News: Ban the Burka – So Says Belgium

Metro news site reports that Belgium is closer to banning the public wearing of the burka and other face coverage, typically worn by some Islamic women. A final vote will be taken on 22 April though all government parties support the proposed bill.

‘We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen,’ said Daniel Bacquelaine, who proposed the bill.

Many people are ambivalent about the full-coverage religious clothing. It seems symbolic of systematic oppression of one group within religious communities by the dominant group. To our simplistic view Islamic women are required to hide publicly their bodies so that Islamic men can control their sexual and aggressive urges. On the other hand we live in a tolerant society that encourages personal expression and the women concerned claim ‘freedom of choice’, a problematic concept within any close-knit societies or groups. The Belgium proponents bypass this concern and argue against the secrecy of hiding one’s face while in public similar to shops banning the wearing of motorcycle helmets.

Thinking about these issues becomes more complicated when religious defenders raise the banning of displaying or wearing crucifixes, kippahs, turbans, rotary club badges, and so on. Where do we stop?

Alex McCullie

News: Interfaith Tolerance Has Many Forms Including None

From good old OZ comes an excellent example of ‘do as I say and not as I do‘ …

CAMDEN’S Christian leaders have united to condemn the Quranic Society, which wants to build an Islamic school in Camden, for espousing views which are “incompatible with the Australian way of life”.

The leaders of the St John’s Anglican, Camden Presbyterian and Camden Baptist churches and the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary signed a letter to Camden Council arguing that the proposal was not in the public interest.

“Camden is increasingly becoming a multicultural community, but when one part of the community seeks to dominate the public space, as we have seen in Auburn, Bankstown, Lakemba and more recently Liverpool, the social impact is unacceptable,” says the letter, which was read at the Quranic Society’s appeal to the Land and Environment Court yesterday.

“Our concern is the Quranic Society inevitably advocates a political ideological position that is incompatible with the Australian way of life. This includes promoting Quranic law as being superior to national laws and regarding followers of any rival religion as inevitably at enmity with it.”

Quoted from the SMH web site

Alex McCullie

News: Yoga is Anti-Muslim in Malaysia

An Islamic council, National Fatwa Council , in Malaysia has warned Muslims against yoga as its Hindu prayers encourages a blasphemous union with God. This edict is not binding but highly influential on Malaysia’s 40 percent Muslim population (Full article The Australian 22 Nov 2008).

According to the article the previous edict or fatwa was to stop girls wearing trousers. An attempt by the government to restrict overseas travel of unaccompanied women failed.

To most people in Western secular countries these seem worryingly repressive trends.

Alex McCullie

News: Deadly Mix of Religion and Culture in Somalia

From The Age Online article 4 Nov 2008 a 13 year Somalian girl was stoned to death for being raped.

AN Islamist rebel administration in Somalia has had a girl, 13, stoned to death for adultery after the child’s father reported that three men raped her.

Amnesty International reported that the al-Shabab militia, which controls the southern city of Kismayo, arranged for 50 men to stone Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow in front of about 1000 spectators.

Alex McCullie

News: Muslim Cleric Wedded 12 Year Old Girl

From a BBC report:

A Muslim cleric has caused public outrage in Indonesia after marrying a 12-year-old girl. Pujianto Cahyo Widianto married the girl in the central Java city of Semarang, during an unofficial religious ceremony. He reportedly chose her from a pool of 20 girls, before flying to Singapore with his new bride, as well as his first wife. (full report 27 Oct 2008)

Alex McCullie

Here is a postscript (from another web report – different source) with photos plus a stated intention to marry nine and seven year old girls as well.

News: FBI Declares Murders as Honour Killings

According to news report from Dallas, US, a father killed both of his daughters for dating non-Muslims and the FBI has declared these as honour killings.

Back in January, the girls’ relatives said the father killed them because he felt they disgraced the family by dating non-Muslims and acting too western. (full article on Dallas/Fort Worth Channel 8 website)

Alex McCullie

News: Sharia Comes to UK with Full Powers

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.

Siddiqi said that in the domestic violence cases, the advantage was that marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.

(TimesOnLine 14-Sep-2008)

News: Banning Creation Criticism in Islamic Turkey

Richard Dawkin‘s site has been banned by a Turkish court after a complaint by Islamic creationist author, Adnan Oktar. (Article at Monsters and Critics blog Article at Richard Dawkins) According to the newspaper articles the complaint was about the defaming of his book, Atlas of Creation, by Dawkins.

Alex McCullie

News: Silencing Critics of Radical Islam

Scary international legal developments to protect religions and Islam in particular from criticism…

There are strange happenings in the world of international jurisprudence that do not bode well for the future of free speech. In an unprecedented case, a Jordanian court is prosecuting 12 Europeans in an extraterritorial attempt to silence the debate on radical Islam.

The prosecutor general in Amman charged the 12 with blasphemy, demeaning Islam and Muslim feelings, and slandering and insulting the prophet Muhammad in violation of the Jordanian Penal Code. The charges are especially unusual because the alleged violations were not committed on Jordanian soil.
(read more Wall Street Journal – opinion piece 10 Sep 2008)

Alex McCullie

News: Scary Incitements at London Mosque

Women preachers are urging followers at one of Britain’s most influential mosques to kill homosexuals and view all non-Muslims as “vile”, according to a television documentary.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, known as the Regent’s Park Mosque, is one of the most respected centres for moderate Islam in western Europe. (more at The Times Online 31-Aug 2008)

Alex McCullie