Friday, 31 July 2009

A Sikh, a Gurkha and a Muslim walk into Buckingham Palace

Sounds like the beginnings of an Irishman, Englishman, and Scotsman type joke but after coming across this article:

I couldn’t but help laugh at both the positive tone of the piece and the positive comments from the Daily Mail readership and thought it was a joke. I mean two bearded and turbaned men of non-European extraction who were born abroad now guarding the Queen of England and failing to attract any of the usual alarmist stuff...

If I wanted to be a ‘spinmonger’ about this I could warn about another head of state (Indira Gandhi) being assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards and make liberal mention of the Sikh terrorist groups that have been proscribed by the Home Office. But we can only demonize one visible religious minority at a time.

Anyway, nice to see how enlightened the Daily Mail readers are when the article is not about Muslims. The comments were uniformly positive (at least at the time of writing) and these are just some of those that stood out for me.

Not dressing like us indigenous folk but never mind, in this case it’s:

“Nice to see, full intergration for them, Well done.”
- Tron, Telford Shrop., 31/7/2009 15:44

Plenty of anecdotes from relatives who served in WWII:

“It's good to see this. My father was brigaded with the 1st/2nd Punjab Regt. for part of WWII, and held them in high regard; "You'd have to be up early to get past a Sikh!" was his verdict.”
- Helen, Kent, 31/7/2009 15:31

Even animal rights are advanced by this historic event:

“Good on them and it is two lovely bears saved from the shotgun too.”
- Helen, Manchester, 31/7/2009 15:23

The tourists will love them (but not us much as we do). Handsome, even with the beards:

"I think the tourists will love these two.... I'm not crazy about beards, myself, but they look very handsome!"
- Juma, london, uk, 31/7/2009 15:42

One day there might be an article on Muslims guarding the English Royal family and when that happens I hope to see comments from people who are aware that during World War II, and as of January 1945, there were 447,000 Muslims in the British Indian Army (bear in mind this was a volunteer army) along with (for comparison) 92,000 Sikhs and 103,000 Gurkhas. Perhaps some comments from people who also remember Muslims such as Noor Inayat Khan, who joined the SOE (Special Operations Executive, the forerunner of the SAS) serving in Occupied France and becoming a heroine of the French Resistance before she was captured by the Nazis and executed.

Maybe then someone will write ‘Muslims’ in a paraphrasing of Robert of Worchester’s comment:

"Sikhs have always been a noble people and excellent soldiers. A great many have fought and died for this country. HMQ will be in safe hands."
- Robert, Worcester UK, 31/7/2009 15:51

Monday, 27 July 2009

In the Year 2032...

I'm no fan of this particular newspaper and feel they have a tendency to instigate moral panics amongst their readership; however, on occasion they produce some real gems that expose the obession we have with the rights of criminals over the rights of victims and the men and women of law enforcement.

A knife wielding thug is now 'a bag of nerves' after a policeman swore at him during his arrest when he threatened to kill officers. He is now 'scared of the police'. Fantastic I say, job done. Apparently, the poor ikle criminal has had his human rights violated!

What the hell??!!

Did we all just wake up in the futuristic world of Demolition Man? Below is some dialogue from the film. If you've seen it you will know exactly which scene it is refering to. Just replace 'Squad Leader' and 'Simon Phoenix' with 'Police Sergeant' and 'Glen Francis'.

Squad Leader: "Simon Phoenix! Lie down with your hands behind your back."

Simon Phoenix: "What's this? Six of you. Such nice, tidy uniforms. Oh I'm so scared!"

[The police officers look at each other]

Simon Phoenix: "What, you guys don't have sarcasm anymore?"

[Squad Leader talks to his automated assistant]

Squad Leader: "Maniac has responded with a scornful remark."

Automated Assistant: "Approach and repeat ultimatum in an even firmer tone of voice. Add the words 'or else'."

Why don't the powers that be just fine the officer one credit for violation of the Verbal Morality Statute and be done with it.

Demolition Man trailer:

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Level with me Foreign Secretary

The Foreign Secretary was in Cardiff today. I got a chance to put a question to him at one of the scheduled meetings. I was about the tenth person to ask a question on a range of foreign policy related issues. I wasn't planning to ask a question and to be honest I was expecting the question to be dodged. Anyway, the question went like this:

"This week the terror threat level was lowered to its LOWEST level for the past four years. This against a backdrop of recent arrests for plots to poision ethnic minorities with deadly ricin, and the seizure of the largest terrorist arsenal since the 1990s, over 300 weapons, 80 bombs etc and both involving Far Right extremists. No prizes for guessing their intended targets. For British citizens who are ethnic minorities or Muslims (or both) the terror threat is the HIGHEST its been for the past four years, so my question is do we need a parallel terror level alert system, one for faith and racial minorities and one for everyone else?"

Of course he understood the question was tongue-in-cheek and agreed that terrorism is indiscrminate in its choice of victims, but I didn't get the answer I was hoping he would give i.e. that MI5 would now be probing Far Right terrorism in the same way it currently does with Al-Qaida inspired terrorism. After all, Commander Shaun Sawyer of Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Command said that he feared a neo-Nazi 'spectacular', "I fear they will have a spectacular... they will carry out an attack that will lead to a loss of life or injury to a community somewhere. They are not choosy about which community."

Just because one type of terrorist has hung up their explosives for a while doesn't mean we should let our guard down.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Musings on a 'meaningless word'

One fellow Welsh blogger described it as "the most meaningless word of our age". I'm sure that for many non-Muslims it must be, just like racism must be pretty meaningless if you're part of the racial majority (or racial elite), like sexism must be pretty meaningless if you're a man (or an Amazon). To Europe's Muslim minorities, however, 'Islamophobia' is about as meaningless to us as the word 'Anti-Semitism' is to Europe's Jews.

We're only half way through July and already we've seen:

(A) The passing of the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre (the largest single act of genocide against a faith minority in Europe since WWII)
(B) The bombing of the offices of the Muslim equivalent of Christian Aid, in Glasgow
(C) The seizure of what is believed to be the largest terrorist arsenal in England (belonging to Far Right extremists) since the IRA campaign of mainland bombings of the early 1990s and;
(D) The murder of a woman and her unborn child in a German courtroom for wearing a piece of cloth on her head.

So how to classify these hate crimes? Some of them are clearly not motivated by racial prejudices but rather by religious ones. Europe's Jews, despite being considered a racial minority group nonetheless have a distinctive word for the hatred, discrimination and assaults against their persons and property - simple 'racism' is too much of a catch all term in this instance that simply doesn't acknowledge the racial/religious distinction in motivation. Muslims are definitely not a single racial minority group and it is quite possible that a Muslim in Europe may find themselves on occasion targeted by someone of their own racial background (be that black, white or brown). Of course, if anyone would like to offer an alternative word to describe the act of religiously motivated hate crimes against Muslims I'll be happy to start using it, because one term like Anti-Semitism is agreed upon by Jews and Gentiles alike and we know it when we see it. Until then, Islamophobia, a word in circulation for at least 10 years, is the only one we have to categorize for example, the kind of pathological hate that drives a man into such a violent frenzy that he could stab a pregnant woman, a complete stranger, to death.

A more accurate complaint against the word Islamophobia might be that it can be overused and also misapplied - but meaningless it certainly isn't.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Hug a Hooligan - They're S.A.D.

I read a report about a month back that football fans may suffer 'end of season blues' after almost 22 months of uninterrupted matches. It seems from the recent activity in Birmingham and Whitechapel that, if no-one else, the hooligan element at least may have found an outlet to preserve their delicate psychological health. However, early diagnosis may prove difficult for those close to members of this particular group as warning symptoms of '(end of ) Season Affective Disorder' include an inability to focus, lack of direction, irritability, lethargy and an inability to converse.

So presumably on doctor's orders, hooligans 'only hating for our health' turned out in Birmingham city centre last Saturday to distract themselves from the lack of football - a sort of diversionary activity for delinquents. Unfortunately, without the other team to start a fight with the only 'entertainment' for puzzled onlookers was a medley of bad 1980s football chants from the terraces - reason enough in my opinion for the police to baton charge them and give them a good dousing of water cannon. Anyway they were dispersed and Saturday shopping allowed to resume. Meanwhile in Whitechapel, a simultaneous protest had been organised and this time the English Defence League were dutifully supported by the originally titled Welsh Defence League belting out "In-gur-learned, In-gur-learned, In-gur-learned", "Rule Britannia", "I'm English till I die, I'm English till I die, I know I am, I'm sure I am, I'm English till I die"...and other well-known Welsh patriotic sporting anthems.

So if moonlighting as Neo-Nazi political storm troopers between seasons could safeguard the fragile mental health of England's football firms, what about the ordinary decent football supporters? As a rugby man I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I have relatives who are fanatics...about football, but nevertheless I asked them how they were managing to cope with the current absence of meaning in their lives. Their solution?

They're following the cricket.

Well desperate times, desperate measures.