ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘BBC

In Pakistan, Who Knew What?

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BBC’s Hardtalk has an interesting programme on The Death of Osama Bin Laden and basically, who knew what and when.

Two of the participants, Sir General Mike Jackson and David Wurmser, seemed to have been brought on the show as an act of kindness, as they have little to say that is either original or consequential.

Whereas Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, ex of the ISI, seems to fully appreciate the dynamic between both Pakistan and America. His contributions are worth listening to, they are a nice counter to the naive and wooden arguments advanced by Stephen Sackur.

Catch him at 00:12:01 or later on [00:12:55] saying:

“…as far as trust is concerned, the international relations are not based on trust, they are [based on]… commonality of interests, convergence of interests on certain issues, and in this particular case there were so many issues on which there was divergence….”

Watch it here on Iplayer.

France, Nativism And A Piece Of Cloth.

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I am not a fan of the Niqab or Burka, but then again I am against enforcing specific dress codes, to wear something or not to wear something.

I argued some time ago on this very topic at Zword, but reconsidering some of those arguments I think there is a better way of looking at it, a simpler way. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it, really? In my view, not much.

When you think of France, with all its numerous social problems, economic ills and political difficulties, would you think that a piece of cloth is the biggest problem that they face?

And does it become a bigger issue when worn by women, in strategic places ?

I suspect most intelligent readers will say, no.

Clearly, there is plenty of historical material on secularism in France, and anyone familiar with the French Revolution would know why, but the contemporary debate in France owes more to the political manoeuvrings of politicians and the influence of the Far Right.

Xenophobia has long been a problem in Europe with its major manifestations in the 1930s and 40s.

More recently we can see increased racial attacks and violence again Roma across European countries, including France and then the spectre of nativism raises its ugly head, where those wearing unapproved fashions are now attacked.

The Far Right’s influence can be seen all over these measures, along with Nicolas Sarkozy’s fingerprints as he panders to French nativism in the hope of electoral success.

Enforced dress codes must be rejected, whether in Saudi Arabia, the Taliban’s old Afghanistan or France.

France has many serious problems and they do not come down to bits of cloth worn by women.

The real problems and social ills in France should be dealt with, and it does not help women in anyway to fine them for not wearing the approved range of clothes.

So in Europe let us be serious, deal with the real problems, infrastructure, social inequalities, decent wages, good pension, a solid welfare state and the stark divisions between rich and poor, and not these panicky measure which only increase racial tension and help the Far Right.

Update 1: Previous posts on the topic, Stigmatising Dress Codes.

Pandering To Prejudice In France.

Written by modernityblog

11/04/2011 at 17:23

Malmo And Racial Attacks.

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There is often a romanticised view of Sweden, a social democratic paradise, solid welfare state, content people and a relatively harmonious society.

That is one misplaced view.

As Malmo has shown a real, much darker, side to Swedish society, the Local.se reported:

“Last year there were 79 crimes against Jewish residents reported to the police in Malmö, roughly double the number reported in 2008, according to the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.

“That probably doesn’t tell the whole story because not everyone chose to make a report. Perhaps they fear they will add to an already infected situation,” Susanne Gosenius, a hate crimes coordinator with the Skåne police, told the newspaper, which has published series of articles about the growing anti-Semitism in Malmö.

In addition, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have repeatedly been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmö was firebombed in January of last year.

There are currently an estimated 3,000 Jews living in the south of Sweden, with most residing in Malmö, Helsingborg, and Lund.

About 700 currently belong to the Jewish Community of Malmö, but the group’s membership rolls have been dropping steadily in recent years.

“It’s sort of a downward spiral,” Sieradzki told The Local.

“People want to maintain their Jewish traditions, but when they see others leave after being threatened, they begin to question whether or not they want to stay here.”

Skånska Dagbladet highlighted the case of Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old father of two who has decided to move to Israel.

“My children aren’t safe here. It’s going to get worse,” he told the newspaper

Eilenberg’s family on his mother’s side has roots in Malmö that date back to the 1800s, while his father’s parents came to Sweden in 1945 after surviving Auschwitz.

He describes for the newspaper how people call him “damn Jew” (‘jävla jude’) when he walks to synagogue and that his friends are frequently harassed and threatened.

“Imagine that my family can’t feel safe in fantastic Sweden. It’s really terrible,” Eilenberg told Skånskan.

He blamed part of the problem on passive local politicians who he believes have failed to openly distance themselves from anti-Semitism and refuse to act when members of the Jewish community find themselves under constant threat.

Sieradzki agrees that the attitudes of Malmö politicians, especially Social Democrat city council chair Ilmar Reepalu, have allowed anti-Semitism to fester.

“He’s demonstrated extreme ignorance when it comes to our problems,” Sieradzki explained.”

That was a point echoed by an article in the Torygraph from earlier on this year:

“Malmo’s Jews, however, do not just point the finger at bigoted Muslims and their fellow racists in the country’s Neo-Nazi fringe. They also accuse Ilmar Reepalu, the Left-wing mayor who has been in power for 15 years, of failing to protect them.

Mr Reepalu, who is blamed for lax policing, is at the centre of a growing controversy for saying that what the Jews perceive as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy in the Middle East.”

In BBC’s Heart And Soul Wendy Robbins looked at antisemitism and Holocaust denial, covering Malmo and how antisemitism is becoming mainstream.

This is the first programme.

The second one, both are available as downloads or listen to on the Iplayer.

(Hat tip: Engage)

Written by modernityblog

09/12/2010 at 14:54

Gilad Shalit In The Media.

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I have meant to write more on this topic, but couldn’t.

Still, Just Journalism has a good piece on the hypocrisy that is so evident in the British media:

“There were noticeable differences between The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC News website on the reported resumption of talks between Israel and Hamas over the release of Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit.

The biggest issue relates to the fact that Shalit has been denied visits during the period of his capture – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention and International Human Rights Law. The BBC article on the renewed talks did not even mention that he has been denied all visits.

The Associated Press and Independent articles, on the other hand, did both mention that Shalit has not been allowed visits; however, they failed to cite this as a violation of international law. The Independent noted that:

‘Sgt Shalit’s family has repeatedly complained that Hamas has not allowed visits to him by the International Red Cross.’

The Independent stated that:

‘Since his capture four years ago, Shalit has received no outside visitors.’

The failure to cite international law contrasts with coverage of Israeli actions, such as construction in the West Bank, where the issue of legality is frequently raised. “

What a contrast to how the British journalist Alan Johnston’s captivity was covered in the media.

Written by modernityblog

18/10/2010 at 22:29

The Benin Plaque And History.

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I think a lot of people are put off by history when they first do it, or from the tales of Kings and Queens or dry meaningless legislation which finds no resonance in their lives.

I suspect much of it has to do with the problem of constructing national narratives in Britain, France, Germany and parts of Europe. It is hard for them to actually reflect what really happened, because invariably they are nationalistic in outlook, if not content.

The development of Nation states is rarely that compact or insulated, as the Benin Plaque demonstrates. Neil MacGregor in A History of the World in 100 Objects does a marvellous job of enriching our appreciation of a wider, connected history.

This programme can be downloaded as an MP3 here.

Written by modernityblog

07/10/2010 at 14:49

Taliban Murder Medical Workers.

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Another example of the Taliban’s real attitude, which should cause their Western supporters, apologists and excuses a moment’s thought, AFP has more:

“Kintoz said they were shot by armed men in a remote area of Badakhshan province, according to the testimony of “Saifullah”, an Afghan who survived.

The group of eight ophthalmologists had been travelling with three Afghans between Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces and spent a few nights in the forest, he reported Saifullah as saying.

“On the last day they were confronted by a group of armed men who lined them up and shot them. Their money and belongings were all stolen,” said Kintoz.

He said that according to Saifullah’s testimony he had escaped death by reading verses of the Koran, prompting the men to realise he was a Muslim and release him in neighbouring Nuristan province.

The police chief said local villagers had warned the group not to enter the dangerous forested area, but they had insisted they would be safe because they were doctors, according to Saifullah’s statement.

He said the bodies had been found in Kuran wa Minjan district, an area on the border with Nuristan province, one day’s drive from the provincial capital Faizabad.”

Update 1: The BBC with sweeping naivete seems to take the Taliban at their word, when they state:

“Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said bibles translated into Dari had been found.”

Even if they had carried copies of Playboy, they should not have been murdered.

They were doctors and aid workers trying to help ordinary Afghans, that should be enough.

Update 2: Another part of the Beeb has at least covered the human side of their murder:

“Blog posts written by Briton Dr Karen Woo, named as one of 10 medics shot dead in Afghanistan, offer a human insight into the aid mission to the war-torn country.

The BBC understands that Dr Woo gave up a well-paid job with private healthcare provider Bupa to work in Afghanistan for minimal financial reward.

She died alongside six Americans, a German and two Afghan interpreters who had been working with Christian charity the International Assistance Mission to provide eye care in remote villages.

Her blog posts reveal that she was driven by a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans – and spread the word about their plight.

On the blog-hosting website Bridge Afghanistan, Dr Woo described the effect on her of a 2009 visit to Kabul, and told of her plans to make a documentary.

“The things that I saw during that visit made me, as a doctor, want to bring back the human stories both good and bad,” she wrote.

“The access that a doctor or healthcare professional has to a community is unlike that available to a journalist; the trust and conversations are different.

“The insight is through the lens of birth and death, of loss and disability, and reflects every aspect of the consequences of conflict on individuals and on their community.” “

Update 3: Dr Woo’s blog is here.

Update 4: Dr Woo followed this particular blog, Thru Afghan Eyes and it is good.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2010 at 12:35

Imagine If….

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This piece, unintentionally, highlights the dual standards which exist in the West, when it comes to the welfare of Israelis:

“Imagine if the UN announced tomorrow that it was suspending all UNWRA activities and funding in the Gaza Strip until Gilad Shalit was released. Imagine if the EU refused to allow imports of strawberries and flowers from Gaza until the Red Cross was granted regular access to Gilad in accordance with his rights under international law. Imagine if Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or B’Tselem did more than release the occasional tepid statement. Imagine if the BBC and the Guardian actually reported this story with the same zeal and intensity as they invested in the kidnapping of Alan Johnston.”