Archive for July, 2009

Opportunity for Opportunism

31/07/2009

In his role as a paid blogger, i.e. newspaper opinion columnist, George Kerevan discussed (subscription required) the reaction to Alex Salmond’s addressing the solidarity march in Kilmarnock against the looming mass-redundancy at Diageo plants.

Elsewhere, Salmond has been criticized, notably by David Wyatt of Institute of Directors Scotland and Iain McMillian of CBI Scotland, for taking such a patently partisan position and queering the pitch he on which currently negotiating with Diageo management.

Under the tagline, “Sometimes it takes a jolt for sense to be seen”, Kerevan clearly approves of Salmond’s policy. As much as dislike Fish-heid McMoonface, both personally and politically, this animus is not so engrained that I would baulk at supporting an efficacious course of action recommended by him to keep the wolf from Kilmarnock and Port Dundas’ doors. If someone says something I agree with, I will agree with them.

I do not agree with Salmond here, both tactically and in principle. As I discussed before, Salmond has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in his desire to be seen as the slayer of the Diageo worm *and* getting one over on Westminster *and* stroking his ego live on television; all at the same time.

Yes, Anabel Goldie was there, representing Holyrood and the Scottish Conservatives; as was Des Browne, representing Westminster and Ramsey Street. But, neither are the First Minister of the Scottish Executive, required to adopt a detached and diplomatic approach.

And, most of all, even then neither stood on the podium with great bombast and:

[…] sent a message to “London boardrooms” saying: “Let’s have no more nonsense from anyone that these proposals are in any way socially acceptable to the people of Scotland.”

Yes, that is correct. Not only is this patently partisan, it is also blatently partisan. This became an opportunity, from the leader of a minority administration which seeks to appropriate the Saltire and symbols of Scottishness for itself, to present itself as defending Scottish workers from the inequities of London; whilst English workers are in no less precarious positions.

This is why I cannot abide sectarianism.

(more…)

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Foraging in Caithness

31/07/2009

It appeared to be a welcome opportunity at first, but after nine months of being employed by the DHSS Department of Work and Pensions, I am slipping into the slovenly habit of sleeping late.

Today I made an especial effort of rising at 0600 hrs. Amazingly, Caithness is experiencing a third consequative day of unbroken sunshine, and I went for a brisk walk up Thurso River.

WildGarlicAlbum

Thinking of the pasty-faced anarchist, Francis Sedgemore’s recent serendipitous foraging find, I caught a whiff of garlic. And it was wild garlic! Just as Francis was surprised to find brambles in late July, I had assumed that this had died down and gone to seed, but here a clump was holding onto life. Greedily I did take some. I assume it was not lily of the valley, and I am not about to collapse with painful heart stoppage; as Horse Whisperer author, Nicholas Evans did when eating the wrong mushrooms.

More closely related to chives (Allium schoenoprasum) than cultivated garlic (Allium sativum, wild garlic (Allium ursinum), as with any herbal remedy it has numerous colloquially names. Known sometimes as a bear garlic, it is thought to be a first stop for brown bears emerging from hibernation because of its antitoxicant properties. Known also as buckrams or ramsons, the ‘rams’ component derives from Germanic root ‘hroms’ (discussed here in the Enlightment’s language of science), and appears to be the bases of surname and placenames ‘rams-‘. The word rank also shares an etymology, referring to the bitter taste of diary products from livestock which has eaten wild garlic.

As I neither lactate nor am likely to smell any metabolites on my urine (I cannot smell those of asparagus on my, or anyone else’s urine), I have no qualms about eating it. The leaves were a bit too scraggily for concerting cooking, such as this delicious sounding wild garlic pesto, but I intend to put some in a late breakfast of Lahuha/Sephardic (yeast, non-egg) pancakes and raid the salad patch tonight.

I will return later to see if I can scavange any roots to transplant in my garden. Once established, they grow like triffids and I will keep a close eye as just one of two lambs lug plants brought up from a friend’s garden in Glasgow some 15 years ago is now found in spots across our garden.

A Comment from Israeli Nurse Which Merits Its Own Missive

30/07/2009

Nursey is a regular commentator at Harry’s Place, and frequently regales readers with her anecdotes as having made aliyeh some thirty years ago and lived through two intifadas during which she has raised a wheen of weans. Now she works in the United Kingdom as some of the sprogs are at university there, whilst others complete their military service: all the while watching as, in the nightmare of the dark, the dogs of Europe bark; Smurfs for Jihad gathering on British street corners; and the cauldron battles of the stupid wars brewing.

A guest missive from HP reader Gabriel appeared to compare the taunting of Jews with Nazi imagery directly with the sonorous-sounding Binyamin Netanyahu’s referring to any evacuation of Pickled Cucumbers West Bank Settlements as pursuing a policy of Judenrein. It goes without saying that I consider those who engage in the former speech to be trash, plain and simple, and deserving only of being locked in a room with half a dozen members of Golani Brigade; I also find the latter to be egregious. Gabriel stated:

Now, attempting to draw the parallel between the persecution and murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust with the removal of settlers who are illegal under international law a few kilometres away is simply disgusting and does nothing except further cheapen the experience of the Holocaust.

Setting aside the appeal to international law – if something is im/moral, it should be possible to argue as such without an appeal to such authority; plus, it is debatable that the pre-Wansee treatment of European Jews was against what structures of international law there were at the time – I did agree that the original coinage of Judenrein was egregious. This indicated the forcible removal of various Jewish populations *with* *a* *view* *to* *liquidation*: either in death-camps, or open-air killing centres.

So, perhaps it would have been less inappropriate to describe any evacuations as removing the inhabitants to “the Pale of Settlement”. Yet, the memories of the Nazi period and all who suffered – not all of them were Jews, but all Jews suffered – as with any similar event of monstrous barbarism belongs to the victims; and in this case, it is still well-within living memory (something Lauren Booth would do good to remember).

Now that the scene is set, here is Nursey’s saucy wisdom which requires no further explanation:

This is not a new discussion as far as I’m concerned – in my life it has been going on for years. For some time now there thas been an underlying and sporadic discussion going on in Israel as to the limitations of treatment of the Shoah. For instance, can it be a subject for art or even comedy? Can the word ’shoah’ with a small ’s’ be used for other things? Do we take Nazi with a big ‘N’ and confine that term to a certain group of people at a certain point in history or do we separate that from a political movement which has clearly not died out?

These are difficult and emotionally loaded questions to which I have no clear-cut answers. When one of my sons came home from a fierce and bloody battle and described it as a ’shoah’, my partner was furious with him. When another son who was assigned to removing the Gush Katif settlers from their homes told us in tears that he felt like a Nazi -not because any settler had told him so, but because of his own knowledge of history – we understood his emotions.

The point is that the way this article has been written indicates to me that in fact what we have here is ‘hafuch al hafuch’ – i.e. the author (and I’m very relieved it turned out not to be Terry Glavin because I was wondering what the hell had happened to him at first) is USING the issue of the use and misuse of Nazi related terminology to score political points for his very clear agenda.

I’m not a religious person by any means, and I count myself as a socialist, very much on the far Left of the Israeli political map, but I absolutely deplore the witch hunt instigated by the Israeli Left and backed up by others abroad upon those Israelis who live or lived in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. I hate the dismissal of these people as ‘religious nutters’ -a favourite phrase of David T. unfortunately. I detest the branding of them as THE obstacle to peace. I despise the efforts of the Left to demonise them and put into their mouths concepts like ‘greater Israel’. When did you last see a bunch of Jews blowing themselves (and others) up in the name of the Jewish Ummah? When did Jews try to set up settlements in Jordan or on the banks of the Euphrates?

This rift in society which the Left is doing its level best to propogate has occupied my thoughts a lot lately. They may see the ostracisation of the settlers as the path to peace, but I see it as the path to the destruction of the Israeli society. I see value in making peace with my Palestinian neighbours, but not at the expense of a particular (and by no means homogenous) group of my fellow countrymen.

Since the evacuation of Gaza, the people who left their homes and livelihoods there have been treated terribly. One would think that these people would have been embraced by the Israeli Left -after all, they did, albeit reluctantly, what the Left wanted them to do. Instead they have been abandoned and ignored and the Left is now intent upon ensuring that many more people suffer the same, if not worse, indignities.

I am not saying that J&S should remain as they are today; it is quite obvious to me that someday an evacuation on some scale will take place, but the question at the forefront of my mind is how we as a nation will wake up the day after. If the evacuation is brought about by witch-hunt and demonisation, we will potentialy be in a much worse position as a society than we are now.

I saw and felt the terrible rifts 4 years ago when Gaza was evacuated. I do not think we have recovered from that yet and we should be very careful about making another incision on top of a wound that has not healed.

As a member of the Left, I expect better from it. I expect at least the same compassion and understanding for the kippah-wearing settler on Har Bracha as for the Palestinian child in Schem or the dead demonstrator in Iran or the Darfouri refugee. The Left seems to have forgotten that these are all human beings.

I think that Tisha B’Av is an ideal opportunity to carry out an inventory of our own society -a sort of collective Yom Kippur – and you don’t have to be religious to do that. We all need to stop and think sometimes about where our actions are leading.

Scoring cheap political points through the use of an article on Shoah terminology seems to me to be a new low. It would have been perfectly possible to address the main issue without the accompanying political one-upmanship.

Hungover Cat

29/07/2009

I am gutted. Yesterday an upset bottle of Highland Park splashed onto my cat, Minky. Although it was a minature, and at most 40 ml were lost, my grief was indescribable.

drunk-cat

I suspected something was wrong when a confusedly staggering and plaintively crying moggy appeared under my feet, and to add insult to her injury, caught half a mug of luckwarm tea in her face. After deep, deep sleep later, she angrily swiped away any attempts to pet her head.

On a serious note, I discovered that alcohol is not just non-lethal to cats, but is also used as an emergency antidote against ethylene glycol (main constituent of antifreeze) poisoning. Minky certainly does seek out the taste of bleach, but I did not know cats also have a predilection for sweet-tasting ethylene glycol and as little as one teaspoon could result in painful death.

Symptoms involve:

1) CNS Depression Phase – ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Within 30 minutes to 12 hours of ingestion the cat show the following symptoms:

  • The cat will appear intoxicated, stumbling, lack of coordination, dizziness & vomiting;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Excessive urination;
  • Seizures;
  • Vomiting.

These symptoms last for approximately 12 hours after ingestion. After this, the cat may appear to recover.

2) Cardiopulmonary Toxicity Phase – approximately 12 – 24 hours after ingestion the following symptoms appear:

  • Tachypnea;
  • Tachycardia;
  • Metabolic acidosis;
  • Hypertension;
  • Lethargy.

3) Renal Toxicity Phase:

  • Kidney failure;
  • Vomiting;
  • Depression;
  • Coma.

I had known of the metabolic processes behind ethylene glycol poisoning in humans, and that ethanol would be preferentially metabolized by the liver thus allowing the ethylene glycol to be excreted in urine; so this makes sense.  Note, I am not a vet, so if anyone suspects their cat (or child and, even, dog) has ingested antifreeze, professional assistance should be sought immediately.

Ethanol may be administered, however.  But not Highland Park malt.

To Hijab or Not To Hijab

28/07/2009

Personally, when a discussion about head/face covering for women in Islam drifts to an argument about whether it is religiously-mandated or culturally-dictated, I feel the speakers should see it from a non-believer’s point-of-view. We do not believe in the primacy of the Koran, so are therefore unlikely to be particularly impressed by an appeal to it (the same goes for Christian evangelicals insisting that the Jesus-bloke is the Son of God because it says so in the Bible).

In Western-style secular societies, one should be free to as socially conservative as one likes as long as one does not expect to be indulged by state-organs or to force similar behaviour on non-willing participants. I dislike any use of the term “communtity” – other than to refer to a geographical location, such as a urban street or farming hamlet, which members leave when they move outwith – because of the sectarian undertones.

(That said, I was gratified to see the Quilliam Foundation recently endorsing Barry Obama for his referring to multiple “Muslim communities”, from differing ethnic groups and religious confessionals rather than one homogenuous entity called the “Muslim world/community”. This was a point at which the pro-sectarian political editor of the New Statesman, Mehdi Hasan, took personal offence becoming, as Terry Glavin may have said, a parody of an angry Muslim.)

A blog which I have recently discovered is that of the Southern Muslimah, a female convert to Islam from the US South. And, I have just finished reading through a two year old missive on the relevance of Koranic dress-codes on *men* as well as women. She starts off:

A muslim man and his wife are walking down a crowded street in Miami. It’s hot and humid. The woman is covered showing nothing but her hands and face and the man……well, many times is in jeans and a t-shirt or perhaps shorts and a t-shirt.

That is a scene I saw frequently enough in Edinburgh. And, even with the cooler temperatures there, it did grate on me. Not only that the wife, either through choice or coersion, was declining to participate in a basic form of human interaction in Western society – i.e. revealing her face – but that the husband felt that he could choose those parts of Western cultural mores which pleased him, and that his wife should follow those of his culture which pleased *him*.

The Muslimah’s objection is not necessarily that the wife’s attire is not essential for her religion, but:

Yes, rest assured my husband is dressed in long sleeves, pants, and has his head covered too. We’re happily suffering through the heat together. Solidarity!

Right-on, sister! More power to your elbow!

muslim-man-checks-his-cell-phone

 

 

Some people may do a double take when they learn that Muslim men have a dress code as well. Some men take their dress code lightly. Some think the women’s code is more important and thus spend their lives lecturing various women about what to wear and what not to wear. These men need to seriously understand that disobedience to Allah is disobedience to Allah whether you are a man or a woman.

 

 

Absolutely delicious. The Muslimah goes on to offer her interpretation of Koranic dress-codes for men:

Sarungan

 Trim the moustache and save the beard. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] It is haraam (forbidden)for women to imitate men and men to imitate women in the way they dress, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the men who imitate women and the women who imitate men.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5546.

It is Sunnah to pay attention to keeping one’s clothes clean, without feeling arrogant or exaggerating about that. […] 

 

Over on this side of the pond, the Lancashire Council of Mosques has affirmed a statement that wearing the veil (so, I assume this is the niqab and even the burka) is religiously-mandated and not culturally-dictated. Quite what the killer argument behind this is unclear to me, a non-sectarian, but the LCM seems to think it is a humdinger of an argument:

‘Islam places great emphasis on dressing modestly. The Almighty says in the Holy Qur’aan, “O Prophet! Ask…(believing) women…to draw their cloaks (Jilbâb) all over their bodies” (33:59).

A problem is that a scholar at Al Azhar University in Cairo disagrees:

Moustafa Al Shaka’a, a member of Al-Azhar’s influential Islamic Research Academy, said Sarkozy should not be telling Muslim women what to wear.

“Neither the burqa or the niqab is ordered by Islam,” Al Shaka’a told Gulf News.

“They are local costumes, but Muslim women should not be forced to remove them. It’s a matter of personal freedom.”

I have separate opinions on Sarkozy’s posited ideas, but I can definitely see the disreputable motivations in self-appointed communal gatekeepers instructing women, who may wish to follow a particular religious tradition and are quite likely to be already disempowered because of culturally-dictated SE Asian patrichial influence found in much of this country’s Muslim populations, that concealing themselves from wider society is a religious duty.

On his blog, however, on Islam Online, Anas al-Tikriti picks up a similar theme. In addition to being the chief executive of the Cordoba Foundation, al-Tikriti has deplored the tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Not because they are depraved murderers who detonate bombs in tents full of women and children or use children as decoys, but because they did not spend enough time killing American and British soldiers.

It is extremely frustrating for the Muslim communities in Europe when supposedly learned voices from the Muslim world emerge apparently supporting the rights of European governments to legislate against Muslims and their practices. Those voices which went into great lengths explaining to European media outlets how the burqa and niqab aren’t compulsory upon Muslim women were missing the point by a very wide mark. This further illustrated the problems that can potentially emerge when scholars who do not have a grasp of the prevalent political realities can create more problems for the Muslim communities in Europe trying to achieve progress in their pursuit of “positive integration” and real partnership with their wider European societies.”

Which “supposedly learned voices” are these, Anas? Those who are challenging your demanded right to communalise Western Muslim populations, with coincidentially you as the gatekeeper? Individuals such as Dalil Boubakeur, the Rector of Paris Mosque who:

[…] insists that Islam in France should be an “open and convivial Islam that allows people to live side by side”.

He fears that anecdotal evidence that more women are wearing the burka in France is linked to an “excess, a radicalisation” among some Muslims.

Salim_Mulla

Back to the LCM: one of the key signatories was the senior vice-chairman of the LCM, and Labour councillor for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Salim Mulla (pictured here, but not in traditional Islamic attire).

I have discussed Mulla before, in relation to his implication in a series of abusive and inappropriate e-mails sent within differing local Councils in the Lancashire area.

The Jewish Chronicle is reporting that, although a number of Lancashire County Council employees have been either dismissed or reprimanded, Standards for England – which deals with complaints against sitting Councillors – states it has received no complaint concerning Mulla.

The e-mails in question had concerned Operation Cast Lead during December 2008 and January 2009, in which the introduction is reported to have stated:

The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany

No, this is what the Nazis did to European Jews:

holocaust00

 

Learn to tell the difference.

Canada Fuck Yeah!

22/07/2009

Terry Glavin – blogger, journalist, author who’d introduce you to the business-end of a Glock26 – has a new blog missive up. If any further encouragement is needed to read it, it concerns the invitation of Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi to teach at the Toronto-based Al Fauz Institute for Islamic Thought (also reported on by Glavin in the National Post).

Tamimi could be described as a professional Palestinian anti-Israel demagogue. Born in 1955 at Hebron, his family departed for Kuwait in 1962 when the west Bank was still under Jordanian occupation. In 2004, when being interviewed by BBC Hardtalk, he described self-immolatory terrorism as “a noble cause. It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity”. When asked when he was going to start, he is reputed to have insisted that he was unable to obtain a visa to enter Israel.

Hardly surprising, given his public pronouncement of an intention to kill Israeli soldiers and/or civilians, but it did not stop these fellows having a go.

Tamimi recently said of the Taleban, “with regard to their attitudes to liberation I say ‘Long live the Taliban”. This was at a time when insurgents were resisting Canadian service personnel, and cutting the wings of young love-birds. He can also be seen addressing a rally in London:

I do not know enough of the Al Fauz Institute or the Islamist scene in Canada to say if they share similar views to Tamimi, but Glavin makes the observation that academic institutes really ought to vet their employees. He also suggests that having bought into one part of Tamimi’s worldview, it is less easy to critically assess the rest:

There is a way to explain this, too, and it goes something like this: Once you take the green pill, you won’t even notice the blue pill’s effects. Lurid theology unavoidably bleeds into toxic ideology. As Tarek Fatah suggests, perhaps we should not expect perfectly candid answers from the institute’s principals in the first place because there’s more going on here than we’re meant to know.

The same could be said of those “anti-Zionists” or persistent critics of Israel who may not be antisemites themselves, but keep stumbling into antisemitic politics because they have chosen a path lined with antisemites.

Read the rest.

Glavin has also thoroughly debunked the notion that George Galloway was legally barred from Canada.

The Hezbollah Shebeen

22/07/2009

The catchy nature of this tune and obvious sense of exuberance of the dancers does not detract from the wormwood-addled taste it leaves in one’s mouth.

“With blood, with guns we will free Lebanon”. It is a mistranslation! Oh, it is in English, bollocks.

Organized by the pro-Khomenist and narrowly-defined Islamic Human Rights Commission, this shebeen took place during the 2006 South Lebanon War. At 1800 hrs today, 22 July, the IHRC will host a lecture entitled “The universal theology of Liberation: Views from Muslim history” in its headquarters with the Islamic Centre of England at 140 Maida Vale, W9.

The principle speakers will be Mohamad Nasrin Nasir and Daud “You Sunk My Navy” Abdullah. Nasrin Nasir is co-editor of the Palestine Internationalist journal which, in its current edition announces that Israeli civilians even within the Green Line are on “occupied land which Israel has been told to evacuate countless times and by numerous UN resolutions”. Not one to distinguish between Jews and Zionists, this article, signed by Nasrin Nasir, argues that the belief they can remain is born “partly from Judaism” itself.

Abdullah, in turn, believes that being criticized from endorsing documents which are seen as calling for attacks on Israeli civilians and British naval personnel, is part of “criminalizing solidarity with Palestinians”.

Theology from Muslim Perspective and Resistance to Aggression

Given that the Maida Vale centre recently hosted a conference which commemorated the 20th anniversary of Khomeni’s death, it is perhaps unsurprising that instead of expressing concern over the Iranian Presidential elections. High profile campaigns, instead, include supporting Omar Abdul Rahman, currently serving life in an American gaol for his role in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. I could find no similar IHRC campaigns for Abdul Rahman, though.

I, like the IHRC, was pleased when Downing Street and the security services downgraded the terror threat level. Unlike the IHRC, however, despite any misgivings I may have had over individual policies or occurrences, I have difficulty seeing the original intention as being to smear all British Muslims as potential threats.

Just ones such as this

Truth be told, I do not see an insurmountable problem in describing jihadism and reactionary Khomenism such as is described above as “liberation theology”. It is just that, by a much more sympathetic assessment, so should Zionism.

Work-Place Accidents

20/07/2009

Silence I Kill You!

As Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb contemplates suicide-by-cop, and Achmed the Death Terrorist’s projectile dysfunction causes premature detonation yet again, members of the self-immolatory terrorist community are under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

The past few years have seen a number of cases of shocking sapper-skills, resulting in WNPD (“Wrong/No Place Detonation”). A double-failure to achieve maximum carnage occured in June 2007, starting with a car-bomb intended to immolate scores of dancing slags in Haymarket, London when excessive accelerant resulted in WNPD and alerted the attention of a drunk and Police constable. A second car-bomb was towed away by traffic wardens after being parked illegally.

In desperation, the culprits attempted to initiate detonation personally the next day at Glasgow Airport but succeeded only in destroying a perfectly good car and receiving a thorough beating from passers-by.

Even in Afghanistan, where one would have thought practioners were well-versed in the technology, accidents happen. Nearby, a party of Taleban gathered to bid farewell to a departing comrade, but the ethusiastic back-slapping resulted in premature detonation.

I have often thought that many of the drivers of truck bombs in Iraq are as surprised as bystanders at the explosion, and a recent interview by CNN appears to confirm this. So lax was the attention to health and safety that, in this case, the driver was able to disembark before the explosion. He now tours the circuit telling would-be jihadists, “If you join al Qaeda, they will use you, and maybe you will die”.

Something has to be done.

BBC to Pay £45,000 in Damages to Secretary General of MCB

18/07/2009

[Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.]

Perhaps better legal minds than mine can explain how this came to pass.  On 12 March 2009, during a broadcast of Question Time, Charles Moore, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, suggested that the senior-leadership of the Muslim Council of Britain considered the killing of British soldiers to be a “good” and even “Islamic” act to follow.

Moore’s remarks start at 2 min 56 sec.

This had followed a political protest in which a pro-victory gaggle of Dr. Moreau’s grotesques by the name of Followers of Ahl Us-Sunah Wal-Jamaa’ah – but which newspapers such as the Guardian insisted on describing as “anti-war” and plain-old “Muslims” – had harangued a home-coming parade by the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton.

What Would Omar Bakri Mohammed Think?
What Would Omar Bakri Mohammed Think?

The leader of this group is Anjem Choudrey, pictured here during his heady student days.

Although it is an al-Muhajiroun front-group, it was on this backdrop which Moore made his comments.  Any functioning democracy or healthy political debate requires discussion events such as Question Time which allows ideas and statements to be bandied about, and challenged if needs be.

We are no longer living with only a handful of media outlets – newspapers or broadcasters – owned by one or two barons, and where a maligned individual has little recourse to set a record straight.  For a start, “record” is an out-of-date analogy, and there are also blogs and foreign state-owned broadcasters advertising on London buses.

The Secretary General of the MCB, Muhammad Abdul Bari, for instance, has been reported as stating that homosexuality is incompatible with his religion.  He, like everyone else in this society, should be free to hold socially and religiously conservative views as long as he does not seek to impose them on the wider society.

I find the MCB’s erstwhile prolonged boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day extremely distasteful, and their rationalization based on misconceptions or outright falsehoods, but I accepted it through gritted teeth.

I mean, it is not as if he invited to the East London Mosque a big cheese in Jamlaat-e-Islami, is it? This is a Bangladeshi religio-political party of which senior members were intimately involved in the 1971 East Pakistan Civil War in which upwards of two millions Hindu and Muslim peasants and dissidents were killed.

Abdul Bari’s defence appeared to rest on he had condemned attacks on British service personnel on an occassion two years previously.  As far as I can tell, this was based on the the words he offered to the Independent in 2007:

Our troops are doing an unenviable job. It is unacceptable and appalling to hear of them being attacked and I am very sorry for their families. We appear to have learnt very little from our history of interfering in other countries, and I believe, history in turn, will not look very kindly at our recent actions.

That this underpined Abdul Bari’s argument was implicitly confirmed by a press-release from representing solicitors, Carter and Ruck; and explicitly confirmed in paragraph five of a press release from the BBC.

Thus, after between four and six years of British service personnel being killed by insurgents and violent extremists, and two years after 52 Londoners were murdered by self-immolatory terrorists, what Abdul Bari said was “history will not look very kindly at our recent actions”. Did he clarify this statement at any point?

In 2006, whilst still in favour with Government departments, Kaa sound/lookalike MCB-spokesman Inayat Bunglawala had responded to online questions on the Muslim Discussion Forum concerning ‘mixed messages’ from the MCB-leadership with regards to support for violent extremism. He explicitly stated that no pleasure should be taken in targetting of British service personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan:

British Muslims should in my view work with other sections of our society to ensure that British troops are brought back from both Iraq and Afghanistan without delay. It would be wrong to take any pleasure in the deaths of combatants in those conflicts, whether British, Iraqi or Afghani.

At another point, however, he was reported as stating:

I don’t agree that there is anything ambiguous about the MCB’s position on suicide bombings. We have pepeatedly made it clear that we utterly condemn the deliberate killing of all civilians whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, and whether it is carried out in the UK or anywhere else in the world.

Does the same extend to not targetting service personnel and other decreed combatants, or is this simply to be considered an onerous task not to be revelled in?

Further discussion of alleged links between big cheeses in the MCB and violent extremism, notably Jamlaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh and beyond, can be found here.

Although Moore mentioned no individual by name, Abdul Bari took it as reference to himself and sued.  The presiding judge accepted the following argument from Abdul Bari’s solicitor:

[…] although Dr Bari was not actually mentioned by name, the “leadership” of the MCB was referred to, by implication referring to him in his capacity as leader and chief spokesman of the MCB.

Mr Tudor said the BBC accepted that these allegations were untrue – in fact, in 2007, Dr Bari said publicly that the killing of British troops in Iraq was unacceptable.

The BBC has agreed to pay Abdul Bari £45,000 in damages plus legal costs.  Abdul Bari has stated his intention to donate they money to charity.  Bear in mind, the MCB is a registered charity.

Anyone with a passing interest in libel writs in the English courts should be entirely unsurprised to hear the presiding judge’s name. He is not pictured here.

What is also puzzling me is that other senior members of the MCB *are* considered to be supportive of the targeting of British service personnel: notably the current Deputy Secretary General, Daud Abdullah.  A few days before the broadcast of Question Time, the Observer had reported that Abdullah and other senior British Islamists (including Chief Imam Shaykh Abdul Qayyum of the ELM) had signed what has become known as the Istanbul Declaration.

As reported, the Declartion implored the “Islamic Nation” to oppose by any means thought necessary all individuals deemed supportive of the “Zionist enemy” (cf. Israel). At the time of signing, foreign political leaders, including the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown had suggested providing peacekeeping Naval forces to monitor arms-smuggling between Gaza and Egypt.

An open letter from the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears was subsequently published in the Guardian in which she stated that no further dealings would be conducted by the British Government with the MCB until it distanced itself from Abdullah’s remarks and he resigned.

In a response, also published in the Guardian, Abdullah called her remarks a “misguided and ill-advised attempt to exercise control” and stated his intention to remain in position; with the apparent backing of the rest of the MCB leadership. Subsequently, he announced his intention to sue Blears, in respect of her office, should she not retract her letter and issue an apology by 15 April 2009.

A letter from the Treasury Solicitors, acting on behalf of Blears, to Abdullah’s solicitors revealed their willingness to continue with such a course of action. It closed with the statement, “It follows, of course, that your offer of settlement is rejected”. No further reports of attempts to pursue a libel case by Abdullah or the MCB have been heard. 

So, my question is, even if Moore’s statement to be have been considered a reference to Abdul Bari, why was it considered libelous considering:

  • The MCB’s continued tactit toleration of its Deputy Secretary General following his endorsement of the Istanbul Declaration;
  • A lacklustre response from the Secretary General of the MCB when asked to condemn attacks on British service personnel;
  • Apparently contradictory statements, in response to internal concerns about support for violent extremism within the MCB, from another senior MCB member regarding violent extremism in which a distinction between civilians and military targets was seemingly drawn;
  • Existing concerns of links between senior MCB members and the violent extremism of Jamlaat-e-Islami?

UPDATE – In 2004, Eric the Unred linked to the response of Abdul Bari to questions about the jihadists of Fallujah.

Update: From 4:25 into this BBC interview:

Roger Bolton “You’ve called the assault on Fallujah barbaric. Wasn’t its occupation by Iraqi militants and foreign fighters, using civilians as shields, also barbaric?”

Abdul Bari “Well we have to see what happened in the beginning, as mentioned by some of your, some of the people you interviewed, and I think agreed by the international community, that the occupation of Iraq was illegal. So, if people of Iraq come up and want to fight against the occupation army, we know that, we also mentioned somewhere, we know that there could be some people from outside Iraq that are coming and that is because the main reason that the occupation happened.”

Roger Bolton “Do you think therefore that armed resistance of the sort we are seeing in Fallujah is legitimate? You would support the fighters who are ranged against American and British troops?”

Abdul Bari “Well, people of Iraq have to decide, because the war has been imposed on them.”

Roger Bolton “I’m sorry sir, I was asking if you, not the people in Iraq, do you therefore think it is legitimate for people to fight against the American and British troops in Iraq?”

Abdul Bari “Well, it’s for the people of Iraq to decide.”

Roger Bolton “But it certainly could be legitimate, you’re not telling them it’s wrong.”

Abdul Bari “Well, what we are saying is that the occupation of Iraq itself was wrong”

Suicide by Cop

18/07/2009

In what promises to be a funnier fight than Vladimir Putin v. Dalia Grybauskaitė or Gordon Ramsey v. Tracey Grimshaw or John “Fuck the Troops” Wight v. half a dozen members of the Golani Brigade, al-Qaeda has announced its intention to target the People’s Republic of China.

The causes are no laughing matter, though. Race-riots in the province of Xinjiang have followed prolonged low-level contempt for Uigher Islamic culture and now resulted in a typically-brutal crackdown by the PRC. The PRC has extensive mineral, oil and engineering interests in the Magreb, as well as Sudan and Yemen; and in June 2009, al Qaeda affiliates attacked a Chinese engineering site in Algeria where 24 local guards were killed.

Obviously, I do not wish for Chinese workers to be killed, and recognize the danger of the PRC being mistaken for Taiwan (which even the Royal Navy is wont to). That said, I cannot help but feel that if they pursue this threat, A-Q will soon find itself up against a state which is completely unencumbered by notions of restraint and/or craven appeasement.

In footballing terms, A-Q is like Manchester United… funded by Arab petro-dollars and accustomed only to a few consolation wins against their arch-rivals.

I love life.

Al-Qaeda loves death.

The People’s Republic of China loves killing people.