Posts Tagged ‘Niqabs’

The Young Turks on American Girls Joining ISIS and the Reality there for Women

April 6, 2015

This is another couple of videos from The Young Turks internet news show. Although this is an American news programme, it addresses an issue that is also very much in the news over here: that of western girls running away from home to join ISIS as jihadi brides.

Western Girls Joining ISIS

This was in the news about a month or so ago, when three Muslim girls from London ran away from their families and school to go to Syria to join the Islamic State there. As the video below shows, this isn’t just confined to Britain. It’s also happened in America. In the video, the Turks’ anchors Cenk Uyghur and Ana Kasparian discuss the case of three girls from Colorado, who ran away from their homes to try and join the jihadis. The were of Somali and Sudanese heritage, and aged between 15-17 years old. They were caught by the German police trying to go from there to Syria after the authorities were contacted by the girls’ families.

Muslim Feelings of Disenfranchisement and Isolation

Uyghur and Kasparian discuss the girls’ motives for going, and the fundamental stupidity of their actions. They make the point that however marginalised and disenfranchised the girls may feel in America, nevertheless they are leaving America and its immense freedoms for ISIS. Uyghur makes it very clear that the girls could only expect a loss of freedom over there. He states that Islamic fundamentalists view women in a lot of ways as chattels, and would regard them as more property arriving.

Low Status of Women in Islamists like ISIS

It’s a very good point. You can certainly find passages in the Qu’ran and Hadith where Muhammad urges Muslims to treat their wives well – he himself helped his wives with the housework, and the Qu’ran, while allowing polygyny, states that a man must treat all his wives equally. Nevertheless, a movement that twists the words of Muslim scripture to justify the terrorisation and mass butchery of civilians and non-combatants probably isn’t going to be too punctilious about observing those verses that encourage respect for women. Especially as one factor in these movements appears to be a reaction against western feminism.

Uyghur himself is from a Turkish Muslim background, although he’s an agnostic/ atheist like most of the Turks. His comments thus come from his experience from within Muslim culture, and therefore should carry far more weight than the bonkers utterances of various members of the Repugs, who frankly haven’t a clue about the Middle East or its peoples.

Jihadi Brides and Western Idolisation of Serial Killers

He also connects the motives of the girls and young women joining ISIS with those of the westerners, who idolise masked killers. They feel disconnected and powerless. Watching murderers like ISIS and domestic serial killers makes them feel powerful. It’s the same motive that inspired Adam Lanza, the maniac responsible for shooting the audience in an American cinema. He was absolutely obsessed with masked spree killers.

Western Recruits to ISIS Will also Kill Other Muslims

Uyghur also makes the point that once there, those westerners joining ISIS would spend most of their time butchering other Muslims, whose religious views don’t match those of the Islamic State, like the Shi’a. Rather than fighting against non-Muslims, they probably wouldn’t see them, and would spend all their time killing their co-religionists. Again, it’s an excellent point, though following Sayyid Qutb, radical Islamic ideology views liberal or secular Muslims as part of the jaihiliyya, the non-Muslim forces of darkness and ignorance. They are seen as irredeemably corrupt through their acceptance of non-Muslim, western ideas and culture.

As for the Shi’a, extremist Sunnis, like the Wahhabis, consider them to be heretics, who are an enemy of true Islam. The grand mufti in Saudi Arabia even declared them to be ‘worthy of death’, in a chilling exhortation to religious genocide. In addition to murdering and enslaving non-Muslims, ISIS also present a murderous threat to other Muslims, who don’t share their brutal views.

Girls Joining ISIS Should also be Prosecuted for Terrorist Offences

They also make another good point in that the girls joining ISIS should, if caught, face some kind of judicial process and punishment for aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation. This shouldn’t mean an adult court, as they are minors, but nevertheless they should face some kind of judicial punishment.

Women’s Lives in ISIS-Controlled Syria

In this second video, John Iadorola and the others discuss a film made by the French showing the reality of life for women in the part of Syria controlled by ISIS. It was made by a courageous lady, who made it with a hidden camera. For western audiences, it’s chilling. There are armed men everywhere, including one woman calmly pushing a baby buggy with a Kalashnikov slung over her shoulder. The dress code for women is very strictly enforced. All the women are swathed with the niqab. At one point a soldier or cop flags the female journalist down, and tells her to cover up properly. Too much of her face is showing, as her veil is transparent. Her face is fully covered, apart from a slit for the eyes.

Women in Internet Café Refuse Parents’ Pleas to Return

In the second segment of the film the Turks show, the journalist goes to an internet café to talk to the women there about why they joined ISIS. They’re talking to their families, who are clearly distraught and desperately trying to persuade them to come back to France. The girls refuse, saying that they want to stay there, and are very definite about this.

Women Motivated not from Lust for Bad Boys, but also Rage at Western Treatment Middle East

Talking about the video, Ana Kasparian makes the point that she isn’t convinced that it’s just about women falling in love with ‘bad boys’, like criminals in jail. She argues instead that much of the girls’ motives for joining ISIS probably comes from rage at the way the Western powers have treated and abused these countries.

No Choice about Wearing Niqab under ISIS and Extreme Muslim States

She also makes a good point about the headscarf. She states that she was against the French mandatory ban on the scarf, as it was a part of their religion. It should, however, be a woman’s own decision whether or not she wears it. Under ISIS, women don’t have a choice. They have to wear the niqab.

On this last point, it needs to be said that the penalties for women, who don’t dress ‘modestly’ under extremely hard-line Islamic states can be fatal. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, women were legally required to wear the veil. If they did not, the police shot them as prostitutes. I’ve heard that things have loosened up a bit since then. For example, at one time if the Iranian police caught a group of youths with a bottle of vodka, they’d shoot them. Now they just pour the bottle away.

That, however, is contemporary Iran. This is the Islamic State, who seem to have taken over as the most violent and repressive state in the Middle East.

Ban on Music by ISIS; Pop Music in Revolutionary Iran

On a more trivial point, amongst the things the Islamic State has banned is music. The Turks are astonished at this, and can’t work out why. Now there has always been a debate within Islam on whether music is lawful. It is, however, very much a part of modern life and contemporary youth culture around the world. So much so, that many people, like the Turks, cannot imagine a world without music, and would find such a situation almost unbearable.

Again, Iran provides an example. In Iran it was illegal to play contemporary pop music so loud that another person could hear it. It’s not a complete ban on music by any means, and there was no problem with listening to western classical music. Traditional Iranian music was actively discouraged because it had been promoted by the Shah as part of his programme of creating a secular, national identity against that of Islam.

The Beeb’s reporter, John Simpson, in his book on Iran describes the case of an Iranian trucker, who was playing a piece of western pop in his truck. He had the window down, but the sound of the hip ‘n’ happening sounds were drowned out by the noise of the traffic. Except when he had to stop at the traffic lights. He was overheard, arrest, and given something like 60 lashes.

As I’ve said, Iran appears to have become somewhat looser since then. There are pop groups in Iran, including one that made the news by having both male and female musicians on stage together at the same time. This contravenes the regime’s policy of strictly segregating the sexes. Nevertheless, the Iranian experience after the Revolution gives some idea of the nature of the strictures imposed by the regime in ISIS. Any westerner going there should know that when they do, they’re going to have to give up their ipods and CDs.

Jihadi Girls Want to Marry ‘Warriors’

I’ve posted these videos as they add an interesting, foreign perspective on something that has happened here, and is being discussed in the British press and the BBC. After the three London girls from Bethnal Green fled to Syria, the Beeb’s One Show had one of the Corporation’s female Muslim newsreaders on as a guest to discuss the issue. She put some of it down to the attraction to some girls of marrying a warrior, and the excitement of joining a military organisation, especially one that claimed it was defending their faith.

Girls who Go Won’t Return

She also made the point that those who went, probably wouldn’t come back. It was extremely difficult for those, who wanted to leave, to return to Europe. She cited the case of a foreign women, who joined ISIS, married one of the commanders and had his child. She then decided she’d had enough, and wanted to leave. She couldn’t, and her situation became very difficult.

But she also made the bleak point that most of the girls wouldn’t be returning to Europe and America, simply because they wanted to be there, a fact that must surely break their parents’ hearts.

Difficulty and Dangers in Pregnancy and Child Birth in War Zone

She also made the point that if the girls wanted to get pregnant and have children, then they would have to give birth in a warzone with very limited medical provision. Pregnancy and childbirth is a difficult time for expectant mothers and their partners anyway, even with advanced western medical care. In those areas fought over by ISIS, the risks become much higher.

ISIS Propaganda Tailored to Appeal to Girls and Women

Following this brief item on the One Show, the Beeb are screening this week a documentary on women joining the Islamic State. This makes the point that the internet propaganda perpetrated by the jihadis is extremely pernicious and insidious. Along with the propaganda about fighting for Islam, or rather, ISIS’ version of it, their propaganda also includes items designed to appeal to young women and girls, like fluffy kittens and food.

Girls’ Applause of Brutal Murder American Aid Worker Shows Them to be Sadistic Psychopaths

Now it strikes me as bizarre that the women and girls, who have got drawn into ISIS, have any kind of finer feelings at all, including sentimentality over cute animals. One of the British girls, who ran off to join ISIS, was a fan of beheading videos. She had commented on the video of the brutal execution of an American aid worker ISIS had captured, saying ‘that was gut-wrenchingly awesome’ and pleading ‘more beheadings please!’ I see absolutely nothing in that comment except sadism and bloodlust. It’s the comment of a psychopath, who has absolutely no feelings for the suffering of others, and in fact only derives pleasure and amusement from them.

I realise that kids getting sick pleasure from watching the suffering and deaths of others on video is hardly confined to Muslims. A friend of mine told me years ago how one of his friends – who was definitely White, and non-Muslim – had a copy of the video, Executions. This was ostensibly produced by an organisation opposed to the death penalty, and purported to show how horrific execution actually was. My friend was shocked by the way his friend was just laughing and sniggering at the last, desperate actions of those killed.

The girl’s applauding of the murder of the American aid worker goes beyond this. She wasn’t just a passive spectator; she demanded more, and in doing so became complicit in further atrocities, even if she did not, in fact, commit them herself. As for the victim, if he is the person of whom I’m thinking, then his death was even more iniquitous than the usual run of murders. The man was an aid worker, who had dedicated his life to helping the local people. He had identified with them so much, that he had converted to Islam. By no stretch of the imagination could he ever be considered a threat to Islam or its people.

Except in the twisted minds of ISIS, who captured him purely because he was an American. When the Americans refused to make a deal for his release, they butchered him. Just like they’ve butchered so many others.

I have every sympathy for the parents of children, who have gone to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, from those of the girls from Bethnal Green to the parents of ‘Jihadi John’ Emwezee. Clearly they wanted the best for their children, as most parents do across the world, regardless of race or faith. The last thing they wanted was for them to join monsters and mass-murderers.

But this is what has happened. And I’m not convinced that the girls, who ran off to join ISIS should be seen as somehow more innocent than the boys and young men, who did so. Considering the atrocities committed by the Islamic State, they should be seen exactly as modern counterparts to the women, who volunteered as guards for the female sections of the Nazi concentration camps, and who showed themselves as brutal as the men.

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RoarMag on the Resistible Rise of the Islamophobic Right in the Netherlands

February 14, 2015

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders: the face of Islamophobia

George Berger in his comment to my post about a Swedish Christian church that was sent threats for holding a service of solidarity with Muslims after a Pegida demonstration sent me this link to an article in RoarMag detailing the rise of the anti-Islam Far Right in the Netherlands: http://roarmag.org/2015/02/wilders-fortuyn-nationalism-netherlands/. George is Dutch but lives in Sweden. In his comment he said

I live in Sweden and am a Dutch citizen. It was a pleasure to read about the first Swedish Pegida demonstration, in Malmö last week. Eight Pegidistas versus more than one thousand anti. Contrast that with the current rise of neo-fascism in the Netherlands. Here is the best short article on that reactionary trend that I have seen. It should dispel a few myths.

It’s great to see that Sweden is still living up to its reputation as a place for sanity and tolerance, despite the attempts of Pegida to wreck it.

What is much more surprising to many foreigners is the rise of a large, anti-Islamic extreme Right in the Netherlands. The Netherlands after all has a reputation for being one of the most tolerant societies in Europe. In the 17th century it was one of the very few countries that did not have an established church. This was not because the Dutch were any less religious than the surrounding nations. Indeed, Alexander Graham-Dixon in one of his programmes on the Art of the Baroque, when covering the Dutch art of the period gave a contemporary saying as an example of the deeply religious divisions in the Netherlands in that period. The saying said that if there were three Dutchmen, two of them would immediately form their own churches, and accuse the third of being a heretic. They did not set up an official, established church, because they did not feel that force should be use to enforce religious belief. If a particular religious denomination or sect was to survive, it should do so through peacefully winning over and retaining believers.

Moreover, the Netherlands itself suffered brutally from the Nazi occupation. During the War, the Nazis attempted to break the Dutch people through withholding food supplies to create a terrible famine. When I was at school in the 1980s our school had an exchange scheme with another school in the Netherlands. Despite the intervening decades, memories of the Nazi atrocities were still strong with some of the older generation, and there were people, who bitterly hated the Germans. With this history of persecution by Fascism, it’s amazing how anything like an organised Fascist movement could ever be popular in the Netherlands.

RoarMag’s article explains just how this has arisen. It’s entitled Pro-gay and anti-Islam: rise of the Dutch far-Right. It begins

In the Netherlands, the right-wing PVV (Freedom Party) has steadily garnered power using a hate-filled discourse directed at Muslims and elites alike.

The Dutch far-right has evolved into one of the most successful national movements in Europe. Its leader Geert Wilders is a major political figure with international support. In many ways Wilders is the heir of Pim Fortuyn, a politician who played a crucial role in shaping a new right-wing current, ‘national-populism’, in Dutch politics, and who was murdered in 2002.

Populism here means the idea that society is separated in two camps; the ‘good people’ versus a ‘corrupt elite’. The ‘people’ are not the whole of society, but the part of the society that is considered pure and whose political will is considered legitimate: it is a partial object that stands in for the whole. Who is part of the ‘people’ is not given, the borders of this category are contested. The selection of those considered part of it and who are not is a political act.

Different kinds of populism use different criteria to select and shape ‘the people’ into political actors. In national-populism, the ‘people’ and the nation tend to overlap: the nation is not equal to the citizenry but to the ‘people’, a term with an historical, ethnic connotation. The national-populism of Fortuyn and Wilders calls for the disappearance of an ‘alien’ minority culture to preserve a mythical, homogeneous ‘Dutchness’.

The article traces the rise of extreme-rightwing, ‘gay-friendly’, anti-Islamic populist movements from Frits Bolkestein of the right-wing Liberal party, the VVD, through Pim Fortuyn and to the Partij Voor Vrijheid (Party For Freedom) of the notorious Islamophobe, Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Bolkestein set the pattern for the development of Islamophobic right in the Netherlands in a speech he made in 1991. In a speech to the Liberal International, Bolkestein contrasted European and Christian civilisation with that of the Islamic world, arguing that democracy and human rights were a product of a single, European culture, rather than emerging from a clash within different cultures.

Pim Fortuyn

Not a Bond Villain: Pim Fortuyn, Pro-Gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Welfare

This was taken up by Pim Fortuyn. A right-wing cultural pessimist lamenting the decline of community cohesion, traditional values and patriarchal authority figures, Fortuyn combined nationalism with neo-Liberal programme of severe cuts to the welfare services. In his 1997 book, Tegen de Islamisering van Onze Cultuur, ‘Against the Islamisation of the Our Culture’, Fortuyn presented Dutch culture as under threat from a homogenous, a-historical Islam. In his view, Islam was not just a religion, but also a worldview and political system. By constructing his attack on Islam as one of culture, not race, he avoided being linked to the racist, neo-Nazi far right. Nevertheless, the article makes clear that Fortuyn also made deeply racist comments, such as his statement to the Dutch paper De Volkskraant that Moroccans never stole from each other.

Fortuyn’s party, the List Pim Fortuyn, disintegrated amidst internal feuding after his assassination in 2002 by the environmental activist Volkert van de Graaf. Fortuyn’s anti-Islam stance was then taken up by Geert Wilders, then a member of the right-liberal VVD. Along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wilders promoted the idea that the conduct of Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands were determined by their religion, and that it was the cause of the sexism and racism in Dutch Muslim culture. The religion was also the root cause of socio-economic poverty and dictatorships and absolute monarchies in the Islamic world. Wilders left the VVD to form his own party in 2004.

The new party received a massive boost with the murder of the bitterly anti-Islamic Theo van Gogh. In the aftermath, dozens of mosques and hundreds of Muslim immigrants were attacked. In 2010 Wilder’s party attempted to capitalise on fears generated by the recession by throwing out their previous, Neo-Liberal policies. The party had previously stood for a flat tax rate, attacks on trade unions, abolition of the minimum wage and making it easier for firms to dismiss workers. Wilders’ party then pledged to defend the welfare state and workers’ rights, while claiming that they were under attack through immigration. The party then attempted to prevent these same civil rights from being applied to immigrants through linking social security to length of citizenship, language skills, and the adoption of secular dress. Those wearing burqas or niqabs were to be ineligible for benefits.

Wilders’ party entered government as the coalition partner of Mark Rutte’s VVD government. In doing so it gave up many of its left-wing demands and committed itself to Rutte’s austerity programme. The Coalition collapsed in 2012 when the PVV withdrew from negotiations about the implementation of further austerity. The following year Wilders’ began to establish links with other, European Far Right parties, like the French Front National, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, and the Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs in Austria. Wilders also went on tour of Holland collecting anti-austerity signatures, and set up a website offering legal advice for blocking the construction of mosques.

The article points out that Wilders’ success is remarkable, considering that his party doesn’t have members or much of an organisation beyond a website. This has given him absolute freedom to choose which candidate to support. It also points out that the success of Fortuyn and Wilders is partly due to appearances on TV and the net. Fortuyn in particular benefited from the support of the mainstream Conservative media. Wilders so far has eschewed appearing on TV and being interviewed by the papers because he distrusts their supposed ‘left-wing’ bias.

The Dutch anti-Islamic far right has also benefited from selectively including parts of the radicalism of 1968. They have taken on board verbal support for feminism, gay liberation and opposition to anti-Semitism, while rejecting the Green movement and anti-racism. Women’s and gay rights, and acceptance of Jews, are seen as intrinsically Dutch characteristics and their origins in the left-wing and progressive movements is ignored.

The article also considers that Bolkestein, Fortuyn and Wilders have also gained through the Netherlands’ self-image as an open and tolerant society, and the taboo on looking too closely at the endemic racism within it. This is particularly acute because the Dutch Left has largely abandoned anti-racism, and even taken over some aspects of the nationalistic Islamophobia of Wilders et al.

It’s a fascinating, provocative article that needs to be read, not just for the light it shines on this ominous aspect of Dutch politics, but also on the links and similarities to the growth in other anti-Islam groups and organisations throughout Europe, such as Pegida in Germany, and the EDL over here.

Despite the PVV’s massive growth, I’ve met many Dutch people, who were bitterly and outspokenly against Wilders and his bigotry. One young woman I knew at Uni said that she intended to leave the Netherlands if he won an election. I hope she didn’t, as no-one should feel forced out of their homeland by bigots.

ayaan-hirsi-ali-005

Ayaan Hirsi Ali considering the size of her next speaking fee.

As for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a highly controversial figure. Her family have denied that any of the maltreatment she describes as being inflicted on her by her family has ever actually occurred. A non-Muslim friend of mine, who has taught university classes in Islam, is spectacularly unimpressed with her. He sees her less as a principled politician, than as a venal opportunist, who has exploited her supposed escape from Islamic oppression to gain money, influence and political power. She’s made money very cynically from telling the Islamophobic Right exactly what they want to hear. All the while using and discarding former allies than when they are of no use to her.

What has come across from this article is the similarity of approach of the anti-Islam activists across the West, from America to this side of the Atlantic. There is the same denial of racism. They don’t object to Muslims because of their ethnic origin, but because of the social, economic and political aspects of their religion. There is the same view that Islam is uniformly anti-feminist and bitterly hostile to gays. The anti-Islam sites over here and in America carried stories about Muslims beating up gays in Amsterdam, for example.

There is also the same claim that, in order to protect the welfare state, measures must be put in place to limit immigration. In the interview I put up this morning between Nigel Farage, the Fuhrer of UKIP, and Evan Davies, Farage stated that in a decade or so’s time, we may have to introduce an insurance system to fund the NHS due to the expansion of the country’s population to 80, 90. or 100 million. Farage was very careful not to single out any particular religion or ethnic group, but his party does contain any number of swivel-eyed loons with a venomous hatred of Muslims and non-Whites. The message, and that of the anti-immigrant Conservatives, is the same: the welfare state is under threat from immigrants, who are placing far too much strain on the available services. This conveniently ignores the fact that the welfare state has been decimated by decades of Conservative rule, and is likely to be destroyed completely if Cameron’s horde of robber barons are returned to power.

And Wilders has more than his fair share of supporters in this country. About ten years ago there was controversy in Britain, when Wilders was invited to speak at the House of Lords. He, and groups like him, aren’t a problem confined to the Netherlands. They’re all over Europe, and threaten all of our societies.