Notes and Comment Blog

Now it’s a Sunni Mosque

Nov 21st, 2015 8:49 am | By

And more news from Kashif Chaudhry:

So after burning down a factory owned by an Ahmadi last night, an extremist Sunni mob ransacked an Ahmadi Mosque in Kala Gojran (Jehlum), cleansed it by burning its property in the streets and then offered Asar prayer inside. Now it’s a Sunni Mosque.

Kashif tells me the employees of the factory did escape, through a back door at the last minute, so that’s a relief. But Pakistan is clearly hell on earth for them, just as it is for atheists and apostates and every other kind of religious non-conformist.


The absolute and unqualified finality

Nov 21st, 2015 8:20 am | By

Kashif Chaudhry is a doctor and blogger in Massachusetts, originally from Pakistan. He’s also an Ahmadi, and he posts a good deal about their persecution in Pakistan.

I just learned via a public Facebook post of his that Muslims applying for a passport or national ID card in Pakistan have to sign this:

I was staggered and incredulous, so I did a Google search for “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter nabi” – and got passport applications. It’s right there. At the bottom of the second (and last) page, it says exactly what’s in that image.

(i) I am Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) the last of the prophets.

(ii) I do not recognise any person who claims to be a prophet in any sense of the word or any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon him) or recognise such a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer as a Muslim.

(iii) I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be non-Muslim.

It’s mind-numbing…in every sense.

Many of them crying and barely clothed

Nov 20th, 2015 4:55 pm | By

The New York Times on the slaughter in Bamako:

The gunmen barreled past the hotel’s light security early in the morning, confusing guards with fake diplomatic license plates, and then burst into its glass-door lobby with their guns blazing.

“They started firing everywhere,” said a receptionist at the hotel who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. “They were shouting, ‘Allahu akbar.’ They cut someone’s throat, a white man.”

“I hid in my office,” he said. “I saw four of them, armed to the teeth.”

At least 19 hostages killed as well as two or three of the allahu-akbarists.

The gunmen took “about 100 hostages” at the beginning of the attack, said Gen. Didier Dacko of the Malian Army, before soldiers sealed the perimeter and stormed inside, “looking for the terrorists.”

From early on, dozens of guests, including women, children and older people, streamed out of the hotel after hiding in their rooms, many of them crying and barely clothed.

The attack unfolded with 125 guests and 13 employees inside, according to the operators of the hotel. The visitors had come from far and wide, including Europe, India, China, Turkey and Algeria. They included diplomats, business people, pilots and flight attendants.

And Allah “the Great” thought it would be fabulous to kill a lot of them.

A peace accord was signed in June between the government and several rebel factions. But the truce has been broken several times, growing lawlessness has driven out civilians from the north of the country, and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali is proving to be one of the deadliest in the world. So far 40 peacekeepers have been killed.

United Nations officials said they were worried that the attacks could have been intended, at least in part, to undermine the halting steps toward peace. Some of the people at the hotel were diplomats in town for a meeting to monitor those efforts.

Well we can’t have peace. That wouldn’t do at all.

Many workers fled the factory complex

Nov 20th, 2015 4:31 pm | By

A new horror in Pakistan:

An angry mob set ablaze a factory owned by members of the Ahmadiyya community in Jhelum on Friday.

According to sources, the mob attacked the factory after accusing one person who worked there of committing blasphemy.

There were people trapped inside.


Many workers fled the factory complex, which contains a residential area, with their families, sources said. But some workers were reportedly still inside the factory when it was set on fire.

The mob, meanwhile, continued to block GT Road in protest. Police were unable to disperse the protesters despite using tear gas and Rangers had to be called in for support.

Because of a claim that someone committed “blasphemy” – for that it’s worth torching a factory with people inside.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya spokesperson said three Ahmadis were arrested without reason. The spokesman added that he wasn’t sure as to whether those trapped inside the factory had been rescued.

I would like to know if those people got out alive and unhurt.

But how do you simulate cramps?

Nov 20th, 2015 11:09 am | By



It starts with a written announcement or explanation or declaration.

Menstruation is something natural that is constantly associated with being a “woman”, therefore it is completely normal for all women to want to experience this sensation and I hope you can all appreciate that.

One – why the scare quotes on “woman”? Why any scare quotes? Why the claim that menstruation is “constantly associated with being a ‘woman'” as opposed to something that happens to girls and women or something that girls and women do? Menstruation isn’t something that’s foolishly attributed to women, it’s a tiresome and unpleasant aspect of being a woman.

And two – are you serious? It’s completely normal for all women to want to experience menstruation? It’s completely normal for all women to hate menstruation. You might as well say all women want to be kicked in the abdomen for a day or two every month along with leaking clumpy messy blood for a few days every month. Menstruation is not a fun fabulous perk of being a woman!

Three – it’s not a “sensation.” It includes sensations, all of them nasty, but a sensation is far from the total of what it is.

Four, to the extent that it is a sensation, it’s a nasty sensation.

Also? It’s something that women tend to want to keep as covert as possible, so there really isn’t any need for trans women to pretend to menstruate. It’s not a detectable bit of dimorphism, generally speaking, so my advice would be to SKIP IT. Just skip the fuck out of that particular bit of the Womanly Experience. Double up on the dangly earrings or lacy frocks, instead; that’s my advice.

I only watched as far as 1:43, but by then the deeply sincere bozo who made this vid has said she’s going to show us how to make some fake menstrual blood to put on a pad, or if you’re post-op you can try putting it in a cup.

Perhaps she goes on to butcher a pig, I don’t know.

Fayadh had publicly blasphemed

Nov 20th, 2015 7:42 am | By

A Saudi court has sentenced a Palestinian poet to death for apostasy.

The religious police first detained Fayadh in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was cursing against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh said the complaint arose from a personal dispute with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a cafe in Abha.

He was released on bail after one day but the police arrested him again on 1 January 2014, confiscating his ID and detaining him at a police station until he was transferred to the local prison 27 days later. According to Fayadh’s friends, when the police failed to prove that his poetry was atheist propaganda, they began berating him for smoking and having long hair.

“They accused me [of] atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society,” said Fayadh. He added that the book, Instructions Within, published in 2008, was “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

The case went to trial in February 2014 when the complainant and two members of the religious police told the court that Fayadh had publicly blasphemed, promoted atheism to young people and conducted illicit relationships with women and stored some of their photographs on his mobile phone.

Not bad for the 11th century.

Harvard law

Nov 20th, 2015 7:24 am | By

The New York Times has more on the racist incident at Harvard Law School yesterday.

In a statement, the school’s dean, Martha Minow, said that the portraits, which appeared on walls inside the building, had been “defaced” and that the Harvard University Police Department was investigating the incident as a hate crime.

An investigation is “active and ongoing,” the Harvard police said of the episode that had raised the specter of a hate crime at an institution that educated Barack Obama, as well as six current Supreme Court justices. That includes Justice Elena Kagan, who was dean of the law school, and who also has her portrait on the wall.

Seeking an immediate discussion about the issues, about two dozen students interrupted Ms. Minow’s constitutional law class. All students asked then, said Dami Animashaun, a third-year student, that “we talk about this,” adding that the school had reached a “tipping point.”

Shortly after noon, hundreds of students — as well as faculty members and administrators, including Ms. Minow — gathered for what the law school called a community meeting, filling one large room and much of another.

It’s complicated. So much of US law over its history has been an arm of white supremacy.



Nov 20th, 2015 6:59 am | By

Today it’s Bamako’s turn.

Malian special forces have entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, to end a siege by gunmen. The hotel says 138 people remain inside.

The gunmen stormed the US-owned hotel, which is popular with foreign businesses and airline crews, shooting and shouting “God is great!” in Arabic.

Malian officials said 30 hostages have been freed. State TV earlier put the figure at 80.

Three people have been shot dead and two soldiers wounded, officials say.

Air France says 12 of its crew have been successfully freed in the rescue operation; Turkish Airlines says five of its crew are out, but two remain in the hotel.

Twenty Indian nationals are in part of the hotel but are safe, according [to] the Indian embassy in Mali, while Chinese state TV reported four of 10 Chinese citizens caught up in the attack had been rescued.

The BBC is live updating.

We’re slowly getting more information about who was there this morning:

  • 30 were hotel staff
  • 20 were Indians
  • 10 were Chinese
  • Seven Algerians, six of whom were diplomats
  • Six were Turkish airline staff
  • Two were Moroccans
  • Two were Russians working for Ulyanovsk airline
  • Guinean singer Sekouba Bambino was there
  • An unknown number of French, including 12 Air France crew
  • US citizens are suspected to have been in the hotel

Some of the above have managed to escape but 138 people are still trapped in the building as security forces move floor to floor.

God is not great.


The BBC reports that all the hostages are out.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its offshoot al-Murabitoun said they carried out the attack, according to an agency used by jihadists in the region.

At least 18 people have died and two soldiers wounded.

One of those killed was Geoffrey Dieudonne, a member of parliament in Belgium’s Wallonia region.

What she saw as the more salient problem

Nov 19th, 2015 6:10 pm | By

Germaine Greer gave that lecture at Cardiff. Nobody melted or imploded or spontaneously combusted or turned into a pillar of salt.

Uniformed police officers stood guard outside the lecture theatre and security officials guarded the doors inside, but in the end only about a dozen people turned up to protest peacefully. Greer told the audience that campaigners had been “trying to frighten me off”, but added: “Here I am.”

She did not mention the issue during her lecture, entitled Women & Power: the Lessons of the 20th Century, but during questions was asked about the controversy. Greer said: “They [trans people] are not my issue. It should be perfectly clear why not. I think 51% of the world’s population is enough for me to be going on with. I do agree that calling people names may add to their misery but it happens to old women every day.”

Protesters outside included present and former Cardiff University students who criticised the institution for paying Greer for the lecture. Mair Macey, a former Cardiff University student who now works for HMRC, said: “I really care about transgender people. Having Greer here reflects badly on the values of the university. There is no way she should be invited to give a distinguished lecture.”

Author Elwyn Way said: “We don’t think she should be given a platform like this and go unchallenged.” Way said trans people were suffering emotional and physical violence and needed to be protected rather than vilified.

But her lecture wasn’t about trans people. Preventing her from giving the lecture she was invited to give wouldn’t have made trans people better off in any way. It’s all just performance – “look at me, look at how much I care.”

The saga has caused a fierce debate about free speech and the practice of “no-platforming” speakers whose views might make them unpopular. Quinn said she was frustrated that the free speech issue was overshadowing what she saw as the more salient problem: Greer’s views.

Well look at it this way – suppose you forcibly locked Greer up somewhere to keep her from expressing her views. It would not be surprising is that overshadowed your opinion of her views. The bullying of her for her views overshadowed your worthless opinion on her views – that’s often how that works out.

What is it, National Racism Day?

Nov 19th, 2015 5:08 pm | By

Harvard Crimson reports a very bad thing:

Law School students and faculty members who walked into Wasserstein Hall on Thursday morning found that pieces of black tape had been placed over the faces of portraits of black professors that hang on walls inside the building. The tape has since been removed.

The incident prompted outrage from Law School affiliates, including second-year Law School student Michele D. Hall, who posted photographs of the vandalized portraits in a post on the website Blavity. “This morning at Harvard Law School we woke up to a hate crime,” she wrote.

Law Professor Ronald S Sullivan tweeted about it:

Ronald S. Sullivan ‏@ProfRonSullivan 7h
This is my portrait at the Harvard Law School. All faculty of color woke up to the same thing this morning.

Embedded image permalink

What the hell is wrong with people?

Life in internment

Nov 19th, 2015 4:22 pm | By

The National Archives have photos from Manzanar.

Click to embiggen.





To see more go to the archive and search for Manzanar then select “images.”

A dumping ground for problem priests

Nov 19th, 2015 12:09 pm | By

Another church horror, this one in a suburb of Melbourne.

From the 1970s to the late 1990s, a string of priests abused children in the Australian outer eastern Melbourne suburb of Doveton.

Father Thomas O’Keeffe was a violent offender who tortured some of his altar boys in his time in charge of the Holy Family Parish in the 1970s, Ms Last said.


The article doesn’t use the word “Catholic” until more than halfway through, and then only twice. These are Catholic priests, protected by the Vatican.

Father Peter Searson liked to walk around the Holy Family Primary School playground carrying a revolver and dressed in army fatigues.

Broken Rites also believes the independent commissioner for the archdiocese’s Melbourne Response has abuse complaints against Searson from his earlier parishes in the 1960s. His only conviction was for physically assaulting an altar boy, for which he received a six-month good behaviour bond in 1997.

Searson had a fetish for confessional, former Holy Family Primary School principal Graeme Sleeman told Victoria’s child abuse parliamentary inquiry.

Some of the children would say “Father’s creepy”.

They were frightened of Searson. They did not want to go into the church when he was there. They did not want to go to confession with him.

Parents complained regularly about the priest’s treatment of the children, Mr Sleeman said.

And nothing happened. Nothing at all.

Sixty parents and parishioners petitioned for the priest to be removed, yet nothing happened.

Mr Sleeman resigned in frustration in 1986, hoping it would force the church authorities to take action. Instead he was cast aside.

A later teacher, Carmel Rafferty, was told when she started at the school that children were not safe around the priest and staff must be vigilant.

Children reported being abused by Searson, begging for safety.

Ms Rafferty told the Victorian inquiry she felt her career was jeopardised after she raised Searson’s behaviour with senior Catholic Church representatives.

All of them male.

The parish appears to have became something of a dumping ground for problem priests, Dr Chamley said.

“There was a series of problem priests and they all seemed to end up down there. These priests were dropped in there and it was hoped that the problem was going to go away and unfortunately it didn’t,” he said.

Another Doveton priest sexually abused women, Ms Last said.

The number of offending priests in Doveton could be six in a row over 35 years according to Ms Rafferty’s inquiry evidence: the four pedophiles and two who abused women.

Why use Doveton, home to many battlers and factory workers, as a dumping ground? Ms Rafferty had a theory.

“For the archdiocesan people who do the placing I suppose they figured out it was a community of people who would not wake up too quickly, if they had a problem priest in their midst, and a community of people who would be brought up to believe in obedience and loyalty, and the mystique and aura of the priesthood.”

Sure. They don’t put priests like that in neighborhoods where people with power and clout live – that would be silly!

Executive Order 9066

Nov 19th, 2015 10:11 am | By

The Manzanar Committee puts out a statement written by Gann Matsuda.

(Manzanar is the name of one of the horrible “camps” in which Japanese-Americans were interned – aka imprisoned – after Pearl Harbor.)

On November 18, the Manzanar Committee repudiated statements by David Bowers, Mayor, Roanoke, Virginia, in which he used the unjust incarceration of over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry as justification for his demand that Syrian refugees be denied asylum in the Roanoke area.

In an official statement, Bowers said, “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

That’s one of the most bizarrely wrong-headed uses of a historical analogy I’ve ever seen. Yes, Roosevelt “felt compelled” to do that – compelled by the racist xenophobia of a segment of the population, which he didn’t have enough moral courage to rebuke and reject.

The whole thing is based on a ludicrous notion of nationality or ethnic identity, as if all ethnically Japanese people were somehow ethnically loyal to the contemporary government of Japan and the emperor of Japan and the expansionist military policy of Japan. It’s mind-blowingly racist given the fact that Americans with German ancestry were not arrested and imprisoned in camps*.

On top of all that it gets the facts wrong: it was American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were put in camps.

Is it too much to expect of politicians, even mayors, that they have some knowledge of their country’s history before running for office?

Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey rejected Bowers’ remarks out of hand.

“Mayor Bowers may be just one of many who are using the despicable terrorist acts in Paris for political gain, but his outrageous statement exposes the dangers of unbridled xenophobia, racism and racial profiling during times of crisis,” he said. “How anyone, much less a public official, can cite the World War II incarceration of the Japanese American community as rationale for any policy in this day and age is simply outrageous.”

“Apparently, Mayor Bowers never bothered to learn that President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 was repealed by President Gerald Ford, that the United States Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to redress the fundamental unconstitutional nature of the forced removal, and that Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush apologized to those incarcerated without charges, without due process, simply because they looked like the enemy.”

Embrey emphasized that Bowers is not alone, in terms of his ignorance of our nation’s history, as well as his blatant political opportunism.

“While it took decades of struggle, Congressional hearings, and intense lobbying by many to win the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, there are some in our country who fail to understand the illegal and unconstitutional nature of Executive Order 9066,” Embrey lamented. “The text of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 cites racism, wartime hysteria, and the failure of political leadership as the driving forces behind the incarceration of the Japanese American community. Unfortunately, these words can easily describe what is going on today.”

No more Manzanars, thank you very much.

H/t Chris Clarke

*Correction – according to History Matters, some German and Italian resident aliens were interned, and a small number of citizens were.

Although it is not well known, the same executive order (and other war-time orders and restrictions) were also applied to smaller numbers of residents of the United States who were of Italian or German descent. For example, 3,200 resident aliens of Italian background were arrested and more than 300 of them were interned. About 11,000 German residents—including some naturalized citizens—were arrested and more than 5000 were interned.

But given the fact that more were arrested than were interned, there must have been some winnowing process, which means there must have been some criterion in addition to ancestry. That’s just what there wasn’t in the case of the Japanese internments.

The Truthteller

Nov 18th, 2015 4:44 pm | By

Jeremy Duns has an extended exposé of the risible Twitter personality Mo Ansar. One section of it is illuminating about what may be something a lot of people are doing on Twitter (which would explain people who seem to spend hours every day doing it).

Ansar’s main base of operations is Twitter, where his persona often appears charming and reasonable. It is a Potemkin persona, designed to impress bookers from TV and radio shows as well as to curry favour with media figures. It’s a method he has honed over several years, and it goes like this: he sees something in the news that he feels he can use to lever himself into the media, usually something related to Islam or Muslims. Media bookers often search Twitter to see how people are discussing the news, and frequently invite pundits on as a result of conversations they have on the site.

Ohhhhh. I can think of several people who must be trying to do that. (Otherwise the waste of so much time and effort is inexplicable.) There are definitely people who claim to be writers and even journalists but have never written anything but tweets.

Ansar takes a position on Twitter he knows will appeal to the media, often a controversial one. In most cases, some people will disagree with him, but several users will support his points and perhaps tweet media figures directly to ask them their view of what he is saying or even to ask why he has not been featured on their programme yet. Ansar also often tries to involve high-profile figures connected to the issue in his conversations, including their Twitter handles so they will see what he is saying – if they then argue against his position, there is a strong chance someone in the media will see it and he’ll be asked on to provide ‘the other side of the story’ or simply ‘the Muslim viewpoint’.

Well surely not all that strong – there must be thousands of people doing the same thing. Again, I can think of some without even looking.

So he casts out his lure. In some cases, nothing happens. But sometimes an unsuspecting booker for a news programme will be searching Twitter and come across the conversations he is having on the issue in question. Who is this Mo Ansar, they wonder. The name rings a bell. Is he someone they could conceivably have on? They check his profile and see he has over 30,000 followers on the site and that his profile includes photographs of himself in deep conversation with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight and with Russell Brand. Clicking through to the link to his website on his profile, they see he has been on the BBC many times, as well as Sky, Channel 4, CNN, Al Jazeera and Russia Today. A search of his name on YouTube reveals these appearances to be genuine. He even has a Wikipedia entry about him. He is someone. So they send him a tweet asking if they could have his details, and soon a car is making its way to his house to take him to the studio.

While all those other poor dweebs don’t have the photos of themselves talking to Jeremy Paxman, so it’s all for naught.

A deeper search online would have brought up the numerous exposés of him, but Ansar is counting on the fact that people booking current affairs programmes will be under pressure and in a hurry, and is hoping his exposure has passed them by or been forgotten. The above strategy is carefully constructed and relies on a series of deceptions. Several of the Twitter accounts retweeting his views, arguing in his favour with others and alerting high-profile broadcasters to him are simply Ansar himself operating aliases, or ‘sockpuppets’, as they are known. He has at least ten sockpuppets on Twitter. With some of these, he is far more open in his sympathies for Islamist extremism than he can be on his usually piously moderate account in his own name, which affects a tone of being above the fray. At least two of these identities have been foul-mouthed and abusive, and he’s used them to smear people he regards as enemies, such as Maajid Nawaz, presenters Nicky Campbell and Iain Dale and the historian Tom Holland, who he compared to Anders Breivik. Evidence and more background on how he did that from behind an acount he called ‘The Truthteller’ is here, and I describe his use of ‘Ann Fields’ and related accounts here.

A cunning plan, for sure.

A funny idea of “wrongdoers”

Nov 18th, 2015 11:01 am | By

Barry Duke at The Freethinker tells us:

Iain Lee has lost his job as a presenter for BBC Three Counties radio after calling an anti-gay Christian group representative ‘a bigot’ during a debate on homophobia.

Lee made the comments to Libby Powell, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Centre, who was appearing on breakfast show to defend homophobic Pentecostal preacher Barry Trayhorn who had read out verses from the Bible condemning homosexuality during a service at a prison.

The presenter described the passages, and Libby’s belief in them, as “homophobic” and “bigoted” during a heated debate.

He asked her “Do you support bigotry?” and, when Libby defended her stance, said:

You’ve chosen not to question it, because you’re a bigot.

So the BBC doesn’t want him presenting things for them any more.

I suppose I can understand why the BBC doesn’t want its presenters calling people names, even names like “bigot”…but even so, I find it a tad sickening.

The on-air row arose from Reverend Barry Trayhorn’s reading of 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, Verses 9-11 at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire in May 2014.  He was working as a gardener at the prison.

Trayhorn subsequently said he felt “compelled” to resign from his job and brought a case of constructive dismissal.

Ok, so let’s have 1 Corinthians 6:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

It’s that weirdly impoverished morality again, the same one that’s so striking in the “ten commandments” – nothing about cruelty or torture or rape or abuse or exploitation or violence – it’s all either “vices” or property crimes. It sweats the small stuff while ignoring the large. It is indeed a morality for bigots.

But it doesn’t do to say so.

They are too tired

Nov 18th, 2015 10:09 am | By

The SOAS Student Union put out a statement about the process by which Mona Eltahawy was invited to speak at SOAS but then uninvited by the SU.

An article has recently been released by the London Student regarding the alleged ‘no platforming’ of Mona Eltahawy. This allegation is untrue, and has not been discussed at any level within our Executive Body.

Here’s the article; its source is the same as mine was: Mona’s tweets.

It was recently suggested to us by a student that the Union put on an event with Mona Eltahawy. We approved of this suggestion and consequently were in discussions with the student about the format of the event (whether it should be in a panel format or just the speaker alone). We are happy to host this speaker.
It is disappointing that the London Student chose to publish an article before seeking any kind of confirmation or evidence from the Students’ Union.
UPDATE: See below a statement from Aida Balafkan & Jonelle Twum, our Part-Time Womens’ Officers (full-time students).
“On Wednesday 4th of November, we (Aida and Jonelle) were in conversation with a student about having an event with Mona Eltahawy. We were told by the student that Mona can only be available on “9th of December after 5pm” and that she needs to know as soon as possible because Mona needs to change her travel plans if we decided to have her.

We are both part-time officers, doing full time degrees and we can only host events if we have the time and the energy. After having a discussion with one of the Co-Presidents of the Union we decided that would be best to use this opportunity to host a panel discussion to create a dialogue. However, that meant more workload for the two of us. We tried our best to look for other panellists but again the time and energy that we had was very limited. We also find out there was no suitable room available on that specific date.

Already working on two events for the end of November, one on a panel discussion about intergenerational feminism on 30th, having essay deadlines in December and the limited time we had, we decided to withdraw and not host any event in December. The decision was never based around whether we should have Mona Eltahawy as a guest but rather more on a combination of practical reasons mentioned earlier. We simply physically and emotionally could not organise an event in the short time we had. We can confirm that there has been no “objections” or “concerns” but rather some serious critical discussions around some of her works and views.

There’s a difference? What exactly is that difference?

Mona wonders why, if a panel was too difficult to organize, it had to be a panel:

The statement goes on:

We have never been in touch with Mona directly ourselves and the student has always been our point of contact. We are still not aware of the discussion between Mona and the student but what we can say is that we are saddened that the main reason for not going ahead with the event has been ignored.

Again I would like to stress that we, Jonelle and I, decided not to go ahead with the event because of time and the fact that Mona had requested a quick confirmation from us which we realised we cannot give. There have been serious misunderstandings and miscommunications on all parts and we are sorry about that. Only one other member of the Union has been involved in the process (as mentioned earlier).

It seems like a clusterfuck at best – why didn’t they just jump at the chance to hear from Mona and skip the insistence on having a panel which meant they couldn’t find the time to do it at all?

It’s a pretty ridiculous excuse, really – “we decided she should be on a panel as opposed to doing a talk, but we don’t have time to organize a panel, so, sadly, we had to cancel the invitation.” The solution is staring them in the face: no panel.

Sofia Ahmed is currently busy calling Mona names on Twitter – she’s called her a “native informant” several times over the past 12 hours.

The statement concludes:

Our Co-President Activities & Events, Zain Dada, will now be helping to organise the event.

So I guess it’s happening after all.

Meanwhile, Mona says two more UK universities have invited her to talk – just her, no panel – in December. Suck it, SOAS.


Nov 18th, 2015 9:31 am | By

It’s Nigeria’s turn yet again. A bomb in a market in Yola, in northern Nigeria, killed more than 30 people yesterday.

Yola has twice been hit by deadly bomb attacks this year.

The city lies in the north-eastern state of Adamawa, one of the worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency.

More than 80 people have been taken to hospital, some with serious injuries, emergency workers say.

“Insurgency” is too polite for what Boko Haram is doing. Boko Haram is ethnic cleansing, it’s genociding, it’s kidnapping and raping and enslaving women and girls. Boko Haram is the return of fascism.

This was the symbolism they wanted

Nov 17th, 2015 5:49 pm | By

Dorian Lynskey dissects the puritanism of the murderers.

The Parisians who left home to have a meal, drink with friends, watch a football match or see Eagles of Death Metal headline the Bataclan never thought of themselves as marked for death. It’s likely that among those who lost their lives were some who found Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet offensive and opposed military intervention in Syria. That didn’t matter to the terrorists because simply by enjoying life in Paris they deserved to die.

By choosing those communal events in those lively, multiracial arrondissements, the terrorists turned pleasure itself into a crime. The Islamic State statement claiming responsibility for the attacks said that “hundreds of pagans had gathered in a profligate prostitution party” in “the capital of prostitution and obscenity”. These weren’t representatives of the state or army. They hadn’t mocked the Prophet. They didn’t “punch” in any direction. They were young, progressive, cosmopolitan people whose only offence was having fun.

We’re not supposed to have fun. We’re worms; we’re supposed to do nothing but crawl to god, apologizing for existing and offering up our feeble compliments.

U2’s Bono, who was due to play in Paris on Saturday, called it “the first direct hit on music”, and it was: you don’t choose the Bataclan unless you despise music and those who enjoy it. But the night was also an attack on sport, drinking, eating out, friendship and laughter. Of all the people and buildings that the terrorists might have planned to attack, they chose these. All terrorism is symbolic and this was the symbolism they wanted.

No fun for you. Down on your knees, worm, and praise Allah.

Those who had limited sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo victims on the grounds that they had to some extent provoked violent retribution must now realise that no provocation is necessary, unless communal joy counts as a provocation.

It should have been obvious all along that the cartoons were merely an excuse. It flattered the terrorists and insulted their victims to pretend there was an atom of justification, and the latest attacks make fools of anyone who did.

One of the victims of the Bataclan massacre was the rock critic Guillaume B Decherf, whose final pieces for the magazine Les Inrockuptibles included an enthusiastic review of the latest album by Eagles of Death Metal. He ended it by applauding the band’s desire to please, writing: “Plaisir partagé!”, “Pleasure shared!” For Decherf, this was a life-affirming goal and a reason to celebrate music. For the terrorists in Paris, plaisir partagé was a reason to kill and kill and kill.

They’re the sworn enemies of everything good. Not just life, not just freedom, but everything we have the this-world audacity to enjoy or admire or love.

Charlie Hebdo’s skirt was maybe a little too short

Nov 17th, 2015 5:12 pm | By

John Kerry decided to throw Charlie Hebdo under the bus.

Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Tuesday that there was a “rationale” for the assault on satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo, unlike the more recent attacks in Paris.

“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry said in Paris, according to a transcript of his remarks. “There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of — not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they’re really angry because of this and that.”

“This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people,” he continued.

Sigh. Don’t do that. Say they selected Charlie Hebdo specifically while the targets on Friday were generic, if you want to, but don’t say more than that. You’re the Secretary of State, you should be able to filter your words.

On les emmerde

Nov 17th, 2015 4:58 pm | By

Charlie Hebdo has the most perfect cover this week.

This is the arguably tasteless front cover of France’s satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, due to be published on Wednesday in direct and self-consciously defiant response to Friday’s ISIS massacres in Paris

Ils ont les armes.

On les emmerde, on a le champagne!

They have the guns.

Fuck them, we have the champagne!