Entries from January 2007 ↓

Rehab as redemption

boots sold seperatlyIn today’s Guardian, a brilliant commentary on celebrities who enter rehab after a public meltdown.

“The question remains: how much of an atonement is it when you admit yourself and you’re not even really addicted to anything? What happens when you get to the Priory? Do they still go through your luggage and make you go to the group therapy, or are you allowed to just sit about looking glum? Doesn’t that drive the proper addicts crazy? Is it like AA – do you still have to go round all your family and friends when you get out, apologising for the time you arrived at their wedding/ bar mitzvah [not that] drunk, [really not at all] whacked out on drugs, [no more] unreliable and flaky [than the next man]? And if it is rehab lite, must one go residential? Couldn’t Jade have said sorry with a detox? Couldn’t she just have given up wheat, then put out a press release? “I may be guilty of racism, but I’ve eschewed doughnuts in penitence and, by the by, beaten my bloat!”

Read on..

Restaurant review : McDonalds in Casablanca

Being a Muslim this is particularly shameful, but one of the few authentically halal places in Casablanca is the McDonald’s. It does not serve alcohol, nor does it have pork on the menu unlike most “Muslim” establishments nearby on the waterfront in Casablanca.

Surely the ultimate irony? The Trojan Horse of western cultural imperialism is the only one that feels the need to adhere to Islamic dietary principles in a predominately Muslim country.It speaks volumes about where the future of Islam will be.

Back to maccas. In a county that is poor and where the working class is resolutely observant only the secular middle classes can afford to eat at this place. The only other authentically halal places to eat were in the working class neighborhoods well away from our hotel. This was located on the waterfront next to the cathedral disguised as a Mosque.

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Pakistani cricket, Bismah and Islam

Many many years ago when I was a child, our family was on the same flight as The Pakistani cricket captain and matinée idol Imran Khan. The air hostesses were swooning over him in his business class seat. Where we were in steerage we had a clear view of proceedings. All of the children in our family were gradually becoming incensed at the behavior, but mostly we were very annoyed by the gormless performance of his cricket team. In true Lord of the Flies tradition (as children do) we bullied our youngest sister to go up and read the riot act to him, she was all of 7 years of age. When she finally arrived at his seat (after much cajoling) she stood rooted to the spot, unable to speak and staring blankly ahead. He (presumably in a jet lagged haze) signed a napkin and abruptly invited her to be on her way. She returned, mortified and humiliated.

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Lebanese Muslim Association ‘ban’ Sheikh Taj from mosque

In other news, the Lebanese Muslim Association have ‘gagged’ their imam Sheikh Taj al-Hilaly from giving the sermon at their mosque in Lakemba today. Video over the fold.

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Manufacturing Moderate Imams in Australian Universities

The Australian is running with the story today that a new $8 million dollar National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies is being established as part of a government attempt to confront ‘extremism’.

From next year, university students at Melbourne, Griffith and Western Sydney will be offered accredited courses ranging from Muslim theology to art and commerce as part of the federal Government’s $35 million strategy to fight extremism.

“The centre’s religious teachings will be taught in an objective manner and produce homegrown imams,” Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb said yesterday.

The centre is cast in the article as providing some ‘alternative’ to the likes of Sheikh Feiz and, in the words of the Courier Mail, “Muslim firebrands who preach intolerance and hate.” Teachers will naturally be subjected to a “proper background check” to make sure the program isn’t infiltrated by extremists or other reactionary forces.

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Ron Paul, Run

So, it looks like the bland and uninspiring Hilary Clinton (resume courtesy of Catallaxy Files: married to Bill Clinton, had one child, didn’t bake cookies, became a carpetbagger) is going to be running for President of the United States. If she wins in 2008 and again in 2012, it will mean that she leaves the White House in 2016. As the Arabist point out, that will mean that for 28 years, the United States will have been ruled by two families — the Bushes and the Clintons; an irony that wouldn’t be lost on citizens of some Arab monarchies.

Anyway, this news arrives a week after it was reported that nine term congressman Dr. Ron Paul (R-Texas) may be running for the Republican nomination. Now, before people scoff at the mention of the ‘R’ word, it’s worth pointing out that Ron Paul has arguably the most impeccably principled voting record of any member of the US Congress. He is, after all, the only Republican member to be granted an exemption by then-Speaker Newt Gringrich from voting on party lines because of his unwavering consistency.

Unlike most others in his party and much of their opposition, Paul is an absolute non-interventionist. Unlike Hilary Clinton, Ron Paul opposed the Iraqi invasion from day one. He voted against it, writes and speaks openly against the ongoing occupation, criticises the usurpation of civil liberties in the name of fighting terror, and broke ranks with his party to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005.

As Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo put it:

The news is good — for once. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the libertarian congressman whose dedication to principle is one of the wonders of the world, is running for the GOP presidential nomination.

At last — a Republican who opposes our interventionist foreign policy (consistently and articulately) and who has this to say about the Iraq war. Rep. Paul opposed this rotten war from the very beginning — and, what’s going to be delightful, is that he is not going to be outdone by any Democrat regarding the Iraq issue.

Better yet, this will exacerbate the split in the GOP over the war and give antiwar activists a banner around which to repair during an election season that would otherwise feature the same rogues gallery of warmongers, fence-straddlers, and all-too-familiar faces.

Little Mosque on the Prairie: The Second Episode

The first episode got mixed reviews but what about the second? The video is over the fold.

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Muslim Girl Magazine: Does being different mean more of the same?

The 13-year-old founder, editor and publisher of MG Magazine, Yasmine El-Safy, has competition now. Muslim Girl Magazine is threatening to upstage her modest attempt with its glossy, Americana covers.

The editor-in-chief is Ausma Khan, who believes the magazine challenges negative media perceptions “by telling the stories of Muslim teens who are proud to be American and who contribute to American society in so many positive ways”. It’s not exactly clear who writes the content, but the producers of the publication don’t appear to be Muslim, and there isn’t much information about it.

The idea is to portray the normality of Muslim girls in the US (the usual “I’m just as American as you” line). Which is fine, but the fact that such a magazine exists to cater for a specific section of the community would suggest they are different to their peers in some pretty crucial ways. And this makes me wonder what is so wrong with being different.

Then again, the webpage leaves little hope that the magazine departs too heavily from the teen glossy standard. Stories featured in the issue relate to TV show 24 and its main protagonist, Jack Bauer; there’s the “hot list” for the latest on music, film and TV; and the obligatory glossy category “Relationship reality check”.

Looks promising.

Undercover Mosque?

Yesterday, Channel Four’s (UK) Dispatches program featured a documentary called Undercover Mosque.

A Dispatches reporter attends mosques run by organisations whose public faces are presented as moderate and finds preachers condemning integration into British society, condemning democracy and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers.

The result is a fifty minute documentary (video below) which depicts a number of well-known figures, including Australia’s own Sheikh Faiz Muhammad, saying some fairly inflammatory things about non-Muslims and, of course, homosexuals. Whilst the frequent appearance of Sheikh Faiz in the documentary is a sign that, finally, Australia is emerging from the shadow of Mother England in at least one domain, the overall message of this documentary is an unremittingly negative one.

Perhaps, if there is one overwhelming lesson in all of this, it is that imams and religious leaders need to think very carefully about what they are saying.

The documentary is broken into six parts.

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In the People’s service

Our thoughts are with the Egyptian Interior Ministry. They have been “slandered” time and again of late, first by the bloggers, and now by traditional media. In what is being billed as El-Adly’s Videogate, the Interior Ministry is accused of police brutality and torture of civilians, with leaked videos to prove it.

The motto of Egyptian police has always been el-shorta fi khedmet el-sha`b, the Police is in the People’s service. I suppose, in Captain Islam Nabih’s mind, he was in Emad El-Kebir’s service when he sodomised him with a stick. It is not the most pleasant of services, but it is a service nonetheless.

Nor is it inconsistent with the motto when Egyptian police physically abuse anti-Government protestors and jail political opponents on false charges. They are providing a service, ummm, maintaining peace and calm on the streets!

And when they are not providing their services directly, they are outsourcing them to baltagiyyah (thugs), who take much more liberty in their “service” techniques.

One interesting outcome of this incident, however, is the rising influence of blogs and the effects they have on traditional media and ruling regimes. Given the almost impossible task of silencing bloggers, it will be interesting to see how the Egyptian Government ultimately conducts itself.