Muslims, The Media And Poor Reporting

We are often caught up with our own lives. Attempting to understand how others see the world is frequently near-on impossible, but we should try, particularly when it comes to societal racism.

Daily Racism

Since 2001 increasing hatred and loathing has been directed towards Muslims. Political opportunists, such as the English Defence League, have tried to exploit the prevailing xenophobic climate in Britain and incite racial hatred.

Every day in Britain Muslims suffer racism. From verbal abuse to physical attacks. On-line animosity towards Muslims is stoked up daily by racists and semi-professional bigots. On-line activities have real world consequences as the site, EDL Criminals has shown time and again.

The real lives of real people in Britain are blighted by racism, yet these facts receive scant coverage in the Oxbridge dominated media. There are a few lines here or there, but little real investigation.

Factual Reports
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However, there is no shortage of informed commentary on Islamophobia or its negative consequences:

One academic report details how the Far Right and extremists exploit negative sentiment towards Muslims.

Another scholarly paper looked at the impact of racism towards Muslim women.

HMG report

The new government report on extremism has been welcomed by Tell MAMA, but highlights the complexities of these issues (I paraphrase):

  • It is very important to have a subtle approach to this topic and a dire need to tackle extremists who promote hatred towards communities.
  • Greater use of pastoral care should be made in prisons, etc, helping people in the most vulnerable of positions and playing a role in countering extremism.
  • On-line extremism is an unfortunate reality and in the Internet age we have to acknowledge this fact.
  • Extremism is often stoked up by international events, e.g in Syria or Middle East. We must ensure that whole communities, British Muslims, etc. are not blamed, labelled or isolated as a result.
  • Getting the balance is tricky, previous Governments talking tough simply fuelled isolation and helped extremist groups, like Al-Muhajiroun.
  • The new position by HMG is far more informed and nuanced, it should be welcomed.

A Societal Issue and The Independent

A piece in the Independent seems to have grasp the headline of this issue but not the subtleties, as expressed above, and:

In society we need to admit that anti-Muslim prejudice is quite widespread. That such reports can lead to a flare up of on-line hate against Muslims and cause more problems.

We should accept that anti-Muslim prejudice has to be tackled.

It is wrong to blame whole or part of communities as it further exasperates extremism, increasing societal disconnect and isolation. Such an approach aids the extremists, be they the EDL or Al-Muhajiroun.

We need to take care on these issues, racism, whatever its forms should not be encouraged.

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Antisemitism, Anonymous And Twitter

Finding antisemitism on Twitter is easy, but it’s surprising how few attempt to stop it, as witnessed by the 170,000 plus followers of the Anonymous Operations account.

Remembering that wherever you find racism, sexism and the degradation of women is often not far behind.

k1

My first storify looks briefly at the issues, Holocaust Denial at Anonymous.

Elsewhere, there is a nice tumblr account which tries to track this form of racism.

Also, the new humourously entitled Zionist Entity blog aims to tackle antisemitism and supports Kestrels.

Finally, Oliver Hotham is blogging and always worth a read.

Council Borrowing Blamed On The Women Workers

I am a little bit preoccupied at the moment to blog in any meaningful sense, but this poor piece of journalism in the Guardian struck me as deserving of comment.

It concerns Birmingham City Council and the possibility that they will have to borrow over £300 million to meet their legal obligations after losing a major equal pay case.

What is surprising in the article, is where the blame is placed. It implies that the equal pay claims are at fault, but for them Birmingham City Council would not go bankrupt, or be in this situation.

“The country’s largest local authority faces a potential bill of £757m to settle a string of equal pay claims lodged by mainly women workers, amid speculation that other councils and private sector firms could be targeted by a new wave of legal action.

Birmingham city council said on Monday the figure combined the “actual and potential” equal pay settlements between 2006 and 2012, including a recent ruling in favour of 170 low-paid women staff, and could rise if more claims were made.

The council has applied to the local government secretary, Eric Pickles, for permission to borrow £325m on top of the £430m already secured to help fund the pay claims.

The council leader, Sir Albert Bore, said the costs would have to be taken from the council’s day-to-day running costs, putting it at risk of bankruptcy if permission for the loan was refused.”

What it ignores is all the more annoying.

  • One, the equal pay legislation dates back to 1970, that is 42 years.
  • Two, Birmingham council had a legal obligation to comply with this longstanding legislation.
  • Three, its senior managers and Councillors were aware of their legal obligations.
  • Four, they chose to fight a battle they could not win.

Ultimately, it is the poor quality of management from senior managers and the Councillors at Birmingham City Council that are to blame.

It is not the women’s fault for desiring equal pay and conditions, maybe next time the Guardian should remind its readers of those facts.

Women’s Rights And The New Statesman

Over at the New Statesman, Mehdi Hasan has exasperated many women by his new post, Being pro-life doesn’t make me any less of a lefty.

I am not really that interested in his points, rather the marvellous response from feminists and the quality of their arguments.

Stavvers at Another Angry Woman says:

“A few more points on your piece. I’m very disappointed in you, seeing you repeating the anti-choice porky pie that France and Germany have a 12-week limit, so the UK should too. What these countries actually have is a law which allows abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, i.e. you go up to a doctor, say “I’d like an abortion”, then you have your abortion. After the 12 weeks, the legal situation resembles that of the UK: you have to jump through hoops, provide reasons, see more than one doctor.

The rest of your argument, I’m afraid to say, is a hot mess of appeals to authority. You’ve just listed the few people who agree with you who aren’t thoroughly objectionable, many of whom died centuries ago. I’m also rather baffled by the fact that you’re not ashamed to agree with Jeremy Hunt, a man who has what I like to call the Copro-Midas Touch. Literally everything that man touches turns to shit. Are you genuinely comfortable with agreeing with a man who hides in trees to avoid being seen by journalists?

You’re also repeating the tiresome “it’s a baby” myth. Again, I’m going to refer you to one of my sisters, because pretty much everyone’s already said what I want to say, but please read this heartbreaking post from Fearlessknits about life at 25 weeks gestation. “

Kelly Hills takes another tack:

“These rights are undermined when women are denied the freedom to decide whether and when to have children, and how many of them to have. Reproductive freedom is an essential part of women’s right to liberty. It is vital to both liberty and responsible moral agency that we be free to protect our health, to plan and shape our lives. So vital is this social good that wherever safe, legal and affordable abortion is unavailable, many women risk death, permanent physical injury, social disgrace and legal prosecution to end unwanted pregnancies.

Hasan argues, at the end of his article, that the biggest problem with the abortion debate is that it is asymmetrical, “the two sides are talking at cross-purposes”. But the biggest problem with the abortion debate is not that it is asymmetric – it is that one group, the anti-choice group, is attempting to force their views on everyone else. As a pro-choice woman, I am not interested in whether or not another woman is carrying a pregnancy to term or aborting, save in the case where the woman asks for my opinion or involvement. My pro-choice position is not pushing her to abort – not even if, in my opinion, it would be the best thing for her life. As I do not believe in forced pregnancy, I do not believe in forced abortion.

I believe in choice.”

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The Taliban’s Real Attitude

I remember a few years back reading, from Westerners, that the Taliban had changed, moderated its excesses, that it was softer, gentler, etc you can imagine the rest.

I didn’t believe such nonsense then, or now.

Let’s forget not the fate awaiting women and girls under Taliban, arbitrary murder:

“KABUL — A man Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban shot dead a woman accused of adultery in front of a crowd near Kabul, a video obtained by Reuters showed, a sign that the austere Islamist group dictates law even near the Afghan capital.

In the three-minute video, a turban-clad man approaches a woman kneeling in the dirt and shoots her five times at close range with an automatic rifle, to cheers of jubilation from the 150 or so men watching in a village in Parwan province.

“Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it’s the wrong way,” another man says as the shooter gets closer to the woman. “It is the order of Allah that she be executed”.

Provincial Governor Basir Salangi said the video, obtained on Saturday, was shot a week ago in the village of Qimchok in Shinwari district, about an hour’s drive from Kabul.

Such rare public punishment was a painful reminder to Afghan authorities of the Taliban’s 1996-2001 period in power, and it raised concern about the treatment of Afghan women 11 years into the NATO-led war against Taliban insurgents. “

Balochistan And The Berber Revival.

The plight of women and girls in Balochistan goes unreported so this piece from the IRIN is all the more important:

“QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) – Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.

Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.

However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.

Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.

She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.”

Elsewhere in Libya, Berbers are hoping to revive their language and culture after decades of repression under Gaddafi:

“After the Arab conquests in the seventh century and Arabization policies promoted by populist, modern-day Middle Eastern leaders, Berber culture has been slowly driven nearer and nearer to extinction. In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi championed the country’s Arab heritage and even its African roots, but would never acknowledge the country’s original inhabitants, savagely suppressing their language and culture.

Qaddafi banned Libyans from writing or owning books in Tamazight and arrested Amazigh activists — including Buzakhar and his twin brother — to suppress the group and keep them from organizing against his rule. It was little surprise, then, when Amazighs became some of the fiercest fighters in Libya’s revolt against Qaddafi’s rule. Brigades from the Amazigh-heavy Nafusa mountains helped lead the final assault on Tripoli in August.

Now with Qaddafi gone, the Amazigh are taking advantage of their newfound freedom and trying to reclaim their long-suppressed heritage. Cultural organizations, spearheaded by eager young people in the Nafusa mountains and Tripoli, are working hard to spark a cultural revival. Women’s groups, arts societies, and education centers are teaching Tamazight script and trying to preserve Amazigh cultural sites.”