A guilt-edged opportunity to save the planet

I am rich, selfish, greedy - and feeling guilty about it.

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I am rich, selfish, greedy - and feeling guilty about it. A survey commissioned by The National suggested that nearly all of us are worried about climate change, but few are actually willing to change our lifestyle if it costs us money. That means those who splash out thousands on designer clothes, mobile phones and cars (which they replace in a year or two when they go out of fashion) are not willing to spend a few extra dirhams on energy-saving lightbulbs. Pretty pathetic.

When I moved to the Emirates I tried to recycle paper, metal and glass by sorting it at home. There are apparently recycling facilities but I couldn't find any, and soon gave up. So now I throw glass bottles away with the newspapers (although with a twinge of guilt). I try to ease that guilt by doing the little things: switching on the air conditioning only in the room I am in, buying local fruit and vegetables, cutting back my consumption of meat. And yes, using low-energy bulbs.

I know some people who separate out their rubbish, but does anyone know what happens when the municipality picks it up? Where does it go, exactly? Creating an effective, nationwide recycling programme will probably take years, so here's an idea in the meantime. Why not set up a programme whereby we can drop off unwanted household goods such as clothes, appliances and non-perishable food at collection centres outside every shopping mall and large supermarket? A charity, perhaps the Red Crescent, could organise its distribution to guest workers.

We live in such a disposable culture that I suspect within weeks the rubbish dumps would be noticeably smaller. * * * * * The fringe right-wing UK Independence Party is looking into making a public ban on the burqa and niqab part of its manifesto for this year's general election. They are not alone. The French parliament may approve a resolution that would ban full-face covering, and Danish politicians are expected to discuss a report on the burqa that could also lead to a ban.

The Danish report shows that three women - yes, three - in the entire country wear the Afghan-style blue burqa. Those who wear the niqab number 150 to 200, of whom nearly half are converts to Islam. There are between five and six million Muslims in France, but fewer than 2,000 women wear the niqab. Most who do are children of second or third generation immigrants whose mothers do not cover their faces. Both cases seem to me to be examples of young women suffering an identity crisis and wishing to make a political statement - or, in the Danish case, the classic zeal of the convert.

Half a century ago in Britain the neighbourhood would have been scandalised if a girl moved in with her boyfriend and had his child out of wedlock. Today no one would blink an eye - but turn up in a niqab for Sunday lunch at your parents' house and you can bet on a shocked reaction. Let the young people have their rebellion. They will grow out of it. Politicians should not mistake it for encroaching Islamisation, whatever that means. But don't take my word for it. For evidence that Islam poses little threat to European civilisation, read on -

* * * * * The Islamic Solidarity Games, established to foster strength and harmony between Muslim nations, have been cancelled - owing to a lack of both solidarity and harmony. The Iranians, who were to host the event in April, struck winners' medals bearing the term "Persian Gulf". The Saudis insisted on "Arabian Gulf", or just "the Gulf". The spat has been simmering for months. No one could agree on what to do next, so the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation, based in Riyadh, announced that the games were cancelled.

I hope those politicians in Europe who are worried about what they see as the growing Islamisation of their societies are paying attention. There's no need to worry about Muslim armies pounding at the gates of Vienna, folks. The Islamic Solidarity Games would now appear to be right up there with the Arab League in the threat posed to the European-American world order. @Email:hghafour@thenational.ae

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