London Dairy: A “spy” in the house

Muslim mothers are being offered training in how to protect their children from the influence of radicalisation

London Dairy: A “spy” in the house
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Hasan Suroor

Poor mothers. Their already inexhaustible list of parental responsibilities has just got longer with the British government wanting them to become the frontline in its campaign against Muslim extremism. They are being urged to monitor their children for any signs of radicalisation and nip them in the bud.

Muslim mothers are being offered training in how to protect their children from the influence of radicalisation. A six-week Home Office-funded programme, “Empowering Mothers Against Radicalisation and Grooming”, has been launched as a pilot project in the predominantly Muslim town of Bradford council in partnership with a local NGO. run by Sofia Mahmood. The programme aims to prepare them to have “difficult conversations’” with their children such as how should they react if they find their child spouting hate; or making a racist remark about another ethnic group.

“Communities need to invest in mothers because they are the champions of these communities. What they have in common is that they are all mothers and they’re all worried about their kids,” Mahmood told The Times.

It’s the latest in a series of community-based anti-radicalisation schemes already operating in Britain. Some have proved controversial and alienated even moderate Muslims who say they’re too intrusive amounting to mass surveillance of the community. “Prevent”, in particular, has come in for criticism for effectively encouraging teachers and bosses to spy on their Muslim charges and report them to the authorities if they detect anything suspicious. The problem with most schemes is that they are made on the hop in response to Islamophobic tabloid headlines without consulting the Muslim community.

The latest wheeze is likely to prove more effective if it’s rolled out quietly before children get wise to the fact that they may have a spy in the house.

A “spirited” rivalry

There are many reasons, mostly arbitrary and little to do with academics, why one picks Oxford University over Cambridge or vice-versa. Now there’s one more: who produces the better gin! Yes, the world’s most hallowed groves of academia are now into brewing and marketing booze taking their notorious rivalry (they don’t even refer to each other by name preferring the impersonal the “other place”) to “spirited” new levels, as one newspaper headline put it. This even as they’re cracking down on students’ watering holes and their boozy weekend parties.

Oxford was first off the blocks with “Physic Gin” , and now the “other place” has followed suit with the allegedly superior “Curator’s Gin”. It’s claimed to be distilled with apples from an offshoot of the famous tree which produced the apple that inspired Newton’s law of gravity.

If you’re wondering why gin, why not whisky it’s because gin has apparently beaten whisky and vodka to emerge as Britain’s favourite drink with its sales hitting an unprecedented £2 billion mark last year, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. What’s going on?

Still in B&W age

More than half a century after colour television came to Britain, thousands of Britons still have only black-and-white TV sets. Not because they can’t afford to buy a colour set but because they simply prefer to see the world in black and white. How retro!

An environmental stunt too far?

After experimenting with car pools and a bike-hire scheme, London is now set to launch an electric scooter-sharing scheme as it steams ahead with its campaign against pollution centred essentially on discouraging people from driving cars.

Initially, the scheme—a replica of similar experiments in America and mainland Europe—will be launched in East London. It will run on the same pattern as the bike-hire system: you pick it up from a designated scooter rank after paying an “unlocking” fee and after completing your journey return it either to the same rank or any other nearest stand. The journey will cost 20 pence a minute.

The scooters, which can travel at up to 15mph, are meant for limited journeys around the 560-acre site of the 2012 Olympics. They will be tracked by GPS technology and will lose power if users try to take them beyond the area designated for their use. The American company behind the idea said the scooters were designed to help with the “last mile problem, where journeys are too short for public transport to be efficient but too long to walk”. And to get people out of cars and “on to environmentally friendly sharable electric scooters”.

Sceptics, however, say it’s another commercial gimmick in the garb of fighting pollution and road congestion. And it’s hard not to agree with them.

And, lastly, a Tory MP wanted the record of the House of Commons proceedings corrected after realising (perhaps wrongly) that he had used an unparliamentary word during a heated debate. Expressing frustration over something, he had said,”What the hell!” He wanted the record amended to read,”What the Devil!”

Oh, heck!

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