Azarmehr reports:

A vicious assault on political prisoners in Gowhardasht took place yesterday. The attack was carried out by ordinary criminals who are kept alongside political prisoners in Gowhardasht. They used knives and cut glass to injure the political prisoners.

Behrouz Javid Tehrani, one of the victims of this attack has had 17 stitches and many of his teeth broken. Despite his injuries he is still kept in the cell, where he fears further attacks.

In a separate incident, two students in Shiraz, Hamid Kargar and Bahador Dareh-Shoori were abducted by plain clothes agents. The two were recently expelled from university for their political activities. Their families are unaware of where they have been taken to.

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There’s a lot of comment on anti-jihadi sites and blogs right now about unrest in French suburbs. Incidents like the torching of a bus are described as an intifada. So far, most of the MSM put more weight on social conditions – poverty, unemployment – that were said to have been behind the riots last year.

The problem is that the attitudes of radical Islam have permeated the identities of Western Muslim underclasses in just the same way as, and alongside, those of Gangsta rap. Thus, the clothing of these people reflect US urban chic, they drink and take drugs, pimp and deal, steal and threaten – all completely un-Islamic – at the same time as professing to be proud of their Islamic identity and basing that identity more on bin Laden than on Omar Khayyam or Andalucian astronomers.

There used to be a similar pattern with Rastafarianism. A real Rasta, and a real devout Muslim, is as puritan and boring as a devout Christian or a Mormon door-knocker. Yet in the 1980s a lot of street criminals grew the locks, listened to reggae and thought of themselves as Rasta.

In some ways, describing the French unrest as an intifada is just buying the learnt rhetoric of a part of society that has long known the benefit of regurgitating any philosophy that might boost their sense of self-righteousness. The language of liberal criminology and sociology – that they are victims of poverty and it is all society’s fault – is also regurgitated. The “policeman’s hat” syndrome is another example, learned from miscarriages of justice: “I might have been caught red-handed in a bank with a striped T shirt, eye mask and bag marked ‘swag’, raping a pensioner, but the policeman who arrested me wasn’t wearing a hat and I happen to know that’s illegal, so while this vicious, corrupt police force continues to victimise me I remain a victim, the [insert town here] one”.

Buying into this, in turn, reinforces the sense of self-justification in the rioters. We’re not just vandals and thugs, we’re an intifada, like the Palestinians, victims of injustice, noble, resisting tyranny.

Yet in a way, they are victims. It is harder for them to get work in France than it need be because of racism and economic and social policy that discourages the hiring of unskilled or young workers. A great deal of the problems of the underclass come from a lack of opportunity and an excess of help, the sort of help that makes the giver look and feel better while actually assisting the recipient not one jot.

The French social model, excessive regulation and excessive employee featherbedding, together with excessive welfarism, wastes people as well as money. And then they riot.

This problem isn’t helped by radical Islam, but it isn’t the consequence of it either.

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What the hell, why not blog about technology too.

I’ve always used emacs/tramp for editing remote files but when it hangs, it’s easy to lose the file itself, which is a major nuisance (the backupfile~ stays there so not all is lost). And boy, does it hang. Every other ssh connection I use – shell, vfs etc – is fine but not tramp.

Today this has been a major strain on my productivity.

But Gnome-vfs handles the remote connection fine. If I switched to KDE, KIO-slaves would do the same job, maybe even better. Shame, I like emacs, but there are a lot of good programming editors there and I can’t afford to lose two hours as I have today every time there’s something flaky about my broadband line.

It’s an emotional moment… I’ve used emacs for years. When I started using tramp, there was no real alternative for remote editing, now you can use pretty much anything. Next you know, I’ll be using a graphical IDE…

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An excellent essay here from Scottish Libertarian David Farrer. Libertarians are often criticized as hypocrites if they want any restraint on immigration. While some might be, in fact the criticisms are generally based on a misunderstanding of libertarianism.

If welfare systems are not identical (or indeed exist at all) then there can be no free market in labour (or the movement of people). Equally, in a society in which everything is privately owned, then nobody would be able to take up residence there without an invitation from a property owner, or the purchase of some of the property.

This is a very quick summary, and the piece is worth a read.

This could be read as a device to avoid any immigration (we do have welfare systems, they are unequal between countries, and we don’t have 100% property ownership so there can be limits on migration and they can be whatever I decide, arbitrarily, to make them). But I don’t think that’s the idea.

The theory of any political idea is not necessarily founded in the world as we find it, but rather an aspiration of the world as we would like it to be. Of course, most libertarians are to at least some degree pragmatists anyway. While they do tend to favour immigration on principle, they also often want to recognise the problems that large scale migration can cause in the world we actually find ourselves in.

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Well, I did warn:

The consequences of giving preferential treatment to extremists like the MCB for a decade, of deferring to the real or imagined sensitivities of a small section of the population, and thereby causing genuine resentment, dislike and even hatred of all Muslims generally within society, then reversing the position and releasing a constant stream of remarks, initiatives and policy changes that feed this cultivated dislike could be horrendous.

And now:

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of racial assault after four men were attacked in a mosque last night.

Muslims are widely perceived as combining aggression with a victim complex born out of paranoia. Pretty much every non-Muslim population in the world feels under assault from radical Islam. It’s a very dangerous situation because if one fifth of the world’s population is Muslim, four fifths are not.

One infrequently commented-on quality of satire, criticism, mockery and abuse is that they act as a safety valve. If people are denied those outlets for their feelings, then the pressure builds until there is an explosion. Recent attacks on free expression have had this effect.

These recent attacks on free expression are as much to blame for assaults on people coming out of mosques as any idiotic special privileges accorded to Muslims by the government and the police. The fatuous habitual cries of “Islamophobic”, used to stifle debate and criticism, have made matters much, much worse.

Dialogue, honest criticism, debate and equal treatment for everybody, regardless of race, sex, gender and religion provide the only way forward.

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Again, in his comment to this post, Ismaeel said:

My objections here on this site are to the rather silly and baseless slander that you have thrown around on your site like your description of the MCB forcing veils on women, encouraging honor killings and forced marriages etc. That kind of “critical analysis” we can do without it to facilitate better understanding. That requires you to be civil. Hopefully one day you will understand that need.
I’m sure you will seek to defend yourself by saying you were being flippant and only seeking to amuse.

I assume this is a reference to an earlier post of mine where I said:

The consequences of giving preferential treatment to extremists like the MCB for a decade, of deferring to the real or imagined sensitivities of a small section of the population, and thereby causing genuine resentment, dislike and even hatred of all Muslims generally within society, then reversing the position and releasing a constant stream of remarks, initiatives and policy changes that feed this cultivated dislike could be horrendous.

Why are Labour doing this? It must be a deliberate policy. I can see no other explanation than that their private polling has revealed a serious threat to their position with the bedrock of their support, the white working class. Having caused the problem, by favouring Muslim extremists to the great personal cost especially of moderate Muslims in the country who have had to endure a surge of religious conservatism, veilings, forced marriage, curtailed female education, lost voting rights for the weakest (especially women) and “honour” violence, they are now reversing the position, also to the potential great cost of moderate Mulsims in this country.

That’s a silly misrepresentation, Ismaeel. I think that the cultivation of the MCB and of the even more extreme MAB and IHRC has created a situation in which yet more extreme organisations have begun to campaign through proxies for veiling, and in which honour killings and forced marriages have become more common.

You yourself told me in Oxford that you consider the first part of this to be true, that the government has favoured extremist groups at the expense of more reasonable ones. We specifically mentioned the MCB in this conversation.

So no, I wasn’t being flippant. And I don’t find it amusing.

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Ismaeel wrote, in the comment cited below:

I do not wrestle with my beliefs, I am very happy and secure in them and the discussion of the MfFE did not cause me any anxt although it may have caused others some.

This encapsulates a profound difference between some religious thinking, and the secular world. Of course, many religious people (including, according to the Bible, Jesus) have wrestled with doubt; this why the word “faith” has such importance and does not, for everybody, just mean blind acceptance.

But for secularists, doubt is everything. Doubt informs us, makes us question, makes us learn. This is why it is good practice in scientific papers for the writer(s) actually to point out real and potential problems in their work. They are seeking the truth, not trying to impose their findings on the world (I repeat, this is good, rather than invariable, practice).

Only by doubting the accepted wisdom do we investigate and learn new things. Without doubt, we would not be able to communicate like this, because computers would not exist.

Some religious people try to capitalise on this, dishonestly. In a previous post, I quoted from the ask the imam website:

It is our belief that Allah is the creator of the universe and all its contents. The concept of evolution is un Islamic. The animals, humans, etc all were created by the command of Allah and will be created by His command. The ever changing conclusions of the scientists is sufficient of their false research.

Note the last sentence. Their “false research” into this area has sequenced a full human genome. Genetic engineering – the direct manipulation of one part of the mechanism of evolution – holds out the promise of cures for cancers, Altzheimer’s disease and will revolutionise human life this coming century.

We need the contribution of the Islamic world, of the brains, inventiveness and inquiry the world saw in the past. Don’t get left behind.

Ismaeel, you should wrestle with your beliefs. You’d be stronger for it.

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In comments to my post below, Ismaeel has said he might engage in dialogue, which is very welcome, and has made a partial response to my comment at his blog.

Ismaeel, if you want proper space to develop the discussion of any point let me know by email including the wording you want to use, and I’ll post it as a new thread.

As a starting point, he said:

[Risdon had suggested that] we didn’t give a response to the idea of non-Muslims privatley viewing the Danish cartoons. Actually we did, on several occassions. Islam was, centuries before the west, adamant about the absolute sanctity of the private sphere, whatever went on behind closed doors was no buisness of the state. However what we also made clear is that when you noise it abroad that you are going to exhibit such socialy destructive material, then it ceases to be a private concern.

I regard the exhibition of the Danish cartoons and for that matter the exhibition of the holocaust cartoons in Iran to be uncivil and anti-social and am opposed to both.

Islam in fact prescribes detailed rules of behaviour, in private as well as in public, in a way no other religion does. See here and here, for example. Moreover, and again unusually, Islam makes no distinction between the state and religious authority, prescribing laws for the regulation of every aspect of human conduct. Al Sistani has issued fatwas concerning, among other things, masturbation (not allowed), having sex while looking in a mirror (allowed) and oral sex (“It’s allowed provided no liquid coming out swallowed”).

Whatever you mean by “the sanctity of the private sphere”, you cannot seriously be suggesting that Islam in all its manifestations – I am simply repeating your generalisation here – regards private conduct as beyond its sphere of influence. This is why my question is so pertinent: are you trying to extend at least some aspects of Islamic law and practice to the private actions of non-Muslims in this country? A direct yes or no answer to that question would be welcome.

I infer from your words that you would answer “no but”. You seem to be saying that it is unacceptable for anyone to do something in private that you regard as “uncivil” if they publicise the fact that they are doing so. You have gone to some pains to define what you consider civility to be. You do, therefore, seek to regulate the actions of non-Muslims in the public domain, and also in the private domain if they “noise … abroad” what they are doing. In a society that is not traditionally or historically Islamic and in which Muslims constitute a small minority, this is quite astonishingly arrogant.

I assume you advocate the right of women to wear the veil, which most Britons find to some extent offensive. If this is so, you seem to be advocating the right of Muslims to offend everyone else, but also their right to dictate what other people can do, either in private or in public.

Say it ain’t so.

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Ismaeel, who was a leading light in the Muslim Action Committee, has just made this post on his blog:

PETER RISDON WATCH?
Does Peter Risdon need a watch site all to himself? That is the question. After being very charming and polite to Maulana Arif and myself in Oxford all those months ago and doing the right thing in telling people not to bring the Danish cartoons to the March for Free Expression, he is now back after months of hiatus practically foaming at the mouth with Islamophobic rhetoric as well as confessing his rather murky and rather shocking past.

He has also announced he is going to launch some sort of media site to promote his rather immature understanding of freedom of expression in the near future.

So if anyone’s got the time, i think a Peter Risdon watch site might be handy.

Anyways it goes without saying we won’t be taking any nonsense from him lying down, or standing up or sitting down for that matter either.

Though I am intrigued by the final paragraph, and wonder what posture he plans to adopt – a crouch, perhaps – I have posted a comment as follows:

Hello Ismaeel. People say that the word “Islamophobic” is just a term of abuse designed to divert genuine and reasonable criticism, and I don’t think you have done anything here to disprove that notion.

I remain polite, would aspire to be charming, and enjoyed talking with Maulana Arif and you in Oxford a few months ago. I thought we had taken a few faltering steps towards establishing a genuine dialogue, so am disappointed to see you revert to this sort of strident rhetoric.

If you do ever feel able to return to civil dialogue, the door will always be open. In Oxford, I told you that I thought we had a tendency to glare at one another in mutual hostility and suspicion from opposing trenches, hurling abuse at one another, and that I would like to help break down that pattern.

You are aware that I am a secularist, that I value secular, tolerant and liberal society and am gravely concerned at what I see as the threat posed to that by resurgent and extremist religions of all kinds, but especially Islam.

I make no criticism of you for your campaigns against freedom of expression, and indeed other freedoms, and you cannot reasonably expect me to be silent about my concerns. But you could work to break down some of the mutual suspicions and hostility instead of, on the face of it, simply trying to dominate everyone else.

When we spoke, there was an unresolved issue. I asked whether you were trying to ban people from displaying the Danish cartoons in private places. The point of principle there was discussed also: do you seek to impose Islamic religious law and mores on non-Muslims, even in private?

I invited you to make it clear that you did not, and to go further and state that you accept the validity of an exhibition of these cartoons, in the context of controversial cartoons more generally (shown together with the holocaust denial cartoons recently entered for a competition in Iran, and the arguably obscene anti-western and anti-semitic cartoons that are common currency in much of the Islamic world). You didn’t answer either way then.

I invite you to consider this question again now.

In closing, let me remind you of the heated controversy on the march for free expression blogsite that followed your ideas about the minimum age at which women, or indeed girls, could be married. You realised during this exchange that you had made yourself vulnerable to criticism on a subject for which there is absolutely no tolerance in western culture. You might remember that I have never sought to capitalise on that, or other similar, subjects with you personally. I understand you have to wrestle with some difficult issues, given your beliefs, and I felt it right not to descend to ad hominem attacks based on this.

You are now aware that I have had a similar wrestling match with myself in recent months. It is such a shame that you have not felt able to reciprocate.

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