Entries from December 2008 ↓

Shaheen Hasmat

The Age reported this week:

WHEN Shaheen Hasmat and his family arrived in Australia from Afghanistan as refugees five years ago, the year 8 student knew only a few words in English, like yes and no…

But yesterday, Shaheen was the dux of Reservoir District Secondary College, with a near-perfect tertiary score, or ENTER, of 99.8 and the promise of a scholarship to study medicine at Monash University.

Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun journalist, linked to the story with a favourable title.  Some of the site’s readers didn’t seem too impressed; making unsavoury reference to Shaheen’s beard, religion and ethnicity.  This prompted Shaheen to write this response which was then published, to Andrew Bolt’s credit, on his blog (republished over the fold):

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Religiously Exclusive Housing Projects

Over at Thoughts on Freedom, John Humphreys writes:

I believe in private property rights and the right to discriminate. Logically then, I believe that any group of people (including racial or religious groups) should be able to buy property and use it as they wish. If you are white and you only want to live with other whites, then you should NOT use political power to remove non-whites from Australia, but you should be allowed to join together and buy a block of units (or a farm, or whatever) which only accepts whites.

I would agree.  As a believer in property rights, I have to accept that some people will choose to exercise those rights in a manner that I might find disagreeable or discriminatory.

The scenario described by John is not so far fetched as it might seem.  Indeed, this appears to be what some Muslims are also trying to do.   The West Australian reports this week that some West Australian Muslims are planning to build a $10M Muslim-only enclave.

Islamic Council of WA spokesman Rahim Ghauri said the group had an architect-designed concept plan for a six-storey housing development, an underground carpark and a hall for weddings, conferences and religious and recreational activities.

The council’s religious adviser apparently draws inspiration from apartheid South Africa:

“In South Africa, because of apartheid, all different communities were set up and it worked well. It kept people separate. We can be together in terms of our contribution to the wider community.”

The extent to which apartheid-era South Africa should be considered a model for Australian Muslims is, of course, debatable.  And the thought of living in a culturally or religiously homogeneous enclave might not necessarily appeal to all Muslims.  However, if these people wish to build such an environment using their own money and exercise their property rights in this fashion then on what basis can one really object?

There might also be some advantages from such an approach.  As John Humphreys summarises:

One advantage of allowing people to pursue their own lifestyles voluntarily on their own property is that you take away the need for them to become politically active on the issues that annoy them. Instead of lobbying the government for fewer immigrants, anti-immigrants can choose to live in a “non-immigrant” area. Instead of lobbying the government for special rights and funding for minority cultures, those cultures can choose to live together and maintain their own culture.

MIT Arab Business Plan Competition

The MIT Arab Business Plan Competition looks like a good initiative:

The MIT Arab Business Plan Competition is the first of its kind in the Arab world. The Competition is designed to encourage all entrepreneurs in the region to start their own company and, ultimately, create a nest of leading firms in the Arab world. It also brings to the Arab world all the MIT expertise in entrepreneurship and in running such competitions.

The deadline for submitting the applications is Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 23:59, Beirut time.

The Competition is open to all Arab nationals with a business idea. The only requirement is to be part of a team. You cannot enter the Competition as one person. A team should comprise a minimum of 3 individuals and at least 2 members of the team should be citizens of the Arab world.  The business concept should also be implemented in a country within the Arab world.

Bush’s Legacy is Statism

At Cafe Hayek, Russell Roberts writes:

As we prepare to partially nationalize the American automobile industry, it is a good time to remember that George Bush is not a free market ideologue and that he did not pursue free market policies. Please remember that in his last year in office he initiated and condoned measures that helped destroy the natural feedback loops that allow markets to recover from the inevitable mistakes that human beings make. And tell your children. I know. It seems obvious. But twenty and thirty years from now, there will be people writing about how George Bush’s free market ideology caused the mess we’re in.

And, over at Cato, Daniel Mitchel writes:

According to Politico.com, Vice President Dick Cheney lobbied Republican senators to support the bailout of auto companies, arguing that it would be “Herbert Hoover time” in the absence of government intervention.

Cheney is right, but for the wrong reasons. To the extent that it is “Herbert Hoover time,” it is because the current administration has repeated many of the mistakes that were made by President Hoover. There was a huge expansion in the burden of government spending under Hoover, up 47 percent in just four years. There’s been an equally huge increase in government spending under Bush. Hoover dramatically increased government intervention with everything from schemes to prop up wages to protectionism. Bush’s intervention takes a different form, with mistakes such as steel tariffs, Sarbanes-Oxley, and bailouts.

Hoover’s legacy is statism. Bush’s legacy is statism. The only unanswered question is whether Obama will be the new Roosevelt — i.e., someone who compounds the damage caused by his predecessor with further expansions in the burden of government.

Redesigning Mecca

Architects Journal has a picture of a planned expansion to the Haram in Mecca.

The Journal explains:

According to sources, the scheme for Islam’s holiest city could create a huge new structure around the central Haram mosque that will eventually be capable of holding three million people, making it the ‘highest occupancy’ building in the world.


The top-secret plans are being backed by King Abdullah ben Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia who has asked a hand-picked collection of starchitects to ‘establish a new architectural vision’ for the 356,800m2 mosque complex.


The AJ believes that the project is likely to be phased, with phase one transforming the mosque from having an official capacity of 900,000 to 1.5 million. This will then go up to three million with the completion of several phases over the following five to 10 years.

In addition, there are also plans to build an additional 130 skyscrapers in the city.

Up to 130 new skyscrapers are anticipated, including the Abraj Al Bait Towers, a seven-tower project that will be one of the largest buildings in the world, with a 2,000-room hotel, a 1,500-person convention centre, heliports and a four-storey mall that will house hundreds of outlets.