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Mon 11 December 2017

Burma Burns

Sunday 24th March 2013
BBC reports: The disturbances [in the Burmese town of Meiktila] began on Wednesday when an argument in a gold shop escalated quickly, with mobs setting mainly Muslim buildings alight, including some mosques.... Many Muslims have fled gangs of Buddhist youths, while other Muslims are in hiding...

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Saturday 25th August 2012
Kirsty Walker in the Daily Mail reports: Tony Blair is costing taxpayers more than £400,000 a year despite building up a £30million fortune since leaving Downing Street. Figures have revealed that multi-millionaire Mr Blair is drawing the maximum Prime Ministerial pension – worth about £70,000 a year. The gold-plated pension comes on top of the £115,000 allowance that Mr Blair received last year to support his ‘public duties’....The 59-year-old has built up a fortune estimated at more than £30million since leaving Downing Street in 2007. Salaam notes (i) Blair's closeness to Murdoch, where he attended his daughter's christening "dressed in white"! (ii) his recent pronouncement: "...the narrative – that the West oppresses Islam is still there. If anything, it has grown. It seeks supremacy not coexistence. ...The West is asleep on this issue and yet it is the biggest challenge".

Bangladesh: The Witness Speaks

Saturday 18th May 2013
HRW reports on a key witness who was contradicting the case being made by Bangladesh's Haseena Government to criminalise Jamaat Islami leadership : "...Bali was due to appear to give evidence as a defense witness before the ICT, a court expressly set up to try people suspected of war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. He had previously been listed as a prosecution witness. Bali claims that on November 5, 2012, he was abducted by people in plainclothes at the gates of the ICT, put into a police van, and then taken away to the offices of the police....Bali had been expected to counter prosecution allegations about the involvement of Delwar Hossain Sayedee in the 1971 murder of Bali’s brother. Saydeee has since been sentenced to hang, in part for the murder of Bali’s brother. ...Bali claims that he was abducted at the courthouse by police, held in government custody for several weeks, and then pushed across the border to India. Human Rights Watch has documented how the BSF routinely kills Bangladeshis who cross the border illegally. In April, Bali was sentenced by an Indian court to 110 days in jail for entering the country illegally. He has already completed his term but is

Britain's Generals

Wednesday 20th March 2013
Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian: General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the army at the time, described Rumsfeld and Bremer as "intellectually bankrupt". With other British defence chiefs, he expected and wanted Iraqi military units, including Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, to remain in place and help maintain law and order in Iraq after the invasion. Lord Boyce, then chief of the defence staff, said he has decided to hold his fire until the Chilcot inquiry has reported (possibly by the end of the year). He questioned the legality of the war until he got an eve-of-invasion note from the attorney general's office telling him that Blair's "unequivocal" view was an attack on Iraq would be lawful.

Modi - first UK, now US

Friday 02nd November 2012
Victor Mallet in the FT: Narendra Modi, the controversial leader of Gujarat state, can apply for a US visa, a US official has said, in an apparent softening of Washington’s stance towards him.Mr Modi – seen by some Indians as a future prime minister – has been denied entry to the US since 2005 under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which bars visas for foreign officials responsible for serious violations of religious freedom.The firebrand Hindu nationalist politician was accused of complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which more than 2,000 mostly Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was firebombed by Muslims. For Britain's changing

Blair's Humbug

Wednesday 05th September 2012
George Monbiot in the Guardian: When Desmond Tutu wrote that Tony Blair should be treading the path to The Hague, he de-normalised what Blair has done. Tutu broke the protocol of power – the implicit accord between those who flit from one grand meeting to another – and named his crime. I expect that Blair will never recover from it. ..Without legal justification, the attack on Iraq was an act of mass murder. It caused the deaths of between 100,000 and a million people, and ranks among the greatest crimes the world has ever seen. That Blair and his ministers still saunter among us, gathering money wherever they go, is a withering indictment of a one-sided system of international justice: a system whose hypocrisies Tutu has exposed.... Blair will now find himself shut out of places where he was once welcome. One day he may find himself shut in.

Tariq Ramadan: The dangers ahead

Wednesday 03rd October 2012
Tariq Ramadan in the NYT: ".. Salafi and Wahhabi groups with literalist interpretations of Islam have become more visible and politicized over the last five years. Having for decades refused political participation — equating democracy with kufr (rejection of Islam) — they are now slowly engaging in politics. Some of these groups (known as salafi jihadists) have turned to violent radicalism. Others, financed by Islamic institutions in Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf oil monarchies like Qatar and Bahrain — supposed allies of the United States — have entered mainstream politics, where they promote a religious, anti-democratic populism that plays on emotions, demonizes the West (especially America) and actively undermines the struggle for democratic reform. There is a danger that the model of Afghanistan — where in the 1980s the Taliban, supported by the Saudi and American governments, became the main force of resistance to Russian domination — may be repeating itself..."


Wednesday 10th April 2013
Seamus Milne on late Margeret Thatcher: The revelation that she authorised a secret back-channel to the IRA during the hunger strikes and opposed Treasury attempts to deny Liverpool a paltry cash injection after the Toxteth riots has been hailed as evidence of the pragmatism of a leader known for unswerving implacability. But most shocking are the secret preparations now being made to give Thatcher a state funeral. In the 20th century only one former prime minister, Winston Churchill, was given such a ceremonial send-off. Churchill had his own share of political enemies, of course, from the south Wales valleys to India. But his role as war leader when Britain was threatened with Nazi invasion meant he was accepted as a national figure at his death. Thatcher, who cloaked herself in the political spoils of a vicious colonial war in the South Atlantic, has no such status, and is the most divisive British politician of our time.

Flying for Israel

Saturday 06th April 2013
Press TV reports: A court in France has fined French flag carrier Air France 10,000 euros ($12,800) for removing a pro-Palestine activist from a Tel Aviv-bound flight because the passenger was a ‘non-Jew.’ On the plane, an airline employee asked the 30-year-old nursing student whether she had an Israeli passport or was Jewish. After answering no to the questions she was escorted off the aircraft. ...Meanwhile, the French airline has stated that the activist’s name was on a list of ‘undesirables’ provided by the Israeli regime. Air France said it would appeal.

Joseph Harker in the Guardian

Friday 10th May 2013
...I'm beginning to feel sorry for whites. I have many white friends and I know most of them are wholly opposed to sexual abuse. But they must be worried that their whole community is getting a bad name. I can imagine that, every day, with each unfolding case, they must be hiding their face behind their hands, pleading: "Please, God, don't let it be a white person this time." And with so many senior community figures implicated, many of us are starting to wonder what will happen to the next generation of whites. How will today's young whites learn that abuse is wrong when their role models are so tarnished?... But all of the above arguments were made within various parts of our print and broadcast media when similarly small numbers of Muslim men were revealed to be grooming young girls for sex. If you think the claims about white people are wrong, then so is the stereotyping of Britain's Muslims, and the widespread questioning of their culture and their religion, because of the perverted actions of a few.

"He may be an SOB, but he is our kind of SOB"

Tuesday 25th September 2012
Richard Silverstein in the Guardian: US officials leaked to several news outlets Friday an impending decision by the Obama administration that it intends to remove the Iranian dissident group Mujahadeen e-Khalq (MEK) from the treasury department's terror list. ...nalysts writing about the MEK and alienated members reject the group's claim that it has renounced terror. Seymour Hersh recently published an expose reporting that as late as 2007, US special forces had offered Iranians training at a secret Nevada facility in covert operations. It provided them arms and communications equipment and black ops training for their anti-regime terror activities inside Iran. ...The US delisting of the group is a sham. The Obama administration isn't even claiming the MEK has renounced terrorism. If it did, it knows that it's likely such a statement would rebound should the MEK's activities become exposed.

Tories' innings out!

Monday 31st December 2012
Nigel Morris in the Independent: David Cameron has ordered a drive to increase the number of black and Asian Conservative parliamentary candidates, amid fears within the party that its unpopularity among ethnic minorities could spell disaster at the next election....One Conservative MP in a marginal urban seat told The Independent that his party faced an "existential" challenge in responding to the country's changing ethnic make-up. MPs and candidates are being given advice on how to engage with non-white communities by regularly attending key events, being urged to increase their presence in ethnic minority newspapers, radio programmes and television bulletins and to gain expertise on issues that particularly affect such groups.

The French are stunned!

Friday 05th October 2012
Ramdane Belamri in AlArabiya: Amid a nationwide debate in France surrounding attitudes towards the Islamic veil, or hijab, a French rapper has surprised fans by announcing her conversion to Islam and choosing to wear a headscarf. Mélanie Georgiades, known as Diam’s, has gone through what onlookers have described as a “complete transformation” from an image she had prior to 2009. ...In her TV interview she said her 'conversion to Islam was the result of a personal conviction, after understanding the religion and reading the Holy Quran.' Asked by her host about why she is wearing a hijab while many Muslim women don’t wear it, and don’t find it to be a religious obligation, she answered: 'I see it as a divine order or a divine advice, this brings joy to my heart and for me this is enough'. ... I heard one of my Muslim friends saying ‘I am going to pray for a while and will come back,’ so I told her that I want to pray as well.’ Recalling that moment, Diam’s said: ‘it was the first time that I touched the floor with head, and I had a strong feeling that I have never experienced before, and I believe now that kneeling in prayer, shouldn’t be done to anyone but Allah’.

Pankaj Mishra on the British colonial record

Sunday 12th May 2013
...The British had slaughtered the Kikuyu a few years before. But for Ferguson "it was a magical time, which indelibly impressed on my consciousness the sight of the hunting cheetah, the sound of Kikuyu women singing, the smell of the first rains and the taste of ripe mango".... Perhaps narcissism and despair about their creeping obscurity, or just plain madness explains why in the early 21st century many Britons, long after losing their empire, thought they had found a new role: as boosters to their rich English-speaking cousins across the Atlantic.

Zionist lobby attacks Obama choice

Sunday 13th January 2013
Chris McGreal in the Guardian: The author of a book that quotes Chuck Hagel criticising the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington has defended him from charges of antisemitism, and said the president's nominee for defence secretary was speaking a truth many other politicians will not voice....Aaron David Miller, who served six US secretaries of state as an adviser on Arab-Israeli negotiations...said that Hagel was describing "a fact" when he spoke about the considerable influence of the lobby on Congress in an interview the then senator gave in 2006 for Miller's book, The Much Too Promised Land That has not stopped a barrage of accusations against Hagel. William Kristol, a prominent neo-conservative and editor of the Weekly Standard, accused him of harbouring an "unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews"..

Hanif Muhammad's Take on Pakistan Elections

Thursday 16th May 2013
"...Many of his political opponents say that if Sharif wasn't from the dominant province Punjab, where most of the army elite comes from, if he didn't represent the trading and business classes of Punjab, he would still be begging forgiveness for his sins in Saudi. But he returned just before the last elections and has been behaving like a statesman. A very rich statesman. It has yet to be proven whether eight years of exile in Saudi Arabia can make anyone wiser but it has never made anybody poorer. Sharif was rich before he got into politics, then he became fabulously rich. Even in exile the Saudis gave him a palace and, on his return, a fleet of bulletproof limousines. His campaign proved that poor people don't really vote for somebody who understands poverty, or wants to do anything about it. People have voted him in because he talks money, talks about spending money, talks about opening a bank on every village street and who doesn't like that? He has promised motorway connections and airports to towns so small that they still don't have a proper bus station. Poor people, who couldn't afford a bicycle at the time of the elections, like to be promised an airport. You never know when you might need it...."

Non-Aligned Movement Conference

Wednesday 29th August 2012
The meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement's foreign ministers started here Tuesday morning to review a draft statement prepared at the two-day experts meeting held in the Iranian capital from Sunday. The draft statement included major issues such as the fight against imperialism and racism, avoiding occupation and military aggression against NAM states, stressing the need for a world free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and respecting the rights of all world countries to pursue peaceful nuclear energy...During the summit, Iran is to receive NAM's rotating presidency from Egypt for a three-year term..... Salaam notes: This is a test for UN SG Ban Ki-moon - will he bow to US pressure not to attend - his next term as SG is at stake - if reappointed in 2016 he would be the first UN SG to serve a third term

Joseph Anton aka Salman Rushdie

Thursday 20th September 2012
Pankaj Mishra reviews Salman Rushdie's autobiography Joseph Anton in the Guardian: "...As with the film Innocence of Muslims last week, news of the novel's [Satanic Verses] alleged insult to Islam travelled speedily to politically combustible regions.... In Britain, it became another pretext for rants about Muslim barbarism, and fresh assaults on the straw man of 'multiculturalism'...[Yet] the memoir, at 650 pages, often feels too long, over-dependent on Rushdie's journals, and unquickened by hindsight, or its prose. Ostensibly deployed as a distancing device, the third-person narration frequently makes for awkward self-regard. Anton confesses to a "soft spot" for Tony Blair. "You set out sincerely to change my life for the better," he writes, and though this "may not quite cancel out the invasion of Iraq", it does weigh in his "personal scales". ..Nor does Anton record the piquant fact that the Hindu nationalists who noisily protested against the Indian decision to ban The Satanic Verses and, once in power, allowed him to visit India are implicated in the killings of thousands of Muslims in the previous two decades."

Australia searches its conscience

Monday 20th August 2012
Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian CiF: Leading Australian politicians and former defence chiefs are demanding an independent investigation, along the lines of the Chilcot inquiry in Britain, into their country's role in the invasion of Iraq.... the justifications given by US and British leaders for the invasion, which Australia accepted, "were later shown to be based on false information, on which Australia apparently relied".

Algeria - a time for change

Monday 26th November 2012
Washington Post citing AP report: Algeria is awash in oil and natural gas money and has foreign reserves of almost $200 billion. It has embarked on a string high profile infrastructure projects — and accusations are rife that foreign companies have been paying massive bribes to secure contracts. That has all contributed to Algeria’s ranking of 112 out of 183 countries on Transparency International’s 2011 corruption index. The head of the ruling party, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the minister of public works, Amar Ghoul, and well as the minister of industry, Cherif Rahmani, have all been accused by Algerie News of taking bribes to influence bids for the $12 billion East-West highway project (won by a Chinese-Japanese consortium), the Algiers metro and an extension of the tramway....The president [Bouteflika] who is rumored to be ailing, had already said that he would not run again and just a week before the May parliamentary elections, he made a landmark speech in which he said that the mission of his generation, the generation that fought the war of independence from France in 1962 and had ruled the country ever since, was over.

Jordan's King

Friday 22nd March 2013
Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic: One morning last fall, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the fourth Hashemite king of Jordan, rolled up to a helipad situated close to the royal office complex in Al Hummar, on the western edge of the capital, Amman. ..[he] talked for a moment with his co‑pilot, a trusted member of the Royal Squadron, and lifted off, pointing us in the direction of the rough, unhappy city of Karak, about 80 miles to the south. A second Black Hawk, filled with bodyguards, lifted off a moment later. ...Demonstrations in Jordan’s main cities have been modest compared with those that led to regime change in Cairo and Tunis, but they have nevertheless been vociferous. Protesters have denounced the king as “Ali Baba,” and his family as the 40 thieves. the State Department, Kerry said that .....Abdullah “represents the people of the region with dignity and intelligence. His job, he says, is to point out that the Brotherhood is run by “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and wants to impose its retrograde vision of society and its anti-Western politics on the Muslim Middle East. This, he said, is “our major fight”—to prevent the Muslim Brothers from conniving their way into power across the region.

The Other Pakistan

Tuesday 02nd April 2013
From AsiaSociety.Org: Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan brings to New York some of Pakistan’s most significant, provocative, and influential artists in the first U.S. museum survey exhibition of contemporary Pakistani art. Although Pakistan frequently makes the headlines for very different reasons, its rich cultural heritage and vibrant contemporary art scene often go unnoticed. Pakistani civil society has a history of dissent and activism, which has often informed its art movements, its poetry, and its music. ...A Muslim-majority state, Pakistan was carved out of the Indian subcontinent after gaining independence from the British in 1947. Although from its inception, Pakistan’s history has been turbulent—including civil war, military coups, sectarian and ethnic strife, and other insurgencies—a resilient population has been enterprising, productive, and innovative. Art schools and art institutions in Pakistan are producing artists, educators, curators, and collectors, who are having an increasing impact in the art world and the media. Art practices vary widely, a reflection of the numerous visual legacies to which Pakistan is heir, including archeological finds from the Paleolithic era to the ancient Indus Valley civilization and Persian, Arab, Central Asian, and British colonial influences. Image: Imran Qureshi's Moderate Englightenment

Ibrahim Magag disappearance

Tuesday 08th January 2013
Sadakat Kadri in the LRB: Sadakat Kadri in the LRB: "The whereabouts of Ibrahim Magag are causing concern...Magag isn't a defendant awaiting trial or a convict due to be sentenced. His brush with the law has arisen because he is one of ten people on whom the home secretary, Theresa May, has served a notice under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011. Although it is impossible to be sure what the TPIM notice said 'its contents are not a matter of public record' it seems to have asserted May's belief that Magag, who was born in Somalia, was linked to the extremist organisation al-Shabaab. That belief entitled her to impose restrictions on his liberty, including a curfew, and he is a fugitive only because of his apparent breach of those restrictions. In other words, Magag stands to be criminalised because the home secretary suspects him of criminality. ...

MI6 seeks absolution

Monday 08th April 2013
Jonathan Owen in the IoS: Hitherto unseen evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry by British intelligence has revealed that former prime minister Tony Blair was told that Iraq had, at most, only a trivial amount of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that Libya was in this respect a far greater threat. ...MI6 was "on the flypaper of WMD", and had no appetite for war, admitted another officer, SIS4. "Those of us who had been around [redacted] knew perfectly well what a disaster for countless people a war was going to be." Another MI6 officer, SIS1, described the "handling" of Curveball, the Iraqi source whose claims of mobile chemical weapons laboratories were subsequently exposed as lies, and the "marketing" of the intelligence as "awful".

Bosnia - sweeping under the carpet

Thursday 15th August 2013
Owen Bowcott in the Guardian: By a 4-to-1 majority, the judges quashed a 27-year jail sentence for Momièlo Perišiæ, a former chief of staff of the Yugoslav army, for providing military support for the Bosnian-Serb Army of the Republika Srpska between 1993 and 1995. He had previously been convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. ...In May the court's lower tribunal returned not guilty verdicts by a 2-1 majority in the case of two Serbian intelligence officers, Jovica Stanišiæ and Frank Simatoviæ. Accusations that the US and Israeli governments applied improper pressure on the tribunal to ensure military commanders could never be convicted of war crimes are among allegations in circulation...

Israel's contrition to Japan

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Israel has issued a formal apology to Japan, after a week of escalating tensions between the two nations, after an Israeli official wrote a crude Facebook post mocking "self-righteous" Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials. Daniel Seamon, director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, said he was "sick" of "self-righteous" Japanese and international commemorations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims, in posts published by Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Chinese Muslims

Friday 26th April 2013
From BBC: "Clashes in China's restive Xinjiang region have left 21 people dead, including 15 police officers and officials, authorities say...Dilxat Raxit, a spokesperson for the World Uighur Congress, an umbrella organisation of Uighur groups, told the BBC the incident was caused by the killing of a young Uighur by Chinese "armed personnel" as a result of a government clean-up campaign. Uighurs make up about 45% of the region's population, but say an influx of Han Chinese residents has marginalised their traditional culture....Image acknowledgement: ChinaHeritageQuarterly.Org

Bahrain repression

Wednesday 14th November 2012
Blogger Mike Diboll writes: British foreign policy in Bahrain and the wider GCC region is enabling human rights abuses and undermining the determination of the peoples of the region to live under politically legitimate governments as active, enabled citizens...These led to a blanket ban on opposition protests, and 9th November blockades involving government forces using armoured cars, CS Gas, baton rounds and water cannon to prevent Shia worshipers to travel to their mosques to offer Friday prayers. The prayer led by prominent opposition cleric Ayatolla Isa Qaasim seems to have been the target of particularly intense repression. The body of Samaheej resident 16-year old Ali Abbas Radhi was found at the side of the road following a confrontation between worshipers on their way to the mosque and government forces.

In the midst of life...

Saturday 19th January 2013
Giles Fraser in the Guardian: "...I discovered the helicopter had flown into the crane in London on Twitter. ...Back at the church, prayers are being said for the dead, the injured and the emergency services....It is often said critically of religion that it seeks to impose meaning on meaninglessness, that it is a sort of anxiety reduction strategy in the face of the general randomness of things. This is not the religion I know. What I see in church is a place that is remarkably accommodating to confusion and doubt. For me, God is the question. A question that will not leave me alone. Back here, the community gradually returns to life. Tesco in Vauxhall is open, but only a few people are out shopping. I finish the day with a prayer. In the midst of life, we are in death.

I know Abu Qatada – he's no terrorist

Tuesday 09th July 2013
Victoria Brittain in the Guardian: ... Since 2007 as many as 12 senior British judges in various courts have recognised the torture origins of the evidence against him (Omar Othman aka Abu Qatada) – which successive prime ministers and home secretaries have, until a few weeks ago, publicly put all their political weight into ignoring. The US, aided by the UK, on behalf of its key ally Jordan, went so far as to kidnap UK residents Jamil el-Banna and Bisher al-Rawi on a business trip in Africa, torture them in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, and take them to Guantánamo Bay in order to interrogate them about Othman. When those men sued the British authorities for what they had done, parliament was persuaded to create secret courts to adjudicate on secret defences. ...But the most recent phase of this 12-year saga has left poison in our society. The home secretary, prime minister, mayor of London and countless MPs – including senior Labour party figures – have led the media in reckless and prejudiced comments, making Othman the most demonised individual in Britain.

Trading with Modi

Sunday 14th October 2012
BBC reports: "The UK's high commissioner in India will soon visit Gujarat to meet the controversial state Chief Minister Narendra Modi....The UK and many other Western governments broke off contact with Mr Modi's government after the 2002 riots.....British government sources say the visit has been arranged because it is in the 'UK's national interest'."

A la Carte

Thursday 11th April 2013
From London's Metro: A camel given to French president Francois Hollande to thank him for liberating Mali has been eaten. The animal was killed and put in a stew by a family in Timbuktu after the socialist leader gave it to them to look after. The west African nation is now to send him a replacement beast after the first was slaughtered and used in a tagine. ‘As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,’ a Malian official said.

Whither (wither) USA?

Wednesday 14th August 2013
Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph: The West can no longer rely on American leadership in the world. For the remaining duration of the Obama administration, Washington’s judgment and effectiveness in foreign policy cannot be trusted. It is quite an achievement for the one remaining superpower to appear as ineffectual and wrong-footed as the United States has managed to do in the past week. But there it is. The president’s global strategy in his second term was based on two resounding premises. First, al‑Qaeda was “on the run” having been smashed by the killing of Osama bin Laden and the successful US drone operations in Pakistan: in May, Mr Obama gave a triumphal speech in which he declared the War on Terror officially over. That was then. This is now: over the past week, 19 US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa had to be closed for a week, and diplomatic staff evacuated from Yemen because of “specific terrorist threats”. So who exactly is on the run?

Robert Fisk on Mali

Wednesday 23rd January 2013
Robert Fisk in the Independent: France’s overflights have been bitterly criticised in the Algerian press – a fact largely ignored in London where “wars on terror” take precedence over local Algerian opinion – as a symbol of Algerian humiliation at the hands of the country’s former colonisers. But why should we care about the Algerians when they treat our dead with the disdain we have always shown for the Muslim dead of Iraq, Afghanistan or, for that matter, Palestine? Syria, please note, is temporarily in a different category, since our desire to destroy Bashar al-Assad allows us to turn all his victims into honorary Westerners. Odd, that. For among the rebels facing the ruthless Assad are folk very similar to Mr Belmokhtar and his merry Islamists, the very men who rouse the anger of Crusader Kouchner. Do I sniff a bit of old-fashioned colonial insanity here? Carry on up the Niger? French troops battle rebels. “Terrorists” in retreat. Daily headlines from 1954 until 1962. In a country called Algeria. And I promise you, the French didn’t win that war.

On Erdogan

Monday 17th June 2013
Haroon Siddiqui: He is an observant Muslim, an advocate of a conservative lifestyle — but no more than many leading Christian Republicans. His recent restrictions on the sale of liquor are less onerous than Finland just imposed — no retail sale from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. vs. Finland’s 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Liquor flows freely around Taksim Square, especially the trendy Istiklal Street, which has more bustling bars than the Queen St. entertainment district. And the limits on liquor advertising are not all that different than the rules and guidelines across North America. The misleading characterization of the current unrest as a titanic cultural struggle between Islam and secularism comes from three sources: westerners who demonize Muslims or see them only in clichés; Erdogan’s internal opponents who use Islam as a red herring; and Erdogan himself, who portrays his opponents as urban elites undermining the democratic verdict of the majority of (pious, rural) Turks. ...But the cause of the current crisis is Erdogan himself. It is not just that he is arrogant and stubborn. He is not disciplined. He gets angry and reverts to his scrappy street fighter self, having grown up in a poor and tough Istanbul neighbourhood.

Torture in Kenya

Monday 08th October 2012
Ian Cobain in the Guardian: "Three elderly Kenyans have won an historic legal victory over the British government after the high court gave them permission to claim damages for the grave abuses they suffered when imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion. ...The British government's lawyers have accepted that all three were tortured by the colonial authorities, so even though the case now has to go to a full trial, it is expected to be settled promptly with the payment of damages. However, an estimated 2,000 other Kenyans – the survivors of more than 70,000 Mau Mau suspects who were imprisoned during the seven-year insurgency in the 1950s — are now expected to come forward to sue the British government.

Paranoid Shakes

Sunday 28th October 2012
Michael Peel, Camilla Hall & James Blitz of the FT reports: "Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE foreign minister, this month accused al-Islah of being part of a transnational Islamist movement seeking to undermine the sovereignty and laws of countries where they operate. Human rights groups have criticised the UAE government over the alleged arbitrariness and lack of due process in the al-Islah detentions. The UK-UAE ructions highlight a broader problem facing London’s diplomacy in the Gulf. While the US is insulated by the security cover it offers the monarchies against Iran and other potential threats, Britain’s more vulnerable position was exposed again last week when Saudi Arabian officials condemned a decision by a UK parliamentary committee to investigate the relationship between London and Riyadh.

The Fox strikes back

Thursday 29th November 2012
MiddleEast Monitor reports: "In an interview with London based satellite television station, al-Hiwar, the editor-in-chief of al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, Abdel Bari Atwan, revealed the existence of intelligence reports documenting a secret meeting between former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and Amr Mousa during the latter's unexpected visit to Ramallah on November 4 - ten days before the attacks on the Gaza Strip. Reports mentioned that Livni made a direct request from Amr Mousa to pre-occupy Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, during this period with internal affairs. The writer believes this is what in effect happened as Amr Mousa returned from his visit and lead the withdrawals from the Constituent Assembly of the Constitution without providing any reason convincing to public opinion. So much so that he affected an altercation with the head of the Constituent Assembly and blocked an article of the constitution which he himself had proposed.

The US Malaise

Friday 31st August 2012
Nick Allen in the Daily Telegraph: A group of American soldiers formed an anarchist militia and spent $87,000 (£55,000) on weapons in an elaborate plot to overthrow the government and ultimately assassinate the president, a court heard. ... They were said to have been regarded as a “loose end.” ...Prosecutor Isabel Pauley told the court: “This domestic terrorist organisation did not simply plan and talk. Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans...". Salaam notes: What will be the prognositications now of the much-vaunted jingoistic US terrorism 'experts' - whom Glenn Greewald has recently dissected in his article 'The sham 'terrorism expert' industry'


Sunday 18th November 2012
Mustafa Akyol in Hurriyet: What if Attaturk had never existed?....First, had there been no Atatürk, Turkey’s War of Liberation (1919-1922) would still have happened, despite the official narrative that ties it to nothing but the “Supreme Leader’s” genius. In the aftermath of World War I, when parts of Anatolia were occupied by allies, various committees “to defend the rights,” including armed units, were set up by the locals to resist. Moreover, other military heroes, such as Kazým Karabekir, were already determined to fight for the freedom of the country. In fact, they were the ones that organized the famous Erzurum Congress of 1919, which Atatürk joined later and in which the War of Liberation was ignited.... Turkey was already much more modernized than these other Muslim countries much before Atatürk. The Ottoman Empire had initiated a modernization process way back in the 18th century....

Rogue State

Wednesday 21st November 2012
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP in HuffingtonPost: In my opinion, Israel is a rogue state which commits war crimes. It is an aggressor state that has invaded Lebanon several times and holds a chunk of Syria illegally, but despite being the fourth most-heavily-armed country in the world has not won a war outright for 45 years, since 1967. Its current lethal assault on Gaza, with under-reported violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as well, is the latest in a series of such criminal assaults. Like its predecessors this is killing many innocent children, woman and men and causing horrendous damage as well. Like its predecessors it will fail.

Attack on Muslim science

Wednesday 12th September 2012
Will Somer reports in Washington City Paper: Not even the museums are safe from controversies. The paranoiacs who work in the euphemistic "anti-jihad" field are all in a tizzy over an exhibit [in Prof Saleem Al-Hassani's '1001 Inventions'] about Muslim scientists that's currently up at the National Geographic Museum...Pamela Geller [states that] the exhibit had destroyed National Geographic's credibility. Salaam Note: About Pamela Geller - she writes for an Israeli media network based in the occupied territories that is the voice of the Jewish settler movement and runs another website, 'Leave Islam Safely'..."Now do I see everything through the prism of Israel? No, I don't, but I do think it's a very good guide. It's a very good guide because, like I said, in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man"

US faces rendition charges

Sunday 23rd September 2012
Ian Shapira in the Washington Post::Italy’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans — nearly all current or former CIA officers — for playing roles in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terrorism suspect in 2003. The Americans face prison sentences ranging from seven to nine years, but they were tried in absentia and are highly unlikely to be extradited. ...The legal case is also significant because a Western ally convicted U.S. government officials for the practice of “rendition,” in which a terrorism suspect is flown against his will to another country for interrogation. The landmark case dates to Feb. 17, 2003, when Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a radical Egyptian cleric known as Abu Omar, walked out of his Milan apartment in broad daylight and vanished. Italian authorities used cellphone records made at the time and location of the abduction to determine that CIA officers snatched Abu Omar, drove him to nearby Aviano Air Base and flew him to Egypt. According to Italian court documents, Abu Omar was beaten and subjected to electric shock in a Cairo prison.

HMD's wisdom?

Thursday 31st January 2013
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet in Huffington Post: Back in October 2000 I was summoned to the office Britain's Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks. He was in the final stages of initiating a Holocaust Memorial Day that would be commemorated throughout the country each year on Jan. 27 -- the day of liberation from Auschwitz. My summons was prompted by a phone call he received from the Home Office regarding an article I wrote in the London Times in which I challenged the wisdom of introducing such a day

...My point was simply that introducing a national Holocaust Memorial Day ran the risk of diminishing the uniqueness of the tragedy and thus debase the memory of all those who perished.

What Tunisia did right

Tuesday 06th November 2012
Steven Fish & Katherin Michele in Foreign Policy: Tunisia has made remarkable progress toward democracy. To a greater extent than any other country, it has shaken the perception that Arabs are destined to suffer the tutelage of monarchs, militaries, or mullahs. Why is Tunisia leading the way? Institutions -- and especially the constitutional order -- are a big part of the story. Much press coverage has focused on whether Tunisia's new constitution will contain a blasphemy clause. Of far greater import will be how the new fundamental law distributes power between the executive and the legislature. On this vital matter, Tunisia is getting it right. According to a recent empirical study we conducted, Tunisia's decision to create a system with a strong parliament and a constrained president is a recipe for robust democracy. Other countries in the Arab world can learn from Tunisia's example. ..Tunisia's ace-in-the-hole for maintaining its exemplary progress is the formidable power vested in the legislature

French Muslims' breakthrough

Thursday 08th November 2012
Faced with an explosion in Islamophobic incidents, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) in November 2012 has launched a month’s programme to raise awareness and debate on issues relating to racism and Islamophobia. The President of CCIF, Sami Debah has noted that "thousands in France – children, women and men – are refused their most basic rights and are subject daily to discrimination solely because of their religious appearance" The CCIF has launched the first national campaign against Islamophobia, rejecting the notion of victimhood and convinced that the only way forward is a calm, public conversation to overcome the worsening situation. CCIF is working with other European partners in the month long Islamophobia Awareness month. In the UK these include Engage, Muslim Council of Britain and the Enough Coalition with the support of supported by: One Society Many Cultures / Unite Against Fascism

A terrible indictment

Thursday 07th February 2013
Heba Al Adawi writes in The Independent: This inconsistency is hardly new for Saudi Arabia, a country that has been under the scrutiny of many intellectuals for endorsing an Islam that is strangely compatible with hard core capitalism. It is also unheeded by many Saudis who seem to take inequalities of wealth and distinctions of rank as a norm, and not a privilege or an active responsibility. Mecca, the cradle of Islam, still retains its character as a hub of business and trading activity. But it is in the same streets now prowling with high rise luxury hotels where the revolutionary message of Islam once dismantled all economic and political hierarchies. Now, for all its moral policing and emphasis on an Islamic society, Saudi Islam lacks the vigour of social justice.

Sri Lankan Muslims

Wednesday 27th March 2013
Munza Mushtaq reports in AsiaTimes: Sri Lanka's minority Muslim community is coming under intense pressure from a hard-line Buddhist monk organization allegedly linked to certain powerful individuals in the President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led administration. The Buddhist Power Force, more commonly known as the "Bodu Bala Sena" (BBS) in the native Sinhala language has lashed out at the country's second-largest minority, which makes up 9.2% of the population, demanding an outright ban on several Muslim practices including the traditional dress code of women and halal dietary guidelines.

Blair's indictment

Friday 15th March 2013
Sir Christopher Meyer in the Sunday Telegraph: With his Manichean, black -and-white view of the world, Mr Blair was in his way more neo-con than the neo-cons, more evangelical than the American Christian Right. From this flowed Britain’s contribution to the mistakes made before and after the Iraq invasion, despite repeated warnings from the Foreign Office and the Washington embassy. ...The failure to plan meticulously for Saddam’s aftermath led to almost a decade of violent chaos and the ultimate humiliation of British forces. Mr Blair’s unquestioning support for Mr Bush eliminated what should have been salutary British influence over American decision-making.

The inheritance of Abraham

Tuesday 14th May 2013
PressTV reports: "In a new report titled “The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land,’” the church said Israel’s claim to the occupied territories could be invalidated by its treatment of Palestinian people. The report also calls for the church to consider backing “economic and political measures involving boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel focused on illegal settlements. Moreover, it calls on Christians to lobby the UK government to put pressure on the Tel Aviv regime to halt its illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. “Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jews, or any other people, to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory,” the report said. ”

Dame Manningham-Butler's reflections

Friday 07th September 2012
Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian: A year ago, the former head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, raised eyebrows in the darker recesses of Whitehall by telling some home truths in her BBC Reith lectures about the security and intelligence agencies....The government tried to push allegations under the carpet by compensating UK residents and citizens taken by the CIA to Guantánamo Bay – and no sooner had it done so than evidence emerged in Libya showing how MI6 helped arrange the abduction of Libyan dissidents to Tripoli, where they say they were tortured by Muammar Gaddafi's secret police....."Rushing to legislate in the wake of a terrorist atrocity is often a mistake," a clear reference to the Blair government's practice of drawing up more and more "counter-terrorism" laws, a practice sharply criticised by Ken Clarke, now sacked as justice secretary. "We compound the problem of terrorism if we use it to erode the freedom of us all," she adds..."Overt information may be more important than secret intelligence. There are those, the sceptical observers I wish the readers of intelligence to be, who believe that governments hype threats for their own purposes to ensure legislation proceeds through parliament."

Faith in Britain

Friday 29th March 2013
CoE website: Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer, according to a new ICM survey in the run-up to Easter...Asked what it would be for if they were to pray, 31 per cent of respondents cited peace in the world, followed by an end to poverty in the world (27 per cent), a family member (26 per cent) and healing for another (22 per cent). While 5 per cent said they did not know what they would pray for, 14 per cent said they would never pray. ...Women are more likely to pray than men, according to the survey, with 85 per cent of women citing something they would pray for, compared with 76 per cent of men. Those aged over 65 (89 per cent) and those between 18 and 24 (85 per cent) are the most likely to pray, while those between 35 and 40 (75 per cent) are the least likely.

Israel - rogue state beyond the law

Wednesday 31st October 2012
Daily Mail reports: Israel has destroyed a Sudanese weapons factory in a bombing raid, it was claimed yesterday. Sudan vowed to take 'decisive steps' in retaliation against Israeli interests, which it said are now 'legitimate targets'. The Yarmouk arms factory, in the south of the capital Khartoum, was destroyed in a series of explosions on Wednesday last week, in which two people died. ... There were claims yesterday that Israel attacked the factory because it was a front for manufacturing rockets and ballistic missiles for Iran. There were also reports that the raid acted as a 'dry run' for a forthcoming strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Controls at home but mayhem elsewhere

Thursday 14th February 2013
Gary Younge in the Guardian: ...Over the last few weeks there has been a distinct incongruity – to say the least – between the agenda Obama is promoting at home and the one he defends abroad. His justification for targeted killings and drone strikes in foreign parts, prompted by his nomination of a CIA director, has coincided with his advocacy for stiffer gun control and appeals to respect human life following mass shootings. The result is an administration raising life and death issues in its actions and pronouncements but being unable to talk with any moral authority or ethical consistency on either. In short, the credibility of a president in challenging lawless social violence in US cities is fundamentally undermined when he has his own personal kill list in violation of international law to terminate enemies elsewhere.

A British voice of conscience

Sunday 07th April 2013
The writer Iain Banks writes in the Guardian: I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign [for justice for the Palestinian people] because, especially in our instantly connected world, an injustice committed against one, or against one group of people, is an injustice against all, against every one of us; a collective injury. My particular reason for participating in the cultural boycott of Israel is that, first of all, I can; I'm a writer, a novelist, and I produce works that are, as a rule, presented to the international market. This gives me a small extra degree of power over that which I possess as a (UK) citizen and a consumer. Secondly, where possible when trying to make a point, one ought to be precise, and hit where it hurts. The sports boycott of South Africa when it was still run by the racist apartheid regime helped to bring the country to its senses because the ruling Afrikaaner minority put so much store in their sporting prowess

UK Drones Protest

Thursday 06th June 2013
Six protesters have been arrested after breaking into RAF Waddington, from where drones used to target insurgents in Afghanistan are remotely controlled. The group, which entered through a fence around the Lincolnshire at 8am and included a Catholic priest and an Anglican priest, managed to set up banners and plant a "peace garden" consisting of a number of shrubs before they were arrested.

"Survival of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East Policy"

Monday 16th September 2013
Glenn Greenwald et al. in the Guardian:..Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis. ..Israel is allowed to receive "raw Sigint" – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."

Bleak Bharat

Saturday 22nd December 2012
Victor Mallet in the FT: Narendra Modi has been convincingly re-elected as chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, a political triumph that will strengthen his chances of becoming Indian prime minister and leading the world’s largest democracy. ...However, he is seen as a divisive figure by many Indians who blame him for the killing of hundreds of Muslims by Hindu mobs in Gujarat 10 years ago, shortly after he became chief minister for the first time and a train carriage full of Hindu pilgrims was set alight by Muslim attackers. The victory in Gujarat will boost Mr Modi’s chances of being chosen by the BJP as candidate for prime minister in the next general election, due in 2014. In anticipation of that possibility, foreign governments that previously shunned him have begun easing restrictions.Britain fully renewed ties in October.

Norway - who set the mood music?

Tuesday 28th August 2012
Ted Tieze in the Guardian: ...Once it was realised a white, middle-class Norwegian man was the culprit and that he'd left a sickening but coherent 1,500-page manifesto for all to read, the race was on for some on the right to depoliticise Breivik's acts. The problem was that his politics were not just similar to their own, but often drawn directly from their statements, cut and pasted into his tract. In many cases the only difference was that he took their language of a war of civilisations to its logical conclusion in violence. Salaam notes Roz Kaveney on Melanie Phillips ""The fact that the perpetrator of the Norwegian massacre, Anders Behring Breivik, quotes Melanie Phillips extensively in his manifesto should give all of us in the blogosphere pause – though it is not good enough for Phillips herself to decry mention of this as cheap point-scoring. I know that if anything I had ever said or written were quoted by a mass-murderer I would engage in a period of quiet reflection. (Systematic examination of one's conscience is too good an idea to be left to believers.)":

Cameron's silence

Sunday 28th July 2013
Nesrene Malik in the Guardian: When Lee Rigby was murdered, politicians of every stripe scrambled to condemn and reassure. Cobra, the country's top emergency response mechanism, was convened under the home secretary, Theresa May. David Cameron reassured Britons that "we will never buckle in the face of terrorism". Compare this with near-silence that greeted the recent mosque attacks. Muslims have become accustomed, almost resigned, to media double standards – there is no example starker than the wildly different coverage of Rigby and Saleem's killings. But the failure to mobilise, condemn and reassure on the part of the political class is potentially far more dangerous. It suggests not only that a Muslim life is less sacred than a non-Muslim one, but that Muslims do not have the same rights as others to be reassured. That attacks on them are attacks on a minority, and not on British citizens.

Warsi's abject plea

Tuesday 04th September 2012
Nicholas Watt in the Guardian reports on Baroness Warsi's plea to Cameron to remain in Cabinet and co-Chair of the Conservative Party:"We need more people from urban areas voting for us, more people who are not white and more women….'I'm a woman, I'm not white, I'm from an urban area, I'm from the north, I'm working class – I kind of fit the bill." Salaam notes: Baroness Warsi seems to base her case on the very same sort of representative politics she was quick to condemn as ‘identity politics’ e.g. declaring to the Muslim community newspaper ‘The Muslim News’ in April 2010, ‘We must change the way we engage with communities and stop treating British Muslims as some sort of special interest fringe group’. She was dutifully repeating the right-wing neo-con mantra that the State should deal directly with citizens and there should be no intermediaries to bargain or negotiate on their behalf. This mantra was applied foremost to Muslims in Britain. This is the woman who recently told an MCB Secretary General that "the MCB should grow up", because it believed in speaking on behalf of a community

UAE: The cover of respectability

Sunday 21st October 2012
The Guardian Editorial notes, "To some of its own citizens, the UAE presents another face, that of a petrified, authoritarian monarchy which cracks down on peaceful demonstrations, throws 64 political and human rights activists in prison, tortures some, strips others of their citizenship, and carries on in a manner which would make Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak glow with pride. In fact, when Mubarak's security chief Omar Suleiman fled Egypt, it is no coincidence it was to the UAE that he went....They do blame the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation which the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan denounced as an organisation encroaching on the sovereignty and integrity of nations. All that is encroaching on this Gulf state is the need for democratic reform.

Where is the diversity

Sunday 04th November 2012
Hugh Muir in the Guardian: Ministers are facing criticism after the removal of the only black and Muslim members of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission from their posts, heightening fears that the coalition will place less emphasis on fighting discrimination. Leading commissioners Simon Woolley and Lady Meral Hussein-Ece have discovered that their contracts as commissioners will not be renewed when they expire in December. Though both were invited to reapply for further terms by Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, before the reshuffle, neither has been shortlisted or called for interview.

The Ugly American

Tuesday 12th March 2013
Murtaza Hussain in the Guardian: ...The same discredited US policies of that era are now being repeated within the Middle East and the wider Muslim world. The use of torture, the patronage of sectarian proxy forces, and the facilitation of widespread human rights abuses all characterize US policy in the "war on terror". Indeed, many of the same actors complicit in past crimes have returned to help develop and implement present US policy. Today, Latin America and the Middle East are bound in blood by the experiences of American military intervention and covert warfare. The "dirty wars" of the recent past are playing out once again; time will tell what type of political alignment they will give rise to in response.

Not in our name

Sunday 25th November 2012
Robert Fisk in the Independent: "...Israel claims to hold the same values as the supposedly moral West. It says that it is fighting “terrorism” in our name as well as its own. It says it is fighting like us. It is playing by our Western rules. We are all Israelis now; that is what we are meant to say. Hamas is our enemy, as well as Israel’s. And so – for this is the effect – we too must be contaminated by the war crimes of Israel’s pilots. That, I believe, is why we protest against Israel. Operation Pillar of Cloud must not be committed in our name. "


Saturday 04th May 2013
Ebrahim Moosa on Children's Rights: "...the absence of a strong disposition toward autonomy in the rights of the child in Muslim teachings can in part be accounted for by the prevalence of a communitarian template in Musim ethics inherited from of the major shortcomings in the literature on Muslim notions of children and childhood is the absence of specific case studies that give texture to such understandings within specific contexts...

Israel's interference in India

Tuesday 25th June 2013
The Milli Gazette, Delhi reports on statement by Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat & other Indian Muslim leaders: We condemn, most forcefully and unreservedly, the Israeli President’s suggestion to the Indian government to disregard the Indian Muslim community in developing and strengthening relations with the Zionist state. First of all, this is an unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign and free state. Moreover, it is a blatant disregard of the democratic principles which take public opinion into consideration while formulating national and international policies. Tiny but highly arrogant Israel should realize that it is committing a mockery of democratic principles by suggesting policies to a country which is 200 times its population. Even the Indian Muslim community Israel wants to be disregarded is 30 times bigger than Israel’s Jewish population.

The man Clinton pardoned

Thursday 04th July 2013
Jennifer Rankin in the Guardian: Marc Rich, the billionaire trader and onetime fugitive who received a controversial pardon from Bill Clinton, has died aged 78 ...Rich was pardoned by Clinton on his last day as US president... ...In a rare interview in 2007 Rich said he did his "most important and most profitable" trades by breaking international embargos and doing business with apartheid South Africa, an admission made to Swiss journalist Daniel Ammann, author of The King of Oil: the Secret Lives of Marc Rich. ..."Marc Rich at one time in the mid 1970s was crucial to Israel's survival because after the Yom Kippur war they were cut off from the oil supply," said Ammann. "Israel really had to fight for their oil and they bought it from Marc Rich."

Slavery ban & Capitalism

Monday 02nd September 2013
Sam Jones in the Guardian: ..To placate those opposed to the abolition (of Slavery in 1791), the government used £20m of taxpayers' money to compensate 47,000 slave owners for the loss of their "property" and introduced a system of apprenticeships that saw supposedly free slaves doing four to six years' unpaid labour for their former masters. Also among the beneficiaries of slave compensation were the ancestors of Sir Peter Bazalgette, the TV producer and chair of the Arts Council England. Evelyn Bazalgette is shown to have claimed £7,350 for 420 slaves on his Jamaican estates. David Cameron, Graham Greene and the TV chef Ainsley Harriott are also descended from compensated slave-owners....s well as paying for the building of dozens of country houses and art collections, the money also helped fund railways, museums, insurance companies, mining firms, merchants and banks

Invidious Pressure on UK Bank

Monday 13th August 2012
Daily Telegraph reports: The explosive allegations by Benjamin Lawsky, head of the recently created New York State Department of Financial Services, complicate talks between the Treasury and the 160-year-old British bank to settle claims over the transactions.... Mr Lawsky has accused the bank, which employs nearly 90,000 people worldwide, of breaking money-laundering rules and processing $250bn of transactions on behalf of Iranian clients. ..It emerged that Richard Meddings, Standard Chartered’s finance director, was the “Group Executive Director” accused of showing “obvious contempt for US banking regulations”. The US regulator’s order alleges that Mr Meddings’ response to warnings about the bank’s Iranian operations was: “You ******* Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.” Photo: US Ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman ..

When the US tried to sabotage a Refah victory

Wednesday 22nd August 2012
Zaman reports: ....the US, based on a diplomatic cable reportedly sent by then-US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in October 1996, to Ankara and other US missions in Turkey's neighborhood The cable, a copy of which was published in Turkish in Milliyet yesterday, states serious concerns on the part of the US about a possible redirection of Turkish foreign policy towards the Muslim world inspired by the ideology of Prime Minister Erbakan [photo] and his government. Followed by a statement about the importance of Turkey remaining a key strategic partner, the cable suggests that the Turkish military should be forced to exert more efforts in the direction of obtaining such an outcome. The Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention, termed “postmodern” due to its unconventional nature, aimed for the removal of the elected government headed by Erbakan due to his Islamist inclinations, with a nationwide campaign conducted by a coalition of the top echelons of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), some media members who published in accordance with the orders of generals and some major industry figures

Pukka Punjabi: The Day I asked the Home Office...

Thursday 01st August 2013
Pukkah Punjabi in the Guardian: "Umm, I need to go home." Where do you need to get home to?" "Willesden Green." "This scheme is for people who need to go home to a place abroad." "Yes but I'm in Harrow now and your poster said you'd help me get home …" "We provide help to people who are here illegally, such as people whose visas have expired." "I don't have a visa." "Do you think you might be here illegally?" "I don't know. Do I need a visa to travel between Willesden and Harrow?" I kept the (very polite) Home Office man on the phone for some time...

Opening Doors for Muslim Women

Monday 24th December 2012
Reyhana Patel in the Independent: A recent report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community revealed that Muslim women are encountering discrimination at work from the application stage, through interviews, at recruitment agencies, and in the workplace itself. Some individuals were even compromising their religious beliefs by removing their hijabs and changing their names to English sounding names in order to obtain employment. One only has to look at the number of ambitious, educated and career-driven Muslim women across Britain, unable to secure employment, to realise that Muslim women are one of the most under-used resources in the UK labour market. ...It was only once employed that I realised how difficult the workplace can be for an individual wanting to practice their religion.

A War Crime Against Humanity

Wednesday 08th August 2012
Phil Strongman in the Independent: ...At 8.15am an American B-29 bomber had dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima. People were literally vaporised by a light '"brighter than a thousand suns". A firestorm and 600mph winds sucked the remaining air out of the downtown district. Soon a mushroom cloud spiralled into the stratosphere, and under it 140,000 civilians lay dead. ...the argument that no one in the know objected is a fallacy. General Eisenhower opposed it, "Japan was already defeated… dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary." The Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Nimitz agreed: "The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in their defeat." In 1958 the rightist National Review admitted that "the main purpose of using the atomic bombs on Japan was not military, but diplomatic, and that the real target was not Japan but Russia…" ...Nagasaki, were not so lucky, and they became the first victims of a Cold War crime against humanity. Why is it so difficult for some people, even now, to admit this fact?

Mo Farrah not alone

Saturday 05th January 2013
Somali journalist Sulaiman Osman reports on Channel 4 News: Mo Farah has revealed that he is regularly stopped and questioned by US border agencies on suspicion of being a terrorist. He believes because of his Somali origin, he is detained every time he goes through US customs.... In the last few years, I have attended numerous meetings organised by Somali community groups in which members were discussing the possibilities of challenging British spies and their targeting of the Somali community. But generally, there is a sense of hopelessness. Within the community, the secret services are regarded as untouchable and above the law. People get frightened by the mere mention of phrases like counterterrorism, security officers, secret services and spies... I myself, have experienced the kind of tactics deployed by British officials such as detention, harassment and blackmail. Initially, I thought making official complaints would help. But after unsuccessful complaints to the Home Office and to my MP, I have come to realise that the experience is part of being a Somali. I just challenge British officials when they bother me.

Harker's Irony

Tuesday 07th May 2013
Joseph Harker in the Guardian: ...I'm beginning to feel sorry for whites. I have many white friends and I know most of them are wholly opposed to sexual abuse. But they must be worried that their whole community is getting a bad name. I can imagine that, every day, with each unfolding case, they must be hiding their face behind their hands, pleading: "Please, God, don't let it be a white person this time."

And with so many senior community figures implicated, many of us are starting to wonder what will happen to the next generation of whites. How will today's young whites learn that abuse is wrong when their role models are so tarnished?...

But all of the above arguments were made within various parts of our print and broadcast media when similarly small numbers of Muslim men were revealed to be grooming young girls for sex. If you think the claims about white people are wrong, then so is the stereotyping of Britain's Muslims, and the widespread questioning of their culture and their religion, because of the perverted actions of a few.

Futility of the IOC

Thursday 22nd August 2013
Zaman from Turkey: Ekmeleddin Ihsanogu, current secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has been heavily criticized by politicians from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the OIC's failure to speak out against the army-led massacre in Egypt. In a television interview on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag called on Ihsanoglu to resign from his post at such an “ineffective” organization. ...The OIC is based in Jeddah, capital of Saudi Arabia and is the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations. Ihsanoglu's nine-year term as the head of the organization will expire at the end of this year. Salaam note: to be replaced by a former Saudi Information minister, Iyar Al-Madani!

One woman's misery

Sunday 10th March 2013
Victoria Brittain writes about Ragaa: "It is now four months since Ragaa and her children said goodbye to Adel in prison in Britain. Extradition had become inevitable in the autumn of 2012, after the European Court of Human Rights refused his final appeal. They brought his bed-clothes, his paintings and a few possessions home to London. The next day his usual phone call never came. Since then, Ragaa has had only two 15-minute phone calls from Adel in his New York prison. He spoke to each child, leaving just time for a quiet word of greeting between husband and wife. Ragaa knows he is in solitary confinement and sees only his lawyers. The trial will be in October. Alone in London now, she says: 'My life, it is just my kids now … but maybe, after 20 years of nothing but anxiety, maybe, maybe, I can say I'm recovering myself … maybe'."

Marine Le Pen's claims

Monday 01st October 2012
Auriele Mondon in the Independent: Marine Le Pen's time has come and she knows it...In a style reminiscent of her father’s most conspiratorial tones, she declared that the ‘ Innocence of Muslims affair’ was ‘eminently suspect’. She did not believe that chance was responsible for the release of the video on a ‘Salafist television channel’ just before 11 September...In her struggle against Islam, Le Pen was also able to please her father and the old guard by demanding the ban of all religious clothing, be it the Islamic hijab or the Jewish kippah. Conscious of the resonance of her proposal and its anti-Semitic flavour, she affirmed the next day that while ‘the kippah did not cause any problem in our country’, that those who did wear it would be asked this favour to control those religions ‘that cause more problems than others’.

British values?

Friday 05th April 2013
Ian Cobain in the Guardian: British soldiers and airmen who helped to operate a secretive US detention facility in Baghdad that was at the centre of some of the most serious human rights abuses to occur in Iraq after the invasion have, for the first time, spoken about abuses they witnessed there.... Personnel from two RAF squadrons and one Army Air Corps squadron were given guard and transport duties at the secret prison, the Guardian has established.

A crucial moment, 1948

Monday 29th April 2013
Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian: The British government knew from the moment it planned to withdraw its forces from Palestine more than 60 years ago that partition of the territory and the founding of the state of Israel would lead to war and defeat for the Arabs, secret documents released make clear. ...A report dated October 1947 refers to Menachem Begin, commander of Irgun, stating in a press interview that "the fight against the British invader would continue until the last one left Palestine". ...The state of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948. The following day, the last remaining British troops withdrew and the first Arab-Israeli war began.

One bad apple?

Friday 21st December 2012
James Meikle in the Guardian: A medical tribunal will on Monday consider whether a former army doctor is fit to continue to practise after finding that he acted in a misleading and dishonest way after the death of Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel worker who died in British military custody in Iraq in 2003. Keilloh had also failed to bring to attention of senior officers the injuries to Mousa and the possible mistreatment of two other detainees. The panel was satisfied that he should have suspected foul play..... He had also engaged in "misleading and dishonest" conduct when, at courts martials and a subsequent public inquiry, he maintained under oath that he saw no injuries to Mousa's body

Cameron eats humble curry

Friday 22nd February 2013
Joe Murphy in the Evening Standard: David Cameron was publicly taken to task by the prime minister of India today over “serious concerns” about alleged corruption in a defence deal. Manmohan Singh took the British leader by surprise by using a press conference in New Delhi to raise bribery claims relating to the £480 million sale of Westland helicopters to transport Indian VIPs. He also “impressed upon” Mr Cameron the need for the United Kingdom to improve its widely criticised visa system.

A nation unrestrained by international law

Wednesday 24th October 2012
The Mail on Sun: "...shocking new evidence of the full horrific impact of US drone attacks in Pakistan.....The dossier has been assembled by human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who works for Pakistan's Foundation for Fundamental Rights and the British human rights charity Reprieve......Some of the most horrifying testimony comes from Khalil Khan, the son of Malik Haji Babat, a tribal leader and police officer. "My father was not a terrorist. He was not an enemy of the United States, Khalil's legal statement says. "He was a hard-working and upstanding citizen, the type of person others looked up to and aspired to be like'..."

Harasment of Muslims in the US

Friday 24th August 2012
Washington Post reports: In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday. The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Jesus & the Islamo-Christian Heritage

Wednesday 02nd January 2013
Haroon Moghal in the Boston Review: Jews, of course, do not recognize Jesus as divine or as a godly messenger...Like Christians, Muslims are not only concerned with Jesus’ relationship to the divine, but also with the way he lived. For Muslims, he is an icon of asceticism, worshipful, humble, and dedicated to an abstemious life. He is the Sufi’s ideal Sufi, perfectly devoted to God. The great eleventh-century scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who worked to reconcile Sufism with more legalistic approaches to Islam, cites Jesus time and again as a model of piety. This Islamic reverence for Jesus’ piety applies to other Christians as well, especially monastics. The Qur’an instructs: “Some of the People of the Book recite the scripture during the night hours and fall down in worship. They believe in God and the Last Day and are righteous, and they will be rewarded.” It is little wonder then that Jesus is a source not only of disagreement between Christians and Muslims, but also of convergence.

Pankaj Mishra on the teaching of History

Thursday 16th August 2012
From the Guardian CiF: Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, argues that decolonisation is an ongoing process that the Arab spring can be seen as part of. It would be a mistake to revise history curriculums in such a way that the Asian and African response to British colonialism is overlooked,

Leveson and Power Politics

Thursday 06th December 2012
Jonathan Freedland in the NYR: Cameron’s motives are probably a combination of principle and political calculation. He will be attracted to the liberal ideal of a free press, but he is also aware that two of his biggest rivals, his Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, both journalists by trade, have been loud advocates for press freedom. The PM, facing myriad other political difficulties, surely worries that if he backed Leveson, the Tory-leaning press would instantly turn against him, with two new favorites already in place...But, so long as he holds firm, Cameron can count on the support of the ally that means most to a Conservative politician seeking re-election, the ally whose immense power lies at the heart of the matter: the British press

Shared values & Torture

Friday 12th October 2012
George Monbiot in the Guardian: "...Last week three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture that they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s. ...The government's secret archive, revealed this April, shows that the attorney general, the colonial governor and the colonial secretary knew what was happening. The governor ensured that the perpetrators had legal immunity: including the British officers reported to him for roasting prisoners to death. In public the colonial secretary lied and kept lying. ...Successive governments have sought to deny the Kikuyu justice: destroying most of the paperwork, lying about the existence of the rest, seeking to have the case dismissed on technicalities. Their handling of this issue, and the widespread British disavowal of what happened in Kenya, reflects the way this country has been brutalised by its colonial history

What passed at Timbuktu?

Monday 04th February 2013
MsEntropy writes: ""I work as a researcher on the Timbuktu manuscripts once part of the UCT-Tombouctou Manuscripts Project though based at the University of Johannesburg now. I do not think it is as straightforward as BBC and other media are reporting it of Islamic extremists burning the Ahmad Baba Centre. From the news coming in from Mali, the report in the Guardian, BBC etc. is exaggerated. The new building has not been torched (in fact, it seems the Ansar al-Din guys and ilk took care quite nicely of the building)."

Gaza no longer alone

Tuesday 20th November 2012
Ahdaf Soueif in the Guardian: ....In that hospital, Shifa in Gaza City, we watched the Egyptian prime minister, Hisham Kandil, this morning. For the first time in 42 years an Egyptian prime minister was where we Egyptians wanted him to be. For the first time a government official was telling the truth when he said he spoke for the Egyptian people. And he was spot on when he referred to the Egyptian people first, before the Egyptian president... Israel has always sold itself to the west as a democracy in a sea of fanaticism....But they have served to remind the world that Israel is a democracy where politicians may order the murder of children to score electoral points. Palestinian children, true. But the citizens of the world don't make racist distinctions. On Thursday there were protests for Gaza across the world. They continued today. And there will be many more.

US's PR Disaster

Tuesday 19th February 2013
Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian: In sum, while Europeans still adore Obama, the US is more unpopular than ever in the Muslim world. A newly released Gallup poll from Thursday, this one surveying public opinion in Pakistan, provides yet more powerful evidence of this dangerous trend. As Gallup summarized: "more than nine in 10 Pakistanis (92%) disapprove of US leadership and 4% approve, the lowest approval rating Pakistanis have ever given". Worse, "a majority (55%) say interaction between Muslim and Western societies is 'more of a threat' [than a benefit], up significantly from 39% in 2011."

Loads of Money

Thursday 02nd May 2013
John Quelly in Confirming what many policy experts have known for some time, a New York Times headline in Monday's print edition describes how the most corrupting influence within the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai is not innate cronyism or tribal favoritism, but rather the suitcases full of US cash delivered to the Presidential Palace over the last decade by the CIA. “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States,” one unnamed US official told the Times' Matthew Rosenberg, who described "wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags" being delivered to Karzai's door.


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