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World Press (03 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Religious Actions Speak Louder Than Words: New Age Islam's Selection, 03-11-2017






New Age Islam Edit Bureau

03 Nov. 17

This sexual harassment scandal is only getting started, and it could bring down Theresa May

By Tom Harris

Facebook and rest of social media forced to mend ways

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Jail Killing Day

By The Daily Star

How Balfour's blunder ruined Palestinian lives

By Simon Mabon

Lifting the ban on women driving: Why now?

By Layan Damanhouri

For some men, rape just isn’t a big deal

By Emma Brockes

When 37% of children are brought up poor, that’s a national humiliation

By Polly Toynbee

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/religious-actions-speak-louder-than-words--new-age-islam-s-selection,-03-11-2017/d/113110

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Religious actions speak louder than words

By Suhail bin Hasan Qadi

Al-Madinah

Some people dress and act like religious and pious sheikhs, and pretend they are God-fearing when they are not. They do this for worldly gains. For example, some of them want to be promoted while others have their eyes on high positions. Many want to earn as much money as they can.

Religiosity should influence behavior and actions in a positive way. If a person is truly religious, his behavior and actions will speak volumes about his religiosity. Dressing like a religious person while acting like a non-religious person is wrong. Actions speak louder than words.

The Holy Qur’an warns against fake religiosity when it mentions the story of scholars and monks who use religion for worldly gains. The Holy Qur’an says: “...indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert (them) from the way of Allah.” (09:34)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also warned against people who pretend to be religious and lengthen their prayers to show people that they are religious. Their actions, however, are not very religious.

There is a famous story that took place during the time of Omar Bin Al-Khatab, the second rightful caliph of Islam. Omar asked if any of the people who were sitting with him knew about a man who was not present. A person stood up and said he knew the man. Omar asked the person the following questions: “Are you the man’s neighbor?” The man answered in the negative. Omar asked, “Did you travel with him to any place?” The man said no. Omar said, “You must have seen him at the mosque praying and nodding his head up and down?” The person said yes. Omar said, “Then you really do not know him.”

Perhaps Omar knew that some people use religion to deceive others; perhaps he knew that having a long beard did not automatically make someone religious. He could be an impostor for all you know. Similarly, a woman wearing a black abaya does not necessarily mean she is modest.

Religiosity is a good thing but we have to focus on the essence of our religion and express it through words and actions. If you want to know what a person is like and whether he is God-fearing, you should interact with him and not judge according to his appearance.

The Kuwaiti columnist Ahmed Al-Boghdadi wrote about fake religiosity in one of his article. He said that he was shocked at how some Muslims believed that they were the only ones who were righteous and pious and that other Muslims were wrong. He said that some Muslims justified murder if the murderer was a man and the victim was a woman and if the murder involved honor. These Muslims believed that if a man killed his sister or wife because of honor, then he should not be severely punished and that the court sentence should be mitigated.

Al-Boghdadi also talked about the group of Muslims who describe anyone who criticizes religious individuals as kafirs or disbelievers. They believe anything the mosque imam says without questioning. The columnist does not understand many of the fake actions of some Muslims. He points out that the actions of some Muslims are contrary to their words. The problem is that those Muslims with fake religiosity end up believing that they are right and that others are wrong.

A university decided to expand its specialist programs to meet the needs of a larger segment of society. It opened up schools of medical science, information technology, medicine, pharmacy and dentistry. However, some members of society vehemently opposed this expansion and said that the university should have expanded its religion and humanities faculties despite them knowing that graduates of religion and humanities schools have been unsuccessful in finding jobs and that most of them are unemployed.

What is funny about this is that when the new schools officially opened, those in opposition sent their sons to enroll in them. The question arises why they opposed the schools in the first place? Why did their words contradict their actions? The answer to this is fake religiosity. They say what they do not do.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/520901/Opinion/Local-Viewpoint/Religious-actions-speak-louder-than-words

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Christian Arabs hardly receive any support from the Arab world

By Ray Hanania

3 November 2017

Srour, a Palestinian-Christian filmmaker based in Nazareth, has produced a comedic film called “Holy Air,” which has received huge promotional support from Israeli activists. It is about a fictional character who devises a scheme to sell bottled air from the Holy Land to enrich himself and pay his family’s bills. It is one of several Palestinian-made films headlining this year’s Israeli Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The message in Srour’s film is that money cuts across Middle East differences and brings Arabs and Israelis together. Even though the film is not political, because of Israeli funding it is unlikely to get support from Arab activists.

Overall, I think Christian Arabs tend to get more support from Israel than they do from Arabs. Israel recognizes how important Arab Christians are in the war for the hearts and minds of the world, especially in gaining US support. Arabs tend to pay lip service to Arab Christians, parroting the politically correct line that Christians and Muslims have shared the same suffering and challenges, and shed their blood for the same causes.

But Christians are not equal to Muslims in the eyes of Arab activists. Christian Arabs who challenge mainstream Arab principles — such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and rejection of the two-state solution — are marginalized, demonized as “Zionist shills” and labeled “traitors to the Palestinian cause.” Activists do not want their “wisdom” questioned. They want these moderate voices silenced.

There are only a few places Christian Arabs can turn to for support. One of those places is Israel, which constantly addresses their needs. Israelis talk about us; Arab activists want us to disappear. I am sure Israel is motivated by propaganda value, but the point is that it is supporting Christian Arabs. This is one reason why so many Christian Arabs flee the Middle East to Western nations, where they are embraced and can blend in.

Israel loves to showcase Palestinians who stand up to the anti-normalization policies of the extremists of BDS and other groups. And nothing gets more attention than a message embedded in a movie. Film festivals are presented as cultural environments, but their products can convey powerful messages. Cinema is very effective in delivering strong political messages through drama, humor and storytelling.

In the 1960s, Israel used the film “Exodus” to brand its propaganda messages into the minds of Americans. The movie was based on the 1958 book by Leon Uris, who had been commissioned by pro-Israel activists to create the fictional print blockbuster. The movie starred some of Hollywood’s most popular actors, including Paul Newman, a child of Jewish and Christian parents.

Israel knows the power of film, and many Israelis and American Jews have played prominent roles in Hollywood. Critics have argued that the industry has been traditionally racist against Arabs due to personal and political biases. Growing up in America, I watched more than 200 Hollywood films that presented Arabs only as sinister characters, terrorists and murderers. Americans rarely got to see the true face of Arab culture.

Only a few films included positive images, such as the 1976 Arab-funded film “The Message,” which told the story of the rise of Islam and featured Hollywood powerhouse Anthony Quinn.

Other, modern films include “Kingdom of Heaven,” starring Liam Neeson, about the crusades; “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”; and “American East,” which examined the challenges facing Arab Americans after the 9/11 attacks, starring my friend Sayed Badreya.

Why does the Arab world not produce movies with compelling storylines that can appeal to non-Arabic-speaking audiences? The region produces many great films, but most avoid politics and are in Arabic rather than English. This misses an important audience that needs to hear the Arab voice.

BDS does not agree with me. But instead of pushing Israelis away and rejecting “normalization,” we should embrace them away from their country’s racist, apartheid policies. We should show them the positive face of the Arab and Palestinian peoples, even when we disagree with their policies. And we should support Palestinians from Israel, such as Srour, whose voices are more important than the protest rhetoric of BDS.

Srour’s film should be showcased across the Arab world and in the Arab activist community. It is easier to protest in front of an Israeli Embassy than to fund and produce a compelling movie that tells the Arab narrative in a positive, effective way to people who need to hear it. A compelling movie about Palestinian suffering without political rhetoric and ideology can do far more than the largest protest.

• Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American columnist and author. Email him at rghanania@gmail.com.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1187391/columns

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This sexual harassment scandal is only getting started, and it could bring down Theresa May

By Tom Harris

2 NOVEMBER 2017

On the evening of the 2001 general election, my parents made the 20-mile journey from Ayrshire to Glasgow in order to witness at first hand their son being elected as a Member of Parliament. They sat patiently for hours, denying themselves their precious cigarettes – that’s how much they wanted to be there! When I made my acceptance speech I had never in my life seen such pride on their faces.

Eight years later, my dad, now a widower, fell into a conversation with a stranger on a train, and the talk turned to their respective offspring. Dad later reported that when he had been asked what his son did, “I didn’t want to tell him you were an MP.”

The 2009 expenses scandal was in full swing at the time. Even though I was (largely) unscathed by the revelations and was officially informed I had nothing to repay from my previous expenses claims, having an MP in the family had become a source of...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/02/sexual-harassment-scandal-getting-started-could-bring-theresa/

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Facebook and rest of social media forced to mend ways

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

A view worth considering: Representatives of three major corporations swearing in before then US congressional committee and surrendering to the state that made it clear to them that “Our interests are far more important than your gains”.

The information technology trilogy: Facebook, Twitter, and Google were feeding information to over two billion people in the world and flaunted the fact that they broke down walls, bypassed censorship, and spread facts. They are now admitting that they have become a major issue.

US authorities are now convinced more than ever that Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media outlets pose a threat to the regime and the society because they spread terrorism and hatred and manipulate people during elections.

They were summoned to open sessions, and with the threat of consequences if they lied under oath, they admitted to shocking information. Those corporations are afraid the charges will turn into conspiracy against the state and treason, if it was proven that they knew, or traded the information in elections to influence constituents’ political stances or create internal strife.

Fake news

Facebook admitted that 126,000 US citizens read or dealt with information that seemed to have been issued from the US, but in reality were sent from a building in Pittsburgh, Russia. Most information and news were false and inciting against immigrants, Muslims and others. Ten million users received political advertisements which turned out to be paid from Russia.

Twitter confessed that during the same period, it detected 3,000 Russian accounts backed by 36,000 fake accounts – an electronic army - that tweeted a million and a half times.

As for Google, it announced that about 5,000 Russian-funded ads appeared in the search, as well as thousand videos from Russia on YouTube of 43 hours’ duration.

A large amount of information proved that information technology companies were like Trojan horse carrying the message of the American enemy, with the public unaware they were Russians.

The companies justified their position saying they are platforms and not in the content business, except for Google that has search activity.

All of them pledged to reconsider and enhance their electronic surveillance that sorts out the enemy from the friend and allow the media content directed from inside US and prevent foreign-directed advertisements.

Of course, the accused Russia is also a victim of US dumping, targeting it politically and aiming at its regime. So, we are facing a massive, misleading, and destructive information war.

Major countries complain about this; countries that have huge capabilities to direct and educate and with immense military capabilities. What about our countries facing the same problem?

Similar crisis in Gulf

Here’s a similar crisis: Qatar is using information weapons against countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain. The countries considered this a direct target against their stability and presence. To stop Doha, the four countries announced that dealing with Qatar is treason.

Over the past five months, the quartet tried to obstruct all that Qatar built, whether they were means or affiliates. The confrontation ended most of the Qatari instigation platforms, which had been trying to compensate their losses by infiltrating into open free markets like Kuwait and using its platforms.

Qatar, a pioneer in this field, recruited accounts in the targeted countries, as well as electronic armies, to spread fake news, bragging that it is promoting Arab Spring. But the truth is that its inclinations are toward a political group like extreme Islamist groups, aiming to topple or weaken regimes.

Many of the information people receive on WhatsApp, Twitter, or Facebook are created with political goals to spread fake information. Such information is not worth the freedom of expression and access.

The US, a leader of freedom in the world, decided to change its concepts. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean freedom of the foreigner to interfere, influence, and change.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2017/11/02/Facebook-and-Co-forced-to-mend-their-ways.html

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Jail Killing Day

By The Daily Star

November 03, 2017

The nation mourns the brutal killings of Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, Captain (Rtd.) Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman this day forty-two years ago. It is an infamy that added the second blot in our history following the killing of the Father of the Nation along with almost all the close members of his family on August 15.

It was a very well-planned move to deprive the nation of the leadership that they were capable of providing the people of Bangladesh in the absence of Bangabandhu. As his trusted lieutenants, they had skillfully steered the Liberation War towards the final conclusion in 1971. But that was not to be. We recall with gratitude the extraordinary service they provided the nation during the very seminal stages of our independence.

Their killings were a double blow for us, and the nation has suffered for a considerable period the odious consequences of politics of killing and murder that was initiated on the fateful day of August 15, 1975. We thank the Sheikh Hasina government for initiating the legal process to bring the killers of the 1975 tragedies to justice.

However, some of the killers remain at large. And we hope that the government would do everything to bring them back from wherever they are ensconced in and make them face the punishment they have been awarded by the court. Only then will the wheel of justice complete its full circle, and only then can we as a nation feel completely absolved of the guilt that we have been carrying.

We join the nation in mourning the death of the four national leaders and pray for the departed souls.

http://www.thedailystar.net/editorial/jail-killing-day-1485661

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How Balfour's blunder ruined Palestinian lives

By Simon Mabon

November 2, 2017

Britain's colonial legacy is a ghost, but for the Palestinians, it remains a fact of life

With a simple 67-word letter sent on November 2, 1917, the British foreign secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour, irrevocably changed the political and geographic landscape of the Middle East. Outlining British support for the establishment of a Jewish state, it set in motion a series of events that culminated in the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948 in what had previously been Palestinian land - and by extension, the eventual occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip.

Balfour's letter was sent in a climate of secret diplomatic wrangling between British, French and Arab leaders over how best to divide Ottoman territory after World War I. The McMahon-Hussein Agreement of 1915, which promised independence to Arabs, was followed by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Middle East into British and French zones a year later. Colonialism was at its apex, and the Balfour Declaration showed the zeal with which the British elite sought to influence and dominate people and territory the world over.

The letter from Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leading member of the British Jewish community, read as follows:

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Ultimately, the declaration promised a state to the Jews despite Palestinian natives comprising some 90 per cent of the population. In the words of Palestinian scholar Edward Said, this was a declaration "made by a European power . about a non-European territory . in a flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory". Its ramifications are still felt today.

In 1948, an estimated 750,000 native Palestinians were forced from their homes in what is now known as the Nakba, or the catastrophe. The methods Israeli forces such as the Irgun used to drive them out had their roots in the British counter-insurgency methods that had been used against the Irgun themselves in the previous decade.

Moreover, prominent leaders of the burgeoning Israeli state, among them Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon, had been trained by the British during previous collusion against the 1936 Arab revolt, where they ran special squads to regulate life in the mandate, with the support of the British.

Jewish migration to the mandate - regulated by the British - was increasing, rising from 9 per cent to 27 per cent of the local population between 1922 and 1935. And while space was not an issue, the transformation of urban areas was a key part of the British counter-insurgency operation.

Under the guise of urban regeneration, the British made 6,000 of Jaffa's Palestinians homeless, with military personnel directing the demolitions. Similar practices are employed by the Israeli defence forces today in the West Bank, notably in Jenin and Nablus.

One of the new Israeli state's main tools to facilitate urban change was the demolition of houses. Immediately after it seized the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, the government erased the city's Maghriba Quarter, found in front of the Western Wall. In an attempt to facilitate cohesion between the newly seized territories and the rest of Israel, planning committees referred to British legislation that required the use of Jerusalem stone on all buildings. This urban transformation is a key part of political life in Jerusalem today where Stars of David are used to signify Israeli ownership; similar strategies are also found across the West Bank as settlers lay claim to land.

Although the declaration stressed that civil and religious rights should not be prejudiced, it was clear that the British were complicit in the development of infrastructure that was key to the formation of the Israeli state. Such developments may not have been always by design; after all, the British experienced a brutal terrorist campaign at the hands of Zionist extremist groups such as the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

In the aftermath of the Nakba, Israeli leaders set about building a new state for Jews, transforming Palestinian land and urban environments into something that would unite the Jews already in Palestine and create a shared national identity. A key part of this state-building project was the establishment of planning committees to oversee the transformation of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. To this day, Tel Aviv's streets bear names such as King George, Allenby and Balfour. Reflecting colonial dominance, signs were often topped with the streets' English names rather than Hebrew ones.

In the early years of statehood, amid unrest in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israeli state deployed a range of strategies to keep control. Homes were demolished, everyday life regulated through security measures, and a security barrier was built to separate Israel from the West Bank. From the off, these moves were justified through recourse to British Emergency Laws. First implemented in 1945 to prevent further violence by the Stern Gang and the Irgun, they still are routinely used to justify violence against Palestinians.

In 2010, after demonstrating against the demolition of Palestinian homes, Adnan Geith was banished from his home through use of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations from 1945. The use of emergency powers goes much further; it played a central role in the occupation of Palestinian lands, resulting in the establishment of the regime that today helps Israel assert sovereignty over Palestine and control daily life.The Balfour Declaration may be a century old, but its effects are as firmly entrenched as ever. In the corridors of Whitehall, Britain's colonial legacy is a ghost - but for Palestinians, it remains a fact of life.

Simon Mabon is Lecturer in International Relations, Lancaster University

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/how-balfours-blunder-ruined-palestinian-lives

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Lifting the ban on women driving: Why now?

By Layan Damanhouri

Women driving, a new future city to be built, and now a robot granted Saudi citizenship. It’s been a month full of surprises in Saudi Arabia!

Since it was announced that women would be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, the question I’ve been asked the most by foreigners and international media is: Why now?

Although it was a surprise that was greeted by many Saudis with a sigh of relief, the reason for the timing of this sudden announcement was not clear at first. With no introduction, it was announced on state TV and news agencies and made headlines worldwide.

In a rare public appearance, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh gave a clearer answer to many who wonder about the changes happening in Saudi Arabia.

In his announcement of NEOM, an ambitious $500 billion mega project to be built in the northwest of Saudi Arabia that will mark a new generation of cities, Crown Prince Muhammad asserted that Saudi Arabia’s direction in the post-oil era meant getting rid of the barriers that have been holding it back since the 1980s.

Those barriers are essentially extremism, which departs from the true moderate Islam that innately grants men and women equality. “We are returning to what we were before? -?a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he said. “We will end extremism very soon.”

Certain rules in Saudi Arabia are not religious, but are urged by conservatives bound by tradition. Despite that, there has been progress in women’s empowerment over the years and it is inspiring to see more women appointed to leadership positions. Nonetheless, the ban on driving contributed to women being considered to be second-class citizens.

It is important that the decree allowing women to drive has occurred top-down by the government, because for decades extremist factions have had their voice prevail over the rest of society.

As law always prevails over cultural traditions, the perception that men are superior to women will gradually diminish.

I personally consider the declining price of oil a blessing in disguise. Diversifying the economy requires all members of the population, both men and women, to be productive. As according to the General Authority for Statistics, unemployment among women has increased to 33 percent, transportation is a more pressing issue than ever. For the first time in Saudi history, the new economic model will liberate women from cultural barriers.

Today, Saudi society is different than in the past. Two-thirds of the Saudi population is under the age of 25. Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince is younger than his predecessors by at least two generations and is working on revamping the country in today’s digital age, a fast-paced era where change is quicker, efficient? and necessary.

Layan Damanhouri,

Saudi Gazette

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/520898/Opinion/Voices/Lifting-the-ban-on-women-driving-Why-now?

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For some men, rape just isn’t a big deal

By Emma Brockes

2 November 2017

One thing I keep hearing, as the fallout from Weinstein continues, is incredulity that a famous champion of liberal causes might have a problem with women. To most women who have spent time around champions of liberal causes, this is (grimly) hilarious. The idea that men on the left are less likely to be misogynists than men on the right is as bogus an idea as the one that men of the cloth are less likely to sin. And yet over and over it comes: why did he do it? Was it because of self-loathing? Was it the thrill of getting away with it?

I think he did it because, to him, it was simply no big deal. I was talking with a friend once about sexual assault and he said: “Well, being raped isn’t as bad as, say, working in a factory in China.” Apart from the ludicrousness of the comparison – of trying to figure out what rape is and isn’t as bad as – it was suddenly clear to me that to him, and I assume to many men, rape exists purely in the hypothetical realm. “If you had to work in a factory for six months or be raped, which would you choose?” I asked. He looked taken aback; rape wasn’t something he had considered in relation to himself.

There have been complaints from women that the elision of minor infringements – knee-grabbing, verbal harassment – with violent assault dilutes the gravity of “genuine” sex crimes. But it seems to me that these things have always been elided: by the criminal justice system, by men who don’t see much difference between pinching someone’s arse and “non-consensual sex”. Unless you are a 17-year-old who is grabbed off the street by men in ski masks, the continuum between sexual assault, harassment and aggressive “banter” is at best a little blurry.

There will be over-corrections. Some of the narratives on offer to young women to whom older men have been inappropriate will invite some to feel more traumatised than they are. It is, undoubtedly, better to laugh off some experiences than nurse them.

But it is also better to live in a world in which the genuinely traumatised aren’t told nothing has happened to them, and where the presumptions underpinning even the most trivial acts of aggression are dragged out and exposed. It has never been much of a taboo to touch a woman without her permission. Perhaps, under pain of calamitous “overreaction” from those legions of humourless millennials, it will be from now on.

Shelving the issue

A man came to my house to assemble some furniture this week and reminded me that “men have feelings too”. His standard line, he said, when reviewing the handiwork of men whose wives or girlfriends had called him in to fix it, is “the only reason it didn’t work is that you didn’t have the right tools”. Meanwhile he’s thinking: “This guy’s an idiot.”

Sometimes, when the women have left the room, the men confide in him – that they feel weak and inadequate if they can’t put up shelves. You can’t call a woman names any more, said the man – his belief in this was touching – but you can tell a guy to “man up” and it’s no big deal. Somewhere in there I thought he had a good point.

Voice of balm

Restoration came this week in the form of the new Netflix documentary on Joan Didion, leaver of pauses, finisher of sentences, who, after dispatching a perfectly composed thought to camera, swept a look to the floor as if devastated by its implications. She talked of the Central Park Five, the emblematic New York rape case of the late 1980s that Didion identified at the time as not just “a lie” but as a proxy for political tensions in the city. Yet all one wanted was to hear her on Weinstein.

• Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/02/men-rape-isnt-big-deal

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When 37% of children are brought up poor, that’s a national humiliation

By Polly Toynbee

2 November 2017

Soon more British children will be poor than since records began, back in 1961. In four years, progress will be reversed and all the good that was done undone. Over a million more will be plunged below the decency threshold.

For 37% of children to be brought up poor is a national humiliation. Any politician boasting pride in “British tolerance” should include our remarkable tolerance of poverty, which exceeds all similar European countries. This is who we are and what we expect, so today’s chilling report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies didn’t make it into this morning’s BBC news bulletins. Sex and Brexit obsess us, while poverty is just normal Britishness.

It doesn’t have to be this way. This is a political decision, supported by enough voters. Since George Osborne’s 2010 budget, virtually every hammer-blow of austerity has fallen on those with least. To be sure, by sleight of hand, flat inequality figures have until now disguised what was happening. But as benefit cuts cleave through to the marrow, another 7% of children will be deliberately made poor. More people are in work than for many a year – but never in modern times have so many been paid so relatively little, with families still poor and reliant on benefits even when both parents work.

Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith, given cover by the Liberal Democrats, targeted the poorest, and the same families were struck down by benefit cuts and freezes time and again. Housing benefit cuts and the bedroom tax drive many from their homes, continually moving schools, moving further from family and friends as rents rise above benefits. With the loss of education maintenance allowance for teenagers, shrinking child benefit, the two-child limit, the tax credit freeze, thousands of mobility cars taken from families with a disabled child and monstrous work capability tests harrying the sick and mentally ill, the same families are hit again and again.

Services offering help are vanishing: more than a thousand children’s centres are gone, and closures are accelerating. The youth service has all but disappeared. Social workers can only cover extreme crises. Citizens advice bureaus lose funding everywhere, with councils, cut by over 40%, unable to pay for them. Health visitors are spread more thinly than ever, with school nurses lucky to serve no more than 10 large schools each. Without help for families, there was a shocking 24% increase in multiple tooth extractions under anaesthetic for children under four last year, to 84,086. The only flourishing service is food banks.

The Financial Times reports that the chancellor will stick to his spending cap. With NHS, social care, police, prisons, councils, schools and more at breaking point, who expects poor children to be his surprise priority? This is who we are, the country we choose to be, dominated by foghorns of the right for ever telling of benefit cheats and welfare fraud (minuscule compared with tax evaders). Perhaps there is no national “we”, just a deep split between the mean-minded and those horrified to live in a country with a widening chasm between the haves and have-nots.

At last British Social Attitudes research shows some softening of hearts, more willingness to pay tax, less suspicion of benefit cheating. We are less generous and empathic than our EU neighbours – but after all these harsh years, there are signs attitudes are thawing. But no sign of shame from this government.

• Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/02/37-per-cent-children-poor-national-humiliation-ifs

URL: http://newageislam.com/world-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/religious-actions-speak-louder-than-words--new-age-islam-s-selection,-03-11-2017/d/113110




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