The Feminist Hypocrisy


While faux pas French feminist criticize the candidacy of one of their own because of an article of clothing, America’s other allies, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have figured out how to make the best use of all of their human resources, men and women, those who wear a scarf and those who don’t but still want to serve their country.  Why a country would want to deny participation of one half of its citizens because of a scarf or a religious belief, even while the very same people want to serve, participate, protect is a study in racism and a mindset that takes people backwards in time we decided was counterproductive or worse.  No forward thinking country should countenance such a philosophy neither should a country support one that does.  A new America would do well to cast its lot with the likes of  Pakistan and the UAE and shun the homophobia that is overtaking Europe, and countries like France and Denmark and clearly and emphatically make a statement that the religious rights of a citizen of a country and that’s citizen’s desire to serve his or her country are the basis of solid, long lasting relationships America will honor.   Anything less than that is contributing more to the problem than to the solution.

A bitter disappointment


tantawi226bodygettyI saw an interesting thread over at Ginny’s Thoughts and Things about an encounter the head of Egypt’s leading Islamic University had with a high school aged girl.  You can read about it here and here.  What it boils down to in the simplest of terms is he asked a young high school aged girl to remove her face veil in his presence and when she demurred, he used the full weight of his position as the head of a major state supported institution to have it removed against her will.  Whether you agree with the article of clothing the young woman was wearing or not, the issue is, up to the time of that encounter with Sheikh Tantawi, it was not against the law of her land to wear it, but because her appearance offended him he brought the full action of the State against her.  It appears that even in Egypt, despite its claims of Islamic roots, the State supersedes individual freedom that Egyptian culture, religion and LAW give to the citizens of that country, and the sensitivities of a civil servant of the State, albeit a powerful one can determine what is legal and illegal.

After reading this news, I wonder what came first, Tantawi’s indignation towards this young woman or Egyptian men and society’s disrespect of Egyptian women in general?  Sexual harassment is a big problem in Egyptian society, and Tantawi’s heavy handed approach with this young woman, which has caught the attention of the society, probably serves as an example of how Egyptian men view their relationship with women.  I question whether the Sheikh is the leader of this movement to denigrate women’s rights or is he  a follower of a mob trend in society to intimidate and harass women? It is a sorry state of affairs for an esteemed position or rank in scholarly Islam, and no amount of backtracking can undo the damage done to the young woman or to his position.

Muslims of conscious should avoid vacationing in Europe


bikiniI think it should go further than that, i.e. Muslim countries shouldn’t sell their oil to places which display such a vehemently anti-Islamic attitude towards them, and especially women who wear hijab, but if the rich oil drenched citizens of the oil producing states stop going there, that would be a start.  There’s simply too much drama, and politics, around the issue of women’s clothing…more than anything I’ve seen or heard of coming from the Middle East where bikini clad women frolick on the beaches of Muslim countries under the lustful stares of all who dare watch.  Or maybe it’s something to do with water and how whenever certain people approach water their appearance there just makes others a little stark raving mad.  Judging by the looks of the swimsuit worn by Carol a Muslim mother from France, it doesn’t seem so provocative or disruptive enough to cause an entire country to go crazy, but it has, and it’s leader, a known abuser and user of women, has gone on the offensive, proclaiming such attire has no place in France and is ‘a symbol of subservience that suppresses women’s identities and turns them into “prisoners behind a screen.”‘  I wasn’t aware Muslim women had asked Monsieur Sarkozy to be their spokesperson, but he has taken up that role and stuck his foot in his mouth by doing so.  Now that’s not to say there aren’t  many Muslims who abuse this issue of apparel, but when a grown, mature, woman decides she wants to wear a certain type of clothing which at the time of that decision is not illegal, then the only one who’s suppressing her “identity” is the one who prohibits her from her own self-expression…….i.e. Sarkozy’s ilk, and he has a lot of company.  Mr. Sarkozy does a much better job of cutting off from all social life Muslim women who want to practice their religion in France than any article of clothing they could possibly wear, when he tries to make that expression illegal under the law or unwelcome on French soil.  The greatest deprivation  of all identity comes in the pronouncement that once legal acts of religion are now illegal and unwelcome.  I hope all Muslims who like their summer vacations in nice temperate climates where things are green and people who may look different are welcomed would give pause and think of going to other places than the Islamophobic regions of Europe where politicians are reliving centuries old battles they simply can’t seem to forget. Avoid France; you are not wanted there!

As for the Sarkozys of the world, I offer up this explanation from  independent minded Muslim women, who seem to me to have a pretty good handle on the age old platitudes surrounding Muslim women attire.  Hey Sarkozy, listen up!

UPDATE

For those Muslims, men and women who like swimming, may I suggest heading down under…..Australia, where a Muslim woman can look like her similarly clad Muslim female life guard and even have a chance of being rescued should she need it as opposed to being left to her own devices should she venture into French or Dutch waters.

Hijab allowed in Georgia Courtrooms


hijab-demo-17jan04-741Any form of religious expression which is incontrovertibly linked to a religion should be classified as free speech in America and therefore the bearer or wearer should be allowed to go wherever need be.  It was disgraceful for personnel in a Georgia court room to cite a Muslim woman for contempt of court and sentence her to 10 days in prison for the “offense” of wearing her religiously mandated scarf to court.  She wasn’t scheduled to testify, she wasn’t a defendant or lawyer in court, she was merely accompanying a relative and was met at the door with the State’s infringement on her right to freedom of religion.  That has now changed, for the Muslim citizens of Georgia.

Georgia courtrooms will allow religious headgear after last year’s arrest of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her headscarf in a west Georgia courthouse.The Judicial Council of Georgia voted unanimously this week to allow religious and medical headgear into Georgia courtrooms. It also allows a person to request a private inspection if a security officer wants to conduct a search.

“If this had been a nun, no one would have required her to remove her habit,” said Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, who heads the Judicial Council. “I think this is a good rule, and I think it’s clear.”

The policy shift stems from the December 2008 arrest of Lisa Valentine, who was ordered to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court after she refused to remove her hijab at a courtroom in Douglasville, a town of about 20,000 people west of Atlanta. She was released in less than a day.

Muslim rights activists were infuriated by the incident, pressing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident and organizing a protest. The city also said its employees would take sensitivity training classes.

City officials at the time said they were trying to follow courtroom rules that restricted headgear, but the city said the officer who detained Valentine should have sought a solution that “would preserve the spirit of the law.”

Valentine, who did not immediately return phone messages Friday, said she was accompanying her nephew to a hearing when officials stopped her at the metal detector and told her she couldn’t enter the courtroom with the headscarf, known as a hijab.

She said she was stopped by officers when she objected and turned to leave, and that she was later brought before a municipal court judge who ordered her held for contempt of court.

City officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment, but Douglasville Police Chief Joe Whisenant characterized the incident at the time as a miscommunication.

The police department said in a news release that Valentine was found in contempt for fighting with one of the officers, not for wearing a scarf. The city said she was released after it was determined there had not been a fight.

Muslims are just as much a part of the American fabric as any other ethnic group and their rights as citizens cannot and should not be abridged because of personal dislikes or community wide prejudices.  Personal likes and dislikes have no place in determining what is legal and illegal.  The Constitution, and particularly the 1st amendment  says in clear language that the legislative body of this Republic cannot make any law prohibiting the free exercise of any religion.  In this regard we are different and better than our European cousins who bend the rules to satisfy contemporary societal mores usually directed towards those they deem distasteful.  Whether we like it or not, we have become a pluralistic society that is home to people of faiths, colors, creeds that span the entire breath of human existence; we must live under this umbrella of law that has been developed throughout the lifetime of America, sometimes carefully and deliberately, and at other times impulsively yet judiciously.  To do otherwise would make us criminals before the law and before our Creator.

Killed Because of Her Religion


marwaEurope is leading the way in racist, homo/Islamophobia, almost like a throwback to the days of a young Adolph Hitler who then targeted Jews.   The tragedy which occurred in a German court room in front of judges and lawyers reflects the depth of Europe’s fanaticism.  A young Egyptian wife, mother and academic, yes she was all three, who also practiced her religion as she interpreted it and wore a scarf on her hair, was stabbed 18 times in a crime that hasn’t graced the pages of main stream media in America.  She was killed because she was exercising her citizenship by taking her attacker to court for a previous assault he had committed against her.  What’s even more heinous is her husband who was in the court room at the time and who came to her aid was shot by German police as he tried to subdue the killer…….quite naturally because an Arab Muslim is more likely to be a criminal, than an unemployed  Russian German, was probably the rationale for the officer who shot him.  People who look different, who are  not quite WASPy in appearance in Europe have a tendency to be shot sight unseen by the local police force.

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Marwa al-Sherbini’s problem wasn’t with the police however, but with some German guy motivated by his hatred for Muslims who was able to assault his victim twice, once in a park where he first saw and interacted with her and again in front of the police and judicial authority.  This happened  because the atmosphere in Europe is fueled by hatred of Muslims and Islam, and part of that fuel is supplied by xenophobic politicans seeking a political advantage over their rivals in government by plying on the fears and hatred of their constituents.  This is accompanied by selective reporting by the media, which is obsequious to the power of government, which reports acts of racism and bigotry that target one group of people in which it is assumed real power is vested while ignoring acts of terror perpetuated against or by other groups.

Marwa was a victim and her perpetrator was a terrorist, but Marwa was also victimzed by a wave of anti-Islam euphoria which is promoted, tolerated and excused by large segments of European society.  The reaction of Muslims to the murder of al-Sherbini has been muted and dignified.  Had there been the hysteria most westerners associate with Muslim reaction to anything, it would have garnered front page coverage, featured prominently in every journal and newscast, while the reason for such outburst simply ignored.  The head of one of the leading Islamic universities in the world has gone on record saying that the Germans should exact the strictest punishment applicable under German law to the offender while family members echoed that refrain.  Indeed every citizen of Europe should feel and say the same.  For too long, western countries have talked a good fight when it comes to equality and liberty.  It’s now time to walk the walk and apply it against those who use terror as a weapon, whether they be the angriest of Muslims or the fairest skin  Europeans.

The French Government and Hypocrisy- One and the same


lorealLet me see if I understand this correctly, the French government can impose limits on what a hijab-demo-17jan04-741person can wear or not wear in order to attend government schools, yet a private company cannot say who it can hire to be sales staff for its products, even when the people appearing in those products are people of color?

France can ban the wearing of religious symbols even when those wearing them are doing so of their own free will in an expression of their religious beliefs in a society thatsupposedly  promotes, liberty, fraternity and equality, while insisting at the same time that companies do not have the right to determine who they can  employ in selling their products?  No one sees the slightest bit of hypocrisy in the French position?

People, who of their own free will,  practice a faith that may be different and not customary to the wider society  and choose to wear clothes that express themselves in ways different than the majority, but who are at the same time law abiding citizens who do not  frighten or intimidate others, should not have laws legislated which seek to limit or curtail that expression.  In fact the beauty of liberty and freedom means acts of social interaction are interpreted based on the law, which should should not be enacted to deny expression, but rather the acts of illegality that expression may or may not encourage.  Therefore, if a school girl walking down a French street is the victim of sexual harassment or assault it is the perpetrator of that action who should be limited not the girl wearing an article of clothing.   What the French want to do is take the act of discipline off their hands by removing the object of people’s ire, and in the process limit the freedom of its citizens.

Likewise, companies who have broadly used women of color in their advertising campaigns but choose to hire a sales staff they think may be able to sale their product to a broad based clientele should not have the weight of the State descend on them in a punitive way.  L’Oreal in France has to have the support of a majority of women of color in order to be profitable.  If hiring people that reflect a certain demographic will give them that market, how can the State justify changing that dynamic and jeopardizing the viability of the Company?  Will the State then say that the public MUST buy certain products in order to insure the success of a company so that it doesn’t go under because of the financially oppressive measures of the State?  Don’t be surprised if that happens next.

For now, France is following in the tradition of other western countries that seek to use expressions of liberty and freedom as slogans  which fall quickly when government wants to intervene in the lives of its citizens.  The tools the state uses for this intervention are usually fear and loathing of opponents who are unknown or unfamiliar.  Civilized people should recognize such tactics for what they are.  Ignorant people are too easily persuaded and succomb to the deceit.  The two cases above highlight how France is counting on the latter with its citizens!  Que sera, sera!

At the top of her game


bilquisWhen people put their mind to it they can do anything.  Anything!  One of the great poets of the 20th century once said, ‘the hand of the believer is the hand of God, dominant, resourceful, full of light…..His heart is indifferent to the riches of the world.’  Where some people see barriers, others see challenges.  When some stop, others excel, and so it is with Bilqis Abdul Qaadir, a senior high school student who has broken the record for the most points scored in a high school basketball career by either male or female for the state of Massachusetts.  Coming from the home of Tarheel and Blue Devil basketball that’s no small feat in my opinion so Ms. Abdul Qaadir deserves major respect.  However what she has done so well in, playing basketball,  is overshadowed by the fact that she did it while being an observant Muslim adult woman, wearing the hijab and covering herself, albeit innovatively, according to her religious tradition.  The young lady seems to have everything going for her, a loving family with both parents involved in her life  and an eye towards life after collegiate basketball and she has managed that without any trace of bitterness or victimhood built up after years of Islamophobia in this country.  My hats off to her and I wish her all the success in the world.  She’s a role model, as a woman, a Muslim, a student athlete, and a member of this society  we all can look up to.