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Does “religion” subjugate women? 14 June 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Islam and contemporary society.

Cards on the table – I am going to be cheeky today and pass off my comments on Sabizak's blog as a fresh update. Its fresh enough for the 2.4 readers of Bakkah, so hopefully no one will mind frightfully or throw a fit; as a wider point, the treatment of women in Islam is an issue that I have been asked about separately, so let this be the opening gambit in that long discussion over the coming months…

A comment was made, in reference to Dan Brown's "masterpiece"*, that the book would have been far more worthy had it actually delved more into the issue it raised in passing – namely, the role of religion, over the ages, in the subjugation of women. Sounds a fairly innocuous notion, right? Religion, ie all man-made religions, have been oppressive to women and subjugated them – surely there can be no disagreement?

umm…sorry..there can be. I am not sure if religion has played such a central role – sure, it has been used for this end, of course, but then so has everything else. Historically, have religious societies been more intolerant of women's rights than irreligious ones? I doubt it.

As the context is Dan Brown, let's assume that when we talk of man-made religion, we talk of Christianity – focuses the discussion, instead of letting it roam wildly from Buddhism to Judaism, through Hinduism and Shintoism..and not forgetting Mr Cruise's Scientology!

So let's take Christianity – I do agree that the Catholic church must take a lot of blame in oppressing Christian women over the centuries, but then it has a long list of groups it has oppressed, and women probably come behind Jews and Muslims and gypsies, statistically! However, what was before Christianity, was hardly better, was it? Roman Christianity was preceded by the Greek philosophers and the works of some early Greek philosophers were decidedly disparaging towards women. For instance, Aristotle argued that women were "not full human beings and that the nature of woman was not that of a full human person". So, in his view, "women were by nature deficient, not to be trusted and to be looked down upon". In fact, some writings describe that many of the ancient Greek women had positions no better than animals and slaves.

Hence, the subjugation and oppression of women seems to be inherent in most societies, cultures and philosophies – religion (ie Christianity, in this context) is by no means the only or even the main culprit.

Carrying the discussion into our times, I have not come across any substantial body of research which would indicate that women in current-day pagan cultures or societies have historically had a better deal than those, for instance, in Christian Europe. In fact, women in tribal cultures, eg in sub-saharan Africa, or in 'indigenous' communities, continue to live under some pretty appaling regimes – FGM, witchcraft, etc are not only widely practiced but also encouraged..and religion, at least in the form of the three allegedly monothestic faiths, has nothing to do with it.

I have been careful to focus the above on "man-made" religions; my belief, as a Muslim, is that Islam does not fall into that category, and its divine origins ensure that it is completely fair and just towards everyone, in all instances – men and women; workers and capitalists; the rulers and the ruled; and so on. Islam's justice and fairness would be absolute. Sad that the reality is so different – but then the blame for that is with us as Muslims, is it not?

More on that another day…

*PS: I read Dan Brown's (comic) "book", and unsurprisingly, did not think much of it. Who does? Hardly anyone I know. But everyone's read it nonetheless. It takes a perverse sort of "literary" genius to write trash, get the writing universally acknowledged as mindless tripe, but still, convince the very people who deem it to be tripe to fork out their 7 quid to peruse it. A glorious triumph for marketing, perhaps? Or maybe I am just jealous at Brown's gazillions…


The goths are coming… time to hide! 12 June 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory....

I am flabbergasted after reading this in The Sunday Times (that's "The Times of London" for all you yankees):

ONE of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman empire.


In an apocalyptic vision of security dangers, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said future migrations would be comparable to the Goths and Vandals while north African "barbary" pirates could be attacking yachts and beaches in the Mediterranean within 10 years.

Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.

The warnings by Parry of what could threaten Britain over the next 30 years were delivered to senior officers and industry experts at a conference last week. Parry, head of the development, concepts and doctrine centre at the Ministry of Defence, is charged with identifying the greatest challenges that will frame national security policy in the future.

What do they smoke these days at the MoD? And whatever it is, it seems the PNAC-wallahs should order some. Yes, the Western "civilisation" (or whatever passes for civilisation up there) faces extinction, eventually (who/what doesn't?) but I wouldn't count our ebony-skinned barbarian chickens just as yet, for two good reasons; (a) they are not hatched yet, and (b) D'oh – bird flu, silly!

Anyway, its always nice to see some good old-fashioned alarmist nonsense from a Murdoch rag – kinda reassuring in a way, the third constant to add to death and taxes.

“Freedom of Speech? Only when it suits us…” 11 June 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Hypocrisy, The 'Zionist Entity'.

The Western world continues its "fine traditions" of supporting free speech by threatening to imprison people who have merely questioned the veracity of the 'received wisdom'; so if you point out the seemingly obvious fact that punishing Group B for the crimes of Group A is neither just nor fair, you are a racist and an evil "anti-Semite". German Zionists, all supporters of "free-speech" no doubt, are planning mass demonstrations at Iran's soccer matches, to protest against the Iranians exercising their right to "free speech". According to The Observer today:

The country's most famous Jewish TV personality, Michel Friedman, will also attend [the protest]. He has threatened to take legal action against Ahmadinejad if he comes to Germany, where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence.

Indeed. Of course, Germany believes in free speech, but only as long as it insults Islam and Muslims, geddit? This is the same Germany where the state of Baden-Württemberg proposed regulations forcing nationality applicants from the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference* to answer questions about their beliefs and attitudes on homosexuality, domestic violence and other religious issues.  So this all-encompassing Western "freedom of speech" does not even include freedom of belief or thought, let alone of speech.

* Just to clarify, the OIC includes such "hotbeds of Islamist extremism" as Cameroon, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Some more Barking 4 June 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory....
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My prolonged exile from blogosphere during mid-May meant that I was not able to contribute to the comments left by Yusuf and Orchid on the BNP Election victory post – probably a bit late to develop meaningful discussion, but I will give it a try! Yusuf had said:

Last time I was in Barking there were (at least) two mosques very near Barking town centre, which points to a substantial Asian community, similar to that of nearby Ilford. Which suggests that the BNP vote may not have come from Barking at all – more likely anywhere the “white trash” you referred to live. Bear in mind also the hostility is less towards Asians (despite the gang’s use of anti-Muslim rhetoric up north) as to so-calledABCs (Albanians, Bosnians and Kosovans).

There is a substantial Asian community in Ilford, as you say, and at least one of the two Barking mosques caters mainly for that community. This is one of the larger mosques east of Whitechapel, if not the largest, and though it may be titled "Barking mosque", the congregation is predominantly from South Ilford; mainly Pakistani Muslims from the long streets leading off Ilford Lane. Also, most other Ilford mosques (and there are quite a few) are not Pakistani-led, and not Barelwi; this one is both, and thus a magnet for non-Gujrati and Barelwi-inclined Muslims in the whole area. Hence, I am not sure if the existence of these mosques implies that Barking has a large Muslim community; it is certainly verymulti-racial, but a lot of the ethnic minorities seem to be more recent arrivals and not the South Asian Muslims who make the bulk of Ilford's non-White community. It is these recent arrivals (Somalians, Kosovars, Albanians, et al ) who face the opprobrium of even other ethnic minorities, as you point out – surely the Pakistanis / Indians etc should know better!

I do agree though that the BNP vote in this Council came from the Dagenham areas in all probability; there are substantial parts of the Borough where hardly a single non-White face would be seen. Even in relatively up-market Upney etc, the population seems to be fairly homogeneous ethnically (based on my search for a house in these areas a few years ago – anecdotal evidence, and very unscientific, but does not seem too unreasonable).

John Pilger 3 June 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Helping the oppressor and the oppressed..., The 'Zionist Entity'.

There is an interesting introduction to John Pilger's latest book, Freedom Next Time, in the Guardian today. For those who don't know this man, here is Mark Curtis' two-line intro:

John Pilger is a very unusual journalist. He writes about people on the receiving end of grisly western policies – whether bombs or economic "advice" – and then exposes the motivations of those who are responsible. One might think Pilger is just doing his job. In fact, it is an indictment of western journalism that this way of working is rather unusual and Pilger unique.

Indeed. Not many mainstream Western journalists print books with accounts such as the one from Liana Badr; she was the director of the Palestinian Cultural Centre, and was interviewed by Pilger just after it had been "hideously destroyed by Israeli soldiers". In her words:

"We have been raped; and all the while, the perpetrators are crying that they are the victims, demanding the world's sorrow and perpetual silence about us while their powerful army demolishes our culture, our lives"

Read the whole thing.. at the very least, you will find out who the Chagossians are – and don't ever say that this blog is unafraid to explore new and exotic geographies :-)

And while you are at it, also check out Pilger's website – its cool too. For an Aussie, he is remarkably level-headed, and even clear-headed ;-)