Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ordinary Muslims against the Newham mega-mosque

[Links fixed Nov 30]

Check this: Islamophobia Watch - Home - 'Muslims oppose building of huge mosque' - A report on the opposition by the Sunni Friends of Newham to the building of the so-called Mega-Mosque in the Olympic zone proposed by the far-right Islamists Tablighi Jamaat.

Martin Sullivan, believe it or not, thinks the petitioners are the irresponsible ones, not the mosque-builders.
"It's not the business of this site to intervene in disputes within the Muslim communities. However, in the current circumstances, if anyone has indeed circulated a petition suggesting that the proposed Abbey Mills Islamic centre could provide a recruiting ground for terrorists, the irresponsibility of that action beggars belief. We also wonder whether the Asif Shakoor who appears to be behind this campaign has any connection with Minhaj-ul-Quran International, an organisation which is linked to a political party called Pakistan Awami Tehrik and is an organisational and ideological opponent of Tablighi Jamaat." [hyperlinks added -B]
Er, so it is irresponsible for ordinary Muslims to distance themselves from supporters of suicide bombing...

More from Western Resistance and A Tangled Web. Of course, what neither the war-on-Islam folks at Western Resistance nor the Islamist fellow travellers at IslamophobiaWatch point out that the Mega-Mosque plans have not even been submitted for planning permission yet. (I think I'm right about that - please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.)

Asghar Bukhari: Playing the Anti-Semitism Card

MPACUK - Asghar Bukhari: Playing the Anti-Semitism Card

This is very interesting. Need to read it a couple more times.

(Via JsF, using it as more fuel for the anti-Zionist fire)

(This post follows up mention at bottom of this one.)

Hitch the leftist

Shiraz Socialist: Hitch in "rediscovers soul" shocker!

Voltaire's Priest on Christopher Hitchens' article in The Liberal about Ann Coulter's Godless.

(I've written a comment you can read there, assuming it gets past the moderator.)

Liberal anaemia, etc

This is a nice piece at International Rooksbyism, about what is wrong with liberalism, from a socialist perspective: Liberal Anaemia

Here is a provocative question from Stumbling & Mumbling: Why reduce immigration and not birth rate?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Nadia Eweida and the Adams Family

Michelle Idrees was returning from a July 7th commemoration in Hyde Park when she was attacked by three men, the Adams Family, on a train. They called her a "f*cking Muslim slag" and a "Paki-loving whore". "Mrs Idrees had travelled into London with her 15-year-old nephew, a neighbour, her wheelchair-bound partner and their two children."

The main protagonist has been jailed for 15 months. Because Mrs Idrees is white, they could not be done for a racially aggravated crime, but only for a religiously aggravated crime. I think this was racism and these men are racist pieces of scum. They had earlier called a black woman on the train a "nigger", but this is a new form of racism, not attached to skin colour but instead to culture or "religion". Some reports have described her as wearing a burkha, others as wearing a headscarf. This was surely a key feature, even though the attack pre-dated the major media feeding frenzy around veils later in the summer.

This is why I agree to some extent with those who criticise this government for creating a climate of anti-Islamic hatred. This is dangerous shit to play with. However much Islamism represents a terrible threat to our society, playing fast and lose with glib generalisations about Muslims contributes to this sort of violence.

This is not the only viscious attack on vaguely Asian or Muslim looking people recently. This horrible incident is in court now in Leeds.

Interesting that the Dhimmi-watching websites I occassionally link to in my criticisms of Islamism have been pretty much silent on this court case. Plenty of fascist blogs have actually described the Adams men as free speech heroes. I won't link to them as I don't like to link to fascists. Just a shade away from them you have people like this American blogger and this Conservative blogger, who have celebrated the fact that Mrs Idrees now plans to leave the country.

Meanwhile, a Lib Dem councillor thinks it's OK to use the work "Paki", claiming "only one or two people" find it offensive. "Are we going to ban 'golliwog' and 'blackboard' too?" he continued.


So, some people think that the UK and its government is creeping towards fascism, others think we are in thrall to Islam. The latter see the decision of BA to stop Nadia Eweida from wearing a crucifix at work as more example of special treatment for Muslims and other efniks, bad treatment for the white Christian majority. Her colleagues of other faiths, she says, are free to wear their "religious attire" at work.

Whatever petty-minded supervisor noticed Ms Eweida's cross and told her to take it off is a stupid, anal idiot. (Blair is right to say some battles are not worth fighting. Applies to both sides here.)

But of course Eweida does not have the right to wear a cross. For a start, unlike Orthodox Jewish men in yarmulkes or certain types of Muslim women in hijabs, Christians are not commanded by their faith to glorify Christ by displaying a cross. It is not equivalent.

And, asks Ophelia (commenting on this Times article), why should we "respect" this sort of commandment anyway?
What is this idea that people 'expect' 'respect' and that therefore everyone else 'needs' to give it to them? Why hasn't that imbecilic and tiresome idea been nipped in the bud yet? People can expect anything and everything they like; that doesn't oblige the rest of us to give it to them. I can sashay around the place announcing that I 'expect' everyone to fall down and knock their foreheads against the ground when I pass, but that doesn't oblige them to oblige, does it. Expect away, 'people of faith', I don't have to respect you unless you do something I consider respect-worthy. So get busy.
And now fucking Jack Straw has weighed in supporting her, giving grist to the mill of those who think Blair's government is at war with Islam...

And it looks like BA might give in too, as the Church of England has a lot of financial clout. (See this Christian blogger, who notes that when God fails try Mammon.)

Blog links: Jenna Says No; Oh, Nadia, Shut Up

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Dubious Connections of the Anti-war movement

[Corrected 25 Nov.]

Highly recommended:
ModernityBlog: "Anti-War" and Dubious Connections

And for more of this stuff:
Judeospere: Crushing fascism

The New Generation

More on the rebellion against theocratic domination and conservative "representation":
Butterflies and Wheels and Pickled Politics (1 & 2)

(This post follows up this one.)

B4L Blog Awards 2006

Exciting stuff:
Bloggers4Labour: B4L Blog Awards 2006

(Feel free to nominate me, of course.)

Update 1st December: Thanks to whoever did nominate me! Now you've all got to go back and vote for me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OneVoice: Healing the scars

OneVoice in London:

At a time when every British newspaper is filled with stories of divisions and extremism within and between communities and campuses, OneVoice is launching an enormous program to build coalitions behind its work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Muslim, Palestinian, Jewish, Israeli and Christian groups are coming together in support of OneVoice's work. Events are scheduled from LSE to SOAS, City Circle to St. John's Wood Synagogue, UCL, City, UEL, Goldsmiths, Friends of the Arab World and more...

Flyer here. [Update: from Shiraz Socialist]
[Via Mira]

And this story is heartening too: Palestinians train with Israeli doctors

[Via Arieh]

Monday, November 20, 2006

Anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in Scotland

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who have already managed to derail the Edinburgh International Film Festival, have invited Gilad Atzmon to play and talk at a public meeting.

Gilad Atzmon is brilliantly taken apart in this open letter from Jim Denham, concluding:
You are free, of course, to bait Israel and to spout your anti-semitic propaganda. The degenerate ex-Marxists of the SWP are free to promote you and your band (though why, exactly, they should allow you to speak on the politics of the Middle East, remains a mystery).

But, as a jazz-lover, I have to say that I hate your racism. Jazz is the music of integration, of humanity and equality. Your anti-semitism has no place in our music.
The Scottish PSC are out of step with even the most hardcore anti-Zionists from Jews sans Frontieres:
Atzmon is primarily an attention seeking buffoon who has invoked antisemitism to draw attention to himself.
Similarly, the anti-Zionist Jewish Socialist Group has written an open letter to Scottish PSC protesting their invite to Atzmon.

Meanwhile, SPSC publish articles that think Robert Fisk, of all people, is too pro-Israeli in his Lebanon coverage.

[Update: more from Judeosphere and from Jews sans Frontieres.]


Also in Scotland, last year we had Stirling University's student union motion to boycott Israel - a ban that extended to the Scottish Socialist Party, because it organised debates about Zionism. (This issue might have flared up again this year - post a comment if you know more about this.)

This year, we've got Strathclyde University students union voting on Thursday on a boycott motion which also goes so far as to apply no platform principles to some Zionists:
7. To refuse to provide a platform to organisations, groups, bands etc that have
supported, implied support or still actively support:
7.1 Israel’s campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people
7.2 Israel’s theft of land from the Palestinians and other countries in the region

And I've run out of energy to deal with the cancelling of Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz's first visit to Scotland.

Israelis and those who even want to debate Zionism = not welcome in Scotland.
Those who consort with Holocaust deniers = welcome in Scotland.
Tell me I'm wrong.

Tags: , , israel, zionism, palestine, boycott, jews,

All you need to say about the hijab issue

Ian Buruma in The Sunday Times:

"Let people wear headscarves if they wish. Islam as such is not incompatible with citizenship of a liberal democracy. The violent imposition of a revolutionary faith is, but it will only be contained... if mainstream Muslims feel accepted as fellow citizens. The single demand we should make on immigrants and their offspring is respect for the law, including laws that guarantee the right to free speech. This is not a surrender to the Islamist revolution. On the contrary, it is the only way to combat it.

That pretty much says it: freedom - which includes freedom to be different - within the law, within well-established liberal limits concerning not doing harm to others, and not suppressing their freedoms of opinion and belief.

Mansoor Osanloo is re-arrested

Mansoor Osanloo is arrested

Yesterday, "Mansour Osanloo, the President of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, the first independent union in Iran after over 20 years and an affiliate of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), was arrested by plain clothes agents who refused to show any identification or arrest warrants."

The struggle of the bus company workers is one of the key fronts in the fight against Iran's brutal theocratic regime.

Other labour news: LabourStart Iran, Workers' rights in China, the outsourcing of journalists

New Generation

Thirty years since the passing of the Race Relations Act, Britain faces a crisis of discourse around race and faith. These have always been sensitive topics, but the debate has hit new lows of simplicity and hysteria in the past few years. People want to talk. They need to talk. But how do they engage in a discussion which has been manipulated by recent governments to demonise minority groups, while being increasingly hijacked by self-appointed "community leaders"?
Today sees the launch of the New Generation Network, with a manifesto published at CiF and an and an editorial by Sunny Hundal. This is fantastic.

I have written extensively on this before - read these articles to see why I'm excited:

Sunny's Pickled Politics is tracking media coverage.

Other news: MPAC's 'grave error' over David Irving (Telegraph) /(Observer)
See also: Martin Bright on the British ramifications of Bangladeshi politics.

No Music Day

Tomorrow, the 21st, is No Music Day.

No Music Day is an aspiration, an idea, an impossible dream, a nightmare.

There are as many reasons for marking No Music Day as there are people willing to observe it - or reject it.

No Music Day is on the 21st of November this and every year.
No Music Day is on the 21st of November because the 22nd of November is Saint Cecilia's day. Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music. In many countries the 22nd of November was the day chosen to give thanks for and to celebrate the existence of music.

No Music Day has nothing to sell.
There is no mission statement.

Our Richard is taking part. Resonance FM are on board. It is, of course, a Bill Drummond production.

This morning, sitting on the 171 bus*, I really understood why we need such a day. I'd left my personal IPod cocoon behind. The man in front of me had a walkman with poor quality headphones, emitting a house music ttt-ttt-ttt. Two seats behind me a teenager was playing some grime music on his mobile phone. I was trying to read some of Mitch Duneier's beautiful prose in Slim's Table and just couldn't concentrate.

By the way, while writing this, I have been listening to John Zorn's "The Ghosts of Thelema" (mp3 available from Le Blogotheque) and Orchestre Boabab's "Kelen Ati Len" (mp3
via Webjay). But if you read this tomorrow, don't download them!

*Added 171 bus links: Jon Worth, Wonderland.

Tags: , , ,

Right outcome, wrong process

Human Right Watch have published their report into Saddam Hussein's trial, finding it "flawed and unsound". The trial was, of course, deeply flawed and unsound. Anyone who denies that lives in an alternate reality.

But the trial did reveal the horror of Saddam's regime. It revealed beyond any reasonable doubt that his rule was a reign of terror that we were right to bring to an end.

The unsoundness of the trial is, therefore, doubly regrettable, because it undermines the legitimacy of the sentence. Hopefully, he will live to see through the next trial - ideally, trial after trial after trial, for all his crimes - and fewer people will be able to deny the truth of his evil.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fascism and its faces

  • Deborah Fink, an activist with Just Peace UK and Jews for Justice for Palestians, writes on Mark Elf's blog: "Israel does not deserve to be called 'The Jewish state'. It should be called 'The Satanic state', (as should some other countries I can think of). It is indeed, a 'shitty little country'. I really don't see the point doing anything else other than boycott it in every possble way. All Jews should disassociate themselves from it." Time for JfJfP to disassociate themselves from her I think.

Remembrance Sunday

OK, a day late, but this is a great post:

Dave's Part: Remembrance Sunday

Musical accompaniment from the truly wonderful Keep the Coffee Coming:
  • Brothers Under the Bridge: Bruce Springsteen MP3 File
  • Traveling Soldier: The Dixie Chicks MP3 File
  • Cruel War: Peter, Paul and Mary MP3 File
  • The Ballad of Ira Hayes: Johnny Cash MP3 File

Salah Choudhury's death penalty trial begins today

Keep up the pressure

That nasty George Galloway swearing

A couple of weeks ago, the Popinjays picked up a bit of nwes about Galloway swearing at some nice students. Now, Dave's Part (via Ian Dale) posts the audio footage.

Dave thinks it's a bit un-shocking. Listening to it, I kind of think, actually George, I wouldn't give a fuck about what some earnest Oxbridge students think either. Possibly the first sympathetic thought I've ever had about George. But then, on second thoughts, I'm not egotistical enough to go and talk to Oxbridge students to publicise my book. Especially if the tax-payer was paying me to occassionally turn up in Parliament.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Cross events

Anarchist film night//Di-Orienting Rhythms//South London radical history group//Elephant and Castle//The empire of denial//Lewisham bloggers drink

Anarchist film night, Wednesday 15 November
Presents a double bill of cinematic delights plus yummy food

The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists
A film by Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher, Pacific Street Films
Anarchism, which rejected government in all its forms, was the largest radical movement among Jewish immigrants in the 1880s and 1890s in the USA and continued to attract fervent supporters in the early decades of the 20th century.
In 1977, as the Jewish anarchist newspaper Freie Arbeiter Stimme was about to close down after 87 years of publication.
Narrated by [the late] anarchist historian Paul Avrich, the story is mostly told by the newspaper's now elderly, but decidedly unbowed staff. They talk about the conditions that led them to join, their fight to build trade unions, differences with the Communists, attitudes toward violence, Yiddish culture, and loyalty to one another.
[Buy the film here. More: The Suitcase: The Legacy of Emma Goldman, Anarchism in America]

AN INJURY TO ONE, chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself. Butte's history was entirely shaped by its exploitation by the Anaconda Mining Company.
War profiteering and the company's extreme indifference to the safety of its employees (mortality rates in the mines were higher than in the trenches of Europe) led to Little's arrival. "The agitator" found in the desperate, agonized miners overwhelming support for his ideas, which included the abolishment of the wage system and the establishment of a socialist commonwealth.
Archival footage mixes with deftly deployed titles, while the lyrics to traditional mining songs are accompanied by music from Will Oldham, Jim O'Rourke, and The Low, producing an appropriately moody, effulgent, and strangely out-of-time soundtrack. The result is a unique film/video hybrid that combines painterly images, incisive writing, and a bold graphic sensibility to produce an articulate example of the aesthetic and political possibilities offered by filmmaking.
Wednesday 15th November, 7.30 for food, 8.00pm for film. Only £4 including delicous veggie food at The Café Crema 306 New Cross Rd SE15
Bus: 53, 453, 177, 225,171, 172,136, 321, Train and Tube: New Cross or New Cross Gate, DLR Deptford Bridge (10 min walk)

Dis-Orient X, Friday 17 November [link]

Ten years after the book Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (Zed books 1996) we've decided to have a party (or a wake) and discuss, and dance, about the new world disorder.

Workshop Goldsmiths Cinema - 3pm - 6pm

speakers - Sonia from ADFED, Anamik Saha of Goldsmiths, Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, Aki Nawaz showing the new Fun-da-mental video, & panel discussion chaired by Ash Sharma...
finish 6pm


From 7.30pm (after hungry folks have eaten at a local diner):

Dis-Orient X club night New Cross Inn 7.30 - 12.

New Cross Inn is on New Cross Rd next to "the venue"
with Aki Nawaz from Fun-da-mental and SPARK! on the decks

- a benefit for the 1857 Indian war of Independence Commemoration Committee
(donation at the door)

All welcome
(special discount offer on the controversial F-D-M album "ALL IS WAR" on the night)

South London Radical History Group cross the river

'The roving South London Radical History Groupies are going to walk along the south end of North London's New River and do a bit of sightseeing, and politico-historical chattering along the way... the idea is to meet up at Turnpike Lane tube at 2pm on Sunday 26th November and work our way down the river, stopping at Clissold Park cafe for a cup of tea, and then on to Sadlers Wells. After that we can wander back to Angel or Chapel Market to hang out in a pub and maybe try one of the "eat as much as you like" buffets... bring umbrellas, gossip and chat about historical spots we pass...'

For further information, or to be added to the SLRHG mailing list, contact mudlark1@postmaster.co.uk

Elephant and Castle: A Presentation of Work-in-Progress on a Lyric Theatre Piece, 16 November
A Thursday Club event with Tim Hopkins [link]

Starts: 18:00 - 16 November 2006 | Ends: 20:00 - 16 November 2006

Location: Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths College, New Cross

Tim Hopkins is an opera and multimedia lyric theatre director and a NESTA Fellow.

E-mail: Maria X Web: Thursday Club web site

Empire of Denial, 16 November

Governance and Democracy public lecture [link]

Starts: 17:00 - 16 November 2006 | Ends: 19:00 - 16 November 2006 | Location: Room 309, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths College, New Cross | Cost: Free

Speaker: Professor David Chandler
...new forms of international intervention and regulation,... projected in the therapeutic language of ethical foreign policy, the rule of law, human security, empowerment, democratization, state capacity-building, human rights, civil society development, anti-corruption and transparency, country 'ownership', post-conditionality, and 'pro-poor' development...

E-mail: George Lawson | Telephone: 020 7919 7750

Lewisham Bloggers Drink

We’ll be in the Jolly Farmers from 8:30 on 18 November. More from Andrew.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Khatami: Iran's Pinochet (British police arrest the wrong man)

Azarmehr: British Police Try to Arrest the Plaintiff Against Khatami

Backstory: Peter Tatchell at CiF

Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)

The great Clifford Geertz died this week at 80. Geertz has been an inspiration for me. His lucid writing and rigorous scholarship are both less common than they should be in academia today. Geertz is most known for The Interpretation of Cultures, but I particularly like Available Light.

Although it sounds more jargon-y than his other terms, his idea of "anti-anti-relativism", is very important, I think.

A scholar can hardly be better employed than in destroying a fear. The one I want to go after is cultural relativism. Not the thing itself, which I think merely there, like Transylvania, but the dread of it, which I think unfounded. It is unfounded because the moral and intellectual consequences that are commonly supposed to flow from relativism—subjectivism, nihilism, incoherence, Machiavellianism, ethical idiocy, esthetic blindness, and so on—do not in fact do so and the promised rewards of escaping its clutches, mostly having to do with pasteurized knowledge, are illusory.

To be more specific, I want not to defend relativism, which is a drained term anyway, yesterday's battle cry, but to attack anti-relativism, which seems to me broadly on the rise and to represent a streamlined version of an antique mistake. Whatever cultural relativism may be or originally have been (and there is not one of its critics in a hundred who has got that right), it serves these days largely as a specter to scare us away from certain ways of thinking and toward others. And, as the ways of thinking away from which we are being driven seem to me to be more cogent than those toward which we are being propelled, and to lie at the heart of the anthropological heritage, I would like to do something about this. Casting out demons is a praxis we should practice as well as study.

In this age when cultural relatavism has so much power, Geertz's message is crucial.

Oddly, I blogged about Geertz the very first day I blogged.

Other links: WP obit; Two minutes on YouTube; Jeff W; Savage Minds (includes audio and video); Prod & Ponder; Concurring Opinions; Post-PhD Blues; Rakesh Khurana.

Previous: Pierre Vidal-Naquet; Brian Morris on academics and scholars; Les Back on the identitarian politics of multiculturalism; Whales, native Americans, environmentalists and cultural relativism.