The News – Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

Murtaza Ali Shah

Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

London – UK, 27 November 2019. British government’s Chancellor Sajid Javid has refused to criticise Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his use of Islamophobic language to describe Muslim women.

Speaking on the campaign trail, British-Pakistani Javid struggled to explain Boris Johnson’s use of words like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” to describe Muslim women wearing a veil. Johnson described Muslim women in derogative manner a column for The Telegraph newspaper last year.

It follows criticism of the Conservatives by the Muslim Council of Britain, which accused the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” with regards to Islamophobia on the day that the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism made him unfit to be prime minister.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Javid said the Prime Minister had “explained why he’s used that language” adding the article “was to defend the rights of women, whether Muslim women and others to wear what they like, so he’s explained that and I think he’s given a perfectly valid explanation”.

He added: “Whenever this issue has come about (for) the Conservative Party, no-one has ever credibly suggested that it’s an issue with the leadership of the party, whether that’s the leader of the party of the day or the chancellor or other senior figures, no-one’s suggested that.”

Later, Boris Johnson dismissed criticism by the Muslim Council of Britain of the Conservative Party’s handling of Islamophobia within its ranks.

The Prime Minister told reporters that he did not agree with the claim that his party had approached Islamophobia with “denial, dismissal and deceit”.

He added: “What we do in the Tory Party is when anybody is guilty of any kind of prejudice or discrimination against another group then they’re out first bounce,” he said.

Mr Johnson said his party would hold an inquiry into “all forms of prejudice” starting before the end of the year, despite having previously pledged to hold one specifically on Islamophobia.

In Tuesday’s edition of The Times, Rabbi Mirvis said Labour’s handling of the issue, which has dogged the party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, was “incompatible” with British values.

Responding, the Labour leader insisted anti-Jewish racism was “vile and wrong” and that the party had a “rapid and effective system” for dealing with complaints.

Mr Corbyn called on the Conservatives to “address the issues of Islamophobia that appear to be a problem within their party”.

In response to the Chief Rabbi’s comments, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This is an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party, who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.

“It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism.”

Here is the relevant section of Mr Johnson’s Telegraph column.

“If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree, and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.

I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any, invariably male, government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

“If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled, like Jack Straw, to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct.

As for individual businesses or branches of government, they should of course be able to enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers; and that means human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.

“All that seems to me to be sensible. But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.”

Remember how Tamanjit Singh, MP for Slough, attacked Boris Johnson for the same reason
Man in Blue – Declare Sikhism a different religion by 2020, GK asks Indian President on 70th Constitution Day

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 26 November 2019. On the eve of the 70th constitution day of India, the former DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK has written a letter to the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in which he has asked him to recognize the Sikh dignity by rectifying the Article 25 (B) of the Indian constitution. Notably, the Article 25 (B) of the Indian constitution portrays Sikhism as a part of Hinduism.

In this letter, Manjit Singh GK has also asked the Indian President to put control over the rising incidents of barring Sikh candidates from entering examination centers for wearing symbols of Sikh faith i.e. Kirpan and Kara.

“Sikh students are being stopped from entering examination centers despite having constitutional liberty to wear articles of Sikh faith Kirpan and Kara,” he said while demanding inclusion of study about Sikhism in the coursework of candidates selected for civil services.

Beside it, GK has also asked the Indian president Ram Nath Kovind to allow Sikhs to wear Kirpan even in the planes flying from India.

Declare Sikhism a different religion by 2020, GK asks Indian President on 70th Constitution Day

Ieper/Ypres – Commemoration of 1918 armistice & Gent-Sint-Pieters

Commemoration of 1918 armistice
11 November 2019

Man in White – Kesri Pag

Menenpoort – city side
After standing in the rain for about an hour I made a quick exit to the Grote Markt, enjoyed some nice hot tea and speculaas and went to the Ieper NMBS station

12 November 2019

Ronse – Eeklo diesel units

Ronse – Eeklo diesel units

Train to Landen via Brussel, Brussel Airport and Leuven

Semi-direct to Brussel, direct to Leuven,
all stations to Landen

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Evening Times – Multi-faith tapestry for peace created in Glasgow Gurdwara

Carla Jenkins

Glasgow – Scotland – UK, 26 November 2019. Over 400 members of the Glasgow Sikh community gathered at the Glasgow Gurdwara on Albert Drive earlier this month for the unveiling of the cities first ever multi-faith tapestry.

As we come to the end of November, members of Glasgow’s Sikh community are recovering from a month of celebrations in the name of world-renowned Sikh Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday, the prophet credited with founding Sikhism.

The multi-faith tapestry is a lasting reminder to the community and those outside it of the significance of the year, and the three characteristics central to Sikhs: hard work, sharing and spirituality.

As we come to the end of November, members of Glasgow’s Sikh community are recovering from a month of celebrations in the name of world-renowned Sikh Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday, the prophet credited with founding Sikhism.

The multi-faith tapestry is a lasting reminder to the community and those outside it of the significance of the year, and the three characteristics central to Sikhs: hard work, sharing and spirituality.

The Tapestry Project was founded by Manjit Kaur Jheeta, 65 from Pollokshields, who along with Paula Hope, a 52 year old Art Teacher, led a volunteer group of 90 women from different faiths and communities to weave the tapestries over 18 months.

Manjit, a former biology teacher who is also a member of the Glasgow Gurdwara’s committee, met Paula by chance in Glasgow when thinking of ideas for an art project to honour Guru Nanak.

“Guru Nanek founded the interfaith aspect of Sikhism, and I wanted to honour that in the tapestry unveiling.”

“Guru Nanak has always been my role model, because of my background as a teacher. I based my career on that, and have been very interested in oneness and interfaith, which are two big characteristics of his teachings.

“I thought that it was a good idea to bring his message into the 21st century, when we have so many extreme views and politics, and bring people together. Suddenly, there are increased racial tensions, border tensions and levels of crime because of intolerance.

“When I retired I decided it was time to make my vision come alive and I did that through art.

“I wanted something that would bring people together, and even in the Gurdwara there are people who cannot speak or read English well, people who have worked all their lives or who have generational differences, but art brought everyone together.”

“I was John Lewis looking for inspiration, and was looking in particular at different fabrics. Many women in the Gurdwara have fantastic sewing skills and talents but have never participated in anything like this.

“I went into a shop off Buchanan Street, and heard the buzz of a sewing machine. I got chatting to the woman at the machine, and she was an art teacher and machinist. That was Paula, and I knew the door had opened.”

Manjit and Paula led a weekly meeting where members of the public gathered on an evening once a week to create the tapestries, as well as over 800 crochet flowers that decorated the Gurdwara and will be sold as Christmas cards this season, with the proceeds given to the charity Sikh Scotland Sewing.

Some of the women who joined to help had never sewed before.

“We didn’t even anticipate that it would be finished for this month of celebrations, but it was another added positive that it was.

“The whole experience was magical” said Manjit. “I don’t know what we’ll do now that it’s finished.”

Over a year later, three ceiling-to-floor hand-stitched tapestries were unveiled in the Glasgow Gurdwara as part of the Guru Nanak celebrations, and will later be toured around different venues such as St. Mungos and fellow Gurdwara’s around the UK, in Birmingham and London.

“It was the best gift that we could give to people in Glasgow” said Manjit.

“It has brought together women from the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and even non-religions communities.

“Paula and I, without even realising it, had designed the message of oneness and equality of Guru Nanak into every part of the tapestry, and I am forever thankful to all the volunteers who have supported this wonderful project.”

“Having never been to a Sikh Gurdwara before, it was pure chance and some Divine Inspiration that I met Paula.

I feel so blessed and humbled that I was able to have this opportunity, with these lovely ladies that put their heart and soul into creating them.”

Carla Jenkins @caarlaajenkins

The Print – Modi and Amit Shah are brazen about Maharashtra coup because power is their 24×7 drug

Modi-Shah’s power quest is in sharp contrast to Sonia Gandhi’s relinquishing act, Rahul’s ‘power is poison’ and Manmohan Singh’s invisible need for it.

Ruhi Tewari

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 26 November 2019. At 5.47 am Saturday, one obvious political reality became further reinforced, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are obsessed with power. Their singular aim in politics is to win the throne, whatever it takes to achieve that.

This era of 24×7 social media and public glare, one may have thought, would bring more probity or transparency in their methods. Ironically, the constant public gaze only acts as some sort of drug, and gives them a platform through which they can project their all-consuming work toward power.

In politics, there is love for power, there is hunger for power and there is greed for power, different categories apply to different political leaders in varying forms and degrees. For Prime Minister Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, however, it can at times become an unhealthy and toxic fixation.

Their unapologetic quest for power is also a sharp contrast to three politicians from the Congress party. Sonia Gandhi’s ‘amazing grace’ narrative of relinquishing power in 2004, Manmohan Singh’s light and almost invisible need for power, and Rahul Gandhi’s “power is poison” template.

This contrast seems to be working well for Modi and Shah, not denting their image among their supporters, at least for now.

They are seen as consummate winners who are in complete control, and an India enfeebled by a decade of weak, silent leadership of Manmohan Singh, appears to be lapping it up hungrily. It was also the decade that Indians looked wistfully at China leaping ahead under a strong, centralised, authoritarian decision-making system.

Politics in India, or anywhere for that matter, is hardly about being squeaky clean. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s power games culminating in the imposition of the Emergency, the devoid-of-ethics patchwork coalition politics of the late 1980s and 1990s, which saw even the Left and the BJP come together, the violent political culture of states like West Bengal and Kerala, the disgraceful attack on Mayawati by Samajwadi Party goons in the infamous ‘guest house’ incident, the innumerable scams, the demolition of the Babri Masjid with mainstream politicians leading the way, these were just some of the absolute dirty lows of Indian politics.

Under Modi and Shah, however, something has shifted. The public gaze is far more constant and pervasive, and yet, the brazenness of their actions has only increased with time. The voter, meanwhile, hardly seems to mind.

The Power Games

Of course, this is not to say all of Modi and Shah’s journeys towards power have been questionable. Both have proved their electoral mettle, legitimately winning elections one after another, and stunning India with a magical combination of massive popularity and goodwill (Modi) and clever strategising (Shah), topped with a heavy dose of hard work by both.

But behind their election wins are substantially uncomfortable methods. The desire for votes has led the two leaders to deploy some of the most polarising, unacceptable concepts in Indian politics in recent memory.

From ‘kabristaan-shamshaan‘ remark and accusing a former PM of ‘conspiring’ with Pakistan to openly going around announcing that ‘infiltrators’ are “termites” and should be “thrown into the Bay of Bengal” and more, Modi and Shah’s election campaigns are hardly the stuff political morality is made of.

But what stands out the most is the extent to, and the defiance with, which they are willing to use underhand tactics in the quest for power, whether it is about managing the Election Commission, using investigative agencies as political tools, or manipulating due processes.

To be sure, all political parties in Indian upon attaining power have and will continue to use less than honourable methods, but Modi and Shah’s frequency, extent and ability to do so absolutely un-apologetically is something else.

Goa, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, the announcement of election schedules to best suit the PM, the list is long, and Maharashtra and the 5 am drama is just the latest example.

The constant gaze an enabler

Both Modi and Shah have cleverly used this 24×7 attention to their advantage. What better than having Indians know how ‘sincere’ they are while being in power and driven towards ‘serving’ the public, especially since the opposition, primarily the Congress, seems least interested in making any serious effort to catapult itself to the throne.

In fact, by constantly playing the chaiwala card and underscoring that he has risen up the ranks, unlike the ‘naamdaars‘, Modi is even able to gain public empathy for his fixation for power.

As India woke up on a lazy Saturday morning assuming Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would become the next chief minister of Maharashtra, Modi cheekily tweeted at 8:16 am congratulating Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar after their swearing-in as the CM and the deputy CM.

If the PM owning up an operation as clandestine as Maharashtra’s overnight political coup and being quick to project it as an achievement isn’t a brazen instance of this unapologetic obsession for power, then what is?

Among former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s many weaknesses is his perceptible lack of interest, almost contempt, for being in power. His other streak has been to desperately want to seem like the ‘good guy’ in the constant social media glare, someone who doesn’t want to be seen as being ‘immoral’.

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are polar opposites, guided primarily by their absolute lust for power with absolutely no qualms if the world sees that. For these two, all that matters is being in power, means and methods be damned.

The curious irony is that Modi manages to balance his Machiavellian lust for power with his ‘fakiri’, man-meditating-in-a-cave persona. For all the vipassana sessions that Rahul Gandhi escapes to, he is neither seen as a saint nor as a focused winner, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh election results notwithstanding.

Modi and Amit Shah are brazen about Maharashtra coup because power is their 24×7 drug