Posts Tagged ‘islam’

There are certain events you dread as a parent: Your daughter’s first date. Explaining “birds and bees.” A late night phone call from the hospital. And having to tell your 16-year-old daughter how you’re not going to let her drive, because you don’t want to have to arrest her:

In a country where women are barred from getting behind the wheel, his daughter’s desire is not only forbidden, it’s also a touchy subject for Gifari, who’s spent nearly half his life working for the government body charged with enforcing the law.

“I told her that driving is allowed in Islam,” Gifari said in a rare interview with a Western reporter. “But it is more of a cultural thing. We already have a lot of problems on the road when it comes to sexual harassment, with guys flirting with girls in the car. If a woman drives, it’s only going to bring more problems.”

Fortunately for Gifari, he appears to have the persuasive manner that’s so helpful in parenting:

As for his own daughter’s desire to drive a car, Gifari said, after a half-hour chat, she agreed with her dad that the timing wasn’t right.

“Maybe in a few years traditions will change,” Gifari said. “But right now it’s only going to bring problems — and it’s not one of the government priorities.”

And he didn’t even have to cut out her tongue! Is it too early to nominate him for Father of the Year?


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I have to confess that I have entirely mixed feelings about the movement in France to ban the burqa. I totally agree that the burqa makes women into “prisoners” and is a primitive custom and is an affront to Western values like secularism and common sense and (especially) boobaliciousness.

At the same time, banning clothing is also an affront to Western values. Perhaps the burqa subjugates women, but the same charge could be (and has been) made against half the t-shirts in my wardrobe. Perhaps women are forced to wear burqas by their relatives, but is this so different from schools that force kids to wear uniforms, clubs that force men to wear jackets, or restaurants that force patrons to wear shirts and shoes? And if we let the government ban clothes, what will we let them ban next? Drugs? Guns? Machinima porn?

Anyway, those who are serious about banning the burqa are guilty of not appreciating its comedic value. Why, back when I worked in Hollywood, I had the idea of an entire cycle of burqa-themed short films.

One, for instance, involved a group of ninjas returning from an assassination and a group of burqa-ed women returning from the mosque, who bumped into each other on the sidewalk, after which one member of each ended up leaving with the wrong group. Hilarity ensued.

A second involved two kids who wanted to go into an adults-only establishment, so one sat on the other’s shoulders while they hid under a burqa. Hilarity ensued.

And a third was about a group of bank robbers who hid under burqas to disguise their identities, but who accidentally visited the bank at the same time as an overbearing sheikh, who mistook a robber for one of his harem and dragged him back to his palace. Hilarity ensued.

There were more, each funnier than the next. One involved a burqa and Carrot Top and Andy Dick, one a burqa and a “Soup Nazi,” and one a burqa and a child-molesting neighbor. It wouldn’t be unfair to describe them as art.

And do you really want to put yourself in the position of banning art?

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Proselytization is a two-way street. So pity (a little bit) the poor attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention, who are going to have to deal with evangelization from PETAns:

Among the demonstrators who will be standing outside the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville as the SBC opens its two-day meeting on Tuesday will be one dressed as Jesus, carrying a sign reading “For Christ’s Sake, Go Vegetarian,” and another dressed as a chicken with a sign reading “Jesus Loves Me Too.”

Other members will be holding signs reading “Thou Shalt Not Kill. Go Vegetarian” and “Blessed Are the Merciful. Go Vegetarian.” They will also hand out leaflets that relate vegetarian living to Christian teachings.

Now, if you’ve read my book, you know that I’m not a big fan of granting people’s imaginary premises in order to engage with them.

If vegetarianism is a good idea, then PETA should be making the case that vegetarianism is a good idea. If a bacon cheeseburger, cooked medium rare, with aged cheddar cheese, two thick-cut strips of peppered bacon, a mix of mayonnaise and BBQ sauce that I like to call “BBQonnaise,” dill pickle chips, fried onion straws, crisp lettuce, ripe tomato, and sweet red onions isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet, they should be arguing that it isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet.

Instead, their argument contains the following pieces:

  • god’s mythological garden was vegetarian, according to the cave-people-written book of myths you cherish”
  • maybe the fish Jesus ate were only symbolic fish, just like the one that “got away” on your last trip to the lake
  • because Jesus “gave his life willingly,” eating his flesh and blood doesn’t actually count as eating flesh and blood (and possibly also because they’re actually crackers and wine, but we’re not going to mention this common sense fact, because we’re trying to participate in your fantasy world)
  • meat-eating is “part of the fallen creation” (whatever the hell that means)

You’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical that the PETAns actually believe any of these arguments, any more than they believe their arguments that “Mohammed only symbolically slaughtered the Banu Qurayza,” that “adhering to a vegetarian I-tal diet will increase the ‘life energy’ that Haile Selassie puts inside us,” or that “Bhai Gurdas’s praise of goat meat doesn’t really count because it was written in poetry form.”

Hopefully soon they’ll get back to more sensible behavior, like opposing the throwing of dead fish or hiring the granddaughter of a murderous guerilla to lend his violent cachet to their cause, or taking a brave stand for the rights of houseflies.

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PARIS (AP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out Monday at the practice of wearing the shinobi shōzoku, insisting the full-body costume is a sign of the “debasement” of martial artists and that it won’t be welcome in France.

A Ninja

The French leader expressed support for a recent call by dozens of legislators to create a parliamentary commission to study a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment in France.

In the first presidential address in 136 years to a joint session of France’s two houses of parliament, Sarkozy laid out his support for a ban even before the panel has been approved—braving critics who fear the issue is a marginal one and could stigmatize ninjas in France.

“In our country, we cannot accept that ninjas be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles southwest of Paris.

“The shōzoku is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement—I want to say it solemnly,” he said. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

In France, the terms “shōzoku” and “ninja costume” often are used interchangeably. The former refers to a full-body covering worn largely in Japan with only a mesh screen over the eyes, whereas the latter is a full-body veil, often in black, with slits for the eyes.

Later Monday, Sarkozy was expected to host a state dinner with Master Jinichi Kawakami of Banke Shinobinoden. Many ninjas in the Ban Family wear traditional head coverings in public—whether while shopping or driving cars.

France enacted a law in 2004 banning the Shuriken and other conspicuous ninja symbols from public schools, sparking fierce debate at home and abroad. France has Western Europe’s largest ninja population, an estimated 5 million people.

Minister Kosugi

A government spokesman said Friday that it would seek to set up a parliamentary commission that could propose legislation aimed at barring ninjas from wearing the head-to-toe gowns outside the home.

The issue is highly divisive even within the government. France’s junior minister for human rights, Masaaki Hatsumi, said he was open to a ban if it is aimed at protecting ninjas forced to wear the shōzoku.

But Immigration Minister Sho Kosugi said a ban would only “create tensions.”

A leading French ninja group warned against studying the shōzoku.

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Tragedy in (Wichita / Ottawa / Nepal / Israel), where (an anti-abortion activist / a devout Muslim / Hindu extremists / Ultra-Orthodox Jews) (murdered a doctor / murdered his sister and her lover / blew up a Catholic Church / beat up some missionaries) in order to (stop him from performing abortions / restore honor to his family / make Nepal into a Hindu state / prevent conversions). Spokespeople for (anti-abortion groups / Muslim organizations / Hindu nationalists / ultra-Orthodox Jews) urged that we not judge all their members based on the actions of (“extremists” / “extremists” / “extremists” / “extremists” ):

Most (Christians / Muslims / Hindus / Jews) manage to go through life without ever engaging in religiously-motivated violence. And while violence is never justified, we should be more tolerant and try to understand how people might have legitimate grievances about (procedures that we’ve repeatedly denounced as “murder” / the concept of “honor” our community has relentlessly promoted / the indignity of having to live under a non-Hindu government / free speech promoting a different form of superstition from ours).

In any event, we should be very careful with our words, as it wouldn’t be fair to blame an isolated incident on (religion / religion / religion / religion).

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Move over, Electrical Engineering! Get out of town, Computer Science! Take a hike, Biotechnology! Scram, Finance! There’s a hot new academic field in town: Islamic Studies!

Right now it’s only found at a few obscure colleges, like NYU and Yale and Georgetown and Harvard and Columbia and Texas and Indiana and Cal State Sacramento and Ohio State and Stanford and Kentucky and UCLA and Arizona State and Boston College and Claremont and San Francisco State and Swarthmore.

But that all could be changing soon, with the founding of the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States:

Zaytuna College will start with two majors: Arabic language, and Islamic legal and theological studies.

It will not be a seminary, although some graduates could become prayer leaders, or imams. Most U.S. mosques are led by imams from overseas, considered an obstacle to Islam’s development in America.

Other students could go on to start American Muslim nonprofits, or become Islamic scholars through advanced study at other schools, said Hatem Bazian, a Zaytuna adviser who teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and Saint Mary’s College of California.

They’ve got a motto (“Where Islam Meets America”), a mascot (“Ali the Fighting Caliph”), and a variety of halal meal plans.

Of course, if this takes off, it bodes well for my plan to start the first four-year accredited Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionist University, Athena Tech. We’d start with two majors: Greek language, and Titan/Olympian Studies. Students could go on to be epic poets, semi-immortal warriors, tragic heroes, or (with advanced study at other schools) satyrs.

I already know what my critics will say: students can already learn these topics at regular universities, where they’ll be surrounded by a wide range of non-Hellenic classmates and can experience life as Hellenic Americans. I’ll just be “ghettoizing” them as Hellenists, they’ll argue.

This is true, of course, but the state of Hellenic scholarship in the West is so anemic that a crisis is looming. The Hellenist community has no leaders who have been properly indoctrinated!

Who will talk for the religion? We have to train a generation!

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The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution provides (among other things) the right of those accused of crimes to confront their accusers in court.

However, there are some groups who feel that this protection is too broad. The (unfortunately-named) anti-civil-liberties group American Civil Liberties Union is suggesting that the confrontation clause should not apply, for example, when the accuser has a “sincerely held [religious] belief” that precludes him or her from confronting the accused:

The matter stems from a 2006 small-claims lawsuit in Hamtramck, Michigan, when a district judge told Ginnah Muhammad that she couldn’t testify unless she removed her veil.

Muhammad wore a niqab, – a scarf and veil to cover her face and head except for her eyes – to 31st district judge Paul Paruk’s courtroom on 11 October. She was contesting a $2,750 (£1800) repair bill from a car rental company after thieves broke into a vehicle she was using.

Paruk said he needed to see Muhammad’s face to gauge her truthfulness. Muhammad did not remove the veil and lost the case.

But why should the ACLU stop with the Sixth Amendment? Here are some suggestions for their future fights against civil liberties:

  • The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of speech, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of the press, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, unless the others conflict with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • Slavery shall not exist in the United States, except for those people with “sincerely held beliefs” mandating it.
  • The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, except from those with “sincerely held beliefs” opposed to taxation.

Actually, the last doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Get cracking, ACLU!

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