Friday, 22 August 2008

Yggdrasill - The Mystery Revealed

One of the great mysteries of Odinism is the location and identity of Yggrdasill, the Tree Of Life.

The Milky Way is the World Tree Yggdrasill.

The base of the world tree is represented by Lokis Brand, and this comprises the stars Sirius and Canis Major as seen due South on the Winter Solstice.

Lokis Brand signifies the above ground point on the horizon where directly below Loki is held in entrails, bound in Hel.

This is the base of the World Tree Milky Way on the Southern Horizon which stretches to the top of Yggdrasill in the due North.

On Midnight at the Winter Solstice, December 21st, the base of Yggdrasill is due South.

At the base of Yggdrasill is the constellation of Hydra, which is the dragon Nidhogg gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasill.

Then on the lower level of the Milky Way - World Tree we have Ullr, the Winter God, which is the constellation of Orion who replaces Odin during the Winter when Odin, Cygnus, is at its lowest point due North.

Odin is the constellation of Cygnus.

Cygnus is the celestial representation of Odin being crucified upon the World Tree - Milky Way.

Above Cygnus when seen from the South at Midnight on the Summer Solstice, June 21st, is Aquila, which is the hawk Vedrfolnir, and above the hawk the Golden Eagle Vidopner which is in Saggitarius.

Heidrun the goat atop Yggdrasill is Antares.

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Ragnarok and the Boksta Runestone

The last few days have been one incredible rush of ideas and insights ranging from a complete unlocking of ancient Norse cosmology to the ability to interpret the Bokska Runestone.

For Odinists out there what I have discovered is of immense importance - here is just a little of the insight.

The Böksta runestone is a runestone located near the farm of Böksta in Balingsta between Uppsala and Örsundsbro, Sweden. The stone is notable for its images where can be seen a man on horseback hunting a moose with two dogs and a spear. Observing the hunter is another man on skis, holding a bow and arrow, who may be Ullr, the Norse god of the hunt.

The figure of Ullr on the stone is in fact also an depiction of the Orion constellation.

The stars of Lepus beneath Orion are the skis of Ullr.

The major horse figure with a rider on the back is in fact an image comprised of Cassiopea(the horses head), Auriga (the horses back legs) and Perseus (as the horses front legs).

The female moose figurine under the head of the major horse figure is in fact formed from Andromeda.

The primary loop of the dragon at the bottom centre of the runestone is in fact a depiction of the loop of the stars Cetus, and the dragon is the stars adjacent to Orion and between Cetus.

The middle horse is in fact formed from stars in Pegasus and around it.

The head of the major running horse figure on the right of the stone with the flowing mane is in fact the hoop of Aquarius and the image on the head is Piscis Austinus.

The whole image is a star map of the stars at midnight in the middle of October.

The final proof is the image of the eagle outside the Rune insciption,as this figure is Aquila and represents the Eagle Vedfolnir who sits atop Yggdrasil.

This image unlocks for us when Ragnarok occurs - and the date is the Winter Solstice2012 at 11.11 A.M. when Odin is devoured by the Grey Wolf in the form of the star constellation The Greater Wolfs Jaws which is comprised of Andromeda, part of the Milky Way, the semicircle of stars through Pegasus to Cygnus, including Deneb Algedi.

The open jaws face the pole of the sky, the Fenris-Wolf threatening the Cosmic Axis-Yggdrasil which is TheMilky Way.

Odin is Cygnus.

Nidhogg is the constellation of Hydra, attacking the roots of Yggdrasil which is the bottom of the Milky Way.

The date of Ragnarok is symbolic of the ending of the Great Platonic Year - and signifies the ascendence of Vidar to power.

Vidar is the avenging God, the silent warrior of the forests.

Georges Dumézil theorized that Víðarr represents a cosmic figure from an archetype derived from the Proto-Indo-Europeans.[4] Dumézil stated that he was aligned with both vertical space, due to his placement of his foot on the wolf's lower jaw and his hand on the wolf's upper jaw, and horizontal space, due to his wide step and strong shoe, and that, by the killing the wolf, Víðarr keeps the wolf from destroying the cosmos, and the cosmos can thereafter be restored after the destruction resulting from Ragnarök.

Hail Vidar !

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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Energy Resources and Our Future

"Energy Resources and Our Future" - Speech by Admiral Hyman Rickover in 1957

Energy Resources and our Future

I am honored to be here tonight, though it is no easy thing, I assure you, for a layman to face up to an audience of physicians. A single one of you, sitting behind his desk, can be quite formidable.

My speech has no medical connotations. This may be a relief to you after the solid professional fare you have been absorbing. I should like to discuss a matter which will, I hope, be of interest to you as responsible citizens: the significance of energy resources in the shaping of our future.

We live in what historians may some day call the Fossil Fuel Age. Today coal, oil, and natural gas supply 93% of the world's energy; water power accounts for only 1%; and the labor of men and domestic animals the remaining 6%. This is a startling reversal of corresponding figures for 1850 - only a century ago. Then fossil fuels supplied 5% of the world's energy, and men and animals 94%. Five sixths of all the coal, oil, and gas consumed since the beginning of the Fossil Fuel Age has been burned up in the last 55 years.

These fuels have been known to man for more than 3,000 years. In parts of China, coal was used for domestic heating and cooking, and natural gas for lighting as early as 1000 B.C. The Babylonians burned asphalt a thousand years earlier. But these early uses were sporadic and of no economic significance. Fossil fuels did not become a major source of energy until machines running on coal, gas, or oil were invented. Wood, for example, was the most important fuel until 1880 when it was replaced by coal; coal, in turn, has only recently been surpassed by oil in this country.

Once in full swing, fossil fuel consumption has accelerated at phenomenal rates. All the fossil fuels used before 1900 would not last five years at today's rates of consumption.

Nowhere are these rates higher and growing faster than in the United States. Our country, with only 6% of the world's population, uses one third of the world's total energy input; this proportion would be even greater except that we use energy more efficiently than other countries. Each American has at his disposal, each year, energy equivalent to that obtainable from eight tons of coal. This is six times the world's per capita energy consumption. Though not quite so spectacular, corresponding figures for other highly industrialized countries also show above average consumption figures. The United Kingdom, for example, uses more than three times as much energy as the world average.

With high energy consumption goes a high standard of living. Thus the enormous fossil energy which we in this country control feeds machines which make each of us master of an army of mechanical slaves. Man's muscle power is rated at 35 watts continuously, or one-twentieth horsepower. Machines therefore furnish every American industrial worker with energy equivalent to that of 244 men, while at least 2,000 men push his automobile along the road, and his family is supplied with 33 faithful household helpers. Each locomotive engineer controls energy equivalent to that of 100,000 men; each jet pilot of 700,000 men. Truly, the humblest American enjoys the services of more slaves than were once owned by the richest nobles, and lives better than most ancient kings. In retrospect, and despite wars, revolutions, and disasters, the hundred years just gone by may well seem like a Golden Age.

Whether this Golden Age will continue depends entirely upon our ability to keep energy supplies in balance with the needs of our growing population. Before I go into this question, let me review briefly the role of energy resources in the rise and fall of civilizations.

Possession of surplus energy is, of course, a requisite for any kind of civilization, for if man possesses merely the energy of his own muscles, he must expend all his strength - mental and physical - to obtain the bare necessities of life.

Surplus energy provides the material foundation for civilized living - a comfortable and tasteful home instead of a bare shelter; attractive clothing instead of mere covering to keep warm; appetizing food instead of anything that suffices to appease hunger. It provides the freedom from toil without which there can be no art, music, literature, or learning. There is no need to belabor the point. What lifted man - one of the weaker mammals - above the animal world was that he could devise, with his brain, ways to increase the energy at his disposal, and use the leisure so gained to cultivate his mind and spirit. Where man must rely solely on the energy of his own body, he can sustain only the most meager existence.

Man's first step on the ladder of civilization dates from his discovery of fire and his domestication of animals. With these energy resources he was able to build a pastoral culture. To move upward to an agricultural civilization he needed more energy. In the past this was found in the labor of dependent members of large patriarchal families, augmented by slaves obtained through purchase or as war booty. There are some backward communities which to this day depend on this type of energy.

Slave labor was necessary for the city-states and the empires of antiquity; they frequently had slave populations larger than their free citizenry. As long as slaves were abundant and no moral censure attached to their ownership, incentives to search for alternative sources of energy were lacking; this may well have been the single most important reason why engineering advanced very little in ancient times.

A reduction of per capita energy consumption has always in the past led to a decline in civilization and a reversion to a more primitive way of life. For example, exhaustion of wood fuel is believed to have been the primary reason for the fall of the Mayan Civilization on this continent and of the decline of once flourishing civilizations in Asia. India and China once had large forests, as did much of the Middle East. Deforestation not only lessened the energy base but had a further disastrous effect: lacking plant cover, soil washed away, and with soil erosion the nutritional base was reduced as well.

Another cause of declining civilization comes with pressure of population on available land. A point is reached where the land can no longer support both the people and their domestic animals. Horses and mules disappear first. Finally even the versatile water buffalo is displaced by man who is two and one half times as efficient an energy converter as are draft animals. It must always be remembered that while domestic animals and agricultural machines increase productivity per man, maximum productivity per acre is achieved only by intensive manual cultivation.

It is a sobering thought that the impoverished people of Asia, who today seldom go to sleep with their hunger completely satisfied, were once far more civilized and lived much better than the people of the West. And not so very long ago, either. It was the stories brought back by Marco Polo of the marvelous civilization in China which turned Europe's eyes to the riches of the East, and induced adventurous sailors to brave the high seas in their small vessels searching for a direct route to the fabulous Orient. The "wealth of the Indies" is a phrase still used, but whatever wealth may be there it certainly is not evident in the life of the people today.

Asia failed to keep technological pace with the needs of her growing populations and sank into such poverty that in many places man has become again the primary source of energy, since other energy converters have become too expensive. This must be obvious to the most casual observer. What this means is quite simply a reversion to a more primitive stage of civilization with all that it implies for human dignity and happiness.

Anyone who has watched a sweating Chinese farm worker strain at his heavily laden wheelbarrow, creaking along a cobblestone road, or who has flinched as he drives past an endless procession of human beasts of burden moving to market in Java - the slender women bent under mountainous loads heaped on their heads - anyone who has seen statistics translated into flesh and bone, realizes the degradation of man's stature when his muscle power becomes the only energy source he can afford. Civilization must wither when human beings are so degraded.

Where slavery represented a major source of energy, its abolition had the immediate effect of reducing energy consumption. Thus when this time-honored institution came under moral censure by Christianity, civilization declined until other sources of energy could be found. Slavery is incompatible with Christian belief in the worth of the humblest individual as a child of God. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire and masters freed their slaves - in obedience to the teaching of the Church - the energy base of Roman civilization crumbled. This, some historians believe, may have been a major factor in the decline of Rome and the temporary reversion to a more primitive way of life during the Dark Ages. Slavery gradually disappeared throughout the Western world, except in its milder form of serfdom. That it was revived a thousand years later merely shows man's ability to stifle his conscience - at least for a while - when his economic needs are great. Eventually, even the needs of overseas plantation economies did not suffice to keep alive a practice so deeply repugnant to Western man's deepest convictions.

It may well be that it was unwillingness to depend on slave labor for their energy needs which turned the minds of medieval Europeans to search for alternate sources of energy, thus sparking the Power Revolution of the Middle Ages which, in turn, paved the way for the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. When slavery disappeared in the West engineering advanced. Men began to harness the power of nature by utilizing water and wind as energy sources. The sailing ship, in particular, which replaced the slave-driven galley of antiquity, was vastly improved by medieval shipbuilders and became the first machine enabling man to control large amounts of inanimate energy.

The next important high-energy converter used by Europeans was gunpowder - an energy source far superior to the muscular strength of the strongest bowman or lancer. With ships that could navigate the high seas and arms that could outfire any hand weapon, Europe was now powerful enough to preempt for herself the vast empty areas of the Western Hemisphere into which she poured her surplus populations to build new nations of European stock. With these ships and arms she also gained political control over populous areas in Africa and Asia from which she drew the raw materials needed to speed her industrialization, thus complementing her naval and military dominance with economic and commercial supremacy.

When a low-energy society comes in contact with a high-energy society, the advantage always lies with the latter. The Europeans not only achieved standards of living vastly higher than those of the rest of the world, but they did this while their population was growing at rates far surpassing those of other peoples. In fact, they doubled their share of total world population in the short span of three centuries. From one sixth in 1650, the people of European stock increased to almost one third of total world population by 1950.

Meanwhile much of the rest of the world did not even keep energy sources in balance with population growth. Per capita energy consumption actually diminished in large areas. It is this difference in energy consumption which has resulted in an ever-widening gap between the one-third minority who live in high-energy countries and the two-thirds majority who live in low-energy areas.

These so-called underdeveloped countries are now finding it far more difficult to catch up with the fortunate minority than it was for Europe to initiate transition from low-energy to high-energy consumption. For one thing, their ratio of land to people is much less favorable; for another, they have no outlet for surplus populations to ease the transition since all the empty spaces have already been taken over by people of European stock.

Almost all of today's low-energy countries have a population density so great that it perpetuates dependence on intensive manual agriculture which alone can yield barely enough food for their people. They do not have enough acreage, per capita, to justify using domestic animals or farm machinery, although better seeds, better soil management, and better hand tools could bring some improvement. A very large part of their working population must nevertheless remain on the land, and this limits the amount of surplus energy that can be produced. Most of these countries must choose between using this small energy surplus to raise their very low standard of living or postpone present rewards for the sake of future gain by investing the surplus in new industries. The choice is difficult because there is no guarantee that today's denial may not prove to have been in vain. This is so because of the rapidity with which public health measures have reduced mortality rates, resulting in population growth as high or even higher than that of the high-energy nations. Theirs is a bitter choice; it accounts for much of their anti-Western feeling and may well portend a prolonged period of world instability.

How closely energy consumption is related to standards of living may be illustrated by the example of India. Despite intelligent and sustained efforts made since independence, India's per capita income is still only 20 cents daily; her infant mortality is four times ours; and the life expectance of her people is less than one half that of the industrialized countries of the West. These are ultimate consequences of India's very low energy consumption: one-fourteenth of world average; one-eightieth of ours.

Ominous, too, is the fact that while world food production increased 9% in the six years from 1945-51, world population increased by 12%. Not only is world population increasing faster than world food production, but unfortunately, increases in food production tend to occur in the already well-fed, high-energy countries rather than in the undernourished, low-energy countries where food is most lacking.

I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is - in the long run - none.

The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot. Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.

In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift.

Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank. A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.

Engineers whose work familiarizes them with energy statistics; far-seeing industrialists who know that energy is the principal factor which must enter into all planning for the future; responsible governments who realize that the well-being of their citizens and the political power of their countries depend on adequate energy supplies - all these have begun to be concerned about energy resources. In this country, especially, many studies have been made in the last few years, seeking to discover accurate information on fossil-fuel reserves and foreseeable fuel needs.

Statistics involving the human factor are, of course, never exact. The size of usable reserves depends on the ability of engineers to improve the efficiency of fuel extraction and use. It also depends on discovery of new methods to obtain energy from inferior resources at costs which can be borne without unduly depressing the standard of living. Estimates of future needs, in turn, rely heavily on population figures which must always allow for a large element of uncertainty, particularly as man reaches a point where he is more and more able to control his own way of life.

Current estimates of fossil fuel reserves vary to an astonishing degree. In part this is because the results differ greatly if cost of extraction is disregarded or if in calculating how long reserves will last, population growth is not taken into consideration; or, equally important, not enough weight is given to increased fuel consumption required to process inferior or substitute metals. We are rapidly approaching the time when exhaustion of better grade metals will force us to turn to poorer grades requiring in most cases greater expenditure of energy per unit of metal.

But the most significant distinction between optimistic and pessimistic fuel reserve statistics is that the optimists generally speak of the immediate future - the next twenty-five years or so - while the pessimists think in terms of a century from now. A century or even two is a short span in the history of a great people. It seems sensible to me to take a long view, even if this involves facing unpleasant facts.

For it is an unpleasant fact that according to our best estimates, total fossil fuel reserves recoverable at not over twice today's unit cost, are likely to run out at some time between the years 2000 and 2050, if present standards of living and population growth rates are taken into account. Oil and natural gas will disappear first, coal last. There will be coal left in the earth, of course. But it will be so difficult to mine that energy costs would rise to economically intolerable heights, so that it would then become necessary either to discover new energy sources or to lower standards of living drastically.

For more than one hundred years we have stoked ever growing numbers of machines with coal; for fifty years we have pumped gas and oil into our factories, cars, trucks, tractors, ships, planes, and homes without giving a thought to the future. Occasionally the voice of a Cassandra has been raised only to be quickly silenced when a lucky discovery revised estimates of our oil reserves upward, or a new coalfield was found in some remote spot. Fewer such lucky discoveries can be expected in the future, especially in industrialized countries where extensive mapping of resources has been done. Yet the popularizers of scientific news would have us believe that there is no cause for anxiety, that reserves will last thousands of years, and that before they run out science will have produced miracles. Our past history and security have given us the sentimental belief that the things we fear will never really happen - that everything turns out right in the end. But, prudent men will reject these tranquilizers and prefer to face the facts so that they can plan intelligently for the needs of their posterity.

Looking into the future, from the mid-20th Century, we cannot feel overly confident that present high standards of living will of a certainty continue through the next century and beyond. Fossil fuel costs will soon definitely begin to rise as the best and most accessible reserves are exhausted, and more effort will be required to obtain the same energy from remaining reserves. It is likely also that liquid fuel synthesized from coal will be more expensive. Can we feel certain that when economically recoverable fossil fuels are gone science will have learned how to maintain a high standard of living on renewable energy sources?

I believe it would be wise to assume that the principal renewable fuel sources which we can expect to tap before fossil reserves run out will supply only 7 to 15% of future energy needs. The five most important of these renewable sources are wood fuel, farm wastes, wind, water power, and solar heat.

Wood fuel and farm wastes are dubious as substitutes because of growing food requirements to be anticipated. Land is more likely to be used for food production than for tree crops; farm wastes may be more urgently needed to fertilize the soil than to fuel machines.

Wind and water power can furnish only a very small percentage of our energy needs. Moreover, as with solar energy, expensive structures would be required, making use of land and metals which will also be in short supply. Nor would anything we know today justify putting too much reliance on solar energy though it will probably prove feasible for home heating in favorable localities and for cooking in hot countries which lack wood, such as India.

More promising is the outlook for nuclear fuels. These are not, properly speaking, renewable energy sources, at least not in the present state of technology, but their capacity to "breed" and the very high energy output from small quantities of fissionable material, as well as the fact that such materials are relatively abundant, do seem to put nuclear fuels into a separate category from exhaustible fossil fuels. The disposal of radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants is, however, a problem which must be solved before there can be any widespread use of nuclear power.

Another limit in the use of nuclear power is that we do not know today how to employ it otherwise than in large units to produce electricity or to supply heating. Because of its inherent characteristics, nuclear fuel cannot be used directly in small machines, such as cars, trucks, or tractors. It is doubtful that it could in the foreseeable future furnish economical fuel for civilian airplanes or ships, except very large ones. Rather than nuclear locomotives, it might prove advantageous to move trains by electricity produced in nuclear central stations. We are only at the beginning of nuclear technology, so it is difficult to predict what we may expect.

Transportation - the lifeblood of all technically advanced civilizations - seems to be assured, once we have borne the initial high cost of electrifying railroads and replacing buses with streetcars or interurban electric trains. But, unless science can perform the miracle of synthesizing automobile fuel from some energy source as yet unknown or unless trolley wires power electric automobiles on all streets and highways, it will be wise to face up to the possibility of the ultimate disappearance of automobiles, trucks, buses, and tractors. Before all the oil is gone and hydrogenation of coal for synthetic liquid fuels has come to an end, the cost of automotive fuel may have risen to a point where private cars will be too expensive to run and public transportation again becomes a profitable business.

Today the automobile is the most uneconomical user of energy. Its efficiency is 5% compared with 23% for the Diesel-electric railway. It is the most ravenous devourer of fossil fuels, accounting for over half of the total oil consumption in this country. And the oil we use in the United States in one year took nature about 14 million years to create. Curiously, the automobile, which is the greatest single cause of the rapid exhaustion of oil reserves, may eventually be the first fuel consumer to suffer. Reduction in automotive use would necessitate an extraordinarily costly reorganization of the pattern of living in industrialized nations, particularly in the United States. It would seem prudent to bear this in mind in future planning of cities and industrial locations.

Our present known reserves of fissionable materials are many times as large as our net economically recoverable reserves of coal. A point will be reached before this century is over when fossil fuel costs will have risen high enough to make nuclear fuels economically competitive. Before that time comes we shall have to make great efforts to raise our entire body of engineering and scientific knowledge to a higher plateau. We must also induce many more young Americans to become metallurgical and nuclear engineers. Else we shall not have the knowledge or the people to build and run the nuclear power plants which ultimately may have to furnish the major part of our energy needs. If we start to plan now, we may be able to achieve the requisite level of scientific and engineering knowledge before our fossil fuel reserves give out, but the margin of safety is not large. This is also based on the assumption that atomic war can be avoided and that population growth will not exceed that now calculated by demographic experts.

War, of course, cancels all man's expectations. Even growing world tension just short of war could have far-reaching effects. In this country it might, on the one hand, lead to greater conservation of domestic fuels, to increased oil imports, and to an acceleration in scientific research which might turn up unexpected new energy sources. On the other hand, the resulting armaments race would deplete metal reserves more rapidly, hastening the day when inferior metals must be utilized with consequent greater expenditure of energy. Underdeveloped nations with fossil fuel deposits might be coerced into withholding them from the free world or may themselves decide to retain them for their own future use. The effect on Europe, which depends on coal and oil imports, would be disastrous and we would have to share our own supplies or lose our allies.

Barring atomic war or unexpected changes in the population curve, we can count on an increase in world population from two and one half billion today to four billion in the year 2000; six to eight billion by 2050. The United States is expected to quadruple its population during the 20th Century - from 75 million in 1900 to 300 million in 2000 - and to reach at least 375 million in 2050. This would almost exactly equal India's present population which she supports on just a little under half of our land area.

It is an awesome thing to contemplate a graph of world population growth from prehistoric times - tens of thousands of years ago - to the day after tomorrow - let us say the year 2000 A.D. If we visualize the population curve as a road which starts at sea level and rises in proportion as world population increases, we should see it stretching endlessly, almost level, for 99% of the time that man has inhabited the earth. In 6000 B.C., when recorded history begins, the road is running at a height of about 70 feet above sea level, which corresponds to a population of 10 million. Seven thousand years later - in 1000 A.D. - the road has reached an elevation of 1,600 feet; the gradation now becomes steeper, and 600 years later the road is 2,900 feet high. During the short span of the next 400 years - from 1600 to 2000 - it suddenly turns sharply upward at an almost perpendicular inclination and goes straight up to an elevation of 29,000 feet - the height of Mt. Everest, the world's tallest mountain.

In the 8,000 years from the beginning of history to the year 2000 A.D. world population will have grown from 10 million to 4 billion, with 90% of that growth taking place during the last 5% of that period, in 400 years. It took the first 3,000 years of recorded history to accomplish the first doubling of population, 100 years for the last doubling, but the next doubling will require only 50 years. Calculations give us the astonishing estimate that one out of every 20 human beings born into this world is alive today.

The rapidity of population growth has not given us enough time to readjust our thinking. Not much more than a century ago our country - the very spot on which I now stand was a wilderness in which a pioneer could find complete freedom from men and from government. If things became too crowded - if he saw his neighbor's chimney smoke - he could, and often did, pack up and move west. We began life in 1776 as a nation of less than four million people - spread over a vast continent - with seemingly inexhaustible riches of nature all about. We conserved what was scarce - human labor - and squandered what seemed abundant - natural resources - and we are still doing the same today.

Much of the wilderness which nurtured what is most dynamic in the American character has now been buried under cities, factories and suburban developments where each picture window looks out on nothing more inspiring than the neighbor's back yard with the smoke of his fire in the wire basket clearly visible.

Life in crowded communities cannot be the same as life on the frontier. We are no longer free, as was the pioneer - to work for our own immediate needs regardless of the future. We are no longer as independent of men and of government as were Americans two or three generations ago. An ever larger share of what we earn must go to solve problems caused by crowded living - bigger governments; bigger city, state, and federal budgets to pay for more public services. Merely to supply us with enough water and to carry away our waste products becomes more difficult and expansive daily. More laws and law enforcement agencies are needed to regulate human relations in urban industrial communities and on crowded highways than in the America of Thomas Jefferson.

Certainly no one likes taxes, but we must become reconciled to larger taxes in the larger America of tomorrow.

I suggest that this is a good time to think soberly about our responsibilities to our descendants - those who will ring out the Fossil Fuel Age. Our greatest responsibility, as parents and as citizens, is to give America's youngsters the best possible education. We need the best teachers and enough of them to prepare our young people for a future immeasurably more complex than the present, and calling for ever larger numbers of competent and highly trained men and women. This means that we must not delay building more schools, colleges, and playgrounds. It means that we must reconcile ourselves to continuing higher taxes to build up and maintain at decent salaries a greatly enlarged corps of much better trained teachers, even at the cost of denying ourselves such momentary pleasures as buying a bigger new car, or a TV set, or household gadget. We should find - I believe - that these small self-denials would be far more than offset by the benefits they would buy for tomorrow's America. We might even - if we wanted - give a break to these youngsters by cutting fuel and metal consumption a little here and there so as to provide a safer margin for the necessary adjustments which eventually must be made in a world without fossil fuels.

One final thought I should like to leave with you. High-energy consumption has always been a prerequisite of political power. The tendency is for political power to be concentrated in an ever-smaller number of countries. Ultimately, the nation which controls the largest energy resources will become dominant. If we give thought to the problem of energy resources, if we act wisely and in time to conserve what we have and prepare well for necessary future changes, we shall insure this dominant position for our own country.

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In this document I intend to expose the strategic discrimination policies that are being used against white British born applicants who seek funding, training and jobs in the British film industry. I shall first recount two specific discrimination experiences that I have had in applying for training and funding myself. I’ll then assess the actual policies that are used to justify this discrimination and identify as best I can, who formulates the policy and what their objectives are. Finally, I will offer advice to those who wish to break down this discrimination barrier.

Personal experience no. 1) North West Vision (Liverpool office - 2005)

Having written, produced, funded, directed and edited three independent short films with a total running time of 1hr 22mins, I decided it was time to ease the burden on my own wallet. It was time to apply for external funding for a new project. My immediate point of call in my home town of Liverpool was a company called North West Vision. I phoned their office and spoke to a woman named Helen Bingham, who assured me that there were funds available and that she would like to interview me. So far so good. Upon arriving for interview I was greeted with minimal enthusiasm and got the impression that Helen’s expectations of who I was had been severely disappointed. I presented Helen with a DVD of my previous work plus a rough draft of a script I’d just written.

After glancing at the first page of my script and without viewing the DVD, Helen then told me “There are no funds available at the moment”. I bit the bullet and pointed out her disappointed response upon my arrival, her unwillingness to consider my previous work and her contradictory assurance over the phone that there was funding available for new applicants. I requested an honest explanation. Helen’s reply was short and to the point, “The problem is you’re a young white male and we’ve got enough of that” … her exact words. I then debated with Helen about the racist, sexist and ageist nature of her comment, at which point she explained to me that denying young white male’s the opportunity to apply for funding was ethically and legally sound because of what she claimed to be a disproportionate representation of ethnic groups in British film.

Over the following weeks I spoke to several other local film makers about my experience at NWV and many of them, including some who were from minority ethnic groups themselves, spoke of similar experiences. A friend of mine, Matt Capper, described that he had gone through the complaint procedures at NWV about their discriminatory selection process, but his complaint was simply ignored.

I then visited the NWV website and found that an intense debate had already been raging on their forums on the subject of “positive” discrimination. I joined in the debate by describing my experience with Helen Bingham and told the forum that if they wished to meet me in person we could pay a collective visit to the NWV office to challenge their staff on the issue. After just a few hours the NWV forum was completely shut down. That was in 2005 and to my knowledge it was never re-opened.

Personal experience no. 2) The BBC (Manchester office - 2007)

Having moved home to Manchester, I decided to apply to the BBC for a training position. They had placed an ad on several websites announcing that there were twenty training positions available for people to work at various levels in the BBC. They described that applications were welcome from people who could demonstrate that they had already used their initiative in their own independent film projects. I figured I would stand a decent chance on that basis, and so I phoned for an interview.

A very polite receptionist then asked me for a few details about myself, including my ethnicity. After telling her I was white British born, she told me in a very embarrassed tone that I was not eligible to apply for any of the training posts because they were only open to people of minority ethnicity. I then asked if there were any similar training programmes that a white British born person could apply for. She told me there wasn’t at that point in time and could not specify when one would be available.

Over the following days I made several phone calls back to the Manchester BBC office requesting to speak to whoever had formulated the policy of only training people form ethnic minorities. Eventually I spoke to Belinda Storrs. She was very polite and offered me an interview to discuss what other opportunities could be identified at the BBC for which I could apply. It took several cancellations and rearrangements over the following weeks before the interview actually took place. Belinda and her colleague were very supportive and professional. However, there was only one problem. There were still no training opportunities at the BBC for white British born applicants. The only thing they could offer was to apply for a voluntary position as a runner, but explained that these posts usually go to recently graduated media students. What Belinda and her colleague did was tell me every other organisation I could go to in Manchester … outside of the BBC. I still didn’t get to speak to the manager who had formulated the “no white applicants for training” policy.

The policies and policy makers

The two discrimination experiences I’ve described, plus those described to me by other independent film makers since, have led me to suspect that an anti-white policy is in operation across the British film industry.

To investigate this further I visited several major UK film and television websites and began piecing together a hierarchy of how the British film industry is constructed and who funds it. As it turn out, Northwest Vision receives it’s funding and conditional policies from the Northwest Development Agency or NWDA. The NWDA is one of nine government-sponsored regional development agencies in England.

The NWDA very aggressively emphasises its concerns over diversity and multi-culturalism, to the point where it seems that managers operating under its schemes are assumed to be racist unless they spend incredible amounts of time fulfilling paperwork requirements that suggest otherwise. Have a read of their Racial Equality Scheme documents. They clearly demonstrate that funding of businesses and schemes will go to those who employ the highest number of disabled and ethnic minority workers at all levels of the organisation. Northwest Vision are simply complying with those conditions.

NWV also receives additional support from the UK Film Council. Now here is an organisation worth looking at in detail. The homepage of their website states, “The UK Film Council is the Government-backed lead agency for film in the UK ensuring that the economic, cultural and educational aspects of film are effectively represented at home and abroad.”

There is no mention here of promoting film as an art form, but the menu on the left features a Diversity section, which expands into quite a lengthy selection of info pages. Among these we find a link to what is called the Diversity Toolkit.

Click on this link and you are taken to a separate website solely devoted to the diversity policies of the UK Film Council.

It is here that we can gain an understanding of the “positive” discrimination activities of the British film industry. Under the section called Top Tips For Employers – Recruitment and Selection we find the following statement, “You can use positive action statements in your job advertisements to attract applicants from groups that are under-represented in your company.”

The words “positive action” are linked to a description in the sites Glossary of Terms.

At the bottom of this linked page it is acknowledge that, “Positive discrimination, affirmative action or reverse discrimination, generally means choosing someone solely on the grounds of their gender or racial group, and not on their abilities. Positive discrimination is illegal under UK anti-discrimination law.” Well done UK Film council. So Helen Bingham’s comment to me that “The problem is you’re a young white male and we’ve got enough of that”, would certainly qualify as a discriminatory comment … or does it?

At the top of this same page the following are listed as acceptable “positive action” practice:

Targeting job training at people of particular racial groups, or either gender, who have been under-represented in certain occupations or grades during the previous 12 months, or encouraging them to apply for such work.
Providing facilities to meet any specific educational, training or welfare needs identified for a specific racial group.
Measures to provide training and special encouragement for returners to the labour market after a period of time discharging domestic or family responsibilities.
Special encouragement such as targeted advertising and recruitment literature, reserving places for one gender on training courses or providing taster courses in non-traditional areas.
Can you see the contradictions? In order to target job training at a particular group, other groups have to be excluded by default. Remember that when I tried to apply for a training position at the BBC I was told that I couldn’t because of my ethnicity, even though the recruitment ads did not state this. Was that “positive action” or “reverse discrimination”? More importantly, is there even a difference?

How about the last recommendation, “Special encouragement such as targeted advertising and recruitment literature, reserving places for one gender on training courses …”? We are expected to believe that it is discrimination to, “choose someone solely on the grounds of their gender or racial group”, but that it’s acceptable to show preference in your advertising for a particular ethnic group … that its acceptable to concentrate your advertising at a particular ethnic group, so that another ethnic groups are less aware of such training opportunities and thus lees likely to apply. We are expected to believe that it’s acceptable to, “reserve places for one gender on training courses”. In actual practice the BBC took this to the level of denying twenty training opportunities to the indigenous white British born people at a time when no other such training programmes were in operation. They don't just reserve them for gender. They reserve them for race.

I have a different phrase for this kind of policy. It isn’t “positive action”. It is “strategic discrimination”. You could also call it "Diversity Propaganda". Rather than reject hordes of white British born people during the interview and selection process, which is illegal, the discrimination has been shifted to the advertising and course design stages, where it is less likely to be noticed.

The argument that is used across the board as a justification when people complain about these practices is that certain ethnicities are under-represented in particular industries. This is a tried and tested argument that backs off the critics because it implies that anyone who is against the policy is actually racist toward the “under-represented” group.

According to the UK Film Council website, “The majority of the UK population are white (92%). The remaining 8% (4.6 million people) belong to other ethnic groups.” The site also states that in 2006/07, “People from minority ethnic groups made up only 5% of the film production workforce, below the UK all-sectors average of 7% and well below the London workforce average of 24%.”

So a difference of just 2% is being used to justify the strategic discrimination policies against white British born people in the UK film industry. The data about the London workforce average of 24% has been included by the UK film Council in an attempt to make the gap appear larger, but is contradicted by another statement on the same page, “Production and distribution were concentrated in London and the South East, with 76% and 68.3% of the workforce respectively.” So if the proportion of ethnic minority employees were to be boosted up to comply with the London workforce average of 24% then white British born people would be vastly under-represented on a national level, being that the film industry is mostly London-based. According to proportional representation logic, white people should account for 92% of the film industry workforce for the entire nation, so why is the London workforce average quoted in the UK Film Council's Diversity Toolkit? The policy makers are distorting the issue as a justification to deny opportunities to white people in the industry.

Let’s take a look at the so-called “positive action” practices and their statistical justifications at another film funding website.

This site is for an organisation called Skillset. Their site states, “Skillset's Film Skills Fund is the largest fund in the UK dedicated to support Film specific training.” They also run a particular ethnic minority training program, under which the following statement can be found:

“The Graduate Fellowship Program was delivered under clause 37 of the Race Relations Act which allows training organisations to run programmes for people from black and ethnic origin groups which have been demonstrated to be under represented in a particular industry. Research conducted by Skillset has found that 7% of the workforce of London's audio visual industries is from black and ethnic minorities, compared to 35% of the overall population of inner London.”

So here we find that strategic discrimination is a legal practice, endorsed by the government. Notice also the difference of proportional statistics. The UK film council cites the proportion of ethnic minority workers in the film industry as 5% in 2006/07, but Skillset claims it to be 7% - just one percent below the proportional representation bar for the entire population of the nation. The UK Film Council cites the London workforce average as being 24% ethnic minority, but Skillset have chosen to cite the ethnic minority proportion of 35% for London as awhole.

To emphasise the selective nature of these statistics let’s go back to the Diversity Toolkit website and their Diversity Snapshot statements.

I bring your attention to the following statement, “The film production workforce is predominantly young, with 84% aged 49 or under. Just 10% of women in this area are aged 50 or over.” What is important is the information that is being left out. Of course the number of women over age 50 in the film industry will be lower than men. State pension eligibilityin the UK is currently age 60 for women, but it's age 65 for men.

To further your understanding of the age factor, I'd like to direct you to the final section of the UK Film council’s own Statistical Yearbook 2006/07.

On page 168, “Overall, the film and video industry workforce was 33% larger in 2006 than in 1994, against an increase in the overall UK workforce of 13% over the same period.” The huge increase in the workforce size since 1994 is part of the reason for the imbalance of age. How many people over the age of 49 in that period have made the decision to change career and enter the film industry compared to school leavers signing up for media courses? In addition, the availability of digital camcorders and home pc editing software in the last decade, along with greater computer literacy among young people, has naturally meant that younger people are more able to carry out technical roles in the digitized film industry. The age statistics quoted by the UK Film Council are not evidence of ageism. They are the natural byproduct of recent technological change.

Here’s another quote from the same Statistics Yearbook page, “In 2006, 48% of those engaged in film and video production (SIC 9211), a total of 11,716 people, were self-employed”. This reveals other factors that are not acknowledged in the UK Film Council’s diversity policies. Of the 5% ethnic minority portion of the workforce, how many are freelance and how many are direct employees? If all of the ethnic minority workers were direct employees and not freelancers then this would mean that white people are under-represented in the permanent jobs sector of the film industry, but over-represented as freelancers. The statistics also do not tell us exactly how much work these freelancers do in an average year. Some of them may only get a few weeks or months, yet there ethnicity is still statistically used as if they are were had permanent jobs.

Proportional representation is in itself based upon flawed logic. Individual cultures have their own preferences for certain mediums of expression. Here are a variety of examples in other aspects of society where proportional representation of ethnic groups is unequal, yet is not subject to the kind diversity polices found in the UK film industry.

Animation is immensely popular among Japanese.
Black culture is strongly emphasized in the music industry.
Indian men as medical practitioners in the UK are proportionally ten times higher in comparison with white men.
Taxi drivers are over-represented among Asian men in the UK.
Does anybody complain about proportional representation among the types of cultural food being served in the UK? I’m a white British born person and much prefer food from other cultures because those often value the quality of their food more than my own culture.
How about sports? Particular ethnic groups sometimes excel above others, but do we demand proportional representation in order to convince ourselves that we are equal in every way? That would defeat the purpose of competition.
What about over-representation of Polish workers in sectors of UK industries such as construction. We use them because they’re cheap and work longer hours, but why is this not considered a form of economic discrimination against that cultural group.
And, taking it to an even more ridiculous level - What if we started fixing court convictions in order to create proportional representation among prison inmates?
Diversity policy makers ignore the fact that ethnic disproportion is not in itself evidence of racist recruiting. It is often a reflection of cultural preferences.

Now it's easy to assume that the policy makers are simply misinterpreting statistical data and over-reacting, but notice that these policy are virtually always used against white British born people, particularly the males. The policies are very rarely used the other way around.

Here are some other examples of proportional misrepresentation in the UK film industry that are not tackled with diversity policy. Again these are taken from the UK Film council’s Statistical Yearbook 2006/07 .

64% of production / script development are female
85% of camera technicians are male
85% of hair dressing / make-up are female
96% of sound / electrical technicians are male
80% of costume workers are female
97% of construction workers are male
Do these figures represent sexism in the industry? Of course not. Different genders are drawn toward different types of workplace activities, just as different cultures are. The point is that we are not all equal. We are individuals with varying strengths, weaknesses and motivations that are sometimes instilled in us by our gender and our culture. It is natural for this to be reflected in workforce statistics.

The proportion that really matters is who is capable and motivated in doing the job. If it happens to be the case that Britain’s Chinese population of less than 1% do a particular job so well that they make up teenty percent of the workforce in that sector of industry then I say “give them the jobs so that we can all reap the benefits of the best quality service”.

So why are these strategic discrimination policies being practiced against white British born people? It is a combination of the UK government and the European Union who attach these ridiculous conditions to the release of funds, and so the motives must lie with them.

The question is “how do the UK and EU policy makers gain from strategic discrimination?” I have four contentions to offer.

My first contention is that the biasing of work opportunities away from white British born people in favour of ethnic minorities offsets our government's aggressive and racist foreign policy. It makes the government appear pro-cultural while declaring war against middle-eastern countries.
My second contention is that diversity policy provides the justification to allow a great deal of cheap foreign labour into the UK. this benefits the biggest corporations and keeps the economy afloat while taxpayers money is spent on warfare.
My third contention is that diversity propaganda is a strategy to breakdown our sense of national identity so that we can be more easily integrated into the European Union. Much of the money is coming from the EU and like most political bodies, the EU has expansionist motives, hence the ethnic diversity conditions attached to the money. However, according to opinion polls of the think tank group Global Vision the majority of the British poulation object to further integration in the EU.
And my fourth contention is that the highly sensitive topic of race relations is being used as a strategy of destroying free speech.
Of course I could be wrong here on all four contentions. Their may or may not be other agendas at work.

Regardless of what the agendas really are, this strategic discrimination / diversity propaganda practice looks set to continue. This is why film makers across Britain should start speaking out now and challenge the British film industry on this issue.

If you are being denied opportunities then you can affect change. Remember that the BBC actually arranged an interview for me simply because I was asking to speak to the person responsible for their anti-white policy on training. Imagine if thousands of people were calling up and demanding answers.

If you see a course that is ethnic minority only then ask what other courses are available that a white British born person can apply for. If there are none then insist that you be allowed to speak to whoever is forming the racist policy and then demand an explanation.

Do not let yourself be discriminated against. Make your experiences known. Let the discriminating organisation know that you intend to make phonecalls, write emails and sens letters to their funding sources. Let them know that you will post your grievances online in film making forums, blogs, articles and even as presentations on video sharing sites (You may recall that Northwest Vision closed down their forum permanently after I posted on it). If the company tries to call your bluff then follow up on your good word and make sure that thousands of people hear about their practices.

Go to the website of the film organisation that you know is practicing reverse-discrimination. Read through their literature and identify what their exact policies are so that they can’t pull the wool over your eyes when you challenge them. Identify their official complaint procedures and make use of them.

There are a variety of approaches you can take. Every organisation wishes to maintain a squeaky clean image in the eyes of their investors and in the eyes of the public. If you have the goods on them then you are in a position to affect change.

Note: All readers have permission to reproduce and distribute this article, but not to alter its content. Thanyou for reading.

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008




Teenagers to be sent to 'community cohesion camps' to make them better citizens

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 3:30 PM on 19th August 2008

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The government is spending £4.5million on a scheme it hopes will get teenagers off the streets by encouraging them to become better community citizens.

British teenagers are to be given the chance to attend 'community cohesion' camps as part of a plan to develop a greater appreciation and understanding among the country's youth.

Ministers announced today the funding has been earmarked for a number of activity programmes and projects, which will help them 'become better socially minded.'

The government is spending £4.5m on community camps for teenagers which it hopes will help them become 'better public citizens'.

Children's minister Beverley Hughes said some of the funding will be set aside for the community cohesion-themed camps, which will start in the autumn. Mainstream summer camps will also be held.

Youngsters, particularly those in deprived areas, will be given the opportunity to attend, where they will be encouraged to develop their social and emotional skills.

It is also hoped that teenagers will build their understanding and appreciation of those from different backgrounds.

The Government said it hoped the funding would unite young people of different races, gender, ethnicity and religion and promote positive community relations.

The projects would also help to occupy those young people who could otherwise be involved in anti-social behaviour, ministers said.

Young people have already put forward themes to cover at the camps, including gang activity and its impact on the community, managing local rivalries and conflicts and celebrating diversity.

Ms Hughes said: 'We want to make sure that young people have plenty of interesting things to do, are kept active and engaged, and out of trouble.

'These camps will give these young people a chance to mix with their peers, have fun, make new friends and learn new skills.'

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Slavery 'to blame' for social unrest amongst British African population
Published by Jon Land for in Communities , Local Government

Monday 18th August 2008 - 3:55pm

Slavery 'to blame' for social unrest amongst British African population

All the social unrest in the British African population can be attributed to 200 years of slavery, a direct descendent of William Wilberforce claimed today.

Lady (Kate) Davson, the great-great-great granddaughter of the anti-slavery campaigner, made the comments at the unveiling by London Mayor Boris Johnson of a maquette of a planned slavery memorial in the capital.

She said: "The white population of Great Britain has got to be on its knees to make things right. The apology should be visible to show we accept that we effected the most awful wounds on a huge number of people."

As her husband's ancestors owned sugar estates in Guyana, she said that they "really have to grovel".

Britain's key role in both implementing and benefiting from the slave trade meant that the country must lead the way in apologising, she added.

Mr Johnson, who has claimed to be directly descended from slaves himself, said it was "vital" never to forget the role Britain played in slavery, when he unveiled the model of the planned memorial sculpture at City Hall in London.

He said: "It's vital that our children have a reminder of man's inhumanity to man."

He is supporting the campaign by voluntary group Memorial 2007 (named after the bi-centenary of the British parliamentary abolition of the slave trade), which wants to establish the first permanent national memorial in Britain to remember enslaved Africans and their descendants.

The model of the memorial sculpture, which it is hoped will be installed in the Rose Garden in London's Hyde Park by 2011, shows six human figures representing different aspects of the slave trade, standing atop a round plinth.

Sculptor Les Johnson, who created the model after winning a competition to design the memorial, said: "The important thing was to understand the brief and what the committee was aiming to commemorate with this memorial."

The maquette of his design will be exhibited at City Hall from today until December 1 to mark International Slavery Memorial Day on August 23.

Memorial 2007 said it needed to raise £1.5 million to fund the installation of the full-sized statue in Hyde Park, and is appealing for donations. A permanent site in the park, of about 1,080 square metres, has been negotiated with Government support.

Oku Ekpenyon, a Memorial 2007 organiser, said: "There is a lack of knowledge and understanding about the history of Africa, the repercussion of slavery and what it meant for Britain.

"This memorial will be an educational resource as the focus of curriculum-based and life-long learning.

"It will also serve within a broader context to highlight in a national and public setting the centrality of the experience of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the history of Britain. This in turn will function as a focus for family and local history researchers."

She said the statue would be the first permanent memorial in any capital city in the world that was involved in the slave trade.

The Mayor said: "Hyde Park is a fitting site for a permanent memorial to the millions who lost their lives and the courageous people who fought to end the brutal transatlantic slave trade."

Boris Johnson said in March that his great-great-grandmother was a Circassian slave (from a region in southern Russia), sold to his great-great-grandfather. He claimed that she was only set free when they married.

However, when the BBC studied Johnson's story for an edition of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? in which celebrities trace their family trees, it was unable to find proof.


Slavery was good for the black man

Michael Dingwall

Saturday, August 09, 2008

As we celebrate emancipation and independence, we are being reminded of the horrors of slavery. According to our leaders, academics and others, slavery was the worst institution ever created. However, while it is popular for most to agree with this claim, I beg to disagree. Indeed, contrary to the belief that slavery was bad for us blacks, I believe that slavery was good for us.

Have we ever stopped to consider where we black people, especially those of us in the West, would be right now if it weren't for the Atlantic Slave Trade? What state do you think black Africa would be in today? Do you think that we would have been better off without slavery? I don't think so!

When the Europeans went to Africa to buy slaves, what did they find? They found a society and people vastly inferior to theirs. While the Europeans had emerged from their feudal practices, our ancestors in Africa, for the most part, had not developed for many centuries. We did not understand the concept of nation or government. Science and technology (and innovations in these areas) were non-existent in black Africa of the 15th and 16th centuries. Indeed, as a people, we had no sense of self-identity. In many respects, we were uncivilised.

Slavery was our most important contact with modernity. It is through this "most heinous system ever created" that we blacks were able to understand some of the principles of global trade. Our ancestors were introduced to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade between Europe, Africa and the West Indies. Black Africa's part in the trade was the importation of European technology and the export of slaves. The importation of European technology was important - even though the Africans did not appreciate this importance at first. The export of slaves was also very important, especially for us in the West.

As time went on, we blacks, both in Africa and especially in the Caribbean were, in many ways, being Europeanised and thus civilised. We adopted several aspects of their culture - their systems of government, their technologies, their sense of order and their languages. In doing this, we discarded those aspects of our culture that clearly placed us at a disadvantage - like our lack of sense of self, loyalty to the tribe and our non-participation in modern technology.

Although not a believer in any god myself, the Christianity that came with slavery and European control would be of immense value to us black people. Back in Africa, we were preoccupied with the worship of animals, trees, spirits of the dead - even stones. These primitive religions that we were practising ensured that our ancestors in Africa were backward. The relatively superior Christianity, with its greater sense of order and responsibility would help, in many ways, to pull the black man out of the Stone Age. This could only have happened with slavery.

Our relatively stable societies today, especially in the West, are testaments to the benefits of slavery. While it is true that black Africa has, for the most part, squandered the opportunities that slavery offered in the past, the positive influence of European civilisation cannot be denied. The black nation states of Africa and the Caribbean have given black people a sense of nation, a sense of identity, a sense of order and a sense of purpose - things we never had before.

While we continue to demonstrate our inferiority in the areas of science and technology, through centuries of being exposed to Europe on account of slavery, we blacks are now aware of the need for us to start excelling in these areas.

Those of us who continue to see the millions of blacks who died crossing the Atlantic and the displacement of what we had in Africa as proof that slavery was a bad institution don't understand the mechanics of human development and evolution. Similar processes had to be endured by countless peoples thoughout history. The development of the human race has always involved the need for change. Slavery was one such means, and like it or not, we blacks are the beneficiaries. It is not for us today to judge the means through which societies have changed in the past.

We blacks were changed, for the better, I might add, on account of slavery. We are a better race today because our ancestors went though slavery. The millions of lives lost were not lost in vain. The Europeans proclaimed the need for us to be civilised through slavery and though this may be hard to understand, they were right. Indeed, based on what is happening in black Africa today - slavery for us in the West was, in many respects, our salvation.

Michael Dingwall is a freelance writer.

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Sunday, 17 August 2008


Thursday, 14 August 2008

The rebellion of the child-brides
By Johann Hari

Late last year, a tiny little ten year old girl turned up alone at the court in Sana, Yemen, and declared: "I have come to get a divorce." This hadn't happened before. According to the Yemen Times, in some parts of the country the average marriage age is ten, and some 50 percent of marriages are to underage girls. But Nujood Ali was unique in escaping to a court door, pleading for help.

Nujood explained how her father had married her off to a thirtysomething motorcycle courier. On their wedding night, he ordered her to share a bed with him. She ran out of the room, so he dragged her back and raped her.

At first she was ashamed. "But I passed through that," she said recently. "All I want now is to finish my education. I want to be a lawyer… I want to defend oppressed people. I want to be an example for all the other girls." After saying this, she ran off to play hide-and-seek.

The court eventually dissolved the marriage – and awarded compensation to her husband in apology. But Nujood has spearheaded a national revulsion against child-marriage. The conservative Islamic mullahs have reacted by saying there is nothing wrong with child-marriage – because Mohammed did it. I discuss this in my column today. It is true Mohammed did this. If you are trapped in the fundamentalist mindset of Mohammed-is-our-moral-exemplar, you have no way to answer back. The debate is resolved; Nujood's "husband" was in the right.

To get out of this bind, you need to leave behind a fundamentalist reading of Islam. You need to accept that parts of it are metaphor – or, better still, abandon supernatural explanations for life altogether.

This is far from confined to Yemen. The excellent reporter Amelia Hill discovered that child marriages are happening here in Britain too. She met a young Muslim woman who at the age of fourteen was forced to marry her cousin in an unofficial "community ceremony." She explained: "They kept whispering in my ear to ask why I wasn't smiling. I told them I was terrified and desperate, that I was just a child and far too young to get married. I pleaded with them to help me escape, but no-one saw anything wrong in what was happening. I begged my husband not to marry me, but he told me I had no choice." She was raped that night. "It was disgusting, awful. I used to scream and cry all night. I was too young, too tender inside. It killed me inside. Life became meaningless… I had my childhood taken away and missed out on all my teenage years. Sometimes I still wonder if it’s worth trying to have a future. Many days, I’m not at all sure it is." After two suicide attempts, she managed to escape, and when Hill found her she was living, alone, in a refuge.

Peter Cripps, head of the Community Safety Unit at my local police station in Shoreditch, told Hill these forced child-marriages "are happening and numbers are growing." Nobody is trying to figure out how many Muslim girls are suffering this way.

To call anyone who tries to help them "Islamopohobic" is an obscene betrayal of these young women. Some of the bravest critics of this barbarism are in fact British Muslim women: they staff and run a series of brilliant domestic violence refuges. But the fundamentalist literalist reading of Islam chokes their efforts. It will always tell the girls that child-marriage is acceptable, because Mohammed did it. If we can't criticize and reinterpret Mohammed without being threatened, then we may be unable – in the end – to cut away the intellectual justification for abusing these girls.

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It is an absolute travesty that Islam is allowed to treat women in this way. Still more because we in the west have become so complacent in the notion that women are liberated that we have forgotten (or are apathetic) to the plight of women around the world (the same goes for homosexuals). Thanks Johann for having the courage to write these columns. More of the same please!

Posted by: Tom Wood | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 01:11 PM

Well, the guy wouldn't have a leg to stand on in Islamic Jurisprudence. Just because Muhammed did it, doesn't mean anyone can do it. The stories say he was advised to do so by a higher being. Obviously most people wouldn't care about this but this guy wouldn't/shouldn't have a leg to stand on, in any Islamic court.

On a lighter note (light is hope), being someone who had to run away from home myself; the power of freedom most often lies with these women and they have to realise their strengths and choices, not just for freedom but because they deserve and have the right to demand the same respect that should be given to every human being.

It shouldn't happen to anyone, but it does, whether it's in the name of religion or just messed up desire.

Posted by: Somebody | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:03 PM

Good for her, I'm glad she managed to make her escape and hopefully the Yemani courts will now do something about this situation.

Tom Woods, don't get so xenophobic about Islam, christianity at the peak of its power wasn't any better and stood by as children were married off at even younger ages and said and did nothing, if anything they too were complicit! It wasn't unusual for a female child to be betrothed to an older, wealthier man before she reached her teens and married as soon as she had her first period, the first child following not long after.

Mostly what is happening here has little to do with Islam but with ignorance in a traditionally male dominated and unenducated society where women are still viewed as property.

Posted by: flipped | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:26 PM

Salam, (peace be upon you)

I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age. You cannot take examples from the life of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) and then apply them to yourself. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a human no arguements about this but we believe him to be the most unique human and unrivalled human in the history of mankind. There are certain aspects of his life where we follow his example and certain aspects where they do not apply to us ordinary human beings. We believe he split the moon in two and returned the sun after it had set now find me one person living on this planet who claims to do this let alone actually carry these acts out.

The authour of this article has mentioned that he thought twice about writing the article discussing the age of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) when she married Our Prophet (peace be upon him). He should have no fear if there are questions that need clarifying or remain unsatisfactorily unanswered then they should be raised otherwise how can one appreciate a religion without a healthy debate. I'd like to make it clear to everyone the age Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) has not categorically been accepted by scholars of Islam throughout the ages.

Within the grand picture of Islam today marriages taking place at such a young age are very rare. This barbaric practice is nothing to do with Islam this in itself goes against the rights of a human let alone a religion.

To everyone out there please visit:

Any questions about Islam and it's sometimes so-called bewildering practices come to my website and post a question (i cannot guarantee there won't be any fundamentalists idiots BUT I CAN GUARANTEE THAT THE MAJORITY WILL ALLOW YOU TO HAVE A HEALTHY DEBATE WHERE THE REAL PICTURE OF ISLAM WILL BE PAINTED):

Posted by: Yanabi User | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 02:34 PM

I'm sorry but the user CHRISTIAN is highlighting the fact that extremists views not only exist within Islamic Society (an opinion which Johan is trying to justify) but exists within every society.

when people mention the words extremists or fundamentalists they associate Muslims and Islam with these words. But these words aren't unique to one religion or society they are part and parcel of every religion every community every society.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 03:50 PM

Johann has really shown courage with his column condemning cowardice in 'Opinion & Debate' Thurs 14th Aug.
The "respect" shown to Islam, and the invention of the word "Islamophobic" by those who should know better, has become a serious problem in the UK.
Religion is a form of organized madness which distorts its followers sense of self and reality. It keeps going because of the indoctrination of children, which practice should be seen as a form of child abuse.
I sincerely thank Johann for his courage, and intend to follow his example by being openly critical of Islam in particular and religion in general.

Posted by: Mike Godsell | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 06:29 PM

Well said Johann.

Posted by: Ophelia Benson | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 07:16 PM

"You cannot take examples from the life of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) and then apply them to yourself."

So we're *not* required to be homicidal genocidal pedophiles? Whew, that's a relief.

"Within the grand picture of Islam today marriages taking place at such a young age are very rare. This barbaric practice is nothing to do with Islam this in itself goes against the rights of a human let alone a religion."

Funny, thousands of Muslim clerics disagree.

As for Christian fanatics, yes, they exist, as they do for every sect/cult/religion. But you can count the violent atrocities they've committed in the past decade on two hands (which are unlikely to have been chopped off.) You couldn't do that for a *day's* worth of Islamic atrocities.

And even if the numbers were similar, bad behavior by one cult does not excuse bad behavior by another.

I don't judge people, or the groups they belong to, by what they say. I judge them by what the *do*. You can make all the claims about how peaceful and wonderful Islam is, but the daily atrocities they commit renders such excuses meaningless.

The more I see of Islam in action the more obvious it becomes that it is completely incompatible with civilization. Every manifestation of it should be opposed at every level, from the most important to the most trivial.

Posted by: Hittman | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 07:35 PM

Yanabi states:
"I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age."

That is incorrect.
Please read the Fatwa on child marriages by an islamic website:

Quran sanctions marriage to children.

The same interpretation of quran sanctioning marriage to children is given by many tafseers of very famous islamic scholars over the last 1400 years (ibn Kathir, Jalalyn, ibn Abbas, Tabari, Mawdudi, etc. etc.).

Posted by: A. Kafir | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 10:04 PM

Could it possibly be that men in Islamic societies and those still controlling their daughters in the Uk (and other places where they are settled) routinely mistreat girls and women in the atmosphere of an ( I assert) sexist religion, encouraged and/or brought up in a mysogynistic society- because "they can" and it perpetuates their power???
Yes, I am being sarcastic - it comes with the territory of being a woman myself- It is just so obvious to me!

Posted by: Jlow | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 11:33 PM

Another excellent article by Johann.

Posted by: Donald | Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 11:37 PM


Im disappointed. Now why would you judge Islam but its minority and not its majority? I would think that the efforts of the Iraq and Afghani amry battling terrorist would be more representative of Islam than the terrorist themselves. Or how about all those Muslims who risked thier life to vote in reportedly free elections as demonstrative of Islam? I mean for every one terrorist you will have one million Muslims living lives of bread abd buttered issues. Lets be serious now.

And as for Christian fanatics... well... the past five hundreds years of European history, sorry, 100 years of European history doest exactly show them in a good light. Its a good thing they tired themselves out and gave all the wars and genocide a rest. Atleast for now. I hear the far right is back on the march so you never know.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:51 AM


"Every manifestation of it should be opposed at every level, from the most important to the most trivial."

Three cheers for religious freedom.

sarcasm now switched off.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:54 AM

I'm proud that this article was written, and I find it sad that people are able to dismiss rational debate purely by pronouncing "but that is not what I believe". I despise the fact that people (like Hittman) are willing to condemn all of Islam for the transgressions of a few, like with the Tabloid rumbles of outrage against the barest idea of Sharia law having any influence in this country when they are woefully ill-informed on the subject and equate it with the severing of limbs and stonings. Equally I find it repulsive that people use a Holy text to try and excuse abhorent behavior, and will label anyone who decries their abuse of power "infidel" and think that this legitimises offering (or inciting) violence. Congratulations Johann on an insightful
piece, and though it shouldn't need to be labelled brave ("i'll defend to the death your right to say it"), couragous too

Posted by: PAULA GLASSCOE | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 03:40 AM

"We believe he split the moon in two and returned the sun after it had set now find me one person living on this planet who claims to do this let alone actually carry these acts out."
ha ha ha! That is hilarious! Christianity likewise is just as insane. Bravo Johann!

Posted by: KEVIN DONNELLON | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 12:04 PM

keep the comments coming Johann, you are a breath of fresh air in the media. it is interesting to note that the barbaric practice of marrying off young girls is rare. hopefully as rare as the practice of female genital mutilation in east london via private surgeries. if you bury your head deep enough in the sand...

Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 12:22 PM


"Islam should be, and most likely is, illegal in accord with most western constitutions. "

Really? I know someone, because it is friday, got up and went to the Mosque to pray. Will he be arrested soon because of Islam illegality?

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:09 PM

Let's face it, it is not, never has been, and never will be, acceptable to have sex with a child. There is no belief system, religious or secular, that can justify such an act. It is paedophillia, pure and simple, and all governments should be working towards making child marriages totally illegal.

All power to a little girl in the Yemen, how brave she is. The man who married her should be in prison, not compensated.

Posted by: Andrea | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:18 PM

“I sincerely thank Johann for his courage, and intend to follow his example by being openly critical of Islam in particular and religion in general. (Mike Godsell)”

Why do you have to be openly critical about Islam? If you have questions or are perplexed about an issue why not ask questions directly to a Muslim before being critical? It seems you’re trying to walk before you can crawl. Like I have said my door is always open at the website you can be as critical as you like.

“Funny, thousands of Muslim clerics disagree.” (Hitman)

I have one request; can you name the thousands of Muslim Clerics? My point being that there’s this common misconception that the ones that shout loudest are the majority. There is a silent majority out there and you need to be aware of this before you can pass comment. As with all religions, were I alive in the age of the crusades no doubt I would have had the same feeling towards Christianity where the merciless crusaders carried out barbaric atrocities. At the same time Salahuddin Ayyubi (aka Saladin) preserved the peaceful message of Islam and is respected today by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We share the same sentiments as yourself but be aware of the facts, the legal age of a Muslim to marry in Yemen is 15:

“Quran sanctions marriage to children.” (A. Kafir)

Like in all other religions the holy texts are open to interpretation. Like the great debate taking place today in the Anglican Church over homosexuality the holy texts can be used to reinforce opposing views. You have to understand and accept that there is not a single path or a well-defined route mapped out for Muslims there are many different sects within Islam. Yes we have Shariah but again this is based on consensus and is ever evolving taking into account the environment and age we live in. We can go on forever quoting scholars of the past and still reach no conclusion, if you click on the link below you will find a ruling opposing the fatwa you quoted:

“The scholars like Ibn Shubrume, Uthman al-Betti, Abu Bakr al-Asam did not accept this standpoint. Allah commands in the Qur'an: "Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgement in them, release their property to them" (Nisaa, 6). In this verse childhood is restricted within the age of marriage. If early marriages were permitted, naturally, this restriction would be meaningless.”

“Yes, I am being sarcastic - it comes with the territory of being a woman myself- It is just so obvious to me!” (JLow)

Islam is a just and fair religion. During the time of Our Prophet (peace be upon him) there were many children relying on one parent families in most cases mothers. Research and surveys have highlighted the fact that being brought up in an unstable family especially single parent families leads to a greater chance of the child being involved in crime. There is wisdom in the actions of Our Prophet (peace be upon him):

“Yes, Yanabi, we do actually have a dozen people living on this planet who have actually walked on the Moon, unlike poor old Mohammad's hallucinations.” (Vaal)

You are entitled to your comments and you can ridicule me as much as you want. I am not forcing you to believe what I believe. Religion in itself requires a behaviour of faith which in turn relies on the heart and not the head.
“if you bury your head deep enough in the sand...” (kendo Nagasaki)

We come back to the old chestnut. Why do you paint everyone with the same brush??? Catholics oppose homosexuality but I’m not going to turn around and say all Christians abhor homosexuality am I?
“Johann, I bow to you, we need tons of free speech, our children, and the children of Muslims will thank us for it!” (Asgeir)

What a contradiction … before that last statement he was saying Islam should be banned! I’ll let all sane readers to judge for themselves – is he for freedom of speech or against?
“There is no belief system, religious or secular, that can justify such an act.” (Andrea)

Here, here, quite right!
“You know, the central prayer of Muslims - repeated 17 times a day - ends with words of not invoking God's wrath like the jews and not going astray like christians.
Sounds peaceful?” (Asgeir)

I’m sorry but this person might be referring to another religion here. Not one Muslim in any corner of the World is required to repeat prayers 17 times daily find me one and I’ll give you £100. Yes we are obliged to pray 5 times daily at certain times. As a Muslim I certainly do not invoke those words mentioned, yes we ask the Ultimate Creator to lead us to the straight path. Even if you are an atheist you’d want to be treading on a path that is righteous regardless if you believe in a divine power or not.
Another problem of society today … teenage mothers. I am not saying marrying young will solve the problem but if the whole essence of marriage is conversed to such young parents then maybe they will appreciate their responsibilities a bit more and consequently their offspring will not start their young lives with single parents which often leads to so many other hardships.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 01:44 PM

Lots of discussion here about whether we should criticize Islam, or allow ourselves to be silenced by "tu quoque" arguments about what Christians have done in the past. The record here has to be crystal clear - everyone has a right to speak critically of Islam, or any belief system. In no way should anyone be intimidated out of that right. This cannot be compromised, but if it is for the sake of protecting Islam from criticism, the fundamentalists will end up making many decisions for us, including the legal age of marriage, laws about domestic violence, rape, freedom of religion and restrictions on freedom of speech. Islam need criticism and deserves no protection. Muslims deserve no special respect for their beliefs or actions, and those which are inspired by Islamic holy texts, anyone has a right to point that out. Our freedom in this modern age of Muslim immigration to the Europe and America depends on it.

Posted by: Quijybo | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:04 PM

You are entitled to to your comments no one is denying you this right.

As a Muslim it does hurt me when people are making comments without any knowledge. They are being critical without knowing the full facts. No doubt if you did really have the correct understanding of Islam and what it stands for there would be no need for being crtitical in the first place.

The balance here has tilted to the point where Islam is being criticised because people feel the right to. Healthy debate is what is required where questions are posed rather than missiles of critique.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:12 PM

Yanabi User, people do have the right to critcise Islam and any other belief system if they wish to. And no, they don't have to spend hours studying the Koran in order to do so. They are entitled to criticise based on what they see and experience around them. I am critical of Catholocism, but I don't attend a Catholic Church. But I see the effect of denying condoms in Africa and other third world nations, I see and hear about the child abuse that has been perpertrated by priests, and I am critical. People do not need anyone's permission to be critical. When I read about a ten year old being married in the Yemen then I don't need to read the Koran or study Islam to know that it is wrong. There is no context in which it can be right. Nothing in the Koran would persuade me that it was right. If your prophet was to stand before me himself and tell me it was right I would still say it was wrong and I would be right.

I realise that paedophillia occurs in every race, culture and creed, but in most cultures and countries it is banned by the law and anyone breaking that law is a criminal who will be prosecuted if caught. The case in the Yemen shows a state (and religious) sanctioning of paedophillia, with the little girl's husband not only escaping prison for raping her, but being compensated. To me this is beyond comprehension.

Anyone who has sex with a child is a paedophile and should be treated as such.

Posted by: Andrea | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:48 PM

I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah.
secular governments get lured continue to get lulled into a false sense of security through this. its all as credible as my unswaying strong belief in the fairy god mother. and i cant understand why the government continues to fail to present the story of the fairy god mother as a viable alternative to evolution.

Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 02:59 PM

"Yanabi User, people do have the right to critcise Islam and any other belief system if they wish to... When I read about a ten year old being married in the Yemen then I don't need to read the Koran or study Islam to know that it is wrong... If your prophet was to stand before me himself and tell me it was right I would still say it was wrong and I would be right." (Andrea)

No one is saying you shouldn't criticise, what I have been saying is criticism based on shallow knowledge or minority view doesn't help your cause, in fact it devalues the critic. I am not denying to right to criticise the fact that a 10yr old got married in Yemen but what has that got to do with Islam? just because the participants are Muslim? The overwhelming majority of Muslims would argue against this so don't use a minor issue to taint a vast religion, you are generalising things a bit too much here.

Please view the links that I have provided.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 03:32 PM

I forgot to say Andrea, if my beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was to stand before you, you will be enlightened and I pray you will be enlightened one day.

"I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah.secular governments get lured continue to get lulled into a false sense of security through this" (kendo nagasaki ep)

What do you want the government to do? There are Catholics, Anglicans etc. within the current UK cabinet. Should they denounce all religions? you have so much respect for a secular goverment however some of the administrators follow a religion. You seem confused my friend. Secularism offers choice and I should be free to follow whatever religion I like just like yourself. Like it or not Muhammad is becoming as popular a babies name as Jack, why is this? it's not because we're breeding at an exponential rate superior to the rest of the UK citizens.

You can give my arguements a name (da'wah) if you want but it is simply my understanding of my religion and nothing else. Nothing sinister about it. I am still a student learning about the meaning and practices of my religion.

Before criticising a religion I would think twice three times or pass no comment. If I'm not armed with the knowledge about the religion I cannot deem myself fit to pass comment.

If I went up to Gordon Ramsey and said his food was rubbish then he would argue I know nothing about food. However, if a michelin food star critic was to pass an observation the this would be respected by Gordon because he is (deemed fit to pass comment) knowledgeable on the food the different tastes, textures, fusions etc.

Anyone can criticise Islam no one can deny someone this right but will it be valued? A critic is only deserved respect if he/she is an expert or has good knowledge on the subject.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:03 PM

kendo nagasaki,

"I think yanabi user is an exponent of da'wah."

And your objection is what exactly? In a liberal demoncracy where there is an open market place of ideas the last thing you should object to is someone expressing said ideas. Youre being silly.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:22 PM

"he even bragged about having abundance of widows and virgins (children?) to choose from. This fact even made it's way into the Koran, Allah was such a good friend of Muhammad!" (Asgeir)

Where in the Quran does it state this so-called bragging? I do know for a fact that Our Prophet (peace be upon him) became a father to orphaned children, married widowers and offered a hand of compassion and love.

The Quran does say this:

"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one... to prevent you from doing injustice."
Quran 4:3

The Quran stresses upon the need for justice and fair treatment.

Posted by: Yanabi User | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:25 PM


"hmm... depends on what the Imam was saying, and what your friend was praying for.
You know, the central prayer of muslims - repeated 17 times a day - ends with words of not invoking God's wrath like the jews and not going astray like christians.
Sounds peaceful?"

Actually it doesnt depend on what the Imam was saying. If I am correct people are responsible for their own words and actions.

The fact that you would want to criminalize peoples' prayer is absurd.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:29 PM


"...talking of children of single mothers in Muhammad's time. Yes, Muhammad made a lot of widows as his followers lost their lives fighting for Muhammad, he even bragged about having abundance of widows and virgins (children?) to choose from. This fact even made it's way into the Koran..."

You might want to be specific about what is said the in Quran. In any event, if you knew even a little bit about the kind of society Arabia was in the 7th century, you would understand that internecine warfare amongst the tribes was common place. Women in such a society had only their men and their tribe as a means of subsistence. When the men and the tribe were gone, it was either starvation of prostitution. Best be married off or co-opted before the hunger pangs set in. Marriages was also a basis to solidify the mutual obligations of protection and trade between tribes.

"If you admire Muhammad, you could just as well admire Stalin, Adolf Hitler and their likes."

Because you want Islam to be illegal, even down to what Muslims may or may not pray about, one can only guess among the three aforemention historical figures you best admire or even borrowed ideas from.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 04:38 PM


"I realise that paedophillia occurs in every race, culture and creed, but in most cultures and countries it is banned by the law and anyone breaking that law is a criminal who will be prosecuted if caught."

The age of consent in countries all over the world have a mean of about 16. However there are a few countries, outside of the Islamic world, where the age of consent can be as low as 12- Spain, Mexico, and Zimbabwe come to mind.

What age do you think is appropriate for male of female to be able to consent to sex? Britain and the UK have come a long way presumably. It wasnt until the late 19th century that the legal age of consent ranged from 10-12 to 16. I doubt our forefathers intent was to abet perversion until the late 19th century.

Now there are one million reasons to have the age of consent be above 15 atleast but protecting children from pedophilia isnt be one of them. Because, as it so happens, the 16 year age of consent acorss the globe protects NO children from predators.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:07 PM

Yanabi writes:


“The scholars like Ibn Shubrume, Uthman al-Betti, Abu Bakr al-Asam did not accept this standpoint. Allah commands in the Qur'an: "Make trial of orphans until they reach the age of marriage; if then ye find sound judgement in them, release their property to them" (Nisaa, 6). In this verse childhood is restricted within the age of marriage. If early marriages were permitted, naturally, this restriction would be meaningless.”

The first link attempts to deny the hadees and the word of Aiesha herself.

The second quote needs to be understood in the light of the fact that the age of marriage in islam is 'first menstruation' for girls. In sharia there is no lower age limit for girls marriage. Girls as young as 3 to 5 five years are known to have menstruation. That is one reason why the companions of the prophet are known to have married five year olds. See the reference I gave above:

Yanabi had started out by saying: "I'd like to point out that nowehere does Islam commend marriage at such young age."

Johann's article states it exactly correctly. It is not only that muhammad married a child, but most of his companions did as well and so have the great islamic scholars over the last 1400 years. Even at present, many of the Sheiks, Imams, Ayatollahs, etc. have child brides.

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:47 PM

Cont'd from above:

Instead of facing upto the fact that Muhammad and his companions were having sex with children which is wrong in light of what we know now (as Johann correctly states it ... it is painful and cruel), the muslim attempt is to preserve the myth that Muhammad is perfect by either denying that Muhammad married a child or denying that having sex with a child is wrong. Yanabi has chosen the first ... denying that Aisha was a child.

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 05:56 PM

Yanabi writes: "I am not denying to right to criticise the fact that a 10yr old got married in Yemen but what has that got to do with Islam? "

It has everything to do with Islam. It is because marrying little girls is permitted in Islam that many many muslims ignore the "man made law of age of marriage is 15 years" and go by sharia where the age of marriage is first menstruation .
See the saudi mother trying to annul the marriage of her 8 year old child as the third wife:

How much more pain of little girls across the muslim world you have to see, before you are willing to see that pedophilia among muslims has everything to do with Islam and the example set by Muhammad?

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 06:37 PM

Ok, raping children is not ordered in Koran, neither is genital mutilation. But why are the decent 'non paedophile, non mutilating' Muslims not absolutely dedicated to stamping out these cruelties - look what a bad name it is giving you!! What an impression, forced marriages, violence to women. Where is the 'real' Msulim campaign against such barbarities? You ought to be absolutely furious with these your 'brothers in religion', and put a stop to it.

Posted by: momogiraf | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 07:00 PM


except certain culture values make me revulse.
the central tenets of islam do not sit well with my cultural values. i fail to trust those who express an appearance of reasonableness when the text central to their irrational belief is pure poison.

Posted by: kendo nagasaki ep | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 07:40 PM

Islam allows marrying a one year old.
"Dr. Ahmad Al-Mub'i, a Saudi Marriage Officiant: It Is Allowed to Marry a Girl at the Age of One, If Sex Is Postponed. The Prophet Muhammad, Whose Model We Follow, Married 'Aisha When She Was Six and Had Sex with Her When She Was Nine"

And we do not even examine the sex that Shia Islam allows with two or three year old girls (See Khomenii and his fatwas, for example)!!!

Yanabi, an orphan girl who has her first menstruation is considered an adult and cannot be held as a dependent. Her guardian has to realse her property to her. The quranic verse you quote above (Quran 4:3) is used to justify the guardians in Islam marrying orphans as young as 7 or 8 if they have had their first menstruation. Read up on Islamic law about what constitutes "legal" maturity and no longer a dependent under a guardian.

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:06 PM


Are you confusing betrothal with marriage? Understand that a bethrothal is when you enter into a formal agreement to marry.

BTW none of your links work. Can you provide others. I am particularly interested in the wives of the Companions. Thanks.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:29 PM

kendo nagasaki,

Except what makes you revulse, is not in line with your values, isnt the issue. It is whether people have a right to express those views in the open market place of ideas. You clearly object to people having those rights. I accept that your cultural views dont allow for people to be able to express themselves because of what you, and only you, find objectionable. I suggest you buy an island all to yourself where you can sit talk and consequently agree with everything you believe.

Bon voyage.

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:34 PM

A. Kafir,

Also I should mention that while in most countries the age of consent is about 15 or 16 there are nations like Spain, Zimbabwe and Mexico where the age is 12.

When it comes to betrothal children Islam and Judaism have that much in common. One wonder why these faiths having developed in similar environmenal and cultural circumstances would insist on these types of arrangements.

To add, it wasnt until the late 19th century that the age of consent in the UK and later in the American colonies was between 10 and 12. Do you believe that prior to that these Western societies were abetting child rape?

I think atleast for an Arabian society (bare in mind Aisha was "married" before Muhammed) it was used to solidify the bonds between otherwise warring tribes. What do you think?

Posted by: bikhair | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:43 PM

Johann Haro forgets that in Islamic law the permission of the bride is obligatory- thus forced marriages are forbidden

Posted by: Mohammed Nur | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 08:59 PM


Muhammad "married" Aisha when she was six and had sex with her when she was nine. In islamic sharia a child can get "betrothed" at birth; there is no lower age for that. The age for sex is first menstruation; even if the girl is six years old. In Shia Islam sex with a prepubescent girl is allowed but not vaginal insertion. Sodomizing of the baby is allowed according to Khomenii and other Iranian Ayatollahs.

The url's worked for yanabi. But I give it again:

The url is broken over two lines. Please remove the newline and it should work. I paste the poritons on the companions below for you.

The issue is not the historical development and the reasons for the customs. The question is not whether pedophilia is wrong in the 7th century for ignorant barbarians but whether it is wrong in the here and now. Johann is pointing out that Muslims have a problem in accepting that the actions of Muhammad in the 7th century are not and should not be acceptable in the present.

Johann correctly points out that the discussion cannot proceed if we are not even willing to speak truthfully about the religious past. Yanabi incorrectly said that Islam does not have anything to do with sex with children. He is obviously wrong. The issue is what are the muslims willing to do about it in the present. I show you words of the imams who are clearly stating that it is acceptable because of the example of Muhammad. I find that very disturbing, and attempts by muslims to justify such behavior in the 21st century as unacceptable.
From the link given above:

There are many Ahadith which confirm that marriage at an early age was widespread among the companions and no one denied its permissibility. Getting married at an early age was not peculiar to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) as some people think, but it was general for him and for his Ummah.

The following are some of the actions of the Sahaba (companions):

1. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter, Um Kulthum to Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and she mothered a child before the death of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam). Omar got married to her while she was young before reaching the age of puberty.

This is reported by Ibn Saad in 'Al-Tabaqat'.

2. From Urwa Ibn Zubair: that Zubair, may Allah be pleased with him, married his daughter when she was very young. Reported by Saeed Ibn Mansour, in his Sunnah, and Ibn Abi Shaibah, in Al-musannaf, with a Sahih chain of narration.

Al-Shafie said in the book of Al-Um: "Many companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) married their daughters while these were still young."

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 09:41 PM

Muhammad Nur writes:

"Johann Haro forgets that in Islamic law the permission of the bride is obligatory- thus forced marriages are forbidden"

That is true for adult women who have been previously married in Sharia but not for prepubescent children. The Wali (guardian) can make the decision for the girl. As the Hadiath says that "silence" of the child is equivalent to her acceptance of the marriage.


Malik related to me from Abdullah ibn al-Fadl from Nafi ibn Jubayr ibn Mutim from Abdullah ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah, SAAWS, said, "A woman who has been previously married is more entitled to her person than her guardian, and a virgin must be asked for her consent for herself, and her consent is her silence " [Malik's Muwatta, Book 28, Number 28.2.4]

The Prophet saaws said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)." [Sahih Al-Bukhari 7.67]

Have you ever wondered why the people would wonder why the people could not know about the "virgin's" consent? Are virgins incapable of speaking?

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 09:50 PM

Another Brave Muslim woman fighting for the rights of children; trying to set the record of islam right. As Johann points out, silence on our part undercuts efforts of such brave muslims.

Ghada Jamshir: Authorized by religious law?!

Interviewer: Among the Shiites, yes.

Ghada Jamshir: Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah marriages? Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah according to the following classification: "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs." They have: "Pleasure from sexual touching." "pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts." "Pleasure from a little girl." Do you know what "pleasure from a little girl" means? It means that they derive sexual pleasure from a girl aged two, three, or four.

Interviewer: Let's not go into details...

Ghada Jamshir: Let me tell you what "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs" means...

Interviewer: Don't give me the details...

Ghada Jamshir: This is a violation of children's rights! This constitutes sexual assault of the girl. What does "pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs" mean? It means deriving sexual pleasure from an infant. How old is an infant? One year, a year and a half, a few months?

Other mufti's and their fatwas on the issue:

"With regard to the wedding-party of a young married girl at the time of consummating the marriage, if the husband and the guardian of the girl agree upon something that will not cause harm to the young girl, then that may be done. If they disagree, then Ahmad and Abu ‘Ubayd say that once a girl reaches the age of nine then the marriage may be consummated even without her consent, but that does not apply in the case of who is younger. Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Abu Haneefah said: the marriage may be consummated when the girl is able for intercourse, which varies from one girl to another, so no age limit can be set. This is the correct view."

According to the Shari’ah, if a girl is a minor (did not attain puberty), she may be given in marriage by her father. When she attains puberty, she has the right to maintain the marriage or discontinue the marriage. There is no age limit to be intimate with one’s wife even if she is a minor.

Posted by: A. Kafir | Friday, 15 August 2008 at 11:16 PM

This is astounding - and if true, raises the question of why so many muslim commentators seem to wish to deny that abuse of children either did or does take place.

that it did is a reality of history and hardly confined to the middle east - a great many men, it seems, enjoy the experience of sexual contact with children. That has its own grief, but can't be helped.

What can change is that this is condoned now. Every sane, progressive muslim must surely condemn this?


Posted by: CarolJ | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 12:08 PM

Brilliant articles, as usual, by Johann Hari; of which I’ve just read! Thank you; for speaking bravely and wisely on behalf of oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims - straight, gays, women and girls, converts from Islam etc, all justified using Islam! We’ve been feeling let-down by many left from the west especially, who have been blindly supporting “Islamism” (a dogmatic political ideology), no matter how wrong it is and are actually helping to strengthen the ruling (male) power-base of extremists. I understand such lefties are trying to prevent the war towards Iran but it’s based on short-term thinking; and narrow-mindedness. Because they actually cannot empathize with these oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims’ pain since most of the Muslims they encountered in their real-life experiences are Muslims living in the west. Who have to abide by progressive universal and western human rights values, to a large extent. And unless these lefties live and abide to the (male) power-crazed game in Islam when they traveled to the oppressive Islamic-ruled countries and even so-called moderate Islamic-ruled ones such as in Malaysia here, these western lefties will not be able to really feel the unjust inequality and discrimination; and hence their misguided ‘liberal’ faith in defending Islam and all Muslims (regardless that some Muslims are in reality abusers of human rights such as the extremists), at all cost. Besides, being selective in defending several human rights’ principle ( i.e cultural-social rights) at the cost of others (i.e. civil rights, freedom of conscience, free speech etc). Whereas, all human rights are equally significant.

So, please Johann Hari, keep on speaking radically openly; we are counting on such genuine solidarity and wisdom!

Noor Aza Othman,
Women for Justice Support Group Project,

Posted by: Noor Aza Othman | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 08:00 PM

another example of the barbarism of the arab world

Posted by: james | Saturday, 16 August 2008 at 10:12 PM


It is not only the arab world. Sharia is the law in Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan's law has the age of consent set at 16 years, but the Federal Sharia Court using the example of Muhammad having sex with the child Aisha overturned it. Many muslims in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries are demanding Sharia (Islamic law), and under islamic law sex with a female child is legal.

It is true (that is why I gave the URL's to the Islamic sites, so people can read it in the words of the Muslims themselves). Why do Muslims go into denial? Many really do not know, especially those in the western countries, and when they do come to know, they have to face the very very difficult issue of how does one follow a prophet ( the last prophet and a perfect prophet and acclaimed by God himself in the Quran to be an example for all mankind for all time ) who was a pedophile? If they accept that he was in error then what else was he wrong about? If they accept that this action of his is only valid in the 7th century and invalid now, then what other actions and laws are invalid today? The answers to those questions leads to blasphemy against Muhammad or worse to apostasy, and trust me those are very painful choices. Blasphemy and Apostasy are punishable by death in Islam. Apostates lose all contact with their families and are usually killed. You have read about honor killings ... parents killing their own daughters because the girls have dishonored the family name. There are hundreds of cases in the recent past where parents have killed their own child for leaving Islam.

Posted by: A. Kafir | Sunday, 17 August 2008 at 12:36 AM

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