religion

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Rising extremism, war on terrorism and women’s lives in Pakistan

By Bushra Khaliq [International Viewpoint]

Genesis of Extremism

Sixty two years ago at the time of Pakistan’s birth in 1947 as a result of partition of United India, the majority of the population in this part of the world was not fundamentalist. The state structures, though weak, nevertheless had chances to grow as a democratic country but on account of repeated interferences by Military regimes, the state started adopting Islamic ideology, giving maximum space to religious extremist forces to promote their non-democratic agenda in the country.

Many religious political parties and sectarian groups were pampered and encouraged to grow by military regimes. Millions of petro dollars were poured in by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to strengthen these parties and groups under direct state patronage. The Islamist forces had a quiet walk over democratic and progressive forces, to consolidate their socio-political spaces in the country. Religious schools (madrassas) were set up to groom and recruit jehadis. These madrassas emerged like mushrooms across Pakistan particularly in tribal areas, which served as real breeding grounds for religious fundamentalism.

The Constitution of country was injected with pro-Islamic clauses, imposing restrictions on women rights, curtailing their mobility to participate in social life. Burka culture was promoted and women were pushed inside the four walls of the house. Segregation on basis of gender was introduced at all levels in the name of Islam. Military dictator Gen.Zia-ul-Haq enacted discriminatory laws against women to please religious forces. Parallel Islamic courts were established by Saudizing the constitution. Under Evidence Act women’s’ evidence was declared half in comparison to a man. Burden of proof of rape was shifted on woman, while in case of unwanted pregnancy as result of rape, victim was used to subject to punishment by lashes, prison and stoning to death. Women movements and progressive forces though in their limited capacity reacted to these barbaric state measures but could not stop the ugly onslaught of extremist forces.

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Call for Solidarity: Freedom and Gender Equality in Iran

Over a month ago a group of Iranian women’s activists called for all defenders of women’s rights, women’s organizations and networks to take action in support of the women’s and civil rights movements in Iran, and to prepare measures of support and protest under the banner of “freedom and gender equality in Iran”.  They requested, in case of repression in Iran, that these organizations act as the voices across the world of their sisters in Iran, and in that way demonstrate solidarity with them.  Thus far many women’s and human rights organizations have responded to this appeal and some of them are planning events for March. Now the women of the world are calling to everyone to show solidarity with the people of Iran.  Please join us.  The names of individuals and organizations supporting the appeal and holding events will be announced as confirmed.

Show Your Support by Siging Our Statement Below

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Ireland: Abortion Limits Violate Human Rights

(h/t @HunterSony)

Policies Designed to Sabotage Access Both at Home and Abroad

Women in need of abortion services should, as a matter of international law and – frankly - human decency, be able to count on support from their government as they face a difficult situation. But in Ireland they are actively stonewalled, stigmatized, and written out.

Marianne Mollmann, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

(Dublin, January 28, 2010) - The Irish government actively seeks to restrict access to abortion services and information both within Ireland and for its residents seeking care abroad, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 57-page report, "A State of Isolation: Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland," details how women struggle to overcome the financial, logistical, physical, and emotional burdens imposed by restrictive laws and policies that force them to seek care abroad, without support from the state.  Every year thousands of women and girls travel from Ireland to other European countries for abortions.

"Women in need of abortion services should, as a matter of international law and - frankly -human decency, be able to count on support from their government as they face a difficult situation," said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "But in Ireland they are actively stonewalled, stigmatized, and written out."

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Philip Huang: Sex Ed for Koreans

Philip on behalf of Reverend Moon educates Berkeley students about sex.  I don't know about you, but I want this guy on my street corner.

h/t Go Like Water

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A Message from Iran

(via Stop FGM Kurdistan)

Dear Reader, 

I have a message from Iran for you, written in a simple language, away from the many big words and grand expressions. I know that hearing the name Iran brings to mind images and memories of a different place – where different laws and government exist and people live in a different style.  But different how? 

Well, you may agree with me that there are some restrictions that you feel as soon as you become a part of the everyday life within the Iranian society. You become especially unlucky when an Iranian law applies to you and even more unlucky if you are woman. There is beauty to everyday life in Iran, great food, warm hospitality, and the rich culture and history that multicultural Iran holds. But if you are a professional, activist, writer etc. and you are there to make a difference and have something to say which doesn’t go according to the government’s line or the ruling clergymen – then you would feel those restrictions even more. 

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UPDATE: Aceh: Civil society groups advocate for repeal of Qanun Jinayah (Islamic Criminal Legal Code)

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! (SKSW Campaign) join their allies in Indonesia in continuing to call for the repeal of a law (or 'qanun') passed by the Aceh Legislative Council (DPRD) on Monday 14 September 2009, that expands the range of violent punishments for alleged moral and sexual transgressions, including stoning to death for “adultery” and 100 lashes for homosexuality.

Such cruel punishments can never be justified in the name of ‘religion’, ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’. For the first time, stoning to death would be codified in the Indonesian legal system and Islamic jurisdiction would be expanded into criminal law. We welcome the news that the Governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam has expressly stated that he would not sign the Qanun Jinayah, and that he has returned it to the Aceh legislature. The governor is also reported to be providing an opportunity for Aceh’s civil society groups to propose an improved set of laws in the place of Qanun Jinayah.

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The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

The first time I heard the name Elna Baker was on the "Matchmakers" episode of This American Life radio show.  Her segment on working for FAO Schwartz is well worth listening to: The beginning makes me laugh hard, and then it packs a sucker-punch of commentary on American racism and classism.  Touched by Elna Baker's humor and poignancy, I went looking for her personal website, which has clips of her telling stories.  Watching her first video clip, then, I was surprised to learn that Elna Baker is also a practicing Mormon committed to virginity-until-marriage.  As she says of her  dating experience for the laugh-line, "As a Mormon, I don't believe in having sex, and eventually, as a guy, he didn't believe in that.  So atheists do have beliefs."

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Picket Anti-Gay Cardinal George on Freedom-to-Marry Day!

In opposition to the desires of millions of lay Catholics for simple justice for all, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has long aligned itself with, and often led, the forces of hate and bigotry opposing equal rights for gays and women.

At 10:30 AM on Freedom-to-Marry Day 2010 – Sunday, February 14, Valentine’s Day – the Gay Liberation Network will host an informational picket of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street, to highlight the role the Church’s leadership has played in promoting inequality.

For many years the Catholic leadership has attempted to fly under the radar screen with its opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.  A key secret to their success has been their stealthiness, ironically often assisted by gay rights “leaders.”  These leaders, not trusting rank-and-file Catholics to be fair and too worried about hurting their fundraising base with well-connected and wealthy Catholics, are too cowardly to call out Catholic leaders for promoting hate and discrimination.

As a local example, Chicago's Catholic leader Cardinal Francis George has worked tirelessly -- albeit from behind the scenes -- to block our path to full legal equality.  George attempted to kill LGBT inclusion as a protected class in the Illinois Human Rights Act, which now protects us from housing and employment discrimination.  He and other Catholic bishops circulated petitions in a failed effort to force an advisory referendum on "gay marriage," and George is the head of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops which spent big bucks backing Prop 8 hate in California.  Back in Illinois, George is working hard today to block same sex-marriage and/or civil unions.

PLEASE JOIN THE FACEBOOK EVENT for the action & invite your friends:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?invites&eid=281885059470

MORE DETAILS on the event are available at that URL, or by emailing LGBTliberation@aol.com

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Peace Laureates Unite to Condemn Treatment of Shirin Ebadi and Iranian Activists

In an open letter to Iranian President Ahmadi Nejad, 14 Nobel Peace Prize Laureatescondemn Iran's intimidation of Shirin Ebadi and other Iranian activists.  The letter was signed by Wangari Maathai, Jody Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, F.W. de Klerk, and 9 other Nobel Peace Laureates.  The letter warns Ahmadi Nejad's government that the crackdown on opposition will not end the demands for human rights.

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad
President, Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Avenue
Tehran, Iran  13168-43311

21 January 2010

To President Ahmadi Nejad:

We are deeply distressed to learn of the recent actions taken against our sister Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi.  We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release all funds belonging to Dr. Ebadi and her husband and stop the harassment of Dr. Ebadi and her family.

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French Algerian actress attacked over feminist play

By Expatica

A 45-year-old theatre actress was doused with petrol in an attack in Paris after weeks of receiving threats over a feminist play she wrote on Algerian women.

Paris – French police believe a theatre actress who was doused with petrol in an attack in Paris last week was targeted for starring in a feminist play she wrote on Algerian women, a judicial official said Friday.

The 45-year-old born in Algeria, who goes by the name of Rayhana, said two men approached her while she was walking to the theatre on Tuesday, grabbed her from behind, slapped her across the face and poured petrol on her.

"I could smell the petrol. A flame brushed my hat and then I ran," she said.

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