Saturday 30 April 2016

How moderate are moderate Muslims?

Posting the whole of Rod Liddle's article from last week's Spectator, as it seems to be under a paywall, but only sometimes (which I don't quite get).

Anyway, not a good week for promoters of the "moderate muslim" fallacy and that we'll all be right in the end. We may not. The ICM poll is still reverberating.

How moderate are moderate Muslims?

There is an ocean between what British Muslims believe and what the rest of us believe

‘What’s in the news this week?’ I asked my wife as she browsed the first newspaper we had seen for a whole week, having hitherto been blissfully disconnected from the rest of the country, without phones or the internet.
‘Muslims, largely,’ she replied, flicking from page to page, ‘a bit on in-and-out, but mainly it’s the Muslims.’ Oh, good. A perpetual optimist, I had rather hoped that during our week away the frequently promised Islamic Reformation might have taken place and peace and enlightenment spread all those many miles from the jungles of Banda Aceh to the dilapidated terraces of Kirklees. But nope, apparently not. They were still up to their stuff, a good few of them.
For a start, there was the fallout from Trevor Phillips’s excellent film about Islam in Britain, in which he reported, via an ICM poll, that two thirds of British Muslims would refuse to grass on a fellow Muslim, no matter how much ricin he was storing in his lock-up. And the added worry that virtually none share our outlook on life, don’t want to integrate and possess views about Jewish people which Ernst Röhm would have thought a bit gamey.

Terrorist organisations: Islam is top of the pops

In 2010 I put together an excel sheet of all the officially designated terrorist organisations in the world and calculated how many were Islamic.  At that time it was 98%.
In August 2015 I updated the sheet and these were the headline figures:
  • Total: 127 (141 on Wikipedia, but I removed the ones no longer active)
  • Total religiously-based: 89 (77% of total)
  • Islamic as % of Total: 72%
  • Islamic as % of religiously-based: 93.3%
I've just done another update and the headline figures are:
  • Total: 157 (176 Wikipedia page, inactive removed)
  • Total religiously-based: 124 (79% of total)
  • Islamic as % of Total: 75%
  • Islamic as % of religiously-based: 94.4%
Here's a clip of the summary of the latest figures:

At the risk of belabouring the obvious, a few observations:
  • Terrorism organisation numbers are up, with religiously-based organisations up even more as a proportion of the total.
  • Islamic terrorist groups are the large majority of all terrorist groups. Of the religiously-based ones, Islamic terrorist groups are the overwhelming proportion. (93% to 98%).
  • In short: the percentage of Islamic terrorist groups varies from "virtually all" to "pretty much virtually all".
  • Therefore: it's patent nonsense for Islamic apologists to claim (as the do), that "all religions have their terrorists".  Not even close, not even for the Abrahamic religions.
  • The number of participants and supporters of Islamic terrorist groups number in the hundreds of millions. Supporters of just one of the groups above, ISIL, number up to 70 million.  
  • It's nonsense to say that the number of Islamic terrorists are "a tiny minority" let alone that "99.9% of Muslims are peace loving", as Obama has said. The numbers joining these terrorist groups, or supporting their actions, are a minority, to be sure, but a very substantial minority. For a religion with 1.5 billion adherents, that's a serious worry.
My spreadsheet is here on Dropbox.

Friday 29 April 2016

It's official: the greater the Muslim % of the population the greater the gender gap

The South China Morning Post reported on the 27 April that Saudi Arabia was still not ready to lift the ban on women driving (just contemplate that for a moment: women are not allowed to drive!).
Saudi Arabia isn’t ready to end the world’s only ban on women driving, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, arguing it’s not just a matter of ending strictures imposed by the kingdom’s austere form of Islam.
Allowing women to drive is “not a religious issue as much as it is an issue that relates to the community itself that either accepts it or refuses it,” said the 30-year-old prince, who has amassed unprecedented powers since his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne. “The community is not convinced about women driving” and sees negative consequences if it’s allowed, the prince said on Monday after outlining a plan to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil.  [my emphasis]
That got me thinking. Can it be that it's not a matter of religion (Islam)?

So I did a bit of research and analysis.

I put together the Global Gender Gap index of 2015, from the well-regarded World Economic Forum, together with the figures for the percentage of Islam by country in each of the 145 countries in the WEF index.  Then I did a correlation function.

The correlation between the two is: minus 0.63.  According the the Pearson correlation function, that's classified as a "strong" correlation.  In this case, a negative correlation: that is: the greater the percentage of Muslims in a country's population, the worse its gender gap.

This correlation is also a causation for nothing else can explain the correlation.  These are countries with different ethnicities, different political systems (though most are authoritarian or theocratic), different histories and different geographies.  There's only one factor that binds them all, and that's the ideology of Islam. So as far as the Saudi ban on women driving is concerned, it's just that they take the gender gap just that little bit further.  Women driving? It's not Islamic.

Another highlight: The bottom 23 countries in the WEF Gender gap index are all majority Muslim countries.  The message is clear: if you're born a woman in a Muslim majority country, that's very bad luck for you indeed.

My calculations in an Excel spreadsheet are here.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Churchill on the respect for all "religions"...

In February 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was in Egypt and wanted to discuss with the Saudi King ibn Saud a definitive and lasting settlement between Arabs and Jews .
Churchill was told that the King would not allow drinking or smoking in his presence. Churchill recorded:
"I was the host and I said that if it was his religion that made him say such things, my religion prescribed as an absolute sacred ritual smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after, and if need be, during, all meals and the intervals between. Complete surrender." Churchill by Himself, p353.
[Oh for such straight-talking by today's politicians!]

LATER:  More of Churchill's views on Islam.

The Spread of the Gospel.... and Islam

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Why the Left Loathes Western Civilization - Dennis Prager

This strikes me as a spot-on analysis. Worrying, what's more.
It's what happens when an ideology ("all are equal"), trumps intelligence and plain common sense.

A Hong Kong Judge’s Warning

This article in the Wall Street Journal is just the latest in a recent string of actions by Beijing, squashing down on Hong Kong's basic freedoms: freedom of press, freedom of speech, the rule of law.
Some of the comments on this article I find ignorant and mocking.  It really is the rule of law, freedom of conscience and freedom of the press that are the basis for Hong Kong's wealth and openness, and these were operational well before Hong Kong became entwined with China from the early 1980s.

Why I renounced Islam - an ex-Muslim 's Critique of Islam

Omar Makram is spot on.  Watch and watch again.
Some timestamps:
0'27": "The best cure for religion is studying the scripture"..... Reading is what made me an atheist"
1'18": "Hadith more violent than the Koran"
2'25": The level of violence in the Koran is unacceptable to me"
2'45": "The Koran is incompatible with human rights"
3'25": "Mohammad as a historical figure is a fucking awful person"
5'20": "I might as well believe in werewolves or vampires, or Greek gods"

I found all these in my readings of the Koran and the Hadith.  What I don't get is why people should convert to Islam, after reading the scripture. Either these people haven't read the scriptures, or they have and they find them congenial (hence explaining whey so may converts become "radicalised" jihadis).
Less common is the conversion from Islam to atheism, as Omar explains in the above video. Mainly, I suppose, because of the penalties for becoming an apostate: coventry or death.  So that makes Omar not just an honest and thinking man, but also a very brave one.
As of writing, the comments are all supportive of Omar.
Related video on the same line.

Electric shock – Tesla cars in Hong Kong more polluting than petrol models

Hi Mark,
Yes, I saw that.  It was front page in the local South China Morning Post, a couple of weeks back.
Today, there's a counter-argument in a letter to the editor:

Electric cars still the greener option by far
I refer to the article, "Electric shock – Tesla cars in Hong Kong more polluting than petrol models" (April 13). The Bernstein report quoted in the article presents a distorted picture, skewing the data to fit the author's investment portfolio. Not surprising, given the report's author's oil and gas background and investments.
The most outrageous distortion is the choice of HK Electric in the estimation of carbon intensity, while completely excluding CLP, whose carbon dioxide emissions are 30 per cent lower. CLP generates three-quarters of the electricity, and powers 70 per cent of the electric vehicles, in Hong Kong. Correct that one distortion, and the report result is reversed.
Bernstein uses artificial fuel economy figures; production emissions are exaggerated, and the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the extraction, refinement and transportation of oil is understated.
All environmental protection agencies and governments globally recognise the benefits of electric vehicles, and support and promote their adoption. One distorted report from an oil company investor does not change that. The truth is that electric vehicles, even when powered by dirty coal, are still cleaner than comparable petrol vehicles today. In most cases, comparable petrol vehicles pollute at least 50 per cent more.
Hong Kong has already seen a 90 per cent reduction in emissions harmful to air quality from power generation over the past 20 years. Commitments for the coming 10 years will further reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50 per cent. An electric vehicle purchased today will get cleaner in the coming years, as power generation continues to improve, while a petrol car will get dirtier, as the engine deteriorates.
The only valid point in the whole biased Bernstein report is that Hong Kong needs a cleaner fuel mix for electricity generation. Such a migration to cleaner and more renewable energy is inevitable, and in progress. We as a community should support that, because it is not just electric vehicles that are powered by our electricity grid.
Mark Webb-Johnson, chairman, Charged Hong Kong

On 17 Apr, 2016, at 5:16 am, Mark Hodgkin <> wrote:

Hi Peter,
I hope the sailing went well, I am still waiting for my Open 40 experience...
This may amuse – from the FT
On Hong Kong island, electric cars are not the clean option
Never mind that Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of the electric carmaker, has described the city as "a beacon" for electric vehicles. This may be so — Hong Kong has one of the highest penetration rates of electric vehicles as a percentage of new car sales anywhere. But this may not be helping Hong Kong's carbon footprint or air quality. According to research from Bernstein, electricity generation for Hong Kong island is so dirty that a Tesla car charged there will be responsible for one-fifth more CO2 over its average life than an equivalent petrol guzzler. Based on its assumptions, the research house says Hong Kong would have to reduce its carbon intensity by 30 per cent before its citizens can justify buying electric vehicles for lower emissions.
This is not Tesla's fault, nor is it likely to deter buyers. Nor, judging from the response to the Model 3 launch, do delivery delays, for which the company has become infamous.
Perhaps they should. Early adopters of a technology normally accept that their gadget will become obsolete fairly rapidly. They may not expect this for cars. Delays were so long for the first buyers of Model S cars in Hong Kong that deliveries arrived only two months before upgraded hardware came out. Ambitious technology goals have caused teething problems in most models. The very popularity of Tesla in Hong Kong can lead to delays in fixing any problems.
No matter, Tesla offers a way out. As in some other countries, it has a trade-in option for the Model S, buying old cars at 75 per cent of the base price (and 65 per cent of add-ons) if returned within a window of 36 to 37 months of ownership. That deal does not hold, though, if you want to upgrade earlier.
Tesla cars have long run potential. But until it can learn to deliver, rational investors will steer clear.

What’s Really Killing India’s Smokers - WSJ

Here's yet another one of the many Things I Don't Get. That otherwise sane and sensible people can simply ignore scientific evidence. These are many of the same folk who urge, say, climate skeptics to "follow the science". 
Or who, in the case of GMOs, staunchly refuse the abundant scientific evidence that they're perfectly safe. (The "scientific consensus", as they would say in the case of climate science). 
And in the case of e-cigarettes, they refuse to accept the science that vaping is 95% safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes. 
This article exposes this idiocy at work in India. And, I'm sad to say, it's also at work in Australia. And in the WHO, headed by our very own Margaret Chen of Hong Kong. Shame on all these intelligent fools. 

"That vaping is as risky as smoking is a popular falsehood in other countries, notably Australia and Canada, and is spreading in the U.S. In 2014, the WHO "invited [countries] to consider prohibiting or regulating 'electronic nicotine delivery devices.' "

"India's unsubstantiated opposition to vaping is a travesty. Allowing smokers to seek healthier alternatives does not warrant imprisonment. Misinformation about vaping led to the injustice of Mr. Kumar and presents a growing threat to public health everywhere."

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Rethinking the Global War on Drugs -

About time too. (There's also an article from the WSJ of 2012, that argues the same case: if newspapers on the left and on the right agree on a policy, we're getting close to something that may be workable).
"At the urging of Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia, world leaders met at the United Nations in a special session last week to discuss saner ways to fight the drug trade. They did not get very far toward a shift in approach. Nonetheless, there was a consensus that investing in health care, addiction treatment and alternatives to incarceration would do more to end the drug trade than relying primarily on prohibition and criminalization."
Read on>>

Sent from my iPhone

Monday 25 April 2016

Zones of influence - China in Africa

We had a brief discussion on Dallinghoo about China in Africa.
Here's a short video I came across today in the latest Economist about China's special economic zones in Africa. Interesting I think.
Cheers to all!

Sent from my iPhone

Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest? -

I hate Hilary. Hate, I say.
The one-word reason for my hate? Benghazi.
In that murderous incident, Clinton showed a shocking lack of character, a shivering lack of spine, a clear lack of of care; while yet she exhibited fulsome dishonesty: the violence and killings were "due to an anti-Muslim film". No they weren't. They were due to a resurgent Al Q'aeda.
Still, in the interests of fairness, here's an article by Nicholas Kristof that claims a fact-checking firm finds Hilary the most honest of the candidates on both sides.
If that's true then she deserves some recognition for that, even from a Hilary-hater like me.
Read on >>

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday 24 April 2016

Italy’s universities bow to Islam and boycott Israel - Arutz Sheva

Italy colludes in its own demise.
With that bane of civilization, Saudi Arabia.
The two comments to date are ignorant.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday 23 April 2016

Did Time magazine bum you out? The internet debunks mag’s claim that you owe $42.998.12 for the national debt -

It's in Salon, but still..... The US is NOT insolvent and won't be anytime soon. Correction: won't be anytime, period.
A national economy is not like a household one. The US national debt is treated like cash. If it were paid down it would suck the air out of the international financial markets.

Sent from my iPhone

I Love Islam | Frontpage Mag

The education of young Muslims in the United States:

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday 14 April 2016

What Do Young British Muslims Think About the Caliphate? | Clarion Project

Some lazy thinking here. But dangerous in its ignorance and sheer bigotry.

Sent from my iPhone

"No one should be shy of learning Chinese"

Later: printed in the Financial Times 25 April, 2016, as above headline.

To the Financial Times:

I thought Jeremy Paxman's article a refreshingly robust case for English as the global language ("Voila!", April 8). He is spot on.
Another language that repays study is Chinese. I speak as one who learnt Mandarin Chinese, to interpreter level, as an adult. My mother tongue was Italian and I've spoken passable French and German in my time. So I agree with Alan Watson who says that knowledge of a "starter" European language is not a necessity for learning Chinese. (Letters 14 April).
 [Indeed it may well be a hindrance in learning a tonal language with ideographs, which nonetheless has a very simple grammar -- simpler than all European languages].
My point is this: that English is the global language. And Chinese is a hugely helpful language in most of Asia: China itself, of course, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, much of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
No one should be shy to take on Chinese. It takes study, to be sure, but it repays that study in spades, from insights into "Asian values" to appreciation of the elegance of Classical Chinese calligraphy.
Yours, etc...

[Sent from Cathay Lounge, Hong Kong, on our way to Burma, sailing on the S/Y Dalinghoo]

The Dirty Old Men of Pakistan - The New York Times

The Dirty Old Men of Pakistan

Memoona, the victim of an acid attack in a family feud, in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2011. Credit Insiya Syed/Reuters

Karachi, Pakistan — IN the world we live in, there is no dearth of pious men who believe that most of the world's problems can be fixed by giving their women a little thrashing. And this business of a man's God-given right to give a woman a little thrashing has brought together all of Pakistan's pious men.
A few weeks ago, Pakistan's largest province passed a new law called the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act. The law institutes radical measures that say a husband can't beat his wife, and if he does he will face criminal charges and possibly even eviction from his home. It proposes setting up a hotline women can call to report abuse. In some cases, offenders will be required to wear a bracelet with a GPS monitor and will not be allowed to buy guns.
A coalition of more than 30 religious and political parties has declared the law un-Islamic, an attempt to secularize Pakistan and a clear and present threat to our most sacred institution: the family. They have threatened countrywide street protests if the government doesn't back down.
Their logic goes like this: If you beat up a person on the street, it's a criminal assault. If you bash someone in your bedroom, you're protected by the sanctity of your home. If you kill a stranger, it's murder. If you shoot your own sister, you're defending your honor. I'm sure the nice folks campaigning against the bill don't want to beat up their wives or murder their sisters, but they are fighting for their fellow men's right to do just that.
It's not only opposition parties that are against the bill: The government-appointed Council of Islamic Ideology has also declared it repugnant to our religion and culture. The council's main task is to ensure that all the laws in the country comply with Shariah. But basically it's a bunch of old men who go to sleep worrying that there are all these women out there trying to trick them into bed. Maybe that's why there are no pious old women on the council, even though there's no shortage of them in Pakistan.
The council's past proclamations have defended a man's right to marry a minor, dispensed him from asking for permission from his first wife before taking a second or a third, and made it impossible for women to prove rape. It's probably the most privileged dirty old men's club in the country.
Some of us routinely condemn these pious old men, but it seems they are not just a bunch of pampered religious nuts. In fact, they are giving voice to Pakistani men's collective misery over the fact that their women are out of control. Look at university exam results; women are hogging all the top positions. Go to a bank; there is a woman counting your money with her fancy nails. Turn on your TV; there is a female journalist questioning powerful men about politics and sports.
One of these journalists recently was grilling a famous mufti opposed to the bill. Bewildered, the mufti said: Are you a woman, or are you a TV journalist? She was professional enough not to retort: Are you a mufti, or just another old fart?
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Three decades ago, most Pakistani women who had paid jobs worked at menial tasks, and the others were confined to traditional professions like medicine or teaching or, occasionally, law. There was a small and brave women's movement. Women were writing novels and making movies, but they were few in number. Now they are flying planes, heading companies, policing the streets, climbing mountains and winning Oscars and Nobel Prizes. There are millions of women across the country running little beauty parlors from their homes, employing other women and gaining a measure of independence.
But for every bank teller, there are still millions of women who are farmhands or house help. For every TV journalist, there are many more women who live in half-slavery, scrubbing and cleaning, and shouldering the heavy burden of protecting and raising their kids.
Let's not just blame the mullahs and muftis. Misogyny is way older than any religion. Even people who have never seen the inside of a mosque or the Sufis who want to become one with the universe wouldn't think twice before treating a woman as something between a pest and a pet goat.
Some members of Parliament stayed away when this bill was being passed in the Punjab assembly. They probably represent a majority. Some of us even call ourselves feminist. "See, I have never stopped my sister from going to school, never given my girlfriend a black eye. That makes me a feminist, right? But we must protect our families. You don't want a family-loving feminist man going around with a GPS tracker, do you?"
What really scares the so-called feminist men is that a lot of women are actually quite bored with talking about being a woman. They talk about their work. A film director talks about bad actors. A development worker talks about idiotic funding patterns. A maid talks about her cellphone and the quality of detergents.
There's a woman in my neighborhood who walks fast. She is always carrying two kids in her arms. Not infants but 3-, 4-year-old sturdy kids, heavy weights. She walks fast. Probably you have to walk fast when you are carrying two kids. She doesn't expect a lift from the many cars passing by. She can't afford a cab. She is walking toward her bus. Always with the two kids in her arms and a bag around her shoulder. She gives Quran lessons at people's homes.
I don't think all those pious men, or anyone else, can tell that woman with the two kids how to walk her daily walk. If someone asks her how it feels to be a woman in this society, she'd probably answer, "Can't you see I'm working?"

Continue reading the main story

What’s a European Liberal to Do? -

The Left (finally), or at least some of the Left, maybe finally gets it about fighting for the fruits of western enlightenment culture, and its superiority to the culture of Islam. That's right: superiority.
Sylvie Kauffmann discusses the issues.

(On this point listen also to Sam Harris' podcast -- "Ask me anything 4").

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Shock Poll: 23% of British Muslims Want Sharia Rules in UK | Clarion Project

Article with a great embedded video by the liberal Sunni Muslim Raheel Raza, discussing the concentric circles of Muslim views:

  • The inner circle of Jihadis
  • The next circle of Islamists
  • The outer circle, the largest, of Muslims who are neither murderous Jihadis nor supremacist Islamists, but who nonetheless hold decidedly illiberal views, the like of: apostates from Islam should be killed, thieves should have their hands cut off, adulterous women should be stoned to death, girls should be genially mutilated, and so, drearily, on. 

These last the so-called "moderate" Muslims.

Monday 11 April 2016

Murder Suspect Admits Killing Shopkeeper Because He ‘disrespected’ Islam | Godless Spellchecker's Blog

Stephen Knight makes pretty much all the points I was going to when I read about this Muslim-on-Muslim murder.
Namely, that despite the murderer making it crystal clear that he did it in to protect Islam, the "nothing to do with Islam " brigade will be out in force looking for any reason but Islam.

Harry's Place » Trevor Phillips – what do Muslims really think?

Following on from post immediately below, some interesting comments both ATL and BTL, in Harry's Place

More than half of Muslims want gay sex to be outlawed, ICM poll reveals | Daily Mail Online

One for the Polls label.
Nothing in here to give comfort to the open-minded UK.

"Profiling ideology the best way to combat terrorism", letters 10 April

Letter to South China Morning Post [288 words]:

Trust a professor of social sciences to befuddle us with a word-salad of jargon only to close with a glimpse of the obvious. 

Professor Sundramoorthy runs through a long list of "sociodemographic profiles" which could create a terrorist, before landing on the "ideology of terrorism". (Profiling ideology the best way to combat terrorism, letters 10 April)

But this is only a glimpse of the obvious, for nowhere does he say what that ideology is. He fails to name the one clear connection between all these terrorists — that they are all votaries of Islam. There are plenty of poor and disaffected youth in the world.  But only those who believe in the sanctity of jihad and the certainly of martyrdom (those virgins in paradise) can be tempted to strap on a suicide vest to kill innocents.

Sundramoorthy is not alone in this failure to name the obvious link in modern terrorism. Plenty of other observers name a myriad causes — grievances, poverty, lack of education, disenfranchisement — while ignoring the common thread in all: islamist-jihadi ideology.

They would all do well to study the words of Adam Deen, an ex-Jihadi and now counter-terrorist outreach worker in London. On 10 April he said "the predominant factor in radicalisation is the ideology [of Islam] — it is the ideas that move people.  I didn't come from a poverty-stricken background or broken home.  I went to university, I didn't feel angry and I was apolitical. Yet, I was indoctrinated with a radical Islamist ideology and became impassioned with the idea of an Islamic state".

If we, non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike, are to face down the terrorist threat, we need to counter the plain truth in front of us, the threat of radical islamist ideology.

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong
9308 0799
P. Sundramoorthy's letter:

Undeniably, the significant impact of terror and extremist strategies in recent years has instilled significant levels of fear and phobia in societies worldwide.
Governments, policymakers, law enforcement agencies, multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations, interest groups, and even ordinary people are all attempting to acquire information on the profile of a terrorist. Many ask what does a terrorist look like, what personality traits do they possess, in what conditions do they live, are they employed or unemployed, are they religious fanatics? We desperately want answers so that we can identify these criminals and put a stop to their horrific and inhumane acts of terror and violence.
Some scholars argue that with the acquisition of additional primary data, psychological profiling will be substantiated as a successful measure. However, based on analysis of official data by researchers, there is no grounded evidence to conclude that there is causal progression from mental illness to terroristic intentions. Psychological profiling is further limited by the apparent normalcy and sociability of many captured terrorists. Thus, in the context of terrorism, the argument that a terrorist personality or personalities exist for psychological profiling is scientifically non-conclusive as well.
Sociodemographic profiles as illustrated in some research do display some credibility. Religiosity, social class, employment status, place of residence, type of neighbourhood, politics, level of corruption in the local community, business opportunities, poverty, accessibility to schools and hospitals, public health, type of housing and other quality of life related variables can be useful in sociodemographic profiling. This type of profiling requires a considerable amount of biographical data and without the data it has limited practical use in addressing emerging terrorist threats. Sociodemographic profiles only succeed in demonstrating the multiplicity and complexity of the phenomenon of terrorism and extremism.
Thus, will it ever be possible to profile the terrorist? Sadly the answer is no and to profile the terrorist is a futile endeavour and most of all it contributes negatively to both stereotyping ethnocentrism and will eventually lead to feelings and acts of prejudice and discrimination.
As an alternative to profiling the terrorist, a more practical and effective methodology would be profiling the ideology of terrorism as a process within a complex system. This increasingly globalised phenomenon is here to stay and we need to engage with all segments to understand the root causes of extremism and terrorism.
P. Sundramoorthy, associate professor, school of social sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

Sunday 10 April 2016

Apostasy not a right, Muslim lawyer says | Malaysia | Mobile | Malay Mail Online

From allegedly moderate Malaysia, where an allegedly tolerant version of Islam is practiced, we have clarity on Islam's view of apostasy: namely, not on.
What an abuse of the freedom of conscience and freedom of thought enshrined in the international covenant on human rights to which Malaysia is a signatory.
Of course to a Muslim Islam trumps all man made laws and to say otherwise is yet another crime: blasphemy.
Oh the horrors of Islam.

Friday 8 April 2016

A question of character

The South China Morning Post carried my letter yesterday on the recent kerfuffle in Hong Kong over simplified vs traditional Chinese characters.  Some in Hong Kong think that having subtitles on some TV programs is an attempt by mainland China to exert its sovereignty.
SCMP, 7 April '16

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Stephen Fry on political correctness and clear thinking

Via the Why Evolution is True blog, Stephen Fry makes sense on the Rubin Report

A Jewel in Syria Where ‘Ruins Have Been Ruined’ by ISIS -

Jihadist have often said, mocking we western infidels: "we love death more than you love life". That's true, no doubt, but whereas the jihadism is proud of it, we infidels should see it for what it is: a sick vision.
Same for the ISIS official who claims proudly that what they have "created" in Palmyra is "sand and destruction".
That's the contribution of Islam to the world: love of death... "sand and destruction".
Our enemies are so stupid," Mohammad Salem, an Islamic State official, said from the outskirts of Palmyra, which lies beside the modern city of Tadmur. "We captured a whole town and houses from them, and they recaptured sand and destruction."
Read on...

A Heavenly Hike Through Ancient Japan - WSJ

We did this pilgrim's walk in Japan in September 2014 and loved it. 
As Peter Neville-Hadley says in his last sentence: "our reward is a calm and beautiful rural Japan that few foreigners see."
It's a short, stiff climb on steps of tree roots and boulders to Wariji-toge, or Straw Sandals Pass. Here we are, all highly engineered walking boots, high-tech breathable fabrics and wrist-borne health monitors, catching our breath at a spot where pilgrims with few possessions would once have paused just to replace sandals shredded by the climb. Fresh footwear was always available from farmers en route.During the 11th and 12th centuries, Japan's emperors made more than 100 pilgrimages along this route to the Kumano Sanzen, the three great Shinto shrines on Japan's remote Kii Peninsula. At its late-16th-century peak the trek was so popular that "like ants on the Kumano pilgrimage" became a common description of crowds.

Monday 4 April 2016

"It takes a network to defeat a network". Or, why Islamic extremists are not a "tiny minority"

In the South China Morning Post today, Niall Ferguson, the Harvard History professor, writes that
"... we stand no chance whatsoever of defeating Islamic State (IS) if we fail to understand the significance of its being a true network".  
It's a good article, well worth the read and contemplation.
I want to highlight two points in it.
First, the PEW research Ferguson quotes: that IS has:
"... a minimum of 63 million supporters -- and that is based on opinion polls in just 11 countries."
I've fact-checked that figure, and it's correct: except that on the latest population numbers of the eleven countries from Geohive, the figure is now 67 million.
That's bad enough.
But consider that those figures include both muslim and non-muslim population in those countries.  The PEW report reveals that the muslims in those countries are 2.3 times more "favourable" to IS than the non-muslim populations.
Thus the average number of muslims saying they have "favourable" views of IS is 9%. (My calculations in the spreadsheet below).
If we project that out to the world population of muslims (I'm using latest estimates of 1.5 billion), that comes to 135 million muslims who are "favourable" to the Islamic State barbarians.
And that's likely to be a minimum, for there are another average of 20% who "don't know", some of whom, surely, are likely to be favourable if pressed.  A figure of 150 million "favourable" to the barbaric aims of IS most likely a reasonable estimate.
In any case, bad enough, is it not? That 135 million muslims world wide are "favourable" to the barbarians of IS, who behead, burn alive, drown, shoot, stone and otherwise kill innocents, and who take women prisoners as sex slaves.
This is the point that people like Sam Harris have been making for some time.  Harris talks of concentric circles of Muslims.  In the inner circle, those jihadists who willingly kill "infidels" in the pursuit of the global caliphate.  In the next circle those who do not kill, but support the aims of the killers.  In the third circle those who do not necessarily support the caliphate, but who say nothing to disown its aims.  And in the outer circle -- seemingly the thinnest one -- those Muslims who speak out against any form of Islamic supremacism and in favour of a secular Islam (e.g., Maajid Nawaz).
All this reveals the lie of Obama, who has said that "99.9% of Muslims reject radical Islam".  That is flat wrong, and a shocking lie for a president.  The best estimates, based on extensive polling, is that it's around 10% of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims who positively support the radical likes of ISIS/IS.  If anything, the figure is higher (17%), not lower.
As a final point: PEW is well-regarded and often said to be neutral.  I'd classify the outfit as rather left of centre. Case in point: in reporting the figures, PEW chose the headline:  "In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS".
Don't you think that the bigger story is the disturbingly large number who have no disdain at all for ISIS, but view these barbaric butchers "favourably"?

My analysis of the Pew figures.  Spreadsheet here.

The second major point I want to make is about Ferguson's claim that the need for "networks" means that the UK should not leave the EU.  That cooperation with Europol is necessary.  But Europol has proved to be totally inadequate to facing Europe's Islamic extremist challenges.  There has been virtually no exchange of intelligence between European intelligence agencies and police forces.  I doubt that the US has worse intelligence sharing protocols with Europe, just because it is not a member of the EU.  Why would the UK leaving necessarily harm its intelligence-sharing with the EU, dysfunctional as their agencies may be?

[Later: Pew's spin of the figures (which are surely worrisome), reminds me of the egregious Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito's spin of their book "What a billion Muslims really think", in which they tried to show that only a "tiny minority" of Muslims had radical views, whereas on further digging, Moganed admitted that the number of Muslims who wanted to suicide-murder innocent infidels was around 14%. Let's see, that would be around 185-210 muslims (depending on the total number of muslims worldwide), broadly consistent with my figures above, and in neither case a "tiny minority". See my link to that discussion here]

Sunday 3 April 2016

Why it's right to be anti Islam

I have on my coffee table a copy of the Koran.  I keep it there so I can flip through it at random, to see if there's anything nice and uplifting about it.  This, mind, after I've already read it in its entirety twice and more.
I have found nothing in the Koran (whether on full reading, or flipping through it), and less than nothing in the Hadith (the sayings and actions of Mohammed) that is uplifting and noble.  Nothing that suggests an ideology for humankind to progress.
In short, I have found nothing, nothing at all, in Islam to make me like it, to draw me towards it. Quite the opposite in fact. I have found, in its core doctrines, shocking sectarianism and violence done to the ideas of free speech, freedom of conscience, equal treatment of women and minorities.
And that's what Pat Condell gets at in this video:

The Invasion of Europe

Pat Condell skewers Mad Mutti Merkel.  And the Eurocrats who are breaking the law, by allowing the ongoing migrant flood.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Why Don’t More Muslims Denounce Barbarism? | Observer

This article has been sitting on my desktop for some time. 
Preceding that silly hashtag #Muslimapologies, there was a poem, or rather a "poem", by a Muslim, called, IIRC, "Sorry" which was a passive aggressive listing of inventions allegedly made in the Islamic world. I had a close look at these at the time, and found that the vast majority of them were bogus. 
In the meantime....
When ISIL started beheading men, crucifying Iraqi Christians and sexually enslaving teen girls, a Facebook page and Tumblr sprang up called #Muslimapologies. Now, you might think the people behind this movement were motivated to bring together the good, peace-loving Muslims to renounce the barbarism being done in the name of their common god and holy book.But no. The hashtag is a forum in which to assuage their sense of group victimization. The Huffington Post called "The Top Ten" such tweets, which ooze condescension and superciliousness, that would be, needless to say, politically incorrect coming from members of any other of the three dominant religions."I'm sorry for inventing surgery, coffee, universities, algebra, hospitals, toothbrushes, vaccinations …""I'm sorry if my beard scares you, it's hormonal, I swear."And the most offensive of all: "I'm sorry Muslim women had rights 1,400 years ago while you were still discussing if women had souls."Barrel of laughs!

An Inordinate Fear of Terrorism? - WSJ

A few posts back I wrote about Obama's ridiculous moral equivalence: when he said that more Americans were killed in bathtubs than by terrorism. Perhaps so (in this year at least), but if left alone there will be ever more terrorist attacks while bathtub accidents are going to stay pretty much the same. Also we don't have to spend billions thwarting bathtub accidents as we do for terrorism. 
Yet another case of Obama's puzzling blindness. (Another being his claim to be "proud" of not enforcing the red line against Syria. Proud!?)
This WSJ Leader makes the point rather well. 
"In 2014 the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80% when compared to the prior year," reports the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in its widely cited Global Terrorism Index. In absolute terms, that comes to 32,685 deaths from terrorism, up from 3,329 at the turn of the century. The economic cost, the IEP adds, is somewhere north of $52 billion, plus another $114 billion that various countries budget for counterterrorism efforts. Last we checked, nobody was spending that kind of money on bathtub safety.

Friday 1 April 2016

In Scrap-Metal Market, Buyers Have to Tell ‘Darth’ From ‘Vader’ - WSJ

Randy Goodman calls a customer in China, the 51-year-old scrap trader sometimes asks: Do you want Elmo, Shelmo or Zorba?The world's $100 billion trade in junked cars, refrigerators and other metallic goods hinges on 100 or so short, catchy terms. Candy: Heavy copper.Lady: Brass shell case.Thigh: Aluminum grindings.Not only does Mr. Goodman, an executive vice president with Atlanta-based trading company Greenland America Inc., know and use all these code words to sell scrap aluminum, copper and zinc around the world. He gets to make them up.