Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Deformed Muslim babies and a shameful conspiracy of silence in Britain
By Saira Khan
Few subjects are more universally heartbreaking than the plight of sick children. Yet in this country babies are routinely born with terrible disabilities that could easily be avoided — if only the dangerous tradition of first cousins marrying, which still prevails in many Muslim communities, could be stamped out.
A whole raft of genetic disabilities —from blindness and hearing problems to blood disorders — are being bred into our children thanks to this antediluvian practice.
As a British-born Pakistani Muslim, this is something I have seen first-hand — and yet, in this politically-correct age, it is seen as a taboo, with precious few people willing to speak out.
At the weekend, however, geneticist Professor Steve Jones from University College London made a brave speech at the Hay Literary Festival highlighting the health problems of ‘inbreeding’ within Islamic communities. He warned of the ‘hidden genetic damage’ to children born when first cousins marry, explaining this occurs because children are much more likely to inherit two copies of any damaged genes from their parents.
While everyone inherits some abnormal genes, in most cases a normal gene from one parent will overrule a defective gene from the other parent. But if the child’s parents are related, they are more likely to both carry the same defective genes.
Professor Jones’s research showed that children of first cousins were ten times more likely to have recessive genetic disorders and face deafness, blindness and infant mortality. This is a shocking statistic, which is why I’m grateful that someone has finally been prepared to stand up and say what many of us in Islamic communities have known for decades.
I can only hope that David Cameron’s Government will not shy away from confronting a problem which for too long has allowed outrageous practices to flourish unchallenged in this country.
Growing up in England as the child of Pakistani parents (who moved here in 1965, five years before I was born) I know of several children, born to first cousins, who have severe disabilities. I have little doubt that most Muslims in this country would say the same. It is a problem I have always been aware of. Thankfully, I was under no personal pressure to ‘marry within the family’ — indeed my own British husband is not even Muslim.
I am even more grateful for the fact that my two-year-old son has no health problems.
Unfortunately, others in my community cannot say the same. Many Muslims born in Britain are under intense family pressure to ‘marry within’, as a way of keeping money within the family. If they do not, they face being ostracised by their own relatives. Studies show that in Bradford, which has a large Pakistani community, 70 per cent of marriages are between relatives — and more than half of these are between first cousins.
The result of this inbreeding? Terrible disabilities like the ones I have witnessed in the children born to a woman in my own community. Her first child was born blind, the second deaf and the third mute.
As if that were not tragic enough, these disabilities are simply accepted with a casual shrug. Because everyone seems to know someone with a sick child, it is barely commented on within the community. In the Pakistani-Muslim communities I have experience of, it is not a cause for concern. The only thing that matters is ‘marrying within the family’; after that, no questions are asked.
Those who do acknowledge the issue take no responsibility for the hardships they are inflicting upon their children.
To me, it is nothing short of shocking that this is happening in third, fourth and fifth generation British Pakistani communities.
My own mother, whom I love dearly, arranged the marriage of her niece to her nephew, the children of her brothers. If they have children, will they be born healthy? I just don’t know.
But no one should be surprised that blood disorders, diabetes and obesity are commonplace among Muslim children. This is the case in Pakistan, of course, where these practices have been common for hundreds of years.
But while I can understand — without condoning it — why this might still be happening among poor, uneducated villagers halfway around the world, there is no excuse for it in a modern, advanced country like Britain in 2011.
One thing needs to be clear: these practices have no basis in religion — there is nothing in the Koran that dictates a man should marry his first cousin.
And while I’m prepared to stand up and say how appalled I am at the indifference of my own community, I am every bit as outraged by the lack of interest shown by liberal Britain to this deeply troubling problem.
Although as a nation we are quite prepared to storm into places like Libya and stand up for the human rights of their citizens, we do not have the same approach to social problems in our own country.
Terrified of being branded Islamophobic, most people simply choose to ignore these issues and are more worried about causing offence than the plight of these poor, blameless children. But in keeping quiet out of a misplaced sense of political correctness, we are failing our own citizens.
If this were a problem in any other section of the population, it would be openly debated and tackled. After all, it’s the overstretched state that is left, quite literally, holding the baby. Because the Muslim community takes no responsibility for the disabilities among its young, it is left to the NHS and local authorities to provide healthcare and learning support.
While only 3 per cent of UK babies are born to British Pakistanis, their babies account for one in three of those born with genetic illnesses.
When, for example, underage pregnancy was identified as a problem in the UK (and a drain on resources), efforts were made to educate the young, predominantly poor, white, women this was happening to.
Yet because this is happening within Muslim communities, those who speak out about it are made to feel racist, while the liberal elite step back, vowing not to ‘meddle’.
As a young woman who knows only too well how difficult it is to grow up in Britain’s prevailing culture, while another set of rules and norms dictate life within your own home, I would suggest that today’s young Muslim men and women would heartily welcome ‘interference’.
Most of them do not want to marry their first cousins, or have arranged marriages. Instead, they identify themselves as British and would like the laws and cultural traditions of this country to be observed within their own communities. Many of the women who have been coerced into marrying first cousins probably do not speak any English, and will not even know of the health problems they may be storing up for their children.
There should be a mandatory genetic screening programme and counselling for any first cousins planning to marry, to ensure they are aware of the potential health problems they could be passing on to their offspring. Similarly, anyone coming into this country to marry should have to be screened to determine their suitability for their intended spouse. Instead of taking pot luck, people would know the risks they were taking before they conceived.
After all, how can it be racist to protect the well-being of innocent children?
While it is the children who suffer most in all of this — having to negotiate life with crippling disabilities — the impact it has on their families should not be underestimated. The woman I know who has children who are blind, deaf and dumb is now struggling on her own after her husband left her, remarried and went on to sire more children with another woman.
In the twisted logic that still governs many Muslim communities, this was seen as his right — because his wife had been unable to bear him a healthy child. She, meanwhile, is a single parent with three disabled children who has no choice but to ask the state to support her.
It is a shameful state of affairs, and the more courageous people like Professor Jones draw attention to it, the sooner these families can be dragged into the 21st century.
A crime to pick up food that had been thrown out????
Apparently it is in batty Britain. Whom are they stealing it from?
A woman accused of stealing £200 worth of ham, pies and potato waffles from a bin at a Tesco store has admitted handling stolen goods.
Sasha Hall, 22, claimed dozens of people raided the bin outside the Tesco Express store in Great Baddow, Essex, following a power failure on January 29. But she denied theft at Chelmsford Crown Court, saying instead that a bag full of food had been delivered to her flat above the store by a friend.
Prosecutor Anil Patani told the court store managers had been forced to throw away about £10,000 worth of spoilt food following the power cut.
He said that when interviewed by police, Hall, who worked part-time at a rival supermarket in Chelmsford, said she was a regular customer at the store and had noticed the failure of fridges and freezers earlier in the day. That evening a friend had delivered a bag, mainly containing 100 packets of ham, to her house and asked 'Do you want some free food?'.
Mr Patani told the court: 'She told the police that she did not know what she was receiving and was disappointed there was so much ham as she would have preferred some steak. 'She said that people from all over the estate had raided the bins.'
Defence advocate Emma Davenport said Hall had not been the person who packed the bags. 'When she took delivery of the bags she discovered they mostly contained ham and not much of any other variety,' she added. 'She did not plan to distribute the goods.'
Hall currently holds down two jobs as she struggles with financial difficulties, she added. Hall also admitted possession of cannabis. A count of theft was left to lie on file.
Judge Rodger Hayward Smith adjourned sentencing until June 20. He said: 'This is a far more serious matter than I first thought.'
Hall did not comment as she left court but earlier told the Essex Chronicle: 'There was £3,000 worth of food going to waste on the street. It had been thrown out, so I thought I could put it to better use.
'When the police came round I was so upset. I felt like a terrible criminal. 'I would think the police have better things to be doing with their time than going after people who pick up potato waffles from the street. It's all been blown totally out of proportion.
'Tesco clearly did not want the food. They dumped it and rather than see it go to waste, I thought I could help feed me and my family for a week or two.'
BBC is anti-Christian and snubs the elderly, according to the Corporation's OWN survey
The BBC is anti-Christian and ageist – according to a survey it carried out itself. Viewers also felt that minority groups were over-represented by the Corporation.
They expressed concerns over ‘tokenism’ and ‘box-ticking’ and warned the broadcaster against trying to ‘manipulate’ an equal society instead of reflecting reality.
The survey was conducted as part of the BBC’s ‘Diversity Strategy’ and involved 4,500 people, including some BBC staff. Some viewers still believe the broadcaster has a Left-wing or ‘liberal bias’, the consultation found.
Others said ‘positive discrimination’ was still a ‘notable’ problem with the BBC’s recruitment process.
According to viewers, Christians are badly treated with ‘derogatory stereotypes’ which portray them as ‘weak’ or ‘bigoted’. It was suggested that there was a bias against Christianity and that other religions were better represented.
And some felt older women were being ‘marginalised’.
The consultation concluded: ‘In terms of religion, there were many who perceived the BBC to be anti-Christian and as such misrepresenting Christianity.’
It added: ‘Christians are specifically mentioned as being badly treated, with a suggestion that more minority religions are better represented despite Christianity being the most widely observed religion within Britain.’
One respondent said: ‘As a Christian I find that the BBC’s representation of Christianity is mainly inaccurate, portraying incorrect, often derogatory stereotypes.’ Another added: ‘Seldom do we find a Christian portrayed in drama, and when we do, it is usually a “weak” person or a “bigot”.’ Another said Christians were ‘represented as dogmatic and unsympathetic or as weak and washy and woolly, or as old.’
Last year the BBC was accused of bias against Christianity in EastEnders over its portrayal of murderous pastor Lucas Johnson, who was obsessed with the Bible. And the Corporation sparked outrage in 2005 when it aired the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera. It was one of the most complained about shows in television history. The report said other respondents has raised the same issue in terms of Muslims.
The research also uncovered major concerns about ageism, saying: ‘Respondents feel that older women and disabled people are marginalised. ‘Both public and staff respondents commented that ageism within the organisation is one of the BBC’s most pressing equality and diversity issues.’ It was even suggested that one member of staff only employs ‘good-looking people’.
Elsewhere, viewers said that in some cases the inclusion of a wide range of minority groups in BBC shows felt ‘forced’, ‘tokenistic’ or simply done to ‘tick boxes’.
Among the examples given was how historical dramas were made ‘unrealistic’ by the inclusion of black or Asian characters who would not have been associated with certain events. As a result the BBC was accused of failing to provide enough programming representing white, less well-off audiences.
Some also accused the Corporation of representing poverty by using a regional accent. One even said that working class people were often portrayed as ‘ignorant scumbags’.
Only 35 per cent of BBC staff agreed that incidents of bullying and harassment were taken seriously. There were reports of senior bosses ‘looking the other way’ and a ‘culture that allows bullying to flourish’. One respondent said women back from maternity leave were ‘deemed as having no ambition’.
It is not known exactly how many respondents expressed the view that the BBC was anti-Christian or ageist. But 65 per cent of the public surveyed said the Corporation was poor or very poor at its contribution to creating an equal society.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC does not have an anti-Christian bias. ‘We have strict editorial guidelines on impartiality, including religious perspectives, and Christian programming forms the majority and the cornerstone of our religion and ethical output.’
Government is the partner of organized crime
Comment from Australia by Michael Duffy and Bob Bottom
We have just finished a 21-part history of organised crime in Sydney, for a series to be published in the Herald's new iPad edition. Most organised crime took place in the 20th century, and naturally we found ourselves pondering why.
What we found is that much of it emerged following the introduction of laws banning popular pleasures. America is famous for one big Prohibition: we had a lot of smaller ones.
What happens is that illegal markets are set up to provide the banned goods and services such as drugs and alcohol or gambling and prostitution. The volume of these illegal transactions is enormous, making it profitable for organisational entrepreneurs to move in. They take two forms: the efficient businessmen, such as Abe Saffron and George Freeman, and the standover men who in effect “tax” the illegal businesses, and give permission for them to stay open. Perhaps Sydney's most famous standover man was Lennie McPherson, known in some circles as Mr Big and in others as Mr Ten Per Cent.
One example of this pattern was the 1916 Liquor Act, which made the sale of alcohol illegal after 6pm. It was to assist with wartime productivity, but was not repealed until long after World War II. It spawned dozens of illegal bars around the city catering to everyone desperate for a drink in convivial surroundings after dark. People prepared to supply them, whether Kate Leigh with her sly grog joints in Surry Hills or Joe Taylor's and Saffron's celebrity nightclubs later on, became very wealthy.
You can track the rise and fall of a great deal of organised crime against the legislative history of popular pleasures, with a decline as laws were introduced legalising prostitution and extending drinking hours, and with the creation (and later the extension) of the TAB and the setting up of NSW's first legal casino, Star City, in 1995.
The nature of the illegal pleasures shapes the nature of the organised crime that arises to provide them. Drugs are unusual, historically, because they are not sold or consumed at a relatively small number of locations. This means dealers are harder to locate and tax, making it impossible for standover men to impose a certain amount of stability on the underworld. The profits are enormous and easy, which attracts a continual stream of psychopaths into the milieu to try to rip off those already there.
For these reasons, the drug underworld is far more volatile and violent than the old underworld based on alcohol and gambling and prostitution. The days when McPherson, Freeman and Stan Smith could pretty well run the underworld for decades are long gone.
A final difference is drugs are used by a relatively small number of people. This means police and politicians are far less prepared to take bribes – an important factor in the decline of corruption in recent decades.
What does history tell us about measures that work against organised crime? The biggest success in Sydney was in 1930, in response to the violence of the razor gangs involved in cocaine and other illegal trades. Parliament passed the NSW Vagrancy (Amendment) Act, which made it illegal to be seen habitually with reputed criminals or people with no visible means of support.
Alfred McCoy, in his book Drug Traffic, calls this “one of the most authoritarian and effective measures against organised crime ever passed in a Western democracy”. Police numbers were increased and it became illegal to carry a razor. Within months the level of violence dropped. It took longer – about five years – but the cocaine trade was crushed.
The laws were draconian, but according to McCoy, “In the small-town atmosphere of Sydney in the 1930s it was generally understood who the targets were to be, and there were few abuses of these exceptional powers and fewer civil libertarian qualms.”
Would the law be acceptable today? Justice James Wood noted, during his Police Royal Commission in the 1990s, that the law gave police such extraordinary powers that it eventually became “an instrument for corruption and for the establishment of improper relationships”.
Still, harsher laws can work. One great example of this is America's RICO legislation, which allows someone to be sentenced to a long jail term if they are a member of an organisation that has committed any two of 35 designated crimes. The law has been particularly useful in locking up large numbers of criminal bosses. Writer Evan Whitton has urged NSW to consider such a law, and we think the idea deserves serious consideration.
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.