CDWRME Bulletin #20

"Women in the Middle East" 

Number 20, January, 2004

Bulletin of "Committee to Defend Women's Rights in the Middle East"

Editor: Azam Kamguian
Assistant Editor: Mona Basaruddin

In this issue:

  • CDWRME’s Statement on French Government’s proposed Law on Hijab & other religious insignia
  • Iraq: Women's rights threatened by Islamists
  • Saudi Arabia: 300 Saudi women petition for greater rights
  • West bank: Mother kills raped daughter to restore 'honour'
  • Spain: ‘Beat women' cleric gets 15 months
  • Afghanistan: The Supreme Court bans woman from singing
  • Sudan: 16-year-old Girl to be Flogged for 'Crime' of Adultery
  • Nigeria: A man sentenced to death by stoning for incest 
  • India: Government bans Taslima Nasrin’s latest book
  • U.K.: Teen from Muslim family may be victim of "honour" killing
  • Afghanistan: Rise in support of Malalai Joya
  • CDWRME: A Significant Success!
  • Canada: Join the Campaign against setting up Sharia court
  • Holland: No ban on marriages between cousins 
  •  Letters to & Requests from CDWRME

 

  • CDWRME’s statement on French government’s proposed law on Hijab & other religious insignia

French government’s proposed law to ban conspicuous religious insignia in state schools and institutions is a progressive measure and a step forward to establish a secular society. This decision, however, has raised a wave of protest by Islamists around Europe. They claim this ban is discriminatory and promotes racism, violates women's and girl's rights to education and work, and restricts religious freedom.  All these claims are false and in fact the very Islamic movement that is renowned for terrorizing women and girls and violating their basic human rights is using progressive values and norms that are antithetical to its ideology and practice in order to maintain its repressive rule on women and girls.  

We believe that religion, religious insignia and religious freedom are private affairs of individuals not the affairs of a state. In fact states are duty-bound to ensure that all religious symbols be abolished from state institutions and schools. Furthermore, maintaining secularism has nothing to do with racism. It is in fact racist to create different laws for religious communities in the West and hinders the access of women and girls in particular to the advances of civilized societies. Finally, protecting girls from veiling goes beyond issues relating to secularism and redresses the rights of the child from having religious views and dress imposed on her by her parents through no choice of her own.  While a ban on child veiling is welcome in state schools and institutions, the banning of child veiling and religious schools are other crucial steps to fully defend children's rights.  

Secularism is an important pre-requisite for women’s equality. The enforcement of this ban will be a first step towards secularism and women’s freedom. Religion must be relegated to a private matter. Religion must be separated from the state and education system.    

  • Iraq: Women's rights threatened by Islamists  

For the past four decades, Iraqi women have enjoyed some of the modern legal protections in the Middle East. Now, the U.S.- backed Iraqi Governing Council has voted to wipe them out, ordering in late December that family laws shall be "cancelled" and such issues placed under the jurisdiction of strict Islamic legal doctrine known as Sharia.  

This week, outraged Iraqi women denounced the decision in street protests and at conferences, saying it would set back their legal status by centuries and could unleash emotional clashes among various Islamic strains that have differing rules for marriage, divorce and other family issues.  

Women say that this will send them home and shut the door, just like what happened to women in Afghanistan. This law would make Iraq a jungle.  

The order, narrowly approved by the 25-member council in a closed-door session Dec. 29, was reportedly sponsored by Shiite members. The order is now being opposed by several liberal members as well as by senior women in the Iraqi government. The council's decisions must be approved by Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq. Experts here say once U.S. officials turned over political power to Iraqis at the end of June, conservative forces could press ahead with their agenda to make Sharia the supreme law.  

In interviews at several meetings and protests, women noted that even during the politically repressive Hussein era, women had been allowed to assume a far more modern role than in many other countries.    

Once Hussein was toppled, several women noted wryly, they hoped the new authorities would further liberalize family law. Instead, in the process of wiping old laws off the books, they said, Islamists on the Governing Council are trying to impose retrograde views of women on a chaotic post war society.  

Although it remained unclear which members of the council had promoted the shift of family issues from civil to religious jurisprudence, the decision was made and formalized while Abdul Aziz Hakim, an Islamist who heads the supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was chairing the council under a rotating leadership system. This week, several council members spoke strongly against the decision in public forums, calling it a threat to both civilized progress and national unity.    

  • Saudi Arabia: 300 Saudi women petition for greater rights  

Mostly professionals with university degrees, 300 women listed eight demands in the petition, all related to the recognition of women's contribution to civil society, without the need for 'judicial guardianship or support'.  

The phrase refers to the Saudi requirement for women to secure the explicit agreement of a male relative when taking up studies or seeking employment.  

The petition pressed for the rights to 'education and jobs...without needing permission' and pushed for a supreme council to oversee women's affairs.  

It called for 'women to reach a senior level in ministries and government institutions' and for 'competent women to be appointed at a senior and decision-making level'. Although Riyadh is a signatory to international convention banning gender discrimination, its strict application of Islamic Sharia law restricts women. For example, they cannot drive, they must be veiled in black when out of their homes, and they cannot travel without permission from their husband or a male relative. They also cannot dine alone in restaurants.  

The meeting, held in Mecca, was the second round of the Convention for National Dialogue which was launched in June. The first landmark meeting, held in Riyadh, led to the establishment of a dialogue centre, which is hosting the current deliberations.    

  • West Bank: Mother kills raped daughter to restore 'honour'  

Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud is charged in the death of her 17-year-old daughter, Rofayda. "This is the only way I could protect my family's honour," says the mother of nine.  

 Raped by her brothers and impregnated, Rofayda Qaoud refused to commit suicide, her mother recalls, even after she bought the 17-year-old a razor with which to slit her wrists. So Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud says she did what she believes any good Palestinian parent would: restored her family's "honour" through murder. Armed with a plastic bag, razor and wooden stick, Qaoud entered her sleeping daughter's room. Next, Qaoud sliced Rofayda's wrists, ignoring her muffled pleas of "No, mother, no!" After her daughter went limp, Qaoud struck her in the head with the stick.  

Qaoud's confessed crime, for which she must appear before a three-judge panel Dec. 3, is one repeated almost weekly among Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel. Female virtue and virginity define a family's reputation, so it's women who are punished if that reputation is perceived as sullied.  

According to court records, Rofayda was raped by her brothers, Fahdi, 22, and Ali, 20; in a bedroom they shared in the family's three-room house.  

Palestinian authorities whisked her off to a women's shelter in Bethlehem, where she gave birth to a healthy boy Dec. 23. He has been adopted by another Palestinian family, court records show.  

Rofayda, meanwhile, wanted to return to her parents in the Ram Allah suburb of Abu Qash. Ram Allah Gov. Mustafa Isa called a meeting with the family and village elders, demanding they pledge in writing not to harm the girl.  

Victims' rights groups say the number of "honour crimes" appears to be climbing, but at the same time, getting little attention. Poverty and war have exacerbated the problem.  Palestinian police reported 31 cases in 2002, up from five during the first half of 1999. Police in Israel investigated at least 18 honour killings in the past three years. But the number of killings is likely higher, given that Palestinian police investigate only crimes that have been reported.    

  • Spain: ‘Beat women' cleric gets 15 months  

A Spanish court has sentenced a Muslim cleric to 15 months in jail for inciting violence through a book he wrote advising men on how to beat women without leaving any marks or evidence. The sentence was handed down by a Barcelona court against the cleric, Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, who is an imam in the southern Spanish city of Fuengirola.  

Spanish news reports indicated that part of the cleric's defence cantered on his claim that he had just transcribed the information about the beatings from ancient Muslim holy writings.  

The cleric has practiced in Spain for more than a decade, and is currently based in the southern town of Fuengirola on Spain's "Costa del Sol," popular with vacationers and expatriates. During the trial, the cleric's defence argued that he was not inciting men to violence, but instead urging them not to get violent when they are in a hot and angry mood.    

  • Afghanistan: The Supreme Court bans woman from singing  

Afghanistan's Supreme Court has complained to the government over the appearance of an Afghan woman singing on state television. Afghan women singers have not been seen on state TV since 1992, when they were banned for being un-Islamic.  

The Mujahideen government and the Taliban - each of which controlled Kabul for part of the 1990s - did not approve of women performing in public or appearing unveiled. This Monday's footage marked the latest liberalisation effort by the moderate administration of President Hamid Karzai.  

Afghanistan's Supreme Court has often accused media in the country of violating Islamic principles. The proliferation of Indian movies and cable television have been heavily criticised in the past. The appearance of Salma on state TV led to the first criticism of the media by the Supreme Court since a new constitution was adopted earlier this month.    

  • Sudan: 16-year-old Girl to be Flogged for 'Crime' of Adultery  

A sentence of 100 lashes passed on a 16-year-old school girl in the Sudanese capital Khartoum for the 'crime' of adultery, to be commuted immediately.  

Intisar Bakri Abdulgader gave birth to a child in September after becoming pregnant outside marriage. She was convicted of adultery and sentenced by a local court in the Khartoum suburb of Kalakla in July when she was seven months pregnant. The sentence was upheld by the appeal court in August. The alleged father of the child has reportedly not been charged but will have a blood test to establish paternity.  

Intisar is caring for her four-month-old son, Dori. She is said to be very frightened at the prospect of the punishment and is reportedly eating and sleeping very little.  

Under article 146 of Sudan's Penal Code, adultery is punishable by execution by stoning if the offender is married or by one hundred lashes if the offender is not married. Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse with a man without being lawfully bound to him. Although the penal codes are based on an interpretation of Islamic law everyone in the north of Sudan is subject to them. Intisar's family are Christians from the south of Sudan who fled to the north to escape fighting near their home.  

Scores of people were sentenced to amputation or flogging in Sudan last year. Flogging is frequently carried out immediately after sentencing leaving no chance for appeal, even when there are concerns about whether a fair trial has been held.  

The Sudanese Penal Code, which is partly based on interpretation of Islamic legal doctrines, allows for penalties including flogging and amputations. Under Sudanese law, all who live in northern Sudan, whether Muslim or Christian (like Intisar Bakri Abdulgader), fall under the penalties of the Sudanese Penal Code's interpretation of religious law. The use of religious law is an issue of contention in the ongoing peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and rebels in the South.  

We call people all over the world to take action and send appeals as soon as possible to the Sudanese ministers for home affairs, foreign affairs and justice asking for this sentence to be commuted and for the government to abolish cruel punishments.  

Appeals can be sent to:

Major General Abdul-Rahim Muhammed Hussein, Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan  

Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Khartoum, Sudan

His Excellency Dr Hasan Abdin Mohammad Osman, Embassy of Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, St James's, London SW1A 1DD    

  • Nigeria: A man sentenced to death by stoning for incest   

A father of three has been sentenced to death by stoning by an Islamic court in Nigeria for raping his 15-year-old stepdaughter the girl, who is six months pregnant as result of the incest, was sentenced to 100 strokes of the cane.  

The sentences were handed down on December 29 by an Islamic Sharia court in Alkaleri, in northeast Bauchi state.  

The 45-year-old man has appealed, but no date has yet been fixed for the hearing, the lawyer added. Eight people have been sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria since 12 northern states, inhabited predominantly by Muslims, imposed Islamic Sharia law four years ago.  

Three have had their sentences overturned on appeal and none has been carried out. Nigeria's most notorious stoning sentence was handed down in March 2002 to a single mother, Amina Lawal, who was convicted of adultery. It was quashed on appeal in September last year after heavy international pressure from human rights groups.     

  • India: Government bans Taslima Nasrin’s latest book  

Taslima Nasrin’s latest book Dwikhandita has now been banned by the Government of West Bengal of India.  It also has been banned by the High Court of West Bengal. The same book, titled Ka in Bangladesh, also is banned by the High Court of Bangladesh.  The banned books are now available in Bengali at http://www.taslimanasrin.com    

  • U.K.: Teen from Muslim family may be victim of "honour" killing:  

 The parents of Pakistani teenager Shafilea Ahmed, who vanished within months of refusing an arranged marriage proposal during a visit to Pakistan, were arrested on suspicion of her kidnap. The 17-year-old has not been seen since September 11 and detectives now suspect that she is dead. Earlier this year Shafilea's parents took her to Pakistan in the hope of arranging her marriage to a distant cousin. She, however, refused. A short time later, she apparently tried to commit suicide by swallowing bleach, which left her with a damaged oesophagus that required her to be on constant medication to live. A nationwide search of hospitals and clinics has satisfied police that they cannot have issued her with further supplies. Doctors say she cannot survive so long without medication.  

Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that Shafilea is a victim of an "honour" killing. She is the oldest child with three sisters and a brother. Police have found her dual-nationality passport, making it doubtful that she has left the country. Police has not only searched her home, but have also searched the wasteland near the house for clues. Shafilea, an A-Level student has been described by her teachers to be a bright and popular student.    

  • Afghanistan: Rise in support of Malalai Joya  

The statement of Committee to Defend Malalai Joya  

On the fourth day of the "Loya Jirga" life took a new direction; after an interminable period of waiting the spell of silence was broken. Out of everyone there, only one person bravely blew the trumpet of resistance and the selected members who are the criminals of the 1992-96 period and who know no other language but the sound of their guns and their own crazed voices quivered in fear. These worthless traitors hide their crimes by presenting themselves as victorious to our suffering nation, looking on the blood and bone spattered ruins of Kabul residents with glee and destroying the dwellings of the residents of Sherpur for their imagined luxurious castles. These Jehadies who are imposed and false representatives have gathered together to cause further suffering to our anguished people.  

Malalai Joya the young, elected representative of the people, spoke bravely the words of the people's hearts, which had been murmured in all the streets and lanes, when she said: "it is a mistake to test those already being tested" and "These criminals should be taken to national and international court" which resulted in the excited support of the people's representatives and shouts and clenching of teeth by the warlords and Loya Jirga chairman.  

The Loya Jirga was disrupted by professional criminals who clapped their hands to their mouth in shock and roared. The chairman who dances to everyone's tune and is nothing more than a wind-up toy and who used to put medals around the necks of "communists" such as Dostum, suddenly turned red in the face and accused Malalai of being an "infidel" and "communist" and announced her expulsion. Then he repeatedly demanded that she apologized which only increased Malalai's resolve and she refused saying: "I have fulfilled my duty as a representative of my people and I do not regret it, I apologize for speaking less."  

Joya without fear of the traitor's terrorist and vulgar threats became the tongue of the poor and downtrodden people of her country. This putrid atmosphere violently broke the unity of the warlords and exposed the ruthlessness of their decisions. This brave woman, like Hallaj, without fear placed the reality which was a strong blow to the faces of the fundamentalist mafia, looters and bloody enemies of democracy.  

She dismantled the true representatives of the people from war criminals such as Rabbani, Sayaf, Khalili, Dostum, Fahim and their combatants, gave a new life to our devastated people, attracted the attention of all the freedom loving patriots towards their historic mission and shocked the international community by bringing their attention to the inspired Loya Jirga, fake democracy and the domination of the warlords to the extent that even the media belonging to factions couldn't stop revealing this reality in their publications.  

The victor girl's rebellion told the story of the pains of millions of desolated people which became prevalent among all in no time, conquered the hearts and refreshed the memory of Malalai of Mevand once more and ridiculed Mujadedi's idle talks regarding women being half of men. Joya's courage and perseverance embarrassed many non-fundamentalist and opportunist men present in the meeting.  

Now is the time to raise our voices with all our strength and rise our handcuffed fists with all our conscience. In such conditions defending Malalai Joya is equivalent to standing against rabid fundamentalists and admiring freedom, democracy and other humanitarian values.  

The "Defence Committee for Malalai Joya" with a decisive commitment to our bereaved people, considers fully supporting the rights of Malalai Joya and others like her, its persistent duty and hereby appeals to all freedom-loving people of the world and it's countrymen to rise in support of Malalai Joya and do not let the bloody assassins to mute her voice in the most frightening situation.  

Send your condemnation and supportive letters to the following addresses and also send a copy to us:  

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

Mr. Manoel de Almeida e Silva

Spokesman/Director of Office of Communication and Public Information

Fax: (+39-0831) 24 6069 AND (+1-212) 963 2669

Email: spokesman-unama@un.org

Mail address: UNAMA, OCPI, PO Box 1428, Islamabad, Pakistan    

  • CDWRME: A Significant Success!  

Thomson - Gale, one of the largest publishers of educational literature in the US,  has as of late offered Azam Kamguian to publish a collection of her speeches in book to be entitled Critical Views on Islam.  

To be published in the book are Kamguian’s speeches on: Honour Killings – In Commemoration of Fadima Shaahindaal; Islam and the Situation of Women in the Middle East; and Against the Islamic Sharia law.  The book will be taught, in circulation of thousands, at the University and college level all over the United States. It will also be made available to public, as well educational institutes’, libraries. It will be put out by September 2004.  

We shall utilize this significant success as a stock for the promotion of the causes of progressive human values, secularism, alienating religion, and universal rights of mankind.  

  • Canada: Join the Campaign against setting up Sharia court  

To: All progressive organizations and individuals  

On October 21st 2003, Muslim leaders in Canada elected 30 member council to establish a judicial tribunal for Muslims known as “the Islamic Institute of Civic Justice”. The move is designed to persuade Canadian court to uphold decisions made under the Muslim Law.  

The International Campaign for the Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran is running an International Campaign against this new move in Canada.  

We strongly believe that this move is anti women’s move and will push back women in the society in general. In the past 20 years, women’s rights have been increasingly under attack by the Islamic governments and groups. Women are subject to abuse for disobeying social Islamic standards. Daily degradation of women, prohibition from many forms of employment, field of study and sports, sexual segregation in buses, schools and public places, Stoning to death of women or murdering them for sexual relations outside marriage, acid-throwing in the faces of women, and flogging for transgressing Islamic laws for improper behaviour have been imposed on women under Islamic influence not only in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan but also in Western countries.  

The women’s rights movement has fought this reactionary movement and many paid a price in doing so. . As part of this radical movement, we believe that all people who live in Canada are citizens with equal rights, and should live according to same social laws and norms. We do not divide society into cultural, religious, national and racial majorities and minorities. We stand for equal and universal laws and freedoms for all humanity, which should embrace all, irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity, etc.

We now are calling on all individuals and progressive organizations to oppose the proposed tribunal for legal recognition of settlements according to Sharia. This proposal is anti-freedom, anti-women, misogynist and anti-modernism and is strongly racist.  

We therefore have the following demands:  

1. Religion to be declared private affair of the individual. And complete

Separation of religion from education for children under the age 16.  

2. Prohibition of violent and inhuman religious ceremonies, practice and any form of religious activities that is incompatible with people’s civil rights and liberties and the principle of the equality of all.  

3. Prohibition of teaching religions subjects and dogmas or religions interpretation in schools and educational establishments or in general any law and regulation that breaches the principle of secular non- religious  

By signing this petition, you defend the universal rights of human beings. Your support will strengthen the radical movement for secularism.  

Homa Arjomand

The coordinator

homawpi@rogers.com  

  • Holland: No ban on marriages between cousins   

Despite a higher risk of birth defects, marriages and eventual offspring from unions between nephews and nieces will not be banned in the Netherlands.  

Instead, Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst said he considered the risks of birth defects would be overshadowed by the violation of the personal freedom of choice if he banned marriages between first cousins.  

Marriages between cousins are particularly common in Turkish and Moroccan communities and Hoogervorst said a ban would be "disproportionate" and impossible to enforce.  

The ban on marriages between first cousins was lifted in 1971, but a ban on marriage between brothers and sisters remains in place. It is not known how many cousin couples live in the Netherlands because there is no registration procedure.    

  • Letters to & Requests from CDWRME  

Sweden  

Hello

 My name is Karolina Rosenlöf and I live in Gothenburg, Sweden. I need your help in a matter concerning my friend Fawzia. She is a women from Egypt and she is soon 60 years old. She lives with her daughter and grand child in Gothenburg. She is about to be banished out of Sweden back to Egypt. She has been in Sweden since 1998. She came here to support her daughter when she divorced her husband. After 1 year in Sweden her husband in Egypt divorced her because he didn’t like that she was on the daughters side. After that he has threaten to kill her twice if she ever returns to Egypt. If she returns she will have no place to live, no money and a death punishment hanging over her. My question to you is if you could describe the situation for women in Egypt today for me and give me some examples that I can give to her lawyer about what her life would be if she is forced back to Egypt. Please contact med as soon as you can on these following address and numbers:  

Regards,    

  • USA  

Dear Azam,  

I read some of your articles on your site.  I wanted to know if you plan to lecture or hold seminars in the U.S. about women's rights in the Middle East. I find what you have to say very interesting and truthful; and it is very brave of you to speak

Publicly about such issues, at the risk of your own life.  

I was born and raised in the U.S., (thank goodness for that) but I always feel like I lead a double life.  When I am with my Pakistani Muslim friends, although they are not terribly conservative, I still have to behave a certain way, and when I am with my American or non-Muslim friends I can be more myself, and just be free to say whatever I feel like, but I never quite feel 100%  "white American" either.   I have 2 kids now, and sometimes I wish I just was more "Islamic" in my thinking so I could just so easily pass on to my kids whatever it is they are supposed to follow religion wise without having the doubts --- but inside I identify with what you wrote about how life would be better without all religions vying to be the "true path to heaven", and in the fight to win so many people are slaughtered in the name of religion and God.  What if all of this was in vain and there is no God??  How can all religions be right, and how do Muslims think that they are the only ones with a ticket to paradise? I do agree with the main principles of Islam (just as most religions all have some basic good principles), but when you start to dig deeper into the details in the Koran, hadiths, and Islamic history, then to me its all starts to fall apart. Before 9/11, I just accepted that I was a Muslim, although I am not a practicing Muslim-- I never thought much about the religion, but then it hit me-- what would drive these fanatics to kill so many people in the way that they did?  That’s when I started reading the Koran after many years (in English) and reading the hadiths, and frankly I was so disappointed and disgusted with what I was reading. I have many questions about Islam, women’s rights, and just in general about how many things in the Koran and hadiths just don't make any sense, or are just perverse. But I wonder, how can millions of people, many of whom are brilliant Muslims, just blindly follow this faith, not ask questions, and when faced with some of the contradictions and some downright scary verses from the Koran just glaze over them and say that Islam is the natural religion and the Koran is the most beautiful book, and it contains all the answers. If the Koran is God's word, then God knows that men have an innate tendency to want to control women, so why would He even hint that a man has a right to beat his wife?  And if everything in our lives is already written in God's Master Plan, then how is prayer supposed to change anything? Isn't that contradictory?  

Of course I cannot ask any of my questions with any of my Muslim friends - I would be totally ostracized from the community. So I just go along with the flow, and pretend that I agree with whatever they saying that relates to Islam, even thought some of it borders on bizarre superstitions.  One of my Muslim friends who I can openly speak with about these issues asks this question --- if Islam is such a great religion, then why are the women in these Islamic countries the most oppressed, downtrodden people...  Of course, that’s not to say that some women here in the U.S. or other western societies are in oppressed situations, but it just seems very bleak when one hears stories such as the Nigerian woman's plight, and the basis of her situation stems squarely from the religion.  

Hope to read more of your articles.

Sincerely,

Lavish Shariff    

  • USA

I am a social worker and am working with a young Muslim girl who has fallen pregnant.  She did not have many close friends that I am aware of.  Is it expected of young Muslim girls to have sexual relations in payment of friendship etc.  What are the thoughts around copulation of unmarried Ethiopians.?
Thank you.  

Peter  

  • U.K.  

 I was much moved by your article and sorry to see that Sweden, which has always had very liberal views in the matters of sex and lifestyle.  I have a Swedish surname, inherited from my Swedish father-in-law, although I am not Swedish myself.  Would it be a bad idea for me to write to someone in the Swedish Government expressing my disgust and horror?  I do this sort of thing occasionally for Amnesty International.  I should be glad of your comments.  

Yours,

M F Lofmark  

  • USA

I just read your words about the dangers of political Islam and how accepting we, as Americans, are told to be of everything and everyone.  

My children attend 7th grade in California.  Their social studies book presents Islam in a way I have never seen any other religion taught about in any school.  After doing some research, I found that the Center for Islamic Education, as a "contributor" to the book actually provided the section on the Crusades from a "Muslim" prospective.  Their founder is quoted as saying their purpose is to show Islam in a wonderful fashion in order to bring more people to it.  The editor of the textbook freely admits this.   

Everywhere in the book, Muslims are presented as kind and gentle and every other religion is presented as ruthless and having evil purposes in expending empires. When I voiced my concerns to the teacher, I was quite clear that I want

my children to be exposed to comparative religion and cultural influences throughout history.  However, I felt the textbook was presented in a lopsided fashion.  She instantly called me intolerant and accused me of breeding hatred in my home "like the terrorists on September 11."  She put it in writing.  I was in shock.  I did not realize being tolerant was the equivalent of blind acceptance of everything we are told.  Imagine the apathy that would breed!  

Anyhow, I appreciate that you are a survivor and a true believer in freedom.

Carol Pruden  

  • Nepal  

Dear Azam Kamguian  

It was really my great pleasure to meet you during the IHEU conference on "Empowering women" in London. I am very much impressed by your opinions and perception of empowering women. I think we have to work together for the betterment of women situation at both national and international level. I always need your valuable input in this regard. Please keep in touch. It would be nice to hear from you. With my best personal regards  

 Sincerely

Maya Devi Subedi

women dept Humanist Association of Nepal (HUMAN)  

  • Turkey  

A weekly left newspaper in Turkey wants to make news about your committee. They want information about the campaigns, activities and publish of committee, the relations with other organizations etc. Please send me complete information about the committee (when, who and how it is founded etc.)I have only the July bulletin. If possible, please send me the other bulletins. If you can reply as quickly as possible, I will be glad.  

Regards,

Özgür Yalçýn  

  • Nigeria  

Dear Azam,

Thanks for your very insightful paper. We also report gender persecution in Nigeria and we circulate your newsletter to our subscribers so they may have a better perspective. It seems women all over the world are an endangered species. More power and have a nice day.  

In sisterhood,

Nogi Imoukhuede

Project Coordinator, Women's Rights Watch Nigeria

www.kabissa.org/mailman/listinfo/womensrightswatch-nigeria  

  • USA  

Dear Ms. Kamguian,

  My name is Megan, and I am a high-schooler from the United States. I am doing a research project on the treatment of women in the Middle East, and would like to talk to you about your organization to defend the rights of women in that culture. If you would be willing to e-mail me back and give me some information on what your organization does to take action against this treatment, I would appreciate it a great deal.

Thank you for your time.

Megan Leatherman  

  • U.K.

Dear Dr Azam Kamguian  

I came across your website and some of your writings. In fact, I spent most of the day alighting upon your writings in various websites and I am moved to say you are a wonder of a human being! I wish to thank you with all my heart for your hard work and dedication in being so amazingly productive re both the                quality, depth and quantity of your scholarly yet passionate analysis.  

I would love to disseminate your writings here in the North of England where bigotry in the totally male dominated mosques rules unchallenged by any form of rational discussion and women continue to be subject to a horrendous double standard of morality.  

I have found the response of academia generally is one of cowardly subservience to these fascists in religious clothing. They bleat on about cultural relativism which as you say, is only a means of avoiding facing the violence that is unleashed when anyone challenges the violation of human rights when done in the name of Islam.  

 With love and solidarity, in sisterhood

Yasmin Akhtar  

  • USA  

   I personally blame fundamentalist modern Islam for the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile their differences, and for the Palestinians to achieve statehood.  For someone who is hardly religious, Arafat, probably without even realizing, has become a puppet in the realm of greater designs envisioned by militant Islam.  Young, naive children, who are brainwashed by all sides, forget that it is statehood that they are yearning and fighting for, are killing themselves in the name of Allah, to become shahids and martyrs, not in the name of the homeland they deserve.  As a result, the battle for Palestinian statehood has been blurred, and distorted. The smart Palestinians, the ones who see things as they are, should take up arms against the mullahs, and the terrorist preachers who recruit the youth, and publicly hang them, with a message to Iran and Syria, and all the governments that directly support it all the violence.   

Ryan


Committee to Defend Women's Rights in the Middle East Coordinator & Spokesperson: Azam Kamguian

Email: azam_kamguian@yahoo.com
Cdwrme@yahoo.com 
Tel: + 44(0) 788 4040 835
Fax: + 44 (0) 870 831 0204
Web site: www.middleastwomen.org