Archive for December 3rd, 2007


A good day for moderate Muslims?


Hi there. Exciting times. We’ve the dates for the first WHYS trip of 2008. I’ve put them below today’s stories. Also, if you’d like to speak to the BBC correspondent just back from Darfur read on.


Many has been the time when people have come onto WHYS and told Muslims to show they disapprove of the more extreme forms of their religion. You could argue that exactly that has happened in the campaign to free the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who, until today, was in prison in Sudan for calling a teddy Mohammad. Just as many of you have criticised in the past, should you now be handing out the praise?


There have been no shortage of emails criticising politicians and regular folk for being so quick to respond to the case of Gillian Gibbons, but being far less animated in their response to what’s happening in Darfur. Should we all be castigated for not doing more, or is this an infinitely more complicated situation which the world is doing a slow but steady job of resolving?

The BBC’s Mike Thomson has just been there, and his reports are broadcasting on the BBC this week. I’d highly recommend you listen to them if you can. He’s live on the show if you’d like to talk to him.

Here’s the latest news on Darfur.


This email arrived from Atsu in Accra a little while ago. I don’t know if it’s going to make today’s show, but if enough of you respond, it’s an option for tomorrow.


Hope u, James and the rest of the team are doing fine.

I would be happy if we could discuss this topic. There was been a referendum in Venezuela, a general election in Russia and one some week ago in Australia. Western commentators always talk about how authoritarian Chavez is but he has accepted his defeat. These commentators are glad. On the other hand, Putin and his supporters have won a landslide and the same western commentators are now talking about how undemocratic Russia is.

My question simply is, do westerners only see free and fair elections when it puts people they like in power?

Latest from Venezuela / Latest from Russia


The African Cup of Nations football tournament is taking place across Ghana in January and February and WHYS is going to be attending. During the week starting Monday 28th January we’ll be broadcasting at least two programmes. We don’t have exact dates or venues yet, though Sekondi is looking likely. And we don’t have topics either so we’re looking for some help. If there are issues you think we should pick up on in Ghana (and they don’t have to have anything to do with football), or you’d like to meet up with us, drop me a line.

Speak to you later.


Monday’s musings


Venezuelans have voted narrowly and unexpectedly to reject a raft of constitutional reforms proposed by their president, Hugo Chavez.     The proposals included a plan to remove limits on the number of terms in office a president could serve, which would have allowed Mr Chavez to stand for office as many times as he wanted. 

 Some say the result will put a brake on Mr Chavez’s “Socialist revolution”, while others say it will have a very important impact in the rest of Latin America.

Mr Chavez says he accepts the result, for now at least.  Should we be talking to people in the yes and no camps.


The United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin has secured more than 60 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s election,  preliminary results suggest.

Only two other pro-Kremlin parties and the opposition Communists appear to have got sufficient votes to pass the threshold needed for seats in parliament.

But there have been claims of voting irregularities by opposition leaders, while international observers say the poll was not conducted fairly.  However,  Mr Putin has said a strong result would give him the authority to retain political power after his presidential term ends next year, possibly as prime minister.

There are also suggestions that the constitution could be changed to allow Mr Putin to serve a third term when his current mandate ends in March next year.

What do these two stories tell us about democracy in countries where the democratic process has often been called into question?


The British teacher Gillian Gibbons is expected to be released from prison in Sudan today after she was jailed for allowing children in her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir pardoned her after a meeting with two British Muslim peers, Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi.

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest Muslim body has voted to end its boycott of Holocaust memorial day. Are these stories examples of moderate Islam winning through.


There are a number of stories around today about climate change.  In Bali a key summit is discussing how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after the current Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.  

Australia’s new prime minister has ratified the protocol, something his predecessor refused to do. At the same time scientists have said the earth’s tropical belt is expanding much faster than expected, and that could bring more storms to the temperate zone and drier weather to parts of the world that are already dry.  

Perhaps we should be talking about whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the world’s climate.


 In Britain Christina Odone, the former editor of the Catholic Herald newspaper, was asked to write a sermon for a carol service in London.

Her theme was how believers in Britain are struggling to show their faiths amidst ‘secular intolerance’.
But now the organisers have told her she can’t deliver the sermon, it might upset too many of the atheists in the audience.

Is this another example of what she was going to talk about? Should we invite her on to the programme?