Monthly Archives: May 2013

The murder of Lee Rigby


Left- Lee Rigby Right- Baha Mousa

Last week, as I’m sure you are all aware, British Army soldier and a Drummer of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed by two attackers near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south-east London.

The assailants were two British men of Nigerian descent, raised as Christians and converts to Islam.

I am a British born Asian man raised as a Muslim, so found the reaction to this story to be very harrowing indeed.

Of course, murder by its very nature is morally wrong in my opinion. The reasons for so are numerous and very easily formulated.

We ought not to kill another person, for doing so can be argued to cause more harm than good. Murder is wrong because we should not do to others as we would not like done to ourselves. We should not kill because we have no right to take a life. And so I could continue with the many philosophical arguments against taking a life.

So the outcry, the public unrest over the murder of the innocent man I can understand, and I can accept what these two men did was wrong and worthy of our condemnation.

Yet it seems absurd to me then, that the taking of Mr. Rigby’s life should result in more violence, more destruction and hatred against the Muslim population of Britain.

Surely we should use this opportunity to rise above the ill reasoned hate and blind dogma followed by the two “terrorists”?

I use this term lightly, for I maintain that the two suspects in this case are not politically motivated killers, but two disillusioned youths taken in by a dangerous way of thinking.

The same kind of thinking that has lead to the violent outburst against British Muslims, the attacks on their places of worship, and the religion they follow.

We must look at the facts when discussing such issue’s. We must also maintain a level of impartiality when analysing them.

So what do the facts tell us?

Statistics show that only 6% of all terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2005 have actually been perpetuated by Muslims.

I think this is a rather sobering statistic. Have the hate comments been justified in this regard? Is all this contempt for Muslims reasonable?

I read a frightening statistic the other day – 64% of people in the UK would want the death penalty reinstated for terrorists.

Is this really an appropriate response to the lone killing of two renegade killers? The attacking of Mosques, the use of social media to spread venomous hate and corrupting ignorance, surely this is not what free speech is all about?

The Woolich killer was created precisely by this kind of backward thinking – that one group of persons should be treated differently to others.

Ultimately it is this very kind of irrational reasoning that instigates atrocities such as genocide.

A recent YouGov poll suggested that the number of those who believe such clashes are inevitable is increasing – up by a staggering 9% from last year.

There has also been a small increase in the proportion of people who believe British Muslims pose a serious threat to democracy, up to 34% on Thursday and Friday from 30% in November 2012.

These beliefs are entirely unjustified, and all the more reason for those of us who have disposal of the facts, to speak up and be heard.

I read about the Association of British Muslims yesterday taking part a march in East London, in a show of solidarity with the family of murdered solider Lee Rigby. While I accept the intentions are wholly good, there is no omen on the Muslim population of Britain to apologise for Rigby’s death, nor is there any need for them to feel guilt over the murder.

Yes, we all mourn, we all shed tears for a life lost, taken so abruptly and unjustly in its prime.

Yet every day, every moment that we spend debating this issue, we spend trying to defend or defame the assailants, Rigsby, Muslims, the EDL – we fail to concern ourselves about the truly important issue’s humanity faces.

We’re fighting each other when we need to be working with one another to end global hunger, to absolve severe poverty and take humanity into a sustainable future.

Whilst people argue on social media over the death of one man, one soldier killed in the South East of London, well over 10,000 people today died of dysentery, an easily preventable illness.

On the same day Rigby died, several dozens were killed in our supposed war on terror.

Both sides are guilty of crimes, both ends of the spectrum are susceptible to the same narrow mindedness and short-sightedness.

The brutal murder of Rigby could very easily be compared to actions of the western military – such as the horrific torture of Baha Moussa, beaten to death by British soldiers; the savagery of the attack on Fallujah, were 800 civilians were killed, and the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, were the rights of native Palestinians are abused daily. 

Why are the EDL not concerned with this kind of murder, this kind of oppression? Why are the the majority of the British public not concerned with these killings?

In a previous post, I asked a profound question, and I will ask it again – What’s really important here? What lives matter more to us, and why?

Death knows no hierarchy, and I stand by this claim.

RIP to Lee Rigby, the soldier, the drummer, the brother and son, I hope the two assailants feel the full weight of justice. But once again, I hope to  extend my condolences to the forgotten, the lowly and downtrodden. The thousands that die daily silently and unknown, those who are murdered so cold heartedly through the pretence of war.

It’s sad to know that a majority of us in this country turn a blind eye to these daily injustices. The story I was fortunate to report on last week, about the homeless men having their sleeping bags stolen, was lost amongst the relentless onslaught of updates on the Woolich killing. Our most neglected, those of us most suffering and without a voice, their story was ultimately lost thanks to the uproar caused by this incident. It seems the noisy and ill informed are for more proficient at spewing their repugnant hate and unbridled rage then I was at bringing the plight of our homeless to the masses.

And it saddens me, it saddens me that organisations like EDL will march over the Woolich killing, but not world hunger. Why don’t these people tweet about Malaria, why don’t they speak up about solving our energy crisis, our food shortages, the rampant inequality that exists in this world? Why don’t we all use our voice and our efforts to create actual meaningful change in this world?  Because if we didn’t have poverty, if we didn’t have oppressive regimes and the destruction of war, the Woolich killings would of never happened. There would be no civic unrest in Syria, in austerity struck Greece and Spain, the racism and hatred, the rising death count born off increasing poverty and inequality – this I can guarantee you.

I want to see the same passion and enthusiasm people have for this issue taken to things that really matter. When it comes down to it, Rigby’s death has been a used as a political tool, as a device to spread hatred and ignorance both ways.

For the powers that be, a population that is busy fighting against one another, a society that is divided is far easier to control, far easier to keep in the dark to the real grave injustices being perpetuated in this world.

Open your eyes to beyond Lee Rigby and the two men who murdered him. Because we’re never going to create any meaningful change in this world hating, berating, and ultimately killing one another. The only meaningful progress we can achieve must come from love for your fellow man and woman, the spreading of peace and the pervading of equality for all living beings on this planet.

 

 

Welcome to my new blog!

So I’ve promised my friend Almaz to make her a blog, but I’ve never really used WordPress before.

Hence I’ve done a little trial run by making one for myself.

There are still a few bugs lurking around, if you come across one, let me know please.

I used WordPress and some WooThemes thing I found on the internet.

It’s actually really easy to use, a whole heaps easier than making a website from scratch.

If you’d like me to make you a blog like this, ask and you may perhaps receive 😉

Many thanks for checking out the new blog guys!

Till next time friends!!

Peace and Love x

 

Best Blogging Practice

So just a little back story to this article. I wrote this for a charity I’m volunteering for called Giving What We Can. I recommend you guys check out their website and what they do. They basically try and get people to donate a certain amount of their income to charities that give you “the most for your money.” By this I mean, they use charity rankings like GiveWell to see which charities save the most lives for the money you donate. Watch the video below for more info:

For instance, you can save a lot of lives investing in clean water and general hygiene, and it’s very cost effective to do so, in comparison to lets say, investing in obscure Human Rights charities, or Animal Protection charities. While the latter two deal with some very important issue’s, it’s not as cost effective when it comes to saving human lives.

So while I’ve digressed a bit, here’s the article I wrote, about what I think is some good advice for bloggers!

BEST BLOGGING PRACTICE
By Suhail Patel

 

Blogging has become a prevailing force in the spreading of ideas. With the permeation of the internet and the revolution in communication it has instigated, we often find ourselves sharing our thoughts and idea’s ever more frequently through this prevailing medium.

So the issue arises, what to do with this new found voice and our ability to so now easily share our thoughts? We have this wonderful ability to share what we think and how we feel about the problems humanity face, and the things we think are important in life.

How can we best utilise this new found freedom?

The humble blog, short for “Weblog”, has seen an explosion in popularity since its original conception. The process of starting your own blog has been made significantly easier for those not particularly web savvy.

But with this surge in popularity, it has become increasingly difficult to have your voice heard amongst the swelling crowd of bloggers.

So here are a few do’s and don’ts, some best blogging practice for those of you who don’t want to drown in an ocean of voices:

1. Engage with other blogs and your own readers- Don’t be afraid to say your opinion. Not everyone’s views are going to coincide with yours, and equally, you will not always be right about something, no matter how much you may try or think you are. Open to the door to conversation; don’t be afraid to spark debate. You ideally want to spur knowledgeable discourse and not an argument, as both you and your reader learn from keeping an open mind and discussing issue’s rationally.

2. Keep the material fresh and exciting – Be a human being – blogs do not tend to be for investigative journalism, but still use facts and quotes when necessary to back up your point. Blogs are considered to be a more informal means of sharing your idea’s, compared to a reputable newspaper or academic essay. For instance, you might want to share interesting things you might of read, watched or have heard happen to people. Try to grip your reader with a human element, but remember that statistics and facts can also be just as powerful.

3. Give people a reason to return – You can link topics together in features, where you have a recurring theme. Ask questions to your readers, perhaps even run competitions with silly prizes. The idea is to give your reader an incentive to subscribe to your blog and thereby your thoughts and opinions. You can do this in a lot of ways, remember to be creative. You are your own person and there is ultimately something unique and special about you, don’t try to follow or copy other bloggers style. You can bring your own original perspective to issues. Humans tend to be curious creatures, so the more unique, well thought out and insightful your ideas, the more likely people are to take interest.

The Five pound note and Winston Churchill – our great leader?

 
 



So sorry about the lack of posts recently. Despite my best intentions when starting this new blog, it’s difficult to break bad habits. By this I mean, 23 years of being chronic procrastinator and underachiever, but better late than never I suppose. So without any further introduction, the topic I wanted to write about today was the new 5 pound note.

There’s been a lot of talk lately of who should be on the five pound note, and to those of you who haven’t been following the news, namely, to those of you who have a life – the Bank of England announced on the 26th April that they would replace the current picture of Elizabeth Fry, with the face of the famous wartime leader Winston Churchill in 2016, although nothing has yet to finalised.

This has unsurprisingly caused some controversy. Feminist groups around the UK have expressed their concern, that with this change means the only female left on british money is queen Elizabeth herself. Already there is a growing movement, calling for reversal of the decision, with politicians and other groups joining the feminist call to arms.

Amber Rudd MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sex Equality, said: “It would be a mistake not to feature women on any banknote, so let’s find a space on another banknote.”

Ceri Goddard adds that it is “disappointing that another female face …[won’t be] added to the banknote roll call but it beggars belief to actually remove the only one we had. Despite the odds being stacked against them there is happily no shortage of exceptional women they could have picked.”

Caroline Criado-Perez of Change.org also states her concern with the decision, claiming it is “yet another example of how the country we live in just doesn’t seem to value women’s contributiotn.” She also notes that “the note being replaced isn’t even the oldest one – that was Darwin – which is why it seems completely unnecessary.”

So now the issue becomes, why is the picture being replaced, and is this reason justifiable?

The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, traveled to Churchill’s former home Chartwell in Kent, southern England last week to announce the plans. “Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world,” the central bank governor King told members of the Churchill family.

I have some qualms with this argument. For while Churchill is a revered man, and joins the ranks of Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens – who have all adorned banknotes in the past.- there are undeniably some dark thoughts that tarnish Winston’s great legacy. As victor of the second world war, of course we expect some embellishment of his life, we are aware that we view his story painted with the red rosed veneer of nostalgia.

However, the fact remains that every great thinker, leader and philanthropist was far from perfect. There are always some lingering fallacies, some forgotten wrongdoings that are whitewashed from the history books. What was Winston’s darkside?

There is quite a great deal of evidence that suggests Churchill is not as morally impervious as we are led to believe. For instance. it is argued that he fought for a raw white supremacism and a concentration camp network of his own. He was a noted racist and took part in a large number of imperial atrocities before the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. In his own words, he fought “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples“. such as the Indian’s under colonial rule, the Pakistani’s and African’s. He took a hands on approach at times, destroying houses and burning crops, laying waste to whole valleys. He also assisted with reconquering the Sudan, where he claimed that he personally shot at least three “savages”.

And there are other dubious quotes as well, such as “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph.” Such was his belief, mirrored in horrific action. As Colonial Secretary in the 1920s, he unleashed the notorious Black and Tan thugs on Ireland’s Catholic civilians. When the Kurds rebelled against British rule, he said: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”

Even during his time, Churchill was seen as a brutal and brutish leader. His doctor, Lord Moran, said of other races: “Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin.

When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of nonviolent protest in India against colonial rule, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” As the resistance gained momentum, he publicly stated that he he hates Indians, and that “they are a beastly people with a beastly religion.

But despite all body of evidence supporting this rather more grotesque side of Winston, we can make the case that these thoughts are the relics of a time long gone. Churchill was born in 1874, into a Britain that was still very much an imperialist nation. Hence, it would be understandable for Churchill to have such dogmatic beliefs, ingrained into him at Harrow School and then Sandhurst, where he was told a simple story: “the superior white man was conquering the primitive, dark-skinned natives, and bringing them the benefits of civilisation“. And equally, in retrospect we can even find fallacies in the actions and thoughts left behind by the revered Mahatma Ghandi, who had some questionable beliefs on the issue of sexuality and women’s rights, to name a few.

For instance,  Gandhi once proclaimed “It is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry. In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.” It is also reported he had strange “experiments” with his granddaughters, often sleeping with them in tests he conducted for himself. An independent article reports;

He set up ashrams in which he began his first “experiments” with sex; boys and girls were to bathe and sleep together, chastely, but were punished for any sexual talk. Men and women were segregated, and Gandhi’s advice was that husbands should not be alone with their wives, and, when they felt passion, should take a cold bath.

So should we not revere Gandhi? Should we criticize his legacy as we have been doing with Winston? However I argue that these small blemishes that mar these men’s memory should not detract from the great things they accomplished for humanity. For admittedly by our very nature, we must all have at least some dubious inclinations, a few unwarranted beliefs. I think collectively however we can wean these out, we can mitigate their negative impact. And likewise, while we can spend countless time and efforts trying to surmise whether Winston Churchill is an ideal figure to place on the five pound note – at the end of the day, it’s just a piece of paper, and Winston Churchill is just a man. What’s important is that the negative thoughts and actions he left us with, were overshadowed by positive contributions to modern society, and by this I mean, his unwavering resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. And it is rather ironic, as now in the free world, India is no longer a colony of Britain, and Britain no longer an imperialist nation, despite Churchill’s beliefs on the matter.

To stand up for equal rights is not about arguing to have a certain face on a piece of paper – women’s rights need upholding here and now. Like the Kurd’s, the Pakistanis and Indians, the Irish and the “barbaric” “savages” of Winston’s time needed their rights upholding. Like the young girl who was sentenced to 100 lashings because she was raped. Like the many women oppressed and sexually assaulted all over the world today, everyday. In reality, if you were to ask anyone before this incident who was on the five pound note, in fact, who is any note, I’m sure a majority of those queried would be unable to produce the correct answer. If you really stand for equal rights for women, you wouldn’t waste your time and energies fighting over which face ought to appear on these little pieces of paper, when so many women, men, and children alike are suffering in this world right here, right now, and need our concern and efforts to help stop their suffering.

I think this whole thing is rather silly to be honest, and us arguing over who ought to be on the five pound note will change nothing for the people being truly oppressed. What we really need are some new contenders, some new potential faces like Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer who has been replaced to so much controversy, and greater concern for the truly harrowing issue’s women face in our society. Not all this bickering over a very menial issue in my opinion.

That’s my 2 cents, feel free to comment below with your opinion.

Peace.

x
 
For more info about Churchill, follow this link:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/not-his-finest-hour-the-dark-side-of-winston-churchill-2118317.html