Funny man with great expertise and huge following

There’s a list of people who defended Jeremy Clarkson because hey who doesn’t punch an underling in the face now and then?

David Cameron is one. His kids like the show. That’s the important thing.

Rupert Murdoch is one. On Twitter he shyly offered his support:

How stupid can BBC be in firing Jeremy Clarkson? Funny man with great expertise and huge following.

That’s the formula then? If you’re

  • a man
  • funny
  • expert
  • hugely popular

you’re allowed to punch people in the face at work? Well all right then. Rules are rules. [Read more…]

Brendan O’Neill is broken-hearted over Clarkson

Yet again Brendan O’Neill says something more disgusting than I would have thought possible. Yet again!!

I’m gutted to hear that the BBC has given Clarkson the big heave-ho over his fracas with that producer who didn’t have his dinner ready on time.

Why? Because it’s further evidence of the Beeb’s self-emasculation, its sheepish, apologetic jettisoning of anything that might rile right-thinking viewers or make Hampstead-dwelling licence fee-payers choke on their Ovaltine. [Read more…]

Surrounded by a cheering crowd

Der Spiegel is running a letter from Raif Badawi tomorrow, the Guardian reports today.

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has written in his first letter from prison of how he “miraculously survived 50 lashes”, part of his sentence for “insulting Islam”, a German news weekly has said.

Badawi, 31, recalled that he was “surrounded by a cheering crowd who cried incessantly ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest)” during the whipping, according to a pre-released article from Der Spiegel’s edition to be published on Saturday.

That’s so disgusting. The cheering is disgusting, the praise of the celestial bully is disgusting, the apparent belief that the celestial bully fully approves of the sadistic unmerited punishment is disgusting. It’s all disgusting. [Read more…]

Saudi Arabia makes up with Sweden

Reuters reports:

Saudi Arabia has decided to send its envoy back to Sweden, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said on Friday, in a move that will ease a diplomatic row over the Arab country’s human rights record.

I hope that doesn’t mean Sweden has crawled or begged or, especially, withdrawn anything Margot Wallström said.

Saudi Arabia withdrew its envoy earlier this month over Swedish criticism of the monarchy’s treatment of women and dissidents.

In January, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom tweeted criticism of Saudi Arabia’s flogging of human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi, calling it a “cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression”.

She has also criticized policies affecting women, who cannot drive cars and need permission from a male guardian for many decisions.

Riyadh then canceled a speech Wallstrom had been due to give to the League of Arab States, and Stockholm later ended a long-standing defense cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Wallström said true things about Saudi Arabia. I hope she hasn’t been forced to take any of them back.


The scandal is that there isn’t a scandal

Nick Cohen has a piece in the Spectator about Margot Wallström and Saudi Arabia. Hey guess what I just wrote a column for Free Inquiry about? That same subject! It’s a good subject. The more people who write and do cartoons about it the better. That’s part of what Nick says – the subject is being neglected.

The backlash followed the pattern set by Rushdie, the Danish cartoons and Hebdo. Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador and stopped issuing visas to Swedish businessmen. The United Arab Emirates joined it. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which represents 56 Muslim-majority states, accused Sweden of failing to respect the world’s ‘rich and varied ethical standards’ — standards so rich and varied, apparently, they include the flogging of bloggers and encouragement of paedophiles. Meanwhile, the Gulf Co-operation Council condemned her ‘unaccept-able interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, and I wouldn’t bet against anti-Swedish riots following soon.

Yet there is no ‘Wallström affair’. [Read more…]

Not a freestanding choice

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown notes and laments a retreat from progressive values among Muslims.

The hijab, jilbab, burqa and niqab are visible signs of this retreat from progressive values.

This article will divide people. Women I respect and like wear hijabs and jilbabs to articulate their faith and identity. Others do so to follow their dreams, to go into higher education or jobs. And an increasing number are making a political statement. I am not assuming that the coverings all represent simple oppression. What I am saying is that many women who take up the veil, in any of its forms, do so without delving fully into its implications, significance or history. Their choice, even if independently made, may not be fully examined.

[Read more…]