Singapore – from the Indian sector to the Islamic sector.


We walked from the Indian sector to the Muslim sector – from colourful umbrella art to mosques and the search for Danish Blue Cheese ice cream.


Poetry – A Way of Life

A Way of Life

Minarets and loud speakers

Dispense the call to prayer.

Imams and korans

Instruct on what to wear.

Incorporated into culture

Becoming a way of life,

Force of habit,

Passed along amid the daily strife.

Headscarves and few laughs

Customs and practice,

Prostrations and genuflections,

Actors and actresses.

Opher – 20.3.2019

It was all too prescriptive for me. It looked like mass conformity and a loss of identity.

The emphasis is on getting to some future paradise.

Not for me.

I do not believe in any god that acts that way, any after-life. This life is good enough for me.

Religion is too stifling and reductive. I want more truth than that offers.

Is the Austrian policy on Islam right or just right-wing?

There is concern that radicalisation of Muslims is going on in mosques.

A battle is going on between moderates and radicals.

This is what Thomas Sutrina put up on one of my posts:

‘I am going to let a Muslim national leader tell you the facts:  2015 New Year’s day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a “religious revolution” in Islam that would displace violent jihad from the center of Muslim discourse.

“Is it possible that 1.6 billion people (Muslims worldwide) should want to kill the rest of the world’s population—that is, 7 billion people—so that they themselves may live?” he asked. “Impossible.”

Speaking to an audience of religious scholars celebrating the birth of Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, he called on the religious establishment to lead the fight for moderation in the Muslim world. “You imams (prayer leaders) are responsible before Allah. The entire world—I say it again, the entire world—is waiting for your next move because this umma (a word that can refer either to the Egyptian nation or the entire Muslim world) is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.” …

It is good to hear moderate Muslim leaders talking like this. We need more of it. Moderate Muslims should unite and reject radical teachings. They should all speak up.

In Austria the new Right-wing government is taking extreme action. They are expelling 40 Imams and shutting down 7 mosques. They claim these are funded from outside and used to broadcast radical views.

I am suspicious of right-wing motives but I largely agree. I do not believe that we should allow radical doctrines that are at odds with our values to be taught. I think radical doctrines that promote hate or division should be illegal and Imams who spread it should be deported and the mosques shut down (the same goes for Madrassas). I would prefer that the moderates do their own policing and I am still concerned that the Austrian action is in danger of being xenophobic or even racist. We’ll see how far it goes.

France, who have suffered a number of dreadful terrorist acts at the hand of radicalised fundamentalists, have already begun this process of expelling radicals and have shut down 20 mosques since December. Hopefully they will get the balance right.

Mosques should be places where people go to worship their god not somewhere that plots against its hosts. There is no place for politics in places of worship.

I think we should welcome Muslims who wish to integrate and accept our overriding values. The majority of Muslims are moderate and law-abiding. It is the minority who are spreading hate that need dealing with.

To start with we could put a stop to the ridiculous Tory policies that set up religious schools and support segregation of Muslim kids. We all need to learn to understand each other and get along together.


Terrorism is not as bad as we are made to think.

Every death is a tragedy. Every injury too. Terrorism is deplorable, evil and disgusting. The fact that somebody actually sits down in cold blood and plans ways to kill and mutilate innocent civilians is almost beyond belief. Those people are heartless scum. The act is somehow made worse when it is religiously motivated. For anyone to believe that any god would be pleased that they have mutilated women and children shows some sick thinking. For any religion or sect to believe that it alone has the correct insight into the thinking of god is arrogant stupidity. For any terrorist bomber of innocent people to believe they will be rewarded by any god and wake up in paradise is fanciful brain-washing. No sane god would sanction such a thing. If there was a god, which I do not believe, they would certainly book those callous terrorists into the worst hell imaginable.

Terrorism is horrendous because it is designed to terrorise. It is intended that the fear it creates is out of proportion to the reality. It is designed to produce terror and division.

To that extent Islamic terrorism has succeeded. It has produced widespread fear, division and hate. It has produced racism aimed against the peaceful Muslim community, distrust of Muslims and a rise in fascism and xenophobia. This fear was used extensively in the Brexit and Trump campaigns to divide and create hysteria which could be directed to produce a populist result. We now have what the terrorists set out to produce – chaos and division. Both Brexit and the election of Trump have brought Britain and the US into unnecessary chaos and division, stoked up hatred and emboldened fascist minorities.

I contend that this fear is out of proportion. Terrorism is horrendous but the terror it has produced, resulting in this chaos and siege mentality, is nowhere near as great as it appears in our imagination.

By creating such disruption and public fear the terrorists have achieved what they set out to do. They have made us weaker and divided us. Without this exaggerated fear they generated, neither the harmful disarray of Brexit or damaging election of Trump would have happened. Xenophobia, the fear of immigrants, demonising of Muslims and Mexicans, the building of walls, tightening of immigration laws, exclusion of foreigners, all go against natural warmth of welcome and openness of our culture. We have been fed lies about rape, murder, crime, terrorism, jobs, religions, no-go areas, Islamification and threats to our culture that are out of proportion to the reality. Yes there has been too much mass immigration and not enough integration. Yes there has been some crime, some rapes and areas where there are concentrations of minority groups. But these have been built up out of all proportion. Most immigrants are not extreme or terrorists but are grateful for being given a haven. They have escaped from war, starvation and horror. They have a new start.

Is this response to terrorism justified? I think not.

I am not belittling the effects of terrorism. It is horrendous. I am merely putting it in proportion and saying that it is not as bad as it appears. The horrors in the news show the terrible outcomes but the incidents are relatively few and minor in light of the bigger picture.

Death and injury are unfortunately part of everyday life. People are killed, maimed and become terminally ill all the time. Every one of those deaths, diseases and injuries is a tragedy for individuals, families, friends and colleagues. We are all touched by it. But terrorism plays a tiny part in this overall scheme of things.

I will illustrate what I mean by the statistics from the UK. I chose a 15 year period from 2000 – 2015.

All Deaths in UK (aprox) – 7,500,000

Deaths from road accidents – 51,006

Deaths from murder – 6,750

Deaths from Air crashes (estimate) – 6000

Deaths from terrorism – 90

In fact the deaths from IRA terrorism in the 1980s was much worse. Yet the effect of those terrible 90 deaths (and the hundreds of people maimed and injured) creates a public fear that is out of all proportion. You are 566 times more likely to be killed in an accident on the roads yet we do not get totally paranoid about driving. We accept that as a fact of life, an acceptable risk. Is that because we are under the illusion that we are somehow in control of what happens on the road? As someone who has survived a serious accident I know that we are not. When something happens at speed there is nothing you can do.

Terrorism plays on our psyche because of the deliberate callous act of mass murder. Yet your chances of being caught up in it are minimal.

I believe it is time to put this illogical fear out of our minds. We cannot allow the terrorists to win like this. These brainwashed evil extremists should not be allowed to cause such division, hatred and mayhem. They are not the menace we think they are. It is time to put the threat in proportion. Terrorism’s whole purpose is to achieve this reaction from us. We cannot let them do this.

Don’t let the evil, brainwashed monsters win. Unite and reach out. We’re better together. Let’s build a caring, open society, not a fear-ridden xenophobic culture skulking behind walls.


The Journey – 2 Abu Dhabi – Photos

Journey – 2  – Abu Dhabi

The first impression was of warmth. We stepped off the plane into a pleasant sunshine. The grey cloud, cold and drizzle had been replaced with blue sky and warmth.

We had arranged a day’s stop over so we could see what it was about. We wanted to see the sights. That meant we spent a good part of the day in an open-top bus, jumping off to have a look at places, get a bite to eat and see the people and wild-life. You can’t see everything in a day or experience the full spectrum of possibilities. You get a flavour, an impression and an insight. Most people were in Western garb but there were a good number in robes with some women in the full works. I still find that uncomfortable. In that heat to be smothered from head to toe in black while the men wear more practical white?

Talking to the locals they assured me that women had rights. They were permitted to drive and the burqa was optional. I do not agree. There is a cultural expectation if nothing else. The burqa looks like a costume of slavery to me, a product of a misogynist society. But it was evident that the majority of women did not succumb to its dubious benefits.

We went out to the cultural village, obviously newly constructed for tourists to walk round, and looked across the water to the city. It was beautiful. The palm trees and sand. A group of school-kids came down to play in the water – all dressed up in their headscarves and long clothes. It looked a bit absurd but they were kids and enjoyed the paddle, shrieking with delight.

There were many pretty birds around, as well as the ubiquitous crows, mynahs and pigeons, and a striped squirrel ran along the wall.

The Etihad skyscrapers, and other architectural delights, were interesting, reaching up into the blue with their glass and concrete canyons, fingers of a giant hand clutching at infinity. 

The Grand Mosque was beautiful with its white marble and inlay.

Millions had been spent on its white marble, precious stone inlays, huge chandeliers and stain glass. It was built to impress and that is what it did. Who could doubt the basis of the religion when so very much was put into something like this – one of the ICBMs of Islam, designed to put people in awe and gain converts.

We donned our gowns and walked around greatly appreciating the wonder of it, the beauty of it, it’s mosaic designs, colours, architectural delights, minarets, lavish patterns carpets and reflections. Despite its massive size and splendour we were not converted! It takes more than that.

Our day was shot. We’d seen enough. It was interesting but not enough to go back to. Back to the hotel and an early flight. We were up almost before we’d gone to bed.

Then on to Oz and Pete and Trudie!

Migration and Immigration – why we need checks.

The overriding issue that was behind Brexit was immigration. There is a fear of terrorism, a feeling that we are being swamped with foreigners – particularly Muslims and Eastern Europeans, a sense that they are taking our jobs, receiving housing and benefits, causing overcrowding, creating problems for schools and the NHS, putting pressure on transport, displacing our culture and not wanting to assimilate and take on British values.

How accurate are these fears?

Is there a basis to them?

Is an opposition to mass immigration xenophobic or even racist?

The British people are a mongrel race. We always have been. We take in immigrants from all over the world, welcome them and assimilate them into our culture. I like the richness of culture that introduces. I like the cosmopolitan communities it produces and I like the way immigrants over the centuries have assimilated, become British, taken on our customs and values while still celebrating their own heritage.

But I do not think it is either racist or xenophobic to be concerned with mass immigration. It is the sheer numbers and attitudes of the recent immigrants that are causing the problems.

We have areas of the country with high Muslim populations who have completely displaced the indigenous people and culture. The perception is that many do not wish to assume British values at all. There are militants in the Muslim community who espouse to take over Britain and bring in Sharia law. The Hijab and Burqa do not fit easy with many people. It represents a culture and attitudes they do not agree with. Many, because of the association with terrorism and this strident, arrogant militancy, find it threatening.

There are a number of Muslims who support ISIS and the Caliphate. People find this traitorous to the country they have come to live in. ISIS is our avowed enemy. We have had terrorism from these militants. It creates suspicion and fear. In reality the number of incidents are few, the Intelligence Services are doing a good job rooting the militants out before they cause atrocities, and most Muslims do not subscribe to these extreme views.

There are Eastern European shops opening all over the place and Eastern European languages all around in many cities. I do not think that people have a problem with this until it reaches a point where they feel saturated and displaced.

Yes it does cause big pressures on the NHS, Schools, housing and the infra-structure. That causes aggravation but I don’t think it is the main issue.

The main issue is not one of racism, xenophobia or pressures on services – it is simply that there have been too many people coming in.

I believe we need immigration. We need labour for our economy. We need to staff the NHS, to pick crops, to work in Old People’s Homes. These people are valued. Their cultures are respected.

But when they come here they should respect our culture and if they are planning to stay, be prepared to assimilate into our communities.

In my opinion this integration is not assisted by more Faith Schools or concentrations of immigrants in any one area.

Education is the long-term solution. But mass immigration needs curbing. We need to stop so many coming into the country and the ones that do come in need processing. We do not need terrorists, criminals or people who do not subscribe to our values being allowed into the country.

We did not need to leave Europe to achieve this. Most of Europe wants the same thing. It surely is not beyond the wit of man to devise a practical system?

Retaliation and Injustice – The Burkini Ban

I found this article very thought provoking.
As an antitheist I am opposed to all types of organised religion. I think religion is conceived by man and used for power. It is a million miles away from spirituality and stinks of control. I believe it has done far more harm than good.
Islam is one of the worst in many ways. It is an intolerant religion that dictates a very prescriptive code of ritual and way of life that has locked the Middle East back in the seventh century and stultified the culture. It indoctrinates young children as standard and discriminates against women. There is not much about it that I find appealing. In its most fundamental form it is violent and aggressive. The barbarity of some of its sharia practices are straight out of the dark ages.
Not that it is alone in that. Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism have had their bloody pasts and many superstitious practices. Fortunately we have been through the enlightenment and have largely secularised society and removed religion from its overt claustrophobic control.
I do not oppose people’s personal beliefs or wish to curb them. If people wish to believe in a religion that is fine with me as long as that is on a personal level, doesn’t involve children and they do not seek to inflict it on others.
The Burqa and Burkini seem absurd to me. I find it ridiculous and misogynistic that women are subjected to these clothing restrictions while men are not. I find it repulsive that this dress code is imposed on women (against their will) through force and law in some countries, and through social/cultural imposition in others.
As an objective outsider I find the concept disturbing and absurd. It says a lot about what the 7th Century culture thought about women.
However, would I ban it?
One side of me says definitely. It is a symbol of misogyny and oppression. It goes against all the cultural values of a secular society. It has no place in the modern world or in a secular culture. It is a pre-Islamic relic of a patriarchal culture where women were second class citizens without rights and traded as commodities. Women were viewed as possessions and temptations. Britain is a secular society with an ethos of tolerance and equality. There is no place for medieval superstition.
The other side of me says that a secular society should be tolerant of others. That, if it is the woman’s choice and there has been no coercion or social expectation, she should be free to wear what she likes. If she choses to cover her body then it is her choice no matter what connotations that has for others, like myself. I would certainly not take kindly to anyone telling me what I can or can’t wear.
It is a dilemma.
I certainly feel that women should have equal rights in all respects – including the right not to be socially/culturally coerced or stopped from wearing what they want, or believing what they want.
I would take a hard line on anybody who forces or coerces a woman to comply with a dress code.
I would ban all face covering from public arenas, such as teaching, nursing, doctoring or anywhere that involves dealing with the public.
I would ban all religious schools that segregate children. I think it an insidious apartheid.
I would prevent any religious sect from indoctrinating children.
I would hope that education will result in integration and increasing secularisation so that we can leave all religion back in the Dark Ages where it belongs and see it as the superstition it is.
But I wouldn’t ban burqas and burkinis much as I detest all they stand for.

Bangladesh English Literature Professor hacked to death by religious extremists.

Rezaul Karim Siddique, 58, was a professor of English at Rajshahi University. He was hacked to death on the streets on the way home with machetes. His crime – setting up a school.

This follows similar attacks on religious minorities and secular figures.

Bloggers who have stated they have no religion have been hacked to death.

People who have turned their back on Islam have been hacked to death.

People who belong to Ahmadi, Sufi or Shia sects of Islam have been brutally killed.

Westerners, Hindus, and Christians have been killed.

Are we looking at a new age of medieval barbarity? Is Bangladesh and Pakistan falling back into uncivilised ruin?

It is time the governments hunted down these sick individuals and eradicated them. There is no room in a civilised world for such disgusting animals.