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scottdisco
29-11-2009, 03:06 PM
looks like it's passed.

deep, wounding shame toward our European neighbours.

it's a good thing they're not members of the EU as this is expelling material. (mind you, Italy should have been kicked out ages ago for their attitude to migrants, and the prior Greek govt were smilarly disgusting.)

a disgrace. i am coldly furious about this; i cannot articulate how angry i am about this.

ah.

fair play to the actual Swiss govt who urged a rejection. (i didn't know that and obviously my chatting out of my arse wrt the EU no longer applies given an opposition party tabled it.)

droid
29-11-2009, 05:02 PM
Im fine with this as long as they extend the ban to all religious symbols.

http://www.33ff.com/flags/XL_flags/Switzerland_flag.gif

Mr. Tea
29-11-2009, 09:03 PM
I wish we could say this was an unpleasant surprise, but of course it's not really surprising at all. There was the famously horrible anti-immigration poster a few years back:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1002/1339641587_43216466d1.jpg

...and when I lived in Geneva in 2005 I remember seeing tabloid headlines about 'Helvetistan'. I'm never quite sure if it's depressing to realise that other countries have their own versions of our Mail/Express/Sun/NotW contingent, or somehow grimly comforting to know that we're not alone. Christ, I shudder to think what gets printed in Italy's tabloids... :eek:

But back to Switzerland: I suppose they are at least just carrying on a centuries-old tradition of religious intolerance.

http://www.reformation.edu/pictures/colleges/wall450.jpg

bruno
30-11-2009, 12:17 AM
i understand the desire for things to not change but i detest this european anti-muslim wave, even if some impulses behind it can be defended. i went to europe in 2000 and then in 2007, the bigotry coming from people i love disconcerted me on this last trip. although it felt manufactured in a sense i was also shocked to see more women in burqa, and upset by what i felt was a more repressive atmosphere in general. things that were far right before are almost mainstream now. i think a lot of the malaise is inherited from non-war on terror stuff like the euro or when the iron curtain came down, for example things changed for classical musicians as the influx from socialist countries could work for less and be just as good. it is surreal to see all this unease from my vantage point. if there is latent conflict it is peruvian immigration, for all the praise for peruvian cuisine i know there will come a time when someone will capitalise on anti-immigrant resentment. the human landscape has changed and that is hard to assimilate sometimes, for example you see more foreign girls and chilean girls may feel they are unfair competition, even small changes are hard to absorb. i try to keep myself from feeling change is a bad thing.

JWoulf
30-11-2009, 02:28 AM
abolutley disgusting trend, austria, the netherlands, denmark, italy, greece, now the swiss. But if i understand things correctly the united nations, eu and amnesty might put pressure on them to revoke the law.

Mr. Tea
30-11-2009, 09:21 AM
Good points from bruno about the prevalence of the burkha and the feeling of 'repression'. It's generally the case that when people feel their identity is under threat, they want to express that identity more strongly than before, not less. So you have a terrorist atrocity, followed by waves of hate-stirring in the press and the introduction of sweeping new police powers and whatnot, and then you're seeing more women walking around draped from head to foot in black cloth, not fewer.

sufi
30-11-2009, 10:43 AM
Good points from bruno about the prevalence of the burkha and the feeling of 'repression'. It's generally the case that when people feel their identity is under threat, they want to express that identity more strongly than before, not less. So you have a terrorist atrocity, followed by waves of hate-stirring in the press and the introduction of sweeping new police powers and whatnot, and then you're seeing more women walking around draped from head to foot in black cloth, not fewer.
In this case there has been no 'terrorist atrocity' - this conflict is purely in the mind of the europeans

vimothy
30-11-2009, 11:40 AM
Demented:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_md61S_gChL0/SsVgNFpdetI/AAAAAAAABIY/BKjH2jZPNOQ/s400/minaretban2.gif

Are they banning mosques or just minarets?

JWoulf
30-11-2009, 12:02 PM
just minarets. It's quite absurd.

vimothy
30-11-2009, 12:05 PM
I guess they can't ban mosques unless they change their constitution.

Mr. Tea
30-11-2009, 12:24 PM
In this case there has been no 'terrorist atrocity' - this conflict is purely in the mind of the europeans

Sure, I was talking about the UK...Switzerland seems to have skipped that step entirely and gone straight to the repressive legislation bit. Anyone know what's happening in Spain in this regard? Being the only other European country I can think of to have been on receiving end of Islamist terror in recent years.

What makes it doubly ridiculous is that most Muslims in Switzerland have come from either Turkey or the Balkans - not exactly traditional hotbeds of radical Islamism.

scottdisco
30-11-2009, 12:57 PM
Anyone know what's happening in Spain in this regard? Being the only other European country I can think of to have been on receiving end of Islamist terror in recent years.

i'm pretty sure Spain has not done anything too radical in this regard (Zapatero seems like a decent bloke after all), although w a vocal conservative opposition and doubtless - you would have to imagine - surely some elements of the Catholic hierarchy ready to start stirring it wrt 'Islam', you never know.

Spain certainly has a lot more issues w immigrants than Switzerland does, their enclave at Ceuta obviously drives this for one.

nicely put Bruno.

moments like these remind me of the Swiss neighbours Austria and that country's elite's attitude to Turkish EU accession (also Sarko shares the view from Vienna, doesn't he?)

there is obviously a world of difference between - at some stage down the line, pace the necessary reforms wrt the Kurds, freedom of speech, etc - anticipating a sufficiently freer and more reformed Turkey being able to rightly join the EU (as is the thinking in capitals like London) and being of the opinion that Turkey should never be allowed in to the EU.

so the practical result of this poll is the four current minarets in Switzerland stand, but no more can be built. JWoulf mentioned Amnesty, as their spokesperson put it


"While there may be legitimate reasons for measures which might in individual cases interfere with the construction of minarets, there is no legitimate public policy justification for a general prohibition on their construction," Nicola Duckworth said.

this is anti-Muslim bigotry plain and simple

re Tea pointing out a lot of Swiss Muslims originated in the Balkans, Mr Karadzic must be reading his newspaper in the Hague this morning w pleasure...

padraig (u.s.)
30-11-2009, 06:46 PM
In this case there has been no 'terrorist atrocity' - this conflict is purely in the mind of the europeans

I'm not defending racism or xenophobia - either generally or in the specific instance of the minaret ban - but that's simply not true. there hasn't been any one sensational attack on the order of 9/11 or the Madrid bombings, and certainly the great majority of this thinking is fear-based & misdirected, but there is a conflict; the inability of European countries - to varying degrees - to deal w/their populations of immigrant & second-generation Muslims, with fault on both sides. tbs that conflict is blown wildly out of proportion by right-wing xenophobes who exploit it to further many of their own abhorrent ideas, but they don't create it out of thin air. it is similar - if not the same (& obv w/several big differences) - in the U.S. w/r/t Latin immigration.

all that said, this is still an exceedingly stupid and ineffective way to deal with friction over Muslim immigration, just like the French ban on the hijab. it is, as scott says, purely anti-Muslim bigotry, and will certainly not help - in fact will detract from - trying to find any constructive solutions.

Mr. Tea
30-11-2009, 11:52 PM
but there is a conflict; the inability of European countries - to varying degrees - to deal w/their populations of immigrant & second-generation Muslims

And the inability of some immigrants to deal with the countries they've settled in. Fault on both sides, as you say.

The hijab ban can at least be construed in the context of human (specifically, women's) rights; whether that was foremost in the minds of the French parliament when they passed the law is up for debate, I guess.

But as you say, the Swiss decision is the exact opposite of what any thinking person would do to try and defuse tensions. It's the familiar pattern here: a kick in the teeth for ordinary Muslims, a shift to the right for the centre-of-gravity of mainstream politics and grist to the mill for extremists of every stripe.

padraig (u.s.)
01-12-2009, 04:08 AM
But as you say, the Swiss decision is the exact opposite of what any thinking person would do to try and defuse tensions. It's the familiar pattern here: a kick in the teeth for ordinary Muslims, a shift to the right for the centre-of-gravity of mainstream politics and grist to the mill for extremists of every stripe.

exactly, bad results all around.

I only brought that point up b/c it doesn't make sense to put everything on the Swiss (or whoever, in a similar situation dealing w/xenophobia). it's easy - and not incorrect - to say "how disgusting" of the minaret ban (or in the U.S., the Minutemen or Lou Dobbs) but those irrationally inflated fears are based on real concerns, some of which are at least partially valid, and which have to be addressed at some point in some fashion beyond just condemnation. unfortunately things like this ban make it even more difficult to address the issues in a constructive fashion b/c, as you say, it simply adds more fuel to the fire.

tbh I think the situation is even worse in the U.S., where the tension is mostly economic - that is to say, inextricable - as opposed to religious/cultural. that could just be my tunnel vision I guess. but there are big chunks of the U.S. economy that are heavily dependent on migrant labor, to the point of being unable to function w/o it. our immigration policy contradicts itself in so many ways. and the tension is very, very bad in a lot of places. normally just along the border & in places where large #s of migrants have clustered for economic reasons, but the recent town hall meeting fervor really brought a lot of ugly feelings to the forefront. angry white people talking about losing "their" America & dudes carrying loaded guns to town hall meetings was kind of a "minaret ban" moment for me. anyway.

droid
01-12-2009, 10:52 AM
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ltxCWvi_SlE/SxQzx3DD3-I/AAAAAAAAA9M/__Yx7CWrKnk/s400/stoppja2.jpg

scottdisco
01-12-2009, 11:28 AM
70 million Muslim Turks as that utter cunt, Patrick O'Flynn from the Daily Express, once screamed

scottdisco
01-12-2009, 11:35 AM
Vienna, Paris and the BNP appear to still think this map is relevant

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/colbeck/commerce_of_christendom_16_century.jpg

sufi
01-12-2009, 01:48 PM
but there is a conflict; the inability of European countries - to varying degrees - to deal w/their populations of immigrant & second-generation Muslims, with fault on both sides.
And the inability of some immigrants to deal with the countries they've settled in. Fault on both sides, as you say.

i totally disagree,
you're ignoring certain realities to make the 'conflict' look even handed, & end up blaming the victim = nice!

if immigrants fail to integrate, they are the ones who suffer the greater proportion of ill-effects by far, but that's their problem and they choose to live in that situation. which actual problems do the regular swiss punters suffer from a minaret, or indeed from seeing a small though growing proportion of brown faces in the street?

also there is an obvious power disparity; a small minority of socially excluded immigrants are not in a position to oppress anyone (or, in many cases, to improve their own situation or achieve integration), on the other hand, a small minority of confused and hateful xenophobes clearly is in a position to help facilitate integration or spoil it,

this identity crisis does not occur in the minds of immigrants, this is purely a crisis of european & swiss 'identity'

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 02:28 PM
Sorry, I should have been more clear - I was talking more about the UK rather than Switzerland. Obviously the latter is not a country with a known network of home-grown radicals and this ruling is down to xenophobia, pure and simple. On that much I agree totally.

But in general I think it's important to avoid the simplistic mindset that Muslims are only ever mere passive, reactive victims, responding in the only way they can to the hostility of the white State. Not to trivialise the prejudice any and all minorities face, of course - just pointing out that having justified grievances is not the sole prerogative of people from immigrant communities. And with respect to integration, it's clear that some immigrant communities have a marked tendency towards insularity and an antipathy to any kind of compromise when it comes to fitting in and becoming a citizen of the country they've settled in, choosing instead to saturate an area until it is effectively ghettoised. Some of this is can be put down to a natural defensiveness in the face of prejudice, but it's important to remember that the majority of white people in Britain are not in fact BNP supporters. And that ghettoisation and the lack of integration just fuels ignorance and prejudice, as well as holding people back from all kinds of education and employment opportunities.

Again, though, this doesn't appear to apply to Switzerland in the least.

padraig (u.s.)
01-12-2009, 02:55 PM
you're ignoring certain realities to make the 'conflict' look even handed, & end up blaming the victim = nice!...also there is an obvious power disparity; a small minority of socially excluded immigrants are not in a position to oppress anyone (or, in many cases, to improve their own situation or achieve integration), on the other hand, a small minority of confused and hateful xenophobes clearly is in a position to help facilitate integration or spoil it...

I thought I made it very clear that this was, in fact, exactly what I was not doing. but I guess one can only include so many disclaimers. I think you're confusing blame with analysis - no one's "blaming" anyone, or at least I'm not. you did see that literally everyone agrees with you that the minaret ban is both stupid & abhorrent, right?

the issue propelling this fear isn't really - or at least not solely, & probably not mainly - that actual small minority of immigrants. that is, there will always be xenophobia & racism, but their effects are greatly amplified by the larger context in this case. I suspect this vote against minarets isn't really a vote against Muslims in Switzerland so much as a register of various deep-seated concerns - political, economic, religious, cultural (I refer again back to the town hall meetings here in the U.S.). of course, we live in the real world & unfortunately when these concerns manifest themselves as xenophobic attitudes & policies immigrants get the short end of the stick. which is obv not a new story, or one confined to Europe.

I also think you're conflating the pundits with the people they goad into voting their fears. "confused" certainly applies to the latter but not all of the former. I think they're anything but confused, in fact; otherwise they wouldn't be able to marshal votes so effectively for what are essentially, AFAIU, fringe beliefs. look, when the West has just spent the last decade fighting two hotly debated wars in Muslim countries (not counting other hotspots like Somalia) , when AQ-style terrorism is a real (if awfully overblown) thing, when a tremendous # of young Muslims are increasingly alienated from the societies they live in, it's just silly to pretend this is all in the minds of angsty White Europeans. tho of course you're free to continue doing so.


this identity crisis does not occur in the minds of immigrants

the only thing I can say is that is absolutely 100% wrong. not only about Muslim immigrants in Europe, but about immigrants in new cultures anywhere. I'm not sure how you can claim otherwise; identity crises are kind of a fundmental aspect of immigration.

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 02:56 PM
The problem with the idea of integration is that implies that there is a 'correct British' way of living, when thats plainly not true at all. Should everyone who lives in this country like x music, like x food, drink x, go to x church? Nah, because that's ridiculous for both sides, and it implies that these things have any meaning in the first instance. Good manners, and obeying the actual laws of a country are really all you want, but even then, I break laws all the time. Fuck this idea that there is a problem with integration, we have a problem 'integrating' people born here, and I dont just mean the buzz word 'underclass' - the jew of noughties British politics, but also your Bollingdon club fucknuts. We're not a cohesive social body in the first instance. There's no integrated and unintegrated.

No no, I'd rather have some non-English speaking albanian who does mindless shite no-one else would do for shit wages living here than some of the 'British' people I meet on a daily basis. But the point is I don't get to choose, and thank fuck.

vimothy
01-12-2009, 03:04 PM
I suppose I'm a stuck record at this point, but I've always found Olivier Roy (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=wBHxpV-opfMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:Olivier+inauthor:Roy&lr=) and Philip Jenkins (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IilDVBzWiGAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:Philip+inauthor:Jenkins&lr=)' work to be of tremendous help understanding the relationship between fundamentalist Islam (or neo-fundamentalism, if, like Roy, you'd prefer) and modern Europe. Though of course, one must move carefully in waters as trecherous as these...

sufi
01-12-2009, 03:09 PM
the only thing I can say is that is absolutely 100% wrong. not only about Muslim immigrants in Europe, but about immigrants in new cultures anywhere. I'm not sure how you can claim otherwise; identity crises are kind of a fundmental aspect of immigration.
true, but that's a different identity crisis, personalised and internalised - immigrant communities may also have crises while they establish their identity in diaspora, but that too is a different story

this identity crisis is about european (swiss in this case) 'identity', which immigrants are excluded from to a greater or lesser extent depending how it is defined by the majority - the only impact that immigrants can make on that identity is by numbers as they are generally systematically excluded from the power structures (economic, political, academic ...) that define swissness
e.g. tariq ramadan's (a high profile wealthy posh swiss muslim) expulsion from his post as integration adviser at erasmus euroversity!

vimothy
01-12-2009, 03:25 PM
I wonder just how many minarets there are in Switzerland? Anyway, the process seems to be an episode in a dynamic that is real, at least as real as these words or an episode of Newsnight. Europe absorbs "Muslims". "Muslims" become something else (though still, confusingly, Muslims). Europeans get a little tense. I think that this is perfectly natural in general, if rather stupid and petty in this specific instance.

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 03:27 PM
The problem with the idea of integration is that implies that there is a 'correct British' way of living, when thats plainly not true at all. Should everyone who lives in this country like x music, like x food, drink x, go to x church? Nah, because that's ridiculous for both sides, and it implies that these things have any meaning in the first instance. Good manners, and obeying the actual laws of a country are really all you want, but even then, I break laws all the time. Fuck this idea that there is a problem with integration, we have a problem 'integrating' people born here, and I dont just mean the buzz word 'underclass' - the jew of noughties British politics, but also your Bollingdon club fucknuts. We're not a cohesive social body in the first instance. There's no integrated and unintegrated.

On the other hand, someone who's lived in a country for years and doesn't speak a word of the language, because they never meet anyone who speaks it, is clearly less well integrated (FSVO 'integrated') that someone who can actually talk to a doctor, nurse, copper, lawyer, post-office clerk or whoever without requiring a translator. Of course, this applies as much to fat perma-sunburnt Brits on the Costa del Sol as to anyone else...



No no, I'd rather have some non-English speaking albanian who does mindless shite no-one else would do for shit wages living here than some of the 'British' people I meet on a daily basis. But the point is I don't get to choose, and thank fuck.

Nihi-lolz.

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 03:32 PM
But the point is that the large majority of immigrants can and do speak english after a reasonably short period of time living here, I know from my own experience. That isn't simply what you and padraig were talking about.

'Failure of countries to deal with immigrant population' and 'failure of immigrant population to integrate' sounds much more vague and to me expressed a more general malaise, mistrust and suspicion about 'their' culture in general. Being able to speak the language is not the only thing you and padraig mean by this. Nihilolz? What's nihilistic about that?

baboon2004
01-12-2009, 03:36 PM
The problem with the idea of integration is that implies that there is a 'correct British' way of living, when thats plainly not true at all. Should everyone who lives in this country like x music, like x food, drink x, go to x church? Nah, because that's ridiculous for both sides, and it implies that these things have any meaning in the first instance. Good manners, and obeying the actual laws of a country are really all you want, but even then, I break laws all the time. Fuck this idea that there is a problem with integration, we have a problem 'integrating' people born here, and I dont just mean the buzz word 'underclass' - the jew of noughties British politics, but also your Bollingdon club fucknuts. We're not a cohesive social body in the first instance. There's no integrated and unintegrated.


well put. the idea of a cohesive 'British'/'Swiss' culture in the first place is a false construct.

vimothy
01-12-2009, 03:40 PM
But the real problems of integration cannot be brushed off by saying, "it's not rational", or "integration is a red herring", even if both those statements are true. People can vote, and will do so accordingly.

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 03:43 PM
A small number of idiots will vote for extremist parties. Because some people are idiots and will use their democratic rights to vote against pro-immigration policies doesn't mean we should automatically become fucking morons. If enough people disagree, then we'll see change. Until then, FUCK the scaremongerers, why we should make concessions to them I dunno. Would you say that about 'the jewish problem'?

vimothy
01-12-2009, 03:49 PM
I would say that you are far from base if you think that passing off asinine comments about the non-reality of social aggregates in interwebz forums would have prevented the holocaust. But perhaps I'm just another fucking automoron who lacks your steely commitment to the world as it really is.

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 03:53 PM
Well, let me put it in another way, how do you propose to tackle this problem if the way you view the problem is deeply flawed?


But the real problems of integration cannot be brushed off by saying, "it's not rational", or "integration is a red herring", even if both those statements are true. People can vote, and will do so accordingly.

What is 'the real problem' of integration then?

sufi
01-12-2009, 03:53 PM
i wonder just how many minarets there are in switzerland?
4

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 03:59 PM
But the point is that the large majority of immigrants can and do speak english after a reasonably short period of time living here, I know from my own experience. That isn't simply what you and padraig were talking about.

'Failure of countries to deal with immigrant population' and 'failure of immigrant population to integrate' sounds much more vague and to me expressed a more general malaise, mistrust and suspicion about 'their' culture in general.

Well if you want to put it those terms, yes there are aspects of 'their' culture I don't like very much, and I think there are some areas like women's rights and attitudes towards gays where a bit more of a compromise with mainstream values in Britain would be no bad thing. I'd like it if the Bangladeshis who make up the majority (or at least plurality) where I live didn't treat the streets and pavement as one giant dustbin. Do you disagree? That's not a challenge btw, I'm just interested.


Nihilolz? What's nihilistic about that?

I mean it would be nice if your hypothetical Albanian didn't have to work for 'shit' wages, or it things in Albania weren't so screwed up that working for peanuts over here is better than anything he could hope for at home. But I guess this is pretty far into the realms of fantasy...

vimothy
01-12-2009, 04:02 PM
Well, let me put it in another way,

Yeah, sorry, no need for me to be a twat about it.

I think that the first thing to do is understand and describe the situation. But this is not simple. In fact it is a massive and almost impossible task, but one that is necessary. However, it's not the case that one must replicate the racism of the few (or many) in order to understand it.

Some people are arseholes, but there is also a mutual reconstitution of identities at work here, which is reciprocal, dynamic and should not be ignored.


What is 'the real problem' of integration then?

Well, one real problem is the minaret ban. Obviously there are many others, like mistreatment of immigrants. I'm sure that you could or anyone else come up with a healthy list given a small amount of time.


4

Jeeeeesus...

sufi
01-12-2009, 04:12 PM
What is 'the real problem' of integration then?
'integration' is itself a contentious and contested concept
often immigrant and host communities have different ideas about what it entails, and different countries do it different ways (e.g. US melting pot vs. UK multiculchralism) or attempt assimiliation instead, so there are lots of different definitions and approaches to achieving it.
abolishing minarets is not one of them

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 04:13 PM
Well if you want to put it those terms, yes there are aspects of 'their' culture I don't like very much, and I think there are some areas like women's rights and attitudes towards gays where a bit more of a compromise with mainstream values in Britain would be no bad thing. Do you disagree? That's not a challenge btw, I'm just interested.

Well I mean of course, those things are things which I would like to see people everywhere come closer to a moderate position on. The difficulty is that you conflate a whole community into the same catagory - I know plenty of muslims who are chill with gay people, respect women, still have their culture, etc, and I know some white people who are ludicrously hmophobic and crass, slap their g/f about etc. This is what I mean by 'their culture'. From one perspective, my culture (coming from a largely roman catholic area, though not my parents) I would seem to be someone who supports the spread of AIDs in Africa and tacitly supports child abuse. This patently isn't true, though elements of a social grouping that I in some senses belong to do have these characteristics.
Also, I think that alot of these 'insider problems' - like the idea of the underclass that is currently touted around, as well as muslim, come from a kind of envy about what 'they' have, which 'we' have lost. When I worked in farmfoods in a scheme/estate, you would get people coming in of all ages, all chatting to each other, friendly, no-where else have I ever felt such a strong sense of community - yet these people are the ones denigrated as 'underclass' - when one of the accepted ills of our age is that, generally speaking our sense of community is rapidly dissapearing. So whilst we long for the community, we attribute a group in society who it could be argued, do have stronger community ties as being 'the problem'. When infact (for example) binge-drinking is a classless pursuit, everyone does it on a saturday night. Also, in the case of muslims, alot of the muslim people I know have really strong ties with the rest of their extended family - another thing that we perceive to be in decline in modern Britain.

Anyway, I'm just thinking aloud here...I don't actually have any solutions to these problems.


I mean it would be nice if this hypothetical Albanian didn't have to work for 'shit' wages, or it things in Albania weren't so screwed up that working for peanuts over here is better than anything he could hope for at home. But I guess this is pretty far into the realms of fantasy...Heheh, yeah it sucks eh?

vimothy
01-12-2009, 04:29 PM
So one major issue is the reconstitution of Muslim (or "Muslim") identity with regards to Europe. The flowering of fundamentalist Islam in Europe is one major bone of contention for the likes of the BNP (e.g. the quote in the poster above). But I read this fundamentalism as a function of "Muslim" integration, not a factor mitigating against it. I.e., it is a sign of success not failure. This is doubtless rather confusing for all involved, but as Roy says, that is "quite logical so far as religion is concerned and so long as God will let humans speak on his behalf".

And just as integration is between social aggregates is contested, so too are the defintions of those aggregates: what is a Muslim, what is a European. Just because these are vague and potentially unrealisable constructs, it doesn't mean they have less agency than their pomo critiques.

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 04:35 PM
Well I mean of course, those things are things which I would like to see people everywhere come closer to a moderate position on. The difficulty is that you conflate a whole community into the same catagory...

No, you conflated it (knowingly and for rhetorical effect, I hope), when you mentioned "'their' culture" - which is why I kept the inverted commas when I replied to you. I'm well aware that no group of people is a wholly homogenous bloc, obviously. But all the same there are common cultural values and perceptions that people from a certain part of the world will almost invariably share. For example, I have an Arab friend who's no more a Muslim than I am, but he still doesn't eat pork because it's simply not a food he's used to eating and he has a deep-seated prejudice against it that he's happy to admit is entirely irrational and contingent. Similarly, I celebrate Christmas and say 'bless you' when someone sneezes, but that doesn't make me some Bible-bashing Jesus nut (edit: or even, to be less obnoxious for a second, a Christian).

I suppose one thing we can say with a degree of certainty is that Muslims in Britain generally don't contribute to our binge-drinking stats...

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 04:46 PM
I didn't mean you personally sorry if that sounded confrontational, I meant the general you. All people from Arab countries are not pork-haters a priori. :D

It's a really negative thing IMO, to say that 'Islam is a culture which disrespects women' for example, because in some parts of the community a hijab is worn. From one angle of course, it looks like women are treated as second class citizens in that way, by being forced to cover up - but from another point of view, mainstream British culture also treats women as second class citizens by encouraging them to be a certain shape (eg these (extremely popular) magazines I see every day, where they pound celebs for being too chubby, too skinny, too this, too that (horrible!)), by peddling the idea that their body is something that you are expected to use ("flaunt it"), also, the tyranny of freedom, the idea that women are free to dress whatever they want in our society when that clearly isn't true - if you immediatley find another cultures dress laws suspect and evidence of it being a negative culture. From the opposite angle I can see how it may be freeing not to be judged on your looks all the time wearing a hijab **(of course, I'm speaking generally, it's not a 'neutral' item, and alot of the time I do find it distasteful, and don't like the idea that women are domineered by males in parts of the islamic community - I'm just wondering about how we can look at various cultural artifacts in different lights).

vimothy
01-12-2009, 04:55 PM
One way to look at the hijab is as a cultural and not religious artefact. I think that in France women were only allowed to write checks in the 1980s. Is this a Catholic thing, a French thing or a European thing? It is not easy to say. Equally, the Parisian Muslim rioters that had everyone so exercised--were they Muslim rioters, French rioters, Parisian teenagers just doing what Parisian teenagers have always done...?

I mean, it seems undeniably the case that there is something backwards and unpleasant about the hijab (for example) from the perspective of a liberal polity and society, but not necessarily something foreign, and not necessarily something Muslim (although those things might be there too).

nomadthethird
01-12-2009, 06:40 PM
I think that in France women were only allowed to write checks in the 1980s.

Snort.

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 06:43 PM
It's a really negative thing IMO, to say that 'Islam is a culture which disrespects women' for example, because in some parts of the community a hijab is worn...

(Well for a start, as you obviously know, Islam is not 'a' culture at all: Saudi is not Morocco is not Iran is not Turkey is not Pakistan is not Burnley. As to the charge of misogyny, the Qu'ran, Bible and Torah all contain passages that explicitly and unambiguously put women in a subordinate position to men. I think it's fair to say that all three Ambrahamic religions are inherently patriarchic, and that traditionalist strains of all of them do tend to be pretty chauvinistic. But that's a discussion for another thread.)

You're dead right, of course, that 'we' (whoever 'we' are) have by no means got everything worked out and there is still all manner of inequality and dysfunction, even just concentrating for the moment on sex/gender. (And men have 'ideals' to conform to, as well: look at how much aggression - from low-grade chucking-out-time aggro to full-on urban gang violence - comes from men's and adolescent boys' ideas of how they are supposed to behave to be 'real' men). At the same time though, we should avoid the relativism that renders any kind of critique meaningless by making everyone just as good/bad as everyone else.

Then there's the point about who is a Muslim and who is a 'Muslim'. Vim mentioned the Paris riots of a few years back; I remember at the time reading a very good piece explaining that, as far as the mainstream French media were concerned, an 18-year-old from some shitty bainlieu who's rioting because of chronic unemployment, discrimination and all manner of social exclusion becomes a 'Muslim' because his parents came from Algeria, whereas in fact he's no more a Muslim (or even less, perhaps) than the average 18-year-old white Parisian is a devout Catholic. Which brings us back again to the issue of misogyny; your Stella-swilling wifebeater (in Britain, in 2009) is probably not a conscientious church-going Christian, but he has a set of attitudes towards women that have a centuries-old religious mandate. The same can be said of the Asian rudeboy on the street corner yelling sexist abuse at any white woman who walks past. It's not that either of them practises the religion traditionally associated with their culture, but those cutlures' values are strongly linked to their respective religions.

nomadthethird
01-12-2009, 06:50 PM
Demented:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_md61S_gChL0/SsVgNFpdetI/AAAAAAAABIY/BKjH2jZPNOQ/s400/minaretban2.gif

Are they banning mosques or just minarets?

Islam is the new punk, everyone knows it, this just confirms what we already knew.

Gotta love how bans always reinforce and amplify whatever it is they pretend they want to stamp out.

Makes Islamic aesthetics just that much cooler. Within 10-15 years every middle class white kid in America is going to convert to islam sort of like the black militants in the 60s. Just wait and see.

Gavin
01-12-2009, 06:55 PM
Islam is the new punk, everyone knows it, this just confirms what we already knew.

Gotta love how bans always reinforce and amplify whatever it is they pretend they want to stamp out.

Makes Islamic aesthetics just that much cooler. Within 10-15 years every middle class white kid in America is going to convert to islam sort of like the black militants in the 60s. Just wait and see.

http://www.hraicjk.org/french/lindh2.jpg

scottdisco
01-12-2009, 07:06 PM
http://bodybypt.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/keffiyeh.jpg

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 07:07 PM
Islam is the new punk, everyone knows it, this just confirms what we already knew.

Gotta love how bans always reinforce and amplify whatever it is they pretend they want to stamp out.

Makes Islamic aesthetics just that much cooler. Within 10-15 years every middle class white kid in America is going to convert to islam sort of like the black militants in the 60s. Just wait and see.

What with the proscription of booze and pre-marital sex, I can see Islam breathing new life into the HC/sXe scene...I-slam-dancing, anyone?

Edit: ha! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardline_%28subculture%29#Islamist_influences

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 08:28 PM
(Well for a start, as you obviously know, Islam is not 'a' culture at all: Saudi is not Morocco is not Iran is not Turkey is not Pakistan is not Burnley. As to the charge of misogyny, the Qu'ran, Bible and Torah all contain passages that explicitly and unambiguously put women in a subordinate position to men. I think it's fair to say that all three Ambrahamic religions are inherently patriarchic, and that traditionalist strains of all of them do tend to be pretty chauvinistic. But that's a discussion for another thread.)

You're dead right, of course, that 'we' (whoever 'we' are) have by no means got everything worked out and there is still all manner of inequality and dysfunction, even just concentrating for the moment on sex/gender. (And men have 'ideals' to conform to, as well: look at how much aggression - from low-grade chucking-out-time aggro to full-on urban gang violence - comes from men's and adolescent boys' ideas of how they are supposed to behave to be 'real' men). At the same time though, we should avoid the relativism that renders any kind of critique meaningless by making everyone just as good/bad as everyone else.

Then there's the point about who is a Muslim and who is a 'Muslim'. Vim mentioned the Paris riots of a few years back; I remember at the time reading a very good piece explaining that, as far as the mainstream French media were concerned, an 18-year-old from some shitty bainlieu who's rioting because of chronic unemployment, discrimination and all manner of social exclusion becomes a 'Muslim' because his parents came from Algeria, whereas in fact he's no more a Muslim (or even less, perhaps) than the average 18-year-old white Parisian is a devout Catholic. Which brings us back again to the issue of misogyny; your Stella-swilling wifebeater (in Britain, in 2009) is probably not a conscientious church-going Christian, but he has a set of attitudes towards women that have a centuries-old religious mandate. The same can be said of the Asian rudeboy on the street corner yelling sexist abuse at any white woman who walks past. It's not that either of them practises the religion traditionally associated with their culture, but those cutlures' values are strongly linked to their respective religions.
I agree with the first point about who is or is not of a specific culture. Btw I should have said 'Islam is a religion which', as I was quoting some of the journalistic or political slogans that get chucked about to that regard. About your second point - I'm not sure about the idea that misogyny for example is something which has a religious mandate for these people, that in any way these guys are basing their attitudes on something which has a religious basis - if they have nothing to do with that history then how can it be?

And haha, yeah you are totally right nomad.

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 09:03 PM
I'm not sure about the idea that misogyny for example is something which has a religious mandate for these people, that in any way these guys are basing their attitudes on something which has a religious basis - if they have nothing to do with that history then how can it be?


What? How can can any culture "have nothing to do with" history? That's ludicrous! I think maybe you've misunderstood me and some wires have got crossed along the way: what I meant was, you don't have to be a practising Christian (or Muslim) to have certain values, attitudes, prejudices and so on that are historically associated with that faith - instead they can be ingrained very deeply in a culture or in a certain social group or class within a culture, to the extent that they still have a big effect on someone from that culture even though they don't actually practise that religion, or at best adhere to it in a half-hearted and largely cultural way. Like the way my atheist Arab friend doesn't eat pork. Like the way the canteen at the office where I work serves fish'n'chips every Friday. Celebrating Christmas, saying "bless you" when someone sneezes, blah blah blah...

And it's undeniable that all the Abrahamic religions are very clear about the place of women in society. That's what I mean by a "religious mandate" - it doesn't exist any more for a post-Christian country like Britain but it still exerts a huge effect on attitudes and expectations. And the fact that women in many parts (the majority?) of the Islamic world have to cover their hair at the very least when they're out of the house is not some purely 'cultural' artefact that has nothing to do with Islam per se, which some people seem to think is the case.

grizzleb
01-12-2009, 09:50 PM
Yeah, what I meant was more that, for example in modern Britain, many non practicising 'muslim' youths will have grown up in an environment which was very similar to, for example, a non practising 'christian' youths environment might be. So to make a distinction on that level and say 'oh the reason he hates women is cause of islam' is dodgy, as someone doesn't grow up in isolation...That's what I was angling at, but I accept your point.

Mr. Tea
01-12-2009, 09:54 PM
Yeah, what I meant was more that, for example in modern Britain, many non practicising 'muslim' youths will have grown up in an environment which was very similar to, for example, a non practising 'christian' youths environment might be. So to make a distinction on that level and say 'oh the reason he hates women is cause of islam' is dodgy, as someone doesn't grow up in isolation...That's what I was angling at, but I accept your point.

True - but most people grow up in their parents' house, nonetheless.




(And let's not forget that Christianity and Islam ultimately come from common stock, viz. Old Testament Judaism!)

scottdisco
01-12-2009, 10:37 PM
even right-wing Tory poster boy and all round general anti-NHS loon Daniel Hannan is capable of calling this one like he sees it (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100018278/switzerland-bans-minarets-long-live-referendums-even-when-they-go-the-wrong-way/) (if you do decide to wade through the comments thread, you may wish to pack a clothes peg)


The decision by Swiss voters to outlaw the construction of minarets strikes me as regrettable on three grounds.

First, it is at odds with that other guiding Swiss principle, localism: issues of this kind ought surely to be settled town by town, or at least canton by canton, not by a national ban.

Second, it is disproportionate. There may be arguments against the erection of a particular minaret by a particular mosque – but to drag a constitutional amendment into the field of planning law is using a pneumatic drill to crack a nut.

Third, it suggests that Western democracies have a problem, not with jihadi fruitcakes, but with Muslims per se – which is, of course, precisely the argument of the jihadi fruitcakes.

Bang Diddley
02-12-2009, 09:47 AM
Well I guess it was just a matter of time before these lot piped up on this issue . . .

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/802609-bnp-backs-call-for-vote-on-minarets

Mr. Tea
02-12-2009, 05:53 PM
Well I guess it was just a matter of time before these lot piped up on this issue . . .

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/802609-bnp-backs-call-for-vote-on-minarets

The comment currently at the top:


A spokesman for the Islamic Human Rights Commission said calls in more countries for referendums 'could give more voice to anti-Muslim sentiment'.
So the Islamic Human Rights Commission is going to decide if the British Nation should get referendum are they?
The referendum is democracy in its purest form. At least the Swiss seem to have some semblance of Democracy left.
Sadly in Britain we have no such thing, but in its stead we have what is effectively a Fascist regime! New Labour have completely suppressed free speech,turned Britain into a totalitarian State and are in the process of downgrading Christianity.
The only Political party to highlight these issues in the UK is the BNP.
When I have the chance to vote for them I certainly shall!

Apparently the fact that we don't have legislation banning religious expression by teh Islams means we are living in a "Fascist regime". Genius. You couldn't make it up!!!

God, I shudder to think what's going down on HYS about this...

mixed_biscuits
02-12-2009, 06:11 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6938161.ece


Switzerland’s referendum vote to ban minarets is needlessly xenophobic but it does not infringe the religious liberty of Swiss Muslims. Minarets remain emblematic of mosques in the Muslim heartlands but there is no theological reason why houses of worship in the West have to incorporate such towers.

Their original purpose was to relay the prayer call with the unamplified voice. Today this is done by modern technology, so minarets are not integral to contemporary mosque design. European mosques should stop mindlessly mimicking Eastern design and create prayer halls that blend into the landscape.


Dr Taj Hargey is the chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregation in Oxford

scottdisco
02-12-2009, 06:27 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6938161.ece

indeed.

though unfortunately the most urgent - and therefore important - part of his analysis is


Switzerland’s referendum vote to ban minarets is needlessly xenophobic

(clearly, the idea of a new hybrid of mosque design is exciting from architectural and progressive, cross-cultural pollination view-points)

padraig (u.s.)
02-12-2009, 11:53 PM
there's a good article in the most recent New Yorker on Dutch Muslims in Amsterdam & the struggle to reach common ground on both sides. here's the abstract (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/12/07/091207fa_fact_buruma); unfortunately you need a subscription (my school has one to the paper edition) to read the full article.


this identity crisis is about european (swiss in this case) 'identity', which immigrants are excluded from to a greater or lesser extent depending how it is defined by the majority

but surely there is a European (and a Swiss) identity*, which Europeans have a right to express in the same way Muslim immigrants have a right to express theirs. and Islam may not be a part of it for many people. tho, tbc, I have very little sympathy for European societies who have brought this almost entirely on themselves - let people in to use (exploit) as cheap labor, you have to live with the results. the practical issue is really co-existence - including equal treatment under the law etc. and at least proportional access to aforementioned power structures. even in the U.S. I think the "melting pot" concept is overrated; a Muslim student in Amsterdam mentions a "salad bowl", where all the ingredients still maintain their separate identities.

anyway, I think that as Vimothy says it's a dynamic situation - I think we should in general be less concerned with what's "right" and more concerned with the concrete outcomes of policies and public attitudes. of course, even in those narrow terms the minaret ban is still a terrible, indefensible idea.

*a composite of overlapping identities really; ethnic, cultural, religious, etc. - there is likely a neat scholarly term that summarizes this but I'm not well-versed enough in sociology (or whatever field is appropriate) to know what it is

padraig (u.s.)
02-12-2009, 11:57 PM
'Failure of countries to deal with immigrant population' and 'failure of immigrant population to integrate' sounds much more vague and to me expressed a more general malaise, mistrust and suspicion about 'their' culture in general

a general malaise, is it?:rolleyes:

scottdisco
03-12-2009, 12:17 AM
even in the U.S. I think the "melting pot" concept is overrated; a Muslim student in Amsterdam mentions a "salad bowl", where all the ingredients still maintain their separate identities.

the Canadians often refer to their salad bowl, don't they? (compared w the American melting pot.)

though tbh i don't know what real differences there are in 'integrating' immigrants between the two neighbours, it may just be a case of boosterism/deliberate Canuck line-drawing from those above the 49th ;)

especially given the current Tory govt in Ottawa, to judge from the rhetoric of some of them, seem only a few steps away from nativism on occasion- kindred spirits perhaps to GOP elements (and i dare say more than a few Dems).

a chief source (and ever ongoing, always thus, of course) of mass immigration into the USA is various people from various countries to her south, obv; this brings different issues to all those Hong Kong Chinese etc that came in to BC just prior to the handover (to mention one obv source of recent mass immigration to Canada), etc etc. anyway, a bit OT, just thought on this when P mentioned the salad bowl.
(Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city on earth, after all.)

P.S.
apologies re my True North playfulness: i know pretty much FA about Canadian social policy, either now or four decades ago, but to judge from their superior health-care model (superior to the States, that is) i am assuming consecutive govts in Ottawa have perhaps gone about things in this area a bit differently than DC? ?

grizzleb
03-12-2009, 04:32 AM
a general malaise, is it?:rolleyes:
What do you mean?

Gavin
03-12-2009, 06:29 AM
the Canadians often refer to their salad bowl, don't they? (compared w the American melting pot.)


I can confirm that the salad (I would say tossed salad to provoke titters) is the preferred paradigm of U.S. institutional diversity education.

scottdisco
04-12-2009, 11:18 AM
I can confirm that the salad (I would say tossed salad to provoke titters) is the preferred paradigm of U.S. institutional diversity education.

cheers Gavin, nice one.

hey, a salad and one of these, good to go..

... http://directoryofhamilton.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/tim-hortons-coffee.jpg

crackerjack
10-12-2009, 01:28 PM
utter screaming bullshit from AHA (http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1205/p09s01-coop.html)

scottdisco
10-12-2009, 02:55 PM
utter screaming bullshit from AHA (http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1205/p09s01-coop.html)

yup.

this reminds me exactly of David Adler discussing J Hari on Somali pirates in just the right terms (http://lerterland.blogspot.com/2009/12/scahills-heyday.html)


the often admirable Johann Hari (who is out to lunch on this particular topic)

vimothy
10-12-2009, 05:25 PM
this reminds me exactly of David Adler discussing J Hari on Somali pirates in just the right terms (http://lerterland.blogspot.com/2009/12/scahills-heyday.html)

Excellent post.

Gavin
10-12-2009, 05:53 PM
Excellent post.

What is the content of the argument of the post? If we leave out the part where he damns Scahill for associating with publications that have published some dodgy ideas (which we should), it boils down to only this paragraph:


But piracy is still crime, and these men are not environmentalists, concerned more than anything with "Western ships allegedly dumping waste off the Somali coast and devastating the Somali fishing industry...." They are kidnappers and extortionists who keep their hostages — men and women of all nationalities — in a state of torment, with price tags on their very lives.

which says we must condemn (whatever the fuck that means) the pirates because they commit crimes for money, not for environmental clauses. The hysterical "price tags on their very lives" has me chuckling; obviously since the pirates aren't actually harming hostages he has to invent this symbolic violence of "price tags on their very lives." How many Somalis is it worth killing to regain an oil tanker? This is the weakest form of sentimentalism, I expect better from you Vim.

mixed_biscuits
10-12-2009, 06:20 PM
Being held hostage tout court causes harm.

Or at least that's what my last abductee claimed.

scottdisco
10-12-2009, 06:21 PM
How many Somalis is it worth killing to regain an oil tanker?

it should be none, of course.
and hostage taking is not to be justified.

(there is, admittedly, a very good case to think that hostages have on the whole not been harmed much yet purely because the pirates are having their demands met; and are, also, not stupid).

to be fair, i merely liked Adler's usage of the 'out to lunch' phrase (whilst simultaneously praising) and felt it was a perfect fit for the absurd argument crackerjack posted above from the often fine AHA.

(clearly, Somali piracy - as noted on the relevant thread - is a sympton of the broken state. though, funnily enough, most pirates are supposed to come from Puntland.)

OT but interestingly - and a little differently from the 'wholly independently-acting European firms dumping' thesis i myself seem to remember fingering on that thread - some (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article418665.ece) maintain


Local warlords, many of them former ministers in Siad Barre’s last government, received large payments from Swiss and Italian firms for access to their respective fiefdoms.

Most of the waste was simply dumped on remote beaches in containers and leaking disposable barrels