Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gaddafi unmasked as Libya's Jimmy Savile

At the end of my 1999 novel Shaikh-Down I envisaged Muammar Gaddafi being castrated by his female bodyguards during a wave of revolutions that followed the coup on the (imaginary?) island of Belaj in the Persian Gulf. As we all now know, a different fate awaited Libya's loony leader:a pipe shoved up his behind and then shot by the rebels who found him hiding in a drainage culvert. Rough - and poetic - justice.

A new book by a French journalist  about the women abused by Gaddafi suggests that his female guards might well have chopped his balls off if they'd been given the chance. Hundreds of girls, many in their early teens, were 'selected' by the dictator after visits to schools and public events. Abducted by his henchmen (and/or Mabrouka Sherif, his chief procuress), these girls would be raped - sometimes for a day, sometimes for years - by Gaddafi. Amid a long catalogue of horrific stories the book recounts the fate of Soraya, taken from school at 15. She says that Gaddafi subjected her to repeated frenzied sex attacks, beat her, bit her and even urinated on her. Seven years later she still feels a victim and surely always will.

This is the man, clearly a 'kinsman' to Jimmy Savile', whom Tony Blair welcomed back into the club of nations that Britain 'could do business with' after Gaddafi renounced his links with terrorism in the 1990s. . Not Tony's fault, of course: international diplomacy requires prime ministers to cosy up to the heads of many appalling regimes; the Queen had to welcome Idi Amin to her dinner table. Gaddafi was not the only odious head of state in the Middle East. What nasty stories may yet come out of Syria, Egypt and Tunisia as the tide of 'Arab Springs' ebbs and flows? Opposition groups in Bahrain and exiled Bahraini dissidents have reported hundreds of human rights abuses going back decades: arrests, beatings, rape, torture and murder. The abduction of a boy who worked with me in Bahrain back in the 1970s was what prompted me to write Shaikh-Down.

Arabia, like China, is a region where tyranny has long prevailed and human rights count for almost nothing. But then Guantanamo may not be the only place where the Western flags of democracy are showing some wear and tear. Perhaps, as I predicted in 1999 (sorry to keep plugging Shaikh-Down!), the Middle East is on a fast track to Armageddon.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

What I'm watching: Homophobia for beginners


This two-part documentary, filmed over two years, took Stephen Fry on a global tour of homophobia. Part One began with an interview with Elton John and David Furnish, the Cinderella and Prince Charming of gay couples. And now for something completely different: the public hanging of five convicted gay men in Iran, followed by an interview with an Iranian in London who is waiting to hear whether he can be granted asylum here or sent back to face the odious regime in his homeland. LBGT lives are, as we all know, very different in different parts of the world.

Stephen also bravely went to Uganda and interviewed the government minister who is trying to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality there (it's already illegal). The man was obsessed with anal intercourse and would not listen to Stephen's repeated statement that sodomy is widely practised among heterosexuals. He encountered a similar mindset with the governor of St Petersburg where increasingly strict laws are being introduced during the 'reign' of Comrade Putin.

Disturbing in a different way was his meeting with a 'therapist' in the US who operates a 're-conversion' clinic to turn gay men straight. We met one of this man's victims, a cute young man for whom the therapy confirmed him in his conviction that he was gay: luckily he had a supportive mother - many gays in the Bible Belt are forced into this kind of 'treatment' by parental bigotry. Also disturbing, in Part Two,was the growth of violent homophobia in the cities of Brazil where Gay Pride parades are among the biggest and best on the planet; Stephen met a woman whose teenage son was beaten and strangled by a local gang who went un-prosecuted.

He ended his tour in India where gays and the world's most colourful transsexuals (Hijras) are beginning to enjoy more protection from the law, although tragically most of the Hijras can only survive by working as prostitutes, with a scary rate of HIV infection.

As Stephen kept reminding us, Gay Liberation has brought us greater security in the West: protection from discrimination and, in many countries, the right to marry our partners. But in too many places the bigots are in the ascendant - and they lurk among us in Europe and the Americas. The law giveth and the law taketh away. We need to maintain our vigilance. Before he started culling Europe's Jews, Hitler sent gays to the death camps.

If you missed Out There, catch up with it on BBC iPlayer.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Arab Spring fades into . . . The Arab Fall

Time for a re-launch of SHAIKH-DOWN - comments invited!
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THE ARAB SPRING is fading  time for "THE ARAB FALL"

  David Gee’s SHAIKH-DOWN offers a timely blueprint for Regime Change on an island in the Persian Gulf. This spicy comedy has a sharp sting in its tail. 
Thirty years ago, Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa al-Khazi, the Emir of Belaj, stole the throne of the tiny oil-rich island from his uncle. Now BARF (the Belaj Armed Revolutionary Front) plans to dethrone Shaikh Khalid and install a republic. Their campaign attracts some unlikely allies: a pneumatic American airhostess and a gay British banker.

“Witty, entertaining, raunchy and very well written.”

Peter O’Donnell, creator of Modesty Blaise


SHAIKH-DOWN is available from Amazon and from bookshops

and as an e-book from

Read extracts on: