Blair Relative Converts To Islam
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
Journalist and broadcaster Lauren Booth, 43 – Cherie Blair's sister – now wears a hijab whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque whenever she can.
I’ve known Lauren for many years – ever since I tried to get her a job on the London Evening Standard. I admired her brave stand over the Iraq War, and the fact that she wasn’t prepared to let family loyalties stand in the way of her principles. It may well have ensured that she and her family weren’t exactly welcome guests at Tony and Cherie’s’ soirees when he was Prime Minister, and had the run off the grace and favour Chequers in the Buckinghamshire countryside.
Apparently Lauren decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.
"It was a Tuesday evening and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy," she said in an interview today.
When she returned to Britain, she decided to convert immediately.
Lauren works for Press TV, the English-language Iranian news channel – has stopped eating pork and reads the Qur'an every day. And while I’m not a fan of Press TV, a particularly smart exercise on behalf of the Iranian Government – and a station that was deliberately muted during the recent unsuccessful street risings against the Iranian Government, I would never question Lauren’s professionalism
She has stopped drinking alcohol and says she has not wanted to drink since converting.
Before her spiritual awakening in Iran, she had been "sympathetic" to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine, she said, adding that she hoped her conversion would help Blair change his presumptions about Islam.
In this I am not altogether sure what presumptions Tony Blair does hold about Islam. I remember hearing that he had decided to study the Qu'ran, but that was after he had decided to launch an attack on Iraq. I notice that he is one of the few remaining defenders of the ‘War against Terrorism’, and seems to believe that radical Islamic fundamentalists still pose the biggest threat to countries such as the United States and Britain.
But it is difficult to see that Blair is actually hostile to Islam per see. After all Lauren Booth is not the only member of the Blair family to ‘convert’. Tony Blair famously became a Catholic, abandoning the Protestant church in the process, and of course sets some account by his ‘Faith Foundation’.
I would argue that both Tony and Lauren have found their natural homes, both driven by their completely opposite positions on the Iraq War. I would also argue that for Lauren this has been a real journey of discovery, having witnessed at first hand the suffering of many Muslims, especially in the Israeli occupied territories, while for Tony ‘guilt’ may be a major factor.
Tony Blair is of course still in denial over Iraq. The more threadbare and unsustainable the arguments became, the more defensive the position he took.
I was – and am – on Lauren’s side. Indeed I took the political fight to Blair over Iraq in the Labour Party. But I remain deeply sceptical about religion, and the role it has and continues to play in conflict, so while I wish Lauren well, and radiate in the embarrassment this will all cause Tony Blair, this wouldn’t be my chosen route.
But maybe I am missing something?
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
From time-traveling billiard balls to information-destroying black holes, the world's got plenty of puzzles that are hard to wrap your head around.
- While it's one of the best on Earth, the human brain has a lot of trouble accounting for certain problems.
- We've evolved to think of reality in a very specific way, but there are plenty of paradoxes out there to suggest that reality doesn't work quite the way we think it does.
- Considering these paradoxes is a great way to come to grips with how incomplete our understanding of the universe really is.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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