Burka ban ‘ludicrous’

3/5/10; (2 Items)

European attacks on the right of Muslim women to wear veils were discriminatory, declared the US daily. “The anti-burka cause is sweeping Europe. In addition to Belgium and France, Italy and The Netherlands are considering bans. Yet the targets of these measures are virtually nonexistent.” Only a couple of hundred women in Belgium wear a full veil, while in France there are as few as 1900 burka-wearers in a Muslim population of five million. “The idea that this poses a criminal or cultural threat is ludicrous. Those who say they are defending women’s rights have it exactly backward: they are violating fundamental rights to free expression and religious freedom. They are also exacerbating the very problem they say they are worried about. Muslims, including the devoutly religious, are in Europe to stay. Banning their customs, their clothing or their places of worship will not make them more European. It will only make Europe less free.”

The Washington Post, The Australian, No Internet Text

Iran seeks marriages made in heaven
Mehdi Baghernejad; 3/5/10; The Sun-Herald; McClatchy-Tribune; No Internet Text
Confronted by a soaring divorce rate, the Iranian government has decided to require would-be newlyweds to complete a “marriage college” program before their nuptials. The National Youth Organisation, supervised by the government, will operate the program and award graduates a licence authorising them to marry. It’s unclear if it’s possible to flunk the course.
“This licence will show that the person has acquired the necessary skill and knowledge to maintain a stable family,” said organisation head Mehrdad Bazrpash, a close adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The number of divorces has been climbing sharply in recent years. Nationwide, one in seven marriages ends in divorce. In Tehran, the figure is one divorce for every 3.76 marriages.
The marriage college’s course incorporates psychological pointers and Islamic educational principles. It costs $US10 ($10.83) for the 16-week program. The textbooks used in the course offer a detailed guide to what makes a suitable marriage partner.
A man should be broad- shouldered and strong, have sufficient social standing and “lack lasciviousness in sight, thought and deed”. He should also have the financial capacity to support his wife and possible child, as well as pay alimony should the marriage end in divorce.
A woman must possess “delicate eyebrows and hair and a melodious voice”. She must have a good figure or be fit, the book says. She must be obedient to her mate and be “at her husband’s disposal” in private.
When her husband is upset, a woman should not rest until she makes him content. A woman must be compliant and easygoing.
Both men and women must be faithful, God-fearing and adhere to the rule of the Supreme Leader. Having “suitable” political views is another important quality that couples must possess.
Many academics dismiss the entire “marriage course” concept.
An Isfahan University psychology professor, who asked that his name not be used, noted that, “If everyone is to be broad-shouldered men and shapely women to meet the government standards, divorce rates will increase because everybody will expect his or her partner to look like Barbie or Ken”, a reference to the popular American dolls.
Mostafa Eqlima, head of the scientific board of Iranian social workers, believes requiring the marriage course is meddling in people’s personal affairs.
Societal factors are a major element in the high divorce rate, according to Amanollah QarayiMoqaddam, a professor of sociology at the University of Tarbiat Moallem.
“The conflict between the disintegrating traditional structure and the modern structure taking place in Iran prepares the grounds for identity confusion among men and women,” he said.