Monday 29 April 2013

Boston Calling: Bombers are the victims....

Letter to Beebs:
A sweet young Muslim lady was on the Boston Calling show just now (here in Hong Kong) telling us that when 911 happened she was concerned for how bad Osama Bin Laden had made Muslims look. Roll that round in the mind for a tick... Nothing about the 3,000 dead innocents; nothing about the Islamic ideology that drove OBL.  No, only concern for how Muslims might "look"... 
Well, never mind, for Lo! the young Muslima has had her consciousness raised. She no longer thinks of how the Boston Bombings " might make Muslims look".  No; now she's "sad" for the fact that the Tsarnaev freres were led down the path of terrorism (and without wondering how they might have been so led). In other words, she is yet again concerned for Muslims with not a skerrick of thought for the real victims -- those dead and maimed -- or for the ideology that led the Tsarnaevs to do what they did. 
That's bad enough, but to be expected: it is after all the normal litany of victimhood that accompanies each new Islamist atrocity. Not excusable though, is the nodding acquiescence of your BBC reporter. Finishing up the piece, a young Muslim man opined that "America can always improve" (i.e. again the fault is America's), nary a thought that Islam could improve, or could teach it's adherents that bombing innocents is to "misunderstand the Religion of Peace".  And yet, your reporter approvingly repeated this nasty and blindly self-centered farrago of nonsense. 
Shame on you for abetting this ubiquitous Muslim victimhood. And doing so without question or rebuttal. 
Yours etc,
Peter F
Sent from my iPad

"Sharia Courts in Britain: It is enough now"

From One Law for All:

Dear Friend,
Thank you as always for your support of One Law for All.  As you might know, sharia is being increasingly discussed in the media quite regularly, including an undercover report by the BBC’s Panorama programme.  We write today to give a review of that programme, and to tell you a little about our upcoming plans. 
This week’s BBC Panorama programme “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” confirms why One Law for All has been campaigning against the discriminatory parallel legal system running counter to British law for nearly five years.  
As has been repeatedly stated, women are being held to ransom, told to remain in violent situations, blamed for the violence they face, refused divorces over many years, and placed under undue pressure including with regards child access and welfare. The programme confirms this.
Whilst Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest, Nazir Afzal, asserts that “most of them are absolutely fine but there are some clearly, like this one, who are putting women at risk”, One Law for All believes that all Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals put women at risk. This is because the problem lies not with rogue councils or judges disrespecting the tenets of Sharia but is the result of a strict adherence to the Sharia.
Both the previous Government (which allowed them to evade investigation) and the current one, which asserts that existing legislation is sufficient to address this matter have shown nothing but moral cowardice and betrayed a large segment of British society. It is enough now.
The British government must put the rights and equality of all citizens over and above any religious laws and put an end to this human rights scandal once and for all. You can read the full text of our press release on the programme here.
We urge you to continue to exert pressure on the Government. Clearly our message is getting through. We must keep fighting till we win.
Please also sign One Law for All’s petition against Sharia law, which has over 29000 signatories.
Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill
One Law for All continues to work with Caroline Cox in the promotion of her Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill which aims to place criminal sanctions upon religious councils and tribunals that mislead women.  The Bill will also place a legal obligation on public sector agencies to advise women (correctly) of their rights under English law, and aims to bring private tribunals in to line with equality and human rights laws in the UK.  The Bill has received strong support from women's rights organisations as Inspire, as well as by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation, the Henna Foundation, Karma Nirvana and British Muslims for Secular Democracy.  Last year, it passed its second reading in the House of Lords.  Whilst the Bill has stalled due to the Government’s refusal to support it, the Bill will be re-introduced following the state opening of Parliament in May and we will update you on its progress.  You can read more here.
Please support Baroness Cox Equalities Bill, which was inspired by One Law for All here.
Essay Competition
One Law for All, in partnership with the Lawyers’ Secular Society, are calling on students across Europe to submit essays on the use of Sharia family and criminal law in countries in the EU.  The National Secular Society will provide a cash prise for the winning essay.  Submissions should be made by the end of the summer and details of how to do so will soon appear on our website. 
Songs for Freedom and Passion for Freedom Festival
One Law for All is inviting musicians and songwriters to create and submit their original material for a song competition.  Song entries should be focused on issues that relate to the work ‘One Law for All’ is engaged with, discussing themes like religion, freedom, secularism, Sharia law, equal rights and religious arbitration.  Details of where to submit entries can be found here.  The deadline for entries is 31 December.
One Law for All’s Passion for Freedom will hold its fifth festival during 2-9 November 2013. Deadline to submit artwork is 20 September 2013. Terms and conditions can be found here.
Other Activities
This year, we will release our report on the support of some on the political Left for Islamism; “Siding with the Oppressor: the Pro-Islamist Left” will soon be available.  Another report, “Multiculturalism and Child Protection in Britain: Sharia Law and Other Failures” will be available soon as well. 
We will continue to speak to various organisations and events, including in Leicester, Washington, DC, Boston, Dublin, Brighton, and New York City.  Full details can be found here.  Moreover, we are in the early stages of arranging debates with proponents of Sharia law. We are also organising a debate with the English Defence League, where we will expose their similarities with Islamism and argue our opposition to both – further details to follow. 
Support us
If you can, please continue to support us in our essential work. To donate to One Law for All, send a cheque made payable to One Law for All to BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK or pay via Paypal. You can also commit to giving at least £5-10 a month via direct debit. You can find out more about how to donate or join the 100 Club here. Also, if you shop online, please do so via the Easy Fundraising’s website. It won’t cost you anything extra but can help raise much needed funds for One Law for All.
Thanks again for your support. A particular thanks to those who provide monthly donations, which is much needed. We look forward to continuing to fight for human rights in the months to come.
Warmest wishes
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters
One Law for All
BM Box2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731

Saturday 20 April 2013

Marathon Murder Motive Mystery.... What *could* they have been thinking??

If you watched BBC, CNBC, CNN, and so on -- as I did -- you might be scratching your head -- as they did -- about the motive for the Boston Marathon bombing murders.  What could they have been thinking, the Tsarnaev frères?
The motive was no further elucidated by the worthies at these outlets by the fact that the elder brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had a YouTube site on which he posted videos of Feiz Mohammed, an Aussie Imam who says that Muslims should kill we infidels.  They didn't even talk of the videos on Tamerlan's website.  When they glancingly mentioned them, it was to say that, no, we should not make a connection between the videos and what they said about killing infidels and the bombings, for that would be "jumping to conclusions" and by implication "Islamophobic".
So then you're left scratching your head.
Then I shifted to Fox and they did at least talk of the videos on Tamerlan's site and what they might mean.  But even then, they wondered.  He, Tamerlan the older brother, had been popular at school and college, had done well, was on the wrestling and boxing teams, and so on.  The younger brother, Dzhokhar, was even more popular; good looking, too.  What, wondered Fox, had made them "radicalise"?
The answer is simple:
Reading the Koran.
If someone like me -- an atheist -- reads the Koran, he'll likely be, as I was when I first read it, horrified.  I can still remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up in horror at what I'd read and thinking "if this is what we're up against, we're in trouble".  I'd guess many other non-atheists, believers like Christians and Buddhists, may well have the same reaction.
But if you're a Muslim, as Tamerlan was (his name, btw, a version of the brutal Muslim warlord Tamerlane), then you're going to read it differently.  I'll assume for a moment that he'd not read it closely till recently-ish. That's how it sounds from the reports.  Then he started reading it. And we have reports that he said he was getting more pious, reading the Koran, stopped drinking and smoking.
He knows that the Koran is the inerrant word of Allah. And that what it says, he must follow. Not just to give up the smokes and grog; but also to kill infidels. For that's there, in the Koran, and in unambiguous terms, in wording that cannot be mistaken or misread for its "context" (as we're so often told by Koranic apologists mitigates the most bloodthirsty of the verses; no it doesn't).
So, the path to so-called "radicalisation" is easy: it's a Muslim, becoming more pious, reading the Koran and following its directives.

The hypocrisy of the left.

They would love for the bombings to have been by a right winger (Salon even had an article openly saying they wished it was a "white American").
You could almost feel the collective buttock-tighening as they wished for the bombing to have been a right-wing atrocity, say and anti-Tax protest.  And had it been, you can bet that those on the right would have been blamed: especially the Tea Party, for, say, beating up on high taxes (I must say here that I'm no Tea Partier; but I've seen how they've been scapegoated in the past, including for the Norwegian Anders Breivik killings). And that's despite the fact that noone on the right, not even the Tea Party, has called for violence.
But once it's proved to be a Muslim... there's no thought on the left that Islamic theology might be linked to the event.  Oh, no, do so would be Islamophobic.  And that's despite the fact the Islamic doctrine does indeed call for violence and killing of infidels.
Oh Hypocrisy, Thy name is Huffington (and Slate and Salon, and CCN and ....).


The Tsarmaev's Uncle appeared on TV and said that "it had nothing to do with religion", just that his two nephews were "losers", who were jealous of the Boston Marathoners.
What crock.
First: what sort of "losers" were these? They'd come to the US as refugees, made it to school, to University, one a competitive wrestler and boxer, the other studying for medecine.  The younger one had a scholarship. What sort of "losers" are these?
Even assume for a minute that they are "Losers", then what about all the other millions of "losers" in the US, in far worse a state than they were.  Why don't they go on murderous bombing sprees?
It always seems to be the Muslims that do so.
Then again, I'm an "Islamophobe" for suggesting that....

Friday 12 April 2013

North Korea: "I loathe you; I'm just not 'in loathe' with you...."

Above clip from Daily Beast, which asks "How scared should we be of North Korea" and discusses whether they can put a nuclear weapon on a missile.
I did business with North Korea in the early 80s and visited there about half a dozen times. The thing we concluded after doing a number of deals with them, and then having them renege, was that they all -- all of those we met -- lie.  And the reason they all lie, with a straight face, we concluded, is that they are lied to every day by their leadership -- for more senior government and trade officials, the ones we met, do know what's going on in the world, and that the 'juche' idea of Kim Il Sung is not the wonder they are told it it.  So, since they're lied to every day, they see nothing amiss in lying to the foreigner, the farang, they're dealing with.
Not sure if this adds anything to the debate -- what to do about bellicosity of the young Kim.  But maybe just a little: that they always lie. And so probably do too about their nuclear capacity.

Sitting here in Hong Kong, we're pretty close to the potential Ground Zero.
But there are many who are thinking something like "bring it on".  Only that would solve the issue.  For if the North bombed, say, Guam, the retaliation would be severe and devastating.  And would likely not -- unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan -- involve the citizenry.  The US and South Korea know full well where the military installations are.  That's where they'd hit.
We never "loathed" our North Korean business partners, let alone "fall in loathe" with them.  But, goodness me, they certainly don't know their arse from their elbow when it comes to what's best for the country....

"Applying God’s Law: Religious Courts and Mediation in the U.S."

An interesting and thorough survey of religious laws throughout the US, by Pew Research.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Sex and the Citadel

The "newspaper of record" reviews a book on sexuality in the Arab world....
“Men in Egypt, in the gulf, they always want to have sex in the wrong place,” one Egyptian woman whispered to the writer Shereen El Feki, while she conducted her research into sexual proclivities in a rapidly changing Arab world.
The comment was about anatomy, not geography. And it’s indicative of the frankness Ms. El Feki’s “Sex and the Citadel” sometimes achieves....
Read the rest of "A Fig Leaf is Dropped in Islamic Societies".

Monday 8 April 2013

"I'm offended by Islam"

The redoubtable old leftie and stand-up comic, with his refreshing counter to the apologia of Greenwald.

Thursday 4 April 2013

New Apologists attack "New Atheists". Defending Sam Harris

Goodness me, what a kerfuffle!

After Tuesday's post about Nathan Lean attacking the so-called New Atheists -- especially Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens -- we have a real stoush between Glenn Greenwald for the Apologists and Sam Harris for the Atheists. And, of course, their fellow travellers.

If you're interested in Islam, in Apologetics, in Comparative Religion, in Racism, in Profiling, in the Ethics of Torture, in Millinariasm, the End of The World or the Future of the West.... or just in a Jolly Good Verbal Fisticuffs, settle down in bed, fire up the iPad and get ready for a couple of hours of most enjoyable reading....

I give the links below in the order you ought to read them....

Supporters of Harris and critics of both Hussein and Greenwald have weighed in:
I was going to point out myself some of the errors of fact or mischaracterisations in Hussein's piece, but Bensiger has done a thorough and thoroughly good -- and better -- job of it ("BEST OF ALL", above). Not much left to say, save: It's clear -- to me at least -- that the context of Harris' comments on European fascists and what they say about Islam (the start of this whole palaver) is thoroughly mitigated by its context: Harris is NOT supporting fascists, or even their comments on Islam; but Greenwald does not see that.
Greenwald had a long exchange with someone in his Twitter account, which he's subsequently deleted.  In it he was walking back his stance; you could almost see it.... admitting that he'd not followed the internal links in Hussein's piece, could not vouch for it in all its points (though he'd earlier done so in his email exchange with Harris), and that all he stood by was Harris' quote about fascists and Islam (on which I -- and many others -- think he's plain wrong).
He also had a definition of "New Atheism", which said it was focussed on being anti-Mulism.  He's since deleted that too.  Wikipedia does not have that in its definition.
And, finally, though many others have criticised Hussein on matters of fact and interpretation, none that I've seen has pointed out the over-arching problem with his essay: mainly the thesis, utterly unsubstantiated, that the New Atheists are like the Scientific Racists of the past.  He states it, ipse dixit, but it's unsupported by his argumentation, which is essentially ad hominem.
BTW, too: I've read just about everything Harris has written.  There's not, to me, a skerrik of evidence that he is a racist, let alone, as Hussein claims, guilty of "the most virulent racism imaginable".  Dear, oh dear, what is wrong with me that I have failed to see that, in all his writings.
Harris' original words are well worth reading. Particularly in the case of Torture and Profiling, it's easy to see that his positions are far more nuanced than the crude characterisation of some of his critics, to the extent that they are often setting up straw men to attack.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Spencer vs Lean

Robert Spencer has a thing about Nathan Lean and vice versa.
Here is Lean's latest piece of nuttiness, in Salon: his on-going program to exculpate Islam from all shortcomings and here is Spencer's comment on it.
Makes me a bit dark that Lean should attack worthies such as Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens.
And he's plain wrong on many counts, covered well by Spencer.
Though I'm rather startled that Dawkins should admit to not having read the Koran.  Why not, Richard?

"On China's state-sponsored amnesia"

                                                                                   Cristobal Schmal, via NYT
I remember so well the morning of June 4, 1989.
I was in Canberra, only just back from Beijing, and there on the morning TV news of the Chinese government's crackdown -- "a massacre" as it soon came to be known -- of the demonstrations in Tiananmen square and surrounds.  There were tanks, troops, shootings, dead residents, in the 1000's they said on the news, perhaps in the 100s we later estimated.  I went back to Beijing just a few days later, to a still-traumatized city, empty, eerily quiet, little traffic, hotels along the main drag with bullet holes in the windows.  I stayed at the Great Wall Sheraton, where the reception desk greeted me with a mordant "活着呐?... you're still alive then?".... that was the greeting in the aftermath.  Everyone, but everyone, in Beijing knew what had happened.
So it's very hard to imagine that these demonstrations and the crackdowns, with hundreds maybe thousands killed -- and which took place all over China, not just Beijing, huge and active and optimistic to change the corrupt and undemocratic ways of the leadership, then crushed brutally -- could simply be forgotten.
But that's what's happened. I can confirm from my own recent visits to China, that young, even youngish, Chinese know nothing about June 4th. Let alone the "Gang of Four" from the seventies.
Below is Yan Lianke writing from China, in the New York Times International about the big amnesia.  Which he suggests goes beyond those that don't remember because they weren't born then, implicating in particular the intelligentsia:
IN March 2012 I met Torbjorn Loden, the Swedish professor of Chinese language and culture, in Hong Kong. He told me that while briefly teaching at Hong Kong’s City University he asked the 40 students from China in his class what they knew about the June 4 Incident, the pro-democracy movement that ended in bloodshed in 1989, and if they were familiar with the names Liu Binyan and Fang Lizhi, two prominent democracy advocates of that era. All the students from China looked around at one another, mute and puzzled.  Read on.