Monday, December 31, 2007

Christians should never use the word allah to mean the word God. The two are mutually exclusive in the cultural war of all time.

Malaysia reverses Allah paper ban

Religious freedom is guaranteed under Malaysian law

The Malaysian government has reversed a decision to ban a Christian newspaper using the word Allah to refer to God.

The government had threatened to refuse to give the Weekly Herald a publishing permit if it continued to use the word.

The paper's editor said the word had long been used by Christians to refer to God in the Malay language.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The caged birds need to fly to freedom

These young people need to first of all take off the scarf - much of their hatred and fear and violence will diminish

The hijab-clad girls started rocking out a little, but by then the organizers had already called the cops.

It was early September and the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA] was about to wrap up in Chicago. About 400 young Muslims had gathered at a Hyatt hotel ballroom for open-mike night, hyped as a wholesome alternative to the vice-land that every big American city inevitably becomes once the sun sets.

The first few acts – Koran recitation, stern spoken-word stylings – matched the hype. But around 3 a.m., with fewer than a quarter of the original audience still around, an all-girl Vancouver punk band took to the stage. A 25-year-old singer with short black hair and a voice like a bar fight asked the crowd: “ISNA, are you ready to rock?”

ISNA was not. As the Secret Trial Five tore into what would be their first and only song of the night – a screaming frenzy of a track called Middle Eastern Zombies – people began streaming out the doors. The convention organizers went deer-in-the-headlights.


But then something changed. Those remaining began to take to the spectacle, clapping and swaying with the music. By the time a second band was halfway through its set, young women were giddily chanting along with the chorus: “Stop the … HATE! Stop the … HATE!”

That's about when the cops put an end to one of the strangest cultural mash-ups in North American Muslim history.

This is Taqwacore: a furious meld of punk and piety that first stamped its foot on the continent that September night in Chicago. For those who weren't there, a Canadian filmmaker caught the whole Chicago spectacle on tape.

The name comes from the words Taqwa – loosely translated from Arabic, it means God-fearing. The genre is only now gaining recognition, thanks to a tour and an upcoming Canadian documentary expected to be released in late 2008.

“It's a really hard thing to explain to people,” says Michael Muhammad Knight, the American Muslim convert and author who invented the genre. “I don't think Western media as a whole is ready for a complicated Muslim voice – they divide the world into good Muslims and bad Muslims.

“But these kids are pissed off about everything.”


So the scene became real. Kourosh started a band and named it after one of the bands in the book: Vote Hezbollah. Soon came more groups, such as the Boston-based Kominas, whose achievements include penning the catchiest song ever to work the phrase “Suicide-bomb the Gap” into the chorus.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

This should not be allowed anywhere in the West -

Iran: Women excluded from sports in the name of Islam

Tehran, 19 Dec. (AKI) - The vice president of the Iranian Olympic Committee, Abdolreza Savar, has announced new rules to fight what he defines as the sport's "subjugation to western customs and practices"

In a memorandum sent to all sporting federations, Savar, who is in-charge of the "proper behaviour of male and female athletes" said that "severe punishment will be meted out to those who do not follow Islamic rules during sporting competitions" both local and abroad.

The memorandum also said that "no male coach can train or accompany the athletes when they travel abroad."

"If female trainers are not found, our female teams will not participate in international competitions," said Savar.

Iran's athletes are considered among the best in the Middle East, but due to severe restrictions imposed by the government, women are sometimes excluded from competition and prevented from fully exploiting their potential.

An example of this is the Iranian volleyball team, which has not been able to qualify to any international competition, as it does not have a trainer.

"In volleyball there aren't any female trainers capable, and the Olympic committee does not allow us to employ males to train the female team," said Saiid Derakhshandeh, president of the Iranian Voleyball Federation.

Iran's voleyball team was once considered to be among the best in Asia.

The memorandum also referred to new rules regarding the attire worn by the athletes, saying that if these rules are not followed, the athletes will be severely punished and will not be able to participate in future national or international competitions.

Savar also made reference to a Tae-Kwon-Do competition held on the island of Macau, in China when a male referee grabbed and raised the arm of a female Iranian player who had won a tournament.

He said that Iran's sportswomen will not participate at the next Olympic games, in any discipline, where there will be any sort of physical contact with the referee, if it is a man.

Iran's objective, says Savar "is not just to win medals, but to promote Islamic culture, and thus we have decided to inaugurate an exhibition dedicated to Islamic values during the Olympic games in Beijing" in 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The dominos of moderation must fall

Husband cut off wife’s ears, nose on Eid day

Qalat: A man named Mumtaz in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan first shaved wife, Nazia’s head and then cut off her ears, and nose and damaged her teeth on the first day of Eid ul Adha, an Islamic ritual of sacrifice.

Hospital sources in Qalat, center of Zabul, told this scribe by phone that Nazia, 17, was admitted on Wednesday (First day of Eid) evening and now she was in a critical condition due to the severe beating she has borne.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Murdering hairdressers and barbers is an indication of out of control culture that must be moderated

Iraqi Hairdressers Forced Underground

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Umm Doha cuts hair and waxes eyebrows in secret from her living room because making women look pretty can get a person killed in her Sunni-dominated Baghdad neighborhood.

Hardline Muslim extremists who believe it is sinful for women to appear beautiful in public have forced many beauticians to move their trade underground.

Sunni and Shiite militants began blowing up salons roughly two years ago. They killed several stylists and bullied others into putting down their scissors and makeup brushes for good, all in an effort to stamp out what they view as the corrupting spread of Western culture.

Besides beauty salons, militants have also targeted liquor stores, barber shops and Christian churches.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Serious need for moderation all over the world

Pakistan clerics persecute 'non Muslims'

By Isambard Wilkinson in Rabwah
Last Updated: 1:37am GMT 26/12/2007

Hardline clerics are using Pakistan's blasphemy laws to persecute members of a small Islamic splinter group they say are not proper Muslims.


Hardline clerics protest against the Pakistan government

The two million-strong Ahmadiyya community, based in Rabwah in the Punjab, risks charges of "impersonating Muslims" under the country's controversial religious laws.

Shameen Ahmad Khalid, a community leader, said: "We have people serving long jail sentences for blasphemy or for 'posing as Muslims'."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Moderation linchpin laws badly needed

Charsadda mosque blast: four arrested

CHARSADDA, Dec 23: Two Afghan refugees are among four suspects picked up for questioning in connection with the Charsadda mosque suicide attack on Eid day which left at least 56 people dead and over a hundred others injured.

Security officials said the men, one of them a madressah student as well as a local prayer leader, were held in addition to two others detained earlier.

Civilian and military investigators are hunting for clues in the suicide bombing, which targeted former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.

The suicide bomber struck while Eidul Azha prayers were being offered in the mosque inside Mr Sherpao’s residential compound.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wherever the followers of the central figure of the human race go, the world is always made a better place

the birthday of the central figure of the human race

Wherever the followers of the central figure of the human race go, the world is always made a better place

He was born in an obscure village

He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30.

Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college.

He never lived in a big city.

He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him.

He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth.

When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.

.........all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, all the other belief systems--put together--have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.........

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The muslim teachers in charge of the minds of vulnerable youth must be moderated

Muslim teacher beheads teenager student in Gujarat for $175

Gujarat Global News Network, Vadodara

In a gruesome incident a Maulvi beheaded his 15 year old student for recovering Rs.7,000 which the boy's father had taken from him.

The Islamic teacher who was a friend of the victim's father stayed nearby and had given a loan of Rs.7, 000 to his friend. On not getting his money back the accused Narulhaq Abdulhaq Saiyad beheaded Abid Ali Saiyad and packed the head in a plastic bag and dumped it on the terrace of his house.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Perhaps just substituting the word "God" for "Allah" would help in moderating muslims.

Muslims should be encouraged to invoke the name of the God of the Bible, but no Christian or any non muslim should ever use the word "Allah". Perhaps just substituting the word "God" for "Allah" would help in moderating muslims.

Malaysian Catholic weekly told to drop use of 'Allah'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia has been told to drop the use of the word "Allah" in its Malay language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit, a senior government official said Friday. The Herald, the organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church, has translated the word God as "Allah" but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit. "Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people," Che Din told The Associated Press. The weekly should instead, use the word "Tuhan" which is the general term for God, he said.

Friday, December 21, 2007

This will continue to spiral out of control, more and more mindless violence, until moderated

Where Boys Grow Up to Be Jihadis

No one thought it was strange when Muncif Ben Aboud disappeared from his crowded, unkempt neighborhood in the Moroccan city of Tetouan.


Word quickly spread through the winding streets where the families live, high above a littered bluff at the edge of the city. By the end of last year, at least eight men had left Tetouan for Iraq. They hoped to become martyrs by fighting the American occupation, according to Moroccan security officials. Five of them grew up within blocks of one another, racing through the same narrow alleys, past the same whitewashed homes.

The people of Jamaa Mezuak were no strangers to militant Islam. A few years earlier, five other men from the neighborhood said their own goodbyes. They went to Spain to seek their fortunes. But they became famous as key suspects in the bombings of four commuter trains in Madrid that killed 191 people on March 11, 2004. They called home a few weeks after the attacks, their voices urgent. They were hiding in an apartment on the city’s outskirts. As the Spanish police closed in, an explosion rocked the building. The men died instantly, in a ghastly group suicide.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why banning the headscarf would make such a profound difference in freeing women's souls from bondage

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Banning the headscarf is the domino of the burka - should little girls be threatened with murder if they don't wear burkas?

'I want to study, but not in a burqa'

Little girls in the militancy-hit Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan hate a diktat issued by pro-Taliban rebels to attend school in burqas.

Burqas are the only option some girls' schools in northwestern Pakistan have against being shut down or worse, being bombed.

"I want to study, but not in a burqa," said Shah Rukh, a 12-year-old girl enrolled at a primary school at Saidu Sharif in Swat.

Shah Rukh is just one of many girls who have learnt to speak out against the burqa diktat in the picturesque Valley.

"My 11-year-old daughter cries every morning when she has to wear the burqa," Mohammad Roshan, who teaches history at Jahanzeb College in Saidu Sharif, one of the main towns of Swat, told Newsline magazine.

In a private school in Mingora, the headquarters of Swat district, students were enraged when their principal received a letter from militants saying they would shut down the school.

"It is our right to get education," one of the girls in the school said.

A parent said his daughter "is constantly told by her teachers to attend school in a head-to-toe veil ever since the principal of the school received a letter of threat".

Several girls' schools in Swat have received letters with warnings that they will be blown up if the students do not attend classes in burqas.

Generation after generation of hate filled killers - do they really want peace? Or do they just revel in the killing and victimhood?

Freed female Hamas activist calls for more kidnappings

A female Hamas activist, considered one of the two most senior women to sit in an Israeli jail, was released from prison on Monday after serving a 28 month sentence. Upon reaching Beit Hanoun, she called upon Hamas not to free Gilad Shalit

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reform Koran people are great heros, undoubtedly risking their lives, and should be nominated for the Nobel Prize

Reform Koran needs financial support. They are great heros, undoubtedly risking their lives, and should be nominated for the Nobel Prize.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The dominos are starting to fall - the cultural war is as important as the military war in ending tyranny

Sunni, Shia Sheiks Say No to Violence, Yes to Reconciliation

ASSIRIYAH — Sunni and Shia tribal sheiks, local government leaders, senior Iraqi Army officials and local Iraqi Police officials from throughout the Taji area recently met at the Prayer Town Hall to continue reconciliation efforts and celebrate the “awakening”—a term used to describe a turning away from sectarianism and violence.

More than 200 attendees from the villages of Hor Al Bosh, Sheik Ahmer, Shat Al Taji, Falahat and other areas dined as they discussed issues affecting their villages and ways in which they can improve the quality of life for the people living there.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cultural linchpin laws needed to moderate endless extremism

Bhutto: Fatal bomb was rigged to baby

MARDAN, Pakistan — The bomb that ravaged Benazir Bhutto's homecoming processional in October appears to have been rigged to the clothes of a baby who was held up for the former prime minister to embrace, Mrs. Bhutto said.

A man approached her armored truck, Mrs. Bhutto recounted, and was trying to hand across a small child as her motorcade inched through the thronged streets of Karachi. She remembers gesturing for the man to come closer.

"It was about 1 or 2 years old, and I think it was a girl," Mrs. Bhutto told The Washington Times in her first public remarks about the baby.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why every single moderate muslim should stand up for cultural linchpin laws everywhere

Yemen's Women Behind Bars for Love or Rape
WIP .com

SANA'A, Yemen – For a Yemeni woman the most common route to a jail cell is love or prostitution. Another is to be raped. “The most common reason why a Yemeni woman is in prison is relationships with men,” says Najiba Naji, director of the state prison in Yemen’s capital Sana'a.


As Najiba leads the way through the corridor, Bilquis, a Yemeni woman of about 40, approaches to explain in English why she has been put behind bars. She says she lived in the United States but returned to Yemen to raise her children, but was arrested by the police because of a dispute over a mobile phone. Najiba says Bilquis is not in prison just because of the dispute, but because she has been caught drinking and prostituting herself. “She is in and out of here like a yo-yo, it is sad to see. It is obviously hard for her to adjust to this culture.”

In the last cell the women say a baby boy was born in the prison that very same day. The mother is lying in one of the bunk beds with a blank expression on her face. The small bundle is held up for show and everybody is smiling and chatting until the interpreter jerks back with a cry, holding her hand over her mouth.

Once she is composed she explains: “The woman says the father of her baby is her father. They say she is in prison because she was raped by her own father!”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Every single moderate muslim should be fighting for cultural linchpin laws everywhere

My harrowing story, by the teenage girl who was sentenced to 200 lashes . . . .

My harrowing story, by the teenage girl who was sentenced to 200 lashes after being gang raped in Saudi Arabia

When a teenage girl was gang raped in Saudi Arabia,a court sentenced HER to 90 lashes. After she complained,it was increased to 200. Now, the victim speaks for the first time...

She was only 19 and a new bride when it happened.

Seven men held her at knifepoint and, for a number of hours, she was subjected to a horrific gang rape.

But when she later went to the authorities, they sentenced her to 90 lashes. .....................

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why all extremism must be moderated with cultural linchpin laws

Fort Dix suspects allegedly promoting terror in prison

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (AP) - December 12, 2007 -- There are new allegations against five men accused of plotting an attack on Fort Dix.

Federal authorities say one of the men gave another inmate in the federal detention center in Philadelphia an al Qaeda recruitment video.

Authorities say another suspect wrote a note referring to the fight "we weren't able to finish."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The mental imprisonment of extremism must be moderated otherwise Palestinians will never be happy or successsful

Palestinians Must Get Out of Mental Imprisonment

JERUSALEM, 9 December 2007 — Palestinians I meet always point to the Israeli occupation as the main stumbling block preventing them from achieving independence and driving their oppressive lives. But I think far more obstacles exist that Palestinians are afraid to acknowledge, most that begin right in their own back yards.

I leave Palestine and Israel this trip recognizing that Palestinians are suffering from several layers of occupation, and a self-imposed oppression that has become the excuse for their failings. They say they want peace with Israel, but many deep down can’t accept the damage to their pride that compromise means accepting that their efforts over the past 60 years have been an utter failure caused by their own failed leadership.

While Palestinians are stifled in their aspirations, only miles away, Israelis are enjoying life, growing as a people and flourishing as a people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More proof of how critical banning of the veil is to moderating extremism

Choked Nearly to Death for Refusing to Wear the Veil

A Pakistani Muslim cab driver in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga has been arrested for trying to kill his own daughter, reportedly because she refused to wear the hijab.

A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition after being choked by a man believed to be her father, apparently after a dispute with her family over her refusal to wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by some Muslim women.

Victimhood laws must never be passed; rather, cultural linchpin laws must be passed

Ex-muslims in hiding all over the West in fear of being killed for converting to Christianity! Cultural moderation laws needed.

Muslim apostates threatened over Christianity

When Sofia Allam left the Muslim faith for Christianity, the response from her family was one of persecution and threats. Alasdair Palmer explores the dangers facing Islam's apostates

Sofia Allam simply could not believe it. Her kind, loving father was sitting in front of her threatening to kill her. He said she had brought shame and humiliation on him, that she was now "worse than the muck on their shoes" and she deserved to die.

Religious persecution of the kind Sofia suffers is increasingly common in Britain today

And what had brought on his transformation? He had discovered that she had left the Muslim faith in which he had raised her and become a Christian.

"He said he couldn't have me in the house now that I was a Kaffir [an insulting term for a non-Muslim]," Sofia - not her real name - remembers.

"He said I was damned for ever. He insulted me horribly. I couldn't recognise that man as the father who had been so kind to me as I was growing up.

"My mother's transformation was even worse. She constantly beat me about the head. She screamed at me all the time. I remember saying to them, as they were shouting death threats, 'Mum, Dad - you're saying you should kill me… but I'm your daughter! Don't you realise that?'?"

They did not: they insisted they wanted her out of their house.

After three weeks of bullying, and just before her parents physically threw her out, Sofia left. "They put their loyalty to Islam above any love for me," she says, her voice faltering slightly.

"It was such a shock. I remember thinking when they brought all my uncles round to try to intimidate me - all these men were lined up telling me how terrible a person I was, how the devil had taken me - I remember thinking, how can this be happening? Because this isn't Lahore in Pakistan. This is Dagenham in London! This is Britain!"

Religious persecution of the kind Sofia suffers, however, is increasingly common in Britain today. It is hard to get an accurate notion of the scale of the problem, not least because very few of the people who leave Islam are willing to complain to the police about the way they are treated.

"Intimidation is very widespread and pretty effective," says Maryam Namazie, a spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She believes that many of the deaths classified as "honour killings" are actually murders of people who have renounced Islam.

"I get threatened all the time: emails, letters, phone calls," she says. "When I returned home this afternoon, for example, there was a death threat waiting for me on my answering machine…" She laughs nervously.

"A lot of them aren't serious, but occasionally they are. I went to the police about one set of threats. They took a statement from me but that was it - they never contacted me again."

That treatment is in sharp contrast to the seriousness with which the Dutch and German police responded when members of the Council of Ex-Muslims in those countries made complaints to the police about death threats.

"The heads of the Dutch and German organisations are today both living under police protection," Ms Namazie explains.

Last week, it was reported that the daughter of a British imam was living under police protection, after receiving death threats from her family for having left Islam.

But it is not only extreme Muslim families that believe it is their religious duty to threaten, and even kill, members who renounce the religion............

Monday, December 10, 2007

Critical need for cultural linchpin laws of moderation all over the West

Århus: Bus personnel attacked by immigrants

Bus drivers in Århus are demanding more personnel on routes in the Western neighborhood of Gellerup after two brutal attacks.  Otherwise they are considering boycotting problematic routes through the immigrant neighborhood.

The Danish People's Party is demanding that justice minister Lene Espersen ensure more police resources in Århus to deal with the immigrant bands attacking bus personnel.

On  Sunday November 25th a bus driver was attacked by a group of immigrants, hit and stabbed at the last stop in Hasselager after he kicked out trouble makers from his bus on the way from Århus.  The following Sunday a ticket controller was attacked in his home in Skanderborg by a group of immigrants.  He was hit and threatened because he had fined them for not having tickets.

Kirsten Normann, chairman of the FOA trade union in Århus says that the message was that he shouldn't fine immigrants, and that he will be followed again if that happens.  These two episodes shouldn't be viewed as separate cases, since there are threats for the future. 

Trade unions FOA and 3F came out in a joint statement saying that they will not tolerate their members being attacked for doing their job.  The buses won't continue under threats of violence and nobody will work under risk of being attacked.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cultural capitulation will enable extremism and suppress moderation

The doctor must wear hijab
Rossijskaya Gazeta ^ |

The Rossijskaya Gazeta reports that first Moslem medical center has been created in Moscow, Russia. In that center everything is done the Moslem way.

Dominos of freedom starting to fall in Cuba? Once people taste freedom, they never go back.

More Cubans finding the courage to speak out

HAVANA -- Voices that once whispered are rising to a crescendo.

Sylvia, a chemist and self-described socialist, vents that she feels betrayed by a revolution that ''enslaved'' her. Felipe, a carpenter, asks in front of his co-workers why Fidel Castro can come up with an idea one day and have it become law the next. Lisette, a nurse, tells a total stranger how the medical system has deteriorated since thousands of Cuban doctors were sent to Venezuela.

Call it the law of unintended consequences: Since Cuba's interim president, Raúl Castro, called for public meetings to debate the country's innumerable problems, more and more people are speaking out -- and not just about empty store and pharmacy shelves and lousy public transportation but topics long off-limits like democracy and freedom.

''In the street, at jobs and in neighborhoods, there's some flexibility in terms of repression and expression,'' said Ahmed Rodríguez, an opposition journalist who runs the Youth Without Censorship news agency in Havana. ``People have lost a little bit of their fear -- not all of it.''

While no one is suggesting that the Cuban government has knocked down the door to freedom of expression, experts say that little by little, the entrance has widened. The fact that Cubans, invited by Raúl to speak up in workplace and community meetings, now also feel more comfortable doing so in other settings represents a significant shift and underscores the subtle changes slowly taking place in the nearly 1 ½ years since Fidel Castro fell ill.

Some experts wonder whether the move to allow more open criticism will backfire and, instead of allowing Cubans to let out steam, will make them boil over.

''In a closed political system like Cuba's, there is always risk in promoting that kind of discussion, which is compounded by the fact they are not delivering on any of this -- people's lives are not getting better,'' former top CIA Cuba analyst Brian Latell said. ``Maybe we are already beginning to see early signs of rising or spreading restlessness. If this goes on, they are playing with fire.''

Cubans agree that some are becoming more vocal in their complaints.

''People can't take it anymore. This revolution was supposed to be one thing, and now we realize it is something else,'' said a laborer who asked that his name not be published. ``People want change. The government held meetings to hear what we had to say, and let me tell you, people went for it.''


Last month, several youth were arrested for protesting Cuba's municipal elections, calling it a sham. Weeks later, an organization of rural women presented the national legislature with a petition allegedly signed by thousands of women demanding an end to Cuba's dual currency system. A few days after that, a youth group said it collected 5,000 signatures from students demanding independent universities.

In a rare move, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma alluded this week to the petition drives in its pages -- coverage that dissidents said was both new and surprising.

One of the most unexpected displays of debate came last month, when several intellectuals who spoke out earlier this year against a government official who in the 1970s led a crackdown on artists were invited on a state-run television show called Open Dialogue.

''We accustomed ourselves to not debating,'' filmmaker Alfredo Guevara, a longtime Fidel Castro ally, said on the show, Mexico's La Jornada newspaper reported. ''We answered Fidel with silence'' and later ''Raúl had to come'' to begin a dialogue.

The television appearance was thought to be the first time the government-controlled media openly discussed the 1970s crackdown on intellectuals. It was also the first time the Cuban press mentioned the massive nationwide grievance meetings held in October at Raúl Castro's request.

Cuba-based blogger Yoani Sánchez dismissed the importance of the TV appearance, calling the show a one-sided ``debate among revolutionaries.''

But the head of the Communist Party's culture committee recently cast the debate in much broader terms, telling a Cuban magazine that the revolution is considering a profound transformation.

''The party itself is rethinking its relationship with society to seek a more direct, more efficient dialogue and greater participation of the people in decisions,'' Elíades Acosta told the website Cubarte. ``We aspire to have a society that speaks aloud about its problems, without fear . . . in which mistakes are publicly aired to seek solutions, in which the people can express themselves honestly.''

He called for an end of the ``the abuse of institutional practices to limit criticism.''

Opposition journalist Rodríguez noted that government media seem to have responded to Raúl Castro's call for openness: Cuban television recently broadcast a speech by President Bush, and then aired the King of Spain telling Cuba's No. 1 ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, to shut up.

''There it was, clear as day, on Cubavisión, the king telling Chávez to shut up,'' he said. ``In the past, we would never have been allowed to see that.''

He cautioned, however, that the Cuban government is still controlling the news and rounding up activists at will. Three youth leaders who presented the university petitions were detained for a week. Washington's anti-Castro television programming, TV Martí, is continuously jammed, and Cubans are largely kept off the Internet.

So while more and more people are feeling free to speak out, a 50-year legacy of repression against free speech is hard to overcome, Cubans say. Raúl Castro has been described as both a consensus-driven reformer and a tough security enforcer.

''You know in the universities they are now offering a course called `Reflections'?'' said Felipe, the carpenter.

Fidel Castro 'writes little essays, calls them `reflections,' and now students have to study it,'' he said. ``The students will read those essays and study them, but they will not really debate them. Maybe people are speaking up more, but they don't do it where it counts, so in the end, it's all bull.''


Dissidents in Cuba say the change is not only indicative of a policy shift pushed by Raúl Castro, but also of a fed-up society.

''It's been more than 40 years of this crap already,'' said a Havana cleaning lady, who admits she voted ''no'' for all the candidates listed on a recent municipal election ballot. ``Now they want us to tell them what's wrong.

``We'll tell them a thing or two. We're going to unleash our tongues.''

The Miami Herald withheld the name of the correspondent who prepared this report and the surnames of the people quoted, because the reporter did not have the journalist visa required by the Cuban government to report from the island.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How important the headscarf is to radicalism

Basra women fear militants behind wave of killings

Women in Iraq's southern city of Basra are living in fear. More than 40 have been killed and their bodies dumped in the streets in the past five months for behaviour deemed un-Islamic, the city's police chief says.

A warning scrawled in red on a wall threatens any woman who wears makeup or appears in public without an Islamic headscarf with dire punishment.

"Whoever disobeys will be punished. God is our witness that we have conveyed this message," it says.

Women in the Shi'ite city are convinced hardline Islamic militants are behind the killings and say they fear going out without a headscarf.

Sing and dance and be happy, the Taleban will butcher them - cultural linchpin laws needed

Pakistan dancing girls fear Taleban

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Swat, northern Pakistan

Work for girls such as Palwasha is drying up

On a chilly October night, a late visitor bangs the huge steel gate of a house in a narrow alley of Mingora city, the headquarters of Pakistan's troubled northern district, Swat.

But no-one answers.

A painted sign on top of the gate says: "No more singing and dancing from today - 8 August 2007."

A curious neighbour walks up to the visitor, telling him the girls inside "have got letters from the Taleban, advising them to put an end to their business if they don't want their house blown up".

People in the Bunrh neighbourhood, the so-called music street of Mingora, confirm this information.

"Dozens of families have shifted to other cities, while many others are stuck here without any means of a living," says Fazl-e-Maula, the father-in-law of a local dancing girl, Nasreen.

Local Taleban have been spreading their influence in Swat since 2005, and are currently holding large swathes of territory just north of Mingora.

Last August, they distributed a dozen letters across the Bunrh neighbourhood threatening bomb attacks unless the dancers and musicians gave up their professions.

Swat has been long known for its fair-skinned dancing girls, popular with people who wish to have dancing at a wedding party or any other private party across most of northern Pakistan.

Unlike some dancing girls in the Shahi Mohallah area of Lahore, the women in this conservative city have never had a reputation for providing any sexual services.

This is too much - I don't feel like dancing any more

Many people visit the girls in Swat at their houses in Bunrh for a glass of whisky and a dance.

Down the decades, many of the girls have shown themselves to be talented radio singers or movie stars.

But in recent years the tide has turned against them in a big way.

It started with the "Islamisation" policy of former military ruler, Gen Zia ul-Haq, in the 1980s, which saw the rise of the clergy's influence in social life. This made dance parties at weddings increasingly unpopular.

In 2002, a religious alliance, the MMA, came to power in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and banned all cultural shows where these girls performed.

At the turn of the millennium, many girls were on their way out of business.

"I was too old to dance by then," recalls Shah Bano, 38. "My daughter had her admirers, but when the MMA came to power, invitations to wedding parties began to get few and far between. And there was the risk of arrest and public humiliation."

Two years ago her husband, Babu - "the best drummer in Mingora" - died. This gave her son, a staunch opponent of dancing in the family, a chance to force his sister out of business.

"I work for a local butcher," says Shaukat Ali, Shah Bano's son. "The wages are not great, but I'm glad my sister doesn't have to dance for a living."

The girls who turned to music concerts and stage shows, often held in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, were thrown out of business when the cultural shows were banned.

The Talaben have been gaining strength in Swat

Some of them benefited temporarily when the aficionados and businessmen on NWFP's dance and music scene diversified into the video CD business, producing and distributing long plays and dance sessions on VCDs and DVDs.

But a violent campaign by militant Taleban has caused this business to decline across large parts of NWFP. Hundreds of video outlets have been blown up. Others have voluntarily closed down or switched to other businesses.

These repeated reverses have frustrated many girls and their families. Nasreen, 26, a mother of two, is one of them.

She says she was "hurt when some maulanas [clerics] sighted her and banned her stage show in Peshawar four years ago".

"It was a problem because the men of the house - my husband and father-in-law - knew no other trade except to play musical instruments."

In 2006, she received almost half a dozen contracts to perform for music video CDs, often recorded on private premises.

It brought her enough money to buy a passenger van for her husband. However, due to his inexperience the income from the van has been far from satisfactory.

She says she tried to supplement the household income by receiving guests at home, until the Taleban in Swat issued their threats in August, leading to a complete ban on all singing and dancing in Mingora.

"This is too much. I don't feel like dancing any more," she says.

But Mingora's music street is not without its optimists and rebels.

"My heart tells me that things will change for the better, but I hope I'm alive by then," says Palwasha, an enthusiastic 18-year-old novice.

And for a novice she has done very well so far.

Unlike Nasreen, she has taken risks and done more than 20 CD plays and video dance sessions, despite an explicit ban by the Taleban.

She has also sung numbers or performed on songs for the official Pakistan Television (PTV) and a Pashto language private TV channel, AVT Khyber.

Three months ago, she did a small role for a teleplay produced by Pakistan's Geo Entertainment TV channel.

She aspires to go to Lahore and act in movies, but neither she nor her uncle and guardian have any contacts there.

And it is dangerous to stay on in Mingora.

"I have defied the Taleban's ban, and sometimes I suspect that they know it. I only hope to get out of here before they blow me up," she says.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The headscarf is a symbol of repression and banning all religious headdress in schools and the workplace would start the dominos falling

Muslim woman sues for being forced to remove headscarf in US jail

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES: A Muslim woman arrested for riding a commuter train without a valid ticket has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States, claiming her religious freedom was violated when she was forced to remove her headscarf when she was taken to jail.

Jameelah Medina also said she was intimidated by a deputy who accused her of being a terrorist and called Islam an "evil" religion, according to the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The suit names the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and Deputy Craig Roberts of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

A message left with the San Bernardino sheriff's officials after business hours Wednesday was not returned.

Los Angeles sheriff's spokesman Deputy Bill Brauberger said he had not seen the suit and could not comment. Brauberger could not immediately say if Roberts was still part of the department. Attempts to find a home listing for Roberts were unsuccessful.

Today in Americas

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Medina, 29, a Ph. D student at Claremont Graduate University, was riding a commuter train from San Bernardino to the California State University, Los Angeles station on Dec. 7, 2005, when two officers asked to see her ticket, according to the suit.

"We don't dispute the basis of the arrest," said Medina's lawyer, Hector Villagra. "The issue is how she was treated. She wants to make sure no one else goes through what she went through."

After determining her ticket was invalid, the officers told her to get off at the next station, where a deputy would be waiting for her.

Roberts handcuffed Medina, put her in the back of a police car and began driving her to a jail. During the ride, Roberts berated Medina and Islam, according to the suit.

Roberts "accused Medina of being a terrorist and supporting terrorism. He stated that Muslims are evil ... and that the United States was in Iraq at God's direction to squash evil," read the suit.

At the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino, Medina was forced to remove her headscarf despite several attempts to explain to a female deputy why she wore it, the suit said.

Many Muslim women wear a head covering, also known as the hijab, as part of their faith, believing their hair should not be visible to men outside the family.

After several hours, Medina was released without being charged or fined, her lawyer said.

"Two or three officers, including Defendant Roberts, saw her exposed without her headscarf during the course of that day," according to the suit.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Once the big domino (the big domino: ban the headscarf) falls, cultural abuse like this will fall also

“A good wife must live in fear”

Women are forbidden to drive, to show their head and to speak in public, and to shake a man’s hand. On television, preachers incite husbands to beat their wives “for their own good”. Saudi journalists describe the countless prohibitions facing Muslim women in their country and appeal for a distinction between religious truths and social customs.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Without permission, women cannot even drive a car or change the colour of their clothes, and television preachers warn that women who shake a man’s hand are committing “adultery of the hand”. Citing such examples, Saudi journalists have criticized the social mentality that rules the relationship between wife and husband.

In the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Fatima Al-Faqih described the many bans imposed on Saudi women: “[They] are forbidden to drive, forbidden to travel without permission [of their husband or father or whoever has authority over them] , forbidden to stay alone at a hotel without permission, forbidden to name their own children without [a man's] consent... forbidden to leave their homes or to take a job without permission... forbidden to change the color of their abayas [traditional, long tunic], forbidden to go to school or to the university without permission.”

In some Saudi cities, a woman cannot even “show her face”, she cannot get married without permission nor can she “remain married if one of her male relatives decides that her husband's lineage is inferior to hers... nor can she sue for divorce without apologizing and paying a fine.” Without permission, she “cannot keep her children after the divorce... hold a senior position in the private or public sectors... annoy her husband, and finally, a woman's voice is considered [a form of] defilement, and she is forbidden to speak in public.”

Many men, writes Hasna Al-Quna’ir on the Al-Riyadh daily, justify the inferiority of women by resorting to a “distorted reading of the sayings of the Prophet”, a tactic often used by television preachers. For example, there is a verse that says: “A tribe that nominates a woman [as leader] will not succeed”. The journalist explained that on the strength of this saying, an expert said on television that wives should not be asked for their views as they were completely emotional. Another television expert, to “defend the virtue of women”, “incites fathers, brothers and husbands”, telling them that “a girl who is not beaten from an early age grows up to be a rebellious woman, difficult to control” and that “a woman who leaves her home without a veil is like a woman who goes out naked”. The same preacher warned Muslim women that not covering their heads was “the main reason that women are seduced and fall [into sin].” Another preacher said the woman “who shakes the hand of a man that is not her husband is guilty of... 'adultery of the hand'”. The journalist said that the sayings of the Prophet needed to be considered in the “historical circumstances and particular context” in which they were pronounced and that “religious duties” had to be distinguished from norms of social conduct that were controversial and not subject to dogmas of faith, “like the custom of covering the face”.

Due to this culture, writes Maha Al-Hujailan on the Al-Watan, “women live in constant fear… that the husband may take another wife.” “Only women living in this fear properly fulfill the role of the wife, while a woman who feels assured that her husband will not take another wife comes to disdain her husband and her family life...This culture causes a women to feel mentally and psychologically inferior, like a quarrelsome child who must be constantly supervised, intimidated and punished into performing her duties.”

The journalist said that women who felt this way may even believe that “a good man who respects them is nothing but a weak and unstable man... In their opinion, an ideal man is a violent one who humiliates his wife.”

Hasna Al-Quna’ir added: “The woman is the victim of this insular culture, and her only salvation would be a reorganization of the cultural structure of [our] entire society."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More proof that the headscarf is a symbol of hatred and extremism - banning it will have a moderating effect

Basra jihadists threaten women: "Whoever disobeys will be punished. God is our witness that we have conveyed this message"

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Women in Iraq's southern city of Basra are living in fear. More than 40 have been killed and their bodies dumped in the streets in the past five months for behavior deemed un-Islamic, the city's police chief says.

A warning scrawled in red on a wall threatens any woman who wears makeup or appears in public without an Islamic headscarf with dire punishment.

"Whoever disobeys will be punished. God is our witness that we have conveyed this message," it says.

Women in the Shi'ite city are convinced hardline Islamic militants are behind the killings and say they fear going out without a headscarf.

"Some women were killed with their children," Basra police chief, Major-General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf, told Reuters. "One with a six-year-old child, another with an 11-year-old."

Khalaf, who was sent to Iraq's second-largest city in June with a mandate to get tough on criminals, said he did not know who the perpetrators were but vowed to catch them.

Rita Anwar, a 27-year-old Christian, said she was thinking of leaving Basra, or even Iraq, altogether.

"You would not believe that I also wear the headscarf sometimes. It is terrifying to read this graffiti in red threatening murder," she said.


Police in Basra showed Reuters pictures of women whose bodies were found with notes attached, accusing them of adultery and other "honor crimes."

One photo was of Hayat Jassem, 45, found dead with two gunshot wounds in the stomach. Another was of an unidentified woman in her 30s who was found dead and blindfolded.

"The relatives of those killed never report these crimes because they fear scandals or because they fear the threats of those killers," said Khalaf, sitting behind a desk against a backdrop of two large Iraqi flags.


Hareth al-Athari, an official from Sadr's political movement in Basra, said the movement opposed killing women for wearing un-Islamic attire.

"This is a hideous crime," said the bearded cleric, wearing a black turban and black robe. He said the role of his movement's members was to educate people through written statements or face-to-face talks.

However, several women interviewed by Reuters said Islamic militants -- they did not say who -- were intimidating them, forcing them to cover their hair and bodies.

"A party official who is also a university student came to me and said female students should not attend exams without wearing the headscarves," said one student, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

"He told me 'God willing there won't be any girl left in the university without wearing a headscarf'."

Dominos of "always blame the other" need to start falling

Israeli-Arab men brutally rape 'dirty Jew'

A group of young Israeli-Arab men recently attacked and raped two intoxicated Jewish teenage girls near the coastal city of Netanya, the Israeli police released for publication on Sunday.

The shocking attack took place two weeks ago, when the six Arab men happened upon the two Jewish girls as they sat drinking late at night in a public square in Netanya. According to Ynet, the girls resisted the men's advances, but were soon after were compelled, either physically or due to their inebriated state, to enter their assailants' vehicle.

The girls were then driven to a nearby beach where one managed to escape or avoid being raped. The second girl was not so lucky, and though nearly unconscious, was beaten, raped and sodomized repeatedly by the young Arabs as they called her a "dirty Jew."

All six men have reportedly been arrested, and at least one has confessed to the attack after being presented with DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The cultural linchpin dominos must start to fall

Hyping Hate Crime Vs. Muslims

Discrimination: New FBI data on hate crimes reveal Muslim groups are crying wolf about exploding anti-Muslim abuses. They're actually shrinking, belying claims of mass Islamophobia.Not only are anti-Islamic hate crimes way down, but they're a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. The overwhelming majority of such crimes target Jews, something CAIR and other Muslim groups don't seem all that concerned about.

In 2006, a whopping 66% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jews, while just 11% targeted Muslims, even though the Jewish and Muslim populations are similar in size. Catholics and Protestants, who together account for 9% of victims, are subject to almost as much abuse as Muslims in this country.

Monday, December 03, 2007

terrorism is never ever about poverty or money or education or any of the popular false blame shiftings

Just as poverty is never ever about money or lack thereof, so also is terrorism never ever about poverty or money or education or any of the popular false blame shiftings

What Makes a Terrorist
The American

by Alan Krueger

It’s not poverty and lack of education, according to economic research by Princeton’s ALAN KRUEGER.......

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Another reason why bloodless cultural linchpin laws are needed to start the dominos falling

'We can't joke about the Prophet Mohammed'

By Blake Evans-Pritchard

You could have cut the air in the classroom with a knife. The students in front of me had frozen, their mouths open. Then one of my favourite students - a lovely, charming girl with a great sense of humour - said in a low, warning voice: “Teacher, we can’t joke about the Prophet Mohammed.”

I'd stay in Sudan if I could, says teddy teacher -

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Huge first step in the journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step

Headscarf ban for employees in Ghent
Flanders News

GHENT - Belgium's third largest city Ghent has banned its employees from wearing Muslim headscarves and other religious or political symbols. The proposal by the Flemish liberal party was approved in the city council by 26 votes to 23.

All city personnel, such as librarians and child care workers, will not be allowed to wear such garments or symbols if they come into contact with the public. The council voted 26 to 23 late on Monday for the ban, with the Liberals, Christian Democrats and far-right Vlaams Belang in favour and the socialists and Greens against.

"It is really not clear who counts as an employee in contact with the public, but we will have to carry it out," said a spokesman.

The city has 4,700 employees and is aware of two women wearing headscarves who work on counters dealing with the public. It was possible they might be offered work elsewhere, the spokesman said.

The ban would not affect teachers and police officers. The ban in Ghent follows a similar ban earlier this year in Belgium's second city Antwerp. Antwerp has since decided that Muslim women in nurseries would be allowed to cover their heads with bandanas instead of headscarves.

Similar measures have been imposed in other European countries like France, where there are growing numbers of Muslim immigrants.

The measures are controversial. Supporters say they help Muslim immigrant women better integrate in their host countries, while opponents say they are discriminatory.

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