Iran's long reach into Canada
Iran's long reach into Canada
by Raheel Raza
June 21, 2012 at 5:00 am
In a propaganda trap doubtlessly intended to cripple one politically – like so many others of its kind, such as "racist" – if a woman speaks in ways expected of a woman she is considered an inadequate leader; if she speaks in ways expected of a leader she is considered an inadequate woman. If you can dismiss the person, you can dismiss the issue.
In the "Arab Spring" countries in transition, women are now marginalized or excluded entirely from political bodies. Denial of one's fundamental right to participate in the democratic process in one's own country is one form of violence. Yet it is not, unfortunately, alone in the pattern of violence involving restrictions on women.
In much of the Muslim world today, when a Muslim woman speaks out or is qualified to take a leadership role, she is called "militant." In a propaganda trap doubtlessly intended to cripple one politically – like so many others of its kind, such as "racist" – if a woman speaks in ways expected of a woman, she is seen as an inadequate leader; if she speaks in ways expected of a leader, she is seen as an inadequate woman. If you can dismiss the person, you can dismiss the issue.
During the revolutions and uprisings across the Arab world, violence targeting women has been reported frequently as committed by police, soldiers, and militia. There have even been accounts of violence against women by demonstrators.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in psychological harm or suffering to women." Prohibitions on participation in the political, economic, and social decisions which will affect oneself and one's family are a form of violence. Decisions about women made without consultation with women create psychological harm and suffering. Refusing women the right to support or oppose laws concerning them is a violent act against them.
I attended a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in March and heard testimony about women's rights being violated across the
Another international organization, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, has identified anti-women policies as a danger sign of spreading fundamentalism. These practices, whether they involve limitations on freedom of movement, on the right to education and employment, or imposition of discriminatory laws, under authoritarian and theocratic rule, represent a challenge for women to organize and act together. As Islamic fundamentalism is misogynistic, feminist input in debates about the future of Islam and Muslims is considered "provocative." But Muslim women's ever-greater political leadership in attaining freedom and gender equality is indispensable to defeating fundamentalism.
The first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist, recently said "My dear women: You have revolted from all over the country of Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria in order to construct a dignified life and a better future. Therefore, there is no way that we should bend down or go back."
Many women hoped the so-called "Arab Spring" would bring changes to the
Tawakkol Karman, is a member of Al-Islah, the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has benefited most from the electoral aftermath of the "Arab Spring" in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt. Her position may therefore be considered ambivalent: she is a female rebel within a revolutionary movement that historically has emphasized the subordination of women according to alleged "Islamic" concepts. The "new" MB has followed the model of its current Turkish patron, the neo-fundamentalist Justice and Development Party (known as the AKP), in emphasizing an ostensible commitment to modern principles of equality and citizenship. But in practice, AKP has left its "moderate" promises behind as, recently, it proposed an educational reform that Turkish parents fear would encourage girls, in particular, to quit school after only four years.
For decades, Egyptian Muslim women suffered because divorce was not easy for them to obtain. But the right of women to initiate divorces in court actions ("khul") was established under ex-president Mubarak. Recently, however, an independent member of the Egyptian parliament suggested limiting women's right to initiate divorces. Mohamed al-Omda, deputy head of the People's Assembly Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has submitted a draft law that would abolish the prerogative of "khul."
In Syria, women have been abducted by pro-regime forces, to spread fear in the population, and there is a mass of evidence involving rape, arbitrary detention, torture, "disappearances" and summary executions. In Libya, rape has been employed as a weapon of war, and the victims are stigmatized into silence. In Egypt, women demonstrators have been sexually assaulted by male protesters, and several women dissidents were detained by the army, and forced to undergo "virginity tests".
Hanaa Edwar, head of the charity Al-Amal ("Hope" in Arabic) has said, "Iraqi women suffer marginalization and all kinds of violence, including forced marriages, divorces and harassment, as well as restrictions on their liberty, their education, their choice of clothing, and their social life."
No commentary on human rights in the Arab world would be complete without mention of the outstanding example of denial of women's rights:
Many Arab women want emotional and intellectual liberation, including free participation in public life. These are not new demands. The United Nations Development Programme's 2007-08 survey of Middle Eastern women's status revealed that the rate of education among Arab women is the lowest in the Muslim world – in societies where we believe that educating one woman is like educating the entire nation.
Resistance to the establishment of women's rights may be blamed on self-appointed male caretakers of Muslim tradition, who feel threatened by the appearance of a significant number of women in a public space, considered reserved for men only, and who say they see emancipated Muslim women as negative exemplars of Westernization.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has attacked other laws regulating personal status in
Women can bring about change – call it "The Silent Revolution." Women in
In March 2012, in
Even in the Saudi kingdom, protest and change initiated by women are inevitable. We need only the courage to recognize and support them.
Video lifts veil on Arab-Muslim societies
A young man is pinned to the ground, his head is twisted and a knife held against his throat. In a few minutes the head is severed and held up for display to the public chanting loudly, “Allahu Akbar” (God is great).
The video of this gruesome public execution of an apostate — the victim had converted to Christianity from Islam — somewhere in Tunisia was recently shown on Egyptian television by Tawfik Okasha, the host of Egypt Today, and it has gone viral on the worldwide web.
I came across it in reading a column by Raymond Ibrahim for the Gatestone Institute out of
There is some dispute about how recent this video is of the public execution of a Muslim condemned as an apostate. But aired on Egyptian television, it was an illustration of the immense regression of Arab-Muslim societies in our time.
The video is chillingly frightful and unbearable for any normal person to watch. I turned it off in horror.
I am certainly not alone in my reaction, nor in feeling revulsion and disgust at the silence of Muslims around the world, by which they give legitimacy to crimes committed in the name of Islam.
While such abominations as the public execution of an apostate — or stoning of adulterers, hanging of homosexuals, lashing of individuals for conduct deemed inappropriate, etc. — are justified by Islamists and their apologists on the basis of Shariah, the silence of Muslims in the West contributes to the view spreading among non-Muslims that Islam itself is the problem.
In killing the young Tunisian for apostasy, the irony is appalling. It was another young Tunisian, who set himself ablaze in despair more than a year ago, that sparked the so-called Arab Spring.
It is now increasingly obvious that despots of the Arab-Muslim world, even those as despicable as Saddam Hussein in
The Shariah penalty for apostasy is death. If in the past there was reluctance on the part of Muslim judges and rulers to institute such a penalty, it had to do with the slow evolution of traditional Muslim societies away from the primitive circumstances of the seventh-century origin of Islam.
But under the weight of modernity, traditional and post-colonial Muslim societies crumbled. The general failure of these societies to make progress out of their closed tribal circle has left them a political wasteland.
In such circumstances, Islamists — irrespective of their sectarian differences — are agreed that return to “authentic Islam” means implementation of the primitive seventh-century values read into the Shariah as incontrovertible, divinely ordained Islamic laws.
The result has been Muslims by birth or conversion have been made captives of Shariah — devised by fallible men in the 9th and 10th centuries — on the pain of death.
The world watches, and the burden is on Muslims of reforming Islam, or remaining bound like sheep for slaughter to a primitive legal-political system of totalitarian control disguised as religion.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Stain on Canadian democracy removed
Salim Mansur – Sun Media
In voting 153-to-136 in support of amendments removing sections 13 and 54 from the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Conservatives in
Section 13 has the Orwellian clause of the human rights act, which reads “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” is prohibited.
The weasel word here is “likely” and, by invoking it, authorities have shut down freedom of expression, as the
In times to come, historians might likely note that with this vote
The idea of protecting free speech by placing limits on it, as Section 13 did, in a democracy such as ours, was retrogressive.
Yet this idea was sold to the public by the country’s political-intellectual elite as a policy indicative of Canadian exceptionalism.
Canada’s Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, speaking to an American audience in April 2004, told them forthrightly that “we in
Instead, Section 13 represented an elite consensus around the opinion that Canadians could not be trusted with their freedom.
Increasingly disconnected with the general populace,
Ordinary Canadians helped defeat the Nazis — possibly history’s worst offenders of freedom — and yet, ironically, the ruling elite considered they could be corrupted sufficiently by some fringe political club or lonely misanthrope to pose a threat to individuals or minority groups in a liberal democratic society.
The temptation of those in power to control or censor free speech, however good the intention, is indicative of the totalitarian instinct lurking inside many of us.
It is a slippery slope that once taken has ended too often, as history illustrates, in some of the worst excesses committed against freedom of individuals.
“The origin of freedom lies in breathing,” wrote Elias Canetti, recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature. In other words, free speech is the foundation upon which all other freedoms rest.
And we forget this at our peril, warned Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese human rights activist, political prisoner, and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace.
While denied permission by the Chinese leadership to receive the Nobel Prize, Liu Xiaobo sent the following message to his well-wishers: “Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.”
Once Bill C-304 — the private member’s bill moved by Alberta Conservative MP Brian Storseth — receives royal assent and comes into force repealing Section 13, a stain on Canadian democracy will have been removed and free speech made more secure.
Saturday, June 16, 2012