All entries by this author

An Open Letter to Oriana Fallaci

Jul 11th, 2006 | By Azar Majedi

Dear Oriana Fallaci

As a veteran activist of women’s rights, for liberty and equality, as a first hand victim of political Islam, and a veteran fighter against it, as an atheist who is a staunch believer in a secular state and secular education system, as a woman who has fought against the hejab in any form and shape, as a secularist who has defended the latest French secular law to ban the wearing of any conspicuous religious symbols in public schools, as a campaigner for banning the veil for underage girls and banning religious schools, as a campaigner against honour killings, Sharia courts in Canada, Islamism and Islamic terrorism, as a staunch defender of unconditional freedom of expression and criticism … Read the rest



Karen Armstrong: Islam’s Hagiographer

Jul 11th, 2006 | By David Thompson

Karen Armstrong has been described as “one of the world’s most provocative and inclusive thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world”. Armstrong’s efforts to be “inclusive” are certainly “provocative”, though generally for reasons that are less than edifying. In 1999, the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles gave Armstrong an award for media “fairness”. What follows might cast light on how warranted that recognition is, and indeed on how the MPAC chooses to define fairness.

In one of her baffling Guardian columns, Armstrong argues that, “It is important to know who our enemies are… By making the disciplined effort to name our enemies correctly, we will learn more about them, and come one step nearer, … Read the rest



Bob and Kenan Say It

Jul 11th, 2006 1:34 am | By

Bob from Brockley tells us of a good item on Radio 4′s The World This Weekend. I haven’t listened yet but I’m going to, as well as to Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Start the Week, which Nick S mentioned. (Time! I have no time!)

a very interesting segment on Radio 4′s World This Weekend about who represents British Muslisms…A number of British Muslims forcefully argued that the Muslim Council of Britain completely fails to represent the perdominantly Sufi Sunni British Muslims, who do not have a Muslim Brotherhood worldview, but rather have a much more theologically open perspective…A new organisation is needed to better represent them…Particularly daming was the testimony with Haras Rafiq from the Sufi Muslim Council on

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The Seen Unseen

Jul 11th, 2006 1:05 am | By

Bill Moyers also talked to Mary Gordon in that installment of his ‘faith and reason’ series. Gordon said a lot of interesting things, as she generally does; I like her, she’s shrewd, self-mocking, funny, and a believer in the non-triumphalist and non-accusatory (why don’t you believe too?) way that seems so out of fashion in the US. But I wanted to take exception to one thing she said because I think it relies on equivocation (though not necessarily deliberately), and it’s an equivocation that does a lot of work for believers of the triumphalist and accusatory variety.

Without faith we would be paralyzed. We believe that all men are created equal. That our mothers, or at least our dogs, love

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Jeff Weintraub on Stickling for International Law *

Jul 10th, 2006 | Filed by

Including the Genocide Convention.… Read the rest



The Economics of Immigration *

Jul 10th, 2006 | Filed by

Do unskilled immigrants drive wages down? Evidence has been hard to find.… Read the rest



Define ‘Islamophobia’ *

Jul 10th, 2006 | Filed by

Rational fear of certain Islamic ideas is different from hatred of, or incitement against, Muslims.… Read the rest



Spanish PM a No-show for Papal Nag *

Jul 10th, 2006 | Filed by

Pope gave a homily praising traditional family, marriage between a man and a woman – geddit?… Read the rest



Asians in Media on Channel 4 Documentary *

Jul 10th, 2006 | Filed by

Martin Bright tells AIM the government fails to represent diversity of opinion among British Muslims.… Read the rest



What Inayat Said

Jul 9th, 2006 11:07 pm | By

Did you see Inayat’s comment on Nick’s article? Maybe not, because most of the comments at Talk is Cheap are so blathery and time-wasting you didn’t even want to look. So I’ll save you the trouble, because it’s worth seeing.

Nick’s article, in case you didn’t read that either (I have to do everything around here…) is about the Foreign Office’s courtship of Islamists:

On Friday at 7.30pm, Channel 4 will screen a documentary by Bright, Who Speaks for Muslims, which shows how the Foreign Office views the Islamist far right as potential allies. To accompany the programme, the Policy Exchange think-tank will publish ‘When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: the British State’s Flirtation with Radical Islamism’…They describe the FO’s

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Macho Macho Man

Jul 9th, 2006 6:57 pm | By

Ya think?

The driving force behind the devastating 7/7 suicide bomb attacks in London last year was not Islam but a desire by the terrorists to prove their masculinity, academics have claimed. In a controversial paper presented to the British Society of Criminology’s international conference in Glasgow last week, UK researchers argued that a major factor that led four Muslims to bomb the capital was that they thought themselves to be deficient as men…Dr Antony Whitehead, a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Huddersfield, said: “The bombers have said that they are motivated by loyalty to Allah, which they may entirely believe. But if you are going to start to unpick their motivation, you need to consider their

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You Call That Justice?

Jul 9th, 2006 5:50 pm | By

Another thing about that Karen Armstrong piece. I touched on it in passing yesterday, but it occurred to me this morning that I needed to make much more of it. She said something really quite disgusting.

…the chief problem for most Muslims is not “the west” per se, but the suffering of Muslims in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Iraq and Palestine. Many Britons share this dismay, but the strong emphasis placed by Islam upon justice and community solidarity makes this a religious issue for Muslims. When they see their brothers and sisters systematically oppressed and humiliated, some feel as wounded as a Christian who sees the Bible spat upon or the eucharistic host violated.

Wait. What? The strong emphasis on … Read the rest



Machismo? Moi? *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Muslim ‘cleric’ jokes about bombings, hopes not to die in bed like old woman.… Read the rest



Canadian Book Chain Bans ‘Free Inquiry’ *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Indigo books banned Harper’s after learning June issue had all 12 prophet cartoons; FI came next.… Read the rest



Researchers Say 7/7 Was About Machismo *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Suicide bombing in general is understandable in terms that are pretty ordinary.’… Read the rest



Nick Cohen on the FO and the Muslim Brotherhood *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Don’t miss Inayat’s charming comment.… Read the rest



Defense of ‘Feminist’ Ghettoization *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

When women self-obsess, that’s ‘political’. Is it?… Read the rest



Iran Sends Human Rights Abuser to UN HRC *

Jul 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Saeed Mortazavi has been accused of direct participation in the murder of Zahra Kazemi.… Read the rest



Colin McGinn

Jul 8th, 2006 10:12 pm | By

Colin McGinn talks to Bill Moyers [link fixed!]:

BILL MOYERS: What do you think is missing in our conversation between faith and reason? You’ve been at this festival of writers for several days now. What’s missing in our conversation between faith and reason?

COLIN MCGINN: Well, I think there’s too much tolerance of faith, and there’s not enough respect for reason. I think there are two sides to what’s happening in contemporary culture. Let’s talk about the reason side first. For the last 30-50 years, reason has been under attack. Subjectivism, relativism, multi-culturalism have been brought in to undermine the enlightenment values of the disinterested search for truth, the belief in objective justification, the belief in objective reality, the belief … Read the rest



One Eye Closed

Jul 8th, 2006 9:54 pm | By

This piece by Karen Armstrong has a big gaping hole in the middle of it.

[Blair's rebuke of 'moderate Muslims'] ignores the fact that the chief problem for most Muslims is not “the west” per se, but the suffering of Muslims in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Iraq and Palestine. Many Britons share this dismay, but the strong emphasis placed by Islam upon justice and community solidarity makes this a religious issue for Muslims. When they see their brothers and sisters systematically oppressed and humiliated, some feel as wounded as a Christian who sees the Bible spat upon or the eucharistic host violated.

Speaking of ignoring facts – why is the chief problem for most Muslims the suffering of Muslims in Guantánamo, … Read the rest