Posts Tagged ‘Mehdi Hassan’

Secular Talk on Conservatives Getting Annoyed when Saudi Arabia Compared to ISIS

January 3, 2016

The big news today has been the protests around the world, and particularly Iran, over the execution in Saudi Arabia of political and religious prisoners, most notably the Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr. David Cameron is facing criticism because he has turned a blind eye to these executions. Mike’s covered this story on Vox Poltical at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/03/david-cameron-criticised-for-turning-blind-eye-to-mass-executions-in-saudi-arabia/. He’s also posted a number of stories on his blog, about how Cameron is all too willing to provide material aid to Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s appalling record on human rights.

It should be no surprise to anyone that Shi’a Muslims throughout the world are upset about this. Saudi Arabia is profoundly religiously intolerant. Not only are non-Muslim religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism banned, but also all varieties of Islam except the official Wahhabi form of the faith. There are Shi’a Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but they are very heavily discriminated against. They live in villages without electricity or running water. They are not allowed to build mosques to worship, and their religious literature, if discovered, is immediately confiscated. They are far more intolerant than the Islamic regime in Iran, which at least reserves four seats in the country’s majlis (parliament) for non-Muslim minorities.

I’m reblogging this clip from the American atheist news show, Secular Talk, as it gives an American secularist perspective on the issue. Here the show’s presenter, Kyle Kulinski, discusses an edition of the British current affairs discussion programme, Question Time, where a Conservative MP gets very angry while denouncing ISIS’ butchery, when Mehdi Hassan makes the point that Saudi Arabia do exactly the same. He states that despite their vicious intolerance, we are even aiding Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the world. Kulinski makes the point that the bombings in Yemen have a civilian death rate of 50% +. Most of the people we are helping the Saudis to kill are civilians. Kulinski also makes the point that the Saudis are actively spreading Salafism – Islamic fundamentalism – throughout the world. They have also refused to take in any Syrian refugees. They will, however, build mosques for them in Europe. Mosques that preach the Saudi intolerant fundamentalism. Kulinski also points out that the Saudis have banned even moderate, reformist interpretations of Islam, quite apart from sentencing bloggers and others to death for apostasy or ‘insulting Islam’, as well as crimes like drug offences. But the West does not criticism, or doing anything about them, because of massive corporate and oil interests in Saudi Arabia.

Now I’ve reblogged material from Secular Talk before. I don’t support their atheism or secularism, but agree with much they say on non-religious topics. And they’re right here. Saudi Arabia is brutally intolerant, and is active promoting its extreme interpretation of Islam. It is also actively involved in the promotion of terrorism, funding and directing al-Qaeda through its intelligence minister, Turki al-Faisal. But because they control the oil economy, and are the biggest market for British arms, we don’t utter a word against them.

As for Mehdi Hassan, he’s very much a bête noir amongst the Islamophobic Right, including American Republicans and Canadian Conservatives. He’s a Muslim, and so they present him very much as a kind of secret Islamic subversive, burrowing into the European political system in order to overthrow it. I think the real reason they hate him with a passion is not so much his religion, but simply the fact that he is left-wing and articulate. His opponents genuinely despise his religion, but I think they also find it a useful tool with which to attack him. They can simply play on their supporters’ religious prejudices and not have to bother with the troublesome business of having to refute his political arguments.

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In Case You Missed It: Mehdi Hassan Owning the Daily Mail on Youtube

October 5, 2013

Mehdi Hassan’s speech utterly demolishing the Daily Mail and its journalist, Quentin Letts, is on Youtube. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to embed it here. If you want to see it, however, it’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73ZCrDtAC7A. Enjoy!

Shock! Horror! Cadaverous Author of Macabre Novels Calls Slumlords What They Are! Channel 4 Newsreaders Amazed!

October 5, 2013

It’s been an interesting week for the Coalition and their supporters receiving a drubbing by journalists. Mike, over at Vox Political, has put up a good piece about the way Mehdi Hassan demolished Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail on Question Time. Hassan had rebutted Letts’ arguments by asking who the person, who really hated Britain was: Miliband senior, a Jewish immigrant, who fought for his country, or the Daily Mail. This is the newspaper, he reminded us, that insinuated that Stephen Gately’s death was somehow due to his homosexuality, attacked Danny Boyle for including a mixed race couple in the Olympic Games opening spectacle, called Olympic champion Mo Farah a ‘plastic Brit’, despises immigrants and Muslims, and seeks to undermine the NHS.

Last night, Have I Got News For You also laid into the Daily Heil. They covered the Mail’s slander of Ralph Milliband. Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye naturally showed the Mail’s hypocrisy by pointing out its pro-Nazi past, complete with its headlines screaming ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ and opinion piece praising Nazi Germany and dismissing the allegations of Nazi atrocities. Hislop also pointed out that Paul Dacre, the Mail’s editor, also showed a signal lack of patriotism, as he did not pay any tax to his country, avoiding it through a complex network of offshore companies based in the Bahamas. He also said that it was a bit rich for Dacre to accuse others of totalitarian sympathies, considering that Dacre’s own staff call him ‘Mugabe’ because he’s ancient, won’t retire and despises the opposition.

The day before this, on Thursday, Channel 4 covered the brilliant state of the housing market under the Coalition in an investigatory feature entitled ‘Generation Rent’. It showed that the present, younger generation have little chance of getting on the housing ladder due to the lack of properties being built. This was due to the recession. Mortgages on the properties that were available were exorbitantly high, so that most young people simply cannot afford them. They were thus forced to rent. This also was difficult and expensive, due to a lack of affordable properties. Many of the homes and flats were aimed at the affluent, not ordinary peeps wanting a roof over their head. The programme talked to a number of landlords, as well as tenants forced to rent due to property prices. Among the landlords interviewed was one, who bought properties simply to rent out to other landlords.

The programme’s guest commentator for this section of the programme was Will Self, the cadaverous novelist, whose grisly works include Great Apes and How The Dead Live, as well as other tales of mayhem, mutilation, perversion and horror. Self’s own private life has supplied much newspaper copy in its time. He was for years a drug addict, whose finals in philosophy while a student at Oxford were interrupted by his arrest for the chemicals. One newspaper also printed a long, spurious story in which it was alleged that the master of the modern macabre had found the company of John Major so insufferably dull while sat next to him on a plane trip, that he resorted to heroin to liven the journey up. Self’s clean of drugs now, and like that other master of the extreme and transgressive, his friend, J.G. Ballard, Self lives in bourgeois domesticity with his wife and child.

He’s probably not the best person to provide a sympathetic view of the housing market and industry. A year or so back the roof of Self’s own house collapsed, and he duly appeared on the News talking about the incident. When Snow asked him what he thought about the issue, Self described the landlord, who rents to other landlords as a ‘rackman’. Snow blanched at this. No doubt with the spectre of Outraged of Tunbridge Wells writing in to denounce yet more Channel 4 left-wing bias, he said that Self could say it, but they couldn’t. Self’s reply was short, ‘I don’t know – I don’t think it’s actionable.’

But Self’s description is accurate. It precisely describes the situation many young people now face, in which they cannot afford to buy, and the rents on those properties they can afford are raised so that they eat up a progressively larger proportion of their income.

What also was not remarked on the programme was that this situation had created a further potential for racial/ nationalist friction. One of the developers interviewed was Francis Liu, a Chinese businessman, who specialises in the construction of one-room apartments. These combine bathroom, living room and bedroom in the same space in a kind of even smaller bedsit. They look horrendous, like Bruce Willis’ cramped home in the Fifth Element, but without Moebius’ and Besson’s visual flair and style. Channel 4’s reporters interviewed some British people, who were forced to live in them now, because that’s all they could afford. Liu’s apartments weren’t particularly cheap at £70 a week. They were also aimed at foreign investors from the Far East. This looks to me like a recipe for danger.

Globalisation and Neo-Liberal economics has succeeded in creating a trans-national elite that have more in common with each other, than with the citizens of their countries of origin. Hence all over the world there’s a growing indifference to the plight of the poor by the super-rich. Mass immigration, as populations from the Developing World move to the developed West and North in search of jobs and better opportunities, is already a major political issue. It has led to the rise of far-Right movements across Europe, like the Golden Dawn in Greece, and increasingly harsh anti-immigrant measures in Italy and elsewhere. It is also not only Western culture that has racist elements. There is also racism in Chinese culture. I can remember finding in Waterstone’s in Bath nearly two decades ago a large, hardback academic book on Chinese Racism. One of the Chinese students I knew at university told me a few years ago that he was horrified at the level of anti-Western prejudice and hatred in his country. Some of this hatred is due to the immense feeling of humiliation felt by the Chinese at their defeat in the Opium Wars, and the division and virtual colonisation of their great nation by the European powers.

The racist and nationalist Right in Britain and the rest of the world is motivated by resentment at the way foreigners are, or are perceived to be, given preferential treatment to the indigenous, host population. The Daily Mail and other right-wing tabloids have frequently attacked the government’s immigration service for accommodating asylum-seekers in luxury housing. With Liu and developers like him building properties mainly or exclusively for rich foreigners from the Far East, then it’s easy to see how this might enrage the existing, poorer local population, excluded from this luxury market. Liu was building his properties in Leeds, which I think may also have suffered from the effects of poverty and unemployment resulting from Thatcher’s decimation of British industry. The local population likely to be priced out of properties like Liu’s is not only White, but also Black and Asian, including families of Chinese descent, who’ve been British since coming here in the 19th century. Years ago I read a book on Japan by a Times journalist. He noted the resentment and controversy that had erupted in Australia when Japanese developers began building luxury beach complexes, which were to be owned solely by the Japanese. The construction of luxury rented properties, aimed at the Far Eastern rich, threatens to create similar tension and conflict over here.

Regardless of their ethnic origins, the landlords taking advantage of the current housing market to raise rents to ludicrous levels are Rackmans, has Self described them. It’s another example of how the Coalition’s policies are increasing the gap between rich and poor in the name of liberalisation.