Archive for July, 2010

The Niqab Ban

Like many other Muslims, I was angered by France’s move to ban burqas – or full facial coverings – in public.  For me, it boils down to being government-sanctioned racism, allowing the forceful removal of a religious covering. The ban, which was passed by France’s lower house of parliament and will go for a final vote by the Senate in September, also includes a provision to punish men who force their wives to cover their faces.  I have no problems with that, but I think French officials have far from benign intentions. They may think they’re coming from a legitimate place, but their justifications are just masking a deeper resentment. President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a speech given in June, said the facial covering is “not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience.” [link]

Like the ban on wearing hijab in government schools that was passed in 2004, it seems that the French want to either ignore that there are Muslims in the country or make it so hard for them to live there that they’ll leave on their own. They’re moving to isolate Muslims in France, which is far from solving any problems.  Plus, most reports show that the actual number of women who wear burqas in France is just about 1,900. [link]  So what, exactly, is the point of a law that would affect so few?
Read the rest of this entry →

Share

30

07 2010

The Original Soul Food: Breastfeed Your Baby!

While pregnant, I knew one thing for sure: I would breastfeed my child for two years if Allah (swt) allowed me.  I envisioned myself sitting in the corner of my bedroom, feeding my baby with serenity and privacy.  I would organize my days so that I would only need to feed in the solitude and seclusion in my own home.  If needed, I would pump milk into a bottle and my daughter would only take the bottle in public.

Allah (swt) blessed me with a baby girl who was a super nurser.  Soon, the images I formed in my head during pregnancy about nursing my daughter dissipated into thin air, along with all of the other preconceived notions I had about being a mother.  My daughter rejected both a pacifier and a bottle, and she refused to be put on any type of feeding schedule.  She seemed to be communicating with me that she would feed how she wanted, when she wanted, and where she wanted.  She nursed to sleep, she nursed for comfort, she nursed for nutrition, and she nursed because… well, she just felt like it!

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

27

07 2010

The Loaded Gun: Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

United States Supreme Court historian Professor Lucas Powe once noted that the decisions of the Court often echo the wishes of our nation’s elite. Powe opined that the Court had emerged as a part of the ruling regime, doing its best to implement the regime’s policies. On June 21, 2010, the Court did just that when they produced their decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. The opinion sheds light on the direction the Court, and the regime it represents, is headed. As one plaintiff noted, the decision marked a “dark day in the history of the human rights struggle to assist groups overseas that are being oppressed.”

To put this case in context, it is a federal crime to “knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” This “material support or resources” constitutes the obvious: money, weapons, etc., but also includes vague forms of support such as “training” and “expert advice or assistance.” Two U.S. citizens and six U.S. organizations, as the plaintiffs, challenged these vague forms of support on Fifth Amendment due process grounds, and alternatively on the grounds that the statute violates their freedom of speech and freedom of association under the First Amendment. For American Muslims, a victory for the plaintiffs would have been significant, seeing as how the material support statute has chilled a great deal of humanitarian aid to the Muslim world. (Note: For my thoughts on the foreign terrorist organization designation process please visit: http://works.bepress.com/syed_ali_jafri/1/)

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

23

07 2010

Playing God or Breakthrough?

The advent of the news concerning the “creation of a living organism” has sparked much controversy. Headlines like “Craig Venter is not playing God yet”, or “Researchers create first ‘synthetic life’” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1279988/Artificial-life-created-Craig-Venter–wipe-humanity.html) play into the hands of those with a particular agenda and whom really base their rejection of this breakthrough not on the merits of the discovery itself, but on misguided convictions and beliefs that they possess. When understanding the actual methodologies and products produced as a result of this new development in science, the sacrilegious notion of “man-made” life becomes less apparent. For a better understanding of what this discovery means, we first need to grasp what exactly was “created” in this particular instance.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

21

07 2010

Fallacious Engagement

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010. I open up my laptop and type BBC Middle East into the web browser for my customary morning news. The news in this part of the world is never great but what I see today just makes my heart sink.

A cursory scan and I see the headline, Wikileaks posts video of ‘US military killings’ in Iraq (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8603938.stm)¸ which cries out to be read. The story is about released footage from a US helicopter making rounds in Baghdad, Iraq. Made public through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), this video was posted online by Wikileaks and shows a US operation carried out by a helicopter gunship in a suburb of Baghdad. The FOIA was requested by the Reuters news agency in their investigation of the death of an Iraqi assistant and photographer. Subsequent research shows that they were killed by the US, and after a review of the incident, the US claims that our soldiers followed the necessary rules of engagement.

Proceeding to Wikileaks (http://wikileaks.org/), the video is displayed on the front page. I begin to watch the horror that words cannot describe. The soldiers’ voices are heard in the background, emanated from the safety of the cockpit and behind the guns of a US Apache gunship.  They discuss the situation on the ground with command, taking note of about twenty men. As I listen to the conversation I wonder if I am watching the same surveillance video that they saw. Their voices are full of conviction as they prepare to kill the men below. Yet, down below, all I see is a group of men loitering about. The soldiers can’t hear what they are saying, there is no indication that the men are fleeing or hiding in any way and the footage is so blurry that the soldiers mix up camera equipment with weapons. There is no way that the situation on the ground warranted their reaction.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

17

07 2010