Monday, June 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Presidents: Sarkozy Vs. Obama on Radical Islam

You make the call:


“That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it. So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America."

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity … The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly, it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”
WOW! At this rate, I'm moving to France! A country with a real President.


  1. So much for France being a bastion of freedom

    No matter how much we may not like the veils, the fact is that this ruling is a ruling of fanatical secularism while the use of the veil is a ruling of fanatical religious conservativsm in some muslims nations. There is no way around this. This is an ultimatum from a politician saying that - "if you wanna live here, you need to SHOW your face", when in other places it's - "if you wanna live here, you need to HIDE your face". Any politician who rules what the people can or cannot wear,is a tyrant. Plain and simple. He is not an upholder of freedom,that's for sure.

  2. Freedom of religion does not mean the freedom to tell women what to wear. The Burqa is the biggest symbol for the oppression of women in the world. Oppression is not a matter of free choice. Women wear it because they are told that if they don't it's disrespectful to the religion, to family, and a temptation to men. That is not freedom. That is using the excuse of freedom to supress and oppress over 50% of the popultion. Sarkozy is 100% correct.

  3. Burqa is no doubt an extreme interpretation of the Islamic notion of modesty. Most forms of veils are nowhere near the level of Burqa (which is largely a 16th century Central Asian invention). If you ask most Muslim women around the Muslim world, many of them agree with the principles of modesty and 'prefer' to be out in public with some form of covering. It is not felt as a partriarchal imposition.

    This, is totally lost on much of western society which is obsessed about 'exposure', and sees veils as some tyrannical imposition on women when in fact in much of the Muslim world it is not felt as such by the women.

    Yes it is a family model, a family collective agreement of a particular religion and code of conduct. We in the west may not like it, but what ever happened to (I'll paraphrase a famous saying) - "I may not like what you wear, but I'll defend to the death your right to wear it". All this is on Sarkozy's part is cultural xeneophobia. It is nothing more than that, masquerading as something else entirely.

    Burqa is extreme, I admit, and it is generally only something seen in uneducated rural tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where protection of women takes on levels that can get quite neurotically paranoid. But most Muslim forms of Niqab are very simple affairs like a simple headscarf. Does Sarkozy propose an end to those too? (the ones which show the face?).If so, that is a cause for concern to me, for a nation trying to pass itself off as one in which liberty is held up as an ideal.

    If freedom exists, it is the freedom to be covered up if we so choose to (to any degree) in public, and not for some politician to decide for the population what they can and cannot wear to reside in the country itself.

    Western women tend to feel pressured to be 'made up' when they go to work, and wear certain clothing. If we deny that kind of cultural imposition exists at subtle (and not so subtle) levels, we're fooling ouselves.

    I believe that we've got ourselves into a situation here where we still believe our cultures are gulfs apart, when in fact the gap is closing more than we'd like to admit.

  4. Islamist are using our own values of freedom to destroy freedom. Somehow now people should be "free" to subjugate women as a matter of "religious freedom". People should be free to incite against non-Muslims as a matter of "free speach". The 9/11 highjackers used the freedoms of America to fly planes into buildings in order to destroy freedom. The argument that women can be pressured into imprisoning themselves in the name of "freedom of religion" is absolutly absurd. Those who make those arguments should be "free" to leave the West and move to Saudi or Pakistan.

  5. A big assumption here is that non Muslim societys were oases of freedom before the Muslims came along and started imposing their "subjegation of women" onto us and our culture. Let us take the Catholic Church and its continued attempts to bar women from being Vicars, for example. Plenty of people not only in the leadership of the church but among the congregations feel that women have no place at all being a Vicar. The State then gets involved and tries to make it an issue of discrimination. People get outraged at the state interfering in the affairs of Religion.

    Take the Haredi women of the Orthodox community in Jerusalem, for example. The principles running their life are similar to those in Islam, and people equally accuse the Rabbis of forcing these women into a way of life that is rather different from the usual secular life. You get Haredi women in Jerusalem who take this assumption to be arrogant. See an article on that below.

    Haredi Women 'push' for segregation

    I believe this move by Sarkozy to be a tit for tat swipe at Muslims,masquerading as caring about women. Generally our cultures seem perfectly willing ordinarily to allow religious freedom however much it may discriminate against homosexuals or women, yet we're suddenly up in arms about it when it comes to Muslims. It's transparent, to me.

  6. When one has no argument, one starts looking for the lamest of moral equivalencies; Orthodox Jewish women in Jerusalem? Catholic Vicars? Are you kidding me? We are talking about a vast culture that promotes honor killing for pre-marital or extramarital sex (and sometimes for less than that); female genital mutilation; polygamy, forced “arranged” marriages with close cousins; where women are property to be traded for a few sheep and you come up with Catholic Vicars and orthodox Jewish women in Jerusalem? If we were only talking about a small sect of Islam that practiced such perversions then there would be little concern. But we are talking about a good portion of the Muslim population involving hundreds of millions of people worldwide; a mentality from the 6th century which is clashing with the modern, civilized world.

    And then we have people like Nick Kab who apologizes for such oppression and uses western values such as freedom of religion and freedom of expression to justify and protect the oppression. That might work with most people in the west who are ignorant of all of this, but it will not work with those armed with a little knowledge about the more radical aspects of Islam. I wish those Muslims that seek to confront radical Islam well. I pray that the demonstrators in Iran will overthrow the Mullah’s for example, and the Saudi futile Islamist regime will also fall. But I’m not holding my breath.

  7. People don't want to hear about the inconsistencies in their own culture or countries they admire,while they focus all eyes on the Muslim world and claim there is no comparison whatsoever. Using the example of ultra Orthodox Judaism was a perfectly valid example of how one person views it as patriachal and freedom restricting, and another will tolerate it in their own country (such as Israel) out of religious freedom. After all, Israel claims it is a Jewish state so it can't be seen to be cracking down on its own. We in the west tolerate religious odditys and controversial ultra conservatism ordinarily in different communities like the Amish and Mormons for example, but any excuse to bash back at the Muslims for being so 'demanding' in our cultures it seems. We hear people claiming that they cannot communicate with people when they can't see their face. Nonsense. We communicate through the internet and on mobile phones more now than ever before in history and we don't seem to have a problem. I notice that the horrendously cruel Hindu caste system doesn't come in for criticism from neoconservatives. Nor do they note how arranged marriage and honour retribution is the very very common in the world of rural Hindus too, just as it is in places like Pakistan. Polygamy is even in the Torah. That Rabbis extracted it by law later on, doesn't mean it wasn't there,and Polygamy is very rare in the Muslim world anyway apart from conservative Beduin desert dwellers. Female circumcision is a rarity in the Muslim world too. Male ritual circumcision is the norm though, not only in Islam but in Judaism. It is done beyond the age of knowledge and choice, and could be said to be barbaric mutilation by some. Where do you want me to end with this? Because I could go on forever here if you want to play this game.

  8. Israel cracks down on crazy religious Jews all the time when they cross the line. Just this weekend, Orthodox Jews were trying to shut down a parking facility close to an Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem because they deem it a violation of the Sabbath. Clashes with police were the result. There is plenty of tension between religious and Orthodox Jews in Israel. The term "Jewish State" has much less to do with religion, and a lot more to do with a homeland for the Jewish people in general who had been persecuted for centuries, most of whom are not religious at all. Anyway, I'm sure most people can tell the difference between vast radical Islamic subjugation, and small sects of different religions living in their own communities and not trying to impose their values on others.

  9. Clashes of the type you refer to in Israel seem to be appearing world over between conservative religions/ideologys and a certain kind of secularism,it seems. What began as a political governing secularism is now largely becoming a 'social' secularism, with the establishment increasingly frowning upon the quirkiness of conservative religious life, even intruding into the private schooling, and demanding these other ideologys step into line. No matter how much we try to avoid it, that is a fundamentalism in another form. It has lead to the clashes even in the U.S between Conservative Christians and the Secular state including Homosexuality in education about relationships. A real "them and us" situation,increasingly. The incident with the Burkha is another example. Some call this a battle between old ideas and the modern world. Perhaps. All the while there seems to be a third element involved, of a multi culturism utopian model. But that can't work while there is picking and choosing, and hypocrisy. We see the secular state and companies not allowing devout Christian airline staff to openly wear crucifixes,lest it offend someone. At the same time, it will allow a Sikh to wear the Turban out of religious sensitivities. It will build a prayer room for Muslims in a company, but would scoff at the demand for a Christian chapel. In the next breath, the state will go after the Niqab (as mentioned, Burkha is not the only form of Niqab). Then there are demands to allow homosexual vicars in the Catholic church. A battle, this certainly is.

  10. On another note,you made an interesting point there about Israel as a home for Jewish people. If Jews are not a 'race' (which they aren't,as folks who call themselves Jews are made up of all manner of races) then what are they? You admit that most are not religious at all,and that what is now deemed wacky Orthodoxy (even though it is closer to the conservative isolatory Jewish life of most Jews in in old Europe) is clashing with secular state and society. So,what are the supposed Jews that live in Israel,exactly?

    We've already established that being Jewish is not 'one' race, so it cannot be a racial link between them all,or racial roots in the land (perhaps for a very very few, now considerably diluted over centuries).

    And if most Jews today are not particularly Religiously observant now apart from a few family orientated rituals, then how can they 'really' call themselves Jews anymore?

    What is that word "Jewish" based on, in 2009?

    Zionism which created Israel, is a secular modernist political ideology that actually hoped to break from the old Jewish past lifestyle,while simultaneously justifying the establishment of a new nation in the middle east as a right of 'Return' based on the historical roots of the Jewish 'people'.

    What are those 'people', exactly? If Jews are not a race, and if those who claim to be Jews hardly practice the principles anymore, and Zionism is a secular ideology, and the Orthodox Jews are increaisngly seen as wacky fruit loop conservative traditionalist and troublesome today,then there is a problem.

    I'd equally say this to western Muslim converts (or even some guy in Pakistan) who may go on loud rallys claiming the loss of Palestine and Al Aqsa as a personal wound, and something taken from 'them'. Does just adopting the Muslim religion mean a 'right' to claim anywhere in the world? I'd say not.

    It's not theirs as a personal posession. I'd say the same to the state of Israel really.

  11. Jews are a unique people because they do not fall into any specific category of race, yet still identify as a distinct group. Unlike other peoples, they were dispersed all over the world, especially following the second revolt against the Roman empire. It is the shared history and common rituals that bind them. The shared experience of all Jews as a minority in their respective adopted lands that also binds. The Majority of Jews in Israel are actually from Arab countries, who fled or were expelled from thier homes, just as Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. I was a population exchange similar to what occured between India and Pakistan when the British left there. Actually, more Jews left Arab countries than Arabs left what is now Israel. Protperty left behind by Jews in Arab countries is estimated to be about four times the size of today's Israel.

  12. There was a time when a Hindu man died and was cremated, his surviving wife would be thrown in the fire with him so they can go to heaven together. That practice is no longer around. Lets hope that radical Islamic attitudes evolve as well. Nobody would be talking about Islam specifically, if Islam was not specifically prone to radicalisim, more so than almost all other religions during this period of history. If it was a small element of Islam, or if Islam was a small religion, few would be concerned.

  13. Whether people born into familys who happen to share certain rituals can claim to share a common history or not,is debatable really. It's certainly controversial when talking about land, when it comes to claims of divine right (as Golda Meir claimed about the land). The Palestinian Arabs are using the same kind of argument today, with the whole 'Nakba' thing and a religious Jihad to reclaim the land. Once a group of people (most of whom were born way after said events and cannot really say that certain plots of land were ever 'theirs' just because of shared religious rituals and history) take that kind of thinking onboard, trouble ensues. With the ethnic make up, it appears to me that it's about 60/40 (with Ashkenazi being the 60) and the Sephardi and Mizrahi being the rest). But I appreciate that there has been a lot of racial mixing over the decades. Iraqi father,Polish mother,etc. I wouldn't agree on calling it a population exchange comparable to the partition of India though, because the situation in the middle east was one that took place over decades and the exact details are unreliable (on both sides of this conflict).

  14. On the practice of Sati,that's another one of those things that appears very clear cut but wasn't as simplistic as outsiders tended to see it,by all accounts. Just as occurs with the issue of the Niqab in the Muslim world.

    Much of the western world goes by Rudyard Kipling's scene of heroic white man rescuing a women 'forced' to commit suicide on a pyre, in his novel Kim. Kipling was a Victorian era imperialist when the Raj was on its stage of attempting to "enlighten the savages" in India,with Victorian era religious moralitys.

    Sati,by all accounts was not a sweeping case of expectation or force. It seems that as freaky and horrific as we may find it all, it was often a voluntary matter of Hindu belief.

    We get into the area of 'expectation' (social or religious or a mix of both) with that one, just as occurs with the debate about the Niqab. As some form of veil is held in Muslim familys to be a very pious sign of religiosity, some would say that this is expectation at levels which 'remove' choice.

    Possibly. In some parts of the world I'll admit the pressure appears to be enormous to the point where choice is a faint whisper.

    But for much of the Muslim world it simply isn't like that. The women is perfectly happy to wear a veil as a sign of her personal devotion to religious observance. The secular western world may find all this silly and absurd, but if it makes this an issue of force by ultimatum (as Sarkozy is) then it really is losing its high ground. If there is not a good enough reason given as to why this should be outlawed in public in the west, then it should be left alone in my view (however odd people may find full veils) as long as plenty of women are claiming they 'want' to wear the various forms of Niqab.

    It doesn't appear to be harming the wearer at all, and the objections given so far from some western citizens,sound like they're more rooted in xeneophobia than anything else.


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