Talking of Scottish Independence - and to my disgruntlement we who live up here are not going to talk about much else until well after the referendum - there is a new campaigner for the Yes vote, though she is old in her many appearances on Harry's Place.
I am talking about Yvonne Ridley, who has been living north of the border for some time.
She now calls for Scottish independence on the Islamist site 5pillarz.
She states her reasons for coming northwards:-
The truth is I’d had a gutful of Westminster politics, the futility of chasing what was described as the “Muslim block vote” and the sectarianism it often brought.
A brief foray into the duplicitous, back-stabbing world of patriachal East London politics last year reinforced that view and prompted me to quit English politics for good.
Just a hint of a different political landscape where the people could actually break free from the predictability of London rule was enough of a lure for me to want to quit my Soho pad for a new home north of the Borders.
Yvonne Ridley sick of sectarian politics! That's like a vampire getting sick of human blood.
The last time I heard about her she was representing the "Muslim community" speaking in favour of gender segregation.
Now she has joined the independence bandwagon and is wooing a prospective 2% Scottish Muslim vote.
Next month I will be taking part in a debate on independence aimed mainly at young Muslims, which will include a mock referendum vote, at the University of Strathclyde.
Presumably the meeting will be gender segregated.
The event on March 9 is being organised by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), with the panel of speakers including Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar and the SNP’s external affairs minister Humza Yousaf. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, an advisory board member for Yes Scotland and a representative for the group Scots Asians For Yes reckons the independence vote will help engage women – particularly older members of the community – in politics.
“What we term as ‘Aunty-jis’ are engaging in the referendum, they are interested in what it means for them, their families and their future and they think it matters,” she said. “We are now third, fourth-generation Asian – we don’t consider ourselves Asians living in Scotland, we consider ourselves Scottish Asians,” she told The Scottish Herald newspaper recently.
Alex Salmond has been chasing the Asian vote via the glamorous Humza Yousaf Tasmina (OBE) for some time. Her career has gone from Labour, the Conservatives to the SNP and she is also a founder of the Scottish Asian Woman's Association (SAWA). Key supporters - Alex Salmond and Iqbal Sacranie, book-burner in chief. Doesn't putting Ibqal Sacranie on your front page put off other Asians like Hindus or Sikhs or atheists? It certainly spoils its credibility for me.
Alex Salmand and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh at the SAWA launch
SAWA was launched at Stirling Castle, and the Scottish tax payers picked up the bill. (Read the whole story here). Later Alex Salmond hosted an awards ceremony for SAWA, and the awards winners "were as SNP-heavy as the SAWA launch. It was made pretty clear to any non-SNP guests they were asked along as political cover. The amount of saltire-waving would have made the average nationalist cringe.”
From my brief googling Yousaf-Tasmina gives the impression of being an energetic go-getter and an opportunist, no worse than other politicians and more stylish than most. Has anyone further information about her?
But Ridley has supported hideous politics in her time and shouldn't be touched by the Yesses and SNP with a pair of tongs.
On the gender segregation issue here's an interview with Marieme Helie Lucas, an Algerian feminist and sociologist:-
Maryam Namazie: What is the nature of the recent sex segregation scandal at Universities UK where the representative body issued guidance saying side by side sex segregation was permissible? Why does it occur and by whom is it imposed? Also, it’s more than just a question of physical separation isn’t it?
Marieme Helie Lucas: Just like with the niqab, it’s an extreme-Right political organisation working under the cover of religion to promote sex segregation as a pawn in the political landscape and using all possible means to make itself visible and impose its mores and laws. The idea is to permanently demonstrate that the law of god (as interpreted by them) supersedes the law of the people. It is a blatant attack on the very principle of democracy and one woman/man, one vote, particularly relevant in the aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s death.
So please don't think that those demanding gender segregation are for harmless religious and/or cultural sensibilities be accommodated. Think of it as a political demand from a particularly repellent ideology- and then you will less squeamish about opposing it.
The whole interview is excellent.
Also from Maryam Namazie, a principal organiser of the campaign against the UUK's guidelines:-
"Gender apartheid is an Islamist demand to increase power and influence by asserting medieval rules on women and the society at large. The groups lined up to defend UUK’s indefensible position are all hard-core Islamists who hide behind ‘Muslim’ and religion to push forward their regressive and misogynist far-Right politics: Hizb Ut-Tahrir, FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies), Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), and Islamic Human Rights Commission…"
Loonwatch wrote an article about the campaign being simple Islamophobia dressed up. The author of it, in the comments, said Maryam Namazie was "worse than a whore."
Muslim women of a questioning and liberal turn are generally called that:-
I am the latest in a bunch of women, specifically Muslim women, who have come under attack from a group of misogynist men. Their aim is supposedly to combat Islamophobia yet ironically their appalling behaviour is unIslamic and actually fuels anti-Muslim sentiment.
It’s rather funny how our ‘Muslimness’ is questioned to destroy our credibility. Accuse a Muslim person of drinking alcohol or eating pork and you have instantly ruined their reputation. And if you’re a woman, well, that’s ten times worse. The combination of being an ex-Muslim (which I am not by the way) and a ‘whore’ is lethal.
Well, can you believe it?. An illiberal piece of policy is advanced by a powerful body, against it comes a petition, a demonstration, media shouting and then the policy is withdrawn. Amazing.
To recap, Universities UK, (UUK) (formerly The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom) put out guidelines that allowed speakers at meetings in universities to insist women and men be segregated for "genuinely religious" reasons. Student Rights picked this up. The bloggers you'd expect - Maryam Nazie, Ophelia Benson, James Bloodworth produced angry posts. The mainstream media moved in - Nick Cohen in the Spectator, and Yasmin Alibai-Brown, finely furious, in The Independent.
Imagine the scenario:-
Sheikh Shifty is invited by some ISOC group to speak about Freedom and Justice at the University of Excellence. Sheikh Shifty will only speak if the women sit separate from the men.
Obvious answer - tell the misogynist theocrat to take a hike, in these words,
"I am sorry to inform you that it is against the principles of the University to allow meetings to occur with gender segregation."
But not in the UUK's horrible management speak:- .
if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully
There was a petition and a small demonstration which Channel 4 covered at length.
Then the BBC began to thunder. The Today programme (1:35) on 11th December had a long piece which started with the reporter regretting his old LSE, the one in the 1980s where students were raucous but not so ready to be offended, or offended on the behalf of putative others.
The next day the BBC got Nicola Dandridge, the Chief Executive of UUK, into the Today (2:10) studio. Regular Today listeners recognised the tones with which Justin Webb interrogated her. It's the one which they use on a duplicitous politician who has no moral leg to stand on - who has, say, been fiddling her expenses. It's the voice of outraged decency against a moral moron and it was music to my ears, an angry liberal telling off a squirming piece of inconsistency and illogic. (For a biting take down of Dandridge's muddled defence, I would strongly recommend this.)
"If this is all that Dandridge means – that people have the right to sit where the hell they want and some will sit cliquishly by gender or other groupings, there is no role for Universities and no reason why the situation should ever be addressed in policy.
Worse, “If women want to sit where the hell the want”? IF? What is this world in which you live where women routinely have no desires and sit where they are told without a single thought disrupting the gentle currents of air between their ears?
All women always sit where they want unless coerced or forced. The fact that you can’t acknowledge this openly, that women naturally have desires and preferences, that we make conscious choices here-there-and-everywhere, speaks to a profound sexism whose paucity of respect for a woman’s mind truly challenges the ability of words to express. I can only repeat your own phrase:
If women want to sit where the hell they want
and goggle at your idea that you will only impose segregation in times and places where women have no preferences.
The politicians - Chuka Umunna , Jack Straw, Michael Gove, David Cameron spoke out. Under the threads of their statements in the Guardian commenters were saying, Bugger me, the horrible Tory creeps are right this time. I'd normally be spitting that politicians were interfering in University affairs - they really shouldn't, you know - but I'm cheering them. If the representative body of the Vice Chancellors and Principals are so bloody clueless, and the NUS are so supine, they need to be kicked.
I think a lot of the response has been visceral. The suffragettes weren't force fed for this, the women who fought a grinding battle to get entry into English universities shouldn't be pissed on
So now the UUK has withdrawn gender segreation from its guidelines. It looks like the forces of light have won for once.
Congratulations to those who attended protests and wrote copiously. If only every campaign could be so successful. But what a ridiculous waste of everyone's time and anger-fuelled action.
Flesh is Grass has a sane, thoughtful piece:-
Women always miss out when public spaces are segregated by leaders and organisers – even if voluntary, it’s a small change in culture, in the general view of what is acceptable. Authoritarians always use the values of open, pluralist societies against those societies themselves, and weaken them incrementally. Let’s stop this.
She also pointed out that feminists like Caroline Lucas, MP, Green Party and Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party did not speak out. I read that Caroline Lucas had said it wasn't a priority. Also there hasn't been a peep out of that clutch of feminist writers in The Staggers. Polly Toynbee, one of the old-guard Guardian, undid the miserable expectations we now have of her paper, by sticking to her old feminism and atheism. At least they didn't publish any of their usual apologetics on these matters. The Observer has an editorial and a good piece by Catherine Bennett.
On the other side:-
Well, one is an article which looks like parody in the Huff Po by Camilla Khan, the Head of Communications,(!) Federation of Student Islamic Societies, who tries to wrap this up in a mixture of post-modernism and spirituality. She has managed to use every con-trick word - those words that irritate like berry bugs in a bra cup - "discourse", "empower", "nuanced" and "diversity, "
Firstly, the term segregation itself is highly problematic and acts to conflate the reality further. As Saussure theorised on syntagmatic relations, ‘within speech, words are subject to a kind of relation that is independent of the first and based on their linkage,’ and segregation connotes various forms of separation and oppression.
The problem is calling segregation, segregation. If you called it something else it would be fine. Telling Molly when she walks into a room that she can't sit here because she's a woman, isn't segregation, just nuanced diverse empowerment.
Tendance Coatesey has a bit of fun with Khan's linguistic studies - Saussure is old hat, I understand - but she really should read a bit of Orwell, and note that calling mass murder "liqudation of anti-social elements" doesn't stop it being mass murder. But whoever has influenced her writing style, it wasn't Orwell.
Her other con-trick is that very old anti-feminist ploy, that women taking a different (and different will mean inferior) place is a path to spirituality. So the anti-suffragists said that women agitating to take part in public life spoiled their purifying influence and their moral specialness. They were meant for a higher destiny.
As with life, Islam acknowledges that we form different groups who occupy various intellectual and social spaces. Diversity is celebrated with spirituality at the forefront, forming a broad frame of reference which is not always easily comprehensible to those outside of it.
No, I can't comprehend how her spirituality is so much compromised when she takes a bus, goes to the cinema or sits in her cultural studies class. What about the diversity of those women who don't want to be herded with other women, and men also. Is that celebrated? (Add "celebrate" with abstract nouns to my list of berry bug words). I think the "diversity" is a pretty damned narrow one.
Second is Shohana Khan. Khan is a member of Hitz ut-Tahrir, the fighters for a Caliphate where apostates will be killed.
Her argument boils down to:- Men and women must be separated because otherwise they will get sex on the brain and not be able to do something.
Rather the concept of separating men and women in public spaces in Islam, is part of a wider objective. Islam has a societal view that the intimate relationship between a man and a woman is for the committed private sphere of marriage, and should not be allowed to spill outside of this sphere. This is because in society, men and women need to cooperate to achieve things in society whether in the work place, in education, in interactions across the public space. Islam firmly believes if the sexual instinct is let loose in this public sphere, it can taint and complicate these relationships. Therefore Islam promotes ideas such as honouring women which are upheld in society, but alongside such ideas specific rules and laws are implemented to help maintain the atmosphere of healthy interaction between the sexes.
And if the woman breaks these rules, eg by not covering her head she's fair game is she?
I think it has been observed that public school boys for instance, especially in times past, had a highly unhealthy attitude towards women because they weren't used to them as normal human beings. So you're talking garbage - and rather prurient garbage at that. Islamists are as sex obsessed as Hugh Hefner.
Now I won't say I haven't been at a public meeting and thought a chap in the audience was rather a dish. In fact, political meetings at universities is where many of us met our soulmates - that person who was highly vocal about the need to oppose nuclear proliferation and had lovely grey eyes. The partnerships of couples who fell in love with the shared ideals and the person can be highly productive. The Pankhursts were one such couple. Jennie Lee and Nye Bevan were another. So I can't deny there is a sexual element at public meetings, as there is in the offices where we work.
But that it should dominate someone's mind so much that it screws up their ability to act! What's wrong with them? Knowing how to behave in public is part of growing up, as is concentrating on the matter at hand. The only people offering distractions who should be segregated are those twerps with buzzing mobile phones.
So a victory this time round. End with Any Questions (:38). Shami Chakrabati took what has been a common attitude - why on earth are we even talking about this?
Johnathan Dimbleby: Is there justification for segregation in an educational setting?
Amjad Bashir (small business spokesman for UKIP, Pakistani immigrant, from Bradford): No. The answer is no. Absolutely not. . . All through my life, and my children, my grand children are all mixing, all sexes, whether it's primary schools, whether it's secondary schools. whether it's universities. There is no room. This is England This is the twenty first century. It's not Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, It's not Saudi Arabia, where they are not allowed to have bank accounts. This is England. We should allow our youngsters to mix and decide their own future. This is the twenty first century. I am against this segregation.
Campaigners in Egypt say the problem of sexual harassment is reaching epidemic proportions, with a rise in such incidents over the past three months. For many Egyptian women, sexual harassment - which sometimes turns into violent mob-style attacks - is a daily fact of life . .
In 2008, a study by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights found that more than 80% of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment, and that the majority of the victims were those who wore Islamic headscarves.
Said Sadek, a sociologist from the American University in Cairo, says that the problem is deeply rooted in Egyptian society: a mixture of what he calls increasing Islamic conservatism, on the rise since the late 1960s, and old patriarchal attitudes.Egyptian women fight back:-
An Egyptian women's initiative has launched a campaign entitled "We Will Ride Bicycles" to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation. . .
"Riding a bicycle and feeling the breeze of the air is one of our simplest dreams," said the campaign's event page, adding that all women should be allowed to freely ride bicycles without being harassed or judged.
The activists behind the campaign said they chose the theme of riding bicycles to promote women and girl's rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.
Scheduled for Saturday, the event's assembly point will be outside October War Panorama on Saleh Salem Street and its end point will be at Azhar Park. “The campaign’s main objective is confronting the unjustified rejection of the community concerning females riding bicycles,” said Michael Nazeh, one of the founders of the campaign.
A truly insidious and disturbing piece showing the tell tale strains of an expedition to muddy the waters and shift the responsibility from the perpetrators of a terrible crime to the victims.Normally this happens post the body count but I guess this time we may as well start the whitewash right way.
Bravo Giles, you truly intellectual giant of man, with the rare ability to cut through the ravings of a brutal Islamist terrorist group and it's sadistic foot soldiers and look into their soul to discern their 'competing vision of Africa', 'discontent with crime and supermarkets' and 'angst about the corruption in Kenya' even as they single out non-muslims for slaughter.
Your considerable talents are truly wasted here, anyone who can frame barbarism in root cause sophistry and cloak butchery in anti-corruption crusade can have a lifetime gig justifying mass murder with AlQaeda.
Give me Bin Laden or Al-shabaab ' undeconstructed' any day, at least they have the courage to put themselves out there in all their intolerance, hate and ugliness, and do not subject the global public to delusional fantasy.
(I do get the feeling that Giles Foden knows something about corruption in Kenya, and rather like an examinee asked an unexpected question, is tailoring his knowledge to fit the topic.)
There was one by Jamie Gilham, about the tabloid construction of Samantha Lewthwaite as a female hate figure.
Gem of a paragraph:-
Her transgressions are plentiful: she converted to Islam, took the veil and a Muslim name, married a black and notoriously radical convert, and is the mother of mixed-race children.
The "transgressions" that those brutes of tabloid readers are objecting to are her possibly massacring a bunch of people in Nairobi. Oh , and the "notoriously radical convert" - why not "murdering jihadist"? It's not really bigotry to suspect that a woman who marries a suicide bomber could be dodgy.
Gilham's special subject is "conversion to Islam" and to him the issue is that converts can raise hostility. So he strikes two Guardian tones:- (1) forestalling purported anti-bigotry from the tabloid readers; (2) covering a subject that tabloid readers are vulgarly interested in, with his own haut en bas angle on it. This is normally done with celebrities like the Kardashians. His third tone is that of the aesthete - as Lamia (see below) says, in the "tired, arch language of a 90s art critic" as if Lewthwaite had been exhibiting an edgy art installation. It is crassly inappropriate - no vilely wrong - in such a context.
But - astonishing - here's an article by Martin Plaut which he hasn't just pulled out of his behind but which actually gives some background and even stresses that Islamism may have played a part in these events!
The commenters in the thread are reeling in shock at an informed and reasoned piece.
I cross-posted this at Harry's Place and it elicited a terrific comment from Lamia:-
So we have Foden's text-book 'Islamists are anti-capitalist protesters' rubbish, aided by this lie of convenient omission:
"Al-Shabaab is responding, specifically, to Kenyan involvement in a joint African peacekeeping force (Amisom) in Somalia."
Funny, Al-Shabab was 'responding' to Kenyan troops entering in Somalia by launching cross border murder and kidnapping raids before Kenyan troops had... even entered Somalia. How prescient of them.
But Foden's apologism, however indefensible, was predictable enough. Someone was bound to have tried the 'anti-capitalist' line just as, should Al Shabab ever start slaughtering dolphins, one ought not really be surprised if the Guardian tries to spin it as a protest against water parks in the US, or the result of Hollywood films such as Jaws which demonise aquatic life etc.
But Jenkins' piece appears to be a picture of a mind breaking down under the pressure of doublethink. He blames architects and people who gather with other people for making terrorist attacks more bloody than they need be, which is crazy and cowardly enough in itself. But he tops that with trying to argue both (1) that terrorism is the result of 'overreaction' to, er... terrorism, and (2) the proper, proportionate reaction should be people staying at home and not gathering together.
There Jenkins manages a construction of almost ingenious idiocy in which two thoughts are offered, each spectacularly stupid in itself, but each of which also fatally undermines the other. His desperate, floundering ''argument' is a sort of idiotic snake eating its own tail.
Gilham's piece (1) talks about a terrorist's career in the tired, arch language of a 90s art critic ("provokes, disturbs and fascinates"); (2) plays the racist card at the British public; and (3) accuses the rest of the media of being in an unseemly rush to write about the person he's er, writing about. So he offers us: simultaneous moral atrophy and moral censoriousness, topped with a big brass neck.
Taken separately these are horrible, deeply stupid, utterly dishonest or delusional pieces. But put together it suggests something actually sinister at the Guardian. It seems programmatic, as if they have been instructed by the editors to use all possible forms of 'argument', no matter how logically or morally unsound, in order to aid the ideological extraction of Islamism from yet another of its bloody crime scenes.
"Any vehicle will do. Send them all. Send the people who hate modern architecture, send the people who hate capitalism, send the art critic (yes, Gilham actually is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art). Just get our Islamist comrades out.
"And don't forget to draw your 'Racist!' cards from the armoury. You will need them."
A couple of years back I made some quip about Guardian writers needing aqualungs because they keep reaching new depths etc.. But it's two years on and they just keep going further down. It's like there's a black hole at the bottom of their moral ocean.
At a Council of churchmen and magnates called to Clermont in France and in a flurry of papal letters accompanying it around 1095, Urban [Pope Urban II] described renewed but completely imaginary atrocities against Christian pilgrims by Muslims in Jerusalem, so that he could arouse appropriate horror and action would follow. The effect was sensational: noblemen present hastened to raise their tenants to set out on a mission to avenge Christian wrongs in the East.
(From A History of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch)
And thus began the First Crusade.
When I read this I was reminded of latter day lying skunks in the Rushdie affair and the Danish cartoons.
Both these events seemed simple enough. A novelist, cartoonists, produced works that devout believers found blasphemous. Outraged, these believers rioted, burned buildings and killed people. Liberal commentators deplored the violence but had a sweet sense of empathy for the rage boys, and were inclined to scold Rushdie/the Danish cartoonists for their lack of sensitivity.
However between the blasphemous work and the spontaneous-seeming riots there were the clerics with the lack of scruple of Mafia bosses ramping up the outrage. With Rushdie it was the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, trying to gain political advantage over the Saudis.
The Danish cartoons were a chance for clerics lower down the scale to make their careers. The Motoons did not at first cause much of a stir, but journalists began to move events towards a story:-
Only when journalists, disappointed by the lack of controversy, contacted a number of imams for their response, did Islamists begin to recognise the opportunity provided not just by the caricatures themselves but also by the sensitivity of Danish society to their publication.So Laban travelled around the Middle East and with him went an imam, Akhmad Akkari. To big up the blasphemy they included three extra drawings that were far more grossly offensive than the originals.
Among the first contacted was the controversial cleric Ahmed Abu Laban, infamous for his support for Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. He seized upon the cartoons to transform himself into a spokesman for Denmark’s Muslims. Yet however hard he pushed, he initially found it difficult to provoke major outrage. in Denmark or abroad. It took more than four months of often hysterical campaigning and considerable arm-twisting by Saudi diplomats, to create a major controversy.
The first of the three additional pictures, which are of dismal quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile deamon , the second shows the prophet with a pig snout and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog. Apparently, the 12 original pictures were not deemed bad enough to convince other Muslims that Muslims in Denmark are the victims of a campaign of religious hatred.
Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organizations which organized the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity.recanted:-
“The world doesn’t need a lid on human expression. That also goes for people you might disagree with. There was something deep-seated in the mentality of the group I belonged to, which I just didn’t notice. There was this fundamental idea that people were not allowed to express themselves freely, and that is just wrong,” said Akkari.It sounds as though John Stuart Mill was on his reading list as well.
Akkari’s days as an imam are now behind him and he says that he is “no longer a part of the Islamic mission". He further claims that many of his former colleagues are hypocrites with a mindset that is “horribly wrong”.
When asked whether the cartoons were misused.
That's a succinct summing up of this and similar affairs. You can hear Akkari on the World Service 5:04 in. He has apologised to one of the cartoonists.
“The way I see it today, yes. Behind all the talk of protecting religious imagery, there is always power and abuse," he said. "It is simply revolting.”
So credit to the man for recanting, unlike Urban II and Khomeini, who should both be rotting in the hell they were so ready to hand out to those outwith their own religious kingdom.
This is also posted at Harry's Place.
Tom Holland's documentary, Islam: the Untold Story caused controversy and Channel 4 cancelled a repeat screening because of "threats".
As the Council for Ex-Muslims said:-
The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.
John Crace in the Guardian, the last publication to speak evil of Islam, commented on Tom Holland's deference to the religion:-
"Can a non-Muslim hope to understand the origins of the Muslim world?" asked historian Tom Holland. "No," was the emphatic one-word response of Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University. .
For decades – centuries even – scholars have felt free to contest the accuracy of other religious texts. Not least the Bible; what's true, what's parable and what's just wishful thinking has all been up for grabs without any serious damage being done to Christian beliefs. Not so with Islam, around which non-Islamic scholars tread with extreme caution. I'm all for cultural and religious sensitivity, but the degree to which Holland tiptoed around the subject and apologised for his findings went way beyond what was required. Or would have been on offer for any other religion. It was almost as if he was looking over his shoulder, half expecting a fatwa at any minute.
None should be forthcoming, as towards the end of the programme Holland returned to Dr Nasr for reassurance that he hadn't caused any lasting offence. Which he more or less got, as Nasr told him that what he had discovered was "quite interesting, so long as you don't try to impose your view on the Muslim world", as that would be tantamount to "western imperialism". Holland crept out of Nasr's office more or less insisting that the last thing he wanted was for any Muslim to take him seriously, so no harm was done. The gap between western liberalism and Islamic liberalism suddenly looked frighteningly large.
I don't know if a fatwa has been delivered on Tom Holland, but he has now evidently been stamped "Handle with Care. Contents controversial". Not controversial in an edgy, "may up the click bait/ratings" way of Russell Brand, but "may cause offence somewhere or other and we'd better be careful".
According to the excellent site Heresy Corner, Tom Holland was to appear on TalkSPORT and speak about cricket, one of his passions. That sounds as harmless as you can get. But no, at the last minute he was cancelled. without being told why. (Read the whole piece.)
"I think they Googled me and got into a state, worrying I might be a security risk," he speculates. "It's utterly weird. Beyond weird. Comic. I think they think they're being PC, when actually they're being the precise opposite."So there we are. My indifference to cricket overwhelms me and I wouldn't even be able to find the frequency for TalkSPORT but now I've heard of this incident and I'm furious. It's evidently some knucklehead in the station making a kind of ridiculous Health and Safety decision, of the sort which bans using cheese wheels at the Double Gloucester cheese rolling festival - only with more serious consequences for community relations. Tom Holland's book The Shadow of the Sword is a vivid read, which peoples a tract of history which was bare to me. It seems he's an accomplished cricketer and Heresy Corner says he's one of the nicest blokes on Twitter. This kind of misplaced sensitivity just pisses everyone off, including Muslims who don't want to constantly appear like grenades minus pins. The only people who will be happy are the EDL, who can roll their eyes, with "see what we mean?" expressions and jihadists, who will no doubt regarde this as another tiny victory in their war for undiluted "respect".
Quite. If the station was acting pre-emptively to head off presumed Muslim anger, they must have a very low opinion of Muslims. Nor does this kind of hypersensitivity do anything to further social harmony or good community relations. It is in fact a form of Islamophobia: irrational fear of Islam in its most basic and literal sense.
As far as I can tell, there were no threats, or even complaints, in the run-up to Tom Holland's planned cricket-themed appearance on TalkSPORT. But perhaps they feared a boycott, or imagined that Anjem Choudhary and his mates would picket their studios. ("Behead Infidels who talk about Cricket!") Or was the threat something more oblique -- maybe they envisaged EDL supporters phoning in to congratulate Holland, not on his celebrated Six, but on his "brave" stand against Islam."
Organisers behind a British conference on Islam and evolution say they nearly had to cancel the event after receiving a torrent of opposition from Muslim students at one of the country’s top scientific universities. . .
The Deen Institute, a Muslim debating forum which promotes critical thinking, had hoped to hold a conference entitled “Have Muslims misunderstood evolution?” early next year. Among the speakers invited to attend included Muslim scientists, imams who have promoted the compatibility of Islam and evolution as well as those who preach a form of Islamic creationism. . .
“Evolution is not Islamic. Prophet Adam did not have parents. A Muslim can’t believe that Prophet Adam.”
Dr Oktar Babuna, a representative from the Harun Yahya movement, is scheduled to speak at the conference alongside Shaikh Yasir Qadhi, an influential imam who accepts evolution at a micro level but refuses to countenance the idea that man evolved from anything other than Adam himself.
For me, this is a kind of time machine. First of all to the nineteenth century when the Origin of Species was published and the famous encounter between Bishop Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley:-
Then the Bishop rose, and in a light scoffing tone, florid and he assured us there was nothing in the idea of evolution; rock-pigeons were what rock-pigeons had always been. Then, turning to his antagonist with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey? On this Mr Huxley slowly and deliberately arose. A slight tall figure stern and pale, very quiet and very grave, he stood before us, and spoke those tremendous words - words which no one seems sure of now, nor I think, could remember just after they were spoken, for their meaning took away our breath, though it left us in no doubt as to what it was. He was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth. No one doubted his meaning and the effect was tremendous. One lady fainted and had to carried out. . .
Not just the nineteenth century when the penalties for disbelief were social rather than legal. We're heading to the seventeenth century, Galileo and the Inquisition.
Muslims believe the Qur’an is the indisputable word of God and therefore any scientific discovery which risks proving something within their holy book as incorrect is highly controversial, particularly among the more literalist schools of thought. For example, most Muslim scholars have long accepted scientifically proven cosmology but even up until his death in 1999, Sheikh Ibn Baaz, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, continued to insist that the Sun revolved around the Earth based on his interpretation of Islamic texts.
On April 6th, 1933, the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide "Action against the Un-German Spirit", which was to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire.
Well-known socialists such as Bertolt Brecht and August Bebel; the founder of the concept of communism, Karl Marx; critical “bourgeois” writers like the Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler, and “corrupting foreign influences,” among them American authors Ernest Hemingway, Jack London and Helen Keller, English writer H. G. Wells; and notable Jewish authors such as Franz Werfel, Max Brod, and Stefan Zweig were also burned.
Half a decade ago I heard a couple of Muslim scholars on Radio 4 arguing whether "I have been ordered to fight and kill all mankind until they accept Allah" is now taken literally, should be taken literally and has ever been taken literally. It was disorientating - like turning on CNN for direct coverage of the Salem witch trials.
Some song writing, some verse writing and too much blogging about culture, politics, cycling and gardening.