Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?…' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

“Why Shariah?” (Noah Feldman, at CFR), “Islam’s Double Standard” (Arthur Frederick Ides) and {No Feminine Nouns at} the Michigan Family Forum’s home (Brian Snavely): But First, Four Women…

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This blog should be filed along with my ones about the Gulag Archipelago, and Bahrain Archipelago.

With respect and appreciation intended this season towards:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dr. Phyllis Chesler, Nonie Darwish, and Immaculee Iligibazi, who survived the Rwandan Holocaust in a cramped bathroom in a pastor’s house, although others who sometimes sought shelter in churches then, didn’t find it.  In their books (I haven’t met any of these women, all activist and all authors, and all who overcame many odds and losses), and in reverse order:

  • Immaculée

Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at the National University of Rwanda. Her life transformed dramatically in 1994 during the Rwanda genocide when she and seven other women huddled silently together in a cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days! During this horrific ordeal, Immaculée lost most of her family, but she survived to share the story and her miraculous transition into forgiveness and a profound relationship with God.

(title of page also: “From a country she loved to the horrors of genocide:  A journey to understanding and forgiveness.”)

I love what I think this country stands for.  I understand we are in a period — perhaps we have always engaged in this – of  a different sort of “genocide” and the “genus” we are involved in eradicating is the word Mother and Woman as a functional reality in the major institutions of life — except we comply and fit in.  what we are expected to fit in with is becoming nonpersons, and religious and sectarian violence against us and our children because we spoke up against violence and weren’t aware ahead of the family law system that is designed to STOP such speaking up and leaving it.  As formerly it was “not without my children,”  Nowadays it has become, “OK, but ONLY without your children…”

I think that story needs to be heard, too, and how having children, then losing them to systems, transformed each of us personally, and our relationships with the rest of the world, particularly any religious segments of it.  If the U.S. is the BEST for women, then we are indeed in trouble throughout the world.

  • Nonie:

(Wikipedia entry).

Nonie Darwish (Arabic: نوني درويش‎) (born 1949[1][2]) is an Egyptian-American human rights activist, and founder of Arabs For Israel, and is Director of Former Muslims United. She is the author of two books: Now They Call Me Infidel; Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror and Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law. Darwish’s speech topics cover human rights, with emphasis on women’s rights and minority rights in the Middle East. Born in Egypt, Darwish is the daughter of an Egyptian Army lieutenant general, who was called a “shahid” by the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser,[3] after being killed in a targeted killing in 1956. Darwish blames “the Middle Eastern Islamic culture and the propaganda of hatred taught to children from birth” for his death. In 1978, she moved with her husband to the United States, and converted to Christianity there. After September 11, 2001 she has written on Islam-related topics.[3]

She was too outspoken.  Respectable organizations headed for the hills when

Shari’a in the Ivy League

By: Pratik Chougule
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Where are the moderates of the Islamic world? The question has befuddled Americans since the September 11 attacks. Indeed, while President Bush and other leaders of the West have fervently defended Islam as a “religion of peace,” there has been a conspicuous dearth of prominent Middle Eastern leaders openly willing to criticize radical Islam or defend the United States and Israel in the War on Terrorism. A recent incident at Brown University this past November sheds light on the perplexing issue.In late November, Hillel, Brown University’s prominent Jewish group on campus, invited Nonie Darwish to give a lecture in defense of Israel and its human rights record, relative to the Islamic world.  

Her father, Mustafa Hafez, founded the Fedayeen, which launched raids across Israel’s southern border. When Darwish was eight years old, her father became the first targeted assassination carried out by the Israeli Defense Forces in response to Fedayeen’s attacks, making him a martyr or “shahid.” During his speech nationalizing the Suez Canal, Nasser vowed Egypt would take revenge for Hafez’s death. Nasser asked Nonie and her siblings, “Which one of you will avenge your father’s death by killing Jews?”

After his death, Darwish’s family moved to Cairo, where she attended Catholic high school and then the American University in Cairo. She worked as an editor and translator for the Middle East News Agency, until emigrating to the United States in 1978, ultimately receiving United States citizenship. After arriving in the United States, she converted from Islam to evangelical Christianity based on her belief that even American mosques preach a radical, anti-peace message. Due to her decision to convert, Darwish instantly became branded as an “apostate” in several prominent Muslim circles. After 9/11, Darwish began writing columns critical of radical Islam, and authored a book Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. She is also the founder of the organization Arabs for Israel, which pledges, “respect and support the State of Israel,” welcome a “peaceful and diverse Middle East,” reject “suicide/homicide terrorism as a form of Jihad,” and promote “constructive self-criticism and reform” in the Islamic world.

When Hillel announced its decision to invite Darwish to speak, the Brown University Muslim Students’ Association promptly insisted that Hillel rescind the invitation. Their reasoning: Darwish is “too controversial.” Similarly, the Sarah Doyle’s Women’s Center, which Hillel had contacted to cosponsor the event given Darwish’s advocacy of women’s rights, refused to support the lecture.

After a brief period of internal debate, Hillel buckled to the pressure and withdrew its invitation. In an open letter explaining the decision, Hillel cited a “desire to maintain constructive relationships” with the Muslim Students Association. Inviting Darwish, they argue, “would not be a prudent method of Israel advocacy.” Defending the decision, one member of Hillel stated that Jews “should be especially sensitive about comments which criticize strict religious observance and deem it unacceptable in America.” This member was particularly concerned that his Muslim peers “were extremely offended by this characterization of them as ‘extremists.’”

Amidst a flurry of negative press, including stories in the New York Post,

National Review Online, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the University moved into damage-control mode.

A woman, presumably Brown student, responds in the Daily Herald (newsletter) “Nathalie Alyon ’06:  Nonie non grata?“:

The recent Nonie Darwish cancellation betrays Brunonian*  values

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006

{**a.k.a. “Brown,” give me a break with the language, eh?}

I was shocked to read a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report that Nonie Darwish, a Palestinian peace activist, would not be speaking at Brown because the Muslim Student Association, the Muslim chaplain and the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life are afraid what she has to say is controversial (“Free speech controversy builds as pro-Israel speech canceled at Brown,” Nov. 20). What happened to the Brown I know and love, the haven of liberal education that encourages free thought and debate? Apparently, we have turned into a university easily intimidated when the subject matter gets sensitive.

And, may I add, possibly when the speaker is also female… (and a mother at the time, I think)….

What about Darwish is so offensive to Muslims that Hillel students decided to cancel her appearance to avoid jeopardizing the wonderful relationship between Jewish and Muslim groups on campus? …

Are the Muslim Student Association and the Muslim chaplain not willing to face the reality that there are people using Islam to incite violence, promote terrorism and spread hate across the world? Would they rather keep things simple, inhale hookah smoke with a couple of Jews in the name of multiculturalism and call it a day?

I think the answer there is self-evident….

Now that we know who is not allowed to speak on campus, let’s take a look at some events that have taken place

Good.  This young woman (presumably) is on the right track to feminism {a.k.a. females speaking their minds} in the real world…

By the way, isn’t Nonie Darwish (along with President Obama) a PURRRfect example of what risk any fatherless child is of teen pregnancy, runaway, drug use, etc.  Look at her disgraceful track record, educationally, and as to contributions to this world.  What a burden on society.

(my point being — WARS, too, help make fatherlessness; don’t blame the Mamas!)

She also got silenced at Princeton and Columbia — so mothers silenced in the courts are perhaps in good company?  Granted, both quotes from known conservative ezines (exception the BrownDaily, which I don’t know about). But it kinda makes you wonder, eh?

Nonie Darwish, the executive director of Former Muslims United and author of Cruel And Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, was scheduled to speak at Columbia and Princeton last week, but both events were canceled under pressure from Muslim groups on campus.

Darwish, a soft-spoken ex-Muslim and daughter of an Islamic martyr, is a champion of the rights of women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, and leader of the group Arabs for Israel. She had been planning to speak on “Sharia Law and Perspectives on Israel.” She is one of the few courageous voices who speak out against Islamic anti-Semitism and the oppression of women under Sharia.

She is eminently qualified to speak about this, having lived it.  Her education is fine.  It’s the topic which is politically incorrect even in “liberal” circles..

At Princeton, she was invited three weeks ago and was scheduled to speak last Wednesday. But on Tuesday evening, Arab Society president Sami Yabroudi and former president Sarah Mousa issued a joint statement, claiming: “Nonie Darwish is to Arabs and Muslims what Ku Klux Klan members, skinheads and neo-Nazis are to other minorities, and we decided that the role of her talk in the logical, intellectual discourse espoused by Princeton University needed to be questioned.”

??Character assassination, sounds like to me…  Good grief, here’s a Princeton Commentary on it:

Darwish herself, who has never advocated violence against anyone, pointed to this unfounded moral equivalence to neo-Nazism as “the worst kind of intimidation and character assassination aimed at those who dare to question, analyze, or criticize.” And she found it ironic that while her punishment for speaking out as an apostate against Islam’s worst practices was silence at Princeton, it would be death under Sharia law.

But more than the issue of free speech, the scandal has exposed in the religious community a problematic link between faith and politics, one that is the root of any inter-religious conflict. When asked if the religion of Islam were inseparable from politics, Imam Sultan explained, “There are a whole host of theories on how Islam can interact with politics, from the least imposing to the most imposing ways. I find myself agreeing more with the former, but I cannot deny that it is a source of great debate and difference of opinion among Muslims.”

(in “Censored:  The Politics behind silencing Nonie Darwish” (Dec. 09, in “THE PRINCETON TORY A JOURNAL OF CONSERVATIVE AND MODERATE THOUGHT)

While I have not met any of the above women (who are writer and speakers, I sometimes consider — of recent two years — my mentors, as I struggle to find a metaphor or “handle” to put the experience of the U.S. “FAMILY” court system (as well as my own particular extended family – actually a very small in number family, but intensely Western (so they think, I believe) and intensely “liberal”), I have read Chesler books since I was young (don’t think the age difference is that great) and I have written her often, with alarm, about my concerns how the family law system is moving towards shariah, as seen my Christian/NOT fundamentalist background.  I do not feel that some women who while understanding that certain more radical, secular views of domestic violence may not “get” this, they too, may not “get” how (relative to the rest of the US culture, overall) this evangelistic and highly patriarchal (or else) sector has sprung from the same roots.  So, I decided to post THIS 2009 article, which addresses it.

Yesterday, I completed a QNA with the National Review about honor killings/”honorcides” which appears there today and which you may readHERE. I also did a long interview with a major new service on the subject which is slated to appear tomorrow. Like many other wire services and like the mainstream media, ideas such as mine are usually sidelined, marginalized, attacked, or simply “disappeared.” I do not think this will happen tomorrow.

And now, I have a number of honorable allies. One surely is NOW-New York State President, Marcia Pappas who is now also being attacked for her having linked the Buffalo beheading with “honor killings,” with “Islam,” and even with “Islamic terrorism.” Indeed, she was attacked yesterday by a coalition of eight domestic violence victim advocacy providers in Erie County where the Buffalo beheading took place. I quickly posted a blog which dealt with this, (it deserves a longer piece), but I mainly praised the recent rally in London which was sponsored by One Law For All.

Lo and Behold: A second honorable ally wrote to me. I want to share what he said. His name is Khalim Massoud, and he is the President of Muslims Against Sharia Law, an international organization. After reading my most recent blog HERE, he wrote me as follows:

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that (the) Buffalo beheading is a honorcide. We, Muslims Against Sharia, prefer this term to honor murder. Beheading is not just a murder, it’s a ritual. It’s a form of control and humiliating a family member who “stepped over the line,” in this case, wife taking out a TRO (order of protection) and planning to divorce her husband.

Ms. Pappas must be commended for her courage to call a spade a spade. (The) PC-climate presents considerable danger for future honorcide victims. Trying to sweep cultural/religious aspects of honorcide under the rug keeps the problem from being addressed. While most of the media wouldn’t touch the issue with a ten-foot pole, (for) fear they would be portrayed as Islamophobic, a few brave women, the true feminists, like Marcia Pappas and Phyllis Chesler are speaking out on the subject just to be slammed by so-called victim advocacy groups because they dare to expose Islamism’s dirty laundry. Muslim women in America are at great risk because Muslim establishment, with help of the media, wants to portray honorcide as fiction.

Honorcide has no place in the modern world, but especially in the West. It must be forcefully confronted; not written off as domestic violence. Almost a year ago, MASH started STOP HONORCIDE! initiative. The goal is to have honorcide classified as a hate crime. The Buffalo case is a perfect example why honorcide should be a hate crime. The suspect is being charged with the 2nd degree murder. If honorcide were classified as a hate crime, he’d be charged with the 1st degree murder.”

Khalim Massoud
President
Muslims Against Sharia

OK, now again briefly (since I mentioned above), Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Again, I find it a little disconcerting she is a scholar at a conservative think-tank also known to have “fatherhood” advocacy within its ranks… (AEI.org).

Biography

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. In parliament, she worked on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of women in Dutch Muslim society. In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The airing of the film on Dutch television resulted in the assassination of Mr. van Gogh by an Islamic extremist. At AEI, Ms. Hirsi Ali researches the relationship between the West and Islam, women’s rights in Islam, violence against women propagated by religious and cultural arguments, and Islam in Europe.
Here is a beautifully written article (on this ugly topic) and well-posed question. As I worry about the direction the courts are taking women, and religion is taking (or should I say, HAS taken) the U.S. Constitutional protections, I realize, yes I’m privileged, but feel also, we need to still wake up, HERE, and NOW, even though by comparison, other places are worse.  Women have physical lives and emotional lives and social lives.  We have come to demand meaning and purpose in our lives, here, and feel entitled to it.
However, if the whole social climate goes heirarchical (men, particularly pale ones, on top) and religious (Collaborations, faith-based initiatives and out-come based court processes…), we are in trouble.  And we are.  I wasn’t born in Egypt or Yemen.  I was born HERE, U.S.A.  What is it, if family law becomes shariah law in so many words, because men are afraid of empowered women?  Of non-dominated women?

We were on our front yard of white sand. It was a hot day, like almost all days in Mogadishu. There was nothing unusual about the flies that irritated us or the ants that I avoided for fear of their sharp, agonizing bites. If they happened to crawl under my dress or I sat on them accidentally they would punish me with a sting that made me shriek with pain. That shrieking and hopping about would earn disapproval and even a slap from Grandmother.

I think I was 6 or 7 on that day, maybe younger, but I know I was not 8 because my family had not yet left Somalia. Grandmother was moralizing as usual. On that day, like all other days, she was admonishing me to remember my place.

There was yet another thing I did wrong and I did not have the ability to set right. If only I wasn’t so dimwitted; if only I understood how I was to blame for the flaw that granny abhorred so much.

“Cross your legs,” she said, “lower your gaze. You must learn not to laugh, and if you must laugh then see to it that you don’t cackle like the neighbor’s hen.” We had no chickens but the noise of the neighbors’ hens screeching and hooting and trespassing was enough for me to get the message.

“If you must go outside make sure you are accompanied and that you and your company walk as far away from men as possible,” she said.

To my grandmother’s annoyance, I responded with the question: “But Grandmother, what about Mahad?” My brother Mahad never seemed to invite this kind of endless preaching from Grandmother. She answered me like the obtuse child she decided I was.

“Mahad is a man! Your misfortune is that you were born with a split between your legs. And now, we the family must cope with that reality!”

I thought: There was yet another thing I did wrong and I did not have the ability to set right. If only I wasn’t so dimwitted; if only I understood how I was to blame for the flaw that granny abhorred so much.

“Ayaan, you are stubborn, you are reckless and you ask too many questions. That is a fatal combination. Disobedience in women is crushed and you are disobedient. It is in you, it is in your bone marrow. I can only attempt to tell you what is right.”

Grandmother pointed to a piece of sheep fat on the ground. It was covered with ants, and flies were zooming above it, landing on it, sucking it. It was a vile piece of meat that was being warmed by the sun, and a trickle of fat seeped out of it. She said: “You are like that piece of sheep fat in the sun. If you transgress, I warn you men will be no more merciful to you than those flies and ants are to that piece of fat.”

A lot has changed in my life since those days in the sun with Grandmother. Today when I look back I see that I have proven her wrong. I disobeyed, true to my nature, I transgressed, but I avoided the destiny of the sheep fat.

Sitting in an airplane, I have on my lap the memoir of Nujood Ali. The title of the book is “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.” My reading list contains another book, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is called “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.” The reason I associate the two books is because of their description of marriage and divorce, and particularly the word “painful.”

Nujood was 8 years old when a delivery man approached her father in Sana, Yemen. After the initial expression of hospitality, the delivery man stated his business: He was looking for a wife. Nujood’s two older sisters were already married, so she was the logical bride, regardless of her age. Her father accepted $750 in dowry money and gave away his 8-year-old daughter. When Nujood’s mother and sisters appealed to him, pleading that she was too young to get married, the father responded with the excuse used by all Muslim fathers who marry off their daughters before they come of age: “Too young? When the Prophet wed Aisha she was only 9.”

In fact, Muhammad wed Aisha when she was 6. According to Scripture, the Prophet waited for Aisha to begin menstruating before consummating the marriage. Nujood’s new husband, Faez, showed no such restraint.

In painful detail, Nujood describes a real nightmare on her wedding night: How she runs away, how she seeks help, how she struggles, how he touches her and she wriggles out of his arms, how she calls out to her mother- in-law. “Aunty,” she screams, “somebody help me!” But there was silence. She describes how he gets hold of her, his awful smell, a mixture of tobacco and onions. She recounts the childish threat she makes–“I will tell my father”–and the husband’s reply: “You can tell your father whatever you like. He signed the marriage contract, he gave me permission to marry you.”

From the time Nujood was able to gather her wits about her she set about planning her escape. The story is recommended reading for anyone who seriously wants to understand what Muslim women can be subjected to.

In Yemen, Nujood’s father, her husband, the judges, the policemen and the broader society–with the exception of a very few–view her situation as normal. And Yemen is by no means unique.

When I turn to Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of a painful divorce it becomes clear to me what feminism has accomplished in the West. Gilbert decides to divorce her husband not because he was forced upon her, but because there is something intangible that he cannot give her. She chose to marry him. Every decision she made was voluntary: to marry him, to buy property with him, even to try for a child. Yet still she felt unfulfilled.

The deep sense of dissatisfaction leads her to abandon her marriage, the life of a privileged woman. She goes to Italy to find a piece of herself, the pleasure of eating. She goes to India to find another piece of herself: the pleasure of devotion. In Indonesia she finds yet another piece of herself: the balance between the pleasures of eating and praying. In India she finds a guru who answers her spiritual needs.

Gilbert’s story shows what feminism can achieve elsewhere, especially in the Muslim world.

But her story also demonstrates something else. Those women in the West who, like Gilbert, have harvested what the early feminists fought for have almost no affinity for women like Nujood–and like me when I was a little girl.

This is not to pass judgment on Gilbert. On the contrary, I admire her intellectual honesty and her pursuit of self-knowledge. The woman I have become in the West now feels closer to the Gilberts of this world than the Nujoods. But I find myself asking as I read these two books: What can current Western feminism offer the Nujoods?

I often am asked by my Western audiences: “Where did feminism go wrong?” I think the answer is staring us in the face. Western feminism hasn’t gone wrong at all–it has accomplished its mission so completely that a woman like Elizabeth Gilbert can marry freely and then leave her husband equally freely, purely in order to pursue her own culinary and religious inclinations. The victory of feminism allows women like Gilbert to shape their own destinies.

But there is a price for this victory: The price is a solipsism so complete that a great many Western women have lost the ability to empathize with women not only in the Islamic world, but also in China, India and other countries; women whose suffering takes forms that are now largely unknown in the West, save in the ghettos of immigrants. They are too busy hunting for the perfect prayer mat or pasta to give two hoots about a case of child-rape in Yemen.

The best we can hope for is not for the West to invade other countries in the hope of emancipating their women. That is neither realistic nor desirable (and remains our least plausible war aim in Afghanistan).

The best we can hope for is a neo-feminism that reminds women in the West of the initial phases of their liberation movement.

“If you transgress, they will show no more mercy than flies on  sheep fat.”  This grandmother warned her little girl how to survive, grown up.
Here, women who grew up with some feminism (but didn’t pay for it), went to college maybe, and married, perhaps wrongly — they find out soon enough how society treats them after childbirth and exiting the marriage….
So, here we are on New Years’ Eve — and I’m quoting an article comparing a ittle girl, because she is female, to a piece of sheep fat with flies crawling on it, and writing about child rape, by older man, socially accepted (which, FYI, is some of the prime subject matter of the contested custody cases — basically they are gender issues, and treated as a problem by the social agencies addressing divorce as a crime, — although it’s supposedly “no fault.”)
Now I”m about ready to post 2 to 3  more brief articles or links to make my point:  The wide discretion given in the family law judges makes many laws meaningless.  REALLY meaningless.  A certain outcome is desired.
I’ve not done the right thing with the last day of the year, but I feel I have connected (virtually, here) with three real human beings, remarkable women who are aware of this issue and doing something to make their world better as they go through it.   There is always something “human” about “truth” and correspondingly unreal about this season of the year in the electronic-soaked West.
. . . .
We need to wake up, and I’m not talking Tea Party, who will make a brief appearance (but not the word “mother” or “women” in any prominent place, — like a subject heading!) in the next post.
. . .

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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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