Monday, June 30, 2008
That alone would be surprising in Yemen, a deeply conservative Arab society where family disputes tend to be solved privately. What made it even more unusual was that Arwa was 9 years old.
Within days, Arwa — a tiny, delicate-featured girl — had become a celebrity in Yemen, where child marriage is common but has rarely been exposed in public. She was the second child bride to come forward in less than a month; in April, a 10-year-old named Nujood Ali had gone by herself to a courthouse to demand a divorce, generating a landmark legal case.
Together, the two girls’ stories have helped spur a movement to put an end to child marriage, which is increasingly seen as a crucial part of the cycle of poverty in Yemen and other third world countries. Pulled out of school and forced to have children before their bodies are ready, many rural Yemeni women end up illiterate and with serious health problems. Their babies are often stunted, too.
The average age of marriage in Yemen’s rural areas is 12 to 13, a recent study by Sana University researchers found. The country, at the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
“This is the first shout,” said Shada Nasser, a human rights lawyer who met Nujood, the 10-year-old, after she arrived at the courthouse to demand a divorce. Ms. Nasser decided instantly to take her case. “All other early marriage cases have been dealt with by tribal sheiks, and the girl never had any choice.”
But despite a rising tide of outrage, the fight against the practice is not easy. Hard-line Islamic conservatives, whose influence has grown enormously in the past two decades, defend it, pointing to the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a 9-year-old. Child marriage is deeply rooted in local custom here, and even enshrined in an old tribal expression: “Give me a girl of 8, and I can give you a guarantee” for a good marriage.
To read more visit The Times Online
Friday, June 27, 2008
An Afghan journalist accused of distributing an unacceptable translation of the Koran should be put to death, says former Prime Minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai.
Former journalist Ghows Zalmay, who was also the spokesman for Afghanistan's Attorney-General, was arrested in November last year for distributing a translation of the Koran into Dari, one of Afghanistan's two official languages.
Ahmadzai, who ran in the 2004 presidential election against current President Hamid Karzai, told Adnkronos International (AKI) he supported the death penalty for Zalmay.
"Today Afghanistan is full of vices. Several Afghan restaurants serve liquor, despite it being illegal and on top of it, such material is distributed," Ahmadzai told AKI.
"I am in favour of his death."
Muslim scholars in Afghanistan reportedly said that the new version of the Koran misinterpreted verses about alcohol, begging, homosexuality and adultery. They also complained that this version was not accompanied by the original version of the Koran in Arabic.
To read full click here
Thursday, June 26, 2008
With thanks to Life in the Fast Lane......goats were on the catwalk for the Most Beautiful Goat at the Mazayen al-Maaz competition yesterday in Riyadh, capitol of Saudi Arabia. A Damascene goat — or Maaz Al Shami — named Qahr was the beauty queen who won title for first prize.
Winners are selected on the basis of a combination of factors and overall appearance, not simply by their color — but the head, nose, mouth, ears, breast and eyes — with the most important factor being the size of the head and the whiteness of their eyes.
First and foremost, think about whether you can meet the needs of a goat and whether goats will meet your expectations as a pet before owning any, as they require considerable attention and commitment.
Some say that goats can be a close runner-up to dogs as pets and easily trained to be led by a leash for walks if you dedicate plenty of time to them on a daily basis, making them a great hiking companion.
Disciplining these creatures may not be an easy task, but they respond well to positive behavior modification versus negative — using a gentle and loving approach, soft tones of voice, and coercion with food. Don’t make sudden and unexpected motions, no force of your will, and never strike them with your hand or an object.
While they may not run to greet you like a dog when calling them by name, they will learn to recognize their name and acknowledge by looking at you, and even have the capacity to learn a few words.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The beheaded bodies of eight people from the Shia tribe Toori were found dumped in Arawali and three in the Sadda area of the district, tribal chief Ali Akbar told the Geo news television channel.
To read more visit: Khaleej Times Online
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Alinoor Ahmed Sheikh, a Somali based in an asylum hostel in Tralee, was to have been honoured for his work raising funds for Amnesty International at a ceremony last Thursday organised by the Africa Centre in Dublin. The event was designed to highlight the positive work done by refugees and asylum seekers in Irish communities.
Five minutes before Benedicta Attoh, a member of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, was due to present the award she was told not to call out Sheikh’s name. “The judges had decided that someone else should get the award,” said Attoh, chairwoman of the Africa Centre’s board.
Attoh did not find out the reason why until she read in Metro Eireann on Friday that his name had been removed because of his refusal to shake hands with women. Sheikh told the newspaper that he had been assured his request not to shake a female presenter’s hand would be accommodated because it was based on his religious beliefs.
His certificate was presented to Therese Elumelu, who was not present, with Sheikh’s name crossed out.
To read more visit TimesOnline
Monday, June 23, 2008
As lunchtime arrived and the crowds of noisy men and women cleared away, a curious judge asked her what she was doing sitting alone on a bench.
"I came to get a divorce," 10-year-old Nujood Ali told the jurist.
Her impoverished parents had married her off to a man more than three times her age, who beat her and forced her to have sex, she explained. When she told her father and mother that she wanted out of the marriage, they refused to help. So an aunt provided her with bus money to travel to court and seek a divorce.
Within days of that April 2 encounter, Nujood's tale and the plight of child brides in Yemen made international headlines. And thanks to the efforts of human rights lawyer Shada Nasser, who took up her cause, the girl at the center of the story has begun to overcome her trauma and dream of a better life.
Yemeni law sets the age of consent at 15. But tribal customs and interpretations of Islam often trump the law in this country of 23 million. A 2006 study conducted by Sana'a University reported that 52 percent of girls were married by age 18.Publicity surrounding Nujood's case prompted calls to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 for both men and women. Yemen's conservative lawmakers refused to take it up. But the case sparked public discussion and newspaper headlines. Several more child brides came forward, including a girl who sought a divorce in the southern Yemeni city of Ibb this month.
"This case opened the door," Nasser said.
Nujood says that at first, she felt ashamed about what had happened to her. "But I passed through that," she said, eyes narrowing in her black head scarf.
"All I want now is to finish my education," she added, her mouth curling into a smile. "I want to be a lawyer."
Nujood's unemployed father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, has two wives and 16 children. He is among the many tribal Yemenis who migrated to the capital over the last decades looking for work. Instead, he found misery.
He arranged to have Nujood married in February to Faez Ali Thamer, a 30-something motorcycle deliveryman from his native province, Hajja.
Nujood's parents said they were trying to do what was best for their daughter and didn't even receive a dowry, a claim many Yemenis don't believe. The parents say the groom had promised he wouldn't have sex with her until she reached puberty.
"We asked him to raise her," said Shu'aieh, the girl's mother.
The groom has disputed that claim.
About 40 people attended the wedding in the village of Wadi La'a where the groom lived. As a wedding gift, she received three new dresses and a $20 wedding ring. She was to live with him and his family.
The trouble started on the first night, when he demanded that they share a mattress. She resisted, walking out of the room, only to have him follow. Sometimes he beat her into submission. For weeks, she cried all day and dreaded the nights, when he would enter the room, blow out the oil lamp and demand sex.
Nujood after the divorce
"My cousins would have killed me if I dishonored the family by asking for a divorce," he said.
But her mother's sister discretely advised her to go to court.
The bewildered judge who found Nujood on the bench decided to bring her to his house for the weekend. His daughters had a swing and toys she'd never seen.
Once the work week began, the judge dispatched soldiers to arrest Nujood's father and husband. He placed Nujood in the care of an uncle, her mother's brother.
Still the lawyers and judges had no idea how to handle her case. Nujood and her uncle languished in the courthouse for days until Nasser approached them.
Nasser vowed to Nujood that she would take her case without pay and that she would take care of her. She took her to her upscale home and offered to let her stay there.
Outraged, Nasser also called her contacts at the Yemen Times, the country's English-language newspaper. The story of the brave little girl who went to court on her own to stand up for her rights captivated the country. By the time a sympathetic judge agreed to hear her case several weeks later, media packed into the courtroom.
Verbally, Judge Mohammed Ghadi, was merciless to the husband.
"You could not find another woman to marry in all of Yemen?" he demanded.
But legally, there was little he could do. No provision in Yemeni law provides for enforcement of sexual abuse charges within a marriage. Not only did the husband and father go free, but Thamer demanded $250, the equivalent of four months salary for a poor Yemeni, in order to agree to a divorce. A sympathetic lawyer donated the cash.
Nujood was elated. "She was smiling," Nasser recalled. "She said, 'I want chocolate. I want pears, cake and toys.' "
Nasser bought her some new clothes. Donations began pouring in, with several wealthy Europeans offering to pay for her education.
When the controversy died down, Nujood insisted on going back to live with her parents again. Her father promised her that he would not marry off her or any of her sisters.With thanks to Mercury News
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Most people have taken the news of the ban on the book Freedom Of Religion, Apostasy and Islam in their usual submissive way.
To silence our freedom of expression with ‘religious’ censorship is a direct assault on our most fundamental freedoms and destroys the most basic fundamental human freedom under our Universal Human Rights. To censor our right to examine, to question, to debate any subject, does not benefit anyone, and must be opposed.
“If anyone sees the book in the country, please inform the Supreme Council. And if anybody has the book, please send your copy to the council without delay.”
Community Censorship Plagues the House of Islam
Even worse than the official censorship is censorship imposed by the community, which then becomes self-censorship. Friends, colleagues and even ordinary acquaintances all impose strict censorship rules on me under the guise of being concerned about my personal safety or honor. They demand that I tone down my strong views about sensitive issues.
Freedom of the press in the Muslim world cannot be separated from freedom of expression in general. Journalists, due to their conspicuous public role, risk their lives everyday. They have been targeted and killed in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan and other countries. The Muslim world is not a friendly place for freedom of speech at all.
Journalists, creative writers and artists all share the same fate. The writer in a Muslim society is in shackles. Every time I put pen to paper it is a struggle against the tyranny of community-imposed self-censorship. Nowhere is Rousseau's statement that "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains," truer than in the House of Islam.
Everything is a taboo. Whenever a Muslim writer takes up a pen he starts tiptoeing in a minefield. You have to follow the flag signs of religious, cultural and social taboos. You should tread carefully avoid shame, social estrangement or even death.
The beheading of the Sudanese journalist Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed in early September was the latest example of community punishment of a journalist/writer.
Writers have to endure internet blockages and black ink splashed on their art magazines and school textbooks. One of the most bizarre censorship actions I have ever seen was the blotting out of the sexual organs of a historical picture of donkey standing in an old Arabian market.
In the House of Islam, you cannot have a principle other than that of the community. Every thing you do is referred to Islam. The mantra is "that's stupid BUT...But we cannot do this because we are Muslims." One hears this expression ad nauseam. In the Islamic world you cease to be a human being. You become only a Muslim, whatever that entails.
You are not allowed to be a person with vices and virtues, you cannot follow your own reasoning, and you cannot be unpopular or defend an unpopular idea. You cannot go out of the circle. To express yourself freely means to risk death. And death indeed if you change your faith. Invention itself is considered as an act of blasphemy.
Thanks to Bashir Goth
In an article titled "Ban... Ban...," published in the Tunisian French-language weekly R‚alit‚s,(1) Tunisian columnist Zyed Krichen denounced the policy of censorship and denial of free speech that he said had been implemented by most Arab states and Islamist groups "since the advent of printing." In the second part of his article, he lists instances of censorship and persecution in the name of Islam from various Muslim countries, from 1925 to date, including banned works and writers and artists who have been imprisoned, flogged, and/or killed.
"Where they burn books, they will end in burning human beings."
Saturday, June 21, 2008
A MAN who claimed to be a “messenger from the sky” and lived for “more than 3,000 years” was nabbed by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) in a raid in his house in Damansara, Harian Metro reported.
The man, in his 80s, used his home as a gathering place for his followers, and spread deviant teachings that were against the teachings of Islam.
During the last Maulidur Rasul celebration, he brazenly sent invitations to the Sultan of Selangor, Mentri Besar, Mufti, Jais, and a few government agencies, inviting them to his speeches.
Jais director Datuk Mohammed Khusrin Munawi said the group was believed to have been active for a long time. However, it was hard to trace their activities as the man and his followers conducted their affairs secretly.
During the raid, approximately a hundred followers were caught listening to his lecture. One of the group's deviant beliefs is that the basic tenets of Islam such as praying five times a day, fasting and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca were not obligatory for a Muslim.From The Star Online
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The report is no exception. The Muslim world cuts a sorry figure every time a global watchdog releases its findings. Freedom of expression here remains curtailed, Reporters Sans Frontieres annually reports. Regarding freedom of expression, there is a joke often told in Arab world. At a meeting, a US journalist says: "We have complete freedom of expression in the US. We can criticise the US president as much as we like." The Arab journalist replies. "We also have complete freedom of expression in Arab world. We can also criticise the US president as much as we like."
Similarly, it is either Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria which is on top of Transparency International's corruption indexes. However, when Nobel laureates gather in Stockholm every December, Muslim scientists and writers are conspicuous by their absence. In case, as Naguib Mahfouz is crowned, he is stabbed and rendered paralysed. The irony, or tragedy, is that his attacker had not even read his excellent books. Or we disown Dr Abdul Salam just because he belonged to the Ahmadiya community. Salam's case deserves special mention since it underlines the absurdity that characterises this part of the world.
When all else fails, "Jews" and "Christian" West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world. And every time a rights abuse is highlighted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, a typical Muslim answer is: Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya. True, imperialism and Zionism have a hand in our predicament. However, there are many wounds one can only describe as self-inflicted.
Take, for instance, the Iran-Iraq war, one of the last century's bloodiest conflicts. There is no denying the fact that the United States backed the Saddam regime. But it was the Arab sheikhdoms, panicked at the Iranian revolution, that stoked the flames of war. And, ironically, now in the post-Saddam era when the "Christian" West has written off Iraq's Saddam-era debt worth $66 billion, Iraq's Arab brothers refuse to write off that country's $67 billion loans.
Similarly, last century's bloodiest Muslim genocide was not carried out by Serbs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans or Hindus. It was Pakistan's military that refused to respect a democratic verdict and plunged East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into an ocean of blood. Millions were killed, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. Luckily, Pakistan has a "Hindu" neighbour. "Hindus are born enemies of Islam'. Hence, Pakistani children are now taught that a Bengali traitor (revered by Bengalis as founder of Bangladesh), in connivance with our "Hindu" neighbour, dismembered Pakistan. Ironically, of all her South Asian neighbours, Pakistan enjoys most cordial relations with the world's only Hindu state, Nepal. The other big genocide was perpetrated by Indonesia. The target was: its own citizens who were members of the Communist Party.
Figures are not available but Israel perhaps cannot match Iran in executing Arabs. Iran's confessional regime is a champion of the Arab cause in Occupied Territories but Arabs of its Khuzestan province are regularly sent to the gallows. Seizing the opportunity, one may also point out how only recently Afghan refugees were driven out of Iran as if Afghan refugees were not as Muslim as Palestinians. And, by the way in the fallen "Emirate of Afghanistan" itself, Hazaras were slaughtered by the Taliban in their thousands almost a decade ago – mainly because Hazaras are Shia. In Iraq, more people have been killed in Shia-Sunni clashes than in resisting the US occupation. Shia-Sunni clashes in Pakistan have claimed more lives than those lost in its wars against India. Ironically, this only "nuclear power" of the Muslim world is not being occupied on its eastern front by its "Hindu" neighbour but is losing territory on its western front to its own citizens.
One can mention from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the recent Hamas-Fatah infighting (a shameful tribute to Israel on its 60th anniversary). The list is long. Indeed, unending. However, the solution to all our problems is always simple: return to an imagined past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed. Every time, a scientist in the West is ready with an invention, our readymade answer is: we knew about it 1,400 years ago what the West has found only now. We kill Theo van Gogh when confronted with a film. We burn down our own cities in response to a blasphemous and racist caricature. Still, we refuse to understand that our answer to every "provocation" is either a fatwa or mindless violence – perhaps because creativity is anathema to us. Not because we lack fertile minds, but because we lack liberation and freedom -- liberation from self-imposed mental, moral, and cultural censors. And freedom to think and express. Time to heed the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, who said:
Five thousand years
In our caves.
Our currency is unknown,
Our eyes are a haven for flies.
Smash the doors,
Wash your brains,
Wash your clothes.
Read a book,
Write a book,
Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,
Sail to the country of fog and snow.
Nobody knows you exist in caves.
People take you for a breed of mongrels.
The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: email@example.com To go to source click here
Monday, June 16, 2008
He was put under arrest by an examining magistrate on Monday for punching and kicking a terrorism expert outside the Brussels studios of RTL-TVi where the victim had taken part in a television talk show.
"Unable to tolerate behaviour that goes against democratic values, La Louviere club has decided to fire Mr R. Belabed," read a club statement that described his acts as "unacceptable and unjustified."
Belabed, a 24-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, was waiting outside the studios when Claude Moniquet, a former journalist, walked out with a friend after the show, Controverse, which had hosted a discussion on terrorism.
"A man approached me. He was tense, nervous and said he wanted to talk to me," Moniquet, a writer on terrorism, told local tabloid La Derniere Heure.
"He said 'I don't like you. You are an enemy of Islam, a racist'."
Belabed hit him in the head and kicked him when he fell to the ground, Moniquet said, adding that he later had to be treated at a clinic for his injuries.
Headline and link courtesy Ali Dashti. From Reuters:Football is un-Islamic
Ulema in Saudia Arabia have issued a fatwa (religious decree) declaring football an un-Islamic sport, and have urged the youth to quit it immediately, BBC radio reported on Saturday. According to the report, the clerics urged the youth to indulge in jihad and other constructive activities that could help the Muslim ummah, the radio reported. The ulema argued that football wastes a lot of time and the participants wear shorts, which they said was an un-Islamic dress, the radio reported. Following the decree, some players of the famous Taif Football Club have quit the game, the report added.
From: The Daily Times
Five years ago, the dreary imams came out against women’s football, according to this BBC report:
Nigerian state 'bans' women's football
Women’s football has reportedly been banned by the authorities in Nigeria’s north-west state of Zamfara, following the recent imposition of Islamic Sharia law. The state director of sport Shehu Gusau was quoted as saying that women playing football was “unislamic”. “The sport is against the teachings of Islam,” he added.
The justice ministry made its ruling under a law designed to prevent wealthy Arabs from the Gulf from snapping up young Egyptian girls and which forbids marriage when there is an age gap of 25 years or more.
The unidentified Saudi holidaymaker proposed marriage to a 17-year-old village girl and offered a dowry of about $US28,000 ($30,000) as well as gold jewellery, the source said.
"Her parents, who are very poor, accepted,'' he said.
But the justice ministry refused to register the marriage, citing the legislation brought in during the Gulf oil boom.
However, according to Egypt's Al-Akhbar newspaper, the authorities allowed 173 such marriages last year after the foreign husbands paid the equivalent of $US8,000 ($8,550) into the Egyptian National Bank.
With thanks to News.com.au
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Below we bring you some parts of an interview she did with FrontPagemag.com.
FP: Tell us some of the things you were taught as a child in the Arab Middle East.
Darwish: I was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. I attended Gaza elementary schools where I learned hatred, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never as an option; it was considered a sign of defeat and weakness. Those who wanted peace and compromise were called traitors. Jews were described as monsters, apes and pigs and the enemies of God from the pulpits of mosques. When I asked: “why do we hate Jews?” The answer was: “aren’t you a Muslim?”
Shaming is very strong in Arab upbringing. We were told outrageous lies about Jews: "Don't take candy from strangers since it could be a Jew trying to poison you." We were also told that Israeli soldiers would kill pregnant Arab women just for fun, place bets on whether she was carrying a boy or a girl, and cut her open to see who won the bet.
My classmates would cry while reciting Jihadist poetry daily, wishing to die as martyrs. The teachers filled our hearts with fear of Jews, which made hatred come easy and terrorism tolerated. The propaganda of jihad, hatred and anti-Semitism was everywhere and not just in schools; it was in mosques, newspapers, movies, by politicians, in the arts and in many Jihadist songs over the radio. Mosque prayers often ended with cursing of the infidels (non-Muslims). Believe it or not, if you grow up with prayers like that, it can sound and feel normal.
FP: You show how polygamy is a religiously sanctioned structure in the Islamic world. Tell us how you witnessed its affect on women and on the rest of society.
Darwish: Polygamy is allowed under Sharia Islamic family law. The Muslim marriage contract allows a man to marry up to 4 wives and thus loyalty to one woman is not required. Men do not even have to exercise that right to additional wives for the damage to be done. By allowing men to be “loyal” to up to four wives, the stage is set for women to distrust their husbands, especially in times of trouble. Nor can they trust women friends who can be eligible to marry their husbands.
The basic loyalty bond between husband and wife is the basis of all loyalties in the family. In polygamy this basic bond shifts from husband/wife to wife and her father or male blood relatives and later to a woman’s first born son. A woman’s father or son becomes her protector and defender in time of trouble in the marriage or when the husband marries another woman.
Many Muslim apologists say that Muslim women have more rights than Western women because they keep their own wealth separate from the husband's. But they refuse to say why. The reason a Muslim woman keeps her wealth is because her father will never allow her inheritance to go to a Western style community property where it could be shared with a second, third or even a fourth wife and their children.
Even though most Muslim men do not practice polygamy, many others do. Because polygamy is allowed and sanctioned by Allah, it changes the dynamic of the wife/husband relationship and family loyalties. A Muslim woman does not change her name after marriage, but often goes by her first son’s name; for example “Um Muhammed” or “Um Ali” - that is mother of Muhammed or mother of Ali. It becomes a Muslim woman's identity and source of pride.
Even in Arab folklore and stories such as Tales from the Thousand and One Night, it reflects the impossible life of the main character Shahrazad who was one of a Harem struggling to survive by telling tales to the polygamous Arab kind. Listening to these stories taught us the art of manipulation to survive among competing women and one king.
That injustice to women is further complicated with an easy divorce existing only in the hands of the man. Women do not have the same right to divorce but can only ask the husband for it -- but if he refuses she has to go to court for years to get it. Sharia law also allows husbands to beat their wives who are not obedient. Just imagine that: a husband can have a second wife and not give his wife a divorce and if she disobeys, he can beat her. All of that is legal under Sharia Islamic law. Such laws turn the relationship between husband and wife from that of partners to one of slave and master. The victims in all of this are also the kids who are brought up by an oppressed mother who constantly need their support and approval against the father if he gets himself another wife. The children will have a lot of competition over the attention of the father who has several wives and several sets of kids.
I believe that even Muslim men are harmed by their right to polygamy which deprives them from a secure loving one man/one woman commitment. Because of polygamy and other sexual restrictions in Muslim society, poorer men have a hard time finding wives who sometimes prefer to be the second, third or fourth wife of a wealthier man. The end result is a large population of sexually deprived unmarried young Muslim men, angry and ready to listen to the calls of jihad in their mosques. Jihad and martyrdom thus become the only guarantee for heaven where 72 virgins will greet them with open arms. In this divine promise from God, polygamy still exists in heaven – and to the disadvantage of the Muslim woman.
FP: You make the point that Islamic terror has its roots in the rage that exists within the Muslim family. Can you talk about that a bit?
Darwish: Every Muslim family that lives in a majority Muslim country lives under Family Sharia (Islamic) Law. Sharia Law is divided into Criminal and Civil and Family Law. Criminal Sharia Law is not practiced in all Muslim countries and the reason is because it is simply cruel and unusual punishment; it includes amputation of limbs, flogging, beheading and stoning to death.
Family Sharia law is practiced in all Muslim countries and some Muslims in the West are demanding it. Family Sharia law gives most rights to men and very little rights to women. For example, Muslim men can marry up to 4 wives and even have the right to engage in sexual relations under the concept of “ma malakat aymanahum” -- which means owned women slaves. Slavery has been abolished officially in Muslim countries, but a man’s sexual right to “owned women” is still wide-open for reinterpretation.
In Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries, for example, maids are systematically raped since some men interpret their position in the family as a sort of slavery. The Muslim marriage contract is different from the Judeo/Christian marriage contract. In a Muslim wedding, the man does not vow loyalty to only one wife. Even if the man never exercises the polygamy right, the damage to the marital relationship has already been done. In the back of the mind of every Muslim woman in time of trouble is the reality that her husband can choose to solve the problem by having a second wife instead of going to marriage counselling.
I have heard Muslim women in the Middle East beg their husbands during an argument: “You can have a girlfriend if you want, but please do not marry on me for the sake of the kids.” In the West, the source of all loyalties in a family originates with the husband/wife loyalty and trust relationship where the man vows to be faithful and true to his one and only wife -- till death do us part. Such a vow by a husband adds stability and trust in the marriage. That gives wives equality, dignity and protection; not only for them but also for their children. Because of polygamy rights to the Muslim man, Muslim women have developed a need to protect themselves; thus you see no community property in the Muslim family unit. Muslim scholars often claim that Muslim women have more rights than Western women because they have the right to keep their property separate from that of their husbands; that is true, but they don’t tell you why.
The right in question has developed so as to protect a wife’s property inherited from her family from going to the second, third or fourth wife. Polygamy thus totally changes the dynamics of the relationship between husband and wife or wives. The loyalty unit is no longer husband/wife, but wife and male members of her own family and later wife and her first born son who will protect her interests if the husband gets another wife. In the Arab world, women do not take their husband’s name but keep their family name and often go by their first son’s name. Thus you see Arab women proudly call themselves “Um Ali” or “Um Muhammad” -- meaning mother of Ali or mother of Muhammad.
Polygamy rights are often complicated by other oppressive laws to women. For example, divorce is in the hands of the man only; a woman can only ask her husband for divorce, but he can refuse so she has no alternative but to spend years in court where her testimony is half valid than a man’s. Divorce is not only in the hands of the man, but it is also the easiest divorce in the world; all the man can do to have a divorce is bring any witness and say “I divorce you” three times; that’s it and the wife is divorced.
This injustice to the Muslim woman is compounded by the right of a Muslim man to beat his wife if she is disobedient. Think about it; a Muslim woman can legally turn into one of several wives, beaten if the man perceives her actions as disobedient and cannot even divorce the husband unless she goes through years of divorce court.
There are many other injustices for women which add insult to injury; a woman’s testimony in court is half valid to a man and she only gets half the inheritance of her male brothers. What complicates all of that to the Muslim woman, and even man, is that a Muslim man’s honor is directly linked to the sexual purity of his female relatives. Thus you see the Muslim man burdened by monitoring the behavior and chastity of his females. Many Muslim men are always eager to cover up their women whose bodies are considered great temptation that must be covered. Thus the family honor is linked to women’s bodies; a value which often ends in tragedies such as the honor killing of girls.
Of course not all Muslim women are abused or a part of a harem. There are many powerful and educated Muslim women whose husbands do not choose to marry a second wife. However they are not the majority and in time of trouble even the most powerful Muslim woman in Sharia courts will often lose to her husband simply because she has very few rights. Because of the inferior position of the Muslim woman and because of depriving the Muslim man from the security and stability of a one man/one woman marriage contract the scene is set for a lot of turmoil, anger and manipulative behavior for self-protection between the spouses.
How can an oppressed woman bring up happy and healthy children? Even sons? Character is dependent on an oppressed woman in the first years of life. That is the dilemma of the Muslim family. Polygamy rights do not only hurt women, but they also negatively impact younger and poorer males in the Middle East from having wives. Some Muslim women often choose to be an additional wife to a wealthy man than the first wife of a poorer man. The Middle East has a large number of unmarried and sexually frustrated young men who are ready for jihad and the 72 virgins awaiting them in heaven. That is what they hear in mosques every Friday.
Darwish: The Arab culture is famous for its concept of pride. Image is very important and pride and shame are great motivators. Protecting the image of Muslims in front of the non-Muslim West is vital. Thus elaborate behavior is done to saving face. Admitting to a mistake can bring terrible shame and is not regarded as a virtue; those who admit to mistakes are not rewarded for their honesty but ridiculed and shamed or even severely punished. Until today most Muslims blame 9/11 on a Jewish conspiracy. The father of Muhammad Attah in Egypt, for 4 years denied that his son headed the 9/11 terror attack even when the whole world saw him checking into the airplane that slammed into the twin towers. Only recently Atta's father come out and admitted he is proud of what his son “the Shahid” and not the terrorist has done.
There are people in Arab jails right now who are accused of defaming Islam or their country in front of non-Muslims. This defamation can be a simple praise of Christians or Jews and of being critical of radical Islam. Fear of being accused of defaming one’s tribe, nation or religion leads to a culture that tends to blame others rather than look within. The Judeo Christian culture concentrates heavily on the concept of “we are all sinners and only through the grace of God we can be saved.” That is a big relief to the Western psyche. Muslim education views members of other religions as sinners; the infidel non-Muslim sinners can only be saved by announcing they are Muslims. It is a prominent part of the Jewish faith to talk about God’s punishment when they are disobedient to God’s laws.
That honest admission by Jews is not viewed by Muslims as a virtue and a step towards self-improvement, but as an admission of wrong doing and that Jews are bad and deserve God’s wrath; that is why to many Muslims Jews do not deserve land or a nation. “They themselves even admit that they are sinners,” I once heard a Muslim say. There is also a concept in Islam called “taqueya” which allows lying to non-Muslims if it is in the best interest of Islam. That concept is very deep in Muslim culture that we don't even think of the term “taqueya” any more; it has simply penetrated every aspect of Muslim life. Because of it there is very little self-criticism.
Thus, saying sorry, admitting guilt or looking within for solutions is not a strong value; it will surely get a person in deep trouble instead. Such a person will bear the blunt of the blame for everything -- even for what he did not do; thus you have Muslim denials and defensiveness over matters that many in the West cannot comprehend. Muslims are in denial when they say that Muslim women have more rights than Western women; even many Muslim women convinced themselves with that and defend Sharia Law rather than say the truth in front of the non-Muslim West.
Muslims are in denial when they say Israel is behind all Muslim terrorism across the globe, even 9/11; they are in denial when they say that Arab tyrants are the product of American foreign policy, but when America takes out Saddam, they say “you are interfering in our internal affairs.” That is why many Muslims say one thing to the West in English and the opposite to Arabs in Arabic.
Shaming is prominent in the Arab child. To avoid the intense pain of shaming, denying responsibility turns into a virtue to save face and protect one's pride. The concept of “taqueya” is one of the reasons many Muslims were silent after 9/11. Only a few were speaking out honestly and openly by admitting there is a problem in Muslim culture that needs to be examined and corrected. The few Arab Americans who did that where not rewarded for their honesty by their Muslim community; instead they were condemned, shunned and shamed by the majority of Muslims. They are doing everything they can to silence us. They do not want to get into Western style dialogue with us or debate us in the open.
We rarely see Muslim vs. Muslim debate and that is why when the brave Arab American Dr. Wafaa Sultan, debated a Muslim cleric on Al Jazeera TV, it became international news. The thank you she got for her honesty by powerful radical Muslims was a Fatwa -- a death warrant. This explains and exposes the deep cultural need to even lie for self-preservation and protection. They don’t want an honest debate for reform from within; but they want to continue the lies to save face.
Very simply, Islamists do not want to admit to the world their jihadist agenda and their sympathy with terrorists. That is why they simply want to silence the opposition; a Danish cartoonist; the Pope; a Dutch film maker or politicians and the few Muslims and Arabs who dare to speak out.
Our crime is being honest and open about our culture, radical Islam and our wish for reformation. Even after leaving the Middle East and becoming US citizens we still carry the baggage of never admitting to a mistake and always blaming others such as the West or Israel for all internal problems of the Arab world.
This charade of denials and games has done nothing but keep the Muslim world in a permanent state of stagnation, turmoil and poverty despite of the wealth from oil.
"No, not all cultures are equal; there are some that make it easier to be human."
Friday, June 13, 2008
His fashion empire, which encourages women to dress according to the Islamic beliefs, produced £25 million in sales across the Muslim world last year.
Ilhami Guler and Suleyman Bayraktar lodged a complaint against the tailor over the name of his company, Tekbir, which refers to the belief – “Allah is great”.
“Jesus was upset by the sight of the money-lenders in the Temple, and I’m upset by the thought of a new generation of Muslims for whom Tekbir means expensive headscarves,” said Mr Guler.
The two academics are asking a court force Mr Karaduman to change the name of his company in line with a law that forbids the commercial use of names “imbued by society with a moral value.”
The case could open the floodgates against countless other Turkish companies with religious names such as Medina Travel.
Mr Karaduman is no stranger to controversy having in the past alienated both conservative and liberal elements of Turkish society. He has been vilified by religious conservatives in Turkey, who argue that the fashion displays of headscarf-wearing models he pioneered in the 1990s are un-Islamic.
Liberals were outraged by his recent public admission that he had three wives, something which is allowed under Sharia law but offically banned in Turkey.
Turkey’s supreme court has convened to decide whether to cancel a law allowing women to wear Islamic headscarves in the nation’s universities on the grounds that it was an affront to the secular system.
The ban was lifted in February by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) which many believe is covertly seeking to replace the secular order with an Islamist regime.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Will Dhivehin use child brides to deal with inter-island disputes? Or settle financial debts?
Whereas it is commendable that some government officials, in Pakistan, are voicing their outrage-- the origination of the source of the mindset that foments much of the muslim population to consider the use of little girls (referred to in article as "ladies") as chattel capable of performing "wifely" duties - though "unspeakable" is clear.
entire article - emphasis mine
It started with a dead dog, escalated into a tit-for-tat tribal war, and has now reached a grotesque climax with the exchange of 15 child brides.
Pakistani human rights activists are outraged at reports that a long-running blood feud in a remote corner of western Baluchistan province has been resolved by the handing over of 15 girls, aged between three and 10, for marriage.
"There has to be action," said Asma Jahangir, a leading rights campaigner. "These people who force others to sell their daughters must be sent to prison."
The new government in Islamabad, led by the party of the late Benazir Bhutto, has promised to act. "We will not allow young girls to be traded like this," said the information minister, Sherry Rehman. "The culprits who tried to do this will be arrested. The orders have been given."
But Jahangir said those orders had not been acted upon. "There is a dysfunction in the whole system. They are not listening to the government," she said. "We need to see them being more effective than just rhetoric."
Vanni, an ancient tribal practice in which feuding clans settle their differences by exchanging women for marriage, is illegal in Pakistan. In 2004 the Sindh high court outlawed all such "parallel justice" systems. But the writ of government is weak in rural areas, and local police often turn a blind eye.
The current controversy started with a row over a dog, said Muhammad Paryal Marri, a researcher in northern Sindh for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
A dog owned by one tribe, the Chakranis, was shot dead because it strayed too close to a well controlled by their rivals, the Qalandaris. In revenge the Chakranis shot a donkey belonging to the other side. A ferocious bout of tit-for-tat killings ensued in which 19 people, including five women, were killed.
The fighting ended in 2002 when Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti - a rebellious tribal chieftain who was later killed by the Pakistan army - brought the two sides together. Bugti ordered the Chakranis to hand over 15 child brides in compensation; at a jirga, or tribal council. Last Friday they finally agreed to make good on that promise, said Marri.
"They agreed to pay some money and exchange the ladies," he said.
Such brutal traditions have only come to light for a broader public in the past decade, thanks to activism by human rights groups and publicity from local media.
"Barbarity in the name of tradition," declared the English-langauge newspaper Dawn earlier this week in a scathing editorial against the "medieval mindset that dominates many sections of our society".
But, despite previous shows of similar anger, official action has lagged far behind. "The government is unwilling to use its authority to protect women. It will find any excuse," said Jahangir.
With thanks to the Opinionater
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Wafa Sultan: When I examined the Koran, the hadith, and the Islamic books under a microscope, I came to the absolute conviction that it is impossible – impossible! – for any human being to read the biography of Muhammad and believe in it, and yet emerge a psychologically and mentally healthy person.
All over the world, no matter what the cultural or language differences, science is more or less guided by scientific principles—except in many Islamic countries, where it is guided by the Koran. This is the ultimate story about science and religion.by Todd Pitock
Cairo, Egypt: “There is no conflict between Islam and science,” Zaghloul El-Naggar declares as we sit in the parlor of his villa in Maadi, an affluent suburb of Cairo. “Science is inquisition. It’s running after the unknown. Islam encourages seeking knowledge. It’s considered an act of worship.”
What people call the scientific method, he explains, is really the Islamic method: “All the wealth of knowledge in the world has actually emanated from Muslim civilization. The Prophet Muhammad said to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. The very first verse came down: ‘Read.’ You are required to try to know something about your creator through meditation, through analysis, experimentation, and observation.”
Author, newspaper columnist, and television personality El-Naggar is also a geologist whom many Egyptians, including a number of his fellow scientists, regard as a leading figure in their community. An expert in the somewhat exotic topic of biostratification—the layering of Earth’s crust caused by living organisms—El-Naggar is a member of the Geological Society of London and publishes papers that circulate internationally. But he is also an Islamic fundamentalist, a scientist who views the universe through the lens of the Koran.
n Treasures in the Sunnah, El-Naggar interprets holy verses: the hadiths, sayings of the Prophet, and the sunnah, or customs. There are scientific signs in more than one thousand verses of the Koran, according to El-Naggar, and in many sayings of the Prophet, although these signs often do not speak in a direct scientific way. Instead, the verses give man’s mind the room to work until it arrives at certain conclusions. A common device of Islamic science is to cite examples of how the Koran anticipated modern science, intuiting hard facts without modern equipment or technology. In Treasures of the Sunnah, El-Naggar quotes scripture: “and each of them (i.e., the moon and the sun) floats along in (its own) orbit.” “The Messenger of Allah,” El-Naggar writes, “talked about all these cosmic facts in such accurate scientific style at a period of time when people thought that Earth was flat and stationary. This is definitely one of the signs, which testifies to the truthfulness of the message of Muhammad.”
What about, say, evolutionary biology or Darwinism? I ask. (Evolution is taught in Egyptian schools, although it is banned in Saudi Arabia and Sudan.) “If you are asking if Adam came from a monkey, no,” Badawy responds. “Man did not come from a monkey. If I am religious, if I agree with Islam, then I have to respect all of the ideas of Islam. And one of these ideas is the creation of the human from Adam and Eve. If I am a scientist, I have to believe that.”
But from the point of view of a scientist, is it not just a story? I ask. He tells me that if I were writing an article saying that Adam and Eve is a big lie, it will not be accepted until I can prove it.
“Nobody can just write what he thinks without proof. But we have real proof that the story of Adam as the first man is true.”
He looks at me with disbelief: “It’s written in the Koran.”
Its a long article and I urge you to read the whole thing before commenting...to read the whole article click here
Monday, June 02, 2008
Hundreds of members of a radical Indonesian Islamic group armed with batons have attacked moderate Muslims in the capital, Jakarta, who were holding a rally calling for religious tolerance.
Authorities say about 100 members of the National Alliance for Religious and Faith Freedom had gathered in central Jakarta to rally against a possible government ban on the minority Ahmadiyah sect.
About 500 members of the hardline Front for the Defenders of Islam infiltrated the protest, attacking demonstrators with batons until about 50 policemen intervened, but no arrests were made.
The Ahmadiyah group has about 200,000 followers in Indonesia and believes Mohammad was not the final prophet, contradicting a central tenet of Islam.With thanks to ABC NEWS