Thursday, April 17, 2014

As a Woman, a Feminist and an Atheist I Support Ayaan Hirsi Ali

To speak specifically of our problem with the Muslim world, we are meandering into a genuine clash of civilizations, and we’re deluding ourselves with euphemisms. We’re talking about Islam being a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by extremists. If ever there were a religion that’s not a religion of peace, it is Islam. – Sam Harris
Recently Brandeis University withdrew an honorary degree promised Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an atheist feminist born in Somali. She documented the horrors of her life under Islam in her best selling book, “Infidel“.

To describe what she wrote regarding growing up female under Islam as a criticism is to do her book an injustice for she documented the monstrous evil of Islamic misogyny that shows itself in the form of female genital mutilation, child marriages and Sharia.

Too often Liberals and Conservatives alike treat the abuse of women as a minor issue.  Too many in academia wear their cultural sensitivity as though it were a matter of pride and a sign of superiority when in point of fact it merely makes them enablers of atrocities.

It is one thing to oppose discrimination against and the persecution of Middle Eastern and other Muslim peoples.  The persecution of classes of people no matter what the basis of that categorization is wrong, it denies individuals their human rights including their right to dignity.

At the same time it is perfectly acceptable to condemn an ideology that perpetuates evil.

That is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali does.

In turn the left acted in a manner that is identical to that of the Christo-Fascist right.  Just as atheists who come from a Christian back ground are accused by Christians of being bigots and Christophobes so too is Ayaan Hirsi Ali accused of being a bigot and Islamophobe.

I sometimes wonder what part of the atheist phrase, “No gods, no masters!” is so hard for the peddlers of various forms of magic invisible misogynistic sky daddy based faiths to understand.

To be an atheist is to view all religions as compendiums of various superstitious beliefs.

It doesn’t much matter what name is given to the magic invisible misogynist in the sky.

What matters more is what the apologists for those various religions are supporting when they condemn those who point out the evils of said religions.

From Newsday: Opinion: Brandeis betrays its educational mission
Brandeis University has withdrawn the honorary degree promised Ayaan Hirsi Ali after realizing that Ali has criticized Islam in the past. In fact, criticizing Islam was the focus of her best-selling memoir Infidel. The petition to reject her was written by a barely literate undergrad peeved that the university would honor someone who is “an outright Islamophobic.” Oh dear. Views are Islamophobic. People are Islamophobes.
Really…

Islamophobe…

What an appropriate charge for a woman pointing out the misogyny that is so ingrained in Islam and Islamic law that women in Saudi Arabia are forbidden to drive cars.  Or how Wahhabism has forced women in to burqas and other coverings.

Or pointing out her own experiences.

Now I know Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become a darling of the right wing in America, a position she would have never obtained had she been attacking the misogyny found in Fundamentalist Christianity.

However considering the voracious attacks leveled upon her from the left one has to wonder if she would have gone there had the progressive feminist movement embraced her.

As to the truth or falseness of her charges I offer the following:

From The American Humanist Association: Saudi Arabia’s New Law Defines Atheism as “Terrorism”, Bans All Criticism of Government
Humanist and secular organizations, as well as civil liberties and human rights groups around the world, have responded with outrage to the news that a new law in Saudi Arabia equates “atheism” with “terrorism”.

The Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and its Financing criminalizes as “terrorism” all free expression on a vast range of topics, including advocacy of “atheist thought”, criticism of Islam as it is understood by the state, and any expression deemed to “insult the reputation of the state”.

Saudi Arabia is a current and recently-elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Details of the law

Article 1 of the “terrorism” law prohibits “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.” The law was introduced by royal decree without judicial oversight.

Domestic “terrorism” is defined in the decree as “any act” (expressly including non-violent acts) which among other things is intended to “insult the reputation of the state,” “harm public order,” or “shake the security of society”. The terms are very broad, and and could be used to prosecute any criticism of the state, its king or officials, or the state conception of Islam.

The provisions of the “terrorism” law define and outlaw numerous acts and forms of expression as “terrorism”, including:
  • “Calling for atheist thought in any form”;
  • any disloyalty “to the country’s rulers”, or anyone “who swears allegiance to any party, organization, current [of thought], group, or individual inside or outside [the kingdom]“;
  • anyone who aids, affiliates, or holds “sympathy” with any “terrorist” organization as defined by the act, which “includes participation in audio, written, or visual media; social media in its audio, written, or visual forms; internet websites; or circulating their contents in any form”;
  • contact with groups or individuals who are “hostile to the kingdom”
  • and the article on “Seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion” prohibits all protest, without qualification as to its message or intent, by outlawing “calling, participating, promoting, or inciting sit-ins, protests, meetings, or group statements in any form”.
From Care2: Brunei is Gearing Up to Start Stoning People to Death

by April 16, 2014
Brunei wants to stone more people to death, and it’s about to bring into force a new penal code provision that would allow it to do just that.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced in October of 2013 that he would move Brunei, a predominantly Muslim country, toward adopting Islamic Sharia law within the next six months. While Sharia was previously implemented for what are essentially family court disputes, the country officially had secular laws though many of those laws gave great deference to Sharia anyway.

At the time of announcing this change, the Sultan said that Sharia law would only be applied to Muslims. However, the United Nations and international human rights bodies feel that the law change will likely affect all of Brunei’s citizens, if not immediately then over time.

Making it a Crime to be Gay or to Insult Islam

The penal code change would make consensual same-sex sexual encounters a crime punishable by stoning. Homosexual “acts,” and by extension homosexuality, have long been a crime in Brunei. At the moment, though, someone convicted under the penal code can only serve a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Homosexuals are not the only group to be targeted by this law change, however. The revised penal code would proscribe the death penalty for the following (not an exhaustive list but one designed to give a good overview):
  • adultery
  • rape
  • murder
  • insulting any verses of the Quran and/or the Hadith
  • blasphemy
  • declaring that you are not a Muslim (apostasy)
While a lot of media attention has focused on how this penal code change would impact gay people, and for good reason, the penal code also seems particularly malignant to women’s rights, something that the International Commission of Jurists has already noted. Writing in commentary made back in January while the change was still being considered, the ICJ said that because of how a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam privileges men, women would therefore be “more [at] risk of receiving this penalty because they are most likely to be found guilty of adultery or having engaged in extra-marital sexual relations.”

From The Guardian UK: Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown

Recent series of raids and long jail terms fan fears that gay people may be new target of authoritarian government

in Cairo
The Guardian, Thursday 17 April 2014

Egypt‘s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government following a series of recent raids on gay people.

Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rate of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.

The latest and most concerning raid saw four men seized from their east Cairo apartment on 1 April within hours of signing the lease, according to activists. Within a week, the four were given jail terms of up to eight years – sentences unusual for both their length and the speed at which they were handed down.

Interviewees warned against exaggerating the oppression levelled at what is a flourishing underground gay community. But almost all agreed the recent arrests had frightened and perplexed many of its members. One experienced activist, who identified himself as Mohamed A, said: “It has struck fear within many of us. I could be sitting with a couple of friends [at home], and these arrests could happen at any moment.”

While homosexuality is technically legal in Egypt, citizens suspected of being gay have long been the target of sporadic detentions – with those arrested often convicted of debauchery or insulting public morals. But some activists claim the recent arrests, which began at a gay meeting-place in a poor Cairo suburb last October, are happening at a faster rate than at any point since 2004.
Considering the horrific behavior on the part of so many Muslims in the name of their faith I have a hard time believing atheist infidels like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and  Salman Rushdie are simply Islamophobes meriting the condemnation of all correct thinking progressive people.  Actually I tend to see them as highly courageous people standing up to a force filled with numerous fanatics, who would consider murdering them an act of faith.

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