Dumbest (uncorrected) Choices in American History: Shortlist

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My list of REALLY STUPID CHOICES made in American history; just a short-list I am afraid:

Diet Food” that is more chemicals than food

Having the Soviet Union an “ally” in WWII – better to have let them go it alone; email for full argument

The Electoral College in the Age of Communication; direct election of all offices should be the norm; Political Parties are OBSOLETE and COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE

Public Sector Unions

Adding “under God” to the Pledge making it a point of division instead of unity

Lotus and Apple’s Patent-the-Universe Syndrome making the courts accept patents on things never meant for patent

Failing to live up to Dr. King’s vision and refusing to stop being prejudiced regarding race

Private campaign donations of any kind other than labor

Campaign donations by businesses

Supreme Court deciding that money= a right to a louder voice for YOUR ‘free speech

Dropping the no-partisanship requirements for radio talk-shows and ‘interview’ programs

Letting Lawyers advertise

Supreme Court declaring that nothing of value is earned by the recipient of a military award or decoration

Women’s, Chicano, Black “Studies” propping up people selected, distorted and lionized with blatant prejudice; taking away self-respect while pretending to help by ‘giving the poor things a hand’, and White Studies designed to rip on Western Culture for the same purpose – removing its self-respect – it seems non-whites are too dumb or clueless to run their own lives or stand up to whites and that whites are just intrinsically demonic – welcome to the enlightened world of PC education

Failing to settle on the point in a pregnancy where a woman’s choice is MADE and she must be held responsible for an infant rather than a piece of owned tissue. (6 month preemies regularly survive today and the Radical Right’s agenda on abortion would make women all but chattel)

Worrying more about which consenting adults, what age, color or how many may legally get ‘married’; ignoring the concept of duty, honor and responsibility anyone brings to their marriages

Bilingual Education as a policy

Helmets, knee and elbow-pads for tricycle riders

Peer promotion in school

Affirmative Action after 1990 – where was the transition to color-blind government?

Worrying more about what actual people have DONE with their guns than trying to get law-abiding folk to not have any at all

Electing Andrew Jackson, Jimmy Carter, George W., and Obama

Forgetting that ALL countries do best with immigrants if they pick from the TOP of the pile instead of the bottom

Paying a private group to print/coin money like a product to be bought forgetting that money has no ‘intrinsic’ value’; dollars are just counters for the economic game; increasing or decreasing the supply by fiat to ACCURATELY reflect the production/wealth of a nation is the ONLY reason when deciding when or if to print more money, or let the cash pool contract

Deciding that political consensus and no working model or scientific theory that has been tested is sufficient when making decisions in haste that could wreck the world’s entire economy/infrastructure; in the 70’s it was the next Ice Age that was imminent… no models then either

Making an “eco-friendly” light-bulb containing hazardous amounts of mercury

Adults stealing Halloween from the children and making it another grown-ups party holiday

The Writer’s Strike

ANY serious university or college that “emphasized” sports to make money and enabled ‘tails’ that can wag Great Danes with ease

UN Ignores Islam-based FGM, Honor Killings and Under-Aged Marriage

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Ever wonder why the UN Human Rights Commission doesn’t do much about violence against women?  This video of the commission’s meeting with a concerned NGO will explain it is painful detail: Simple explanation; Islam may not be linked with ANY bad “traditions”, period, end of statement.

Littman UN video rev 4 from Vlad Tepes on Vimeo.

Watch it all, it is worth it!  Get ready to applaud the “point of Order” by the German delegate!!!

Muslim Marriage: A lesson in Moderate Thought

 

Once again I am posting a blog that the hard-core Rightists will just not be able to swallow without gagging. But then again, the true Leftists will reject what I say as well, so I guess that I am still fulfilling my mission; pissing off those who need to be pissed off; example: that thing in the Bible about the motes and beams is especially true in politics and organised religion.

The unreconstructed Leftist will be puzzled at why a “rabid Islamophobic” like The Heretic Crusader should DEFEND a practice of Islam. The answer is really quite simple, I don’t. The Islamic practice is to treat women as chattel property. To be Muslimah is to be bought, and sold, and hoarded. To orthodox Islam a woman is only fulfilled if she daily, unfailingly and willingly makes a classic 1950’s housewife look like a libertine whore; her “desire” is to be a domestic animal fully trained to care for a husband’s sex, food and house; incidentally caring for children and lastly, herself; this mindset in an orthodox Imam’s eye makes her “holy“!

When the customs of veiling, and purdah, and child marriage, and the absolute authority of the husband are considered the issue of polygamy becomes incidental.

In traditional Christian marriages there are certainly many opportunities for abuse. This is no reason to ban marriage, or parenting for that matter, though it is clearly in the children’s interest not to be subject to the possibility of abusive parents using religious authority to do evil to their kids; or yours for that matter.

On top of all of that, traditional Islamic reasoning also says that humans attempting to judge the morality of Islamic rules is not valid; it is to be obeyed, not interpreted; which is the very reason that system is so susceptible abuse.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Why should polygamy be a crime? KEYSAR TRAD
October 2, 2009

In a liberal society such as Australia, it should not be a crime to have more than one wife, argues Keysar Trad.

IN JUNE last year, Triple J’s current affairs program Hack ran an item on plural relationships. The ABC’s youth broadcaster interviewed me about polygyny, a form of polygamous marriage in which a man has more than one wife at the same time. A bisexual couple were also interviewed.

To my surprise, I was reported on the ABC’s respected current affairs program AM the next morning. Without speaking to me again and after seeking comments from the Attorney-General’s office, AM ran the line: “Undeterred Keysar Trad says he’s hoping to find another wife to join his family. To do so, he says, would be to honour his first wife.”

No such comment had aired on Hack. The media then spent more than a week mocking the practice of a husband having two or more wives simultaneously. No one took issue with the bisexual relationship, which involved one man and his female partner, who also had a relationship with another woman.

Did he say it? Did he not? Who knows, but note that he said that the comment never “aired“, not that he never said it off the air; who knows?

It is central to my points though, that Mr. Trad has conflated a heterosexual man having two women )told by their religion that they are his servants, sex slaves and less than him, in brains and judgment, in the eyes of God) and a relationship say, between a man and 2 bisexual woman; to have a second woman in that situation is truly being fair to the woman. That kind of marriage would be completely different from the traditional Islamic ideal of “honoring” a wife by marrying a younger woman to relieve her of chores, and some of the “burden” of sex.

At the end of an interview on 2UE, Mike Carlton declared that, as a Judeo-Christian nation, we marry one person for life. After a pause, he added that we just have lots of affairs on the side.

In Western society, the “other woman” in an affair is stigmatised. She faces significant pressure to keep the relationship secret to protect her man because modern society frowns on plural heterosexual relations. If she fell pregnant, society – including her partner – could place great pressure on her to have an abortion.

The mistress in an affair should have rights. She needs to be protected if she decides to end the relationship because the man refuses to live up to her expectations and leave his wife.

I am not sure just where Mr. Trad (good name that for a traditionalist) got his impressions. Films from the 60’s maybe? In my experience that while he is right that Western society is monogamous mainly as an offshoot of Church influence his analysis of our sex lives is far from accurate.

First off, he seems to completely miss out on the idea that the woman’s goal may not be the man’s divorce and marriage to her. As to the pressure for an abortion, that is unlikely to be decided mainly on that basis. The woman’s desire to have or not have that man’s baby is far more likely to control her final decision; he has no legal say in it, a concept that Mr. Trad surely finds incomprehensible. On top of that, the power a woman has to cause trouble in the man’s life, both social and legal, give her the upper hand against all but true bounders.

The problems are not what Mr. Trad imagines, they are more involved with the fact that affairs are NOT committed relationships but flings. I am not going to condemn a responsible fling by a persistently deprived spouse but, the subject is marriage not sex as I recall. Let us move on.

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, must have been paying attention. A few months later, he introduced legislation granting rights to the second woman so that she could also share the assets of her married lover.

The problem of deception, however, does not go away. Why in the liberal 21st century must we live a lie in relationships? And why do we continue to maintain a facade that monogamy is a perfect institution, when studies consistently reveal that most men admit to having affairs? Monogamy is great, but it is clearly not for everybody.

More cultural misunderstanding here. The legislation merely recognizes a fact; a long term lover has a share in one’s interests. In the U.S. we call it palimony and it is applied when a relationship is long term and stable. It especially applies where a financial burden has been assumed by one or both of the parties in either direction. The issue is Interdependence. Children are always the legal responsibility of both genetic parents.

Islam openly acknowledges this fact of human nature and stipulates a regulatory framework for plural relations. But modern Western society, suspicious of all things Islamic, fails to recognise the qualities of Muslim marriage and family.

Whoops, I have to step in on that little gem. “Islam acknowledges” which “fact of human nature“? That men are horny dogs and are happiest with a cooking, cleaning sex slave at home who thinks she will go to hell if she does not lick the pus from his nose? (That last was a quote from Mohammed about a wife’s duties by the way in one semi-reliable collection of the acts of Mohammed)

The regulatory framework that us Westerners are so suspicious of is known as Sharia. It commands that woman are worth half what a man is and, that she must cover herself except for face and hands lest she “Tempt” some pious man into raping her. It legalizes the rape of an unwilling wife, and sets down in no uncertain terms the rules for having sexual relations with a prepubescent WIFE.

No thanks Mr. Trad, the concept of multiple marriage is not the problem here, the problem is the systematic subjugation of the female by the Islamic, now how did you put it, Regulatory Framework Acknowledging Certain Facts of Life.

Seeing how well it has worked in Islamic lands I hope Mr. Trad forgives us if we give it a pass for now.

Legally enforceable monogamy was introduced by Emperor Justinian in the year 534. Justinian himself kept a courtesan as a mistress. He married her after the death of his wife, Euphemia, and only after he convinced Justin, his predecessor, to change the law so that senators could marry actresses and courtesans.

Ahh, good old Justinian. A superstitious fool who took credit for every victory because of his prayers but, almost lost the empire from ignoring military readiness in favor of those same prayers. If not for a man named Belisarius there would have been no Constantinople left for the Muslims to invade and occupy.

Yet another tribute to the “One Truth” idiots, and their ability to deny any reality while clinging to their possession of “rightness“.

Justinian is said to have criminalized plural unions under the influence of St Augustine, though Augustine clearly stated in his treatise on marriage that having several wives is not “contrary to the nature of marriage”. Yet like other church fathers, Augustine preferred celibacy, or monogamous marriage if one could not be celibate.

Well it seems that Mr. Trad is well versed in Church history, but it is unclear that this information either supports or denies polygamy. Mr. Trad seems to be making that case that it was solely the Church Fathers that came up with the idea. This is simply untrue as the Romans had abandoned multiple wives centuries before this time. Indeed it was likely the influx of Eastern culture that flooded the Empire that caused the subject even to come up by Justinian’s time.

And to me this all is beside the point. Marriage is for the economic and emotional stability of parents and children, anything more than that is a fringe benefit. Every other aspect of a marriage can be had without the relationship being one. We marry to have a partner, a friend, someone to have our back and someone to give ours to. A person to dedicate our energies to making happy even when we find it hard to want to make ourselves happy. This is the job of a spouse, to live every moment knowing you are not alone, knowing that what you do is important to one you love. It is also putting more than one person to the task of building a home and prosperity no matter how the labor is divided.

Over the years, I have counseled adulterers from different faith backgrounds. I never tried to punish, hurt or expose them. I tried to guide them to mend their ways. I tried to help them understand that sex outside marriage was neither in their best interests nor in the best interests of society. If they were married, I did my best to ensure that their marriage remained safe and stable. Had they been in plural unions that conformed to the Islamic regulatory framework, such relationships would not have been adulterous, but divinely sanctioned unions.

Now all of that except the building of a home can be had, with a little more effort and trouble, by a “couple” that is not married or living together. But when we start talking about children that stability and those shared resources become much more important. It is possible for a single parent to raise a fine child. But it is horribly hard on that parent.

We marry to build in the material world and to never be alone in the adventure of life and to give the best environment for our children. It is not because God told us to, it is because we are at our best when we are not alone.

Wow, I love it when an Islamist hangs himself with his own words; it makes my job easier. From his words I get the impression that he includes non-married, but sexually active, people as “adulterers“.

Not a word about the effect on the spouse, merely an admonition to be “safe” and “stable“. What does he tell them? Always use a condom and do not get caught? Given that both the Koran and ahadith say that a lie told to keep the peace is condoned; does he advise against coming clean if caught?

But the part that is the real zinger is how he tells them all that if they only were Muslim they could have their cake and eat it too. Given that there is no stigma to casual divorce (when initiated by the man at any rate) in Islam, it is quite possible for a man who can afford it to marry the regulation four wives, and simply divorce any that become unattractive or stop “pleasing” him in any way. (Heff, have you ever thought about just converting?) He can then find another to marry (buy) and refill his quota.

Is it just me, or do any of my readers out there see the problem for the woman in this “Regulatory Framework” that is so praised as a solution to the perversions of our Western sexual practices?

Australian law has maintained the Justinian facade that a marriage is one man and one woman, and that every other relationship must be kept secret. Under Australian law, bigamy attracts penalties of up to seven years’ imprisonment. On the other hand, polygamous marriages conducted overseas are recognized under family law for the purpose of property settlements.

Here is where Mr. Trad and I very slightly cross paths. I see no reason that a man and two women, or two women, or two men, or three women and two men, should not contract a “marriage” with all the legal rights and duties implied by Western customs. My diversion with Mr. Trad’s Islamic model is that I feel all parties in such marriages should be equal under the law and that no party under 18 may be entered into such contracts.

There is also a new factor that the West needs to confront. I feel it is unconstitutional for us to use the law to say someone cannot marry because of religious “law“.

What then do we do to prevent either Christians, Jews, Mormons or Muslims from marrying wives kept ignorant and then imprisoned in the home (and burka) away from eyes that can see signs of abuse and neglect?

When a couple marry in a Christian church, it indicates they want their marriage to be governed by the rules of that church. The same applies for unions conducted under Muslim rules. For a marriage to be valid under Islam, it requires the consent of both parties, at least two witnesses and a dowry paid by the groom to the bride as a gift for her to use as she pleases.

As I see it, to preserve our traditions and especially the Constitution we must allow the marriages (subject to the above limits on age and coercion) and do what we do already about radical Mormons and Christians (and I believe a few Jews), we keep an eye open for abuses and act if there is cause. This is all that is done for any spouse or child in any abusing family. Society can only apply fair rules and hope the facade of the evil cracks before they harm the innocent. But is that not what we have ALWAYS been limited to in a civil society?

If a woman in a traditional marriage shows signs of abuse someone hopefully sees it and does something. It is not just to try to apply a tighter control on ANY social group than that. But it is certainly in our rights as a society, in my opinion, to see to it that NO legal relationship shows the stigma of abuse. It is NOT in our right to say how many people are involved in that family absent those stigma.

Yeah? So? I have read the Sharia marriage rules; the payment is seen to “purchase” the man’s right to “enjoy” the woman’s vagina. No, I am not being crude, it really is THAT blatantly put.

Further, until the man has had a chance to “enjoy” the woman’s vagina, he is not required to pay her. However if he has the opportunity, but fails to “enjoy” his possession, he must pay her, and get his jollies later.

Any children of this marriage are seen as the property of the man; at best the divorced mother might get to keep them ‘til they hit puberty.

Further the divorced woman is supposed to get all her property returned to her but, this rarely happens unless her family is strong enough to force the issue. Many times a husband simply coerces his wife into signing her assets “freely” over to him sometime before he casts her off.

Islamic marriage is no solution for the issues of sex outside of marriage either. The Koran, ahadith and all Sharia are clear that having sex with non-Muslim “possessions of the right hand” is a perfectly acceptable method of dealing with what Mr. Trad calls Human Nature. Islam treats these women, and the children that might result, as non-entities; useful to legally slake the lust of a “moral” Muslim man. This is new “morality” that will save the ‘decadent’ West?

There is no requirement for such a union to be “legally” registered with a secular body that does not recognize the clauses in a Muslim union. Plural relations of this nature that take place in Australia are treated like de facto relationships and are not registered. This keeps them outside the ambit of the nation’s criminal and marriage laws. Such unions are not considered adulterous because they follow the rules of an Islamic union. They are not secret and they carry no stigma under God.

Not secret, except from the law and anyone who might report abuses you mean. This article is starting to read like a Dah’wah (Religious recruiting) aimed at adulterous, wife beating pedophiles wishing to sanctify their illegalities in the name of God by becoming Muslims.

According to this a Muslim marriage is ONLY concerned with obeying Sharia rules, and is outside the jurisdiction of mere human laws. If I take him at face value, and I have no reason not to, and look at what Sharia says about marriage, then he is promoting the idea that a man can come home from work and take his wife from her cooking to have sex with her in any fashion he likes. He can then beat her (lightly) if she has refused to obey his whims after verbal admonitions (telling her that God will only love her if she does what her husband desires) and an short period “making” her sleep apart from his no-doubt desirable bod.

Sharia tells the devout Muslim man that he is not allowed to cause physical (what about emotional) harm to his “wife” if she is “not yet able to bear intercourse” from being too young in body. It does allow him to do ANYTHING else with her, or make her do things for him, to the same effect as “enjoying” her vagina “properly” so long as his “play” does not result in this physical harm.

Had enough yet? This is all as mainstream in Islam as “For Richer and for Poorer, in sickness and in health, etc.” is in the West.

Yes, marriage needs to be reformed but, allowing traditional Islamic forms to spread in the West would be a very bad thing to this Moderate Jeffersonian.

This is not to say that people are actively encouraged to enter such unions. Islam stipulates very strict equality in the treatment of wives. If a man cannot treat his wives equally, the Koran says he should have only one. Monogamy is the norm in Muslim communities. However, men who are capable of supporting more than one partner equally are advised to be open, honest and accountable in their relationships and to treat their wives fairly.

Mr. Trad, Oh! Mr. Trad! You left a part out!!! The Koran says that if he can’t treat more than one WIFE fairly he should only have one WIFE and whatever other sex partners he likes that are “possessions of the right hand.” This has been interpreted by various scholars as meaning anything from sex slaves to any non-Islamic prostitute. The exact limit depends on your school of Islam, and the opinion of your Imam.

Islamic sex in and of itself (as in old school Christianity and Judaism) is seen as a defilement in and of itself. The only question a Muslim man need concern himself with is whether it is ALLOWED for him to have sex with this woman or that.

Since he is forbidden to marry a non-Muslim then by Islamic law the woman has no rights and is no threat to his marriage bed. Any children are either abandoned as bastards to her or, adopted and raised Muslim; the choice is the whim of the man.

There is nothing in Islam to prevent a “devout” man from being highly adulterous by Western standards; it all depends on how and who he has sex with as to whether it is a sin or not.

I fail to see, Mr. Trad, how this would HELP any of the issues that we face here in the West.

Yes, polygyny may lead to jealousy. We are all human. But in a caring and sharing world where we become euphoric when we give to those in need, sponsor orphans and provide foster care, the ultimate in giving is for a woman to give a fraction of her husband’s time and affection to another woman who is willing to share with her. It is a spiritually rewarding experience that allows women to grow while the husband toils to provide for more than one partner.

Well, I can see this argument having some validity, but only as much as it has when applied to men. I want to see anyone, Christian or Muslim or whoever explain how it is o.k. for a man to have two wives who share him but not o.k. for one woman to be shared by two men. Explain without resorting to “God told me so” arguments that is. Personally I see no problem with either one if all agree and especially if the two same sex partners are highly bisexual. In that case in fact it almost becomes required to have the third for a stable relationship without huge tension, or sex outside the marriage occurring regularly.

In most cases, the husband ends up providing separate accommodation. The women can agree to share dwellings – it’s entirely up to them. Many men in Western society complain about their mother-in-law or a “nagging” wife. If his wife and in-laws were difficult, would he seek more of the same? The willingness of a man to take on another wife is in fact a form of praise to his first wife.

Oh really? “You know dear, you are so un-troubling, and your parents are so nice to me; I know it is only for your sake that they are not nasty slobs when they visit.

In tribute to your skills at wifely things I shall marry 15 year old Tasha. I am quite willing to chance that she will not live up to your example but, I am sure that you are so good that I must be blessed by God in my marriages.”

Is this the logic Mr. Trad? Just who allowed you to pull THAT one from their emotionally constipated rectum?
And have you addressed how the issue of wealthy old men who can afford to A) bribe parents into agreeing to the marriage, and B) keep separate households for 4 wives, affects the chances of Salim on the Street to get married before he is past 50; assuming he is wealthy by then?

Oh, Mr. Trad, do you think about how limiting multi-partner marriages to multiple women for one men will affect the ratio of single young men to single young women? Are you in fact thinking about anything, but how cool it would be to have God tell you that if you can afford it you can be Hugh Hefner, as long as you follow a few simple, and morally undemanding, rules?

While Islam sanctions polygyny, it does not condone threesomes. Islam also does not permit polyandry, a form of relationship in which a wife takes more than one husband. There are many reasons for this. Some are medical, some relate to paternity. Others pertain to the sexual proclivities of the different genders. The sex therapist Bettina Arndt, promoting her book Sex Diaries, outlined the merits of women saying “yes” more often to sex with their husbands. If Arndt’s research is reflective of a greater portion of the population, a monogamous relationship leads to reduced interest in sex among women and a perpetual state of conjugal frustration among men.

What planet is this man from again? As far as I can tell Islam regards a married threesome (or one with sex slaves) as not forbidden (haram) but simply not recommended. So, do it if you really like, but pray extra afterward when you are making yourself clean again before God.

As far as the rest of it goes, I would imagine that worldwide there are as many frustrated and unfulfilled wives as there are similar husbands; I would like to see how Mr. Trad would view sex if he got a chance to make love with a woman who had not had her clitoris cut off, and been, at the least, programmed from birth to regard sex as for his enjoyment only.

What a lack of joy to be in bed with any woman who believes her own desires are a sign of evil and only by performing like a shameless whore her husbands every desire can she be sexually “healthy.”

If men in monogamous relations are not satiated, by its very nature polyandry creates an overwhelming burden for a woman in long-term relationships.

Again, I think Mr. Trad is still living in the Middle East. In the West we realize that it is the men more often cannot keep up after a certain age. But then again, if Western men were sleeping with women who are “circumcised“, and treated like dogs that can cook and clean and screw, Western women also might be a tad less than horny from time to time.

Who someone marries first is an accident of history. If a man who has an affair had met his mistress before his wife, he may have married her. Why maintain the facade that is the Justinian doctrine of monogamy knowing it has failed as a social experiment?

Mr. Trad here forgets his own emphasis on the idea that a man should not marry more wives than he can be “fair” to. Is it at all fair to marry a woman, then marry another that is a “real” love?

Can you imagine being that first woman so “honored“? But this fits in with the Modern Muslim, and old-school Judeo-Christian, view that a woman is a burden instead of a prize and partner.

And let us not forget that even if the man admits that he cannot be fair to the first wife when he meets his “true love” he can simply do what a Western man would do; get a divorce and remarry; the difference is that in the West a man, or a woman, will think twice and thrice before taking this step because of the legal and social ramifications; ramifications that are absent for the most part in Islam with its easy marriage and divorce for men only.

A man can have multiple girlfriends. Why not formalize that into a commitment for life? Why should “bigamy” be a crime?

Well, generally any man with “multiple girlfriends” does not really have a true emotional attachment to any of them. For the girls to marry him would be to chain themselves to a “master” who’s heart is not engaged.

Is the total focus in Islam on only the man coming clear yet? Can we “reform marriage” in the West by taking two steps backward, or is Mr. Trad just rationalizing in the dark?

Keysar Trad is president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. He will deliver a speech on why polygamy and other Islamic values are good for Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Opera House today.

Wow, if that is the best he can do in making Islamic polygamy attractive to Western minds, I would love to hear about the other “values” he commends.

From the eyes of a Muslimah; what a real patriarchy looks like


(HH here: It seems that it is not the leers and stares of Western men that Muslim women are hiding from in their veils. It is from MUSLIM men that they hide. This is a very interesting look through the eyes of a Muslim woman at the inequities of her society. Take note how she holds the West up as the sin qua non of RESPECTFUL behaviour toward women.)

by Hamida Ghafour

Hey, woman, wash my clothes!”

“How much do you cost?”

When I heard men shout these insults on two separate occasions as I walked down the street in Kabul and Abu Dhabi, respectively, I was stung.

Being stared or yelled at is just part of the experience of working and living in this region. But I never get used to it. Indeed women all over Asia and the Middle East are harassed constantly.

” The Abu Dhabi beach was quickly divided into two sections last year after women expressed their discomfort at gangs of laborers roaming about and leering. “Western women are targets, but so are our Arab, Indian, Nepali, Bangladeshi and Pakistani sisters. We are stared at, called names and sometimes assaulted by men. Which is why part of me cheered when al-Bawadi Mall in al-Ain announced earlier this week that laborers had been banned on weekday evenings and weekends following a litany of complaints about harassment.

The Emirates is the most female-friendly country in the Middle East. The Government’s efforts to encourage women to use public spaces is admirable. The Abu Dhabi beach was quickly divided into two sections last year after women expressed their discomfort at gangs of laborers roaming about and leering. Emirati men are courteous. They never stare.
By contrast, sexual harassment levels in Egypt are endemic. In the Punjab and Karachi, images of women on billboards are defaced or just banned.

(HH here: remember, in Egypt something like 70% of all adult women have been “circumcised”.)

When I lived in Kabul, cars with men at the wheel occasionally raced in my direction and swerved out of the way just before hitting me. A British-Asian friend of mine was once pushed into a ditch of raw sewage on her way home from a press conference in the Afghan capital. The Taliban used to say a woman’s place was in the home or the graveyard.

Across the region this message is given in many variations, but the gist is aggressive and clear: respectable women do not belong in the public sphere. And those who venture outside the home are objects of scorn or fascination. There is certainly an element of racism and snobbery in al-Bawadi Mall’s decision. The laborers are poor South Asians and Arabs. Although it may be offensive to westerners, in some Asian cultures staring is normal behavior. It is a popular pastime in India and Pakistan, where people stare at others to see what they are buying or wearing.

Many of the laborers in the Emirates have also had little exposure to the outside world because they are from small towns. When they move here, it is often their first contact with the rich and developed world. They have a natural curiosity about the way westerners live because they have snatched glimpses of it in films. European and North American expatriates have a lifestyle laborers can never hope to attain, and wandering around a mall on a hot Friday afternoon is an opportunity to experience that which embodies all the wealth, glamour and power of the West: the mobile phones, the high-definition televisions, men in clean, pressed suits, women in skimpy clothes.

I can’t blame them for that

(HH here: It is interesting how Middle Easterners often fail to see that the point of the West is not skimpy clothing but being free to wear what we want, skimpy or conservative without the intervention of controlling neighbors or thought police.)

” Men who have no shame at leering at women make clear distinctions between those who deserve respect and those who do not. “But the way many of them look at women is not the glance stolen by the man sitting across from you on the train in London, New York or Rome. In the West a stony look is enough to put an end to that. Instead it is a penetrating gaze that goes right to your core, combining lecherousness, intense curiosity or just hatred. It is sometimes accompanied by clicking noises meant to get a woman’s attention. It is humiliating.

(HH again: Note that it is not the gaze of the lecherous kafir that hurts and offends. It is the intense, over the top Muslim man who causes his sister pain.)

The images of the riches of the developed world beamed from satellite TV also send a second message: western women are easy. This is the fault of Hollywood films featuring bimbos and the proliferation of pornography on the internet. Yet western women are also fascinating because they are considered a third gender. They look like females but have the independence of men. Men who have no shame at leering at women make clear distinctions between those who deserve respect and those who do not.

(HH: Men who leer at women in this way are adept at blaming the women for their lack of control and politeness.)

This view reveals itself in small ways. When I wear long, loose tunics and trousers it is much easier to flag a taxi in Abu Dhabi. Drivers will invariably stop for women in abayas or, even better, the niqab, because they are perceived as modest and good. But the drivers sometimes breeze past a woman in a dress with spaghetti straps because they assume she has no self-respect.

(HH: I feel sure that is what the taxi drivers SAY, but knowing men as well as I do I would say that it has more to do with “good” being equal to “submissive and easy to dominate” and “she has no self respect” translating as “she had the nerve to not allow me to take advantage of her or disrespect her. Plus she looked me right in the eye!!!”.)

I have two wardrobes: one I wear in places like Egypt, Afghanistan and India; the other I reserve for parts of Dubai and Europe.

Many women wear a hijab to prevent unwanted attention but it doesn’t always work. In Egypt, harassment is part of daily life. In 2006, women in Cairo organized a demonstration with the slogan “the street is ours” to protest about the groping and taunting. In the 1990s, Moroccan women went on strike for the same reason.

Afghan women wear a burqa for safety: it is a barrier between them and the abuse. (HH: this means that unless a woman is in a burkha she is harassed and taunted and even offered violence until she “Chooses” to “embrace the freedom” of the mobile tent.) I sometimes wished I had one to slip over my head.
The concept of respect and the presence of a woman in public are linked. In most parts of South and West Asia and the Middle East, there are few opportunities for women to work outside the home, and education is partly to blame.

In Afghanistan, when I stopped at villages to talk to people, word would get out that a single woman was on the street and I soon found myself being followed by dozens of men pointing and whispering. They would often point at my pen: the image of a lone woman writing in an illiterate society was alluring.

If they are allowed an education, in many Muslim societies children are segregated from an early age. Girls are covered from head to toe and they are taught that any interaction between the sexes before marriage is forbidden. Marriages are arranged in their late teens and there are no opportunities for the sexes to mix.

As they grow older, boys fetishise the female body so even a glimpse of an ankle or a wrist is tantalizing. As adults, living in labor camps in the Emirates, they have no contact with wives back home, but there are plenty of Bollywood films for distraction with scenes of pouting girls in clinging wet saris dancing in the rain to heighten the excitement. By the time they encounter a blonde woman in jeans buying chicken at Carrefour … well, it all becomes too much.

In Kuwait, women have been trying to resist efforts at segregating men and women in schools to prevent this fetishisation. It would be easy to blame the lechery on the rise of political Islam, which emphasizes a traditional role for women and the need to protect women’s honor by limiting their mobility and access to the public sphere. But a colleague in Cairo once told me that she enjoyed going to Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations because the crowds of men always respectfully parted to allow her through. (HH: here we have the obligatory white wash of any responsibility belonging to Islam. I notice though that the author does not say how her friend dresses at these meetings. Can she walk through in jeans and a blouse? Or only in hajib or niqab?)

Most of the men here who leer at women know it is wrong. They are from cultures where they are taught to avert their eyes when they see a girl, out of respect for her father and brothers.

I recently moved house and hired a moving company, staffed by Indian and Bangladeshi workers. The foreman in charge was more interested in watching my movements than doing his own job. I finally snapped.

“Why don’t you get on with your work? What if someone stared at your sister like that?”

When it becomes too much I create a mental buffer zone to tune out the calls and stares. If that doesn’t work I try the shoe trick. When the offender shouts an insult, I stop, point at his shoes and laugh.

It subtly shifts the balance of power. And I won’t get arrested.

(HH: This woman has a game attitude but ultimately it is the attitude of a slave or prisoner. All the power is in hands other than hers and subtle ridicule is her only weapon.)

*Published by the UAE-based the NATIONAL on July 11.

Book review: Why does God hate women?


Reviewed by Johann Hari – 02 July 2009
After all the arguments for subordinating women have been shown to be self-serving lies, what are misogynists left with? They have only one feeble argument that is still deferred to and shown undeserving respect across the world, even by people who should know better: “God told me to. I have to treat women as lesser beings, because it is inscribed in my Holy Book.”

Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom are the editors of Butterflies and Wheels, the best atheist site on the web. In Does God Hate Women? they forensically dismantle the last respectable misogyny. They argue: “What would otherwise look like stark bullying is very often made respectable and holy by a putative religious law or aphorism or scriptural quotation . . . They worship a God who is a male who gangs up with other males against women. They worship a thug.”

Every major religion’s texts were written at a time when women were regarded as little better than talking cattle. Their words and commands reflect this, plainly and bluntly. This book starts with a panoramic sweep across the world, showing – with archetypal cases – how every religion has groups today thumping women down with its Holy Book.

In Zamfara State in northern Nigeria, a pregnant 13-year-old girl called Bariya Ibrahim received 180 lashes of the cane in 2001 after being pimped by her father. The state’s attorney general said: “It is the law of Allah, so we don’t have anything to worry about.” In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews have set up “modesty police” who terrorise young women who talk to men or show ordinary parts of their bodies. They break into their homes if they are seen with men; they force them to sit at the back of the bus, away from the men; and they even, in one recent instance, sprayed acid in the face of a 14-year-old girl.

In the areas of India still dominated by orthodox Hinduism, a widow is still expected to commit suicide when her husband dies, or go into isolation in an ashram. One – a septuagenarian woman named Radha Rani Biswas – fled and now begs on the streets of Vrindavan. She said: “My son tells me: ‘You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away.’ What do I do? My pain has no limit.” And on the directory of divine misogyny goes, running through Catholicism, Mormonism and more. Benson and Stangroom note: “Religion doesn’t necessarily originate ideas about female subordination, but it lends them a penumbra of righteousness, and it makes them ‘sacred’ and thus a matter for outrage if anyone disputes them.”

Methodically, they go through the excuses offered for these raw abuses of human rights by the religious, and their apologists.

The first – especially beloved of the Vatican and Islamists – is that women are not being treated worse, just “differently”. They claim that it accords a woman special “dignity” to trap her in the home. But this is an abuse of language. As the authors note: “Permanent consignment to a limited and lesser role in the world is not what ‘dignity’ is generally understood to mean . . . The smallness and intimacy and relatedness of home are fine things, but not if one is confined to them permanently.”

The religio-misogynists then claim that it is “racist” or “imperialist” to oppose such abuses. This merrily ignores how women within these cultures protest against their treatment – very loudly. They aren’t objecting to being imprisoned in their homes, or having their genitalia cut, or being stoned for having sex, because a white person told them to. Benson and Stangroom put it well: “Multiculturalism by definition makes a fetish of cultures, and it is almost impossible to do that without treating them as monolithic. As soon as you admit that all cultures have internal dissent and nonconformity, the whole idea of protecting or deferring to particular cultures breaks down into incoherence.”

Then the gentler, nicer apologists for religion arrive. They say that misogynists are simply misinterpreting the holy texts, which are in fact about love and compassion and kindness. But the authors point out this is certainly not the God of the texts who orders his followers to commit mass murder, including of women and children, and explicitly says women are inferior beings.

So, in order to defend their God, the apologists often have to lie about what He and His Prophets “say” in the texts. Cherie Blair, for example, claimed in a lecture: “It is not laid down in the Quran that women can be beaten by their husbands.” But it quite plainly is. The Quran says: “If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.”

Karen Armstrong – one of the most egregious defenders of superstition – repeatedly claims that Muhammad was an emancipator of women. Yet it is explained in the Hadith (the sayings and traditions of the Prophet) that he married a prepubescent child, and that when he was given two slave girls he gave the ugly one away to a friend and kept the beautiful one, Maryam, to use sexually. It is a strange model of female emancipation, to sleep with children and slaves.

There are people in all religions who have – through theological contortions – managed to leave behind literal readings of the text and invent a less foul God to believe in. It is not for atheists to say that one group of believers is right and the other is wrong, as we think they’re all wrong. We can note that the less literalist a believer is, the easier he is to live beside, but we will only discredit literalism and force reform if we are honest about the words of the texts, rather than trying to soft-soap believers.

By the end of this book-length blast, Benson and Stangroom have left religious hatred of women in rubble. Anybody not addled by superstition will have to conclude that such bigotry deserves neither respect nor deference. It does not deserve the taboos that today surround it. It deserves the opposite: contempt – and relentless, unyielding opposition.

Does God Hate Women?
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom
Continuum, 208pp, £14.99

Fundies to the Left of Me, Fundies to the Right of Me

Here we go again. Some evil moron shot an abortion doctor, in church no less. Now so called Christians are having trouble condemning this act wholeheartedly. Sound familiar? Ever notice how a fundie Communist and a fundie Muslim and a Fundie Christian all seem to sound alike on certain issues? This is a perfect example of how BOTH sides in the abortion debate have long since abandoned any moral high ground to slug it out in the swamps of reactionary evil.

And in this corner, weighing in at two hundred ninety pounds, clutching a Bible in one hand and a bag of pork rinds in the other we have the Pro-“life” movement. P.L. had a long day trying to fix the tractor a while ago and got a bit of sunstroke. He imagined that there was a new chapter in the Bible where Jesus reveals that a fetus becomes a soul-bearing person at conception. He imagines that this makes any and all fertilized eggs people (assuming they are not among the half t two thirds that God decides to abort in the first three months.). This fills P.L. with such holy rage that he must ignore Jesus’s commands to respect secular law and love your enemy and not judge and go out to, if not actually murder, not totally condemn the murder of a doctor that performs abortions AT ANY STAGE late or early.

This misogynistic bruiser foresees a society where all women of child bearing years are constantly monitored for pregnancy. Once found pregnant P.L. would have them treated for nine months as though a breathing, crying, FEELING and THINKING infant was in their arms, partaking of their food and drink and “entertainment” injestibles. Any activity that would be seen as harming to said infant would land them in jail for child abuse. And actual abortion would be charged as a murder at any stage.
Take a bow Pro “Life”ers!!!

And in THIS corner, weighing in at 98 pounds of quivering Vegan goose flesh we have the Pro-“choice” contingent wearing birkenstocks and hemp cloth cargo pants with an “end the Zionist Genocide in Palestine” t-shirt. Not content to try to sell a “live the way I tell you or God will be mad at you in the next life” ploy they have the merciless attitude of an insect as they contemplate the horrors of anyone who furthers their cause of destroying what IS so THEIR ideal utopia can be built. P.C. excused Lenin, justified Stalin, S(he) fawned over Hanoi and genuflected to Pol Pot and Guevara. But the least crimes of the “establishment” P.C. greets with howls of “evil” and “criminal” while funding dinners with people who beat their subjects for fun in support of “humanitarian causes”.

Not content with the common sense ruling of Roe vs. Wade P.C. has fought tooth and nail, using disingenuous dialectic that would have had Stalin open mouthed in envy to justify/ignore actual murder going on in the name of legal abortion.

Most reasonable folks are on the same page about the utter lunacy of P.C.’s opponent but few really analyze the heartless evil that also underlies the hardliner “liberal” stand.

Let us be clear here. This is NOT ABOUT FIRST TRIMESTER ABORTIONS AT ALL. Nor is it about 4th or even 5th and 6th month abortions.

P.C. shows his/her sunstroke by covering his/her ears and going “lalalalalalalala” when you mention the FACT that 8 and 7 month preemies are surviving in numbers far greater than they are dyeing. Poor soul-dead P.C. cannot make the simple contemplation of the difference, if any, between a woman who miscarries in her 7th month and produces a live baby and a woman who, in her 7th month CHOOSES to take the almost certainly VIABLE infant with thoughts and dreams and everything but a fully developed lung to survive and KILL IT for her convenience.
P.C. will never ask Why she did it 2,000 times last year in the U.S.

I have asked again and again in my writings for someone to tell me what medical condition a woman might have that would REQUIRE the the removal of a 7 or 8 month LIVING and VIABLE (not talking about proven severe birth defects) but allow her to have it PARTIALLY delivered. Why not just deliver it and take it to preemie ward and let it have it’s chance? CONVENIENCE!!!!!!!!

WHY won’t P.C. admit that a woman who CHOOSES to get pregnant and not abort; CHOOSES to carry for more than 6 months and not abort but then in the 8th month decides to abort has very little if any moral high ground.

The best possibility I can come up with is a woman who gets diagnosed with cancer at 7 months and needs to begin therapy at once that would harm the baby. But then again WHY couldn’t the doctors take the same track as with conjoined twins at this stage and abort only if the fetus seemed certainly non-viable out of the womb. WHY not deliver it and give it a HUMAN CHANCE then begin cancer therapy? Why? Because the Lefties are just are cruel and heartless to a baby that would be crying on the floor if their “mother” tripped going up the steps to the abortion clinic as the Righties are to the woman who is raped and wants an abortion in the first two weeks.

What is reform to a slave?

(HH here: This one is interesting. It is from a Gulf source and seems to be aimed at Muslims though it is in English. Notice how faintly the author “damns” the anti woman fatwas. She is clearly a radically feminist writer by local standards but see how uncommitted and equivocal she is. Anything more would be seen as the words of a radical. Actually, this gal complains here about weird rulings yet had defended the hijab. Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?)

There’s often more than one way to look at a fatwa
Hissa al Dhaheri

Last Updated: May 14. 2009 11:03PM UAE / May 14. 2009 7:03PM GMT An apple on a tree could fall, hit your head and inspire you to formulate a universal theory of gravitation. Or an apple on a tree could fall, hit your head and tempt you to take a forbidden bite.

In both cases the apple is a fruit, but it can lead to a variety of different outcomes. In the former case the apple is a source of inspiration. In the latter the apple is a source of disobedience.

(HH: This is the kind of language you have to adopt when straight forward criticism is seen as blasphemy)

In much the same way, fatwas can have wildly different results. A fatwa, a religious edict, could have the same effect as Sir Isaac Newton’s apple and lead to a revelation, or it could be like Adam and Eve’s apple and lead them astray.

This is especially relevant when it comes to fatwas related to the fitna of women’s issues. Fitna is a source of chaos and sedition, and in Arabic women are always referred to as fitna. Fatwas concerning women’s issues could be “empowering”, or a source of “controversy”. Last week, three fatwas concerning women’s issues were announced.

(HH: notice how she totally accepts that some man has the right to pronounce this Fatwa concerning women at all!!)

On Wednesday, the UAE General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments released a fatwa in conjunction with (or in celebration of) a treaty of understanding with the Egyptian fatwa centre. The fatwa gave women the right to education, marriage and medical treatment even if the father/husband/male guardian disapproves.

(HH: This Fatwa actually means nothing. Unless there is a corresponding law in place with enforcement who is to make the father/guardian LET the women do anything? Say that a woman does marry without her father’s approval. There are ample Fatwas supporting his killing her as a rebellious female. Unless having the “right” suddenly transforms a woman into Sigourney Weaver I do not see it having much affect on her actual life.)

In Kuwait, a member of the Salafi movement came up with a fatwa declaring that it is a sin to vote for female parliamentary candidates. Then, on Sunday, a Saudi judge at a family violence seminar came up with a fatwa that gave a husband the right to slap his wife for over spending.

So fatwas could be considered empowering, or they could stir up fitna and controversy. To understand their effects on society, one must only look at the apple, tumbling down, hitting your head or staying nestled in the branches of the tree.

The Emirati fatwa, unlike Newton’s apple, did not fall from the tree to hit Newton’s head and inspire a revelation, nor did it tumble down and stir up a controversy. In the UAE the number of women in higher education outnumbers the men. Women are visible in all sectors of society; we already have women ministers, members of parliament, doctors, pilots, etc. The relevance of this fatwa could be nil, or it could be empowering for re-emphasising an existing truth (one apple on the tree is better than ten rotting on the ground).

(HH: What is this truth she imagines have been affirmed? Just because at this time this country allows it’s women some rights to education and participation in politics does not mean they have a RIGHT to it. Again Show me the government intervening in a man trying to force his daughter to not go to school. Then let me see that daughter NOT ostracized or even beaten and killed for her rebellion if she goes anyway. THEN I will feel that this Fatwa is “re-emphasising” anything positive.)

The relevance of fatwas comes from their timeliness. It seems there is a time lag between the proclamation of a fatwa and the needs of society. The need for the first fatwa was probably 100 years ago, if indeed there ever was a need. Education, equality and equity are a given: why do we need to prove that again with a six-page document (and yet more information is available by checking fatwa No 4610 on the Awqaf website, as suggested at the end of the document).

(HH: what world does this women live in that these are a given for women outside of the West. And only recently there!!!)

In the case of the Kuwait and Saudi fatwas, they were timely: they were both developed as mechanisms to deal with current issues and situations. The political competition in Kuwait is the justification for the fatwa against voting for women candidates, while the credit crunch is the excuse for permitting a man to slap his wife.

(HH: WOW, I mean..WOW! She said it! Talk about Stockholm Syndrome! She is unhappy that the negative Fatwas came quickly upon society’s NEEDING them but the “positive ones” only come slowly!!!! It is a sin to vote for a woman because there are already too many candidates. And she does not like it but has no argument against it!! A man can slap his wife if she overspends because credit is very tight and it is more serious…she does not LIKE IT yad yada yada…)

This is interesting: a fatwa that raises the status of women is already out of date, while two that lower women’s status are timely. An apple on a tree falls, tempts, or in very rare cases reveals. An apple on a tree can never climb up, but only fall down.

Why does a fatwa that “empowers” women tend to be long, while any fatwa that pushes women’s situation downwards is short and concise: “It’s a sin to vote for women” in one case, and “Slap your wife” in the other.

(HH: Here we go again, her complaint is not the domination of men, it is that they are not “fair” about it!!!!!!)

Because of the apple, Newton discovered gravity and Adam and Eve fell out of Heaven. We always blame Eve for Adam’s misfortunes, just as many muftis blame women for much fitna. But isn’t it strange that in these cases it’s men who are tempting women to take a bite out of these apples, trying to persuade them that these are revelatory. What next: a fatwa declaring that women are actually human?

(HH: If by Human you mean no different than men in the eyes of God, don’t hold your breath.)

The UAE fatwa probably won’t make a difference to my life, but maybe it will strike some chords with others. I am sure many apples have fallen from many trees and hit many heads, but it was only when one struck Newton’s head that the theory of gravitation resulted. These fatwas might be seen as a revelation for many: what else would explain the popularity of Islamic fatwa programmes on TV, radios and Islamic websites?

I don’t like apples: but that doesn’t change the fact that an apple is a sweet and tasty fruit.

(HH: And if you doubted here we have her confirmation. Apples (Fatwas) are “sweet and tasty” to the soul even if we do not like them. So while she has some mild criticism she wants all to be sure that she will accept whatever the next Fatwa decrees.)

Hissa al Dhaheri is a sociologist and researcher in cultural studies, and holds an MA in Gulf Studies

The deadly face of Muslim extremism


Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan, National Post
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The tragic death of a Mississauga, Ont., teenage girl — allegedly at the hands of her own traditionally minded Muslim father — has sent shock waves across the world. Canadians are justified in raising concerns as to whether this is a sign of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in their own backyard.

Aqsa Parvez, a sprightly 16-year-old, beloved of her friends and peers at Applewood Heights Secondary School, was only trying to be herself, was only wishing for a normal adolescence amid Canada’s rich cultural mosaic. Her father has now been charged with murder, and his son with obstruction, while a young life has been snuffed out — likely in the name of honour and Islam.

Radical Muslim men consider themselves ultimately responsible for the conduct of the womenfolk. This outlook is rooted in a medieval ethos that treats women as nonpersons, unable to decide for themselves what they should wear, where they must go and what they must accomplish in life. If their conduct is seen as contravening this austere religious outlook, they are invariably subjected to abuse.

The hijab in particular has become a thorny issue among Muslim families. It has been elevated as a sort of “sixth pillar of Islam” among militant sects. Young teenage girls are often lectured over the virtues of the hijab by their family members. Once they hit puberty, compliance is deemed a non-negotiable religious requirement.

Yet none of this is actually mandated by the Koran. The Koran, while speaking generally of modesty in dress and demeanour, falls short of specifying the details of that modesty. Scripture also makes allowances for non-compliance of religious edicts if the environment is not conducive to their observance.

The Koran exhorts compassion upon parents, caretakers and guardians of young girls. Yet some families instead exhibit a strict conformity to doctrine and dogma, which in turn leads to violence, bigotry and intolerance of alternative understandings of faith.

There is much discussion in Canadian society about the religious freedoms of those who choose to wear the hijab. We hear relatively little about the oppression of young girls who make the opposite choice. Seldom is their oppression from within their own community, or even their own family, cast as a human rights issue.

Consider, as an example, the Montreal mosque that recently posted on its Web site a warning to the effect that if young girls took off their hijab, they could end up getting raped and having “illegitimate children.” Other proffered risks included “Stresses, insecurity and suspicion in the minds of husbands” and “instigating young people to deviate towards the path of lust.”

As if the threat of rape and the fear of illegitimate children were not enough, these pre-teen girls were told that if they took off their hijab, they would cease to be Muslims:By removing your hijab, you have destroyed your faith. Islam means submission to Allah in all our actions.” Little wonder then, that Canadian girls walk away from sports tournaments rather than remove their hijabs.

Muslims need to stand up to this sort of emotional and religious blackmail by imams who spread the competing agendas of Saudi Arabia and Iran into Canada. Young Aqsa Pervez’s death cannot be reversed. But in her memory, we can at least challenge those whose message leads to rage and madness.

— Tarek Fatah is author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, to be published by Wiley & Sons in March, 2008. Farzana Hassan is author of Islam, Women, and the Challenges of Today. Both are members of the Muslim Canadian Congress(mcc@muslimcongress.ca).

Read it all by clicking on the title

The Burqa Bomber Strikes Again in Iraq.

Last week in Iraq, a female homicide bomber, masquerading as a Shiite religious pilgrim, murdered 20-30 pilgrims, half of them women, and injured at least 100 others. Once again, the homicide bomber stopped at a resting tent for pilgrims.

Please note: The target was not American or European “occupiers,” but Shiite Muslims. And, just as Muslims have historically attacked Jews on their most religious holy days (Yom Kippur, Passover), this possibly Sunni attack targeted Shiite religious pilgrims when they were at their weariest and most vulnerable: while they were resting along the pilgrimage route. Ironically, the Shiite’s pioneered the modern suicide/homicide bombing in the early 1980s in Lebanon with their truck bombings. The tactic has now returned to haunt them.

Camouflage as a tactic characterizes Arab Muslim warfare. Both Palestinian (Fatah, Al Aqsa, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) and Iranian (Hezbollah) terrorists have occupied hospitals, ambulances, churches and civilian homes–all locations which allow them to claim victim status in the eyes of the foreign media as they continue to wage their unholy holy war against Israel and Lebanon.

This same way of thinking applies in the use of women as homicide bombers in the war between Sunni and Shiia Arab Muslims and between non-Arab Iranian Shiia and Arabs, both Shiia and Sunni.

Last week, my esteemed colleague, Dr. Nancy H. Kobrin and I published a letter in the New York Times in response to an op-ed piece about female homicide bombers by Lindsey O’Rourke. O’Rourke claimed that homicide bombings by women are indistinguishable from those by men; and that “foreign occupation” mainly provokes nationalist stirrings which have no other expression but that of homicide bombings. We begged to differ. O’Rourke’s article was titled: Behind the Woman Behind the Bomb. Here is our pre-edited letter.

We read University of Chicago graduate student Lindsey O’Rourke’s op-ed piece with interest given that we have co-authored articles about suicide/homicide bombers. Her thesis mimics the work of the University of Chicago’s Professor Robert Pape, (who was John Mearsheimer’s teaching assistant), which blames suicide terrorism on foreign “occupations,” views nationalism as “liberatory,” and insists that there is “little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.”

We disagree. Nationalist liberation movements often have little to do with foreign “occupations” and are endemic to the region. Shiia versus Sunni, Kurds versus Turkey and Iraq, Tamil Tigers versus the Sinhalese-controlled government of Sri Lanka, are all groups that are natives of the same region.

In addition, Muslims have historically persecuted, converted, and exiled people who were not only native to the region but whose national and religious existences long preceded the birth of Islam and the rise of Islamic imperialism. Yes, we are talking about Arab Jews and Christians as well as about other “infidel” groups such as Hindus, and Bahai. The biggest, hidden story about Middle Eastern refugees is that of Arab Jews. Now that the Arab Middle East is almost completely “judenrein,” (free of Jews), the newest hidden story is about the Muslim persecution of Christians. Such fights unto-the-death have little to do with “foreign occupations.”

In the last month, Christian Ethiopians were stoned by Muslim Ethiopians; a Saudi daughter had her tongue cut out before she was burned alive by her father because she had converted to Christianity; in Pakistan; Muslim men kidnapped two Christian girls as young as ten, forcibly converted and married them.

Al Qaeda has taken this kind of fight global and on 9/11 used multiple homicide bombers to attack Americans whom they see as “infidel Christians.”

Second, … the normalized sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of both women and children in Arab Muslim, Arab Christian, and non-Arab Muslim families remains barbaric, secretive, and pandemic and may indeed lead to normalized cultural paranoia, hyper-vigilance, scapegoating, and to honor-related violence, including honor murders.

This complicated family dynamic may lead to different motivations among male and female homicide bombers.

Unfortunately, more female security checkers in Iraq had specifically been requested. That request was denied. We suggest that this policy must immediately be changed. …

Read it all by clicking on the title

Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, Jihadic Style. President Obama, Please Read This.

While I was enjoying some sunshine in Savannah, (more to come about that), World War Four continued to rage blithely on.

Al-Qaeda in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and North Africa, threatened terrorist attacks against Germany and Holland and threatened to kill a British hostage (captured on the border between Niger and Mali), if Britain does not release a radical Muslim preacher.

The Pakistani Taliban shot a couple dead for alleged adultery and their execution in Islamabad was captured on a cellphone; Egyptian police arrested a Muslim woman for having married a Coptic Christian; in Lahore, a Muslim husband killed his wife for failing to bear a son; in the Punjab, a Sikh physician-husband amputated his wife’s hand and that of her cousin with whom he suspected she was having an affair.

So much for male terrorists in foreign lands.

Last week, as I carefully smelled the roses in Georgia, there were three carefully organized explosions on one day in Iraq, which killed a total of 80 civilians. One explosion was carried out by a woman in a black abaya, holding a 5 year-old child’s hand, (probably not her own). She killed herself and 28 other Muslims in a crowded market in a Baghdad slum. The civilians, many of whom were other women, were waiting on line for free flour, cooking oil, tea, macaroni, and other staples that the police were handing out. Of course, police officers died as well.

As the author of Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, which is just now being released in a new edition with a new Introduction, I am, unfortunately, not surprised. Please recall how quickly the mainstream media covered the “sensational” use of rape by the male members of Al-Qaeda as a way to recruit female human bombs. At the time, people seemed surprised by the fact that Samira Jassim, an Iraqi woman, played an essential role in the further exploitation of these rape victims.

Although women depend upon each other for emotional intimacy and social stability, they are also highly competitive with, mistrustful of, or hostile towards other women. … Are women really sexists? Of course they are. … However, some studies suggest that women with low self-esteem are more likely to internalize negative views of women which may account for how such women treat other women: With cruelty rather than kindness.

In addition, women are expected to compete mainly against other women, not against men, and they do so both directly and indirectly (through slander, shunning, and “backstabbing.”) In the Third World, especially in war zones, the female-female aggression is far more direct, often fatally so.

For example, in 2008, in Iraq, one of four female homicide bombers entered a tent that provided shelter to weary female religious pilgrims. She sat down, read the Koran with them, and left a bag behind that, moments later, blew them all up. Please note that she targeted weary, religious Muslim women.

Thus, I was dismayed but not surprised when a Sunni, Al-Qaeda plot emerged, one in which male terrorists raped eighty Muslim girls and women, then turned them over to Samira Jassim who patiently, persistently, “maternally,” persuaded the rape victims, (many of whom had been targeted because they were depressed or mentally ill), to “cleanse” their shame by blowing themselves and other Muslims up. Twenty eight women did so.

In an interview with Dr. Anat Berko, the author of The Path to Paradise. The Inner World of Suicide Bombers and Their Dispatchers, she pointed out that there is “always a woman” behind the female suicide bomber, who functions like a “pimp or a Madam in a brothel.” Potential women suicide bombers are never alone again, they are always accompanied by at least one, usually older woman, who encourages, manipulates, guards, and supports the potential shaheeda–just like a mother might do.

In a culture in which girls are raised by women whose own mothers did not value them as they did boys, women may hunger for attention from an older woman–even one whose sole purpose is to ensure their jihadic death. In Dr. Berko’s book, there is a frightening example of how all the jailed, intercepted Palestinian female suicide bombers obeyed and respected one of their own: a woman who was the harshest, angriest, most mentally ill amongst them. Sadly, perhaps this most reminded them of their own mothers.

In a terrible sense, “Madam” Jassim, only exaggerated, by a bit, what is routinely and normatively done to many girls and women today in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and increasingly in countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Algeria, etc. After all, Jassim played the Evil Stepmother in a culture which fears, despises, shrouds, genitally mutilates, force-marries girls to their first cousins, and perpetrates honor killings. How different is collaborating in their rape and helping them find glory through jihad? In a sense, some may actually view this as a quantum career leap for women.

Like Madam Jassim, when women are trapped in highly patriarchal cultures, they may gain the only approval and power possible for a woman by vigilantly policing themselves and other women to extol and support the patriarchal status quo. This is true in terms of issues such as veiling which, for women, is the visual shorthand for “jihad” and extreme religiosity. I fear that we will see many more Evil Stepmother/mothers like Samira Jassim and many more raped, traumatized, exploited, ideologically empowered, and ultimately suicidal-homicidal daughters.

Attention President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton: Supporting the pro-democracy and pro-woman’s rights forces within Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and on the West Bank and in Gaza, might go a long way to reversing such ongoing tragedies. If America genuinely believes that women are human beings entitled to certain, God-given and “inalienable rights,” now is the time to share that view with the leaders of these countries.

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