The other night I was driving home (I had a long drive from Diss, Norfolk to west London, which takes three hours by any reasonable route in an 18-tonne lorry) and listening to reports on Nick Clegg’s speech at the (now forgotten, I think) Lib Dem party conference. In that speech, he told everyone off for looking for someone to blame for the current crisis, be it big business, immigrants or Europe. He also reminded everyone how he’d toned down the Tories’ worst instincts during his four years cosying up to them, and promised that he’d never repeat the mistake of caving in on increasing student tuition fees. Then on Friday morning, we woke to find that UKIP had gained the seat of Clacton in Essex in a by-election in which the sitting (former Tory) MP, Douglas Carswell (right), had defected and put himself up for re-election. In a 51% turnout, Carswell won 60% of the vote, more than double the nearest rival (a Conservative). In another by-election in Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester, Labour held the seat and increased its share of the vote by 1%, but UKIP came second with only about 600 fewer votes.
To deal with the Lib Dem conference first, Clegg and other Lib Dems are deluding themselves if they think his voters’ sense of betrayal is purely down to the tuition fees issue. He caved in on so many other issues, including the Tories’ welfare reform programme and the cuts to legal aid, which leave some very vulnerable people without legal representation (e.g. mothers trying to secure custody of their children, when their husbands often have better ability to afford a lawyer). Last Monday (before the speech), Sue Marsh posted an entry in which she described Clegg and Danny Alexander at the time of the formation of the coalition as “eager as 6th formers convinced they are ready to play men’s games”, and this sums up my impression of why they gave so much away: they were just too eager for the privileges and prestige of “office”. Nor can it be said that they have tempered the Conservatives’ wilder instincts as these elements are snapping at the leadership’s heels as we speak. They have an established group within the party that wants to take Britain out of the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights; some of them are defecting to UKIP and their press are egging both groups on. They did not accept a coalition and blame the Lib Dems for everything that they were unable to do if they had been a “Tory government”, apparently ignorant of the fact that they did not, in fact, win the election. The Lib Dems have not gained as a party from coalition with the Tories; only their ministers have gained, and only personally. Their values are treated as if they are on the fringes of current thinking, with the two major parties (and there are only two now, and if there is a third, it is not the Lib Dems) competing to be ‘tough’ on right-wing media issues such as immigration and Europe.
That the Lib Dem vote has collapsed is evident from both of last week’s by-elections: in Clacton, they received only 483 votes, a loss of 12%, and lost their deposit, coming fifth after the Greens; in Heywood and Middleton, they lost 18% of the vote and received only 1,457, coming fourth. While the Clacton result can be explained partly by there being a popular local MP who would have won whichever party he represented, in Heywood the Labour party gained only 1% of the vote while UKIP gained 36%. I’ve seen blog posts and a diagram (since deleted, it seems) suggesting that this was not hugely significant because Labour held its vote while the Tories’ and Lib Dems’ votes were transferred to UKIP. The problem is that the Lib Dems appealed to an entirely different demographic to UKIP, which expects to take votes from people who are swayed by the right-wing press rather than progressive, well-educated voters who actually think about what they are voting for. The Lib Dems also benefited from a large number of left-wing votes during the New Labour era, and from left-wing voters in mostly affluent areas where they were the main opposition to the Tories. It is inconceivable that these voters will vote UKIP in large numbers. The only possible explanation is that Labour (and the Tories) lost voters to UKIP while gaining them from the Lib Dems (although the Greens, who also increased their share of the vote in Heywood, may have gained from both). A possible reason why UKIP gained such a large share of the vote was the low turnout, which demonstrates the danger of not turning out to vote because you believe you live in a ‘safe’ seat and because it’s “only a by-election”.
The success of UKIP also shows that being wealthy and having a background in the financial sector is no bar to winning votes among impoverished and poorly-educated voters. In theory, it shouldn’t be, on its own, but Farage, like a lot of American right-wing politicians, affects a ‘common touch’ that disguises policies that benefit only his own class, while exploiting people’s fears and resentments, however ill-founded they may be. Thomas Frank exposed this tendency in American politics in his book What’s the Matter with Kansas? (America, in the UK version): that white voters across the USA, except in the big cities, the university towns and coastal metropolitan areas, had taken to voting for Republican candidates whose economic policies were against their interests, largely for reasons of morality (e.g., opposition to abortion) or because it was not acceptable to draw attention to their wealth and background; that was the “politics of envy” and wealthy men are winners. The same rhetoric can be seen creeping into British politics, along with the same dishonesty, the same fake common touch, the blunt talking, the hostility to experts and intellectuals. The deception is perpetrated on the BBC and in papers which are meant to be a bit more balanced: the Observer, for example, portrayed him taking a beer (a common theme in the American version of this deceit as well - they can’t be shown sipping a latte) in his “village pub in Kent” when it was actually in an exclusive and expensive London suburb.
I’ve found the media’s coverage of these by-elections disappointing, but perhaps I shouldn’t as they have been talking up UKIP for years. On Friday morning I followed a link which appeared to be to a story about the Heywood result, but it turned out to be mostly about Clacton and contain mostly chatter by various politicians, as if that was the news. There were no statistics — no tables of the candidates and their votes and percentages, nor of the changes since 2010 (after I complained to the BBC myself, graphs showing these details appeared). This result is disturbing: it’s a victory for apathy, unthinkingness, fear and resentment, stoked by the commercial right-wing press and recklessly fed by the BBC, and is in no way comparable to the “protest votes” cast while the Liberal Democrats seemed the only principled party during the New Labour era (let alone to tactical votes for the Lib Dems cast in constituencies where Labour could not win). It used to be said that people vote with their pockets, hence the recurrent victories for the Tories in the 1980s and 90s, but now it seems people will vote against their interests on the vague notion that a party “says what they are thinking” or “are on their side”, even though a cursory investigation will prove that they are in fact firmly part of the establishment and playing a trick. The BNP were brought to earth when their incompetence, lies and criminality were exposed; will anyone expose the deceptions of UKIP? Or do people just not care?
Image source: Wikipedia.
Possibly Related Posts:
- Niqab in Camden: where are the Muslim voices?
- The UK is not the USSR, nor an abusive relationship
- There will be FUD
- Online friends, suicide and threats thereof
- Free speech
by Sheikh Rehmatullah
Sacrifice is a motif for many people in this world. It is recurrent, an almost indispensable part of their lives in which progress is preceded and many times succeeded by sacrificing things that one holds closely to the heart. A father quelling dreams in favor of his child is common, as is the selfless sacrifice of a mother who goes through the 9 month ordeal to deliver a new life.
While pursuing education in one's land is difficult, more difficult is the choice of leaving the comforts of a house. The knowledge of benefits is not hidden, but the fruits are still not ripe for a mind to comprehend. The benefits of a sacrifice are the fruits, but only the best of men have the courage to sow the seeds.
Verily, one of the best of those men was Prophet Ibrahim . He did not agree to sacrifice seeking the material benefit of a fruit, rather he was the obedient creation who did what was asked of him by his creator. His agreeing to give up Ismail at the command of Allah is one of the greatest testaments to the literal test of faith – submission to the Almighty.
It was not a test that merely entailed trivial jubilation from the father, but the eventual slaughter of a sheep in place of Ismail is where the blessing for the whole Ummah lies – the celebration of Eid al-Adha, which recently came upon us.
In sacrifice there has been abundance, not just for the valiant father and son in Islam, but for every Muslim who testifies the Shahadah and takes cognizance of its meaning in full. Very few of us on even fewer occasions understand the context and story behind the feast that fills our dining tables on the blessed day of Eid.
It is not something to be ashamed of anymore if we stop for a moment and try to understand the stories of Prophet Muhammad and the ones who came before and after him. It's certainly not embarrassing if we devour delicious Eid meals until our hands have extended out to the poor with the meat of sacrificed animal.
The first 10 days of the month of Dhul Hijjah have been blessed. The events that fill these days are witnessed by the entire world, the most significant of them being the pilgrimage of Hajj. The pilgrimage is not a sacrifice any less. Many Muslims wait for their turn in for years and often save every penny from scratch to finance this journey to Mecca. The sacrifice of hair is just one of them in the wider scheme of sacrifices – leaving the comforts of their abodes, the luxuries of personal life to interact with the communal congregation and sacrificing the certainties of travel for a greater journey of the spirit and heart.
Yet, this too is not a sacrifice in vain. It is a sacrifice that adds another pillar to one's faith, that propels the believer to the soil of Madinah and the hills of Arafat so that his prayers are responded to, that transports him to the largest congregation in this world where the rich and poor brush against each other to defeat the devil of racial differences. In this sacrifice, as we see again, is abundance.
While the Hujaaj sweat it out in Mecca for the eternal musk of blessings, we too did our part even from the comforts of our homes. Increasing our remembrance of Allah [SWT] through dhikr, recitation of the Qur'an and fasting on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah were a few of the sacrifices we attempted to make. Another method was offering the Tahajjud prayer in the depths of the night.
While we made the lesser sacrifice of sleep to prostrate to our creator, we hoped to seek a fraction of the blessing that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) received that night. That night, when he woke up from sleep to sacrifice something far more beloved than sleep, that night when Allah willed something else to be sacrificed so that in it we find our abundance.
Beyond the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, we should continue to turn to Allah through sacrifice in abundance.
(Attention, writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You're welcome to send in your entries to email@example.com.)
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A mosque in San Diego has received a threatening letter with an unknown substance in it. There are at least ten mosques in San Diego, and the one that received the threatening letter has not been identified.
The local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations says the letter referred to ‘applying the death sentence’ and mentioned Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, too.
As a result of this threat, all California mosques have been notified and asked to report any similar threats, and the FBI has been asked by the council to get involved in the investigation.
After threatening peaceful protesters, the Israeli university signed a cooperation deal with a leading weapons-maker.
Bankstown sheik tells lecture in Sydneys west that capitalism has failed and an Islamic State caliphate is the way forward
A hardline Islamic leader from a group advocating an Islamic State caliphate says Muslims should be ready to make sacrifices to achieve it.
We believe this world deserves a new world order, Ismail Al-Wahwah declared at an event headed by the controversial Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation.
Christine Milne announces legislation to create a centre for social cohesion to help counter radicalisation, crime and gangs
Australians at risk of disengaging from the mainstream and becoming attracted to violent extremism would be targeted by a new national outreach body under a proposal suggested by the Greens.
The party plans to present legislation to parliament to create what it has called the Australian Centre for Social Cohesion. This body would oversee preventative programs to address social exclusion and stop young people from becoming radicalised.Continue reading...
Poll also finds 40% oppose new counter-terrorism laws and more than 60% think terrorism hysteria puts Muslims at risk
Australians back the federal governments decision to join the military effort against the militia group calling itself Islamic State, but believe doing so will make us less safe, according to a new poll.
However the poll found strong opposition to new anti-terror measures that could see whistleblowers and journalists jailed for reporting abuses of power, with more than four in 10 saying the laws went too far.Continue reading...
reddit debate that ignited yesterday, the official spokesperson of Islam and its 1.5 billion adherents throughout the world delivered remarks from an open letter condemning Ebola.
The current Ebola outbreak is a tragedy. We mourn with the non-Muslims of the world. Although we share some of the same DNA base pairs as Ebola, it does not represent our belief system as multi-base-pair DNA organisms.
We condemn the infection of host cells and the release of misinterpreted genetic instruction. It is a strict misrepresentation of who we are as people and the way that we are genetically programmed.
Mahmoud Bin Lamba
Official Spokesman of Islam”
This comes as a response to a sophisticated new interactive poll suggesting that a majority of Muslims are in favor of infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus.
Sam Harris, organism terrorism expert, explained on “Real Time with Bill Maher”:
“Imagine three concentric circles: the inner most circle contains your Ebola virus and Human Immunodeficiency virus. The circle around that is your Muslimicists, Muslims who want to infect and use democracy against itself. These two circles alone constitute about 30% of Muslims. The outer most circle represents the fringe non-infecting Muslims. We have to be able to criticize bad genetic material, and Islam is the mother lode of bad genetic material.“
Harris seemed unconvinced by appeals to Ebola to cease its un-Islamic behavior from Muslim scholars across the word in their Open Letter to Ebola.
Harris says the majority of Muslims do not understand their Islamic imperatives, such as the pilgrimage to Mecca and spreading Ebola in Liberia.
New book debunks decades of myths about 1967 occupation.
The writer argues that those who have horribly mangled the language of religion are targeting modernity
Rushdie shares award with Syrian free speech advocate
Salman Rushdie has attacked the hate-filled religious rhetoric that persuades hundreds, perhaps thousands of British Muslims to join the decapitating barbarians of Isis, describing it as the most dangerous new weapon in the world today.
Speaking at the award of the PEN/Pinter prize, Rushdie said he dislikes the word Islamophobia greatly. But it is right, the author argued, to feel phobia towards the oppression of the people of Afghanistan by the Taliban, towards the oppression of Iranians by the ayatollahs, and towards the death of people in Iraq today. What is being killed in Iraq is not just human beings, but a whole culture. To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.Continue reading...
Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of the audience: for a long time Ive wished that one day I might set foot in London, so that Id perhaps be able to touch the soul of that great city and discover the traces left by John Locke, Shakespeare, and the men who drafted the Magna Carta. Maybe Id be able to learn, from them, how to progress towards civilisation and modernity with utter constancy and rationality. So I cannot express strongly enough how proud I am that my name is present among you in London this evening, even if I am not there myself, and especially given that this has been made possible by PEN. PEN is an organisation that has earned my respect and appreciation by proving, in a short period of time, the great credibility of its commitment to its civilised goals and values. So, I am sincerely grateful for the huge honour of being given this years International Writer of Courage Award.
Allow me to take advantage of controversial writer Salman Rushdies presence among you this evening to tell him this: although we may have deeply disagreed with your views, we committed an unforgivable sin in the Arab world when we responded with indifference to the fatwas and calls for your death. So indifferent were we that we colluded even if just by our silent complicity in excluding and eliminating difference, while acting as if the whole thing had nothing to do with us. And so here we are today, paying the high, blood-soaked price of that collusion, and finding ourselves the main victims of the obscurantist ideology now infiltrating our homes and our cities. What a great shame that it has taken us all of this bloodshed to arrive at the belief that we are the ones who will pay the price for preventing those with whom we disagree from expressing their views and that we will pay with our lives and our futures. What a shame this much blood has had to be spilled for us to realise, finally, that we are digging our own graves when we allow thought to be crushed by accusations of unbelief, calling people infidels, and when we allow opinion to be countered with violence. The disastrous consequences of this are clearly evident today across the Arab world, and especially in Syria, my country, where the ugliest forms of fascism and the dirtiest kinds of barbarism are practised in the name of both patriotism and Islam in equal measure.Continue reading...
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Three teens threw uncooked pork ribs at the Eltingville home of a Muslim woman Saturday night, sparking a hate crime investigation by the NYPD, the Advance has learned.
The incident happened at about 11:35 p.m., Saturday, according to an NYPD spokesman. The victim, a practicing Muslim who lives on Mosley Avenue near the Eltingville train platform, got a knock on the door, and when she went outside to answer, she found raw pork on her doorstep, the spokesman said.
A law enforcement source provided additional details on the incident — three white teens, ages 16 through 19, threw uncooked pork ribs at the house, then fled in a four-door sedan.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, the NYPD spokesman said.
No one answered the door at the woman’s house Tuesday afternoon.
Muslims are prohibited from eating pork products, and bigots often use pork as a means to taunt or offend, according to Islamic-American leaders.
In August 2012, someone scattered pieces of bacon over the New Dorp Beach field where the borough’s Muslim community celebrated the end of Ramadan, sparking a hate crime investigation.
“It’s a prevalent misunderstanding. It’s not poison. We just don’t consume it. But it’s intended as an insult,” said Hesham El-Meligy, the founder of the Islamic Civic Association-Staten Island.
The incident took place on the eve of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice — which commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son.
Even so, El-Meligy said, he doubts Saturday’s incident was sparked by the holiday. Rather, he suggested, the incident took place “on the heels” what he referred to as last week’s “tempest in the teapot” controversy surrounding the removal of a Hajj banner at the Muslim American Society of Staten Island in Dongan Hills.
“Definitely there is an impact of such ignorance, and not even an attempt to understand,” El-Meligy said.
The Dongan Hills mosque had put up a banner depicting an airliner, in celebration of Hajj, which is the annual Muslim pilgrimage now taking place to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Scott LoBaido, a local artist and community activist, visited the mosque after, he said, he learned about the banner on social media from community members worried that it was linked to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Last Tuesday, he posted the following message to his more than 4,600 friends on Facebook, several of whom work for a variety of news organizations: “I regards to the airplane on the front of the si mosque, everyone hold on for a bit. I am going there tonite to ask them about it and aske them to take it down. I will post outcome.”
That visit, and the request to remove the banner, sparked a media storm, with Muslim-American activists criticizing LoBaido for perpetuating anti-Islamic prejudice by pressuring the center into removing a harmless sign. LoBaido maintains that he visited the mosque to “try to defuse a possibly ugly event,” and said he didn’t contact the media.
A new spoken word piece by ShahrozBeautiful child, beautiful child Whoever told you that you weren't beautiful is a liar Every man and woman judges you, putting you on trial it's wild, you're just a girl and they're treating you so foul Man, i'm sick of this society blinding our eyes entirely modifying our women – a plastic, silicone, irony We say we hate the fakeness, but that's what we're steady chasing Yeah we started from the bottom, and we're still stuck in the basement I want you to embrace it…you really don't need makeup Instead you're so worried about the likes on your facebook And I'm so sorry about the music you have to listen to Women degrading women, and men are just trying to limit you They don't care about your mind, only focus on the physical So please tell me how they're a role model to the youth? Self-esteem shattered cuz we don't care about what matters Now she's taking off her clothes on instagram just to matter It's so sad and pitiful, we made this world cynical Somehow we wore a lens that made everything sexual Bridge: (Hey) Beautiful child, don't cry I'll make everything alright (2x) We took our boys and we stripped them of their innocence All they watch is a bunch of vivid pornographic images And that's how they really think a woman is so they stay getting it, until it boosts their male ego to the infinite Let me pause right there and just say: Thats not what makes you a man! Please understand, we are not animals without a conscience You have hearts and minds that can stop you from being monsters Corporations are pushing products, where the body is just an object I blame the consumer more for purchasing without a problem It isn't hard to change your heart, inspire people all around you and if they think there's something wrong with that…they don't belong around you Now back to you child, don't ever let anyone tell you you're not beautiful Outer appearance is just a mere part of an individual Focus on your character, be a symbol of kindness and compassion And if they love you for that, then that's what really matters You don't have to live up to any pressure to look a certain way So look in the mirror, smile, and everything will be okay
Villa Touma director talks about how the Israeli government tried to use her.
The battle over Steven Salaita is part of a war against the neoliberal corporatization of higher education.
Bill Maher is once again on his tirade against Muslims. For a standup comedian who's made a living out of mocking all things sacred, it's hard to understand why anyone would believe the misinformation he spreads. His vitriol against Muslims and Islam are well-known; he has declared quite openly that he's alarmed with a growing Muslim population in the West and fears a 'take over by Islam'.
Maher pretends that he's labeled as a racist for being a simple critic of Islam. Any honest observer, however, would recognize that he has a clear track record of launching baseless attacks on Muslims. He does this repeatedly by misconstruing facts, making unsubstantiated claims and cherry picking radical interpretations that support his pre-conceived notions of the faith. Couple this with his condescending attitude and vile speech and you've got yourself a text book case of bigotry.
Take for example, his recent claim that 'vast numbers of Muslims around the world believe that humans deserve to die for merely holding a different idea, or drawing a cartoon, or writing a book, or eloping with the wrong person'. Maher makes these profoundly inaccurate and unsupported statements and passes them as facts on national television with no consequences. This isn't mere criticism – it is a clear attempt to incite xenophobic sentiment with the intended goal of demonizing Muslims.
Maher often states there are 'polls' and 'research' to support his view that large swaths of Muslims are a violent and intolerant people – it's not just a few bad apples he argues. Actual research, however, has repeatedly shown that Muslims overwhelmingly reject violence; in fact they are more likely to oppose violence than other religious groups. As for religious freedom, Muslims yet again show near perfect support for it.
Another example of Maher's flagrant misconstruction of facts was on the recent flare up with Ben Affleck on his show. He again tries to give us the impression that Muslims are largely an uncivilized people by quoting a Pew poll which supposedly states that 90% of Egyptians support the death penalty for leaving Islam. The Pew poll he's referring to is most likely the 2013 edition- and he forgot to mention one important piece of information: the poll offers no direct statistics on Muslims who support capital punishment for apostasy.
Instead, the poll offers statistics on people who support such apostasy laws as a percentage of those who support the adoption of Shariah as the official law of their country. It excludes Muslims who prefer to restrict the Shariah to the private sphere, who are opposed to the idea of a theocratic state or those that don't have strong views on the subject. As a result, the numbers are misleading since the sample population for the survey doesn't represent the total population. When this is taken to account through extrapolation, the poll actually indicates that as a whole, most Muslims oppose penal codes for apostasy – something Ben Affleck deduced from common sense.
Bill Maher quotes the disproportionally high numbers for Egypt that stand out from the survey – as if the country represents the entire Muslims world. In fact, the numbers he mentions are completely wrong since the poll never offers figures for the country's complete population. Even if they were to be extrapolated (which introduces an error), the support would be at 64% – not the 90% he so forcefully claimed.
Maher also fails to mention the significant disparity Egypt has with other Muslim majority countries on this issue: Indonesia (13%), Lebanon (13%), Tunisia (16%) and Turkey (2%). Why single out Egypt and not mention the world's largest Muslims country, Indonesia? Clearly, Bill has an agenda to make overarching simplifications about Muslims that are rooted in nothing but misinformation.
As an aside, an important question to consider is that why it's only Muslims who seemed to be polled on such controversial questions? What would the stats be if similar question were posed to Israeli Jews, Christian Arabs, Indian Hindus, Catholic Filipinos and American evangelicals? If you ask questions outlandish enough to any population, there's bound to be support for it from a particular segment. More importantly, to what extent can we use polls to understand a population on such matters? These are important questions to consider.
Despite the contextualization I've offered to Bill Maher's lunacy, one would argue that sizable Muslim minorities still support apostasy laws and this doesn't explain the main grievance. I think that's a fair point and agree that the contentious issue of these penal codes still needs addressing by Muslim scholarship. How is traditional Muslim governance to adapt to the modern nation-state? What is the relevance of exacting classical penal codes when they are unable to uphold justice and their implementation leads to more harm than good?
Muslims are working through these issues and these need to be addressed from within; Tariq Ramadan's moratorium call is an example of this. There's no denying that the Muslims world is facing a multitude of problems, but mocking these from a Hollywood studio is not going to get us anywhere, unfortunately.
Bill Maher has no interest in actually understanding problems or offering solutions – he's an entertainer, and bashing Islam makes for very good entertainment. His formula is to take problems from one part of the Islamic world (or concoct them), exaggerate them greatly and then use it to dehumanize the global Muslim population. He caricatures an entire people with brush strokes of prejudice, using the ink of intolerance and his canvass of hypocrisy.
And his solution to problems of the Muslim world: abandon your faith, adopt sexual promiscuity and you'll be liberated. Clearly, Maher is a professional jester – it's a good trade for him, and he should stick with it.
National imams council tells parliamentary committee that Muslim preachers on social justice could face charges
Preaching from parts of the Quran calling on Muslims to defend their land could fall foul of Australias new counter-terrorism laws, senior Islamic clerics fear.
The Australian National Imams Council said the proposed broadening of the offence of advocating terrorism to include those who promote and encourage violence would have serious implications on free speech and will have a chilling effect on legitimate religious and political debate.Continue reading...