Entries from May 2007 ↓

FGM and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Firstly, let’s say a few words about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the celebrity apostate who is in town for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, to spruik her book amid what I’m sure she and her publicists hope will be a suitably outraged reaction from the local Muslim community. There. That’s about all that needs to be said (nothing).

Sadly, after viewing a few of her interviews, we must conclude that her commentary is on an entirely different intellectual plane to more worthy and thoughtful opponents such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Pipes or, say, the octogenarian caller to talkback radio complaining about the smell of “Moslem cooking”. In other words, nothing to see here. Let’s move on.

And so we come to The Age who, in covering Hirsi Ali’s story, report:

Continue reading →

Ar Rahman: The Merciful

YouTube Preview Image

Ar Rahman

A Warning to Our Critics

The internet seems to have turned into a pretty nasty place of late with a number of prominent Muslim bloggers having received death threats and abuse. The latest seems to be Umar Lee who is being threatened by “middle-class Desi suburbanites” who think they can take him on just because they are the size of his teenage daughter.

We haven’t received any threats yet but, in case anyone out there is thinking of doing so, we want to warn the blogosphere that Austrolabe has a team of highly-trained ninjas who will protect us from attack.

The below video footage, filmed at the militant al-Dajaj training camp in Afghanistan, should serve as a warning to our as yet non-existent opponents.

YouTube Preview Image

The Missing Half Billion

The Courier Mail reports today:

NEARLY half a billion dollars may have been spent on a the national plan to help assimilate Muslims into Australian society – but it is not clear exactly where the money has gone.

Here are half a billion reasons why governments should not be funding assimilation, integration or, for that matter, any other form of cultural or social engineering. As for the sorts of things that this money is being spent on, then I refer interested readers to this fascinating extract from Hansard [pdf] in which the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs discuss some of the government-funded projects being conducted as part of this “national action plan” (starts on page 71).

Here’s one such exchange in which the government describes its attempts to counter something called “rigid thinking” among Muslims.

Continue reading →

Celebrities as Moral and Political Guides

Theodore Dalrymple in the LA Times on the rise and rise of the celebrity as a moral and political guide:

THE CULT OF CELEBRITY is not new, but it is increasing in its scope and effect. At one time, people wanted simply to gawp at the famous, and possibly dress like them. Now, many take their moral and political opinions from them. For example, most young people’s view of Africa, insofar as they have one at all, probably derives more from the pronouncements of Bono, U2’s lead singer, than from any other source of knowledge about the Dark Continent.

As it happens, Bono has boned up on his subject, even if his conclusions about what should be done to help Africa are eminently disputable and deeply hypocritical. His authority arises from his celebrity, not from his knowledge. An equally knowledgeable but otherwise totally obscure person would not be able to hector the leaders of France, Germany and Italy for falling behind on their promises of aid, as Bono did last week. When Bono speaks, they have to listen — he is more famous than they are.

Continue reading →

On Libraries of Unread Books

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year and follows on from his equally excellent Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets in that it challenges the way we interact with an increasingly complex world. If time permits, I will write a proper review and summary of some of his more salient points (and there are many) but, in the interim, I just wanted to post a passage from The Black Swan.

The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others — a very small minority — who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market will allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

In other words, the majority of people see Umberto Eco’s books as a status symbol of sorts and make the assumption that all have been read. On the other hand, a minority of people realise that a library is simply a tool for discovering things and therefore regardless of what one has already acquired in knowledge (the read books), there remains much more to be learned (the unread books). Whereas the shelves of read books may lead a person to become conceited and sure of themselves, the unread books help to keep the person humble.

Muslim girls turning to drugs?

ICRA’s All Eyez on Youth report resurfaces in the media again today with the news that an “alarming number” of Muslim girls are turning to drugs, and Muslim parents need classes to help them speak English and be good parents.

MUSLIM parents are being urged to take parenting and English classes to help improve their relationship with their children, says a report into social problems.

The Independent Centre of Research Australia (ICRA) Youth Centre’s All Eyez On Youth also reported an alarming number of Muslim girls were turning to illicit drugs to escape family and social problems.

ICRA president Fadi Abdul Rahman said parents needed to recognise the signs of a troubled child.

“We are naive as a community and as parents,” he said. “Because we are under the microscope we are focusing on dealing with the issues outside rather than looking at what is happening to these children.”

Parents didn’t want to think about drugs but “it’s simply unrealistic”, he said.

If a late night talkback host on an AM radio station said Muslims needed to be taught how to be good parents and needed English lessons because an “alarming number” of their children were now involved in drugs, how would we react?

Obviously, there are problems in some sections of the Muslim community.  However, there are problems in sections of every community and so I’m not sure it is particularly helpful for common issues such as drug-use to be highlighted in just one of these communities and treated as though there is something intrinsically different about Muslim drug-use that warrants special attention or emphasis.

Recommendations on Web Designers?

We’re in the market for a new (custom) Wordpress template for this site and possibly some design work on some non-blog sites that are in the pipeline. Naturally, this will be a paid deal so we’re looking for someone who is experienced, has a few reference sites they can point to, and can also take care of the graphics design. There may be some coding (PHP) involved as well. It doesn’t have to be a Muslim business, they just have to be really good.

Any suggestions?

Restaurant review: Patogh

8 Crawford Place, London, W1H 5NE
Telephone: 0871 3328448

When my younger brother was a resident doctor at the Hammersmith, he used to arrive on Edgeware road on a Sunday evening, (after a weekend on being on duty) and order a dozen or so pieces of deep fried chicken from the HFC (Halal Fried Chicken). He would then sit in his car, windows up and listen to Radio 4 whilst he scoffed it down. On one such occasion, a scantily dressed woman tapped on the window to ask him if he would like a good time. He replied that he was already having one, but nonetheless thanked her for her concern.

Continue reading →

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Turkey

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a rather strange opinion piece doing the rounds in which she comments on the current situation in Turkey and the ongoing tension between the elected representatives of the Turkish people and the military.

The idea of an army under civilian control doesn’t seem particularly controversial to us, but Hirsi Ali opposes it, calling on the EU to abandon the notion that, “Turkey’s army should be placed under civil control like all armies in the EU member states. ” This is, she contends, perfectly consistent with liberalism, with the Kemalist Turks who ban schoolgirls from wearing hijab and who stipulate prison sentences for men who chew gum in front of statues of Ataturk cast as ‘liberals’; the heroes in Hirsi Ali’s titanic struggle between a liberal/military alliance and the so-called “Islamists” with their hijabi wives. Never mind, of course, that the “bad guys” have the backing of up to “70 percent of voters”.

Continue reading →