Saturday, March 28, 2009

HUMOUR: Nazi-lover learns how to spell ...

A reader just sent me a post he noticed on the Sheik Yermami website.

For those of you who don't know, Sheik Yermami is a neo-Nazi blogger whose past posts have included this gushing tribute to a deceased far-Right and notoriously anti-Semitic Austrian politician.

Yermami now claims that someone using a computer (one which I also use from time to time) has left messages on his blog.

Among the messages is one that I acknowledge leaving, and in which I had to correct Sheik Yermami's spelling. Yermami thanked me for the spelling lesson, but then posted this point ...


Does that change the fact that Binyam Mohamed is not a “Briton” and that you and GANDHI have nothing in common?

Gandhi and I have nothing in common? Let's see ...

a. Gandhi and I are of North Indian extraction, he from Gujrat and my ancestors from Uttar Pradesh.

b. Gandhi spoke a language which the Poms once called "Hindustani". I speak the same language.

c. Gandhi spoke, read and wrote English. I speak, read and write English.

d. Gandhi was a lawyer. I'm a lawyer.

Clearly Gandhi and I have absolutely nothing in common. My apologies to Yermami for making such a dreadful error.

But what about the other messages Yermami refers to? Jeez, how should I know? It could be any number of relos or friends, including the friend who pointed out Yermami's post to me. Tim Blair's defence shouldn't just work for Tim Blair.

I guess being a Nazi never required much brain power ...



(Thanks to GA)

UPDATE I: In one recent post, Sheik Yer'mami features a cartoon of me as follows:



Notice the shape of the black hat, the side locks and the largish nose. Yes, this here sheik is a true Nazi, happy to describe me as "fact and truth-challenged" and illustrating his claim by making be resemble an observant Jewish male. In the mind of this "sheik", being dishonest and observing Judaism are one and the same. The ultimate in dishonesty, in the eyes of this neo-Nazi blogger, looks something like this ...



Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

OPINION/CRIKEY: Khatami: a case for dialogue ...



Last night, I was among the crowd who filled a large lecture theatre at the Australian National University in Canberra to hear a presentation by Dr Sayyed Mohammad Khatami, Iran's President from 1997 to 2005.

Dr Khatami spoke confidently about dialogue among civilisations starting at a grassroots level between civil societies of various nations. Khatami argued limiting dialogue to politicians could result in just another round of negotiations that entrenches the geo-political status quo.

I've criticised the views of some who object to the involvement of a Victorian university and the Anglican Church in hosting Dr Khatami. Yet the fact that these critics frequently don't acknowledge crimes committed by one non-Arab state in the Middle East doesn't mean their critique of the other non-Arab state in the Middle East is without foundation. Iran isn't a haven of liberty and human rights. There's plenty of evidence from credible sources about the mistreatment of ethnic, sectarian and religious minorities (not to mention bloggers and student activists) in Iran, including during Khatami's rule.

I don't know what it's like to live in a country where I could be jailed or denied access to a tertiary education for my religious beliefs. Yes, here I have to put up with reading racist and xenophobic material published in tabloids. Some schools may not want my type teaching their kids. But I'd sooner be a South Asian Muslim in Australia than a Bahá'í in Iran.

Hence, I refused to stand with those who stood for Khatami. No amount of sweet talk about dialogue between civilisations was going to convince me to get out of my seat. I wanted to hear what Khatami had to say about minority rights. Khatami received two questions about the treatment of Bahá'ís, including one about a law that disallowed Bahá'ís from attending public universities.

Khatami was much more blunt than I'd expect of a politician from a dictatorial regime. He admitted people were imprisoned in Iran because of their religious beliefs, including Bahá'ís and even Muslims from the dominant Shia sect (who presumably opposed Ahmedinejad). He said this happened for any number of reasons, none of which were justifiable. Khatami also acknowledged women were mistreated, and blamed his colleagues from the religious establishment for interpreting texts in a discriminatory manner. Yet progress had been made, especially in tertiary education where over 70% of students were female.

Khatami said all this in a public lecture in the presence of Iranian diplomats, who would certainly report his comments back to officials in Tehran. If everything we're told about Iran being a police state is true, Khatami was a brave man for criticising his own country so brazenly.

Of course, none of this will please the neo-Con ayatollahs of free market fundamentalism. But with most Iranians under 30 and from a generation that only knows a repressive revolution, it's little wonder young Iranians embraced Khatami's politics and continue to do so. We may not like Khatami, but he polled 70% of votes cast in the 1997 Iranian election, and then 77% of votes cast in the 2001 election. That's enough reason for dialogue.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Monday, March 23, 2009

MEDIA/CRIKEY: More hate from Andrew Bolt's fan club ...



There's a fair degree of scepticism among some circles about President Obama's latest video message to the Iranian people to coincide with Nowruz, the Persian new year. Among the sceptics is Andrew Bolt.

But many readers will be sceptical of Bolt's ability to decide what is or isn't sensible discourse fit for publication on the Herald Sun website. One wonders what Herald Sun advertisers would think if they realised their precious dollars were going toward the publication of the following sentiments:
The Dean of Doonside (Reply) Sun 22 Mar 09 (09:52am)
"In the Islamic world, they look at negotiations as surrender."

Barry of Round replied to the Dean Sun 22 Mar 09 (10:52am)
"Insightful. Best bomb them in that case."

Larry replied to the Dean Sun 22 Mar 09 (01:10pm):
"Barry of Round, bombing them, back to the stone age where their politico-religious philosophy belongs, would indeed be the only thing they understand. Islam has no such thing as a peace treaty, just hudna, to be entered into when weaker than the opposition, and only lasting long enough for them to gather the strength to have another go. You don’t negotiate with that, you shoot it."
So the best way to deal with the Muslim customers of Herald Sun advertisers is a combination of shooting them and bombing them and their neighbourhoods back into the Stone Age. I'd love to see Andrew Bolt justify this kind of stuff when he appears on Q&A this Thursday night.

First published in the Crikey daily mail for Monday 23 March 2009.

UPDATE I: I have been informed that the moderators of Mr Bolt's blog have reluctantly removed these comments.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Saturday, March 21, 2009

POLITICS/PAKISTAN: Useful lawyers ...

Lawyers are often considered sources of division, as leeches who suck not just blood but even marrow from their communities and their local economies. Lawyers are also seen as futue politicians, yet often another source of division.

But in recent days, Pakistanis are seeing a different side to their legal profession. Lawyers, all suited and booted, are seen marching in the streets, being arrested and even beaten. Their protest concerns the restoration of judges and the rule of law. They want to see democratically elected governments being held accountable. And Pakistanis across rthe nation (and even diaspora cross the world) could keep up with it all on Twitter. Years ago, they were protesting on the same issues during the rule of military dictator General Pervez Musharraf.

All this really came home to me when I recently saw a snippet from a talkback TV show on Pakistan's Aaj TV. One housewife called in to made this observation, which I will translate from Urdu:
It was the lawyers who united our country where once we were so splintered that people with opposing political views wouldn’t even talk to each other.
My paternal grandfather was a criminal lawyer practising in Lahore, who died at a relatively young age of a heart attack whilst cross examining a witness in a murder trial. My father, who avoided a career in legal practice like the plague, was never much keen on seeing me practise law. I've met some pretty nasty lawyers during my 15-odd years practising in Sydney.

But lawyers can (and so often do) make a huge difference behind the scenes holding authorities to account. And lawyers everywhere can feel proud of what their colleagues across Pakistan have achieved. Whether it all makes the difference remains to be seen ...



Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

EVENT: Dr Jeff Halper at Paddington ...

For some reason, this quietly-spoken Israeli anthropologist stirs up bucketloads of nasty sentiment from some quarters. Professor Halper is a member of the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD).

I saw Professor Halper speak last night at Macquarie University. It was so wonderful to see young men and women committed to defending what they saw as Israel's interests, and only being able to do so by attacking an Israeli academic! One audience member even declared that Professor Halper was speaking "half-truths" and would soon be "exposed" as a "fraud".

Anyway, Professor Halper has a nunber of other gigs, one of which is ...

Monday 23 March 6-7.15pm
Professor Jeff Halper, Israeli Committee against Housing Demolitions
will speak on:

Defending Palestinian Homes: Challenging the Gaza Blockade

6pm Monday 23 March
Uniting Church
2 Newcombe Street Paddington
(by the Paddington Market site on Oxford Street)

Professor Halper provides an account of the Middle East that you will rarely find in mainstream Australian media but which is openly published in mainstream Israeli media.

If you're quick, you can hear Professor Halper being interviewed on ABC Brisbane radio by clicking here. And here's Jeff Halper talking on the subject of From Apartheid to Warehousing.



(Thanks to AA)

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

COMEDY/VIDEO: Helen Maalik on dating ...



Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

BLOGS/COMMENT: At least he's not African or Middle Eastern ...

And in breaking news, someone tried go shoot Melbourne gangland figure Desmond Moran. Desmond's brother Lewis was murdered in 2004. It's unclear whether the shooting was gangland related. You can read about it here.

Though it's unlikely you'll get to read about it here. After all, some Herald Sun bloggers seem to show greater interest in violent crime and underworld activity when persons of African or Lebanese heritage are involved - especially when the "they" people are the victims.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf



Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

COMEDY: Mo the Plumber ...

Okay folks, stop what you're doing, siddown, shuddup and listen up. The Melbourne Comedy Festival starts soon, and along with it (or rather, as part of it), there's a new show put together by Trent McCarthy and Mohammed El-leissy. It's called ...

Mo
The Plumber

... or something like that. Anyway's here's a sexy graphic.



And here are some details of when it's on and where you can see it, plus some gratuitous self-promotion from certain organisations.

Now can someone tell me how to turn off this friggin auto-centre text thing ...

... okay, thanks.


Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Sunday, March 15, 2009

COMMENT: Long march in Lahore ...

For the past weel or so, my patents have been glued to the TV screen watching GeoTV coverage of the Pakistani opposition's "long march". GeoTV is one of Pakistan's more popular cable TV news channels. Lahore is the capital of Punjab, Pakistan's wealthiest province. Lahore is also Pakistan's cultural capital, home to a large number of monuments of great historical, cultural and spiritual significance to both Muslims and Sikhs.

Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is now Pakistan's democratically elected president. However, in recent times, Zardari has been accused of behaving more like a dictator.

But the long march isn't just in Lahore, and it doesn't just consist of supporters of Pakistan's opposition leader (and also former Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif. Reporting from my birthplace of Karachi, Mustafa Qadri follows the trail of lawyers from Karachi who have called for the reinstatement of the Chief Justice and other judges removed from their posts by former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

The Zardari government is using any means to dissuade protestors, even warning of possible terrorist attacks. Qadri reports ...

Adviser to the Prime Minister for Interior Affairs, Rehman Malik, a man who despite his title is effectively the main lieutenant of President Zardari, tried to dissuade would-be protesters by warning of "terrorists and enemies of the country" staging attacks during the march.

There were, thankfully, no attacks by militants or others. And although police and soldiers lining the route of the procession routinely updated their superiors on the procession's movement through the city, they did not arrest anyone immediately. That task
came soon after, however, when the protesters converged at the Mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founding father. Others were arrested as they reached a highway tollway leaving the city on their long journey to the capital — far away from the view of ordinary citizens in Karachi, Pakistan's most densely populated city.

But for my own father, the real fascination is watching the streets where he grew up being transformed into a scene of often violent protest. The lawyers are present, as are the supporters of Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, who until recently served as Chief Minister of the Punjab province.

Protestors are hoping to head for Islamabad, though the city has been closed off by troops at all major entrances. The various groups of protestors hope to reach Islamabad by Monday and hold a sit-in inside the Parliament building.

There are already rumours flying around that Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is involved in a plot to murder Nawaz Sharif. Such rumours are not uncommon in South Asia, a part of the world where political conspiracy theories aren't exactly in short supply.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

VIDEO/AFGHANISTAN: Alarming rise in Afghan civilian casualties ...

The United States are sending more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and prop up Afghanistan's Islamist government. But what of ordinary Afghans? What do they think of the troop surge? How does it affect civilians?

The following video from AlJazeera English shows the picture on the ground as rarely shown by international newsagencies that seem unconcerned with civilian casualties. Here is the text that goes with the video.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

The number of civilians killed in fighting between the Taliban and foreign forces in Afghanistan is rising.

The United Nations says the toll in 2008 was 40 per cent more than in the previous year, and things could get worse with the arrival of more US troops.




Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Sunday, March 08, 2009

VIDEO: Spend 90 seconds in Gaza ...

The following animated video was made by Israeli animator Yoni Goodman, who directed animation for the award-winning movie Waltz With Bashir. Enjoy.



Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

COMMENT: Afghanistan - here's a thought ...


Nadeem Aslam is an English writer of Pakistani heritage. He wrrived with his family in Pakistan when he was just 14 years old. His family had fled the brutal regime of General Mohammad Ziaul Haq, one of a series of Western-backed Pakistani military dictators.

Nadeem Aslam is currently touring Australia. In an interview with the Canberra Times, Aslam made these observations about Afghanistan:
... I thought that Afghanistan had been forgotten. Now this sounds like a very strange thing to say, because Afghanistan is in the news every single day. But it's in the news every day for what it is doing to the rest of the world. So many American soldiers have died there, so many Canadian soldiers, so many NATO soldiers.

But what the world did to Afghanistan over the past 30 years seems to be news to most people.
About writing and the Taliban, Aslam remarks:
For me it's about feeling a certain responsibility toward the world I live in, and if the darkness is there it must be acknowledged." He believes too that he, like all moderate Muslims, must speak up for a moderate Islam.

The Taliban said that only one book was allowed and I wanted to have a house in which the books were nailed to the ceiling, so that there is a constant literary rain throughout the novel, so that when the books fall to the ground and the characters pull out the nails there's a hole through them and then they read whatever it is.

I wanted to say that I don't want to live in a world where the Koran is the only book.
I'd also hate to live in a world where only one book existed, even (indeed especially) if it was one millions believe had been sent from above.

(Thanks to CCN)

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked

Thursday, March 05, 2009

COMMENT: More on the Lahore attacks ...


Pakistan was meant to co-host the 2011 World Cup along with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Yet according to a report by the Press Trust of India, it seems that at least Indian cricket official would like Pakistan dropped off the list of countries. Still, it's unlikely Pakistan will be be a co-host given the security lapses arising from the Lahore attack. I think the Pakistani cricket officials need to be a bit more realistic. At least one official has been quoted as saying:
We were expecting some words of support from the Indian Board even though we know that realistically speaking World Cup matches are unlikely to be held in Pakistan following the unfortunate incident ... We would think that since the tournament is to be hosted in four countries in the same continent, the ICC and its member boards can wait for another six months to see how the security situation improves in Pakistan before taking a final decision on the matches in Pakistan.
A ban on international games being hosted in Pakistan would be perhaps the most effective way to make ordinary Pakistanis feel isolated. Pakistan is cricket-crazy, and many Pakistanis will feel they are being boycotted in the same manner as apartheid South Africa was once the subject to a sporting boycott. Except that in Pakistan's case, there is no apartheid in place.

The Sri Lankan players have said that they were able to respond as effectively as they did to the attacks because they have become accustomed to terrorism. The Economic Times of India quoted captain Mahela Jayawardene on 5 March as saying:
We have been brought up in a background of terrorist activities. We are used to hearing, seeing these things — firing , bombings. So we ducked under our seats when the firing began. It was like natural instinct ...

The attack took place about 500 metres from the Gaddafi ground (in Lahore) by unidentified gunmen who attacked the bus in which we were travelling. During the attack every player took shelter by ducking inside the bus. The security vehicle for the players was also attacked , besides the bus ...

We wish to forget this incident, put it behind us and look forward and concentrate on our future matches. We were lucky to come out of the attack ...

We were not aware of security lapses. It’s an unfortunate incident. In hindsight, this could have happened anywhere in the world.
Omar Waraich writes in Time about some responses by ordinary people in Lahore, where a makeshift memorial has been set up to remember the police officers who died in the attack.
Near the edge of the grassy roundabout in Liberty Square where gunmen attacked the tourists' bus, activists, lawyers, policemen and ordinary citizens arrived to lay flowers by a sign saluting the bravery of Tanveer Iqbal, one of the six Pakistani policemen slain in the raid. Some raised their cupped hands in prayer, others solemnly held up candles. A large banner expressed solidarity with the "heroes of Sri Lanka." ...

"I have come here to pay tribute to my martyred colleagues," says Anjum Akhtar, a Lahore-based policeman, as he lays a bouquet of roses by the memorial. Akhtar laments that terrorist attacks have become "routine." "It's something we sadly share with the people of Sri Lanka, they suffer terrorist attacks, too," he says. But Tuesday's attack on the Sri Lankan team was different, the stocky policeman believes. "This time they attacked our country and our guests." ...

Even as Pakistan's vicious wave of militancy has spread eastwards from the Afghan border areas in recent years, sporting events have remained largely immune. The sole exception was a 2002 suicide attack outside the Karachi hotel where a visiting New Zealand cricket team were staying. Zafar Khan, the bus driver killed in Tuesday's attack, had driven for the Kiwis, too.

While fundamentalist clerics have issued fatwas against yoga in Indonesia and against the Indian tennis star, Sania Mirza, some Pakistanis hasten to point out that no equivalent edict has been voiced against cricket in Pakistan. "There are two pastimes that the Taliban really like," says Hameedullah Khan, a journalist from the Swat valley. "Playing cricket and drinking Mountain Dew."
Many in Pakistan are critical of the government. As in most democracies, when all else fails, locals prefer to lay all blame on the government. In this case, their arguments perhaps aren't without foundation.
Like many in the Liberty Square area, Ahmed is also critical of the government's failure to provide the Sri Lankan team with sufficient protection. "The team was here as our guests, but they left frightened and injured," Ahmed says, his voice thick with emotion. "It was our responsibility to protect them. Our government is so useless that they couldn't take care of the Sri Lankans. There is now a big threat to our national game. If Sri Lanka was able to play and leave safely, others would have been encouraged to come over here and play also. Now no one will come. Our image has been damaged across the world, and our national team is left useless, with no one to play."

Outside the landmark red-brick Gaddafi stadium renamed after the Libyan leader in 1974, marketing agent Tariq Mahmood sits forlornly with the morning's newspaper. He was meant to have spent the day watching the third day of the test match with Pakistan. Instead, he casts his eyes over the headlines and photographs with despair.

Living in Lahore, Mahmood has also heard large bombs explode outside the High Court and at the Navy College, both on The Mall road. Yet he insists that there is "a big difference between previous incidents and this one". "Think of Pakistan as a body," he says. "Sometimes the terrorists cut off a finger, sometimes an ear. This time, they've cut off our feet. This is a historic tragedy. They wanted to destroy our very base, our foundation. The Sri Lankan team came after so much difficulty. We begged and begged them to come. India had boycott us. New Zealand were stopped from coming. And what did we do with the trust that the Sri Lankans put in our hands? We broke our promises of security."

More to come.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Delicious
Bookmark this on Delicious

Digg!

Get Flocked