Entries from June 2007 ↓

Angry Muslims? There’s just one of them

In the West, when people want to make a political point and speak truth to power, they know that nothing says we-mean-business quite like a giant paper mache head. But, if the television footage is to be believed, Muslims in the Muslim world do things a little bit differently: it’s rage, rage, rage and, if they are really angry, rage.

But, how many angry Muslims are there really in these protests? Continue reading →

The high human cost of India’s “respect” for women

My attention was drawn to the speech by Congress party presidential hopeful, Pratabha Patil who said:

Women have always been respected in the Indian culture. The purdah system was introduced to protect them from the Muslim invaders. However, times have changed. India is now independent and hence, the systems should also change.

This is simply untrue. One can understand Patil’s desire to harden her electoral numbers, no politician has ever failed by vilifying Muslims, and it taps into the Hindu nationalist agenda that the BJP and the RSS have been peddling for some time. It has also gained a mainstream audience through its most eloquent exponent, VS Naipaul.

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Hate Speech and the Blogosphere

Last week, the ABC’s Media Watch did a piece on the offensive comments left by some readers on newspaper websites and one blog: in this case, Tim Blair’s popular weblog. There is no doubt that the comments shown on the program are extremely offensive and are obviously the work of immature idiots. For example, take this comment in relation to Muslim taxi drivers who supposedly didn’t carry guide dogs:

If these people won’t do the job required, then get rid of them. I assume that they would make a reasonably decent, compost.

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“The Muslims are breeding”

Johann Hari, writing in The New Republic, offers an amusing (and slightly disturbing) travelogue on the National Review cruise. Some highlights:

I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. “Is he your only child?” I ask. “Yes,” she answers. “Do you have a child back in England?” she asks me. No, I say. Her face darkens. “You’d better start,” she says. “The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they’ll have the whole of Europe.”

I am getting used to such moments, when holiday geniality bleeds into–well, I’m not sure exactly what. I am traveling on a bright-white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, and 500 readers of National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been “an amazing success.” Global warming is not happening. Europe is becoming a new Caliphate. And I have nowhere to run.

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Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Suicide Bombers

(With apologies to Willie Nelson)

The British government is funding evening classes to help Muslim women learn how to “control their men — and stop them becoming suicide bombers.”

Seriously. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

TAXPAYERS are to fund evening classes to show Muslim woman how to control their men – and stop them becoming suicide bombers.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly will this week stump up £650,000 on a string of courses across Britain.

They aim to teach the women “confidence building, communication skills, negotiation and mediation”.

Ms Kelly hopes the women will then be able to persuade husbands, brothers and sons not to be tempted to become Islamic terrorists.

She said: “The vast majority of UK Muslims condemn violent extremism – as I do. But Muslim women carry more weight than me where it counts.”

The women will be taught leadership skills by local business chiefs.


When The Moors ruled Europe

As I write this, the ABC is showing the second and final part of, When The Moors Ruled Europe, a fascinating documentary on the Moors in Andalusia. It’s worth watching as it contains more than a few surprises. For example, who knew that Spanish hero Guzman el Bueno was, according to evidence uncovered by his contemporary ancestors, a Muslim?

English historian Bettany Hughes presents the second of a fascinating two-part series on the contribution the Muslims made to modern Europe during their 700-year reign in Spain, which ended with the Spanish Inquisition in the 14th century.

Hughes continues to unfurl the stunning Spanish travelogue of Part One of When the Moors Ruled in Europe, as she reveals the compelling history of the rise and fall of Islam in the West.

Al Andalus, as the Islamist Moors called their Spanish settlement, was the centre of massive intellectual and cultural revolution and many modern practices in mathematics, architecture and chemistry stem from knowledge developed there.

And along the way, Hughes reveals some surprises in the complicated and messy relationship between Islamic and Catholic Spain, shedding some shocking new light on the brutal Holy War between the two.

For those who missed it, you can watch it over the fold.

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Internet Filtering: An Exercise in Pointlessness

It has always been obvious that although the government had been successful in outlawing a number of printed publications, the fact that each of these could be downloaded from multiple places on the internet made the bans more or less redundant. So it is not surprising that the Daily Telegraph is reporting today that the federal government intends to take its war against “hate literature” to the internet.

THE Federal Government is considering “screening” technology to stop terrorist groups from recruiting vulnerable young members in Australia over the internet.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told The Daily Telegraph yesterday the software plan – still in its infancy – was just one option in the escalating online war against terrorists.

“At the moment the internet is the biggest problem in this war and we are only going after people we can get our hands on, but that is changing,” Mr Ruddock said.

“We are looking at ways and means of using technology that detects hate publications and removes them.

“To do it effectively we will need the help of law enforcement agencies in the US and Europe.”

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The Spectator on the knighting of Salman Rushdie

The Spectator’s Coffee House blog have a post on the knighting of Salman Rushdie:

I can’t really comment on Salman Rushdie as a literary figure, since I tried and failed three times to get beyond the opening 50 pages of Midnight’s Children. I can comment on him as a public figure, however, having followed his career attentively since the fatwa of 1989.

I supported Mrs Thatcher’s response of cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran and giving Rushdie unlimited protection: I even wrote to my MP saying the government was pusillanimous in failing to prosecute those demonstrators who called for his execution. Yet I never could stand the man, and found his gracelessness and ingratitude overwhelming at the time and since.

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Kevin Rudd’s Fish of Freedom

After receiving some criticism over leaked memos advising the opposition leader to ignore the latest evidence about the economy and refer to older (and more gloomier) predictions in his election campaigning, it’s reassuring that the man who would be prime-minister has returned to focusing on much more serious and relevant matters such as the contribution, it seems, of British fish to the cause of free speech and liberty:

“We believe in freedom, we believe in literary freedom, we believe in freedom of speech,” Mr Rudd said.

Salmon Rushdie celebrates that in his life and has paid a very high price for it in terms of his personal liberty.

“He is a person not just of creative talent and ability, but is a person who is gifted with great moral courage.”

Yes, unlike Rudd’s ALP who evidently don’t believe in free speech quite so much.

ABC Radio National: A New Mufti in Town

If anyone is interested, ABC Radio National’s Australia Talks is currently running a panel discussion on the appointment of a new mufti. Podcasts will be available for download from the site later tonight. The blurb reads:

Australia has a new mufti – is this the turning point for the country’s Muslim community? Our panel will look at the challenges ahead for Sheikh Fehmi in a job that has come under constant pressure in the hands of his controversial predecessor Sheikh Hilali. Will the appointment cement the deteriorating relations between Muslims and the wider community or was it only a move to depose Sheikh Hilali?

Update:  The audio can be downloaded from here [mp3].