Archive for December, 2009

Witness

// December 28th, 2009 // 15 Comments » // Blog

Akmal Shaikh is a British man who was found guilty of smuggling heroin into China, and was subsequently awarded the death sentence. His family has challenged the verdict, claiming that he suffers from bipolar disorder, and that he had been taken advantage of by criminals based in Poland, who gave him the suitcase containing the drugs. Yet, in spite of their pleas, Mr Shaikh is now facing the very real possibility of execution in less than 10 hours.

Virtually every news story serves to remind us of the sad reality: there is little justice in this world. So why does this particular one move me sufficiently to speak out?

Because I do not understand how a judicial system can be so devoid of justice. That is the very definition of absurdity. What grants a system the right to exact justice, when it lacks clear rules about personal responsibility? That is, the attributes that make someone accountable for a criminal deed.

Firstly, the individual has to be aware of their own actions. They should be capable of distinguishing right from wrong – at least to the obvious degree, e.g., is murder right, or wrong? Is it right for a rich person to steal? And so on. There should be no compulsion on the individual towards committing the crime, or deceit that would make them unaware that they were doing so to begin with. These are just a few universal rules that underpin the laws that govern most lands.

So what went wrong in the case of Mr Shaikh? I really do not know. Is his family lying about his mental illness? If so, it wouldn't be difficult to arrange for a doctor to visit the accused, to verify or reject their claim. Then, why has this not been allowed? Do the Chinese authorities refuse to acknowledge the existence of psychiatric disorders, and their effect on the ability for patients to make informed choices?

Word usage is very significant. If Mr Shaikh is truly ill, then what is needed here is not 'mercy' or a 'pardon', but common sense, and a retraction. If Mr Shaikh is mentally incompetent, then the terms 'execution' and 'death sentence' are but a guise for the ugly truth: that what is scheduled to take place at 02:30 GMT is nothing less than murder; the purposeful taking of an innocent life. And perhaps the greatest horror: most premeditated acts of evil take place in secret – yet this one has been announced publicly, for all to see.

Millions will learn of his death within moments of it being declared. I will be one of them. It is as if I am being made witness to murder. And as selfish as it may seem, I do not wish to be.

We all die. We all die. Death is inescapable. But murder is a choice. I pray that the Chinese authorities will make the right one.

More Muslim Firemen Please

// December 22nd, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

Here is a random thought I've been having lately that was frankly too long for Twitter. Besides, my poor neglected blog needs feeding.

Muslims that 'serve'

Such a big hoo-haa has, and continues to be made of Muslims serving in the British army. I understand the controversy, but it's not the only career choice that involves service with an associated risk of personal injury, and possible self-sacrifice. What about the brave souls that face the daily hazards of working for the emergency services?

I wonder, how many Muslim firemen, paramedics, police officers, coast guards, etc, are there in the UK? They are not career choices that I hear spoken about much, though admittedly my circles are limited, and I haven't bothered to look up the stats.

I understand there being issues about institutionalised racism in the force, so a lack of Muslim police officers would not be surprising. I'm not sure that same excuse applies elsewhere though.

If I were a guy, I think I may have considered signing up to the Police, at least to eventually join CID. I love detective work: problem solving, chasing down the bad guys, the free donuts. Or is that just the Americans?

If my hypothetical sons were not budding imams, scientists, engineers or doktars, I think I'd approve of one of the above. Hey, I'm not so liberal a hypothetical parent to accept any career choice. For example, circus clown is definitely a no-no. Though if he spent his life bringing smiles to the faces of sick orphans, then maybe? Darnit! I haven't even conceived yet, and I'm already a pushover.

Anyway… have you ever considered working for the emergency services? Sure, the pay isn't amazing, but I'd hope it wouldn't just be about the money. Lots of akhira points to be earned, and several worldly perks methinks.

For example, have you heard the phrase: “there's something about a man in uniform”?

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