Archive for January 31st, 2008

“My Headscarf Headache” by Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

My headscarf is giving me a headache! What I mean, is that the issue of the Islamic headscarf is a tricky, thorny one with no hard-and-fast solution in sight precisely when one is required. Just yesterday, a dear friend challenged me on this very subject.

She said: “How can you favor the state forbidding women from doing something that they want to do for religious reasons?”

A fair enough question.

My immediate response: Women’s freedom may depend upon the separation of religion and state. What one does at home or in one’s mosque, church, temple, or synagogue is one thing. But, is it wise to subsidize diverse religious expressions in a taxpayer-supported public school? Especially in the West where the headscarf is as much a symbol of jihad and women’s subordination as it is an expression of a modest, religious choice?

In 2004, the headscarf was a burning issue in France when the country passed a law forbidding the wearing of “ostentatious” religious symbols. This meant that no one could wear a cross, a turban, or a yarmulke either but the law was truly aimed at hijab—the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women. Feminists argued both sides of this controvery.

In 2008, the headscarf is again a burning issue in Turkey where an increasingly religious population, including women, is demanding the right to veil in university. This is seen as a complete reversal of the enormous gains made by Attatturk in 1921.

It is also a pendulum swing from the various Arab and Muslim feminist movements of that era in which unveiling was a linch-pin issue. Egypt’s Huda Shaarawi must be turning in her grave. I wonder what she would say?

Yes, it is true: Religious families in the West rarely give their children “freedom of choice” when it comes to religious education and practices. Both girls and boys are indoctrinated from an early age. This is true for secular fundamentalist families as well. Western law does not intefere with this. On what basis could we do so where only Muslims are concerned? Or rather, like France, are we now willing to interfere in the private religious realm because of new, Islamist “clear and present dangers?”

Ideally of course, tolerating diverse ethnic and religious choices is a great Western virtue. The problem arises when those who themselves are intolerant wish to use such Western virtues in order to achieve separatist, hostile-parasitic enclaves. But, hasn’t some degree of separatism been true for every immigrant group—at least in America? Hasn’t the genius of America resided precisely in allowing each immigrant group to remain identified in separate ways while simultaneously becoming identified similarly as Americans?

My friend is a religious Jew and is therefore very sensitive to the dangers involved when Jewish religious expression is forbidden. Indeed, even today, the Jews of Europe have been advised by their rabbis to hide their yarmulkes and stars of David lest they be scorned or beaten on the streets—something which has, alas, been happening.

But, said I, with a heavy heart: We can’t really compare apples and oranges. Crosses and yarmulkes are not the same as hijab or niqab. With some exceptions, both Jews and Christians are not only or solely defined as members of their religious group. They also partake of the public, secular, modern culture. Also, there are only about 15 million Jews world-wide. There are 1.2 billion Muslims and counting. If every single Jew covered every inch of themselves with Jewish symbols it would be as a drop in the sea compared to every single Muslim doing so.

Of course, as a religious Jew, my friend is still concerned with the morality involved. From a Jewish point of view, what’s good for a Jew should be good for every other religious group since all humanity has been created in “God’s image.”

But, what about women’s rights? Where do we stand on a woman’s right not to wear a headscarf? Will we protect her (at least in the West) from being honor-murdered when she refuses to do so? However, what do we do when a woman claims that her right to freely practice her religion is being interfered with if we stop her from veiling? Does the state have the right to force her, against her will, to expose her hair to strange men?

Indeed, this is the subject of a 2007 federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of Jameela Medina. She is a Los Angeles PH.D student who was riding a commuter train without a proper ticket. For what should have been a minor matter, she was taken off the train, arrested, kept in jail for several hours where she was forced to remove her headscarf.Medina also claims that she was “intimidated” by a deputy sheriff who accused her of “being a terrorist” and who called Islam an “evil” religion.

No one should be so insulted in America. And, prisoners are actually allowed to wear headscarves in jail—a point which the ACLU is arguing.

Yes, I know that many educated Muslim women choose to wear hijab or niqab. But, I also know that many educated Muslim women who choose not to do so are threatened, pressured, shunned, and even killed for this reason, both in the West and in Muslim lands.

Yes, I also know that some feminists have claimed that historically, veiled women on the streets may have been less harassed by men in the East than unveiled women were at the same time in the West. Today, separate buses and railway cars for women-only have been launched in India and Mexico in response to the still ongoing harassment of women. (Insisting, in ugly or violent ways, that women sit at the back of the public bus used by ultra-religious Jewish populations in Jerusalem, is a slightly separate although equally awful reality and one that the Israeli Supreme Court will hear).

I also know that many Muslim women do not feel “coerced” into wearing a headscarf in the West as much as they feel called upon to register a permanent, visible, protest against promiscuity and the eroticization of women in the West. (Like nuns do).

In the 1960s and 1970s, I thought it was poetic justice for former “colonials” to sport their colorful customs all over London. Bangles, nose-rings, turbans, long flowing robes on both men and women—yes! But, by the 21st century, these exotic garments are ominously value-laden and less lovely. Now, they signify a serious cultural, military, political, and theological invasion of Britain and the West.

Quo Vadis my friends? What shall we do in America? Do we allow headscarves or do we ban them? What about female genital mutilation, daughter- and wife-beating, and secret polygamy? Finally, what about the indoctrination into hating Jews and other infidels which begins in childhood and is theologically driven in certain mosques and religious schools? Right here in the USA?

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) and The New Anti-Semitism (2003). She has just published The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan), as well as an updated and revised edition of Women and Madness. She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women’s studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women’s Health Network (1974). She is currently on the Board of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and lives in New York City. Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.
We are delighted to have Dr. Chesler as a contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

Original Link.

Abuse of U.S. Muslim Women Is Greater Than Reported, Advocacy Groups Say

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I have recounted my encounter with an abused Muslim woman before, but let me post it here for those of you who might have missed it before.

Not long ago, I visited with a Muslim lady at a local pizzeria. Well, “visited” doesn’t really sum up our brief clandestine conversation.
Let me elaborate:
The lady in question had a black eye. A real shiner.
I sat down behind her and speaking softly, I said “Ma’am, this is the United States. You don’t have to let him beat you like that”.
And she responded to me, her English perfect, but her voice quavering in fear. “Please, don’t talk to me. If my husband sees you talking to me he’ll hit me harder.”
I will never forget this exchange. I do not know who this lady is. I don’t frequent this pizzeria often, so our paths have not crossed since then. I do not know if she has suffered more beatings. I pray that she has not.

WASHINGTON — Two months into an arranged marriage, Fozia Sadiq, a young Pakistani immigrant, found herself trapped in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, with a violent husband.

She says he routinely beat her and intimidated her into never going anywhere in public without him.

“My neck had so many bruises, and I had scratches all over my arms,” Sadiq told FOXNews.com through an interpreter.

A practicing Muslim, Sadiq finally escaped in 2006, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

She says she stayed up all night reading the Koran and was physically abused by her husband for not cleaning up the kitchen the next morning.

“He yelled at her, kicked her and punished her,” says Mazna Hussain, an attorney who is helping Sadiq remain in the United States.

“And when she was on the ground [during the beating], at that point she finally decided to leave before he killed her.”

There are no solid statistics on the rate of domestic violence within the Muslim-American community, and it is difficult to determine whether Muslim women are victimized more than women in the general population.

But advocacy groups say Sadiq’s story is not an isolated case.

On New Year’s Day, two teenage Egyptian-American sisters, Amina and Sarah Said, were shot dead in Irving, Texas. Police are searching for their father, Yaser Abdel Said, who reportedly was angry with their American-like behavior, which included dating.

According to the girls’ great-aunt, their father had been abusing them for years. She says they, along with their mother, fled after he threatened to kill the girls.

The great-aunt called the murders “honor killings” for bringing shame to the family, a charge Islam Said, the girls’ brother, denies. Police say they are looking into motives.

Allegations that the girls were killed for dishonoring the family’s name has brought greater focus on all forms of abuse in the Muslim-American community in what some say is a bigger problem than is reported because, they say, it is veiled in secrecy.

“I suspect it’s happening a lot more than we think,” says Hussain, who works with battered Muslim women at the Tahirih Justice Center in Northern Virginia.

“We hear again and again from [abused] women who say, ‘I can’t tell my parents back home because if they find out, my younger sister can’t get married,'” says Meghna Gozwami, client services coordinator for DAYA, a South-Asian immigrant group that provides legal and financial assistance for abused families. The name “DAYA” means “compassion” in Sanskrit.

DAYA, which runs a domestic violence hotline, has seen a dramatic increase in distress calls –almost 20 times more — in the last five years (from 189 calls in 2003 to 3,308 last year).

Read the rest of the article here.

“The War Against Jihadism” By George Weigel

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

“Why can’t we call the enemy by its name? We’re going to have to in order to win.”

What kind of campaign is this? Six-plus years after 9/11; while the Taliban attempts an Afghanistan comeback; as Islamist terrorists cause mayhem in Algeria and occupy huge swaths of tribal Pakistan; despite “United 93” and “The Kite Runner,” a library-full of books, presidential commissions, congressional hearings, and four election cycles—despite all of that, a strange, Victorian reticence about naming the enemy in the contest for the human future in which we are engaged befogs this political season.

Such reticence is an obstacle to victory in a war we cannot avoid and in which we must prevail. For if there is one thing certain in this season of great uncertainties, it is that the war against jihadism will be staring the next president of the United States in the face at high noon on Inauguration Day, 2009.

That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. That most of the world’s Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam’s difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it’s all George W. Bush’s fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.

Original Link.

Muslim Cab Drivers Convert Break Room to a Mosque

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

As is the norm these days, the Muslims demand that everyone adhere to their sensibilities while they ignore the sensibilities of everyone else.

A shuttle driver has filed a complaint with the FAA against the Salt Lake International Airport, saying officials allowed thousands of religious services to be conducted on public property. Muslim cab drivers began praying in a small airport building used as a break room after 9-11, because, the airport says, they became targets, with people yelling at them and throwing things.

Shuttle driver Jeff Brueningsen took photos inside the building he and other drivers share at the airport. “It was definitely an Islamic center.” He said it didn’t feel right, so he filed a complaint with the FAA against the airport.

“In proper, polite company you never bring up politics or religion. And they introduced both instantly into what’s supposed to be a professional, secular transportation-aviation facility,” Brueningsen said.

In the complaint he details claims that he was harassed by a group of Muslim drivers who he says have threatened to kill him. It came to a head earlier this month when Brueningsen says Mohammed Alahmed and other drivers attacked him.

Original Link.

Maternity Units Turn Away British Mothers as Muslim Immigrants’ Baby Boom Fills Beds

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

The invasion of the U.K. by Islam is not limited to violent terrorist. Eventually, the Muslims will be the majority and will vote the U.K. out of existence.

Maternity wards are being forced to turn away expectant mothers because they cannot cope with soaring demand from immigrants.

One hospital even had to shut its maternity ward for two months because its staff were needed elsewhere to deliver babies from foreign-born mothers.

An investigation has found the cost of providing maternity services for immigrants has more than doubled in only a decade to £350million a year.

The number of babies born to foreigners went up by 64,000 in 2007, piling pressure on maternity services

But the Government has massively underestimated the scale of the problem, and last year the number of midwives actually fell for the first time since Labour came to power.

According to an investigation by the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News, one baby in eight was born to an immigrant mother in 1997.

Now, the figure is almost one in four.

Spending on NHS maternity services has increased from £1billion to £1.6billion a year.

But this has not been enough to cope with increased birth rates.

The number of babies born to British mothers has fallen by around 44,000 each year since 1997 but the number born to foreigners is up by 64,000 a year.

This has raised the overall birth rate to its highest level for 26 years and almost 40,000 more babies were born in 2006 than officials at the Health Department expected.

The baby boom is piling pressure on NHS maternity services.

Original Link.

“A Prophet in the American Cabinet” by Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I propose that the next American President appoint a Prophet to the Cabinet. We have entered an era where prophetic views and values are sorely required.

Prophets, (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Cassandra), see what is happening but the people and their leaders don’t listen to them. Perhaps if prophets could once again assume official positions (with calling cards and press secretaries) their voices might be heard. Consigning prophets to the care and keeping of commercial or even academic publishing is a risk we can no longer afford to take.

Of course, I am not talking about False Prophets or lunatics but about the real deal. (I know, whom can we trust to recognize a true prophet, etc.)

But the handwriting-on-the-sky has been alarmingly visible for quite some time. In the 1970s, French novelist Jean Raspail published a Swiftian novel, The Camp of the Saints, in which he envisioned a flotilla of millions of immigrants traveling from the Ganges to France. An all-powerful, multi-culturally correct intelligentsia that has taught Europe that it must atone for its racist, colonial guilt welcomes the invasion. Europe (European culture as we have known it) is destroyed.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Egyptian-born scholar Bat Ye’or and Italy’s finest journalist Oriana Fallaci tried to warn us in both learned and passionate ways. They continued this work right into the twenty-first century. In the beginning, they were dismissed as “paranoid” and “racist”, viciously attacked, and even sued.

From the mid-1990s on, other voices chimed in: the eminent Daniel Pipes for one, and the equally eminent Ibn Warraq, for another. Post 9/11, both men have continued this work and have been joined by Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and scores of others (Pim Fortyn, Theo Von Gogh, Bruce Bawer, Carol Gould, Melanie Phillips, Fiamma Nierenstein, myself).

So far, what we have said has made little difference. We, too, have often been dismissed and attacked as “racists” and “reactionaries” by other westerners.

Some of my prophet-friends say that the tide is turning, that both European governments and civilians now “get it.”

Welcome news—although rather late in the day.

In my view, the signs are still there for all to see. My email this morning tells me:

In Iran, Hossein Shariatmadari, managing editor of ‘Kayhan’ (Universe), one of Iran’s most influential newspapers, has “issued a strongly worded editorial inviting Muslims to topple moderate Islamic governments and attack US, European and Israeli interests.” In the editorial, entitled “The enemy’s shield”, Shariatmadari argues that in Shia or Sunni Islam “It is legal to strike those who protect the enemy.” ” The real enemies, says Shariatmadari are “The barbaric Zionists, the ferocious Americans and their European allies”.

Not to be outdone, Al-Qaeda has threatened to assasinate Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and to devastate Britain with a wave of suicide bombings unless all British troops are withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan and all Islamist prisoners are freed from British jails by the end of March. This threat appeared on a recognized jihadi website (al-ekhlass.net) but has now been taken down. It was also posted in English under “Al Qaeda in Britain” but has also been removed. Despite such threats, Britain continues to groan under the costs of subsidizing the precipitously rising birth rate among immigrants.

The upper house of the Afghan parliament supported a death sentence which was issued against a young Afghan journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan. Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. (The article concerned women and Islam). He has denied the charge. These MKs are America’s and Europe’s allies.

Turkey’s governing political party agreed to lift the ban on Islamic headscarves for women attending university. (This group almost made it into the European Union—and the Turkish military may stage a coup over this).

In Jordan, a 17 year-old girl was strangled to death by her brother in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan in what was reported to be an honor killing. (But this must be due to the Israeli Occupation—oh wait a minute, Israel does not occupy Jordan).

The same Hamas that invaded neighboring Egypt’s sovereign space, has, since Israel withdrew from Gaza, bombarded the Israeli border town of Sderot with more than 4000 rocket and mortar attacks, killing and injuring many innocent civilians. (Much thanks to Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi of The Israel Project for publishing a Time-Line of these rocket attacks).

And our trendy friends at al-Jazeera are trying to exert more control over the English-language outlet. The editor-in-chief, Ibrahim Hilal, was not pleased by how his mainly western journalists handled the infamous Mohammed-the-teddy-bear incident. According to one source, “Hilal sent an email banning the story from being run on al-Jazeera English because it would upset Muslims. It was only covered when there were riots in Sudan.”

Yes, there are signs of resistance afoot as well: The Danish Royal Library is planning to exhibit the Mohammed cartoons—but the British decision to label all acts of Islamist terrorism as “anti-Islamic” (which columnist Mark Steyn labels as “Orwellian”) is far more characteristic of our times.

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) and The New Anti-Semitism (2003). She has just published The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan), as well as an updated and revised edition of Women and Madness. She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women’s studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women’s Health Network (1974). She is currently on the Board of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and lives in New York City. Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.
We are delighted to have Dr. Chesler as a contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

Original Link.

“Future History” by Jack Kinsella

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

The Bible contains sixty-six different books, written by forty different men, most of whom lived and died in different centuries, in different countries, many of them unaware of other prophets or other prophecies. The writers of the Bible were shepherds and kings, statesmen and beggars.

All the Bible’s writers were ‘non-profit prophets’ — being a prophet of God was not a sought-after job; most prophets lived miserably and died painfully. Most, like Jeremiah, tried to talk God out of hiring them.

Yet with all of that, every book blends seamlessly into the rest, both the books that came before, and those that came AFTER. Some books of the Bible reference other books not yet written at that time. Others quote earlier prophets or sacred writing, but all are harmonious with one another.

The writing of the Scripture is nothing short of miraculous in and of itself. Its preservation over the centuries is mind-boggling, if you let yourself think about it. You and I have both experienced discussions with non-believers convinced they can prove the Bible is wrong.

They rail and babble and quote everybody EXCEPT the Scriptures, and in the end, come away as convinced as when they went in. Or get mad and just go away.

Think how many times similar conversations take place around the world, every single day.

Then, take a look at the broader view: In every generation since its compilation, the Bible has been the subject of discussion between believers and non-believers. In every generation, non-believers have made it their mission in life to disprove the Scriptures.

Any discrepancy has been analyzed and re-analyzed by both friend and foe, read and re-read, argued and re-argued, in a million conversations over thousands of years.

Whoever successfully proved the Bible wrong on any point; doctrine, history, archeology, law, medicine, science, or geography would have single-handedly destroyed the basic foundation of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

The Bible says of itself, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Such a thinker and philosopher would be world-famous. Think of it! The man who proved God wrong! In all those generations, among all those thinkers over all those centuries, that thinker has yet to claim his prize.

The Bible is wholly consistent with known science. The book of Isaiah said the earth was round tens of centuries before Columbus.

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth. . .” (Isaiah 40:22)

Ecclesiates 1:6 reveals that the winds move in cyclonic patterns and Job tells us that light is in motion (Job 38:19-20) thousands of years before weather satellites and Einstein’s calculations proved both to be true.

Medically, the Bible tells us the chemical nature of human life (Genesis 2:7, 3:19) that the life of creatures are in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), the nature of infectious diseases (Leviticus 13:46) and the importance of sanitation to health (Numbers 19, Deuteronomy 23:12-13, Leviticus 7-9) many thousands of years before doctors were still practicing blood-letting as a treatment for disease.

The list goes on. Every historical event described by the Bible has either been confirmed by other sources, or has yet to be confirmed. Not a single historical event described by Scripture has ever conclusively been disproved.

Sometimes, it is necessary to go back and take another look at the Source and meditate on just what a miracle it is in order to get a clearer understanding of what it says. It helps to reconfirm that everything it says is true. Despite thousands of years of editorial criticism, the Bible stands essentially unchanged from when it was first given.

A complete copy of the Book of Isaiah was unearthed as part of the Dead Sea Scroll treasures and is today enshrined in the Dome of the Tablets in Jerusalem. I have personally seen it and marveled at the fact its date could NOT be questioned. It could NOT be younger than the day it was buried in AD 70.

But, apart from grammatical changes made necessary by changes in Hebrew grammar over the centuries, it reads exactly the same way as the Book of Isaiah in your own Bible.

It makes sense to assume the rest of the Scriptures are equally accurate, since there is no evidence to the contrary and all the available evidence supports Scripture.

Where are we going with all this? The Bible’s accuracy is not limited to history, geography, science or medicine. It is equally accurate in describing the events that have not yet taken place.

The prophecies of the Bible are, from God’s perspective, ALREADY history. “. . .yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isaiah 46:11)

So not only does the God of the Bible know all things, but He has chosen to make known to us, through the Bible, what is still to come! In fact, even more than that, the God of the Bible CHALLENGES any so-called ‘gods’ to do the same.

“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.” (Isaiah 41:21:23)

From God’s perspective, outside of space and time, everything is now, so to speak. God’s historical pronouncements are given from the benefit of Divine Hindsight. His prophetic pronouncements also enjoy the benefit of Divine Hindsight.

The Bible describes the future, but to God, it has already happened, if you can follow that line of reasoning for a minute. Since to God, it already happened, the events that remain yet future will be fulfilled as specifically as those events that have already come to pass.

Original Link.