Sunday, November 30, 2008

Violence Against Women: Acid Attacks

I'm writing a paper on female genital mutilation, and it's been a disturbing research experience. I'll share some of the stories I have found at another time.

However, on a related note (the depressing state of women's rights and safety everywhere) I was just forwarded a story about acid attacks in Asia. I met a victim of this this heinous crime years ago, but if I hadn't the severity of this type of attack would be nearly unbelievable:

This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.

Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.

Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.
Full Story & Related Multimedia: Terrorism That's Personal
Hijab Flutter: Nazia Khan

Please keep the women of the world in your duas/prayers/thoughts.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Genocide/Rape & Pillage/Thankstaking Day!

"Yes, I am an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving."

It's as though we forget because time has passed. Or rather that we don't care, because we do not see ourselves as one with the victims of this genocide?

For many of us this “holiday” was explained for the first time in elementary school as a celebration of prosperity in the “New World”. I’m sure many of you remember those cherished moments in the Kinder when the teacher would dress you up like Colonists and Indians, y yo con un nopal en la frente often got stuck being a Pilgrim!

The teachers told us the stories of the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and how they triumphed over the cold winter and failed crops. These colonists were to serve as examples because their “rugged individualism” set the foundation for this nation. This, unfortunately, marks the beginning of the first of many lies and half-truths taught to us in school about how this Western Empire was established.

For our purposes we must go back in time a little further to see that the origins of November twenty-fifth are in fact much older than the foundations of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Subsequently we must go to VIII century Europe.

In the 8th century the Muslims (Moors) conquered Spain, Portugal and France and controlled it for over 700 years. These people threatened European Christians, meaning Western Civilization.

It was not until the late 15th century that in Spain on November 25, 1491, Santiago defeated the last Muslim stronghold in Grenada. On this day King Ferdinand gave thanks to God for this victory and the Pope of Rome declared this day to forever be a day of Thanksgiving for all European Christians.

The Hip-Hop lyricist, Rass Kass, in “Nature of the Threat” states that: “When you celebrate Thanksgiving, what you are actually celebrating is the proclamation of the Pope of Rome, who later in league with Queen Isabella, sent Cardinal Ximenos to Spain to murder any Blacks that resisted Christianity.” These genocidal policies were justified by Pope Nicholas in the Inter Cetera Papal Bull of 1452, which called for the King of Portugal “To invade, search out, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans, whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ”.

These are the true religious and political motivations that formulated the white supremacist mindset that was the foundations for the economic colonization of the Americas and its Native peoples.

Thanksgiving in the United States is a part of this tradition that celebrates the subjugation of non-Western people for colonial purposes. Its roots are more directly connected to the events that occurred in the Northeast in the year 1637, when 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their “Annual Green Corn Dance” in the area that is now known as Groton, Connecticut.

While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indigenous people were ordered from their ceremonial structures and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in their homes. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 Pequots. Subsequently, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor or President since was to honor that victory, thanking God that the “battle” had been won. The holiday on the 3rd Thursday of November we celebrate is in observation of that massacre and upholds this colonial mentality.

How will you celebrate Thankstaking day?

Full Article: La Prensa

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Stupid Encounter

This one goes in the hall of shame with the desi aunty story and the scary Mosque-hijab encounter. Last week I logged onto Facebook to be greeted on my newsfeed by the use of the "n-word." A brother I knew had posted something about wanting to play basketball that night. One of his friends had responded saying "n****r lol." 

I, of course, was offended. Who expects to see such casual use of racial epithets blasted in their face, when they log onto Facebook? So I responded simply saying "wow." And what came from there was an interesting barrage of messages from the offending brother defending and explaining his right to use the word. To add somebackground, this is a South Asian brother from a subarban (some might even classify it as one of the bubbles) portion of California. Of all of the people who might claim to have a right to use the word, this was an interesting situation.

I made two comments. The first, "wow," and then upon being told by the oh so fabulous brother that I should mind my own business I said something to the effect of "it becomes my business the second you attempt to pollute public space with racist words." For my two comments, I received at least a total of five messages defending his use of the word. His angry messages (yes, he was angry at me for saying "wow" when he was using the "n-word" in public spaced) are included below:
"naw it wasnt a supid comment..ppl dont know why i said it..and should mind thier own business"

"naw cuz u were like i wana play ball...and i was like lets play at mile square then u changed it to i said it..and its not stupid i can say that word i got the right."

"polluting public space..what are u a lawyer..dude people say worse things than that and mean sorry if sisters dont use that type of lingo...and if i knew other ppl would see it and react that way i wouldnt have said it."

"lol dude no one can wreck a junior lawyer"
And to make matters more interesting he also personally messaged me, saying: 
"well yeah its in public..but i do have freedom of speech as u have the freedom to dispute what i say..doesnt make u right..doesnt make me right"
It's a sad-sad day when I have to spend the afternoon discussing the inappropriateness of the term n****r with another Muslim. This person would likely call the civil rights and hate crime task forces if he were referred to as a "camel jockey," and yet he cannot afford other ethnic groups the same respect?

My draft response to his personal message is included below:

Salaams "Junior Lawyer,"

When you are able to put together complete sentences, send me a message. Until then, please feel free to go back and reread what I said/wrote. I never said anything about your right to say the word. Rather I commented on the appropriateness of its usage and my right to respond to such usage.

Considerations here would be:

1. It is widely recognized as a racist term.

2. The word was used in a public space, and therefore becomes nothing more than a commodity in the marketplace of ideas.

3. As you maintain the right to use the term, I maintain the right to say "wow" when I am disappointed about Muslims speaking ignorantly.

I would ask, would you feel comfortable just using that word around a local shaikh? Your mom? The Prophet? Shouldn't we hold all of our speech to that standard? Given such, whether it is a private or public posting, I would ask that you rethink your justification for use of such a historically negative term.

I'm not even going to get into the issue of the gender biased remarks you made regarding a sister's vocabulary. Please see my note above: this is not an issue of brothers or sisters, it is one of Muslims and people of conscience.

Relatedly, I'd recommend you check out the following links before writing any additional ignorant half sentences:

Wiki - Market Place of Ideas
Wiki - N****r 


Thursday, November 13, 2008

One More Reason ...

...To (Attempt To) Not To Shop At The Limited Brand Stores

1. Zionist much?

2. Sweatshop much?

And most recently:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stupid Muslim Man Encounter

(This is not a "good" story, but like the Desi aunty one I'm sharing it to provide food for thought.)

I think I'm currently averaging one to two upsetting Muslim man encounters a month. I had my first November encounter today, and I think it was severe enough to count as two and satisfy my monthly quota. Sad though, right, given it's only the 7th of the month? The fiasco:

There’s a local photography student who for one of her projects wanted to use as a subject somebody who visits the mosque. A friend referred her to me. She’s working on photographing me doing every day things and visiting the mosque. I was with her for parts of Sunday, Monday, and then yesterday and today. Today I met her at the Jones Street Mosque for Jumah prayers, and she had planned to photograph me there. I arrived to find her waiting for me on the third floor, right outside the prayer area. A few people came up to her and were really nice and attempted to let her know she could go inside the prayer hall. BUT when I got there was this man harassing her. He was essentially telling her that if she didn’t cover her hair she would have to leave.

It was so obnoxious. I couldn't help it, I attempted to tell him off. He was saying she had to “make her face like a Muslim” to come inside. I told him to go to his section and not pay attention because she wasn’t sitting next to him. And he kept saying it saying it was disrespectful to the mosque so I told him he was being disrespectful to the mosque by harassing her. And at some point he even said “well she can cover or she can go outside.” I told him there was no hijab rule at this mosque. I further told him that if there was such a rule, I knew for a fact he had no position of authority at this mosque and therefore could not enforce it. And then told him thank you for your advice and started to shoo him away. By that time, Alhamdulillah!, the President came out and told him to mind his own business.

Gosh! I was sooo upset: you know that heart pounding kind of upset? I should have asked him where his beard and manners were "Mr. face like a Muslim."

It's tragic that narrow minds and bad attitudes are actively harmining the religion from within. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Great Voting Pictures

Putting aside the "issues" for just a second, check out these great voting pictures:

Source: M&C

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Just Voted!

Yup. I just finished filling out my six page absentee ballot. Woohoo for overwhelming democracy in San Francisco. I'm including some of the votes I'm very excited about below:

President - Cynthia McKinney

US Representative - Cindy Sheehan

Member, Community College Board - Chris Jackson

Measure R - Yes
* One of the main reasons people oppose this is because it's an insult to our award-winning sewage plant and the people who work there, and if we're going to rename something for Dubya, it should be something truly nasty. But SEIU 1021, the union that represents the sewage plant workers, has endorsed prop R.

We think this would be a fitting metaphor for the years of hard work we face in rehabilitating and reclaiming America's reputation in the world after eight years of George Bush and his cronies dumping shit all over us.

Some people don't want anything named for our Worst President Ever because they want to forget about him. We think that's a mistake. Our children need to reminded about what a horror-show these eight years have been. And we think we all share some blame. If we'd all worked a little harder on the 2000 or 2004 elections, maybe things could have been different.
Finally, Prop R was put on the ballot by a bunch of dedicated people who have never been involved in local politics. This wouldn't be our top priority, but it's awesome to see people learn how to work the system make their voices heard. Hell yeah.

Measure U - Yes
*A symbolic policy statement, urging our leaders in Washington to defund the war in Iraq. Sure, why not. But we think voting for Cindy Sheehan is a lot more effective as an anti-war statement.

Measure V - No
*This is a sensitive issue. We respect that there are some high school kids who feel very strongly about JROTC. They argue that San Francisco's JROTC is unique. It's gender balanced, nlike our current military with its institutional sexism and INSANELY UNACCEPTABLE sexual harassment and abuse of women. SF JROTC is 50% female, with women making up a majority of the leadership. There are also several out LGBT students. But ultimately, we just can't condone having a military recruitment program in our high schools targeting 14 year olds. The military pays half the cost of JROTC and hires the instructors. They're not doing that for altruistic reasons. They want more soldiers. Our members have a variety of perspectives about the military--from pragmatists to pacifists. But recruiting 14 year olds simply isn't cool.

Proposition 4 - No
*Haven't we decided this already??? Yes. Yes, we did. As Prop 73 in 2005 and Prop 85 in 2006. This thing is like Chucky: it keeps coming back. The same very wealthy Christian Fundamentalist men put it right back on the ballot again.

Forced parental notification for abortion = BAD. Prop 4 has dangerous long-term implications for all women’s right to choose. No law can force a family to communicate, and we believe that the government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing itself into sensitive family decisions. Youth and families need real solutions like honest sex ed, access to birth control, and, definitely, choice. For the third time, HELL NO!

Proposition 5 - Yes
*Prop 5 reduces penalties for drug offenses and increases alternatives for drug treatment. If people go into drug treatment instead of prison, they're much less likely to become career criminals. That makes the world safer and means we don't have to build more prisons.

Everybody wins. Martin Sheen says Prop 5 isn't tough enough on crime, but we think maybe he's got some Catholic guilt issues about reducing punishment. Our currently "tough on drugs" strategy is a miserable failure. California has a sky-high recidivism rate, and we're wasting billions on the prison industrial complex. It's time to try something different.

All measure/proposition explanations posted are courtesy of the League of Young Voters.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Parallels on Proposition 8

These are not entirely perfect, but they provide food for thought:

1. If you would vote yes on Proposition 8, would you also vote yes on banning needle exchanges?

2. If you would vote yes on Proposition 8, would you also vote yes on banning sex education and the distribution of free condoms to "at risk" youth? And/or in "at risk" regions?

What can I say? I'm intrigued by the diversity of Muslim reactions to Propostion 8. On Saturday evening I met a brother who asked "wait, are there really young Muslims, our age, who are voting yes on Proposition 8?" He couldn't contemplate Muslims voting to strip others of their fundamental rights - and why should he have to? Scarier than Muslims simply voting yes they are also spreading homophobic propaganda. Their inability to participate in open and mature discussions without expressing fear that even simply discussing the issue might be default make them somehow gay is tragic and a big step backwards for purposes of dawah.

So really though, would yes-voters be opposed to clean needles and free condoms?

(It's possible that this is a parallel that only religious no-voters can comprehend.)

Favorite Quote This Week

Courtesy of Shazia Mirza, gracing Northern California with her comedic presence all the way from the UK:

"Muslim men don't want to marry me, because: I SPEAK."

What better way to capture last week's rishta indirectly requesting a female who did not posses a higher level education?