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Yesterday Iftikar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced to life imprisonment for being found guilty of killing their 17 year old daughter Shafilea in an act of ‘honor killing’ in 2003. Their reasoning was that Shafilea was seen to be leading too much of a westernized life and therefore bringing disrepute to their honor in the wider community.
Cases like this are rare in the UK but in other parts of the Middle East and Asia there is shamefully a significantly higher number of ‘honor killings’. Those who usually carry out these degenerate acts usually use the cloth of religion to justify their actions. Over the years the practice has become wrongly intertwined or accredited to Islam. This is a false dichotomy to make as honor killings historically were practiced even before any major religion came into existence. Plus for those who claim some sort of a religious bearing for this act have obviously missed out a major sin in Islam, one which is highlighted best in this verse of the Quran:
For that cause we decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (5:32).
Another thing to note is that even when a person has a legitimate claim to any case of wrong doing, Islamically the law cannot simply be taken into your own hands as the claim needs to be judged in a court of law before a ruling of any sort can be made.
Also, there is a blatant sexist divide in the logic that guides honor killings. The main target and victims of these killings are mainly woman, which begs the question if you were to use this theoretical argument of honor, does a man not dishonor his supposed family? Why is it only the women who seem to bear the honor of their family member’s reputation on their shoulders? Can a man do as he pleases without shaming or dishonoring his family? A shameful act is a shameful act regardless of a person’s sex. Having male organs and a bit of stubble/beard doesn’t exempt you from that.
What also puzzles me is how twisted the logic behind honor killings really is. How does it make sense in Shafilea’s parents mind? So their daughter has apparently brought shame on their family for being too westernized. The solution in their mind to this problem of shame was murder? Does the conviction, prison sentence and airing of their torrid affairs in public not merit any shame? Pop on a mini-skirt? No no. Murder someone? Go right ahead; just make sure you’re back for breakfast. I’m pretty sure on a sliding scale of dishonor the taking of someone’s life trumps listening to lady gaga and visiting the cinema.
Regardless of what anyone says honor killing should be given its deserved title, murder. Whatever way you look at it, be it religiously, culturally, theoretically etc. murder is a forbidden and callous act. It’s truly saddening to see that cases like this even exist in the first place. The people who are supposed to be your guides in life end up being the adjudicators to your abrupt and brutal death. The ease in which these parents manage to switch of their paternal and maternal instincts to nurture, love and care for their child no matter what is disturbing. Unfortunately for Shafilea, as the judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans put it most succinctly whilst addressing her parents:
“Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.”
And that is where the true dishonor and shame lies.
Bernie Ecclestone yesterday finally put rumors to rest and declared that the F1 race would definitely take place in Bahrain this year. He also claimed in his statement that everything is peaceful and quiet in Bahrain and that everybody is happy with the outcome of this decision. There had been much debate and deliberation prior to his announcement over whether or not the F1 race would be pulled from Bahrain due to the government’s ongoing heavy-handed repression and discrimination of its pro-democracy protesters. The reasons to why the people are protesting are varied and have been covered in this previous post so I wont recite the points again. But bear in mind since my post there have been have been a plethora of abuses of human rights and injustices that have occurred.
In hearing the news of the commencement of the F1 race as scheduled Amnesty responded criticizing the decision stating that:
“as the country prepares to host the Grand Prix, daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly with fatal results.”
Not only that but on the same day as the announcement was made a young 14 year old boy was shot in the chest by government forces during a protest.
So peaceful and quiet Bernie says. If this is quiet and peaceful I’d like to see his idea of violent. Armagaddon is probably a walk in the park for this Hard-as-nails character. This race should not be held in a country which continues to ignore and repress the cries of its people.
But there are those who argue that the other side of the argument should be given some recognition. This side claims the F1 race will bring in revenue through tourism and jobs. To this I say yes it would, but right now ‘revenue’ is not what the country needs. Instead ‘Justice’ is what it should be seeking as the seeds of discontent and division continue to be sown. And anyway, whatever way you look at it, Bahrain is NOT exactly struggling economically. Fact: It’s not a picture of poverty and depravity. If it has survived countless years without the F1 race, I am sure it will manage to survive this year and the many more years to come without it. After all, this F1 race isn’t exactly going to be a constant yearly fixture on the Bahrani calendar.
Instead the Race should be cancelled. A message should be sent, however small, that no government who serves its needs over its peoples will be rewarded, be it with something as superficial as an international F1 race.
Injustice should not be Ignored, let alone rewarded.
At least five people have been killed in a violent assault by the Egyptian army and police to evict protesters from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Hundreds of soldiers and police, backed by armored personnel carriers, used teargas, rubber bullets and batons to evict several thousand protesters from the square that was at the heart of the popular uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak a mere nine months ago.
The mass protests were held to protest against the current ruling military Junta (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) who are seen by many Egyptians to be preserving the institutional rule of the past and therefore threatening Egypt’s future.
Now, the fact that Egyptians are still protesting isn’t something that should be simply decried. On the contrary, it should be something that’s in some way applauded. Why? Because in the run up to Mubarak’s toppling all the nay sayers could be heard saying something along these lines: ‘Even if Mubarak goes…nothing will change…someone will come in to replace him’. It would simply be a case of a different leader but the same type of leadership.
What has the recent protests in Tahrir shown? That the people who fought for this, bled for this, sacrificed for this WON’T let their efforts go to waste..won’t let their efforts get hijacked by a few enriched elite…won’t let the status quo rule again..won’t let their country slide backwards instead of move forwards…won’t let their children grow up in a world that was no different to theirs.
It’s dam well not perfect and its not easy, but no one who has studied revolutions or history would dare tell you any different.. but it’s all you have…. and by far..it is better then what you had.
In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
Nothing in life worth having comes easy
In a surprising turn of events, Kuwait has seen itself embroiled in the midst of growing political crisis after dozens of anti-government protesters managed to storm their way into Kuwait’s parliament during a debate over efforts to question the prime minister about corruption allegations.The demonstrators managed to briefly chant before they were forced out as hundreds of others protested outside on Wednesday evening.
Opposition parliament members have sought to question Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the Gulf country. But these attempts have been thwarted by pro-government lawmakers who have managed to vote down a request for the questioning. Undeterred, opposition groups have filed another motion to force another debate later this month. Looks like the effects of the Arab spring continue to dominate a far-reaching ripple effect throughout the region. It seems that it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are as a leader, your people will hold you to account sooner rather than later. The age old technique of ruling through fear or suppression is being eroded. A new awareness of what citizens are capable of has swept the region and its pace is nowhere near slowing. Its a welcome breath of fresh air to see people demand their overdue rights and hold those who rule to account through their actions and not just their hushed voices
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people
In a recent interview Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Salah vowed he will leave office ‘within 90 days’ of an agreement with the regional Gulf Cooperation Council. Yemen, like many countries in the region, has been swept up in the Arab spring and has for months been the scene of protests and violent crackdowns as the protesters demand the removal of Saleh after 33 years of holding office. During his interview President Saleh of Yemen said: “I will not hang onto power. Whoever hangs onto power, I think, is crazy”
Well this is awkward. I don’t know exactly how Saleh’s Baro-meter works when it comes to how long is to long for someone to hold office for….but 33? Come on, surely once you get into the double digits you must be thinking to yourself ‘maybe just maybe I’m pushing my luck’. When you have been in power long enough to see the fade of boys jeans trend start from waist high to barely-ankle high then you know you have overstayed your welcome. And is it just me or does Saleh seem to have the wrong definition of what counts as ‘hanging on’? Because as I recall this guy had massive unprecedented protests erupt on his streets on a weekly, if not daily, basis for months, then got attacked in his compound by a bomb, then because of said attack had to jet off to Saudi to have burn surgery, then had his country erupt into joyous protest when he left… BUT yet this guy still decided to return EVEN though no one was really missing him/asking about him/In the least bit interested in his existence. This is not forgetting the fact that Saleh has appeared on countless occasions to be on the verge of agreeing to hand over power only to change his mind last minute.
Hanging on to power? No no, Clinging-tightly-to-powers-legs-as-your-dragged-through-the-Mud-&-dirt….Yes.
Dignity Saleh… Get some.
Despite speculation that it would heed international calls to end the freeze it imposed on Palestine two weeks ago, Israel has decided to continue to refuse to pay the Palestinians the £100 million in duties it owes them. The £100 million are mainly composed of customs revenues Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians under the interim agreement. The reason why a freeze was called in the first place was over Palestines application and further acceptance into UNESCO (Untied Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Makes perfect sense doesn’t it. How dare Palestine even think to join this kind of twisted organization, which get this ‘Encourages international peace and universal respect by promoting collaboration among nations’. Pure Madness. Who does it think it is? A state? Seriously, at this point you would think there would be greater uproar at Palestine trying to integrate itself in the world governmental structure than if it was to declare another Intifada of sorts.
The icing on the cake though had to be the Israeli officials explanation on Israel’s diplomatic approach to Palestinian negotiations which involves ‘both carrot & stick’ … In which of course by carrot he also means stick.
Priorities Israel…..Get them right.
I know I haven’t written a new blog post in a while but I have unfortunately succumb to the laziness of the summer holidays. Plus I have been doing a bit of traveling and this has unfortunately messed up my writing schedule…yes I just used the word schedule to describe my erratic posting, I thought I’d bring a bit of sophistication to this post.
But it was actually through one of my travels that I was inspired to write this next blog post. I recently got back from a Viva Palestina conference which was held in Lebanon. It had a wide range of speakers who lectured at this event, from people like Salma Yaqoob, Ghada Karami and Karma Nabulsi to more controversial speakers like George Galloway. It was actually the last speaker who actually spurred me to write this post over his unabashedly biased and unfair views on the Syrian situation. So this post will basically flesh out some of the points I heard and have heard about before, regarding Syria.
Syria is Unique
Now this argument basically states that we cannot compare Syria to the revolutionary upheaval that is going on in other countries in the Middles East as Syria is ‘unique’ and is dealing with a ‘special’ set of circumstances.
Well to this I say, yes Syria is unique…so what? So is every other country on this earth and every human being for that matter. No one is stating that Syria is a de facto carbon copy of Egypt, Tunisia etc., all we are saying is that its PEOPLE share the same grief. What I don’t think is unique to Syria is the desire by its people to simply be free of tyranny, oppression, torture and censorship. The power structures do differ in each of the different countries in the Middle East but that doesn’t mean we can’t judge each regime as harshly or as equally when it comes to the crimes it commits against its people. This excuse of Syria being a ‘unique’ case baffles me. It baffles me because it not only was the same tried and tested excuse used by dictators like Gaddafi, Mubarak, Saleh etc. but it is an excuse which is as vacuous and hallow as its orators morals.
Bashar looking for peace and reform-
Correct me if I am wrong, but last time I checked Bashar wasn’t traipsing round Syria blowing bubbles, handing out daises and making peace signs.
Fear of sectarianism-
This point has been highly debated, so I won’t go into too much depth. But what I say is whose fault is it if it does turn into sectarian warfare? Syria, like Bahrain, suffers from a minority complex, a twist let’s say on the Napoleon complex. By simply keeping the status quo the threat of ‘sectarian’ warfare is only exacerbated as it simmers under the flames of injustice. You are not going to resolve these so called fears of sectarian warfare by sticking to the status quo and wishing the so-called divisions away.
Plus remind me again who is the one currently loudly spouting these fears of ‘sectarian warfare’? Yes you guessed it, none other than the state itself. Suddenly the people murdering their own civilians in cold blood have acquired a sense of worry and attentive care over the possibility that its people might supposedly kill each other without its help.
I have yet to hear protesters in the street abroad or in Syria scream and rant about sectarian warfare. Last time I checked the chants weren’t sectarian in nature but specifically Bashars-&-the-rest-of-his-regime-should-f-off in nature.
And to say this is purely sectarian would be a grand disservice and affront to the many Alawites who have also stood against the Syrian’s regimes actions. This belief in the sectarian card seeks only to benefit the regime in power.
Need Syria to stabilize region-
When has the region ever been stable? Countless wars and conflicts have time and time again torn the region apart. And these wars and conflicts usually have the fingerprints of foreign powers all over them. But this revolution sweeping the Middle East is the first time initiation and actions have been spurred by the domestic populace and not some elitist twats in offices in Washington or London etc. It is only through the direct rule of the people that the region will finally find some sort of stability or peace. No longer will we have to put up with the west’s feigned cries of concern about bringing democracy to the shores of the Middle East…through bullets & bombs. This democratic spirit will instead be carried and resolved by the voices and chants of the people.
Pro-Palestine & Anti –Israel:
Now this excuse was a big favorite with a few *cough George Galloway cough* pro-Palestinian activists. This excuse basically states that Syria is basically one of the few countries in the region which is unabashedly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli in its foreign policy. This is in stark contrast to lets say countries like Egypt under Mubarak’s rule which had stood by and done nothing to help ease the Palestinians plight.
So let’s tackle this point head on. Because Syria is ‘Pro-Palestine’ and ‘Anti-Israel’ (which by the way I don’t actually believe is truly the case) it means that it should be cut a little slack. What a Joke. How about if we used this type of logic and implemented it into another scenario. Just because a murder is a registered annual donator to Oxfam, Amnesty, The Red Cross etc. does not mean he should be judged any differently than a murder who is not as tickled pink when it comes to his charitable donations. That would be complete lunacy. I don’t care about Bashar’s foreign policy what I care about is his current disgraceful domestic policy. So even If he were to single handedly head into Gaza ready to do battle with Israel guns blazing like some Rambo stunt double, not a dam thing would change in my opinion. His people are still dying and being shot at in the streets. Fact. I don’t care if he cares & nurtures ill puppies to full health in his spare time and helps old ladies cross busy motorways as a hobby. This all doesn’t change the fact that as I type people are being shot at and bombed for the sake of securing his backside on the throne for a longer period of time.
And another thing, so he is pro-Palestine, tell me what has changed in the years he, or his dad in that case, have been in power? Correct me if I’m wrong but Palestine is still occupied and Gaza is still blockaded. Fat help his pro-Palestine stance has been to resolving the issue.
Also, there is a cloud of contestation surrounding the actual relationship between Israel and Syria. Israel in fact is not exactly popping champagne bottles and toasting to the idea of the Syrian regime maybe falling. Because as people rightfully say, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
So Bashar’s regimes political standing on the issue of Palestine doesn’t at all justify or excuse the brutal crackdown on protesters we see occurring. It’s still a tyrannical dictatorship regardless of whether or not it’s in bed or in a ring with Israel.
The blood of Syrians shouldn’t be used to wash away the blood of Palestinians, freedom should be a right afforded to all and not just the select few.
Till Next time,
Ok so unless you have been living under an isolated rock of sorts you will probably already know the hoopla surrounding whether Osama Bin Laden is dead or not. There are conflicting views and that is mainly because the circumstances surrounding Osama Bin Laden’s death have been vague and mysterious to say the least. But I’m not here to re-hash the many different views or opinions on whether he is dead or not, rather what I’m going to talk about is how all these different scenarios still lead us to the same conclusion.
So the options surrounding what has happened mainly fit into these 3 categories:
1> Osama Bin Laden Is dead and the narrative given by the US is what occurred.
2> Osama Bin Laden is not dead and this is all a ruse to distract us from the issues at hand i.e. Middle East unrest.
3> Osama Bin Laden has been dead for a while or has died already and it’s now just coming to light as it is being used as propaganda for one reason or another by the US.
So those are the 3 main positions I have ascertained from people, if it isn’t exactly that, then it is something that is very similar to 1 of the 3 points.So regardless which camp you fit into let me tell you how regardless what you believe the aftermath is the same. Here are the facts:
Osama Bin Laden was already rumored to be very ill due to kidney failure and was already on a dialysis machine. He was an old man stricken with illness and was therefore a shadow of the man he was before. Regarding Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden was never really the brains behind the operation; he was more a figurehead and leader and had a devoted team around him that helped him execute plans or decisions. But this network had been greatly diminished in strength, size, importance and capability if not completely demolished. This is mainly because of the many US led attacks on the organization and the many members that have been killed off or arrested in the time between 9/11 till now. So overall, the operation was a hollow shell of its former self.
So what about all the failed attacks we saw occurring in the US by so called Al-Qaeda members i.e. shoe-bomber? Well the attacks we have seen in the past few years where actually those orchestrated by self-made small Al-Qaeda type cells like the one in Yemen that spurned the failed shoe-bomber attack. So these weren’t really branches from the organization but more a fact of groups trying to emulate and share in the familiarity associated with an already world-renowned and recognizable network like Al-Qaeda.
So what now? Basically, regardless of whether he is dead or not, or died a while ago Osama Bin Laden and the original Al-Qaeda network he spurned is no longer the main focus or worry for many state leaders and terror analysts. His irrelevance has been greatly highlighted especially by the recent Middle Eastern uprisings. Reform and revolution were simply brought about by the people on the ground and not by Al-Qaeda. The so-called and self-imposed ‘bastions of change’ were noticeable by their absence as the nation’s people showed how much can be done through simple unity and determination. A case in point being the fact that Osama Bin Laden released a tape calling for the overthrow of Mubarak a WEEK after Mubarak had already been overthrown by the Egyptian people.
So in summary, I don’t mourn nor care much for Osama Bin Laden and the twisted organization he founded. Mainly because he not only caused countless innocent deaths but also tainted a region’s people and religion. The people in the Middle East have managed to swell the hearts of their nations with pride and honor through pacifism and unity, something which Osama Bin Laden never could or did. He divided rather than united, destroyed instead of built. He is the antithesis to the brave uprisings we see occurring in the Middle East. He is an irrelevant and unnecessary stain in the narration of the momentous and historical events we see unfolding in the Middle East. The perceptions of him greatly outpace the reality of the situation. A man whose time was up well before his death.
Till Next Time,