Monday, 31 October 2011

Salmond's 'Friends in the Gulf'

Salmond seeks Middle East investors

Last updated 1 Nov 2011 - 2:25 am

First Minister Alex Salmond has said Scotland could offer attractive 'investment opportunities' to Gulf states
Scotland could offer attractive investment opportunities to its "friends in the Gulf", First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

Mr Salmond, on a five-day trip to Qatar and United Arab Emirates, will meet representatives from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to discuss possible joint working between UAE and Scotland on infrastructure projects.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson and other leading business figures will also be at the forthcoming meeting.

Speaking before it, Mr Salmond said leading figures in both Qatar and UAE had "expressed their confidence in Scotland's economic strategy".

The meeting with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government, is "an opportunity to talk in more detail about some of the unique opportunities Scotland can offer".

Mr Salmond went on: "Worldwide market forces make this an attractive time to invest in long-term, viable capital projects. I am confident that the Scottish Government's commitment to capital investment for long-term growth will make Scotland an attractive partner for our friends in the Gulf."

The talks come after the First Minister spent two days in Qatar where he discussed strengthening links with Scotland with Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, emir of Qatar, and Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani, prime minister and foreign minister.

Mr Salmond said: "The economies of Qatar and the UAE continue to perform well as they seek to diversify. They share Scotland's commitment to sustainable capital investment which will secure the long-term future of our respective economies.

"In the current economic circumstances, capital investment must be a priority in both the public and private sector. Scotland offers many attractive business opportunities, particularly in renewables and infrastructure, which offer the prospects of good returns for substantial investors.

"Now is the time to invest, which is why I am visiting both Qatar and the UAE this week."
Source: The Herald

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Pakistani Businessman Claims he Avoids Glasgow Airport

A BUSINESSMAN said he has stopped flying from Glasgow Airport because of the number of times he has been stopped and questioned by the police under powers designed to crack down on terrorism.

Mohammad Ashraf, chairman of wholesaler Bonanza, now flies from airports in England to avoid the “insult and embarrassment” of being pulled out of the queue and made to answer questions about his travel plans.

He said other members of the Asian business community had experienced similar “harassment” and were considering a similar boycott of the airport.

Police at Glasgow have come in for criticism for their use of Schedule Seven anti-terrorism powers, detailed in the Terrorism Act 2000, giving officers the right to stop and question airline passengers. It has been claimed officers use racial profiling when selecting people, overwhelmingly picking out travellers of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance.

Now Mr Ashraf has said he and his colleagues are fed up with being targeted and arrange to travel through airports where they are not singled out.

He said: “I’ve lost count of the times it has happened there, so I fly through Manchester or London when I have to travel internationally and I am never stopped at those airports.

“It’s hugely embarrassing and insulting when it happens. You are pulled to one side in front of everybody and asked all sorts of stupid and intrusive questions about where you have been and what you have been doing.”

Mr Ashraf, 51, was born in Pakistan and moved, aged two, to the UK with his family, describing himself as “bred in Scotland”.

He said passengers of European descent were not subject to the same scrutiny.

He added: “They ask all sorts of things about where I’ve been, what mosques I’ve been to and that kind of thing. Stuff that has no relevance to my business.

“There is no point in it. When my passport is scanned they should have my whole profile anyway, so there is no need for me to be constantly spoken to.”

During the summer, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill held a meeting in Glasgow with about 70 members of the Asian community to discuss their concerns about the way Schedule Seven powers were being used at travel hubs in Scotland.

He admitted there had been occasions when the powers had been used inappropriately, but said they were not deliberately used to target people because of their ethnicity.

But now members of his own party are questioning whether the police’s response is appropriate, with MSP Humza Yousaf calling for more effective targeting of the powers.

Mr Yousaf said: “The use of these powers at Glasgow Airport is clearly not intelligence-led, because the same people are being stopped time and time again. If people are being stopped eight or nine times then you would think something in the system would put an end to this.”

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said there were no formal complaints under investigation on the matter.

Assistant Chief Constable Colin McCashey added: “The threat from terrorism is very real. Schedule Seven of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a vital tool for tackling the threat.

“The service is constantly monitoring the manner in which these powers are utilised to ensure this vital work is conducted in a sensitive and professional manner that minimises undue distress to innocent members of the public.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “Schedule Seven checks are a police matter and we therefore cannot comment.

“However, Glasgow Airport has worked, and continues to work, closely with various local ethnic minority groups to help highlight and explain the procedures involved in the security screening process.”
Source: The Herald

Humza still at it. Apparently he feels so secure about his position in Scotland that he is now stepping up to do his bit for the Muslim cause in Britain as a whole. Here he is in the Muslim News agitating for "British Muslims" (sic).

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scottish Population Boom Driven by Third-World Immigration

SCOTLAND’S population is expected to reach six million within 50 years, sparking fears of a looming crisis in housing, care and social services.

Campaigners warned that the Scottish Government had not done enough to plan for the future after statisticians revised their estimate of the number of people currently living in Scotland and said the country’s population might have hit its highest ever level this year, surpassing the previous record of 5.24 million set 37 years ago.

With a boom in the number of people coming into the country and an increase in births, it is predicted that the population, which stood at 5.22 million in 2010, will jump to 5.49 million in 2020 and six million by 2055.
Source: The Herald

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Christmas Snubbed by Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has come under fire for completely failing to mention Christmas in its “Winter Festivals” programme.

In an official news release the Government mentions St Andrew’s Day eleven times, Hogmanay five times and Burns Night several times. But Christmas is not mentioned at all.

But Bashir Mann, a prominent figure in Glasgow’s Muslim community, has criticised the omission of Christmas, saying: “This is political correctness gone mad.


“Why should we be offended? Scotland’s religious population is 98 per cent Christian. Why should they not be allowed to celebrate their biggest religious festival?

“If my neighbour is celebrating Christmas, then I should join him. That’s what my religion tells me.”

And John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Roman Catholic Church of Scotland, described the omission as “disappointing and hurtful”.


A press release to promote the “Winter Festivals” reads: “The season of celebrations to mark Scotland’s distinct culture, unique heritage and creativity runs from St Andrew’s Day on November 30 through Hogmanay to Burns Season at the end of January and will bring together lovers of all things Scottish from across the globe.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Christmas is a key celebration for families and communities.

“The Winter Festivals package includes events funded by the Scottish Government to help promote visitor attractions between St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night.”


Earlier this month the daughter of Thomas the Tank Engine’s creator criticised “political correctness against Christian belief” after references to Christmas were left out of an episode.

In the offending episode, entitled Keeping Up With James, the trains compete to deliver presents to children but Christmas has been rebranded as “the winter holidays”.

Last year it emerged that more than three million school diaries with no reference to Christmas or Easter had been issued by the EU Commission.

The diaries did make reference to Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Chinese festivities, as well as Europe Day.
Christian Institute

Monday, 24 October 2011

Failed asylum seeker who has dodged deportation for a decade told he can stay... because he goes to the GYM

A failed asylum seeker who has dodged deportation from Britain for nearly a decade has been told he can stay – because he goes to the gym.

Amir Beheshti, 40, has been trying to get refugee status for seven years, but was repeatedly turned down by the courts, who ruled he would not suffer if he returned to his home country Iran.

But he has now told judges he has a private life that involves going for work-outs with his friends – which means his human rights would be violated if he was deported.

The controversial legal ruling by Scotland’s Court of Session means he will be allowed to continue living rent-free in his publicly funded flat and claiming a weekly allowance.

Earlier this month, a top Scottish judge issued a written decision in which he agreed the case should be referred back to Home Secretary Theresa May for fresh consideration.

This effectively means the threat of deportation has been removed and Beheshti is free to remain in Scotland indefinitely.

Lord Glennie’s judgment read: ‘He had integrated well within the Glasgow community, had a large network of friends, most of whom were Scottish, and socialised with those friends at the gymnasium, at five-a-side football, in coffee shops, at college, in the library and at their homes.

‘He went on to say that he made use of local facilities, such as the library and Glasgow leisure centres'.

Beheshti’s claim, it said, was ‘based on Article 8 ECHR and, in particular, on the fact that he had, so he claimed, established a private life in the UK.

Beheshti was smuggled into Dover on a lorry in 2005.

‘If the occasional trip to the gym is enough to allow a failed asylum seeker to appeal his deportation, then taxpayers will wonder who can’t claim a right to stay'

In his asylum application he claimed his father’s pro-Jewish sympathies put him in danger in Iran – but it was rejected, as were two appeals.

Having travelled to Glasgow, where he lived with his sister for two years, he appealed to the Court of Session.

But in June 2009, Lord Osborne ruled he had consistently failed to provide any ‘credible’ evidence that he would personally face any persecution or disadvantage in Iran.

The decision marked the end of Beheshti’s rights of appeal.

Technically, he should then have been removed as an illegal immigrant, but no action to deport him was taken.

In February 2010, Beheshti wrote to UKBA, asking for ‘leave to remain’ based on Article 8 ECHR. When that was rejected, he launched another appeal to the Court of Session. This appeal was the one that led to him being allowed to stay.

Beheshti said recently that he ‘feels comfortable’ in Glasgow and does not have anybody left back in Iran.

Last night, his case - which has already cost the public purse tens of thousands of pounds - sparked outrage.

Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘If the occasional trip to the gym is enough to allow a failed asylum seeker to appeal his deportation, then taxpayers will wonder who can’t claim a right to stay.

‘He should have been deported when his case was initially rejected. It’s appalling that we are left picking up all of his bills when he should have been sent home years ago'.

A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said: ‘Too often, Article 8 [of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing the right to a private and family life] has been used to place the family rights of illegal migrants above the rights of the British public in seeing our immigration laws properly enforced, and that balance needs to be redressed.

‘The Government will change the immigration rules to reinforce the public interest in seeing those who have breached our immigration laws removed from this country.

‘We have been seeking to remove this individual, but we have been asked by the courts to look again at this case.

‘Where we do not believe someone has the right to stay in this country, we expect them to return home'.
Source: Daily Mail

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Scotland's Many Faces

A CELEBRATION of how black people have enriched Scottish culture is being held at an East Lothian school as part of Black History Month.

Dubbed Scotland’s Many Faces, the event will include a photographic documentary, a talk by Sheila Asante, migration story curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and a performance by the Zawadi Alba Choir.

The event is being held today at Musselburgh Grammar School from 2pm.
Source: The Scotsman

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Muslims Believe Black Magic Causes Mental Health Problems

Our old friend Humza reveals that many Muslims in Glasgow believe mental health problems are caused by black magic. It would be interesting to see some figures on the incidence of mental health problems in the Muslim population. There are strong statistical correlations between the practice of cousin marriage and various kinds of ill health.
A CITY politician has praised local mosques for taking the first step to combat difficult mental health issues in the community.

MSP Humza Yousaf said he secured agreement with a trio of Glasgow mosques that their imams would address the topic at Friday prayers last week, as part of Mental Health Week.
Within the Muslim community mental health problems can carry a heavy stigma, said Mr Yousaf, and the mosques requested they not be identified because it remains such a sensitive topic.

One in four people in Scotland will have a mental health problem at some point in their life, according to mental health charity SAMH.

Mr Yousaf said: “We all know the stigma surrounding those with a mental health issue in our society.

“However, the stigma related to those from within the black and minority ethnic (BME) community can be even worse.

I’ve heard countless stories of families being completely ignorant of the different mental health conditions that exist.

“Many in the community turn to imams and elders instead of seeking proper medical advice.”

The SNP member added: “Many families believe that so-called ‘black magic’ or a perceived lack of faith is to blame, when the person suffering really needs medical attention.

“In addition, once diagnosed, many families decide to isolate the relative suffering due to concepts such as so-called ‘family honour’ and ‘shame’.

“I congratulate the imams and mosques who are taking this vital step in ridding stigma from our community.”

Shaykh Amer Jamil, an Islamic scholar and founder of the Solas Foundation in Glasgow, said: “Imams and religious scholars have an important role to play in tackling mental health stigma.”

The Glaswegian was unable to reach the mosques involved with Mr Yousaf for comment before going to press.
Source: The Glaswegian

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Scotland Becomes a Third-world Country

It is characteristic of third-world countries that there are severe restrictions on free speech. In particular, comments about religion often attract the wrath of the state. Here we have a guy being sent to prison for a few months for a few daft remarks about Catholics. Granted, they're not very nice, but any country that sends a person to prison for this has a warped sense of morality. And this is what they can do with the laws as they are now; if the proposed law on sectarian hate comes into effect, the penalties will be even more draconian.
A MAN who posted sectarian comments on a Facebook page about Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been given what is thought to be the toughest sentence for a football-related internet hate crime.

Stephen Birrell, 28, was jailed for eight months for posting a string of religious and racially-motivated comments on the social networking site between 28 February and 8 March.

He was arrested in the wake of a major police operation to crack down on people who had been posting hate-filled comments related to Rangers and Celtic following their volatile Scottish Cup replay on 2 March.

Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell, from Dalmarnock, Glasgow, that the courts had to send “a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way”.

One of the comments, posted a day before the Old Firm clash, read: “Hope they all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”

Two days after the match, which triggered a Scottish Government crackdown against football-related disorder, Birrell wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers.”

Birrell was also handed a five-year football banning order at Glasgow Sheriff Court for writing the comments on a Facebook page titled “Neil Lennon Should Be Banned”.

His lawyer, Iain McLennan, told the sheriff that Birrell had accepted what he had done, but struggles to understand the severity of his actions.

He said: “He finds it difficult just to comprehend how serious what he did was. But he does accept that what he did was wrong and gratuitously offensive.”

The sheriff told Birrell he wanted to “send a clear message that the right-thinking people of Glasgow and Scotland will not allow any behaviour of this nature, or allow any place in our society for hate crimes”.

He said: “The use of modern communications to spread or support abuse, or target groups of people because of their ethnic or racial background, has no place in our modern society and has no place in genuine support for any football club.”

Under the Scottish Government’s new anti-sectarianism legislation, anyone posting hate-filled messages online faces being jailed for up to five years.
Source: The Scotsman

No wonder he struggles to understand the severity of his actions. He's not the only one.

The guy should appeal this all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. They're a bunch of utopian do-gooders, but even they might see this as an infringement on free speech too far.

It's also characteristic of third-world countries that the law is not enforced impartially. The judges and police do whatever the government tells them to do, and target whoever the government tells them to target, not as a result of changes in the law of the land but through informal channels of communication and pressure exerted from on high. That is exactly what is going on here too. Why are we suddenly seeing this spate of prosecutions for religiously-motivated hate crimes? Is it because there are more of them? No. Is it because a new law has been passed, criminalising things that weren't criminal before? No. It is because the SNP government overreacted to a football match and started pressuring police forces to carry out prosecutions. The police are supposed to be independent of the government. They are there to enforce the law impartially. But in this case they just knuckle under and do what the gubmint tells them to do - just like in a third-world country.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Muslim Gang Culture in Glasgow

BOUNDING down Forth Street on the southside of Glasgow, 15-year-old Atif is waving his arms around as he talks about his experience of gang fighting.

“I remember when we were playing football at the Holyrood pitches and there was this big riot, there were about 50 people,” he says, barely gasping for air in between sentences. “It was crazy, we had just come out of football, and hammers and knives were getting thrown everywhere.”

Brawling mostly happens on “special occasions”, he says, such as bonfire night, or Eid, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, or at the Glasgow multicultural festival, Mela.

“Fighting is fun,” he says with a huge grin. You get pumped up, you get really into it ... but you regret it after.”

His friend nods in agreement but claims Shields – the Pollokshields neighbourhood in Glasgow which has a large Asian population – isn’t that “scary”, he says.

Walking ahead of the pair are Amir and Humza.

It is an unseasonably warm October evening and Albert Drive, the heart of Pollokshields, is littered with people popping in and out of the shops and cars pumping out rap music.

The lads are all on the cusp of turning 16. They are all in fourth year at different Glasgow schools, and they are all young Asian Muslims living in Glasgow’s ethnically diverse southside.

Some come from families with criminal connections, some are from one-parent families. One is a carer for his disabled mother. These are young men on the brink of losing themselves to gang culture. Tonight, they are with their youth workers – men who are attempting to make sure these teenagers don’t take the wrong path as so many of their peers are now doing.

At the moment, all they seem to care about is playing football, going to the gym and smoking cannabis. But they risk falling into serious criminality.

Atif’s uncle, who is 19, recently spent time in Polmont Young Offenders Institute. Atif says he was charged once but the case was dropped. He refuses to say what the charge was, however.

His friend, Rashid, cites the eternal woe of the teenager for the attraction to petty crime: “There’s just not enough to do here.”

Atif agrees: “Everyone smokes hash because there’s nothing to do.”

The teenagers belong to the Youth Community Support Agency (YCSA). Dozens of teens throughout the community attend every day. There are around 20 workers and volunteers for the Pollokshields charity, which is currently facing worrying funding cuts. Youth workers say the mid to late-teens are a tightrope walk for young Asian men – and they can easily fall into gang culture.

Billy Halliday, 49, a young person’s support worker who has been with YCSA for almost two years, is sitting in the “quiet room” of the striking A-listed building, which was formerly a Masonic lodge and a base for the Seamen’s Mission.

A swirling stone dragon pops out of the wall above the toilets and erotic nude pictures of mermaids are painted over wall tiles.

Given that the clientele of the organisation is predominantly Muslim, the mermaid’s modesty is covered by giant posters.

“We have to recognise different cultures and respect them,” he says.

Halliday calls the young people “role models” and says the work the YCSA does in the area is vital.

Many young people, he says “aren’t actually in gangs ... but they adopt the gang of the area as a badge”.

He says: “Young people who are doing well at school and who have got real good prospects see themselves as a Shielder [Pollokshields gang] or a Gabba [Govanhill gang] because they stay in that area.

“But as they get older, if no-one’s tackling that identity and if there’s no activities for them to do, then the older people will draw them into the activities.

“We get them to see that they can make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own actions.”

The overwhelming feeling from the teenagers is that they are perceived negatively. “I was coming back from my mate’s and two police officers pulled me over to ask me what I was doing and then searched me,” says Humza.

“Everyone thinks Pollokshields is a bad area,” adds Rashid, who is from the area but now lives in nearby Govanhill. “But it’s just a stereotype.

“People see a group of people and they think, ‘it’s obviously a gang’ but it’s just a bunch of friends.”

The YCSA is clearly a lifeline for them. “We like coming here because it gives us opportunities to get a job,” says Rashid.

“I was charged once. If I didn’t come here it would just keep happening,” Atif adds. “It keeps us off the streets.”
Source: The Herald