Wednesday, 30 October 2013

British Muslim contributions and Sharia Shams


Islamic ingénu
Cameron on the "fantastic contribution" Muslims make to UK:
David Cameron recently spoke at a ceremony for the Islamic Eid festival.
He said:
we celebrate these great festivals because of course we want to say what a fantastic contribution Muslims make to our country. Of course we want to celebrate everything that the Muslim community here in Britain is and does.
So I thought I would look up what those contributions are.
The latest is a paper by the Muslim Council of Britain (*), which reports:
British Muslims contribute more than £31 billion to the UK economy and wield a spending power of £20.5 billion.…
there are 114,548 Muslims in "higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations"…. British Muslims…spend £1 billion on the halal food industry.There are around 2.78 million Muslims in the UK.
Figures by themselves are meaningless; they must be measured in percentage terms and in comparison with similar figures.
The £31 billion “contribution”.  That is 2% of the total UK GDP.  Muslims are 4.4% of the UK population (MCB figure above).
So, in comparison, the contribution of Muslims per capita in the UK is a little less than half that of the rest of the UK population.
The number of Muslims in “higher managerial….etc” occupations is about 7% of the Muslim workforce.  For the economy as a whole the same figure is 39.6% [ref].  In comparison then, the Muslim workforce in the UK is found one-sixth as often in high-level occupations, as is the general population.
No doubt many factors contribute to these small numbers, for Muslim contributions to the UK economy.
Bu it is not I who have highlighted these figures, but the Muslim Council of Britain.  Presumably it has done so to indicate the importance of Muslim contributions to the UK economy (and I note parenthetically that, being the MCB(*), it will not have underestimated the numbers…).
But in context, the numbers show the opposite of what the MCB aims to show: they show that Muslims are under-performing in their relative contributions to the UK economy.
A different headline would be:
“British Muslims pulling one sixth to one-half their weight in the economy”.
And that would be the fact, not at all "Islamophobic"!....
As for the spend on halal food industry, this merely "celebrates" a cruel method of killing animals.
See my earlier comment on this.
World Islamic Economic Forum and Sharia Finance
Cameron’s comments were made in the lead up to the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum this week, which the BBC is also touting. 
London is now trying to become a centre of Sharia compliant finance.
I object to Sharia finance for a number of reasons:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

"Silicon Valley Roused by Secession Call"

By 

NEW YORK — First the slave South, now this. Is Silicon Valley trying to secede from America?
That it is, and should, was the claim of a speech this month by a Stanford University lecturer and entrepreneur named Balaji S. Srinivasan. The speech gained attention in technology circles. But it deserves a wider audience, because it was an unusually honest articulation of ideas that are common among members of a digital overclass whose decisions shape ever more of our lives.
In a nutshell, Mr. Srinivasan, a computer scientist and co-founder of the genomics company Counsyl, told a group of young entrepreneurs that the United States had become “the Microsoft of nations”: outdated and obsolescent. When technology companies calcify, Mr. Srinivasan said, you don’t reform them. You exit and launch your own. Why not do so with America?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Forgetting history

Letter to BBC.  The next news cycle they added "violent" to "crackdown". Being in China recently put me face to face with just how much of China's modern history has been forgotten, or never known.  "Gang of Four"? forget it.  No-one under 60 has even heard of them…. June 4th 1989 murderous crackdown? Nope.  
One might argue: "does it matter?".  That's another issue, of course.  For myself, I'm very much of the view that if we forget history, we're condemned to repeat it….  Anyhoo, letter to BBC:
Your report on BBC World News on the recent accident in Tian'anmen square mentioned the June 4 1989 events in the Square, but only twice and glancingly.
First there was mention that there were "demonstrations" in Tian'anmen in June 1989. The second mention, your Beijing correspondent mentioned June 4 1989 and called it a "crackdown".  
But please be clear: the "crackdown" on June 4 1989, was not just a major story. It was a MASSIVE story. It was THE story of that year and for a long time therafter.  The reason: after weeks of students, officials, teachers, and the general public demonstrating in and around Tian'anmen Square for more democracy in China, Deng Xiaoping sacked the then Premier Zhao Ziyang and sent in the tanks.  Thousands (though perhaps 100s) of the demonstrators were killed.  Tanks rolled over demonstrators.  Beijing became a ghost city. Hotels along Chang'an St were pockmarked with bullets. Most diplomats and foreign business people left. (I was there at the time and saw it all….).  Our Prime Minister at the time, Bob Hawke, cried on TV over the slaughter.
And this, you summarise, at worst, as a "crackdown"??  No mention of the Tanks, the killings, the dissidents ruthlessly hunted down and jailed.  
It's understandable that Chinese media is browbeaten to not mention this.  But the BBC??  What's stopping you saying that June 4 1989 was, as you called it at the time, a "massacre"?
What's keeping you from being more truthful?  The fact that China has so much commercial clout in the UK??  The fact that China owns much of your debt?? The fact that they're major investors in the UK??
Shame on you BBC…
Peter F
Australian Embassy Peking (1976-83) and SF & Co (1983-90) 

Ill-fitting and out of place in HK culture


A letter to the editor of the South China Morning Post,  27th Oct:
The burqa, ill-fitting and "stifling".        Courtesy: SCMP
Ill-fitting and out of place in HK culture
If ever a garment was made specifically to subjugate women, it is surely the full paraphernalia of the burqa, the garb demanded by some Islamic men of their womenfolk.
What kind of insecurity drives men to demand this imposition on their womenfolk? How would they like the near suffocation of this garment on a hot summer's day? I would ask them to put a towel over their heads for a couple of hours and see how they like it.
What kind of a man strolls forth clad in light, comfortable clothes while beside him struggles one or more of his wives smothered head to toe in the outfit demanded by religious custom?
Of course, what people do in their own countries is their affair, but they should not think they can bring this outmoded behaviour to other countries.
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do," an old saying goes. It is one thing to emigrate to a foreign country, but don't forget it was your idea to come in the first place. You will be most welcome to come if you are prepared to adapt and fit in. This seems fair to me.
When my husband and I went to Bangladesh for two years long ago, I was advised to cover my arms and legs. So a suitable tunic was purchased to cover the top, and trousers for the legs. In extremis, I wore a scarf over my head. That way I could wander about freely without fear of offending the Bangladeshis. Of course, I would rather have worn a pretty dress but such is life. I was in a foreign country and it was just common courtesy not to offend.
So let those men think again and break loose from medieval times to join the rest of us in the here and now. Their wives will be a lot happier, and therefore so should the men themselves.
Helen Heron, Sai Kung

Sunday, 27 October 2013

It's not radical. It's Islam, stupid!


The above video is really worth watching.
It's a meeting of around 4,000 Muslims in Norway earlier this year ("the largest Islamic Scandinavian International event").  There's a question along the lines of: "why are Muslims attacked in the media for advocating punishments like stoning and death to homosexuals, etc... when Christians and Jews, who have the same punishments in the Bible and Torah" are not similarly attacked in the media".
The answer from Fahad Qureshi is to ask the audience if they are "normal Muslims", ie, not "extremists". They all raise their hands.  Then he asks them if they agree with Islamic punishments such as the death penalty to homosexuals; again they all raise their hands.  Then comes the zinger: well if you're all "normal Muslims" and you all agree with such punishments then it can't be "extremist" to do so.  It's just Islam.  Qureshi sits down to applause all around including from the Sheikh who says that it's the "best answer" on the issue he's heard.
Now think about that: mainstream Islam calls for these barbaric punishments (stonings, beheadings, killing apostates and homosexuals) and all these normal Muslims agree with it, so it's not "extremist"!  It's crazy, but scary and true.
You should read the comment on the video below it on YouTube.  Its crazy conclusion is that because all Muslims hold these views, and yet Islam is a "peaceful religion" (really!) it is "Islamophobic" and "racist" to call them "extremist" or "radical".  They don't conclude -- as they ought -- that some self-examination is in order as to whether said views (eg killing gays and apostates) might be wrong in today's world -- as of course has been done by Christians and Jews.  For the proper answer to the question asked -- why aren't Christians and Jews criticised when these punishments are in the Bible and Torah -- is that Christians and Jews have long ago maintained that these parts of their holy books are wrong and they should not be followed.  Instead, these Muslim clerics claim that they "can't be radical", because all Muslims hold these views!  Again, crazy.
That such punishments are part of normative Islam is, of course, the message that sites like Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch have been saying for a long time.  But when Spencer says it, it's "Islamophobic".  So, are all these normal, everyday Muslims "Islamophobic"?
The irony is that Spencer gets banned from entering the UK for saying similar things -- but from a critical stance.  But Muslim clerics who say these things, as being positive and supporting them, are allowed in.
The story was posted in a blog I've just started reading, the left-ish Harry's Place.  It led to a huge amount of comments and was then posted at Jihad Watch, with again much discussion.  I'm on Spencer's side on this one, as were most of the commenters on HP.
HP's comments are deleted after 10 days, something to do with UK's libel laws, so I'm pasting some of the more interesting HP posts below the fold. Longish, so for hard-core counter-Jihad readers...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Panorama's "White Fright": a warning to Britain


I only just came across (via an interesting discussion at Harry's Place) the above video of BBC's Panorama program of 2009, "White Fright", an investigation into the Islamisation of Blackburn, the separation of the white and Muslim Asian communities.  It ends with the stark statement: "What is happening in Blackburn, is a warning to the rest of Britain".
It's a warning, it seems, that is being ignored by Britain's politicians, who find it -- as the presenter Jeremy Vine says at the beginning -- a difficult subject to discuss.
Some points to watch out for:
Part One:
The opening scenes of a march by "British citizens in a British town... who have something to celebrate".  It's Muhammad's birthday, and they're all Muslims.  But note the screaming guy with the loudspeaker.  Whatever it is he's saying, it doesn't sound or look the least friendly.  Hardly "celebratory", one might say, more threatening in tone, and no wonder the few white folk along the march route are threatened by it.  "A lot of friggin' rubbish" says the woman...
Contrast that march with the St. George's day march a few weeks later... "genteel".
The segregation between White British and Muslim Asians "graphically reveals a problem facing the whole of the UK" (6:10)
Part Two:
The veil is a "symbol of separation": Jack Straw, [then] Leader of the House of Commons (2:50).
Jaffer Hussein, a pleasant young man, and Muslim, tried walking through a Muslim area with his school friend Jasmine Cox. (4.50).  They both felt threatened, and mostly by the younger Muslims.  This is a truly scary bit.
Part Three:
The purchase of property is nearly all one way, white to Muslim Asian.  An agent says that in 28 years he'd never sold a property from a Muslim Asian to a white family. (2.50).
Henry Brett: the UK will end up with white British cities and Muslim Asian cities. (4.40).
Pastor Chris Chivers: the separation in Blackburn was greater than when he'd served in Apartheid era South Africa. (5.50). A while later the good churchman blames the segregation on white Britons deciding to leave: they should stay in the areas becoming Muslim Asian, enriching their lives rather than feeling "diminished" by the new culture.  Right.  So he wants these folk to enjoy the "enrichment" of pubs closing -- the quintessential gathering place for Britons for generations -- to enjoy the enrichment of neighbours openly contemptuous of their culture, the enrichment of "celebratory" marches led by spittle-flecked screaming men, the enrichment of black-sheathed bagged women ghosting by. That sort of "enrichment"?  And if they don't like that "enrichment" and leave, they're "racist"?
--------------------
Some of the "it'll-be-all-right-in-the-end" crowd may say this is just the normal teething problems that all immigrant communities have faced.  That adjusting one's own culture to that of Muslim Asians will in any case be enriching.  But that's just not true, is it?
 For one thing, the increasing expression of separatist Muslim attitudes and antipathy to British culture come most from the younger, not the older British-born Muslims (as Jaffer Hussein notes).  And the record of Muslim Asians' integration into British culture is quite different from that of all the other groups of immigrants.  In Australia, I've seen the waves of immigration from Italy, Greece, Vietnam, China, Korea.  We have our "Little Italys", our "Vietnamattas", our "Korea Towns" and "China Towns". These groups have all brought and maintained their foods, festivals and cultures.  But they have also enthusiastically engaged with the host culture. No-one feels afraid to enter a Little Italy, a China Town, a Vietnam Town. Quite the opposite: they are a destination for all. That can't be said of the Muslim Asian areas of British towns: by the admission of Muslims like Jaffer Hussein themselves, they are scary and threatening place for the non-Muslim.
And how can it be "enriching" to have British towns close down their pubs ("a lovely place to go on a nice day like this" as the old fellow says in Part Three), to close down the faces of women in veils, to close down the "genteel" enjoyment of life, to close down fun? And to have it all one way, and to be increasing to boot?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Huh?

Things I don't get: Why would a critic of Islam, who presumably knows the basis of his criticism, suddenly convert to Islam?  I'm sorry, but I just don't get it....
For example: I did a double take when I read the headline: "Former Anti-Islam Film-Maker, Arnoud Van Doorn, Peforms [sic] Hajj After Becoming Muslim".
This was the guy who had, with Geert Wilders, made the film "Fitna", which caused a bit of a ruckus in the Islamic world a few years back.  Perhaps this was a hoax, like the recent bogus "news" that Mr Bean had converted to Islam.
But, no, it's not a hoax, it appears to be true.  And I find it both puzzling and sadly depressing.
Here's my post to the site reporting the news, awaiting moderation.  I doubt they'll let it through, as views like mine appear to be taken as being the work of trolls...
I find Doorn's conversion at once puzzling and somehow depressing. For his film “Fitna” was not him showing Islam in a bad light, it was Islamic leaders’ actions and quotes from the Koran that showed Islam in a bad light. Van Dourn himself said nothing in the Film. Yet, rather than facing the issues he quoted, Muslims instead blamed him. Classic case of killing the messenger.
And now, he converts? What’s changed in the images and doctrine of Islam that he quoted in “Fitna”? Nothing. So why convert?
It puzzles me in the extreme how someone can read these three sources of Islam, and especially the Koran, and then say “yes, that’s the religion for me”. So, that’s why it also depresses me. That someone like this guy should ignore all that he knows about Islam, and for some weird reason, decides to hew to the world’s most violent religion.
One of the commenters above says that those who study the “Qur’an” may decide to convert to Islam. One of the commenters above says that those who study the “Qur’an” may decide to convert to Islam. Well, it was only AFTER I studied, in some detail, the Koran, the Hadith and the Sirah, only after I had done that, that I learnt, from the primary sources, just how violent and supremacist are all these three doctrines of the “Islamic Trinity”.
For no mistake — I’ve now read it three times in case I missed anything — the Koran is a scary book of violence and supremacism. That’s inarguable.
Perhaps van Doorn's tweet linked to a picture of him with a gang of the Saudi ruling class says it all. "Constructive and inspiring meeting with His Royal Highness...." he says.  Aha.  One of the world's truly worst countries, where women, amongst others like gays and non-Muslims, are treated as nothing more than objects, a thoroughly vile country, this man, this convert, finds "inspiring".  
'Nuff said, I think.

"Whose Islam?"

The Left loves to hate Mark Steyn.  I prefer to just love his natty style and way with a barb, especially on Islam, where he's very sound... Take this zinger:
It was a busy weekend for Nothing to Do with Islam. Among the other events that were nothing to do with Islam were the murder of over 85 Pakistani Christians at All Saints' Church in Peshawar and the beheading of Ricardo Dionio in the Philippines by BIFF, the aggressively acronymic breakaway faction (the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) from the more amusingly acronymic MILF (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Despite a body count higher than Kenya, the Pakistani slaughter received barely a mention in the Western media. You'd be hard put to find an Anglican church in England with a big enough congregation on a Sunday morning to kill 85 worshipers therein, but in Peshawar, a 99 percent Muslim city, the few remaining Christians are not of the "vaguely practicing" Cameron variety. Viewed from London, however, they've already lost: One day there will be no Christians in Peshawar and the city will be 100 percent Muslim. It may be "nothing to do with Islam," but it's just the way it is: We accept the confessional cleansing of Pakistan, as we do of Egypt, because it's part of "the Muslim world." Nairobi, on the other hand, is not, and a murderous assault on an upscale shopping mall patronized by Kenya's elite and wealthy secular expats gets far closer to the comfort zone wherein David Cameron "vaguely practices": In a "clash of civilizations" in which one side doesn't want to play, a shattered church has less symbolic resonance than a shattered frozen-yogurt eatery.
There are many more where that came from: "Whose Islam?".

"Senator’s comments expose insensitivity to Islamic religion". Oh dear, poor Islam. For the Senator is right....

This shoddy article in a US Student newspaper shows what passes for thinking in today's groves of academe, especially in its supine take on Islam.
The author criticises Sen Rand Paul for saying that Islam is waging a war with Christianity.  Now, I don't have much time for the politics of Sen Paul, but on this point, he's right.  It's not him making that assessment; it's said by many leaders in Islam.  They themselves see Islam as waging a war against the west in general and Christianity in particular.  If we choose to ignore that, it's our choice, but it does not make Paul's comment incorrect.
I did a quick comment at the site, awaiting moderation:
[Commenter] "KingHasNoClothes" makes the right points.
 Indeed the figures are even more disturbing. According to various polls the numbers of Muslims in western countries who want to replace secular laws with Islamic Sharia laws is 55%. Of UK Muslims, 25% support the London 7/7 bombings (is that a "small minority"?)
And the figure of 7% who are extremist: where does Haddix get this? A Pew Research report of August 2011 found that 21% of Muslim Americans thought there was "a great deal/fair amount" of support for extremism amongst Muslim Americans (note: that's what US Muslims think of other US Muslims...).  Did Haddix get his figure from the 2008 Gallup report "Who Speaks for Muslims?" (it seems to ring a bell).  If so, he should know that those figures were shown to have been massaged and were more likely to be in the mid teens.  Even if in the low teens, that would be like close to 200 million Muslims supporting extremism.  As KHNC says: "That's a lot"!
As for the hoary old chestnut of the alleged "interdiction" of the Crusades, Haddix should really inform himself and read up about them. They were clearly -- by all scholarly accounts -- acts of self defence after the invasions (not "uniting force") by Islam of Pagan, Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian lands.  Yes, and even of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Story of the Jews

Melanie Phillips writes a nicely nuanced review of Simon Schma's new book and TV series "Story of the Jews".

I have now finally watched all five episodes of Simon Schama’s much acclaimed Story of the Jews, which was broadcast last month on BBC TV. I have also read the accompanying book, which covers 1000 BCE to 1492 CE; the second volume is due out next year.
Like many others, I found much of the TV series spell-binding, magnificent and moving (the first episode was a bit incoherent, though; and more than a little jarring to launch such a series by dwelling upon Sigmund Freud’s bizarre Moses and Monotheism, which told the world little except that Freud had the mother and father of a problem when it came to his own ancestral faith).
Much of the rest of the series, though, was wonderful; and Schama is of course a peerless communicator, story-teller and performer. The book is even better; he breathes life into the past, his detail is as unexpected as it is illuminating, and you are just swept along by his passion, his emotion and his personal commitment. 
Read on...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ahmadiyya and the "myths" of Islam

Those unicorns, moderate Muslims, are perhaps best represented by the Ahmadiyya community.
Here, Faheem Younus, an Ahmadi Muslim, talks of "Islam: Fact and Fiction".

He endeavours to show Islam as a religion of "love for all, hatred for none".
That's a simple and inspiring motto.
Trouble is, most Muslims consider Ahmadi's heretics.
Consider the following report, in the Catholic Herald:
I visited Shia and Ahmadi Muslims living in displacement camps after they had fled their villages following brutal attacks. The Ahmadiyya community, whose motto is “Love for all, Hatred for none”, consider themselves Muslim, but are regarded as heretical by many others. I went to Ahmadi mosques which had been forcibly closed, in one instance sealed with 20 Ahmadis still inside
And, in Wikipedia:
However, in many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.
Ahmadis form only 0.5% to 1.2% of Muslims.  So, while we wish them well in their task of pacifiying a doctrinally military religion, they are pushing it uphill if they think they can counter the Sunni dominated narrative of Islam: that its main task is to bring the word of Allah to the world.

It's our birthday. Today in History: The Battle of Tours

19th Century illustration of Battle of Tours by A. de Neuville
Precisely 100 years after the death of Islam’s prophet Muhammad in 632, his Arab followers, after having conquered thousands of miles of lands from Arabia to Spain, found themselves in Gaul, modern day France, facing a hitherto little known people, the Christian Franks.
There, around October 10-11, in the year 732, one of history’s most decisive battles took place, demarcating the extent of Islam’s western conquests and ensuring the survival of the West.....
Read the rest from the redoubtable Raymond Ibrahim.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Unveiled

"Unveiled" a new publication, Volume 1, Issue 1.  "A publication of Fitnah -- movement for women's liberation."
Published by Maryam Namazie, ex Muslim and editor of One Law for All, and other liberated Muslim women's voices.

Condemn legalised paedophilia and child rape in the Islamic Republic of Iran

From One Law for All:
On 22 September 2013, one day before the start of the school year in Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Majlis or parliament passed a law permitting a stepfather to marry his adopted child.
In defence of the law, one Member of Parliament said: "According to Islam, every child who is accepted as an adopted child is not considered a real child. Islamic jurisprudence and Sharia law allow the guardian of the child to marry and have sex with his step-child.”
This shocking law will encourage child ’marriages’ and is nothing more than legalised paedophilia and child rape. It will further endanger the welfare of the child and violate her basic rights. It will deny the child any sense of security and safety in the home.
Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation and Children First Now unequivocally condemn this inhuman law. On 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, we call on the public and rights organisations to condemn this legalised paedophilia and child rape. This law, like many other laws in the Islamic regime of Iran, violates the dignity and rights of children. And it must be stopped.
Here are five things you can do on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child, to condemn legalised paedophilia and child rape, and demanding dignity, security and rights for all girls and children in Iran and beyond:
1. Tweet against the law: #Iran #No2LegalPaedophilia
2. Sign our petition and forward it to 10 friends or acquaintances.
3. Write to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Leader, info_leader@leader.ir, Twitter: @khamenei_ir or to Hassan Rouhani, President, media@rouhani.ir, Twitter: @hassanrouhani demanding an end to child rape and paedophilia.
4. Publicise the campaign on social media including by changing your Facebook profile change to our campaign poster.
5. Do an act of solidarity on the internet, in your city square, at work, at your university... in support of children’s rights and against the law.

Diversity: how much is too much


Oxford Prof Paul Collier manages to navigate very dangerous waters here: immigration, multiculturalism, diversity. I came across his views from a BBC World Service Radio program I just heard.  And, googling, came across the above interview with the Economist just a few days ago. So this is breaking news...
Normally these issues -- immigration and diversity -- are viewed from a prism of Left or Right.  On the Left: all good; on the Right all bad.
Prof Collier's view is that we need to talk about "how much".  And coming from an Oxford Don, cannot be ignored, as is usually the case when these issued are raised by the Right.
Collier says we should be looking not at whether immigration/diversity is good or bad, but how much immigration and how much diversity. One devastating point: that the countries from which UK immigrants come from have great diversity (eg Africa), but very little trust and cooperation in their societies (as a corollary of that diversity).  We should not expect to continue immigration without it's having the same effect on the host country.
In response to the interviewer's paean of praise for London and its wonderful diversity, Collier says that over half the indigenous population of London has left in the last half century, more than any other city now or in history. So while it may have been good for the immigrants, it's clearly not been good for the original inhabitants of London....
His main point is that we need to understand the fact that "diversity" affects aspects of our society:
More Diversity = less Trust (he says there's "loads of evidence for this")
More Diversity = less Cooperation
More Diversity = less Generosity.
Have a look at the video.  The interviewer, of the daintily nice Left Economist, looks like he's got a gherkin up his khyber.  A pickled one.  As one of the commenters says, "You can tell this interviewer is scandalized by Prof. Collier's lack of complete unconditional acceptance of unlimited immigration."

"Money-hungry HK will gain taste for halal". My response to the letter

Letter to South China Morning Post:
A number of recent articles have promoted halal meats for Hong Kong.  That is, meat slaughtered according to Islamic sharia practice. They all stress the money aspect (e.g. "Money-hungry HK will gain taste for halal", Letters, Oct 5). None has mentioned the well-documents cruelty to animals in producing halal meats. For example:
Hong Kong may be a money-obsessed place, but should we feel comfortable making that money on the back of cruelty to animals?

The concern applies to kosher meats as well.  But they are a small minority (1.8% in the UK) of all religiously-slaughtered meat.  The production of halal meat is therefore of more concern given its size -- now over 15% of UK meat, a figure that should be of concern not celebration.

Halal and kosher meats are exempt from the normal standards in many countries.  

But why should they be?  

We have before made secular legal standards override religions ones: we no longer allow human sacrifice or the burning of witches.  More recently, Mormons have had to hew to secular laws disallowing polygamy and Christian Scientists have not been allowed to have their belief that "sickness is an illusion" halt medical treatments for their children.  Why cannot our secular society decide that our humane rules on handling meat trump religiously-mandated cruel ones?

In the meantime, I congratulate Hong Kong restaurants for resisting the push for religiously-mandated cruelty to animals.

Peter F.

Friday, 4 October 2013

“Time to price maids out of our reach”: Alex Lo's fact-free bigotry

To the Editor of South China Morning Post
Alex Lo’s piece on maids is a farrago of supposition entirely unsupported by facts. (“Time to price maids out of our reach” ($) (PDF), My Take, 2 October).
Consider:
  • “In fact they [maids] cost our society far more than it’s often realized.”  Source?
  • “Most [maids] try to do the minimum or less…”.  Clearly Lo’s prejudice and a calumny on hard-working domestic helpers.
  • “Some steal.. to get.. their fare share”.  Another unsupported calumny.  In passing, Lo  gives us an insight into his own dishonest character when he startlingly admits “I would do the same, if not worse”. Mr Lo: I was a domestic helper in the UK in the seventies, earning a subsistence wage, but the idea of stealing from my employer didn’t even enter my mind; your readers do not share your low morals.
  • “Bosses… have to spend a disproportionate amount of time monitoring, disciplining, even abusing…”.  Source?  [Of course any abuse which does come to light ought to be punished to the greatest exent of the law.]
Yet, unencumbered by a single fact, Lo cavalierly proceeds to suggest a revolution of family life and government social support infrastructure. 
He urges a 90% reduction in domestic helpers from over 300,000 to 30,000 with higher wages.  Put aside the fact that such a salary hike would be profoundly retrogressive – hitting the middle classes hardest, and the wealthy not at all – there is the very real concern about how this would affect the 270,000 that Lo wants to throw out of work. 
Surely it cannot have escaped Lo’s notice that domestic helpers provide many billions in foreign currency remittances mainly to the Philippines and Indonesia.  Would those governments and those maids thank Mr Lo for his fact-free intervention to have  90% of Hong Kong’s domestic helpers thrown out of work?
Perhaps some facts on the “maids issue” is in order: a government-led survey of the people most involved: the maids themselves. 
Until then, the Lo’s of the world ought to keep their bigotry to themselves.  
Yours, etc.
Peter Fu.saisee
... Hong Kong

US shutdown on China's National Day -- netizens impressed!


Mao Tse-Barack
'October 1, 2013, China’s National Day and also the day when the US federal government began systematically shutting down operations for the first time in nearly two decades. How the Chinese people, more specifically, Chinese social media users, react to the coincidence?
'Many people’s first reaction is making jokes about the act being a way for the US government to honor the 64th birthday of the Chinese government. For example, netizen宇文馳 asked jokingly: “Do American people celebrate China National Day, too?” Another netizen 土豆怒了 pointed out: “What shutdown? It’s the US adopting our week-long National Day Holiday.”'
More here. Interesting. 
(H/T to "Foreign Students China 1973-79" Facebook group)