Media stars as politicians

There was an interesting piece in the most recent New Statesman, regarding the rise of the star journalist as politician - referring, of course, to the loathsome Robert Kilroy-Silk. (You may be able to access it free the first time you load up the site.) Nick Cohen reports that the roles of politician and TV presenter “require similar cheek and similar ignorance”. I was reminded of this today listening to Jon Gaunt interview the MP for Soham on BBC London radio. Soham is a small town in England where two young girls were murdered a couple of years ago, and the man responsible turned out to be the school caretaker, Ian Huntley. Continue reading

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UK motorway services “worst in Europe”

As a truck driver I regularly have to experience the joys of using Britain’s motorway service stations, particularly of course those around London. Now the AA has said ours are Europe’s worst, and they single out Sandbach on the M6 in Cheshire as the worst in the whole of Europe. Continue reading

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BBC report on Linux in Iraq

“The World” reports on a growing movement in Iraq for developing open-source software. “It could leapfrog Iraq into a more competitive future”, according to this report by their technology reporter. (WMA file, which my Mac doesn’t support.)

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Today’s Wrox event

This evening Foyle’s Bookshop in London held a “networking event” featuring a number of people from the Wrox publishing company and its new owners, Wiley. I had meetings with some of the representatives as well as one of its authors, Kapil Sharma, who co-authored their book on Red Hat Linux 9 and a book on Fedora Core 2, the latest version of what used to be Red Hat Linux. Continue reading

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Alert on map thefts

s a graduate of the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, who made much use of the National Library of Wales, I’d like to help publicise the appeal for the capture of a serial map thief called Peter Joseph Bellwood. Continue reading

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Crossing Continents – Training of Imams

Crossing Continents, a current affairs programme broadcast on Radio 4, is discussing (as I type!) the subject of training imams in Europe. The government of the Netherlands has recently passed laws demanding that foreign imams take courses on “Dutch values”, while some politicians demand that imams stop making controversial statements on social issues, such as calling for a ban on gay marriages! Continue reading

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Free publicity for the “Teen Gulag”

I’m not sure why I’ve held up posting on this issue for so long, but a few months ago the BBC ran a series of features on a girl from England who was tricked into going to the so-called “Casa By The Sea” in Mexico - a private prison camp for troubled and/or troublesome teenagers. Susie El Madawi, from Halifax in west Yorkshire, was dumped there by her mother who was concerned about her rebellious behaviour and feared that she’d end up in prostitution or dead. Strangely, the BBC which is meant to be committed to neutral “public service broadcasting”, has ended up giving free publicity to the organisation which runs what is actually a chain of boot camps. Continue reading

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Our rulers are scared of us

The Observer reports that the British authorities are seriously considering sealing off an area around the Houses of Parliament. Anyone who has been to the area knows that Parliament lies right next to a major road bridge (Westminster Bridge), two major road junctions and the river Thames. How big an area do these people want to seal off? Continue reading

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An Insight into the Jama’at of Slanderers

I did a Google search for Muhammad Shareef yesterday, for reasons I can’t quite remember. One of the first things it came up with was this discussion on SalafiTalk.net which really demonstrates what an awful group they are. The amazing thing about this group is how it gives complete nobodies the impression that they have the right to judge people who are far greater than they are. (For more on this, have a listen to Shaikh Abu Yusuf Riyadh al-Haq’s lecture, The Legacy of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud.) They have a great presence in the Islamic student society scene in the UK, including at my own university here in Kingston, and the lectures are nearly always by “brother so-and-so” or “Abu so-and-so”. Continue reading

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Denis MacEoin’s at it again!

It seems that every time there is a debate about the right of Muslim girls to wear headscarves to school, a guy called Denis MacEoin from Newcastle on Tyne gets his two pennies or cents in, usually in the Guardian’s or the Observer’s letters page. I made a point about this issue on my old blog, after an earlier incident where the Observer printed MacEoin’s wittering about human rights in the Muslim world. Continue reading

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Wimbledon to use Linux

The BBC reports that the Wimbledon tennis championship is to use Linux for both its public website and its internal “intranet”. (I don’t watch the tennis, but it’s good to hear that such a high-profile organisation has switched away from the notoriously buggy Windoze operating system.)

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UK sending refugees back to Somali war zone

The Guardian reports that the British government has been quietly sending refugees back to a known war zone - Mogadishu in Somalia, to an ex-Soviet air base controlled by clan militias. (This is after at least two countries, the UAE and Kenya, have stopped allowing Somali passport-holders in as forged Somali passports are widely available - which in effect means that the refugees have nowhere to run.)

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Dickinson murder and other stuff in the news

Much column inches were taken up today by the verdict on Francisco Arce Montes, concerning the dreadful murder of Caroline Dickinson, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was on a school trip to Brittany. It turns out that the man responsible was a serial predator who had convictions for rape and other sexual abuse across Europe. On Jon Gaunt’s show this morning, the discussion turned to the matter of school trips, and whether it is still safe to allow children away on such trips. I don’t see why people should think it’s not safe, since of the thousands of children who went away on school trips in the late 1990s, how many did not come back alive? A small handful, I should think, mostly due to accidents. The fact is that sexual murders are nothing new but are quite rare, and are just as likely to happen at home as on a trip away. Travelling is much safer now than it was in centuries past, when it meant weeks in a horse-drawn cart or on the back of a camel, and the danger of highway robbers.

Continue reading

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Decent article on Wahhabi threat

William Dalrymple (of White Mughals fame) has contributed a piece to today’s Guardian, “Saudi Arabia created the monster now devouring it”. It gives the usual account of the fitna caused by Wahhabi missionaries, and their negative effects on Muslim culture in places where they gain influence. Continue reading

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Reflections on Respect and the recent elections

I wasn’t able to blog the last few days, because of long work hours and being too tired yesterday (after a run to Milton Keynes on Friday evening, not getting back until after 11pm, and having to deliver a van back to my work site early yesterday morning). By yesterday it was clear that Respect had failed to gain a single seat in any local authority, including the London assembly. The party gained 15% of the vote in the City and East constituency (which includes the two boroughs with the biggest Muslim population, Tower Hamlets and Newham) and 8.7% in the north-east constituency (which includes Walthamstow), in places coming above the major parties but also in places coming below the far-right parties including the BNP. This is a disappointing result; I was expecting the party to get at least one seat if only in the top-up seats. Both the BNP and the UKIP won council seats (alhamdu lillah, the BNP got none here in London). The European election results have yet to be declared. Continue reading

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Come on England! (Oh, all right then …)

I was thoroughly glad to find a piece in the Guardian which told us it was OK to be indifferent as to whether “our boys” win the European championship this month or not. ‘It’s not that I don’t want “our boys” to win. It’s just that I don’t really care if they lose’, he says here, calling the team “without doubt, the most uninspiring set of dullards ever to pull a white shirt over their heads”. Continue reading

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New Muslim centre in East London

The East London Mosque (one of the few mosques in London which is able to give the adhan over the loudspeaker) has just opened its new extension, which can hold 10,000 worshippers and has a gym, library, a creche and classrooms. Please notice that the person they chose to interview was “Nsheila Ahmed” (the name looks like it’s spelt wrong), one of a probable handful who cover their entire faces, including their eyes. Perhaps she just didn’t want any part of her face shown, but most Muslim women who cover their face show their eyes, and most women who veil at all show their face. Continue reading

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The Secular Case for Home Schooling

A topic close to my heart even though I’m not (yet, insha Allah) a parent: The Secular Case for Home Schooling by Diana West (never heard of this journo before, my apologies if she has a bad reputation among Muslims). [Hat tip: Ladies Against Feminism - this is a Christian site by the way.] The commentator finds that she could not teach her children less than they learned at a public school in Maryland.

(I’ve got strong feelings about schools, because I didn’t have too good an experience in the system - I think they are overrated, that they are often bully traps and they expose children to too many bad influences. It particularly annoys me when I hear teachers complaining about parents taking their children out of school for a while for a trip ‘back home’ to India or Bangladesh, because they miss out on “education” even though they gain valuable life experience. I make it clear to any inquiring marriage partner that I prefer home schooling if no Islamic school is available.)

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I’m really annoyed tonight

I’ve just come back from a Respect rally at Friends’ House (a Quaker building) near Euston station in Central London. The speakers were George Galloway (of course), Yvonne Ridley, Anas Altikriti, Anjum Mirza of (I think) the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, a female fire-fighter whose name I’ve forgotten, Ken Loach (best known for the films Kes and Land and Freedom), and Lindsey German, their mayoral candidate for London. I thought the speeches were pretty good until the end, when the chairman announced that an Italian communist newspaper had written to express their support! One would expect that a party which wanted to get elected would want to disassociate itself from Communists, as even rumours of well-wishing from them cost Labour a general election in the 1920s (the so-called Zinoviev letter affair, in which a letter ostensibly from the head of the Communist International wishing Labour well in a general election was “leaked” to the press, when it was actually fabricated by Tsarist exiles in Latvia). I am sure that this will be picked up on by the Press, and all their efforts could be wasted. How stupid are these people?

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