Refugees, Emigrants and other questions of little importance

April 17, 2007

When a person must abandon his home for whatever the reasons, the drama has been set up for them. Leaving family, friends, routine ways of living is not an easy decision, the more so when this decision is in the minds of the affected persons one of life or death.

Millions of people have come to Europe from faraway places and continents, this displacement with a lot of meanings to them: integration in new cultures – civil, religious, educational, etc – and above everything the need to earn a living for themselves and their families that have been left behind in infrahuman circumstances.

Millions of people have gone to the US, both from the very American continent and also from far away. The millions of ill-called Hispanics are a living proof.

Millions of people have found the urgency of moving in the Middle East from their original places of residence to safer ones. If they knew – which they don’t – Iraqi refugees should be clamouring against the recent scandal dramatised by the President of the World Bank who has been one of the main planners of the chaotic situation to which they have been subjected for three years now.

And what can I say of the Palestinians that is not already known? They were and are still being pushed out of their legal homes by invaders who appear to have a free charter to do and undo at will in that territory.

But the real problem of all these displacements is not with the refugees and emigrants themselves, the real problem lies with us in the countries they have chosen to live in, what do we think of it? What do we do in that connection?

I am afraid the only reaction the problem receives from us is just one of distaste, of having to cope with a situation that we are reluctant to accept because that situation distabilises our way of living. We have been very tranquil until those people “dared” to intrude in our lives.

But we are also partially responsible. We have supported governments that have made it possible for the migrations to happen, for the refugees to seek asylum, and we have remained deaf and dumb, many because of ignorance, many because of passivity.

Many years ago people from our countries had to emigrate to or seek refuge in others, mainly American, and History has not wanted that we reflect on that human terrible decision. Our countries have intervened in the economic life of those which now send emigrants to us in a very significant manner: exploit of their human and natural resources, but history has not wanted that we all know about these circumstances.

And the outcome of all those interventions is the present problems in immigration. As the outcome of the problems in the Middle East is the refugees.

I know many have protested against the illegal wars in the Middle East, our governments have given us a deaf ear, our governments give an avid ear to those who designate, but not elect, them.

Is there a way for us to deal with this problem? If we thought how much these people are suffering, if we placed ourselves in their shoes, perhaps that will be the first step towards a pacific coexistence in our countries. These immigrants feel themselves marginalised and, believe me, that is the main problem we have to contend with.

The other, the basic problem, is for our governments to agree to appoint the “right persons” whose main worry be that of improving the living conditions in their countries of origin, of facilitating their access to education.

But as we have seen the “right persons” have proved  to be not so right.

Difficult task, isn’t it?

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59 Responses to “Refugees, Emigrants and other questions of little importance”

  1. I wasn’t able to find your contact info but I enjoy your blog and I was wondering if you would be interested in a link exchange with Immigration Orange. Email me at beausset at fas dot harvard dot edu if your interested. I hope this comment finds you well.

  2. anticant said

    A thoughtful piece, as is usual from you Jose, but in my view too one-sided in its conclusions.

    The current situation in Europe is that for whatever reasons – and I accept much that you say about the follies of Western policy – there is now a rapidly growing population of non-European immigrants who are hostile to our values and way of life, and have no intention of assimilating as previous historical waves of immigrants have done. They congregate in ghettoes, breed rapidly, and milk the generous EU countries’ social welfare benefits.

    Whether or not we are collectively responsible for this situation, increasing numbers of hitherto tolerant, liberal-minded people in the West are becoming highly alarmed by this situation and feel threatened by it. When you say “these immigrants feel themselves marginalised and, believe me, that is the main problem we have to contend with” you could not be more wrong. The main problem is that Muslims in Europe are not merely alienated by, but contemptuous of, our secular notions of freedom in an open society. They aspire to an Islamic one, and have no intention of going anywhere else to find it.

    That is the dilemma we are facing and you are quite right – we need an entirely different social and political policy to deal with it. But not, I think, along the lines you are advocating.

  3. Jose said

    Thank you, de Beausset. Yes I’m interested in a link exchange. Would you please let me have your e-mail address as I haven’t been able to get through to you on the one you gave above?

    You have been added to my blogroll.

    Thank you, again.

  4. Jose said

    Anticant,

    You are your usual kind, thank you.

    I am not going to tell you, Anticant, because you are well acquainted with discussions and debates, that all of them have almost a one-sided component, as they are usually based on personal experiences and views, which are, and you are also aware of this, also influenced by external factors.

    You include all of Europe in your reasoning about the problem of immigration, which is one of the issues dealt with in my post, and I think this is not a problem to be generalised. Here in Spain it is the immigrants that have problems to integrate. It is not easy to come from a totally different culture and feel like at home. In this connection one of the best rules dictated by the incumbent socialist government was to legalise foreigners working in Spain with a particular number of conditions. This favoured on the occasion more than 800,000 immigrants which helped to keep the Social benefits for the rest of the Spaniards going smoothly. On the other hand the law is applicable equally to nationals and immigrants. Another aspect of the question, education, is well directed to integration.

    Our schools are used by most immigrants, of any religious creed, and the law, based on the constitution, prescribes that religious teaching to each of those who apply for it be also provided, be them Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc.

    It is edifying to see how children of different races mix with the Spanish nationals in public schools, not so in the Catholic private schools.

    So, Anticant, I am of the opinion you may leave Spain out of your idea about integration of foreigners in Europe.

    Perhaps I didn’t express myself correctly when I spoke of marginalisation. My idea is that they feel themselves marginalised because they “feel” they are not equal to the people they must mix with, perhaps a kind of complex marked by the old colonial status in their countries.

    But I always remember that they have come across because they need us, and this is an important point to be taken into account.

    Sometimes we forget what generosity is, one other ill of modern times.

  5. anticant said

    It is always dangerous to generalise, and also difficult to avoid doing so. I have repeatedly said I am NOT hostile to Muslims as human beings, but I think there is an irreconcilable conflict between the doctrines of Islam and Western concepts of freedom, and therefore one of the other must prevail. If is is Islam, we are doomed to second-rate citizenship and mental slavery in our own countries.

    There is a thread on the Guardian CiF site this morning about the “War on Terror”, and the following two posts are relevant:

    MerryPhil:

    “I left Saudi Arabia in 1996 after working there for 10 years. I had a colleague, an Afghan Gastroenterologist who was also an influential teacher of Islam. He was a man I respected for both his professional skills and his commitment to his religion ……… until the day he explained things to me as he saw them

    1. God gave his last message to Mohammed.
    2. Mohammed and his followers gave this message to the rest of mankind
    3. Some sections of mankind wilfully refuse to accept this message.
    4. Therefore those who have accepted God’s message are entitled to bring the message to unbelievers by all and any means possible.

    How to go about addressing this widely held belief? This was not a poor man lamenting his or his co-religionists’ poverty and he made no secret that he, along with much of the Arab world, despised Palestinians. The application of the belief may be fuelled by all manner of wrongs but the belief itself is what the rest of the world needs to challenge.”

    Andybabez:

    “The ‘War on Terror’ is indeed a misnomer as it fails to identify the specific philosophy that calls for the subjugation of all free societies. Nor should it be a ‘War on Muslims’ because, like the Germans of WWII, Muslims are taught a Nazi ideology in their Qur’an but many do not adhere to its call to war against non-believers. The enemy we face is the religion of Islam itself, which by its own words calls for the conquest of all non-Islamic people. Combat Islam directly and Islamic militants can be defeated without being replaced by a fresh generation of jihadis. But if we allow schools to continue teaching Islam in the world then non-Muslims will always face an endless supply of brainwashed Islamic militants. If we had ‘respected’ Hitler’s Nazi ideology the way we ‘respect’ Islam’s teachings we would have lost to the Third Reich because it would have permitted the constant incubation of children who would grow up wanting to destroy us. Ban Islam in the West and let Muslims choose.”

    I am in entire agreement with the above. One of the follies of Blair’s government has been to hand out money to ‘faith schools’ run by religious groups. When you consider the billions of petrodollars being poured out by Saudi Arabia to fund such schools, and Wahhabi’ist imams, in Europe, it is alarming because no non-Muslim has any accurate notion of what is being taught in these places.

  6. Jose said

    I see it differently, Anticant. I see that the British government’s policy dealing with immigrants has made the huge mistake of propitiating the creation of faith schools instead of integrating children in the normal British schools, as was done in Spain. By the way, education in Spain is compulsory, free, and public schools are run by the administration. Thus, immigrants are compelled to send their children to these schools or to privately-funded ones in compliance of the law. So in the case of Britain, wouldn’t it be that immigrants feel themselves despised because of this apartheid policy?

    I am aware that there exist in Islam many who excite the religious feelings of Muslims against the West, but I have exchanged views with educated Muslims who do not follow the same premise and that are against this process.

    I have the impression your written media are not very much for an improvement of the situation in Britain. In this case the freedom of expression may be prejudicing British against Muslims and viceversa.

    And this is something that must be taken into account if a solution is wanted.

  7. boldscot said

    Originally being from Glasgow, I have seen the effects of the divide which faith based schooling imposes.
    Anyone from Northern Ireland would tell you the same.

  8. anticant said

    You are quite right about the disastrous policy of faith schools, Jose. This is happening because Blair – whos wife is a devout Catholic – believes that religion is a Good Thing.

    But you are upside down about Muslim attitudes. It is they who clamour for more faith schools, and for government money to run them. They do not wish their children to be exposed to ‘infidel’ education. Far from feeling despised, it is they who despise us. It is they who persistently demand sharia law [do you know what this consists of?].

    An article in yesterday’s ‘Times’ says that the terrorist threat from radicalised young British Muslims is growing rapidly, and runs into ‘thousands’. And have you noticed what is going on in Sweden, where there has been serious rioting in Malmo over the past three days? The city has a 25% Muslim population.

    I am sorry, but I think you are too complacent and rosy-spectacled about this iwhole ssue.

  9. earthpal said

    Jose, I agree very much with your viewpoint on the immigration/asylum and integration issue. I’ve blogged about this myself many times – with feeling! And all of it would be in line with your views. (I will cheat and C&P a few points from my blog).

    You make an important point about faith schools. Yes, as Boldscott says, it is a very divisive policy, which does nothing to encourage culture-sharing and cohesion. I’d also add that daily acts of worship are compulsory in all State schools, something which to me is very wrong.

    Regarding immigrants who fail to integrate: the location habits of people, by nature, are to seek their own kind. When British people migrate, the first thing they usually do is seek the nearest ex-pat community. And here in Britain, we have Jewish communities and Muslim communities. And Chinese immigrants often naturally form their own communities. Whites tend to locate themselves in predominantly ‘white’ areas. We even have a large Catholic community near where I live. I don’t see why integration duties/obligations should always be the sole responsiblity of the Muslims.

    And where there is a lack of integration, well with all the hostilites facing immigrants, mainly Muslim immigrants, is it any wonder that they seek refuge in their own communities? A point I’ve made many times in discussion is that it’s understandable that Muslims retreat into the protection of their own communities when they are regularly scapegoated for all the terrors in the world and are constantly faced with hostile demands to change, adapt, integrate, become Westernised.

    And although there are divisions, I live in an area that has a large Asian population and in my experience, they do integrate. We have Muslim families at our school who are always active in the daily life of the school. They attend non-Muslim kids birthday parties. And they reciprocate this. My own little boy just recently went to his Muslim friend’s house for tea. They never exclude their children from joining the Christian assemblies or *Western* activities. They are not, en masse, demanding to have their own faith schools. They are sending their kids to state schools and even Christian church schools. I’m at an utter loss as to know just how much more we think they should or could integrate? How much more can they be reasonably expected to integrate into Western culture without compromising some of their Muslim values? Clearly, they’re not going to be joining us in our local pubs any time soon. Or be seen swapping betting tips at the races. Our social culture nearly always involves alcohol and pleasure-seeking of some kind. Just because they don’t join us, it doesn’t mean they’ve totally opted out of social interaction with non-Muslims. But how often do you see non-Muslim families going out of their way to socially-interact with Muslim families? We’re all, by nature, territorial and protective of our own little family unit and we’re all happy with that. We don’t generally poke our noses into other communities unless invited.

    Some people firmly believe that Muslims not only don’t wish to integrate, they wish to impose Sharia law onto Britain. These claims, although not totally unfounded, are wildy sensationalised. A minority would desire this but it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to let it happen are we. I accept that an uncomfortably large minority are also becoming radicalised, but we can’t disregard foreign policy of being a factor in this and we certainly can’t look upon every Muslim with suspicion because that would cause even deeper divisions.

    **********

    On the very sad and emotive issue of asylum seekers, developed countries have the resources to help displaced and refuge-seeking people and I feel We must always, always consider genuine asylum seekers (there but for the grace of God or circumstance…..) Furthermore, we must strive for asylum-seeking families to remain together because there are some heart-breaking stories about children being separated from their parents once they arrive here. It’s bad enough that they’ve been dragged for miles and miles into a strange, foreign country but to be then torn from their parents is just brutal.

  10. Jose said

    Boldscott has a point, no doubt to me at least.

    Anticant,

    here are some excerpts from a longer article about Sweden and Islam:

    quote

    L. Karlsson 1985:85ff.4Berg 1998:51. One must not forget the existence of a strongly negative discourse on Catholicism in Sweden as late as in the mid-20thcentury. Today, there are Catholic intellectuals who claim that the very same prejudices that once were against Catholics are now directed towards Muslims.5See for example Morey 1994 or Sjöberg 1992. Sweden has had a Protestant, Lutheran state Church until the year 2000 when there was a separation between Church and state. Other Protestant Christian traditions have been called the free churches.6Å. Karlsson 1998:77f.7Sander 1988:33.8Sander 1988:33f.9Sander 1988:34.
    ——————————————————————————–
    Page 3
    The fascination with the Ottoman Empire During the second half of 17thcentury and the early 18thcentury the leading nobles and the crown adopted another agenda when it came to politics. Sweden’s most powerful competitor when it came to political power was Russia, and the only power useful to side with in a war against Russia was the great Ottoman Empire. Already in 1657 King Karl X Gustav sent an ambassador to Istanbul to gain the support of the Ottoman rulers against Russia.10The sought after political pact between Sweden and Ottomans became a reality during the 18thcentury when the King Karl XII ended up in Bender in the Ottoman Empire after a devastating military setback against the Russian armies at Poltava 1709. The King spent five years under Ottoman protection before returning to Sweden. During the 18th century there were continuous contacts between Sweden and the Ottomans.11Among the elite there were those who admired Ottoman civilisation, and Turkish studies (and also Persian studies) were encouraged by the State.12A Swedish embassy was established in Istanbul, which, by the way, is still there next to the Mevlevihanesi (the meeting place of the Mevlevi dervishes) in Istaklâl Caddesi 497. 13 This led to a different discourse in regards to Islam that in some ways opposed the traditional Christian discourse.Instead of the discourse on the demonised other, we find one developing on the customs and manners of the Turks; that included an interest in the issues of religious rituals and theology. In the early 18thcentury, the power relations were obvious, Sweden was the part who needed the support of the Ottoman state – not the other way around. Pretty soon Sweden was heavily in debt to the Ottomans and thefinancial affairs kept the Ottomans interested in Sweden. Interestingly enough, this led King Karl XII to create through an edict an exception to the above mentioned rules. The Muslims “and Jews” who came to Sweden from the Ottoman Empire were in 1718 guaranteed the right to perform their religions when in Sweden.14 This reflected the treatment that the King received during his stay in the Ottoman Empire when he and his following were guaranteed similar rights. Incidentally, these exceptions were the start of a series of exceptions regarding religious minorities, all granted for “economic reasons”.15 In this period, the foundations for Swedish scholarly interests in the Ottoman Empire and Islam were laid. Thus the start of the Orientalist tradition in Sweden was not connected to colonialism but with an “inferior state’s interest in a superior one”. During the 18th century a change took place. According to the historian Åsa Karlsson, who cites among others Peter Burke, the upper classes of an emerging (Western)Europe came to distance themselves more and more from both the other classes of their own societies and from other cultures. At the same time there was an urge for knowledge about the others that they had distanced themselves from.16 This change of attitude towards other ethnic groups, classes, and religions has also been discussed by other Swedish scholars.17 The writings of the European travellers become more arrogant and patronising. In the beginning of the century authors were curious, maybe puzzled but mainly trying to observe. The observations were not necessarily flawless but there was an epistemological difference in the attitude. Later there seems to be a demand of mastery and knowledge 10 Kahle 1993:iii11Hjärpe 1998:7; Å Karlsson 1998.12See for example Kahle 1993:iiif; Hjärpe 1998:8f; Å. Karlsson 1998.13Hjärpe 1998:7.14P. Karlsson & Svanberg 1997:10.15P. Karlsson & Svanberg 1997:10.16Å. Karlsson 1998:84ff.17Larsson cited in Å Karlsson 1998:84; Ambjörnsson 1994:33ff.
    ——————————————————————————–
    Page 4
    that make the travellers write in a distancing and disparaging manner. We are here witnessing the first traces of what was to become the discourse on racism and Germanic supremacy.Orientalism in it’s prime and the foundation of modern Sweden The next period of interest is the first half of the 20:th century when the foundation for modern Sweden was laid. Sweden was transformed from a poor cousin up north to a leading economic power in Europe.During the same period the Social Democratic Party gained power step by step. Instead of acknowledging domestic diversity (in regards to language, ethnicity, sexuality and even religion) a nationalistic discourse on the unity of Sweden and its people was put forth and gained hegemony. It is not before the second half of the 20thcentury that freedom of religion was granted to the citizens (and then mostly to comply to the demand of freedom from religion). Having been a poor country, Sweden had until the Second World War had an emigration that widely overshadowed the immigration. Things changed after the war.During the first half of the 20thcentury, Islam was associated with the Orient and the Orient was primary something exotic, Biblical, pre-modern and sometime erotic; at least in popular culture and consciousness. One of the central figures in the development of an academic understanding of religion in Sweden was the historian of Religions and Arch Bishop Nathan Söderblom (who was the teacher and mentor of several of the leading Swedish Orientalist scholars). He had a disparaging view of Islam that showed for example in his textbooks in history of Religions. 18 The influences of Söderblom’s texts have been crucial for the discourses on several different religions in the public school of Sweden. The historian of Religions, Christer Hedin, has summed up the overarching view of Söderblom in his writings on Islam.Söderblom holds the opinion that: Muhammad was a second rate prophet who could not keep up his call when he gained worldly power; Islam is a conservative religion which stifles progress and which is in need of a strict legalism to cover up fundamental obscurities in the theology; Furthermore it is an intrinsic quality of Islam to be expansive and greedy for power. This was of cause not a private discourse of Söderblom, instead it was connected to a common Western European discourse on Islam among historians of religions. Islam was seen almost as a dead religion, just as Arabic was studied in Sweden at the time as a dead language.19 Not many of the Swedish scholars at the time had contacts with Muslim believers. The written word was the religion and the older the texts were the more authentic.Still, several of the Orientalists at the time performed some truly scholarly work, for example Tor Andræand K. V. Zetterstéen. Islam was their primary field of study and for example Andræ’s production on Muhammad are still cited (as good scholarship) by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. There is nodoubt that these scholars had a deep respect for Islam and a great knowledge of the theology of thereligion. Rather it was the epistemological attitude to Islam that can be understood with a Saidian conceptual framework.The textbooks18Hedin 1997.19Kahle 1993.
    ——————————————————————————–
    Page 5
    The next phase of interest is when Sweden is turned into a multicultural society through immigration.Multiculturalism was actually adopted as an official policy by the Swedish government in mid 1970’s.The political left was very strong in Sweden and since mid 1960’s there was also an alliance between the intellectuals and the government. International solidarity, feminism, equality, class struggle etc. were words that were flagged by the political elite. Among other things this lead to rather radical changes in the curriculum of the public schools. For example, in the 1960’s a decision was taken to stop the professing of Christianity in school and instead do Comparative religion that was to be a critical study,not a normative study, of the religions of the world. This decision was codified in the curriculum called“Lgr-69”. One important critical aspect that should enter into the descriptions of the world religions was that of gender roles. The religion that became the symbol of inequality between the sexes was Islam.Conservative branches of Christianity also came under severe criticism, but not in the same non-reflective way as Islam did. There were many reasons for this: Firstly, the discourse developed by Swedish travellers to Muslim countries had female suppression and female otherness as important elements. Secondly, there was a change in the curriculum towards the religions as they were lived, away from the textual based knowledge about religion. The traditional clothing of Muslim women became a vivid way to representthe differences between the sexes within a religion. As a parenthesis one might add that it was during the 1920’s and 1930’s that modern women in Sweden managed to change the custom of wearing a headscarf when leaving home. This was part of urbanization and modernization in Sweden and that period was still in vivid memory at the time. Thirdly, Muslims, the Arabs and Islam became associated with the Saudi Arabian Islamic interpretation. 1970’s saw the emergence of the immense riches through oil and of cause the immense wahhabite production of da‘wa-material.

    unquote.

    http://www.islamawareness.net/Europe/Sweden/depiction.html

    I’m afraid that the example you give of the Sweden today must be linked to the Sweden of old. There is also something to be taken into account: the influence of Jews in the Sweden of today.

    I don’t, anyway, want to extend myself in this because I’d like this article to settle in the thoughts of those who read it.

  11. anticant said

    That Swedish history is all very interesting, Jose, but totally irrelevant to the 21st century situation we are in. I notice you don’t answer or refute the points I made in my previous posts, presumably because you can’t. I repeat: the values of Islam and of the West are totally incompatible, and cannot be reconciled. One or the other must prevail. With due respect to Earthpal, if Muslims are to become a welcome and acceptable element here, they will have to compormise some of their Muslim values.

    I am not entirely ignorant about immigration, being myself the grandson of a 19th century [Christian] Lebanese Arab immigrant, and also descended from Ulster immigrants to England. My Lebanese grandfather assimilated himself very successfully as a Manchester businessman, while maintaining his family, trading, and cultural links with the Levant. As a child, I knew many members of the Manchester Syrian/Lebanese and also Jewish communities; they had their distinctive quailites, but there was no sense of “not fitting in”, as is the case with British Muslims today. Having lived next door to one of the latter for 20 years, in one of the most heavily Muslim districts of London, I can say from personal experience that they do not mingle with non-Muslims, and do not wish to.

  12. Jose said

    I mentioned the Swedish history because I wanted to tell you that we cannot treat the riots in Malmo in the same light as you do with your neighbourhood in Britain. I’m afraid there’s nothing to argue against what you say in your posts, you just mention a particular story which the Guardian publishes. You yourself have told me you left the Guardian CiF because you didn’t agree with its contents, I wonder what has made you change your views now. And why should I take that story as representative of Muslims in Britain? And why should I take for granted that the generalised behaviour of Muslims in Britain coincides with that of your neighbour next door?

    The information I had about Muslims in Britain coincides with what Earthpal says in her comment, and I cannot see why I cannot accept it, knowing as I do that here in Spain there exist coincidences with Earthpal’s version which reflects also a personal experience.

    You say that the Sweden history is irrelevant to the 21st century, but you consider your immigration experience relevant. Is it perhaps because your ancestors were Christian that they had no problems in settling in Britain?

    I am sorry, Anticant, but to know exactly what happened in Sweden we must live there and be conversant with Swedish internal politics, and above all with the media, which as you know may be influential in describing the whys of the problem.

    Because the origin of the problem in Sweden may be different to what has been published in the media, and it would not be the first time that happens, as you well know.

  13. anticant said

    Jose, I did not say that I no longer post on the Guardian CiF blog because I disagree with its contents. I refuse to participate there because of the totally unprincipled and capricious censorship exercised by the proprietors on a site which they misleadingly call “Comment is Free”. Despite this, there are many more robust and wide ranging discussions there than on your blog or mine [for instance]: the people whose posts aren’t censored or deleted often disagree vigorously without being mealy-mouthed.

    Unfortunately, I do not find the same here. You do not take kindly to being disagreed with, which is fair enough – it’s your blog. On an important topic such as the likely development of Islamic influences in Europe, does it really matter if you and I disagree? It’s not whether you and I are “right” or “wrong”, but what is actually going to happen that really counts. Our respective forecasts as to that depend on our personal judgements, formed through a lifetime of experience, reading and thinking. I can only say that I think you are profoundly wrong in your benign assessment of the potential threat to Western values posed by Islam. Frankly, you make me feel as Churchill must have felt in the 1930s when well-meaning people were saying “that Hitler isn’t such a bad chap really, he doesn’t really mean all that rubbish he wrote in ‘Mein Kampf’, and his stroppiness is understandable when you consider the injustice done to Germany by the Treaty of Versailles.”

    There’s no reason at all for you to accept the evidence I put forward. We shall simply have to agree to differ, and I shall now cease posting on this thread.

  14. Jose said

    As you like, Anticant. We live in a free world, or so I try to think. If I have been rude to you, which has not been my intention, I offer my apologies.

    And I insist you are exagerating what you call “the Islamic threat”, perhaps your personal experience has convinced you of this, but there are other sensible people who do not think so.

  15. anticant said

    I have not said you have been rude to me, Jose. I say that when you have formed a settled opinion – and you hold many strong ones, some of which I agree with – you are stubbornly reluctant to consider contrary evidence.

    You said previously that in order to understand a situation, you have to live in a country and be conversant with its internal politics and media. You do not live in the UK, and you have no direct experience of what is going on here.

    What grounds do you have for insisting that I exaggerate the Islamic threat? You provide no evidence for this view, and you do not address the reasons I have repeatedly given for saying that the doctrines of Islam are as antipathetic to Western free society as Nazism was to democracy.

    So it is pointless discussing this with you. I wish you well, as always.

  16. that email should work, it’s also written in the above post.

  17. boldscot said

    ‘One or the other must prevail. ‘ is the language of Bush, anti.
    Where I come from there was a very good connection between the Muslim community and my own family. (My parents were invited to the opening of the Central Mosque in Glasgow and the first wedding, so perhaps I am biased in my viewpoint). Traditionaly there were no problems between the communities but what is certain is that the PNAC has deliberately tried to cause such problems as a long term strategic aim. They may be succeeding and the fact that we have seen relatively few problems in Britain is a testament to the tolerant attitude of the average Muslim. A recent poll in on the subject in the British papers found that Muslims were more loyal to Britain as a country and had a higher regard for British culture and Institutions than the average man in the street.
    All in all, I am with Jose on this one.

  18. Jose said

    As far as I can gather you have not provided other evidence than your personal experience. Three British persons have spoken here, what two of them manifest is contrary to what you do. These two live in Britain, as do some others I am in touch with, so my information is not a concoction of mine. I do not live in Britain but friends who do tell me their coexistence with Muslims is similar to that we experience in Spain.

    Boldscott repeats in his last comment what you had already said: “One or other must prevail”. I am afaid, Anticant, Bush and Co.’s war on terror, the continuous subliminal propaganda appeared in biased media against the Muslim world, media that are controlled by people connected to the American Neo-Cons, have affected to many people of the street in our world.

    Muslims are the bogey-man of our days for many, but the sheer reality shows me that they are not. Interested persons may use uneducated persons to commit suicide by attackig innocent people, in a way that supports Bush and Co.’s propaganda and interests. You may have problems in your neighbourhood, which I do not refute, but that may be a consequence of living in a place with an important Muslim component in its population.

    In actual fact, Islam’s doctrine is averse to murder and violence, as is the Christian doctrine. But Bush himself propped on the Christian God to start violence and death in Iraq. And I consider the latter’s criminal actions much more important than the former’s violence resulting in death and destruction. The number of dead resulting from US-led coalition’s actions is far higher than the ensuing violence provoked by a small sector of the Muslim world.

    The western world, although you may not believe it, is much more powerful than Islam. Our leaders have not wanted that this power be used for the time being, but I am firmly convinced that whenever they want to stop radicalism they will. And I am sure the joined secret services of the western countries are able to stop Bin Laden’s activities whenever they wish. One other thing is that those very same western countries be interested in doing so for now.

    I am old enough to be aware where my own faculties reach, I have no delusions of grandeur, but I can still call a spade a spade. As can many of those friends who participate in blogs and forums which are not comparable, so you say, to the opinions shown in newspapers of international distribution, as is The Guardian, much that it exercises its vetoing abilities.

    I am happy enough to be an infinitesimal dot of this immense world of communications.

  19. anticant said

    Jose, you know perfectly well that I agree with you entirely about the lunatic folly and criminality of the Bush administration. The USA was hijacked by political thugs when the Supreme Court allowed Bush to steal the 2000 election by stopping the Florida count. Most of the world’s subsequent ills stem from that corrupt decision.

    That is not the subject of this thread. The issue I persist in raising is whether or not Islam as a religio-political doctrine is compatible with democracy and a free society as we in the West understand and live it [flawed though our contemporary democracy is]. You, apparently, believe that there is no logical or actual conflict, but you are unable to produce any evidence of Muslim societies, either past or present, which bear even the faintest resemblance to democracy with equal rights for all citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

    If you really believe that Islam’s doctrine is averse to murder and violence, you have not studied the Islamic sacred texts. They make it crystal clear that Islam is about submission of the entire world to Allah and his Prophet.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. There is no excuse for Israeli violence, Muslim violence, or Western violence. Unlike you, I do not turn a blind eye to any of the three.

    My concern is about the impact upon Europe during the coming years of a rapidly growing Muslim population. I do not believe that these people – whether immigrants or born in Europe – will simply settle down amicably alongside the rest of us without making a palpable and detrimental impact upon the nature of our society. This is, in fact, already happening not only in Britain but in many other European countries. When you say that my fears stem from living in a place with an important Muslim component in its population, you hit the nail exactly on the head. This country is swiftly becoming a much more uneasy place because most of its growing Muslim population regard their right to promote their religious beliefs as more binding upon them than their democratic civic obligations. No other immigrant or religious minority behaves in this arrogant purblind fashion.

    Power is relative, and its balance can change quickly. This is happening due to the Bush/Blair idiocies in Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is becoming perceptibly weaker, month by month, and if this continues I am fearful for the future because – regardless of my hostility to those presently in power – I wish to continue living in a democracy and not in a theocratic tyranny, whether Christian or Islamic.

  20. christianzionismexposed said

    It’s interesting to me that the ‘Muslim threat’ some perceive hasn’t happened to the extent of any major (comparatively) loss of life or war, while the ‘civilized’ European and American threat has. It is Blair and Bush and their multitudinous ‘civilized followers’ who have brought total devastation to Iraq, which could easily spread across the entire Middle East..and beyond.

    Who should we be more afraid of: Small pockets of terrorists or entire superpowers on the rampage with nuclear warheads and other WMDs?

  21. anticant said

    I am not in the least afraid of small pockets of terrorists; the absurd caterwauling over their few and puny atrocities is cowardly and contemptible. Even the Twin Towers casualties were trivial in numbers – though not in human tragedy – compared with WW2 civilian bombing deaths. It is not physical terrorism, but the anti-Western ideological terrorism being actively spread every day amongst disaffected Muslim youths in Europe by extremist Islamic preachers funded by Saudi petrodollars, that is the real long-term threat. A sleeping fifth – or sixth – column is building up which unless IDEOLOGICALLY disarmed will be capable of creating serious mayhem within a decade. How is this to be effectively countered? Not by our current leaders, who are themselves fatally tainted.

    Doesn’t it occur to you that the real problem with Muslims is to their credit – unlilke most Christians [European ones, anyway] they actually BELIEVE in the crazy doctrines of their fairy-tale religion. And they have centuries-long memories of earlier Crusades and [most of them] ample patience. Time is on their side. They have only to sit tight in our midst, smile pleasantly [if invisibly inside their burkas], and breed. It is only the young hotheads who yearn to practice immediate violence, and they are mostly under pretty effective security surveillance now.

    Far from discounting or despising Arab and Asian Muslims’ intelligence, I think they are a great deal more determined, deep-thinking, patient and subtle than the shallow, bombastic, pathetic Americans so idolised by the cretinous Blair. It is thanks to Bush and Blair’s demented actions following 9/11 that a serious and sustained anti-Western Jihad is now much more popular, feasible and on the cards than it was before.

    And, reverting to one of Jose’s earlier points, I entirely agree that the Americans know perfectly well where bin Laden is – and so do the Saudis, who are almost certainly not nearly so hostile to him as they pretend. He may even be in a CIA safe house in Pakistan. There are current rumours that the Bush crowd will pick him up and triumphantly produce him like a rabbit out of a hat just before the next presidential election, to ensure that their candidate beats the feeble Democrats again.

    There is no end to the dirt and folly that is US politics! I am sure we at Jose’s agree on that, at least.

    As for nuclear warheads and WMDs, unless the barmy Rapturists yearing for “Armageddon” prevail upon the neoCons to become completely demented, the West is far less likely to use them than other states and groupings who are currently bent on acquiring them.

    PLEASE don’t tell me that religion has nothing to do with any of this, folks!

  22. Jose said

    Though it might only serve to allay some of Anticant’s fears, this piece of news appeared today that speaks of a move of the Arab League to start talks with Israel, it does not really show Arabs are not for peace in that region.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070419/ap_on_re_mi_ea/arabs_israel

    Anticant says:

    “If you really believe that Islam’s doctrine is averse to murder and violence, you have not studied the Islamic sacred texts. They make it crystal clear that Islam is about submission of the entire world to Allah and his Prophet”

    I don’t believe that the last part of this paragraph has been correctly interpreted, further you may know that translations of ancient books in that epoch little known languages can, and in fact do, deviate the real meaning of their teachings. I’m not, of course, conversant with the teachings of Islam, I can only repeat what significant members of that religion have publicly said.

    Anticant says:

    “Two wrongs don’t make a right. There is no excuse for Israeli violence, Muslim violence, or Western violence. Unlike you, I do not turn a blind eye to any of the three.”

    Am I turning a blind eye to any to any of the three violences you mention? I don’t remember having implied that I do. I have just said that in my opinion you are exagerating, conveniently to Bush and Co., a Muslim threat, which can be easily erased off the Earth’s crust if only the western countries so decided.

    By saying that perhaps your fears came from the fact that you are living in a zone with a very important Muslim component, I meant that this could be the cause of your problem, people in need tend to gather, rogues proliferate, but there are ways to deal with this and it is up to the police and the security forces to implement the corrections the law imposes.

    Have people in your zone denounced this to the authority which has to do with these problems? Because if they have, then the problem in your zone may be a different one, something that deserves other ways and manners to handle it. Not in my opinion through the newspapers exclusively.

  23. Jose said

    This thread is becoming very heavy as it is, so I’ll revert in the course of the day to some other interesting points that have been raised by Boldscott and Christian Zionism Exposed.

  24. anticant said

    You are right, Jose: this has got too prolonged. So I’ll sign off by saying I don’t think people should base their beliefs and actions on the sayings of ancient “sacred” books, whether read in archaic languages or dubious translations. The whole idea is nonsensical piffle. That is the problem.

  25. boldscot said

    Well said, Anticant.

  26. Jose said

    As you like, Anticant. However I don’t think “submission to God” implies murder and violence to achieve it. And, of course, there have always been bad people and good people, people who don’t respect their “neighbours” and people who do, and this has got nothing to do with religion, religion is a question of individual faith, what is wrong is using religion for murder and violence, in that I think we do agree.

    Boldscott,

    What you have said coincides with the way Muslims behave in my country. I can see however that in France there are zones heavily populated by Muslims that are experiencing problems, but I understand the police there is dealing with them in the way the law prescribes.

    Perhaps it is a question of who those Muslims are, if they are from Arab countries or from Asian origin may have an important incidence in their behaviour. If they are from former colonies or not.

    Education, as it has been already mentioned, plays an important role, as it did in my country when Catholic Religion was a compulsory subject in teaching.

    But I insist integration is the best weapon our authorities should wield to tackle the problem.

    CZE,

    You are American and you do know how these Muslim matters are dealt with in America. And you also know how their counterpart, Zionists and Christian-Zionists also interfere in those matters in a subtle manner.

    Your site amply deals with this religious topic. And it’s worth reading:

    http://christianzionismexposed.blogspot.com/

  27. anticant said

    Jose, You and I agree about many things – above all that violence, murder, rape, looting etc. etc. are utterly wrong, whether carried out under the pretext of religion or not. But I think you are entirely mistaken in your entrenched view that such behaviour has “nothing” to do with religion, because religion is simply a question of individual faith.

    I entirely agree with you that individual faith is all that religion SHOULD be about; but as a matter of plain observation religious belief in fact incites and supposedly sanctifies the commission of horrendous actions all over the world, and has done so down the centuries on the part of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and adherents of other superstitious creeds.

    It is all very well to say that the notion that Islam is a religion of conquest, and not of peace, is a misunderstanding or mistranslation of some ancient document: the fact is, the Koran is believed by many millions of Muslims around the world to prophesy their domination of all ‘infidels’ in the name of Allah. This may be a misunderstanding, but who are we to disabuse them of it? The consequence is widespread fanaticism which threatens your and my peace and security, and to say that this is “nothing” to do with Islam or with true religion is simply absurd.

    You can’t integrate Muslims into a European secular society they don’t wish to belong to, any more than the Americans can impose their style of “democracy” upon the Middle East. I am sorry, but I think that in this respect you are being as purblindly naive as Bush & Co.

    If the West got out of the Middle East, and the Muslims got out of Europe, everything would be a whole heap better. But this is not going to happen, and as things are we shall face increasing trouble as the years go by. You cannot mix oil and water.

  28. Richard said

    “You cannot mix oil and water”…

    Indeed not, but you need both for the engine to run properly.

  29. anticant said

    Yes – kept well separated! [And I’m not advocating apartheid……]

  30. Richard said

    Yes – but working together…

  31. anticant said

    You mean an ASBO on Monday and a Sharia hand-chop on Tuesday?

  32. Richard said

    No. I mean the oil can’t do without the water, and the water can’t do without the oil – if you want the engine to work properly.

    The oil is not superior to the water, neither is the water superior to the oil.

    They both have their vital roles to play in a properly functioning system – or the system breaks down.

    But your wry humour is not lost on me, AC.

  33. boldscot said

    To show you it is not so simple, I was accused of ‘heinous crime’ after making a comment on the Guardian.
    Peter Tatchell actually ‘accused’ me of being a Muslim hater. Ooooooooh.
    My crime, in context, was to point out that anyone with connections to The Henry Jackson Society must be suspect.
    Tatchell said :
    ‘I concur with others: the idea that a liberal, secular, peace-loving Muslim must be a stooge of the West colludes with stereotypical, prejudiced attitudes towards Muslim people. I find it deeply offensive. It borders on Islamophobia.’

    http://geobay.com/7f1535

  34. anticant said

    OK Richard, but you mustn’t mix the water with the petrol.

    Good point, Boldscot. Tatchell – who is much gentler as a private person than his somewhat abrasive public persona would suggest – has a difficult row to hoe, hasn’t he, what with prominent Muslim clerics advocating hurling gays from the tops of tall buildings on the one hand and his need to keep his all-purpose human rights chámpion pose bright and shining on the other. As I pointed out on my blog a while ago, “Islamophobia” is a nonsense – there’s nothing irrational in the dislike liberals have for Islamic doctrine.

    As for these famous “moderate Muslims”, will somebody please produce some who arguing persistently and vocally within Islam against the extremists? They may exist, but I haven’t succeeded in tracking them down yet. It’s like hunting the Snark. If there are any, they keep terribly quiet.

  35. Richard said

    AC – of course there are “moderate Muslims” – those who do not advocate “persistently and vocally” against world-domination and terror – just as there are “moderate Christians”, “moderate” Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Homosexuals, Heterosexuals, Feminists, or whatever group which happens to be the target of hatred and bigotry…

    These “moderates” , as I see it, form the 99.9% majority.

    And, Boldscot, you are right : “Anyone with connections to the Henry Jackson Society must be suspect” (Richard W. Symonds, The Cyril Joad Society)

  36. anticant said

    Richard, I think I know what you mean but your first sentence is unclear. I realise these people exist, but currently they aren’t pulling their weight within Islamic discourse – probably out of fear. To be anything other than useful idiots, they should now be shouting their heads off, but could expect to have them cut or blown off if they did. That’s the problem. I wish you were right about 99.9%; I think it’s probably more like 95% of the world population who are peace-loving and appraently incapable of reining in the rogue elements of humanity.

    Who was Henry Jackson?

  37. Jose said

    I see, Anticant, that we are agreed on the essential questions posed by this topic, with some unimportant (?) nuances which I’ll leave as they are, so that I may be able to hop out of my trench.

    Howevere I wish to add that if religions did not exist the human being would pick up on anything else to pit the ones against the others at whim.

    Boldscott confirms this by his anecdote regarding his being accused of being a Muslim-hater. This is very typical of communications nowadays. Any comment on any aspect of a particular race or religion is immediately enclosed in a term with the prefix “anti-“. If we discuss the holocaust, then we are dubbed anti-semite; if we discuss aspects of Islam, we are dubbed rightaway anti-Muslims, or if we discuss the Bush-led invasion of Iraq, then we are dubbed anti-Americans. There must always be an “anti-” to explain why wars occur. (no pun intended, please!)

    I remember the history I learnt when it succinctly said that the First World War happened because an Arch-Duke was assassinated at Sarajevo. The Spanish civil war was detonated by the assassination of a politician of the Right, Calvo-Sotelo. There must always be an excuse.

    Is it human susceptibilities? I would say they are also used for unconfessable aims, patriotism, nationalism, racism and numerous reasons ended by -ism can be put in the same bag containing ideas to trigger off wars and conflicts.

    I have found a site which tells of tolerance in Islam and which I think is a worth-reading article.

    Here:
    http://www.cyberistan.org/islamic/toleran1.html

    It apparently has nothing to do with the topic under discussion, but the fact is that perhaps many of the ills of today have their roots in the past, colonial or otherwise.

    I am thinking what would happen if the Islamic countries were given the chance of exploiting themselves their natural resources instead of having multinationals do it. Would that encourage Muslims and Asians to return to their places of origin? Would that deplete the European and American coffers and make us emigrate to the countries where oil and gas are extracted and their main source of income?

  38. All-
    My apologies for stepping in here rather late and backwards, as Mimi likes to say….she was born two weeks late, feet first…. I’d just like to say that I think everyone of you are making very important and equally valid points. Dismissing the few extreme and uneducated arguments going on in the rest of the world this thread is a fine example of the heated debate that is happening in most parts of the western world right now. Yet again Jose, you have us all reading intently and clamoring to add unique perspectives. This is surely the best way to ‘work it out’. Thanks.

    Being an immigrant myself, not claiming to have gone through any of the hardships or religious shock that a Muslim refugee must go through, I can surely appreciate how difficult it is to adjust to a new society and culture. Natives owe it to new comers to be as tolerant and respectful as possible, where would ‘they’ be without ‘us’ or vice versa? That being said, if one doesn’t care to follow the rules of the historical law set down in the new country of residence…..tough shit. The western nations have been attempting for decades if not hundreds of years to set up more secular and democratic systems. This should not come as a shock to anyone Muslim seeking residence in a ‘western’ nation. I’m sure it doesn’t. That is why it makes me so frustrated when I see certain Muslims attempting to fight for Sharia Law in a western country. I suppose that is their prerogative, however, they shouldn’t expect to get very far. And if they do get too far, it is not the responsibility of the ‘neighbor’ to go out and set things right, so to speak. As I think you suggested Jose, this is the role of law enforcement. One’s attempt at expressing their rights and freedoms must not infringe upon another’s rights and freedoms. Basic principal we’re all attempting to live by here in the “land of the free”. If our elected officials can’t get this idea straight, they should be removed. Anyone not fighting for a more secular democratic society is, in my book, out to lunch. The time for superstitions of any kind in the courthouses and parliaments of our nations is over. Keep it in your own backyard, and we’ll all be much better for it.

    Even with all the reading we do, our reactions will always be most influenced by what it’s like “on the ground” where we are at that moment in time and I’ll just add that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many more moderate Muslims than extremist ones, but of course this is most likely indicative to the part of the world I live in. Extreme Muslims don’t stand a chance in the U.S. out in the open and don’t seem to stir up the shit here in Canada all that much.

    After recently attending a very insightful and informative lecture sponsored by the Islamic Student Union at Dalhousie University given by a editor/columnist for the Toronto Star,Haroon Siddiqui -a man who seems to have his finger on the pulse of this issue, I can add that the seemingly ubiquitous fear and suspicion of Muslim in general that is becoming so prevalent in western culture is likely helping exacerbate as much new Muslim extremist fervor than the war itself. Native westerners must be very careful not to make things worse while trying to make things better.
    Hell, I know humble, well meaning moderate Canadian Muslims that are themselves fearful of a potential extremist Muslim movement being created here simply because of the media’s attempt to make a buck, not because it is likely to happen.
    I’m wondering if Canada is inherently a more tolerant place than Europe and therefore breeds less extremism in general, or are we Canucks just further removed from it due to our country’s age and our proximity to the Middle East..? I’m not sure if it’s either.
    My apologies for not adding more quality into this thread. It’s been a long day in a long week here.
    I think the easy answer to your questions jose would be…. mandatory voting for all citizens, old and new. So many new immigrants refuse to go through the motions of becoming a citizen or don’t realize the potential benefit. This involvement would surely equal the playing field on both sides of this debate. Hell, I don’t we’d be having this debate if everyone took part in their democracy. Do you?

  39. So, it all comes back to the oil than eh Jose? There is the answer to all our problems then. But I’m afraid people will always be on the move. it is what we do.

  40. Richard said

    If I ever wanted to emigrate, and I had a choice – I would choose Canada.

  41. anticant said

    Thanks, 1loneranger, for your cool, fresh eye on this debate. And thanks, Jose, for your courage in setting up such debates, and your patience when they become a trifle overheated.

    Everyone who posts here is evidently in agreement as to what they want – namely, a more peaceful, tolerant, and just world. The issue is, how best to get there? This unavoidably leads to attempts to identify the human and intellectual obstacles, which are differently perceived from our various perspectives. As Jose so well says, to criticise any person, group, or belief leads, in these overheated days, to charges of being “anti” this, that and the other. I have repeatedly said that I am not anti Muslims as human beings – or any other human beings as human beings – but I do perceive rapidly spreading bigotry and intolerance in the way many of the present generation of Muslims – especially the younger ones – interpret their creed. History is all very well, and knowledge if it is essential to start understanding how we came to be where we are now – but as has been said, the one sure thing we learn from history is that very few people learn anything from history!

    Our present situation is far more dire and dangerous than any I can remember in my lifetime – including World War II – which is why I may sometimes make overheated comments without intending offence to anyone. This world crisis is unusually complex, which is why it is an oversimplification to say that it is “all” because of oil, or “all” because of religion. All these motives and impulses are tangled up together, and the surest way of understading them is to observe closely what people are doing, as distinct from what they are saying, or the rationalisations they draw from history.

    I agree with Jose that it would be much healthier if the Middle East was left to run its own affairs, and to control the oil wealth there. Two impediments to this happening are that the West will always be greedy for oil, and the Middle Eastern regimes are not likely to become more democratic [American or other version] any time soon, however much military and ideological pressure is applied.

  42. Richard said

    AC, I would like to pick up what you said in your last sentence – and develop it a little further if I may, to see where it leads…

    “Middle Eastern regimes are not likely to become more democratic (American or other version)…”

    I have a problem with calling the “American or other version” a democracy. For me, the US is NOT a democracy – neither is the UK – both are an undemocratic plutocracy.

    “Plutocracy” is a difficult word to pin down – rather like “Autocracy”, “Fascism” etc

    George Orwell is a help here – someone who can make language as “clear as a window pane” – crystal clear. His last-known published words were these – 58 years ago (June 1949) :

    “Danger lies…in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook…The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one : DON’T LET IT HAPPEN. IT DEPENDS ON YOU”

    “A totalitarian outlook” – that’s Plutocracy.

    “The acceptance of…” – that’s our obedience to that authority.

    To call a Western superpower a “democracy” (eg United States/United Kingdom) is, as Chomsky says, a “necessary illusion” – in reality, it has a “totalitarian outlook”, and the danger lies – as Orwell says – in our “acceptance” of it.

    This analysis helps me to immediately ‘see through’ the dangerously arrogant nonsense of David Horowitz’s Orwellian “Freedom Center” – the founder of the hysterical ‘FrontPage.com’ – and his latest fanatical extremism in the guise of American ‘democracy’ :

    Just google this, and you will see what I mean : “Conservative Students Join in National Demonstration Against Islamic Fascism…Freedom Center…David Horrorwitz (sorry, Horowitz)”

    Shalom

  43. Richard said

    By the way, Orwell wrote those last-published words in a “Statement On Nineteen Eighty-Four”, in response to what he saw as the American media’s complete misunderstanding of his last book.

    This serious misrepresentation of his ‘magnum opus’ caused him much distress. He died 7 months later – aged 46.

  44. anticant said

    True “democracy” is an unfulfilled aspiration, as is “Christianity” or “world peace”. Insightful people must strive ceaselessly to put healthier flesh on the notion. For Americans, their “democracy” is an article of faith – a noble myth – and has been ever since the Revolution. Their rosy vision of themselves explains – but does not excuse – why they feel entitled to blunder recklessly around the world causing mayhem, bestowing the dubious blessings of their matchless “civilisation” upon the rest of us. They cannot conceive of themselves as anything but virtuous.

    When asked what he thought about Western civilisation, Ghandi replied that it would be a good idea.

    I shall be blogging more about these topics in anticant’s arena when I am feeling more robust than I do st the moment.

  45. Jose said

    1loneranger,
    We have a saying here that runs: “Late’s better than never”. Thank you.

    Never must the laws of a country be adapted to suit a minority, be them immigrants or locals (such as the powerful). Immigrants in all cases must accept, and adopt, the laws of the host country. In Spain we have problems with gypsies. Gypsies as you know are minorities in all countries, perhaps their nomad traits have made this possible, but the fact is that they always stick to their age old particular laws, true that only in their inner circles, but anyhow living in a country implies compliance of its laws and norms. There cannot be a country inside another country.

    The last paragraph of your comment involves democracy in the issue under discussion and I coincide with your view that once in a country behave like the locals do (meaning honest locals – LOL). This must also imply elections. If you must accept the laws, then you must be entitled to do what the nationals of that particular country do.

    Another question is that democracy must be “honed” if we must expect it to work better – to work perfectly I’m afraid is practically impossible.

  46. Jose said

    Thank you, Anticant, for your ideas and views which make discussions brighter and more enjoyable.

    Intolerance and intolerants must be banned by law I fully agree with you on that issue and I am sure the rest of our colleagues here also do. Intolerants be them from the very self country or from abroad are a blight in our existence and the cause of many of our ills and therefore be dealt with in the most suitable way. Laws are enacted to deal with our problems and this is a problem for which laws should be enacted in an effort to eradicate intolerance.

    The last paragraph of your comment makes me think. You say:

    “I agree with Jose that it would be much healthier if the Middle East was left to run its own affairs, and to control the oil wealth there. Two impediments to this happening are that the West will always be greedy for oil, and the Middle Eastern regimes are not likely to become more democratic [American or other version] any time soon, however much military and ideological pressure is applied.”

    Sooner or later this will be solved by another problem. Oil may remain as an energy in the world, but the last trend is having a different type of energy, an energy that does not ruin our atmosphere, as oil derivatives are doing, this may imply a reduction in oil revenues for the producing countries, therefore for their corrupt leaders and much more for their citizens. Another important problem looming in the not too distant future.

    Democracy in the oil producing countries must come by the hand of the majority of their inhabitants and it must be free of all impurities, without any external intervention that is not the welfare and freedom of their people. It is the only way for them to coexist with the rest of the world, which, also, should be adapting their “democracies” to the new times.

    Again, thanks, Anticant.

  47. Jose said

    Richard,

    Indeed, we talk of democracy, we fill our mouths with that word but the reality is that that word is empty, depleted of contents in the modern world.

    The influential media, that is those means of communication that we all know are controlled by the world plutocracy, are very much blameable for the ills our societies are going through. The fear instilled into the people’s minds for the so-called war on terror has been mostly instigated by those media moguls connected to pressure groups and influential lobbies.

    Many things must have to be changed in our countries for us to be able to say that we are really free. At my age I’d say I won’t be witnessing any substantial changes of this kind, the only thing you and I can do is raking our grains of sand little by little to the erection of that mountain that suppresses once and for ever the injustices in this world.

    While we are allowed to, of course.

    Amen.

  48. anticant said

    Your idealism is, as always, impeccable Jose. The practical issue is, how are we to move nearer to these shining goals? It is all very well saying things “should” be so, and thjs “ought” to happen. I entirely agree – but how? Almost the entire world is presently in the grip of selfish, immoral rulers hungry for unbridled, unprincipled power [see the splendid attack on US NeoCons which I have posted as a link in my arena this morning]. How can this corrupt “tail”, in the West and the East, be subjected to the will of the peaceloving, good-hearted majority [Richard says 99.9%; I say 95%]. The problems are similar, but in some respects very different, in the West and in the East. As we happen to live in the West, it is our primary responsibility to bend our efforts to improving matters here.

    As for “when in Rome…” would you want to live in Iran?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html

  49. anticant said

    In case the link doesn’t work, here is the article:

    Iran Exonerates Six Who Killed in Islam’s Name

    By NAZILA FATHI
    Published: April 19, 2007

    TEHRAN, April 18 — The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.”

    The reversal, in an infamous five-year-old case from Kerman, in central Iran, has produced anger and controversy, with lawyers calling it corrupt and newspapers giving it prominence.

    “The psychological consequences of this case in the city have been great, and a lot of people have lost their confidence in the judicial system,” Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer associated with the case, said in a telephone interview.

    Three lower court rulings found all the men guilty of murder. Their cases had been appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned the guilty verdicts. The latest decision, made public this week, reaffirms that reversal.

    “The objection by the relatives of the victims is dismissed, and the ruling of this court is confirmed,” the court said in a one-page verdict.

    The ruling may still not be final, however, because a lower court in Kerman can appeal the decision to the full membership of the Supreme Court. More than 50 Supreme Court judges would then take part in the final decision.

    According to the Supreme Court’s earlier decision, the killers, who are members of the Basiji Force, volunteer vigilantes favored by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, considered their victims morally corrupt and, according to Islamic teachings and Iran’s Islamic penal code, their blood could therefore be shed.

    The last victims, for example, were a young couple engaged to be married who the killers claimed were walking together in public.

    Members of the Basiji Force are known for attacking reformist politicians and pro-democracy meetings. President Ahmadinejad was a member of the force, but the Supreme Court judges who issued the ruling are not considered to be specifically affiliated with it.

    Iran’s Islamic penal code, which is a parallel system to its civic code, says murder charges can be dropped if the accused can prove the killing was carried out because the victim was morally corrupt.

    This is true even if the killer identified the victim mistakenly as corrupt. In that case, the law requires “blood money” to be paid to the family. Every year in Iran, a senior cleric determines the amount of blood money required in such cases. This year it is $40,000 if the victim is a Muslim man, and half that for a Muslim woman or a non-Muslim.

    In a long interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, a Supreme Court judge, Mohammad Sadegh Al-e-Eshagh, who did not take part in this case, sought Wednesday to discourage vigilante killings, saying those carried out without a court order should be punished.

    At the same time, he laid out examples of moral corruption that do permit bloodshed, including armed banditry, adultery by a wife and insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

    “The roots of the problems are in our laws,” said Mohammad Seifzadeh, a lawyer and a member of the Association for Defenders of Human Rights in Tehran. “Such cases happen as long as we have laws that allow the killer to decide whether the victim is corrupt or not. Ironically, such laws show that the establishment is not capable of bringing justice, and so it leaves it to ordinary people to do it.”

    The ruling stems from a case in 2002 in Kerman that began after the accused watched a tape by a senior cleric who ruled that Muslims could kill a morally corrupt person if the law failed to confront that person.

    Some 17 people were killed in gruesome ways after that viewing, but only five deaths were linked to this group. The six accused, all in their early 20s, explained to the court that they had taken their victims outside the city after they had identified them. Then they stoned them to death or drowned them in a pond by sitting on their chests.

    Three of the families had given their consent under pressure by the killers’ families to accept financial compensation, said Mr. Ahmadi, the lawyer.

    Such killings have occurred in the past. A member of the security forces shot and killed a young man in 2005 in the subway in Karaj, near Tehran, for what he also claimed was immoral behavior by the victim.

    A judge caused outrage in 2004 in Neka, in the north, after he issued a death sentence for a 16-year old girl for what he said were chastity crimes. After the summary trial, he had her hanged in public immediately, before the necessary approval from the Supreme Court.

    Neither man has been punished.

    “Such laws are not acceptable in our society today,” said Hossein Nejad Malayeri, the brother of Gholamreza Nejad Malayeri, who was killed by the group in Kerman. “That means if somebody has money, he can kill, and claim the victim was corrupt.”

  50. anticant said

    In case the link does not work, here is the article:

    Iran Exonerates Six Who Killed in Islam’s Name

    By NAZILA FATHI
    Published: April 19, 2007

    TEHRAN, April 18 — The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.”

    The reversal, in an infamous five-year-old case from Kerman, in central Iran, has produced anger and controversy, with lawyers calling it corrupt and newspapers giving it prominence.

    “The psychological consequences of this case in the city have been great, and a lot of people have lost their confidence in the judicial system,” Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer associated with the case, said in a telephone interview.

    Three lower court rulings found all the men guilty of murder. Their cases had been appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned the guilty verdicts. The latest decision, made public this week, reaffirms that reversal.

    “The objection by the relatives of the victims is dismissed, and the ruling of this court is confirmed,” the court said in a one-page verdict.

    The ruling may still not be final, however, because a lower court in Kerman can appeal the decision to the full membership of the Supreme Court. More than 50 Supreme Court judges would then take part in the final decision.

    According to the Supreme Court’s earlier decision, the killers, who are members of the Basiji Force, volunteer vigilantes favored by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, considered their victims morally corrupt and, according to Islamic teachings and Iran’s Islamic penal code, their blood could therefore be shed.

    The last victims, for example, were a young couple engaged to be married who the killers claimed were walking together in public.

    Members of the Basiji Force are known for attacking reformist politicians and pro-democracy meetings. President Ahmadinejad was a member of the force, but the Supreme Court judges who issued the ruling are not considered to be specifically affiliated with it.

    Iran’s Islamic penal code, which is a parallel system to its civic code, says murder charges can be dropped if the accused can prove the killing was carried out because the victim was morally corrupt.

    This is true even if the killer identified the victim mistakenly as corrupt. In that case, the law requires “blood money” to be paid to the family. Every year in Iran, a senior cleric determines the amount of blood money required in such cases. This year it is $40,000 if the victim is a Muslim man, and half that for a Muslim woman or a non-Muslim.

    In a long interview with the Iranian Student News Agency, a Supreme Court judge, Mohammad Sadegh Al-e-Eshagh, who did not take part in this case, sought Wednesday to discourage vigilante killings, saying those carried out without a court order should be punished.

    At the same time, he laid out examples of moral corruption that do permit bloodshed, including armed banditry, adultery by a wife and insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

    “The roots of the problems are in our laws,” said Mohammad Seifzadeh, a lawyer and a member of the Association for Defenders of Human Rights in Tehran. “Such cases happen as long as we have laws that allow the killer to decide whether the victim is corrupt or not. Ironically, such laws show that the establishment is not capable of bringing justice, and so it leaves it to ordinary people to do it.”

    The ruling stems from a case in 2002 in Kerman that began after the accused watched a tape by a senior cleric who ruled that Muslims could kill a morally corrupt person if the law failed to confront that person.

    Some 17 people were killed in gruesome ways after that viewing, but only five deaths were linked to this group. The six accused, all in their early 20s, explained to the court that they had taken their victims outside the city after they had identified them. Then they stoned them to death or drowned them in a pond by sitting on their chests.

    Three of the families had given their consent under pressure by the killers’ families to accept financial compensation, said Mr. Ahmadi, the lawyer.

    Such killings have occurred in the past. A member of the security forces shot and killed a young man in 2005 in the subway in Karaj, near Tehran, for what he also claimed was immoral behavior by the victim.

    A judge caused outrage in 2004 in Neka, in the north, after he issued a death sentence for a 16-year old girl for what he said were chastity crimes. After the summary trial, he had her hanged in public immediately, before the necessary approval from the Supreme Court.

    Neither man has been punished.

    “Such laws are not acceptable in our society today,” said Hossein Nejad Malayeri, the brother of Gholamreza Nejad Malayeri, who was killed by the group in Kerman. “That means if somebody has money, he can kill, and claim the victim was corrupt.”

  51. anticant said

    Two further thoughts on your last post, Jose. You cannot ban intolerance by law. Only education, and the slow growth of wisdom and experience, brings tolerance to individuals and societies. All the law can do is to punish ACTIONS resulting from intolerance [I am opposed to banning intolerant speech – that merely makes the education process more difficult]. Secondly, we would do well to realise that most of those whom we regard as wicked and wrongheaded actually believe in their own virtue. They are not all conscious hypocrites. I’m sure that some of the Bush crowd, and the Islamic fanatics described in the article I mentioned [and which I have now posted in full in my arena], sincerely believe that what they are doing is in the best interests of their country, the will of God and Allah, etc. etc. That is a big part of the problem.

  52. Richard said

    “The 1945 Revolution” was a book co-written by Peter Young, describing the 1945 Labour election win in England as a “revolution”.

    It certainly took the ‘powers-that-be’ by complete surprise – especially the right-wing Americans…Socialism was synonymous with Communism.

    But it was a “revolution” of the people…

    The same ‘paradigm shift’ of thinking (social revolution) must happen now as a matter of urgency and survival for humanity.

    A new ‘superpower’ must emerge – humanity’s population.

  53. Jose said

    You are right, Anticant, we cannot ban intolerance, I stand corrected, only the actions derived from intolerance can be banned. However, the European Union has been discussing for six years the criminalisation of questioning the Holocaust, which apears to me to be strengthening intolerance. Actions and reactions always happen, this law may bring bigger problems than it is bound to solve. The more so when it ignores blatant cases of genocide as happened with the Stalinist regime.

    What is shown in the article you give a link to may be one of the steps the theological government in Iran is taking towards its destruction, but it must in all cases be the Iranians who are to take the decision to change their fate. And, believe me, they will, because sooner or later dictatorships will disappear in the Muslim world. Or at least so I hope. Let me dream, Anticant.

    What I cannot see so clear for the time being is how the de facto dictatorships we have in our western world will be dealt with. I hear that the unionist movement seems to start to stir. Workers, with so many redundancies and unemployment, could be the key for the solution of the political problem. No Marxism or Communism, simply pragmatism is the solution.

    I never forget that Capitalism cannot exist without its main support: the unknowing lower classes.

  54. Jose said

    Yes, Richard. It was Clement Attlee, wasn’t it? But how many of those “revolutionaries” will be now stirring in their tombs before the parody being performed by Blair and Co. in the Labour Party they so much struggled to set up?

    I’d say the decadence started when Clement Attlee was knighted. Hubris is the worst enemy the human being has. Honour cannot be bestowed, honour is something that is inherent to the human person.

  55. anticant said

    Jose, it is a longstanding British tradition that retiring prime ministers receive peerages. John Major was the first to decline – he accepted a knighthood. Attlee became an earl. During the war, when he ws Churchill’s deputy, I shared a school dormitory wuth his son, who later became the second earl. A very commonplace youth!

  56. Jose said

    I know this tradition, Anticant. My remark was an ironic counterpoint to “revolution”.

    I would like to add, though, that bestowing honours on a retiring Prime Minister what really does is to consolidate very subtly the “symbolical” power of the Monarch.

  57. Jose said

    Anticant,

    By causes that are still unknown to me two of your comments made on the 21st were caught in the spam filter. I’ve despammed them and they are now in their place in this discussion.

    Some troll in the blog? Sorry for this incident.

  58. Jose said

    Your posts of the 21st, Anticant. That this happens in the 21st Century is unconceivable. In Spain some days ago a Judge dictated sentence in a trial for rape of a girl exonerating the accused because the Judge deemed that the girl had been provocative. And it is assumed to be a modern country.

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