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Green election & Indian intolerance

Iain Croft | 12:55 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2007

Morning / afternoon / evening -- Peter here with news of todays World Have Your Say on air at the usual time, 1800 GMT on a radio, a hand-held, a PC, a phone near you :-)

Two big talking points today: the Australian Election and the perils of Taslima Nasreen. We'll get to Taslima a little later but first:

IS THIS THE WORLD FIRST GREEN ELECTION ?

Prime Minister John Howard and his Labor challenger, Kevin Rudd, have set out final campaign pitches as the hours tick down to Australia's election. Mr Howard warned that a Labour victory would fundamentally change Australia, while Mr Rudd said the country was "crying out for new leadership". Opinion polls continue to put Mr Rudd ahead of Mr Howard - the latest % difference was 54 to 46, in the favour of Mr Rudd.

But is this also a "green election", our first, anywhere in the world ? Yes, to paraphrase what someone, somewhere said once "it's the economy stupid" -- but what about the envionment ?

Australians are the world's worst polluters per head, according to data from US think tank Center for Global Development. Some parts of the country are already experiencing record drought conditions, with some groups blaming climate change. That drought has created financial hardship for farmers and forced some people to move away from affected regions. This, combined with rising global concern over climate change, is making environmental issues more important than ever in this election campaign.

So, how have the politicians reacted to this ? What does it teach the rest of us ? If it IS global warming to blame (and yes, we know, the science is still open to question according to some people) does this now mean that politics, and being a politician has changed forever ? Global warming is not about to go away -- so, do the people who want YOUR VOTE not have to change accordingly ?

Let us know as usual via the normal routes :-)

IS INDIA NOW BECOMING MORE INTOLERANT ?

The controversial Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen has been moved out of the western Indian city of Jaipur to an undisclosed destination - she had flown from Calcutta to Jaipur on Thursday after violent protests by Muslims. The increasing storm surrounding this woman became so bad during the week that the police in Calcutta used tear gas and baton charges to control crowds calling for her Indian visa to be cancelled. Rioters blocked roads and set cars alight. At least 43 people were hurt. More than 100 arrests were made.

DEATH THREATS

Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, something she denies. Ms Nasreen fled Bangladesh in the early 1990s after death threats and has spent the last three years in Calcutta after a long stay in Europe. Wednesday's trouble in Calcutta began after the predominantly Muslim All-India Minority Forum called for blockades on major roads in the city.

This is the punch-line: the group said Ms Nasreen had "seriously hurt Muslim sentiments".

Many Muslims say her writing ridicules Islam. The army was called out and a night curfew imposed. The All-India Minority Forum says Taslima Nasreen's Indian visa should be revoked and she should be forced to leave the country.
To quote directly from one blogger on this subject:

"This is a tragedy of colossal proportions. Since when is it the government's responsibility to evict law abiding residents of the territory, simply because a bunch of hooligans - Muslim or Hindu - decide to burn the city ?. The biggest tragedy, however, is that this country's moderate Muslims and Hindus remain silent - again. The political parties - rather than uniting behind Taslima, rejecting calls for her visa to be canceled, and denouncing the AIMF for the fundamentalists that they are, all parties have remained largely silent. They worry, perhaps, about disturbing their Muslim vote bank. So why does the Muslim vote bank not speak up?"

What do you think ? What does this say about modern India ? What does it say about Ms Nasreen and her writing ? What does it say about any voice that moves off the path chosen by what is afteral a vocal majority ? Can Ms Nasreen voice still be heard from wherever she ends up ?

As ever:

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Peter :-)

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Later, Peter :-)

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