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The Real Nature of Religion
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As Far As The Eye Can See
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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
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edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
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Farewell Fear
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The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
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Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
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Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky
















The Iconoclast

Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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I know now that the words are Brimful of Asha on the 45, and that the song is in part about Asha Bhosle the Indian film singer. I know well what a 45 is, as I grew up with a 1962 Dansette, which I still have, and all the Beatles singles that went with it.
At the time this single was released I was not well and not taking very much notice of anything. That and Blur’s I Feel Heavy Metal, which is not what I call heavy metal, were the songs that always seemed to be on the radio in the background.
In my stupor I thought Cornershop were singing “Clear blue water on the starboard side”. It is a good song that I was able to appreciate better later.
The other song from that period which was playing on the radio in the operating theatre, just as they were about to put me out was Space.
Calling all Avenging Angels,
Angels, angels, kick ass angels.
After the operation I moaned to my friend and her husband. No sympathy there however, I was told to think myself lucky that the radio was not playing The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work or Stairway to Heaven.  
Leaving aside the Beatles collaboration with Ravi Shankar, and the Indian influence on bands like the Kinks in songs like Hear my Friends in the 60s, the band I thought would be a big success were Monsoon. But they only had one hit, in 1982, Ever so Lonely.
Pali do you know what Cornershop are doing now?
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Posted on 11/21/2007 12:31 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Janet Joseph writes in The Times on the north south divide:

 

My husband and I, both southerners, decided to break a long journey north by breakfasting at a supermarket cafeteria in a Lancashre town. During the meal, my husband asked the waitress for the pepper.

 

A few minutes later, to his surprise, he was handed a copy of the Daily Mail.

 

Had he been a Cockney, no doubt he would have been treated to a rendition of Scotland the Brave by a man in a kilt. Even Nabokov, a foreigner, noticed that in parts of London, the word “paper” is pronounced “piper”. Pipers, unlike most things today, are generally pied. But if you’re from the East End, bills are also pied, and with any luck they are pied on time. Posh people, conversely, might speak of the Paid Paper of Hamlin.

 

As a flat-vowelled northerner in The Smoke, I say “pan” in the way Londoners say “pun”. When I asked in a café for a puncake, I was told they’d run out of puns, and would I like a crepe. I thought this question impertinent – my vowel movements are my own business - and left, hoping that the café next door would have a pun or two. No such luck, so I asked the waiter for a double entendre, and he gave me one.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 12:00 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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In the comments to my post here, Pali contrasts the music of British Pakistanis and British Indians:

I listen to some rap music. Some of it is good. But these Muslims rappers are pathetic and laughably bad, all the stinking resentment and darkness allied to embarassingly mediocre music and all the idiotic rage of the rage boys.

If you go to the BBC Asian Network and go through their music shows you'll hear a wealth of creative new music that is mostly, ie: 97% produced by British Indians, ie: Hindus and Sikhs. They take their musical heritage and create something new. Whether it's the bhangra music scene or artists like Nitin Sawhney or Talvin Singh or bands like Cornershop, British Indians have music in their soul and use it to express something about their experience and culture as British people of Indian heritage.

Compare it to the black hole of emptiness that is music produced by British Pakistani Muslims, ie: nothing, and it tells the difference between the two communities. And yet we have to labour under the umbrella of describing our music as 'British Asian', in case they feel left out. They produce nothing creative, innovative, bold or new. It's really sad. Music is the consummation of life and beauty and the joie de vivre of the soul. Islam sucks life and beauty out of them and produces nothing but resentment, rage, and the most turgid and pathetic kind of unoriginal 'rage boy' rap.

I must confess to disliking most rap and hip hop, particularly what I call "gangsta rap", a term which is probably very unhip these days. Bhangra music, on the other hand, is something I enjoy very much. Ironically I was introduced to it by some very Hindu-looking nominal Muslims, of which there were more in the past than there are now. You know the kind of thing - shalwar kamiz, colourful bangles, mehndi and bhangra music, all non-Muslim traditions. It is such a shame when that kind of Muslim gets a dose of the real Islam, and the girls swap their pretty headscarf for a niqab.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 10:29 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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"...formation of a greater Arab state, including Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Cypress..."
-- from this article by Debbie Schussel

One might defend "Cypress" as a reasonable cy-pres interpretation of "Cyprus."

But that would result in a sad Cyprus.

And "sad Cyprus" might, in turn, be defended by some as an acceptable cy-pres interpretation of "sad Cypress."

And that would make Shakespeare mad.

But go ahead if you must. Just for fun. Rev up the old commodius vicus, that unstately phaeton, and go back and forth on the train-tracks of thought.

Season to taste.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 9:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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There's a coincidence. In an earlier post I argue that British Muslims are embracing the worst of our culture, and rejecting the best. So you won't get many Muslims at a classical concert, but you will get this (hat tip to that useful site Islamophobia Watch):

I wonder who is the "well known spokeswoman from the USA" who will be visiting the Oxford Theatre, which, as you see, is not in Oxford or even Oxford Street, but in London's East End, "oposite" Tesco's. Very aposite.

By the way, to answer the question in the title of this post, yes music is haram. But do the "Palestinian Poetz" count as music?

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Posted on 11/21/2007 9:47 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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"Misunderstanders of Islam can even be imams..."
-- from Robert Spencer's comment here

Even ayatollahs and sheiks al-azhar can be misundertanders of Islam. Yes, so many Muslims all over the world, from southern Thailand to southern Sudan to southern France to southern Michigan, can be misunderstanders of Islam. And the madrasas and seminaries are apparently having great difficulty clearing those little misunderstandings up.

Deeply learned theologian of Shi'a Islam he may have been, but even the Ayatollah Khomeini, judging by the quotation below, was a Misunderstander of Islam:

"Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . . But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]…. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur'anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim."

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Posted on 11/21/2007 9:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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While speaking at Restoration Weekend, Steve Emerson explained that when he asked officials at the Justice Department why they had an exhibit booth at the Islamic Society of North America's  [a known Muslim Brotherhood front organization] convention, he was told the FBI was seeking to recruit agents. How many FBI agents are Muslim, and how many are recruiters? How many "recruit" other Muslims as a ruse to protect them from investigation?

Intelligence official: 'FBI might as well put out a sign – Double agents wanted'

WND: Thanks to lax background checks, even after 9/11, the Hezbollah spy who managed to obtain sensitive jobs at the FBI and CIA is not the first terrorist supporter to infiltrate the U.S. government.

An alleged al-Qaida operative also infiltrated the Environmental Protection Agency, according to federal investigators and court documents obtained by WND.

The case, details of which are revealed here for the first time, involves Waheeda Tehseen, a Pakistani national who obtained a sensitive position with the EPA in Washington as a toxicologist even though she was not a U.S. citizen.

Like the Lebanese national suspected of passing secrets to Hezbollah, Tehseen lied about her citizenship on her government application, a falsehood that the government failed – in both cases – to catch in its security background investigation.

In hiring Tehseen in 1998, the EPA also missed another red flag in her file – her husband's ties to Pakistani intelligence, which has a long history of clandestine support for both the Taliban and al-Qaida. Her husband served as a major in the Pakistani military specializing in intelligence.

FBI investigators say that while Tehseen had access to classified information as a toxicologist, she and her husband ran a charitable front for Osama bin Laden's inner circle in Peshawar, Pakistan. She even got colleagues to donate to the front – called Help Orphans and Widows, or HOW – which, among other things, operated an orphanage and madrassa for more than 200 boys on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

Investigators say Tehseen, a "very devout" Muslim who wears a hijab, was really acting as a conduit for money funneled to bin Laden from the Missouri-based Islamic American Relief Agency, which the Treasury Department has blacklisted for helping fund bin Laden's operations overseas. Treasury has frozen IARA's assets, and the FBI has conducted raids on its offices.

Investigators also suspect the building she used for the orphanage doubled as a safehouse for al-Qaida.

"She had big-time contacts with al-Qaida, including with people just once removed from bin Laden himself," said an FBI special agent familiar with the case.

The EPA bought Tehseen's story that HOW was a legitimate charity. In 2002, her supervisors even presented her with the agency's "Unsung Hero Award" to honor her charitable work, court records show.

The certificate, a copy of which was obtained by WND, reads: "For providing care, funds and needed articles through your own resources and contacts to isolated refugee camps often not reached by international aid groups." ...

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Posted on 11/21/2007 9:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Ed Husain's "different interpretations" business may work for him -- but work for him to believe in what? Apparently, that "terrorism" is a bad idea. But not that Islam is a bad idea, tout court, or that, more importantly, that the idea of Jihad, a Jihad perhaps conducted by non-violent means, to spread Islam until it everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule everywhere, still would give us the bleak result we wish to avoid. For Islam is against most forms of artistic expression -- statuary, paintings of living things, music. It is against the free and skeptical inquiry upon which the enterprise of science depends. It is a collectivist faith, and refuses to recognize the rights of individuals (compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with its "Islamic" version, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights). It justifies, and codifies, the mistreatment of Muslim women and of all non-Muslims under Muslim rule.

What's there to like about it? The Ed Husains of this world are not as great an advance as their sponsors and promoters appear to think. For they encourage non-Muslims to believe that they can continue to behave as if it is not Islam that is the problem, but merely this or that "interpretation" of Islam, and that Ed Husain, who can hardly be expected to have much impact, or to prevail against the good doctors of Al-Azhar and Qom, hardly be expected to win over a billion primitives who know, and are constantly re-taught, what is in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira.

A false hope, and the wrong hope, and therefore -- a dangerous hope.

Stick with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan. Accept no substitutes, no matter how nice they are or may seem to be. Perhaps the Muslims who seek an answer in jettisoning the Sunnah (e.g., Mustafa Akyol) or finding a benign interpretation of the Islamic texts, are not attempting to fool Infidels, but merely, out of desperate confusion and embarrassment over Islam, merely fooling themselves. Perhaps they are unable to bring themselves, out of filial piety, to reject Islam altogether, to see it as it is and has been. That is their problem, and they will have to deal with it. It should not be ours.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 8:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Gettysburg, scmettysburg - eat your heart out Abraham Lincoln. Comment Central, the blog of The Times has drawn up a shortlist of ten potential mottos for Britain, about which I posted rather scathingly last week:

The winner, deservedly, is:  "No motto, please, we're British." I like that, but I also like "Try writing history without us." Just think how awful it would have been.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 8:12 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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A photo taken by a camera probe of mosaics in a Roman cavern.

New Duranty: ROME, Nov. 20 — Italian archaeologists have inched closer to unearthing the secrets behind one of Western civilization’s most enduring legends.

The Italian government on Tuesday released the first images of a deep cavern where some archaeologists believe that ancient Romans honored Romulus and Remus — the legendary founders of Rome.

The cavern, now buried 50 feet under the ruins of the palace of Emperor Augustus on the Palatine Hill, is about 23 feet high and 21 feet in diameter. Photographs taken by a camera probe show a domed cavern decorated with extremely well-preserved colored mosaics and seashells. At its center is a painted white eagle, a symbol of the Roman empire.

“This could reasonably be the place bearing witness to the myth of Rome,” Francesco Rutelli, Italy’s culture minister, said Tuesday at a news conference in Rome at which a half dozen photographs were displayed.

The legend concerns Lupercal, the mythical cave where Romulus and Remus — the sons of the god Mars who were abandoned by the banks of the Tiber — were discovered by a female wolf who suckled them until they were found and reared by a shepherd named Faustulus. The brothers are said to have founded Rome in 753 B.C. The legend culminates in fratricide, when Romulus kills his twin in a power struggle.

The cave later became a sacred location where the priests of Lupercus, a pastoral god, celebrated ceremonies until A.D. 494, when Pope Gelasius I ended the practice.

The cave was discovered in January by Irene Iacopi, the archaeologist in charge of Palatine Hill, which abuts the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. It was found during restoration work on the palace of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor, after workers took core samples that alerted them to the presence of a cave.

“This is one of the most important discoveries of all time,” said Andrea Carandini, a prominent Italian archaeologist. He has long held that the myths of ancient Rome could be true. He said he derived added satisfaction from the cave’s location...

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Posted on 11/21/2007 7:07 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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YALA, Thailand, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Suspected Islamic rebels killed four Buddhist state officials on Wednesday in a roadside gun attack in Thailand's rebellious Muslim south, police said.
Four militants on two motorcycles attacked the officials in their car with a pistol and an M-16 rifle. One man and two women were killed instantly in a village in Pattani, one of the southern provinces caught up in a separatist insurgency. Another woman official died in hospital.
After the shooting, the militants hid a small bomb in a car and detonated it after cameramen and photographers finished filming, a Thai television reporter told Reuters by telephone.
"Ten minutes after I finished filming, a bomb went off in the car and I was just about 10 metres away," said Channel 7 reporter Khemin Guagoon.
Attacks continued in November, after a surge in October which followed a relative lull during the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan. 
In the nearby city of Yala, a small bomb exploded on Tuesday in a restaurant frequented by Buddhists, wounding six people, police said.
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Posted on 11/21/2007 7:04 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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From The Associated Press via the International Herald Tribune. This report carries a lot more detail than that in the Guardian.
Dutch author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the target of death threats for her criticism of radical Islam, says Muslims must demonstrate their anger when terrorism is committed in the name of religion, just as they did last year when newspapers published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Muslims must make a moral choice to defy extremists who use their religion to justify terrorism, the Somali-born former Dutch lawmaker said during a debate late Tuesday in London organized by a think tank, the Center for Social Cohesion.
"Muslims, I believe, should take to the streets when, in the name of their prophet, people are beheaded and passengers are blown up — not only when drawings of Prophet Muhammad are made," she said, referring to last year's mass protests in Muslim countries over Danish newspaper cartoons.
Sitting a few meters (yards) behind her on the stage was a bodyguard, a reminder that she lives under round-the-clock protection since the 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.
The location of the debate was kept secret until the last minute, and the audience of policy makers, academics and journalists was carefully selected.
Hirsi Ali and former Islamic extremist Ed Husain, an author, debated the West and the future of Islam, disagreeing mainly over whether Islam was a set of exact, restrictive laws or whether it had many interpretations.
Hirsi Ali, who in her book "Infidel: My Life" wrote of how she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage that led her to flee to the Netherlands, argued some tenets of Islam are inherently violent and must be rejected. After growing up as a devout Muslim, she now identifies herself as an atheist.
Husain argued that he escaped the hold militants had on him as a young man by exploring his Muslim faith more deeply and finding different interpretations. He argued the key to de-radicalizing people lay in the religion itself.
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Posted on 11/21/2007 6:56 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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I would be happier about this verdict if Jeffs had been convicted of polygamy and aiding and abetting polygamy. I don't understand why that wasn't part of the indictment.

(CNN) -- A Utah judge Tuesday sentenced polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life for his conviction on two counts of being an accomplice to rape, a court spokeswoman said.

The consecutive sentences mean Jeffs will serve at least 10 years. The exact amount of time he serves will be determined by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole in the future.

Jeffs, 51, the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, was convicted in September.

He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marriage to her 19-year-old cousin...

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Posted on 11/21/2007 6:32 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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Esmerelda reports on a Muslimah who sticks rigidly to the veil to the detriment of her child. Her words are telling:
“Yeah, but, yeah, nah, I can’t breath can I? I got this thing over my face naw, innit?” 
It is ironic that someone un-British enough to wear a niqab-style veil is nevertheless British enough to talk mindless Estuary English "yooofspeak". Then again, Muslims often seem to embrace the least attractive aspects of modern British culture, while ignoring its more admirable offerings. For example, I have posted a few times about how Muslims are adopting management-speak. Here is an example, with jargon words emboldened, as the Muslims are:
Groundbreaking courses with modules on Strategy, Political Affairs, the Media, Islamophobia and Political Jihad will teach you how. MPACUK Training is based on practical results. You will gain an understanding of some of the most important challenges facing Muslims in Britain and the world. It will deliver successfully proven and innovative solutions to these challenges...

And what kind of music is popular with Muslims? Purcell? Dowland? No, gangsta rap and hip hop.

 

This embrace of the worst of British is particularly evident in young Muslim men, who often grant themselves a great deal of licence, while restricting - even unto death - the behaviour of "their" women. Theodore Dalrymple observed a few years ago:

Many of them ... dot the city with their concubines—sluttish white working-class girls or exploitable young Muslims who have fled forced marriages and do not know that their young men are married. This is not religion, but having one’s cake and eating it....
Islam has no improving or inhibiting effect upon the behavior of my city’s young Muslim men, who, in astonishing numbers, have taken to heroin, a habit almost unknown among their Sikh and Hindu contemporaries. The young Muslims not only take heroin but deal in it, and have adopted all the criminality attendant on the trade.

What I think these young Muslim prisoners demonstrate is that the rigidity of the traditional code by which their parents live, with its universalist pretensions and emphasis on outward conformity to them, is all or nothing; when it dissolves, it dissolves completely and leaves nothing in its place. The young Muslims then have little defense against the egotistical licentiousness they see about them and that they all too understandably take to be the summum bonum of Western life.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 6:19 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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I was on the tube in London the other morning when I had to blink hard because I didn’t believe what I thought I saw.
What I thought I saw was an Eskimo wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.
When the doors slid open and the apparition got on the tube what I was looking at was a young woman (from her voice) pushing a baby in a pushchair.
She was wearing tight dark trousers, a trendy silver plaited belt slung about her hips, a parka with luxuriant fake fur trim pulled up over her head and a bright turquoise scarf over her face. At first glance I thought she had cut eyeholes in the scarf but on closer inspection she had folded it niqab style about her forehead and the rest hung down over her nose mouth chin and neck. The bulk of the hood held it all in place.
The baby, a child of about 6/9 months was well wrapped against the cold and had a large Winnie the Pooh bear facing him (I don’t know why I formed the impression the child was a boy but I did) propped up on his lap.
She got out her mobile phone.
“Yeah, but, yeah, nah, I can’t breath can I? I got this thing over my face naw, innit?” 
Puff puff, pant,pant.
“Nah, I see ya later . . . station, innit?” and she flapped the scarf, and blew through the fabric and waved a piece of paper about.
The baby started to whimper but all he had to comfort him was the face of Pooh. Mum had no soothing smile to show him and she didn’t even attempt to coo through the veil, or pat him. The poor little mite just sat in his pram showing none of the beginnings of curiosity about the wonderful new world and the new people in it that is such a delight in young children.
Changing the subject I still have not seen an "Islam is Peace - Proud to be a British Muslim" poster. I think the campaign has been collecting donations under false pretences.
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Posted on 11/21/2007 6:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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No spoonerisms, please, we're British.

I really like the Queen, and it's a shame she won't go on for ever. Jan Moir in today's Telegraph voices my thoughts:

I love the Queen. I love everything about her, from the tips of her clumpy, little shoes to the top of her bomb-proof perm.

I love the way she has never yielded to the seductions of fame, nor behaved badly, nor felt the need for a Smythson Nancy handbag or a helicopter to take her to the shops.

She never fluffs her lines, or mugs for the camera or milks sympathy or sucks up. When all around her are having affairs, whipping the butler red raw or illicitly selling off ghastly official presents from the King of Wonga, the Queen always knows the right thing to do. And then she does it.

Her behaviour, from moments of the gravest national crisis to when a weeping tot presents her with a dead-head bouquet, is always nothing less than impeccable.

For more than half a century, she has transcended both fashion and fad, and risen above the political mores of the day in her pastel twinsets and pearls.

I also like the way she rides a horse, fastens her headscarves under her chin in that big, repressed knot, and smiles when she feels like it, not when she should.

[...]

Respect, ma'am. What did we ever do to deserve you for these past 55 years? And what will we do when you have abdicated or gone? For all of a sudden, the thought of Queen Elizabeth not being there to reign over us, happy and glorious, is rather sobering.

Even if you are, like me, not the type to go flag-waving in the Mall, it is hard to quench increasing feelings of warmth and affection for the dear old Baked Bean.

[...]

We all know that there are younger or more junior members of the Royal Family who hang on to the Windsor superstructure like free-loading gargoyles, with the tendrils of scandal still curling around them like pantomime mist.

And one of them is far too sympathetic to Islam for my liking.

And while a proper sense of duty such as hers is becoming increasingly rare, perhaps her greatest achievement of all has been to endure - the hardest trick of all to pull off in public life.

In doing so, she has never been given to excess, to grand-standing, to temptation, to self indulgence or intemperance. This makes this great lady unique. In the Royal Family at least.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 5:07 AM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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I don’t know what to think about this.  From This is London.
British military chaplains in Afghanistan are urging an historic change in the rules to allow them to carry weapons when out on patrol alongside troops fighting the Taliban, because of the risk of capture.
For the first time in any theatre of conflict chaplains are no longer considered to be protected by the rules of war, because of the propaganda Taliban extremists would gain from showing "trophy" footage of a captive Christian priest.
By long tradition, clergy serving in Britain's armed forces have not carried weapons in war-zones, but now some Royal Navy Commando chaplains want to be allowed to carry a side-arm, stating that as a last resort they would rather take their own life than fall into the hands of the Taliban.
Under the Geneva Convention all military chaplains are 'non-combatants' and are granted certain protections if taken prisoner, but in Afghanistan such rules are irrelevant since the Taliban pay no heed to international law or the Convention.
UK forces in Afghanistan have already stopped observing one requirement of the Geneva Convention, as for the first time both chaplains and frontline medics have abandoned their traditional Red Cross arm bands when out in the field.
The assessment by commanders is that far from enjoying any protection, anyone wearing the Red Cross would be at greater risk from the enemy.
So far the firearms debate only involves Royal Navy Commando chaplains who minister to the Royal Marines, currently fighting and working to build security in southern Afghanistan.
Commando chaplains routinely visit forward operating bases to conduct services and offer pastoral support, and unlike most of their Army counterparts they also join troops on patrols in order to share and understand their experiences.
Uniquely among military clergy they have all completed the same training as their "flock" - in this case the gruelling 32-week Commando training course - enabling them to live and work on the frontline without being a burden to the men or their commanders.
Without Red Cross armbands they are now indistinguishable within a group of Marines, wearing identical uniform, body armour and helmets.
During training they are taught to handle and fire SA-80 assault rifles and pistols, because as trained first-aiders they are allowed to use a wounded Marine's own weapon to protect him on a battlefield.
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Posted on 11/21/2007 4:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 21 November 2007
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To support his contention that women - all women - should not vote, Lawrence Auster gives the example of a woman - one woman - who admitted to changing her mind on the basis of a "friendly note". Auster comments:

Now, in quoting this story, I don't mean to suggest that men do not sometimes base their votes on personal considerations rather than on a view of the public good. But can anyone imagine a man, not only changing his vote to the party he normally opposes because of a friendly note from a candidate belonging to that party, but making sure that this change of vote and the reason for it were announced on television?

First, is it any better for the public good if a man keeps quiet about changing his vote for silly  reasons? Secondly, and more importantly, how logical is it to generalise from one example to half the population? Many more men who vote become criminals than do women who vote. Should we therefore abolish the male franchise? Logically we should. But logic is not Auster's strong point.

Can you imagine a woman being so illogical?

Update: Larry is getting his knickers in a twist:

I was not making that one instance an argument for denying women the vote. I was not saying or suggesting: "This woman is silly, therefore women shouldn't vote." Rather I was treating that instance as a particular indication of a distinct feminine mentality...

Likewise, when I said that far more men than women become criminals, I wasn't suggesting that men shouldn't vote. Rather I was treating criminality as a particular instance of a distinct masculine mentality.

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Posted on 11/21/2007 4:21 AM by Mary Jackson
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
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An article from a Muslim site, expressing the mainstream view of music according to Islam:

Music is Haraam

References within the context of the Holy Qur`aan along with the Hadith of the Prophet confirm that music is haraam.
Interpreters of the Qur`aan have defined the term `lahwal hadith` which is mentioned in the Qur`aan as:

1) Singing and listening to songs.
2) Purchasing of male and female singers.
3) Purchase of instruments of fun and amusement.

When Sayyidana Abdullah Ibne Mas`ood , a very close companion of our Prophet was asked about the meaning of the term `lahwal hadith`, he replied

“I swear by Him besides whom there is no other God,that it refers to ghinaa (singing ).”
This statement, he repeated three times. This view is unanimously supported by the four Khalifas, the eminent Sahabaah, Tabi`een, the four Imaams and other reliable Islaamic scholars and authorities.

One hadith from the Bukhari Shareef, the most authentic Book of Hadith, further confirms unlawfulness of music and singing :

`There will be people of my Ummah who will seek to make lawful; fornication, wine-drinking and the use of ma`aazif ( musical instruments ).`
Detailed analysis of the arabic word `ma`aazif ` shows that it refers to musical instruments, the sounds of those musical instruments and singing with the accompaniment of instruments.

Closer analysis of the wordings of the Hadith establishes the prohibition of music. Firstly, the words `seek to make lawful ` shows that music is not permissible, as logically one can only seek to make lawful that which is not allowed. Secondly, if music was not prohibited, then it would not have been brought within the same context as fornication and wine-drinking.

MUSIC - IT`S EFFECTS

Muslims are aware that nothing has been prohibited by Allah except that which is harmful to the welfare of a Muslim individual and the society as a whole. The divine attribute behind the prohibition of music can be comprehended by looking into the diverse influence music can have.

Experiments carried out by doctors and professors have confirmed that the music of today is such that it does not only affect the brain, but each and every organ of one`s body. There is a close relationship between music and bodily movements. We find that people listening to music automatically start tapping their fingers and feet, as if the music is permeating in their blood.

It is also proved that music affect`s one`s emotions, increases arousal in terms of alertness and excitement and also leads to various physiological changes in the person. In a psychology experiment, it was found that listening to moderate type of music increased one`s normal heart beat, whilst listening to rock music the heart beat increased even further, yet people claim that music has no effect.

It is a very ignorant and misguided attitude to percieve music as a form of pleasure and passing of time, since the messages of today`s music follow a general theme of love, fornication, drugs and freedom.

We find that the whole world is obsessed with the kufr idea of freedom, i.e. freedom of speech, freedom of movement, etc. In modern schools and universities, we observe independence, free expression and secular thinking being encouraged. This idea of freedom, “ It`s my life, I`ll do what I want” is a predominant, underlying theme of today`s music. It is being used as a means for drilling those modern ideologies that are totally contrary to Islamic Shariah and values, into the minds of Muslims.

One should abstain from evil audacities such as listening to music and encourage others to do the same too.

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Posted on 11/20/2007 4:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
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As far as I know, North Indian Muslims have made serious contributions to the Hindustani musical tradition -- the "classical" (highly structured and developed, though improvised in performance) North Indian music. There's Ali Akbar Khan's school of Indian music in San Rafael, CA, there's Zakir Hussein's taking his tabla to all sorts of musical fusion, etc. These musical traditions are embedded in family lineages, in the cultural mores and so on. How does that square with the tenets of Islam for these Muslims? --from a reader

The explanation is that those Muslim musicians in northern India, like those wedding-singers in Afghanistan shot to death by the Taliban, or those singers of Raiin Algeria shot to death by fanatics from F.I.S., were relaxed, or lapsed, in their observance, or practice, of Islam.

The doctrine concerning music in Islam is clear: music is haram, not halal. On-line one can find both the Qur'an (in four or five English versions, presented synoptically) and the Hadith from the most authoritative collections; put "music" into their respective search engines and see what comes up.

For those whose practice conforms with the doctrine, see Afghanistan, where the Taliban murdered those Afghani wedding-singers, and even killed those those who defied the ban on listening to music on radios. See what the True Believers of the F.I.S. did to singers of Rai in Algeria. See the role of music -- non-existent -- in Saudi Arabia or other Sharia-compliant states.

There is music in Muslim societies, but its appearance is despite and not because of Islam.

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Posted on 11/20/2007 4:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
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Most Americans consider the right to bear arms a basic civil right, but in recent years urban areas have enacted restrictions. It now appears the Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of a major test case over those restrictions that will have national repercussions.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" in nearly 70 years.

The justices' decision to hear the case could make the divisive debate over guns an issue in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday's announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

The main issue before the justices is whether the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual's right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias. The former interpretation would permit fewer restrictions on gun ownership.

Gun-control advocates say the Second amendment was intended to insure that states could maintain militias, a response to 18th century fears of an all-powerful national government. Gun rights proponents contend the amendment gives individuals the right to keep guns for private uses, including self-defense.

Alan Gura, a lawyer for Washington residents who challenged the ban, said he was pleased that the justices were considering the case.

"We believe the Supreme Court will acknowledge that, while the use of guns can be regulated, a complete prohibition on all functional firearms is too extreme," Gura said. "It's time to end this unconstitutional disaster. It's time to restore a basic freedom to all Washington residents." ...

The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." ...

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Posted on 11/20/2007 4:09 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
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A comment on the probable failure of the London Olympics to revitalise local sport :-
.   .  .  he said he feared there was nobody who had "picked up the legacy ball for sport as a whole.  I do not believe yet anybody is joining up the dots of all this work. Where is the driver that is knitting this together?" he asked. "The ball should firmly sit with Sport England".
Metaphor mixing, gold to the UK!

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Posted on 11/20/2007 3:43 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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