Thursday, 24 September 2009

The British Duplicity In Illegal Immigration: A Scar On The Conscience Of This Nation

In her defence of inadvertently employing an ‘illegal immigrant’ as a housekeeper, Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General of the United Kingdom complicated the whole situation by confessing that she also paid the National Insurance and tax on the wages of the 27 year old Loloahi Tapui, a Tonga national.

It seems that the British media did not see the duplicity in that statement. If they did not see the duplicity, it then means that the British media is also to be blamed for their part in the saga. In a nutshell, if the media cannot pick anything wrong with that revelation, the implication is that the British Media and not just the government and the general populace, have also an interest to protect and there is no doubt that they have, hence their mysterious silence over this revelation.

This confession and revelation by Scotland should have been the last nail on the coffin to seal her political and legal career. I am therefore amazed that despite that ridiculous revealing defence, she is still allowed to carry on with her job. Why? The answer is very simple! As the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, Baroness Scotland also oversees the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Treasury Solicitor acts on her behalf in the court. She has supervisory powers over prosecutions including the Serious Fraud Office and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. As a result of this, she must therefore be aware of what happens in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or at least have an idea of how things are run there. She must know something and cannot as the Attorney General plead ignorance. It is a crime in law to plead ignorance as a defence and a scandal for a legal luminary of an Attorney General rank to plead that.

In the United Kingdom, before an employee begins a new job or shortly after, he is expected to provide a National Insurance Number. It is with this number that his National Insurance contribution is credited to him as well as his taxation. The National Insurance pays for most of the essential services he enjoys including free medical care under the National Health Services fondly called the NHS. The National Insurance contributions would also him to receive job seekers allowance in the case of losing his job and to draw pension upon retirement as well as other benefits. The tax he pays just like the National Insurance contribution is also automatically deducted from his wages. Just like in every other country, this is an Income Tax and the tax is usually used to fund social amenities and other ancillary services provided by the government.

Before one is issued with a National Insurance Number in the United Kingdom, he has to apply and be invited for an interview where he is expected to prove who he is and his circumstances. This check is very akin to immigration check because that way, the National Insurance Number would not be assigned to a person not entitled to live and work in the United Kingdom. The interview is a face-to-face interview and the applicant is expected to bring along with him all necessary documents including Home Office documents and travel documents like passport to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he is the person he claims to be.

If at the end of the interview the interviewer is satisfied, he issues the applicant with a National Insurance Number and afterwards sends the plastic card to him by post. Everybody is expected to have this National Number before working in the UK including those on temporary residence like Working Holiday Makers, Students, Missionaries, Artists and others in similar circumstances. No one is exempted. It is mandatory and against the law to work without having one.

In the case of Loloahi Tapui, it is understandable. She came to the United Kingdom as a student, finished her course and decided to stay back in violation of the immigration law. As a student, she has already been issued with a National Insurance number when she arrived in the United Kingdom for the first time and therefore could have had one and used it to secure the housekeeping job from Baroness Scotland. However there is another problem here. If Loloahi, gave her National Insurance Number to Baroness Scotland upon the commencement of her housekeeping job, how come did she not notice that she has an expired Student Visa in her passport, because the name in the National Insurance Number must correspond with the one in her passport. Moreover, why is Scotland, an Attorney General-an initiator of a law that demands a thorough scrutiny of an employee background before working-not able to identify the anomaly for good six months?

I therefore conclude that Baroness Scotland is not just lying but a part of well organised government syndicate making money out of the ‘illegal immigrants’ and at the same time refusing vehemently to grant them amnesty. As I noted in my earlier article on the Baroness Scotland saga, I was able to point out that a conservative estimate noted that there are about 700 thousand ‘illegal immigrants’ living and working illegally in the United Kingdom. I was also able to point out that out of this number, well over 600 thousand of them work and pay their taxes and National Insurance contributions. The remaining are either in private employment and do not pay or are not working at all.

Now, the question is who issued these 600 thousand ‘illegal immigrants’ the National Insurance Number to work with? How did they get the number in the first place and where are their contributions going to? To answer the last question, the contributions go into the coffer of the United Kingdom government! How then can the United Kingdom Government morally claim in all truthfulness, that it is not aware that these ‘illegal immigrants’ pay their taxes and National Insurance contributions into their coffer. They have a system and should have known that. It is very simple to identify them and that is the simplest truth in the world. Bearing this in mind then, why then has the UK Government continued to refuse to regularise their stay in this country despite years of immorally taking their contributions. You want their money but not them?

This is evil and an abomination in the sight of the Lord upon which the British democracy and monarchy is built. It is a scar, a dent and guilt upon the conscience of this nation that despite the contributions of these ‘illegal immigrants’, the government and people they are maintaining their lifestyle have vehemently refused to regularise them. It is therefore not a Baroness Scotland issue alone. It is a matter of national concern and the whole nation should answer to this immoral anomaly. The slave trade was abolished some 200 years ago and yet it still exists in the United Kingdom the citadel of modern democracy and Magna Carta and when I think of the fact that the United Kingdom democracy is a theocratic-parliamentary democracy, it baffles me how people could have the gut to commit such an alarming impunity and evil under the face of the earth and before the God they professed as, ‘Dieu et mon droit’.

These people have been maintaining our lifestyle and they are the reason why the United Kingdom is still alive and kicking especially at this time of global financial quagmire and yet not even one person, not even the bishops in the House of Lords, deemed it necessary to go on hunger strike on their behalf for the evil that is being perpetrated against them. These ‘illegal immigrants’ are adherents of various faiths in this nation and yet none of their leaders has come out openly to canvass on their behalf. Where is the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury? Where is the Anglican Archbishop of York? Where is the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom? Where are other religious leaders in this country and how can they claim to believe in God and serve in the name of God and their flocks are going through hell?

If the United Government cannot do anything to regularise the status of this poor souls, then the religions should take it upon themselves to do something. They have to unite and put pressure on government to act. Any religion without a social agenda and liberation theology is not worthy to be and no one can claim to believe and serve God while his brothers and flocks are going through hell. Religion is all about fraternity and communion and the fact that these Members of the Parliament including the Prime Minister who have been opposing this amnesty share the same cup and bread of communion in Jesus Christ with them makes mockery of Christianity and belief in God.

I therefore call on the Government to look into this anomaly. These people cannot continue supporting and maintaining our lifestyle with their contributions and yet we refuse to regularise them. This is evil and completely unacceptable and no religion, common sense and philosophy can ever condone such an evil. Even pagans would have done something, if they are faced with this type of dilemma. Why is it difficult then for Christians to do something, if not for anything but for the God they profess.

We cannot continue to block this amnesty for these poor souls. No! We cannot! No more! They are human beings who breathe, talk, walk and have their existences and beings in the Lord like the rest of us. There is no difference between them and us. We are all equal in the sight of the Lord. How can we justify spending thousands yearly on our pets, unnecessary travels, opulence and food wastage while fellow human beings are suffering, dying in poverty and living underground because of us. This has to stop. They are like a needle in our conscience and we should have learnt by now the nothingness of human life especially after the September 11 and July 7 debacles in New York and London respectively and even the ongoing recession.

Human life is insatiable and no matter how long we continue to deny these people a human existence, it would never make our own life better. We cannot continue to keep quiet and pretend as if nothing is happening. Something appallingly and awfully bad is happening and that bad thing is that millions are suffering and dying by instalments because we have refused to give them a second chance. Everyman man deserves a second chance and that is why we have continued courageously, rightly and wisely to campaign against torture and capital punishment in every part of the world. The fact that criminals are given parole and murderers are later released is a testimony that second chance is part and parcel of human nature.

Against this backdrop, these people deserve a second chance now. If we do not do anything, the nightmare may come back to haunt us eternally like the slave trade and the Jewish Holocaust. I do not by this article imply the endorsement of illegal immigration by any means. My argument is that the mistake has simply been made by these people and what we should focus on now is how to correct it. And any correction of the anomaly that would not seek to normalise those already here would be a disaster, a big failure, a shame on this nation and a scar we would have to live with forever.

Those already here should be normalised and carefully dispersed to various parts of the nation to avoid congesting London. Their normalisation document should also stipulate clearly that they are supposed to live and work in a particular part of the country. The government may also consider imposing fine on them to be paid at once or to be spread over few years or double their National Insurance contribution and taxation for few years or to certain amount as punitive measure as well as barring them from accessing the state benefit for some years. For the UK Border and Immigration Agency, it should also in the light of the exercise work towards securing tightly the borders of the country as well as sending educative and informative messages to countries where most of the ‘illegal immigrants’ are coming from to dissuade them from coming here illegally or face the consequences.

Above all the United Kingdom government should also work towards tackling this problem from the source. Deporting these poor souls would surely not solve any problem or make a difference. In fact it would be a drain on the coffer of the nation. The problem lies with their corrupt country leaders and using Nigeria as a good example one would understand my side of the argument. Nigeria, from her abundant human and natural resources should be one of the richest nations in the world but the ugly fact is that the opposite is the case. Despite having the most arable land on earth, the second biggest producer of oil in Africa and the sixth in the world with a very rich amount of gas reserve, the country still languishes in poverty, moral decadence and other social malaises. The leaders are very corrupt to the extent that masses think it is a way of life after all. It is a custom for an individual to steal public money and no eye brow is raised.

The most pathetic part of the whole story is that these thieves and looters steal from the national coffer and deposit the ill-gotten wealth in western banks including the United Kingdom banks. They also use the money to purchase properties including houses and cars here in the United Kingdom, give their children a befitting foreign education and foreign medical care whereas in their home country the teachers have been in industrial action for months while the health professionals are made to work with no medical equipment at all. When they ask for foreign aids and it is given to them, it simply ends up in their private pocket leaving the masses with nothing but more suffering and agony. They are simply helpless and therefore illegal immigration becomes an alluring option.

Despite these the west and the United Kingdom have refused to arrive at a way of sanctioning these corrupt leaders. The west must as a matter of urgency and a question and appeal of conscience go after these leaders in a very heavy way. I proposed investigating their foreign accounts and the source of their opulent life in the west with the view of sanctioning them as a deterrent for others like them as well as denying medical care and education to them and their children with a proviso that they should go back home to their country with the money to develop their own health care and educational sector.

This type of stupid behaviour on the part of the leaders of the third world countries is the major pull factor for illegal immigration in the west and the United Kingdom in particular. If this source is not tackled and seriously tackled too, the hydra-headed monster would never be killed.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Baroness Scotland Broke The Law And Should Resign: All Animals Are Equal!

In 2006, Baroness Scotland of Asthal in the County of Oxfordshire initiated in the United Kingdom Parliament a very controversial, cynical and Nazi-like bill aimed at making it compulsory for the employers to carry out detailed and thorough scrutiny and check before giving a job to any prospective employee.

The expectation of the bill was to make it very difficult for the ‘illegal immigrants’ to get a job of any type and to discourage employers from giving them jobs and punish severely those who flout this rule by imposition of a heavy fine. The bill was as controversial as it was unpopular but due to the fact that it emanated from the Labour-controlled and dominated government, it was swiftly passed into law within a very short time despite numerous oppositions to its passage from the opposition parties, human rights groups and other stake holders in the nation.

Some of the reasons for the fierce opposition to the bill were because of its semblance to the Nazi Anti-Semite laws during the Jewish holocaust. During the holocaust by the Nazi Germany under Hitler, the Jews were mandated to carry identification cards and documents while employers in Germany and occupied territories were mandated to carry out detailed checks and scrutiny to ensure that no job is given to a Jew. Besides, the Jews were also mandated to wear a special uniform and yellow badge to distinguish them from the rest of the population. The yellow badge (or yellow patch), also referred to as a Jewish badge, was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments in order to mark them as Jews in public. It is intended to be a badge of shame associated with anti-Semitism.

It is because of the fear of repeating this ugly situation that the bill received a very fierce opposition unprecedented in the history of the United Kingdom Parliament. Also the opponents of the bill were very afraid that it could pave a smooth way towards making the United Kingdom a police state were people’s privacy and details would be subjected to unwarranted intrusion by the agents of the state.

Interestingly, since the passage of the controversial bill into law, the Labour Government has gone an extra mile to authorise the police to store the DNA of innocent citizens in their databank, carry out stop and search at random-that so far the blacks and other minorities have been the greatest victims. In fact majority of those that have been stopped and searched since the power was given to the police were blacks.

Similarly, the same Labour Government also empowered the Border and Immigration Agency of the United Kingdom to go from house to house, bus to bus, undergrounds and in fact everywhere to stop and ask any person for their identification and the business they are doing in the United Kingdom. The end result is that the United Kingdom under the Labour Government has become that police state prophesised in ‘1984’ by George Orwell.

Against this backdrop and bearing in mind that whatever goes up must surely come down, Baroness Scotland was last week fined Five Thousand Pounds for flouting the same law she initiated by employing an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper in her home without carrying out the necessary checks and scrutiny as well as keeping the photocopies of the housekeeper as she proposed in the controversial law.

As usual and in line with the tradition of the blind Labour Party of Gordon Brown, she denied any wrong doing and claimed that she inadvertently employed her even as she foolishly stressed that the mistake of not making and keeping photocopies of her documents was just a technical breach and that she highly regretted the incident. She has since paid a Five Thousand Pounds fine but vehemently refused to resign despite the enormity of the case against her. In fact Gordon Brown-the proverbial one eyed man leading a group of blind people-before flying out to New York defended Scotland and claimed that it was an error in judgement that would not warrant dropping her from the cabinet.

However the fact here is that from the stories of what transpired, Baroness Scotland told quantum of lies and has never stopped lying. Moreover, instead of accepting that she knowingly and deceptively made the ‘mistake’, she chose to continue lying and playing with the intelligence of the British people. She is the brain child of this law. She invented it. She nurtured it. She incubated it. She mothered it. She mentored it. She wrote it and knows every single alphabet and word in it and therefore could not plead ignorance when she employed the ‘illegal immigrant’. Ignorantia legis non excusiat!

When Baroness Scotland was nurturing the law, she stipulated that employers must check the documents very well, scrutinise it with every attention and if in doubt check with the appropriate authorities before employing. She also mandated the employers to make and keep photocopies of the documents tendered by the employee. According to Scotland, she made all the necessary checks but forgot to make the copies of the documents. The question now is what are the documents Baroness Scotland checked and how can a seasoned legal practitioner and a Queen Counsel not have noticed a fake document from the original or even have that legal evidential inkling that something is wrong somewhere.

Baroness Scotland is the Attorney General of the United Kingdom meaning that she is the number one legal practitioner of the nation. She is the Alpha and Omega of law in this country as well as the custodian of the law of the land. She is the guardian of public interest, legal adviser to the government and the criminal justice minister. As the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, she oversees the Treasury Solicitor's Department (and the Treasury Solicitor acts on behalf of the Attorney General when representation in court is required). She has supervisory powers over prosecutions, including the Crown Prosecution Service (headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions), the Serious Fraud Office and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office.

The Attorney General has also the public interest functions. For instance, as the Attorney General, Scotland is the trustee of default where a sole trustee has died, and can also take cases to the Law Lords where points of general legal importance need to be settled. In fact from the website of the UK Attorney General’s Office, “The Attorney General and Solicitor General-who is actually the deputy of the former and can carry out her full functions in her absence-have overall responsibility for the Treasury Solicitor and supervise the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the DPP for Northern Ireland”.

I am therefore very flabbergasted that a nation’s Attorney General was not able to differentiate between a fake document and an original one. This raises many questions on the veracity of what Scotland is telling us and if the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, who has a degree in Law and has practiced law for many years could not identify a fake document from an original one, how then do we expect ordinary citizens in the street and elsewhere to make these checks and come up with an accurate result. Something is wrong somewhere and that something is that Baroness Scotland is a liar and a shameless liar and should resign from that office.

Baroness Scotland from her actions has proved that she is no more worthy and morally suitable to be in that office and it would be an honourable decision for her to resign from that office. The Attorney General of a nation is an embodiment of truth and more so as a lawyer she is expected to say and uphold nothing but the truth at all time. If Scotland is lacking this quality why on earth should she still be in that office? She told lies and she has to resign and even if she did not tell lies, the fact that the Attorney General could not tell a fake document from an original one should be an urgent reason for her to resign and that will be on the interest of the nation. It simply means that she lacks the mental ability and agility to tender evidence in the court. And claiming that it was just a technical error should be the more reason why she should bury her head in shame and quickly resign from that post.

Her actions has gone a long way to prove that her appointment to that position is putting a square peg in a round hole and since she has by her actions proved herself very incompetent to handle the job, she has no other better option but to resign. The whole saga is funny and utterly ridiculous that instead of resigning, she is still shamelessly going about even in the media defending her stupidity and ignorance. It is quite a shame that a woman like Baroness Scotland could stoop so low to do such a thing she did and tell lies upon lies upon it and instead of resigning, she chose to continue telling more lies. The fact that she is a black like me makes me sick.

What Baroness Scotland did was to simply use the young lady to achieve her aim and she achieved it. She needed a housekeeper by all means and she got one by all means without bothering to check the background and employability of the employee as she outlined in the law she made herself. When two elephants fight the grass bears the brunt and that is exactly what is happening to the 27 year old young lady in question. Scotland has used and dumped her and instead of defending and saving the head of the poor young girl in her time of trials, she has chosen to deny her and to defend herself and her job instead. This is despite the services rendered by the lady. Is that not disgusting?

As I pointed out earlier, it is very disgusting that this type of behaviour should come from a black woman. The history of the black race all over the world has been a history of oppression, slavery, domination, injustice, poverty, disease, famine and war; all either orchestrated, perpetrated, endorsed, supported or masterminded by the whites. Am not being a racist but just being very honest and truthful; the facts are there to be checked after all slavery, apartheid, racism, illegal immigrants and white supremacism are all inventions of the Whiteman.

Bearing all these in mind then, one would understand very easily the reason for my canvassing that Baroness Scotland should resign and bury her head in shame. She is a black woman and instead of taking the time she took to defend herself and her job to defend the young poor lady who is so young to be her daughter, she kept telling lies. Any politics, religion or humanism that is not on the side of the masses is destined to fail and that is why Scotland’s action automatically qualifies her for a very big failure. When Jacqui Smith authorised the deportation of Ama Sumani dying of Cancer in a hospital in Wales to Ghana, I wrote a poem predicting her downfall and she indeed failed and it was a big failure. She was disgracefully booted out of the Home Office. I am therefore not in doubt that Baroness Scotland is going to end the same way. That young lady needed her help and she not only betrayed her, she also failed her. Scotland is a coward!

As a background, Baroness Scotland is a product of slavery and oppression. Just as this poor lady is branded an ‘illegal immigrant’ today, his forebears were branded as niggers, Negro and black monkeys. She is a descendant of slaves. Born Patricia Scotland in Dominica in 1956, she arrived in Britain at the age of 2 along with 10 other siblings. She later attended university and distinguished herself as a lawyer before entering the political arena in 1977, where she was called to the bar and served two terms of government for Labour firstly in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as Foreign Office Minister working for the home department at the Lord Chancellor's Office. There she was effectively number two to Lord Irvine of Largs and the lead minister on immigration and asylum matters, legal aid, legal services and the development of civil law in the UK

In 1991 she made legal history when she became the first black female QC (Queens Counsel) at the age of 35. She was made a bencher of the Middle Temple in 1997, becoming a judge in 1999, and raised to the Privy Council in 2001. She is also a member of the bar in Antigua and Dominica. In 1997, she was created a peer as Baroness Scotland of Asthal, in the County of Oxfordshire.

Scotland is also a member of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship and it is simply because of this that her actions and lies are inexcusable and a resignation becomes the best and honourable option. She obviously did not manifest her Christianity here or even manifest that courage of a black woman who should have learnt a lesson from her own background and history. My argument here is that allowing the young lady to go it all alone with the Border and Immigration Agency is unbecoming of a Christian and a black person. Black people have a very strong sense of communalism and brotherhood and that is seriously absent in the curriculum vitae of Baroness Scotland. To say that am disappointed would be an understatement. As a Christian and putting into consideration her level of seniority in the government, she should have used her office to help the young lady; yes to legalise her after all she is a human like you and me and not a killer. And even if she is a killer, she should also be given a second chance on compassionate ground; after all terrorists have been released in Scotland, United Kingdom on compassionate ground.

Baroness Scotland therefore got the plot of the whole drama wrong and further attempts on her side to use complicated legal terms and Shakespearean English to defend herself is tantamount to playing with the intelligence of the British people. As a result, it is imperative that Scotland as a matter of urgency, matter of urgent national importance and matter of black pride and face, resign with immediate effect from her position as the Attorney General of the United Kingdom.

As for Gordon Brown, who did not see anything wrong in the actions of Baroness Scotland, his days are also numbered. Gordon Brown, was brought up in a very good Christian family as a son of a Christian Minister and ever since he joined the Labour, he has taken part in blocking all the efforts made so far to legalise about Seven Hundred Thousand ‘illegal immigrants’ living in the United Kingdom on the pretext that the exercise would add to the burden of the UK economy. How foolish an argument! The fact is that almost all of these illegal immigrants are working here and very hard working indeed with mansions, cars, fat bank accounts and beautiful families back home. To legalise them would obviously make no difference. In fact legalising them would surely see a shift in the UK population since most of them would like to go elsewhere or even go back home for good and come here once in a while as tourists.

Despite these, the Labour Party has continued relenting in carrying out this exercise just for the foolish and stupid pleasure of saying no. The most painful part of the whole saga is that these people, who say no to the amnesty, spend thousands of pounds yearly in buying foods that end up going to the waste bin or even spend more than that to buy foods for their cats and dogs. Their cats and dogs are more valuable to them than their fellow humans and if they do not value the life of these people, how on earth would they expect the terrorists to value our own life. And reflecting on the fact that the nation doing this is a Christian nation makes one to seriously long for atheism and question strongly the existence of God.

Besides as we can see from the case of Baroness Scotland, the question of illegal immigration is a human issue and should be tackled humanely and humanly. People make mistakes that could land them in place or condition they never bargained for. Most of these ‘illegal immigrants’ made this type of mistake. A good number of them are also victims of trafficking and oppression in their home country and therefore ran to this place for protection. According to a rough estimate they are well over 700 thousand ‘illegal immigrants’ living here in the UK and everybody benefits from them and their presence. They do menial jobs the British people refused to do like sweeping the streets, cleaning public toilets and even serving some of this people who refused to legalise them. A good example is the Baroness Scotland’s housekeeper and the maid to the then girl friend of David Blunkett the former Home Office Secretary.

David Blunkett during his time as Home Secretary was in a relationship with Kimberly Fortier the publisher of The Spectator magazine. The three-year relationship ended bitterly in August 2004. Blair deemed it proper for Blunkett to remain Home Secretary while pursuing his pregnant former lover in the courts to ascertain paternity of her unborn child as it appeared of no relevance to his ministerial position. However, at the end of November 2004, it was alleged that Blunkett abused his position to assist his ex-lover's Filipina nanny, Leoncia "Luz" Casalme, by speeding up her residence visa application and later using his influence to ensure that she successfully obtained an Austrian tourist visa. An investigation into these allegations was headed by Sir Alan Budd. Shortly before Sir Alan was due to report his findings, an email emerged headed "no special favours...but a bit quicker". Though there was no evidence Blunkett was responsible for the email or its title, he resigned as Home Secretary on 15 December 2004, saying that questions about his honesty were damaging the government.

The lesson here therefore is that even if we loath, ignore or dislike them, they are still going to be part of the life in the United Kingdom until something is done; and what has to be done would be to legalise those already here while effort should be made to stop those yet to arrive and then face the corruption in their countries which is the major pull factor bring them here. It is also a shame that despite the fact that there are over 20 Anglican Bishops sitting in the House of the Lords, their conscience does not prick them that these people who form part of their congregation and who are living like slaves in their backyard need compassion and amnesty. Pondering all these questions makes me to begin to reflect if there is really God; because if there is, people cannot be as wicked and naive as this over the plight and anguish of other people. Incidentally the UK Parliament is just by the West Minster Abbey and how people could pray in the face of this abomination and atrocity is a another mystery, am yet to understand.

And what would be the consequence if they are legalised, would the United Kingdom disintegrate? Certainly, not! The presence of these people, their toils day and night to make our own life comfortable is a scar on the conscience of this nation and would continue to be till that day when God comes in glory to render judgement amongst people so that there will no more be Jews or gentiles, whites or blacks, legal or illegal immigrants among the lovely children of God.

By the way, lest you have forgotten, Baroness Scotland must still resign!

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Homophobic Murder of the British Consul And The Home Office: Matters Arising!

Last week Wednesday the British Honourary Ambassador to Jamaica was brutally and callously murdered in his house in an apparent homophobic attack.

John Terry died of asphyxiation after being beaten and strangled. A post mortem is expected to reveal that he died from strangulation by ligature, says the Jamaican Constabulary Force. According to the Force there was a cord and an item of clothing found around his neck when his body was found.

A hand-written note beside his dead body described him as a “batty man”, which is a local slang for a homosexual. The note also added: “This is what will happen to all gays.”

This development is coming barely a month after a very close friend, despite his plea to the Home Office to grant him asylum based on his sexual orientation was deported to Jamaica after being told to go home, change his homosexual way, pretend he is not gay and move to another part of the country. According to the Home Office, if he abides by these directives nothing will happen to him.

John Terry’s murder is a cowardly act, a mark of ignorance and completely unacceptable even as the deportation of my dearest Jamaican friend by the Home Office despite his plea is very stupid, idiotic and a sign of the fact that the British Home Office is filled with ignorant ignoramuses who derive joy from playing with the life of the people and making stupid and ignorant decisions. All these points to the fact that the Home Office as it is now, is not fit for a purpose and therefore needs a complete overhaul.

Various reports from various human rights group are of the same opinion and conclusion that Jamaica is a homophobic haven where even homophobic crimes are feted instead of being punished by the state. In fact according to these reports there is a covert endorsement of homophobic crimes by the State of Jamaica. This could explain why most of these homophobic attacks are not investigated and punished.

For Jamaican homosexuals it has been a story of one hell after another; more of one week one trouble. Many of them have experienced attacks on themselves and their property for no reason but just for being homosexuals. A lot of them have also been killed including homosexual rights activists. The homophobic culture in Jamaica is deeply rooted in the country’s psyche that every aspect of life in the Caribbean Island reflects that.

Buju Banton, a local reggae star is a homophobic champion of the Island whose many songs glorified homophobic attacks on individuals suspected of being gays, lesbians or bisexuals. Recently he was charged with grievous bodily harm for brutally attacking a gay man and leaving him for dead. He attacked the gay man with blows and board which left him half blind. Buju Banton is such an avowed homophobe that one of his songs, ‘Boom Bye-Bye’ decrees that gays "haffi dead" (have to die).

The Jamaican authorities refused to charge Buju Banton for the attack but after series of complaints from international human rights groups, he was finally charged but couple of months later the case was quashed for lack of evidence. It was a bitter decision and a victory for homophobes like Buju Banton. Also in the past couple of years, two of the island's most prominent gay activists Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson's mutilated body. This did not happen in Iran or Saudi Arabia but in Jamaica in the Caribbean. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence.

For instance recently, a teenager was almost killed when his father learned he was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Reports also had it that the Jamaican Police aid and abet mob that are involved in this type of homophobic attacks and witnesses actually confirmed that the Police were a witness where a gay man was stabbed and stoned to death in Montego Bay. Similar report had it also that just recently a man from Kingston, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting ‘batty boy’ chased him off a pier.

This led to an outburst by Rebecca Schleifer of the US-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility that “Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen."

Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean also has a long history of deep-seated homophobia and homophobic attacks. In Barbados homosexuality is still a criminal offence and actually follows the Jamaican more violent example. Recently two CBS News producers, both Americans, were beaten with tire irons by a gay-bashing mob while on vacation there. One of the victims, Ryan Smith, was airlifted to a Miami hospital, where he received an intensive care as a result of a fractured skull.

Experts are of the opinion that the scourge of homophobia in Jamaica is largely due to the country's increasingly thuggish reggae music scene spiced with high level of illiteracy and gangsterism. Buju Banton, as noted at the outset, is an epitome of this culture. One of his first hits released in 1992 and titled, ‘Boom Bye-Bye’, boasts of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid "like an old tire wheel." Another artist, Elephant Man declares in one song, "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ it’s not our fault...Two women in bed/ that’s two Sodomites who should be dead." As if there is no end to this, yet another artist called Bounty Killer urged his fans and listeners to burn "Mister Fagoty" and make him "wince in agony."

The most agonising part of the whole brutality and homophobic culture is the fact that all these attacks are endorsed by the state and even have the full backing of the parties in power. For instance, the Jamaica's major political parties have passed some of the world's toughest homophobic laws and regularly incorporate homophobic music in their campaigns.

It is based on this argument that it would be virtually impossible to have the killer or killers of John Terry brought to justice. To an average Jamaican and to the government that endorses homophobic attack, the killer has done a heroic job and should be rewarded; after all he killed a ‘batty man’. Jamaica has not been known to prosecute homophobic attacks and the brutal killing of John Terry would not make any difference or set a precedent. Bearing this in mind then, it becomes imperative that the Jamaican Government should be held responsible for the killing of John Terry. The British Government should by way of sanction and boycott let the Jamaican government be aware that we have come a long way out of the stone and dark ages where people kill each other as flies. Whoever killed John Terry is a Jamaican and every citizen of a nation is responsible for the actions committed in the name of that nation.

Even the British Home Office that tactically endorses this type of shame may not succeed in pressurizing the Jamaican government to take action against the killer of John Terry. The Home Office is certainly very weak here for despite knowing what happens in Jamaica, it has been in recent years deporting many Jamaican homosexuals seeking asylum here back to Jamaica. The Home Office is very well aware of the fate waiting for these men and women back home but the need to increase the quota of those to be removed yearly is more important to the Home Office than the fate of these young men and women.

As noted earlier, they are usually deported with the proviso to go home and pretend they are not homosexuals by behaving like straight guys and moving to another part of the country. This is very disturbing bearing in mind that being a homosexual is not about a life style. It is more than that. Being a homosexual is about belonging to a particular group; the minority and even holding an opinion that results in persecution.

Therefore telling them to tell lie about their sexuality is a matter that should be investigated by the Parliament. To tell lie to get an asylum in the United Kingdom is a criminal offence, what then should be the punishment for the Home Office unscrupulous staff that encourage these men and women to lie about their sexuality? To be gay is a taboo in most of the cultures and countries where these young men and women are running away from and for the Home Office to tell them to tell lies about their sexuality by pretending they are straight and move to another part of the country, could be very insulting and a clear sign of ignorance and violation of their human rights. That is akin to asking a Jew during the Jewish holocaust to deny he is a Jew. This is a serious violation of their rights by the Home Office and the Parliament should not pretend it is not aware of what is happening in the Home Office. An urgent investigation is therefore imperative to ascertain why the Home Office is telling a vulnerable minority to deny their identity.

These people being sent home have a well founded fear of being detained, falsely imprisoned and persecuted for being homosexuals, belonging to homosexual groups and associating with other homosexuals and having an opinion that supports their way of life. It is therefore a gross violation of their rights for the Home Office to send them home in the first place and being aware and deporting them to a country where there is a likelihood of their being persecuted and their human rights violated is a gross violation of human right laws.

For example, the Article 3 of the European Charter of Human Rights is strongly against deportation of individuals to places where they could be tortured, punished, persecuted or subjected to any form of inhuman or degrading treatment. Jamaica is one of those places for homosexuals yet the Home Office is still deporting them. Under this Article 3, a person can make a claim for protection on the ground that his human rights and person could be subjected to a serious violation in form of torture, persecution, punishment or degrading inhuman treatment and the Home Office is bound to respect this provision. However in recent years, the Home Office has been seriously violating this provision by deporting those who claim them for protection in order to meet the Labour quota system.

Under the Labour Quota System, a certain number of failed asylum seekers must be removed from the United Kingdom each year. In order to beat this target, what the Home Office needs to do is just make sure that the quota is reached each year by all means. The implication is that in the process, genuine asylum seekers who have well founded fear of persecution are denied asylum and deported even to the countries where it is obvious they will be persecuted and murdered. Many Iraqi, Iranian, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigerian and Jamaican homosexuals have been deported this way.

This Home Office Labour endorsed action is also a serious violation of the Non-Refoulement Principle which is the central obligation of 1951 Refugee Convention requiring a state not to expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where her life or freedom would be threatened. The Home Office is well aware of these facts. It is therefore morally irresponsible for the Home Office to continue tying the fate of these individuals to the Labour quota system. This is morally unfair, completely unacceptable and a wanton disregard for the value and sacredness of human life and a clear violation of international instruments guarding the interest of refugees and asylum seekers.

It is because of this wanton violation of their rights that the UK homosexual rights activist, Peter Tatchell decried that, “Britain’s asylum system is homophobic. The Home Office is refusing asylum to genuine lesbian and gay refugees and sending them back to countries where they are at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even execution. The government seems more interested in cutting asylum numbers than in ensuring a fair, just and compassionate asylum system. It is failing gay refugees who have fled savage persecution, including death squads, vigilante attacks and attempted so-called honour killings.”

The Home Office should have known by now more than everybody that human life is not all about quota. It is sacred and should be respected by all means especially when it is seriously endangered. This is not time for quota. It is time for being there for those who have nobody to speak for them. We should not talk of quota or be silent when people are suffering. I am conscious of the fact that the quota system is the worst mistake to have been done in the history of British Home Office.

This quota system would only go a long way to empower the homophobes and never the victims. The quota system would encourage the tormentor and never the tormented. We should therefore play a part in fighting this Labour controversial quota system no matter whose Ox is gored because it borders on human life, human right and human dignity. We are under an obligation to oppose and speak out against it. When human lives are endangered and human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders, quota system, immigration laws and sovereignty should come last. Wherever people are being persecuted, imprisoned, humiliated or become a subject of opprobrium as a result of their sexual orientation, that place should be the focus of attention and centre of the entire world until that cynical and barbaric behaviour is brought to an end.

The Home Office should therefore be held responsible for the fate of these young men and women and for whatever happens to them both in Jamaica and other countries where they are being deported back to and likely to face the agony of being persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and murdered. John Terry would not have died in such a brutal and callous manner, if the Home Office had taken the Jamaican picture very serious and make every diplomatic effort including the use of boycott and sanction to bring Jamaica, her former colony, to obey the rights and life of these vulnerable minorities.

And for the killers of John Terry, every effort should be made to bring them to justice. Somebody must have heard something or witnessed something. They should take it as a moral duty to inform the police as soon as possible. Human beings are so interconnected that we cannot shy away from what happen to others because it might be our turn tomorrow for according to Karl Jaspers, “there exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world and especially for crimes that-are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant. If I do not do whatever I can to prevent them, I am an accomplice in them. If I have not risked my life in order to prevent the murder of other men, if I have stood silent, I feel guilty in a sense that cannot in any adequate fashion be understood juridically, or politically, or morally....That I am still alive after such things have been done weighs on me as a guilt that cannot be expiated”.

Relatedly, we are also not unaware of the fact that some of these attacks are religiously motivated in the sense that those who carry out these brutal behaviours are often victims of brainwash of their different religions. Most of these religions especially Islam and Christianity teaches their members that homosexuality is an abomination and sin before God and for the unsuspecting followers it becomes a licence for them to carry out homophobic attacks wantonly, after all the man of God says it is a sin and an abomination before God. Also because these religions erroneously teaches their members that God destroyed the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, the gullible members would not have any problem carrying out homophobic attacks since if God could destroy those cities, killing those who are homosexuals in the name of same God may not be bad after all.

At this juncture, it becomes pertinent to point out clearly that killing in the name of God or religion can never be justified. We are all children of God, fearfully and wonderfully made in his image. We are all equal before Him and nobody is valued more than the other in His presence. We cannot continue to tolerate the fact that people are still being imprisoned, tortured, ostracised and murdered in 2009 as a result of their sexuality. No! That is completely unacceptable, undemocratic, evil and not in alignment with human nature. And the fact that all these are being done in the name of God and religious conviction makes a mockery of belief in God.

God we are told is almighty and supreme and if He is, He has got all the power too to kill all the homosexuals, if He does not want them. He made man and knows how many hairs each of them has got on their head. It is His prerogative to take the life of any man he so wishes and for man to step in to do this work for Him is tantamount to making a mockery and laughing stock of His almighty quality. It is because of this that I strongly condemn in all forms any act of aggression against people in the name of God because of their religion, creed, belief, language, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Racism, bigotry, hatred and similar vices are what we should run away from. They are like a poison to the soul. Any religion, culture, group or government that advocates hatred for other people because of their religion, creed, race, colour and sexuality should be sanctioned, boycotted and be held responsible for any violation of human rights because it is purely against the belief in God, democracy, universal brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. Nobody can claim to be a believer in God and in the name of same God kill his brothers. Any religion, culture, group or government that preaches hatred in any form is not worthy to be and should be fought by all. The world is too big to accommodate all of us and we are too big for all these rubbishes.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Cross River Gorilla: A Reflection On The Plight Of A Neighbour On Danger Of Extinction

For those who believe in nature there is no doubt that there is a huge amount of orderliness and beauty in nature. The water we drink the air we breathe, the foods we eat including the fish and meats that come from various seas and animals are testimony to the fact that there is beauty in nature.

The nature is wired in such an intricate way that this mystery called nature continues to elude human understanding. The nature is structured in such a way that everything depends on each other. Everything under the face of the earth is useful and relies on the existence of the other or others to have his life and being. The meaning of this is that there is possibility of life on earth not continuing if one of these chains of life is broken.

Take for instance, the relationship between animals and plants. Science made us to understand that plants are very important to animals just like the water is very crucial to the survival of the fish. The fish will cease to exist if the waters dry up. This truism is because of the fact that water is central to the survival and navigation of the fish. In a similar way, man and animals existence are highly dependent on the plants and every plant, no matter how useless it may appear to be is very crucial to the survival and existence of man and animals.

Generally, the air we breathe according to the science is called Oxygen. In fact man takes in oxygen and brings out carbon dioxide. The oxygen man takes in does not come from the vacuum; it comes from the plants. Therefore the plants give Oxygen to the man for his survival. Now the question is what does man give in return? The answer is very simple; while breathing man takes in Oxygen and gives out carbon dioxide. The oxygen he takes in comes from the plant and the carbon dioxide he gives out is what the plants take in as a vital means of survival. The logic here is that carbon dioxide is as vital to the plant as Oxygen is to the man.

Without carbon dioxide the plants would not live. Man has to give it out, and without oxygen man would also not live, the plants must have to bring it out. There is therefore a symbiotic relationship existing between man and the plants and that chain of relationship is very crucial and vital for their continued existence. One cannot do without the other; they are simply dependent on each other. They have to be there for each other otherwise there would be a disaster.

Health wise, man also depends mainly on the plant for the source of medicines he uses to fight both old and emerging diseases. Most of the drugs being used today in the medical filed to fight diseases usually come from the plants. Malaria drugs like the Artemisinin Combination Therapy are sourced from the plant and this has proved a huge success in fighting malaria in the tropical climates especially in the sub-Saharan Africa.

The Artemisinin Combination Therapy, popularly known as the ACT in the medical field is a combination of drugs specially used for the treatment of multi-drug resistant strains of falciparum malaria. The compound in it called the asesquiterpene lactone is isolated from a plant called Artemisia annua. Not all plants of this species contain Artemisinin. Apparently it is only produced when the plant is subjected to certain conditions, most likely biotic or abiotic stress. It can be synthesized from artemisinic acid. There are also millions of plants out there that have been very beneficial to man right from the man’s existence in the fight against illnesses and diseases. Those involved in the alternative medicine especially Africans and Asians are more likely to value the importance of plants in their survival.

Man does not depend on plants only as a source of medicine. Plants are also very vital to the survival of man as a means of food. Most plants are very beneficial to man for the maintenance of a healthy diet and healthy mind. Not only that, plants also serve numerous other needs in the life of man including providing him with woods for his chairs, building his house, bridges and many other things we cannot enumerate here but which attests to the fact that man is likely going to end up in misery if plants are no more there.

Just as plants serve numerous beneficial needs for man and animals, so do animals also contribute immensely to the well being and existence of man too. Animals like chickens, pigs, goats, cows and even snakes serve as meat for the man and are very crucial in the maintenance of a healthy and balance diet in man. For instance fish is a big source of Omega 3 acid for the well being of the man. Omega 3 acids are very vital for the cardiovascular well being of man and could be a great source of defence against the coronary heart diseases.

Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis, and the fatty deposits are called atheroma. If your coronary arteries become narrow due to a build up of atheroma, the blood supply to your heart will be restricted. This can cause angina (chest pains). If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction. By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of getting coronary heart disease. Omega 3 acid is very vital in preventing this. However, the human body is incapable of synthesising Omega 3 de novo and therefore fish serves as a good neighbour and supplier.

How about snakes? Snake bites could be very poisonous but for the treatment of the same bite similar snake venom must be used. Snakes also serve as a source of meat to humans. The meat is not only delicious, the fats and oils from them has proved to be a huge source of relief for many. Most African and Asian communities especially the Chinese use the fats and oils from snake in treatment of swellings, joint pains, rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis. In a nutshell, fats and oils from snakes are higher in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) than other sources and therefore actually plausible remedies for joint pain as these are thought to have inflammation-reducing properties. The lesson here is that any animal no matter how idiotic or stupid they may seem to appear, are still very beneficial to the survival and well being of man.

These are just few examples and there are still numerous others but suffice it to say at this point that the relationship amongst man, animals and plants is a symbiotic one that cannot continue if the chain is broken. Man’s life is highly dependent on this chain and man cannot continue to proudly think that his life would be cosy if this chain is broken. In fact, the simplest truth is that if we remove all the plants in the world, man would only have about few seconds to live and vice versa.

Against this backdrop, it is therefore very disturbing that man has not done enough to maintain this chain and to carry out his own part of responsibility within the life chain and ecosystem. He has been very selfish in maintaining only his own existence to the detriment of other parties in the chain not realising that his own survival actually depends on the well being and existence of other parties in the chain. That’s stupid! Isn’t it? Scientifically, man is aptly referred to as homo sapien and homo sapien is actually derived from two Latin words ‘homo’ meaning same and ‘sapien’ meaning wisdom. Man is therefore the only animal honoured with this beautiful and highly elated name and as a result must live up to the demands of that name. Unfortunately man has not been living up to this expectation!

However, it is commendable to know that there are people who appreciate the fact that man has been very unfair to the nature and the climate as well as to other parties sharing same environment with us and are striving to do something towards that. The late Michael Jacksons’s ‘Earth Song’ is one such attempt to address this issue. The ‘Earth Song’ is the third single from Michael Jackson's album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. Jackson is very popular with the production of socially conscious material such as ‘We Are the World’, ‘Man in the Mirror’ and ‘Heal the World’. However, the ‘Earth Song’ was the first that overtly dealt with the environment and animal welfare. The ‘Earth Song’ was accompanied by a lavish music video shot on four geographical regions. Its theme is on the destruction and rebirth of Earth and it went on to receive a Grammy nomination in 1997. The song was a top five hit in most European countries. In the UK, it remains Jackson's best-selling single.

In a similar development, the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change produced in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 as well as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol are two concrete examples of another effort made so far to address this problem and wickedness. Unfortunately many countries, organisations, businesses and individuals in the world are still not doing enough to help further this cause and I would want to concentrate on two countries for personal reasons. Countries like Nigeria and the United States are seriously lagging behind and actually doing nothing to address the situation.

The United States, although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol. The signature alone is merely symbolic, as the Kyoto Protocol is non-binding on the United States unless it is ratified. In 2005 the United States was the largest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, otherwise known as the "Cap and Trade Bill", was proposed for greater alignment with the Kyoto standards and goals. That bill was almost 500 pages long and would have provided for establishment of a Federal Bureau of Carbon Trading, Regulation, and Enforcement with mandates which some authorities suggest would amount to the largest tax increase in the history of the United States.

On 25 July 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing nations as well as industrialized nations or ‘would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States’. The following year, the Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol, however with a proviso that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

However, with the inauguration of Barack Obama early this year, the story is changing. A committed environmentalist, President Obama is already finalising an arrangement to have the Senate ratify the protocol so that he will sign it.

In Nigeria it is a different story all together. The country has no time for anything climate or environmental protection. The leaders are still very busy corruptly sharing the national cake while a disaster is seriously looming at their backyard and the disaster is the imminent extinction of the Cross River Gorilla found mainly in the South of the country and across the border with the Cameroun.

Recently the Time Magazine listed it as one of the species in critical shortage. In actual fact, in the whole of Nigeria and Cameroun, where they have their home, there are less than 300 remaining in existence and the meaning is that if we allow them to go into extinction, our children would never have the opportunity to see them and they would probably brand us as a wicked, selfish and useless generation and would likely not forgive us for this recklessness. Also the ecological and medical benefit of the gorilla to the man is going to be lost forever.

The Cross River Gorilla scientifically known as Gorilla gorilla diehli is the most endangered ape in Africa and ranked number 25 as the most endangered primate species in the world. Illegal hunting for bush meat and habitat loss seriously threatens the future of the gorillas. Until recently, many Cross River gorillas lived outside of protected areas, where they were highly susceptible to poaching. While the region where these gorillas dwell is known for unusually high levels of biodiversity, human population growth is placing increasing pressure on the area’s forests and wildlife.

For instance, extensive agriculture and logging operations divide the gorilla’s habitat into isolated blocks. However, recent genetic studies reveal that the scattered subpopulations of Cross River gorillas are in fact one viable population.

Once thought to be extinct, this unique subspecies of gorilla ‘resurfaced’ in the 1980s and is found only along the southern section of the Nigeria-Cameroon border. Preferring habitats of low and mid elevation rainforest and montane forest, the remaining Cross River gorillas live in roughly 11 subgroups dispersed amongst the region’s highland areas. One of four known subspecies of gorilla, Cross River gorillas most closely resemble western lowland gorillas but differ in the dimensions of their skulls and teeth.

While the Cross River Gorilla was first scientifically described in 1904, very little was known about this species for almost 100 years. In fact, it was once thought to be extinct, only to be rediscovered in the early 1980’s. Because it lives in such a remote location along the mountainous border of Cameroon and Nigeria it has never been well studied. It is separated from the nearest population of western lowland gorilla-the other subspecies of western gorilla-by at least 155 miles. Recent genetic testing indicates that while the Cross River gorilla is found in at least 11 scattered subpopulations, these subpopulations represent a viable population which actually has more genetic diversity than the relatively well-known mountain gorilla.

Researchers have also recognized a number of socio-ecological distinctions. Like other gorillas, the Cross River gorilla reproduces slowly, with females giving birth only once every four to five years. Since their estimated numbers hover at fewer than 300 individuals, this critically endangered species depends on conservation efforts and law enforcement for its survival. The Nigerian government is simply not doing nothing to ensure this despite the fact that the gorillas are concentrated mainly in the country and is actually named after one of the States in the South of the federation. This is a very disturbing trend and the fact that these gorillas graced their presence in these two countries should be a reason for them to ensure that these primates do not go into extinction. Unfortunately, the two countries are not really bothered at the moment with what happens to the gorillas.

Nigeria in particular is less concerned at the moment with the fate of the gorillas. The elected officials are simply more concerned and interested in how to loot the commonwealth and leave this already impoverished nation further impoverished. The endemic corruption in Nigeria would never allow the government and his officials to focus all their attention and energy towards protecting this endangered species and if they would at all take interest in it, the corrupt officials are more likely to join the local poachers in killing and selling them for economic gain. The problem with Nigerian is very deep and mysterious. I do not have a doubt that the present Nigerian government is not competent to handle the conservation and protection aspects of safeguarding the endangered species.

It is therefore based on the aforesaid that I strongly suggest that the United Nation’s should come in with an urgent measure to conserve this endangered species. This is not the time to fiddle while Rome burns. This is time for action and since it is obvious and that those entrusted with its care and preservation cannot take good care of them, it becomes imperative that the United Nations must do something. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and it is better to make hay while the sun shines.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Islam Is Of The Devil: A Response

According to Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.

Concurring with this assertion the First Amendment of the United States Constitutions upholds that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

In similar vein, the Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights stated in Paragraph One that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

In Paragraph Two it clarified that,” Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

In line with the above instruments, the African Union in Article 8 of its Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights noted that, “Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms”.

The inclusion of the right to the Freedom of Religion in all these instruments attest to the fact that Freedom of Religion is one of the most cherished and valuable of all human rights and takes precedence in all documents dealing with the rights of man. This is a testimony to the fact that the freedom to profess any religion is an inalienable right of man as well as an assertion that religion is a means by which man communicate with his God and therefore should be protected from being ridiculed by those who do not share and profess the same faith and creed with him.

Right from the time immemorial man has developed a special link with his creator and in all cultures and races of the world people still spend a lot of time in the quest to understand more who God is. The implication of this is that people of all races and nations have a special bond with their God.

All religions are in one accord that God is peace and therefore those who worship him must do that in peace. However we are not unaware of the fact that some unscrupulous people have committed all sorts of evil in the name of God just as a good number of others have done and have continued doing good in the name of same God. It is as a result of this development that religion has been a subject of major controversy. People who do evil in the name of religion and by implication of God usually justify their actions with the answer that, ‘it is done in the name of God’. This is akin to justifying evil so far it is done in the name of God.

Let us take a walk down the memory lane. For over 200 years crusade, a religiously-sanctioned military campaigns was waged by the Roman Catholic Church and much of Latin Christian Europe, particularly the Franks of France and the Holy Roman Empire against the Muslims. The specific crusades to restore Christian control of the Holy Land were fought over a period of nearly 200 years, between 1095 and 1291. Other campaigns in Spain and Eastern Europe continued into the 15th century and it was sanctioned by the Popes in the name of God. In fact the motto of the infamous Roman Catholic chivalry Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem that fought and killed the Muslims during the First Crusade is ‘Deus lo vult’ meaning ‘God Willed It’.

The major focus of these Crusades was mainly against the Muslims occupying the Holy Land, although campaigns were also waged against pagan Slavs, Jews, Russian and Greek Orthodox Christians, Mongols, Cathars, Hussites, Waldensians, Old Prussians, and political enemies of the popes. The main original goal of the crusades was to capture Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims. The crusade against the Jews continued right into the 20th century and climaxed under the Nazi Germany where over 6 million were killed.

The Roman Catholic Church in particular has a rich history of violence and intolerance of groups, individuals and other religions that do not conform to her beliefs. People like Martin Luther and Galileo Galilei were vehemently opposed and persecuted for standing on what they believed in despite the full pressure of the church. Martin Luther’s opposition to the selling of indulgence as evil led to him excommunication and all the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to have him killed by the Inquisition proved futile due to the overwhelming support he received from the German nobility.

Galileo Galilei also met a similar fate. Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when a large majority of philosophers and astronomers still subscribed to the geocentric view that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. After 1610, when he began supporting heliocentrism publicly, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition in 1615. Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism in February 1616 as "false and contrary to Scripture" and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it, which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, ‘Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems’, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy," forced to recant and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Galileo’s link with the noble and famous Medici family of Florence saved him from being burn at the stake.

The foundation of the Anglican Church by King Henry XIII also met with the same fate leading to both faith killing and slaughtering each other like bush meat in the name of God and even up till today the Roman Catholic church has consistently refused to accept the validity of the Anglican Orders and still maintains that the only authentic church in the world founded by Jesus Christ is the Roman Catholic Church. This stance was pronounced in 2000 with the document ‘Dominus Iesus’ which states that people outside of Christianity are "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation", and that non-Catholic Christian communities had "defects." Some non-Catholic groups have interpreted this as disparagement of their faiths while others have appreciated that the Church position does not deny the salvation of those officially and visibly separated from the Catholic Church.

This evil in the name of God and religion is not peculiar to the Christian faith. It also forms one of the cardinal pillars of Islam especially during its foundation and today. In fact there is a strong belief within Islam of forceful conversion of others to the Islamic faith and killing them if they refuse to be converted. This is done with the view of pleasing and receiving reward from Allah. Part of the reason why the men who committed the September 11 atrocities in New York did what they did was because they were convinced that they are doing the work of Allah who would welcomed them in heaven with virgins for them to have a good time with. That sounds like orgy in heaven!

Also in Islam, the theology of Fatwa is taken seriously and executed with the understanding that it is the will of God. God willed it! Fatwa in itself does not really mean pronouncement of punishment or death against those who go against the Muslim faith. In actual fact, in the Islamic faith it is a religious opinion concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwa is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be binding, depending on the status of the scholar.

However, lately some Muslim scholars have taken advantage of Fatwa to commit evil in the name of God like the pronouncement of the death sentence on Salman Rushdie in 1989 by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran for the publication of the Satanic Verses. It is in the same Iran that a general election was seriously rigged, probably in the name of God too. Also in the same Iran in August 9, 2005, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. What happens today in Iran attests to the fact that man is today doing his will and not the will of God and all these makes a mockery of religion.

Similar sinister Fatwa in the name of God was also issued by Yusuf al-Qaradawi on April 14 2004 against the United States of America stating that the boycott of American and Israeli products was an obligation for all who are able. This was followed by that of Sheik Sadeq Abdallah bin Al-Majed, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan who issued a fatwa that prohibits vaccination of children claiming it is a conspiracy of the Jews and Freemasons. In 1998, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani of Iraq issued his own fatwa prohibiting University of Virginia professor Abdulaziz Sachedina from ever again teaching Islam due in part to Sachedina's writings encouraging acceptance of religious pluralism in the Muslim world. Even the infamous Osama Bin Laden issued two fatwas on two separate occasions. The first was in 1996 and the second in 1998 and in each occasion asking the Muslims to kill both American civilian and military personnel till they withdrew support for Israel and their military operations in Islamic countries.

One interesting thing with the above examples is that they all involve killing or punishment in the name of God. These examples have therefore gone a long way in supporting the fact that religion plays a vital role in creating and fomenting trouble; all in the name of God. It is not very uncommon to see Pentecostal born again Christians calling others devils in the name of God or the Roman Catholic Church denouncing the Anglican priesthood as invalid in the name of God. Everybody is fighting for God thereby raising a very big doubt over the almighty and omniscient qualities of God.

It is because of all these excesses and nonsenses that the instruments quoted at the outset were codified to guarantee the freedom of people to have their own religion, worship their god according to the dictates of their conscience without fear or intimidation and also have the freedom to change their religion and even not to profess no religion at all including being atheist.

The writers of the instruments were intelligent and smart enough to know that religion is and should be a personal affair; hence the reason the American First Amendment forbade the state from adopting or elevating any religion to the level of state religion or in preference over others. It expressly made it very clear that religion should be a matter of personal choice and freewill which should be observed as a private affair in order not to orchestrate a situation where a religion would be used to victimise and infringe on the rights of others or used as an instrument of persecution, animosity, bigotry, hatred and war.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution however does not give the religions the immunity from being criticised. In fact same First Amendment upheld the Freedom to the Right of Speech and in as much as doing that, made it an offence to preach hatred and animosity against a religion or group of people of a particular faith. Further restrictions on the Right to the Freedom of Speech were accepted by the American Supreme Court when it decided Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652(1925). Writing on behalf of the majority, Justice Edward Sanford suggested clearly that states could punish words that "by their very nature, involve danger to the public peace and to the security of the state." Lawmakers were given the freedom to decide which speech would constitute a danger.

Based on the preceding argument then, it is therefore deplorable and appalling that a religion that professes faith in God of peace, unity and universal brotherhood could print a t-shirt with an inscription that denounces another religion as of evil and force its members especially the unsuspecting and vulnerable minors to wear it publicly even in the school environment. The fact that the incident took place in the United States of America, the melting point of democracy and ‘one nation under God’ is very worrisome.

To put the picture in perspective, last week some students in Alachua County of North Florida turned up to school wearing t-shirts with the inscription, “Islam Is Of The Devil” on the back. The shirts are connected to a local church called the Dove World Outreach Centre whose Senior Pastor, Terry Jones was reportedly saying that spreading the church's message is more important than education. The T-shirts had a verse from the Gospel of John on the front: "Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except through me," and the statement, "I stand in trust with Dove Outreach Centre." The students were sent home for violation of the school district's dress code when they declined to change the t-shirts or cover it up.

In a very wise decision the students involved were all sent home on the ground that the shirts might have offended or distracted others and violated the district's dress code as well as negates the principle of the First Amendment. The action of the school should be praised and emulated by others. School and schooling is all about tolerance, accommodation and respect and if these group of students and their families have not learnt the values and virtues of accommodating, tolerating and respecting other people irrespective of their belief, creed or religion, then something is very wrong either with them, the educational system or the environment there were brought up in.

It is quite unfortunate that this type of anti-Muslim message echoed a similar sentiment inadvertently but unwisely poured out by Pope Benedict XVI against the Muslim faith on September 12, 2006 while delivering a lecture titled, ‘Faith, Reason and the University-Memories and Reflections’ at the University of Regensburg in Germany. He was once a Professor of Theology in the university. The controversial comment originally appeared in the ‘Dialogue Held With A Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia’. The book was written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the last Christian rulers before the fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The book contains his response on various issues within Islam such as forced conversion, jihad, slavery and the relationship between faith and reason. The passage quoted by the Pope says, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.

Everything Islam cannot be wrong. There must be something good too about Islam and we also need to focus on them. We have good Muslim neighbours and friends and colleagues and they have been very good and friendly to us. There are also thousands of others out there working daily and having sleepless nights to ensure peace and understanding amongst religions. With due respect to them, we should also view their faith, creed, belief and religion with love and respect. However, my argument here does not mean or support the stifling of the Freedom to the Right of Speech and Access to Information. What I mean in all seriousness is that these two freedoms must be exercised in the light of decency, respect, tolerance and accommodation. If the students in question had put these into consideration, they would not have foolishly turned up for school with such a divisive and disrespectful t-shirt.

Schools are under a moral obligation to allow students to express their religious beliefs, no matter how crude they may appear to be, so far it is operated within the law and does not interfere with the rights and freedoms of others. The minority religions must also be protected from malicious discrimination based on their religious beliefs and convictions. If Situations like these are not tackled adequately, it could make the victims an object of ridicule and opprobrium. Every school that worth its name must make a provision for equal treatment of different faiths and it is purely because of this scenario that a school of thought is strongly against portraying any sign of religion in the school system to avoid matters like this arising.

I am strongly in favour of this. There should be no public display of religious objects in the public school system to avoid one religion being favoured over others. Students should also not publicly display religious articles and objects within the school environment. Whoever wants to pray should either go to a faith school or lock himself up in the room and pray till ‘thy kingdom come’. This however does not mean that faith schools should preclude students of other faith from being admitted into their school. In fact government should ensure that there is a legislation to guard against that. The superiority of the law should always take precedence over all other considerations.

This generation has already experienced a lot of evil because of religion and we cannot condone anymore any form of religious intolerance. The action of the affected students is highly offensive, deplorable, nauseating and repulsive and nobody who serves God could claim in any way that such t-shirts were made to proclaim Jesus Christ. No it is not and I strongly disagree with any opposing view. It is an instrument of fanaticism, division, hatred and bigotry and things like these have no place in the 21st century and should never be given a place or condoned.

The fact that such an action took place in a school environment where you are trying to create an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and accommodation makes it very detestable and disgusting and portrays the church concerned in a very bad faith. Islam is not evil. In fact evil are those Christians, Muslims and members of other faith who teach hatred, division, murder and wickedness in the name of God.