Katie Hopkins On Immigration – Shock Columnist Needs A Response

With Katie Hopkins latest column in The Sun, there is no excuse for not realising how far the immigration debate has become a dehumanising one using the language of the far right in the country’s best selling newspaper. It should be a rallying call for civil society and politicians to respond, hopefully realising what happens when you do not make the case for immigration and humanitarian values. 

Katie Hopkins has written in the The Sun that she does not care about bodies floating in the water in the mediterranean. Immigrants trying to get here are “like norovirus”, and some via trucks at Calais are a  “plague of feral humans” attempting to “steal their way into the UK.” Rather than rescue boats in the med, “what we need are gunships sending these boats back to their own country.” Because unnamed towns in the UK “are festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers … Make no mistake , these migrants are like cockroaches.”

Like norovirus and cockroaches, they make up a plague of feral humans making towns into sores. This is not just dehumanising immigrants. Britain has become humanised in this piece – it is under attack by a virus leaving it with blistering sores. It needs protecting, to regain its health, by use of gunships as the ultimate antibody. You wipe out a virus. By the time hopkins suggests we scupper anything boat like that they could use, her imagery has done the work of a simpleton far right spouter who would just come out and say it.

In case her imagery was too subtle for some – and my twitter feed suggests such people do exist while they guess how big my penis is – she states of Australia: “They threaten them with violence until they bugger off, throwing cans of Castlemaine in an Aussie version of sharia stoning.”

There are people more than prepared to defend Hopkin’s use of language. There is a line for human decency and it has been crossed here. The Sun thought this hate filled rant was fit to publish. That is how far human discourse has gone regarding talking about asylum seekers: Ok your house has been bombed, child killed, you have been raped, but all of you stop trying to escape coming over here to EU. If it helps think of our poor truckers in Calais will you, and get some perspective? Some people are just so inconsiderate wanting a better life …

Yet there is a way to see this as distress flares. We have just seen how far The Sun will push the far right in debate. We also know how far Katie Hopkins will go. There is no excuse not to be aware anymore. It is a wake up call for the nation to challenge such glib, racist language and xenophobic views.

A start is to use our outrage in ways that do not profit Kate Hopkins or The Sun. Sunny Hundal taking a photo on the column meant you could be informed without clicking a link that generates revenue for The Sun (even with a pay wall, there will be adverts to see clicking the link). The other is not to buy publications that print her work, nor watch broadcasts that feature her. By reducing her commercial value as a shock columnist that generates revenue, but rather making her a liability, you make the point stronger. Hopefully advertisers will not want to associate their products or services with a newspaper that can publish such vitriol.

Ignoring is no longer an option – you need to be proactive if you feel such views do not belong in mainstream print media. However, I would hate to see such an article deemed illegal or for her to be sent to prison. Free speech allows us to hear what people want to say. It allows us to know who wants to listen and support such views. It forces us to realise as a country that we have still a long way to go in being the civilized society we can be. In short, we have to confront reality when people can speak their minds.

Ignorance is not bliss. For too long the case for immigration has not been made assertively or passionately. Too many are desensitised to the reality of human conflict. The showing of UKIP in the polls is not a coincidence (though they will still be lucky to get five seats). As living standards have gone down since the recession, and print media revenues are down, people are looking for someone to blame. Sensationalism and click bait are the name of the game in the internet age.

The day my country can watch a dead body float in the water escaping a war torn country and not be moved is the day the nation I love dies. Katie Hopkins is right. I do want to defend my country. From the likes of her.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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What To Do When A Hate Group Shows Up Outside Your Mosque

Originally posted on Stop Islamophobia Now!:

A hate group consisting of well-known "street preachers" showed up at Tempe mosque, desecrating a Qur'an and confronting worshipers. A hate group consisting of well-known “street preachers” showed up at Tempe mosque, desecrating a Qur’an and confronting worshipers.

Imagine stepping out of your house of worship and seeing a group of screaming, belligerent hecklers ripping apart your holy book – spitting on and stomping on the pages.  Imagine being shouted down, and told your faith is a lie by a group of people flashing gaudy, hate-filled signs and matching tee-shirts.  This has become the reality for worshippers at the Islamic Community Center of Tempe.

This past Friday, a group of hate protesters gathered outside the largest mosque in the Phoenix area, the unhinged “Brother Dean” Saxton – an infamous student-preacher from the University of Arizona.  He has received the most attention for declaring “You Deserve Rape” to female students that he deems inappropriately dressed – as he preaches in open air-spaces.

Over the past few years, Brother Dean has become so…

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Maajid Nawaz Issues Statement On Daily Mail Strip Club Allegations

What follows is Maajid Nawaz’s statement issued within the hour (taken from here):

‘A planned and sustained attack campaign against reform-minded Muslims. My reply to recent allegations.

“It doesn’t matter if you are in the right. It doesn’t matter if lots of ‘ordinary people’ do the same. In times such as these, the public wants a hero. They do not want an ‘ordinary’ person”. These words were uttered to me by my ever wise wife Rachel, after footage of my stag night in London was vindictively leaked to the press. 

In writing this statement I had to think long and hard about whether to come out guns blazing in robust defence of my perfectly legal private actions, of which Rachel had full knowledge, or whether to focus on what I could learn from this episode. Should I wax lyrical about the evident set-up sprung upon me by a bitter club owner who felt perfectly comfortable being a Muslim himself, and owing a strip club, yet felt religiously affronted that I – another Muslim – should be taken to his establishment by my best man to celebrate during my last few months of bachelorhood? Should I focus on that Daily Mail headline: “Married”? It was a stag night. I was obviously not yet married. But no, Rachel’s wise words and grace in the face of such a public violation of our privacy continued to play on my conscience: “people will be people, Maajid. You must be better”. 

Indeed. So here I will deign to present a brief explanation of some salient points, and then seek to offer some contrition, because Rachel has been dragged into this mess through no fault of her own, yet has handled it with more grace than I would have were I her. 

I have already mentioned that this was a stag night before my marriage. However, even if it were after my marriage, Rachel had already known about it. As a liberal, what consenting adults do in private – whether in or out of wedlock – is not for me to judge. In current times, our moral uproar is best reserved for those who aspire to stone men or women to death, not those who consensually watch women, or men for that matter, dance. In fact, please be prepared to see me again around London sometime, you may even catch me dancing. As long as Rachel is happy, I will not suddenly stop going out. And if you see me, do come over and say hello.

A main question that arises here is the question of hypocrisy. Of my being a Muslim, and a self-described feminist. On being a Muslim, I have lost count of the number of times I have stated that I am a “non-devout” Muslim, including in the Mail newspaper itself (www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Maajid-Nawaz-Why-I-Muslim-believe-vei…). I certainly do not claim to be a religious role model. My work through Quilliam in challenging extremism and promoting human rights is political and social work. I do not proscribe “good” religion. I never describe myself as a representative of Muslims in media, and speak as a liberal, who happens to be a non-devout Muslim, with a unique experience and insight into Islamist extremism. Therefore, my fellow Muslims, I am genuinely sorry that my being in a strip club during a stag night offended you, but I never claimed to represent our religion. 

Objections to my describing myself as a feminist might seem at first sight to have more merit. Some feminists take the view that visiting such gentlemen’s clubs objectifies women. Others, many women too, take a more sex-positive view, and believe that erotic dancing is empowering to women. My feminism, as intended by me, extends to empowering women to make legal choices, not to judge the legal choices they make. My fight is for rights. The right of men or women who choose to cover their heads, or their right to uncover their bodies. As long as both are by choice, I will defend people’s right to do either. Others may have their own view, but that is the extent of my feminism. And again, therefore, there is no hypocrisy in me visiting a strip club for a stag night. 

This leads to another allegation made in the article by the staff: and it is important that our language remains precise when repeating these: ‘pestering’, and ‘repeated attempts’ to touch the dancer. It has not been suggested that the dancer herself has levied these allegations. In fact, it was the club’s staff, who have already made their political views known in the piece. I wonder, does the club have a “no Muslims we disagree with” policy, only approving conservative Muslim customers? 

Let us remember that this was an incident that took place 10 months ago at “Charlie’s Angels” in Aldgate (https://www.google.co.uk/…/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487603…), and the CCTV footage was unscrupulously leaked just weeks before a General Election. 

Look at the video. Contrary to the the Mail’s claims in writing you can see that I was tame and compliant to the dancer’s instructions in the footage. I refute any suggestion therefore of ‘pestering’ and can confirm that I was certainly not issued a warning at any time by the club. It is widely known that in establishments such as these the slightest infraction will render the misbehaving visitor out on the street within seconds. Yet, I left unhindered and on my own accord. 

So what could possibly explain all this? Followers of my counter-extremism work will be aware that for years liberal Muslim voices like mine have been subjected to sustained personal attack. Organised incitement (hurryupharry.org/…/more-horrifying-death-threats-against-m…/), death threats (www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Lib-Dem-candidate-receives-death-thre…) and even physical assault (http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/…/world_n…/article176412.ece) are frequent occurrences. The article mentions my son from a previous marriage, the truth is I have been denied contact with him for three years now for very similar reasons. Challenging the Muslim status quo today is mercilessly punishing business. 

There is no doubt in my mind that this breach of my privacy was part of a pre-planned regressive-Muslim campaign (https://storify.com/Andrew_Nolan/maajid-nawaz-hatchet-job). My wife Rachel had in fact been receiving scary unsolicited emails very soon after my stag night last July from this strip club’s staff member. This staff member calls himself “Shah Free Gaza Jahan” on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jahan79). He began planning this sting last year, immediately after my wedding, in collusion (https://www.facebook.com/jahan79) with a smear site called Mushy Peas. This site had already published (mushypeas.org/maajid-nawaz-wife/) photos of Rachel’s home, family profiles and private email address inviting people to harass her. To quote “Shah Free Gaza Jahan” from as far back as last October 2014 from the screen grab (https://plus.google.com/…/11546…/albums/6137636038894699329…) of that smear site on his motives: 

“I have a very interesting story regarding this fraud. Who can I contact to get his out? I was reluctant to let this out as we should cover another Muslims sins. But he’s an atheist (sic) now. So we good”. 

After explaining that atheists seem to be fair game for him (for the record I am a Muslim), Shah Jahan was promptly redirected by a known caliphate supporting Islamist Dilly Hussain (hurryupharry.org/…/bullying-women-is-not-one-of-the-5-pill…/) to make contact via his infamous regressive 5Pillarz blog. This is all there in that screen grab for all to see. And thus last October, the plot was hatched. 


  


This is how a politically conservative newspaper unwittingly cooperated with religiously regressive Muslims, to discredit my politically and religiously liberal voice. 

It is no surprise to me that this latest episode of my dehumanisation culminated yesterday in yet another call from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism branch, who warned of new specific ISIS calls for my death after this latest smear campaign went viral. Yesterday evening and for the first time, counter-terrorism police ordered the installation of a direct panic alarm in my home from fear of a terrorist attack. 

I humbly advise journalists, therefore, who are in touch with Islamist smear merchants to maintain a healthy skepticism around the credibility of those coming to them as sources against reform-minded Muslims.

This brings me finally to what I wish to express contrition for. I am indeed sorry for many things. I am sorry that though I have every right to behave as I like within the law, many will have seen that footage and wished that I had chosen not to go. I am sorry to Rachel, my son, and my family. Though Rachel knew that I had gone, this has thrust her and others into the spotlight unnecessarily. I am sorry to my Liberal Democrat colleagues, for distracting them from important campaign work due to a decision made in the moment. I am sorry to those who respect the counter-extremism work that I do, for placing them in a position of having to defend my rights, rather than praise my choices. And I am sorry to my fellow Muslims, because though I never claim to speak on their behalf, their widespread offence indicates that perhaps they wish I was a better role model for them. For all of you, I will try harder to live better, not just remain within my rights, but to do what is right. Rachel was correct, in times such as these, people need more than just ‘ordinary’.


Maajid Nawaz

‪#‎Solidarity‬

(Background to the story can be read here)

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Awaiting Maajid Nawaz Statement On Being Yesterday “Daily Mail Hatchet Jobbed”

Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club for his stag do – this has been reported in The Daily Mail along with an allegation of harassment. My initial thoughts and analysis of the piece should be read here where the rest of this article follows on as an afterword. If you have already read that post, keep reading.

On twitter I have been aghast by comments to me that strippers need to expect groping, that harassing someone for their number is hardly a serious matter, that as part of their sexual allure this is natural. No it is never ok to harass or grope or assault a women whatever her job, whatever she is wearing.

Belittling a woman because she is a stripper does not help Maajid Nawaz. Rather, you are not standing up for women’s rights. As to feminism and stripping, where adults are consenting regarding a sensual or sexual activity freedom exists. Where coercion, pressure or force is applied in no sense can consent exist. A debate about whether patriarchal cultural attitudes deny that freedom is something I invite others to research and think about.

Since I published my article an edited CCTV time lapsed video has gone on youtube. Regardless of whether you believe it shows harassment, someone just having a lap dance, or is inconclusive, I do not see how Maajid Nawaz politically comes back from the public humiliation. “They’ve got art” as the saying goes, and by saying his behaviour was out of order allowed such images to appear in the public domain. In short, it seems an attempt to show up someone publicly who, perhaps naively, felt their privacy was protected by having a private lap dance.

The accusation of harassment may or may not be true. We can cast dispersions as to motive, though suggesting a strip club owner and manager must be automatically untrustworthy seems ad hominem. Rather, they do appear an unlikely duo to stand up for religious probity. However, the manager claims to have witnessed unacceptable behaviour which he felt went against the public persona (as he saw it) presented by Maajid Nawaz.

Whatever Nawaz’s behaviour was, at no point was he thrown out or the police called. So the accusations do come across as a smear campaign timed for the General Election. What we know for certain is that Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club while a parliamentary candidate. With the kind of opponents he has, this becoming public knowledge should have been seen as very likely.

Public humiliation though is not what anyone deserves for being a parliamentary candidate, even if you do something politically stupid as going to a strip club.

Maajid Nawaz has said on twitter today “Yesterday the Daily Mail article hatchet-jobbed me”, and has promised a statement “soon.” I will link to that in a new blog post when it hits the internet. To be honest we needed the statement Saturday considering Friday night the story broke.

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Maajid Nawaz Stag Party At A Strip Club

When you look through still CCTV footage of a candidate for parliament, to see if he is inappropriately touching a stripper while he is on his stag night, we can safely say that the sausage roll voter “bribery” case, Ed Miliband’s dating chit chat on economics, and political slogans on mugs have been eclipsed in the election campaign. We now have close to a sex scandal. The Liberal Democrats. What were the chances?

That this involves Maajid Nawaz has taken me by surprise. The revelations about his behaviour were made in The Daily Mail.

Nawaz has openly said he is a “non devout Muslim” and on Newsnight he made very clear that there are no spokespeople for the muslim community, rather many voices looking to be heard. The problem is how devout a feminist when your spokesperson is reported as saying Nawaz’s “reputation for advocating women’s rights was ‘in the context of Islamic extremism’.” Feminism only an issue when Islam is involved? [1] That really needs clarifying. Seeing strippers during Ramadan, or drinking booze? Between Nawaz and his God.

The stag do was last June; of course this story has waited till now for maximum impact during the General Election. For cynicism that this is a smear hatchet job, there are legitimate concerns. The allegation that Maajid Nawaz was physically and verbally harassing a stripper for her phone number while bragging about himself falls well short of conduct befitting a member of parliament. Or not being a sleazeball while your fiancee waits at home for your return. Nawaz is mentioned in the article as denying touching inappropriately or ever being warned repeatedly about his behaviour.

Who on earth cannot work out the political ramifications of a lap dance while standing as an MP (never mind the logistics of a lap dance while standing)? It suggests at a personal level a reckless abandon. Many hours and money have gone into supporting his candidacy in a very close three horse marginal seat. Usually, you do not risk undermining those efforts if you feel a responsibility to your supporters.

Stag nights and strip clubs are very much connected. In a piece this month, novelist Nicki Salcedo wrote about the shock of two men when she interjected their conversation to give directions one of them needed to a strip club. Writing about her previous experiences at a strip club, and attending a bachelorette party with stripping men, she concludes:

That burly guy was embarrassed to get directions to the strip club from a soccer mom. That’s the real shame. If you are going to go to the strip club, go. Go proud. The fact that he was embarrassed suggests that even he thinks it’s a bit wrong. Those are his issues, not mine.

I don’t worry about it. What a strange funny world. I know how to get to the strip club and other places, too. On a good day, I can give you directions to anywhere you want to go.

Maybe as a feminist in the context of Islamic extremism, Maajid Nawaz saw no political issues going to a strip club then asking female voters for their support. Perhaps, far from thinking that he was above such potential political controversy, he thought he could have a stag do as any law abiding citizen may. Maybe we should live in a world where what adults choose to do together really is none of our business. Such is the dilemma for political and private life.

The electorate of Hampstead and Kilburn will have less than four weeks in which to see how this story evolves and how to use in making a judgment when voting. In a constituency where in 2010 the Liberal Democrats came third, 841 votes behind elected Glenda Jackson MP for Labour. 841 votes.

That is why going to the stripclub was not a good idea if he intended to win the seat. That no one thought – you know if the Daily Mail gets hold of this your campaign will be sunk – suggests either foolish thinking, lack of judgment or irresponsibility to those campaigning for you.

The bottom line is the allegation of harassing women. The Liberal Democrats have not inspired much confidence in this area when investigating. I sense panic at party HQ that a seat they hoped might be in play may well have been lost at the upcoming poll, and how this may play out nationally.

As we await further announcements, I hope the accusations made by the manager and owner of the strip club turn out to be tabloid sensationalism. Even so, I fear that may not undo the damage to the campaign.

Update Sunday 12 April:

[1] Even though my “how devout a feminist” refers to the spokespersons comments about women’s rights in the context of Islamic extremism – what about beyond that context (Daily Mail I suspect rather than spokesperson to blame but needs clarifying I feel), people are interpreting as me saying you cannot be a devout feminist going to a strip club. Which is not what I am saying here.

Afterword

On twitter I have been aghast by comments to me that strippers need to expect groping, that harassing someone for their number is hardly a serious matter, that as part of their sexual allure this is natural. No it is never ok to harass or grope or assault a women whatever her job, whatever she is wearing.

Belittling a woman because she is a stripper does not help Maajid Nawaz. Rather, you are not standing up for women’s rights. As to feminism and stripping, where adults are consenting regarding a sensual or sexual activity freedom exists. Where coercion, pressure or force is applied in no sense can consent exist. A debate about whether patriarchal cultural attitudes deny that freedom is something I invite others to research and think about.

Since I published my article an edited CCTV time lapsed video has gone on youtube. Regardless of whether you believe it shows harassment, someone just having a lap dance, or is inconclusive, I do not see how Maajid Nawaz politically comes back from the public humiliation. “They’ve got art” as the saying goes, and by saying his behaviour was out of order allowed such images to appear in the public domain. In short, it seems an attempt to show up someone publicly who, perhaps naively, felt their privacy was protected by having a private lap dance.

The accusation of harassment may or may not be true. We can cast dispersions as to motive, though suggesting a strip club owner and manager must be automatically untrustworthy seems ad hominem. Rather, they do appear an unlikely duo to stand up for religious probity. However, the manager claims to have witnessed unacceptable behaviour which he felt went against the public persona (as he saw it) presented by Maajid Nawaz.

Whatever Nawaz’s behaviour was, at no point was he thrown out or the police called. So the accusations do come across as a smear campaign timed for the General Election. What we know for certain is that Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club while a parliamentary candidate. With the kind of opponents he has, this becoming public knowledge should have been seen as very likely.

Public humiliation though is not what anyone deserves for being a parliamentary candidate, even if you do something politically stupid as going to a strip club.

Maajid Nawaz has said on twitter today “Yesterday the Daily Mail article hatchet-jobbed me”, and has promised a statement “soon.” I will link to that in a new blog post when it hits the internet. To be honest we needed the statement Saturday considering Friday night the story broke.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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SNP Are Nationalists First – Labour King Makers Second

The SNP will support a future Labour Government on progressive legislation. When it comes to painful austerity measures to bring down the deficit, they would force Labour to have the Conservative side to support them. That way, the SNP can paint Labour as the same as the Tories. Thus, the hope will be to chase Labour out of Scotland as the Conservatives have been as they hang on to one MP.

To read Sunny Hundal’s analysis you would think that Nicola Sturgeon really wants a Conservative Government, to make the case for Scottish Independence that bit stronger. I disagree with his view:

Let me spell this out. I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond want Miliband to be Prime Minister. It would wreck the illusion that Scotland can only prosper and survive independently without working with Westminster. If the SNP and Labour managed to work together it would be the end of that illusion.

Furthermore, the SNP’s ultimate goal still remains independence. Is that achievable more under a Tory government intent on drastic cuts, or a Labour government they could work with? It doesn’t take a genius to put 2+2 together. The Tories are intent on juxtaposing Sturgeon with Miliband, and the SNP are intent on helping them.

The bigger prize for the SNP is to play the game of removing Labour as any serious opposition to them north of the border – to dominate Westminster in a hung parliament and to win in the Scottish Parliament. Hence SNP encouraging the English to vote for the Green Party. Making Labour more dependent on the elected SNP MPs in parliament. In short, the SNP can try and take credit for any legislation that is progressive while claim Labour is working with the Tories on austerity measures.

The deputy SNP leader on BBC Radio 4 Today made clear this Easter Monday the SNP would support Labour on a bill by bill basis, even if the Conservatives have more seats. While this is being sold as keeping Labour honest to left wing policies, the honey trap should be obvious. Labour cannot be completely anti-austerity in government – the extent to which some measures will be done, in a bid to keep interest repayments down and credibility with the markets, will not be fully realised till after the election. Result is SNP can claim Labour are the Tories if they depend on the opposition to pass austerity measures. Ed Balls as Chancellor will be aware of the need himself to play this game himself – I predict the Blair Brown relationship will be nothing compared to the two Eds in Downing Street.

The Liberal Democrats had the most to gain in the leaking of Sturgeon’s supposed comments that Miliband would be a weak premier, and that she wanted a Conservative government to make it easier for the SNP to argue for independence. They want to be seen as the honest broker in any coalition or special voting arrangement. Nick Clegg tried to position him as such in the debate: less cuts than Conservatives, less borrowing than Labour.

The opinion polls did not believe Nick Clegg, as Nicola Sturgeon resonated with people south of the border on progressive policies like zero tuition fees, and offering friendship with England to provide left wing policies. It is a poisoned chalice that many Labour supporters are willing to drink from in the hope that for once, a Labour Prime Minister has to stay on the left.

Government’s are not immune to market’s assessing risk regarding a high deficit, and the relative low interest payments on the national debt are not guaranteed. Britain never was a Greece as Cameron tried to claim, but that is not the same thing as saying high deficits are sustainable or desirable over the long term. That the coalition failed to cut as much as they planned helped the recovery we have had, rather than most of us have felt.

Will Ed Miliband be tough enough to deal with the poisoned chalice, becoming Prime Minister and make the case that if he fails it was Tartan Tories that had it in for him as he seeks a full majority in a snap election? If his whips when in opposition can be as effective in Government, he might yet play the game the way SNP never envisaged.

Up for grabs for the next government is the future constitutional settlement of this nation. After the indy referendum it might be easy to forget that. The problem is to beat the nationalists Labour must be an electoral force to be reckoned with north of the border. That would be best helped by a progressive Labour Government. English voters should consider voting a majority Labour Party is the only way to safeguard the United Kingdom as it is. The risk is a minority Labour Government.

As for a Conservative majority, hopefully they understand the future federal structure necessary to safeguard the union. Hopefully members are listening to Paul Goodman:

What is the alternative, if the Union is to be saved (and Cameron to stay on, for that matter)?  Margaret Thatcher tried to wish the problem away.  John Major sent back the Stone of Scone.  Tony Blair and Gordon Brown tried a devolution halfway house with rotten foundations.  None of these ploys worked.

Only the federal solution remains: unless, that is, one prefers shouting “Boo!” at Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in the hope that they will go away (which they won’t) – while simultaneously bringing closer the very SNP-Labour deal that Team Cameron is rightly warning the country against.

It is time to put the Conservative and Unionist Party name to the test – and prove Peter Hitchens wrong that you would never accidentally on purpose allow a situation where independence happened to lock-in a future English Parliament.

As David Cameron said:

I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain’s success – so for me there’s no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation.

There is no question for me that Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland and Alex Salmond in Westminster know how to make that happen in a hung parliament where the Liberal Democrats do not help Labour or Conservative to the 326 majority of MPs. The nationalists do not come at the English with swords and guerilla raids. They come in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie. The smiles and bonhomie cannot disguise that the SNP will do what they can to ensure an independent Scotland happens.

If you thought that the indy referendum had settled the future of Britain, be prepared to wake up to a potential headache after May 7th. The SNP were not knocked out, rather Labour is on the canvas in Scotland as we await the count to start when the polls close. If Conservative voters in Scotland are serious about saving the union they need to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat to keep the SNP out.

The nationalists are coming, and Labour are the ones to blame. For by them losing MPs in Scotland we may well be a step closer to the break up of the United Kingdom. Can anything happen in the next month to change that? Well I expect leaking the memo was an attempt by someone.

England – if you wanted a say in the future of the United Kingdom during the indy referendum, this General Election you have by either returning a Conservative or Labour majority government. Judging by the polls, many things will hang in the balance.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Blogger Washikur Rahman Murdered In Bangladesh

Bangladeshi blogger Washikur Rahman was not just killed. His head was cut wide open in several places. The madrassa students accused of murdering him were sending a message. That a brain thinking thoughts against theocracy, denouncing the use of politics to enforce Islam on others, would not be tolerated. They literally tried with meat cleavers to get at Rahman’s mind. To cut away the thoughts he held.

This was not just murder. This was butchery to silence a mind that was against the use of political power to enforce religion on others. Secularism cannot be tolerated by extremists because it defends all citizens to have the religious views they wish.

Some get very offended when their ideas are denounced. When those they love are belittled. To show off how important, some ideas get called religion, and those they love become the most beloved of God. Some popes say insulting their idea is like insulting their mother, so expect a punch. To love the prophet beyond your own children, beyond your own self, is the exaltation of the koran.

The madrassa students declared their love by killing an infidel. They are extremists. The moderate political islamists just want the state to hang atheists. You will recall how they rioted while demanding atheists could be hanged, while some bloggers were held for blasphemy, a few years back

Two students from a local madrassa took meat cleavers into their own hands to show how offended they were that anyone could think differently from them. It follows a few weeks from the brutal murder of blogger Avijit Roy. The fundamentalists are making it very clear.

A free inquiring mind will be hacked to pieces.

I would like to think the world would stand with the atheist bloggers of Bangladesh. We know that is not the case. Charlie Hebdo showed that, with articles denouncing how offensive, racist and bigoted they were. People that could not be bothered to learn the satirical lampooning nature of the magazine, or its left wing progressive and anti colonial stance, did not care they were pissing on the bloodied dead in their ignorance.

At the National Secular Society awards ceremony this Saturday gone in London, Charlie Hebdo won Secularist of The Year. No one from the magazine could be present because of the astronomical fees that security would entail. Even the nominations were kept a lid on. The fear in the world is having its impact.

Martin Rowson – the cartoonist who led a campaign for caricaturing Erdogan due to his attempts to imprison illustrators that insulted him – received the award on their behalf. He made a very offensive speech, one that Hitchens would have been proud of, in defence of free speech and the right of anyone to feel insulted.

For as he said, the greatest offence of all is the taking of another human life. The first person killed at Charlie Hebdo was the building maintenance guy. No one is safe from the rage of fundamentalists.

At the ceremony a very affable person approached me when I first arrived. That is as much of a description as I am prepared to give, because of the known lethal sensitivities in this world. They are the illustrator of the Jesus and Mo cartoon strip. One day I hope it will be safe for them to be personally recognised for their talented satirising and lampooning of religious pomposity.

When Rowson on stage mentioned their attendance, the biggest roar and cheer was heard of the night. The risks faced were brought home when the President of National Secular Society explained the prize money for Charlie Hebdo was going to a benefit fund helping the families of the dead.

It is not enough for us to mourn and be outraged for those killed. We have to be passionate supporting the rights of people to speak out against religion, against privileged Gods, clerics and leaders anywhere in the world. There is no limit to where an inquiring mind may go, and no offense that can demand it does not go there.

I find it very offensive seeing a man with his head cleaved into. I hope you do not need to see the photo I have to feel the same way. You better believe this feels personal. People I know are threatened, people I have spoken to have been shot at, people who think the same as me have had meat cleavers embedded in their skull.

I am not ok with this happening in the world. I am fed up with having to be told murderous passions must mean we should never give our opinions. That it is too dangerous to say this, draw that, or republish this. That theocracy is what others want over there, when the people saying they do not want it that live over there are being hacked to death. That this is too offensive to see the light of day.

I have restored the Scarlet B on twitter for this week. It is a small gesture. If enough of us show we will speak out against fundamentalists, we can show that some of us will promote a free inquiring mind against murderers that would deny our right to think freely.

A free thinking mind, is the idea to love. You celebrate it with discussion, inquiry, debate, argument, humor, art. Not only are people prepared to kill to stop this, even more are prepared to limit the celebration of what makes us truly human. It is the requirement that we die inside, so other’s views are not challenged.

That is why the argument must go on.

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My thanks to the National Secular Society for hosting the event, and to all participants that made the event very welcoming.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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