August 24, 2005

The UK’s other terrorists score a victory

Posted in Animal Rights, UK, War on Terror at 1:54 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Grave desecration is rightly considered one of the most hateful and despicable of crimes. However, nothing is too low for the domestic terrorists in the UK who have successfully employed desecration for blackmail. I was going to say that this story almost defies belief, but it really doesn’t, does it? It’s all too believable. In fact, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often:

Victory for the fanatics

A family that breeds guinea pigs for medical research announced yesterday that it was to close its farm in a final attempt to get back the remains of a relative whose body was dug up by animal rights extremists.

It seems to me that it is not at all a big jump from desecrating graves to murdering humans. That’s the logical next step for the “Animal Rights Militia”, and I’ve no doubt that it’s coming up. Reacting to the ARM’s succcess, one supporter shows us that these people can be just as fanatical as your neighborhood Islamist:

A spokesman for Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs, a campaign group set up in 1999 to lobby for the farm’s closure, said: “This is the most fantastic day of my life. It’s a victory for the animals and it’s a fundamental victory for the animal rights movement. I feel so unbelievably proud to be part of the movement.”

This brand of terrorism does not yet threaten society to the extent that Islamists do. But they should be fought against just as hard.

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July 21, 2005

Be on the lookout for Red Ken and a backpack

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 5:13 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

From a Times Online article re attempted bombings today:

Dr Brighton added: “It may be an attempt by people to cause panic, maybe people with similar ideas or ideological sympathy with the people that did the recent bombings…The nature of the incidents doesn’t appear to be anything like as serious.”

Everybody be on the lookout for sightings of a Galloway or a Livingstone with a backpack on.

July 13, 2005

It took a massacre, but they’re finally sounding tough

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 1:59 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]The Times Online headline reads: “Clarke to rid Britain of ‘preachers of hate’“.  Clark is the British Home Secretary.  Read the article and contrast his tone there to the tone in the “No 10 Dossier“.  I’d say at least the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have taken off the kid gloves.  Good for them.

By the way, will he be able to say “preachers of hate” after the proposed anti-religious-hatred law passes?

July 12, 2005

Britain’s proposed anti-religious-hatred law

Posted in Islam, Law, UK at 9:16 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

You can review the text of this unfortunate proposed law here.  Note that the text is presented as a series of amendments to existing text in the Public Order Act of 1986.

This is really awful legislation.  And one of the reasons it is awful is because of Muslims themselves: recent history such as the “Satanic Verses” hoopla, and extremely recent history such as the Koran “desecration” nonsense (and the reactions it caused), show us that Muslims are particularly sensitive to any kind of criticism of their religion.  I have no doubt that if this law passes, there will be many British Muslims who make it their sport to constantly point out alleged violations.

Of course the legislation suffers from the same kind of ambiguity that all speech laws suffer from.  The key test seems to be whether you write, record or perform something and you “intend thereby to stir up racial or relgious hatred or having regard to the circumstances the words, behaviour or material are (or is) likely to be heard or seen by any person in whom they are (or it is) likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.”   Got that?

Since many public policy officials are severely constrained by the rule of political correctness, they are stubbornly unwilling to recognize the obvious, including the following: of all the adherents of major religions in the world today, those who are most likely to be “stirred up” into religious hatred are Muslims.  The problem is so severe that Muslims are regularly killing other Muslims for being alleged apostates.  Yet this proposed law has come about specifically to protect Muslims, apparently because Muslims have complained that the existing laws protect only race (which would include Jews and Sikhs).  So the religion whose followers are most likely to be offended as a matter of principle, is the religion that is to be protected from offense.  I hope prosecutors are ready to handle the volume of complaints that I would expect to see from offended Muslims.

The Barnabus Fund is an organization that “exists to assist persecuted Christian minorities by prayer and practical support.”  They have campaigned against this proposed law.  You can review some of their reasons here.  I found this set (availabe in the “Summary of Concerns”) particularly compelling:

Perceived as a Blasphemy Law

  • Any “insult”, “outrageous comments” or “defamation in the character of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)” would be “a direct insult and abuse on the Muslim community” and illegal – Iqbal Sacranie, Muslim Council of Britain
  • “Every Muslim leader I have spoken to wants to use the law to ban ‘The Satanic Verses.'” – Kenan Malik, Writer and Broadcaster
  • During Report Stage debate in Commons Khalid Mahmood MP gave the impression that he does not rule out the application of the law in the case of ‘The Satanic Verses.’ When pressed on this point Home Office minister Hazel Blears avoided giving a direct confirmation that Salman Rushdie could not be prosecuted under the law.

I’d like to point out another thing that I think is also obvious, but that public officials will not acknowledge: if any religion today is deserving of scrutiny and criticism, it is Islam.  And if any religion today could benefit from criticism, it is Islam.  Yet this law, if passed, will most certainly put a chill on criticism of Islam in Britain.

Let’s play with more hypotheticals.  Let’s assume that the law passes, that another terrorist mass murder occurs in London three weeks after the law comes into effect and that an Islamic group claims responsibility.  Now imagine if a British columnist publishes the following in a major British newspaper:

It looks as though some Muslims have done it again.  As has been their wont far too often lately, they have again caused carnage in our streets, heightening our awareness that Islam is in a state of grave crisis and that this crisis is as dangerous to non-Muslims as it is to Muslims themselves. (…)

What do you think?  Would any British muslims complain?

Britain’s proposed anti-religious-hatred law

Posted in Islam, Law, UK at 9:16 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

You can review the text of this unfortunate proposed law here. Note that the text is presented as a series of amendments to existing text in the Public Order Act of 1986.

This is really awful legislation. And one of the reasons it is awful is because of Muslims themselves: recent history such as the “Satanic Verses” hoopla, and extremely recent history such as the Koran “desecration” nonsense (and the reactions it caused), show us that Muslims are particularly sensitive to any kind of criticism of their religion. I have no doubt that if this law passes, there will be many British Muslims who make it their sport to constantly point out alleged violations.

Of course the legislation suffers from the same kind of ambiguity that all speech laws suffer from. The key test seems to be whether you write, record or perform something and you “intend thereby to stir up racial or relgious hatred or having regard to the circumstances the words, behaviour or material are (or is) likely to be heard or seen by any person in whom they are (or it is) likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.” Got that?

Since many public policy officials are severely constrained by the rule of political correctness, they are stubbornly unwilling to recognize the obvious, including the following: of all the adherents of major religions in the world today, those who are most likely to be “stirred up” into religious hatred are Muslims. The problem is so severe that Muslims are regularly killing other Muslims for being alleged apostates. Yet this proposed law has come about specifically to protect Muslims, apparently because Muslims have complained that the existing laws protect only race (which would include Jews and Sikhs). So the religion whose followers are most likely to be offended as a matter of principle, is the religion that is to be protected from offense. I hope prosecutors are ready to handle the volume of complaints that I would expect to see from offended Muslims.

The Barnabus Fund is an organization that “exists to assist persecuted Christian minorities by prayer and practical support.” They have campaigned against this proposed law. You can review some of their reasons here. I found this set (availabe in the “Summary of Concerns”) particularly compelling:

Perceived as a Blasphemy Law

  • Any “insult”, “outrageous comments” or “defamation in the character of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)” would be “a direct insult and abuse on the Muslim community” and illegal – Iqbal Sacranie, Muslim Council of Britain
  • “Every Muslim leader I have spoken to wants to use the law to ban ‘The Satanic Verses.'” – Kenan Malik, Writer and Broadcaster
  • During Report Stage debate in Commons Khalid Mahmood MP gave the impression that he does not rule out the application of the law in the case of ‘The Satanic Verses.’ When pressed on this point Home Office minister Hazel Blears avoided giving a direct confirmation that Salman Rushdie could not be prosecuted under the law.

I’d like to point out another thing that I think is also obvious, but that public officials will not acknowledge: if any religion today is deserving of scrutiny and criticism, it is Islam. And if any religion today could benefit from criticism, it is Islam. Yet this law, if passed, will most certainly put a chill on criticism of Islam in Britain.

Let’s play with more hypotheticals. Let’s assume that the law passes, that another terrorist mass murder occurs in London three weeks after the law comes into effect and that an Islamic group claims responsibility. Now imagine if a British columnist publishes the following in a major British newspaper:

It looks as though some Muslims have done it again. As has been their wont far too often lately, they have again caused carnage in our streets, heightening our awareness that Islam is in a state of grave crisis and that this crisis is as dangerous to non-Muslims as it is to Muslims themselves. (…)

What do you think? Would any British muslims complain?

July 11, 2005

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 10:05 pm by billdawson

 

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

I’ve read through all four PDFs of the “leaked No 10 dossier“. That was some really painful reading. I would say nine-tenths of the opinions and recommendations can be summarized by this: the British government needs to make things easier and better for Muslims.

Below are a few thoughts on some specific parts of the documents. Note that page numbers refer to the PDF page number, not the printed page number that is visible in the scanned documents.

The documents are full of the obligatory and politcally-correct reference to the notion of the “small minority”. Everything is always qualified by reminding us that we’re talking about a “small minority” of Muslims who are extremists. I really wish people would stop saying that. Of course it is a minority: if it wasn’t there would be all-out civil war in Britain and in many other countries.

The second document tries to record just how tiny that minority is. On p. 1 it mentions that an ICM Poll “published by the Guardian on 15 March 2004 recorded 13% of British Muslims as thinking that further terrorist attacks on the USA would be justified.”

Depending on what the subject is, I would agree that sometimes 13% can be considered a small minority. But if 13% of a 1.6 million member religious community think that indiscriminate murder is justified, my first reaction is not “phew, thank God that’s a ‘small minority'”, but rather, “uh oh, that’s a whole hell of a lot of bad people.” And if you look closely at the poll you see it’s actually a full 15% of those under 34 years of age who believe al-Qaeda attacks against the United States are justified. And the Muslim population in Britain is very young.

(Note: the actual question on the poll, which you can find here, was: “Would you regard further attacks by Al-Qaeda, or similar organisations, on the USA as justified or unjustified?”)

On p. 2 of the second document, we’re warned that we might offend some Muslims if we use the term “Islamic fundamentalism”. In other words, we should stop calling a thing by its name:

Policy objectives include persuading young Muslims that they can be Muslim and British, and that Islam is not regarded with hostility. In this context, the term “Islamic Fundamentalism” is unhelpful and should be avoided, because some perfectly moderate Muslims are likely to perceive it as a negative comment on their own approach to their faith.

P. 13 of the second document contains praise of the mainstream muslims:

The mainstream Muslim community has been vocal in its public condemnation of extremism. For example, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed sympathy with the people of Spain after the Madrid bombings…

That was mighty big of them. And I seriously question the accuracy of the assertion made there. Is is really true that mainstream muslims have been vocal condemning extremism? Or is it more like they are vocal condemning terrorism? I’m sure everytime there is a terrorist attack they do come out and condemn it. But what about if an Imam preaches about the re-establishment of the caliphate? Do they raise a fuss like they should? I seriously doubt it.

On p. 14 I am glad to see this note of caution: “But it is important to identify moderates correctly — some of those who are influential in the extremist world purport to be moderates.” (Ken Livingstone skipped that page.)

P. 9 of the third document contains a nice reminder for those who are so insistent on pointing to Iraq policy as the clearest cause of terror: “up to 80% [of polled Muslims] disapproved of the war in Afghanistan.”  Personally, I don’t hold out any hope for people who are against the war in Afghanistan.

Many parts of the documents (see esp. p.2 of the second document) contain the familiar refrain about British foreign policy being a factor in the disaffection experienced by British muslims. The fact that this matter is brought up so often within the documents makes me worry that the touchy-feely side of western governments is too often ready to help make terrorism pay. (The fact that billions were alotted to the Palestinians at G8 is an example of what I’m talking about.) If I were a British islamicist, I would read through these documents and think, “We can really push them on the foreign policy stuff — a little terror here, a little terror there, and an army of do-gooders in social services and other government branches who are always on the lookout for the ‘root causes’ of our disaffection. That’s a nice combo we can use.”

Hopefully I’m wrong about that. But if I were to have written the document, the entire discussion of foreign policy would have been one small paragraph:

Apparently the foreign policy of HMG is seen as a contributor to the anger and disaffection experienced by British muslims. The Muslim community should be reminded again and again that unlike so many others among the ummah throughout the world, British Muslims can peacefully express their disagreements in public and can affect change by exercising their right to vote. They should be further reminded that any among them who publically suggest or carry out non-democratic and/or violent means of affecting change shall be watched closely, considered threats to the community and, when necessary, dealt with severely.

There must be some mistake here

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 1:49 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]Someone alert the Times Online editorial staff.  In this article about the London mass murder they say…

[The authorities’] main focus is on Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, 46, a Syrian with joint Spanish nationality who lived in North London in the mid-1990s. As The Times revealed last week, he left Britain to start up a terror training camp in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks where he groomed scores of young British recruits. [my emphasis]

They’ve obviously got their timeline all screwed up.  As we all know, there would have been no reason for young British jihadists to be training for anything prior to the US/UK invasion of Iraq!  What on earth would they have been doing before 9/11!?  Surely they were just gentle lambs, hard at work on their studies, overjoyed with the society they lived in, until that society betrayed them and invaded their holy land of Islam.

</sarcasm>

July 10, 2005

Blair: less and less Churchillian as time goes on [Updated]

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 7:06 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]

Let us hope this kind of thinking is not foremost in his mind:

“I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots,” Blair said. “As well as dealing with the consequences of this — trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can — you have to try to pull it up by its roots,” he said.

That meant boosting understanding between people of difference religions, helping people in the Middle East see a path to democracy and easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said.

“Ultimately what we now know, if we didn’t before, is that where there is extremism, fanaticism or acute and appalling forms of poverty in one continent, the consequences no longer stay fixed in that continent, they spread to the rest of the world” said Blair.

[my emphasis]

[UPDATE: This post by Charles Johnson indicates that AP (which was the source of the article above) now says Blair didn’t say these things.  That could well be true; I noticed how they bit about the Middle East and Israel/Palestine was not in quotes.  But I can’t find the BBC radio interview.  And it certainly seems that Israeli and Palestinian newspapers (as reported by the BBC) think Blair said something like this.]

[UPDATE II: Here is an article which contains a link to the BBC 4 “Today” show interview.  I listened to it.  Indeed, he does not specifically mention the Israel/Palestine issue.  The closest he gets is talking about pulling terrorism up from its roots, which include “some of the critical issues in the Middle East” whcih need to be “dealt with and sorted out.”  Overall, he does not sound very wishy-washy and I’m not so disappointed.]

July 9, 2005

Britain faced with “clean skin” terrorists?

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 3:03 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]From the Times:

A main concern is that they are dealing with “clean skins”, possibly British-born terrorists who have not crossed the intelligence radar before.

I would say this ups the ante a bit. No matter their religion or color of skin, these could well be full British citizens — since birth — who have attacked within their country (I shudder when I say “their country”, but so it might be) for political reasons at a time when British troops are engaged in conflicts overseas. And their motives could be found to be directly related to the fact that British troops are engaged overseas.

Lest you think there might be a “high treason” exception to the abolition of the death penalty, this will set you straight: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/human_rights/adp/:

This treaty explicitly bans the death penalty in all circumstances, including in war-time.

July 8, 2005

“Their arguments were nothing but bull”

Posted in London, UK, War on Terror at 8:03 pm by billdawson

[editor’s note: this post was “pasted” in — it appeared originally at the old Dawson’s Danube site, which is archived here.]A great Nelson Ascher blog entry.  It starts like this…

When the Argentinian military dictatorship invaded the Falklands in 1982, all my country’s and, by the way, all the Latin American left backed the torturing murderers. Why? Well, because deep in their souls they were angry losers, descendents of the once great Iberian Catholic civilization, lusting for some kind of revenge against the new winners, the English-speaking Protestant world. Though they tried to depict it as some kind of class or anti-imperialistic struggle, their arguments were nothing but bull.

…and it just keeps on goin’ in the right direction.  Read all of it.

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