Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's greatest achievement is challenging Islam to overcome its Dark Age tribalism and accept secular values. Just speaking about such a subject in Europe is quite taboo, and even American liberals pretend its a non-issue. But reforming Islam should be a priority for all of mankind, and not through physical force but nonviolent social change.

I rode the bus back today with a co-worker, Fato. She is younger than myself ( I am 24 currently), is married and has an 8 year old son. Her son is still in Ethiopia and husband living in Colorado, but he is in control of her life, as she is Muslim.

She wears clothing to cover her body, and most of her face. I understand the value of modesty, it is quite attractive to see it in women. But I do not understand why her husband forbids her any friends. That is correct, she is lucky enough to be able to have a job outside of her sister's home. At Mystic Lake Casino, she can chat and joke with others. But outside of work, she is to remain forever lonely. She can't even give out her phone number or call those her husband does not approve of. ( which is only Fato's relatives ) She is allowed to go shopping, alone and never with anyone but her sister.

I asked Fato if she was lonely, she is but "I love my husband - that is where my heart is." She has not seen her son for nearly 6 years, and she was visibly starting to cry but holding back any gush of tears. She talks to her husband and son twice a week, and has photos of them. But she yearns for the day he can be in America with her.

Fato's husband is liberal in allowing his wife to work outside the home, but his archaic antifriend stance hilights how ancient tribalism still entrenches upon Muslims.

An excerpt from The Caged Virgin:

The biggest obstacle that hinders Muslim women from leading dignified, free lives is violence - physical, mental, and sexual- committed by their close families. Here is only a sample of some of the violence perpetuated on girls and women from Islamic cultures:

  • Four-year old girls have their genitals mutilated: some of them so badly that they die of infections; others are traumatized for life from the experience and will later suffer recurrent infections of their reproductive and urinary systems

  • Teenage girls are removed from school by force and kept inside the house to stop their schooling, stifle their thinking, and suffocate their will

  • Victimes of incest and sexual abuse are beaten, deported, or killed to prevent them from filing comlaints

  • Some pregnant victims of incest or abuse are forced to have abortions by their fathers, older brothers, or uncles in order to keep the family honor from being stained. In this era of DNA testing, the girls could demonstrate that they have been abused. Yet instead of punishing the abusers, the family treats the daughter as if she had dishonored the family

  • Girls and women who protest their maltreatment are beaten by their parents in order to kill their sprits and reduce them to a lifelong servitude that amounts to slavery

  • Many girls and women who can't bear to suffer anymore take their own lives or develop numerous kinds of psychological aliments, including nervous breakdown and psychosis.They are literally driven mad

I have no doubts that this type of control is being exerted over Fato. She knows that her life could be better, but her family and her past experiences make her feel helpless. I could see the pain in her eyes, sacrificing her feelings and needs for a Husband miles away.

In advance, I would like to state that I am not 100% knowledgeable of Shariah or Hudood laws, except that they seem harsh and comprehend the Koran in a fundamentalist manner. Though I disagree with their methods of punishment, I strongly disagree that they should form the base of a government anywhere. I would appreciate any comments from the Muslim community, as any dialogue will improve understanding of current Islam.

Forcing attachments on people through violence and intimidation is wrong. If we are to live in a truly free world, we must condemn all such acts. As a Buddhist and American, I cannot sit by and watch this occur. I must make it known that such atrocities exist, and that we must all work to eliminate them. This is not an attack on the Islamic faith, but on the underlying tribalism still inherent in its culture. It is time for them to abandon Hudood(Islamic Penal System) and Shariah laws, and embrace the right of individual freedom. Let the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights reign throughout the Earth!

Friday, August 18, 2006

I had the displeasure of hearing Mike Hatch speak on MPR. After hearing him, I am appalled that the DFL endorsed him! But listening to their convention, I understood why. Their mentality is "electibility" and choose a relaxed stance on core issues. Maybe Mike Hatch seems electable with the convention, but with average Minnesotans and DFLers Hatch is an arrogant and egocentric, and will not build a positive movement.

What Hatch will do is alienate the left from the DFL and embolden the GOP. Of course, perhaps the left is now morphing into the "anyone but GOP-party." This is an unfortunate turn of events, but it seems more true each election cycle. Would Republicans still get nominated and elected as the "non-Democrats?" Would they and do they reach for the so-called "center?" No, but the DFL is no different from the DNC, concentrating on funding and electibility issues first, then political issues second.

What I find most infuriating about Hatch is his anti-third party stance. He refuses debate with any non-Republican. He dismisses their issues and instead talks about a referendum on Pawlenty and Bush. Last time I checked, George Bush wasn't running for re-election. And a vote for Pawlenty, Hutchinson, or Pentel is not a vote for Bush - contrary to what Hatch believes.

I truly hope he loses in the primary to someone who can move Minnesota in a postive direction. Someone like Becky Lourey, who will work towards bringing home our Guardsmen and Universal Healthcare.