Friday, March 28, 2008

Yarmulkes Oppress Jewish Men!

Religious Jewish men are forced to wear small skull caps on their heads. The more conservative are even forced to grow longer locks of hair over their ears. This is degrading and oppressive. How dare Judaism force this upon them!

If you can't tell, this is satire - I am NOT serious. This topic came up in a class recently and it got me thinking. Substitute hijab for yarmulke and Islam for Judaism. So women wearing headscarves is oppressive, but men wearing yarmulkes isn't? What about Penecostal (Christian denomination) women who are only allowed to wear skirts and can't cut their hair. Is that oppressive? Someone please tell me what the rules are so I know who's oppressed and who isn't. Oh wait - I guess I could ask individual people how they feel about wearing a hijab or yarmulke or long skirt. Nah - it's easier to just condemn their entire religions.

Qur'anic Snuff Film: Update II

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the film. I'm glad to see common sense and good taste has prevailed. In general, I believe in everyone's right to believe whatever they want. But when they believe something that is not only hateful but completely WRONG, then I have a problem. If you want to hate someone, hate them for legitimate reasons.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Qur'anic Snuff Film: Update I

Remember the Dutch guy who made the propaganda film about Islam? Last week his website was shut down. And now, according to this BBC article he's posted it on a video website where you can watch it.

First of all, I included the link because I do believe in freedom of speech and some people may want to watch it. Secondly, I do not lightly call this a propaganda film - that is exactly what it is. He has graphic footage of terrorist attacks interspersed with the rantings of some radical Muslims and Qur'anic verses taken out of context. Are there some violent verses in the Qur'an? Yes. There are also violent verses in the Bible. And I don't mean in the Old Testament. Even the New Testament mentions the wrath of God for non-believers and Judgement Day, etc. But somehow I doubt that the filmmaker would have bothered to make an anti-Christian film featuring the IRA.

How's this for propaganda: a 3-year-old Muslim girl saying that Jews are apes and pigs because the Qur'an says so. While I haven't read the entire Qur'an, I am fairly confident that is does NOT say that. And a 3-year-old hasn't read the Qur'an either. But now there's a group of people who will think that the Qur'an does say that. How convenient.

I only made it about halfway through the film before I was so disgusted that I had to stop. Now, I'm not trying to say that there aren't radicals out there who are crazy and anti-Western. But the majority of Muslims are not! There are some crazies, and they do horrible things in the name of God. And their numbers have dramatically increased since the US entered Iraq. As for anti-Jewish feelings, most of that goes back to 1948 and the creation of Israel. Most Muslims are good, decent people trying to live their lives as best they can. And propaganda shit like this makes it harder for them and easier for the radicals, because then the radicals can say "those Westerners hate Islam and are trying to destroy us" and they'd be correct. Hate crimes against Muslims have increased in the US.

As a last thought, let me leave you with this: Would you judge all Christians by David Koresh, or the people who blow up abortion clinics, or the IRA, or Warren Jeffs? Koresh and Jeffs had/have good size followings, and the IRA was responsible for a lot of deaths. But Christians aren't judged by that. But if you're not a Christian, then you're judged by whomever in your religion can talk the loudest. And nothing is louder than a terrorist's bomb.

Monday, March 24, 2008

News Round-up Again

Gee, I take a few days off for Spring Break and hordes of things happen.

Remember that guy in Morocco who pretended to be a prince (link and update) on Facebook? Well, he's been freed.

The Foreign Minister for Switzerland, who happens to be female, caused a scandal because she dared to wear a headscarf when she visited Ahmadinejad in Iran. Gasp! Wait a minute, isn't that the law in Iran? And if she hadn't worn it, she probably wouldn't have been able to move around or even see Ahmadinejad? But I suppose it's better to condemn her because headscarves are cruel and oppressive.

Saudi Arabia has decided to "retrain" about 40,000 prayer leaders, in an effort to fight radical Islam. We'll see how that goes. And if I can find the link, Saudi Arabia has also just opened up the first all-female hotel, for women.

And in more Gulf news, Air Emirates will now allow you to use your mobile phone to make calls in flight.

Canada is having a battle over free speech. Personally, I'm kind of split over the issue. On the one hand, you have a major newspaper columnist spouting hate speech, which is his right (but should it be printed?). On the other hand, you have Muslims who are tired of hearing the hate speech. What do you do? One thing I like to do is to change the wording to focus on other groups. Sometimes words may not seem racist or prejudiced, but if you change the target group, then you can see the bigotry. If you want a good example, see this case (YouTube clip), which involves a state representative in Oklahoma saying that gays are ruining the country and are a threat worse than terrorism or Islam, and then claiming that's not prejudiced (bashing gays, not bashing Muslims). A blogger from her state switched the word "homosexuals" for the word "Jews" to show how bigoted her statement was.

Last, but not least, the BBC has video interviews with 5 Iraqis.

Monday, March 17, 2008

News Round-up

I'm back! I missed a lot this past week, so I'm just going to do a news round-up (unless mentioned, these are from BBC News).

The Middle East's Assymetric War (Palestine-Israel)

'National Crisis' for Iraqi Women

BBC Pictures Click on picture #5 for Iraqi policewomen, veiled. Click #6 for Iraqi girls playing football/soccer. Yes, Muslim women can work as police officers and they can play athletics.

Saudi Women Make Video Protest

Qatar Pushes for Universal Health Coverage (Gulf Times)

Turkey and Iraq Take a Step at a Time (Asia Times)

Markets Await Top Court Action (Turkish Daily News) - yes, the US market affects a lot of countries, and weird stuff is going on in Turkey.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Got several deadlines this week, so blogging may be slow.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Islamophobia on Primetime

Primetime, a news show on ABC (if you can call any of them "news" shows these days) has been doing special What Would You Do? episodes. They set up situations and see how ordinary people react. There was one a week or two ago about Islamophobia. A woman in a hijab walks into a bakery and the clerk refuses to serve her because she's Muslim and might be a terrorist.

If I remember their results correctly, I think 12 people stood up for the woman, and 6 people said the clerk was right to refuse service. What's more disturbing to me is that over 20 people stood by and did NOTHING. Maybe they didn't care, or maybe they were scared of what others might think of them if they did stand up for a Muslim. That bothers me.

Check out Primetime's Common Misunderstandings About Muslims.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Top Stories 3/03

Al-Ahram (Egypt): Days of Fury - there's an Arab League meeting coming soon, and the Arab nations are becoming more polarized.

Middle East Newsline: Syria ordering MiGs from Russia.

Azzaman (Iraq): Baghdad sees unprecedented quiet during Ahmadinejad's visit.

Yemen Times: Peasants plight ongoing despite protest - a human rights organization is staging a sit-in.

Female Wedding Official in Egypt

I saw this a few days ago but haven't gotten around to posting it until now. A woman in Egypt has been appointed as a wedding official: she officiates at weddings. It's described as being something like a notary, and she might be the first woman to do this. She also has a Master's degree in Law, which probably helps. Her name is Amal Soliman and she's 32 years old. Kudos to Ms. Soliman!

Gaza Quick Roundup 3/03

Tons of Gaza articles on the Beeb: interviews with Palestinians, options for Israel, and the ongoing operation in Gaza, and the articles I posted a few days ago.

Who says men have all the power?

Humorous news out of Iran. When you marry, there is a marriage contract between the man and woman, and the woman's dowry is listed. She can ask for it at any time, or if she wants a divorce. A woman just went to court to force her husband to pay the dowry he owes her - 124,000 roses! His apartment has been confiscated by police until he pays up. I feel for the husband, but he shouldn't have agreed to that dowry if he couldn't afford it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gaza Going Up?

Things are deteriorating over in Palestine/Israel. Israel was attacked by a bunch of rockets from Gaza, so they responded. About 7 Israelis were hurt, and over 150 Palestinians. Abbas has broken relations with Israel - which is interesting since he's Fatah and Gaza is controlled by Hamas. People in Gaza are pretty upset - more info on the situation. Info on the attack by Israel. Israel has threatened to invade, and Hamas says they are ready.

Al-Ahram (Egypt) says a third intifada may be close. Gulf Times (Qatar) article. Turkish Daily News - protests in Gaza.

Islam and Freedom

A few stories of interest:

Iran has been targeting activist women's groups.

A new study says that Muslims do want freedom and democracy, but they don't want it forced upon them. Wow, what a concept. We want freedom, but we don't want someone else telling us what it means or forcing us to accept what they want (because that's not really freedom is it?). I am taking this study with a little grain of salt. It's part of a book, and one of the authors sometimes comes across as a bit of an apologist.

The US is sending a warship to Lebanon! This is "a show of support for regional stability." Nothing says stability like a warship off your coast! (Yes, the Gator is a bit snarky today.) It's a little disturbing that the ship is the USS Cole (the one that was bombed in Yemen years ago).