7 October 2006

The Muslim Problem

Muslims, it seems, are a problem. No, I should rephrase that. Muslims, it seems, are perhaps the problem of our times. Or at least one might be forgiven for believing that after the last few weeks and months. We've just had Jack Straw, the Leader of the House of Commons, and former Foreign and Home Secretary, tell us that Muslim women who cover the face with a veil or niqab make community relations "more difficult." And this is because, he says, concealing the face is "a visible statement of separation and difference."

So what is Straw saying? He's not just saying that he finds it "uncomfortable" to talk to a Muslim woman whose face he can't see. He's saying that the fact that some Muslim women choose to cover their face is a direct cause of communal tension, and a confirmation from Muslim women themselves that they indeed are different, and do not wish to engage in society.

Straw later went on to elaborate that he'd rather those Muslim women who wear the veil simply don't do so at all.

Straw's little outburst comes hot on the heels of a series of remarks, observations and political maneuverings consistently pointing at the various problems that Muslim pose to British, and western, society. In August, we had the 'liquid bomb' plot which both former and active military and intelligence experts have found to be either impossible or barely existing.

President Bush took the opportunity provided by the scare to declare that: “The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.”

The same phrase, a phrase he had never used before, he had also used that month to describe Israel's conflict with Lebanon. A conflict in which the preponderance of casualties was amongst Lebanese Muslims (as well as Christians).

And here in the UK, politicians, police and commentators described how the 'liquid bomb' plot proved that the threat came from British Muslims who, without any clear reason, without any obvious profile, from any social background even including a university education and a handsome employment, spontaneously decided to become suicide killers. By implications, we have a significant British Muslim problem. A problem of British Muslims spontaneously converting into Islamic fascists.

We then had Home Secretary John Reid's admonition to Muslim parents in East London that they ought to watch out for "tell-tale" signs of their childen undergoing this spontaneous profile-devoid, inexplicable process of conversion. What are these "tell-tale" signs? Rather than pointing, for instance, to the dangerous activities of notorious, entrenched, and proscribed extremist networks with terrorist connections like al-Muhajiroun and its successor groups, Saved Sect and al-Ghuraabah (and now al-Sabiqoon al-Awwaloon), Dr. Reid qualified his statements in an article in that most credible of tabloids, the Sun: "I appeal to you (the Muslim community) to look for changes in your teenage sons -- odd hours, dropping out of school or college, strange new friends."

**cough**splutter**

Sorry excuse me, it's just that this sounds a lot like me when I was, erm, busy failing my A-Levels at seventeen years old. Maybe I was spontaneously turning into an Islamic fascist but didn't realise? Maybe I should turn myself in?

Around the same time, the Pope decided to pipe in with a speech in which he quoted a Byzantine Emperor saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Some have suggested that angry Muslims took the quotation completely out of context, but an inspection of the rest of his text shows this not to be the case. The Pope, unfortunately, used the citation uncritically, and in support of his wider theological argument (a very questionable one at that) about the fundamental difference in Christian and Islamic views of the rationality of God's actions.

It took the Israeli military veteran and peace activist Uri Avnery, a self-described Jewish atheist, to take the Pope to task as follows:

"Every honest Jew who knows the history of his people cannot but feel a deep sense of gratitude to Islam, which has protected the Jews for fifty generations, while the Christian world persecuted the Jews and tried many times "by the sword" to get them to abandon their faith.

The story about 'spreading the faith by the sword' is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in Europe during the great wars against the Muslims--the reconquista of Spain by the Christians, the Crusades and the repulsion of the Turks, who almost conquered Vienna. I suspect that the German Pope, too, honestly believes in these fables. That means that the leader of the Catholic world, who is a Christian theologian in his own right, did not make the effort to study the history of other religions.


Why did he utter these words in public? And why now?

There is no escape from viewing them against the background of the new Crusade of Bush and his evangelist supporters, with his slogans of 'Islamofascism' and the 'Global War on Terrorism'--when 'terrorism' has become a synonym for Muslims."

More recently, Tory Party leader and Prime Minister-wannabe David Cameron declared his brave plans to break up Muslim ghettos in British cities. That's right folks, Muslim ghettos: another big problem that Muslims pose to Britain, encapsulated in the phenomenon of (in Cameron's words): "Immigrant families who only ever meet people with the same country of origin. We need to find ways to avoid this."

Without even attempting to offer serious policy options to deal with the institutional discrimination and massive social deprivation behind the creation of "Muslim ghettos", Cameron suggested instead that "Islamic schools should in future admit a quarter of their pupils from other faiths", as if Islamic schools are actually a significant part of the problem. He didn't pause to wonder whether any Muslim schools in the UK had ever officially banned or prevented non-Muslims from attending (certainly not to my knowledge), or whether indeed non-Muslims might even be vaguely interested in attending a Muslim faith school, enough to fulfil his quota.

So Straw's remarks should not by any means be viewed in isolation. They are part of an inexorably growing western trend of problematizing Muslims, a phenomenon that is conjoined to concerted practices of western-backed imperial violence against largely (though not exclusively) Muslim populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Occupied Territories, Lebanon and elsewhere, practices which are fast converging on an impending imperial onslaught against Iran. The casualty figures in dead and seriously injured from these extant military interventions is more than several million, mostly Muslim, civilians. Such processes actively facilitated by our governments in the Middle East and Central Asia cannot be compartmentalized away from processes of problematization of Muslim communities at home, where in the UK for example more than a thousand Muslims have been indefinitely detained under the Terrorism Act, out of which only half a dozen have been convicted. These external and internal processes are products of the same system, the same imperial social configurations.

As the 2005 report of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) on ‘Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims in the EU’ has documented, attacks on Muslims in western Europe have increased dramatically. Across western Europe, such attacks have accompanied an unprecedented escalation in

"... widespread negative attitudes toward Muslims; unbalanced and stereotypical media reports portraying Muslims as 'alien' to EU societies and as 'an enemy within'; verbal and physical attacks on Muslims and Muslim institutions and property; discrimination against Muslims in employment and other areas; aggressive political rhetoric used by right-populist parties to target Muslims;and security and immigration measures contributing to public perceptions of Muslims as a 'fifth column'."

One of the most authoritative studies of discrimination against Muslims in Britain was undertaken recently by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in London, where I used to work as a researcher years ago. The IHRC survey has been described by the leading peer-reviewed Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, as providing “rich information from a large sample [whose research findings] are unparalleled in their focus and detail on a subject that has largely been overlooked and understudied.” The findings are rather shocking: overall, about 80 per cent of respondents reported experiences of discrimination because they were Muslim. In the face of this, the widespread feelings of discontent and victimization amongst Muslims is not only understandable, they are to some extent a perfectly rational reaction to an extremely disturbing national and international trend of hostility towards Muslims, expressed in forms of cultural, political and economic violence.

German social scientist Dr. Wolfram Richter, a professor of economics at the University of Dortmund, expressed his resulting concern as follows: “I am afraid we have not learned from our history. My main fear is that what we did to Jews we may now do to Muslims. The next holocaust would be against Muslims.” What we have been seeing over the past few months is the tail-end of a process that has continued since 9/11; a concerted political and cultural campaign the effect of which has been to portray Muslims as a dangerous, unpredictable group of 'others' who pose a problem to western civilization -- a problem that requires a "solution"; perhaps even a "final solution", if Dr. Richter's well-researched fears might suggest. It would be easy to dismiss Dr. Richter's comment as merely a groundless exaggeration. And while it may indeed be exaggerated, it is, unfortunately, not groundless.

46 comments:

  1. I think the full face veil does make relations more difficult, because it's much harder to communicate and say hello to someone who covers her face. Also, covering one's face is not a good thing in British culture.

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  2. There is a big Muslim problem in the world today. The main reason for this is that Muslims do not believe that there should be a separation of church and state. Until muslims as a people believe that religion and government do not mix, extremist muslims will continue to dominate the muslim political scene. As far as Western Europeans are concerened, I can certianly understand why Muslims tend to leave a bad taste in their mouths. You only hear Muslims protesting about all the injustices done to them. You never, or rarely, here of Muslims speak up when Muslims are responsible for the injustices done to others. Muslims have to stop constatnly threating people who disagree with them or their faith. The constant threat of violence and bullying is not going to ingratiate Muslims to Europeans. What Jack Straw is saying is perfectly legitimate. Not too many Europeans are going to feel comfortable talking to a woman covered from head to toe. In the mind of a European, a woman covered from head to toe, conjurs up images of injustice, suppression, and the dark ages. Instead of Muslims saying look we can understand why you may feel this way but here are the reasons why it is not a symbol of supression. Instead you only hear of more threats. Stop threatening and start talking in a constructive manner. You would get a lot further.

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  3. "big Muslim problem in the world".... "Muslims do not believe..." "Muslims as a people believe"... "Muslims tend to leave a bad taste in the mouth"... "Muslims have to stop constantly threatening people..."

    blah blah blah. the language here speaks for itself -- the homogenous generalization of "Muslims" as a mass of single-minded people who are constantly threatening "violence" and "bullying". Muslims who, by the way, are intrinsically not the same as "Western Europeans".

    the condescending ideological inability, and refusal, to engage openly with the culture of the imagined "other", in this case represented by the Muslim womam who veils her face, is a longstanding characteristic of western Orientalism, the west's centuries-long history of relating to the "East", the "Third World", and particular the Middle East through mechanisms of hegemony and related forms of imperial domination. the knee-jerk tendency to view this "other" as a threat, and as a threat due to the inherent barbarism, savagery and backwardness of the "other" is all too familiar. if "european" culture dictates that baring one's face is normal, then ipso facto the muslim female who does not adhere to that normative framework becomes an "outsider". moreover, that is because she has excluded herself in the very act of veiling herself, confirmed her intrinsic difference and separateness.

    but this is all in the eye of the "european" beholder, who sees the world through the eurocentric lens of a culture rooted in centuries of imperial domination of the "other". the cultural preference of a muslim woman who chooses to wear the veil clearly sees the world in a different way. it is a preference that the eurocentric mindset is incapable of understanding. to engage with another culture, one needs to go beyond stereotypes and see the so-called "other" on their own terms. not through the constructed veil of your own "uncomfortable-ness".

    it's too difficult, and perhaps the cognitive dissonance is too painful, to think about the fact that the reason one rarely hears or Muslims "speaking up" -- is because of the pathetic extent of Muslim representation in the western media, which is virtually zero (notwithstanding a very few).

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  4. But European culture is normal, in Europe.

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  5. As a local note, I've been annoyed and upset by the visible scapegoating and stereotyping of the muslim community down here in Australia. Meaning (to make it clear) I've been annoyed to see white, middle-aged politicians down here making comments similar to what Nafeez referenced in his article.

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard made some unforgiveable comments a few months back when he noted on radio that "most Australians" would feel confronted by the sight of a muslim woman in full garb and head-dress. This raises a few thoughts. Would most muslims down here be themselves confronted by the sight? Indian folk? Africans? Australian aboriginals? Young dreadlocked Uni folk from Nimbin in the country? (Likewise, does the muslim community here count as 'Australian' or not?). I think Howards point was "Most elderly white Australians like me would, as usual, feel confronted by the sight of someone with a different cultural background to myself". Howard was playing dog whistle politics again and toying with the racist undertones that he has dragged along behind himself for his whole career - the 'war on terror' is a boost as it lets him play up to his worst, par for the course with our ugly PM.

    I currently feel more threatened by the gung-ho covert activities of various shady foreign (and for all I know locally, domestic) intelligence agencies looking to publically boost the 'war on terror' than I do the activites of muslims or any other ethnic group - and as a quick note for anonymous above, who wrote "Muslims do not believe that there should be a separation of church and state.", maybe he should borrow a copy of AMERICAN THEOCRACY so he can read how much respect George W. Bush has for that same divide.

    The scapegoating of muslims in recent years has been instructive in revealing how craven and opportunistic most currrent politicians are in playing the fear card when they get the chance, but I'd love for some of our authority figures to actually do something about the real, dangerous activities of those in power in the here and now. It seems unlikely that they will, though, huh folks..? Nafeez, your blog and articles are on target as usual, and I hope that those that need to read them, do so.

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  6. I have commented on this blog before my own reasons why I believe that the so called "war on terror" is a (criminal) illusion perpetrated by Western Governments and Intelligence agencies (US & UK). It has been used to victimise, principally, the Muslim community.

    And, indeed, Bush is busy now passing through legislation in America which will even make torture and indefinite detention without trial of 'unlawful enemy combatants' legal, and even removing access by those so called 'combatants' to the right to normal principals of 'habeas corpus’. Bush is legalising torture, and even placing himself and his cronies outside of the obligations of the Geneva Convention. And have any of us even heard mention of this on the state controlled BBC for instance?
    In my opinion this is reprehensible, even criminal.

    However, there are two areas of difficulty here which Bush and Blair have entwined together to suit their needs. One are the ramifications of their illegal invasions of other nations, and their hoax ‘war on terror’....

    But the second is the resentment by many of the indigenous populace of the countries that Muslims migrate to, towards the seeming inability or refusal by the Muslim community to integrate into the societies which are already in the countries they settle in. Here in the UK, it seems that many Muslims will simply not accept the traditional British values, beliefs and way of life. There seems to be an overriding doctrine of imposition of the Muslim culture over and above the long held values of the indigenous population. And I can fully understand why this causes resentment amongst that indigenous population. As a white middle aged British male myself, I agree with and support the comments by Jack Straw. If I happen to speak to a Muslim woman, I don’t expect to be speaking through a veil, we just don’t do that in Britain. So until Muslims realise and understand why they are causing rifts in the community, rifts which are being bloodily exploited by our Governments and politicians, then the anger which is growing amongst the indigenous population will continue to steadily rise.

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  7. You said "the knee-jerk tendency to view this "other" as a threat"

    I never thought of Muslims as a threat (I never thought of them much at all) until they wanted to kill Salman Rushdie for writing a book that they didn't like. I think that's a good reason to view someone as a threat.

    (same anon as comments 1 and 4)

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  8. We need to challenge the external essentialisation of "Muslims" (if such a thing exists) as homogenous and undifferentiated. But, we also need to challenge self-essentialisation by (certain) Muslims themselves. This can and sometimes does come in the form of the veil, which is bound up with the forwarding of a reified textualised Islam that has never existed and that doesn't acknowledge the internal plurality of Islam and Muslim practices.

    However, putting this aside, Jack Straw and his polemic against the veil has to be placed in the context of the culturalist discourse that has asserted its hegemony over mainstream political discourse in the UK and Western Europe/North America. This is a discourse whereby race is not discussed explicitly, but discussed implicitly or indirectly through the ascription of certain and always negative cultural and or religious characteristics to those groups it wishes to objectify and marginalise (in this case Muslims of South Asian origin). In other words, the veil controversy, albeit an extremely small and very recent phenomena amongst British-born Muslims, is bound up with the racialisation of Muslims as the significant non-White 'Other' against which majoritian "British" and other "European" identities are formed against and in negation of.

    Importantly, not only must we challenge the self-essentialisation of Islam, we must also challenge the self-essentialisation of European and British values. This attempt to impose and project a master narrative of British or European values and culture must be challenged. It is a pernicious social construction that is often deployed to marginalise and castigate visible minority groups i.e. if they don't conform with (mythical) European or British values (from which they are simultaneously and systemically excluded from) both their actual and assumed practices are automatically 'bad'. There is no such thing as European values or a British culture, in the same way that there is no such thing as a consolidated or locatable Islam or Muslim.

    It seems that those who assert a fictitious pan-European values or identity do not have an identity independent of an imagined Muslim and similar non-White 'Others'. If the latter is shown not to exist outside of the fantasy of what is claimed to be European or British or French, etc. identity/cultural values, then its raison de'tere, as a hegemonic and marginalising narrative, ceases to exist.

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  9. I find it very depressing when I read people arguing the toss about what is and what isn't acceptable in, this case, European society.

    Having come from a cosmopolitan background myself I have always found the condescending nature of white cultures not only insulting but something which has dark, tribal origins, something which Europeans have never faced-up to but which is classically projected onto the Other.

    Let's get things into perspective: politicians generally use tribal mores to manipulate public opinion. The Fear of the Other is the classic emotional manipulation they use.

    Before using it against Islam it was used against the "Red Menace" and used very effectively. The "Red Menace" was used to justify a Cold War which was fuelled primarily by the West and the Arms Race it necessitated.

    Once the "Red Menace" imploded and the Cold War led to 'detente' the old Cold Warriors had to find a new ruse. Enter the "War on Terror" and the Islamic "threat."

    Many of these Cold Warriors now go under the description of neo-conservative. Most, if not all, of them are zionists and many hold dual US/Israeli passports. The Jewish Lobby is inherently part of their bloc.

    These are the people behind the concerted, international campaign to demonise Islam, not only as a scape-goat but to legitimise the repressive laws which they are implementing in order to end what was called "liberal democracy" (a questionable term in itself) and to replace it with a new form of consumer-based totalitarianism

    It is what the Italian film-maker, Fellini, warned us about in the 'sixties, calling it the 'fascism of the consumer society.'

    It is within this context that we should understand this evil campaign to turn Muslims into the holocaust-victims of the 21st Century.

    It is against this new totalitarianism that we should all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, be uniting against. If we fail we shall fall into a new Dark Age. The call of human evolution itself now challenges us. We have no option but to fight and win.

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  10. Spiv says, "we just don't do that in Britain."

    So what exactly is that we do do in Britain? You know, this the old British snobbery, "It's just not the done thing!"

    We don't eat frogs and snails, we leave that to the froggies. We do eat curry (because spicy food is addictive). We play cricket (but so do a lot of wogs) and that's very British, hence 'westernised oriental gentlemen.'

    Only the Scots wear kilts (and everyone knows they're trouble) and Sikh coppers are allowed (begrudgingly) to wear turbans.

    But whatever happens woe betide the woman who abuses our inherently tolerant nature by wearing a veil! Why, because we can't see the face we're talking to!

    You've got to see the face to see whether you're being lied-to or not? What about Blair and his miserable ilk who use mesmerism to lie to us all ad nauseum?

    Read my lips: It's Tribalism, stupid!

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  11. A Wave of Islamophobia
    John McDonnell's Blog
    http://www.john4leader.org.uk/2006/10/wave-of-islamophobia.html

    If anyone doubted that Islamophobia existed in our country they should be in no doubt after reading and listening to the torrent of bigotry and prejudice pouring out of some of our national press and from our main media outlets over the last 48 hours.

    Just a few examples.

    The Daily Express launched its salvo with the headlines "Riots over Mosque on Queen's Doorstep." A story which also ran for 24 hours throughout the national and local television and radio news programmes.

    The Evening Standard sunk to its usual depths with an almost farcical headline "Guide Dog is Banned by Muslim Driver." Almost farcical except when you know the Standard's racist track record over the years.

    The Guardian, Times, and Telegraph plus the BBC and most radio news programmes ran with the story of Jack Straw requiring Muslim women to remove their veil when meeting him.

    This followed hard on the heels of Cameron's comments on Muslim schools and Reid's statements about no "no go areas" at Labour Party conference.

    We are clearly in the middle of one of those regular episodes, launched by the unsavoury alliance of media and politicians, of attacking the latest vulnerable minority.

    The historical parallels with the persecution of the Catholic minority in this country three centuries ago and the jews even further back in our history are striking.

    This week saw the commemoration of the "Battle of Cable Street," when socialists, trade unionists and people of good faith stood up to the emerging Nazi threat in this country and stood in solidarity with the Jewish community against the despicable attacks on it by Mosley's fascists.

    It is now our time to stand up in solidarity with Muslim members of our community.

    Whichever minority group comes under racist and bigoted attack in this way be it catholic, jew, muslim, hindu, sikh, black or ethnic minority, lesbian or gay, our role as fellow human beings is to stand with them.

    That is what I am calling on every person in this country of good will to do today.

    If we act now in standing together in defence of the Muslim community we can bring to a swift end this latest wave of prejudice.

    If we do not act, my fear is that the islamophobia we have witnessed this week will gain the respectable cover it has been seeking and will grow unchecked.

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  12. In a free country you can wear whatever you like.

    But in the UK if you wear a 'B*llocks to Blair' t-shirt the police will stop you and tell you to remove it. Even if you're only wearing a bra underneath.

    This government says it wants to promote freedom, yet it wants to tell people what to wear.

    It says it wants freedom of speech, yet it wants to tell you what to think.

    Enough said.

    Except....

    ....Jack Straw should leave the 'What Not To Wear' to Trinny & Susannah ;-)

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  13. "But European culture is normal, in Europe"

    Ergo, manifestations of "non-European culture" in Europe must be "abnormal".

    And what is this all-embracing "European culture" that brown-skinned outsiders like me and other veiled women are supposed to be conforming to? This sounds all too familiar, for anyone even slightly acquainted with Hitler's grand schemes of "Germanization", by which all projected social deviations from the constructed fantasies of Germany racio-cultural purity had to be expunged.

    We are living in a globalized world where rapid, fluid acculturation is the overriding way the world works now. get used to it mate. There is no pure, underlying European culture; just as there is no pure, underlying Muslim culture.

    "the seeming inability or refusal by the Muslim community to integrate into the societies which are already in the countries they settle in."

    and where's the evidence for this "seeming inability or refusal" except your own perceptions and life-experience as a white, middle aged British male, who, like Straw, wants to dictate to a certain group of women how they should live their lives, in particular how they should dress? this is, to put it politely, absolutely groundless stereo-typical nonsense, and i intend to provide the ample documentation that proves the fact of muslim efforts to integrate in separate piece.

    "it seems that many Muslims will simply not accept the traditional British values, beliefs and way of life."

    you know what mate, i'm british born and bred, but it's a mystery to me what the "traditional British values, beliefs and way of life" actually is. as far as i'm concerned, britishness is about cheering on the England team; watching eastenders and corrie; complaining about the weather; freedom of speech; tolerance of diversity; being able to do what you want as long as it doesn't hurt others; yorkshire puds; fish & chips; slating lying politicians; etc.

    i don't see britishness as meaning "i can't talk to you unless i can see your face"; otherwise we'd have to ban telephones, email, and also this comment section...

    "There seems to be an overriding doctrine of imposition of the Muslim culture over and above the long held values of the indigenous population."

    yes, that's what Hitler said about the parasitical Jewish 'fifth column' that was supposed to be threatening the pure German nation. and yes, clearly, that's what all the data on rampant escalating hostility and discrimination toward muslim communities in the UK and across western europe proves beyond doubt. **more coughing** **more spluttering**

    but anyway, what would i know. let's take the esteemed Dr. Reid seriously on this: i'm just another brown-skinned spontaneously-combusting islamic fascist-in-waiting.

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  14. Hitler...Demonise Islam...George Bush...Imperial Domination... Scape-goat...All these terms being used to make what point? George Bush is not Hitler. Jack Straw feeling uncomfortable talking to a veiled woman is not Imperial Domination. Scape-goat? Scape-goat for what? Muslims are being scape-goated for Muslims blowing up buses and subway cars? If terrorist attacks are being carried out by Muslims in England, whom do you want the British to fear? The Japanese? When the IRA was planting bombs in London, whom did the British fear. The Chinese?

    Jack Straw very clearly stated that in England people have the right to wear what they wish. He is only stating is preference. He is not saying, as far as I have read, that Muslim women should not be allowed to wear the veil.

    A muslim woman wearing a veil smells of supression. Why don't Muslim men cover their eyes instead of Muslim women covering their bodies? Why don't Muslim men control their minds instead of asking Muslim women to hide their bodies?

    Muslim outrage should be aimed at this misogynist practice rather than at Jack Straw.

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  15. Nafeez, you are getting so 'off course' with your assertions here. My point is, Britain, which has, for hundreds of years, been basically of 'Christian' religion, has been steeped in certain values, beliefs and traditions. It is what has forged the 'British' culture. Now I'm not referring to the silly remarks made on postings here like "cheering on the English football team", "Stiff upper lip" and British 'snobbery' etc., I'm referring to our traditions, which have not been Muslim traditions.

    It is Muslims who are settling into this country, not myself or other Brits settling into a Muslim country.

    You state "and where's the evidence for this "seeming inability or refusal" except your own perceptions and life-experience as a white, middle aged British male, who, like Straw, wants to dictate to a certain group of women how they should live their lives, in particular how they should dress? this is, to put it politely, absolutely groundless stereo-typical nonsense"

    Well, take it or leave it, it is a fact that during the whole of my lifetime I have always communicated with British women of all ages who traditionally don't wear veils, and that has always been the case. Now I'm not disputing that you are not British, but, nevertheless, it is also a fact that my immediate ancestry has descended from Britons, and have therefore passed on ways of doing things - British ways. Your ancestry, no doubt, passed on Muslim ways.

    So, as far as I'm concerned, when a Muslim settles in Britain, I have no conerns about them coming here, but I do expect them to respect and recognise British values and not try to impose Muslim values upon us. Similarly, if I were to try to settle into a Muslim country, I would expect to recognise and comply with the Muslim culture there. However, it seems Muslims in general simply will not accept that mindset, and, of course, rifts and tensions are, in my opinion understandably, arising. That is also a simple fact, no matter how unpalatable that may be to a Muslim!!

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  16. kosmik knight - Bin Laden seems pretty clear about being a threat to us. Surely we shouldn't just ignore that?

    nafeez wrote "i don't see britishness as meaning "i can't talk to you unless i can see your face"; otherwise we'd have to ban telephones, email, and also this comment section..."

    Nobody can see anybodies faces in those circumstances, but in person you should be able to see faces. That is the British way.

    Did Jewish terrorists in Germany blow up people on buses and trains? Did German writers and cartoonists have to go into hiding? Did a German who made a film about women in Judaism get stabbed to death on the street?

    Nafeez wrote "i'm just another brown-skinned spontaneously-combusting islamic fascist-in-waiting." - The Muslim Council of Britain said that every Muslim in this country is a potential terrorist. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/10/nterr10.xml

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  17. ahh, now we're getting somewhere. finally, someone admits it. it's because "british culture" is "christian". so anyone settling in "your" white-skinned, christian majority country, must conform to your "values, traditions and way of life."

    and as an example of this, you point to undemocratic Muslim states which largely fail in any sense to fulfil the aspirations of their Muslim majority populations, many of them supported by western military and economic interests. in those countries, like perhaps Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims are expected to conform to very specific things, such as the female dress code.

    well i'm sorry, but i don't really aspire to follow that example. what i don't understand is why you think that britain should, if not in law then in programmes of cultural homogenity, follow the example of such undemocratic states by establishing dress codes and expecting immigrants or visitors to conform. that's not what democracy's about, not at all.

    so far you've claimed that wearing the veil conflicts with those centuries-old "christian" values of britain. well, where's the buck going to stop? you advocate a grand process of cultural homogenization for foreign settlers into british society, people like me, who clearly, *obviously*, simply aren't as "british" as people like you who descend from all the right blood-lines. so why just stop veiling? your logic is completely arbitrary. why not stop muslims from praying five times a day? why not chop off the hair of rastafarians? because this is the logic of your argument. that any deviation of the imagined traditions and values of christian british society should be siphoned away.

    following your logic to its final solution, being truly british, means in the end being christian.

    the truth is, nations change. nations are malleable. they are never in stasis. they are imagined communities, not stable, indelible categories, subject to endless fluid interactions of migration and emigration.

    i'm afraid, it's not about soil and blood. nor is it about the tyranny of the majority. nor is it about the nationalist-fascist belief that a biological race with permanent roots in bit of land has the right to dicate the lives and terms of existence of those who arrive.

    it's about cosmopolitan values of humanity. we are all individuals with certain inalienable rights as individuals, and no state, system or ideology has any right, perogative to encroach on those rights.

    you people are losing the plot, have lost grip of the very values that britain stood for in its proudest moments, the values of freedom, tolerance and liberty. those are the values we stood for after WWII and don't you forget it.

    being british does NOT imply going around dictating to people what they should wear, and getting all sweaty, lairy and uncomfortable because someone wears a piece of cloth on their face. and i repeat the absurdity of the sense of cultural revulsion, which is rooted in nothing other cultural prejudice and nothing more, at the inability to see a person's face, when much of this country's economy runs on the basis of conversations where you NEVER SEE the other person's face.

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  18. Nafeez, you state "ahh, now we're getting somewhere. Finally, someone admits it. it's because "british culture" is "christian". so anyone settling in "your" white-skinned, christian majority country, must conform to your "values, traditions and way of life.""

    Yes, when people migrate to Britain, I, in common with most of the indigenous popoulation, do expect this.

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  19. Nafeez, you're not the only one who is mystified by the word "Britishness." I have lived in the British Isles for 47 years and still don't know what it means.

    Besides, "Britishness" as you point out seems to mean "Englishness". Living in Scotland I can assure you that very few Scots think of themselves as British. One big reason for this is its colonial connotations.

    The atrocities committed by the English and the Hanoverians left a very deep scar on the Scottish psyche as, of course, it was meant to.

    Behind this fake argument about "Britishness" lies a much deeper malaise that the 'British' haven't even acknowledged let alone address.

    It is xenophobia and the traditional 'British' fear of change. They feel overwhelmed, threatened by foreign hordes. Maybe there is even a fear born out of guilt that tells them that the karma they created for themselves in the British Empire is now flying home to roost?

    It is not just Islamophobia the 'British' are suffering from, it's Europhobia as well as the traditional xenophobia. The common factor behind all these phobias seems to be fear and confusion.

    Continentals dismiss 'British' Europhobia as the typical reaction of an island race. Islamophobia has a religious history but the two phobias probably overlap.

    Finally, there is the general fear that we live in apocalyptic times. Whereas the real, climatic apocalypse is given second place this fear is received by many in a tribalistic manner where fear is projected onto the Other.

    In reality, the 'Other' we're dealing with is Mother Earth and the Biosphere from which our European culture has so effectively separated us from. In the psyche of the communal tribal mind, however, the Other is perceived in terms of human 'aliens' whose culture, language, skin colour etc is different from the comforting familiar expectations.

    Those who were responsible for initially setting-up the "War on Terror" would have been aware of the advantages they had to gain from exploiting human tribalism.

    As the neo-conservative blueprint is to cause the total destruction of the old from which to create a new totalitarianism believes that the means justify the ends this descent into evil was premeditated.

    The vast majority of its would-be victims, both Muslim and non-Muslim, remain blissfully unaware of the human-trap that they are walking into.

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  20. oh right, so if dr bari of the hugely credible "muslim council of britain", the organisation that british muslim journalist Faisal Bodi described in the Guardian in 2002 as "unrepresentative", says something, it must be true [mcb was a creation of new labour with little if any grassroots support among british muslims. see J. Birt, (2005) "Lobbying and Marching: British Muslims and the State", in T. Abbas (ed) 'Muslim Britain: Communities Under Pressure' (London: Zed Books)].

    so i'm not enamoured of the mcb. but it seems to me that you've quoted the mcb secretary-general dr. bari completely out of context. the telegraph piece repeatedly quotes bari as affirming that muslims are NOT terrorists, and should not be demonized as terrorists.

    "There are a few bad apples in the Muslim community who are doing terrible acts and we want to root them out." So the terrorists are few, not many. "But some police officers and sections of the media are demonising Muslims, treating them as if they're all terrorists —and that encourages other people to do the same. If that demonisation continues, then Britain will have to deal with two million Muslim terrorists — 700,000 of them in London,"

    Dr. bari is simply outlining the logic of the wholesale demonization of Muslims as a problem community: which is to ultimately label all british muslims as terrorists, a "problem" requiring a "final solution" of sorts.

    1.6 million british muslims are not responsible for the atrocities perpetrated by four terrorists. the notion that they are is part of the problem that i've already here.

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  21. Spiv, you keep talking about "traditions". It's a comfortable assumption like pipes and tweed jackets.

    Would you care, for the sake of the unenlightened ones here, to outline some of these "British traditions."?

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  22. Nafeez, reading your writing is so disappointing. It confirms all the fears that a European has of Muslims. If an educated and liberated Muslim born and brought up in a free society is going to defend the misogynist practice of Muslim women wearing veils, then there is no hope for Muslims to ever free themselves from the suffocating grip of fanatics.

    Your arguments are full of hypocrosy. You love the British values of freedom and liberty and yet in all your writings fail to utter a single word to come to the aid of Muslim women being oppressed by this medieval practice.

    Time after time I am disheartened by the reaction of educated Muslims to events such as the comments by Jack Straw. Where oh where I ask are the liberated and enlightened Muslims? Show yourselves!!!

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  23. Spiv says, "Yes, when people migrate to Britain, I, in common with most of the indigenous popoulation, do expect this."

    Go to Golders Green and tell that to the Orthodox Jews you see walking around with long ringlets and black homburgs!

    Your assumption is just totally UNREAL and has no historical precedent! It's all in your head, bro! It's a head-trip!

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  24. Spiv, by the way, is a member of the "indigenous population". But not me. Let's not forget that. I might've been born here, but I don't count because my blood lines are all brown and end up in that foreign place, what's it called? oh yeah, "b-a-n-g-l-a-d-e-s-h".

    "Yes, when people migrate to Britain, I, in common with most of the indigenous popoulation, do expect this."

    Spiv has offered a new political theor. It's the theory that the "white-race", in any particular geographical territory that it dominates, should be able to dicate the values, traditions and way of life of all non-white foreigners. (NB: white foreigners may be excluded, as they are, after all, the right colour). f**k democracy. that's neither here nor there!

    well thanks for letting me know spiv. couple of things i'd like to understand though, before i get started on the conforming process.

    when do aliens like me get a stake in the concept of "indigenous population". do we have to wait 20, 50, 300, 5000 years of breeding inside britain before us foreign-types get that juicy label of "indigenous"? and then do we perhaps get a stake in defining what britain is? or do we never get that stake. perhaps we shouldn't. after all, who knows what lies behind our veils: we're all subversives y' know.

    another question: is it just the holy command "YE WILL NOT VEIL" that we need to follow, or do you have other "christian"-based cultural norms, traditions, values and ways of life that I and my fellow aliens should start adhering to?

    clarification would help, otherwise i won't really know where to start!

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  25. "If an educated and liberated Muslim born and brought up in a free society is going to defend the misogynist practice of Muslim women wearing veils,..."

    LOL. Free society? What sort of free society are we, when a white middle class male, Jack Straw, joined by his fellow hordes of white middle class males, takes
    it upon himself to start dictating to Muslim women what they should wear; precipitating what human rights groups are describing as a massive anti-Muslim backlash including race-hate attacks and women getting their veils ripped off by self-righteous vigilante neo-Nazis.

    "You love the British values of freedom and liberty and yet in all your writings fail to utter a single word to come to the aid of Muslim women being oppressed by this medieval practice."

    Orientalism again. The assumption that Muslim women MUST be oppressed if they engage in this horrid "medieval practice". Well have you asked Muslim women who choose to wear the veil in this country what they think? Are you even vaguely interested in what Muslim women have to say?

    If a woman wants to wear the veil, she can. If she wants to wear a mini-skirt, she can. What the hell has it got to do with me? Or anyone else for that matter? We all make our own moral choices, and the choices are ours to make, not anyone's to force.

    Should Muslim women ever be forced to wear the veil? As said above, obviously not. But that's not what's at stake here. At stake is the *freedom of choice* by some British Muslim women to wear the veil if they want to. Straw has carefully now made it politically correct to argue that **women should have that freedom of choice removed**. and you, in the name of freedom, support that argument.

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  26. I have lived in 'Britain' for 47 years. As a Eurasian, I have an English name and a neutral, home counties accent. I could be mistaken for a Kahmiri or a Pakistani.

    I live in a small fishing town in NE Scotland, far from the madding crowd. Only yesterday, walking the dog, I was verbally attacked by an old man who takes pleasure on picking on me from time to time.

    Until now, I just ignored or laughed at him. Yesterday, I was in a different frame of mind and told him to fuck off in no uncertain terms and never to cross my path in the future.

    So there you have it. After 47 years of 'assimilation' I still have to put up with this kind of shit from white trash.

    Far from assimilated, at the age of 59 I have become more militant against 'British' racism than I ever was. My lesson is, try as hard as you like, you can never 'assimilate' just so long as you look different in some way or other.

    The only way you can protect yourself is to insulate yourself through wealth. Otherwise, tough shit!

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  27. Anyway, what are we arguing about? All this Islamophobic stuff was deliberately put out by politicians which, as Brits, we should know are a lot of lying bastards.

    So why allow politicians to wind us up. Terribly unBritish!

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  28. Nafeez - I posted that link as I thought you might like to take it up with the MCB!

    Dr Bari said "If that demonisation continues, then Britain will have to deal with two million Muslim terrorists." That seems a pretty clear statement, he thinks they are all potential terrorists.

    It would be good if Muslim extremists would stop demonising the West.

    Yes, when people move to Britain, they should make effort to fit in with the British society and way of life.

    Why just stop veiling? Because it covers the face and hinders comunication. In British culture, it is rude and hostile to cover ones face. Praying five times a day, or having dreadlocks don't cause similar problems. Neither does the headscarf.

    What do you mean by "imagined traditions and values"? "Imagined"? You think we don't have real traditions and values?

    kosmik knight - you asked spiv, not me, about British traditions. Being British myself, I suppose it's a bit like being a fish in water, natural, and one is more likely to notice it when faced with something foreign that doesn't fit!

    nafeez wrote "Jack Straw, joined by his fellow hordes of white middle class males, takes
    it upon himself to start dictating to Muslim women what they should wear"

    Jack Straw did not dictate, he asked.

    I wonder how many of the women who choose to wear the veil really think about the effect they are having on people. When I pass someone in the street, I often make eye contact, smile and say hello. The veil blocks me from doing that. It does not help good community relations when the veil acts as a form of social rejection.

    nafeez writes "when much of this country's economy runs on the basis of conversations where you NEVER SEE the other person's face."

    How many of them are conversations where person A can't see person Bs face, but person B can see person A's face? (And person A is not blind?)

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  29. White indigenous Britons are choosing to embrace Islam in growing numbers. Why does nobody ever mention them? In the 2001 census 63,000 people described themselves as Muslims of white British origin. And that's just counting those who chose to take part in the census...

    Does Jack Straw recognise the right of these white converts to practise Islam in their homeland? His arguments about race relations fall apart here.

    Nafeez, I hope you find this article interesting. It exposes the Pentagon planting fake news stories in the American and Iraqi media.

    '...This has been acknowledged in the U.S. Defense Department's Information Operations Roadmap, a 74-page document approved in 2003 by Donald Rumsfeld. It noted that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP [psychological operations], increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa. PSYOP messages disseminated to any audience... will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public."

    "This ought to be of particular concern to Americans because the Pentagon's doctrine for psychological operations specifically contemplates "actions to convey and (or) deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning. ... In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover, and deception, and psyops."'

    http://www.kavkaz.org.uk/eng/content/2006/09/17/5607.shtml

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  30. As 'White Muslim' points out regarding US Psy-Ops, can we stop arguing about the minutiae and address the real problem?

    Could the current wave of concerted, international Islamophobia be traced back to the recent increase of US psy-ops and cyber-warfare spending? We know it's being done but we don't know how, where and when. We know that international newspapers are one of the other prime targets.

    We know that both Islamophobia and the concurrent "War on Terror" originated in the USA whose security services depend on both. We know that the Neoconservatives adopt it as part of their dogma to colonialise the Planet. We know that the neoconservative approach is very much the old Leninist one, that the ends justify the meanss and that before a society can be reconstructed first it must be demolished. The way to do this is to cause strife and social breakdown, anarchy, in order that governments can implement ever-more repressive laws, overturning centuries of hard-fought freedoms to replace it with a new corporate totalitarianism.

    What are we doing as a disparate group to use this knowledge in order to fight back?

    I suggest that where Islamophobia is concerned that we abandon defensive tactics and become proactive and outwardly aggressive towards the neoconservative plan. We have no choice. To carry on as at present will make us all into another generation of Jews in a 21st Century Warsaw Ghetto.

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  31. I don't really want to get involved in this discussion, I'd just like to clear up one thing about Jack Straw: he's partially deaf. And people who have trouble hearing rely heavily on being able to watch the faces of those they communicate with; if they talk to someone whose face they cannot see, they lose much of that information.


    See http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,557778,00.html

    which collaborates on Jack Straw's deafness.

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  32. Thank you for this post. This kind of statement that you highlight makes me so very angry.:

    Immigrant families who only ever meet people with the same country of origin. We need to find ways to avoid this

    It's beyond the pale that such people making these statements critique European migration or colonisation of other regions in light of those other cultures. How many of the British Raj hung out with those of other cultures? How many learned Urdu, or Punjabi -- did they just stick to English, perhaps?

    How much did such colonisers damage the culture, belittle the culture and irreperably shape the culture of societies that they colonised, not just immigrated to. Ye gods.

    Is it perhaps too much to ask that the european community welcome, enjoy and celebrate the changes in their societies which occur when those societies are diversified? Why the xenophobia?

    I really don't see why there is a problem except that so many Europeans are having to confront their privilege for the first time. Poor babies. Boo hoo.

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  33. I just want to say one thing.

    I am blind and I don't like it when women wear the veil because I can't see their face and it hinders communication.

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  34. Looking at it all from the US (Texas no less), I can see pretty much the same things going on here. Whether or not the current wave of brown-o-phobia sweeping our countries is something encouraged by a special secret US government program or not (and I'm not rejecting the possiblity, though on the other hand it hardly would require a lot of encouragement either), said phobia certainly is a handy tool for the politicians.

    And, yes, at least I find it a bit ironic that just as Bush has begun to use the term "Islamo-Fascism" in his speeches, we see a form of Christo-Fascism reaching for the levers of power in this country.

    A significant part of Bush' core constituency believes that they will be "raptured" up to heaven without having to actually die in a great apocalyptic reckoning that will happen in conjunction with a final titanic conflict in the Middle East. These people actually get depressed when they think that there might be a reduction in tensions in Israel-Palestine or Iraq, because a conflagration there is absolutely essential to their individual and collective spiritual roadmap. Not to worry, though, because apocalyptic-fundamentalist leaders now get to meet privately with high administration officials (including W himself) to discuss foreign policy. Whether or not the President himself really believes any of this stuff, he is somewhat beholden to these people for political support (especially now that his popularity is tanking).

    I recall hearing on BBC world service in late 1980 or early 1981 an interview with Jerry Falwell (Christian Right poobah and one-time spiritual adviser to Reagan). He was getting increasingly put out with the BBC reporter who wasn't letting him get away with the usual silliness about how huge defense budgets and the Cold War nuclear arms race are just what Jesus would want us to do. Finally, as a conversation-stopper (and it was), Falwell said (in obvious exasperation at the guy's denseness), "Look, the Bible says the world will end in fire. And we're just helping that to come about."

    So, someone tell me, just why should I get all bothered about a score of suicidal maniacs per hundred thousand British or American Muslims when about 20 percent of the population in my country (that's about 60 million people) would cheerfully blow up the whole planet -- and has the wherewithal to do it? Talk about suicidal destructiveness.

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  35. Nafeez.

    Anonymous who says "It confirms all the fears that a European has of Muslims." is speaking for himself.

    It is common for people like him to claim to speak for everyone. But they dont. A white British male myself, I reject his universalism. If perhaps though, he could show me the data that he has abviously collected, in settling upon his informed opinion, I might have time for his point of view.

    He shows characteristic ignorance and predjuice of people who are ignorant about Islam, and dare I say, at their core believe the propaganda against it. Am I wrong? Well, again, if he showed me that data that he's collected which shows women are forced to wear a veil in the UK as opposed to wearing it out of choice then again perhaps I'll accept his view that it is a misogynist practice.

    He also gives the usual ignorant twist to the issue, that the whole issue is that women are FORCED to wear it, and that it is done to deliberately separate Muslim woemn from from British society. His twist includes the conclusion "we must rescue these poor women and deliver them from their opression"

    His words are typical of that of an Islam hater. A display of ignorant omprehension at best, a nasty devious methodology at worst. He tries to put Islam on the defensive in a similiar manner that murderer Tony Blair and GW Bush does.

    His sympathies, which would not be alien in an BNP meeting, totally exclude the opinions of other minorities in the UK who might well support women who wear the veil (adopting cultural and religious dressings themselves). No doubt he would potter on to the tune of 'its the indigenous peoples culture that must be respected' so perhaps he could tell me just how many generations must one have to put down roots in the UK for before their opinion and cultural bent is as valuable as the 'anglo-saxon' view, in other words, skin colour wins. If he does think that, which is likely from his iterative posts, then his views are clearly racist as well as Islamiphobignorant.

    What then of the growing number of white women who convert to Islam? They have his 'privilage' of peau blanche and intégration britannique, so their desire to wear a veil cannot be challened. Therefore non indigenous Brits should also have the choice! Funny how racism excludes deverlopment of thought isn't it?

    The issue he fails to address is actually a question of "tolerance towards choice" of and issue that has a bear minimal impact upon the on the non-muslim british population, and given its dare I say almost trivial impact, I'd say to those who want to enforce misogyny on women by forceing them NOT to wear it, know your unfounded predjuices and either learn to live with them or act on dispelling them

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  36. Jack Straw: he's partially deaf.
    LOL. Yes we know!!! It was especially noticed on the weekend of 15-16 Feb 2003, when the demanding throng of 2 million British demanded: NO WAR AGAINST IRAQ!

    But then why does he not wear a hearing aid then? and why have I seen him hear and respond to questions from journalists who spoke at normal levels of laudness while bending over looking at the floor?

    Perhaps his defness is like Mr Fawltys shrapnel wound which plays up at convenient times.

    In anycase, it appears that any such women have followed his request to remove their veil when speaking to him.

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  37. I am an American evangelical Christian - believe the Bible and expect things to happen as it says, pray for things and receive them, all of that. I guess I'm a real rock-spider.

    Here are a few obvious points:

    1) Women, Muslim or otherwise, aren't imagining things when they feel lustful eyes on themselves, and why shouldn't some of them want to do something about that? After all, don't lots of other women for just that reason cover their breasts and crotches?

    2) Do you have to see the woman's face when talking to her, Mr Straw? You never talked business with Margaret Beckett or Condi Rice on the telephone?

    3) If women are oppressed by being made to cover up, why aren't any of you complaining about women being pressured to show it off? Isn't that coercive too? And if some women do feel like showing it off, why shouldn't others feel like doing otherwise - and why shouldn't they be free to do so without Jack Straw's unsolicited advice?

    4) There's nothing especially Muslim about the hijab or even the niqab. The Muslims originally got it from Eatern Orthodox Christianity - see 1 Corinthians 11.

    Now, people, if you remember that it was kind of stupid 35 years ago to make a big deal about the length of people's hair, let's not be equally stupid today. What say we let people dress how they want? As Peter the apostle put it, "Let none of you suffer as a thief, as a murderer, as an evildoer, or as an overseer of other people's business" - advice which lots of "Christians" and other "enlightened" people would do well to put into practice.

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  38. Why a Jew can grow his beard in order to practice his faith
    But when Muslim does the same, he is an extremist and terrorist!

    Why a nun can be covered from head to toe in order to devote herself to God
    But when Muslimah does the same she is considered oppressed

    When a western women stays at home to look after her house and kids she is respected because of sacrificing herself and doing good for the household?
    But when a Muslim woman does so by her will, they say, "she needs to be liberated"!

    Any girl can go to university wearing what she wills and have her rights and freedom?
    But when Muslimah wears a Hijab they prevent her from entering her university!

    When a child dedicates himself to a subject he has potentials.
    But when he dedicates himself to Islam he is considered hopeless!

    When a Christian or a Jew kills someone his religion is not mentioned, but when Muslim is charged with a crime, it is Islam that goes to trial!

    When someone sacrfices himself to keep others alive, he is noble and all respect him.
    But when a Palestinian does that to save his son from being killed, his brother's arm being broken, his mother being raped, his home being destroyed, and his mosque being violated -- He gets the title of a terrorist! Why? Because he is a Muslim!

    Whenever there is a trouble we try to find and solution to it and generally accept any solution?
    But if the solution lies in Islam, we refuse to take a look at it.

    When someone else drives a car in a bad way no one blames him.
    But when any Muslim makes the same mistake - people say "Islam is the reason"!

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  39. I'm not religious at all, but my friends here in the UK include Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists. And by friends I mean real friends - i.e. we go to each other's houses and have known each other for many years. Our respective children have also been friends for years. The one interesting thing is that it is very difficult for an outsider to tell the religion of any one of us. This is because for each of us what we believe does not govern what our hairstyle, beard or clothing should be (though you might try to guess some of us by facial appearance and skin colour). We all live as normal citizens in the UK. But if, to take an example, a Jew or Muslim insists on advertizing his beliefs by wearing 'religious' clothes hair or beard in every day life, then most UK citizen will regard him as making a pointed statement of separation. The normal rule is surely "When in Rome dress as a Roman". Surely if you are a spiritual person then that spirituality will proclaim itself in your behaviour. And if you aren't then it is evidently dishonest to pretend that your religion is important to you. If you are filled with hate, then you are certainly not a spiritual person, so if you also preach religion then you are hypocritical. Unless of course it isn't a very spiritual religion?

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  40. Richard Wrote:

    "But if, to take an example, a Jew or Muslim insists on advertizing his beliefs by wearing 'religious' clothes hair or beard in every day life, then most UK citizen will regard him as making a pointed statement of separation."


    I don't agree, this is your re-presentation of their choice to dress like that. They are not doing it to separate, they may simply be following their own spiritual and religious motives.

    As for 'when in Rome'...British culture is meant to be fluid, adaptable, changing, it is not a fixed monolithic entity...You get punks, rastas, people with pink hair....this is British culture, no one standard...and as time goes on it will change..probably into a more boring conservative direction if people like you have your way, but I think it is very dangerous when politicians start telling people how to dress and 'the people' agree with him, instead of being outraged at him. We really are living in dark times.

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  41. Hi,
    Aren't the British ridiculous. As an NZ'er who spent time in London, we also tended to keep to our own community. When we do it, it's OK, when brown, or non-english speaking people do it, it isnt?

    There's only one issue that needs adressing. Hate speech from religious nutters of every stripe.

    John

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  42. hey, I read your blog, it's very knowlegeble.

    Read how to greet in Indian Culture.

    http://indiankulture.blogspot.com

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  43. Its not veil,its not color.Nobody care really until minorities are minorities.It becomes threat when minority expands with breath taking speed and intend to become majority.Muslim are irritating now because they want separate schools,justice system and everything separate.They are creating country withing country.

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  44. I'm british living in australia,39 years now,i consider myself aussie,slotted into the aussie culture very easy.Not being a fan of any religon or practising any.i have read many things,but what sticks in my mind is the koran,it is written in arabic,most muslims learn and repeat not really knowing what it means,it does not say muslim women should cover themselves from all males except their husbands,infact it says all muslims should dress and cover themselves in the same moderate way.we have muslim refugee's in australia and no it is not working they too segregate themselves from our culture they wear their head gear and look down on aussies wearing shorts and tank tops in 42 heat they are lucky we wear anything,not to mention the muslim leaders would like aussies to cover up when muslims visit our beaches and public swimming pools,i don't really care what colour your skin is or what god you pray too,but please do not move into another country and dictate what they should and shouldn't do,leave your religous views in your own home.

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  45. If Muslims want to live in non Muslim societies and cultures then they should ASSIMILATE, no arguement no debate fit in or go home. If we the rest of the world want to live in an Islamic country we have to conform or risk severe penalties... No buqua, no muslim law.. remember the saying when in ROME....

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  46. Look...its as simple as this. If I left the UK and went to live in a muslim land I would do as they do, even dress as they dress. I certainly wouldnt start asking for priviledges and forcing my own laws on them.

    Why do muslims do this? It MUST be that they are intent on "Taking back" what they think is their land.
    Muslims are very very dangerous, and I resent it looking like a third world country in Some parts of London, Dewsbury and Batley etc.. I want my country back, and my people will eventually have to go to war to get it back im afraid.
    Islamophobia means being afraid of Islam, it isnt something that means attack islam..and I can tell you that I AM VERY ISLAMOPHOBIC being gay...

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