Monthly Archives: March 2011

  Fresh allegations of UK complicity in torture have emerged in the Guardian today. The paper reports that Omar Awadh Omar, a Kenyan businessman, “said he has been interrogated by British intelligence officers after being severely mistreated at a notorious prison in Uganda, in what appears to be the first major challenge to the coalition government’s renunciation of the use of torture.”

On the details of Awadh’s case, the Guardian states:

“Omar Awadh Omar, a Kenyan businessman, has been charged with involvement in the planning of suicide bomb attacks in Kampala last July in which 76 people died and more than 70 were injured.”

“Awadh was abducted in Nairobi two months after the attacks and illegally rendered to Uganda to be interrogated and charged. Since then, according to his lawyers and relatives, he has been repeatedly beaten, threatened with a firearm and with further rendition to Guantánamo by Ugandan officials, before being questioned by American officials. They say that on at least one occasion he was also questioned by men who identified themselves as MI5 officers.”

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    The Hansard Society have launched their latest Audit of Political Engagement, which is said to measure the ‘political pulse’ of the nation, “providing a unique benchmark to gauge public opinion across Great Britain with regard to politics and the political process.”

Based on findings from an opinion poll survey, the report explores public attitudes to a range of political engagement indicators that track knowledge of and interest in the political system; the degree of public action and participation in politics; and the public’s sense of efficacy and satisfaction with the democratic process.

The key findings of the report are highlighted below, along with figures which reveal how BME communities fare in each of the indicators above as compared to their White counterparts.

You can read the full report here.

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  The Sunday Mercury website and the Birmingham Post reported yesterday that Liberal Democrat councillor, Martin Mullaney, has “apologised unreservedly” for accusing fellow councillor, Salma Yaqoob, of supporting “stoning people to death” wanting to “see Britain become an Islamic republic.”

His apology, however, has only come after he was referred to Birmingham’s Standards Committee which, the papers report, could have suspended him from the council.

His comments came after Councillor Yaqoob and fellow Respect member, Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq, refused to join a standing ovation for Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher during a meeting in February.

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Portsmouth local paper, ‘The News’, reported yesterday that “far right groups are thought to be one of the causes behind a rise in race hate attacks in Portsmouth.”
From the paper:

“New figures show that 455 incidents were reported to the city’s Racial Awareness Service over a nine-month period – a 25 per cent year-on-year rise.

“Police also say hate crime – which includes those targeted because of their race or religion – went up by 16 per cent in the city to 317 last year.
“Fareham, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville also saw a nine per cent rise in hate crime.”
“Sharon Furtado, who manages Portsmouth City Council’s Racial Awareness Service, said: ‘The rise (in race attacks) could be due to a whole host of reasons.
“‘Last year we had the elections and the British National Party and far right groups had more of a platform to express their views.
“‘Some times people listen to them and it touches a chord with them.

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  The Asian Image reports that an “extensive study of English data” by the University of Manchester, which analysed results from almost 25,000 respondents from the 2005 and 2007 Citizenship Surveys, has revealed that “multiculturalism is associated with strengthening the ties between different ethnic groups.”

“A research team led by Dr Laia Bécares from The University of Manchester reveals that neighbourhoods with higher ethnic diversity are associated with higher rates of social cohesion, respect for ethnic differences, and neighbours of different backgrounds getting on well together.”

“The research, mainly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, found that deprivation, not multiculturalism, was the root cause of fragmented communities.

“The paper -published next month in Urban Studies – challenges critics of British multiculturalism – including most recently Prime Minister David Cameron.”

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  In an article for his New Statesman blog this past Saturday, Dan Hodges informed us that the “Daily Star’s flirtation with extremist right-wing, if not right-wing, politics appears to be over.”

His comments refer to the brief stint of articles in February which appeared to give the EDL a degree of respectability, starting with the ‘announcement’ that the EDL was to become a political party, which offered the extremist group’s leader, Stephen Lennon, a platform to publicise the main aims of the EDL (one of them being to “outlaw the Koran”).

Another article publicised Lennon’s claims that he was under “round the clock protection” from “Muslim extremists”, arguably to attract sympathy for him.

Such coverage attracted our attention, as well as that of the mainstream press. Roy Greenslade, Professor of Journalism at City University, condemned the coverage as “a clear piece of propaganda on behalf of the EDL.”

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  The Ilford Recorder reported on Friday of an attack on worshippers and the imam of the Redbridge Islamic Centre:

“The imam of a Redbridge mosque was injured yesterday after six people tried to smash their way through the front door moments before the final evening prayer.

“Windows were broken and a stone was hurled at the imam of Redbridge Islamic Centre (RIC), Eastern Avenue, at about 7.45pm.

“The group allegedly shouted racist and Islamophobic abuse as they tried to smash their way through to the main prayer hall of the mosque, throwing bricks at worshippers and staff.

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  One more reason to wonder where the Express Newspapers’ withdrawal from the PCC will lead with this article from Wednesday’s edition, Muslim vandals daub hate signs on war memorial?

From the paper:

“A war memorial has been sprayed with extremist Islamic graffiti less than a year after a similar attack in the same town.”

“…enraged residents discovered the words ‘Support Taliban’ on the newly-erected monument in the outlying village of Stretton.

“A local bus shelter was also vandalised and daubed with the slogan ‘Jihad 4 Iraq’.”

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  Louise Bagshawe, Conservative MP for Corby, wrote in the Daily Telegraph of her grievance with the BBC over its reporting of the murder of the Fogel family, residents of an illegal settlement in the West Bank. She wrote of being “stunned at the BBC’s seeming lack of care [with] all the most heart-wrenching details omitted.”

“… I discovered [on the BBC news website] only two stories: one a cursory description of the incident in Itamar, a West Bank settelement, and another focusing on Israel’s decision to build more settlements, which mentioned the killings in passing.”
“There were more details elsewhere on the net: the pain and hurt, for example, of the British Jewish community at the BBC’s apparent indifference to the fate of the Fogels.”

Her “[dismay] at the apparent bias and indifference” of the BBC will undoubtedly sound familiar to those who followed the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in December 2008/January 2009 and perceived a consistent pro-Israeli bias in its reporting on the events. 1,400 people were killed during that assault, 252 of whom were children according to Israeli human rights group B’TSelem.

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