Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thought-provoking reports.

Some items in today's papers caught my eye:

Dubai's traffic

According to Emirates Today "Dubai's intelligent traffic system is expected to be up and running next month". Well that's good news - but as it's being beamed at unintelligent drivers I'm not convinced that it will be much help.

Is it going to stop people speeding dangerously, using the hard shoulder, pushing in front of queueing vehicles, jumping red lights, making illegal U-turns?

You bet your life it isn't.

Priorities guys - get more traffic police, trained and professional please, out patrolling the streets. Increase the penalties for traffic violations, including confiscating the vehicles of drivers endangering the lives of others. An intelligent traffic system is excellent, but it isn't the most pressing thing to be focussing time, effort and money on.

Another traffic story in EmTod quotes Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Safeen, Director of Dubai Traffic Police Dept, as saying "another rule to be introduced will see truck drivers who jump red lights being deported."

Excellent news. But truck drivers are mentioned specifically. Does that mean you get away with it if you jump red lights in anything other than a truck? A 3-tonne 4X4 for example? A speeding exotic sports car?

Blair should explain

The muslim veil in Britain is an interesting story too, carried on the front page of Gulf News. Tony Blair has jumped on the bandwagon now, calling the veil "a mark of separation".

He said that the veil presented difficulties with Muslim communities and immigrants needing to integrate into western societies.

What I find interesting is that in the past governments haven't said the same about the sari, worn by many Indian women in Britain. Nor the Jewish yamulke, Pakistani shalwar kameez, Sikh turban. Or any of the many other items of national/cultural/religious clothing being worn throughout Britain.

If they are not a mark of separation, if they don't stand in the way of integration, why is wearing the veil?

And if they do present the same problems why have Ministers not said so over the decades they've been worn in Britain?

W's parallel universe.

Also on the front page of Gulf News, President Bush yet again proves that he lives in some strange parallel universe.

He pushes through a law that allows non-American citizens to be detained indefinitely, to be subject to harsh interrogation, for CIA secret prisons to be operated overseas, for people to be labelled enemy combatants and outside the protection of the Geneva Conventions.

Then comes the surreal "As I've said before, the United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values."

Mr President, you've just passed a law that makes it one of the US' values. That brings it within your laws.

What you've done, yet again, is to change the things the US has traditionally stood for.

And he went on: "This bill spells out specific recognizable offenses that would be considered crimes in the handling of detainees so that our men and women who question captured terrorists can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law."

Alleged terrorists, Mr President. Alleged. You've declared them guilty before they've even been detained!

Note "can perform their duties to the fullest extent of the law." The law has been changed to cover what they've been doing. Retrospective lawmaking. Do something illegal, change the law, now it's legal.

This is not what America should be about.


secretdubai said...

The veil covers the face, that's the difference. It's like a mask. And I think it's fair enough to demand that people don't wear masks in the workplace, especially in situations where maximum clarity of communication (such as in teaching) are required.

It's not a religious thing, it's a cultural one.

Anonymous said...

I respect other cultures and religions, but as we know, if we were to go to various middle eastern countries, we would be made (or forced to, without right) to wear a head scarf or a veil-or other "appropriate" clothing. It seems that UK citizens are being taken advantage of-as one rule applys to muslims in respect to clothing, and another applys for us if we were to visit their country.

I think however the government has to put the situation very delicately, especialley given the attack of extremist muslims-its very easy to tarnish all muslims the same- but they are no threat to our society in general-it is only the terrorists we should be wary about.

But saying that, terrorists appear in many forms-not only in men, but women, and even so low as using children, to put their lifes in great danger, weather it is a suicide bomber or otherwise.

The main danger i feel is in the identification of extremists who may wear the veil or the full head "covering". If they are facialling covered, it is almost impossible to track them down if they have commited a crime.

Its just like wearing a mask, or wearing a cap, or a hoodie in england-if you were to go into a shop, people would immediately question what you have to hide, and would ask you to remove that particular item of clothing.

It will be easier to identify people without veils and coverings, as only 7% of communication is verbal-therefore the other 93% is in facial expressions and body language. Communication between multi races will be better also, and it would also be nice to be able to see who you are speaking to.

Seabee said...

anon that's a very sweeping and mistaken statement: ...if we were to go to various middle eastern countries.... That only applies to Saudi Arabia.

as one rule applys to muslims in respect to clothing, and another applys for us if we were to visit their country.. Simply not true. Visit any Muslim country other than Saudi Arabia to check the facts - Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, UAE, Oman, Kuwait...

as only 7% of communication is verbal-therefore the other 93% is in facial expressions and body language. Untrue statistics I'm afraid. Telephone? Radio? Blind people? It also says that Muslims wearing a veil can't communicate with others, which is nonsense of course.

Seabee said...

SD, my point was that Blair specifically called it 'a mark of separation' and said it hindered integration. He said nothing about clarity of communication. My question to those statements is why other religious clothing is neither of those things.

Had he questioned it because it hindered communication, or said it was inapproriate in the workplace I wouldn't have asked the question.

Anonymous said...

So are you saying that in Dubai you don't have to dress 'appropriately'?

Anonymous said...

Studies show that during interpersonal communication 7% of the message is verbally communicated while 93% is non-verbally transmitted.
Of the 93% non-verbal communication:

38% is through vocal tones
55% is through facial expressions

Seabee said...

anon, you said originally forced to wear a headscarf or veil and I pointed out the fact that only Saudi Arabia has that requirement.

'Appropriate' clothing is another thing all together. Wherever they are in the world people should dress appropriately. I don't want to see half-naked people in supermarkets in Dubai, London, Sydney or anywhere else.

It's completely off-subject, because the comments aren't about communication, but the 7%/93% you quote is nonsense. (Even with your figures, you say that 50% of the communication is vocal - words and inflexion). If you are not in visual range of the speaker you can still understand. Telephones and radio are proof of that.

I watched the press conference yesterday of the teacher at the centre of the UK row, Aishah Azmi. She was wearing the full veil face covering yet the gathered media and me watching on tv understood every word she said.

Anonymous said...

One annoying this is how everytime someone wants to prove how "accomodating" Europe is, they have to compare the specific practice with Saudi Arabia.

So we end up hearing things like, "we allow Muslims to have mosques, but churches are not allowed in Muslim countries", or "Bibles are confiscated in the middle east".

Just as Europe allows Muslims freedom in many aspects, similarly Dubai, Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan also allow non-Muslims the freedon to have churches etc etc.