15/5/10; A mud-walled village in Iran. Soraya, a 35-year-old mother of seven, is falsely accused of adultery by her violent husband, who wants to be rid of her to marry a 4-year-old girl. He blackmails the local mullah, who sentences Soraya to death by stoning under Sharia law. The crowd cries “Allahu akbar [God is great!]” as Soraya’s two young sons are invited to hurl the first stones. It takes Soraya an agonising three hours to die. The next day an Iranian-French journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam, stops in the village to get his car fixed and is told the horrific story by Soraya’s fearless aunt, Zahra. He makes a narrow escape from the village and goes on to write a book in honour of Soraya that will become an international bestseller in 1994, opening the eyes of the West for the first time to the barbaric practice of stoning in some Islamic countries.
Posts Tagged ‘Religion’
Tony Allen-Mills; 15/5/10
What are these? Why did you choose this place?” asks Ayaan Hirsi Ali, eyebrows arched in feigned alarm. We are in New York’s Algonquin hotel, just a few hundred metres from Times Square, where a Muslim would-be bomber parked a car full of explosives a couple of days earlier. Radical Islamists have been trying for years to kill Hirsi Ali, a softly spoken politician turned intellectual who combines the beauty of a film star with the uncompromising zeal of an Enlightenment crusader. She has been under siege since the ritualised murder in 2004 of her friend, Theo van Gogh, who had helped her make the film Submission, a blistering polemic about Islam’s treatment of women. A letter pinned to Van Gogh’s chest – or, rather, stabbed in place with a butcher’s knife – warned Hirsi Ali that “you will go down”. She went into hiding, exchanging a career as a Dutch MP for exile.
Carole Landry, 13/5/10
The French parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the full-face Islamic veil as an affront to the nation’s values, setting the stage for a law banning it. The vote in the National Assembly put France on course to become the second European country after Belgium to declare the wearing of the burqa or the niqab illegal in public places. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party and the opposition Socialists made a rare show of unity in backing the non-binding resolution that declared the veil ”contrary to the values of the republic”.
Victoria Laurie; 12/5/10
Last year, archeologist Mike Morwood and rock art specialist June Ross took the ride of their lifetime across the northwest Kimberley. They hired a helicopter and flew across largely trackless territory, their pilot landing periodically in spots where he felt he could get his helicopter down safely and where they believed a good rock art site might lie. Their journey took them from Bigge Island, one of the Kimberley’s largest offshore landmasses, east to inland pastoral stations, and north as far as the rugged Drysdale River National Park, the Kimberley’s largest park that lacks an airstrip, ranger station or even a single road. The pair’s aerial reconnoitre recorded 27 locations in which they documented a total of 54 rock art sites. “It was an absolute revelation,” Ross recalls. “What struck us was how many rock art sites there are, and we developed a great admiration for the artists who made them.” Across the Kimberley, hundreds of thousands of paintings lie in rock overhangs and caves, often behind curtains of tropical vines. Dappled light plays over the surface of hauntingly beautiful images that have made the region famous: Gwion Gwion or Bradshaw paintings depicting slender dancing figures in mulberry coloured ochre or younger images of Wandjina spirits, wide-eyed and startlingly white despite the passage of years.
Victoria Laurie; 11/5/10
Shimmering heat and a dazzling purple-blue sky hang over Burrup Peninsula’s vast rocky landscape, and intense light makes it hard to pick out details in the stony rubble. But once they adjust, the eyes can make out lively images of humans, animals and symbols. In this remote northwest corner, about 1500km north of Perth, a vast array of images is scratched on sun-beaten surfaces and in shadowed crevices. Camera in hand, Mike Donaldson has covered almost all of the Burrup Peninsula and nearby islands of the Dampier Archipelago, off the Pilbara coast. He has encountered thousands of petroglyphs, or rock engravings, scattered across the landscape. It’s thought there are probably a million or more in what is almost certainly the largest concentration of petroglyphs on any continent. Yet there has never been a complete archeological survey and, until now, no book that comprehensively captures its art. Burrup Rock Art is Donaldson’s remedy for the latter oversight, if not the former one. He decided to put together the book after attending a wake for Pat Vinnicombe, an anthropologist who conducted many early site surveys and worked tenaciously to get Burrup art protected. She died in 2003 while visiting the place she loved with politicians and rock art enthusiasts who were trying to halt destruction of Burrup sites to make way for an industrial plant.
Dick Gross;10/5/10, (3 Items)
There is a financial contagion threatening to sweep Europe but another contagion, just as destructive, is going pan European – Islamophobia. The French started it with the prohibition of the veil in schools. It has now extended to prohibitions on Islamic practices in Switzerland and Belgium. Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi in his blog and in The National Times argued that some of the prohibitions should leap the Pacific and come here. Amazingly 81 per cent of National Times readers agreed with him in an (admittedly unscientific) poll of more than 10,000 respondents. Ah one can never go wrong spewing out racial divisiveness. This dog whistle has worked. Bernardi must be rapt.
Samah Hadid & Rayann Bekdache; 8/5/10
A woman gets arrested for wearing a controversial item of clothing that the state deems out of line and is convicted of public indecency. We are not talking about Belgium, Italy or France but, rather, Sudan. However, these days it’s easy to get the countries mixed up. It’s hard not to compare the recent cases of a French woman who was fined while wearing a niqab and driving, a fully veiled Italian woman who was issued with a fine of 500 euros ($A712) while walking in the street and the absurd arrest of a woman for wearing trousers in Sudan last September. The issue came closer to home yesterday when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott responded to calls by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi for a ban on the burqa by saying there is ”understandable community concern” about the attire. The common thread in these cases is the attempt at state intervention in the personal spheres of women’s clothing and expression.
Kevin Rudd accused the opposition of cynical politics over Liberal senator Cory Bernardi’s call for a ban on wearing the burka in public. As the Islamic community and lawyers attacked the call, the Prime Minister accused Tony Abbott of “walking both sides of the street” on the issue after the Opposition Leader distanced himself from the policy. Asked by the ABC’s Jon Faine if the Coalition was playing the race card, Mr Rudd said: “I’ll let your listeners draw that conclusion.” Senator Bernardi this week warned the burka was emerging as a “disguise of bandits” and called for its ban after an armed robber used one as a disguise in a Sydney theft.
Katherine Murphy; 7/5/10
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has fuelled the political debate over the burqas worn by Muslim women by saying there is ”understandable community concern” about the attire. Mr Abbott made the remarks in response to a call by one of his MPs for burqas to be banned in Australia in the wake of an armed robbery in Sydney by a man in a full black burqa. Mr Abbott said Senator Cory Bernardi’s remarks reflected his personal views rather than Coalition policy – but he added: ”There is understandable concern in the community about what former prime minister John Howard called a confronting form of attire.” Senator Bernardi’s call was dismissed yesterday by some Muslim leaders as nothing more than a political stunt.
A Muslim in Italy has been fined €500 for wearing a burqa. Tunisian immigrant Amel Marmouri, 26, was stopped by police in the city of Novara, in the north-east. A 1975 regulation invoking an anti-terrorism law prohibits people from wearing anything that impedes identification. Mrs Marmouri’s husband said his wife would continue to wear the burqa as he did not want other men to see her. He said she would have to stay at home. Town mayor Massimo Giordano said he had hoped the new ordinance would have deterred Muslim women from wearing burqas and niqabs. He said the new rule was introduced because it is ”the only tool at our disposal to stop behaviour that makes the already difficult process of integration even harder”.
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.”
Tim Soutphommasane; 1/5/10
Is it illiberal for governments to ban practices judged to be illiberal, as the French government is doing with its intended ban on the burka? Those familiar with France will be aware its civic culture isn’t one of vive la difference. The French republic has, since its birth through revolution, stood for an unambiguous and unitary creed: liberte, egalite, fraternite. When it comes to religious expression, republican ideology has meant a non-negotiable stance of secularism: laicite. In 2004, French authorities moved to ban all ostentatious displays of religious symbolism in government schools. Though evidently aimed at the wearing of headscarfs by Muslim students, the ban extends to all forms of religious expression.
Jacqueline Maley, 1/5/10
Finally, some good news for Catholic spin doctors: hopeful children with warm but firm parents are more likely to develop religious values, according to a study by Wollongong University psychologists. The study examines the nexus between parenting styles, child development and religiosity and shows that the better the parenting, the more positive religious values the child holds. Researchers questioned 784 year 7 students in Catholic schools about their perceptions of parents’ behaviour, then divided the ”parenting styles” into three groups – authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. Three years later, they revisited the teenagers in year 10 and gave them questionnaires assessing their religious beliefs. The teens were asked to rate the extent to which they adhered to the guiding principles: ”Being saved from your sins and at peace with God”; ”Being at one with God or the universe”; and ”Following your religious faith conscientiously”.
30/4/10; (2 Items)
Belgian legislators voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public, paving the way for the first clampdown of its kind in Europe. In the lower house of federal parliament, 136 deputies voted to ban nationwide clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa. There were two abstentions. No one voted against. The upper house of parliament has two weeks to raise any objections to the decision.
Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s Queensland home remains on the market, but not for everyone. Muslim buyers, for example, aren’t welcome. Ms Hanson, who has put up for sale her million-dollar property in Coleyville, south-west of Brisbane, announced she was moving to Britain earlier this year. Her hardline views on race sparked a national debate over immigration policy and Aboriginal disadvantage from the time she entered Parliament in 1996, the same election that made John Howard prime minister.
Charles Bremner; 27/4/10
President Sarkozy’s campaign against full Islamic veils took a comic turn yesterday when a Muslim butcher claimed that his wives were no different from the mistresses that Frenchmen traditionally enjoyed. Lies Hebbadj, 35, was defending himself after the Government made him a national example by citing his supposed polygamy as an illustration of un-French ways. He came to attention when a police officer in Nantes fined his wife euros 22 for driving while dressed in a niqab. Brice Hortefeux, the Interior Minister, demanded that Mr Hebbadj, who was born in Algeria, be stripped of his French nationality. The butcher said: “If we are stripped of nationality for having mistresses there would be a lot of French people stripped of nationality.” Mr Hebbadj has become an unwitting symbol for both sides in the row over Mr Sarkozy’s plans for a law, to be tabled in Parliament next month, that will bar women from covering their faces in public.