Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Islam's Hijackers and Hijackees
For years we've been hearing about how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists. What if it's the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion? That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan.
Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan's blasphemy law. Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for "insulting Muhammad."
Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands apparently make water unclean. An argument followed. She defended her faith, which they took as synonymous with attacking theirs. Later, she says, a mob of her accusers raped her. Naturally, a Pakistani judge sentenced her to hang for blasphemy.
And Governor Taseer, who bravely visited her and sympathized with her plight, had 40 bullets pumped into him by one of his own bodyguards. "Salmaan Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer," Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri said to the television cameras even as he was being arrested.
Now, so far, it's hard to say who is the hijacker and who is the hijackee. After all, Taseer the moderate was a prominent politician, Qadri a mere bodyguard.
A reasonable person might look at this tragic situation and say it is indeed proof of extremists trying to hijack the religion and the country. Except, it was Taseer who wanted to change the status quo and Qadri who wanted to protect it. Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been on the books for decades, and while judicial death sentences for blasphemy are rare, the police and security forces have been enforcing it unilaterally for years.
And what of the reaction to the assassination? Many columnists and commentators denounced the murder, but the public's reaction was often celebratory. A Facebook fan page for Qadri had to be taken down even as it was drawing thousands of followers.
And what of the country's official guardians of the faith? A group of more than 500 leading Muslim scholars, representing what the Associated Press describes a "moderate school of Islam" and the British Guardian calls the "mainstream religious organizations" in Pakistan not only celebrated the murder, but warned that no Muslim should mourn Taseer's murder or pray for him.
They even went so far as to warn government officials and journalists that the "supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," and so therefore they should all take "a lesson from the exemplary death" of Salman Taseer.
Rape accusers must show their faces
I rarely agree with Naomi Wolf but she puts up a good argument below
As Swedish prosecutors' sex-crime allegations against Julian Assange play out, one aspect merits scrutiny. We know Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, by name. But his two accusers are consistently identified as "Miss A" and "Miss W" in the media. In Britain it is against the law to name an accuser in a sex-crime case once a complaint has been made; elsewhere - in the US, and much of Europe - media convention demands that accusers get the same protection. This is bad law and bad policy. Motivated by good intentions, the outcome harms women.
The shielding of rape accusers is a relic of the Victorian era, when rape and other sex crimes were being codified in what has become modern law. Rape was seen as "the fate worse than death", rendering women "damaged goods". The practice of not naming victims took hold for this reason.
Borrowing from a poem by Coventry Patmore, Virginia Woolf labelled the ideal of womanhood in this period "the angel in the house": a retiring creature who could not withstand the rigours of the public arena. "Good" women's ostensible fragility and sexual purity was used to exclude them from influencing outcomes that affected their destinies. For example, women could not fully participate in legal proceedings. Indeed, suffragists fought for the right to be found guilty of one's own crimes.
Nonetheless, even after women gained legal rights, the convention of not naming women who make sex-crime allegations remains. Not only is this condescending, but it makes rape prosecutions more difficult.
Anonymity serves institutions that do not want to prosecute rapists. My alma mater, Yale, used anonymity to sweep incidents under the carpet for two decades. Charges made anonymously are not taken as seriously as charges brought in public.
It is only when victims have waived their anonymity that institutions change. It was Anita Hill's difficult decision in 1991 not to make anonymous accusations against Clarence Thomas, now a US Supreme Court justice, that spurred a wave of enforcement of equal opportunity law. Hill knew that her motives would be questioned. But as a lawyer she understood how unethical anonymous allegations were, and how unlikely to bring about change.
The convention of anonymity lets rape myths flourish. When accusers are identified, it becomes clear that rape can happen to anyone. Stereotypes about how "real" rape victims look and act fall away.
Feminists have long argued that rape must be treated like any other crime. But in no other crime are accusers' identities hidden. Treating rape differently serves only to maintain its mischaracterisation as a "different" kind of crime.
Finally, there is a profound moral issue here. Although children's identities should, of course, be shielded, women are not children. If one makes a serious criminal accusation, one must be treated as a moral adult. The importance of this is particularly clear in the Assange case, where public opinion matters far more than usual. Here, geopolitical state pressure, as well as the pressure of public attitudes about Assange, weigh heavily. Can judicial decision-making be impartial when the accused is exposed to the glare of media scrutiny and attack by the US government, while his accusers remain hidden?
It is no one's business whom a victim of sex crime has had sex with previously, or what she was wearing when attacked. Laws exist to protect women from such inquiries. But some questions of motive and context, for both parties, are legitimate in any serious allegation.
The Oscar Wilde trial of 1895 is worth remembering. Wilde, like Assange, was held in solitary confinement. Like Assange, he faced a legal proceeding for alleged sex crimes in which there was state pressure: the alleged behind-the-scenes involvement of the then prime minister, Lord Rosebery, ensured the likelihood of a "guilty" verdict. The roar of public opprobrium, in the wake of reports from accusers shielded in some cases by anonymity, also sealed Wilde's fate. His sentence - two years' hard labour - was atypically severe.
No one is proud of the outcome of that trial today. The lesson for us? Top-level political pressure and virulent public opprobrium - inflamed and enabled by anonymous accusations - can grossly distort legal process.
British firms get more powers to fire the slackers
Companies are to be given greater freedom to sack under-performing workers as part of an overhaul of employment laws to boost the economic recovery. The new “employers’ charter” will allow companies to sack workers during the first two years of their employment without the threat of being taken to a tribunal for unfair dismissal. Currently an employee can bring an unfair dismissal claim after only a year.
To reduce the number of vexatious allegations, workers will face a fee when lodging an employment tribunal claim.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Government is also launching a review that is likely to see small companies excluded from some stringent employment laws. The length of time that firms have to pay workers statutory sick pay is set to be reduced as part of the shake-up. David Cameron hopes that relaxed employment laws will help to boost the private sector and encourage firms to take on thousands of new workers.
Downing Street will host a jobs summit on Monday at which some of the biggest employers – including Tesco, McDonalds, Microsoft and Shell — will promise to take on thousands of recruits and create apprenticeships for school leavers.
The issue of jobs is likely to dominate the first day of the new parliamentary session as MPs return after the holiday recess. The Coalition will try to focus on its plans for economic growth, rather than public spending cuts.
Mr Cameron said: “We can only get our economy back on track by creating a climate in which the private sector can grow and develop, creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country. This year the Government is determined to help deliver many thousands of new jobs and I’m delighted that the companies joining me today are part of that.
“Across a whole range of areas you’re going to see the most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government. “It’s time we looked forward to a positive, strong, confident Britain. By developing the right skills and jobs I am determined that the many, not the few will share in the country’s prosperity.”
In total 19 major employers will attend today’s summit with other firms including Balfour Beatty, Centrica, Jaguar, Land Rover and Marks and Spencer. Downing Street said the Prime Minister would talk to employers about “what more the Government can do to enable employers to get Britain working again”.
Currently workers can pursue a claim for unfair dismissal after a year of full-time employment. This is expected to be increased to two years, a move that does not require new legislation. A similar rise was introduced in the 1980s, leading to an increase in employment. The one-year limit was proposed in 1996 and enacted by the Labour government.
Claims for discrimination can be lodged after any term of employment.
Companies also have to pay statutory sick pay of at least £79.15 for up to 28 weeks to those unable to work. The period of payment by employers may be reduced in future.
Mr Cameron is expected to order a wider review of employment laws to slash the red tape for smaller companies. These firms are seen as the key to securing the economic recovery and encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs. Many small and medium-sized firms complain that they are being hindered by employment rules introduced over the past decade.
Ministers are expected to contrast the “employers’ charter” with the European-led social charter introduced by Labour which boosted workers’ rights.
A Whitehall source said: "The thrust of the initiative is that to persuade companies to hire people we need to make it easier to fire those workers who aren't up to the job, so there is less risk in taking on new people, especially the young.” The plan, which will be officially announced after the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election on Thursday, is expected to be fiercely opposed by the trade unions.
Workers’ leaders have warned of the consequences of encouraging “second rate employers” by weakening labour laws. The TUC is planning mass protests against Government cuts in the spring and the “employers’ charter” could further antagonise the unions.
Mr Cameron said yesterday that he would not be “pushed around” by the unions. “Striking is not going to achieve anything,” he said. “The trade unions need to know they’re not going to be able to push anyone around by holding this strike, or that strike or even a whole lot of strikes together. “This Government is a very strong government. It’s got a strong majority. I believe the public is right behind the approach that we are taking and people need to know we will not change course because one union or another union wants to kick off.”
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will join the debate on jobs today, by holding a press conference to attack the Government’s approach to tackling youth unemployment. Mr Miliband is expected to say: “The first thing Mr Cameron should be addressing at his meeting today is the risk of a lost generation of young people in this country. “He should follow Labour’s advice and keep the Future Jobs Fund which would mean 100,000 extra jobs for young people. There will be a looming gap in the help given to unemployed young people.This decision to betray young people is not just unfair it is the wrong long-term economic judgment for our country.”
The Government’s employment policies were also criticised by the shadow minister for equality and women. Yvette Cooper pointed out that women were likely to be hardest hit by the proposals because they were often in shorter term employment.
“The Government is already hitting women hardest in their pockets through cuts in child benefit and child tax credit,” she said. “Now these plans look likely to hit hardest at women’s jobs, because women are more likely to be in shorter term work. “It is typical of this deeply unfair government to claim the only way to bring unemployment down is to make it easier to sack people who have been doing jobs between one and two years.”
While Muslim sexual predators have been jailed, it is Leftist Britain's hypocritical values that are to blame
Not for the first time, Jack Straw has ignited a firestorm of controversy by expressing serious concerns about behaviour within the British Muslim community.
Mr Straw, whose Blackburn constituency is heavily populated by Muslims, spoke out after two British men of Pakistani descent were jailed last week for a series of rapes and sexual assaults on vulnerable young girls, whom they also groomed for sex with other gangs members or their relatives.
This was far from a one-off case. Police operations going back to 1996 have revealed a disturbingly similar pattern of collective abuse involving small groups of Muslim men committing a particular type of sexual crime.
This has typically involved abducting, raping or otherwise sexually attacking hundreds of mainly white girls aged 11 to 16, as well as enslaving them through alcohol and drugs and grooming them for sex.
Mr Straw said the reason was that some British Pakistani men regarded emotionally ‘vulnerable’ white girls as ‘easy meat’ whom they trapped through plying them with gifts and drugs.
The reaction to his remarks from certain quarters was all too predictable. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Straw’s comments were ‘pretty dangerous’. Others accused him of being ‘inflammatory’ or ‘stereo-typing’ an entire community.
What all this merely illustrated, however, was the politically correct denial which exculpates the guilty by ruling out of bounds any criticism of the community to which they belong. For far too long, this has served to suppress an absolutely vital debate which desperately needs to be had. For while, of course, most Muslims repudiate any kind of sexual crime, the fact remains that the majority of those who are involved in this particular kind of predatory activity are Muslim.
The picture is certainly complicated. The overwhelming majority of people who are convicted in general of sex crimes - including sexual abuse within families - are white men. Nevertheless, we do now know that most cases of gang-led, on-street grooming that have come to light involve British Muslim offenders and young white girls.
Most disturbingly, the police say that these convictions form only a small proportion of a ‘tidal wave’ of such crimes. Yet, until now, there has been a conspiracy of silence over this phenomenon.
Charities such as Barnardo’s won’t even discuss the cultural background of such criminals. The Home Office refuses to collect such statistics. And, of course, the Guardianistas condemn any such analysis as ‘racialising crime’.
Actually, there is more than a grain of truth in that particular criticism. For this is certainly not a racial issue. Indeed, one of the many red herrings in this debate is that - if cultural characteristics are discussed at all -the gangs tend to be described as ‘Asian’.
But this is to besmirch Sikhs, Hindus, Chinese and other Asians. For these particular gang members are overwhelmingly Muslim men. And the common characteristic is not ethnicity, but religion.
For these gang members select their victims from communities which they believe to be ‘unbelievers’ — non-Muslims whom they view with disdain and hostility. You can see that this is not a racial but a religious animosity from the fact that, while the vast majority of the girls who are targeted are white, the victims include Sikhs and Hindus, too.
Back in 2007, The Hindu Forum Of Britain claimed that hundreds of
Hindu and Sikh girls had been intimidated by Muslim men who took them on dates before terrorising them until they converted.
And the Sikh Media Monitoring group described ‘the deliberate and targeted sexual degradation of Sikh women purely because of their religion’ and how a minority of young Muslim men boasted about ‘seducing the Kaffir (unbeliever) women’.
Nevertheless, there is a particular problem with white girls. They are targeted because the men involved in these offences do not regard Muslim girls in the same way as sexual objects to be shared by all. One Muslim man was reported as saying that white girls are targeted by such men because ‘if they did it to a Muslim girl, they’d be shot’.
White girls also tend to be seen as sluts. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a national Muslim youth organisation, says: ‘These people think that white girls have fewer morals and are less valuable than our girls.’
What seems to have taken place is therefore a tragic conflation of certain primitive, religiously based attitudes towards women and unbelievers — and the degraded way in which certain white girls behave.
For in this debauched British society, highly-sexualised behaviour by even pre-teens is ignored, excused, condoned or encouraged.
Who can be surprised that young white girls willingly go with these sexual predators who pick them up when so many stagger in and out of pubs and nightclubs in a drunken haze wearing clothes that leave little to the imagination and boasting of ‘blow jobs’ or how many guys they have ‘shagged’?
Who can be surprised when even sex education materials in schools advise on oral sex and other sexual practices; teen-targeted magazines, clothing and popular culture are saturated by sexuality; and family life has often disintegrated into a procession of mum’s casual pick-ups and gross parental indifference, leaving young girls desperate for affection from any quarter?
The disgust felt by some Muslim youths at such sexually promiscuous girls can then feed into a more general hatred and hostility towards Britain and the West. Such youths form themselves into gangs bound by a common feeling of being outsiders united by a profound hostility to the society into which they were born.
But because they are indeed also part of British society, and have therefore been exposed to an education system which gives them precious little education about Britain and even less moral guidance, such youths often descend into the same pit of drugs, alcohol and sex as their ‘unbeliever’ peers.
Yet they come from backgrounds where, all too often, women have second-class status — a world in which some particularly extreme communities have a mindset that divides them into either virginal slaves to their husbands or prostitutes.
The resulting conflict set up in the minds of these British Muslim boys sometimes creates a disgust that turns upon the ‘slags’ and ‘slappers’. Or - far more lethally - it leads to a self-disgust which makes them vulnerable to the message that they can purify themselves by destroying the society that has led them into such evil and ungodly ways.
It is remarkable that, even though the obscenity of rape and the inviolable rights of women over their bodies are among the shibboleths of the age, feminists and other liberals are almost totally silent when Muslims violate these sacred codes.
Muslim women are often treated abominably within their communities. But to their suffering, feminists and other right-on liberals are almost totally silent. The only sound from that lobby is the cry of ‘racist’ or ‘bigot’ hurled at anyone who dares protest at such religious slavery.
Some Muslim sexual predators may now be behind bars. Others, according to the police, may still be very much at large. But it is multicultural, reverse-racist, sickeningly hypocritical Britain which is actually in the dock.
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.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.