Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's getting hot in here, so let's...

Jeff Weintraub manages to identify the good as well as the bad news in the story that Australian cleric Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali think women are asking to be raped if they don't wear the veil.

Then he adds as a post script:
According to the Sheikh, atheists and Jews and Christians (including me, I
guess) will all wind up in hell, "and not part-time, for eternity," since we are
"the worst in God's creation." On the other hand, there will be a lot of
attractive women there, too, since "Satan sees women as half his
Meanwhile, Shazia Mirza, writing in the New Statesman, worries that, if she dies a virgin, she may end up as one of the 72 who have to sleep with one of the suicide bombers...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Women, fundamentalism and freedom (event in New Cross tomorrow)


Xenos Seminar - Religious Absolutism / Antinomian Lives: Key perspectives
on women, fundamentalism and freedom, 5.00pm, 26 October 2006, Goldsmiths
College, New Cross, London (location)

Religious Absolutism / Antinomian Lives
Key perspectives on women, fundamentalism and freedom - a seminar

5.00pm, 26 October 2006, Room MB 137A,
Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London SE14 6NW.

All welcome - please register and reserve a place by emailing

What's God got to do with it? Antinomian resistance and secular feminism
GITA SAHGAL, Women Against Fundamentalism

The Double Discourse: 'Moderate' Muslims and their audiences
CASSANDRA BALCHIN, Women Living Under Muslim Laws

Claiming Spaces: Muslim women speak out
MASJALIZA HAMZA, Sisters in Islam

Faith in the State? Multiculturalism and minority women's rights in the UK
PRAGNA PATEL, Southall Black Sisters

We answer to the name of liberals

Jeff Weintraub: A Manifesto for American Liberalism - Todd Gitlin & Bruce Ackerman
Jeff passes on Gitlin and Ackerman's important statement - but with reservations. I have even stronger reservations, which maybe I'll blog about some day, but this is certainly worth reading.

(Kind of follows on from this post yesterday)

I love Beirut because I see a girl in a Mini skirt and her sister in a Tchador.

Global Voices Online » Lebanon: Communities and Contradictions

This is a really nice post, with links to lotsa Lebanese blogs, including Free Cedar (from which the title of this post is taken), and The Jews of Lebanon (which does what it says on the tin).

Controversial ex-barmaid etc

Today's best referrals, Google searchs for:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Links for the day, American edition (or: Left is right and right is left)

Conservative Realism or Disingenuous Callousness?
- David Corn in The Nation on conservative "realists" and liberal types looking for, but failing to find, common ground "beyond neo-conservatism". An indictment of any part of the left that it is even interested in finding common ground with the Kissengerites. (Worst offenders: the LRB and all its fans who embrace Kissinger devotees Wald and Mearsheimer.)

The Reality-Based Community: Appeasement
- Mark Kleiman pondering the Bush regime's crypto-doveish freeing of a Mahdi Army thug at the behest of theocratic fascist Moqtada al-Sadr. Appeasement? Kissengerite "realism"? Good PR on the Shi-ite street? You decide.

Barbara's Blog: Is It Safe to Go Back to Church?
- Barbara Ehrenreich reaches out on behalf of the left to America's Christian majority. About time, I say!

Links for today

Tommy Sheridan etc
1820: Solidarity, Autonomy, Power and Confusion - Frances Curran on the SSP/Solidarity bust-up, and the SWP's role in it.

Harry's Place: 1956
Woolly Days: Blood on the streets of Budapest

Cuba/internet freedom
ICE: Internet Censorship Explorer » RSF Cuba Report

China/internet freedom
Global Voices Online Hong Kong: GFW in HK?

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Hungary 2006

A corrupt regime, led by someone who has admitted lying to "win" elections in a sick parody of democracy. Parliament square closed. Media kept confined to the choreographed, Stalinist-style official celebrations: uniformed soldiers highstepping in fascistic formations to officially mark the anniversary of the 1956 Uprising in Hungary. A thousand peaceful protestors shot at.

Breaking news from the BBC here.


Hungary 1956

Some reading for today, the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising. First, two superb blog posts:
And, from the archive:
Update: As I write this, police in Budapest are firing at peaceful protestors from the opposition parties, who boycotted the official celebrations. (See here.)

Keywords: Stalinism, Soviet invasion, Budapest, tanks, tankies, Hungarian revolution, Hungarian uprising

Galloway, Sheridan and their mis-named parties

I managed to miss the fact that Respect [sic] had its annual conference last weekend. No doubt a demonstration of deliberative democracy at its finest.

Dave's Part notes a report saying that Respect, led by someone who has, shall we say, sailed close to the wind on matters of libel, perjury, truth, that sort of thing, will not support Tommy Sheridan, Working Class Hero, if the latter is charged with perjury. Hmm. Pot/kettle/black moment, no? Dave asks what the SWP, who are the majority of "members" of both Sheridan's new scab party Solidarity [sic] and Galloway's outfit, where will they jump? "For, as the Bible makes plain in Matthew 6:24, no man can serve two masters."

Meanwhile, Dave also notes the Respect logo competition, which the Popinjays have picked up on. The image above is Jew 90's entry. More entries here, here and here.

Also read: Dave's Part: no respect

Previous: We are all Janjaweed; Conspiracy theory and authority-love; Cavorting; Galloway the racial nationalist; Making an omelette; Sheridan; I come to glorify...
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Freedom of the press under attack - Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury faces the death penalty

Jeff Weintraub: Freedom of the press under attack - Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury faces the death penalty
This is not just a tale of woe, but also a call to action. Over the past decade there have been several significant cases involving the persecution, arrest, and/or or prosecution of writers and intellectuals where international attention has helped to avert, or at least moderate, unjust and repressive outcomes. Some obvious examples include Said Eddin Ibrahim in Egypt, Orhan Pamuk in Turkey, Ramin Jahanbegloo in Iran (where the outcome was far from ideal, but a lot better than it could have been), Kamal Sayid Qadir in Iraqi Kurdistan, etc. International response to these cases, and international solidarity with the victims, are obviously very important to help preserve some space for freedom of expression and to encourage possibilities for political liberty and political sanity.

The case of the outspoken Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, now on trial facing a trumped-up charge of treason with a possible death penalty, is another important challenge of this sort. Bangladesh is generally considered a relatively "moderate" Muslim country, but it is also one in which radical Islamist parties and movements are gaining increasing influence. One sign of these tendencies is the increasingly precarious position of independent journalists, epitomized by the treatment of Choudhury. He has faced years of persecution, including physical attacks and death threats as well as criminal prosecution, for his 'crimes' of criticizing Islamist radicalism and advocating reconciliation with Christians, Jews, and Israel.

Read more here, and then take action!

Bad faith over Korea

Statement on North Korean Nuclear Test|21Oct06|Socialist Worker: "The nuclear test is the culmination of five years of the US administration's policy towards North Korea."

Read that again. The nuclear test is the culmination of what? Of the escalation of totalitarian North Korea's militaristic culture, war-like posturing and long-held nuclear ambitions? No, of American foreign policy of course!

(It's not just the SWP. Here's someone else who thinks the same thing: Bill Weinberg says "Bush's intransigence essentially prompted North Korea to cross the nuclear threshold".)

Left trainspotting: Venezuela and Iran

1. I came across this comment from JimJay at a StroppyBlog post on Venezuela.
My understanding is that the [Socialist Action-led Venezuela Information Centre (VIC)] calls for defending democracy in Venezuela and wants to mirror the method of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (nice music, Tory peer supporter, etc., low level of demands) and the [Socialist Appeal-led Hands off Venezuela (HoV)] call for solidarity with the 'Bolivarian Revolution', the revolutionary union UNT and have a far higher / more left wing set of demands and more international links (including in Venezuela)

HoV has branches and activists, VIC seems to be made up of top brass. Also HoV seem to be willing to criticise Chavez when they think it's due (although they do support Chavez even though they express worries about particular things, eg foreign policy) VIC only want to get their picture taken with him

Personally if I had to choose one it would be HoV, particularly as VIC seem to delight in calling meetings at the same time as their "rival". Having said that I wouldn't advise people NOT to go to VIC stuff...
Great piece of analysis!

(Socialist Action, by the way, support Ken Livingstone, think Israel is a terrorist state, and defend China from capitalist attacks. Socialist Appeal also trade under the name In Defence of Marxism, which would be better named "Radically Distort Marxism by Thinking that Stalinist States, though "Deformed", Remain Workers' States", or "Put People off Marxism by Putting out one of the Most Turgid Websites on the Left".)

2. International Viewpoint, the organ of Reunified Fourth International, actually has some articles worth reading about Iran, Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia:
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Friday, October 20, 2006

MEMRI, Apple and Islam

MEMRI, the site which monitors Middle Eastern news sources, is often attacked by anti-Zionists and fellow travellers of militant Islam for being a biased source. I usually reject that charge, as it is a useful resource, passing on stuff that would otherwise slip thru' the net for non-Arabic speakers. No one has managed to show that it mis-translates, simply that it shows Arabic sources saying horrible things.

This time, though, I agree with the critics. Here's a dispatch from MEMRI:
On October 10, 2006, an Islamist website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam. According to the message, the cube-shaped building which is being constructed in New York City, on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets in midtown Manhattan, is clearly meant to provoke Muslims. The fact that the building resembles the Ka'ba (see picture below), is called "Apple Mecca," is intended to be open 24 hours a day like the Ka'ba, and moreover, contains bars selling alcoholic beverages, constitutes a blatant insult to Islam. The message urges Muslims to spread this alert, in hope that "Muslims will be able to stop the project."
AN Islamist website. No attribution.

And, of course, it gets picked up. "Muslims slam Apple" blah blah blah. More ammunition in the clash of civilisations. Except, of course, hardly any Muslims think this. See this response on Apple Gazette.

(I heard the story verbally, then read this at City of Brass.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chomsky on the Legitimacy of Israel

Regular readers will no I am no Chomsky fan, but this is kind of interesting:
Interviewer: There has been much debate regarding the legitimacy of the Israeli state. To what extent is Israel a legitimate, or an illegitimate, state?
Chomsky: I don’t think that the notion of legitimacy of a state means very much. Is the United States a legitimate state? It’s based on genoice; it conquered half of Mexico. What makes it legitimate? The way the international system is set up, states have certain rights; that has nothing to do with their legitimacy. Every state you can think of is based on violence, repression, expulsion, and all sorts of crimes. And the state system itself has no inherent legitimacy. It’s just an institutional form that developed and that was imposed with plenty of violence. The quetion of legitimacy just doesn’t arise. There is an international order in which it is essentially agreed that states have certain rights, but that provides them with no legitimacy, Israel or anyone else.

For me, the point is simple. EITHER you recognise that all nation states are based on violence and exclusion and are essentially racist - in which case Israel is just a state like any other, no worse, and Palestinian nationalism tends to the same thing - OR you think that nation states are broadly a good thing and national self-determination is a right - in which case you have to accept the Israeli state and Jewish nationalism.

Help Mirza Tahir Hussain

UK Commentators on Mirza Tahir Hussain
A good cause.

UPDATE: Mirza has been given a two-month reprieve, so as Pakistan doesn't have to embaras Price Charles.

Notes from the Island

I've been a bit slack about Sarf London posting lately. This caught my eye.

Transpontine: Notes from the Island:
"Notes from the Island is a project exploring the mysteries of the traffic island at the junction of New Cross Road and Queens Road: 'The Island welcomes everybody. Every day many visit and thousands pass close by, though few notice it. It is a place of brief encounters, of buried secrets, of moments glimpsed in rear-view mirrors. A brief pause on a journey. The Island has no border controls, no prisons, no buying and selling. Is it a utopia? Perhaps it could be, a sanctuary of non-interference amidst the surveillance cameras'."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Child abuse

Two from Neo-Jacobin:

More juice than Andrew

[Via Someday I'll...]

I got not much blog juice
My Blog Juice

Tom Friedman on the Jihadi media offensive

The American Thinker (busting the NYTimes Select wall) posts this Tom Friedman articlet. Worth reading.

And, while I'm here, a little anti-boycott snippet.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

This blog has long been a supporter of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, the incredibly brave Bangladeshi journalist who has had the temerity to say one or two positive things about Israel, thus getting him put on trial and attacked on the street by lynch mobs.

Please support him! The links below will tell you more about the case and how to do so.

More from: Terry Glavin (1 & 2); Norm; IFEX; MidEastWeb; Israpundit; Carl in Jerusalem; NeoZionoid; Sepia Mutiny; B&W; American Thinker; Peejz; City of Brass.

Veil fetishism 2

I normally get somewhere between 30 and 100 visits per day to this site. Earlier this week I was getting over a thousand a day. I have no idea why, as my site meter only lets me look at the last 100. Most of the last 100 seem to be searches on the terms “hijab porn”. In my last post on this, I linked to a Lenin’s Tomb post on the veil fetish, and I guess my hits show it is alive and well. (I also get lots of hits from "hassidic hats", but nothing yet about yarmulke porn.)

I work at a university and the new intake of students arrived a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have much contact with students, but it has struck me how many more students there are this year wearing hijabs – but, so far, no veils. This week, I’ve seen two young Asian women wearing headscarves plus very tight, figure-hugging black stretch denim jeans. What’s that all about?

Looking around, I came across this book:

“Whether seen as erotic or romantic, a symbol of oppression or a sign of piety, modesty, or purity, the veil carries thousands of years of religious, sexual, social, and political significance. Using examples from both the East and West—including Persian poetry, American erotica, Iranian and Indian films, and government-sanctioned posters—Faegheh Shirazi shows that the veil has become a ubiquitous symbol, utilized as a profitable marketing tool for diverse enterprises, from Penthouse magazine to Saudi advertising companies.”
Anyway, a good article in The Guardian by Ziaba Malik on what it is to wear a niqab for the day. The BBC provides a useful little graphic on the veil and headscarves, to help you distinguish between the different types. I love public service broadcasting!
Update: One more thing! Loads of leftish people seem to make the comparison between the excessive covering up represented by the veil or scarf and the excessive uncovering represented by bare midriffs or lads' mags. "I find the amount of female flesh on display offensive Mr Straw" is more or less the line I've read again and again in places like The Guardian from people like Mike Marqusee. Yet another form of bankrupt moral equivalence.
Update 2: Daniel's views 1 & 2
Update 3 (March 07): I'm getting over 100 hits a day most days now, but still no searches for yarmulke porn...

The Israeli ban on Palestinian students

ENGAGE is leading opposition to the outrageous ban on Palestinian students attending Israeli universities. Calls to boycott Israeli Jewish academics (apart from those who pass a McCarthyite political test) are a viscious attack on academic freedom. But de jure or de facto bans of Palestinians from Israeli universities are a much more serious attack on academic freedom. Engage are to be congratulated for bringing this to wider attention in the UK.

Their post gives some practical suggestions for solidarity.

The Israeli universities are also taking a strong stand on this issue. See here.

Now even Yanks claim UK asylum

Jogo, our American correspondant, writes,
Here comes a new bunch of bogus asylum-seekers. Let's see what your "human-rights" organizations have to say about them.

Andrew Adonis on Jim Callaghan and education

Quite a moving article in the Education Guardian by Blairite minister Andrew Adonis on James Callaghan’s speech to Ruskin College thirty years ago. Adonis highlights the clear importance of education to social justice, putting it at the heart of the Labour movement.

Particularly resonant was this quote from Callaghan’s education advisor:

"I said that what was worrying most parents was not the ideological structure of the system - grammar schools versus comprehensives - but [something] more basic: will their children be taught to read and write and to add up; [will they] be protected from bullying and intimidation; will basic educational skills and discipline be maintained and some social values inculcated?"
I have argued before on this site for the value of a decent local school, against the ideologically motivated extension of so-called “choice” – including the choice for faith schools.

So it grated when Adonis concluded that
A continued transformation of secondary education is needed to bring [higher and more equal educational achievement] about: hence trust schools, academies and the extension of specialist schools.”
To me, these are precisely ideological initiatives, which have showed no evidence so far of working to deliver better and fairer outcomes for Britain’s children.

See also: Andrew Brown on integrating schools
Previous: Blair's Thatcherism; Neo-liberalism's assault on civic culture
Update: Daniel on faith schools
Keywords: faith school, faith schools, education policy, socialism

Fairwell Archontan

Archontan is becoming an archive rather than a live blog, but is still worth delving into - there's all sorts of meaty stuff to chew on.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hungary in Sarf London

Commemoration of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 on Thursday, November 2 at 5.30pm in Room 143 of the Richard Hoggart building of Goldsmiths College, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14. The meeting is sponsored by Revolutionary History journal and the London Socialist Historians Group.

There's also good stuff about the anniversaries of Cable St, Suez and Hungary '56 in the brand new issue of Jewish Socialist (not [yet] available on-line).

Veil fetishism

I can't be bothered to blog about the veil, although obviously I should. So, some quick ones:

That's enough for now eh?

By the way, sorry about my relative absence lately. I've been really busy at work and my computer is ill.

Men in Tights

The Daily (Maybe): Wild bees and the redistribution of wealth

I liked this piece about the new Robin Hood series on telly.