Saturday, June 24, 2017
 photo 05873394-14be-4e3f-b9c7-36ad8e5cfcb0_zpsfytesxay.jpg
News

0
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

Nearly four weeks of my holidays in the village of my birth in the part of Pakistan held Kashmir, the weather has been expectedly fabulous with moderate sunshine and rain. The second week of my stay here in an environment full of natural beauty including a man-made lake was blessed with the company of my close friends and colleagues both locally and from Mirpur and Islamabad. The hide and seek game played by the unpredictable supply of electricity, in this part of the world, has been quite irksome and disturbing, but manageable.

In this age of highly advanced technology in global communication, it has been easy for me to keep myself abreast of some of the important issues and news of the world.

During the last four weeks, in Pakistan, the press and electronic media has been dominated with three main news. Firstly the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab in January 2011, produced massive reaction in all parts of the country. Although Qadri was convicted for murder and terrorism, his funeral was one of the largest ever held in Pakistan. Qadri was nawaz_1860146fawarded the death sentence by an anti-terror court but the judge had to flee the country for the sake of his safety. However after long judicial process, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower court. Thus, Qadri was sent to the gallows. The timing of his hanging was decided by the government of Nawaz Sharif with some trepidation due to fear of the reaction the execution may unleash. However, while the media and the government played down with his hanging, his supporters and sympathisers were out to protest in almost all small and large towns and cities of the country. All the religious political parties and clergy closed their ranks and condoned his death and condoned his act of assassination unanimously. Qadri was hailed as a great hero and martyr and the government a stooge of the west. I believe the ideological opposition of Qadri to Salman Taseer’s statements on blasphemy law that prompted him to fire twenty shots to kill him, was the result of his fixed mind on some of his religious beliefs.

He was a product of steady growth of religious extremism and intolerance in Pakistani society over the last three decades.

pervez-musharraf_650_010214013413In the third week of February, the Punjab Government took a bold decision and passed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill in the Assembly. In the province of Punjab, where in the last five years according to the statistics available with the Punjab Police, a total of 1269 women became victims of “honour killing” and thousands were subjected to rape and domestic violence. In a misogynistic society like Pakistan, the majority of women are subject to retrogressive traditions and customs. The law has been challenged and furiously opposed and condemned by the religious leaders who are labelling the law as anti-Sharia.

The abhorrence of clergy and conservative segments of the country is a manifestation of their desire for the perpetuation of oppressive male domination, using religion as a cloak. The “Mullah Brigade” as mumtaz_hussain_qadri-1usual is spitting venom on all those who are supporting this long overdue legislation to protect the most vulnerable women. The male supporters of the legislation in the Punjab Assembly are described as hen pecked husbands and liberal secular’s hell bent on destroying the fabric of society. The government have yielded to pressures from the religious right and have agreed to consider proposals from religious leadership for possible amendments. But their demand is for scraping the law altogether. Hence, the ball now is in the government’s court.

Nawaz Sharif, ironically, has been closely associated with some Islamist groups and enjoyed their electoral support from time to time in the past. Therefore, despite his bold decision to go ahead with this radical legislation, he is not regarded as the beacon for any real social change or enlightened policies.

The Musharraf saga ended on Friday the 18th of March with no surprises. He was allowed by the government, after his successful appeal to the Supreme Court, to leave Pakistan for medical treatment abroad. He is now in Dubai where he is resting with his family. Many observers believe that he will not return to Pakistan to face his trial on treason charges. But he has insisted that he will come back after few months when his health is fully restored.

The departure of Musharraf has created enormous embarrassment for Sharif’s government. The opposition parties are accusing him of surrendering to Musharraf and letting him go scot free. In the eyes of opposition, his acclaimed resolve for bringing the treason trial of the dictator to its conclusion for strengthening democracy in the country was nothing more than a rhetoric. I believe the decision to let Musharraf leave the country was made collaboratively by the army and Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf had now become a thorn in the back of the army as the possibilities for his conviction were becoming more convincing day by day. The verdict of guilty for Musharraf would have been not easy for the army to stomach and would have put them in the most uncomfortable and uncompromising position. Nawaz Sharif’s administration also realised this forthcoming crisis which perhaps they wanted to avoid at all cost.

Musharraf’s return to Pakistan will be a risky venture for him as long as Sharif is in power. On the other hand, if the establishment offers him a safe return, he may not resist the temptation.

In Pakistan, the action against extremism and terrorism since the devastating attack on an Army Public School in Peshawar, has intensified and things have moved forward in positive directions. But it is difficult to visualise the end result of this resolve of the army.

The government is faced with enormous opposition from religious outfits. They have unanimously ganged up against it. Their demand is for total withdrawal of the Woman Protection Act and apology for Qadri’s execution. These obscurantist groups are preparing themselves for a decisive encounter with Nawaz Sharif’s government. The question is, will the government be able to muster the courage of its conviction and face this challenge fearlessly or will it lose its nerve and submit to their whims?

All the available evidence suggests, however, that in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the religious right and puritans still possess the capacity to incite religious passions and mobilise street power to wreak havoc for any government.

The Panama Papers Leaks, whereas they have shaken many incumbent governments in the world, the Nawaz Sharif government also has been under extreme pressure from opposition parties. The revelations about the alleged investment by his two sons of ill-gotten wealth in the off shore companies abroad and his failure to declare it, have seriously on his moral authority. This has happened when his relationship with the establishment is at a very low ebb. His announcement for a judicial commission to probe the allegations of tax evasion and money laundering has been rejected by all opposition parties. His reluctance to take the parliament into confidence by declaring all of his and his family’s financial interests has made his opponents suspicious of his move for purposing the judicial commission. Mr Nawaz Sharif seems to be faced with a political quandary which he did not expect and now desperate to find safe exit. However, in view of the current politically intensely heated climate in the country, he is faced with two probable choices. Either to go for re-election or resign.

0

Following the announcement in the 2016 Budget that all schools will be forced to convert into academies by 2022, Imran Hussain MP questioned the Prime Minister on the plans.

Despite evidence showing that academy status does not increase the educational outcomes in schools, all schools that are currently run by Bradford Council will be forced to convert into academies, regardless of the wishes of the teachers and parents. As part of this process, accountability for the schools will be transferred from the Council to the Department for Education in London, despite the Government’s repeated claims about wishing to transfer more power to the local level.

The plans have been met with criticism from Mr Hussain who denounced them as “plain daft and unnecessary” – echoing former Education Minister Lord Baker – and has claimed that they amount to needlessly altering the structure of schools rather than taking meaningful steps to correct the failings within them, such as addressing low teacher retention rates and providing the funding needed to counter the high rates of deprivation in the district that is holding back educational attainment.

Mr Hussain also questioned why the Government were so willing to disregard the opinions of local parents and teachers, and why they were so willing to put the potential success of the Northern Schools Strategy, which was recently announced at the Budget and set to invest £20 million per year in Northern Schools, at risk.

Speaking on education in Bradford and the academisation plans, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said:

“Efforts to raise educational outcomes in Bradford face considerable challenges with low GCSE scores, a school places shortage and high rates of deprivation in the city, but I do not believe that forcing all schools to become academies, against the wishes of parents and teachers, offers the solution.

“When asked the question of how to improve education, the Government’s answer is to increase the pace of academisation, but ironically for the Department for Education, they are unable to fulfil a requirement of many pupils who are sitting exams and show their working and how they have come to this conclusion.

“Instead of pushing forward with such a divisive plan which has no supportive evidence proving that academy status improves educational outcomes, the Government should instead look at increasing the scope and investment of their recently announced Northern Schools Strategy, and I will be continuing to press the Government to ensure that this strategy, which has the potential to substantially improve education in Bradford, reflects the good practices of the highly successful London Challenge.”

 

by Mohammad Nazir Tabassum

A prophet of socialism, Fedel Castro, former President of Cuba, prophesied sometimes in 1973:

“The US will come to talk to us when they have a black president and the world has a Latin American Pope.”

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On Sunday afternoon, 20th March this prophesy turned out to be true when the Black American President Mr Barack Hussein Obama along with the first lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, landed at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. And the incumbent pope is Pope Francis, a Latin American who was born in Flores, Argentina.

This was one of the most difficult tasks Obama may have kept on his secret agenda as he would have ascended the stairs of the White House on 20th January 2009 as the first Black American President. He has accomplished that task if not adequately then at least to the extent of breaking the ground. Embargo has always been the most hurting aspect of estranged relations which directly affect the common man. Although Obama expressed optimism that this will go, but he was unable to give a timeframe for that. This is because trade relations and free travelling cannot be restored and sanctions can’t be lifted until the Congress allows that. Now the Congress has a majority of Republicans who are opposed to Obama’s pilgrimage to Havana, there it requires patience till that time when the coming Democratic government could take up that step too.

The world has witnessed that the performance of a Black American President has in no way been less, if not above, than that of the Presidents of other ethnic groups. Just nine months after his inauguration on 20th January 2009, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2009 for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.

Barack-Obama-Talks-About-Daughters-ViewDuring his first two years in the office, he took steps to legislate in response to the Great Recession in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, unemployment insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. His first term will always be remembered for his bold steps to get legislated and implemented the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This was opposed tooth and nail by the big and powerful insurance racket in America who nicknamed this Act as “Obamacare”.

He took landmark steps in the field of foreign policy as well. He ended US military involvement in the Iraq war and increased US troop levels in Afghanistan. Another bold step that he took was to sign NEW START arms control treaty with Russia. His military involvement in Libya opposing and then killing Col. Qadafi is a controversial step opposed by those who are against the interventionism. However, the military operation undertaken by the American Navy Seals on his orders that resulted in killing of Osama bin Laden was hailed by and large.

He has been mostly at odds with the Republicans. It became worse in 2011 when they regained control of the House of Representatives because his Democratic Party lost 63 seats. Thus, there had been a lengthy debate over federal spending and also over whether or not to raise nation’s debt limit. As a result Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Tax payer Relief Act of 2012.

In November 2012, he defeated the Republican nominee Mitt Romney and was thus re-elected and then sworn in for a second term on 20th January 2013. He has been actively engaged in domestic politics during his second term. Thus, he took bold steps in gun control prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. He called for greater inclusion of LGBT Americans and his administration filed a case urging the Supreme Court to strike down part of the federal Defence of Marriage Act and State same-sex marriage laws as unconstitutional.

After withdrawal of forces from Iraq in 2011, once again, during his second term, Obama had to order his troops to go to Iraq and fight against the ISIS militancy because this terrorist organization had occupied large areas of both Iraq and Syria. He continued the process of ending US combat operations in Afghanistan. He took initiative to start discussions that ultimately led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change. The way he brokered a nuclear deal with Iran will always be remembered as an excellent gain by peaceful means. And lastly, his whirlwind visit that aimed to lock in key aspects of his historic overtures to the socialist-run country that will deepen the US-Cuba economic relations was an attempt to send the message that President Raul Castro’s government will sooner or later embrace democratic reforms. That is another thing that Josfine Vidal, director of US affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry remarked: “Cuba will not move one millimetre to try to respond”.

By Jim Greenhalf

Panel: David Cameron maintains that the UK would be more prosperous, secure and have greater influence in the world, in the European Union rather than out of it. Those in favour of leaving the EU, don’t have an alternative strategy, the Prime Minister said: “They seem to be making it up as they go along.” Well, there is such a strategy, and it was compiled and written by Bradford political researcher, author and blogger Dr Richard North. JIM GREENHALF reports.

CUTTING the Gordian Knot that binds the UK to the political and economic structures of the European Union would not be a single historic event but a gradual process over several years at least.

image1
Richard North

That’s why Richard North, beavering away in the book-crammed study of his Wibsey house, called his 420-page strategy FLEXCIT, short for Flexible Exit and Continuous Development. It went online in April last year since when the author calculates that more than 50,000 people have downloaded it from his EUReferendum.com blogsite.

A 48-page summary was published last month (March) by the Leave Alliance, a network of anti-EU campaigners that includes the Bruges Group and the Campaign for an Independent Britain.

“After nine treaties and 40 years of political and economic integration, there can be no clean break. Unravelling in a single step is not going to happen, and certainly not without compromises. This is a point that cannot be made too strongly,” Dr North says in the pamphlet’s introduction.

As one of the few pundits who correctly forecast the outcome of last year’s General Election, Richard North, whose books co-authored with Christopher Booker include the definitive history of the EU – The Great Deception – Richard North challenges the Prime Minister’s ideal of Britain within a reformed EU.

The EU can only be changed by treaty agreement of all 28 member states. International agreements are made on the basis of ‘shared misery’, he added. Favourable treatment for one will be opposed by other member states not in receipt of it, especially if the proposed reforms infringe any of the EU’s four freedoms: freedom of movement of people, capital, goods and services.

Richard North’s FLEXCIT strategy imagines and describes six phases following Britain’s declaration under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU.

“First you leave,” he said, summarising the phases for Urban Echo readers. “Negotiations for that take at least two years. Then you sort out immigration, European trade regulations, the policy issues governed by EU law (there are 22,000 EU laws), the global trading matters and finally you address domestic political reform to restore democracy and prevent Parliament from ever again giving away our power as it did in 1973 when we signed up to the European Communities Act.

“The EU’s ambition is to create a new country called the United States of Europe. That’s simply not a direction in which we can travel because there is no mandate for it,” he said.

Leaving the EU means changing a relationship, not ending it, as the FLEXCIT pamphlet makes clear:-

“We are simply travelling separately. This is not isolation but an agreement to do many more of the same things in a different way, all to our mutual advantage.”

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Federica Mogherini, head of the EU foreign policy and Javed Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister met in Vienna, the capital of Austria, on January 16 and issued a joint communiqué declaring that a nuclear deal has been reached at between Iran and the world powers after the certification of UN’s international nuclear watchdog IAEA, that Iran has fulfilled all her obligations set forth for her in July last year.

Therefore, a big chunk of sanctions imposed on that country by US, EU and the UN are being lifted. This step will unfreeze Iran’s billions of dollars of assets and allow her to sell its oil in the world market.

The announcement opened the floodgates of joy and happiness for the Iranian masses that have been made scapegoat to suffer more than a decade for none of their faults. Thus, the Iranian foreign minister Javed Zarif commented: “This is a good day for the Iranian people as sanctions will be lifted today.” Soon after the international sanctions were lifted, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Iran has opened a new chapter in its ties with the world”.

90This move was welcomed by most of the countries of the world except Israel that accused Tehran of still seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Strangely enough, Israel was not alone in criticising this deal; she was joined by the holier than the holiest Monarchy of the world Muslims, Saudi Arabia in expressing their dislike. On Tuesday (19/01/16) Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubier said in his exclusive interview to Reuters: “The lifting of sanctions on Iran as a result of its nuclear deal with world powers will be a harmful development if it uses the extra money to fund “nefarious” activities”. While Israel (a Jewish state) and Saudi Arabia (a state which is the fountain head of Islam) are juxtaposed in condemning this deal, it would be interesting to see how Imam of Makkah’s Grand Mosque (an appointee of the SA government) looks at this deal, who tweeted (18-24 January) alleging an “alliance of the Safavids with the Jews and Christians against Muslims”. [Iranians are also known as Safavids].

The way this deal would lift the economic sanctions that were progressively imposed by the US, EU and the UN in response to Iran’s nuclear programme needs elaboration. Sanctions on trade, shipping and insurance are going to be fully lifted by EU. The US would suspend, not terminate, its nuclear-related sanctions, thus allowing Iran now to get reconnected with global banking system. The UN would lift sanctions related to defence and nuclear technology sales, as well as an asset freeze on key individuals and companies. Non-nuclear US sanctions would remain in place, notably the ban on US citizens and companies trading with Iran, and US and EU sanctions on Iranians accused of sponsoring terrorism would also remain in place.

Iran would immediately get $100bn (£70bn) of frozen Iranian assets. It is expected that she would increase its daily export of 101 million barrels of crude oil by half a million barrels shortly and another half a million barrels in future. It is expected that Iran would soon order the Airbus Consortium for purchase of 114 new passenger planes.

President Hassan Rouhani said that everyone was happy with the deal, apart from those he described as war-mongers in the region – Israel and hardliners in the US Congress. “We Iranians have reached out to the world in a sign of friendliness, and leaving behind the enmities, suspicions and plots, have opened a new chapter in the relations of Iran with the world”, he said in a statement on Sunday (17/01/2016) morning. Rouhani added: “The lifting of sanctions was a turning point for Iran’s economy and the country needed to be less reliant on oil revenue.

The only candidate to be credited as the “ARCHITECT” of this deal is John Kerry, the US Secretary of State who, commenting on the deal, said; “It had been pursued with the firm belief that exhausting diplomacy before choosing war is an imperative. And we believe that today marks the benefits of that choice”.

However, it did not go unchallenged from within the United States. The Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Obama administration had moved to lift economic sanctions “on the world’s leading State Sponsor of terrorism”.

This deal, as envisaged quite early, came as a shock to the monarch in Riyadh. They had their first shock in 1979 when Shah of Iran was deposed and replaced by Shia theocracy of Ayatollah Khomeini and other clerics of similar description who started crying hoarse that there is no place of monarchy in Islam. In a recent exclusive interview to Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubier was asked if Saudi Arabia discussed seeking nuclear bomb in the event Iran managed to obtain one despite its atomic deal. He said Saudi Arabia would do “whatever it needs to do in order to protect our people”. Where Saudi Arabia can look to seek an atomic device? Nowhere except Pakistan. Thus, Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, without wasting any time, came to Riyadh along with his army chief to console and comfort their erstwhile benefactor. They could not stop short of pronouncing their support in case of any defence-related eventuality. In an apparent equalising gesture they did visit Tehran also to clarify the reconciliatory nature of their visit.

Both Tehran and Riyadh are theocratic states, the former ruled by a Council of Shia Elders without whose clearance no one can contest election; the latter is ruled by House of Saud dynasty but their home affairs are run by the clerics who profess Wahabi / Salafi Islam as opposed to that of Shia clerics of Iran. There is a worst human rights record in both the countries. The women are treated worst in both the countries

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE
by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

A few years ago during a brief discourse over a cup of coffee in my house with one of the most prominent Indian film directors, Mr Mahesh Bhatt, on the subject of the British Muslim community, he asked me how do I feel as a British Muslim in Britain after the 9/11 and7/7 terrorist attacks in New York and London? After a pause I said: “In the sixties and seventies I was a black young man, in the eighties I was an Asian, in the nineties I became to be known as a Muslim and in the beginning of the 21st century, I am a terrorist.”

Sadly this perception of Muslims residing in Europe and America has become so strong that it is frequently used as a popular propaganda weapon against the whole Muslim community to denigrate and demonise it. Some politicians and sections of the media have harboured and spread it to increase their rating and popularity. Even the moderate and liberal Muslims who attempt to defend themselves against the evils of terrorism, are silenced with the popular slogan “you are all the bloody same.” Hence, Muslim bashing has become a vogue in the western world. Donald Trump, the hopeful presidential candidate for America has recently vouched for the ban on Muslims’ entry to the USA. Also during many of his rallies, he has continued to ridicule the entire Muslim community and some of his staunch supporters at his rallies have chanted and shouted that, ‘every Muslim is a Satan and we don’t want them in America.’

100504277_cameroncu_249431bIn Britain, our very own Prime Minister Mr David Cameron, last month [January 2016] announced in Leeds that those Muslim women who can’t speak English will be helped by the government to learn the language. This initiative was welcomed by the community across the board. They appreciated the benefits that could accrue from this scheme, particularly for promoting social interaction and increased autonomy of Muslim females. However, Mr Cameron also delivered a warning that there could be great risk in some of these women to turn to extremism and terrorism if they fail to learn the language and if they fail to pass the language test, they will be deported to their countries of origin.

This part of Mr Cameron’s announcement is not only bereft of his political prudence and judgement and his naivety of ground realities, but it is manifestation of his true inner feelings about the Muslim community. His belief in the link between the inability to speak English language and extremism is incredible. It is a well-known fact that all those apprehended and convicted of their involvement in radicalisation and terrorism to date are all born, bred and educated in the UK. The cruellest irony here of his double talk is the depiction of Muslims as a negative and dangerous entity of British society.

His government’s policy of targeting a particular community for learning the language could be legally challenged.

The most important areas in which social interaction and cohesion can be promoted are our schools, neighbourhoods and work places. All successive governments have criminally failed to pay any serious heed to address this question. Almost all schools in the inner areas of our cities and towns with preponderance of Muslim population are ghettoised. Hardly any white face in these schools are visible. The situation in terms of neighbourhoods and work places is no different from schools. For the government, it seems to be an easy escape to offer cosmetics and yet gain national and international publicity. This is political hypocrisy at its height!

Unfortunately, the government and its leaders are too engrossed in playing power games and to outbid each other on restricting immigration and potential domestic ‘unrest’. They don’t realise that by diverting people’s attention from real issues of poverty and social injustice, they are engaging their minds in an unhelpful polarisation, the consequences of which could not be beneficial for society as a whole.

To single out the Muslims and casting on them constant aspersions and to demand that they should police their homes, neighbourhoods and communities for potential extremists and terrorists, is indicative of not trusting their loyalty as British citizens. Additionally, this kind of approach can entrench their feelings of victimisation. A community that already is beleaguered and under surveillance by our educational institutions, local authorities, police and other security agencies, can no longer afford any more pressures and demands.

To push them to a position of guilt is akin to drive them to the precipice. We have to be seriously mindful of the spill overs of such a policy.

The Muslim community is faced with many challenges. The biggest challenge is for its religious and political leaders to encourage mainstreaming and integrating with the indigenous communities.

No one denies that there is a tiny minority of Muslim youth who pose potential danger to our security and we must counter them without any reservations and extend our full cooperation to our security forces. The dangerous radicalism of a few young Muslim has finally become a frightening reality. But this should not mean that we punish the entire community.

The rising tides of extremism and terrorism are a deadly combination of historical wrongs and the havoc wreaked by hastily cooked up wars. Without addressing the source and the underlying causes of this ever growing evil of radicalism and terrorism, you cannot bring peace to the world. Mr Cameron should seriously consider to pursue a noble role of a peace maker and leave a legacy of which Britons can be proud of, rather than attempting to win political scores by abandoning the “core British values.”

The author is the former Lord Mayor of Bradford, Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

Following the Prime Minister’s comments on Radio 4, Bradford East’s MP and Shadow International Development Minister, Imran Hussain, demanded that he apologise for linking extremism with poor English language skills.

The Prime Minister made the comments linking extremism amongst Muslims in the UK to a lack of English language skills whilst on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning as part of his announcement to make £20 million of funding available to teach English to Muslim women, and they were immediately denounced by Mr Hussain and other Labour MPs who claimed that they promoted divisive language and alienated the Muslim community.

The announcement on funding and the proposed sanction in the policy has also come under attack by Mr Hussain who has decried the Prime Minister’s intention to deport those who fail English language tests, labelling the decision as ‘absurd’ in light of the Prime Minister cutting funding for ESOL courses designed to increase English proficiency whilst in Government and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding in July last year.

Speaking on the Prime Ministers’ announcement this morning, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain said:

“Whilst I support to some degree the Prime Minister’s announcement to set aside £20 million to help teach English language skills, I believe that the funding should be there for all communities. However rather than offering sensible solutions to problems that affect non-English speakers of all faiths, the Prime Minister has revealed his true discriminatory and divisive nature, and I would also have been more supportive had the announcement not come from a Government who have already gone about slashing ESOL funding through massive cuts and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding which was established to improve English language skills.

“It is therefore the height of absurdity that whilst the Prime Minister is taking funding from ESOL courses with one hand, he is showing those who fail English language tests the door with the other by threatening them with deportation. This proposed sanction is entirely disproportionate and will not help provide for greater and more cohesive integration, and instead, those with limited English skills should not be coerced into English language classes with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads if they fail, but should be persuaded into them by the many benefits, economic, cultural and social, of extending their English language skills, with the necessary funding available to do so.

“In addition, whilst the Prime Minister is indeed right to talk about tackling discrimination, empowering women and increasing English language skills, by making utterly outrageous and unsupported claims in the process that allude to a belief that a lack of English language skills can drive Muslim women to radicalisation, he has harmed his own cause and has yet again further stigmatised Muslims, and in doing so has both antagonised and alienated communities. There is absolutely no evidence to support this view and it is extremely damaging behaviour from a Prime Minister. I hope that he now either produces evidence to back up his comments or he immediately withdraws them.”

Following a dramatic increase in refugee crises around the world, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has today appointed Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain, to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development.

Mr Hussain was the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Diane Abbott. In a move by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to expand Labour’s Shadow International Development Team he has been appointed to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development

The Shadow International Development Team is responsible for scrutinising the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) which was established by the last Labour Government and was instrumental in negotiating the Millennium Development Goals. Although the full responsibilities of the role are yet to be announced, it is expected that it will heavily involve working to resolve the numerous refugee crises around the world caused by conflict, persecution and climate change, as well as focusing on human rights.

Speaking on the appointment, Imran Hussain MP, Member of Parliament for Bradford East and Shadow Minister of State for International Development said:

“The act of increasing the size of Labour’s Shadow International Development Team shows just how significant the issue of international development is to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, particularly following the acceptance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ongoing global refugee crisis, and I am of course extremely thankful to Jeremy for appointing me to this important position and looking forward to the task at hand.

“In the coming weeks, months and years, I will be focusing on increasing the scrutiny of the Government’s decisions and policies in developing countries, and I will be putting forward ideas, along with the rest of the Shadow International Development Team, on how we can help the poorest people in the world, how we can help refugees fleeing war, persecution and climate change, and how we can ensure that human rights are respected and upheld around the world.

“It will also help to raise the profile of Bradford and I will use the platform that it gives me to fight for better education, a better economy and better healthcare in the district. I came to Parliament in May last year to represent the people of Bradford, which I did within weeks by voting against cuts to welfare, so my constituency office door will continue to remain open throughout the week and priority will stay with my weekly advice surgeries on Fridays. I will not let this position get in the way of my most important role, standing up for the people of Bradford.”

 

by Nazir Tabbussam

When Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured many at a Christmas party going on in San Bernardino (California), President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the Oval Office saying it is possible the massacre in San Bernardino was related to terrorism, but it’s also possible it was workplace-related.

Donald-TrumpAs compared to this sober statement most appropriate to a statesman, the republican hopefull presidential candidate for the forthcoming US presidential elections, Mr Donald Trump has been quite reckless in his response. On December 7 he said: “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on … our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

This statement of a possibly would-be US president, without the least reservation, can be classed as extremely Islamophobic because it stereotypes all Muslims indiscriminately. Mr Trump did not feel the least need to identify the specific hate-mongering elements who incite to violence the American Muslim community and abroad. Trump’s negative remarks are indicative of the fact that quite often negative remarks have more impact than the positive ones. Thus, his statement received widespread and justified criticism. The US foreign Secretary John Kerry accused Trump of endangering the security of the US. In the UK, the reaction against Trump was strongest. A petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK has reached 556,386 signatures at the time of writing this article.

In spite of all that, Trump is adamant to his abhorring statement and he says: “The proposal was probably not politically correct, but I don’t care.” This sort of attitude is called speaking from the heap of one’s wealth because he is a billionaire who made fortune from property and the entertainment business. Thus, his policy statement says: “Shariah authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody, the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.”

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in AmesDemocratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley condemned Trump: he tweeted: @realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for president as a fascist demagogue.” Other politicians on both sides of the aisle did not spare any moment to get their condemnation recorded, including former US Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump’s Republican rival Lindsey Graham said: “Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level. His comments are hurting the war effort and putting our diplomats and soldiers serving in the Middle East at risk. The way to win this war is to reach the vast majority of people in Islamic faith who reject Isil and provide them to resist this ideology…”

The Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal attacked Trump and tweeted: “you are a disgrace not only to GOP (the Republican party) but to all America. Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win.” (The Guardian 12/12/15) Al-Waleed’s attacks gave a new impetus to Trump who retorted immediately in his tweet: “dopey prince… wants to control our US politicians with dad’s money.” (Jerusalem Post 13/12/15) It won’t be impertinent to quote here another such interesting episode of Prince Al-Waleed. After 9/11 Al-Waleed gave a cheque to the then New York Mayor Guiliani for the sum of 10 million dollars. Guiliani refused the money following Al-Waleed’s suggestions of “moral equivalence.” Al-Waleed had said that the “US must address some of the issues that led to such criminal attacks….” and furthermore, that the “US should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.” (CNN 12/11/2001) Interestingly enough, the 19 Al-Qaeda affiliated Arabs who came to the US to launch 9/11 attacks, 15 of them were Saudi citizens. They were neither poor, nor deprived, nor the victims of American social injustices. In this perspective, the US relationship with the Saudi monarchy is worth studying when under US umbrella, they have created a new defence pact between 34 Muslim countries, including Pakistan. All these countries are Sunni by faith and Shia have very carefully been excluded from it. The Sunni nomenclature used in the West actually means Wahabism or Salafi faith and it does not include the Sunni Brailvi and Deobandi who are in great majority in South Asia. Pakistan’s Advisor for Foreign Affairs had to cut a sorry figure in the Senate when questioned about the legitimacy of joining this pact at the cost of ill-feelings of its Shiite population.

President Obama addressed the nation soon after the killings in California. He was most passionate while making an appeal to the Americans for tolerance in the aftermath of San Bernardino incident. He underscored most specifically by saying while Muslims have a responsibility to identify and reject extremism within their ranks, Americans cannot lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of Islam’s more than a billion followers are peaceful.

0

Former Bradford West MP George Galloway reacts to Syria airstrikes…

“Last night’s decision by Parliament to authorise British airstrikes in Syria, which are already taking place as you read this, will make nothing better, and may make things a whole lot worse. As a result, Syrian civilians will die, and the lives of British servicemen and women, and civilians, are put at serious risk.

“And for what? Let us be very clear, Cameron’s aim, his enemy, are not ISIS and Al Qaeda, but the regime of President Assad. This is evident in the fact that neither he, nor his allies in Paris and Washington, have lifted a finger nor spoken a word against the funding and arming of these and other extremist groups by NATO member Turkey, and our “closest ally in the Muslim world”, the tyranny that is Saudi Arabia.

It is also evident in Cameron’s fantastical claim of “70,000 moderate rebels” which will serve as a ground force, supposedly to liberate the areas we are now bombing. As countless experts have repeatedly pointed out, there are not 70,000, nor 7,000; it would be optimistic to claim there are 700 moderate rebels in Syria today.

“This latest attempt at regime change shows our political elite, including many Labour MPs, have learnt nothing from our recent wars on Libya and Iraq, the latter being the most direct and immediate cause of the fire now engulfing the whole region. These two interventions themselves were part of a wider history of over 100 years of British failure and bloodshed in the Middle East; occupying foreign lands, imposing and replacing borders and regimes, giving away Palestine to Zionist settlers. What could possibly be gained from yet another such abomination?

“I, along with millions of others, marched against the wars in Iraq and Libya. If the world had listened to us, instead of the siren calls of warmongers Blair, Cameron, Bush, Obama, Hollande, et al, there would be no ISIS, and Al Qaeda would not control a single square mile of land in the whole Middle East.

“We now march against this latest war, as we did outside Parliament last night, and the night before, and as we will continue to do over the coming days, weeks and months. Last night’s victory for warmongering in Parliament was not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning.”

With Respect,

George Galloway

VIDEO'S