October 28, 2010

FIGHTING TALK...

Someone wants to go back to jail. In the Sun (who owe me money) today:

TERROR fanatic Abu Izzadeen was freed from prison today — and shamelessly attacked the poppy as he left.

The al-Qaeda supporter — caged for inciting hatred and raising funds for terrorism — got a hero's welcome from 50 bearded cronies at the gates of Pentonville nick in North London...

...It's believed Izzadeen — formerly known as plain old Trevor Brooks — will now take centre stage as the public face of Muslim extremism in Britain.

His every word was cheered by a flock including sidekick Anjem Choudary and jailed hate cleric Abu Hamza...

Hamza came out and cheered and then went back into solitary confinement? I didn't think he would be allowed to do that but if The Sun say so it must be true.

..

October 26, 2010

HOUSE HUNTING

Reported in The Sun (Who owe me money)

HATE preacher Abu Hamza's house has finally been sold — with the £257,000 proceeds going to UK taxpayers.

Jubilant investigators have also clawed back £3,000 from accounts linked to the hook-handed cheat. It means he can at last cough up towards a £300,000 legal bill — four years after his conviction for soliciting murder during hate-filled sermons.

Hamza, 52, tried to thwart the sale of the four-bed home he bought for cash in Greenford, West London, by claiming a sister living in Egypt owned it.Last night Legal Services Commission chairman Sir Bill Callaghan said: "We will not tolerate people attempting to hide assets to get defence costs paid."

A joyful Whitehall source added: "In the end he had to pay."

..

October 24, 2010

ANJUM CHOUDHARRY ON CNN



Maybe I was a bit rude about Mr Choudharry in The Age of Extremes film. He was always polite to me. Those of Hamza's followers I have spoken to take a dim view of him because they think "We are going to take over your country" is no way to invite people to Islam- even if ultimately they believe it is true!

..

AGE OF EXTREMES



This is the film I ended up in which premiered at The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. Ishmahil made the original Blood Diamond doco the DiCaprio film was based on as well as some seminal stuff about Cuba. He is more "anti-media" than I am but then he has had reason to be. Do check it out and tell me what you think. I am at the end of part 4 and a bit more in part 5.

Do check out riceandpeas.com

..

October 21, 2010

ABU HAMZA IS OFF THE HOOK


So what happens now?

HOOK-handed mullah Abu Hamza has won a reprieve from deportation after the Home Office’s expert witness changed his mind.

The department wants to be able to boot evil Hamza, 52, out for good after he was found guilty on race hate and terror charges.


But witness General Adel Abdul Maqsoud Afify has decided not to testify to a Special Immigration Appeals Tribunal. It came after he read more evidence about the case.

..

October 20, 2010

FROM FATWA TO JIHAD

I though this was in a place called "The Free World Centre" which sounded a bit Bush/Right wing but it turned out to be The Free Word Centre- a quick run in the rain from Farringdon tube.

As I went through the door I thought I had walked into a cult as there were babes in T shirts greeting everyone. When I asked them what it was about they started reading off of the boards around them so I quickly realised they were professional hospitality babes. Nice idea. I think I am going to employ some to greet people at Malung HQ. For my £5, as this event was part of the South Asian Literature Festival I also got a really sizeable book of extracts from books by Asian authors which I am working through.

When things got underway Keenan Malik was joined by Robert Sharp and the event was chaired by Rohan Jayasekera.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, it was all pretty theoretical, and not much about Fatwa or Jihad. A lot of things were said about culture, the culture of government and media over recent years and a desire to challenge the arguments of the main stream. Things I agreed with wholeheartedly but how? Where for example is the forum to debate people with racist views? The only realistic place mentioned was the classroom. I am at a loss for any better answers myself.

I wasn't expecting answers or tablets of stone, and it was good to be around people again for whom the written word holds power, as I haven't felt like that for ages myself. On this journey I haven't been very literary, and what I have read has mainly been factual stuff about Jihadis elsewhere. It is important especially in these times to make links with others who are resisting the push and I must admit talking to Ishmahil and talking at the Riverside has enthused me though I didn't say a lot here. I very much enjoyed the talk and thought the place looked really interesting. I will keep an eye out to see what else is going on there.

..

BRITISH


There is a market in Jamaica called British with a history of more than two hundred years. Well it is a clearing anyway. A place where as the Jamaicans told me "Independent man can go sell goat, or cow or pig without any involvement from the government". They also sell weed.

Anyway I digress. I thought it was a done deal a long while back, but Mr Hamza in in court again fighting for his British citizenship this time.

"Stateless" Hamza bids for passport
(Press Association)

'Stateless' extremist preacher Abu Hamza in bid to keep British passport... using Myra Hindley and John Venables' QC (Daily Mail)

Tribunal to rule on Abu Hamza's British citizenship (Telegraph)

UPDATE: Apparently Hamza is actually in court this time not on a video link. Although I haven't been able to get down there I have had some contact with a journalist who has who has told me he looks OK.

Abu Hamza claims removing his British citizenship would leave him stateless

Hamza told the hearing: “It is not the habit of the Egyptian government to respond to anything,” but he added that he was certain he had been stripped of his citizenship.

Hamza said a 2004 article in the government owned Al-Ahram newspaper “gloatingly” confirmed that he was no longer an Egyptian national.

He said: “I was not aware of it at the time it was printed as it was printed when I was in jail. I just saw it as gloating from the government. It was just two days after my arrest. I was arrested on Wednesday May 28, so on the Thursday it will have been all over the newspapers, then the day after there will have been reaction, the sort of Richard and Judy type thing.”

..

EQUANIMITY?

Well that was difficult. My fourth time in Vipassana, third time in Hereford for another ten day tangle. Maybe I went at it a bit hard. I think I understood a lot more this time. As far as I can tell, Vipassana is a meditation technique where you go round your body observing the sensations on the skin, and eventually observing internally as well remaining what Goinka (the guru) calls "equanimous"- Not getting off on the pleasant sensations or developing aversion to the painful ones. He believes this is the path to enlightenment. (Equanimity-wkipedia)

My brain was kicking and screaming the whole way through. I didn't realise how much Vipassana I have been doing over the years whilst riding my bike or walking cos I couldn't sit still on a cushion. Going back to Ana-pana, the technique he starts people on to build awareness, which is basically observing the feeling of the breath on the skin below the nostrils for three days just gave me a headache in the left frontal lobe and immense amount of frustration. I had one good day when we finally went on to Vipassana proper but the hard won "equanimity" I managed to muster was fairly much blown the next day.

I haven't blogged about it here cos it was maybe a bit too personal but a friend of mine did Vipassana maybe eight months ago and was in a secure psychiatric ward within a week. After a very long story I am not going to tell she is alright now and I didn't think it would come up for me this time, but when I saw a guy who looked as if he could have been her brother walking round talking to himself with a similar disturbing look in his eye I began to question the whole thing.

I told the teacher of my worries and he seemed a bit narked. So I told him the whole story the next day in no uncertain terms and questioned whether they had the facilities to cope with the fall out of what doing such extreme stuff might provoke in people. I deliberately told him the details up to the moment my friend was closed into a psychiatric ward to watch for his answer.

Being a bit of a rebel I always seem to end up testing the teacher at any of these guru things but I thought in the circumstances this test was pretty valid. I thought to myself that if he had asked how she was, that would have been the compassionate answer. If he just defended his precious technique, that would be wholly different. He failed the test quite conclusively and the rest of my meditation was fairly much shot to pieces by the anger I felt at this.

Looking back I suppose that I don't expect anyone to be the Buddha and when we broke the silence I did hear that he had been calling people to see him who had been seen talking to themselves but I do still worry, especially as the number of students accommodated in Hereford has tripled since last time I was there five or six years ago.

The last day I spent fairly much like the last day I was there before. I tried valiantly to be equanimous with the same pain in the same shoulder blade from the same accident sixteen years ago until such kidding of myself broke and my brain railed against believing an old guru that I could observe my pain and make myself happy. Further more I knew that it was the girl who had been damaged by this process who I would go to for a deep tissue massage to really sort it out afterwards!

When we broke the silence a very strange thing happened though. I spoke to a few new students about my dilemmas and didn't quite get the answers I thought I would. People were basically saying "You are angry- its working."

I spoke to an Australian psychologist who said he was dealing with pain management and encouraging his patients to focus their mind on the physical pain and feel the anger in order to heal it. The whole thing flipped for me in half an hour, and when we went back into the hall I was able to sit there, equanimous as fuck observing the pain in my shoulder, I could have done another ten days. Very weird.

Driving back with the people I came with found on the sites lift-share facility I was as usual on cloud nine, as was everyone in the car. I have crashed a bit as normality hits but I am still practising twice a day and at odd times during the day. Maybe I was expecting more of a change. Maybe its telling me there are more things I need to change myself.

The same things bothered me that always bother me about Vipassana, this ritual that isn't a ritual bowing, the personality led nature of the thing and the worry that it can seriously damage people regardless of what they say, but I will keep up my practice if I can and blog about any results over time hopefully.

Vipassana might not be for everyone, but it is growing steadily worldwide. The website is here.

..

October 03, 2010

ITS THE SMOKE

Oh yeah. Mr fastfingers always moans that I never blog about the band so here goes.

I was fucking ill all night at the street party we had here last weekend. I was lying down unable to sleep then I would hear a band I liked and wander outside for a bit until I felt faint. I kept bumping into people I hadn't seen for ages and shouted "I'm ill!" at them which I got totally sick off.

8.30 am we threw everything in a van and went round the corner to play Acid Monkey. I was cursing being booked at this time but it really worked out as people were totally fucked and up for a bit of experimentation. As soon as I was there I felt fine and the gig went great. The building wasn't exactly empty, but I think the Police were aware this was a professional party crew and I saw one officer being escorted round in the morning to make sure nothing went missing. Very nice to see sensible Policing at a squat party. It must have looked like a Doctor Who set at night on acid with all the water bottles everywhere.


I was still unable to sleep when I got home about 12 so I wandered up to The London Tattoo Convention and drunk a lot of alcohol. The tattoo convention was strangely dissapointing. I don't know what I was expecting but if this is the premier tattoo convention in the world maybe I am missing something. There were some nice people there though and judging by the queues at the cash point I think the tattooists made a lot of money. Anyway I woke up the next morning and I didn't feel any worse so I know what to do next time I have the flu.


In hopes of some enhancement to our stage presence one of the dancers pulled out a smoke machine from her attic yesterday. I contacted the first website I came across in hopes of getting it working and they have been very helpful.

Turns out these haven't been made for sixteen years, but they were shit hot in their day. I was a bit stumped as the switch is missing, but having been on the party scene in London for years I called the first person who came to mind and wonder of all wonders they knew exactly which machine I was talking about and had a switch for it so hopefully when I come back from Vipassna we will be smoking!

Beeee Happpeeeeee

OK I have been winding down for the last few days staying off the drink and stuff in a run up to another tangle with the gurgling toad Buddha. Bella has a really good summary of her experiences here. The first time I did Vipassna in Jaipur the experience was so funny I wrote it all down and have always been intending to publish it online but the story is still decomposing paper in a box somewhere. Maybe when I come out. Looking thru Bella's blog she has some other very interesting pictures too.


Anyway Mr Goenka says leave all that behind for ten days. Like Bella I struggle with his view of passion and morality in general but I had better knuckle down now or there is no point in going. I know I am going to struggle locked in with that gurgling again too. I hate Vipassna in loads of ways but it works for silencing the demons for a bit anyway. Nothing else does.

..

October 01, 2010

Down by the Riverside

Ishmahil asked me to do the Q and A with Mousah Brown and himself at Riverside Studios so I thought I'd try my newly fixed bike for a night ride. Right. Crawling down the Kings Rd it completely cut out in the middle of the road. The traffic was moving so slowly I didn't bother anyone so once I got it started again I left it running for a bit with the lights off to charge the battery.

I tried a few roads to find The Riverside and ended up having to wheel the bike down a cycle lane. Anyway this is dangerously turning into a bike blog isn't it. My bike blog thankfully has a home of its own now so I'll shut up.

I watched the film for the third time now with a mixture of nerves about answering questions afterwards and nerves about trying to get my bike home. Stomping to the front with my bike boots I was glad Mousah and Ishmahil were there. After the first few questions I thought I was going to get away without saying anything, but someone who later turned out to work for the Islam channel asked me if the guys at Finsbury thought I was a spy.

I thought Mousah answered some of the audience's worries about radical Islam really well and I also got to hear a lot more about Ishmahil's past which I would like to ask him more about. Afterwards I hung around with the guy from the Islam channel and his wife and a few of the Rice and Peas crew. It was the first time I have spoken to a woman wearing a veil. Quite a strange experience as I had just watched a film which covered the topic.

My motorised pessimism was extinguished as my bike came to life with a roar, but it soon turned into a splutter as I headed down through Putney and got totally lost. It seemed to sort itself when I realised where I was again around Brixton. I thought it was quite a successful night and I got home without having to ring the breakdown service. Anyway I am off armed with DVD to see what Hajj and the guys think of the film- and if he is annoyed about appearing in it!

UPDATE:

Well Hajj, who is going on to Hajj (to Mecca) in a few weeks liked it, the others thought that if Muslims are going to speak on film they should only talk referring to Koran and Sunnah and that they shouldn't give their opinions. I ended up in quite a long debate, the same debate as usual. We all agree about problems with the financial system and those few controlling it, and about the gross injustices in the world but there is no way we are going to unite as a majority and do something about it, which is why I have fairly much given up film making or any sort of optimism.

I'm glad Hajj liked the film anyway. That meant a lot to me. The only thing he critisized was one of the girls in the film coming out with the stuff about evil Jihadi recruiters convincing wayward and ignorant Muslims to become suicide bombers. I must admit I thought that was a bit weird too as none of the 7/7 guys fitted this description. They seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

Hajj himself was indirectly accused of "brainwashing kids" by some MI-5 guys who visited a friend of his at his work place recently. They gave the guy the message to pass on as an aside as they were leaving. He is a bit worried about going on Hajj as he has been warned there are thieves who prey on the visitors but he is confident Allah has already written down what is going to happen to him.

..

BOLLOTICS

I haven't really been drawn on the new Coalition too much. There seems for a long time to have been little difference with everyone fighting for the centre ground. I'm not on the centre ground so it all at a bit of a distance to me. I was enthused somewhat by Nick Clegg, I was also enthused by the idea of coalitions working in this country. I was very enthused when someone pointed this out to me from Grant Shapps.

...now I am Minister for Housing and Local Government I have the opportunity to transfer power to where it really belongs - local communities...

So I am obviously a bit disappointed to read this, but pleased a Cooperative movement is doing it for themselves. Maybe this is the big society.

...A co-operative movement has stepped in to offer assistance to the 82 communities left stranded by the cancellation of the Community Owned Pubs Support Programme.

Representatives from a variety of co-operative organisations have agreed to provide support to the organisations that expressed interest in the scheme...

..

Who is Anderson Cooper?

Reposted from Pickled Politics here