Monday, 20 October 2014

Time for Muslims to drag Islam into the modern world

One of the major stories circulating today is that of the mother who set off to "rescue" her son from ISIS after he had run off to join "Jihad". The Times reported:

A Single mother travelled to the Turkish Border in a dangerous attempt to persuade her British-born son to leave the Islamic State.

She waited there for three week and used an ipad in an Internet cafe to send directions to her son, 21, to help him make his way back to safety.

The odd thing is that this young man was actually brought up as a Christian and still got "radicalised" on the Internet and joined some 600 youths who have travelled to the Middle East to join the brutal ranks of ISIS and lets not forget how brutal these people are. The Daily Mail reported:

An horrific image has emerged of a baby girl moments from being beheaded by IS.

The picture is among several recovered by Kurdish soldiers from the mobile phones of dead fanatics in the Syrian town of Kobane.

It shows the child being pinned to the floor, in clear distress as a knife is held to her throat.

It is feared she may have been beheaded along with her family for being an Alevi Muslim, a branch of Islam whose followers have been targeted by IS. 

Other pictures show beheadings and jihadis playing football with the severed heads of victims.

This youth (if you can call a 21 one year old such), is one of around 250 who have returned to the UK. One wonders how many crimes these men have committed. As much as the mother can be commended for her actions, we have to remain extremely vigilant about what future action these men take.

Crimes beyond most peoples imagination have taken place in the name of the so-called Islamic State and it is going to be partially up to the Muslim community to tackle the extremists in their midst's.

Another equally disturbing story has been seemingly under reported in the media, that of the outcome of the trial of one of Hate Preacher Abu Hamza who has been sentenced to prison for torturing a man, not in the Middle East but in the middle of London. According to a very brief report in the Times:

Tito Ibn Sheik, 28 was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a court heard that he "orchestrated violence" against Hassan Monwwer, a restaurant worker over a £15,000 debt. Mr Manawwer was kidnapped in Acton, West London and taken to underground garages and forced to call his elderly father in Egypt to plead for money before being found by police.

This trial took place in 2012, but has only just been reported due to a Judge lifting reporting restrictions. 

Why were we not told earlier?

The son of an Islamist "preacher" turns out to be nothing more than a common criminal. 

The Jihadists go abroad to fight for a criminal group defining themselves as an "Islamic state"

Beheading babies? A "religious act"?

These men (and some women) must be treated as criminals and the Muslim community in this country must address the problem that their so called "religion of peace" is producing such barbarians.

It means a critical self examination of how the Koran and the (somewhat dubious) Hadiths are used by these dangerous miscreants to justify such wanton cruelty and savagery.

Islam itself needs to grow up and adjust to the modern world.

And that means accepting criticism, learning tolerance, understanding equality and human rights.

Anything else will leave Islam in the dark ages.

And a danger to everyone else.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Censorship: Serwotka is not for turning

Following my rejection of a demand issued by the General Secretary of the PCS union that I must remove a guest post by Margaret Rathbone, I have received another missive from the Dear Leader. In this he complains I "misrepresent him" over his directive.

To remind readers this is what he said:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

Quite clear I would have thought. His attempts to justify this clear demand are frankly irrelevant. Neither he nor the PCS union have jurisdiction over my or anyone else's blogs or websites. It's just censorship.

And talking of censorship, Robert Mottershead a PCS member in the HMRC posted an article from the Eclectic Blue website which covered the story in an article entitled The Civil Service Union from North Korea to the PCS members FB page. The article was about censorship rather than the RCTU but fell foul of the PCS leadership and was removed. 

A post from "admin" then appeared stating that no articles about the RCTU would be allowed. Robert publicly resigned from PCS as he said this was the second time he had been censored. Amongst the responses was the President Janice Godrich. Although this thread was itself deleted, I did keep copies of her interesting remarks including a reply to me.

Janice Godrich: Robert this is not about censorship. This is the official pcs Facebook page, administered and funded by pcs staff from pcs members money via their subscriptions. Pcs has recognition rights in the civil service. Our members money is not been used to promote allternative organisations because individuals cannot win a democratic argument in pcs. by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page but it's not been done on our members time and money

Howard Fuller: "by all means promote anything you like in your own Facebook page" Thanks Janice. You need to tell Mark Serwotka that!

Janice Godrich: Howard: anyone can promote what they like, it doesn't mean their actions don't have consequences.

An ominous comment especially when taken in tandem with the concluding words of Mark Serwotka's latest letter:

Please consider this matter carefully.

The consequences could indeed lead to what the union calls a "Rule 10" complaint which could lead to my suspension as a Branch Secretary for up to three years or expulsion. I should imagine I'll find out in due course.

The only question is whether I will immediately be suspended before I'm found guilty by the PCS leadership or after.

My crime? Publishing a guest article (without endorsement) on an issue that would be of interest to readers on my own personal blog which has no connection to the PCS union of which I happen to be a member.

My message to Mark Serwotka and his followers is simple. I will not remove the article and do not and will never recognise your authority to even tell me I "must" do as you say on my private blog.

Defend freedom of speech!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Manifesto for Secularism

With the rise of Islamism and religious intolerance across the world, the time has come to stand up for basic human rights being above those of religious rights as seems to be becoming the norm particularly under Islam and anti-gay legislation across Africa and Russia.

The Times reported today the disgusting decision of a Pakistani court to uphold the death sentence of a Christian mother accused of insulting Mohammad after an argument with some Muslim women at work over the use of a drinking cup.

The level of intolerance involved in this case is astonishing. The argument erupted as the other women objected to her use of a cup by a Christian, itself a sign of inherent bigotry. Her family were attacked and beaten before going into hiding and Islamists have been cheering the decision to execute her.

Barbarism. No other word for it.

Last weekend a number of leading secularists assembled (under threat) in London to discuss the need to fight for an alternative to the religious fundamentalist agenda being forced on people across large sections of the world.

This Manifesto is the result and should be supported by all rational thinkers across the political spectrum.

Manifesto for Secularism

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.

2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.

3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.

4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.
Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

There are 42 initial signatories including AC Grayling (Philosopher), Peter Tatchell (Activist),  Inna Shevchenko (FEMEN) and Terry Sanderson (President National Secular Society)

The following video shows Maryam Namazie moving the manifesto at the conference,

Friday, 17 October 2014

On Students, Genocides, Holocausts and Kurds.

Photo: Sussex friends of Israel

Most rational people were absolutely horrified by the decision  of the National Union of Students Executive to reject a motion condemning ISIS and supporting the Kurds. There has also been consternation over Goldsmiths Students Union describing the Holocaust as "eurocentric" and "colonialist".

The motion they objected to was this:

The Student Union recognises the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.

The Student Union shall organise commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually).

Hardly a contentious motion one would have thought? Yet it was reported:

..those attending are encouraged to live-tweet the event using the hashtag “GSUAssembly”.
One student named T. Walpole, present at the Assembly, objected: “Our union is anti-Zionist.”
They added: “This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.

“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.”

What on earth is going on in the student movement?

Alan Johnson addresses the problem in his Telegraph Blog:

Part of the explanation is this: a ‘new paradigm of progressive thought’ is dominant on the left, and the left is dominant on campus, whether behind the lectern or in front of it.

The phrase is Joshua Muravchik’s, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Josh explained the tectonic shift to me recently when we sat for an in-depth interview for Fathom.
After a century or so, the paradigm which came from Marx – of a class struggle – had lost a good deal of its allure and was pushed aside by the new paradigm of racial, national and ethnic struggle. That paradigm grew out of the anti-colonial movements which reverberated in Europe, and was overlaid by the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Both were seen to be part of one struggle of the people of colour against the white man, or as it is sometimes put, the ‘Rest against the West.’ I remember for example Jesse Jackson , at the height of his considerable popularity in the US, made a visit to Cuba and launched into a litany of slogans, the theme of which was ‘our time has come’ and where the first person plural of ‘our time’ meant blacks in America, Latinos and other third-world people fighting against the West. It was seen somehow as all part of one omnibus struggle and this paradigm really was more exciting to my generation and subsequent ones – generations post World War Two – than the older class struggle paradigm.
The new paradigm determines the way the world appears to its partisans.

Meanwhile the NUS Scottish Executive has passed the resolution that the NUS rejected which can be found on this AWL leaflet. Some common sense at last.

And while the future academics play ideological games about the nature of imperialism the Kurds continue to fight for their lives. 

But what do I know. I'm white and Jewish so they wouldn't listen to me.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Mark Serwotka demands blog post be taken down

In an extraordinary move yesterday the General Secretary of the PCS union, Mark Serwotka wrote to me demanding that I must take down a recent guest post by Margaret Rathbone about the new Revenue and Customs Union that is being formed by disgruntled PCS members in the HMRC.

Mark Serwotka states:

I am writing in relation to a posting on your personal website entitled " Revenue and Customs: Time for a new union". The piece is subtitled "Guest post by Margaret Rathbone."

This posting is damaging to the interests of PCS members. It has caused great anger and frustration not only amongst members in the HMRC but also in other parts of the union.

He then outlines the case for the recent strike with all the usual hyperbole I have come to expect and accuses the post of "being divisive".

Trouble is that he then goes on to make what I find quite a sinister demand:

I am writing to you to tell you that the posting is in direct conflict with the interests of the union and must be taken down immediately.

I look forward to your immediate reply.

For readers here is the reply I sent this morning when I was good and ready:

Normally I would thank you for your letter but given the censorious and your frankly quite outrageous demand I can only bring myself to acknowledge your missive.

Before I reply I cannot understand why you have addressed your letter to me in my role as a Branch Secretary when you clearly acknowledged that Howie's Corner is my Personal Blog. It is not advertised as anything to do with PCS either as an individual member or any capacity relating to PCS.

In fact the vast majority of the 700 plus posts are not about PCS and cover a variety of my interests and views.

I can only surmise that there may be a more malefic reason in your future intent.

Your order, and that is what you are saying, that I must remove the guest post by Margaret Rathbone is a direct attack on the right of free and open discourse. The fact that many of the activist caste who dominate PCS do not like, or as you put it "angered" by her article is frankly irrelevant to open and free discussion.

I attempted to start a discussion on the closed PCS members Face Book page but this was quickly halted as it was deemed "inappropriate" by admin. One NEC member concurred with their decision suggesting this should be debated elsewhere including my own blog. I was happy to do so as that is what blogs are for..

Additionally I contacted Margaret through a third party who agreed to set out her case in a guest post which was duly published. Since my blog contains the facility for comments, anyone not happy would have been able to state their views, but instead it seems once again only suppression of dissent is on the "comrades" agenda.

Indeed had you asked I would probably given you a right of reply, but no you chose the normal route of censorship that seems to be the usual state of affairs in PCS.

Given your actions have already led to a very successful breakaway from PCS last year, I understand why you are worried about the possible creation of yet another union. Rather than learn from the lessons of the heavy handed approach you took towards members of SOCA you repeat the same mistakes once again.

I was informed that there would be a "robust response" against those involved in the creation of the RCTU, but your heavy handed approach towards even discussing such matters is disturbing and indicative of a frankly Stalinist mindset.

Given your demand for an immediate response, I would imagine you have already planned your next possible move. If I am right then you stand as an enemy of democracy.

Prove me wrong, though I hold little hope you will.

Freedom of speech is the essential foundation of all human rights. Without it democracy will fall.

Hope that's clear comrade.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Solidarity with the Kurds! A motion for your Labour and Trade Union branches.

Flag of Kurdistan.svg

The fighting in Kobane and in Iraq between the Kurds and the criminals known as ISIS continues. The Turkish Government seems more concerned about fighting it's own Kurds than intervening to prevent genocide. Meanwhile only the bombing by allied forces prevents total disaster.

Those of us in the Labour and Trade Union movement must show solidarity with the Kurds.

The following motion was put forward by Pete Radcliff to Beeston North Labour Party Branch and is published on the new Kurdish Solidarity Campaign Face Book page.

This branch/ CLP calls on the Parliamentary Labour Party to respond to the emergency in the Kurdish Syrian city of Kobane under siege by Islamic State (IS). 

The population of Kobane had been swollen by tens of thousands of refugees from outlying areas fleeing the genocidal force of IS (ISIL/ ISIS). During IS’s war on the region, in addition to the beheadings of UK victim Alan Henning, there have been mass beheadings of Kurdish people who opposed IS’s advance. 

Air strikes will not defeat ISIS. ‘Boots on the grounds’ are needed but they are already there - they are the Kurdish militias of Kobane in the YPG/ YPJ units of the Peshmerga, a third of whose members are women. They have given IS the only real battle it has ever faced.

We call on the PLP as a matter of emergency to call on the government and act themselves to: 

• Support, and discuss with representatives of, the popular and democratic forces in Kobane and the wider region of Rojava where democracy has grown over the last 2 years;

• Openly criticise the Turkish government for its failure to oppose the violently sectarian forces in Syria, including IS, and its refusal to allow arms to the forces defending Kobane from IS;
• Openly criticise the Turkish government for its growing repression of its own Kurdish citizens as well the refugees from Syria; 

• Demand from all countries in the region that they allow arms to flow to the democratic Kurdish fighting forces (YPG/ YPJ and others); 

• Call for an end to any further military relationship with Turkey unless 1) it allows arms and Kurdish fighters back into Syria to defend their people from IS and 2) takes firm action to combat IS and other opponents of democracy in Syria.

We call also on our MEP, Glenis Wilmott, and other Labour representatives in the European parliament to take similar action.

This motion can easily be adjusted for other Labour Party and Trade Union Branches. 

I would urge students to do the same given the utterly shameful decision of the NUS executive as previously reported on this blog.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Trouble in Left Unity again


The newest of the left wing groups has not had an easy ride since it was established. From the beginning it was beset with factional problems, of it's own making one has to say. Before the "party" had even been established they allowed the creation of "Platforms" (another word for factions) inside their organisation. A godsend for some of the more parasitic sects that inhabit the darker recesses of the far-left.

Still despite a "singing" delegate at their founding bash (don't ask it was embarrassing to see even on line) they set up shop and despite the momentous loss of err..Tony Greenstein, they have settled down with around a couple of thousand members.

One of their big "selling points" was that of "safe spaces" which was supposed to allow for comrades, particularly women and the more vulnerable to be able to put forward an opinion without being shouted at or abused by those who normally dominate such meetings.

A worthy practise one would think.

But no from the beginning this has been opposed by those who shouting at other comrades. The kind of behaviour which puts people or should I say "ordinary workers" from participating in politics. Something we see in union meetings when the comrades have a line to push. Anyone who dares to disagree is a "class traitor" or "capitalist pimp" as one self-righteous twit wrote on the PCS Face Book page. Still I digress a little.

There's much ado ado about something on the Left Unity National Committee it would seem as one of its members, Bianca Todd resigns and demands to be allowed to stand again. There's been rumblings about her conduct as an employer that has caused accusations of bulling from fellow comrades.

This isn't exactly up to date news but the Independents diary has picked up the affair:

“From an early age, my grandfather instilled in me one key value: never, ever forget your roots,” Bianca Todd announced in The Guardian newspaper earlier this month, as she accused Ed Miliband of forgetting his.

In the 1980s, her grandfather, Ron Todd, was the most powerful trade unionist in the land, the general-secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, whose massive block vote was the principle obstacle in the path of Neil Kinnock’s efforts to steer Labour into the centre ground. Todd’s granddaughter is a leading light in the Unite union and of Left Unity, which seeks to pull together the disparate groups left of the Labour Party.

An employment tribunal last week awarded three former staff of a Leicestershire youth organisation, Children: Homes, Advice and Teaching Ltd (C:HAT Room), more than £2,000 in unpaid wages and other monies owed to them. They had worked for C:HAT Room for about six months without being given contracts. The company’s head of service is Bianca Todd – she who never, ever forgets her roots.

Oh dear.

No further comment necessary.