Photos of Hafez Assad and his son Bashar Assad are festooned all over Syria and Lebanon. This gallery documents how a cult-of-personality for the Assads has been established by the Syrian regime in both countries. The photos come from a variety of sources.
This case is a joke, right? At least the woman is British, so the case is actually getting attention from the international community. Had she been non-Western, we might well never even heard about the blasphemous bear.
Abeer Mishkhas explains how the Ministry of Justice's outrageous handling of the now-infamous gang rape case has reinforced misogynistic social attitudes:
Last Sunday, along with the rest of the world, Saudi Arabia
celebrated a day dedicated to Eliminating Violence Against Women.
Newspapers carried articles and editorials on the importance of the day
and TV naturally gave the day a lot of coverage. Aside from
celebrations, speeches and good intentions, we need to remember that
the problem of violence against women and children has not gone away...
cannot but see the irony of the day against the backdrop of the
continuing coverage of the Qatif girl and how her story has turned from
a clear case of rape to a bigger and wider one that at its core
includes terrible violence.
The girl’s case which has attracted
international attention, including comments from American presidential
hopefuls, remains unresolved. We note a shift in public discourse
concerning this case; it has effectively turned from a gang rape — in
which the rapists were the perpetrators — to a case of seduction in
which the girl is the seducer and guilty party...
To take the discussion further, we must wonder about the description of
the girl’s appearance which was in a statement from the Ministry of
Justice. The statement says she threw her clothes aside. Can we accept
such a statement?...
The statements seem to imply that the girl herself was the cause of the
rape. After all, she was allegedly involved in an immoral relationship
with the man she went out with. The implication has been that the
rapists were lured into their crime because of the indecency they saw
in front of them...
It has been interesting to follow the online comments from readers and
members of the public about the case. A shift in perspective has become
very clear; now there are voices asking for stoning and some are asking
for death — for the girl of course...
it was but a single step from there to thinking that she violated a
social taboo and so she deserved what she got. And we are celebrating
the International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women. Here I
drop my pen.
On Monday, the security forces came for another writer. And the world stood by largely silent:
On Monday, police in Sfax, Tunisia's second largest city, detained Slim
Boukhdhir, a well-known blogger and contributor to the London-based Al-Quds Al Arabi.
He was charged with “aggression against a public employee” and
“violation of public morality standards,” according to the journalist’s
lawyer. Under the penal code, the charges could bring 18 months in
prison. Boukhdhir was also charged under a 1993 national identity card
law with “refusal to show his identification card to a public security
agent.” He could be fined under that law...
Boukhdhir has staged several hunger strikes in recent years to protest
government harassment and authorities’ refusal to grant him a passport.
He was assaulted as he left an Internet café in Tunis in May, shortly
after writing an online story critical of the first lady’s brother...
Police arrested Boukhdhir Monday morning as he was leaving the city of
Sfax, about 140 miles (230 kilometers) south of the Tunisian capital,
in a taxi with other passengers. He told his lawyers that he had an
appointment that day at the Khaznadar Police Station in the suburbs of
Tunis regarding his passport application.
Clearly this man should not be allowed to apply for a passport... But all joking aside, it's interesting that one act that got Boukhdhir in trouble was criticizing the brother of Ben Ali's wife (specifically Mr. Houssem Trabelsi). Tunisians will tell you that the First Lady is quite the political force - and the one who wears in the pants in the Ben Ali home.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged the police to keep up its crackdown on social vice that has also targeted un-Islamic dress.
"The police must strongly press on with the 'social security plan'
and avoid seasonal and temporary initiatives so that its goals are
implemented in society," state television quoted Khamenei as telling
Police launched the crackdown in April in a drive to "elevate security
in society" with arrests of "thugs", raids on underground parties,
seizure of satellite dishes, and street checks of improperly dressed
Thousands of women have been warned for wearing tight, short coats and
skimpy headscarves and for flouting the Islamic dress code, which
requires every post-pubescent women to cover their hair and body
The Islamic republic's all-powerful leader urged police to "fulfill its duties regardless of some opposition and propaganda."
Because if there's one thing Khamenei's regime can't stand, it's propaganda! By the way, you gotta love that the crackdown is called a "social security plan" - maybe it has its own "lockbox."
From the Gulf Daily News, an interesting report on a regional women's empowerment conference:
Religious scholars are being called upon to educate the community on the difference between the teachings of the Quran and Arab traditions that suppress women. There is a widely held misunderstanding between Islamic teachings of women and the traditions and customs in the Arab world, said a human development expert.
"We need religious and political reforms," Syrian-based Unlimited Horizons human development trainer Dr Yasser Al Eiti told the GDN yesterday. "The view of women in the Arab world comes from traditions and customs, so scholars should acknowledge the difference between religion and customs.
"Treating women as a human being is an important thing in Islam, but it is misunderstood. In Saudi Arabia, not allowing women to drive a car is because of tradition, not religion. Not allowing women to work outside the house or participate in political life again are traditions."
Dr Al Eiti was speaking on the sidelines of a women empowerment conference in which he presented a paper entitled, the Role of Human Values in the Development of Women in the Arab World. He said political reforms were also needed in the Arab world because women would not be free until men were.
"Men are not free because of autocratic systems," he noted. "If the value of human beings is not respected in society in general then it will affect women...
More than 150 participants from civil societies, ministries, and other organisations from the region attended the Third Annual Arab Forum on Human Development, which concluded at the Crowne Plaza yesterday. The two-day forum, organised by the Bahrain Women's Society, discussed women empowerment and the Arab Human Development Report 2005: Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World.
Ah, Omar, we have neglected you for too long. But you jumped back into the headlines this past week celebrating the 19th anniversary of the PDF (not the Adobe document format, but the Popular Defense Forces). As the commander of the PDF for nearly two decades, ya Omar, you are responsible for the murder of several million, the forced displacement of millions more, the enslavement of thousands, and untold gang rapes of women and young girls.
In other words, Mr. Al-Bashir, you have presided over one of the most destructive and atrocious military forces of the past fifty years. And yet, nearly two decades later, you are still in power. And you are celebrating your rule live on national television:
In a belligerent televised speech, Al-Bashir raised the political temperature in a range of crises facing Africa's biggest country and its neighbours and stoked a political stand-off between the SPLM and Khartoum.
Bashir called on the PDF "to open training camps and to gather mujahedeen not for the sake of war but to be ready for anything" without going into further detail about their purpose.
The militia, which fought the SPLM during a two-decade civil war, was also accused of the mass abduction and rape of women and girls in Darfur, western Sudan, in a report published by the United Nations' human rights office in August.
Bashir also said he would also not budge "an inch" on the contested borders of the country's oil-rich Abyei region, a key point of contention with the SPLM, which is based in the now semi-autonomous south under a peace accord.
He also accused the West of trying to "restart the slave trade" by allowing aid groups to smuggle children out of Africa -- a reference to the recent arrest of French aid workers accused of abducting children in Chad.
That last line is dripping with hypocrisy. Here is the man most responsible for the revival of slavery in Sudan - a man whose PDF militiamen have abducted thousands of women and children as slaves under his command - and he has the nerve to complain about slavery. The pot once again calls the kettle black.