Friday 27 July 2012

"Israel's settlers are here to stay"

Surprising article to appear in the "newspaper or record", the New York Times, yesterday.
It's here and if behind a paywall, a pdf is here

Sunday 22 July 2012

China: Green.... AND Black....

China CO2 emissions total and per capita. Courtesy SCMP
China leads the world in green technology.  Unfortunately, it also leads the world in total CO2 output.  Australia is not on the chart above right.... if it were, it would be at the top, with about 18.5 tonnes/capita.
PDF of Tom Holland's article: "World Leader in green tech, world beater in greenhouse gas"

Saturday 21 July 2012

"I Know Noootihing"... Michelle Bachmann leads with her chin...

Bachmann strikes out: leads with her chin and blunts anti Muslim Brotherhood efforts (well, how's that for a bunch of mixed metaphors....).
Michele Bachmann (R-Min) did harm to the efforts to highlight and counter pressure for Sharia law in the US.
The other day she questioned the patriotism of Huma Abedin, the long-time aide to Hilary Clinton with accusations that tie her to a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government.
I take no view on the patriotism of Ms Abedin and am quite willing to stipulate that she has, as John McCain says, "substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully."
The bigger problem, apart from Ms Abedi's wounded feelings, is that Bachmann allows a free punch to the counter-counter Jihad movement.  And they wasted no time.  Free hit!
Here's the New York Times in an editorial headed "McCarthyism Redux".  Nothing as sure to shut up the opposition as the slur of "McCarthyism".  Well, unless it's "racism" or "Islamophobia".  The leader finishes up with a condemnation of "Know Nothingism"; apt, many would say, as it was a Protestant, xenophobic movement of the 19th century, afraid of the hordes of Catholics swamping the US and not sharing its values.  Change "Catholic" to "Muslim", and bingo: Know Nothings redux.
The NYT was not alone.  In a top-Google outcome of "Michelle Bachmann Muslim Brotherhood" is a link to this.  The author Matt Coker makes a number of statements that are wrong -- know nothing, if you will -- but which will resonate because of Bachmann's stupidity in taking aim at Ms Abedin:
For example:
"... the letter reportedly claims...." about a 1991 letter retrieved by the FBI in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial.  There is no doubt the letter exists, and what it "claims" is not "reportedly" claimed, it is in fact in the Brotherhood letter and it's this:
"... eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers...." [ref]
And, Coker quoting a guy he doesn't much like: "He [Ibrahim El Houdaiby] claimed the document was a forgery and insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood had no presence in the U.S. -- both lies".
Well they are both lies.  The Muslim Brotherhood does have a presence in the US and the letter of 1991 is not a forgery: no Muslim Brotherhood representative has denied its veracity.
"While wondering how Muzammil Siddiqi could have acted on a request he did not receive--as well as how many evangelical Christian leaders and gay-conversion advocates like Bachmann's husband would sign a pledge that American Christian apostates should not be harmed by Christians--it occurs that at least Fouse is an equal-opportunity critic."
The request in question was for Siddiqi to sign a pledge that American Muslim apostates should not be harmed.  Perhaps Siddiqi did not receive the letter of request.  But even if he didn't, shouldn't he have made his position clear in any case (if indeed it was that Muslim apostates should not be harmed), rather than quibble that he didn't receive the letter?  Unless, of course he knew -- as surely he must -- that the Islamic legal requirement for apostates is death. [Ref]
After all Siddiqi is Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America.  The Fiqh Council is one of the signatories attesting to the authority of the "Umdat Al-Salik", the Classic Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence, which sets out the basis of Sharia Law. And here's what Sharia says about apostasy, as authorised by the Fiqh council, of which Siddiqi is Chairman. (In short: death by stoning).
More: does Coker seriously believe that even an evangelical Christian, as Bachmann is, would call for harm for Christian apostates?  I know of no fundamentalist Christian who has made such a call.
As for Siddiqi, who Coker lauds as someone "honored last year because he truly deserves it": note this: that Siddiqi has called for Sharia law in the US (through "patience, wisdom and hard work") and that "homosexuality is a disease".  Some role model to be honored!
It's a pity Bachmann chose to take aim at Huma Abadin.
It's allowed a free kick from those real Know Nothings, or See Nothings, who want to wish away the increasing role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US, and give honors to Siddiqi-style homophobic promoters of Sharia law and killing of apostates.

Friday 20 July 2012

Ed O'Keefe is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood

Letter to the BBC:
In his interview with BBC WorldService, Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post said the Muslim Brotherhood was now "very different" from the past and was now just a political organisation (and by implication: secular).
But that's not what Mohamad Morsi thinks.
See the New York Times article about Morsi, April 23rd.  Morsi:
He has argued for barring women and non-Muslims from Egypt’s presidency on the basis of Islamic law, or Shariah. He has called for a council of Muslim scholars to advise Parliament. He has a track record of inflammatory statements about Israel, including repeatedly calling its citizens “killers and vampires.
“This is the old ‘Islam is the solution’ platform,” he said, recalling the group’s traditional slogan in his first television interview as a candidate. “It has been developed and crystallized so that God could bless society with it.” At his first rally, he led supporters in a chant: “The Koran is our constitution, and Shariah is our guide!”
Hardly secular or just "Political"!

Monday 16 July 2012

Imam Rauf: the faux "moderate" and his sleek duplicity

“We watched in horror this week at the execution of an Afghan woman who was shot nine times while a crowd of roaring men who call themselves Muslim cheered and screamed…
“Though we have said it over and over again, let us reiterate once more: The actions of these men were in absolute and supreme violation of God’s laws, and Islam does not condone unmitigated violence of any kind. Period.”
Imam Feisal Rauf is one of the world’s favourite “moderate Muslims”. [eg].
He is wrong about “the actions of these men” being in “violation” of God’s laws.  Here’s what Sharia says about adultery.  The penalty is stoning, so one could argue that these men showed mercy by shooting her.  Not “cruel and unusual punishment” for these fellas.  Is Rauf a Fool or a Knave when he says what he says?  I go for the latter, the “Knave”, that is one that knows but dissembles, known in Islam as Taqiyya. Lying or being duplicitous for the faith.
 Rauf calls for Sharia to be incorporated into the laws of Europe and the US:
“An essential element of this interweaving of cultures, he says, will have to be the incorporation of Sharia law into the legal systems of Europe and the US. In this, he is in agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury who said that the adoption of some aspects of Sharia law ‘seems to be unavoidable’.”
He knows that the west is leery of the Sharia penal code so he goes on:
“…’the only truly clashing area is the penal code, and no Muslim has the intention of introducing that to America. The penal code is the area that people in the Western world are worried about – but these are things that aren’t even observed today in most of the Muslim world. Apart from the Taliban and a few places like that, where do you see this happening?’”.
“Where do we see this happening”?  Well, for a start: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.  And in Egypt and Jordan it’s forthcoming.(*)
And why would Muslims, once Sharia has been “incorporated” into western legal systems, stop from requiring that it should be applied in toto including its penal codes?  After all, it’s the “perfect” law from the “perfect” religion. [more here].
And: what other religion expects and demands that its religious law be “incorporated” into western law?  Answer: none.
Related: Rauf as the faux moderate: “Is Feisal Abdul Rauf  Really Moderate?”
(*) Pew research: “The study also showed that Muslims in and around the Middle East believe that Islam has a major role to play in politics and government. Majorities in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt believe that laws should strictly follow the Quran.”
And for what Sharia law says, drawing on the Koran, here is a summary.

What Sharia says about apostasy...

Apostates are to be killed:
“Someone raised among Muslims who denies the obligatoriness [sic] of the prayer, zakat, fasting Ramadan, the pilgrimage or the unlawfulness of wine and adultery, or denies something else upon which there is scholarly consensus and which is necessarily known as being of the religion… thereby becomes and unbeliever (kafir) and is executed for his unbelief….” (f1.3)
“When a person who has reached puberty an is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deservers to be killed.” (o8.1)
Sarcasm about Islam constitutes unbelief, for which the penalty is death (supra):
“Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst.  It may come about through sarcasm, as when someone is told, ‘Trim your nails, it is sunna,’ and he replies ‘I would not do it even if it were,’ as opposed to when some circumstances exists [sic] which exonerates him of having committed apostasy, such as when his tongue runs away with him, or when he is quoting someone, or says it is out of fear.)” (o8.0)
There is no expiation for killing an apostate:
“There is no expiation for killing someone who has left Islam, a highwayman or a convicted married adulterer, even when someone besides the caliph kills him.)” (o5.4)
There is no indemnity for killing an apostate:
“There is no indemnity obligatory for killing a non-Muslim at war with Muslims (harbi), someone who has left Islam, someone sentenced to death by stoning (for adultery(def: o12)) by virtue of having been convicted in court, or those it is obligatory to kill by military action…” (o4.17)
Just to be clear…
There is no expiation or indemnity for killing an apostate:
“There is no indemnity for killing an apostate (or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die).” (08.4)
And, to avoid all doubt…
Killing an apostate is without consequences:
“(… while killing an apostate from Islam is without consequences)” (o1.2(3))
The property of apostates is to be seized by the state:
“… if they die as non-Muslims their property is not subject to zakat (because their property is considered to belong to the Muslim common fund (bayt al-mal) from the moment such people leave Islam).” (h1.2)

PF: Is there anything positive for apostates?

Not really, just that one can return to Islam and must make up any prayers that have been missed:
“An apostate from Islam (murtadd, def: o.8) who then returns must make up every prayer missed….” (f1.1)

Sunday 15 July 2012

What Sharia says about adultery...

What Sharia says about adultery comes under “fornication” in the “Reliance”.
Fornicators shall be scourged:
“Allah most high says:
‘(1) Approach not fornication, it is surely an indecency and evil as a way (Koran 17:32)
‘(2) The fornicator and the fornicatress, scourge them each a hundred stripes and let not pity for them take you.’ (Koran 24:2)”. (p12)
There is no expiation for killing an adulterer
“There is no expiation for killing someone who has left Islam, a highwayman or a convicted married adulterer, even when someone besides the caliph kills him.” (o5.4).
Comment: “expiation”, when required, involves the freeing of two slaves or fasting for two months. (i 1.20)
Fornicators should be stoned to death:
“The legal penalty is obligatorily imposed upon anyone who fornicates or commits sodomy when they:
(a) have reached puberty;
(b) are sane;
(c)  and commit the act voluntarily;
“no matter whether the person is a Muslim, non-Muslim subject of the Islamic state, or someone who has left Islam.
“If the offender is someone with the capacity to remain chaste, then he or she is stoned to death, someone with the capacity to remain chaste meaning anyone who has had sexual intercourse with their spouse in a valid marriage and is free, or age, and sane.” [emphasis in the original] (o12.1-2)

Are there any positive clauses in Sharia for fornicators?  Yes, but conditional:
A man must pay a woman he forces into fornication:
“A man is obliged to pay a woman the amount typically received as marriage payment by similar brides when the marriage was (consummated but) invalid, or when a man forces a woman to fornicate with him.  When a woman voluntarily fornicates with a man, she does not receive any marriage payment.” (m8.10)
Fornicators not punished if they didn’t know….:
“Someone who commits fornication is not punished if he says that he did not know it was unlawful, provide he is a new Muslim or grew up a remote wilderness, though if neither of these is the case, such a person is punished.” (o12.4)

Saturday 14 July 2012

"War on drugs wastes lives and money"

"The cocaine found in a shipping container", SCMP photo
My letter to South China Morning Post was featured today with the photo above (pay-wall).  Have had a number of emails in support.   Hope in time the idiocy of the "WOD" will become more an more apparent.
Another example of the idiocy is Afghanistan.  It produces the most and best of the world's opium.  Local farmers rely on it; no other crop  -- not almonds, not raisins, not chickpeas -- provides the income of poppies.  They supply 90% of the world's heroin.  
At the same time Africa is severely short of analgesics like morphine.
For the price of about two weeks' cost of the US troops in Afghanistan, the whole of the Afghan poppy crop could be bought, converted into legal morphine (in factories within Afghanistan, providing further employment) and shipped to Africa -- say, by the World Health Organisation -- for free use by poor patients.  
Thus it would be two birds with the one stone: (1) legitimise the crop in Afghanistan and remove the criminal element (Taliban gang-controlled) and (2) provide pain relief in Africa.
This would not be easy to be sure.  The gangs controlling the poppy to opium to heroin trade ex Afghanistan are hardly likely to go without a fight.
But how much better than the current futile effort to eradicate it: creating enemies from the farmers and making illicit profits for the Taliban; while African poor stay in pain.
My letter below the fold: [links in the original]:

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Could Islam finally destroy the Pyramids?

"Has the sun finally set for Egypt's Great Pyramids" asks Raymond Ibrahim
Yikes! [See also "Egyptian Islamist out to prove 'there is no fun in Islam'"]
From the always reliable Raymond Ibrahim:
According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt's Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi'i, those "symbols of paganism," which Egypt's Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax. Most recently, Bahrain's "Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs" and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt's new president, Muhammad Morsi, to "destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what Amr bin al-As could not."
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641. Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity. While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As's reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar's command.
Read on.
This would be in keeping with Sharia law: that anything pre-Islamic is the period of ignorance (Jahilyyah).  And anything deemed "pagan" is particularly deplored. Thus the destruction of the Bamyian Buddhas and recently the destruction of tombs in Mali.  All in keeping with the tenets of Sharia law....

Saturday 7 July 2012

Legalise or depenalise drugs

Letter today to South China Morning Post:
UPDATE: published 14 July, here.

Yet another photo opportunity: Customs officers in front of a “huge haul of cocaine”.   Yet another boast that the seizures reflect  "determination and confidence to fight against trafficking of illegal drugs”. (“Customs seizes record HK$760 million cocaine haul”, July 7).
Yet another bit of nonsense.
A recent New York Times article notes that the price of cocaine today is 74% cheaper than it was 30 years ago.  This number proves “that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed.”
Studies by Harvard University show that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of $65 billion a year by reduced spending on enforcement and less crime and corruption.
Even if we can’t accept legalisation, there are other options. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, with its former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Poland, has called on national governments to “depenalise” drug possession and sales.
LEAP, an international organisation of criminal justice professionals who have personally seen the wasteful futility and the harms of current drug policies, calls for repeal of probation and replacement with a tight system of legalized regulation (like alcohol).
Why does Hong Kong feel it necessary to parrot America’s failed, costly and dangerous “War on Drugs”?  Why don't we talk about better ways?
We should have the guts to consider these other options – legalisation or “depenalisation” -- rather than exulting in yet another pointless drug haul.  A haul that does nothing to stem the flow and price of illicit drugs.
Or are the photo opps just to hard to resist?
Peter F

Thursday 5 July 2012

BBC: again carrying water for Muslim criminals in Malmö , Sweden

Screen shot from this video.  It's shocking, not for the crimes of young
Muslims in Malmö -- bad enough -- but for the credulity and apologia
of its "acclaimed director" Joseph Rodriguez.
The BBC are at it again. (earlier here and here)
Blaming the poor Swedes for the problems of Islamic supremacism and crime in Multicultural Malmö. 

According to the BBC World Service Radio (today, here in Hong Kong) and its interviewees, native Swedes are being simply horrid to its Muslim population.  If only they would leave them alone, let them get on with their drug dealing and jew-baiting, things would be fine...

One of the guests, a convert to Islam, complained about “far right Islamophobia", saying “today it’s criticism of Muslims; tomorrow it may be the Jews”. Cunning.  But it doesn’t wash.  Christopher Hitchens skewered this false equivalence, here. Talking of the 2010 so-called “Ground Zero Mosque controversy”, he noted:

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. [Source]

The BBC line is that the problems in Malmö are all the fault of the Swedes: they discriminate against Muslims which keeps them in poverty and leads to the high crime rates amongst that community.

Nothing is said about the responsibility the Muslim community may have to help itself.  To stress education, taking on Swedish mores, adapting to the community.  Yet:

Then (2007) Swedish Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni [now Minister for Gender Equality]—a Muslim who came to Sweden when she was 12 and the first African to become a member of government in the country—insists that the only way for immigrants to integrate into society is to learn the language and get a job.
“It is crucial that immigrants get in contact with the labour market as soon as possible after receiving their residence permit. This has to be combined with language courses,” she told AFP.

Why don't the BBC or its interviewees discuss that?

As for “hate crimes” the official Swedish police figures belie the BBC line.  It’s not Muslims but Jews that are the main target of “hate crimes”, by a factor of 70 times:

But Jews are feeling the heat disproportionately. Malmö police say that of 115 hate crimes reported in 2009, 52 were anti-Semitic. Becirov estimated there are about 60,000 Muslims in Malmö, while the number of Jews is about 700 and shrinking - it was twice as big two decades ago, according to Fredrik Sieradzki, a spokesman for the Jewish community.

In sum:

Jews: 7% of their 700 population in Malmö experienced “hate crimes”.

Muslims: 0.1% of their 60,000 population in Malmö experienced “hate crimes” And that’s assuming that all the non anti-Semitic hate crimes were against Muslims.

In other words, Jews in Malmö experienced “hate crimes” at a rate 70 times greater than did Muslims.

These hate crimes in Sweden are mirrored in the US, where we are led to believe that the Muslim population there is subject to regular “Islamophobia”.  Yet, according to the FBI:

64% of hate crimes are Anti-Jewish

13% are Anti-Islam

Nicholai Sennels is a Danish psychologist who has treated many Muslim and non-Muslim young criminals in Copenhagen.  His observations for Denmark would likely be similar to its neighbour Sweden.  He talks of deep-seated and virtually intractable differences in cultural outlook between his Muslim and non-Muslim patients.  It makes uncomfortable reading, but worth careful study, here.

Letter to BBC WorldService (

In your coverage of increasing tensions in Malmö, Sweden, your reporter (Joanne (?) Fidgin, (sp?)) and her interviewees placed all the blame on so-called “far right” parties and Swedish racism or “Islamophobia”.

But consider:

“Hate Crimes” in Malmö are overwhelmingly against Jews: at a rate 70 times that against Muslims. [ref]

Jews, not Muslims, are the ones being driven out of Malmö.
A previous Swedish (and Muslim) Minister of Immigration, Nyamko Sabuni, in 2007:
‘’…insists that the only way for immigrants to integrate into society is to learn the language and get a job.‘It is crucial that immigrants get in contact with the labour market as soon as possible after receiving their residence permit. This has to be combined with language courses,’ she told AFP.
Why no mention of this view of a Swedish Muslim Minister?  Why should the Swedes not expect the Muslim community to help itself, to “integrate into society”, to “learn the language”, as have all other previous immigrant groups?  Practicality aside, it's just polite to do so!
Related: Your BBC Video “The Other comes across rather as an apologia for Muslim crime in Sweden -- “leave us alone” says the drug dealer….  It shows whole areas of Malmö are Muslim where only Arabic is spoken.  How can this be the way to get ahead in Sweden?  How can this be a good way for society to develop?
This is not a rant against immigration in general.  Waves of previous immigrants have managed to get ahead in their host societies, in the UK as in my own Australia. The problem with Islamic immigration in many countries is that later generations are not becoming more integrated into the societies their parents chose to come to, but less, not just in Sweden, but also, as Christopher Caldwell has shown, in Germany and France as well.
Yours, etc,
Peter F.

Legalise -- or "depenalise" -- drugs for a healthier, safer world

I watched a reality Cable program a while back on the American prison system, "Lockup", I think it was called.  This episode was about an ultra-high security prison in Texas, a "Supermax" (truly horrid places).
The Warden at this prison had decided to ban the use of tobacco.  Result?  Not the disappearance of tobacco, as you might expect in a place which controls its inmates so strictly and intrusively.  The result was instead that the price of tobacco went up to around $US 100 per ounce.
Now, given that the prison has a controlled population, where warders conduct regular, random and thorough searches of prisoners' cells, where visitors are strictly controlled and vetted before entering, given all this, tobacco still finds its way inside and all that happened was that price went up to match demand.
Given this, how can a government hope -- ever -- to eradicate drug use amongst its immeasurably larger and freer population?
Of course, the answer is that it can't.  The "War on Drugs" begun by Nixon in the seventies is doomed to failure.
That's why I like what the folks at LEAP do. They have experience in the "war" and their voices should be heard.
In this article in today's New York Times -- "Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War" --  Eduardo Porter makes a great case for the legalisation -- or at least to "depenalise" -- drugs.  The benefits would be enormous, for health, welfare and the economy.

"... many critics of the current policy believe the solution is to legalize — to bring illegal drugs out of the shadows where they are controlled by criminal gangs, into the light of the legal market where they can be regulated and taxed by the government.
"Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard who studies drug policy closely, has suggested that legalizing all illicit drugs would produce net benefits to the United States of some $65 billion a year, mostly by cutting public spending on enforcement as well as through reduced crime and corruption....
"There are other options. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose membership includes former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Poland, has called on national governments to “depenalize” if not necessarily legalize drug possession and sales."

Read it all....

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Rising green awareness in China

Recent demos in China over environmental issues
China's been rightly slammed over the years for its devastation of the environment.  But public awareness has been growing for years now, and the article below the fold, from today's South China Morning Post, highlights this.
Related: China "Official banquets may ban shark fin" (subscription wall).  On this issue Hong Kong has been at the forefront: both as consumer and as the protester against the dreadful practice of cutting off sharks' fins and letting them sink to their deaths.

"Hong Kong is the best city to live in, new ranking system finds "

Hmmmm... not sure about this. Still, it's not me saying it but The Economist Intelligence Unit.  The methodology seems a bit dodgy. Then again, a key para in it is true:
"Hong Kong is a very compact city that has managed to maintain its natural heritage, create a dense network of green spaces and enjoy extensive links to the rest of the world. ...."
Article from today's South China Morning Post, below the fold:

"Contrast with mainland is stark"

South China Morning Post, our local Hong Kong "paper of record", published my letter today.  Together with another taking the other side of the argument (should the Queen apologise for past "imperial crimes and exploitation").  Deletions from original noted in italics:
[Earlier letters here]
Contrast with mainland is stark
Yet another emotional and incoherent letter from Cynthia Sze 
I refer to the letter from Cynthia Sze ("Dark history of imperial exploitation", June 25).
Hong Kong is indeed in a good position since the handover, though "better" is arguable.
The reason for that good position is the system that was handed over peacefully in July 1997 - the rule of law; freedom of speech and assembly; a competent and uncorrupt government. All these are in stark contrast with the mainland.
I studied Chinese and worked in China in the early 1970s and have personal experience of the stark differences between the mainland and Hong Kong. [Mind you, I still had a fun and unforgettable time!]
Many of these still exist, corruption and abuse of power the chief among them. 
Ms Sze says Hong Kong people "keep annual vigil for June 4". Yes indeed, but try doing that in Beijing, Ms Sze, and see how long it is before you're tossed in jail by "China's able government".
The history of British imperialism is not blemish free, a fact fully recognised by the British themselves, who carry out constant self-criticism of their imperial past. But it is nonsense to note only the "atrocities" of "imperial exploitation", without also noting that, in the case of Hong Kong, our good position is based on principles of government and civil society instituted by Britain.
Queen Elizabeth has nothing to apologise for, Ms SzeWhy not concentrate your energies on getting the “able” Chinese government to apologise for June 4?
(disclosure: I am not British but Australian — another horrid ex colony! -  who now considers Hong Kong home).
Yours, etc,
Peter F

The other letter:

Imperial past had many dark periods

I refer to Ray Peacock's letter ("Many died to defend free speech", June 29).
While I salute the bravery of those who "fought and died" in Hong Kong, Britain was attempting to defend its colonial interests.
Mr Peacock seems to miss the point of Cynthia Sze's letter in which she discussed the irrelevance of Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong 15 years after the handover and the need for an apology for imperial crimes ("Dark history of imperial exploitation", June 25).
There are many dark periods in British imperial history; opium distribution in China, Irish famine and the Bengal famine, to name a few.
Mr Peacock would do well to research these topics to allow a greater understanding of the basis for opinions against imperialism, past or present.
Phillip J. Walker, Wan Chai
Cynthia Sze again, 9th July:

British soldiers died for empire
Referring to my letter ("Dark history of imperial exploitation", June 25), Ray Peacock ("Many died to defend free speech", June 29) groundlessly accused me of despising China's war allies, and speciously labelled my objective argument as ventilation of "bile and venom".
His hyperbolised fable of Britain's role in the second world war is outmoded. British soldiers died defending imperial interests and not freedoms for the colonies.
At the outbreak of the war, Britain's military enterprise in Asia collapsed. Britain itself was at the mercy of Luftwaffe air raids. Mr Peacock would have to learn to operate in Japanese or German if there weren't Chinese, Russian and American efforts in the war.
He also misconceived colonial education as a prerequisite for English articulation and free speech. From Lin Yutang to Ha Jin, many generations of Chinese literati without a colonial education have written freely in English.
Like them, nowadays a growing number of mainland Chinese think more freely and master English more effectively than Hong Kong people, without the latter's baggage of a colonial education.
Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Infidels: 2; Terrorists: 0

The two men tried to hijack a Tianjin Airlines plane bound for Urumchi
Well, well....
A mate sent me the link to "Two men suspected of trying to hijack a flight in China were beaten to death by passengers, in the MailOnline.
I note that there's a story at Jihadwatch as well, but that's an AP report and not as good as the Mail one, which also has better piccies.
Notch one up for infidel flyers...

Eat meat, to get and stay thin....

An early 20th-century photograph titled "Big Man of MO, 630 lbs."
Via New York Times 
This article is interesting: empirical evidence the the Atkins-type diet works to get wait off and keep it off....
"What Really Makes Us Fat", New York Times, June 30.

Attacking ancient shrines is Sunna

Islamists destroy a shrine in Timbuktu. Photo: Adam Nossiter via NYT.
People are understandably upset by the attacks on ancient shrines in Timbuktu, by an Islamist outfit called Ansar Dine ("defenders of the faith").  The UN Secretary General has said they are "without justification" and the International Criminal Court threatens to charge them with crimes against humanity.   Others say the attacks are non-Islamic.
They're all wrong.
Ansar Dine are simply acting on the Sharia.
I consulted my trusty "Umdat al-Salik", the Classic Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence, authorised by Islam's most ancient Sharia authority, al-Azhar University in Cairo.
At g5.7, the Umdat says:
"One should raise the grave's surface to 1 span (about 23cm)..."
Now this is interesting, as I'd only just heard on BBC TV that the Ansar Dine were saying that they had to reduce the size of the shrines to 20 cm, as that was what was authorised in Sharia law.
They're spot on (give or take 3cm, or about an inch...). They know their sharia.  Their critics don't.
[The reason for the stipulation, by the way, is that there should be no shrines that may "confuse" Muslims and divert them from their veneration of their Prophet Muhammad]
So those like Ban Ki-Moon and others scandalized by the actions of Ansar Dine should stop huffing and puffing that these reprehensible attacks are some-how non-Islamic. They should face the fact -- and say -- that they are clearly part of Sharia.
In other words: they should direct their criticisms at Sharia.
Or is that too buttock-clenchingly uncomfortable for them?  Too much of a danger to their life and well being?
LATER: interesting article in New York Times, 9 July: "Mali Tomb Raiders".

Monday 2 July 2012

What Sharia says about Jihad...

Source here

Jihad means war against non-Muslims:
“Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.  And it is the lesser jihad.  As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said as he was returning from jihad,
“‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.’
“The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus (def: b7) is such Koranic verses as:
“(1) ‘Fighting is prescribed for you’ (Koran 2:216)
“(2) ‘Slay them wherever you find them’ (Koran 4:89)
“(3) ‘Fight the idolators utterly’ (Koran 9:36)
“and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,
“‘I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah…’
“and the hadith reported by Muslim,
“‘To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.’
“Details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of the military expeditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others.  The former consist of the ones he personally attended, some twenty-seven (others say twenty-nine) of them. He fought in eight of them, and killed only one person with his noble hand, Ubayy ibn Khalaf, at the battle of Uhud.  On the latter expeditions he sent others to fight, himself remaining at Medina, and these were forty-seven in number.” (o9.0)

PF Comment: the battles in which Muhammad took part (some 27)  are recorded in the official Muslim biography of his life, “The Life of Muhammad”, by Ibn Ishaq, known as the Sirah of Muhammad.  It clearly shows his military bent.  Cf: Jesus.

Jihad is obligatory on all  Muslims:
“Jihad is a communal obligation. (o.9.1)
“Jihad is also obligatory for everyone able to perform it, male or female, old or young when the enemy has surrounded the Muslims…” (o9.3)
“Those called upon to perform jihad when it is a communal obligation are every able-bodied man who has reached puberty and is sane.” (o9.4)

The objective of jihad is to fight Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians….:
“The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians… until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o11.4)… in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,
“‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden – who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book – until they pay the poll tax our of hand and are humbled (Koran 9.29)’.” (o9.8)
PF Comment: there has been no caliph since the downfall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924.  The reestablishment of the global caliphate is an urgent task of modern Islamism.  [LATER: ISIS caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 2014-2019.  Added 19 Sep 2019]

….the objective of jihad is ALSO to fight  “all others”…
“The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim.” (o9.9)
PF Comment: there are some loopholes: “people of the Book” -- Christians and Jews --are given the choice of converting to Islam, paying the jizya poll tax or being killed; whereas those “not of the book” are simply killed if they don’t convert.
According to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, all people – people of the Book and those not of the Book -- should be given the choice of convert, pay jizya tax or die.  

Truces should only be negotiated when Islam is not “uppermost”:
“Truces are permissible, not obligatory.  The only one who may effect a truce is the Muslim ruler of a region…
“There must be some interest served in making a truce other than mere preservation of the status quo. Allah Most High says,
‘So do not be fainthearted and call for peace, when it is you who are the uppermost’” (o9.16)
PF Comment: this is clearly what drives the various cease-fires in the Israeli-Palestinian battle: Hamas and others only call for it when they are weak and need to rearm.

Lying for jihad is permissible:
“….lying is sometimes permissible for a given interest, scholars having established criteria defining what types of it are lawful” (o8.1)
PF Comment: to be sure lying is part of war.  In the case of Islam, it has become entrenched in the concept of taqiyya.

Muslims fighting jihad are entitled to spoils of battle:
“A free male Muslim who has reached puberty and is sane is entitled to the spoils of battle when he has participated in a battle to the end of it.” (o10.0)

Sufis also took part in jihad by the sword:
“Among the Sufis who aided Islam with the sword as well as the pen… are such men as….” (w9.4)
PF Comment: Sufis are often held out as the purely mystical side of Islam.  This article, w9.4, sets out how they spread Islam by the sword from the “Libyan Desert to Sub-Saharan Africa” and to “southern Soviet Union” (this section being a Note and Appendix to the Umdat al-Salik).

IN SUM: Jihad means "to war against non-Muslims” (o9.0), not simply to undergo a “spiritual struggle” as apologists claim.  

Sunday 1 July 2012

What Sharia says about women...

ADDED [10 Sep 16]: Women in Sharia
LATER [25 Nov 14]: "Women are not equal to men": Turkish PM.  They must be mothers, because that's in Islam.
LATER [10 Jul 13]: What does the Koran say about Women [Internet archive]
Below references from The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, the authoritative reference of Islamic jurisprudence. While it is for Sunni Islam, it applies in large part also for Shia Islam. The references in brackets are to the edition linked above by Amana Publications. 

Women must sit at the back of a mosque
“When there are men, boys and women present, the men form the front row or rows, then the boys, and then the women.” (f12.32)

Women may not wear wigs
Allah curse women who wear false hair, or arrange it for others….” (p59.0)

Women must undergo FGM preferably as girls
“Circumcision is obligatory for both men and women.” (e4.3)

Women may not institute divorce:
“Divorce is valid from any:
(a) husband
(b) who is sane
(c) has reached puberty
(d) and who voluntarily effects it" (n1.1)

PF Comment: for the travails of Muslim women in Australia seeking divorce in Sharia courts, see “Divorce in Oz, Muslim Style

Women may not leave home without husband’s permission
“Remain in your homes and do not display your beauty as women did in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (Koran 33.33)” (p42.2(4))
PF Comment: by Khalil Nahlawi says that “it is a condition for the permissibility of her going out that she take no measures to enhance her beauty, and that her figure is concealed or altered to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them.”
“A woman may not leave the city without her husband or a member of her unmarriageable kin accompanying her…” (m10.3)
“It is not lawful for a wife to leave the house except by the permission of her husband…” (m10.12(2))

PF CommentThese are the Sharia provisions that so restrict women in places like Saudi Arabia, which has the Koran as its State Constitution (literally!).  That they’ve been able to loosen some of these restrictions on women, against the objections of Islamist fundamentalists, speaks presumably to some clever manipulation of qualifications such as Khalil Nahlawi’s above.

Women may not lead men in prayer:
“It is not permissible to follow an imam who is… a woman leading men…” (f12.27)
PF Comment: of course Islam is not unique in this prohibition, which holds for various strands of Christianity, and some other religions, as well.

Pretty or young women may not go to a mosque:
“It is offensive for an attractive or young woman to come to the mosque to pray, though not offensive for women who are not young or attractive when this I unlikely to cause temptation.” (f12.4)

Women not entitled to husband’s support if they do not allow sex at any time:
‘The husband is only obliged to support his wife when she gives herself to him or offers to, meaning that she allows him full enjoyment of her person and does not refuse him sex at any time of the night or day.” (m11.9)

Indemnity for death of a woman is half that of a man:
“The indemnity for the death or injury of a woman is one-half the indemnity paid for a man.” (o4.9)

Women may not take leadership positions in Islam:
“… the leadership of a woman being invalid because of the rigorously authenticated hadith…” (o25.3 (d))

Men should not listen to women:
“Men are already destroyed when they obey women.” (p28.1)

A husband may beat his wife if she is “rebellious”:

“If she commits rebelliousness, he keeps from sleeping with her without words, and may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not break bones, wound her or cause blood to flow.” (m10.12)
Women must allow sex to their husbands whenever they wish:
“It is obligatory for a woman to let her husband have sex with her immediately when he asks her…” (m5.1)

Women must be veiled:
“A majority of scholars have been recorded as holding that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, whether or not there is likelihood of temptation. (m2.3)

Girls may be married off by their fathers:
“When the father or father’s father see that the best advantage is to be served by marrying a young boy (or girl) to someone, they may do so, though they are not entitled to marry the child to someone with a physical defect.” (m4.4)

PF Comment: see my post on Child Brides in Islam.

Muslim women may not marry a non-Muslim man:
“It is not lawful or valid for a Muslim woman to be married to anyone besides a Muslim. (m6.7(5))
(An example of this in action in Sudan)

Are the any positives in Islamic Sharia  for women?
A few:
Men should protect women if they are being attacked (o7.2)
Women may wear gold jewellery (f17.11)
Women may alert an imam to an error of omission by clapping her hands. (f9.4)
Wives should get sex every four nights, if she wants it (m5.2)
A husband should treat his wife well (m10.1)
A husband should provide for his wife (m11)
A woman is not punished for fornication if she is pregnant (o12.5-6). 
PF Comment:: Note, however, that she is to be punished after she gives birth and the provision sets out details of the type of whip to be used…