Happy Hannukah

We pride ourselves, here on SLN, on being all-inclusive. Gay, straight, black, white, we’re all one big family of virtual naturism, and we do not differentiate between peoples.

And that’s no different when it comes to Diwali, or Milad un Nabi (aka Mawlid, the Prophet’s birthday, January 3rd, next) or Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which began tonight.



ofra and howie_001b

Ofra, a former conscripted member of the IDF, lights the first candle of Hannukkah


At SLN, our only concern is that you embrace, or are a supporter of naturism and commune with the wonderful world God/Allah/or whoever your chosen deity is, provided.

As as result, I invited my Jewish, Israeli friend Ofra over to ‘dinner’ tonight at my place and we lit the first candle of Hannukkah. (well, the truth is, if I’m online and any of my SL friends wish to pop over, it’s an all-embracing open house. Ofra happened to be online, so the invite seemed appropriate).

It reminded me of a time when I did work for a Jewish couple and they partly paid me in an array of sweet foods while we discussed the Jewish people’s place and plight in the world. A lovely couple, whose parents’ had escaped Germany a couple of months before World War 2 broke out. A time of hate.

That time of hate goes on, towards the Jews, towards the people of Gaza, and internecine feuding within Islam. You’ll have read the news today. 132 children and nine staff dead in a pointless, idiotic attack in Peshawar, Pakistan. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan are describing the attack as ‘unIslamic’.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but Ofra offered a small prayer to those who so needlessly lost their lives in Pakistan today, typing it in local chat in Hebrew. I didn’t understand the words or, indeed, even the characters of the alphabet she typed in, but I understood the sentiment.

At this time of year, שלום עליי אדמות, רצון טוב לכל הגברים, or السلام على الأرض، والنية الحسنة لجميع الرجال. Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men. I hope Google Translate has got that right for me.

I’m thrilled whenever Ella comes back with some stats from the blog. We’ve had ‘x’ readers in Israel, ‘x’ readers in Saudi Arabia, ‘x’ readers in Iraq, ‘x’ readers in Pakistan. It seems, to me, that a common interest in naturism, real or virtual, unites all those viewers/readers of the blog. And I’m proud of that, even though my role is kind of minimal in its publication. The kudos should go to Ella and Pookes in producing something that, briefly, virtually, unites us all. A celebration of the human body, a celebration of humanity.

Let’s ensure that 2015 can be a year when we all, Christian, Muslim, Jew, black, white, gay, straight, can begin to row back from the horrible, hateful world we’ve inhabited in 2014. Shalom Salaam.

A Shalom Salaam flag, integrating the LGBT rainbow

One of the delights of SL is that I have met and befriended people from around the globe, of different faiths, colour and sexual orientation. I’d not have had that luxury in my life without SL. It’s a thrill and a delight to see those people online and say ‘hello, how’s this wonderful thing called life?’. It has enriched me as a person in the real world.

Would I, sitting in the UK, have had a chance to meet the likes of Ofra without SL? Doubtful. When January 3rd rolls around, I shall also offer my best wishes to my Muslim friends in SL celebrating the Prophet’s birthday. Without SL would I have met them? Equally doubtful.

We’re all on this earth for a short time. I’m closer to my ‘exit stage left, pursued by a bear’ point than I am to my entrance to it. I embrace the wonderful diversity of humanity in real life too, sharing my real life naturism with gay & straight people, people of different faiths, people of different colour. I am enriched by them being in my life. I am enriched for having Hanukkah explained to me by a fellow SL user with real life experience of it.

When The Beatles were at their peak it was said that in some eastern bloc countries their message of love, spread by samizdat tapes, was undermining communism. Let us hope that, within SL, naturist or not, the same message is being spread around the globe. A message of love. Not a message of hate, death and division. Happy Hanukkah, everyone.

Howie Lamilton

From the archives (2), and a return to Veena Malik.

Almost exactly three years ago SLN reported on Pakistani actress Veena Malik outraging the country by posing, semi-nude for FHM Pakistan magazine with the letters ISI -Inter Services Intelligence (Pakistan’s secret police)- inked on her arm.

She’s in the news again, this time for receiving a 26 year jail term by breaking Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Her crime? Filming a mock wedding for a TV show in which a religious song was playing in the background. It would be interesting to know if, in the world of cinematic post-production, the music was overlaid after filming. It certainly has an air of ‘stitch up’ about it, and some media is inferring as such.



First Post reports how she is becoming a poster girl for freedom of expression, but I note, with some alarm and despair, comments left on the site because, if it’s irony or satire, its intent isn’t particularly clear. I sincerely hope the following is satirising women’s freedoms, and freedoms of expression, within the Muslim world.


In this youtube video, she takes on an Islamic cleric (and wins the argument hands down).

Apparently a divisive figure in Pakistan, her supporters suggest she represents a progressive Islam, a champion of women’s rights. Her detractors question her morality. Morality is, of course, a hazy thing and I, an American in England, can’t really judge Pakistan’s moral framework in the same terms as my own. Nor would I dream of doing so. I can only judge in terms of a sense of humanity, that all God’s creatures, Christian or Muslim, male or female, need to be treated equally. Women in general, Islamic women in particular, appear to me to be not being given equal rights.

Born into a poor family of seven children in the northern city of Rawalpindi, her mission comes out of personal experience, ever since she was “a kid.”

“I’ve been watching my dad hitting my mom for no reason, for the food. ‘You did not cook the food on time,’ and things like that. Little things,” she says.

“When I grew older, my elder sister, she was 14, my father married her off. The other sister was 11, my father married her off. I was in the sixth standard [sixth grade in secondary school], when my father said that, ‘Now it is your turn.’ I stood up. And I was hardly 12, 13 at that time. I said, ‘No, why should I get married? I mean, why, why should I? I mean, I don’t want to!’ And then my father said, ‘No, you have to.’ And this was the first time I stood up for myself.”

In Malik’s telling, her father, a retired army officer, told her he had no more money for her studies so she worked to put herself through school. At 17, she decided to go into show business, a decision derided by her relatives as an unconscionable disgrace.

She fell in love for the first time, she says, when she was 20 years old. Rumors abound, but she says she is not in a relationship at present, adding that things fell apart with a former boyfriend after she became a victim of physical abuse.

But she emerged from that experience with a message for Pakistani women. “I want to tell them that ‘You are beautiful, and strong, and you don’t need to hide under the shadow of a man just because you’re a woman,'” she says. “They have to be told that they don’t have to wait for a man to feed them, they have to be told that they are strong. These women don’t know how strong and beautiful they actually are.”

“You won’t believe the kind of huge response I have received from the women of Pakistan, even the women who wear the burqa and all.” She quotes messages from girls who say things like, “you have given us hope, to stand up.”

She thinks things have “already started” to change in Pakistan. But with Islamabad mired in political infighting and the country confronted with growing insurgent violence, she says the time has come for women to “think for themselves…. Because no one else is going to give a damn [about them] in Pakistan.”

As a 27-year-old celebrity, Malik is part of a growing majority in Pakistan, where over two-thirds of the population is under 30.

Pakistan is home to deeply rooted conservative values with unprecedented exposure to the modern world due to the ready availability of cheap modern technology and the country’s widespread use of the English language.

Nineteen-year-old Siraj Ali, a Pakistani studying in Karachi, says Malik “was right about that cleric [Qavi],” adding that he and his friends “all support her.” He doesn’t think this is the dominant opinion among his peers, however, warning that many young people have been influenced by the fundamentalist Taliban.

Others believe more positive changes are afoot. Umar Saif, a 33-year-old Pakistani professor recently listed among MIT’s prestigious Top Young Innovators, thinks Malik’s generation will change Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s really come of age, as most nations need to, and the next generation will usher in a time of modernization and usher in an era of political awareness, usher in an era of political tolerance, and just enlightenment,” Saif says. “And we hope to embrace, you know, the civilized way the rest of the world has gone about their business.”

Let us hope that it is Malik’s generation who will find a path that allows them to pursue this progressive Islam, and who can truly change society in the country over the next generation or so.

Veena Mailk as a sexy movie star, scandalising Pakistan.

Note: this jail sentence arrives since Miss Malik has apparently renounced the film industry, acknowledged ‘mistakes’ in her past, got married, given birth to a son, and undertaken Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca. It would appear that, for whatever reason, embracing her religion, where she might have scandalised it before, has been no protection from the ludicrous findings of the courts.


Veena Malik and her husband since renouncing the glitz and glamour of Bollywood.

(Ella adds: Apricot submitted this without being aware of our previous reporting on Veena, so the piece went back to her for a little bit of a re-write prior to publication)