Monthly Archives: October 2010


  Dave Hill writes in the Guardian’s Comment is Free on the successful election of Lutfur Rahman as Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Rahman, who has been the target of a virulent campaign against his candidacy, won the election last Thursday on an independent ticket.

Hill, surveying the allegations leveled at Rahman by, among others, Pamela Geller and Melanie Phillips, writes:

“The New York blogger Pamela Geller, who believes America is being infiltrated by Muslim extremists, recently denounced Lutfur Rahman, the newly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London, as a “vile Islamic supremacist”. Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips disapproves of Rahman too. She has declared that his victory provides “a platform for the progressive intimidation and silencing of British Muslims who do not want to live under sharia law, let alone the non-Muslim majority in the area.”

“These large claims appear to be based on the uncritical embrace of a TV documentary of questionable worth and a vituperative anti-Rahman campaign conducted by its famous presenter.

“Tower Hamlets is not an “Islamic republic” and to so label it is irresponsible…It certainly has many problems and the attractions of a militant reading of Islam to some of its residents, particularly its angry young men, is one of them. But let us first consider some plain facts about democracy.

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  The Independent today reports on the release of figures from the Office of National Statistics on the most popular baby names in England and Wales in 2009. 

The paper headlines the article ‘Oliver, meet Olivia’, reflecting the most popular names in the two categories. While the Daily Express, true to form, headlines its article ‘Mohammed is top boys’ name’. A result it arrives at “because official figures did not take into account the variations in the spelling of Mohammed.”

“The official list put Mohammed in only 16th place. But when the other 11 different spellings of the same name are taken into account it is the most popular”
, the DE usefully informs.

And Damian Thompson in his Telegraph blog, “Mohammed’ is the top boys’ name because Muslims are becoming more religious, not because there are more Muslims,” spews dangerous nonsense in arguing that:

“Muslims throughout the world are adopting a “purer”, Salafi-influenced form of Islam, thanks to gargantuan Saudi investment in fundamentalist mosques and community schemes. But, under New Labour, the British taxpayer helped fund the imposition of stricter norms on this country’s Pakistini [sic] and Bangladeshi immigrants, by handing over large sums to “community leaders” who used religious law to consolidate their power base.

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  The annual Home Office bulletin on the use of anti-terror powers shows that of the 101,248 searches carried out under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 504 people were arrested for any offence, not one of them for terrorism-related offences.

The Guardian today reports on the release of the HO bulletin which carries information on questioning by police at airports and other ports of entry to the UK for the first time.

The paper records David Davis, Conservative home affairs spokesman’s reaction to the statistical bulletin. He told the paper:

“This astonishing fact of no terrorism-related arrests, let alone prosecutions or convictions, in over 100,000 stop and searches, demonstrates what a massively counter-productive policy this is.

“A policy which fuels resentment and antagonism amongst minority communities without achieving a single terrorist conviction serves only to help our enemies and increase the terrorism threat.”

A fact that human rights organizations and British Muslims have long advocated in their criticism of the counter-productive nature of draconian legislation such as Section 44.

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  Sir John Sawers (pictured), head of security agency MI6, gave an unprecedented public speech by a serving chief at the Society of Editors yesterday. Addressing allegations of UK agents’ complicity in torture Sir John said:

“If we know or believe action by us will lead to torture taking place, we’re required by UK and international law to avoid that action. And we do, even though that allows the terrorist activity to go ahead.

“Some may question this, but we are clear that it’s the right thing to do. It makes us strive all the harder to find different ways, consistent with human rights, to get the outcome that we want.”

And on threats to UK security from terrorists who use Islam to justify their reprehensible actions he said:

“Many of the reports I read describe the workings of the al-Qaida network, rooted in a nihilistic version of Islam.

“Al-Qaida have ambitious goals. Weakening the power of the west. Toppling moderate Islamic regimes. Seizing the holy places of Islam to give them moral authority. Taking control of the Arab world’s oil reserves. They’re unlikely to achieve these goals, but they remain set on trying, and are ready to use extreme violence.”

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  There was a curious piece of news in the Evening Standard yesterday (hat tip: Islamophobia Watch) on Baroness Warsi being “forced” to renege on a commitment to present a counter argument to the motion ‘This House believes France is right to ban the face veil’, at the famed Doha Debates due to “government pressure”.

The Daily Telegraph today repeats the story with the paper reporting that, “…the Conservative Party chairman cancelled her appearance at the “eleventh hour”, in what has been viewed as an illustration of the Coalition Government’s determination to distance itself from any possible links or suspicions of sympathies with radical Islam.”

The paper quotes Nabila Ramdani, the French journalist with whom Baroness Warsi was to partner up in arguing against the motion. Ramdani claims that Warsi “pulled out of my team at the eleventh hour because of government pressure”.

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  “Mosques take over our cities,” cried the Daily Star; “Church diocese is axed because of Muslim influx,” howls the Daily Express. You can almost picture the wide eyed reaction of the public who read these headlines over the prospect of Muslims taking over cities in Britain.

They follow a Mail on Sunday article which reported that a Church of England diocese in Bradford is set to be merged with a neighbouring diocese because of financial difficulties.

Do the headlines suggest financial problems being the cause of the merger? No. They – and the subsequent line of argument taken by all three articles – suggest that an ‘influx of Muslims’ is causing the number of people that regularly attend the church to decrease.

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Prisoner abuse   The Guardian has discovered that the British military has been training interrogators in techniques that breach the Geneva Convention. These techniques include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness.

From The Guardian:

“Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved.”

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    The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) released findings of its Citizenship Survey on Thursday, which covers the period from April to June 2010.

The release is divided in to three sections covering community action; community spirit; and prejudice and discrimination.

The findings of the survey include:

31 per cent of adults in England engaged in civic participation at least once in the last 12 months prior to interview – fewer than in any previous year of the survey. Civic participation “covers wider forms of engagement in democratic process, such as contacting an elected representative, taking part in a public demonstration or protest, or signing a petition.”

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  The Guardian today reports that the 200 plus cameras that formed a ‘ring of steel’ around predominantly Muslim suburbs in Birmingham are to be dismantled.

Chris Sims (pictured), West Midlands police chief constable, said that he believed the cameras should be taken down to “rebuild trust” with the local Muslim community.

“I believe that the support and the confidence of local communities in West Midlands police is the most important thing for us in the fight against crime and terrorism.”

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    West Midlands Police treated people like idiots,” and displayed a combination of “incompetence, deceit and arrogance.” These were the comments of Roger Godsiff, MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath in relation to how West Midlands Police conducted themselves over a scheme that installed 200 cameras at 81 different sites that were to be used to secretly spy on two predominantly Muslim suburbs.

The true purpose of the cameras had been hidden by the police, who had removed counter-terrorism insignia from the paperwork as part of a deliberate strategy to ‘market’ the surveillance operation as a local policing scheme to improve community safety.”

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