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Bahrain athlete loses citizenship


A Bahraini athlete who ran and won a marathon in Israel without permission has been stripped of his citizenship.

Bahrain's sport authorities said Mushir Salem Jawher, who was born in Kenya but moved to Bahrain in 2003, had violated the laws of the country.


Israeli media said Mr Jawher was the first athlete from an Arab country to compete in an Israeli marathon.


Bahrain has no official ties with the Jewish state but Mr Jawher said he was "very proud" to have taken part.


'Shock and regret'


"This is outside the rules and he went to Israel without telling anyone," Mohammed Abdul Jalal, the head of the Bahrain Athletics Association, told Reuters news agency.


Following the race on Thursday, Israel's Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted Mr Jawher, whose original name is Leonard Mucheru, as saying Bahrain was a "free country" and "people should live together in harmony".


"When I decided to come I didn't know it was history for me to be here, but when I arrived [i was] told no other athlete had competed in Israel.


"For me, it was no problem and I hope to come back and compete next year," he said.


In a statement issued on Saturday, the Bahrain Athletic Association said it had received news that a Bahraini national had competed in Israel with "shock and regret".


A committee of sport and government authorities decided to strike Mr Jawher's name off the sport union records and revoke his Bahraini nationality, the statement said.


It said Mr Jawher entered Israel with his Kenyan passport and that the runner had "violated the laws of Bahrain".


Mr Jawher won the Tiberias Marathon in just over two hours and 13 minutes.



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i like this idea but its a bit disorganized...pple pasting a million things doesn't let me digest what i just read and have a dialouge about it..or is this just for READING sake?


very cool nonethless

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Well i have been known to post a random article or two or three so i thought why not just post in one thread where others can also post. We all read news wires on a daily basis


Typical Arab response by the Bahrainis though,,,,,

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^I wouldn't put it passed the Israelis, it may not be so easy for them to actually go through with these plans whitout Washington looking the other way, but they will surely practice them and make sure they are a go at a moment's notice. Iran as they see just might be the last potential threat in the entire region, cripple Iran and they can focus on other expansionary goals within their vicinity (i.e demarking an internationally recognized border for themselves within large chunks of the Westbank). Ahmedinejad being who he is will pretty much guarantee Iran gets Israel's full attention for the next few years as I see it.

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^^Maybe they are readying us for a strike.


US sub collides with Japan ship


A US nuclear-powered submarine has collided with a Japanese tanker near the Straits of Hormuz, Japanese and US government officials have said.

The USS Newport News did not suffer substantial damage, and there were no injuries to crew, a US Navy spokeswoman told the AFP news agency.


There were no oil spills from Japanese tanker, the Mogamigawa, and no injuries, a company official said.


The tanker will dock in the United Arab Emirates to check the damage.


The bow of the submarine collided with the stern of the oil tanker at 1915GMT just outside the busy shipping lanes of the Straits of Hormuz.


The Mogamigawa is operated by Kawasaki Kisen Ltd, the Kyodo news agency reported.




Japanese oil company Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. told the agency the ship was en route from the Persian Gulf to Singapore with a crew of eight Japanese and 16 Filipinos.


A US Navy spokesman in Bahrain said that there had been a collision.


"I can confirm that an incident took place between one of our submarines and a merchant ship," said Commander Kevin Aandahl of the US Fifth Fleet.


The 110-metre (360-foot) USS Newport News carries a crew of 127.


The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Tokyo, says there will be embarrassment for the US navy over the incident but also relief that the collision was not more serious.


In February 2001, the US nuclear submarine Greenville sank a Japanese fisheries training vessel, the Ehime Maru, off Hawaii, killing nine sailors on the fishing boat.



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Clergy up in arms over religious school decision

By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief




Manama: A decision to subject all religious institutions to official approval has put the authorities in Bahrain on a collision course with the powerful Shiite clergy, as both sides pledge not to compromise their position.


Last week the authorities, adamant that they apply the new regulations governing charity funds and religious schools without exceptions, informed them that they had one week to regularise their situation if they wanted to avoid being shut down.


"All charity institutions and funds will have to be supervised by the social development ministry while all religious schools need to be officially endorsed by the Islamic affairs ministry," the authorities said.


The move was seen as an attempt to ensure full compliance with the law while monitoring the activities of the religious-based groups.


But the Imam Al Baqer religious school for women in Barbar, upon receiving the official letter warning that it would face legal action if it failed to get a license to operate, said that it would never submit an application.


"The school management will not apply for an official licence to teach the Quran and Islamic studies because that is against Islamic precepts. We cannot accept the official decision even it means closing down the school," its manager Shaikh Mohammad Jawad Al Shihabi said on Monday in a press statement.


Shaikh Eisa Qasim, one of the most influential Shiite leaders in Bahrain, decried the order to register with the ministries as an attempt to deprive people of their rights.


"The government has no right to close down any Shiite school because they teach good social values, high morals, the Quran and Arabic. We will not willingly shut down any institute and let the police attack the religious schools," Shaikh Eisa told his followers at Al Duraz mosque.


The standoff reflects the uneasy developments between the government and an increasingly vocal Shiite clergy.


But Shiites themselves are sharply divided over relations between religious schools and the authorities.


Bani Jamra and Jawad Al Wadai schools are fiercely opposed to any role for the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs which groups Sunni and Shiite scholars, while other schools in Sitra, Jid Hafs and Buri deal with the council and accept its financial support.



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This is no stunt, says Atkinson on return to work with black manager



Stuart James

Wednesday January 24, 2007

The Guardian



Ron Atkinson made a surprise return to the game yesterday as Kettering Town's director of football. The 67-year-old was appointed to work alongside Morell Maison, a black manager, less than three years after his racist comments about Marcel Desailly cost him a job as a pundit with ITV. The Conference North club have seven black players but Atkinson has strongly rejected claims that he has taken the role as a stunt.


"How's it a publicity stunt?" said Atkinson. "They've asked me to take the job. I didn't approach them. I find that quite a ludicrous suggestion. Look at the team-sheet when I went to Everton in 1993 [as Aston Villa manager] and out of the 13 players, I think eight of them were black, so why do I need to make a publicity stunt now. I'll be honest, I've never given it a thought, but people will be cynical."

Atkinson's involvement in the game since his disparaging remarks about Desailly in April 2004 has been restricted to fly-on-the-wall documentaries at Swindon and Peterborough. It was during filming at Posh that he struck up a friendship with Maison, with the Kettering manager keen to take in training sessions and also glean advice from Atkinson. That relationship will now be extended until the end of the season. "If you had said to me a week ago that this would be the scenario, I would have started laughing," said Atkinson, whose first match on Saturday is a top-of-the-table clash with Droylsden.


"But the more I thought about it I thought, 'Let's have a little look at it.' Who wants to do retirement? The experience at Peterborough whetted my appetite a little bit, although this is a different situation because here I can have a direct input into whatever I want."


Atkinson admitted that his previous spell at Kettering, when he won two Southern League titles, was "a big pull" although he also cited Imraan Ladak's persistence. The Kettering chairman, whose decision to appoint Paul Gascoigne as manager last season turned into a public-relations disaster when he was dismissed after only 39 days, believes Atkinson's arrival will "bring in additional revenue" and "benefit everyone at the club".


Ladak also insisted that it is time for Atkinson to be given a second chance after his Desailly outburst. "Anyone who says they haven't said anything that they regret, I wouldn't believe," said Kettering's chairman. "He's apologised, he's moved on and as far as I'm concerned actions speak louder than words. Ron Atkinson was a pioneer of giving black players an opportunity at the highest level. He's always picked players purely on their ability and nothing else.


"I've got no worries and no concerns. I know there will be the cynics but there are more recent examples of badly timed comments in the world of politics which have been forgotten. We've moved on, Ron has done a lot for ethnic minorities and the fact that I'm happy to work with him shows that I have no issue with it at all. I also know that Morell's got the utmost respect for Ron Atkinson as a person, for his experience and knowledge".



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Why Africa now relies on Leo, not Tony



Hollywood's popcorn politics is doing more good for the continent than all the talk and good intentions coming from the world leaders gathered in Davos


Mary Riddell

Sunday January 28, 2007

The Observer



I once went for dinner at the British embassy in Khartoum. The walls were hung with oil paintings, the gin was iced and the velvety interior suggested a Belgravia drawing room. Not far away, women held bone-thin babies who would die soon. Our then ambassador to Sudan knew little of such scenes. He did not seem to get out much. No doubt communications have improved.


No one need to move far now to witness desolation. Hollywood loves Africa and almost every multiplex in Britain this weekend is showing one or more lament on civil war. Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland, the two latest examples, have gathered Oscar nominations and plaudits for their assault on Western consciences. Both also carry an unmeant subtext of exploitation.


Like The Constant Gardener, they depict an Africa whose job it is to kill, to suffer and to supply a backdrop for a white man's odyssey. The Last King, the better film, offers the tale of a Scottish doctor caught up with Idi Amin. Blood Diamond, set in Sierra Leone, is the vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio and enough military hardware to provoke envy in any ordnance-starved general in today's Afghanistan.


Still, there is much to be said for the popcorn branch of foreign policy. Blood Diamond has sent a shiver through a gem industry that has offered Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Lopez $10,000 each for charity to flaunt sparkling rings and repel any public-relations disaster.


Although Sierra Leone, like most exporters, has cleaned up its trade, conflict diamonds worth $23m recently reached international markets from the Ivory Coast. Consumers will ask more questions and Global Witness, the charity that publicises the link between natural resources and war, is justly proud. Maybe now someone will make a film about blood oil, blood timber or blood tin.


Tony Blair must have wished, as he spoke in Davos yesterday, that he had a film star's power. Like Hollywood, Mr Blair is in love with Africa. At the World Economic Forum, he reported progress since Gleneagles and placed the continent at the top of his agenda. On Darfur, there was no good news. It was, Blair said, 'a scandal, not a problem'.


An estimated 400,000 have died there and thousands more face genocide. Aid agencies are on the brink of leaving after the murder and rape of staff by the government-backed Janjaweed militia and rebel groups. Moves to get UN peacekeepers in to help an impotent African Union contingent have been frustrated by President Bashir, who has reportedly bombed villages in the last few days. The response is international silence. No one is queuing to make a film about Darfur.


Sudan's vile leader does not take kindly to scrutiny. A genial host to Osama bin Laden, Bashir has been less receptive to the pleas of the world. The Prime Minister was uncertain, on the eve of his Davos speech, about how tough to sound. Is this the moment for the West to tell Bashir that he must make good his promises or face the consequences? Blair's eventual call for better peacekeeping institutions will do little for those whose lives are measured in days or hours.


Tomorrow, Bashir plans to claim the presidency of the African Union, deferred last year because of the war. If he prevails, then a man who could run masterclasses in ethnic cleansing will be orchestrating conflict resolution for the continent. Rebel soldiers have said they will attack AU soldiers if Bashir gets the job and Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday pleaded with Africa to block his wish. 'Stand up to tyranny and stand by the people of Darfur,' he said, urging 'tough and effective sanctions'.


This is where Hollywood comes back in. In September last year, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law forbidding state investment, including California's huge public pension funds, in firms dealing with Sudan. By his side were actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle, the star of Hotel Rwanda, whose enthusiasm for disinvestment spread to the campuses and boardrooms of America.


Last week, German technologies group Siemens pulled out of Sudan, citing moral grounds. The Foreign Affairs Committee recently urged British businesses to do likewise and Sudan Divestment UK is targeting firms such as Rolls-Royce. When I rang the company to ask if it was planning to withdraw, it emailed back to say that its exports were 'fully consistent with the relevant export control regulations and help the development of Sudan, so that it has the ability to meet the economic and social needs of its population'. I took that as a 'no'.


Obviously, disinvestment carries risks, not least to the poor who rely on foreign industries for their livelihoods. Besides, China could simply plug the gap. President Hu, about to visit Sudan on his tour of Africa, must give assurances that this will not be so. But even so, the business and consumer power that did so much to sweep apartheid from South Africa and boost the fortunes of Blood Diamond could also help bring Bashir to heel.


When Hollywood and industry have such sway, world leaders should cringe at their own lack of progress in Darfur. Despite US and British oratory, and the advocacy of charities such as Oxfam, the blood still flows, the bombs still fall and Europe looks the other way. Crisis Action reports from Berlin that Bashir is barely on Angela Merkel's radar.


Meanwhile, Darfur lacks everything, including time. Lawrence Rossin, a former US ambassador and head of the Save Darfur Coalition, warned last week that more genocide looks imminent, and there 'are still plenty of people left to kill'. As Rossin told a London seminar, the luxury of 'slow-rolling' is past.


Europe must lead the way in demanding a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. Sanctions are vital to a political solution and getting more peacekeepers on the ground. But when politicians prevaricate, and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has hit the ground dithering, there is also a case for pressuring big business. In an age when the ethical consumer goes to the barricades over shrink-wrapped turnips, it is worth asking more questions about how company money, and ours, is invested in Sudan.


A region is close to annihilation at the hands of violence and inertia, the twin agents of genocide. The women and children I saw dying were the unlucky ones. In Darfur, there may soon be no lucky people left. If nothing is done, then in 10 years' time, a film crew might resurrect its ghost villages and deserted farms.


And people of good conscience and short memory will buy their tickets and vow to change the world as they weep over what need not have been.,,2000370,00.html

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These orchestrated attacks on Chávez are a travesty



A social revolution is taking place in Venezuela. No wonder the neocons and their friends are determined to discredit it


George Galloway

Wednesday February 28, 2007

The Guardian



The chilling Oliver Stone film Salvador got a rare airing on television this week. It was a reminder of a time when, for those on the left, little victories were increasingly dwarfed by big defeats - not least in a Latin America which became synonymous with death squads and juntas. How different things seem now. Yesterday US Vice-President Dick Cheney came uncomfortably close to the reality of Afghan resistance to foreign occupation. On the same day Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez delivered a mightier blow to the neocon dream of US domination, announcing an extension of public ownership of his country's oil fields - the richest outside the Middle East.


Much more is at stake than London mayor Ken Livingstone's welcome oil deal with Chávez, which will see London bus fares halved while Venezuela gets expertise from city hall and a bridgehead in the capital of the US's viceroy in Europe. Washington's biggest oil supplier is now firmly in the grip of a social revolution. This month I watched with Chávez as thousands of soldiers, French and British tanks, Russian helicopters and brand new Mirage and Sukhoi fighter bombers passed by: the soldiers chanting "patria, socialismo o muerte" - enough to make any US president blanch. Chávez answered the salute with the words: "the Bolivarian revolution is a peaceful revolution but it is not unarmed".


The music played throughout the event was the hymn of Salvador Allende's 1970s Chilean government, declaring that the people united will never be defeated. But Chávez's socialism is a good deal more red than Allende's - and its enemies seem no less determined than those who bathed Chile in blood in 1973. Despite complete control of Venezuela's national assembly - the opposition boycotted the last elections after being defeated in seven electoral tests in a row - Chávez has been given enabling powers for 18 months to ensure he can pilot his reforms through entrenched opposition from the civil service, big business, the previously all-powerful oligarchy, their vast media interests and their friends in Washington. Among those friends we must include our own prime minister, who only last year declared Venezuela to be in breach of international democratic norms - though when I pressed him in parliament he was unable to list them.


The atmosphere in Caracas is fervid. The vast shanty towns draping the hillside around the cosmopolitan centre bustle with workers' cooperatives, trade union meetings, marches and debates. The $18bn fund for social welfare set up by Chávez is already bearing fruit. Education, food distribution and primary healthcare programmes now cover the majority for the first time. Queues form outside medical centres filled with thousands of Cuban doctors dispensing care to a population whose health was of no value to those who sat atop Venezuela's immense wealth in the past.


Chávez, who regularly pops over to Havana to check on the health of Fidel Castro, is at the centre of a new Latin America which is determined to be nobody's backyard. Reliable US allies are now limited to death squad ridden Colombia, Peru and Mexico - and latterly then only by recourse to rigged elections. But Chávez's international ambitions are not confined to the Americas. He became a hero in the Arab world after withdrawing his ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest at the bombardment of Lebanon by US-armed Israeli forces last summer, and has pledged privately to halt oil exports to the US in the event of aggression against Iran. This all represents a challenge to US power which, if Bush was not sunk in the morass of Iraq, would be at the top of his action list.


Not that his supporters are marking time. The mendacious propaganda that Chávez is a dictator and human rights abuser is being spread with increasing urgency by the Atlanticist right and their fellow travellers, such as leftie-turned-neocon Nick Cohen who told his London newspaper audience last week that Livingstone's relationship with Chávez was making him think of voting Tory. Chávez's decision not to renew an expired licence for an opposition television station involved in a coup attempt - there are plenty of others - is being portrayed as the beginning of the death of democracy. It's as if Country Life's diatribes against the fox hunting ban were taken as irrefutable proof of totalitarianism in Britain.


The so-called "dictator" Chávez is nothing of the kind. He has won election after election, validating his radical course. Still the fear of a coup - such as in 2002 when Chávez was removed and imprisoned for three days before millions descended to the presidential palace to reinstate him - is everywhere. One Englishman abroad who welcomed the 2002 coup as the "overthrow of a demagogue" was the foreign office minister Denis MacShane - a humiliating correction had to be issued following Chávez's restoration. That tale underscores the importance of the links being forged between revolutionary Caracas and anti-war London. Chávez is well aware that the people were defeated in Chile, the fascists allowed to pass in Republican Spain. Just as in Venezuela, the defence against counter-revolution lies with the poor and the working people who are shaping the world they want; so too must all those internationally who want to see this ferment reach its potential rally to Venezuela's side.



· George Galloway is the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and presents a radio show three times a week on TalkSport



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A nightmare without end



Shahajan Janjua's story is a glimpse of what the war on terror means for young British Asian men


Victoria Brittain

Thursday March 1, 2007

The Guardian



How does a young man from west London find himself landed in a Kenyan police station, hanging from his wrists, his feet tied to buckets of freezing water? How does he find himself, soon after, being dined by MI5 officers at a Nairobi hotel one moment, then imprisoned underground in the desert the next?


The story of Shahajan Janjua, a British Asian, is a little window into the "war on terror". As with the cases of the three young men from Tipton who ended up in Guantánamo Bay, MI5 officials in this case showed themselves apparently incapable of making a judgment of young British Asian men's likely links to terrorism. So, another has come back from an innocent overseas trip traumatised. Would it have happened if he had been white and middle-class?


The backstory is to be found across Kenya's eastern border, in Somalia. That country's state weakness, acute poverty, and strategic position on the Red Sea made it a handy client for both sides in the cold war. In 1993, 18 US soldiers were killed there in an ill-advised UN mission. Subsequent years of warlordism and state collapse were ignored abroad. Then, last year, came six months of peace under the Union of Islamic Courts. The US responded recklessly, instigating - and aiding with spy satellites and a special operations unit - an Ethiopian attack that involved airpower and 15,000 troops. The Islamic government was brought down in days. Needless to say, it was all cast as a war against terrorism.


On Christmas Day, Janjua was in Mogadishu for the wedding of a childhood friend to a Somali woman. He was the only guest from London. Janjua, a young man who had put a troubled inner-city past behind him, planned to leave the country on December 31, stopping over in Dubai to see friends before returning to London to celebrate his 22nd birthday in January.


But he fainted at the wedding on Christmas Day, and was admitted to hospital with malaria. Mogadishu was under bombardment, and his passport was stolen. Within days he was taken from the hospital, still linked to his drip, and put in a van with cans of tuna, a gravely wounded Zimbabwean on a stretcher, another wounded Somali, and foreign fighters. It was a grim two-day trip to the southern port city of Kismayo, where the Islamic Courts were still in control and the streets seethed with men carrying AK-47s.


When Janjua was offered the chance to head for the Kenyan border, he leapt at it, desperate as he was to find a British consulate. Still weak from malaria, he was put in one of two crowded vans along with the two wounded men.


The border was closed and they split into three groups to walk. As an argument broke out about carrying the stretcher case, the Zimbabwean took a direct hit from Ethiopian troops. Janjua saw a Tunisian and Swede dead, too. Everyone ran. Janjua's group of 13 then began a two-week walk with no food and only muddy water to drink. After two days, during which time he heard them speak nothing but Arabic, he discovered that three were British.


They were arrested by the Kenyan military after villagers turned them in. Janjua was smashed in the face with a rifle and his nose fractured. In police cells in Nairobi those in authority assaulted and interrogated him. Next he was taken to expensive hotels and quizzed by six different British MI5 officials. They showed him pictures of British men he mostly did not recognise, and asked him repeatedly: "Who sent you? Who funded you? Who are your friends? Which mosque did you go to?"


His lucky break came when he persuaded a Kenyan policewoman to lend him her phone and alerted lawyers in London. Kenyan lawyers then tried to visit the prison, but were not allowed in. MI5 had ample time to confirm his account of his visit to Somalia, but on February 2, police in London were telling his family that he had been caught on the Kenyan/Somali border with guns.


Janjua and three other British men were flown back to Somalia and held for three days in an underground desert cell. Then he was flown back to Kenya, and on to London, where he was questioned by police, but not charged. It should all be over, but he has nightmares and headaches, and is haunted by the men he left in Kenyan or Somali jails. He, and they, are yet more casualties in a mindless, misbegotten "war on terror" which the US and Britain cannot win militarily.


· Victoria Brittain is the co-author, with Moazzam Begg, of Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantánamo and Back.



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Long live satire

In the name of academic freedom, Clare College, Cambridge, should have defended the pupil responsible for printing cartoons depicting Muhammad.

Sue Blackmore




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About Webfeeds March 5, 2007 8:17 AM | Printable version

A Cambridge student is in hiding because he dared to print one of those infamous Danish cartoons and have a laugh at Islam's expense. Yet if offended Muslims want people to stop laughing at them, this latest incident will only have backfired.


I bet I'm not the only one whose reaction was to go straight to Google Images and type in "Muhammad". And yes, you find lots of pictures of him who must not be pictured - "about 88,400" to be precise. The top 20 includes some ancient depictions (and I've no idea whether these offended anyone), a selection of Muhammad clipart, and several cartoons. I especially like the first one that Google throws up - Muhammad looking at himself in a mirror and exclaiming "Blasphemy". Ha ha. Then there's one I regularly use in my lectures on memes. It shows some suicide bombers arriving in heaven to be met by the man himself shouting "Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins".


These are just simple jokes, available to all, but when a student at Clare College reprinted one in the college magazine, offended students complained in droves and the college started an investigation. Even worse, senior tutor Patricia Fara said, "The college finds the publication and the views expressed abhorrent." But isn't it the college's reaction that is abhorrent? I think the "offended" students are the real culprits, and the college should have had the guts to stand up to them in the name of academic freedom - and the good old freedom to laugh at ideas we find silly or disagree with.


The whole sad story is told on Cambridge University's "Varsity" site and in the Cambridge Evening News. On February 2 Clare College's prize-winning student paper, Clareification, published a special issue renamed "Crucification" and largely devoted to religious satire (and presumably, from its name, not just Islam). In its regular "lookalikes of the week" the cartoon of Muhammad was set next to a photograph of the president of the union of Clare students, along with a caption suggesting that one was "a violent paedophile" while the other was "a prophet of God, a great leader and an example to us all".


OK it's offensive, and funny, and that's what satire is all about. But the magazine apparently "provoked anger in Cambridge", with enraged students complaining in droves. A second-year student said these were "some of the most offensive things I've ever seen." The president of the university's Islamic society said "I found the magazine hugely offensive ... freedom of expression does not constitute a freedom to offend."


I say to him - oh yes it does, and you should be ashamed of yourself. You didn't have to read the magazine. You didn't have to spread the news about it. And you certainly didn't have to encourage other Muslims to believe that claiming to be offended gives them the right to stop the rest of us having a laugh. Yet you did so.


We are talking here about a student magazine read by a handful of students at one college at one university. Student magazines have always been satirical and satire hurts. The president of Clare students might have been offended too, along with any other students who get picked on by their student mag. I expect the politicians who are regularly lampooned in Private Eye feel offended and upset, but unless they have been libelled they accept it. The freedom to laugh and poke fun at things we disagree with is fundamental to freedom of thought.


And freedom of thought is fundamental to education, scholarship, and learning - all the things that Cambridge University should be standing up for. Great thinkers and scientists are always offending people by overthrowing the dogmas and false beliefs of the past. People were offended at the thought that earth was not the centre of the universe; they were offended at the idea that mountains and rivers were created by natural processes; they were offended at the idea that species were not immutable and they were offended at the suggestion that we humans might be descended from apes. Happily, in the end the evidence overwhelmed them .


I hope the same will happen with these claims, and society as a whole will not let religious believers claim a right not to be offended. When I contacted the college the master told me that the student has not been reprimanded and the disciplinary process will determine whether he has infringed any regulations. I sincerely hope he has not and that the college will offer him and his magazine their support. The freedom to think, to argue, and to laugh at silly ideas must be allowed to flourish.



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A new age of radicalism


Protests during George Bush's tour of Latin America show which way the wind is blowing.


QUESTION: What is the one thing you would most like to see happen by this time next year?


George Bush's "We Care" truncated tour of Latin America illustrates a process I fervently hope intensifies over the coming year.


Everywhere Bush went he was met with large, angry protests, even in death-squad ridden Colombia, whose government he has pledged to provide with more military aid. In stark contrast, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez is thronged with affection throughout the continent and beyond.


The inspiration of Chavez's Bolivarian revolution, combined with the bleeding out of US imperial arrogance in Iraq, is leading to a dramatic shift in world politics - the rise of a global counterforce to imperialism and neoliberalism. US power has peaked.


As Bush's tour and the neocon fantasies about military action against Iran indicate, however, it will not go gently into that good night. But go it will and, I believe, the pace of its leaving will quicken over the next 12 months, creating new opportunities for radical politics, not least in Britain and the US itself.

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America's Muslim success story


New research suggests that Europe could learn a lot from the US in how to treat its Muslim minorities.

After printing the new Pew Research centre report, "Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream," on my Samsung four-in-one laser printer/digital copier/laser fax/color scanner, I buckled my four-year-old son into his car seat in our family's Dodge Caravan minivan, picking up his new McDonald's Happy Meal Shrek toy when he dropped it. We dashed across town to the 4.30pm Tiny Tigers class at Casey's American Taekwondo Association, tucked behind the local West Virginia State Police station. I pretended to ignore my son as he asked, "Can we go to Burger King?" At taekwondo, sitting in a waiting room of folding chairs with other American parents, I read the Pew report, breaking only to wave back to my son, beaming happily at me through the glass window. When I left the cover page face up, I quietly wondered if any parents would freak reading the big font headline, "Muslim Americans." I quickly flipped it over. I would have analyzed the Pew report more but we had to zip across town again for T-ball, a mini-version of baseball. I'm the coach for my son's team, the Citizens Bank Dinosaurs. And I also happen to be Muslim.


American Muslims as middle class? Mostly mainstream? That's an understatement. But with big headlines from USA Today ("Poll: American Muslims reject extremes") to the Sacramento Bee ("Upbeat portrait of US Muslims: study finds most embrace America, denounce extremism") and the Christian Science Monitor ("In many ways, US Muslims are in mainstream America"), we would have thought we'd learned that, indeed, Muslims aren't Martians.


To me, the brouhaha over the study's findings underscores how little we've understood a basic fact: give folks something to lose, and they probably won't want to destroy you. Success in America has taken an edge off Muslims in America; the same can't be said for their counterparts in Europe. In large part, I blame institutionalized racism and discrimination that doesn't slap us in the face in America.


According to the report, around one in five Muslims in the UK, France, Germany and Spain earn low incomes compared with the general public, while in the US it's a miniscule two per cent of Muslims who are low income compared to other Americans. To me, contentment is directly proportional to tolerance and progressive thinking. Muslims in the United States rejected Islamic extremism "by larger margins," the study reports, than did Muslim minorities in Western European countries. In an issue important to me, one in five Muslims in America said women and men should be allowed to pray alongside each other in mosques - something that is hardly allowed in any mosques in the world, except, ironically, in Mecca. About two of three Muslims said it's "okay" for Muslims to marry those who aren't Muslims.


Journalist Paul Barrett interviewed hundreds of American Muslims for his book, American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and says that "the overwhelming majority seek what my immigrant relatives sought: a chance to make good in a wide open society that provides economic opportunity and freedom for those who work hard."


Immigrants to America from India in the 1960s, my family realized the American dream - living examples of public diplomacy in action. We've even got the picket fence. My father earned his PhD after first arriving in the US on a scholarship from the US Agency for International Development. He became a professor of nutrition at West Virginia University, and my mother ran a boutique in downtown Morgantown for over 20 years. In retirement, they'd join the local Rotary Club if they had more time. Born in India, my brother and I grew up on a steady diet of The Munsters, Bewitched and Sunday school classes at the mosque. I've got Lynard Skynard, Dr Phil, the Sufi rock band Junoon and Canadian-Muslim singer Dawud Wharnsby Ali in my car visor CD collection. I interrupted writing this piece to play "Scooby Doo! Pirates Ahoy!" for my son. And almost four decades after my arrival in the United States, I'm a writer-activist in the Muslim community for women's rights and tolerance by Muslims.


To stem hostility and rage among Muslims, the governments of western Europe - including the UK - could borrow a lesson from America's culture of (mostly) meritocracy: let your Muslim immigrants prosper. Give them something to lose.



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