“Hello. Is that the Ministry of Tourism? I’ve just been captured by ISIS, and I’d like to make a complaint. A very strong complaint”.
I’d like to reassure my mother that I was not actually in Syria, but in Lebanon just across the border when my phone picked up a Syrian network. Also, the guys from Hezbollah who asked me questions about why I was taking photos were really quite friendly.
There’s nothing funnier than an electronic billboard showing a Windows error message, so obviously I stop to take a photo.
A man comes up behind me. It is a solider in fatigues with a gun. “No photo”. This is a little tiresome. I attempt to point out that I am attempting to take a photo of a billboard, and what possible security risk could this be, but (as always) this is futile. Also, do you have any idea how easy it would be for me to take a photo of *anything* with modern technology without you realising it? But I know the rules, and they are rules. I accede and walk on. There are various security barriers and roadblocks nearby, so there is sensitive stuff nearby – government buildings, I think.
I block further, there are more security barriers, a guard post, and a soldier on duty. I am unsure I am allowed to walk down the road. I point down the road and beckon to the soldier, politely. “It’s okay to walk down there?”.
“Oh, sur.. Where are you from?”
“O wow”. (Excitement). “I love Australia. Where Australia?”
“Oh, great!!!!. I was in Granville”.
(Fairly nondescript westerly but not extreme westerly suburb of Sydney, probably best known to me as the location of Australia’s worst rail disaster in the 1970. Perfectly pleasant place).
“Yeah, man. Granville”
“Where are you going?”. He now wants to give me directions. I wasn’t asking for directions – just wanting to know if he would stop me if I tried to walk down the street. However, if he wants to give me directions, I’ll let him give me directions. “Monot street”.
“Oh, about 200 metres that way. Have a great time”.
“You too. Come to Australia again some time”.
“Yeah. But I’m in the army. Fuck man!!!!”.
(He holds up his palm. I give him a high five). “Yeah. You’re in the army. Fuck man”. Explaining that I am completely opposed to compulsory military service as a matter of high principle and I therefore completely support his feelings would probably be excessive.
I go on my way, hoping that the safety was firmly in place on his rifle throughout all this.
If you see the man shown in this article, please do not inform the Police of his whereabouts.
But do tell the bloke, who it must be said may well be a low IQ scumbag who likes to insult strangers on a bus, that he is quite mistaken if he thinks people in the UK have a right to freedom of expression. That is not the case, for it is only politically approved speech that passes a Guardian/BBC sniff test that is permitted. Mutter the wrong things on a bus and you are likely to end up in front of the Beak, with your arrest applauded by those valiant custodians of truth, the Press.
[LATER: Error. They aren’t having a good time IN Kobani, merely ABOUT Kobani. As commenter “Nicholas”, to whom thanks, points out, and as it clearly states just underneath the bigger version of the photo if you follow the second link below, this demo actually took place in Diyarbakir, which is in southeastern Turkey. As Nicholas pointed out, that explains why the buildings in the picture are not ruined. Apologies for my carelessness. But the important thing I got right. They are cute young women.]
It must be ages since we’ve had a posting here featuring a picture of cute young women having a good time. I miss those times. So here is a picture of some cute young women having a good time:
They are Kurdish young women celebrating the liberation of Kobani from ISIS. Thank you Mick Hartley for spotting it, in amongst all these shots, most of which are much more depressing.
If the Kurds get a state out of the current chaos in Syria/Iraq, at least there’ll be something positive to come out of the whole catastrophe.
Indeed. If you ever had any doubts about which side you are on out there, that photo should lay your doubts to rest. I’m not saying it will, mind you. I’m just saying that it should.
The media reports are all full of caveats about how this is not even the beginning of the end, blah blah, and maybe it isn’t. But I agree with all those who say that ISIS is all about momentum, and that if ISIS is now losing momentum, that’s very good.
And so it has proved — self-appointed Muslim leaders have reacted with the usual mixture of petulance and confected outrage. The letter, they insist, is ‘patronising’. One spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain asked: why no similar letter to Christian church leaders demanding they disassociate themselves from the English Defence League? It is difficult to imagine a more lame or ridiculous riposte.
The EDL is habitually reviled by British politicians and church leaders alike — and reviled for nothing more than its thuggish opinions and rare, sparsely attended marches. The EDL has not murdered anyone, nor sent its thick-as-mince legions to fight for the Islamic State, nor blown people up in London, nor tried to decapitate British soldiers on the streets of Woolwich. Reprehensible (and, frankly, laughable) though the EDL may be, there is simply no comparison. And to make the comparison suggests strongly to me that the Muslim Council of Britain does not remotely get the point. But then we should remember the former leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, Iqbal Sacranie, once suggested that mere death was ‘perhaps too easy’ for Salman Rushdie. A little after he said that, we knighted him. And for a long while the MCB refused to attend the British holocaust memorial service.
We have indulged parts of our Muslim community in epic paranoia, victimhood, clamorous obsessions and pre-medieval cultural appurtenances for way too long. And so perhaps it is too late to venture, tentatively, that we got our approach all wrong
– Rod Liddle
I just read a comment, written by someone calling himself “Jonny Overcat”, which (a) tells me that the art of invective is not dead, and which (b), I think, deserves wider circulation. At the time of me concocting this posting, it is comment number six on this take-down of the appalling Mehdi Hassan. Here it is in full:
I can hardly put into words how viscerally disgusted I’ve felt the past couple of days with a significant number of allegedly “progressive” writers in American media who just trip all over themselves to denounce Charlie Hebdo as racist, wrong, oppressors and likely people who fuck puppies for fun. The forceful ignorance, the utter lack of even the most basic research or familiarity with the publication and people they are crassly denouncing, and the apologism (is that even a word? Now it is I guess) for the murderers are just utterly subhuman. A big part of it is that I’ve lived in Paris, I have family in Paris and I’ve pounded the pavement in every arrondissement pretty extensively (I do a lot of street photography). I absolutely love that city and its people, and any sort of terrorist attack there is deeply upsetting to me. I’m quite familiar with the neighborhood where Charlie Hebdo’s offices are, I have friends I used to visit who lived just a couple of blocks away from there. I take a terrorist attack in Paris kind of personally, even though I realize that it’s not all about me. I’ve been there during terrorist events in Europe (the Madrid train bombing) and I’ve seen the squads of soldiers patrolling the streets due to that, and the fear on people’s faces in the Metro etc.
So over on Slate, there’s the walking abortion that is Jordan Weissmann, who, before the puddles of blood of the murdered were even dry, valiantly asserts that Charlie Hebdo is just some racist rag and does everything short of just coming right out and saying that they had it coming to them. Never mind, of course, that he quite clearly demonstrates with his mischaracterizations, outright falsehoods and quite obvious lack of actual knowledge about the publication or its staff, that he just hasn’t got a fucking clue. An opportunist piece of shit trying to burnish his PC cred by symbolically standing over the corpses of the murdered and screaming “RACISTS!”
Then over at Salon there’s a specimen called Falguni A. Sheth, who ideally should’ve been fed into a wood chipper as an infant, whose article asserts that the REAL issue is Muslim feelings and how utterly horrifically Muslims are treated by everyone and boo fucking hoo because the world doesn’t bow low enough to Islam. Of course she asserts that the murderers who invoked Islam as their motivation before and during the attacks weren’t motivated by Islam at all, because whitey is racist. Yep. She hilariously states that Charlie Hebdo, a paper that has been published weekly for about 35 years, which amounts to roughly 1800 or so editions, “disproportionately targets Muslims” because they’ve published about 10 or 12 images satirizing radical Islam in the past ten or so years. Thus they are just some Muslim bashing rag, and basically had it coming. Don’t say what we don’t want you to say or we’ll kill you, and it’s your own fault. Never mind, of course that ten or twelve editions satirizing radical Islam don’t even amount to one percent of Charlie Hebdo’s total published works. Yeah, “disproportionate”, but she can barely bring herself to denounce the killers in anything but a passing fashion, as though their murdering is some minor technicality to be glossed over, because the REAL issue is that some fucking Muslim somewhere has had their religious sensibilities sullied by these evil, evil cartoonists. Because cartoonists do such irreparable harm to society. Muslims, of course, are all saints.
Seriously, fuck these people, all of them, and anyone who agrees with them.
I’ve always been socially and politically liberal, never a lockstep liberal, but always generally liberal. I’ve always had a problem with the significant number of so called American liberals and progressives who are rigidly doctrinaire to the point of stupidity, but over this issue, my disgust is reaching critical mass. I need to seriously consider whether I really have common cause with the unfortunately significant number of so called liberals and progressives who are more enamored of finding common cause with the severely illiberal tenets of Islamic fundamentalist thinking. When Bill Maher called Islam “the motherlode of bad ideas”, he was seriously understating his point. These supposedly liberal pieces of shit who find common cause with Islamic fundamentalism, whose basic grasp of the nature/purpose/context of satire is just as tenuous, or even weaker, than that of their braindead counterparts on the right, are just a bit more than I can stomach anymore.
I just needed to get that off my chest …
For someone who can “hardly put into words” how disgusted he is, Jonny Overcat sure does have a way with words, doesn’t he?
I do love the internet.
It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom… But if you don’t like freedom, for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave. There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself, be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists. And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make a newspaper, may I then say you can fuck off.
– Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, speaking on live TV.
… that he is in the wrong line of work and so are his employees apparently.
The editor of the Independent has said “every instinct” told him to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons caricaturing the prophet Muhammad but described it as “too much of a risk”. The newspaper, along with the rest of the UK’s national press, did not reprint any of the satirical magazine’s caricatures of Muhammad or the cartoons from Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, with which Charlie Hebdo first provoked international outrage in 2006.
Rajan instead put a striking cartoon by Dave Brown on his paper’s front page on Thursday, showing a hand with the middle finger raised emerging from the cover of Charlie Hebdo. But he was “very uncomfortable” with his decision not to reprint Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, which he described as “self-censorship”.
Rajan said he had a duty to his staff and had to “balance principle with pragmatism”.
Balance? I see ‘pragmatism’, which is to say, abject cowardice in the face of danger brought by republishing cartoons from Charlie Hebdo… but I see no ‘principle’ on display whatsoever, just some waffle designed to distract people from mentioning his ‘pragmatism’ smells a lot like chicken shit.
Je suis Charlie. But if you do not republish, then you are not, so it would be better if you just STFU Rajan.
In the aftermath of the horror yesterday in Paris, I noticed that Mr Obama gave a speech, as many other national leaders did, expressing solidarity with France at this time and supporting free speech. I am sure I am not the only person to note how hollow Mr Obama’s comments sound in the light of how his administration conducted itself around the time of the attack in Benghazi when a film about Islam had been released. This isn’t narrow political point-scoring – Republicans and others are just as capable of getting themselves wrong on this issue. The point, rather, is that Western leaders need to be as ruthlessly consistent as possible. When the Obama administration was tested on this sort of issue, it wobbled. Islamist fanatics notice – it creates incentives among those who calculate that if they create enough hysteria, are sufficiently “offended” by something, that people will cave in. The most powerful country on the planet caved.
Another point worth making, particularly as people across the political spectrum seem to be genuinely shocked and appalled by this attack, is that far too many attacks on free speech these days are justified in the name of banning “hate speech”, and so on. Certain forms of expression may indeed be hateful and unpleasant but the best defence against that is indifference, contempt, or ridicule. And another point, particularly for the more anarchist-minded out there, especially those of a leftist bent, is this: if you want to vent, do so on private property, in a consensual way. The producers of the French magazine did that: no-one was forced to buy their product or forced to read it. It is not as if they sprayed their cartoons in public streets outside a mosque.
Expect more half-hearted bleating that this has nothing to do with Islam, but in any case even if it did, Islam is a religion of peace along with weasel words about “responsibility” to the effect that the magazine should not have “inflamed passions”. Simultaneously, expect a huge PR drive – supported by various lefty idiots – from Muslim groups who make it all about them, how they feel, and how they are now scared of a backlash before the bodies have even cooled. This is precisely what we saw in Australia a few weeks ago, and I don’t expect much from European politicians.
– Tim Newman commenting here.
Satirical publication and well known needler of radical Islamists Charlie Hebdo has been attacked in France, with many people murdered. I wonder if there will be a wave of publications in Europe and elsewhere republishing Hebdo’s cartoon of Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to show solidarity against this civilisation-level attack? That would be nice but I am not going to hold my breath.
Via the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), I found this interview with Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, who believes that “Allah does not speak against homosexuality in the Quran”. A transcript can be read by clicking the relevant icon below the screen.