The Archbishop and Wonga

Image representing Wonga as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Have to say I was initially chuffed to see the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby laying down a challenge to Wonga and others of their ilk. The AoC communicated that he wanted to see the payday loan industry driven out of business by promoting the use of credit unions.

The payday loan industry is involved in outright usury which is condemned by many faiths such as Islam and Christianity and others. Usury we can look upon as the lending of money at exorbitant rates of interest.

But then I thought what was the AoC actually saying? He wanted to replace excessive usury with not so excessive usury. Is that what we should be aiming for? Plus the architects of our current austerity are backing the AoC!

I would love to see all of the credit industry driven out of business but it will only be done by paying workers a decent wage, sharing in the profit of their labour and making capitalism history.

At the end of the day this sort of initiative is just a sideshow, the real work to get a free and just society and world remains.

Pay a living and just wage so people don’t have to borrow.

Authored by Chris Hall

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Papiss Cissé and Wonga

Image representing Wonga as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

A few days ago a story broke around a Newcastle United football player called Papiss Cissé who refused to wear the Newcastle strip as it displayed their new sponsor’s logo. The new sponsor being Wonga, the infamous scummy payday loan company.

Cissé’s stand is apparently being taken on religious and ethical grounds. Religious in that his Islamic faith frowns upon usury (lending money at interest, and at at up to 5,835% Wonga needs frowning upon). And ethical/religious in that those who suffer at the hands of these companies and also fill the coffers of these parasites are the poor and unfortunate, classes of people who deserve protection in any faith worth it’s salt.

So I applaud  Cissé’s stand on this. If only our political masters had some backbone like him. But of course they haven’t, all the leadership and backers of the main political parties are enmeshed with the parasitic capitalists and see nothing wrong with the poor being fleeced.

However it’s sad to see the media trying to knock Cissé’s stand on this by conflating his apparent attendance at a casino. Somehow this proves the hypocrisy of Cissé and nullifies the stance he’s taken. I think it just shows how low the media will go to support their class backers.

Cissé going to a casino is in no way similar to endorsing a payday loan company. He will answer for what he does according to his faith, but he certainly isn’t leading the poor up the garden path. Siding with a payday loan company is encouraging the poor to place themselves more and more in debt and heap extra misery upon their shoulders.

I know what’s worse.

Cissé gets my vote and support.

Authored by Chris Hall

Free Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman has been sentenced to hang in Pakistan after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8120142/Christian-woman-sentenced-to-death-in-Pakistan-for-blasphemy.html

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/pop.group.launches.campaign.to.free.asia.bibi/30016.htm

www.freeasiabibi.co.uk 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Bibi

French ban burkha

I wait for you...Image by insane_capture via Flickr

It’s been reorted that the France’s lower parliament has voted to ban the wearing of the burkha in public. The bill would make it illegal to wear garments such as the niqab or burka, which incorporate a full-face veil, anywhere in public. It envisages fines of 150 euros (£119) for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burka. If ratified then it becomes law in September.

I can’t say that I followed any of the debate but the soundbites being reported are somewhat worrying.

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a “victory for democracy and for French values” and “Democracy thrives when it is open-faced.” She added that the bill, which makes no reference to Islam or veils, was not aimed at “stigmatising or singling out a religion”.

Berengere Poletti, an MP from Mr Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party, said women in full veils wore “a sign of alienation on their faces” and had to be “liberated”.

Andre Gerin of the Communist opposition compared the veil to “a walking coffin, a muzzle”.

Now I’m no fan of Islam but this bill seems nothing more than playing the heavy hand against those who it deems are different. It’s state intervention to change a cultural attribute, an action more worthy from a political dictatorship than a so-called modern democracy. Once the precedence has been set where do the limits end? Do we know? I could understand a bill that required faces to be seen in places like banks and government offices, but just on the streets? Likewise when driving I’m sure there are laws that require a high degree of vision.

So what does it mean for those affected, for the women, and it will be women who have to live with this decree? There will be fines for women who flout the ban. And if they are pressured or threatened by their husbands or families to continue to wear the burkha then the husbands can be fined or jailed. That’s going to do wonders for the peronal safety of these women! But perhaps that’s not important when compared to the state showing how tough it is when it comes to dealing with cultural islam.

I’m glad to see at least someone on the left who has managed to retain a modicum of common sense in this sea of xenophobia, Jean Glavany, a Socialist MP, who said he opposed the ban on the grounds that it was “nothing more than the fear of those who are different, who come from abroad, who aren’t like us, who don’t share our values”. Shame on the rest of the so called left in France who have dropped their values of freedom and libertarianism.

It does make me wonder how long it will be before other cultural attributes become targets for the legislature?

God’s Batallions – A Review

Just finished this book. You can read my short review below as posted on http://www.goodreads.com

God's Batallions: A History of the Crusades as the First Western War on Muslim Terror and Aggression God’s Batallions: A History of the Crusades as the First Western War on Muslim Terror and Aggression by Rodney Stark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s such a joy to find a book that doesn’t seek to downplay or denigrate the Christian history of the West and the Middle East. Stark takes us into the reasons of the Crusades by relating the attacks and massacres of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places. The Crusades and their so-called barbarity are put into the context of the time and the practice of war and diplomacy.

The relationship between the Latin church, the Orthodox church, the Western Kingdoms, the Byzantine empire and the Islamic world is wonderfully told. Enough information to enlighten but not too much to create a turgid narrative. The diplomacy, negotiation and intrigue involved in the preparation and continuation of the Crusades is fascinating to read.

The summing up also looks at how the historical accuracy of the Crusading period has been manipulated and used by West and East to fit their own desired version of history.

It’s only January but for me this will be the book of the year.

View all my reviews

Why not link up with me on http://www.goodreads.com?
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Christian Persecution Continues Unabated

They’re at it again. From thestar.com

Police stand by as church torched, desecrated

ALGIERS, ALGERIA – Islamists looted and burned a Protestant church in Algeria, the congregation’s leader said Monday, suggesting they were inspired by a recent spate of religious intolerance in the Arab and Muslim world.

The church – hosted in an apartment block in the city of Tizi Ouzou some 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Algiers, the Algerian capital – was ransacked and set ablaze on Saturday night, several Algerian newspapers said.

The independent El Watan daily published a picture of a smouldering pile of pulpits and desks that had been brought outside for destruction. It quoted the pastor of the local Pentecostal community, Mustapha Krireche, as saying worshippers fled the temple because local police had left a gathering of anti-Christian rioters unchecked.

The congregation was worshipping in the apartment block because it had not received official government approval to operate a church.

Mustapha Krim, the head of the Algerian Protestant Church association, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday that looters also set fire to a pile of Bibles and religious textbooks, and desecrated Christian crosses.
He said the looting showed “Islamist intolerance considers there is no room for Christian religious practices in Algeria,” and alleged it was “fuelled by what just happened in Egypt,” where six people were killed in a church shooting during Christmas celebrations.

In mainly Muslim Malaysia, nine churches have been attacked recently – the assailants used firebombs and in one case, paint – amid violence against the country’s Christian minority.

The Protestant Church in Algeria filed five separate complaints for arson and looting with local authorities, Krim said Monday. “Authorities don’t want to get involved because they’re worried of getting in trouble with the Islamists,” Krim said.

There was no official comment from Algeria’s government on the church looting. A senior police officer in the town of Tizi Ouzou confirmed the police hadn’t intervened, despite the complaints. He said authorities couldn’t intervene because the church hadn’t been authorized as a place of worship. “What happened is appalling, but the apartment wasn’t an authorized house to practice a religion,” the police officer said, requesting anonymity because Algerian law bars security forces from talking to the media.

The officer said local authorities had ordered the church to shut down in November because the apartment hadn’t received approval to function as a place of worship.
The officer denied police were caving in to Islamist pressure, pointing out that security forces regularly battle Islamist militants in the mountains around Tizi Ouzou, considered the stronghold of the local Al Qaeda offshoot.

Krim said the 300 Pentecostal practitioners in the area used the apartment because authorities had refused to provide them with another venue.

An overwhelmingly Muslim nation where Islam is the religion of state, Algeria allows the practice of other faiths in authorized venues. A few Roman Catholic churches are still open, left over from the French colonial era.

But small Protestant groups have been accused of proselytizing, or trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, which is illegal in Algeria. Several Protestants were prosecuted last year for illegally carrying Bibles or converting people to Christianity.

Krim said the Algerian Protestant Association was officially registered in 2003 and is tolerated by authorities, but often turned down by the Ministry of Religious Affairs when it files requests for houses of worship.

What was the majority faith in Algeria? Answers on a postcard.

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Jim Fitzpatrick and the Muslim Wedding

The East London MosqueImage by hugovk via Flickr

So we hear that the Farming Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick has walked out of an Islamic Wedding at the London Muslim Centre because he didn’t agree with the policy of seperating the sexes during part of the ceremony. I’m not sure if he has raised the issue or other parties have flagged it up but he seems hell-bent on distancing himself from the Islamic community in his constituency of Poplar and Canning Town, a community which represents perhaps 30% of the voters.

I had been cobbling together a blog post about this but then reading the press release from Respect I thought to hell with it, they’ve put it so much better! So why not just post it!

Friday 14th August 2009

George Galloway today condemned Government Food Minister Jim Fitzpatrick’s attack on a Muslim wedding as a “disgusting insult, cynically motivated by political opportunism”.

Fitzpatrick issued a press release this week to the East London Advertiser announcing he had refused to enter a Muslim wedding party at the London Muslim Centre to which he had been invited because his wife was asked to go to the section for women only.

“Fitzpatrick must have been a to a hundred segregated weddings, not least in the West of Scotland,” said Galloway. “Only now has he decided to gratuitously insult the family and friends of the bride and groom in the cheap pursuit of Islamophobic votes and as part of the vicious faction fight going on in the local Labour Party.”

Galloway continued: “It is for the bride and groom and their respective families to determine the wedding arrangements in line with their religious commitments and customs. If you don’t want to go to a Muslim wedding, don’t go. But don’t turn up and then carry out a wholly artificial politically motivated stunt.

“I am simply amazed and astounded by this behaviour by a government minister who represents a very substantial Muslim minority in his constituency. I honestly did not think anyone could stoop so low, but Fitzpatrick really has got down in the gutter in his increasingly desperate attempt to hold on to his parliamentary seat.

“And Fitzpatrick has singled out the Islamic Forum of Europe for attack because they have been demonised by the faction Fitzpatrick is supporting in the civil war raging in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party. The (Labour) council leader Lutfur Rahman and his close Muslim colleagues on the council have all been condemned as members of the IFE by their opponents within the Labour Party who are motivated more by career ambitions than any principled difference.

“It is clear that Fitzpatrick’s actions and subsequent statement are not only a desperate and, I am sure, unsuccessful ploy to try to shore up his collapsing support in his constituency but also part of that fight which is tearing the Labour Party apart. I have no doubt this will backfire very badly on him and he will thoroughly deserve it.”

Listening to a debate on this issue on LBC Radio this morning there didn’t seem to be much going on in the minister’s favour. Certainly some of the suggestions that he’ spandering to the right wing by seemingly highlighting the ‘islamisation’ of society deserve some consideration.

We have a Minister with a large muslim minority in his constituency, a large muslim minority we should add. We also have a government, of which he is a Minister that in the eyes of the muslim community is invading and killing muslims in other countries.

Is this event the beginning of the government changing tack and realising that the traditional support they have recieved from muslims in Britain could be coming to an end, and they have to redefine the demographic of their support through the demonisation of the British Islamic community.

Hmm.

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