communist, Nazi, Peacenik. Not. Or... when Nazism really IS the right analogy

Writing a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, I read up their page of tips on letter-writing style, which has something along the lines of “we take the view that the first person to make a comparison with the Nazis has lost the argument”.
This rather caught my attention.  For sure my letter (about Wikileaks) contained no such analogy -- no matter how tempting the thought that the prissy blond pissant Julian Assange does rather remind one of the good Aryan lads of the Third Reich --  and the next day it was duly published [here].
But I’ve continued to think about that stricture of the Herald’s sub-editors.

Not burning the Koran: not OK. Death penalty for same-sex acts: OK

Ban the kooky pastor from even entering the UK. 
Or the rights of UK citizens to be protected from known terrorists living in the UK.  

"No justification for law on blasphemy"

Letter to South China Morning Post: [Postscript: this letter was run in the Post, about a week later, uncut -- including the "Prophet" in quotes!)

Aryeh Neier is right to condemn draconian blasphemy laws in places such as Pakistan (“No justification for law on blasphemy”, South China Morning Post, January 18 -- below). 
In particular he makes a good point in differentiating between so-called “hate speech” and blasphemy. He is wrong, however, to sheet home the blame for blasphemy laws on “British colonial rule”.  Though elements of such laws were a British legacy from the establishment of Pakistan, it was only in later years that they were progressively made harsher.

"Pakistan must face up to the enemy within"

[A catch-up post]
Very interesting article by Praveen Swami, from The Daily Telegraph, 6 January, in which he discusses radical Islam in Pakistan and the place of the Barelvi sect of Islam:

"...often claimed to represent a tolerant anti-Islamist tendency in south Asian Islam".

"Why it's a turn-off for men when women cry"

[A catch-up post]:
In 8th January South China Morning Post from the New York Times
"In several experiments, researchers found that men who sniffed drops of women's emotional tears became less sexual aroused than when they sniffed a neutral saline solution that had been dribbled down women's cheeks....
"... sniffing women's tears did not effect men's mood or empathy."

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

"Jihad against justice"

For a jihadi, Britain is one of the very best places in the world. In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, overhead drones kill terrorists on a regular basis. In most democratic countries, politicians try to limit their enemies’ ability to operate — so one runs the risk of being thrown into prison, if caught mid-jihad. But not in Britain. Here, the Islamist insurgents have found that there are a hundred ways to run rings around our police and justice system. Nothing demonstrates this more spectacularly than the control orders farce.
Whole article below.


What do dogs think of humans?

In My Talks with Dean Spanley, by Lord Dunsany, we are introduced to an elderly clergyman, the Rev Dean Spanley who was the dog Wag in a previous life.  (Thanks to Charles Moore in the Speccie)
With the help of some libation, Spanley recalls his earlier canine life as Wag.
What do dogs think of we humans?

"Mohammed the Brit"

Another dopey article by the reliable dhimmi Roger Cohen.  In this one he celebrates the fact that “Mohammed in its various spellings, is now the favourite name for newborn boys in the  UK”.  That is, that there is an increasing number of Muslims in the UK and this creates “churn, a wondrous thing…”.  Cohen assumes, as do many with nary a scintilla of analysis, that more such immigration is necessarily a good thing, for it will bring “diversity” and “churn”.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Freedom and Islam: a statistical survey (Freedom House Index)


UPDATE (4 September 2017): See new post about a new book by Dr Hammond: "Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat"
UPDATE (27 October 2013):  See also here.  There are only three Islam majority countries that have a high score on democracy, in each case being classified as "Flawed Democracy"].

“So what brought you to Phuket”, I asked Pieter, the septuagenarian Dutchman we were chatting with at the Yacht Haven dockside.
He thinks a bit, rubs his chin and teeth, and says “Freedom”.
What sort of freedom did he have here that he didn’t have in Holland?
He pointed to his ochre-red shorts, sun-faded, and said that’s all he wore during the day.  As night fell he put on a shirt.  When he rode his motorbike he was helmetless.  That sort of freedom, he said.  To be oneself, and not mollycoddled by an 'elf and safety bureaucracy, or stifled by peer pressure to dress this way or that.

"The great leap backward"; thoughts on Bo Xilai

I thought I'd posted this letter to the South China Morning Post on 25th November, but find on housekeeping, that I'd not, so here it is, for the record:

Monday, 17 January 2011

"A tipping point for Arabs?" Towards a Democratic Brotherhood, or the Muslim Brotherhood?

"BEIRUT -- The dramatic developments in Tunisia in the past weeks that have seen street demonstrators send former President Zein el-Abedeen Ben Ali fleeing the country may prove to be the historic turning point that many in the Arab world have been predicting and anticipating for decades: the point at which disgruntled and often humiliated Arab citizens shed their fear and confront their leaders with demands for serious changes in how their countries are governed..."
So says Rami G. Khouri, who then gives four reasons why the overthrow of Ali is historically significant. ("What Tunisia means to the Arab world", 14/1/11).
But he doesn't try to predict what might be the outcome of these (allegedly) newly-empowered populations.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Off on vacation, back 17th Jan

So, stand by... nothing for the next week or so.

Cheers and Happy New Year to all!

"A new year and worries for Muslims"

Letter to International Herald Tribune (the international edition of The New York Times), 6th Jan.

One sympathises with the plight of Fayza, the educated Muslim divorcee and friend of your columnist Souad Mekhennet ("A new year and worries for Muslims", Jan 5).   Fayza tries hard to exculpate Islam for its view of women, quoting the Koran Sura 3, Verse 195 "...male or female -- you are equal to one another".



What is the true Blasphemy here?

The assassination, or murder, of libaral Pakistani Governor Salman Taseer brings to mind a debate I had at the Islam apologist site Loonwatch.
Taseer was trying to amend Pakistan's egregious blasphemy laws: the laws under which a Christian lady was sentenced to death.[1] For that he was riddled with bullets [one, of many reports, here]

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

"Retail of two cities"

Another amazing China story, this one reflecting the difference made by the culture of growth and entrepreneurialism, vs the culture of bureaucracy and planning.  Again, China being on the side of building vs, destroying...
Also strengthens my new year's resolution to spend more time in China this year.  It's always worthwhile, always provides an adventure and there's no excuse for me not to, living in Hong Kong, on the doorstep of the motherland.
(posted in full as it's available only on subscription.  Thanks to SCMP of 4th January).  BTW: "Heihe" means "black river", as in the name of the province, Heilongjiang, which means "black dragon river" ("jiang" just being a bigger river than "he").  For other amazing China stories, click on "China" in Labels, below right.

"Scientific breakthrough may solve uranium supply problem at nuclear plants"

More in the series of "what China's doing right", aka "why China is on our side, as a nation that constructs, rather than destructs"....
Copying all here, since it's by subscription only.  Thanks to SCMP, Jan 3:
[and I know, this is called "scraping", but hopefully not the bottom of the barrel, and also, I ain't the only one, as many blogs are nothing but "scrapes"...]

Monday, 3 January 2011

"India launches Shariah Stock Index"

From a friend following re new Sharia finance index in India (hat-tip LA).
I've written elsewhere at some length on just what a crock Sharia finance is: part hypocrisy, part inefficient copy of conventional finance, part creeping Sharia.  Others still fall into the trap of providing Sharia finance, part of being sensitive and tolerant to the needs of Muslim populations.  Ah well....

"Equality, a True Soul Food", by Nicholas Kristof

Mirror below article from today's New York Times by Nicholas Kristof.  I don't often agree with Kristof's pieces, especially as he's not really "sound" on Islam.  But here he makes an important point: that inequality leads to a more unstable society.  An argument for "progressive" taxation. Just not tooo progressive.... [full article here]

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Are you a liberal or a conservative?

I've been criticised for having "become very conservative".  But I'm not sure that's what I am, for many views I'd share with "the left", aka liberals (in the American sense).  So I thought I'd do a list of those things which determine one's politics.