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Timothy thank you for posting and for the work on this worthwhile charity.

I hope the UK remains a beacon for human rights and helping refugees, despite the tone of political debate these days.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)


Your wife and your work deserves the greatest respect. One thing is to donate, but getting personally involved the way you do is a higher (the highest?) level of altruism.

Surely you must be deeply satisfied being able to help people, so it’s a huge win-win.

You solicit questions. I have one

Timothy wrote:

The first thing that came as a surprise to us, but, on reflection, is obvious, was that the bulk of the people who get through all the financial and physical obstacles that are put in the way of refugees are the wealthy and educated. The subsistence farmers and roadsweepers, even the shopkeepers and office workers, don’t have the resources, physical, educational or intellectual, to make the incredible journey.

Most of the people we have housed have been doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists, university professors and so on. One of our guests was the top Neurosurgeon in Syria, another was a famous radio and TV presenter in Uganda, another ran the Saatchi office in a Middle Eastern capital, another had to escape UAE because of his friendship with Princess Latifa; most have degrees or higher degrees.

Q: The profile that you provide for the bulk of the refugees is indeed not the general perception. Nonetheless, let’s suppose you are right. How does this work out for a country being left by many wealthy and talented? I am all for helping poorer countries through a) supporting the people there to topple corrupt dictators and b) stimulating economic opportunities for all, even if it means a serious redistribution of wealth. But if the ‘cream of the cream’ of their workforce comes over here, isn’t that completely counter-productive? I could even extend that to saying that it would be completely immoral of us to use such talented people for our own benefit after they have integrated?

Last Edited by aart at 06 Oct 15:32
Private field, Mallorca, Spain

Again, we are dealing with individuals. None has left their home voluntarily, each has left because remaining would have probably resulted in torture and/or death.

One was tortured so badly he had to go to hospital (they weren’t ready for him to die) from where he escaped, bribed his way through the airport and arrived in the UK with his wounds still open.

Another was told by the Taliban that if he didn’t join them they would kill him and his family.

A family in Iran converted secretly to Christianity, but were lucky enough to be out when the Revolutionary Guard came for them. They had to walk over the mountains into Turkey in the clothes they were wearing.

Another was made to stand in a square in Syria while the Police shot half his class dead, forcing him to watch.

Another watched his parents being killed when he was four, was raised by what he now realises was a prostitute, who sold him aged nine to become a child soldier. He had to fight and kill people until he escaped aged about 25 or 30 (he has little idea how old he is.)

A young woman had a contract put on her head by her drug baron father, who also owned the Police.

Each has a story like this. None of them left to better themselves or to denude their country of talent. They would love to be in the country of their birth, but they have no choice.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Each has a story like this

Are all these stories backed up by evidence, Timothy?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Are all these stories backed up by evidence, Timothy?

In some cases the scars are physical, in others emotional.

In most cases there is no chance of much hard evidence as it is held (or destroyed) by the regime, but there is much circumstantial evidence. Quite often there is evidence of people having helped the UK or US authorities, that sometimes being their “crime.”

Having spoken to my guests a lot and to many other refugees a little, I am in no doubt.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Well, would you like it, if the western civilization hadn’t changed a bit in the last 200 years? I’m sure lots of people back then would have loved that. That is what this is all about. I guess we could all go “muslim” and be stuck in the medieval times as well, for all eternity.

This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

The Western media paint a very negative view of non-western cultures and civilisations, and people without direct experience are taken in.

But I have lived with Iranians, Syrians, Afghans, Huoaranis and, until yesterday, in a rural Indian village, and my experience of ordinary people is that, in most cases, they are happier and more fulfilled than Europeans and Americans.

There are some tropes commonly raised about Middle-Eastern life which, though partially true, are both hugely exaggerated and make comparisons to a distorted Western ideal.

The first of these is about polygamy, the subjugation of women, arranged marriages and “honour killings”,

Every Middle Eastern family I know has one husband and one wife (except where one is widowed, obviously.) I have read the polygamy exists, and I believe it, but it is very rare and limited to tribal leaders in lower contact areas. You cannot judge a culture by it.

Yes, I know of examples of subjugated women in Middle Eastern cultures. But you know what? I am a magistrate specialising in Domestic Abuse and I see a huge amount of subjugation of women in England. But I also see DA in my social circle to a much greater extent than is reported. The victim is almost always a woman.

Furthermore, we have our own Roma and travelling sub-cultures where abuse and cultural subjugation is rarely reported but reportedly widespread. It would be easy to imagine that a foreign media bent on denigrating and belittling our society could focus on such groups and paint a picture we don’t recognise, in the way our media do of ME cultures.

Also, as I have said before, female tertiary education in Iran and Syria is not only better than male, it is way, way better than in the West.

On to arranged marriages. Here in India they are very common. In Southern Rajasthan, where I am now, they account for 90% of all marriages. But either party can say no to their parents’ choice, and many do, sometimes several times, and “love marriages” (the other 10%) are usually accepted by the families. But the divorce rate among arranged marriages is very low, hugely lower than in love marriages and a tiny fraction of the Western numbers. So arranged marriages do seem to be more successful than our Western model. They are certainly not obviously worse.

Honour killings do happen in ME and India, but they are very rare. Much rarer than the gang related (also “honour”) murders we see on our own streets, and much, much rarer than our media makes us think.

The other big anti-Islamic trope is about levels of violence. That violence we see in the form of wars, civil wars and terrorism.

Firstly, nearly all Muslims (and Hindus, for that matter) are very peaceful, gentle and anti-violent.

Just as a tiny example, I have been exposed over the last weeks to the appalling standards of driving on Indian roads. Every few seconds I see an event which in the UK would result in drivers resorting to fisty-cuffs. Here I have not seen one episode of road-rage. I am sure it happens, but prevalence is very low, because people are basically peace loving.

The violence comes from a tiny number of psychopaths. At the moment a higher proportion of the world’s s violent psychopaths do seem to be in the ME, but in very recent history they were in Bosnia, Vietnam and Auschwitz. Are those the representatives you would like Western civilisation judged by?

And even in contemporary times, there are hugely more violent deaths on our city streets caused by home grown secular gang members and violent criminals than from Islamic terrorists.

So, let us be a little circumspect before we label Islamic culture as all bad and Western culture as obviously superior.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Timothy, my point was not about other cultures. It was only to point out that that the founders of the present media flavour of the month climate extremist movement are more about seeding revolution than actually trying to constructively fix the problems.

Timothy wrote:

And even in contemporary times, there are hugely more violent deaths on our city streets caused by home grown secular gang members and violent criminals than from Islamic terrorists.

I’ve not seen a breakdown on numbers, but there has also been a significant influence from other gangs who have moved in has there not? I had heard that in particular many of the Somali gangs were pretty bad. A few years ago I was speaking to a police officer who had described going out to a few of these machete attacks and witnessing people with limbs hanging off and being hacked up. It was very unpleasant but he described it as a visible escalation in brutality

Timothy wrote:

Also, as I have said before, female tertiary education in Iran and Syria is not only better than male, it is way, way better than in the West.

You could say the same for Saudi Arabia. They even put a metro / transit system in just for their female university students.

But back to the climate discussion. India and the middle east also perhaps have some issues with pollution and fossil fuel usage. Perhaps a place for the next XR party piece.

Timothy wrote:

I am a magistrate specialising in Domestic Abuse and I see a huge amount of subjugation of women in England

In this capacity, how would you feel about having to accept that the witness testimony of a woman is worth only half that of a man?

I have no direct experience of this. How do you know about it directly?

Edited to add that the most difficult thing about DA is the victims very commonly (~80%?) either not providing a statement or subsequently withdrawing it.

We never know what pressures are placed (violence, psychological or financial) to get that withdrawal.

So you could argue that in English courts women have no witness testimony at all to be worth anything.

Last Edited by Timothy at 14 Oct 15:23
EGKB Biggin Hill

Timothy wrote:

I have no direct experience of this. How do you know about it directly?

I’m not really religious so don’t really attend anywhere where I’m likely to directly encounter it. I believe a human rights watch complained about it being the case in Saudi. (Indirectly a friend of mine who worked for a number of years in Riyadh had some interesting stories. sometimes you look up to see if they can be true. (The splitting of the moon one surprised me))

Equally, I fortunately don’t have any direct experience of being sexually abused by priests but I’m not going to claim this doesn’t or hasn’t happened.

Edited to address the addition about domestic violence as I was talking about the witness testimony broadly:

Surely this wouldn’t be an issue if it says in your religious text that you base your law on that it’s OK to beat up your wife.

Last Edited by Off_Field at 14 Oct 15:51
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