Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Public facilities being used for sectarian prayer?

While working out at the gym I noticed that in the hallway there is a discreet arrow on the ceiling of one hall pointing in the south or south-east direction.

Could this be kiblat, the standard amenity in hotels in such Muslim countries as Indonesia and Malaysia?

Are special accommodations being made to Islamic prayer? Is this legal, when there is certainly no accommodation made to the majority Christian population sensibilities such as greeting Merry Christmas or having a creche?

I will investigate further....

Hmm, after googling qibla (perhaps I was using a non-Arabic pronunciation) I found a site where on can look up according to one's googled location. I must be wrong, the arrow is way off - qibla is NNE not due south, which is where the arrow points.

To verify, I will politely ask a Muslim lad working out.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Update - apathy and ignorance rule in BC

Including my own I add.

I am convinced that a million blogs, videos and petitions aren't going to change anything substantially. What is required is direct action that challenges the authority of the State, a la Gandhian satyagraha (non-violent civil disobedience - in Sanskrit, 'standing firm in truth'). This means street protests and withholding financing (taxes etc) from the politicians. Otherwise it is just blah blah blah. We have to be willing to go to be arrested, go to jail, spend money on lawyers, even be imprisoned. This is not going to be an easy fight because frankly most Canadians are indifferent to political action that has any costs.

If there was an equivalent to Tommy Robinson's group in UK, if there was a less Christian and less conservative group in Canada like Britain First that was fighting Islamization, I would join it. There isn't.

Here is what has happened with me lately - admittedly all very small and local....

1. Pool sign updated: After seven years of misinformation the administration has finally changed the children sign to something sensible. It used to read that kids *under* age five should use the appropriate changing room. Now, it has been changed to 'over'. Duh.

2. Women Only signs removed: No more ads are posted advertising the women only swim. The practice continues on public holidays (such as yesterday, July 1, Canada Day) but it is not in the publications or posters. Why, I do not know. I believe it is to keep a low profile. This must also mean that whoever should know about it already does.

3. Woman in women only swim photo: Don't know if I mentioned this before, but the woman in the photo that accompanied the event looks Iranian. Co-incidence?

4. 30 minute question: The women only swim occurs from 8 to 10 a.m. Public swim opens at 10:30. So, there is 30 minutes of buffer. I will investigate to see if previously the public swim opened at 10 am, and this event is indeed digging into public time.

5. Russian's opinion: In the hot tub I spoke with an immigrant who has been in Canada for 40 years. He agreed completely with my perspective that public money should not be spent on sectarian swim events. However, while he would sign a petition, he said that in his opinion there are much more important matters. Therefore he would not engage in any civil disobedience such as occupying the lobby in a direct action.

6. Long polite discussion: I asked two other men in the hot tub their opinion of the event. One was ethnic Chinese and in his 30s (?) and the other Caucasian and perhaps early 40s. Both thought that the women swims are a good idea. We had a polite argument about it, most of it between the older man and myself. Basically he thinks that minorities must be catered to. The Caucasian man made the same arguments that the Mayor does. I asked him what he thought about if a high caste Hindu doesn't want to swim with low-caste people, should we cater to that restriction also? I found his reply illogical - 'but he doesn't have to, the girls don't have a choice, their culture doesn't allow them to'. And the City of Coquitlam should cater to this mentality? Yes.

7. Prince George businessman agrees with me:  A man in his late 20s of undetermined ethnicity (parents South Asian?) agreed with me tentatively, that the women only swim is a bad idea. He said that Canadians have become to soft and it sets a bad precedent.

8. Sauna silence: The night before the 'women only swim' I attempted to get some reaction out of patrons (mixed ethnicities, mostly Chinese and Korean, but some Middle Eastern, Filipino and Caucasian men also). I announced to the group the nature of the event, what are the rules and my opinion of it (the purpose is Islamic) - hoping to get some discussion going. I do not know if people are shy to discuss public policy or there were language issues, but no one responded. It was as if no one heard me or pretended that they didn't. Complete silence, as if I had farted instead of tried to bring up pool policy for open discussion. This really disappointed me. I have no issue talking with people who disagree with me or agree on only some points, but I found it bizarre compared to say political discussions I have had on New York and even Vancouver subways. Maybe when people are half naked they don't want to talk politics? One man, a Filipino, upon leaving expressed his sympathy for my concerns. Everyone else was poker faced. This is one reason I find Canada strange, everyone is so afraid of being considered impolite.

9. Canada Day: I was wearing one of my favourite T-shirts, the 'Sikh Martyrs Colouring Book' image of Arjan Dev being tortured by Mughals in 16th century. A non-turbaned South Asian man said he liked my shirt.
The City of Coquitlam had set up many booths including one where the public could add post-it notes to reply to the question how would you like to see Canada improve or words to that effect. I wrote out 'Halt (star and cresent symbol) immigration' and put it high up with a row of several others. The attendant immediately, as in within seconds removed it. I reprimanded her saying 'that is my opinion'. She replied, 'How about I put it here' where it blocked the question text. I do not know how long it remained. I had not posted a racist comment (religion is not race) such as 'halt green immigration', I had not said anything advocating violence such as 'kill Mormons' or even anything personally political such as 'Impeach Trudeau'. Would she have objected if I had written 'increase Muslim immigration? or something general such as  'increase immigration' or 'decrease immigration'? She did not explain herself and I did not enquire.

Where I am coming from - it is not the same as Act Up! and others

To keep all this in context, I have very insignificant roots in Canada. I was born here, carry a Canadian passport, have Canadian residency and I like some things about Canada, but I am really not a nationalist nor do I have any emotional attachment for this country. My relationship to Canada is one of convenience. In fact, I consider governments to be like landlords. If the conditions of tenancy become undesirable, change residence. I know it has connotations of Jew-hating but I like the phrase 'rootless cosmopolitan'. I spent many years travelling and aside for legal protections, cleanliness and infrastructure I feel like a fish out of water here. In fact, I have been trying for twenty years to expatriate myself to several other countries in Southeast Asia but haven't managed it. But in my old age there are advantages of keeping Canadian residency.

Thus, I am not a flag waver. I am technically Canadian. If I could manage it I would probably apply for US citizenship also (for gun rights and better freedom of expression) and live in 3-4 different countries. I am not much of a fighter and would rather vote with my feet (simply leave to where there is a very small Muslim population). This is what Swedes have been doing for decades, more to escape high taxes. Demograpghics of religion is not the be all and end all of where I want to live. But in the last five years it has become a factor that didn't exist before. Previously all I wanted to do was live in a Buddhist country. Now I don't care if it is Buddhist or Christian as long as the Muslim population is less than 1% and there is little political power by Muslim organizations. So, outside of Asia (my favourite continent for culture, women, food etc) I am looking towards Poland, Hungary, Ukraine etc - peoples who are standing up against Islam.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Verifed: hijabs permitted at provincial voting in BC

How do I know this? Experience. I worked for Elections BC this year. At training our supervisor told us that if a woman presents herself in such a garment as a hijab or burka a female would take her aside to verify her identity. That mature gentleman who answered my question was replaced. I never saw him again, least of all on work day. Co-incidence? Too bad an overly-enthusiastic staff member discarded my papers with his number scribbled on it.

On voting day I verified with the new supervisor about such circumstances presenting themselves. No. We do not even verify gender. If a person has ID and they say who they are we accept that regardless of what appears to be the case. We err on the side of encouraging people to vote.

I think this is imprudent.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Canada is no longer my home

I think there is no future for Canada if we continue this way.

I am looking to expatriate myself from Canada. I do not feel at home here. I do not have a martial bone in my body and prefer to flee than to fight. Political activism is not my thing. And I am old. If I choose to keep my Canadian residency for financial benefit I will stay the minimum months necessary for health care and other benefits.

My grandparents on my father's side were (legal) immigrants from Norway. My best friend in elementary school was Cantonese. My highschool working-class chums were Scots, Italians, Greek-Cypriots, Finns etc. Catholics, atheists, Orthodox Christians, Jews. And I must add, an Ismaili Muslims from East Africa. They adapted and fit in. The Muslims from the Middle East I am not so sure about. No, I am very sure. they might not at all.

Muslim immigration and pro-Islamic policies at various levels of government is not my major reason for wanting to leave however. For decades I have been trying to leave this cold wet place that is too expensive for my low budget. Demographic and political changes are just nails in the coffin.

I noticed the change about ten years ago when I started seeing headscarves in my residential neighbourhood in Coquitlam. There had for decades been Iranians (political refugees post-Islamic revolution) in North Vancouver, but they had always been rather secular and cosmopolitan. Also rich.

Malaysian forum threads

Search for posts by hermespan.

Follows are some of my favourites...

Travelling Islamic museum show -

https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=3972559&hl=

Terrorist sympathy car sticker -

https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopic=3972559&hl=

Posts by HermesPan2 have been deleted. I will publish here the gist of that thread







Surrey, BC - women only swim enquiry #2

One of the cities in the greater Vancouver Regional District is Surrrey - a huge area of amalgamated municpalities. It has several swimming pools

On March 25, 2017 I requested women only swim info through the Freedom of Information Act. I received a very small package (10 pages!) today - two months later. That is less than 1/20th of what the City of Coquitlam provided. As with Coquitlam, I was not charged any fee.

What struck me after the minimal info was the fact that where items had been blocked out there was no mention of which section of the act required the censoring. Coquitlam blacked it out, here they whited it out (my printer budget thanks the City of Surrey). And the info was spotty - 2008, 2014 and 2015. I immediately asked for more information. I have 30 days.

Observations...

1. The people of only one religion are mentioned - Muslims. Despite Surrey having perhaps the largest concentration of Sikhs in Canada, they are not being accommodated (or maybe they never asked, nor need to).
.................................................................................

2. Response to an undated  'women only swim' survey from the city of  Burnaby, with the following questions and answers (astericks etc in red are mine)...

Q:  Does your municipality offer a women's only swim? If yes, does it accommodate Muslim women? *1
A:
- North Surrey Indoor Pool offers a Women and Girls Only swim and gym on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 to 10:00 pm. We accommodate Muslim women. * 1
- Sometimes childcare can be an issue so we have allowed women to bring boys under the age of 7.

Q: Did your municipality they (sic) make any specific programming modifications or operational modifications, to run this program? For example, cover windows looking into pool area for privacy of the Muslim women, or staffing the sessions with only female guards etc? *2
A:
- We extended operational hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
- We adjusted the signing hours on Tuesday and Thusrday evenings (decreased to 2 X 2 hour shifts - 8:30 - 10:30 pm) so that only female  guards could sign for Women's Only without hugely affecting potential loss of hours for male guards. * 3
- We installed blinds on all windows/doors for privacy. * 4

Q: When does the program operate? Is it offered as a rental? During a public swim time?
A:
- Every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 9:00- 10:00 pm.
- We offer it as a Value drop-in swim ($2.25)
- We also offer Women Only Swim Clinics at a rate of $5 per session. * 5

Q: How long has the program been operating? Aproximmately how many participants attend the sessions?
A:
- The program was already in place when I started working here eight years ago. * 6 I am unsure of how long it ran before that.
- It orginially ran on Monday's and Wednesday's during the day but due to lack of particpiation (only a few women) we changed it to Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
- Since we changed the days, we average about 30 - 60 participants. Tuesdays tend to be busiest as Thursday's the Muslims in our community attend their mosque for worship. * 7 

Q: To plan this session did you work with representatives from this community to develop and implement the swim time? * 8 What was your process? * 9
A:
- I believe the programmer who originally started this program worked with Diversity. * 10

Q: Do you have other comments/recommendations?
A:
- We changed the title to "Women and Girls Only Swim" because when it was called "Women Only Swim" some participants complained that children attended.
- Be prepared to deal with a lot of irrate male patrons for adding a women's only time and not a male only time. * 11

*1 - How a swimming pool 'accommodates Muslim women' is not explained at first.

*2 Thus, the blinds and female only guards suggest that this is a Muslim issue not a female one, at least according to Burnaby.

*3 So men guards were forbidden to work?

*4  I must enquire what was the cost.

* 5 In another document, I learn that this means group swimming lessons

* 6 I will enquire who started it, why and when

* 7 Shouldn't that be Friday? Something is not right here.

* 8 Which community, Muslim presumably? Why is it called a 'community' rather than a 'religion'? Perhaps because the social norms of Islam deal with public life.

* 9 And what *was* the process?

* 10 'Diversity' is capitalized. Does this mean that this is an organization?

* 11 'Irrate' suggests irrational and angry. I am enquiring as to what those complaints were and how many.
...................................................................................................
3.  The undated 2015 Budget Issue Paper includes bureaucrat bullshitspeak...

"The Newton Wave Pool surrently offers a very successful Women's Only Swim 3 days a week to service the need of the many various cultural communities in the Newton Town Center. * 1 It was originated as a pilot project but has not been funded in our annual budget since its' (sic) inception. The swim is offered outside the regular hours of operation and addditional staff resources are required.

Budget

The budget request of $51,761 was approved for 50% in 2014. The remaining 50% will cover the expenses for offering a Women's Only Swim 3 days a week, Monday/Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.   The minimum amount of staff required - 10 Lifeguard/instructors = 30 hours X 52 weeks x lifeguard/instructor rate. * 2

Objectives

To be able to continue providing a Women's Only Swim 3 days a week at the Newton Wave Pool. To meet the needs of our diverse community by offering different options for safe, fun and respectful recreation opportunities. To re-frame our annual budget report to accurately reflect the program schedule we are currently offering."

The page continues in the request (from the City Fund?) for more money in order to finance the 'Women Only Swim' and adds...

"Offering the Women's Only Swim during regular operating hours is not currently an option." * 3  

The 2014 budget page on the Women's Only Swim reads the same word for word. * 4

*1 Why is this a lie? It is not the need of a diverse comunity. It is only the need of one community - Muslim. Not any other religion. Notice that the author used the singular.

*2 Are there not other expenses besides wages for labour? Electricity, security, etc

*3 I believe that this sentence holds a lot of meaning. I suspect it means that it would be illegal to do so according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I will investigate.

*4 Why the tenuousness of this program? I suspect it has something to do with the City is waiting to be sued. The city doesn't believe the program can continue -- due to a civil challenge.

...................................................

The Surrey Pool 2012 brochure meantions something that is different from Coquitlam...

"No clothing that has been worn outside the pool can go in pool"

This would make the clothing I ocassionally see at the Coquitlam pool prohibited -- men with underwear under their swim trunks and women wearing street pants (rare).

In the section on women's only exercsie classes it notes, "during these lesson times there may be males in the pool area, including swimmers and instructors."
.....................................................

Their reply came the very next day, 'answers' to my questions about the missing information was as follows...

"Subsequent to our response dated May 25, 2017, on that date you requested the following:

1   1. Have all deleted sections been due to FOI Section 22 only? Or other sections of the FOI Act?  Normally redacted material is replaced with the relevant # (e.g. 22) I see no specific explanation from within the document regarding which exemption applies. 

2. The only dates of documents are see are 2008, 2014 and 2015.   Were there zero communications or publications on 'women only swims' between 2008 and 2014?  Likewise 2015 to 2017, and previous to 2008? Are those records available for me to study?

3. When does Surrey destroy records, going back how many years does the City keep records, digitally or on paper?

4. What are the dates of the writing, distribution and collating of results of the 'women only swim' survey?  It shows no year.

5. I received several publications and some records of emails. Were there no other records: emails, phone calls, paper letters, faxes, either internal or external (e.g. with Burnaby or Coquitlam) on the subject of 'women only swims'? 

6. Where is the record of any complaints on the 'women only swims' and how the City was to handle them or in fact did?

7. Where is the record of why the 'women only swims' were restarted (or have they been running non-stop since 2008)? 

8. Who requested 'women only swims' from within the Surrey community? Or did this program originate without community involvement?

9. Where are the records regarding the communications between those community groups and the City of Surrey.  I am not requesting the names of individuals, only organizations - so the privacy exemptions do not apply.

In response, we provide the following information:

1. The barcode section of page 10 of the records is the only redaction to the records disclosed.  The information was redacted as the code may be linked to registrants of a program.  We enclose a more legible scan of page 10 of the records. [ed. * see my note below]

2. There are no further records in response to the request. 
The search conducted involved consultation with staff, relevant staff conducting a search of their workstation and an electronic search of archives.

3. The records retention for Parks, Recreation and Culture programming is six years. 

4. The survey on page 4 of the records provided identifies the record was created July 9, 2010.

5. There are no further records related to this program.

6. There are no records of complaints regarding the program.

7. Staff recollection is that the program began in 2002 - 2004 as a pilot program that originated at the North Surrey Recreation Facility and expanded to the Newton Wave Pool. 

8. Staff recollection is that the program was originated with the community non-profit group Diversity.

9. There are no further records related to this program.

We enclose Parks, Recreation and Culture Policy documents that appear relevant to the substance of your request.

* ed. I checked the link on M=July 27 and it was not functioning. Perhaps I was too late. So, I asked them about it by email.