As NHS staff are stretched to breaking point as a result of more demanding and longer shifts due to a £2bn funding gap this year, we investigate if tax payer money could be diverted from other areas of the budget, as well as the possible reasons as to why that doesn’t happen.
Save Soho performers campaign to protect creative heritage of London – Russell Brand Trews Reports (E15)
Soho resident and musician Tim Arnold of the Save Soho Committee takes John Rogers on a tour of the Soho that is disappearing and the precious venues to be protected. Features Stephen Fry, Sweety of the legendary St. Moritz Club, Paul Tunkin of Blow Up, the last day of the 12 Bar Club, and stories of the Sex Pistols and Rolling Stones in Denmark Street from Andrew Ellis.
More info about Save Soho here
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Shot and edited by John Rogers
Music: Soho Heroes by The Soho Hobo
Trews theme by: The Rubber Bandits
Reaction to Tony Blair’s comments on Radio 4 this week and the news that the Iraq War inquiry may not be published before the next election.
Reaction to Nigel Farage’s interview with Sean Hannity in which he said there are no-go zones for non-Muslims in France – an allegation that the French embassy have strongly denied.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire
Today Charlie Hebdo is making the news once again with the publication of its “Survivor” issue depicting a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Muhammad. After a horrific week for France which has seen the acts of murder, manhunts & a mass “unity rally” being played out in real-time for all of the world to see. #JeSuisCharlie became the most popular hashtag in Twitter history as the argument of “Freedom of Speech” was debated clearly in cold blood.
Being from London, I vividly remember the 2005 bomb attacks. A friend of mine, Chris “Njoya Diawara” Small lost his life in an explosion that went off on the train that he boarded. It’s awful, it’s gut wrenching. Despite any of my self-proclaimed “tolerant values”, I’ve been there before & seen how it manifests: the first emotion is fear, the next emotion is hate. Security inevitably gets amped up, more black & brown faces inevitably get stopped & searched. There are more inevitable calls for tighter immigration & more Muslims are inevitably dragged onto TV to profusely denounce violence & abate our fears.
Staring at the front cover with its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, it fascinates me. How can such a simply drawn cartoon be at the epicentre of such a tragic storm? I find myself caught between two sentiments: one the one hand, I appreciate that the staff at Charlie Hebdo had to honour the spirit of their fallen colleagues. You can’t have millions of people supporting your right to “Free Speech” & then back down from exercising that right. But on the other hand, you can’t characterise the Prophet Muhammad without offending Muslims and why would that be an admirable intention? It forms an interesting quandary.
As a black man, I ask myself “How would I feel if today’s Charlie Hebdo’s cover had a picture of a golliwog or just had the word ‘nigger’ emblazoned on their front cover?” Would I be able to applaud the daring satire & the bold statement of “Freedom?”. Or would I be unable to get past the fact that a group of white cartoonists were flexing their pen-muscles & exercising their right to ridicule my race? And how would I realistically feel towards people who told me to lighten up & laugh along?
Every joke requires a set-up & a punchline, from satire to slapstick. So if the set-up excludes me, isn’t the joke is likely to exclude me as well? If Charlie Hebdo printed a golliwog edition today, some would see it as: an amusing caricature that’s set-up within a sophisticated use of irony to deliver an acidic punchline. Yet I might only see another remnant of slavery reminding me of a painful link to an ever-evolving chain of oppression. If the set-up excludes me, how can I be realistically asked to partake in the joke?
It could be argued that the violent actions in Paris were born from previous violent actions & not just a bunch of drawings within a small publication. It’s never a single straw alone that breaks the camel’s back, it’s an avalanche of hay. Even with all the pain that the 7/7 London bombings caused 10 years ago, I long realised this. We (as citizens of the West) have no idea what atrocities our governments have committed abroad in the name of “Freedom”. So when these tragic terrorist incidents occur, we’ve got no frame of reference as to what gave birth to them. We only see the cartoons & the jokes, not the drones, the torturing & the bombings. Our media conveniently exclude us from the set-ups so we never fully understand the punchlines.
But it’s always easier to come back from words, ridicule, insults & satire, no matter how cutting or raw. It’s harder to come back from burying your loved ones. Nobody deserves to die over some f**king cartoons & my friend didn’t deserve to die just going to f**king work! As a poet I fundamentally believe in the idea of “Freedom of Speech”, that’s why Voltaire’s quote rings through to my very soul. “Freedom of Speech” allows for dialogue & a healthy exchange of ideas & it must be defended. So let Charlie Hebdo print what they want, let Muslims voice their disapproval & let’s try & understand all sides to this catastrophic tragedy without tearing each other apart.
Sometimes I wonder how the world would react if we knew that a meteor was going to wipe us all out. Would mankind resolve its incessant bickering so we can live out our remaining days & just chill? Or would we still be waging dumb wars on each other, until the final curtain falls & the lights go out?
Reaction to a Fox News interview with terrorism commentator Steven Emerson who described Birmingham as a “Muslim-only city”.
I look at the extreme way Fox News reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
I react to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week and try to understand how we should respond to it both personally and collectively.
Away on holiday in a low signal land events in Paris are glimpsed as if through a crack in a door back to a terrible and confusing world.
This violence now though has the eerie familiarity and bilious dread of a recurring nightmare and can be pieced together with weary glances at airport lounge TVs, foreign newspapers and despairing texts from troubled friends.
Devastation in the City of Love, the New Year already feels tainted, blood stained in January by murder and sieges and grieving widows.
I don’t know much about Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine where the murders took place. As a believer in God I respect the beliefs of all faiths, as a human being I respect freedom of speech. Where do we go then beyond fear and condemnation, cowed in the valley of the shadow of death two weeks into 2015?
How can any spiritual scripture be used as justification for mass murder? How can the tenet that The Prophet ought never be depicted ever override Islam’s most mundane greeting AsSalaam alaikum – “peace and mercy be upon you”? It can’t and it doesn’t.
The young, bewildered, pitiable men that carry out these atrocities probably at the behest of older, power hungry men do not speak for Islam or Muhammad or Allah.
This language has nothing to do with the God I believe in or the God any of the Muslims I know believe in.
These men of murder are the symptom of a creed that lies as far away from God as is possible to conceive and do not represent Islam anymore than George Bush, Tony Blair and Halliburton represented Christianity, or ordinary, secular Europeans and Americans when they profited from the bombing of innocent Iraqis.
I suppose there will now be calls to curb our freedom. There will be tension and fear in mixed communities like the one I live in, there will be a temptation to generalise and damn in the bleak and monotonous tears of these insistent tragedies.
The awful fact is that violence of this type is almost impossible to stop. If any of us decide to yield to the terror within us and inflict violence, misguidedly or arbitrarily then how can it be prevented? More gates and bars and guards? More spying and borders and hate? More division and suspicion and derision? That is the philosophy that got us here.
The only answer is in the territory of the spirit, in the deep interconnectedness within us all. In the acceptance that all action on this plane is the manifestation of an inner realm and violence of an inner malady. Our only hope is compassion and love. To marshall vigorously the only terror and violence we can absolutely control; that which is within us individually.
I don’t mean this in a wet, liberal “kumbaye ah me lord” type way. I am saying that we must love as passionately as they hate. We must respect as vehemently as they desecrate. It is not easy to be peaceful and loving in the face of dreadful violence but it’s all we have.
The reason I feel frightened by tragedies such as this is because I think there’s nothing I can do, but there is. I can love and tolerate and reach across the fear. In places where secular and religious folk live together we have got to start observing the main message of every scripture; “be nice”.
All the other stuff is speculation; which book is best, which God is the most mighty. None of us know what’s beyond the sensory realm, this tiny sliver of material life strewn within the infinite. But we each have the power to create heaven or hell here on Earth, extremists on all sides are clear in their intentions and actions, we, the vast, powerful majority, Christians, Muslims, atheists and undecideds have to be more committed and more determined. We must love life more than they love death. We must love each other more than they hate, in God’s name, in Allah’s name in Charlie’s name, in all our names.