August 2009

by Nesrine Malik, for the Guardian:

“Did you wear a burqa when you lived in Saudi Arabia?” a young woman I met at a party recently asked. I responded in the affirmative, upon which she inquired again: “But weren’t you outraged?” “Not particularly,” I said. Fixing me with an earnest stare she declared, “Well if you weren’t then I am outraged on your behalf!”

It’s tricky to respond to this with equanimity. The sentiment behind the utterance is undoubtedly a sincere and genuine one, free of any deliberate intent to patronise, but it was patronising nonetheless. This seems to be the initial turn-off when western feminism comes to the rescue, the blanket assumption that the victim has no volition nor can respond to adversity with the commensurate degree of outrage because she is so accustomed and desensitised to her own subjugation. It is a strange mix of protective sororal sympathy and smugness.



by Tim Padgett, for the Times:

Florida has a knack for turning family dysfunction into national spectacle. Ten years ago it gave us the Elian Gonzalez mess; five years later came the Terri Schiavo debacle. Now we have a new domestic dispute that threatens to become another culture-war circus, complete with a clash-of-religions angle to boot: the battle for Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio, who ran away to an Evangelical church in Orlando, Fla., because, she claims, her Sri Lankan Muslim family has threatened to kill her for recently converting to Christianity.


Many people are aware of the former-Muslim of Sri Lankan descent, Rifqa Bary, who claimed to the world that she would be killed by her father because she converted to Christianity, and her blood was “halal” now–whatever that means. Of course, such a sensational story could only be picked up, and propagandized by the Islamophobes around the world, claiming, without ever even daring to ask essential questions about the family’s beliefs and past, that indeed Rifqa’s life was in danger. However, no investigation was being done on whether or not Pastor Lorenz–the individual who was tightly holding Rifqa in the overly-dramatized-plea-for-help video–was brainwashing her. The worried parents of Rifqa Bary, are firmly upholding this claim, especially since it certainly seems more credible then Rifqa’s–or shall we say Pastor Lorenz’s–concocted testimony.


by Alain Gresh, for Le Monde:

Shortly after the first world war, the French literary critic and historian Henri Massis (1886-1970) preached a crusade against the dangers threatening European values and thought – largely identified with those of France, in his mind. He wasn’t entirely misguided: across the world, colonised nations were in revolt. He wrote: “The future of western civilisation, of humanity itself, is now under threat… Every traveller, every foreigner who has spent any time in the Far East agrees that the way in which the population thinks has changed more in the last 10 years than it did over 10 centuries. The old, easy-going submissiveness has given way to blind hostility – sometimes genuine hatred, just waiting for the right moment to act. From Calcutta to Shanghai, from the steppes of Mongolia to the plains of Anatolia, the whole of Asia trembles with a blind desire for freedom. These people no longer recognise the supremacy that the West has taken for granted since John Sobieski conclusively stemmed the Turkish and Tartar invasions beneath the walls of Vienna. Instead they aspire to rebuild their unity against the white man, whose overthrow they proclaim” (1).



An excellent op-ed by Pankaj Mishra, for the Guardian:

Is Europe about to be overrun by Muslims? A number of prominent European and American politicians and journalists seem to think so. The historian Niall Ferguson has predicted that “a youthful Muslim society to the south and east of the Mediterranean is poised to colonise – the term is not too strong – a senescent Europe”. And according to Christopher Caldwell, an American columnist with the Financial Times, whom the Observer recently described as a “bracing, clear-eyed analyst of European pieties”, Muslims are already “conquering Europe’s cities, street by street”. So what if Muslims account for only 3% to 4% of the EU’s total population of 493 million? In his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Can Europe Be the Same With Different People in It? – which was featured on Start the Week, excerpted in Prospect, commended as “morally serious” by the New York Times and has beguiled some liberal opinion-makers as well as rightwing blowhards – Caldwell writes: “Of course minorities can shape countries. They can conquer countries. There were probably fewer Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 than there are Islamists in Europe today.”

Apparently it’s not only Islamist revolutionaries, but also rapidly breeding Muslims who are transforming Europe into “Eurabia”. The birthrates of Europe’s Muslim immigrants are actually falling and converging with national averages, according to a recent survey in the Financial Times; but “advanced” cultures, Caldwell claims in his book, “have a long track record of underestimating their vulnerability to ‘primitive’ ones”. As the Daily Telegraph, quoting Caldwell, asserted last weekend, Britain and the EU have simply ignored the “demographic time bomb” in their midst. Muslims, Nick Griffin of the BNP once warned, are seducing white girls as part of a plot to take over Britain. Caldwell is also convinced that “Muslim culture is unusually full of messages laying out the practical advantages of procreation”, and, he wonders – though Muslims don’t despise Europe as much as Palestinians hate Israel – didn’t Yasser Arafat call the wombs of Palestinian women “the secret weapon” of his cause?


On the New English Review‘s iconoclast section, Rebecca Bynum had posted an entry on August 1st, 2009,  entitled “Hamas Sponsors Mass Wedding For Little Girls.” The information contained in her entry was retrieved from a blog called “Israel Matzav”. It so happens that none of the assertions are true. Garibaldi, for, explains:

The Loon world was whipped into a frenzy based on, as usual, the reinforcing winds of ignorance and hate. In what was meant to be an unremarkable story, Tim Marshall a reporter for Sky News blogged on a mass wedding celebration in the Gaza Strip officiated by  Hamas. Marshall reports in his excellent blog Islamophobia. Ignorance or Propaganda?,

The party is for 450 grooms, the brides are elsewhere, some among the 5,000 or so guests. It’s the way things are done here, Personally I’m for the mixing of the sexes, but I’m not about to argue, I’m outnumbered.


By Nick Tattersall, for Reuters:

LAGOS, Aug 6 (Reuters) – An uprising by a radical Islamic sect in northern Nigeria may ostensibly have been about religion but such bloodletting will recur unless underlying issues of poverty, unemployment and education are addressed.

West African Islam is overwhelmingly moderate and northern Nigeria home to a powerful political elite, yet militant cleric Mohammed Yusuf was able to establish a cult-like following whose members became violently anti-establishment and anti-Western.