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These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 30, 2008.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Crying all the way to the bank

There is, even in these recessionary times, so much money sloshing around in the City that professional victims can clean up. I predict that the case reported here will be settled out of court, with an undisclosed sum that makes hijabbed hairdresser Bushra Noah's £4,000 look like clippings on the salon floor. From The Telegraph:

Two Muslim women who worked as brokers in the City of London have accused their former employer of religious discrimination by transferring Jewish clients to non-Muslim colleagues. Lawyers for the co-workers will outline a series of allegations, including racial, sexual and religious discrimination, against broker Tradition Securities & Futures at the opening of the employment tribunal on Wednesday.

The women, Muslims of North African descent in their thirties, joined Tradition – a French company – in Paris six years ago. They moved with the trading desk to London in 2004 and quit two years later after deciding they could no longer work in the environment. Documents allege they suffered "complex and multi-faceted" discrimination while working for Tradition.

[...]

As brokers the women would not have been on multi-million pound salaries but on basic pay of about £50,000 plus commission, which is likely to have taken their total remuneration into six figures.

They are thought to be seeking far larger sums in compensation and damages.

Tradition rejects all the claims.  

"Muslims of North African descent" is a new one. Usually the M-word is avoided. My first question is: why are these Muslims working as a stockbrokers? Wouldn't the job involve dealing in debt securities, which are forbidden under Sharia?

My hunch is that they weren't all that good at their job, and are now playing the Muslim victim card because, as in Bushra Noah's case, it beats working for a living.

Posted on 10/30/2008 5:01 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Child brides

The Times reports on child brides in Yemen. The story is moving but it makes no mention of the Islamic basis for marriage of girls as young as nine:

The girl sits in the last row of the tiny courtroom, trembling and holding her mother's hand. When the judge finally calls up her case, she is biting her fingernails as her lawyer speaks.

Three weeks earlier, Reem's father had married her off to her cousin - a tall, gaunt man more than three times her age. She says that her new husband raped her three days after their wedding and beat her almost every day in the remote village where they lived. She tried to escape, twice by suicide, and finally by fleeing to her mother's house in Sana'a, where she has come to court seeking a divorce. Reem is 12.

When the judge, Mohammed Alqadhi, asks why he should dissolve their marriage, she replies with an even voice: “If I have to return to my husband I will kill myself.”

Her case, heard earlier this summer in Yemen's capital city, is still before the courts but Reem's plight has emerged as a high-profile and crucial test of this conservative Muslim country's treatment of child brides. In May, Nujood Ali, a 10-year-old girl, became the first child bride to lobby Yemen's courts successfully for a divorce after being forced to marry a man nearly 30 years her senior.

[...]

It seems that tribal customs still prevail over Yemen's official laws that set the age of marital consent at 15.

“Some extremists have complained about Nujood's case,” says Shada Nasser, the outspoken Yemeni lawyer who represented Nujood and now three other child brides, including Reem, in their quest for divorce. “They think the judges should not interfere with tribal life.”

"Extremists"? "Tribal life"? Don't use the I-word whatever you do.

Her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, arranged her marriage in February last year. The street sweeper was struggling to support his two wives and 16 children, most of whom begged on the streets.

If I had a pound for everytime I am asked to sympathise with the "poverty" of a man who has ten or more children, I would be rich indeed. And not a penny would go to such a man, unless it were to pay for a vasectomy. As for his two wives, even Islam requires - at least in theory - that a man not take a second wife if he can't support her. In practice, these families often live off infidel charity.

Just think - if those Gazan Arabs used a contraceptive once in a while, they might be able to afford Broadband. If they had the snip, they could get WiFi.

If I sound callous, it is partly because I am impatient with those, including this girl's father, who plead poverty as an excuse for such a barbaric practice as selling his daughter in "marriage". She is the victim of his feckless fecundity - and of Islam.

Posted on 10/30/2008 6:14 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Some Further Jottings

In my small English village harvest time is almost over. My partner and I have put up most of our preserves and filled our freezers. I’ve lifted, and clamped against the frosts to come, all my root vegetables in my small garden – all excepting the parsnips, of course, which need a good frosting so that they can develop that ripe sweetness when roasted – and the cross-cut, second-flush cabbages have been cut, blanched and packed with salt into their jars to foment and become that wonderful crispy sauerkraut which is the only possible accompaniment for sausages throughout the dark, cold days of winter. The winter lettuce seedlings, and the other winter salads, are hardening off in the second, small, greenhouse and already leaves and roots from them are augmenting our fare most evenings in our side-salads.

We have a glut of beetroot this autumn, so a sea of borscht is being made and frozen against future needs. Likewise, the tomatoes have produced fruit in luxurious abundance this year, and are being rendered, slowly, into that wonderful, thick, deep red paste which will augment so many dishes in the months to come (freeze them as they come then make the paste when you have sufficient) – thank God for a good crop of basil, also. We also have an over-abundance of late, green tomatoes and have been indulging in that wonderful luxury of young ham – scarcely cured and so full of juice – and fried green tomatoes; but there are more than we can fry and consume, so many, many jars of green tomato chutney are being put by and I await, positively drooling with anticipation, my first chutney and cheese sandwich of this winter.
 
We’ve just harvested the last frosted, shrivelled and rotting strawberries, also. Those awful looking fruits make, if one has the courage to handle them, the finest cordial. It’s deep and intense in its flavour, but not to everyone’s taste for it has a back-taste which is rich, tart and bitter, but oh boy, it cuts the greasiness of vodka and adds real flavour to a vegetable and fruit curry, and a sauce enriched with that cordial sets off chocolate covered lamb steaks to perfection.
 
My medlars did very well this year. I’ve bletted over fifty pounds weight of them and have enough, for the only the second time since taking over this garden, to make ‘cheese’ and to freeze some of the pulp for that inestimable dish: a medlar tart, best served, in my opinion, with a green port or a Madeira, though some prefer a really sweet Northern Italian brandy with it – in any event this dish needs a light, almond-flavoured white sauce to accompany it. One can also serve it with well-chilled Prosecco, that lovely, bottled sun-light, light, slightly sparkling wine from the Veneto, but I don’t like that combination – if one wants a sparkling accompaniment for this dish then go for a good quality Perry (preferably one which you have made yourself) – but it’s all according to taste, isn’t it?
 
But do serve the chilled Prosecco with the Agneau couvert en chocolat and its strawberry cordial enriched sauce – heaven! Don’t serve any vegetables at all with this lamb dish, whatever you do, unless it’s very young, very small, dense and compact, cooked just to al dente,cauliflower drenched in a bittersweet chocolate sauce, also. Serve a separate green vegetable course, instead, and enrich that with a deeply concentrated vegetable, sweetened to taste, bouillon, and serve that with a Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Auslese – preferably the 2005. Magnificent!
 
However, I didn’t come here just to talk about autumn and food – vastly important though both of those subjects are! I’ve come here in order to correct some misapprehensions about a post of mine, which you can find here at the NER. Some few of my acquintances disliked, and, by email, made their dislike apparent, of my support for the McCain/Palin ticket in the forthoming Presidential elections in the USA. The general tenor of their argument was that I, as a gay person, had no right to support that ticket for it was so obviously, in their opinion, anti-gay. My observations on the life and gardening in my small English village are entirely by-the-by and intended, merely, to amuse and enlighten!
 
Well, of course, my friends are quite correct. The McCain/Palin combo is, undoubtedly, in a classical Republican right-wing style, not sympathetic towards gay rights and the gay lifestyle, whatever that might be (and I’ve yet to discover it – do I live it?), in general. My point, however, and a point which I, perhaps, did not make quite clear in my original post, perhaps, is quite simple.
 
So, in answer to the people who think that I am betraying a cause – a cause which I, in their opinion, am duty bound to support – I ask you all to consider the following hypothetical scenarios:
 
I
I telephone the White House and ask to speak to President Obama. An operative asks me who I am and why I want to speak to the President. I tell the operative that I am the Chairman, just for an example, of the Campaign for Homosexual Rights and Equalities. Silence ensues. Then the dial tone!
 
II
I telephone the White House and ask to speak to President McCain. An operative asks me who I am and why I want to speak to the President. I tell the operative that I am the Chairman, just for an example, of the Campaign for Homosexual Rights and Equalities. Silence ensues. Then the President, and the Vice-President, come on the line, together. They spend some little time listening to me and arguing with me. Finally they invite me to meet with them. I have very little hope of changing their minds, but that very little hope is important. They will listen even though, electorally, they dare not change their respective stances upon the issue at question.
 
Thereby lies the difference. Grand-daddy McCain and Mother Palin will listen and are prepared to be persuaded even though, publicly, they cannot be seen to change. Slim Obama and ’Call-me-out’ Biden just don’t listen, however. They think that they know it all already and that they don’t have to listen. They have some sort of wonderful world-view, some sort of handle, before they even take office, on the way that things work. The McCain/Palin duo don’t have that. They are more of a tie a knot in it and move on sort of coupling. Sensibly, I trust that far more than I trust the Obama/Biden uberwelt view – and can you blame me?
 
Yes, yes, I know that we gays could suffer quite badly under a McCain/Palin administration. But here’s the rub – do you want to end up, in eight year’s time, in a world formed in some Obama/Biden mould, a world where sharia law has gained a toehold, or would you rather be living in a world in which the McCain/Palin ideal of adherence to your constitution, and the laws dependent and derived from it, no matter how unjust that you might think they are, is the norm? A world in which, at the very least, you can challenge things acording to the law which is understood today, by us.
 
Sometimes, just sometimes, one’s own personal wants and needs have to be put aside in order for the greater good to triumph. This USA election is one of those times, I believe. If I were, today, a citizen of the USA with a vote I know, I positively know, that I, despite my liberal, gay leanings, would vote for McCain and Palin, for they are sound, trustworthy, solid and pragmatic in the face of all the crises which currently face us.
 
I wouldn’t like it, I wouldn’t rejoice in it, but I’d do the right thing – difficult though it is. I’d know what’s right, and I’d do it – hard though that would be!
 
From this small British perspective, here in my little, comfortable, rural village where most things revolve around our small and simple crops and needs, your forthcoming election seems so simple – good old grand-dad and his feisty female partner against some upstart, slime-ball, so-called intellectual and his deeply dishonest partner. Most of us, simplistically, no doubt, wonder why you’re agonising over the choice!
 
Why are you?
Posted on 10/30/2008 7:08 AM by John Joyce
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Afghan Women Decry Talks With Taliban

From the BBC (with thanks to Alan):

Representatives of women from across Afghanistan have called on President Hamid Karzai not to undermine their position by talking to the Taleban.

The president's brother recently sat with former Taleban leaders at a religious meal hosted by the Saudis.

The meeting was regarded as a possible prelude to talks between the Afghan government and the Islamist movement.

Mr Karzai told a conference of about 400 women that any talks with the Taleban would respect the constitution.

'No compromises'

The women fear that the talks could lead to a reversal of the gains they have made since the overthrow of the Taleban in 2001.

They called on President Karzai to make sure their rights are guaranteed...

Karzai seems more concerned that his position is guaranteed.

Posted on 10/30/2008 7:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 30 October 2008
A Musical Interlude: Do Your Duty (Bessie Smith)
Posted on 10/30/2008 8:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 October 2008
The Art Of Provocation

The Independent:

A gallery showing inflammatory images of veiled Muslims, including a bare-breasted woman partially clad in a burqa, is under police surveillance after being attacked earlier this week.

Windows and doors at the SaLon Gallery in west London were smashed after a series of abusive, anonymous phone calls and angry protests about the images from Muslims. The gallery has complained to police.

The solo exhibition of paintings by Sarah Maple includes a veiled woman holding a pig, which is interpreted as a flagrant disregard of the Islamic ban on eating pork. The show – entitled "This Artist Blows" – also includes two self-portraits: one of Maple wearing a headscarf has an image of Kate Moss's naked breast attached to it; another shows Maple in a T-shirt bearing the slogan "I love jihad". In another, a veiled Muslim woman wears a badge that says "I love orgasms".

Last night, Maple, a 23-year-old of Kenyan and British parentage, defended her work, saying she had not meant to cause offence but to explore her Britishness and her Muslim faith. She voiced concern about her safety and said she hoped the exhibition of 39 pictures, which opened this month, would not be taken down before its official closing date of 23 November...

This artist obviously wouldn't have a career if she were not provoking Muslim hostility.  But I'm glad the gallery isn't backing down.

Posted on 10/30/2008 8:17 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Straw in the wind

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has clarified the position on Muslim courts, but he does not go far enough. From the Daily Mail (h/t J/W):

Muslim courts will always remain 'subservient' to English law, Jack Straw declared last night.

In a speech to an Islamic conference, the Justice Secretary said the arguments against creating a parallel system of Sharia law in Britain were 'overwhelming'.

His remarks come less than a week after one of his junior ministers, Bridget Prentice, appeared to clear Islamic courts to deal with family and divorce disputes, including how a Muslim couple divide their money and property and who gets the children.

Mr Straw said that - while courts could consider a Sharia ruling - they would make their own judgments on the welfare of the children.

Mr Straw, who is also Lord Chancellor, added: 'It is ultimately up to the court to decide whether the agreement complies with English law.  No court will endorse an agreement which conflicts with English law.'

In the strongest passage of last night's speech, he continued: 'There is nothing whatever in English law that prevents people abiding by Sharia principles if they wish to, provided they do not come into conflict with English law.  

'There is no question about that.  But English law will always remain supreme, and religious councils subservient to it.'

Mr Straw earlier told the audience that 'many dreadful things have been done in the name of mainstream religions.  Barbaric practices such as stoning have been – quite wrongly – justified by reference to Islam, for instance'.

He added: 'I am firm in disagreeing with those who say that Sharia law should be made a separate system in the UK.  And there has been much misinformation in recent weeks about this issue.

'There are some countries which do have within their systems of law separate courts to deal with issues of inheritance and family law for different faith groups, such as India and Egypt. 

'But we do not in the UK and there are overwhelming arguments about why we should not move down this path.'

Under certain circumstances, religious courts can act as arbitrators in personal disputes, Mr Straw said.

But he added: 'Crucially, any member of a religious community – or indeed, any other community – has the right to refer to an English court, particularly if they feel pressured or coerced to resolve an issue in a way in which they feel uncomfortable.'

His speech will be seen as an attempt to end nine months of controversy over the role of tribunals run according to Islamic strictures.

It does not end the controversy, nor should it. First, even if a decision does not go against English law, it could still be unjust. For example, a woman may "agree" to waive her rights under English law because Sharia does not give her those rights. This is perfectly legal, but wrong. Secondly, women are treated unjustly under Sharia, and are often at the mercy of dictatorial or violent husbands, brothers and fathers. The women's "agreement" under arbitration may well be coerced. What safeguards does Jack Straw, or anyone else in Government, propose to ensure that agreement is genuine? Finally, and most importantly, Sharia must be actively opposed if it is not to spread. Here is what I wrote a few weeks ago, in my comparison with tax law: 

Muslims don't really believe in arbitration or alternative dispute resolution. How can they? If the world belongs to Allah, how can there be alternatives? There must be only one system: Sharia. But while Muslims don't really believe in arbitration, or any other Infidel principle, they will take advantage of it if it is there.  And it is there - or rather here, in Britain - and has been for over three centuries. The 1996 Arbitration Act merely codified and clarified existing practice. It was not intended to be a vehicle for Sharia, and is ill-equipped, in its present form, to handle this alien force. Arbitration worked well in the past because in the past UK citizens were not bent on using it for a malign purpose. This is no longer true. Islam is a malign ideology, and will use our existing laws as far as possible to dominate. This is a fact, and it is no good wishing it were otherwise. Like tax law, arbitration law must change to take account of that fact, and close the loopholes - preferably with barbed wire.

Contrary to the press hysteria, UK law has not changed to accommodate Sharia, but it needs to change now to exclude it.

My opinion still stands:  Jack Straw's remarks have done nothing to change it.

Posted on 10/30/2008 9:24 AM by Mary Jackson

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