The western world needs more like this guy
There's a huge Union Flag flying proudly outside Deva Kumarasiri's house and it's been there so long the edges are tattered and torn. Nearby, another one flutters from the back of his favourite Land Rover as he drives to work as the local cornershop postmaster.
In case it's not immediately clear, the Sri Lankan born father of two - who fulfilled a dream to come this country 17 years ago and took citizenship to make his life here - is proud to be British. So proud, in fact, that he's insisting all his fellow immigrants embrace our culture and pride with the same enthusiasm as he does.
Mr Kumarasiri, who taught his two young daughters every word of the National Anthem and is encouraging them to join the RAF when they grow up, introduced a controversial new regime at his post office counter. If his customers can't be bothered to learn English, he tells them, they must go away and learn it before he serves them.
His bold stand against non-integration has sent a shudder of political correctness down whatever spine the post office has these days, and infuriated some local do-gooders who accused him of inciting division among the community. But even a few minutes spent with the 40-year-old Liberal Democrat councillor is about all it takes to establish that his motives are pure - and that he's driven only by a passion for the country he loves so much.
'Nobody stands up for anything in Britain any more,' he said. 'It's the best country in the world as far as I'm concerned, but the great country I once called Great Britain has changed a lot since I came here. All I'm doing is telling people that if they want to live in Britain, be British.
'Don't boo our soldiers when they come home from Iraq. Don't live your life without embracing our culture. Don't stay here without making any effort to learn the language. And if you don't want to be British, go home.'
Mr Kumarasiri runs the sub-post office inside a corner shop in Sneinton, an inner city area of Nottingham that boasts a diverse ethnic mix. He became so weary at of customers expecting to be served without uttering a word of English that he took to telling them to go away and learn the language. It's not exactly a ban, he says, because they keep coming back anyway. But he tells those who make no effort to speak English they will need an interpreter if he is to give them a proper standard of service. 'Our laws are written in English; our culture is chronicled in English. How can anybody understand that if they can't understand English? 'I tell them if they don't speak the language and they can't be bothered to learn, then don't bother coming here. It's up to them whether they take any notice - but if they want to live here in Britain, they should take notice.'
Mr Kumarasiri, whose wife is a nurse, likes to call his regular customers 'duck' and 'dear', following local tradition. 'The fabric of the nation begins to unravel if we don't all speak the same language. You can't be wholly part of British culture if you don't speak the language.
'When I left Sri Lanka I left behind that country's culture, customs and language. I have done my utmost ever since to be part of this country's culture. There are far too many people who come here and expect Britain to change to suit them.
'White people can't say what I'm saying because they'd end up in jail,' he explains.
Where government secrecy and coverups get you
In a small provincial courtroom, the most high-profile trial in Austria's post-war history is taking place behind closed doors. The public, and the world's media, have been banned from hearing evidence against Josef Fritzl because of Austria's obsession with privacy. After brief opening arguments from the prosecution and defence on Monday, and a tantalisingly short statement from Fritzl himself, everyone bar the defendant, judges and lawyers was ordered to leave the room
Journalists have been warned that if we report anything said in the trial (by getting it second-hand from lawyers, for example), we will be imprisoned for up to six years. So much for justice being seen to be done. While it may seem incredible that a man who imprisoned his own daughter in a cellar for 24 years should be tried in an empty room, in Austrian courts secrecy is the rule, rather than the exception. Officially, the media ban is to prevent "voyeurism". The consensus in the Austrian press, however, is that the authorities simply don't want the horrific evidence to be used to question their failure to stop Fritzl sooner.
It is this culture of secrecy that enabled Fritzl to get away with his crimes for so long - a culture that has its roots in Nazi-era Austria, and one that is viewed with growing shame by a younger generation of Austrians, some of whom have staged noisy demonstrations outside the court in St Poelten.
One protester, Peter Rosenauer, of the child welfare group Resistance for Peace, told me: "We have a society where child abuse is hushed up and trivialised. People who report cases of abuse are often ignored or even intimidated by the authorities. The golden rule, which starts with bureaucrats and filters down through society, is that you shouldn't pry into people's private lives."
It was this very attitude that enabled Fritzl to hide his daughter away for a quarter of a century while those in authority failed to ask the obvious questions which could have saved her. Elisabeth ran away from home on several occasions as a teenager, only to be returned by police to her father each time. What was making her so unhappy? No one bothered to ask her. None of their business.
When three of Elisabeth's children turned up on Fritzl's doorstep, supposedly left by Elisabeth after she ran off to join a cult, social workers visited him 21 times to make sure he was fit to adopt the children. What they didn't know, because of Austria's draconian privacy laws, was that Fritzl was a convicted rapist who had served time in prison in 1967. His conviction had been deleted from all official records after 15 years. As far as the authorities were concerned it was all in the past and no one had a right to know about it.
Josef Leitner, a former tenant in Fritzl's house, said: "Why didn't the authorities try to find out why Elisabeth wanted to run away? If they'd asked her friends, I'm sure they would have told them." Leitner says that after raising questions about those in authority he was visited by the police, who threatened to report him to the state prosecutor in what he says was a blatant attempt to "shut me up".
Fritzl's may be an extreme case, but it is by no means unique in Austria. Natascha Kampusch escaped her captor in 2006 after eight years in a bunker; three children were rescued from a cellar in Linz in 2007 after being locked up for seven years by their mother.
Austria's preoccupation with privacy is a throwback to the Nazi era, when Hitler was enthusiastically welcomed into towns like Amstetten, where a young Josef Fritzl sat on his father's shoulders and cheered the fuhrer. Collaborators were encouraged to inform on neighbours who did not embrace the Nazi agenda, who were then taken away to a nearby concentration camp. After the war, Austria was desperate to hush up its complicity in the Holocaust: three out of every four death camp commandants was Austrian. Hence the instinct, which exists to this day, to cover up the unsavoury and discourage the sort of curtain twitching that was rife during the war.
Such a culture has led to farcical scenes at Fritzl's trial, where judges were so nervous of breaching the defendant's right to privacy that they did nothing to stop him covering his face with an A4 ring binder when the media were briefly allowed to film him. Austrian newspapers are only allowed to refer to the defendant as Josef F, which is standard procedure in sex abuse trials but pointless pedantry in a case where the entire world knows the defendant's name.
Back in Amstetten, the mayor and senior civil servants have all gone on holiday for the duration of the trial to avoid any awkward questions. Before they left, the council put out a statement saying: "The crime case of Amstetten does not exist. It is the crime of a single person."
Josef Haslinger, a philosopher, said: "There is this pretty, shiny surface that Austrians like to show, but it hides a monstrosity . this perverse world that nobody wants to talk about. The de-Nazification process never succeeded. We have a culture of looking away."
My imam father came after me with an axe
Hannah Shah had been raped by her father and faced a forced marriage. She fled, became a Christian and now fears for her life
We are all too familiar with the persecution of Christians in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet sitting in front of me is a British woman whose life has been threatened in this country solely because she is a Christian. Indeed, so real is the threat that the book she has written about her experiences has had to appear under an assumed name.
The book is called The Imam's Daughter because "Hannah Shah" is just that: the daughter of an imam in one of the tight-knit Deobandi Muslim Pakistani communities in the north of England. Her father emigrated to this country from rural Pakistan some time in the 1960s and is, apparently, a highly respected local figure.
He is also an incestuous child abuser, repeatedly raping his daughter from the age of five until she was 15, ostensibly as part of her punishment for being "disobedient". At the age of 16 she fled her family to avoid the forced marriage they had planned for her in Pakistan. A much, much greater affront to "honour" in her family's eyes, however, was the fact that she then became a Christian - an apostate. The Koran is explicit that apostasy is punishable by death; thus it was that her father the imam led a 40-strong gang - in the middle of a British city - to find and kill her.
Hannah Shah says her story is not unique - that there are many other girls in British Muslim families who are oppressed and married off against their will, or who have secretly become Christians but are too afraid to speak out. She wants their voices to be heard and for Britain, the land of her birth, to realise the hidden misery of these women.
Hannah's own voice is quiet and emerges from a tiny frame. She is clearly nervous about talking to a journalist and the stress she has been under is betrayed by a bald patch on the left side of her head. Yet she has a lovely natural smile, especially when she reveals that she got married a year ago; her husband works in the Church of England, "though not as a vicar".
I tell Hannah that the passages in her memoir about her sexual abuse are almost impossible to read - but I also found it hard to understand why, now that she is in her early thirties, independent and married, she has not reported her father's horrific assaults on her to the police. "What has stopped me is that if my dad went to prison, the shame that would be brought upon the rest of the family would be horrific. My mum would not be able to . . . I mean, it's bad enough having a daughter who's left, is not agreeing to her marriage and is now a Christian. Then to have my dad in prison would be the end for her."
I tell Hannah, perhaps a little cruelly, that in her use of the word "shame" she is echoing the sort of arguments that her own family had used against her. "I understand that, but what I'm saying is that if I do that, then there will never be a door open to me to have contact with my family ever again. I'm still hoping that there will be some opportunity for that." Of course, by writing this book, albeit under an assumed name and with all the places and characters disguised, there is a chance that her family and community will identify themselves in it. What does she think they would do, then?
"To be honest, I don't even want to think about that. Either they will decide between them that they are not going to say anything because it will bring shame on all the community, or they will decide that they want to take action. Then my life will become even more difficult, because they'll all be looking for me."
Hannah's description in the book of the moment when her "community" discovered the "safe" home where she had fled after becoming an apostate is terrifying. A mob with her father at its head pounded and hammered at the door as she cowered upstairs hoping she could not be seen or heard. She heard her father shout through the letter box: "Filthy traitor! Betrayer of your faith! Cursed traitor! We're going to rip your throat out! We'll burn you alive!" Does she still believe they would have killed her? "Yes, without a doubt. They had hammers and knives and axes."
Why didn't you call the police afterwards? "First, I didn't think the police would believe me. That sort of thing just doesn't happen in this country - or that's what they'd think. Second, I didn't believe I would get help or protection from the authorities."
Hannah had good reason for this doubt. When, at school, she had finally summoned the courage to tell a teacher that her father had been beating her (she couldn't bring herself to reveal the sexual abuse), the social services sent out a social worker from her own community. He chose not to believe Hannah and, in effect, shopped her to her father, who gave her the most brutal beating of her life. When she later confronted the social worker, he said: "It's not right to betray your community."
Hannah blames what is sometimes called political correctness for this debacle: "My teachers had thought they were doing the right thing, they thought it showed `cultural sensitivity' by bringing in someone from my own community to `help', but it was the worst thing they could have done to me. This happens a lot. "When I've been working with girls who were trying to get out of an arranged marriage, or want to convert to Christianity, and they have contacted social services as they need to get out of their homes, the reaction has been `we'll send someone from your community to talk to your parents'. I know why they are doing this, they are trying to be understanding, but it's the last thing that the authorities should do in such situations."
This is the sort of cultural sensitivity displayed by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, last year when he suggested that problems within the British Muslim community such as financial or marital disputes could be dealt with under sharia, Islamic law, rather than British civil law. What did Hannah, now an Anglican, think on hearing these remarks? "I was horrified." If you could speak to him now, what would you say to the archbishop? "I would say: have you actually spoken to any ordinary Muslim women about the situation that they live in, in their communities? By putting in place these Muslim arbitration tribunals, where a woman's witness is half that of a man, you are silencing women even more."
She believes the British government is making exactly the same mistake as Rowan Williams: "It says it talks to the Muslim community, but it's not speaking to the women. I mean, you are always hearing Muslim men speaking out, the representatives of the big federations, but the government is not listening to Muslim women. With the sharia law situation and the Muslim arbitration tribunals, have they thought about what effect these tribunals have on Muslim women? I don't think so."
It's fair to say that Hannah Shah is an evangelical Christian, who clearly feels a duty to spread her new faith to Muslims- something with which the Church of England's eternally emollient establishment is very uncomfortable and the government even more so. She points out that even within this notionally Christian country, people are "persecuted" for evangelism of even the mildest sort. She cites the recent cases of the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient and the foster parents who were struck off after a Muslim girl in their care converted to Christianity.
"Such people - I'm not talking about apostates like me - have been persecuted or ostracised in this country simply because they want to share their faith with others. People call this political correctness but I actually think it is based on a fear of Muslims, what they might do if provoked."
Shah's conversion seems to have its origins in the fact that the family who put her up after she ran away from the prospect of an arranged marriage in rural Pakistan were themselves regular church attenders. She began to go with them and, to put it at its most banal, she liked what she heard. "It was the emphasis on love. The Islam that I grew up knowing and reading about doesn't offer me love. That's the biggest thing that Christianity can and does offer. I sense that I belong and am accepted as I am - even when I do wrong there is forgiveness, a forgiveness which Islam does not offer."
So does Hannah offer Christian forgiveness to the father who raped and abused her and who, by her own account, was even prepared to murder her? "It's taken a long time and it's only in the past few years that I've got to that. It's very hard to get there and it's taken a lot of shouting and screaming behind closed doors, and praying, to get me to the point of being able to say: I forgive. I have to, partly because otherwise I would be a very bitter and angry person and I don't want to livea life that's full of anger."
I can't help asking how she would react if a future child of hers decided she wanted to abandon the Christian faith of the family home and become a Muslim. "It would be very hard for me, obviously." Would she try to discourage it? "No. I'd bring them up as Christians, take them to church, but I'd also want them to know about, well, my culture, about Islam. Because being Christian should be a choice, not what you're born to. But yes, it would be hard if they chose Islam." Somehow, though, I think Hannah Shah would cope.
Australia: Lebanese Muslim gang rapists cop it in jail
They are such scum that they asked for it in my view. They acted like big men when dealing with defenceless women but did not do so well in the company of other men of their own low standards
Four of the state's most notorious killers, including notorious triple family killer Matthew Wayne De Gruchy, have appeared in court this morning over the vicious jail bashing of infamous gang rapist brothers. Matthew Wayne de Gruchy, who is serving a 28-year jail term for the murder of his mother and two siblings at Albion Park Rail, near Wollongong, in 1996, is among the four murderers, two rapists and an armed robber allegedly involved in the vicious bashing of the brothers who can only be known as MSK and MAK.
The bashing, in a yard of Goulburn jail in February 2007, almost killed MAK who suffered severe head injuries and needed to be airlifted to hospital for brain surgery. His brother was treated for a broken arm.
After an extensive two-year investigation the inmates have been charged and made their first appearances for inflicting grievous bodily harm in Goulburn Local Court this morning. The inmates charged, who appeared this morning via videolink, include De Gruchy who was only 18 when he killed his mother Jennifer, 42, brother Adrian, 15, and sister Sarah, 13. Also charged was triple child murderer Craig Andrew Merritt. Jay William Short, who murdered Lithgow teenager Alison Marie Lewis in 1997, was also charged, as was killer Shannon Daley. Adrian Gray, serving time for armed robbery, and Chebli Djait, serving time for drink spiking-related sexual assault, have also appeared in court. Yet to appear is another man, serving time for aggravated sexual assault.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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