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France stirs burka debate

Gavin Hewitt | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Women wearing full Islamic veil in Marseille, FranceSo a French parliamentary commission has ruled that "the wearing of the full veil is a challenge to the Republic". The burka and niqab are "unacceptable", the report goes on, "and we condemn this excess".

However, the report is cautious in what it recommends. It foresees a ban on the burka in all schools, public transport and government offices. Women who wear the full veil could be denied services such as work visas or even French citizenship.

But the commission has steered away from a general ban including wearing it on the street. They were uncertain about the legality of such a ban.

There will now be intensive debate about this and a law may follow, but MPs are divided over what to do. Some favour tough legislation while others are not persuaded.

I also want to pick up on some of your comments about the burka and France. It is clearly a subject of immense interest. My intention is to highlight major European themes and "identity" is one of them. Some of the arguments heard in France have either already taken place in other European countries or are on the agenda.

My interview with Chrystelle Khedrouche, who wears the niqab, raised some interesting points.

Mrs Gendy wrote: "I wonder how many of the women who wear the niqab are French converts married to men from Muslim-dominated countries".

My understanding is that in France among the relatively few burka or niqab wearers a significant number are converts. The vast majority are under 40. Chrystelle says her decision to wear the niqab was hers alone and dictated by her faith.

Muslim writes: "Muslim women are commanded to cover their entire bodies in the presence of Afanib (men lawful for the women to marry)". There is wide dispute over this. Some imams in France back a ban. Hassen Chalgloumi, a Tunisian-born imam, says "full-face veils have no place in Islam" and goes on to describe the burka as "a prison for women". The French Council for Muslim Worship has supported the ban in instances where establishing identity is necessary.

Many contributors felt that the full-face veil should be banned in airports, law courts, schools and some public buildings. In the Netherlands it is banned in and around schools. However a case in Belgium reveals just how difficult it is to enforce a ban. A woman who was fined $190 simply refused to pay.

Another contributor pointed out how few Muslim women wore headscarves as recently as 10 years ago. One Muslim woman told me in Paris that the headscarf had become a way of asserting identity. She recognised that that became a problem if the identity was seen as separate from mainstream European society.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:41pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeman wrote:

    "My understanding is that in France among the relatively few burka or niqab wearers a significant number are converts. The vast majority are under 40. Chrystelle says her decision to wear the niqab was hers alone and dictated by her faith."

    Bunch of show offs in other words. I am sure their fellow muslims appreciate them stirring it.

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  • 2. At 1:34pm on 26 Jan 2010, Frilly wrote:

    I cannot understand why some muslim women are happy to wear the Burka or Niqab, It is highly oppressive to them, causes debate even between fellow muslims and is entirely a man made law not an instruction from Allah or God as are the commandments. The ones who live in predominately Christian countries bemoan the fact they are marginalised, meet with predjudice and are even victimised, well hello if you come as an outsider to avail yourself of another countries resources and way of life and make no attempt to intergrate into mainstream society, what do they expect? it is very anti social and I like many others who are not opposed to thier religion per say find it offensive to say the least and inciteful in the worst senarios. It also makes them stand out like a fox in a chicken coup

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  • 3. At 1:51pm on 26 Jan 2010, andrewme wrote:

    I live in Whitechapel an imigrant of sorts myself. When in a supermarket and you bump into someones child and they are not allowed or even able ( by belief) to communicate with you, makes me fear for isolation and division. Not being able to show decency in apologising and to offer help but ignored, is destructive. Even a curse would be welcome! I choke on the word communication, but its the lack of that from "good morning to a stranger" to "I'm really sorry,can I help" that provokes suspicion, speculation and isolation. Thats the difference between an interesting community where despite differences by and large everyone muddles by, and a ghetto.

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  • 4. At 2:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    It seems to be received wisdom that the Islamic community wants to live apart, with the burka being just the most visible symbol of an accepted fact. One place i have seen some burkas is the Longsight area of Manchester. There is no doubt this locality is home to a large Islamic community. The biggest and most impressive building in what is otherwise a fairly impoverished area is the Pakistani Community Center. But is it really some fiendish plot by this community to cut themselves off from the rest of society?

    I know of several other 'minority communities' who live in a relatively localised area. There is a Sikh community in Southall in London, clustering around the Gurdwara (temple). There is also a Japanese community around Ealing in West London and the American community around Egham in Surrey. Are these communities making a conscious decision to stick together and cut themselves off from the rest of society? Or is it simply more convenient for them to live in a cluster around the Japanese school in Ealing and the American Community School in Egham? Once an area establishes infrastructure useful to a particular minority group, e.g. schools, shops selling favourite foods from back home, etc., then a kind of snowball effect sets in. Word of mouth spreads through family, business and the community's own institutions to those back home who are considering migrating to the UK. The American Community School website says "ACS maintains close links with relocation professionals, lettings Agents and other service providers, and works collaboratively with them on a regular basis to help families who are moving to the area". So it is easy to see how the concentration of particular communities in particular areas become self-reinforcing without it being something sinister and unique about the Muslim community refusing to integrate.

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  • 5. At 2:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, kaybraes wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 6. At 2:36pm on 26 Jan 2010, Maj wrote:

    I dont see the problem with the wearing of any headscarves. IF these women choose to wear it through their own accord, who are we to tell them if they should do so or not.

    If the women choose to do so, how are they oppressed. If anything, its a sign of freedom. The fact that they've gone against the grain and decided to do something for their own pride is a rarity, I think is quite liberating. Ask yourself this, do women who wear high heels, wear it for their own comfort or own benefits?

    These women are of no threat to the public. They keep themselves to themselves and arent any harm to anyone. Yet, if you go to certain areas in the UK, you'll find areas where youths have there whole face covered up with hoodies with the intent of being anti-social. Im not talking about standard hoodies here. Im talking about the ones which cover the mouth also. This should be more of an issue, but yet never gets mentioned.

    Only in this culture will it be more of a sin in society to cover up then to walk the streets half naked.

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  • 7. At 2:39pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeman wrote:

    "So it is easy to see how the concentration of particular communities in particular areas become self-reinforcing without it being something sinister and unique about the Muslim community refusing to integrate."

    A concentration of like minded individuals is not a problem. The concentration of self-righteous, pontificating types is. I have never had a problem here in Leicester except with the so-called 'pious' types. The kind of unpleasant type who will not even say "Thank you" to a stranger for an act of kindness or demand special treatment because of their magical sky fairy without so much as a "Thank you" in return.

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  • 8. At 2:43pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 2:54pm on 26 Jan 2010, HardWorkingHobbes wrote:

    "My understanding is that in France among the relatively few burka or niqab wearers a significant number are converts. The vast majority are under 40. Chrystelle says her decision to wear the niqab was hers alone and dictated by her faith."

    Reminds me that the most annoying people I know are the born-again non-smokers, and the recently started vegitarians.
    Maybe it's something in the human physic that causes you to go to the far extreme when you change your belief to prove to all those that have historically shared that view that you're better then them (or are making up for lost time).

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  • 10. At 3:00pm on 26 Jan 2010, LawDirect wrote:

    Lets all recognise this for what it really is and that is the fear of “Islamanisation” of Europe. A number of groups have been exploiting this fear (BNP, EDL, Stormfront etc…). But now we are seeing more and more main stream parties jumping on the band wagon, as it is seen a “vote gainer”.
    If a simple piece of cloth to guard a females dignity can create such fear and animosity than surely democracy and European values are weak and worthless.

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  • 11. At 3:06pm on 26 Jan 2010, frenchderek wrote:

    Gavin: the views of senior Islamic figures who gave evidence to the French Commission are worth reporting. They are quite clear: there is no Koranic requirement for anyone to cover their faces. There were comments noting the rise of islamic fundamentalists in recent years: eg the Salafist movement. These are "hard-liners" who (in the name of the Koran) seek to recreate what they claim are the conditions of life that existed in the Prophet's time, ie before the Koran was written.

    NB The wearing is, apparently, not a Koranic requirement either.

    So, is this an "in-yer-face" statement, an open sign of extremism, or (as some niqab-wearers here in France are now saying) a sign of submission?

    Should I feel threatened, or pitying?

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  • 12. At 3:16pm on 26 Jan 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    It appears the ban will be passed. In a brief interview, one Fremchman who is championing a law cited both the denial of freedom to women and the security issue it raises. The garment presents a perfect opportunity to commit various crimes and conceal one's identity at the same time. I predict that if such crimes occur the will be widely publicized and a general ban on them in public will follow. I think such a ban is a right of the French people to impose through their government and in no way impacts freedom of religion. Moslems can still go to their mosques, pray their prayers, follow their customs and rites to the extent they conform to all other French laws. In some Moslem countries like Turkey, I think such a ban already exists or has existed and no big issue was made of it. When the issue finally arises in the US, I think we will pass similar laws. Asserting freedom of religion will not be a convincing argument to overcome society's other objections and rights that will provoke their banning.

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  • 13. At 3:33pm on 26 Jan 2010, Michelle Assouli wrote:

    If by definition, oppression is: the exercise of power or authority in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner, then would it be fair to say that taking away the right of choice is equal to oppression? We argue about how the Taliban have oppressed a nation in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan by choosing what women should wear (the Burka), and by telling people they are not allowed to wear the Burka, I feel the French government is doing the exact same thing! Oppressing, violating personal rights and democracy!
    I see so many questions about why anyone would want to wear a Burka. I don't see how anyone can be bothered by what these women choose to wear.

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  • 14. At 3:35pm on 26 Jan 2010, PatrioticKiwi wrote:

    Good job, France! The full veil has no place in a modern society. You should not be allowed to wear one into a bank, or into a gas station in the middle of the night, or be stopped by a policeman on the road and be unidentifiable, etc. Hiding your identity under the facade of religion is unacceptable in Western society. Muslims who migrate to the west must respect and abide by the cultural norms of the West.

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  • 15. At 3:38pm on 26 Jan 2010, qmaqdk wrote:

    Can someone explain to me why Mr. Hewitt is the editor for the European section of the BBC? He speaks of European countries and Europeans in the third person, pretending that Britain and he isn't one of them, respectively. On other occasions he has an obvious anti-EU bias.

    What ever happened to balanced and objective news on these issues?

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  • 16. At 3:47pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mo wrote:

    If women are forced to wear it against their will then that is completely unjustified. However if they personally make the decision out of their own free will, who are we to tell them what they can & cannot wear? These are not school children subject to dress codes, they are adults legally entitled to decide how much of their bodies they want to cover beyond the minimum measure required by law (nudists have an issue with the other end of the spectrum, but that issue is for another debate).

    I have a hard time seeing this as being anything beyond an ugly expression of anti-Islamic prejudice. If not, where is the outrage against Christian nuns' habits or Orthodox Jewish dress? Are those alternate modes of clothing not equally as capable of concealing contraband in their many folds? People talk about potential 'Burka Bombers', but after the failed Christmas day attempt in the US I don't see a rush to ban undergarments or force us to fly transatlantic au natural.

    Many people are quick to raise the security issue, but in Islamic countries women who completely cover their faces (as opposed to just wearing headscarves) attract the MOST attention at security checkpoints & are almost strip searched at airports in enclosed rooms by female security personnel. All western airports already have these facilities as well as female security officers who e.g. conduct strip searches of women suspected of concealing drugs, so they are well equipped to handle security with the tiny minority of Muslim women who chose to completely veil their faces.

    Another security practice common in Islamic countries is having female police officers identify fully veiled women who are reluctant to show male officers their photo ID card. This would be impractical in the West though, so common sense could be used to e.g. refuse to issue Driver's Licenses to fully veiled women. This is an example of a logical targeted policy, as opposed to the draconian blanket ban being proposed in France, as well as other discriminatory practices in Holland, Germany, Switzerland & elsewhere on the continent.

    I personally am very happy to live in the United States however, where even under the Patriot Act we still enjoy greater religious freedom than many nations in Western Europe where the State Religion of Atheism (ostensibly referred to as 'Secularism') is no less jealous in suppressing its rivals than Islam is in Saudi Arabia. As the world's fastest growing religion, it seems that Islam is firmly set in atheist Europe's cross hairs.

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  • 17. At 3:52pm on 26 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 18. At 3:52pm on 26 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @10, LawDirect

    "...If a simple piece of cloth to guard a females dignity can create such fear and animosity than surely democracy and European values are weak and worthless."

    it appears that you confuse both what dignity is and what democracy is, if in your concept democracy is only worth if it allows some backward out of place fantasy to force women to dress as if they are going to a fancy dress party and not as humans that belong to a civilized society.

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  • 19. At 3:57pm on 26 Jan 2010, Tahuantinsuyo wrote:

    I agree with a previous comment from "Frilly". Burqas are highly oppressive for women. It's a rule created by insecured men. Veils covering their hair is ok, acceptable, even nice as representation of their religion. I hope this ban gets approved and passed to all countries.

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  • 20. At 3:57pm on 26 Jan 2010, mudddy wrote:

    The arguments used in favour of the ban are totally flawed.

    If some women are indeed forced to wear it by their husbands or fathers, then the logical thing such men will do in light of this ban is to confine their women to the 4 walls of their house.Now how does that encourage integration!

    The fact is most of the suppoerters of this ban are simply blinded by their hatred of all things Islamic.

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  • 21. At 3:57pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    One other 'minority community' that has concentrated in a particular area is the French in Kensington. There are reportedly 102000 French people living in the UK with South Kensington being the focal point. That is five times more than the number of French living in Ireland, Scandinavia and the Baltic states combined, such that a possible new member of the french parliament for those living outside France in Northern Europe is being referred to as the "French MP for South Kensington".

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/french-to-elect-the-member-for-south-kensington-1809946.html

    Would criminalising Louis Vuitton handbags be effective in cracking open the South Kensington ghetto and getting the French community to integrate better in the UK? Or is it just human nature that migrants tend to concentrate in areas where there is already an existing support network for them, and tend to wear what they are used to?

    This is just post 9/11 paranoia. If muslim women wore cowboy hats people would be using similar arguments to ban them instead.

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  • 22. At 3:59pm on 26 Jan 2010, babychatter wrote:

    There is so much hatred and anger directed at a small group of peaceful women. This is very disturbing. We need to ask ourselves if they are merely being scapegoated by cynical politicians who know that it is a vote winner. For those people who can't understand why a woman would wear the niqab (burqa) then I suggest you should read a Muslim woman's view of the niqab (there are also other good articles linked at the end of the UmmahPulse.com article.
    http://www.ummahpulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=545:burqas-babes-balderdash&catid=22:jumahpulses&Itemid=130

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  • 23. At 3:59pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    qmaqdk wrote:
    "Can someone explain to me why Mr. Hewitt is the editor for the European section of the BBC? He speaks of European countries and Europeans in the third person, pretending that Britain and he isn't one of them, respectively. On other occasions he has an obvious anti-EU bias.
    What ever happened to balanced and objective news on these issues?"

    If it makes you feel better, Hewitt is regularly attacked by unscrupulous folks (I'm one of them) for being a labour party stooge and conspicuously pro EU.

    So taken all around, I'd say he has managed to offend pretty much everyone, which according to Murdoch is the sign of a fine journalist.

    Certainly he has touched a nerve with the recent blog entries. 500 plus entries on a political blog? That is pretty effective targeting of a public issue.

    It partially makes up for the rubbish he was spewing before this happy juncture. But not completely. Make no mistake, when the revolution comes.....

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  • 24. At 4:11pm on 26 Jan 2010, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    6. At 2:36pm on 26 Jan 2010, Maj wrote:

    I dont see the problem with the wearing of any headscarves.

    * We're not talking about headscarves - we're talking about the niqab and burqa.

    These women are of no threat to the public.

    * How do you know that? They could be carrying anything under those robes! I've seen a few stopped in M&S Marble Arch, and they've had half the lingerie department under there - and no, I don't mean they were wearing said garments!

    One of the thugs who murdered Sharon Beshenivsky escaped while wearing a burqa - 'nuf said.

    We have to follow Moslem rules when visiting/living in their countries - they should get used to doing the same thing when they come to the West.

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  • 25. At 4:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    I commend the broad invitation to discuss the topic of "identity". ("My intention is to highlight major European themes and "identity" is one of them. ")

    My primary question would be "Who shall define a legitimate identity?"

    Hot on the heels of that would be "Who shall police conformity to the ideal identity?"

    It seems to me that regardless of whether it is even legitimate to claim that folks should conform to an ideal identity, one cannot escape the inference that state power must be the vehicle for enforcing any such standard of acceptable identity.

    The debate is large because it has become a political issue, and therefore we are discussing laws to require conformity to professed ideals of identity. If we were simply discussing popular but non legally binding versions of ideal identities, we would be discussing mere fashions and loyalties to mythical stereotypes.

    But we are not. We are discussing the prospect of laws that seek to define what is an acceptable identity in a society. Therefore we are discussing the limits of state power of the individual. We are discussing the status of civil rights, and whether government can be safely entrusted with the power to compel people to identify with stereotypes.

    More than once on these threads we have heard the cry "If you don't like it, LEAVE! Go live somewhere else."

    That is slightly chilling, when we recall the fate of refugee jews from Nazi germany who were shipped from country to country, and then eventually sent back to face the ovens and certain death.

    Who can define another citizen as illegitimate, and not fit to live in a society? Even criminals guilty of heinous crimes are granted the right to live within their society. We do not say to our criminals "You don't like it here, so LEAVE!"

    But in this debate, the popular sentiment is being regularly expressed that non conformity to a political stereotype of identity is a crime punishable by excommunication from civil society.

    I would offer the opinion that this is a devastatingly slippery slope upon which to dance. If we give todays government the power to define an acceptable identity which is has the legal power to enforce against errant individuals, are we prepared to accept tomorrows government doing the same?

    Because we all know what happened when yesterdays government did the same.

    The widespread favour for increased powers of state governments to curtail and prosecute breaches of preferred identities suggests an anger in European society.

    I wonder if that anger is rational, and whether it is really caused by those who have become its target.

    We all know that unemployment is very high, and that wages have lost a tremendous amount of real purchasing power of the past few decades. We all know that government has become remote from the common people, and that large institutions face a crisis of confidence across Europe.

    These things cannot be the fault of muslims wearing veils. I simply do not accept that the anger and hostility of european people is the result of a few terrorist acts. And it is but a few acts.

    It seems to me that Europe is in danger of becoming hijacked by an angry mob, and that this angry mob is being directed by sensationalist corporate media to focus its anger upon convenient minorities. I just do not accept that the threat of Islam is real enough to have created the ill feeling in Europe today.

    Does anyone seriously imagine that french politicians have nothing better to do than police muslim women's fashion?

    Why are they focusing on this issue? What about holding bankers accountable for massive damage to the economy? What about holding politicians and there party elites responsible for the economic suffering of europe at the present time?

    I feel europe is being divided so that it can be ruled more easily, and that it is being distracted from the very real crisis of democracy that is taking place, and has been taking place over the past decades.

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  • 26. At 4:24pm on 26 Jan 2010, Storm of Swords wrote:

    You can argue all you want about the reasons for banning or not banning the veil but when all is said and done, you need to adhere to the laws of the country you reside in especially if you are a foreigner. After all the country is giving something to you in a way of life so respect that.

    Are French women allowed to gallivant around Islamic countries wearing shorts and tight tops? NO. Oh yeah but apparently thats ok because racism and discrimination only applies to certain people doesn't it.

    I wish the UK government weren't so soft and followed the French example.

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  • 27. At 4:34pm on 26 Jan 2010, D Dortman wrote:

    "10. At 3:00pm on 26 Jan 2010, LawDirect wrote:
    If a simple piece of cloth to guard a females dignity can create such fear and animosity than surely democracy and European values are weak and worthless."
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There's a couple of points really.


    Firstly there's plenty of places in the UK where I am not allowed to wear a full face motorbike helmet (some by request of the establishment and some of them by law I believe) or indeed I imagine a full face balaclava. Surely this should be just as acceptable (or not acceptable)? If not why not?


    Secondly there is an oppression issue, much like the massive issue in the UK with honour killings and honour abortions and such, something that specifically targets, controls and objectifies women like this is allowing behaviour that is very much against British ideals and values, and frankly against the idea (if perhaps not the technical legal standards) of sexism laws.




    I guess whilst I'm generally against banning anything, the dehumanising effect of the full face mask is something I come close to saying probably should be banned.

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  • 28. At 4:43pm on 26 Jan 2010, BigHairyPerson wrote:

    As a Muslim, I'm not speaking from a religious viewpoint. My feeling is that if a person chooses to wear the burka then why not? Isn't this part of the feminist movement - freedom to express? As I walk out of my house and on to the streets I often see Giant Haystack lookalike women semi-naked. Obviously the women who walkabout in such a manner do so for persional reasons, but they choose to do so. I can't say I feel threatened by them. Decency and taste may be questionable, but mine is not to reason why, and neither should the French on these women.

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  • 29. At 4:47pm on 26 Jan 2010, Rhodir wrote:

    Here in Belgium, at least in the part where I live, the wearing of masks in public is already banned except at Carnival time. My local council explained the policy last year in their newsletter. People must be identifiable and nobody can therefore cover their faces. Anyone who does can be stopped by the police and, if necessary, asked to go with them to the police station where their identity will be verified by a female police officer.
    This seems so much simpler than the way the French are dealing with the issue. A practical problem dealt with in a practical fashion without reference to religion, civilisation, republican principles, oppression, etc, etc.

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  • 30. At 4:47pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    Even in this blog there are disagreements on whether in Islam women have to wear the Burka. Both sides come up with quotes and definitions which state catagorically two different things. They both can't be right. The poster "muslim" in #94 convinced me that Islam needs women to cover up. gazelledz on the other hand convinced me in post 159 that the burka was utterly against everything Islam stands for. I see the problem is that there is no established Islamic authority. Believe me i'm no Catholic and I think there are few institutions that have caused more harm than St Peter and his decendents. However at least they speak with one voice so the world knows where it stands with them.

    Solution to all the problems!
    I put this on on the previous thread but got no response. It was near the end of the thread its true. However, i'd really like Mr Muslim et al to tell me what they think of a unified Islam and whether it would work.

    There should be a huge conference, council and meeting where Imams from all branches of Islam should thrash out the tricky questions. Such as. "Should women have to be covered up."

    The largest group of Imams who come to a concensus should then name themselves Real Muslims or Orthodox Muslims, or even Catholic Muslims ;-)

    Then poor Miss Chrystelle Khedrouche would know if she was wrong or right according to the wisest people of her own faith.

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  • 31. At 4:50pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    I'm also pleased Democracythreat is looking at this thread because he/she didn't acknowledge my correction of his/her origions of fascism.

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  • 32. At 4:54pm on 26 Jan 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    I suppose the fact that the black ones look something like Darth Vader costumes doesn't help any in making them acceptable to society.

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  • 33. At 5:00pm on 26 Jan 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    The ban seems fine, you can't wear a motorbike helmet in school, on the bus or in a Government office either.
    Shops and other private businesses are still free to set their own rules.

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  • 34. At 5:03pm on 26 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Well, the Burka really does annoy some people.

    Maybe British "EU"-phobes could find something which would annoy "EU"-lovers just as much.

    Now generally we should not try to annoy people just because they disagree with us. But British and many continental "EU"-lovers are in a category of their own. About 80% of Brits want the referendum they were promised and about 70% want to say NO.

    My guess is that the 20% who do not want us to have a referendum want the Lisbon Treaty and greater integration.

    If that is true, tnen 30% want to vote YES and one third of them are democratic enough to believe that we should have a referendum even if it goes against them.

    The other two-thirds are arrogant, anti-democratic trash who do not deserve the normal politenesses. Indeed they misuse the willingness of the majority of the British people to be fairly gentle with them.

    This two-thirds of "EU"-lovers who are anti-democratic is actually a lower percentage than my own interrogatiosn of "EU"-lovers would indicate.

    So what can we do to annoy them, since we don't have a functioning democracy?

    How about wearing a blue Burka with gold stars as on the "EU"-flag arranged in the form of a swastika?

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  • 35. At 5:04pm on 26 Jan 2010, mudddy wrote:

    "One of the thugs who murdered Sharon Beshenivsky escaped while wearing a burqa - 'nuf said." GlasgowGooner

    Radovan Karadžić responsible for Srebrenica massacre evaded arrest for over 10 years because he grew a beard, can we ban those while we're at it?

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  • 36. At 5:05pm on 26 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    I am fed up with the Burkka thing. I don't live in France and I don't go there and I boycott French goods because of Sarkozy and his Greater European Reich.

    Pleas can we have something else?

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  • 37. At 5:11pm on 26 Jan 2010, mudddy wrote:

    "We have to follow Moslem rules when visiting/living in their countries - they should get used to doing the same thing when they come to the West." GlasgowGooner

    No you don't, in Pakistan/ Egypt; Christians have their own personal laws, can drink alcohol, eat pork, wear a crucifix, celebrate Christmas & Easter and attend Church.

    All things which Muslims do not do there.

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  • 38. At 5:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, gazelledz wrote:

    Mrs. Khedrouche and others like her may believe that they have not been coerced into wearing a burqa or niqab or both, or have simply been placed in a position by husband and family to make the statements she and others have. In so doing she skews the complete picture of this issue, and gives the French non-muslim ministers, public, and others fuel for their unwarranted zenophobia.

    Being Algerian, I know too well the mentality of the Islamists and fundamentalists who do indeed coerce their women into donning items not recommended in the Qurán. However, it must be stated here that this total covering of the face/body is not accepted by or acceptable to the much larger majority of muslims-whether or not Algerian.

    Islam has been in France since the 1800s, if not prior to then, in consequence of France's colonialism of Algeria and its (France's)'protectorates'in the other Maghrebian countries. Historically most of those who emmigrated from Algeria were treated as 3rd class citizens, shunned as outsiders. Unfortunately this has not changed to any great degree, despite the appointment of Rachida Dati to a minsiterial post by Sarkozy a few years ago and despite rhe election of a few Algerians to the French local governments.

    Only with the advent of the militant Islamists/fundamentalists of the late 1980s and beyond has come the issue of what a muslim women may or may not wear in France. But France has no more right to impose restrictions on a woman's item(s)of apparel than the Islamists have to demand that they don them.

    It is interesting that a woman like Khedrouche would choose a burka as befitting her "identity", especially since no one in Algeria had ever worn one or even knew what it was until a very few Algerians returned from Afghanistan in the 1990s having gone in support of their Taliban 'brothers'. A version of the niquab was worn by many women prior to the obtaining of Algeria's independence in 1962, but most of the women were not forced to remain in their houses and were free to go about their business unrestricted. It was a matter of tradition learned from their mothers and grandmothers.

    France seems determined once again to deny its famous cry of Liberté,Egalité, Fraternité! where we Maghrbians are concerned. Evidently they have taken too heart Orwell's prounouncemrnt in "Animal Farm": All animals are equal, but some animals are MORE(capitals for emphasis)equal than others. Perhaps they, and their non-muslim citizens should tak to heart something FDR said: There is nothing to fear but fear itself!

    The pity is that an article of clothing should cause such fear...





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  • 39. At 5:25pm on 26 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @28, BHP

    If it was as simple as people wearing whatever they feel like do you think there would be an issue? Don't guess the answer is no! The issue is that the women that wear the burka are doing so because of mind games. Either by their relatives or by the particular fantasy they`ve been brainwashed to believe in. They are not wearing it out of free will. They wear it because either consciously or subconsciously, they feel obliged to wear it. People are delusional if they think the women that wear a burga are doing so, out of free will or because they want make a fashion statement as in your example.

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  • 40. At 5:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, Lesley wrote:

    Much has been said about many Muslim women choosing their own dress code, that not all wearers of the niqab or burqa are being forced to cover their faces by their family. However, people's behaviour and dress code can often be controlled by others without the person being controlled realising they are being controlled. Many non-Muslim women dress in unflattering clothes because their partners either don’t want them to be attractive to other men or because they want to take away their self-esteem. Sometimes the opposite occurs, where a man will insist his partner dresses in a certain way to impress his boss, fit in with the ‘gang’ or show off his ‘catch’ to his mates. Therefore I am sure there are some Muslim women who really are choosing their own dress code but equally there will be many who only ‘think’ they are choosing their attire when in truth they are not. However, if the argument for banning the full veil is because it offends the freedoms of women then we should also be banning all forms of dress which have been imposed on women by men (or vice versa) for whatever reason.

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  • 41. At 5:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, ajwyld wrote:

    I'm British but have lived in France for 16 years. I'm not a muslim and have no desire to wear a veil myself.

    But I find myself, perhaps surprisingly, on the side of those women who choose to veil on this one. I really don't see why it should be a matter for the state or the cause of such controversy. To me, as a resident foreigner, it smacks of three unattractive aspects of French society:

    1. underlying racism/xenophobia. There is a lot of it around. This is a cheap way to have a go at an easy target.

    2. intellectual paternalism. The idea that the French state knows best -conform or else. Anyone who disagrees must have been brainwashed. Often particularly directed towards women.

    3. The French state's hostility to religion in general.

    Of course, there are times and places where you need to show your face as a matter of security or to verify ID - but not that many. A woman in my village wears a naqib. I feel neither threatened, nor challenged, nor bothered by her, and I think she has the right to choose to wear it if she wants to.

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  • 42. At 5:34pm on 26 Jan 2010, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    [28. At 4:43pm on 26 Jan 2010, BigHairyPerson wrote:
    As a Muslim, I'm not speaking from a religious viewpoint. My feeling is that if a person chooses to wear the burka then why not? Isn't this part of the feminist movement - freedom to express? As I walk out of my house and on to the streets I often see Giant Haystack lookalike women semi-naked. Obviously the women who walkabout in such a manner do so for persional reasons, but they choose to do so. I can't say I feel threatened by them. Decency and taste may be questionable, but mine is not to reason why, and neither should the French on these women.]

    We have a pretty strong taboo here about hiding one’s face. Highwaymen hid their faces. Modern-day muggers and hoodie hooligans hide their faces. The hiding of the face has connotations in our society, that the person doing the hiding is bad, possibly murderous, and definitely up to no good. While I doubt the average burqa wearer is a mugger, it’s a difficult taboo to get past. So, it’s up to them really. Recognise that what you are wearing has negative connotations in the society *you have chosen to live in*. If you still want to wear a burqa, go ahead, but take the consequences. And don’t claim that it’s a requirement of your religion, because it quite plainly is a cultural thing, not religious.

    [35. At 5:04pm on 26 Jan 2010, mudddy wrote:
    "One of the thugs who murdered Sharon Beshenivsky escaped while wearing a burqa - 'nuf said." GlasgowGooner

    Radovan Karadžić responsible for Srebrenica massacre evaded arrest for over 10 years because he grew a beard, can we ban those while we're at it?]

    Fine by me – I think they’re pretty horrendous!

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  • 43. At 5:34pm on 26 Jan 2010, frenchderek wrote:

    @ Angryjohn #30 if you read my entry #11 you will note that I was recording the Islamic contributions to the French Commission. They are clear: there's nothing in the Koran stipulating either the wearing of veil, nor for that matter, a beard.

    This is as much about security as it is about religious extremism. In France (where I live), these are mainly salafist muslims. I don't know what they might be in the UK. But if you go to Tunisia, Indonesia (the largest islamic country in the world), or even Iran, you will find that only headscarves are worn: no niqabs, no burqas.

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  • 44. At 5:51pm on 26 Jan 2010, JulieThankful wrote:

    I liken wearing the full-face veil to wearing a scarf and hoodie or a balaclava when it is not cold or a motorcycle helmet when you are not on a bike. When global warming means that there are sand-storms in London and Paris then such clothing might be appropriate for outdoor wear. Otherwise it is a social, political or religious statement.

    As for the argument that one should be free to wear whatever one likes, try telling that to the Saudi or Emirates police! I very much deplore the increasing use of bad laws to restrict civil liberties but I think that there are certain elements of the religious right which are taking advantage of those liberties to impose their own sub-culture. A Muslim woman wearing the full veil might say she does it willingly, but if the alternative is to be ostracised by her community or even subjected to "honour killing" for a perceived lack of morals then that is not really a free choice.

    Is this different from an orthodox Jewish man wearing ringlets and a black hat? I believe it is, because although the Jewish person is using dress to make hmself stand out from the general population in the same way that the Muslim woman is doing there is no concealment of the face, which is the aspect of this dress code which makes it so alienating to others.

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  • 45. At 5:58pm on 26 Jan 2010, U14312152 wrote:

    I am trying to understand the French authorities and gradually I come to the conclusion that the colonial past of the French state, and the resulting, everlasting home problems between the French (catholic or not) and the poorest part of the immigrants (the crushing majority of whom being of Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian & Mauritanian origin), are the main reasons of the present complicated situation. The eventual prohibition of wearing the burkha and other similar garments in public places seems (at first sight) to be the right step that would guarantee the integration of the Muslim women within the French secular society. By the way, the situation is very, very similar in Bulgaria. The difference lies maybe in some political arrangements that took place some 20 years here, which still guarantee equal rights of Orthodox Christians and Muslims. It still works as a democratic system. Consequently, no burkha and niqab are so far visible on the streets of Sofia and in the countryside… However, I personally feel a little bit humiliated when I listen (at fixed hours of the day, on the national TV/radio) the latest news in Turkish… Maybe this is the price of the ethnic peace here?
    Generalissimo
    P.S. Our military company in Khandahar (Afghanistan) has come under rocket fire two days ago (at the moment where our defense minister was on a mission there). I can't imagine a worst scenario for our national security if the tensions between Orthodox and Muslims would persist as a result of underestimation (of) and lack of enough respect (to) the cultural traditions of our Muslim minority... (The radical Islam is a social phenomenon).

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  • 46. At 6:17pm on 26 Jan 2010, whatotherway wrote:

    It must be recognised that some Muslim countries insist on following strict rules, when it concerns the wearing of the veil or beards, and others do not. Most of those who insist on the veil, are those where women were required to wear them in their culture, before Islam was introduced. Only slave women had faces or bodies that were uncovered. Slavery may be outlawed, but the perception that women should be covered, or else be considered to be too enticing for men to see has continued.

    In the press some Muslim men have stated that women who do not cover up, are asking to be raped. It almost seems that in come cultures, men are not required to control their actions, but can act on them, no matter what the law is.

    However, concerning the veil, I personally find it difficult to speak to anyone who covers their face. Part may be down to a slight hearing difficulty, which I guess I correct by reading lips. I would rather not have people cover up. But I can't see legislating for it, unless it was included in the no-helmit/hoodies sections of laws.

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  • 47. At 6:18pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mariyam Suha wrote:

    Some women choose to wear the Burka on their own and that obviously cannot be suppression. Concealing one's face is not a crime as long as its done by free will..ones face is ones own and an individual has all the rights to dress the way they want to. When no one has any problems with scantily clad women what's the big deal about women covering their faces and body? Surely exposing yourself creates much more trouble then one does by covering herself. Forcing the burka on women is not something allowed in my religion. Its solely the woman's choice, but some seem to misunderstand it. I believe its no crime to cover oneself. A woman who respects herself would not go around showing herself off.

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  • 48. At 6:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, storyteller wrote:

    What would be the reaction of Christian counties & international Media, if any Muslim country imposes such oppression on Non-Muslim peoples ??

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  • 49. At 6:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, Robert wrote:

    Why oh why do we care so much! Let people live the way they want to. We are all adults. If some adults want to cover there faces let them do this. That is all I can say. I can not pretend to know what is good behaviour for a Muslim of faith. I am assuming that the woman is making this choice based on her own decision, in a non threatening environment. And if there is a case of persecution or violence, such interference through a ban does not seem like a great solution to me. Would it not make it worse for that person? There is also a president being set here. What forms of dress will we ban next? Perhaps, hoods, mini skirts, steel toe caps, turbans, base ball caps. Chemdah checking out :-)

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  • 50. At 6:40pm on 26 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    Angryjohn (30): When you first made the point i thought it had merit. But even supposing all the different factions of Islam reached agreement that the burka is not required by Islam, should a woman who wants to wear it be prevented from doing so against her own will? Is it not the woman's opinion as to what she wears that counts, and not that of imams or presidents?

    In the UK we don't have laws against wearing 'hoodies', sunglasses, hats with brims, jackets with collars, etc. in a public place. A court can add a condition to an ASBO to ban some known delinquent youth from wearing a hoody when he is thought likely to be up to no good and using it to be using it to hide from CCTV, etc. Same should apply to the burka.

    The Bluewater shopping centre famously banned the wearing of hoodies (even when shops inside were selling them!) but it is privately owned so this is really a 'semi-public' place where stricter rules can apply. A bank is similar and the owners will expect you to obey their rules when you are on their premises.

    If the government owns the premises where you are then they have similar rights to how you behave when on that property. You can't go into a train station without having bought a ticket. No-one would expect that a state-run airport or classroom is a public place that anyone can wander into freely either. Therefore the government could decide teachers in state-owned classrooms should not wear burkas, even though it is lawful to wear them in a public place like out on the streets.

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  • 51. At 7:16pm on 26 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    [37. At 5:11pm on 26 Jan 2010, mudddy wrote:
    "We have to follow Moslem rules when visiting/living in their countries - they should get used to doing the same thing when they come to the West." GlasgowGooner

    No you don't, in Pakistan/ Egypt; Christians have their own personal laws, can drink alcohol, eat pork, wear a crucifix, celebrate Christmas & Easter and attend Church.]

    I'd like to refer you to an article currently on the beeb. This article relates to the fears of the Copts in Egypt related to the deaths in Naga Hamady. Maybe you would want to get their take on your pronouncements.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8478397.stm

    [48. At 6:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Minkul Alam wrote:
    What would be the reaction of Christian counties & international Media, if any Muslim country imposes such oppression on Non-Muslim peoples ??]

    Are you kidding me? Not being allowed to wear a mask is considered great oppression? How does getting killed for being a non-Muslim rate?

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  • 52. At 7:27pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Angryjohn wrote:
    "I'm also pleased Democracythreat is looking at this thread because he/she didn't acknowledge my correction of his/her origions of fascism."

    With respect, angryjohn, I honestly thought you were joking. I did not mean to snub you by not replying to your earlier comments.

    You cited the etymology of the word, and noted that it comes from the Latin "fasces", meaning a bundle of sticks.

    This was your correction to my observation that the political movement of fascism was characterized by a single party authoritarian state controlled by corporate entities. I was noting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to define any differences between the two major parties on offer in western representative democracies, and that both are equally and dominantly sponsored by the corporate sector.

    Hence, I was drawing parallels between the rise of fascism in Europe before the second world war and the current political landscape, and noting the significant similarities in the way minorities are used as punching bags by a political elite desperate to divert rising public anger from themselves.

    But you are correct, the etymology of the word fascism is as you say. You deserve a big cookie and a gold star for this contribution to the discussion.

    Seeing as you bring it up again, I would go further and comment on a possible reason that fascism implodes upon itself and forces politicians to turn sectors of their constituents against minorities.

    That reason is well articulated by Eliot Spitzer, the most hated man on Wall Street. And yeah, the call girl guy. He reasons that the modern corporate system of government control allows corporations to privatize profits and socialize losses. When corporations make money speculating, they keep it for private owners. When they lose money, they go to their pet governments for handouts. The taxpayer wears the loss.

    Spitzer notes that this creates a predictable and economically devastating economic outcome: Corporations no longer take care with their speculations in the market, because when they lose it is not their own money. His analogy is that nobody ever washed a rental car.

    That would appear to be the economic flaw of fascism, and the reason it destroys societies it infects.

    Corporations may be legal people in the courts, but they do not have a sentience which can be reasoned with. They are simply dumb systems designed to maximize profits for themselves. So, when they take control of the political process of a state, or a super state like the EU or the USA, they feed and feed upon available tax revenue until there is nothing left. They continue to take everything they can from the taxpayer until public infrastructure collapses and income inequality due to taxation drives the majority of working people into perpetual, grinding debt.

    But anyways, angryjohn, thanks for your comments.

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  • 53. At 7:44pm on 26 Jan 2010, Informed wrote:

    As a muslim, I am surprised by the increase in numbers of women wearing the headscarf / burka. When I was growing up I understood that women who wore burkas were from the Middle East, yet now we have large numbers of muslim women growing up in the UK wearing the headscarf /burka.
    I believe it is a woman's right to choose what she wants to wear, and I fully support any woman who chooses to wear either. However those who do need to be aware of the consequences of doing so. If you cover your face, people find it hard to relate / communicate with you, after all 90% communication is non-verbal, and you may be seen as a security threat. The Koran talks of headcovering (not face). The intention is to show modesty and not to bring attention to one's self. However if a woman decides to wear either and in doing brings attention to herself, then surely this defeats the purpose?
    I know many muslim women who choose to wear the head-scarf for genuine spiritual reasons, and are very forthright, independent women so I do not accept the French governments interpretatiion of the burka as being oppressive. However I am also aware that many young muslim women are given 2 choices by their parents: either wear traditional clothes (salwar kameez etc) and you do not have to wear the head scarf or wear the head scarf and you can wear western clothes. Most chose the latter. In either case the woman can be identified as muslim. In my opionion this comes from a fear in the mslim community of losing their identity/ culture / values. In large muslim communities it then becomes the norm and there is a lack of awareness of the wider impact which is unhealthy.

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  • 54. At 7:44pm on 26 Jan 2010, DiscoStu_d wrote:

    Well said Robert @49.

    Others, unfortunately don't seem to understand free will practiced when they see it. And in a free society we should assume the choice of clothing by a rational adult was made freely. If it wasn't, and a woman is being oppressed, then banning the veil will not likely help her plight.

    Still others are so blinded by their dislike of Abrahamic religions that the road to enlightened discourse (at least on this blog) is strewn with irony, double standards, red herrings and straw men. To wit, “oh, we live in a civilized democratic society and therefore we will dictate to you what you wear because you are religious as clearly can not think for yourself”. Sounds a bit totalitarian to me.

    And, “Hey, I can’t go to Saudi Arabia and wear what I like and neither should you in France”. (A classic 4th grade playground argument) So we are looking for the lowest common denominator and desire emulating an oppressive regime, are we?

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  • 55. At 7:49pm on 26 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Gazelledz "Historically most of those who emmigrated from Algeria were treated as 3rd class citizens, shunned as outsiders. Unfortunately this has not changed to any great degree"

    Racism and discrimination still exist in France, but guess what, not in any higher proportions than other western democracies, unless you can prove otherwise, plus, I had two very good friends in high school, both French-Moroccans, one want into a school of commerce and now owns quite a few pizzerias and real estate agencies in the city of Mulhouse (east of France), he is very well-off, way more than me in any case and the second one obtained his master in English and is now a titularised English teacher in Strasbourg, now, if to that you add the post where I explained that the top five stand up comedians in France for the past fifteen years are either second generation french Jews (and/or)Arabs from maghreb, you will excuse me if I find your assertion about the state of Arab immigration in France not all that convincing!

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  • 56. At 8:02pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mike Dixon Londoner in Spain wrote:

    In my opinion this is a matter of culture.

    The only woman that I have known who ever wore such a garment was English, married to an Egyptian professor and a professor in her own right at Cairo University. Although not a Muslim, she wore it as a matter of respect when she visited her mother-in-law in her village.

    Fatima lives here in Spain and wears similar clothes to other women. She is from the Muslim minority in South Ossetia.

    I have never seen such garments worn in Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany or Italy all of which I know. However years ago I had to travel to the Middle East on business a number of times. Flying back from Riyadh by Royal Saudi I noticed a stream a ladies dressed as normal heading for the toilets. My companion said "just you wait and see". Shortly afterwards the said ladies started to return to their seats, now wearing brightly coloured, low cut dresses, high heels and lots of make up. "Oh, they just to wait until they are out of Saudi Airspace": he said.

    Lesson- there is a way round every rule!!

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  • 57. At 8:15pm on 26 Jan 2010, voipai wrote:

    It is a woman's right to choose what she wants to wear, and I fully support any woman who chooses to wear either. Freedom of choice. Also it is not harming any one. What France is doing it is not really nice.

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  • 58. At 8:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Archie1954 wrote:

    The niquab and veil are insults to our western culture when worn in the streets of any western country. They intimate that our women are less than modest and moral. They also conceal the identity of the person wearing them which is totally contrary to our culture of open-ness and honesty. In other words they are alien to us and as such are anathema. They should be banned!

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  • 59. At 8:22pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mike Dixon Londoner in Spain wrote:

    By the way, passing such a law in France which does not conflict with the European Convention on Human Right appear pointless. Existing laws should deal adequately with security and safely issues.

    Here freedom of religion is a right under the Constitution an enshrined in law. This means that provided it is lawful, there is no restriction on what may be worn, practiced or believed. There or no exception, for example: wearing a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is mandatory. If your religion says you can,t then you can't ride one - end of story.

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  • 60. At 8:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    Democracythreat said


    "Who can define another citizen as illegitimate, and not fit to live in a society? Even criminals guilty of heinous crimes are granted the right to live within their society. We do not say to our criminals "You don't like it here, so LEAVE!"


    I for one would like to do this. Certain criminals are parasites and should be told to leave. If they are native then the state should provide somewhere a long way away where they can leave to. I hear the Falkland Islands needs shepheards

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  • 61. At 8:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, Richard wrote:

    I'm not sure that any of your reports have mentioned how divided the commission was: it seems there were six votes in favour of the report, six votes against, and twenty abstentions (among them the eleven Socialist members of the commission; their party line is to oppose the ban, but they decided to boycott the vote). The report was endorsed by the chair's casting vote. This was anything but a ringing endorsement of its recommendations, though perhaps many of those who abstained or voted against did so because they thought the proposals didn't go far enough.

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  • 62. At 8:31pm on 26 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Dear BBC, this is my best post ever.
    I don't say in it anything.
    I fear it will be "referred to" again.
    What a really nice post, watch:


    Excellent stuff.
    Should I try letter "B"? Or is it a big No?
    How about letter "B" - again?
    Whole two letters. I think it's enough, for starters. Let's see how it works.
    Meanwhile I will go put myself together a burka and embroid it in your memory.

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  • 63. At 8:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, Please-try-again wrote:

    I appreciate that it is a woman's choice what she wears. However, whilst on one hand they demand tolerance of women who choose to hide in a mobile tent, they show less tolerance for women who CHOOSE to dress more revealingly.

    Furthermore, it is not surprising people struggle to integrate into British society when they show precious little awareness and respect for our culture. In Britain, to hide your face is a sign of shame or an intent to commit crime. This is why people who hide their faces are not trusted here.

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  • 64. At 8:41pm on 26 Jan 2010, Sam Seaman wrote:

    Things are not always the way we see them in the west. When the Shah of Iran banned the veil in attempt to modernize Iran, many women felt uncomfortable about going out. This wasn't religious or morally based -they just felt uncomfortable -like a man being forced to go out with no trousers on.

    When the Khoemeni re-enstated the veil, it was in fact a liberating move within that culture: women now felt comfortable going to work, or to the market to buy or sell produce.

    France had a pioneer revolution based around the freedom of the individual
    -what has happened? It is common, especially in winter, to see many people with their faces covered -to single out one particular culture or religion's way of doing this is by definition discrimination.

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  • 65. At 8:46pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    43.frenchderek

    Congrats to the French Muslims for getting their act together. Is there a way to extend this globally so there can be an established Muslim Orthadoxy? Thats what we need.

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  • 66. At 8:59pm on 26 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    democracythreat
    And my thanks for your comments also. I read them all with care, unlike many such as WA (sorry, they are just too long Alice) and MAII (until (his voice breaks).

    Just for the record democracythreat, your comparison of 1930's fascism and todays political landscape is slightly beyond my ability to discuss with any authority so I bow to your wisdom on this matter. I'll shout out my opinions with the best of them but only if I think I know what i'm talking about. (grin)

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  • 67. At 9:03pm on 26 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Freeborn John, No. 4: The reason immigrants often live in clusters that rapidly become ghettos is that is many cases the limited financial resources force them into neighbourhoods where they can afford to settle. Then their friends and family also settle there, and gradually you have a proper ghetto.

    I do not mean "ghetto" in the derogatory sense, or in the old sense of a walled-in place, with gatekeepers & curfews. I mean the spiritual and psychological ghetto of a closed-off community.

    In Paris, a friend of mine was recently told by an officer of the law to walk straight out of a neighbourhood where she, obviously a Westerner and a foreign young woman, travelling alone, on foot, might be vulnerable to unpleasant experiences. This was in broad daylight. She complied, naturally enough. But what does that say about the urban social impact of having such enclaves, whether on Manhattan Island or in the UK?

    We all know plenty of affluent Muslim households who live in Mayfair and Kensington. Money very much determines where people settle -- and where they begin to earn their living, especially very early on after arriving.

    It is to be regretted when the economics of migration doom many subsequent generations to feel they cannot leave the "village" that has been created for them in the middle of a modern metropolis. But let us consider non-Muslims. Let us consider the case of Chinese migrants. There are Chinatowns all over the world. They are a vivid example of the phenomenon; and yet, masses of prosperous Chinese, even without attaining great wealth, do choose to move out of Chinatowns, even if they continue to engage in commerce & social activities there.

    The Chinese, like Indians, like a majority of Pakistanis (who by the way are Muslim), or like Latinos in the States, even though their status as transplanted citizens is easy to recognise because of the beautiful facial features (and I do assert that all human beings ought to be proud of whatever their DNA is, rather than shy away from having it be part of their identity, à la MJackson), make a very conscious effort to acquire the trappings of integration with the local community. That is a sensible, healthy decision. It is a way of saying: "I am proud of my ancestors, but I am also more than my ancestors. I am who I am, in this day and age, of this world and of my circumstances."

    Even the beggar in the street, as sorry a sight as that can be -- a cry of protest against an indifferent society -- by having the courage to be out there, in your face, asserts a fundamental humanity and proclaims: "I am here; I am human like you; notice me; interact with me; relate to me. We are connected."

    The Only Ones who by their very external appearance proclaim they are apart, inferior, not a part of the common social fabric, not to be interacted with or even acknowledged as human beings, are the women in the full-body sacks. And usually a forbidding, alarming, shocking solid black, to boot.

    Maybe it would be a little bit less of an issue for me if they were colourful garments such as the proud African women wear when they choose to represent their homelands.

    The sight of a young woman encased in solid black, eyeless, mouthless, handless, with a tot or two next to her who cannot even look up in her face to see a smile or a loving pair of eyes Breaks My Heart, each and every time I behold this spooky spectacle.

    Those tiny children are being indoctrinated from this tender age into acceptance of the notion: "Mummy is not like others; she is a good woman (unlike the others who walk around 'immodestly') and therefore must be hidden away from everyone in a black shroud; even the sunlight and the air may not see the colour of her eyes or the expression on her face,"

    It is as if they were saying, "Contact between your world and our women defiles us."

    Both conservative Judaism and Islam discriminate between "acceptable" food (kosher, halal) and "unacceptable" food. The teaching is that what is not kosher, or not halal, defiles the observant Jew or Muslim.

    So is the burqa supposed to remind the non-Muslim world that our very presence, our eyes, our breath "defiles" their women and their families, if there is any inadvertent contact?

    But why then doesn't receiving social benefits, financial assistance, free services also "defile" them if it comes from the world of the "unacceptable" (infidel) non-Muslim?

    The whole premise is absurd. That is why the proposed French laws, whatever statutory form they ultimately attain, are absolutely the right approach in exposing this untenable hypocrisy -- these precepts that relegate women to an existence Apart -- an Apartheid -- whose entire rationale is that either females are "incomplete humans" or the non-Muslim world in which they live and thrive is somehow "unclean."

    Both concepts are obviously revolting.

    As for the "nuns do it" argument: there is a huge and obvious difference between people who take monastic vows as adults, wearing the raiment of their order, and a practice imposed on girls as young as five, and women as old as 90, as a matter of household policy. All Buddhist monks or Krishna devotees show their face to the world. So do Sikhs. So do Christian monks or nuns.

    People who enter religious orders, as adults who are sovereign over their personal identity, have made a formal declaration that cannot be compared to the mere fact of being born without male genitalia -- the sole criterion for veiling, amongst fundamentalist Muslims.

    Veiling all women because they are female is blatant discrimination. It is as unacceptable as the attempts by Nazis to mark all Jews with yellow Stars of David -- before implementing the ultimate unspeakable atrocity, the notorious Final Solution.

    Women who embrace the idea that they should be so marked, publicly, for the sake of their religion, are also making a statement of condemnation against those Muslim women who choose not to veil themselves. In so doing, the veiled women are actively endorsing and embracing a movement that strives to radicalise Islamic households, rather than integrate Muslims into the European cultural space where they have come to dwell.

    Maybe this would not be as painful if there were not, in fact, a war in which many are being killed and maimed: a war started by Osama Bin Laden. Notice that before he became the Leader of the Jihadists (whether he is still alive or not), there were far fewer burqas and niqabs on display in Western countries. And why would that be?

    But since there is a war, we who are forced to defend ourselves from Jihad -- from Jihad that also slaughters, blinds and dismembers thousands of innocent Muslims whose only crime was being in the location chosen by a suicide bomber to unleash hell on strangers -- have a right to view the women who adopt the black sack (especially in a place like France, where the President himself has spoken of the full-body veil as an affront to the French Republic) exactly the same way we might have viewed a Nazi sympathiser wearing a swastika in public, while World War Two was being fought.

    We have to question their judgement -- or their loyalty. One or the other is deficient. In either case, a remedy is called for.

    The message to Muslim leaders who would like to dial back the clock to September 10, 2001, and pretend no Jihadist movement exists, there is no recruiting of jihadists going on online, no training of children (and often of someone else's children against the wishes of the family) to be suicide bombers for Hamas or Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda or AQAP: if you don't want so many questions raised about your community, just have your daughters and wives dress modestly, conservatively, conventionally... Tell the to put on a hat with a visor, a pair of large sunglasses, a turtleneck, a long coat -- and get on with it.

    Really, what is the big deal? Don't you see that it is precisely because this is not about modesty (as some claim) but about the Specific Uniform that marks out the observant Muslim woman as an adherent of 7th century values? Don't you see it is about using women and young girls to advertise the "beauty" of jihad?

    Unacceptable. Just stop doing it. Then we would not be left with any need to pass laws to enforce sanity & equality.

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  • 68. At 9:19pm on 26 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    A question to all: What about the rights of the people that don't want to see people wonder around in mobile tents? Where do they stand? Do they have any rights or are they simply selfish? What about the atheists amongst us? Do they have any rights with regards to not been offented by looking at relics of the past?

    Ideas welcomed :))

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  • 69. At 9:35pm on 26 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @67,

    more or less correct, far more then less actually :)

    It has nothing with free will, and far more to do with selfishnes, that can only force the rest of the society to pass needless laws.

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  • 70. At 9:52pm on 26 Jan 2010, Shaun Tarr wrote:

    "When in Rome ....."

    Two years ago I was forcefully thrown out of a shopping mall in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) for wearing my preferred attire - shorts! The French have a full right to protect their national identity. If you want to live, work and/or visit a country, you should abide by the cutural norms irrespective of your own demands to follow your own culture norms / religeous beliefs - its about time the world woke up to this and stop appeasing people who lay claim to their rights that dont conform to mainstream society. This applies equally to westerners in Muslim countries and vice versa.

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  • 71. At 10:06pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    ChrisArta wrote:
    "A question to all: What about the rights of the people that don't want to see people wonder around in mobile tents? Where do they stand? Do they have any rights or are they simply selfish? What about the atheists amongst us? Do they have any rights with regards to not been offented by looking at relics of the past?"

    Well, you know, this is the 64 million dollar question. If I don't like something I see, do I have moral grounds for infringing the liberties of other human beings, in order to remove what offends my sight from view? Do I have the right to make laws which target the way you look, because my sensibilities are barometers of the criminal law?

    The difficulty with suggesting that I have this right is simply that I could be anyone. I'm not, clearly, but I could be, if the logical position is expanded to others in the community. And so you, and he, and she over there, could also have this right.

    And then you and I might not like the look of each other. I might be hugely offended by the sight of you, and you might find the sight of me evidence of satan on earth. Then we would both be authorized to use force to snuff out each others right to appear in public. And regrettably, the strongest would prevail, and the only lesson would be that might is right, and that the most intolerant and aggressive person has the moral authority in the society.

    That is not the rule of law or reason. It the rule of emotional aggression and brute animal strength. It is the rule of the fist.

    Our resident Helen of Troy states : "Unacceptable. Just stop doing it. Then we would not be left with any need to pass laws to enforce sanity & equality."

    This comes at the end of a long and highly emotionally charged rant about how the US military is defending itself against Jihad.

    Putting to one side the widely understood fact that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with jihad, and further that the USA remains in Afghanistan for no reason remotely connected to jihad (it is generally accepted that afghanistan has less jihadists in it than most other muslim countries: we are now nation building for the pashtuns), we witness here a clear example of how the rule of the fist works.

    Ashot states that muslim women have no free will, and then judges the muslim males as "Unacceptable." She then orders them to stop doing that which she has accused them of doing with "their women". I mean, this is the voice of total authority. This woman truly believes that it is her place to make laws by which others must live. There is not the slightest sense of humility here. Ashots' emotions have the power of law, they are not mere opinions. We are left in no doubt about the authority of her voice when she then adopts the wife beaters defense: YOU MADE ME DO IT TO YOU. MY VIOLENCE IS YOUR FAULT.

    Ashot believes that people like her, christians from Harvard, NEED (her word) to make laws in order to ENFORCE (her word again) sanity and equality.

    In other words, if we were not blessed by special genius people like her, half of the world would be idiot slaves and the rest would be insane. Sanity is her gift to lessor beings, enforced by law.

    And this is not far from what is being described by the burka ban. What we have here is a bunch of people who are using the force of the law to make other people conform to their idea of good taste and "sanity". There is no presumption of innocence, no individual right to act freely if others are not harmed. Just a law, and the threat of force, against a group that does not please the sight of a special elite.

    I'm calling this what it is: Fascism. Hard core state sponsored fascism, and a breakdown of the rule of law.

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  • 72. At 10:13pm on 26 Jan 2010, Yegane Guley wrote:

    In late 1980s and early 1990s Turkish girls were not allowed (they still are supposedly not) to go into universities wearing a headscarf because Turkish laws, based on secular principles, prohibits entering into public buildings and offices with a headscarf which is seen as a clear symbol of Islam. Today, Turkey's both "1st Ladies" cover their heads and attend all the state functions, in public building, wearing their fancy headscarf. The discussion on the headscarf ban only made the situation worse in Turkey. So I wish France good luck but don't kid yourself thinking that you are going to be able to solve your just starting problem. It will only increase the number of women who wears it and more will start wearing it to make a political point just as they do in Turkey.

    With love from, now mostly covered, Turkey!

    Ps- I am laughing at France that used to bring "human rights" issue to table of any discussion involving Turkey. It is a different story when it is all happening in your backyard isn't it?!

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  • 73. At 10:17pm on 26 Jan 2010, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The debate will become most intresting if and when a comparable law is passed in the US and tested in the United States Supreme Court. At that point we will hear the strongest case being made on both sides and some of the best judicial minds weighing the rights of individuals including the right of freedom of religion and free speech on one hand and society's right to be able to identify who is in a public space by the ability to recognize someone's face because it is visible to people on the other. It will be interesting to see where they come down on that balance. Until then, this issue will be a pure political football with people on both sides insisting only they are right. People will grumble after a SCOTUS decision but it will be regarded by many even beyond the US borders as difinitive.

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  • 74. At 10:25pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    We all wear burkas today.

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  • 75. At 10:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, slaman wrote:

    This is shocking and a step backwards, regardless of how the politicians frame it. Perhaps this is where American ideals of a Republic differ from France's, but the freedom to practice one's religion is an essential pillar that built the foundation of the USA's Constitution.

    By banning the niqab and burqa, the politicians are taking it upon themselves to lay judgement on the correctness and morality of different religious interpretations.

    To those who state that these pieces of clothing are oppressive, you are making unsubstantiated claims for these women If they are being forced to wear clothing and act in a manner that limits their individual rights, then there are other laws that address it such as domestic violence legislation.

    This is an attack on Islam, plain and simple.

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  • 76. At 10:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "SCOTUS" is a disgusting acronym, marcus. It sounds like baby speak for a cold scrotum.

    If we changed the words around, and abbreviated "United States SUpreme Court Session", we could have "the US SUCS"

    I think that has a better ring to it, nuh?

    You feel me on this one, marcus?

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  • 77. At 10:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Shaunn Tarr "Two years ago I was forcefully thrown out of a shopping mall in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) for wearing my preferred attire - shorts!"

    Mmm...I lived six years in Qatar, and I wouldn't have been caught dead in shorts in public, the surest way to raise hell! To be fair to Qataries, I completely understand them, more than religion, it has to do with their level of modesty, with their traditions. That level is very different than ours, and again, I respect that, I accepted gladly the need to be flexible and tolerant with their traditions, and this is one of the reasons why I tend to require the same level of understanding and flexibility now that the shoe in on the other foot. Kind of make sens, no?

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  • 78. At 10:38pm on 26 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    For 100 years Algeria was not considered some outpost of the French Empire... it was considered a defacto part of France.

    Algerians didnt invite the French in, nor did they qo quietly into the night.

    What France is experiencing is quite simply FAIR AND SQUARE. We after all, have an innate sense of British fairness dont we?

    If European colonialists invade Muslim countries, subjugating their citizens and absorbing them into the 'owning' countries; then should it not be the case that the citizens of those subordinate countries are now entitled to reside in those other countries... after all they have taken their land and assets into their own possession.

    It seems pretty fair and logical. We reap what we sow.

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  • 79. At 10:44pm on 26 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    cracklite, you are justifying french law by comparing it to the dictates of a kleptocratic theocratic regime famous for human rights abuses, and saying "But they do it!".

    Are you sure that is what you want to say?

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  • 80. At 10:51pm on 26 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Friend "It seems pretty fair and logical. We reap what we sow."

    Mmmm..Are you suggesting that Spain, England and the USA deserved the terrorist attacks that befell them? How intriguing.

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  • 81. At 11:01pm on 26 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    No need to put words in my mouth Demo, I'm simply talking about adaptability, flexibility, respect of the sensibilities and traditions of the country you live in or visit, I'm even talking about basic courtesy, and I damn well know, and so do you despite your usual à la Marcus provocations, that France is in no way comparable to Qatar (no disrespect to the Qataries who were so nice to me and my family).

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  • 82. At 11:03pm on 26 Jan 2010, muslim wrote:

    to angryjohn@comment 30:

    you stated in comment 30: "Even in this blog there are disagreements on whether in Islam women have to wear the Burka." You are quite tight, there is much confusion about this issue from amongst the Muslims and non Muslims...

    But should be aware that Islam is the Quran, the Sunnah(the way of the Prophet Muhammed, his statements, actions and tacit approvals) upon the interpretation and understanding and the salaf(first 3 generations of Islam.

    So based upon this (from my 94,from the previous article), it is obligatory for Muslim woman to wear the niqab.

    In Islam the evidence and proof from the Quran, Sunnah take precedence over the opinion of men.

    About the claim that the command to cover was for only the Prophets wives, then this is refuted by the statement of Allah:

    “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the WOMEN OF THE BELIEVERS to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies”

    [al-Ahzaab 33:59] –

    When Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) {and he was the Uncle of the Prophet) was asked about the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

    he covered his face, leaving only one eye showing. This indicates that what was meant by the aayah was covering the face. This was the interpretation of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) of this aayah, as narrated from him by ‘Ubaydah al-Salmaani when he asked him about it.

    Orthodox Islam:

    There are already Muslims who follow Orthodox Islam, they are those Muslims who follow the Quran, the Sunnah based upon the understanding of the Salaf(first 3 generations of Islam), and they already exist and will always exist!!

    As the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated:

    "There will (always) be a group of my Ummah apparent (applying) the truth, they would not be harmed by those who differ from them, until the Final Hour is established."


    To find out more about them, go to http://www.salaf.com/ , http://www.salafipublications.com/sps/ .

    You may also go to http://www.islaam.ca/ this particular website is designed for non Muslims so may be an easier read.

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  • 83. At 11:07pm on 26 Jan 2010, muslim wrote:

    The Virtues Of Hijaab

    An excellent essay consisting of eight points regarding the Hijaab of the Muslim woman.

    http://www.troid.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=156&Itemid=429

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  • 84. At 11:23pm on 26 Jan 2010, alan wrote:

    I live in France and can say that this 'ruling' is extremely leading.Is it normal in a 'democracy' that an 'Etat laic' (non denominational state) can pass 'law' on the devotions practiced inside a legaly recognised religion?. I cannot resonably imagine banning catholics crosses or jewish peopes little round hats. Maybe its 'security' (bin laden sneaking about in a dress).Or is it not more likely to be a decoy, to divert citizens frustrations with their 'state's continuous 'racketting' and their own general poverty?.

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  • 85. At 11:46pm on 26 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Alan "Or is it not more likely to be a decoy, to divert citizens frustrations with their 'state's continuous 'racketting' and their own general poverty?"

    So now the French are in general poor?! I didn't know France was a third world country! Odd, the GDP numbers tell a different story, they tell us that France is the fifth richest country in the world, in front of the UK mind you! But why care about facts when unsubstantiated opinions are so much fun! As for the huge french taxes, they are crippling the country, I'll grant you that, but Sarkozy is trying to fix that problem. So he says...

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  • 86. At 11:48pm on 26 Jan 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    Who cares? It's not even a ban, it just gives state backing for people to ask women to remove their Burka if they work in certain places.

    Seriously, just take the face covering bit off when talking to people. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable compromise.

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  • 87. At 00:17am on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 71, "democracythreat": You have referred to me as "our resident Helen of Troy." I will take that as a compliment -- although not looking to run away with anyone.

    So thank you.

    But you quote me out of context. The context, most emphatically, is that we are at war. Nato forces have been committed. American, British, French, Spanish, Italian, Danish and other troops have died. Others have sustained grievous injuries. On top of their losses, there are the far greater losses of lives of local residents who are not themselves in any way involved in the Jihad.

    Under the circumstances -- Jihad declared against "Crusader culture"; a state of war -- wearing the garb required by Jihadists becomes highly provocative. It invites all kinds of scrutiny & suspicion.

    Let me offer a comparison from my own experience as a very young girl, young woman, and adult. You know my ancestry. Many members of my immediate family were tortured and killed by followers of Bolshevism. As a child growing up in the US, for no obvious reason -- I spoke unaccented American English and looked like anyone else -- I would be teased and called "Commie." This persisted (from some dunces) all the way into university years.

    That's America for you.

    Anyway, imagine if, during the Cold War mind you, I had decided to wear Communist Party insignia? Or even a Che Guevara t-shirt?

    Obviously, I would never do such a thing. Having to explain over and over, "No, actually, I am not a Communist; they tortured my mother's siblings to death in 1939," was very painful.

    Stereotypes are awful burdens. That is why in the most advanced states we have adopted laws that prohibit discrimination. But why would anyone deliberately dress in a way that plainly identifies them as allies of the forces currently blowing up people (or attempting to) all over the world, and openly waging war against our own armed forces?

    During the Cold War, deliberately wearing Communist insignia in the USA would be an open invitation to serious trouble, especially if you were of the ancestry associated with Communism (Russian, Ukrainian, German, Cuban, Chinese, Korean).

    We are in a state of combat. A Hot War, not a Cold War. And in the last couple of months, there has been an undeniable escalation of hostilities -- by the Jihadists.

    Women who wear burqas openly in Nato countries can be logically understood to be recruiting for jihad.

    Don't blame us for having resorted to laws to ban the garments. In Afghanistan, laws punish women who don't wear the garment. This is very much a case of reciprocity; to hold the West to a "higher standard" actually violates the inherent logic of war: reciprocal mayhem & hostility.

    Let's see if the Jihadists call theirs off any time soon. Then you can rightly say we are being one-sided and biased in our interpretation of what the woman wrapped from head to foot in black is trying to convey to the rest of the world.

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  • 88. At 00:49am on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 82, muslim: If a Muslim woman feels it is important to live exactly according to the texts you cite, she should quite simply live in a Muslim country.

    And what does the Qu'ran say about using mobile phones, credit cards and transfusions of non-Muslim blood?

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  • 89. At 01:02am on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 84, alan: What is a society to do about "devotional" expressions that communicate that the laws of the state that mandate the full 100% equality of women to men are invalid, ungodly and incompatible with righteousness?

    Only the niqab and the burqa have the specific purpose of reminding all who see it that a woman only counts for "50% of a man," has no individual sovereignty, and that a righteous Muslim -- male or female -- accepts that concept.

    Consider also that every religion keeps its "devotional" practices, with very rare exception, within the perimeters of its property. Muslims who insist on the full-body veil want to wear it to work in government offices, in schools, in hospitals, while shopping, on public transit and to public events.

    It becomes as brazen and intrusive as a bullhorn on a soapbox. It is an expression of explicit hostility to others who do not dress in the same way.

    The kippas of observant Jews are nothing more elaborate than a small, unobtrusive hat. The Star of David or devotional crucifix favoured by some Christians is typically small, and doubles as jewelry. It is no more provocative than an astrological sign pendant. Christian rosaries, like Levantine prayer beads, are unobtrusive and may be tucked into a pocket or sleeve.

    Only the black sack of the burqa-devotee screams at the world: "See what a holy Muslim I am! You are not even worthy of seeing my face! Your very presence is 'unclean!'"

    No other ethnic or religious community insists on this kind of privilege.

    That only a tiny minority of women even choose to exercise it says everything about how extreme this set of beliefs is. They should certainly be prevented by the state from imposing this kind of value system on minor children. It needs to stop.

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  • 90. At 01:27am on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    10. At 3:00pm on 26 Jan 2010, LawDirect wrote:

    "If a simple piece of cloth to guard a females dignity can create such fear and animosity than surely democracy and European values are weak and worthless."

    Using your own argument, if a woman needs a simple piece of cloth on her face to guard her "dignity" it implies that her dignity by itself is worthless.
    The fact that you think a woman should cover her face to "guard her dignity" shouts out very clearly your mindset and reinforces our opinion on why the burka is a tool of oppression. I assume you are male. I propose that you guard your own dignity by covering your face. We will then talk about a woman's dignity.


    47. At 6:18pm on 26 Jan 2010, Mariyam Suha wrote:

    "Some women choose to wear the Burka on their own and that obviously cannot be suppression."

    The emphasis should be on "some"

    "Forcing the burka on women is not something allowed in my religion. Its solely the woman's choice, but some seem to misunderstand it. "

    It is forced upon women in plenty of cases especially wherever mullahs get some power. There used to be a time when Afghani, Iranian women were free and for the most part secular. I have myself known muslim women who hated even the head scarf but were forced to wear it by the male members of their house. True, there are some cases where they have been brainwashed into thinking it is "Allah's will". But I do not consider that to be a "free choice".

    "I believe its no crime to cover oneself. A woman who respects herself would not go around showing herself off."

    A woman who respects herself will not be ashamed to show her face. Only a woman with no self respect who considers herself the property of a man will do exactly as 7th century primitive men decreed. Only a woman without self respect or self confidence will blindly follow religious edicts without question.


    48. At 6:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Minkul Alam wrote:

    "What would be the reaction of Christian counties & international Media, if any Muslim country imposes such oppression on Non-Muslim peoples ??"

    They already do. Non muslim women in Saudi are forced to wear muslim garments, not drive, not go out without a male guardian etc.. That is real oppression. There is nothing oppressive about showing your face.


    40. At 5:26pm on 26 Jan 2010, Lesley wrote:

    "However, if the argument for banning the full veil is because it offends the freedoms of women then we should also be banning all forms of dress which have been imposed on women by men (or vice versa) for whatever reason. "

    There are many rules that are applied for the proper functioning of a civil society, not all of them a gender imposition. For example, nudists (men or women) are barred from public libraries. Face plays a major role in human communcation. Why should other people have to deal with a masked person in a public place anymore than they have to deal with a nudist in a public place? (And when you consider security, I would say nudists are less of a threat than full body burkhas.)

    49. At 6:32pm on 26 Jan 2010, Robert wrote:

    "There is also a president being set here. What forms of dress will we ban next? Perhaps, hoods, mini skirts, steel toe caps, turbans, base ball caps."
    There is already a precedent - no bikinis,nudists in public places.

    83. At 11:07pm on 26 Jan 2010, muslim wrote:

    "The Virtues Of Hijaab

    An excellent essay consisting of eight points regarding the Hijaab of the Muslim woman."

    Utter mindless and stupid rubbish written by idiotic men to justify 7 century idiotic customs. Try to fast forward to the current century

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  • 91. At 01:36am on 27 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    Violence in any cause, other than that of self-defence is reprehensible and should be condemned. That applies equally for individuals taking the law into their own hands, and terrorist acts - both of individuals and states.

    As I understand, Islam condemns any act of violence against an innocent people, it has clearly defined rules of engagement and there is no concept of collective punishment... perhaps you want to compare these to traditional European and Western policies of engagement.

    Nonetheless, the fact remains that a natural and foreseeable consquence of European empire building and conquests, is that those displaced peoples have the right to reside in the country who deems to impose sovereignty.

    Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis in the UK.... for that matter we also have the Gurkhus. Similarly this applies for the Germans and French.

    We cant have it both ways.... first we invade, dominate, kill, pillage and asset strip... we absorb their countries into our empires and then we also want to deny them the right to live as they please when they come ot our countries. We cant have it both ways.

    Fair is fair.

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  • 92. At 01:36am on 27 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    ChrisArta (68) asked "What about the rights of the people that don't want to see people wander around in mobile tents? Where do they stand? Do they have any rights ...?"

    It's a good question. If a person is offended by seeing a woman in a burka, or an inter-racial couple or homosexual couple holding hands in the street, then we might say that the offended person is a bigot. But why shouldn't bigots be regarded as a group who experience genuine offense from which they deserve legal protection as much as any other group?

    Even if the bigot experiences offense is the behaviour causing him offence reasonable? One way to judge reasonabless is to ask what is the motive of the person causing the offense. If it is a spiteful motive, done purely with the intention of offending and for no other reason, then the behaviour is unreasonable and deserves no respect at all. This is the case for a racist taunting a blackman, who therefore has nothing to be weighed against the offense he is causing, no leg to stand on.  But the woman wearing a burka is not wearing it to deliberatley cause offense. Her motivation might come from a sense of religious duty, or even just to please her husband, but either way it is not spiteful and therefore not unreasonable.

    When reasonable behaviour causes offense the social value of the behaviour needs to be weighed against that offense. The guy playing the radio loud on the bus is getting some benefit but probably not enough to outweigh the nuisance he is causing.  We attach a great deal of social value to allowing people to freely express their religion (or poltical opinions), so tend to be forgiving of any offense caused as a side-effect of such activities. 

    Conversely we tend to discount the offense felt by a bigot, because it is largely based on spiteful animosity towards the inter-racial or gay couple or burka-wearing muslim lady which has very little to do with the actual behaviour of these people towards the offended person. There is almost no way these people could avoid giving offense to the bigot, who may be offended even by the idea of what they are doing in the privacy of their own homes.

    So the right of the spiteful to either give or take offense is largely dismissed on the grounds of their unreasonableness.

    (p.s. Apologies for typos; almost impossiible to use this site with an iPhone)

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  • 93. At 01:45am on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    with all due respect, 3 posts with the same (almost) topic really begs the question: Have you found nothing else in more than one week?

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  • 94. At 01:50am on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    EUprisoner wrote:

    "Well, the Burka really does annoy some people.

    Maybe British "EU"-phobes could find something which would annoy "EU"-lovers just as much.

    Now generally we should not try to annoy people just because they disagree with us. But British and many continental "EU"-lovers are in a category of their own. About 80% of Brits want the referendum they were promised and about 70% want to say NO.

    My guess is that the 20% who do not want us to have a referendum want the Lisbon Treaty and greater integration.

    If that is true, tnen 30% want to vote YES and one third of them are democratic enough to believe that we should have a referendum even if it goes against them.

    The other two-thirds are arrogant, anti-democratic trash who do not deserve the normal politenesses. Indeed they misuse the willingness of the majority of the British people to be fairly gentle with them.

    This two-thirds of "EU"-lovers who are anti-democratic is actually a lower percentage than my own interrogatiosn of "EU"-lovers would indicate.

    So what can we do to annoy them, since we don't have a functioning democracy?

    How about wearing a blue Burka with gold stars as on the "EU"-flag arranged in the form of a swastika?"

    One question mate: Are you high when posting?

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  • 95. At 02:01am on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    92. At 01:36am on 27 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:
    "If a person is offended by seeing a woman in a burka, or an inter-racial couple or homosexual couple holding hands in the street, then we might say that the offended person is a bigot"

    You might say anything you like, but in the case of face covering masks you are simply wrong. Nobody should be expected to deal with masked people in public places. As human beings we are conditioned to observe facial expressions and adjust our responses accordingly. A person whose face is covered would in our mind be in dangerous category simply because our survival instincts force us to be alert to the unknown. (Reinforced by the fact that those who intend to thieve, rob etc. generally do cover their faces)

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  • 96. At 02:57am on 27 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    94. At 01:50am on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    " ...

    One question mate: Are you high when posting?"

    EUpris: No! Quite definitely not. I once had one puff of marijuana on a train between Istambul and Munich in 1968. I regret that I had that puff because otherwise I would have been able to say that I had never taken drugs. I have just drunk about one pint of German beer. So I have now drunk about three pints of beer in the last week.

    The suggestion that I am on drugs is part of the continuing "EU"-lovers attempt to try to explain criticism of their beloved "EU" in terms of there being something wrong with those who criticise.

    We have had: drunk, on drugs, Downs syndrome, mouth-frothing right wingers, stupid, BNP in blazers, boys who didn't make prefect, Neanderthalers, and other rubbish which I cannot remember.

    All this is related to the complete and utter inability of many "EU"-lovers to put themselves in the position of the victims of their "EU". It is their excuse for not listening. It is their attempt to camouflage their inadequacy.

    70% of Brits did not want the Lisbon Treaty. Arrogant "EU"-lovers forced it on us anyway. They have forced something on us which many of us see as a sort of Third Reich revival, a Fourth Reich in the making.

    Even if there had been no justification for this view of the "EU" before Lisbon, the way it has been forced on us would on its own justify this view.

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  • 97. At 03:25am on 27 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    WA
    Have you agrieved someone such that your posts are recommended to the mods? It is amusing to me that you a Ruskie who has been under the scrutiny of big brother should now be subjected to the open mindedness of the west and can't get a word in edgewise. I would recommend you look at some of the US sports blogs. There you can call anyone anything other than a child of God and it's ok. Funny ain't it.

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  • 98. At 03:38am on 27 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    "As human beings we are conditioned to observe facial expressions and adjust our responses accordingly. A person whose face is covered would in our mind be in dangerous category simply because our survival instincts force us to be alert to the unknown."

    What a load of nonsense. It's a cover for xenophobia and islamophobia. Period.

    We live in a world of call centres, shopping by internet ... and lets be honest here... since when did seeing someone's face tell you anything. Is it not the eyes that are the window to the soul?

    It wasnt so long ago that the hijab / khimaar / head scarf was an accepted part of Christian and Judaic practice. It has only been since these groups stopped following their faiths and turning to consumerism, materialism and the cult of fame, money and self-interest that problems started occurring.

    The history of Europe is the denial of Islamic influence, antagonism towards islamic states and the continued oppression of minorities. As human rights prevail and social justice is emphasised, we will not be able to stop people worshipping as they wish.... and why should we?

    Feminism is OK, as long as it is Western Feminism and not Islamic feminism?

    Freedom of worship is ok as long as it is not Islamic?

    Freedom to dress however we want is OK as long as it is not Islamic?

    When did we so readily give up our freedom and succumb to fascism, intolerance and bigotry? The propaganda and false ideologies which drove a continent to a false holy war in the crusades should not be repeated now... or are we that ignorant.

    Islam is a threat... not radical islam.... just plain ol' Islam. It brings about social justice, strong happy families, people who consume less, give openly to charity, pray regularly, commit less sexual crimes and embrace tolerance and diversity. Let's not even start on islamic banking which does away with interest based 'slave' banking.

    Yes, its a threat... but only if you dont want to fix the problems of society.

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  • 99. At 03:59am on 27 Jan 2010, U14312152 wrote:

    @67 Maria Ashot
    Most of your arguments, based on undeniable facts and cool judgement are convincing. Besides, your attempt to advocate the legal action of the French seems to be successful in the light of the undeclared war between our secular world and those who pay the bill of the Jihadists.
    What I would permit myself to add to your really excellent intervention is that we certainly can not consider the provocative behaviour of many Muslim women (who deliberately wear burkhas and other medieval garments) out of the context of the recent political events, such as the US/British intervention in Iraq, the presence of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, the political turmoil over the Iranian nuclear programme, etc. To that matter, I do not think that the US policy was always the right one (especially in Iraq). The failure of the White house to establish a balanced & reciprocal relationship with all the countries of the Middle East gave another argument for boosting the radical Islam. The result is not at all optimistic. We are really at war… which has not a front line nor a rear...

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  • 100. At 05:19am on 27 Jan 2010, SAIF wrote:

    Hello everybody
    The fact of all the people around the world is every one is worried that why ISLAM after all fastest growing religion in the world?
    but r we really worried for those things which we r supposed to worry?
    I have read so many comments which those comment like the ban.but i would like to say go ahead with the ban then see.
    ALLAH challenges everyone in Quran to bring one Surat similar to his revelation in Quran.
    What people are commenting are only to oppress other.everyone has a choice of his own.why people don't understand this.we r shown that our nation is a democratic. and still oppress others.where were u when one lady ask that she want to die with suicide.Go ahead with the ban.

    I would like tell those women to apply black mehndi (Henna) on there face.then u won't need a burkah no one would dare to see your face.where there is a will there is a way.

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  • 101. At 07:41am on 27 Jan 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    This issue has been taken completely out of context and seems to focus upon Islamaphobia, or assumed Islamphobia, which is not the case I am afraid. The debate in France is whether their secular soceity is being undermimed. A secular soceity is one that seperates itself from reglion on all levels and does not favour one over the other, nor does it allow laws that would show some kind of acceptance of a particular reglion. That being the case, if the veil was allowed in a secular soceity it can be seen as favouring a particular reglion, which is contrary to secularity. The debate isnt about reglion or Islam, it is about the French right to ensure that the soceity remains secular. I am firmly of the view that if persons do not like the French attitude towards secularity, then they are free to move to a country that isnt secular or they are free to embrace secularity as they feel fit. No one is forcing someone into remaining in a place that they disagree with. I myself disagree with people owning guns, so I choose not to live in the US, I disagree with the high tax in the UK, so I choose not to live there. However, if I did reside in those places then I would respect the laws and customs of those places. I myself am English but I live in the UAE, a Middle Eastern Muslim country and despite being non-muslim I still respect the laws and customs. I may disagree with those laws and customs, but not to the point whereby I challenge those laws and customs. I have to accept that I live in a Muslim country and so be it. If I do not like it, then I am free to move to somewhere else. I have no issue with women here wearing veils, and just to clarify whilst we in the west may consider this oppressive, many Middle Eastern Muslim women freely accept to wear the veil as it makes them feel comfortable. The veil is not common to those of us in the west, but this doesnt mean that it is oppressive or a tool to make women unequal, it is a custom that many choose to embrace. However, I have also seen these same women change before they land in the UK. This is not because they feel they must or that they not religous, it is because they respect others cultures and appreciate that you have to intergrate. That is the main thrust I am afraid. Certain people, not just Muslims, refuse to intergrate into soceity. I have seen westerners refuse to intergrate in the Middle East, leading to arrest and deportation, and I see many other reglions etc fail to intergrate into other types of soceity. That is the failure. France is correct to consider what should be done to remain secular and if that is seen as offensive, then stop bleating and use your freedom of choice to move to somewhere you can live how you wish. It really is that simple I am afraid. It is about time we all realised that we cannot please everyone all the time and the primary focus should be on the indigenous population. We either conform to the rules, laws and customs of the country we live in or we leave and find a country that has the same rules, laws and customs that we want.

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  • 102. At 07:47am on 27 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    I think when you argue with pea brains

    "what would Christians say if..non-Muslims were..by Muslim govts?"

    you get pea soup.

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  • 103. At 07:49am on 27 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    Can anyone translate for me the revelation offered in #101?

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  • 104. At 07:52am on 27 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    #100, I mean. :O)))) blush

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  • 105. At 08:21am on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    To both Freeborn John & democracyThreat,

    Thank you very much for the responses very interesting views.

    To Freeborn John assuming that the majority of people that don't like the look of a woman wearing a burka are bigots and also assuming that even bigots deserve the legal protection, then the motivation as to why someone wears offending clothing can not in any case and under any condition be used as an excuse to wear the offending clothing. Simple example that motivation alone does not give that person the right to offend others is the case of prince Harry and his Nazi uniform trick. He offended people the motivation behind why he dressed that way was not important. Now you can tell me that it is ok for Harry to be told off as he didn't do it out of belief but it was a prank, so the bigot in his case wins, as the bigot has the moral high ground. But what about if it was not Harry, but we had the case of the bigot objecting to the religious and cultural practices of a papua new guinea tribe (probably no such exists any more) that moved to London and as part of their customs and religious beliefs they ate their deceased, they don't harm anyone else they are not a danger to our society, I could even say they are environmentaly friendly! And to make sure that their religious belief was properly accomplished they had to perform that ritual in public, have a great roast in full view of everyone. Who wins in that case the bigoted society that are easily offended of the freedom of the tribe to practice their religious beliefs as they see fit? Personaly I don't care in either case, if someone eats dead people or if a woman wears a burka! But, I have to say that in the name of what is socially acceptable in London (or France or elsewhere) neither of those should be allowed or both of those should be allowed, plus many more.

    To democracyThreat my belief is that no neither me, you, or any third person have the right to infringe on other people's liberties. But if I go back to my original question, has any person the right to infringe on someone else personal liberties, personal liberties to make the argument clear here it also includes visual liberties! Again I hope the answer is no, no person should have more rights than someone else. Now there is no need for violence to resolve what is visually acceptable to all, if it comes down to the point you described, where we all get annoyed and angry with eachothers clothes, instead of fighting and deciding that might is right, we legislate how we all dress so that we don't annoy eachother. That way we ensure that no might is right rule applies and also something that is acceptable to most us (me, you, other third people) prevails, very civilized very democratic the best option available I believe. That way law and order don't break down and none of us abuse the others tolerance.

    Now regarding the rest of you post as to why the US, NATO, etc. are in Iraq & Afghanistan I couldn't agree with you more. I was one the millions that in 2003 demostrated and marched etc. against the UK (and the US for that matter) invade Iraq.

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  • 106. At 08:24am on 27 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    There are a number of issues which are being raised here.

    On the one hand, proponents of Islam are saying that that it is the fastest growing faith in the West. I dont think there is any controversy here, it is widely accepted. Furthermore, that Islam has the solution to a number of the problems which mankind is facing - this in itself makes it an increasingly attractive proposition.

    Islam is argued at the completion of the faith that God has chosen for mankind and the Quran as the final revelation. Hence before the Euro-invasion of the Middle East, the people in the holy lands converted from from Judaism to Christianity and then to Islam.

    On the other hand we have thinly-veiled (pardon the pun) pseudo-intellectual arguments about democracy, secularism and the terror threat; all of which have been used to deny the people a fundamental right. To dress as they wish, modestly and in accordance with their religious beliefs.

    I would remind you of the French feminist movement. One of the earliest members of this influential group was a woman called Valentine de Saint Point. After living the hedonistic life of a 'futurist' as many do today, she found that there was only one system of life which offered her the empowerment she desired, that answered the questions she was looking for and provided the fulfillment that secular life was so badly lacking; that was Islam.

    The French 'problem' is not with the burkha. It is with the ideology that Islam is spreading like wildfire throughout Europe and France. It is something that throughout history Europeans have vehemenently, violently and with extreme prejudice, resisted. La Reconquista, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the wars in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, Cyprus and Greece, the scramble for Africa - they are all European efforts to push back the advance of Islam.

    There was a reason these efforts were successful. Population.

    European Islam throughout the ages had a counter-balance. Christianity and the idea that Christian families (in the main) lived virtous lives and had many progeny. This counter-balance is gone and will not be restored. So-called Christian families often have 2 or less children focussing more on wealth generation, consumerism and materialism. Holidays and cars over children. Drinking and lifestyle over a large brood.

    Well Muslims, generally oppressed (currently at record levels if we examine figures on educational attainment, housing and the escalation of race/religious claims in the courts), continue to have stable homes, less divorces, do not drink alcohol and have large familes - often finding 5, 6 or more children is not unusual.

    So we do the maths and then sit back and wait. European civilisation is on permanent decline; the current grab for power, oil and political control is the last gasp of a dying tribalism.

    As God tells us in the bible, he blesses the believers with increased numbers.

    The numbers will sort themselves out.

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  • 107. At 08:48am on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @106,

    Hold on to your horses there mate! Did it ever occur to you the French government may not care less about what fantasy people believe in? also please explain clearly how stopping women from wearing a black tent is "anti-islamic"? Stay on track and tell us why there is a need for a woman to wear a tent. I don't think anyone cares how many children a muslim family generate, where did you find any objections to women dressed modestly? I think the French are objecting to women dressed outrageously

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  • 108. At 09:08am on 27 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    The argument is fundamentally flawed. It is almost not worth answering and can be dealt with in 6 words.

    "People can wear what they like."

    Another six words will help to bang the point home.

    "If you dont like it, tough."

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  • 109. At 09:43am on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    great entertainment value to see deluded fools covered in it, I love it.
    I'm concerned about people's blood pressure that take defending it seriously and flatter themselves thinking they know what they are talking about or that they are right. Also the disappointment on their sad faces when France passes the law. But then again they can consul themselves with: "As God tells us in the bible, he blesses the believers with increased numbers." or chocolate whatever works for them.

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  • 110. At 09:55am on 27 Jan 2010, Benefactor wrote:

    108. Friend wrote:

    "The argument is fundamentally flawed. It is almost not worth answering and can be dealt with in 6 words.

    "People can wear what they like."

    Another six words will help to bang the point home.

    "If you dont like it, tough.""

    People can't wear what they want, I can't pick up children from school in nothing but a thong, or go into a bank wearing my balaclava.
    But I have to live with these unfair restrictions on my life, woe is me.

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  • 111. At 10:08am on 27 Jan 2010, Angryjohn wrote:

    Freeborn John #50

    I think your solution to this particular problem is probably the best. Make the whole issue about uncovering your face for security reasons in certain places. Then it doesn't matter if its a Burka or a Balaclava or a bee keeping hat.

    I think that just because I don't like the Burka and disagree with all the points made on its behalf, doesn't mean the present multicultural society is geered up to accept such a ban.

    If we didn't have such a track record of multiculturalism then it would be a little easier but picking on the Burka is just being inconsistant.

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  • 112. At 10:32am on 27 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Yesterday, a french women wearing the burqa was asked what she would do if a law to ban the burqa should pass in France, well her answer completely took me by surprise, I couldn't believe my ears, first she said that the law of Allah takes precedent over any human law, ok, now that one I expected, although the concept is intrinsically frightening for someone who believes in the state of law, but no, the worst was yet to come, because when ask if she would have to leave the country, she didn't hesitate for a second "Leave? Why?! The french saying says it all: it's the one that is the most hindered that leaves first!"

    WOW, in other words, if the burqa offends the fragile sensibilities of the progressist and secular French, it should be them who leave their own country, not her. I'm speechless...but I can still write (sorry friend and Freeborn!)

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  • 113. At 10:54am on 27 Jan 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    Post #105 makes a very valid argument. It appears to me that everyone is thinking that France is about to take action against a religous belief and thus is being either bigoted or Islamaphobic. I disagree. The wearing of the veil is not enshrined within the Holt Qu'ran. The Holy Qu'ran states that women should keep their modesty and cover their beauty, which as a lawyer I find rather ambiguous and can be argued in many different ways. I know of good Arab Muslims who have never even been to the west who do not wear the veil or even the black shroud as they beleive that Holy Qu'ran requires them to dress appropriately and not like a lady of the night and that only their husbands can see their nakeness or body. They do not believe for one moment that Islam requires them to cover themselves completely and they do not. The argument about taking away anothers freedom is flawed in this case. People are free to an extent, not completely. I am not free to walk around wearing whatever I like, be it offensive or a security risk. I am free to do so in the sanctury of my own home however. If I choose to walk around wearing sunglasses and a large hat, then I woudl not object if someone required me to remove those items at an airport, in a bank or other such place. What is being argued is that others must accept that those who choose to wear the veil do so not through religion but through their own individual beliefs, which is unacceptable and is not intergration. It is rather one sided for those to argue that it is unfair on the poor woman who wants to wear the veil but is being denied, just as it is unfair to deny someone to walk down the road covered only in jam. Neither are done due of religous teachings, but because they wish to dress like that. There must be rules that all can abide by, not just the minority. For someone to insist that they must be allowed to wear something that has no true religous significance is wrong, where does one draw the line? At the end of the day we are not forced to live in the west and take advantage of those freedoms that are granted by law (not Sharia) but then demand Sharia, that is unequal and unfair. If ones wishes to be bound by Sharia, then move to a Sharia country, where you will be happy. However, I live in a Sharia country and those freedoms that we have in the west are not available here and we take them for granted. I therefore challenge those who use those freedoms granted in the west to come and live for more than a few months in a Muslim country before they get on a moral high horse. Then you will understand that this is not Islamaphobia or Muslim bashing, it is an attempt for a country to retain its identity - nothing more. If you dont like it, then move.

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  • 114. At 11:08am on 27 Jan 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    Thought I better point out before anyone quips something silly. I am not a Muslim, I am English but I live and have done so for quite sometime in the Middle East. I live and work in an Islamic Country and I have lots of friends or are Muslim. I am certianly not Islamaphobic nor do I not respect Islam. I have come to understand Islam extremely well after living and working with Muslims on a daily basis. Islam is not an evil religion whatsoever and not all terrorists in the world are Muslim. Basques are not Muslim, IRA were not Muslim and so forth. However, one must appreciate that a great many Muslims in the west are oppossed to western culture and fail to intergrate fully. I myself at first failed to intergrate into a pure Muslim soceity, this is natural. One of the problems is that in the west there are freedoms that are abused, because they can be. This is not the case in a Muslim country. If one were to protest over the banning of Jewish items, which is common in the Middle East Arab countries, then one would be sent to gaol and deported, its that simple. If one were to argue that Islam is not the true faith and another faith is, then again one would face serious consequences. This is not a critic of Islamic countries, it is a pointer. I for one think they have it spot one - conform or face gaol and deportation, or even a worse outcome. We in the west need to apply the same rational against all who fail to conform, regardless or race, religion or whatever. We need to stop trying to please everyone and stop being so accomodating. There is more than enough room for Islam and all the other religions for those who wish to intergrate and follow the laws, rules and customs. Those who dont wish to, then go somewhere else.

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  • 115. At 11:13am on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Yeah Cracklite, (re post 112)

    why do you think so many white British want to or have emigrated to Australia?

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  • 116. At 11:30am on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @115,

    I hope it is not for that reason alone, because based on my experiences there, they'll have to start packing to move on again :)))))

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  • 117. At 11:32am on 27 Jan 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    Gheryando (post 115) I emirgrated because the government in the UK has no backbone and pampers far too much and exploits those who do well there. I now live in a country where there is minimal crime, the police are respected, those who do well are rewarded, there is no unemployment because there is no wealthfare state, thus forcing people to get jobs and above all else there this is a true multicultural soceity. We in the UK have got it badly wrong I am afraid. Where I live in the Middle East, you would be arrested for what many get away with in the UK. The borders here are not a free for all, they are controlled so that only those with trades which are lacking are let in and if they lose their jobs then out they go. The Nationals have precedence over everyone else, thus they are protected by the state and treated well. They are very well looked after, unlike the poor nationals in the UK. We have a lot to learn, but fear that we never will learn because there are too many fools who look at the world in rose tinted glasses.

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  • 118. At 11:39am on 27 Jan 2010, marty2486 wrote:

    Personally I think veils etc are oppressive and as someone else pointed out it is also anti social but this to some is a way of expressing their faith. The French call wearing a burhka or niqab a challenge to the Republic surely the greatest challenge to the Republic is the persecution of this minority.

    Wether we like it or not is irrelvant, wether we understand it or not is also irrelvant, this is a choice that is made hopefully freely so who are the French government to take that choice away?

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  • 119. At 11:42am on 27 Jan 2010, Rocking Mitch wrote:

    Why are people getting so worked up about an item of clothing? If people want to wear it and are happy to do so, let them. I think UKIP and the BNP are just using this issue to pursue their own racist agendas. Banning clothing is what the nazis did in the 30s.
    Islamophobia is wrong - just as wrong as ant-semitism, and prejudice against Afro-Caribbean people. We live in the 21st century and should by now have learned how to tolerate other people.
    What's next? Ban the baseball cap?

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  • 120. At 11:47am on 27 Jan 2010, Hamza Patel wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 121. At 11:54am on 27 Jan 2010, dunmanifestin wrote:

    By wearing the burka or condoning the wearing of the burka for religious reasons are said muslims not inferring that all other muslims are derelict in their own religious observance? Surely there is only ONE Koran?

    Also on the side of the ban for purely 'security reasons' the ban can, as has already been stated, be for all headgear which hinders or obscures the wearers features enough to make a positive identification possible. Bans already exist for balaclavas, crash helmets etc. in certain secure premises irrespective of the religion of the wearer. Extending this to include the burka should be relatively simple enough. This is not about an INDIVIDUAL'S freedom, it's about the INDIVIDUAL freedoms (plural) of those who could be affected by any criminal activity.

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  • 122. At 11:58am on 27 Jan 2010, Graeme wrote:

    It is not up to the state to tell anyone what they should or shouldnt wear. I have worked in the middle east and at first it did make me feel uncomfortable when I saw women out wearing burkhas, but surely thats my problem not theirs and I dont need goverment legislation to be introduced to make me feel better. If thats is the way we want to go can I start a campaign now to stop the wearing of socks with sandals, jumpers with leather elbow patches and cords as all of these make me equally nervous.

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  • 123. At 12:01pm on 27 Jan 2010, Warren wrote:

    "When in Rome, do as the Romans do!" I think whilst we should try to respect there faith, they should respect ours. It's their choice to be here, we don't imprison people to be here. I can understand both arguments but again, if they choose to be here then people should take our values on.

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  • 124. At 12:03pm on 27 Jan 2010, ten gear bat bike wrote:

    I just thought they were trying to keep their faces warm.

    Personally, I couldn't care less if they do or don't want to wear them. I wear a hoody fairly regularly, although not because my god tells me to, if they want to do so on the words of a much loved fictional character, who am I to complain?

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  • 125. At 12:08pm on 27 Jan 2010, Jenny wrote:

    I don't agree with faces being covered and for people like me who are deaf and have to lip read all the time it is not at all helpful. Where are my human rights in that?! If people want to live in this country they should abide by our rules, which are those of a Christian country, whether you believe or not. We are bending over backwards for far too many people.

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  • 126. At 12:15pm on 27 Jan 2010, Graeme wrote:

    in answer to Gheryando post 115

    The Weather, oudoor sporty lifestyle and exchange rate.

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  • 127. At 12:25pm on 27 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    Why is these issues brought up again and again. I have petition signed by the muslims regarding Niqab.and the reply by Number 10 Downing street.

    The petition
    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Anti-veilban/

    The reply
    http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page22231

    So what does this mean? Double standards????

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  • 128. At 12:26pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    98. At 03:38am on 27 Jan 2010, Friend wrote:

    "
    What a load of nonsense. It's a cover for xenophobia and islamophobia. Period."

    That is your own opinion. You may deal with masked people if you so choose. You are welcome to your own stupidity. I will not deal with people whose faces I cannot see. Period.


    "We live in a world of call centres, shopping by internet ... and lets be honest here... since when did seeing someone's face tell you anything. Is it not the eyes that are the window to the soul?"

    I have no problem with masked people staying at home and doing their business over the internet. I am not dealing with them personally per se. But when it comes to person to person communication I must see the face.


    "Freedom of worship is ok as long as it is not Islamic?"

    Any worship is okay as long as you do not get into my face. If islamic "worship" involves getting into my face and anti social behavior then, no, it is not okay.


    "Freedom to dress however we want is OK as long as it is not Islamic?"

    Freedom to dress as you please but within limits in the public domain. We don't wear bikinis in public places. So too you should not wear masks. If you want to wear bikinis or full body burkha stay within the private domain.


    100. At 05:19am on 27 Jan 2010, SAIF wrote:

    "The fact of all the people around the world is every one is worried that why ISLAM after all fastest growing religion in the world?"

    Stop believing all such rubbish. Islam is not the fastest growing religion. At present it has the highest number of secret apostates. In fact the more people really study islam the more they are turned off.

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  • 129. At 12:26pm on 27 Jan 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    Rocking Mitch (post #119). Whilst I accept your viewpoint, you point out that we should tolerate, which is correct. However, there needs to be toleration on both sides surely or is it always expected that only certain parties need to be tolerant? I see no tolerance when one states that France must abide by God's law and those who dont like it should leave. That isnt tolerance, that is onesided. I see no tolerance when people demonstrate against something by demanding beheadings and death. That is not tolerance. It is time that tolerance was shared on both sides and not one side constantly rolling over to accomodate. That is not racist or Islamaphobic, it is just and reasonable.

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  • 130. At 12:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, Matthew Childs wrote:

    Is it fair to be denied access to your own money in a bank as you have only one peice of valid ID with your photo on, yet someone wearing a veil is allowed to show ID with their Photo on?

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  • 131. At 12:35pm on 27 Jan 2010, piinaar wrote:

    Hi everyone, I am a Turkish muslim woman living in UK, and I can guarantee you there is no such thing in my religion telling woman to wear those headbands or ugly black stuff (burka). I think UK should ban them, especially in young school children. Its not fair to put the young kids in a socially alienating position. Islam is a religion same as the other Abrahamic religions, same creator, same values... so please ignore the human implemented etiquettes because they don't mean any good to anyone.

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  • 132. At 12:43pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    There are some that argue that a woman wears full burkha for spiritual reasons. That is rubbish. Spirituality is about inner self development not outward show. Same goes for a man that concentrates on the appearance of a woman instead of his own self.

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  • 133. At 12:48pm on 27 Jan 2010, Ewar wrote:

    Hoodies are frowned upon and they only seek to hide the face it is not concealed.

    If I started wearing a white smock and a white pointed hat covering the head with two holes in for eye slits I would be arrested.

    I am against it not on a racial issue but general courtesy to all around, when talking to someone facial expressions are an important part of the conversation.

    In this day and age with all the wrong doings that are happening anything to conceal identity can only fuel the debate "what have you got to hide"

    Remove the veil, remove suspition and this would help remove hostility towards you.

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  • 134. At 1:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, htotheb wrote:

    From a few comments on here I have come to understand the term 'fear of what you do not know' in reality. As a muslim my understanding is covering the face and eyes DOES seem excessive, but both MEN AND WOMEN have been asked to dress modestly to preserve not only the respect others may have of you but also self-respect. However I have read that many people think that the burqa is a sign of oppression, why? Because you've seen countless pictures on television of women in Afghanistan during the 'taliban era' and that some reporter told you that they are made to wear it? Have you ever asked a woman donning a burqa if she has been forced/threatened to wear a burqa. Most women will say that they have not been forced but unfortunately we only follow what we are spoon fed.
    If you ban a christian nun from wearing her attire, i would love to see the uproar and digust that would cause however because we are not socially integrating in your eyes so it must be wrong, although we already play an integral role in this country's diverse population which nobody can really doubt. On the other hand for muslims and may other religions, we beleive this life is temporary and to ask someone to compromise a part of THEIR faith for something that is only temporary is slightly unfair. You cannot ask someone to give up their identity just so they look more acceptable to you, yes the headscarf etc is an identity but more importantly for muslims it keeps our modesty intact.
    Any way seeing as freedom of speech and human rights is such a big issue, I would probably see the french violating the human rights act.
    All im really saying is unless it makes any difference to your life expectancy just let people, not only muslims, live the way they want and you can live the way you want, as the Holy Quran states 'To you be your religion and to me my religion'-Chapter Al-Kafirun.

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  • 135. At 1:04pm on 27 Jan 2010, cs wrote:

    What a country this is! We have given everybody too much freedom to the point that anyone could hide behind religous dress and cause an act of terror. We need to ban the Burka and other dress codes/customs from imigrants that may be considered affencive the true British National. After all, imigrants come to the UK for a new life. This means they should fit in with us and not us fit in with them.

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  • 136. At 1:04pm on 27 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    'each man has his own wife'?

    1Co 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have intimate relations with a woman."
    1Co 7:2 But because of the temptation to adultery, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
    1Co 7:3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.

    Here are 'our' social and economic problems summed up very easily. Unless you can ensure that a man can marry and support a family and avoid these 'excesses' then it is storing up trouble.

    We thought that everything would be ok if we let people run away with the bank and deprive everyone else of a fair chance?

    Of course not we pratice discrimination politics and all the rest of it blame is the name of the game. Who did this wrong who did that wrong well is anyone going to do it right?

    Besides that we are against arranged marriages as well but seem to be obsessive matchmakers.

    There isn't a single issue without a thousand combatents with a contrary view.

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  • 137. At 1:05pm on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @122,

    Graeme start the campaign now! As soon as you get majority of the population to support it, then ban it why not? if that is what the society views as the norm!

    But why stop on socks and sandals, go for suits also as well as those "crocks" summer shoes :) of even better leave the "crocks" summer shoes to my campaign.

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  • 138. At 1:16pm on 27 Jan 2010, the art teacher wrote:

    I've spent my whole lunchtime reading this and it's fascinating.

    One thing - isn't Muslim spelt M-U-S-L-I-M and not M-O-S-L-E-M? If this some kind of acceptable variant I apologise.

    To 'U14314013'. Your country sounds great. I'd like to go there. If it was real of course and not a fantasy. There's no country in the world like that.

    As far as I'm concerned this seems pretty simple. You don't legislate on what people can wear, unless it contravenes exisiting law. It's a unneccessary infringement on people's freedom.

    I'm up for limitations, in line with the current restrictions around motorcycle helmets in banks etc. My understanding is this French decision goes further. We can work around that.

    Also, if you think it's gonna stop oppression of women by certain manifestations of Islam - wake up.

    And if you think the West doesn't oppress women - wake up.

    I'm sure some people wear this style of dress as a polical statement. Some people wear it in adherance to one interpretion of the broader practises of Islam. Some people wear it because they think there's more chance of eternal life by doing so. Some people wear it to wind people up. Some people wear it to wind up narrow-minded thinly-veiled (no pun intended) nationalist idiots. Some people wear it because it's cool. Some people wear it because they've converted to Islam later in life and want to immerse themselves in a perception of the associated culture. Some people wear it out of fear. Some people wear it out of a sense of enpowerment. Some people wear it as a demonstration of their commitment to their faith. Some people wear it because they just feel like it.

    I am in favour of all these uses and I'll be damned if I can think of a good reason to stop these garments being worn.

    Seriously, if you're scared or threatened by people wearing burkas....well don't get American Werewolf in London out on DVD. Actually don't watch The Little Mermaid. You'll probably have a coronary.

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  • 139. At 1:22pm on 27 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    ChrisArta (105): The issues ultimately come down to a weighing of the public interest in allowing a given behaviour, against the offense it causes. In the case of the genuine bigot he is, by the very nature of being a bigot, going to take offense, even of the innocent behaviour of whatever groups he bears animosity towards. The fault for the offense lies with the bigot himself, and how can the law protect him from himself?

    You raise a couple of examples; e.g. a genuine Nazi (not Prince Harry) and someone eating bodies as part of their religion. There have been examples of Nazi's in full dress uniform marching in the USA (e.g. Skokie affair). Similar to the Orange marchers in Northern Ireland, there is little doubt that many of the marchers were motivated in large part by the desire to be offensive towards another community. But they were also making a political point and the public good in people being able to express their political opinions (even unpopular ones) in a free society can be judged to outweigh the offence it leads to (especially if the offense can be minimised by having them march outside the community they despise). Now does this mean any degree of offense can be tolerated in the name of expressing one's religious or political opinions? I don't think so. Eating the dead in a public place is going to cause extreme offense to almost everyone who witnesses it, everywhere in the world. Extreme offensiveness borders on an act of violence, and we don't allow that on political or religious grounds. I don't think such extreme offensiveness can ever be compared to seeing a woman in a burka.

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  • 140. At 1:32pm on 27 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Across the thread there is a repeated desire for "immigrants" to integrate and to respect the cultural norms of their new society.

    I have not seen any attempt to address the issue of who shall define cultural norms, or what limits should be placed upon the scope of these definitions. This seems to me to be a fundamental difficulty when defining a cultural identity.

    Celebrating a culture is one thing. Policing adherence to it is quiet another. Anyone can celebrate a culture and enjoy nostalgic pride. No harm is done. But as soon as we authorize a government to police cultural norms, we are dealing with a society that has authorized a minority of party nominated employees to police the freedom of all other participants in the society to change the cultural identity.

    Curiously, this policing on cultural norms is what most westerners find most distressing about theocracy and totalitarian dictatorships. We see the religious police in Iran and Saudi arabia, and we are thankful that we live in a free society, where the police and the priests cannot torture and kill us for displeasing their "visual liberties", as chris put the matter.

    Now cracklite wrote :
    "No need to put words in my mouth Demo, I'm simply talking about adaptability, flexibility, respect of the sensibilities and traditions of the country you live in or visit, I'm even talking about basic courtesy, and I damn well know, and so do you despite your usual à la Marcus provocations, that France is in no way comparable to Qatar "

    I would answer "Not yet." But as soon as france starts authorizing police to enforce norms of cultural identity, it moves significantly closure to the social model you disparage.

    I do not defend the right to wear the burka because I have some love of Islam. I think my contempt for religion is fairly well known on this blog. I defend the right to wear the burka because I have a deep appreciation for human rights, and I believe that a civil society must protect the rights of the individual against the state. People must be free to debate issues of theology and science, and freedom to debate means the freedom to say the wrong thing.

    There can be no such thing as "the right to be offended" by another individuals dress or speech, not if there is to be open debate. This is the wife beaters defense.

    When I was a law student attending court hearings and working with the prisoners legal service, I was astounded to see the self pitying and wholly unrepentant stance adopted by wife beaters. Wife beaters tend not to feel empathy for their victims. What they do is feel sorry for themselves. They all say the same thing.

    "She made me do it." She made me so angry, because of what she said. Or who she spoke to. Or what she wore. Always, it was the wifes' fault for the beating. It was always the wife who was to blame, because she had offended the perpetrator of the violence.

    This is why I say we cannot afford to allow the right to be free from offense to be enshrined in law. The right to be free from offense is the right to stifle debate. If people cannot say the wrong thing, nor can they argue the right thing against a wrong government. As soon as you authorize the police to enforce moral norms, whomsoever is in charge of the police can stifle debate and promote their own moral and political agenda against all opponents.

    Sooner or later, we need to say exactly what the court says to the wife beater: You do not have the right to be free from offense. Nobody owes you satisfaction with the way others behave. All the law can offer you is protection from physical violence.

    This is why this law against the burka is a massive step backwards for french society. It promotes the very dangerous idea that cultural identity can and should be policed in a free society. It cannot. Either we live in a free society, or we have people like Ashot (or much worse) ruling our lives by dictat.

    Now I wish to understand WHY europe has abandoned the devotion to civic freedoms and its healthy distrust of state power.

    Are we really threatened by Islam? Or does our anger stem from other sources?

    I do not believe we would be concerned with Islam if everyone had lower taxes and jobs, and if our pubic institutions were serving us honestly and effectively.

    But that is another debate. This current debate is about the very concept of a cultural identity, and whether it should be the role of police and government to enforce a standard view of that identity.

    As I see so many people demanding that their own view of the "french ideal" be respected by muslims, I can only think of the tar baby fable, and the very bitter irony of the situation.

    Most people like the idea of france because they associate that country with freedom, and the rule of law, and limitations upon the power of the church and state. The irony that it is precisely these things which are abandoned by those who profess to retain them is acute. So is the irony that the popular dislike of Islam is creating a society which more closely resembles a theocratic totalitarian state.

    Lastly, i would observe the idea expressed on this thread that "We need to protect our system from Islam."

    I object to that idea. I do not see any evidence that advanced systems of law and human rights are vulnerable to conquest by intellectually weak systems of theocracy. I do not agree that our grand civilization of law is vulnerable to conquest by Islam.

    However, history does show that secular representative democracy can be undermined from within. Weimar germany was corrupted, lead to war and destroyed by corporate fascism. Freedoms and civil rights were eroded and replaced by totalitarian laws, and corporate control of government became absolute and wholly destructive.

    If we lose our freedoms in the west, it will not because of a few Islamic priests hiding out in the caves of central asia. It will be because our own society was corrupted from within, and because our governments, our lawyers and our journalists failed to protect us from the hatred and divisive fascism of our times.

    Ashot deplores the horrible black robes of the muslim women, and prefers the colourful robes of the african women. For myself, I am concerned by the all black uniforms of the stormtroopers who represent the state. These men grow in number, and their weapons are increasingly aimed at their own civilian populations.

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  • 141. At 1:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, prospero11 wrote:

    Absolutely.The British government should ban the burka.In fact,It should never have been permitted or accepted in this country.Every time i see a woman wearing the burka,i feel 1.-her independant rights have been taken away from her,2-That the movement that enforces this is motivated by simply extreme posessiveness and jealousy masquaraded as religious reasons.(Nothing quoted from any religious liturature can justify the blatant abuse apparent here)3-That she has been conditioned to believe wearing the burka is for the best.and 4-Why has the British government not recognised the infringement of liberty of expression when it is presented as a religious practice. ?? Are there actually people -who have permiated the government who think it a valid practice?

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  • 142. At 1:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maj wrote:

    From GlasgowGooner;

    " I dont see the problem with the wearing of any headscarves.

    * We're not talking about headscarves - we're talking about the niqab and burqa.

    These women are of no threat to the public.

    * How do you know that? They could be carrying anything under those robes! I've seen a few stopped in M&S Marble Arch, and they've had half the lingerie department under there - and no, I don't mean they were wearing said garments!

    One of the thugs who murdered Sharon Beshenivsky escaped while wearing a burqa - 'nuf said."

    Thanks for rectifying the word headscarves, when infact the niqab and the burka both have headscarves in them. I'm sure you and everyone knew what I meant.

    As for your example of crime commited wearing niqabs or burkas. There are millions of crimes committed wearing all sorts of clothing. Should we ban every item of clothing that has the most isolate link to a crime. If we use your theory for banning the Burka and Niqab, we shall also use your theory to ban hoodies, hats, balaclavas etc. Im pretty sure more crime is commited wearing those garments than Burkas or Niqabs. What a stupid comment -'nuf said.

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  • 143. At 2:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, NHJ wrote:

    I feel the 'all-perfect' Europe is letting us down again. It is my personal opinion that we live in a delusion, we have continuously thought of ourselves as the 'best of the world', a model to everyone. This is not to our benefit and no one else's benefit in the world.
    Invasion, oppression and killing in the name of 'freedom' - we did it too and quite well, let's not forget.

    If Europe particularly stands for freedom and it should not be telling m people what they ought to, whether for religious reasons or otherwise. This is what Europe is. When we start over-regulating things it is the end of our freedom, of yours and mine. We are adults and can go about our things as long as we don't hurt anyone around us. The state should not prescribe what you or I should wear or think or say.

    Even if we disagree, we always have to discuss matters. It is basic human condition not to understand each other, however, we do not have to keep perpetuating our mistakes or the mistakes the previous generations made.
    Has anyone you seen 'Muslim driving school'? Has any of you, who agree with banning the veil known or talked to Muslims? Women, children, or men? Why not try to be more documented? After all Muslims are not all 'black tent' wearing figures, just as non-Muslims are not all vulgar and irrational brags who think they always know best in everything.

    The veil wearers do not threaten me.
    However some 'western' attitudes do threaten me and disappoint me, especially when some great countries support(ed) dictatorship and oppression while preaching about human rights and the defence of universal freedom. Any rational being who would look into our history would crawl with laugther. Let's not kid ourselves. We are all human after all. Nobody is 'more human' than the other and there is no reason to make generalization about a certain group of people.
    It looks like we are still in nursery...



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  • 144. At 2:18pm on 27 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    Politethinktank @127,

    What I would like to know is, how many of the ‘too many’ signatories to the petition were burqa-ned women, who voluntarily* expressed their wish to continue wearing it?

    *voluntarily= without being 'lovingly' nudged forward by their male relatives

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  • 145. At 2:28pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    134. At 1:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, htotheb wrote:
    "Have you ever asked a woman donning a burqa if she has been forced/threatened to wear a burqa."

    I have. I know women who are forced to wear it and hate it.

    "Most women will say that they have not been forced but unfortunately we only follow what we are spoon fed."

    Same as those women who are wear it do it because they are brainwashed and spoon fed into it.

    "On the other hand for muslims and may other religions, we beleive this life is temporary and to ask someone to compromise a part of THEIR faith for something that is only temporary is slightly unfair."

    We all have religious beliefs but followers of other religions know the difference between public domain and private domain. To us religion is something personal in nature and we don't need an outward show to proclaim our religiosity.

    "You cannot ask someone to give up their identity just so they look more acceptable to you, yes the headscarf etc is an identity but more importantly for muslims it keeps our modesty intact."

    Nobody is asking for muslims to give up headscarfs. Wear the headscarfs, not the face masks. In fact, you are giving up your identity by wearing the face masks.

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  • 146. At 2:38pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    142. At 1:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maj wrote:

    "As for your example of crime commited wearing niqabs or burkas. There are millions of crimes committed wearing all sorts of clothing. Should we ban every item of clothing that has the most isolate link to a crime. "

    Stupid argument. There are plenty of cases where criminals try to hide their identity behind masks. So yes, face masks should be banned. If you are not a criminal and have nothing to hide, show your face.

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  • 147. At 2:48pm on 27 Jan 2010, Jeremy P wrote:

    I honestly don't care what motivates women to put on this attire. Why should I? I don't care what motivates a man to put on a white robe and pointy-headed mask, because his motivations don't change what this symbolizes for me and a lot of other people. These are offensive symbols of hate and disdain, and I refuse to be "tolerant" of such things. Take them off in public or you should be forced to by the state.

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  • 148. At 2:51pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    143. At 2:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, NHJ wrote:

    "If Europe particularly stands for freedom and it should not be telling m people what they ought to, whether for religious reasons or otherwise. This is what Europe is. When we start over-regulating things it is the end of our freedom, of yours and mine. We are adults and can go about our things as long as we don't hurt anyone around us."

    Every society has the right to regulate behavior according to social needs. EU is no exception. Why do we not allow bikinis in parliament? Because of our sense of decency and decorum. The current social need is for everyone in the public domain to be identified. So let everyone show their faces. Religions have no place in the public domain and if your religion does not allow you to show your face when you are in public arenas, better stay at home

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  • 149. At 3:00pm on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    General remarks:

    a) What harm is to a burka wearing woman is she doesn't wear one?


    b) How is ones human rights violated if they are required to show their faces?

    c) Does a society has any rights to make laws that serve that society?

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  • 150. At 3:12pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    People should be allowed to wear what they want, as long as they don’t offend decency laws. Be it Pink hair, Mohicans, nose studs, tattoos, miniskirts, saris, shell suits, mufflers covering their mouths in the cold, head scarves (hijab), veil (Niqab) or full head covering (Burqa).

    This also applies to crucifixes worn by nurses or BA airline staff, turbans worn by Sikhs, robes worn by Nuns and Priests etc.

    A requirement of a free society is that we apply the same freedoms to others as we want for ourselves.

    I understand sensible requirements that the face be shown at airport passport control (as it seems do many Muslims also) etc; just as it is sensible to ask people to remove anything worn on a chain around the neck, such as a crucifix, if working bending over a conveyer belt or machinery in a factory.

    As for the argument that it is impossible to hold a conversation with someone whose face is covered; then it’s an absolute miracle that the telephone has became popular as it has, isn’t it?

    Most people speaking over the phone can tell if the other person is happy, sad, stressed, angry or even amorous; and all without seeing the other person’s face.

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  • 151. At 3:13pm on 27 Jan 2010, Ewar wrote:

    If it's not antagonistic why did the wearing of the burka go up 10 fold when Jack Straw condemed it in Bolton.

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  • 152. At 3:13pm on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @147,

    Very good point!

    I don't understand why tolerance if only expected from you towards people wearing that sort of clothing, while they are not required to show tolerance towards you. No one can explain that, everyone comes back with either "personal freedom" or "anti-islam", tolerance goes out the window then

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  • 153. At 3:35pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Tolerance of intolerance is what?

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  • 154. At 3:37pm on 27 Jan 2010, D Dortman wrote:

    48. At 6:21pm on 26 Jan 2010, Minkul Alam wrote:

    What would be the reaction of Christian counties & international Media, if any Muslim country imposes such oppression on Non-Muslim peoples ??

    -------------------------------------------------------------------


    Interestingly here in the UK most of the cases where religious paraphernalia is successfully banned tend to be Christian symbols being banned. Which I guess shows how bizarre the UK is and where "oppression" tends to fall here these days.

    Although, of course, it is illegal to convert from Islam in many countries which is probably a little worse than someone trying to ban an item of clothing.

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  • 155. At 3:38pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    150. At 3:12pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    "People should be allowed to wear what they want, as long as they don’t offend decency laws. Be it Pink hair, Mohicans, nose studs, tattoos, miniskirts, saris, shell suits, mufflers covering their mouths in the cold, head scarves (hijab), veil (Niqab) or full head covering (Burqa)"

    Provided their faces are seen.


    "A requirement of a free society is that we apply the same freedoms to others as we want for ourselves"

    Sure. I won't hide my face either.

    "As for the argument that it is impossible to hold a conversation with someone whose face is covered; then it’s an absolute miracle that the telephone has became popular as it has, isn’t it?"

    In a person to person communication seeing the face expressions are important. Telephonic conversations are usually never complete (unless you already have seen and know the person) and it usually results in an agreement to meet face to face (except for the unimportant mundane stuff). I would never buy a house from a realtor over the telephone, would you? Same goes with internet communication. Important things you do it only as a one one one (or after your have met the person and formed your opinion..

    "Most people speaking over the phone can tell if the other person is happy, sad, stressed, angry or even amorous; and all without seeing the other person’s face"
    Not necessarily. Over the telephone you will be able to tell only extremes of emotion. You won't be able to tell if the person is stressed, distressed etc. especially if the person has control over their voices. Why go to such lengths anyway? If you believe in a God you must know that God made human face very expressive for a reason.

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  • 156. At 3:43pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    Not to mention that for the hearing impaired you are actually taking away an important means of communication. That is a direct assault on human rights. Also consider the case of people who are not easily conversant in any particular language as you. In those cases, the face expressions and hand gestures are used to help communication.

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  • 157. At 4:04pm on 27 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    janaki wrote:
    "Not to mention that for the hearing impaired you are actually taking away an important means of communication. That is a direct assault on human rights."

    With respect, this is a direct assault on common sense.

    One doesn't have fundamental rights to be pleased, or informed by everyone else of their body language, or of visual satisfaction.

    In any case, I am satisfied that the overwhelming sentiment expressed on this thread is anger. Anger and intolerance.

    It seems the vast majority of folks are pleased to see the state inherit more power to punish minorities.

    This is where Europe is at.

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  • 158. At 4:06pm on 27 Jan 2010, incandescentsmile wrote:

    This debate is going to go on for a long, long time – a compromise will hopefully be reached, but dealing with two extremely different cultural perspectives is never going to be resolved easily. I'm English, have lived in England all my life, and i'm a woman, therefore, due to my cultural background, i see the burka as a misogynistic symbol of a society that does not value women as much as it does men. It turns women into a symbol - much like the Christian idea of "original sin", it teaches women to be ashamed of themselves and their bodies, because we are a "temptation". In attempting to desexualise women, it does the very opposite - it draws attention to the difference between men and women, casting women in the role of sexual object that creates desire in men, distracting them from their faith and worship, and therefore needing to be completely covered. It blames women for something they can't help - for inspiring an emotion that is totally irreligious, but totally natural. It stifles personality and individuality as well as sexuality.

    At least that's my opinion. However, people brought up in a culture in which the burka is the norm will most likely see things completely differently. I understand that many women who wear the burka do so because it is a visual indication of their devotion to Islam - they are proud of their faith, and, of course, there's nothing wrong with that. One must wonder, though, how many women wear the burka under duress? Also (to lower the tone - but really, this is a pertinent issue) why should women be allowed to wear the burka in such places as schools, shopping centres etc. where one would not be able to wear a balaclava or hooded top for security reasons?

    Despite this, though, it's just an item of clothing, and it would seem extremely drastic on the part of the government to ban it altogether - many women coming over from certain Middle Eastern countries that are torn by conflict no doubt feel much happier for the freedom they have gained in our society. For the government, then, to start outlawing certain pieces of clothing seems to really send out the wrong messages, doesn't it? The burka may be seen as a symbol of oppression - but what is the greater oppression: having the choice to wear an oppressive, belittling garment, or not having the freedom to practice one's faith in the manner one wishes to?

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  • 159. At 4:17pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    “Provided their faces are seen.

    ‘A requirement of a free society is that we apply the same freedoms to others as we want for ourselves’

    Sure. I won't hide my face either.” #155

    A straw man argument; you’re setting the pre-requisite outcome that you want. e.g. I’m Catholic, you can be a Catholic too. See, equality!”
    No, that’s not what true freedom means.

    If I want the freedom to dress how I want (regardless of what any fashion police say) outside of work, then I have to allow that freedom to others (provided decency laws aren’t broken; which few except the naked rambler seem to want to break anyway) and that includes covering the face or part thereof.

    “You won't be able to tell if the person is stressed, distressed etc. especially if the person has control over their voices.” #155

    If someone has self control then they can be very good at masking their feelings regardless of whether their face is covered or not; the police meet many good liars every day; many adulterous spouses successfully cover their true feelings from their partners day after day.

    But as anyone who has worked on a telephone counselling service can tell you, they usually can tell the underlying emotions of the person they’re talking to, even if they’ll never meet face to face. And most people who use the telephone regularly as part of their work are very good at picking up on the moods and emotions of those they speak to.

    “If you believe in a God…” #155

    Personally, I’m unconvinced...

    “…you must know that God made human faces very expressive for a reason.” #155

    Faces may be expressive, but many people are also very good at keeping an impassive face (managers giving bad news for example).
    The face (nor the eyes or hands) isn’t necessarily the mirror of the soul.
    Nor is it necessary to see a face to have a conversation.

    Be honest. How many Burqa wearing women have you tried talking to, or are likely to talk to, in your lifetime?

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  • 160. At 4:19pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    157. At 4:04pm on 27 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "With respect, this is a direct assault on common sense.

    One doesn't have fundamental rights to be pleased, or informed by everyone else of their body language, or of visual satisfaction."

    People in the public domain have the right to demand to see those whom they have to communicate with. It is the fundamental right of a person to choose the means of communication - language, facial expressions, hand gestures etc. And in case of the physically handicapped it is against human rights to deny them the means of communication that they have.



    158. At 4:06pm on 27 Jan 2010, incandescentsmile wrote:

    "The burka may be seen as a symbol of oppression - but what is the greater oppression: having the choice to wear an oppressive, belittling garment, or not having the freedom to practice one's faith in the manner one wishes to?"

    People should not be allowed to practice their faith as they want. If they did we would have to accept cannibalism, honor deaths, female mutilation, child marriage etc.

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  • 161. At 4:36pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    159. At 4:17pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    "A straw man argument; you’re setting the pre-requisite outcome that you want. e.g. I’m Catholic, you can be a Catholic too. See, equality!”
    No, that’s not what true freedom means."

    There is no such thing as "true freedom". We are none of us free to do anything we want. The question is do we have the same rights? Is the ruling on face masks going to be different for a catholic or muslims, for a woman or a man? No.

    "If I want the freedom to dress how I want (regardless of what any fashion police say) outside of work, then I have to allow that freedom to others (provided decency laws aren’t broken; which few except the naked rambler seem to want to break anyway) and that includes covering the face or part thereof."

    Why do you add the stricture on decency? I don't consider nudity indecent. So what about my rights to walk in the buff. The answer is - I have that right in private domain. In public domain I follow certain norms that are decided based on public interests.

    "
    But as anyone who has worked on a telephone counselling service can tell you, they usually can tell the underlying emotions of the person they’re talking to, even if they’ll never meet face to face. "

    I have worked with customers over the phone. A telephonic conversation is never as good as a face to face and you can never judge outcome based on that.


    "Faces may be expressive, but many people are also very good at keeping an impassive face (managers giving bad news for example).
    The face (nor the eyes or hands) isn’t necessarily the mirror of the soul.
    Nor is it necessary to see a face to have a conversation."

    That is your opinion. For me and many others some part of our work skills depends upon reading the face (including impassive managers. Actually there will be some small thing which will betray them)

    "Be honest. How many Burqa wearing women have you tried talking to, or are likely to talk to, in your lifetime?"

    Quite a few. Be honest. Why do you want muslim women to wear the veil? Do you wear a veil? If you are a man, why don't you wear a veil?

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  • 162. At 4:36pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Who the heck referred my comment to the moderators?

    Speak out now you coward!

    This was my comment: "What do you call the tolerance of intolerance?"

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  • 163. At 4:45pm on 27 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    a) What harm is to a burka wearing woman is she doesn't wear one?

    Islam is based on the worship of the one god. Conviction in faith will make a person to follow a religion to its fullest. Statically you can look at those countries where women wear burka these countries sexual violence, rape, teasing and you name it are the least found. Women feel more secure.

    Also chastity of a women is maintained meaning she is devoted to one husband. Above all there is spiritual reward for her in the live after death, which a person outside the religion may fail to understand.

    b) How is ones human rights violated if they are required to show their faces?

    Violation of choice to wear a clothing of choice.

    c) Does a society has any rights to make laws that serve that society?

    Whatever rules which ever society may make, it will remain just a rule in law books if those who it is intented for will not follow the rule. Then the society can have the joy of success aganist a minority part of society of having made a law. But nothing will change.

    In this case it will make these muslims stronger in faith.

    REMEMBER ALWAYS "STRUGGLE MAKES A PERSON STRONGER IN FAITH".

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  • 164. At 5:15pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    I don't know why #160 was referred to moderators. I will try again


    158. At 4:06pm on 27 Jan 2010, incandescentsmile wrote:
    "but what is the greater oppression: having the choice to wear an oppressive, belittling garment, or not having the freedom to practice one's faith in the manner one wishes to?"

    Everyone should not have the freedom to practice their faith as they wish. If they did child marriages would be okay, wife burning would be okay, female genital mutilation would be okay etc. In general, what one practices in private is their business. But there are norms in the public domain that the society has the right to insist upon.

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  • 165. At 5:25pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    163. At 4:45pm on 27 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:


    "Islam is based on the worship of the one god. Conviction in faith will make a person to follow a religion to its fullest. Statically you can look at those countries where women wear burka these countries sexual violence, rape, teasing and you name it are the least found. Women feel more secure."

    Not true. Rape happens a lot in muslim countries. They are underreported because of the fear that they could be tried under adultery laws. Also, why shouls a woman be forced to wear a full burka simply because men do not have self control

    "Also chastity of a women is maintained meaning she is devoted to one husband. Above all there is spiritual reward for her in the live after death, which a person outside the religion may fail to understand."

    This is the type of brainwashing that muslim women go through. Chastity for a woman? And this is not chauvinitic oppression? How about chasity for a man. How is the husband going to maintain his chastity. He should also cover his face.

    "Violation of choice to wear a clothing of choice."

    Wear what you want but show your face. If you do not want to, stay out of public domain. Very simple.

    "In this case it will make these muslims stronger in faith."

    It only will only make one good at outward show which has very little to do with inner spirituality

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  • 166. At 5:32pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    157. At 4:04pm on 27 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:


    "With respect, this is a direct assault on common sense.

    One doesn't have fundamental rights to be pleased, or informed by everyone else of their body language, or of visual satisfaction."

    Removing from the physically handicapped their only means of communication is not an assault on human rights? I hope that at least you will agree that I have the fundamental right to refuse to communicate in the public domain with one whose face I cannot see.

    "In any case, I am satisfied that the overwhelming sentiment expressed on this thread is anger. Anger and intolerance."

    Yes, anger and intolerance towards the rights of society to make laws that are judged good for society. Intolerance to security requirements requiring identification in public domain. Intolerance to a woman's face that one needs to hide it.

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  • 167. At 5:49pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    “Be honest. Why do you want Muslim women to wear the veil? Do you wear a veil? If you are a man, why don't you wear a veil?” #161

    I believe in freedom.
    Lets’ look at three approaches to the issue of how a society can respond to religious differences. (As you might have gathered from the above I am non-religious.)

    1) We could take the view that any and all faith and faiths are dangerous, divisive superstition. No good can come of it so it must be chased from the public sphere, confined solely to a place of worship or the home. As an extreme measure it must be eradicated completely.
    An extreme example would be Stalin‘s Russia or Mao’s China.

    2) Or, we could take the opposite approach and elevate a single approved faith to the point of dominant status over all other belief systems and weave it into the legal, political and social system, every sphere of public life and as much of private life as possible.
    An extreme example might be Afghanistan under the Taliban; a slightly more moderate one (only just), Britain during Cromwell’s Puritan Commonwealth.

    3) However, if we really believe in true freedom of thought, conscience and religion, this must include the right to hold a faith or belief of one’s choice, the right to have no faith or beliefs and to allow people to follow their individual conscience.

    Everyone should have freedom of thought, conscience and religion as long as they do not harm others; and regardless of your faith, or none, the law should protect a person’s right to wear its symbols as long as they do not harm others. (That includes the BA worker sacked for wearing a crucifix BTW.)

    As for the issue of harm. There is a major difference between being offended by something and being actually harmed.
    I have been called a few offensive things in my time; but it is up to me whether or not to take offence at them; even if I choose to take offence I still haven’t actually been physically or materially harmed. Sticks and stones and all that.

    The same goes for others wearing something you find offensive; offense is a very personal, subjective opinion.
    Start compiling lists of things one section o society doesn’t like seeing people wearing and you suddenly find it becomes a very long list indeed.
    Swastika tattoos, girls in miniskirts wearing thongs, men with long-hair, dreadlocks, skull caps, druid robes, tweed suits – whatever your personal prejudices are – and it depends upon which group of people have that power (and desire) to compile such lists.

    The issue isn’t about whether or not I want to wear a veil, priest’s robes, dreadlocks or whatever.

    It is about whether I believe we should all live in a free society or a totalitarian one?

    I believe in a free society, and that means accommodating differences between people.

    As for the argument about child marriages, wife burning, female genital mutilation etc. #164.
    The above all involve someone harming a second party; an offence (harm) is committed against another person.
    The freedom to dress as one wants doesn’t involve an act that causes an actual harm against another person.

    As for any argument along the lines that banning Burqas will liberate women.

    Even the most looney feminists never argued for forcing all women to dress in a particular way, and to send them to court and prison if they don’t comply, in order to liberate them.

    If that line of thinking reminds me of anything it’s of Mao and Stalin and their ideas on ‘political re-education’.

    Right, time to go and catch the bus now.

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  • 168. At 5:51pm on 27 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    Janaki 165 wrote: Not true. Rape happens a lot in muslim countries. They are underreported because of the fear that they could be tried under adultery laws.

    I didn't say rape doesnot take place in muslim countries. But it is considerably less in those place where women are practising the viel or hijab.

    Janaki 165 wrote: why should a woman be forced to wear a full burka simply because men do not have self control

    That's where you have got it wrong. Women dont wear burqa because men dont have self control or they are forced to. It is avoid the unecessary relationship which can lead to having affairs, extra marital sexual relationship.

    It is not just muslim who practise covering up, even christian nuns in many countries have most of their body covered including their hair. Is it because men dont have self control?

    Janaki 165 wrote: How about chasity for a man. How is the husband going to maintain his chastity. He should also cover his face.

    Islam ask men and women to wear dress of modesty and also to lower your gazes. This done by practising muslims of today. This creates true dedication to ones own spouse nad purity of heart, which cannot be understood by those who are not having faith in islam.

    Janaki 165 wrote: Wear what you want but show your face. If you do not want to, stay out of public domain. Very simple.

    So the veil is not a piece of clothing. Stay out of public domain for wearing a piece of cloth to cover you face. I thought you were talking about human rights in your comments...........

    Janaki 165 wrote: It only will only make one good at outward show which has very little to do with inner spirituality

    The outward expression whether it be spiritual, cultural, musical,you name it....is the expression of the inner self. The inner and outer spirituality are strongly connected in islam.

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  • 169. At 5:54pm on 27 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    It is very interesting how often the phrase ‘personal choice’ is brandied about by the proponents of the veil. ‘But it is the woman’s personal choice!’ they proclaim, ‘It is her right, her freedom! For God’s sake, think of her freedom!’
    Where this becomes tragicomical is the fact that it is always (ALWAYS!) a personal choice, when the question is about heaping even more restrictions on women in islam. It is never a personal choice when it is about the freedom to wear western clothes, or for a woman to go to a mosque whenever she wants, wearing what she wants. No, in those cases it is the islamic way and the all-pervading ‘wisdom’ of the koran which matter, and there is no room for any personal choice or freedom. But just you try suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the wearing of burqa is not all it is hyped to be by the imams, and you immediately get the same old imams frothing at the mouth about personal choice, freedom and human rights!

    What the burqa apologists fail to understand is that in a modern secular society there is indeed the right of personal choice and personal freedom, but only when the choices and freedoms of the individual are themselves consistent with the notion of individual freedom. To put it straight- you are free, but you are not free to chose to become un-free. You have the right to decide for yourself, but you do not have the right to decide for yourself that you do not want your right to decide for yourself. The universal human rights apply to everyone, but they do not give anyone the right to relinquish for themselves the very same universal human rights. In a modern secular society no one will be given the freedom to become a slave to other people, be it because of personal choice. No one will be given the freedom to disfigure themselves so as to make themselves more unattractive to rapists. Therefore I cannot understand why a garment which restricts personal freedoms should be tolerated. The burqa restricts the wearer from a normal human contact with others, locking them in an world of isolation, where even the thought of engaging in conversation with a non-related man, let alone a non-related non-muslim man, is branded as unacceptable. Such self-restricting practices must be actively discouraged, as they are clearly inconsistent with the notion of personal freedom.

    That said, an outright ban on the veil might not be the best answer. Ban something and you get people doing it just out of spite, regardless of the consequences for themselves. What cannot be achieved by a ban however, can be achieved by the strength of public disapproval. Unfortunately, this is precisely where Britain in particular has been severely failing. The all-pervading political correctness has ensured that people, who are very much against the medieval practices of islam and other religious, have been left unable to express their opinion out of fear of being branded racist. Teachers are not allowed to question the foolishness of covering the heads of girls as young as ten, when they attend schools. Comedians have been discouraged from exposing the falsities in the teachings of some so-called religious ‘leaders’. Publishing of cartoons in newspapers have been suppressed. Out of fear of offending. Out of fear that the person who dares to speak would be called a racist, a bigot and intolerant. That is why we have women who delude themselves that they want to wear the veil. Because no one will dare show them how laughable such an act is.
    Allow us to laugh again at the ‘wisdom’ contained in religious books. Allow us to laugh at the stupid practices, which are still carried away under then thin guise of religious freedom. Allow us that and you will see how less threatening the islamist cause will begin to appear. No one is scared of something which they can make fun of.

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  • 170. At 5:58pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Bottom line is: These are European lands. You want to live here and be accepted? Adapt European habits. Sounds harsh? It only is if you don't.

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  • 171. At 6:32pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    167. At 5:49pm on 27 Jan 2010, SheffTim wrote:

    Modern democratic societies are more of a mixture between 1 and 3. Everyone has a right to their own faith and beliefs in their private lives. But while individuals may have the right to their private beliefs neither the government nor the anyone may force that belief on public. From time to time governments may make laws for the benefit of society and for the security of the citizens. They also have the right to ensure that religion stays out of the public domain. Asking everyone to show their faces in public domain does not interfere in an individual's belief in any way.


    "The issue isn’t about whether or not I want to wear a veil, priest’s robes, dreadlocks or whatever.
    It is about whether I believe we should all live in a free society or a totalitarian one?"

    It is not all or nothing, totally black or white. We live in a reasonably free societies following certain laws.


    "As for the argument about child marriages, wife burning, female genital mutilation etc. #164.
    The above all involve someone harming a second party; an offence (harm) is committed against another person.
    The freedom to dress as one wants doesn’t involve an act that causes an actual harm against another person."

    The same argument can be used by practitioners of child marriage to say that it did not harm the child, so it is okay. Or someone could claim that suicides based on a religious belief is okay as it was the individual's choice and did not harm anyone else.. But we do not accept that, do we? We do not allow those kind of acts to hide behind the cloak of "religious beliefs".
    Completely covering one's face, I opine, is harmful both for the masked person as well as for onlookers who now do not know who the masked person is. It messes up communication, makes it difficult in witness type of situations, even brings about security questions.


    "As for any argument along the lines that banning Burqas will liberate women.

    Even the most looney feminists never argued for forcing all women to dress in a particular way, and to send them to court and prison if they don’t comply, in order to liberate them."

    Feminists are no loonier than chauvinistic men or religious men. Nobody is asked to conform to a particular dress, only to show their faces in the public domain.

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  • 172. At 6:53pm on 27 Jan 2010, Just A Guy wrote:


    I wrote a long text yesterday and it vanished in thin cyber-air.

    I am glad to see comment 84 from Alan (or Alain ?)

    Finally someone from France or leaving in France as I do since 15 years or so who has (obviously) a different thing to say than discussing women rights, western morals, western culture, and all that defended and discussed ad nauseam by the rest (not that it is not important but the debate is elsewhere)

    Thank you Alain for your message but spare your "salive" as only people with interest for true reflexion beyond media-manipulated information, global politics and internet scam, *leaving in France*, can really see beyond. Otherwise, it's as if "they" were actually wearing the very same veil they damn but on their brains.

    As you, I cannot imagine a law against jews or christians, not in France.

    For the record: I am catholic, educated in a fundamentalist school (Opus Dei) and lived out of my native country for half of my life. This has given me the gift of (at least) realising that peoples are different all over the world but even people within relatively small geographic regions. In that respect, it's a human duty to try to understand others' morals, cultures, traditions, values, etc. before making statements about right and wrong ... evil and good, wearing or not a veil and the reasons, the real ones underlying so hidden may be.

    Again, thanks Alan.

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  • 173. At 7:05pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    168. At 5:51pm on 27 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    "I didn't say rape does not take place in muslim countries. But it is considerably less in those place where women are practising the viel or hijab."

    You cannot say that because sexual crimes are under reported in muslim countries (and this is as per reports from UN groups and womens groups in muslim countries). And in any case, the problem is not unveiled women but unruly men. Men should learn to respect women, not force them to hide their faces.

    "That's where you have got it wrong. Women dont wear burqa because men dont have self control or they are forced to. It is avoid the unecessary relationship which can lead to having affairs, extra marital sexual relationship."

    Again you are talking about people not having self control and trying to instead control women. Weak minded people will have affairs with or without the woman's burqa. Read about this man - http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g3731TfG93CY3jqUhu7h0et2Z2jg
    Nobody would have known his affairs if he had not boasted about it on TV. Note that he conducted his "activities" in a country where burka is enforced on all women. So women wearing burkha did not teach him self control. Or perhaps it was because he was not wearing the burkha himself? Maybe it is time to enforce the full body veil for men too?

    "Islam ask men and women to wear dress of modesty and also to lower your gazes. This done by practising muslims of today. This creates true dedication to ones own spouse nad purity of heart, which cannot be understood by those who are not having faith in islam."

    Every religion asks people to dress modestly. I have no problem with that or with head covering (provided it is an individual's choice. For myself I would ignore all religious edicts). I have a problem with face covering. You have not answered my question. If women are to to maintain their modesty by covering their face, why are muslim men not covering their face to maintain their modesty.

    "So the veil is not a piece of clothing. Stay out of public domain for wearing a piece of cloth to cover you face. I thought you were talking about human rights in your comments..........."

    In the public domain you must be identifiable. In the public domain you must follow public laws. The public have the right to demand that. If you do not want to follow this simple rule then you must stay at home or in private domains where you do not have to follow public laws. Same as I do not walk in a bikini in a public library or parliament. If I want to walk in a bikini I go to private places.

    "The outward expression whether it be spiritual, cultural, musical,you name it....is the expression of the inner self. The inner and outer spirituality are strongly connected in islam."

    By making a show of strumming a guitar you will not become a musician. By focusing on the external garments you will not find inner spirituality and when you become a spiritual person external appearances are immaterial.

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  • 174. At 7:20pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    169. At 5:54pm on 27 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    Very eloquently put.

    If free speech rights were to be strengthened, then ridiculing bad r silly practices may serve as well or better than an outright ban.

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  • 175. At 7:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    #162
    tototolerant?

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  • 176. At 7:58pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    politethinktank (and others):

    Now the imam that supports the veil ban is being targeted. Who attacked the imam? Bunch of male hooligans who want to control women or is this a "spiritual" movement launched by veiled women out of their own free will? http://bigpondnews.com/articles/World/2010/01/27/Anti-veil_imam_threatened_in_Paris_421889.html
    Externalizing of inner spirituality, do you think?

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  • 177. At 8:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Just a guy,

    you said a lot but didn't say anything.

    What was your point?

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  • 178. At 8:03pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    #175

    good idea. I'd make it double "o", though. -> tootootolerant

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  • 179. At 8:34pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 140, "democracythreat": You ask, appropriately enough, "Who defines cultural norms?"

    As a cultural historian, I am well-qualified to offer an answer.

    The word "culture" is often interpreted as being rooted somehow in "cult." That is a misperception. Culture is actually what grows up organically -- much as with agriculture, horticulture, i.e. as a result of Cultivation, meaning Active Encouragement and Nurturing -- in a society over time, in terms of values, artifacts, customs, guiding principles, prevailing beliefs or preferences, cherished ideas.

    Culture always implies growth; that concept is central to the semantic core of the word. And growth means change, naturally enough: it means development.

    When we plant a seed, it grows into a plant according to many stages. But it is still the same plant that corresponds to the original seed; it is an integral living system, complete with roots and future progeny. So also with Culture.

    The change that happens, that is utterly ineluctable, ab ovo, is change that nevertheless is completely & indelibly imprinted with the characteristics of the original seed, and consistent with its traits, its ultimate biological purpose. You cannot plant a grape seed and have a cactus grow out of it. You cannot plant a rosebush and harvest avocados from it.

    So, when we speak of "cultural norms," even though the term may seem fluid, resistant to being pinned down, it is actually completely clear. The "norms" of a culture -- and different cultures certainly have different norms, even if they are related -- are those core principles with which a very strong majority of the population native to that culture, or completely (100%) assimilated to it, firmly identifies. They do exist.

    In many parts of the world, notably in the Muslim society currently being discussed, there is a preference to have male elders of some religious stripe pontificate on "cultural norms." We have seen a lot of that here in this debate.

    It is wrong to assert that "cultural norms" are determined by clerics, sages, elders, males, royal houses, majority political parties or academics. We all, in fact, shape the cultural norms of our time and place. But if you happen to belong to a minority -- let us consider the plight of Darwinists in the UK: even though they have a high regard for themselves, and are accorded respect, they are a minority opinion when it comes to the overriding conviction of most people alive today that God actually exists and had something to do with who we are, how we look and how we develop -- while your minority norms may have a place to adhere to, within the culture you inhabit, they will not be a perfect match to the sovereign norms that are in effect because an Overriding Majority of the people living at the time, in a given place, firmly believe them to be precious and worth defending.

    In the UK, all kinds of faiths coexist and a rejection of faith entirely is also accepted as a perfectly valid choice for a citizen to make. Yet the prevailing cultural norm is to exempt people from work on Sundays, so they may attend church -- even if they do not attend church at all; it is to accept that Jewish people mark the sabbath on Saturday, and so everyone understands that Saturday is also a day off, and sacred, for many citizens and their friends. But even though we have a significant number of Muslims in the UK, Friday is not commonly recognised, by the cultural norms, as a day that people can take off from work, so that they can attend the mosque.

    Fridays are holy to Muslims. If you are a Muslim owner of a business, you may decide to give your Muslim employees Friday as a free day, and expect them to work on Sunday instead. Or if you are a Muslim who can afford to plan your own week, you may choose to free yourself on Friday. But it is not a cultural norm for the UK to have Fridays generally recognised as a day free from work, or as part of the week-end on most weeks.

    Now, it might happen that for reasons having nothing to do with religion (for example, environmental concerns and a desire to reduce urban congestion), the UK opts to move towards a four-day work week. In that case, many more Britons might get Friday as the day off. Some may get Monday as a day off.

    That would be a change in the cultural norm. It might benefit and please many Muslims, but it is unlikely that the religious idea of Fridays as holy would be the driving force behind such a change. That is because the cultural norm for the UK is still that work obligations trump virtually all religious observance, for all kinds of reasons, and for most of the people who live here (regardless of faith or lack thereof).

    At the same time, it is a cultural norm that we do not work seven days out of seven. It is also a cultural norm that December 25th and 26th are sacred holidays -- sacred in the sense no one would dream of abolishing the national days off, since Cromwell's time. It is a broader cultural norm, shared with other cultures which do not regard Dec. 25 as a holiday, that no worker can be expected to work 365 days out of a year.

    Cultural norms do change -- but they always have roots in the history & traditions & yes, the religious ideas, that forged a population into a people, a nation, a sovereign state.

    They do change. When enough people in Western countries shaped by Christian traditions came to the consensus that it was unnecessary to persecute gay people for private consensual acts between adults, attitudes to homosexuality shifted, laws were rewritten and abolished -- and cultural norms about gays grew rather quickly into something that contrasted strongly with what had been the "norm" a mere generation earlier.

    Now some groups are pushing for the recognition of marriages between same-sex partners as fully equal to and interchangeable with the "traditional interpretation" of marriage. In some countries, the cultural norms have shifted enough to embrace that view. In others, there is resistance. Cultural norms GROW, and as with a plant or a body, there are limits on how much growth occurs, can be comfortably accommodated, is sustainable -- and there are variations in the directions chosen for growth, just as a in a plant or body. Some expand vertically, others horizontally.

    What does not change is that for a cultural norm to change it must be accepted by a very strong majority of the people alive & active in that community. What does not change is that the growth has to match the intrinsic DNA of the original seed from which the society developed.

    England is not suddenly going to abandon English in favour of Chinese or Arabic or Spanish.

    People who come to settle a place where their ancestors did not have a personal presence need to accept that they will naturally have to adapt to the language, traditions and cultural norms of that place.

    If in your country is the norm to sever the hand of a thief for stealing, do not expect that you can do that in the EU. If in your country it is the norm to allow young lads to fight with knives to settle a quarrel, do not expect your British neighbours to refrain from calling the police if they witness such trial by combat. Vendettas, honour killings, assaults on women that in your society you might imagine to be entirely reasonable (if the woman is your wife or daughter, for example) will land you in prison here.

    Using the argument that "it is only a veil to protect her from unwelcome attentions from strangers" is not going to work when it runs up against the wall of the cultural norms of all European countries with respect to how Respect For Women may be shown -- and may not be shown.

    In Europe, a woman whose hair is uncovered, as mine normally is, is not advertising herself as being available for sexual invitations. That is a cultural norm. I have noticed many Muslim males struggle to recognise this simple concept. In Europe, the cultural norm is: do not speak to a girl or woman to whom you have not been introduced. Regardless of what she is wearing.

    If a European woman wishes to engage in a conversation with a person (male or female) to whom she has not been introduced, she will take the first step. If you come up with some pretext, such as asking her for directions, in order to approach her, she may be polite -- manners are exceedingly important to most Europeans -- but unless she actually accepts an invitation to be your guest at some event, She Is Not Signaling Sexual Availability just be speaking with you.

    And if you still manage to track her down, and she refuses to see you or declines any further contact, that means you need to stop bothering her.

    The norm for a European woman is: "When I say 'NO' it means 'NO.'" End of discussion. Don't try again tomorrow. Don't scheme. Don't try to get around the refusal in some way.

    But in a society where a young woman's affections are the property of her father, to be bestowed upon the husband of his choice, and thereafter to be transferred as property to that paternally selected mate -- in a society where females are expected to veil themselves in order to "disappear" from the consciousness of the world -- many young Muslim men imagine that any unveiled, European woman is sexually available. Since the corollary (in some minds certainly) to the notion "modest women veil themselves" is that "unveiled women are immodest and promiscuous" -- and therefore fair game.

    My daughter and I (even I, a married woman of a significant age) have experienced considerably more unwelcome attention from men while visiting London, than in any other city, whether in the US or other parts of the EU. It is actually quite a bother. And most of it comes from men with Muslim names who will not stop even when reprimanded, or ignored. I believe this relentless harassment of unveiled women of all ages is also a consequence of the misguided belief, inculcated from early childhood, that "respectable" women hide themselves from the world.

    Our cultural norm is quite the reverse: a Respectable Great Wide World does not accost a woman, infringe upon her time, or impose on her attention. It does not presume to be entitled to her affection or company.

    I have no idea why such a possibility never entered into Mohammed's head... but I doubt very much that it was God who actually was the source for the lines in the Qu'ran some imams insist on interpreting as meaning that a woman's skin has to be covered up completely.

    I wonder sometimes if it is not a mental deficiency of fundamentalists (of all religions) that drives them to such extreme literalism in their study of Scriptures. The key question here would be: "What was the true meaning, in the 7th century, of the verb that Mohammed uses to describe 'covering' her face, or her hands?" Does it actually mean "cover" as in "clothe"? Or might it mean "cover" as in "guard," or "protect," or even "hold"? Are "hands" literally just the hands? Or might they refer in a metaphorical way, metonymically speaking, as it were, to the Works of her hands?

    Might not "cover her hands" actually be an injunction against allowing Muslim women to be enslaved or exploited, forced to perform hard labour?

    Holy Writ, in every tradition, often relies on metaphor and poetic imagery to make a point. "An eye for an eye" was a guideline, the articulation of a principle of justice, not an instruction. "Turn the other cheek" does not literally mean that; neither does "if your eye tempt you, pluck it out" literally require Christians to blind themselves.

    Most of us have long ceased to view Scripture in literal terms. Adam's sons (if you believed they existed) might have married their sisters; so did Pharaohs. We don't. The story of Lot does not exempt Fritzl. Ancient people were quite literal-minded -- and so are some modern Wahabbists. Unfortunately.

    But Muslims who live in the UK or EU do not expect adulterers to be stoned, thieves to have hands severed, or homosexuals to be executed. Most of them, even on this blog, in the heat of debate, firmly object to the notion that it is the duty of a Muslim to "slaughter the infidels" -- even if that phrase occurs in the Qu'ran.

    So why should it be any different with the burqa or niqab? Just because they execute adulterers in Saudi Arabia does not mean most Muslims endorse such practices. Therefore, the veil (black sack) required in Iran or Saudi Arabia, or by Hezbollah or Iraqi Shi'ites, should not be being defended by British Muslims.

    There is no room for it within our cultural norms, in the Western world.

    Sorry: we kind of thought you already knew that, but since you didn't, we'll just have to make it official. Just like the Christmas holiday is an official holiday, for everyone, and even the atheists don't grumble too much & graciously accept the day off.

    Cultural norms. As No. 113 rather beautifully put it, and I thank him or her for it:

    "At the end of the day we are not forced to live in the west and take advantage of those freedoms that are granted by law (not Sharia) but then demand Sharia, that is unequal and unfair. If ones wishes to be bound by Sharia, then move to a Sharia country, where you will be happy. However, I live in a Sharia country and those freedoms that we have in the west are not available here and we take them for granted. I therefore challenge those who use those freedoms granted in the west to come and live for more than a few months in a Muslim country before they get on a moral high horse. Then you will understand that this is not Islamaphobia or Muslim bashing, it is an attempt for a country to retain its identity - nothing more. If you dont like it, then move."

    It is, indeed, an attempt for a country, and a culture, that you like, that you enjoy, that you benefit from, that the entire world has benefitted from and celebrates (alongside your own) -- to retain its identity. Full stop.



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  • 180. At 8:42pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    SheffTim, No. 164: "Loony feminists"?

    Have you ever spent a whole day with a woman -- ideally, a Muslim woman from a household that does not have servants -- and participated in her routine? Looking after infants, toddlers, elderly in-laws, cooking, cleaning, shopping, then tending to the adolescents and finally at the end of the day having to address the demands of her husband, whatever those might be? Or, better yet, being shunted aside because he has a new younger wife whose children she must also care for?

    Those of you who have no direct experience of what it is like to be a girl or woman, in any culture, have no business slinging insults at the women of the world who, understanding the true burdens associated with being female -- in any culture -- do indeed strive to help more of their human sisters gain full sovereignty and self-determination over their lives, their life choices, and their futures for such time as remains to them.

    This is not work that any of you may denigrate. You each had a mother. What was her life like? Really? What do you do for her? Today, what are you doing for her?

    When was the last time you asked her what she would want, just for herself, if she could live her life over?

    Do you even know what she dreamed of, as a child? Does she remember?

    "Feminism" is not the problem. Male egocentrism, male supremacism and the hard-heartedness of selfish sons who feel possession of male genitals entitles them to a better life than their sisters may have: that is the problem.

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  • 181. At 9:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Maria Ashot,

    while I appreciate the distinct flavour of your well-written and thoroughly thought-through commments, I find some personal frustration in them.

    This part especially caught my eye:

    "This is not work that any of you may denigrate. You each had a mother. What was her life like? Really? What do you do for her? Today, what are you doing for her?

    When was the last time you asked her what she would want, just for herself, if she could live her life over?

    Do you even know what she dreamed of, as a child? Does she remember?

    "Feminism" is not the problem. Male egocentrism, male supremacism and the hard-heartedness of selfish sons who feel possession of male genitals entitles them to a better life than their sisters may have: that is the problem."

    The question is fair but to presume you know the answer is cynical at best. Who are you to judge.


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  • 182. At 9:11pm on 27 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    For the people that strongly believe in personal freedom to express one self, the following involve individual freedoms that do not harm anyone else:

    a) Is someones "right" to wear a KKK hood in public acceptable?
    b) Is someones "right" to deny holocaust in public acceptable?
    c) Is someones "right" to walk naked in shopping center acceptable?

    If the answer to any of the above is no, then implicity you agree that there is no such thing as absolute rights, it is always rights within what is acceptable to the rest of the society.

    Now regarding the point that the government has no right (strange concept, but any how) to tell people what to wear. Either there is something seriously wrong with you ability to process information, or you think that the rest of us are stupid. Were did any of you saw anyone claim the government must tell me people what to wear. All anyone is trying to say is that women should show they faces like everyone is. Where in that statement do you see the part of "the government telling people what to wear"!!!!! please wise ones enlighten me.

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  • 183. At 9:25pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    "it is always rights within what is acceptable to the rest of the society."

    This is very true. The universal idea of human rights is noble. However, only when no one abuses them and respects them can they work as they are intended.

    e.g. The European Court of Human Rights ruling about Italy not being able to hang crucifixes in her schools.

    The complaint wasn't made by an Italian.

    Anyways, this shouldn't be about one example but about the principle of "when in Rome..."

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  • 184. At 9:31pm on 27 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    Maria Ashot: Very good posts.

    181. At 9:02pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Do you have a better answer? Maria has every right to have her opinions and her judgement. If you disagree with Maria's then post your own answer.

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  • 185. At 9:48pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Janaki,

    no need to get all emotional.

    Did you read my comment? Has nothing to do whether I "agree" or "disagree" with her.

    Now spare me. Please.

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  • 186. At 9:55pm on 27 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    As a 'burka' wearing' Muslim woman I perfectly agree with the need to show ones face at certain times for security reasons, identification etc. I see nothing wrong with complying with this at the airport when the request is made.

    As a Muslim woman, I would like our voice to be heard. Many who make the pretentious claim that they seek to 'defend' the rights of Muslim women actually want to smother the voices of practising Muslim women as what we, (women of Islam) have to say does not lend support to their ill conceived notion that Islam oppresses women.

    Whenever a Muslim woman has anything positive to say about her own experiences in Islam, she is told to ''be quiet'' and ''go away''. No one wants to hear about the positive experiences of a Muslim woman. Converts to Islam like myself (and Chrystelle Khedrouch) are told that we are 'rebels', 'selfish', 'extremists', going to great lengths to 'prove' our commitment, whilst other Muslim women, those who were born and raised in Muslim households are told that as they have been 'brainwashed' from the cradle, there is absolutely no way that they could have any control over their mental/reasoning capabilities. Ultimately the message given is that if a woman has actually chosen to follow this way of life she must be 'delusional', 'mentally ill', 'brainwashed', 'uneducated', the offensive list goes on and on. This is nothing more than an attempt to render a Muslim woman's positive statements non-credible. Significantly, however it is also a subtle way of telling any woman who steps outside the 'western norm' that she will be labelled as such.

    Wearing the face veil is simply an act of worship and devotion, nothing more, nothing less, if I am the one performing an action, then how on earth can another tell me what that action means?! It's not a political statement, a fashion statement, or sticking the middle finger up at the establishment, importantly it is absolutely not a sign of support for terrorism, which terrorises us all. In my case, and like many of my sisters in Islam that I've actually discussed this matter with, we've made the decision to wear the niqab (the correct term for the face veil) after having researched the matter in detail. Scholarly research leads to conclusion that there is a difference of opinion regarding the niqab; therefore as the 'rules' have (thankfully) not been 'written in stone' a Muslim woman may decide for herself whether or not wear the face veil, it is very much a personal decision, and in my case I've happily chosen to wear the niqab as an extra act of worship.

    Proponents of a full ban say: 'It's cumbersome', and leaves the wearer feeling 'subjugated', 'oppressed', 'ashamed' etc....in the 16 years that I've been wearing the 'burka', I've heard it all before. Yes this is how YOU (the one in opposition to the veil) would feel wearing the 'burka', but this in no way represents the experiences of the many Muslim women that have chosen to do so. This is how a person would feel without the two absolutely essential accessories that must accompany such attire: Faith and conviction. Does this mean that the Muslim women who choose not to wear the niqab are somehow lesser in faith? No, not at all, the Muslim woman who chooses not to wear the niqab has every right to do so (according to Islamic principles) and I personally make no distinction between my sisters in Islam that wear the niqab and those that do not. We stand side by side in prayer together, we fast and break our fasts together in Ramadan. So what is my overall point? It is that truly knowing how it feels to be the woman 'behind the veil', is virtually impossible if you lack the understanding of the faith and conviction that led to her choosing to wear the veil in the very first place.

    We are constantly told that Muslim women are 'weak' and 'feeble', what absolute rubbish! I say that any women who is brave enough to step out in any city or town across Europe, dressed in such a manner has to have a huge amount of courage and strength, and again that simply comes back to her faith and conviction.

    So to those who claim that it is offensive… let it be! Muslim women who wear the 'burka' actually just want to go about their daily lives without causing harm to anyone, or being harmed by others. We've happily chosen this way of life, get over it and move on with your own.

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  • 187. At 10:43pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 181, Gheryando: If you are one of the billion or so men who are indeed good to their mothers, and the other women in their lives, then obviously my words were not directed at you, were they?

    If you re-read the entire entry you find frustrating, you will find it was directed at a specific interlocutor. One who holds "loony feminists" in contempt. One who is unhappy that anyone wants to "liberate" women.

    Just look at your daily news reports. Everywhere in the world there are many more stories of women who are being abused & battered by the people closest to them, and even murdered by them, than the reverse (reports of women doing the battering).

    Many, many women and girls, alas, need to be "liberated." Consider just that stream of trafficked women the BBC (thankfully) frequently reminds us exist throughout Europe.

    My questions, and indeed my writing here, are intended to provoke. Thank you for noticing that. The reason they need to provoke is our human population the world over continues to grow rapidly, but our social response, collectively, to the deep problems that endanger all of us -- that have even led to all out war, and not because the non-Muslims attacked the Muslims: quite the reverse -- lags rather dramatically behind.

    We are sinking, and will sink further, unless the people who do have the power to make things change, respond.

    I have no power. I am just a voice, and someone who wields several languages effortlessly, but I have no actual power except to inspire, to urge, to persuade. Occasionally, to enlighten. And even, sometimes, to frustrate.

    I have experienced more -- for good and for ill -- than many others who write, than many other women, and certainly as a woman I know more of the conditions of women (behind closed doors) than most men. That is not an empty boast. It is a fact of my biography. It imposes upon me a responsibility to share with others what I have seen, learned and experienced -- for the sake of those millions of women who cannot give voice to these experiences, that they know thoroughly themselves.

    Some of them lack English, or another language. Some of them don't own a computer. Some of them don't have any time left at all to do anything except collapse in a heap & maybe pray for miraculous intervention.

    Some of them have a spouse who will batter them even for attempting to communicate with others, especially with other men -- and most particularly with powerful men.

    Who am I to judge, you ask? I am a living, intelligent, educated, rational, compassionate adult. I have as much right to judge as anyone else.

    Certainly I have more right to speak about the condition of women than His Holiness the Pope or His Mightiness the Ayatollah Khamenei. I know more about that then they do.

    I am sure you are kind, and always were kind, to your Mother -- or to her memory. I am sure you appreciate the hard decisions every woman faces every day of her adult life, that no one but that woman faces, or has to answer for.

    As wonderful as most men are -- and I do love men, and appreciate them, even the ones I disagree with (though not the ones who are vicious to women, and I do mean vicious) -- the most common pattern in life spares them a great many of the discomforts and actual burdens that most women have no choice but to endure.

    The only men I know whose lives are guaranteed to be just as difficult as those of the average woman, and even more difficult, are the men who are in active combat.

    So think a little more kindly of us as a group. You don't have to like or approve of each and every female you know (including your own mother) -- but recognise there is a genuine validity to the struggle to make life a little easier for the female humans on the planet, for a very good reason, from which all boys and men also benefit in many powerful & empowering ways.

    Thank you for reading, responding and not hesitating to be candid. If I sound shrill to you at times, consider that some of that comes from the simple life experience of being small, being "the youngest" and having a girl's voice: which means I sometimes am forced to raise it, if I am to be heard at all.

    I am sure you would not yourself want to wear a black sack over your suit, when out in public. So you cannot fail to understand my position.

    And I am not your garden-variety "feminist," believe me.

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  • 188. At 10:48pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    True Believer wrote:

    "As a Muslim woman, I would like our voice to be heard. Many who make the pretentious claim that they seek to 'defend' the rights of Muslim women actually want to smother the voices of practising Muslim women as what we, (women of Islam) have to say does not lend support to their ill conceived notion that Islam oppresses women."

    I have to disappoint you. The main reason why we support a ban is because we seek to defend the right of our citizens to not having to endure seeing these things in their native lands.

    The fact that we "defend" oppressed women's rights with a ban is merely a positive side-effect...

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  • 189. At 10:50pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Maria Ashot

    I am one of the or so billion.

    many thanks for the clarification, indeed.

    I enjoy your posts and how they help bring the avg IQ of this forum closer up to 100.

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  • 190. At 10:53pm on 27 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 186, TrueBeliever: "Worship and devotion" do not belong in public places.

    For "worship and devotion" we attend our chosen house of worship, or participate in devotional acts within the perimeter of our own households.

    There have been cases when, during Communist rule, devout Russians went into museums to pray before holy images that had been placed there by the Communist Party when they destroyed churches, or stripped them of all valuables.

    Those Russians who went to pray openly in museums were liable to get arrested, and then to get prosecuted and face harsh sentences. Many of them were indeed prosecuted in this manner. They went to the museums to pray, in a state that prohibited virtually all forms of devotion, knowing they ran this risk.

    When you live in Europe, whether as a European who converted to Islam, or as a Muslim from birth, you are living in a secular state in which religious observances are almost without exception limited to property designated for that purpose -- or your private household.

    For public observances, such as prayers to commemorate the war dead, permits from local authorities are typically required. The same principles operate in Russia, which is no longer a Communist state, and in which Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and many other faiths coexist peacefully.

    If the SOLE purpose, as you put it, for wearing the full-body veil or for veiling your face as a Muslim woman is "worship and devotion" then you need to recognise that is not the cultural or even the legal norm in the country in which you are residing, from which you also derive your sustenance and your guaranteed liberties.

    "Worship and devotion" are NOT public activities. They are private, intimate activities a devout individual keeps within the chambers of her or his heart, and does not advertise to others.

    In the Christian world, persons who wish to engage in "worship & devotion" around the clock take vows of monasticism and enter a cloister. You do not have such recourse in Islam. Maybe you should. Maybe some one will make that option available to you.

    Please re-read No. 113.

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  • 191. At 10:59pm on 27 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    If there truly IS a higher being (God), then its blasphemic to believe it cares about what we WEAR.

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  • 192. At 11:36pm on 27 Jan 2010, JeanLeBon wrote:

    Hm, their men say –citing the Quran- that their women must wear the clothes that the Profet’s wives were using.
    What about themselves? Was the prophet wearing blue jeans, smoking Marlboro and while loitering around, shamelessly asking unknown women in the street to have sex with him?
    Or, that old Marlboro ad with the cowboy smoking and looking for women had some very deep religious sense that only those who know the Quran by hart can understand?
    Something stinks in Arabia…

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  • 193. At 00:10am on 28 Jan 2010, sayasay wrote:

    Maria Ashot @ 179 said “I … have experienced considerably more unwelcome attention from men… with Muslim names”
    It took some time for you to say so but I had earlier perceived plus deduced @ 433 of G.Hewitt’s ‘Behind the burka’ blog dated 22 Jan. 2010 and concluded that ‘you have not got a handle on Muslim men, is that why you are now harassing the Muslim women?’
    I am very sorry that you had to suffer such unpleasantries. Are London policemen that nonchalant? In Singapore where I worked and lived, the police will assist any women who are harassed by lecherous and persistent men. There are enough laws in the Singapore Penal Code (a legacy from the British colonial rule and still in use today) to keep would-be errant males in line.

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  • 194. At 01:29am on 28 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    Maria Ashot wrote:

    ''If the SOLE purpose, as you put it, for wearing the full-body veil or for veiling your face as a Muslim woman is "worship and devotion" then you need to recognise that is not the cultural or even the legal norm in the country in which you are residing, from which you also derive your sustenance and your guaranteed liberties''.

    Wrong! It IS in fact the cultural, legal and religious norm in the country in which I currently reside, derive my sustenance, and am guaranteed my liberties. I currently reside in Saudi Arabia!

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  • 195. At 01:48am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 189, Gheryando:

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart -- and on behalf of all the women & girls in your life.

    Kisses.

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  • 196. At 01:50am on 28 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    @ TrueBeliever

    Thanks to Allah. Then stay there if you wanna keep wearing it.

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  • 197. At 01:50am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 194, TrueBeliever:

    Exactly. You reside in Saudi Arabia. And the laws that are being proposed are proposed for France. They are under discussion for the European political and social space.

    No one is threatening in any way the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia.

    Except, quite possibly, Yemen. And, in a different sense, Iran.

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  • 198. At 01:56am on 28 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    194. At 01:29am on 28 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    "Wrong! It IS in fact the cultural, legal and religious norm in the country in which I currently reside, derive my sustenance, and am guaranteed my liberties. I currently reside in Saudi Arabia!"

    Great! You can exercise your "free choice" in Saudi. We have no problems with that. (Even the fact that actually you have no other choice. You have no real liberties. You cannot remove that veil even if you want to. You cannot drive even if you want to. You cannot stay in a hotel by yourself even if you want to and so on and so on. ) But Saudi and its outmoded laws do not concern me at all.

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  • 199. At 01:59am on 28 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    193. At 00:10am on 28 Jan 2010, sayasay wrote:

    "In Singapore where I worked and lived, the police will assist any women who are harassed by lecherous and persistent men. There are enough laws in the Singapore Penal Code (a legacy from the British colonial rule and still in use today) to keep would-be errant males in line. "

    Yes, and in Singapore mullahs have to provide the transcript of the friday sermons before friday. That way authorities make sure hate speeches are not part of Friday sermons. Maybe we should adopt Singapore penal code. (Except for that small thing of their executing people for some offenses that are really minor)

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  • 200. At 02:03am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    sayasay, No. 193: Yes, in fact if there is a reason many Europeans are beginning to draw a line under some of their cultural norms and encasing them in law is because the parties who are kicking up a fuss about these laws are not as innocent as they claim.

    And believe me I am not the only person who feels this way.

    The London police force has plenty to do with safeguarding security. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, we all believe that overall security is a far greater priority than affronts to individual citizens.

    FYI, I have had many students, male students, who are Muslims, even rigorously observant ones. I have never had a Muslim student who was a fanatic. I have never had one who was disrespectful to me, or to any woman or young lady present in our company.

    Civilised people are never the problem. And it is important to understand that when we say, "Enough of these full-body veils; enough promoting fanatical excess," it is not because we would not have preferred there to have been no need for such interventions.

    But jihadism is growing; the attacks are escalating; increasingly audacious attempts and even successful bombings are taking place -- even in such presumably off-limits zones as military bases. Attacks are even being perpetrated by military men in the service of Nato!

    So what are we going to do? Nothing? No. We are going to implement effective reminders to Muslims who live in predominantly non-Muslim areas that it is incumbent upon them to communicate messages of peace, integration, comfort with the prevailing non-Muslim culture, acceptance of cultural norms such as the equality and self-determination of women.

    We are going to chip away at the elements of Islamic fundamentalism that seem to matter so much to the people training their young sons to blow up ours.

    Would you react any other way, in Singapore? If you were under attack, say, from Mormon suicide bombers?

    (Apologies to Mormons: no offense intended; just used for 'Mormon' for purposes of illustration, plus I was looking for a trochee to complete that line.)

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  • 201. At 02:13am on 28 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    186. At 9:55pm on 27 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    "Converts to Islam like myself (and Chrystelle Khedrouch) are told that we are 'rebels', 'selfish', 'extremists', going to great lengths to 'prove' our commitment, whilst other Muslim women, those who were born and raised in Muslim households are told that as they have been 'brainwashed' from the cradle, there is absolutely no way that they could have any control over their mental/reasoning capabilities. Ultimately the message given is that if a woman has actually chosen to follow this way of life she must be 'delusional', 'mentally ill', 'brainwashed', 'uneducated', the offensive list goes on and on. This is nothing more than an attempt to render a Muslim woman's positive statements non-credible. Significantly, however it is also a subtle way of telling any woman who steps outside the 'western norm' that she will be labelled as such."

    Offensive or not, we have to use the term "brainwashed" or misled because you do not provide any logical and scientific reasons why you must cover your face.


    "In my case, and like many of my sisters in Islam that I've actually discussed this matter with, we've made the decision to wear the niqab (the correct term for the face veil) after having researched the matter in detail."

    What exactly did you research? Scholarly material on this matter is based on 7th century practices of primitive dessert people. You do realize that, I hope.


    186. At 9:55pm on 27 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    " Faith and conviction. Does this mean that the Muslim women who choose not to wear the niqab are somehow lesser in faith?"

    What is that faith and conviction which seems to be applicable only to muslim women? Are muslim men not required to have faith and conviction. Why do they not choose to veil their faces? What is that faith and conviction that insists that God has created your face simply so that your can put a cloth over it.

    "We are constantly told that Muslim women are 'weak' and 'feeble', what absolute rubbish! I say that any women who is brave enough to step out in any city or town across Europe, dressed in such a manner has to have a huge amount of courage and strength, and again that simply comes back to her faith and conviction."

    Or perhaps they are forced to. Just today the imam who supported the ban was attacked. Imagine what would happen to a woman who chose to defy her family. (And there have been quite a few honor killing cases in the West in the last couple of years)

    "So to those who claim that it is offensive… let it be! Muslim women who wear the 'burka' actually just want to go about their daily lives without causing harm to anyone, or being harmed by others. We've happily chosen this way of life, get over it and move on with your own."

    You can continue that life in a place like Saudi. In EU you need to follow the EU laws and show your face in the public domain.

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  • 202. At 02:17am on 28 Jan 2010, RecentExPat wrote:

    It's a great shame that it has come to this, but I suppose that this was only inevitable. I think few would disagree that France and most of Europe has become quite heterogenous quite quickly, and that culture shock would eventually happen. The easy-going, trusting nature of Europe's societies organized around national cultures has definitely been harmful for integration. In European's dogmatic adherence to "justice" "liberty" and "political correctness," people from not-so passive cultures have been allowed to maintain their culture at the expense of the passive culture of most Europeans. So, this is an important step in a needed direction, for the French to push back and compete and enhance their culture against those of its immigrants. In order for there to be peace in Europe, Muslim and Christian/Secular cultures must learn to coincide, to appreciate one-another. In my opinion, most immigrants in Europe could care less about the country in which they live. In France, I doubt they have an attachment to the tales of the sans-culottes revolting against corrupt monarchs, nor to the sacrifices of brave soldiers in the trenches of the Western Front. The French, on the other hand, seem to be more intrigued about Islam, as it has been pointed out that many who wear this full veil are converts. A cultural equilibrium needs to be established, and banning the burka will not put it in place. Muslims in Europe need to want to be a part of the society they live around, just how minorities in America aspire to have the life of prosperity of the "american dream." When the French can look at their own culture, and make it seem appealing again to people other than the French, then maybe integration will occur. The French must revamp prosperity, re-ignite their goldmine of a political history with universal Republican values, and make it appealing once again to all people to enjoy a glass of wine with an exquisite block of cheese in a chic cafe on a Parisian corner. Then the children of European Muslims will want to be a part of this "national culture" that once made Europe peaceful and cohesive, and no enforcement or bans or anything will be necessary.

    (also, integration does not mean losing one's culture. You can still show your face to the world and socially interact with natives without forgoing prayer or cuisine from your previous country.)

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  • 203. At 02:37am on 28 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    I am always amazed at how converts adopt a real fundamentalist mentality, take up the least desirable element into their mental makeup. Take the shoe bomber for example - the first thing he did after converting was to try to blow a plane. Maybe the "I am more jihadist than you thou" attitude stems from a desire to prove that they belong. (Of course, I am not discounting that in many cases they may have been deeply troubled individuals with some serious personality issues even before their "conversion". ).
    Take these two ladies who claim to be Western converts for example - they say they are not weak or feeble. But then which of them fought for those young girls in the Saudi school who were not allowed to escape a fire because their faces were not covered. Those young girls died an unnecessary death because of stupid laws that arose from "faith" and "conviction". At least showing your face in the public domain in EU will not be the cause of your death...

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  • 204. At 02:47am on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Maria Ashot wrote:
    "No. 140, "democracythreat": You ask, appropriately enough, "Who defines cultural norms?"
    As a cultural historian, I am well-qualified to offer an answer."

    Maria, I appreciate your extensive pontifications that follow this statement in answer to my question, but I feel you have mistaken my intention considerably.

    I was not asking whether the world had a sufficient reserve of "cultural historians" to define cultural norms. I am aware that cultural historians abound. Likewise, I am aware that cultural historians see themselves as highly intelligent and wise custodians of that which is sacred and pure.

    My concern was specifically directed at the more pressing problem of whether folks like myself, who are not cultural historians, need to be concerned if the ruling political party appoints a cultural historian such as yourself the arbitrator of cultural norms.

    That is the question we are debating. We are not debating the fine detail of differing opinions on what should be the best cultural norm for france. We are debating what should be the law.

    And you, Maria, despite all your academic brilliance, are advocating that the ruling political elite should have the legal power to proscribe the cultural norm.

    Now to prove that I do read what you write (and I am regrettably less than convinced you read what others write), I note you state:

    "It is wrong to assert that "cultural norms" are determined by clerics, sages, elders, males, royal houses, majority political parties or academics. We all, in fact, shape the cultural norms of our time and place."

    Now that is all very nice and conciliatory. Unfortunately, it is direct conflict with your position with regards to the crux of the blog. Elsewhere, you broker no dispute with regard what the french state shall proscribe for muslim women. You are the resident academic, and you set forth your opinions as the best form of law available.

    I have a good deal of respect for your capacity to formulate argument, but I am less convinced of your ability to reason past difficult questions. So far in these threads, you have steadfastly refused to engage a number of difficult questions.

    Of all the issues you have neglected to engage, the one most dear to me is the simple question of who shall make the laws with regards cultural norms.

    Is the state the proper authority to set the definition of cultural norms, and the proper power to enforce adherence to cultural identity?

    Or should the state refrain from adjudicating cultural identity, and allow individuals to debate that property and to realize the definition on an ongoing basis?

    I do not wish to engage with you in an academic debate on a variety of issues, only to find that you wish to empower the state to decide the outcome through the cultural police.

    Either you adhere to the view that the state ought to decide what is acceptable in terms of dress and belief, or you believe individuals should be free to think and decide for themselves.

    Note that I do not make this statement with reference to behaviour. I do not believe the state ought to refrain from limiting the behaviour of individuals. I do not profess that individuals ought to have the right to behave as they see fit.

    I would appreciate it if you could turn your considerable powers of elocution towards the distinction between behaviour and the articulation of belief. It seems to me that so far you are content to confuse the issue, and thus you transpose your own beliefs of what is correct into strictures which others must follow, in terms of their behaviour.

    I understand every criticism of why wearing veils in service of Allah is unfortunate and deplorable, however I would refrain from simply ordering any woman to adhere to my beliefs. I would prefer to convince women by reason and the production of evidence in support of rational arguments.

    Now what would you prefer?

    Do you wish to set forth your beliefs, or do you wish to proscribe the rules which govern the behaviour of other women?

    So far, with respect, it has been the latter.

    I suggest that you have, thus far, exceeded the academic mandate and transgressed upon the rule of law.

    The context is not a debate on whether it is theoretically optimal for muslim women to wear veils, but rather whether the french state should be allowed to make laws compelling them to adhere to theories you (and perhaps I) endorse.

    Helen of Troy was responsible for the deaths of numerous people, Maria. I submit that is not only men who wake in the night, screaming at the ghosts of those living beings whom they have destroyed through their convictions for a passing fancy.

    Are you really willing to enforce your own beliefs as law, or would you prefer to allow the civil debate to continue, accepting the frailty of the worlds most common understandings?

    Even if your own convictions are perfection, are you willing to allow the political system you propose fall into the hands of one so unenlightened as myself?

    Remember, Maria, I blame the grandmothers.

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  • 205. At 03:04am on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    With regard to my latest post, I understand that wearing a given costume or saying a given statement can be deemed "behaviour" as well as the articulation of beliefs.

    I would hope that we can go beyond splitting semantic hairs, and define behaviour in this context as behaviour which directly affects the ability of other members of the community to go about their own behavoiur.

    Wife beating, as opposed to wives nagging, would be my point of reference. A man may ignore the complaints of his wife and go about his business. It is not possible for a beaten wife to simply ignore her violent husband. She may die in the process.

    Let us stick the definitions as set out here, or abandon the conversation to cretins entirely.

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  • 206. At 03:53am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 191, Gheryando: Totally & unequivocally agree with you.

    All the various religious Supreme Teachers, their families and disciples, wore the garments of their own time. They wore what was considered fashionable. They certainly did not dress to look strikingly different from the people amongst whom they lived and whose support they sought.

    That applies to Siddhartha. It applies to Mohammed. It applies to each and every single one of them.

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  • 207. At 03:54am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 206, Democracythreat: With you. And you hit the nail on the head.

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  • 208. At 04:00am on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Maria Ashot wrote:
    "No. 206, Democracythreat: With you. And you hit the nail on the head."

    So... should the french government be making laws about what french women can wear in order to be authentically french, or not?

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  • 209. At 04:03am on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Democracythreat: Further to the previous:

    First of all, it is quite a stretch to suggest that I share with Helen of Troy the capacity to ignite wars.

    Come on. You have to admit that is quite an overstatement.

    Secondly, if you are going to be accurate about your historical comparisons, Helen of Troy did not actually start any war. The men did that all by themselves. Menelaus & Agamemnon were powerful men who could have chosen to do something other than chase a straying wife, sacrificing Iphigenia because there was no wind to speak of (as if that was not a sign from the gods)! and leading their best people into a gory decade of conflict.

    The only actual wise king in the tale is Odysseus. He wanted no part of it from the first.

    Thirdly, you are the person who, perhaps only rhetorically, raised the question about cultural norms. That is an explicit invitation to provide an exegesis. Since no one else seemed up to it, I took up the gauntlet you had cast down in our midst.

    Let the record be clear.

    Why are you so angry?

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  • 210. At 04:04am on 28 Jan 2010, bkusha19 wrote:

    Regarding the issue of the report by the French parliamentary commission recommending the banning of the most extreme form, the all-covering type of hijab (known as niqab) by Muslim women in public institutions and in pubic buses, I want to say this:

    Covering up women as an object does not mean chastity nor it does protect women. According to polls reported on across respectable media last year, throughout the Arab world women are crying out for respect and protection: harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, is a daily experience women in the region face and this makes them wary of going into public spaces, whether it's the streets or at jobs, the participants in the poll said. It happens regardless of what women are wearing.

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  • 211. At 05:18am on 28 Jan 2010, sayasay wrote:

    Maria Ashot @ 179 "As a cultural historian, I am well-qualified to offer an answer"
    Here is something for your intellectual appetite. In Singapore since 1961, we have a piece of legislation called Women’s Charter that prohibits polygamy in all Singapore marriages except for Muslim marriages. Where Sharia law is applicable, Muslim Singaporeans are permitted to have a maximum of 4 wives.
    Interestingly, I personally know a number of Chinese friends who claims that their grandmothers are wives sometimes number 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on of their grandfathers. Polygamy was an acceptable part of Singaporean Chinese culture. Unsurprisingly, these women of polygamous marriages were pragmatic enough to marry only well-off Chinese gentlemen. However the Singaporean Chinese majority had no problem discarding polygamy, an abandonment of a part of their cultural heritage and opted wholeheartedly for monogamy. The Women’s Charter was enacted during the premiership of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore elder and foremost politician. Lee’s mother was a of mixed Chinese-Malay background, known colloquially as Peranakan. The lesson here: religion beats culture for longevity.
    On the other hand, it maybe a coincidence but the two countries that banned religions have Chinese people as a majority race. Singapore banned Jehovah’s Witnesses and China banned Falun Gong.

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  • 212. At 07:05am on 28 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @DT,

    Regarding who has the right to define cultural norm, it can not be any one given person or party or group of wise man/women. It is the society in general. In the particular case in France if the society in general were not in favour of banning the covering up of face in public then the government there would not propose such a law.

    Now if you are asking me can we trust the politicians to pass laws on our behalf? I have certain doubts about it, but that is all we have for now and until we change the system we have now, then we have to work within its limits to somehow achieve what we want. If I'm allowed to hazard a guess here, I would say that even if there was a referedum France-wide to determine if people should show their faces in public or not, most likely it would be, people must show their faces in public.

    So, if your only concern regarding the ban is who should be the law maker and nothing else maybe in this case, you should accept the general "mood" as the law maker, ok I know it is not perfect or very clear cut, but then cultural norms never are.

    Also regarding another point, I don't believe the majority of people that support the ban are narrow minded people, that want to suppress individual freedom and create a monochrom society, quite the opposite, perhaps they are afraid of such a society sneaking up on them and they are reacting to that?

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  • 213. At 09:02am on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    maria wrote:
    "Let the record be clear.
    Why are you so angry?"

    I'm sorry, I had not thought I was angry. In any case, my feelings have now turned to awe, as I contemplate a cultural historian who is also a practicing psychiatrist.

    Perhaps I am, an angry person because I am male, and testosterone is the cause of my inherent failings. Perhaps I am merely angry because I am stupid. Not being a psychiatrist, and distrusting petty psychoanalyses, I find it difficult to tell.

    However, I did not ask you for a diagnoses, grateful though I am for the free session. My burning question, which is the cornerstone of this thread, is whether the French government should be making laws to proscribe what french women wear. Should the french government be making laws about what french women can wear in order to be authentically french, or not?

    I ask because you appeared to have changed your position, and it would be quite a scene for me to witness, should that be the case.

    I cannot properly articulate the satisfaction my male pride would glean from having swayed the views of one of the softer sex, whom my late grandmother insisted are more given to intuition and resolute convictions of faith than the rigorous reasoning of the hard sciences, in such a matter.

    So if you might answer the question, that would be delightful.

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  • 214. At 09:38am on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    ChrisArta wrote:
    "Regarding who has the right to define cultural norm, it can not be any one given person or party or group of wise man/women. It is the society in general."

    Right, so you propose that the legitimate means for making laws about cultural norms ought to be by way of direct democracy, and public referendum, if we acknowledge any such means.

    You then wrote:
    "In the particular case in France if the society in general were not in favour of banning the covering up of face in public then the government there would not propose such a law.
    Now if you are asking me can we trust the politicians to pass laws on our behalf?"

    No, I am not asking such a thing, for you have answered the exact question in your previous statement. You clearly stated, and I agree, that cultural norms cannot be defined by "any one given person or party or group of wise men/women". That would appear to strike out representative government, especially in a system as corporatized as the westminster model.

    Chris then wrote:
    "I have certain doubts about it, but that is all we have for now and until we change the system we have now, then we have to work within its limits to somehow achieve what we want. If I'm allowed to hazard a guess here, I would say that even if there was a referedum France-wide to determine if people should show their faces in public or not, most likely it would be, people must show their faces in public."

    Sure, there is always the danger of the tyranny of the majority. We've seen that in Switzerland with the minarets. This is precisely why I would prefer to see nobody at all with the power to define cultural norms, and to have fundamental human rights such as the freedom of expression enshrined by law in the constitution and kindergartens of the state.

    chris then wrote:
    "So, if your only concern regarding the ban is who should be the law maker and nothing else maybe in this case, you should accept the general "mood" as the law maker, ok I know it is not perfect or very clear cut, but then cultural norms never are."

    Well, indeed. Perhaps rather than searching for the best custodian of cultural norms, I was being rhetorical in order to move the discussion to the point where it was logical to suppose that the power to enforce cultural norms in violation of the individuals freedom of expression ought not exist in any civilized society.

    That would be my own considered position. I think some laws are fundamental to human beings, and therefore inviolate with regard to the state, even a state where the populace is sovereign through direct democracy.

    Further, I would argue that such a realization regarding the limits of the political process towards the rights of the individual is what sets the rule of law in direct conflict with the traditional rule of divine power through a theocracy.

    Regardless of whether the wonder of the individual sentience we each call our life has a creator or not, it seems preferable for us all to agree to protect it and nurture it, rather than to allow anyone to speak upon its behalf by way of a casual explanation for its origins.

    I'm not sure what Maria thinks about this issue, as she is being coy and flitting around the issue just now. perhaps she waits for a strong hand to lead her in such a deep intellectual matter?

    Finally chris wrote:
    "Also regarding another point, I don't believe the majority of people that support the ban are narrow minded people, that want to suppress individual freedom and create a monochrom society, quite the opposite, perhaps they are afraid of such a society sneaking up on them and they are reacting to that?"

    Yes, i think you are exactly right. I believe that the vast majority of people desire a world where their own fundamental right to dignity and free expression are protected and nurtured by the law. And indeed, it is a grave irony that the fear of losing such a world should drive folks to such irrational behaviour as to bring it to fruition. This is perhaps the philosophical cornerstone of the expression "We have nothing to fear except fear itself."

    However, the intellectual irony of the rise of fascism within a civilized society must not entertain our curiosity to the point where we become mere spectators to its evolution. I believe there are limits to what civilized people will accept from their system of politics, and that we all have a duty to reject a system of political representation which strays into the abyss.

    Hence I reject the legitimacy of the current french political class, and question whether the massive and increasingly pervasive influence of corporate power in representative politics has rendered that system unfit for its primary purpose.

    Hence I advocate for direct democracy tempered by principles of fundamental human rights law, or at the very least for a constitution which protects the rights of the individual from the mindless greed of the corporate form.

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  • 215. At 10:00am on 28 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    Ultimately it is up to the French to decide as that is their business only. That said, everyone should have the right to see the faces of the people they are dealing and interacting with, even if just for security purposes.

    Do these silly women also wish to have their ID photos taken with their faces covered? What if they are pulled over for a traffic offense? Do they actually expect to stay covered while leaving the police not knowing who they are dealing with?

    Cover your hair if you like but the face covering nonsense goes against all Western cultures. Those women should seriously consider moving to a country where that kind of behavior is appreciated.

    I wonder though how much they will appreciate losing much of the rights and protections for their well being that they had in their Western country once they do move.

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  • 216. At 10:25am on 28 Jan 2010, D Dortman wrote:

    And of course it's not just motorbike helmets & balaclavas that are banned from some areas in the UK........ it's also pyjamas too, so maybe the burka will be the new get out of bed and go to the shops clothing of choice for Wayne and Waynetta. :-)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8484116.stm

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  • 217. At 1:03pm on 28 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    Alice (62): I read your post 17 before it got 'referred' and can't see why anyone would have objected to it. Indeed it had me smiling even before i got to the first :o). I don't think it is the BBC though who does the referring, but it is a shame a post can stay in that state a long time before the moderators release it. And a shame that so much referring is going on. If someone does not like someone else's comments (for some matter unrelated to the rules) it would be better if they just skipped over comments from that person in future rather than than refer it and prevent others from reading what they want to.

    Dt: tend to agree with your argument, but not your tone towards maria-ashot.

    ChrisArta (182): I would say in the UK and most western countries, the answers are yes, yes, no. I don't think there is any country on earth where you can go around naked in public places (but also no country where the majority think they should have this right). The USA is the only one to ban KKK hoods i think, but it is the only one where KKK was killing people. Germany and Austria are the only ones who ban holocaust deniers, which i think is heavy handed, especially 65 years after the event.

    Anyway i don't deny the percentage of people who are offended by some conduct should be a factor taken into account when considering whether some behaviour that offends should be outlawed. I just don't think it should be the only one. Democracy can and has been as a tool whereby the majority community oppresses a minority. There have been too many examples of this, from the pre-1973 Stormont parliament to the 'dictatorships of the proletariat' in Eastern Europe. That there should be a limit is even more important considering that our democracies work less and less well.

    An argument on the Continent for the EU is that the people are bigoted and decisions need to removed from democratic institutions lest these bigots get their hands on the instruments of the state and use them against those they despise. An argument in the UK against the EU is being under the control of a superstate that interferes too much, removing decisions from a national parliament in Westminster that has a good track record in respecting the limits of state power. A paradox for the European federalists is 'democratising' the EU when this would mean putting all those bigots in command who they initially argued needed to kept at arms length from decision-making.

    Lord Acton said "The development of absolute monarchy by the help of democracy is the one constant character of French history". Nicolas Sarkozy and his ban on the burka is the personification of that today. The EU from Monnet to Giscard D'Estaing has also been built on french conceptions.

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  • 218. At 1:19pm on 28 Jan 2010, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    Huaimek: Regarding your post 514 in the Behind the burka thread: the BBC blog software forms pages of 500 posts each. With threads of more than 500 posts, a “Next” link appears at the bottom of the page, just above the Post a comment box. To go directly to the page with posts 501 through 1000, append ?page=2 to the URL. Similarly, the second page will have a “Previous” link (to the page with the first 500 comments) just above its comment box.

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  • 219. At 1:27pm on 28 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    Uf, now the next hurdle to people with a need to cover their heads in order to communicate with their god(s) is the Swiss basketball federation :)) people can't play basketball (profesional) while wearing a headscarf! I take it burkas are not allowed either???

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  • 220. At 1:32pm on 28 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    ...ohh, also following on from 219, it looks to me that the best posible solution to all the head covering issues we have, is for the prophet mohamed to make a re-appearance do a quick update to the koran to bring up to the 21st century and then people can live their lives based on 21st century values not 6th century.

    That's what we should be campaigning for! Maybe I should propose this to the French government.

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  • 221. At 3:11pm on 28 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    Janaki

    By some people like yourself on this blog talking aganist the veil will not change the inner strength of the muslims. You will never understand what is a veil, because you are not muslim. We respect our imams even if they differ with us in their opinions. We have difference of opinion among ourselves over many issues. But we follow one religion. The difference of opinion is a blessing islam.

    Allah will bring light to his religion no matter what others may say.

    1. France has 10 million muslims, the biggest in europe.

    2. Increasing number of women are wearing veil. If one imam out of 1.2 billion muslims say this does not chnage anything.

    Here is petition reply from the Prime minister office

    Friday 22 January 2010
    Anti-veilban - epetition response
    We received a petition asking:

    “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to condemn the movement by Sarkozy to ban the veil in the streets of France.”

    Details of Petition:

    “The current plan proposed by the French government under Sarkozy’s leadership calls for a possible ban of the Islamic veil in the streets of France. Sarkozy, assumes he is the modern spokes-person for the Islamic faith and has been quick to condemn the veil as barbaric and oppressive despite the fact that actual numbers of veil (niqab) wearers in France appears to be so small that even TV news crews have struggled to find individuals to film. Muslim groups estimate that out of the Muslim population there are perhaps only a few hundred women fully covering themselves, of who are mostly converts. Whereas French politicians are claiming it to be “degrading” and “submissive”, research has shown that the veil is worn through self will. We send this petition to you, Gordon Brown to advise Sarkozy not to enforce this ban on our veil but to condemn it. The banning of the veil is the real oppression here. The veil is liberation for us Muslim women and banning the veil should not be mistaken for liberation rather that will amount to oppression. Banning the veil would also be surmountable to an infringement of our basic human rights.”

    Read the Government’s response

    The UK government does not share France’s views on secularisation. In the UK we are comfortable with expressions of belief, be it the wearing of the turban, hijab, crucifix or kippa. This diversity is an important part of our national identity and one of our strengths.

    By contrast, France’s cultural and historical backgrounds have caused them to take a different view of secularisation and the wearing of religious symbols. ‘Laicite’, a 1905 law that separates church and state, is viewed as second only to universal suffrage in its importance to Republican values.

    The UK government understands concern over further restrictions on religious dress in France. However, French policy on such issues is a matter for the French government. We understand that no decisions have been taken, and a Parliamentary Ccommission on the subject of the full veil is due to report shortly. President Sarkozy continues to stress the importance of mutual respect in the context of the secular nature of the French state, and the importance of Muslims in France being able to go about their lives free of discrimination.

    The UK government will follow the results of the Parliamentary cCommission on this subject, but has no means to intervene directly in the development of French domestic policy.

    IF FRANCE PUT ONE RESTRICTION ON 1 WOMEN, 100 WILL BEGIN TO WEAR THE VEIL IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

    THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO?





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  • 222. At 3:58pm on 28 Jan 2010, Chris wrote:

    @221

    Uf, that threat was really mature politethinktank! I guess the only option left to us then in that case is to go to France and drink wine and have impure thoughts about women that don't walk about in sacks???

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  • 223. At 4:05pm on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Freeborn John wrote:
    "Dt: tend to agree with your argument, but not your tone towards maria-ashot."

    I can't help it, John. I'm a male and I just cannot refrain from subjugating womenfolk to my evil tone.

    As it happens, I think I have isolated at least one source of my anger. I believe that too much exposure to women far richer than myself has made me misplace my envy of their wealth and articulate that frustration into a bias against their gender.

    It's a heck of a thing, I tell you, to harbour a prejudice against an entire gender.

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  • 224. At 4:19pm on 28 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    #221,
    ‘Allah will bring light to his religion no matter what others may say.

    1. France has 10 million muslims, the biggest in europe.

    2. Increasing number of women are wearing veil. If one imam out of 1.2 billion muslims say this does not chnage anything.’

    ‘IF FRANCE PUT ONE RESTRICTION ON 1 WOMEN, 100 WILL BEGIN TO WEAR THE VEIL IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

    THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO?’

    ***********************************************************
    Great! Now you have shown your true face! So you are threatening us that islam will take over Europe?
    Let me tell you something, not-so-polite-unthink-tank. The country where I was born used to be under 500 years of muslim rule. During this period, the most destructive in the country’s history, the muslim invaders outnumbered the native people 3 to 1. And guess what- they still could not finish us off. We remained un-muslim. So, do not think that your allah will achieve anything with 450 million Europeans

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  • 225. At 5:26pm on 28 Jan 2010, Just A Guy wrote:


    Gheryando:

    My point is that I think that 98% of the authors I've read here are completely missing the picture. Much because they do not live in France as Alan and myself and have not much idea about French politics or, at least, do not live it everyday.

    Eventually, I think that the veil business follows another French debate on "French identity" and anyway, things are very hot here because elections are coming in summer.

    I also think that is wrong to pass a law to "protect" someone who did not ask to be "protected". To put it more clearly: as I hear, many young women convert to Islam and adopt the veil by conviction. As much as others adopt Opus Dei or scientologists or the Church of X for true conviction. Now, is it really so important to prohibit a cloth or is it more important to educate people to make the right choices for their own good and that of their own society?

    (Note that "the proper choice" here does not exclude the adoption or no adoption of such and such sect within the religions I mention; with the consequences that such choices yield)

    Maybe it is from fundamentalism that governments should try to protect the societies that chose them, not from "details" without importance, really. Maybe what is to defend is that certain women receive the means to make a "proper" choice regarding their live philosophy and values altogether. Maybe they are truly convinced of wearing the veil but because they have been brain-washed by smart fundamentalists that do that in order to gain power ... as any other lobby does, by definition.

    So maybe the protection that societies and individuals need is from corrupted people with power (e.g., in media, government, but also sects, etc.).

    Otherwise, it is all to easy (and useful) to divert the attention of public opinion from far deeper problems than the use of a cloth.

    It bothers me too that French partisans of such laws yell in the name of freedom of thought (religion-less education). On the same basis it should be forbidden to catholic priests to wear their classical black clothes with white collar in the streets, as in Mexico. Rabbi's hats should be banned and Mother Theresa should have been obliged to wear jeans for her own protection!

    Only, muslims do not seem to have influential lobbies as other brotherhoods in France and Europeans have the stigma of Christianity in their genes so the cruzade is not over. It only took another form





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  • 226. At 6:31pm on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Seeing as this thread has died down, I thought I could bring up an interesting story which appears to have died on the wire, so to speak.

    A few days ago, the chief of police for the Swiss canton of Graubunden committed suicide in his hotel room. He was in charge of security at Davos, for the world economic forum, at the time.

    The guys name is Marcus Reinhardt.

    Now this story broke on the AP wire, and on several other wire services, but since then I have seen exactly nothing in the mainstream media. Not a word.

    I find that curious. I mean, I used to live there, and I know the family of the governor, that Lardi's. Not that we get on that well.

    Anyway, i think it is odd, that such a story would die on the wire, and not be discussed in the mainstream.

    Why would the chief of police commit suicide in his hotel room, whilst in charge of security at the world economic forum in davos?

    Strike anyone as a bit odd?

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  • 227. At 7:02pm on 28 Jan 2010, JeanLeBon wrote:

    Well, it seems that nobody here really understands how this works. I let Mohamed, who came from Morocco and with whom I occasionally have small talk when we meet in the street or at a shop, to explain.
    Once, as we ware talking, a black fat woman came by. She was not wearing a burka: her face was totally visible, but just the face. All the rest was covered in black, long cloths and black veil. Mohamed began laughing: “Poor woman, it is totally useless to wear those black things. She’s so ugly that no man would look at her, whatever she wears or not wears!”
    And so, the first reason for wearing those clothes is: only, and ONLY very pretty women should wear them if they don’t want the men to look insistently at them and try to convince them to have sex.
    To enforce this, Mohamed said, it is WELL known that a woman dressed like that has the full protection of her extended Muslim family (20-50 people). If you do something to her, those guys would come and do the same to the women of your family, or even exterminate you and family. With such an immediate threat, it is a minor thing that the other protectors, Allah and his Prophet, seeing her cloths,of course, will deny you access to the heaven where 72 virgins would wait for you and only for you.
    And the rest of the women (not wearing those cloths), all of them, are free to take by any man. No family clan will come to kill you, and even Allah will look away.
    And on top of all this, women dressed in a provoking way (mini-skirts, shorts, tight trousers, etc.) are simply begging all the man in the street for some sex! Of course, they would pretend that’s not the case, but this is the rule of the game: by the use of a little force, they would finally agree!

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  • 228. At 7:05pm on 28 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Demo "Should the french government be making laws about what french women can wear in order to be authentically french, or not?"

    That is absolutely not what is required of them! What does it even mean to look authentically french ?! No french citizen could answer that! The real question is the compatibility of this republic and extreme practises, religious or otherwise. I'm not surprised we can't come up with a similar answer, cause we're not even asking the same question! Lost cause through and through.

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  • 229. At 7:06pm on 28 Jan 2010, Just A Guy wrote:


    Isenhorn --cf 225.

    I take it you are european and proud of it.

    I'll be more modest. I am just a guy living in Europe (France) and
    happy it is so. My wife is not French and, by the law, nor are my
    children (born, grwon and educated in France) whom I educate as
    French. It is indeed important to adhere to some identity. But that
    does not imply to step on others.

    Good for you Europeans resisted the atrocities of "muslims". Not one
    people in America can be proud of that as Europeans occupied and imposed religion, custums and values by force killing whoever opposed. And, too, occupied the continent for a few centuries. What is left, are bastard peoples. I use 'bastard' in the pure semantic sense as the peoples in Latin America are a bastard peoples from Spain; Brazilians mainly from Portugal but mixed with a good deal of African slave blood, also imported by Europeans and I should probably not mention the US and Canada not to offend anyone here.

    That is in America (the continent)

    Should we speak of European interventionism in the other continents?

    Eventually for France, the policy backfired and 'French' blood is now mixed with, e.g., that of northern Africa. With all what that implies (religion, etc.)

    But let us not mix, Bin Laden (if he exists at all) is not Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire and Cortes is not in Mexico anymore ...

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  • 230. At 7:08pm on 28 Jan 2010, Yasmine wrote:

    I am quite perplex to even think that such a proposition could be a law in a country as France. If we are to look at the social values in the past that had distinguished France as a state not only secular, but of democracy & freedom of expression,then this proposed law seems to reflect a new area of a fascist, nationalistic& radical -extremism that cannot but shape & reinforce what it subversively claim to protect or defend. I am not a supporter of the veil,nor burka, personally, but I am not either a supporter of such measurement as they stand against the first primary human value which is the freedom of expression. Have these persons infringed the laws, by violent, or any other actions that are universally banned by international laws? Is this law applicable & will be implemented to each person, in any religious community that her dress code indicates her faith?why is it that suddenly Islam is the new boogie man of the West? weren't such laws the first seeds by which Nazism started against the Jews community? Strong accusations are made to depict the East as the antithesis of democracy, yet I fail to understand how pursuing such laws in Western countries is not a form of dangerous repression? Is it easier to think that we are saving these poor trapped women by rapping them more from their first right which is to chose in a so-called democratic country to wear what they want? Such stigma is frightening. Is it more important to banned & rejected what we chose not to understand in the west? is this form of aggressive repression really aims to develop or assist any women's emancipation? how? Whats understood & left from Mr. Obama speech in Cairo at the university last year I can't but wonder?

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  • 231. At 7:44pm on 28 Jan 2010, Cracklite wrote:

    Freeborn "Lord Acton said "The development of absolute monarchy by the help of democracy is the one constant character of French history". Nicolas Sarkozy and his ban on the burka is the personification of that today. The EU from Monnet to Giscard D'Estaing has also been built on french conceptions."


    Oh Freeborn...Sarkozy=absolute monarchy, really?! The man is a president elected by the people, for five freaking years, the laws he and his government wishes to pass have to go through: the Parliament (not to perilous if you have a comfortable majority), the Senate (way more unpredictable outcome!), and then the Constitutional Council (which either rejected altogether, or had his majority rewrite quite a few of those laws), and then you have good old fourth power: the medias, comedians and comedy shows, which mock him day in, day out...But of course, Sarkozy is a combination of both Le Roi Soleil and Napoleon, goes without saying good old chap! Poor France, what a terrible dictatorship! Bravo Freeborn, what insight on your part, good thing you abhor caricature, atavistic french bashing and that you don't read and poison your mind with such toilets newspapers as The Sun or The Mirror...good thing indeed.

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  • 232. At 8:28pm on 28 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    Yasmine wrote:

    "why is it that suddenly Islam is the new boogie man of the West? weren't such laws the first seeds by which Nazism started against the Jews community?"

    I don't recall the Jews ever blowing up trains, subways or skyscrapers full of innocent people in the name of "Adonai". Their mistake was being successful. Thus equating restrictions on both is simply unfair to the Jews. Furthermore, Jews have one single advantage: They DO NOT proselytize. They stick to themselves and adapt to the societies in which they live, while maintaining their religious culture nevertheless. This is their strength. This is your weakness.

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  • 233. At 8:46pm on 28 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Isenhorn, No. 224: Thank you! 100% on the money! You tell them!

    The arrogance of these people! The value of this debate has been precisely in that, as much as anything else: it strips away the veil of deception.

    Memo to all Europeans of European ancestry: study your history. Then open your eyes. Then speak your mind.

    We did not start this battle. They did -- for a reason. And we cannot do anything now, except win it.

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  • 234. At 8:56pm on 28 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    and win it, we will

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  • 235. At 9:31pm on 28 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8484890.stm
    related news

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  • 236. At 10:31pm on 28 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

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  • 237. At 11:57pm on 28 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    221. At 3:11pm on 28 Jan 2010, politethinktank wrote:

    "By some people like yourself on this blog talking aganist the veil will not change the inner strength of the muslims. You will never understand what is a veil, because you are not muslim."


    No logical answers, politethinktank, are there? Usually when that happens people will hide behind "you do not understand", "my faith blah blah" and so on. No, people like me will never understand the face mask and you will never be able to brainwash us into thinking that such silliness will be rewarded in heaven.
    You still refuse to answer my question - if you are a male, why do you not cover your face? Do you not have the inner strength, the faith and the conviction. Don't you want to protect your dignity, your chastity?


    "We respect our imams even if they differ with us in their opinions. We have difference of opinion among ourselves over many issues. But we follow one religion. The difference of opinion is a blessing islam."

    Respecting imams is one thing, blindly following their advice is another. As for difference of opinion being a blessing in islam tell that to the shias or ahmadis in Pakistan.

    "1. France has 10 million muslims, the biggest in europe."

    So what? Quality does not automatically assure quality. If the 10 million are uneducated, mullah following jihadists then that is not much to boast about.

    "2. Increasing number of women are wearing veil. If one imam out of 1.2 billion muslims say this does not chnage anything."

    That one imam is being attacked by mobs. Would they attack him if they did not feel threatened? They are afraid that other muslims (those that have an open mind and are not afraid of logic) will listen to him. Attack appears to be the only real defense for these illogical propoganists of women's "free choice". You have not answered whether this is the external manifestation of their inner "spirituality", their "inner strength"? Here is what I learn from such incidents - "Faith" and "convictions" are not the "truth" and can be dangerous when they are not backed with sound logic.
    So what if there is an increase in the number of women wearing the veil. There is also an increase in the number of women dropping the veil as well. Many of them are even turning apostate and converting to other religions. You may be convinced with some silly (one sided) numbers game but as long as your beliefs are not backed by sense, they will be defeated and more people will see nonsense for what it is. 1 billion superstitious people do not change and shake civilizations. Only men and women with the right ideals and ideas can do that.


    "IF FRANCE PUT ONE RESTRICTION ON 1 WOMEN, 100 WILL BEGIN TO WEAR THE VEIL IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

    THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO?"

    Very simple, I (and people like me) will continue the fight against stupid beliefs, misogyny,ignorance and closemindedness. Do you think a bunch of misled women and controlling men will stop us?
    Actually, I lied in my previous post when I said I do not care about Saudi. I think Saudi laws must be changed to allow for more human rights - freedom of religion, women's rights etc. Let the Saudis open up their society and then we will see how many women really want to cover their faces out of their own "free choice". Moreover, we will find out how many people really believe in their religion.

    (Great job, by the way, complaining to the Brits about the French. Next job for you and your friends - complain to Kazhakistan)


    223. At 4:05pm on 28 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "It's a heck of a thing, I tell you, to harbour a prejudice against an entire gender."

    Yes, it would fall under the title "misogyny", "bigotry", which leads to "anger", "intolerance" and so on. (See, now you know why you were satisfied that you saw "anger" and "intolerance" on this thread.....)


    225. At 5:26pm on 28 Jan 2010, Just A Guy wrote:

    "Now, is it really so important to prohibit a cloth or is it more important to educate people to make the right choices for their own good and that of their own society?"

    I would say both are important - banning the the face cloth as well as educate - and can be done simultaneously. Are you going to allow child marriages until people are educated to recognize that it is wrong or do you ban it outright and then convince people why it is wrong?



    230. At 7:08pm on 28 Jan 2010, Yasmine wrote:

    " Have these persons infringed the laws, by violent, or any other actions that are universally banned by international laws? "

    In general, yes, people who commit crimes do wear masks to hide their identity.

    "Is it more important to banned & rejected what we chose not to understand in the west? is this form of aggressive repression really aims to develop or assist any women's emancipation? how? "

    Yes, it is very important to ban retrograde practices. It gives women the backing of the law when they are forced to cover their faces by their families (as happens in many cases). If they truly want to wear the veil, then they can stick to private domains. Why is this such a big problem? I say it is okay if a few women are inconvenienced in showing their faces in public domain as long as not even one woman is forced into hiding her face against her well.

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  • 238. At 00:23am on 29 Jan 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    No. 237, Janaki: Thank You!

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  • 239. At 00:55am on 29 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    #238 I second that

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  • 240. At 01:31am on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    236. ? Shocking.
    Well, I will be more daring then.

    MA @322, Btb.

    MaudDib @97, Fsbd.

    Freeborn John, @217, Fsbd.

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  • 241. At 02:07am on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    o. now - BBC norm. Why isn't my @136 moderated? I will complain to the Sports Lottery.
    And I was afraid I won't be able to sleep the night, until will see my 240 moderated.

    Qickly, quickly re-place "refrerred to" by " breaks the house rules".

    Whole 3 names of bloggers, whole 3 numbers of their posts, and whole three names of the threads where the posts were placed.

    That's all there is/was :o) in 240, no words I am afraid :o)))) but that was enough - fact.

    I knew it's personal.

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  • 242. At 02:10am on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    I am still stunned by truebeliever's comment about Saudi guaranteeing her liberties. Can one get more gullible than that? Maybe she did not hear the following -

    "I believe in equal right for everyone according to their circumstances....Women do have rights, but they are based on our view of their obligations in life." --Dr. Saleh al-Sheikh, the minister for Islamic affairs in Saudi Arabia (Source - wikipedia)

    So Miss Truebeliever, your rights in Saudi are based on Saleh and his ilks view of your obligation in life. Get it? Don't argue with us if you disagree. Take it up with Saleh.

    But remember, when you talk to Saleh, in a Saudi court your testament is worth only half that of a man. But I am sure such a system will guarantee your liberty...

    Also, consider each person's worth in Saudi. According to

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diyya

    The worth of a muslim woman and christian man is 1/2 that of a muslim man
    The worth of a christian woman is 1/4 that of a muslim man
    The worth of a Hindu man is 1/15 that of a muslim man
    The worth of a Hundu woman is 1/30 that of a muslim man

    Such a wonderful system developed with the idea justice and equality for all...

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  • 243. At 02:52am on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I am un-sure what type of "personal" it is.

    With my post 17, it is likely to be another blogger who hunts after my posts in particular. As Freeborn John wrote at 217 - he managed to read my post 17, before it disappered from the screen. So it's not moderators; moderators will simply keep it closed up until the interest to the burka threads expires. :o)))))

    Oh horrors can be the "doctor" is back :o))))))

    With 236 - looks like BBC - as I haven't seen it on screen even for a sec.

    oj oj oj Heavy life ahead if -the summary -both some good-willing individual and BBC will hunt after my posts.

    AS life became so un-sure I hurry up to thank MaudDib and Freeborn John who noticed that I am in trouble.



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  • 244. At 04:11am on 29 Jan 2010, JeanLeBon wrote:

    Well, it seems that very few European people really understand how this works.
    I know Mohamed, who came from Morocco, and with whom I occasionally have small talk when we meet in the street or at a shop. Once, as we ware talking, a fat elderly woman came by. She was not wearing a burka: her face was totally visible, but just the face. All the rest was covered in black, long cloths and a black veil. Mohamed was laughing: “Poor woman, it is totally useless to wear those black things. She’s so ugly that no man would look at her, whatever she wears or not wears!”
    So, it seems that only, and ONLY pretty women should wear such cloths, if they don’t want the men to look insistently at them and try to convince them to have sex.
    To enforce this, it is well known that a woman dressed like that has the full protection of her extended family (20-50 people). If you do something to her, those guys would come and do the same to the women of your family, or even exterminate you and your family. With such an immediate threat, it is a minor thing that her other protectors, those in the sky, will deny you access to the heaven where 72 virgins would wait for you and only for you.
    And the rest of the women (not wearing those cloths), all of them, are free to take by any man. No family clan will come to kill you, and even the watchers from the sky will look the other way.
    And on top of all this, women dressed in a provoking way (mini-skirts, shorts, tight trousers, etc.) are seen as simply begging all the man in the street for some sex! Of course, at the beginning they would pretend that’s not the case, but that’s just the rule of the game: by using a little bit of force, they would rapidly agree!
    It is just another way of seeing the things, you know, and in Europe must had been the same some centuries ago.

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  • 245. At 05:19am on 29 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/douglasmurray/100024056/geert-wilders-on-trial-for-telling-the-truth/

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  • 246. At 07:18am on 29 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    Just A Guy wrote: *********"Good for you Europeans resisted the atrocities of "muslims". Not one people in America can be proud of that as Europeans occupied and imposed religion, custums and values by force killing whoever opposed.

    And, too, occupied the continent for a few centuries. What is left, are bastard peoples. I use 'bastard' in the pure semantic sense as the peoples in Latin America are a bastard peoples from Spain; Brazilians mainly from Portugal but mixed with a good deal of African slave blood, also imported by Europeans and I should probably not mention the US and Canada not to offend anyone here.

    "That is in America (the continent)"********

    America is not a "continent." There is a North America and there is a South America. Those are two different continents. There is also the country America. Most people when they hear "America" they rightly think of the country. You might wish to consider that for your future posts so as to eliminate any possible confusion while you go about insulting the people of two continents, along with the Europeans.

    You say we are "bastard peoples" but would you have applied the same description to the people already in those two continents before Europeans arrived?

    After all, many of the people already there "occupied and imposed religion, customs and values by force killing whoever opposed" long before Europeans arrived. They also made slaves of those they conquered. In some cases they simply butchered you and ate you.

    How about it, were they also "bastard peoples" too? Or does your hate only apply to Europeans or those with European ancestry?

    "Should we speak of European interventionism in the other continents?"

    Are you also willing to speak of "interventionsism" amongst the different people and tribes of Africa long before Europeans showed up?

    "Eventually for France, the policy backfired and 'French' blood is now mixed with, e.g., that of northern Africa. With all what that implies (religion, etc.)"

    France has a long history and culture that has nothing to do with the worse of a certain "religion."

    The burka doesn't belong in France and doesn't belong in any Western culture.



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  • 247. At 07:39am on 29 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    In a secular society it is not normal for people/women to dress as a faceless solid black object ; anymore than it is normal for nudists to walk naked down a city street . It is acceptible for clerics who have been ordained as priests to wear black as a professional uniform expressing sobriety , but they do not hide their faces .
    Ordinary indigenous natives of European Christian countries ; find the faceless black object , shouting a religion is offensive , both to the eye and psychologically . 9/11 and subsequent atrocities have caused strong anti Muslim feeling in the western world ; women who wear the Burkha in Europe do not understand that they are doing no service to their faith .
    Indigenous Europeans see the Burkha as an" In Your Face ", " Down Your Throat " insult to their civility ; it prevents any possibility of social integration and causes hostility to the Muslim faith invading Christian Europe .
    Perhaps a way of overcoming an impass or potentially more divisive situation ; dare I suggest that the Burkha might be less offensive if it was made of chinz with a light coloured background and covered with flowers , with an openable face flap . Ladies could be seen as a pillar of roses or an herbacious border floating down the street ; on entering a bank or public building they could open the face flap to identify themselves .

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  • 248. At 08:08am on 29 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    Thank you Jan_Keeskop .
    Yesterday I did try clicking next , but it took me back to the beginning . This is quite an impassioned argument .
    Thanks Again

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  • 249. At 08:29am on 29 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    Alice@243,

    I see the Russian 5th generation fighter plane has taken to the skies. Thought I should congratulate you on the achievement- after all, it is only the second of this class in the world. Good day for the Indians as well- it might turn out that their persistence with Russian technology might pay off in the end.

    P.S. Apologies to everyone for the off-topic.

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  • 250. At 09:12am on 29 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    MR DemocracyThreat

    When you (automatically) ..."deign" to argue with more intellectually endowed and much more learned Women than yourself, you identify yourself as psychotically bigoted.

    no offense, just..a "word to the wise." Your hatred of women is scary to others, but

    Yes, this comment is worth the grotesque diatribe that will, from you, follow.

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  • 251. At 10:32am on 29 Jan 2010, euormartin wrote:

    Isn't this the same old story over whether to accept that which is different. As a youth I was frequently harassed for wearing a beard and long hair. Why stop with a dress that looks a little different but which in fact brings a little diversity to society. The idea that women are being forced to wear the Burka is weak. What is worrying is the reaction of politicians who are not performing very well on this issue. Its just like my long hair and beard, after some time people get used to it.

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  • 252. At 12:08pm on 29 Jan 2010, Stefano wrote:

    having worked in a number of Middle Eastern coutries over the last few years I've noticed that Westerners are expected to follow the laws of the country they're in. This also includes dressing according to local customs and laws (no bare arms,women cover the heads,etc). Where exactly is the problem in accepting the same to be true once the direction of travel is reversed? Turkey, a Muslim country, already has a ban on headscarves in force yet this is barely cited. Are the complainants simply out to inflame local opinion or is it a case of attention seeking by someone who has converted but never actually experienced the true oppression of women in backward places such as Afghanistan?

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  • 253. At 12:29pm on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    252. At 12:08pm on 29 Jan 2010, Stefano wrote:

    "or is it a case of attention seeking by someone who has converted but never actually experienced the true oppression of women in backward places such as Afghanistan?"

    Quite possibly. Most of these Western female converts would have converted only because of marriage. They have the liberty to do what they want. They have never grown up in completely islamic countries where fathers can sell their daughters in marriage at 8. Take a look at this report - http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/saudi_girl_12_sold_in_marriage_to_80-year-old_relative

    I am sure truebeliever and others of her kind will rush to defend the liberties of the 8 year old and the 12 year old in the report.

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  • 254. At 12:33pm on 29 Jan 2010, SAIF wrote:

    First i would like to say Saudi Arabia is a Islamic country and has shariah laws where as most of the countries like France are secular so no one compare both the countries.

    Secondly we can see from history that there are always few people who are on right path in the world. do you know Prophet Isa(Jesus) A.S had only 120 companions when he left even Prophet Nuh(Noah) A.S had only 82-84 people who followed him to his arc.

    Third as from France also we can see there are around 5 million Muslims. May be there are 3 million women.from there may be 1.5 million girl under age so we are left with 1.5 million or 1 million women who should actually wear veil but has given every one choice to choose between good and bad.then we know now that 1900 women who wear veil.

    fourth no one is worried about women being naked in movies and sex tapes and video.

    fifth women with veil is more protected then without veil.
    can any body compare between and tell me how many laddies being raped who wear veil and don't wear veil.do you know there are more rape in west then in Islamic countries. Because punishment in Islamic country for rape is either lashes or stoning a person till he die.

    sixth women with veil has more value then any other women without it because women in Islam is more valuable then any other religion.As we know if it has value it has to be protected.Like we protect our property like business and house with electric fence and alarm system we have security guard.jewelery we have also have bank lockers cash we have account with password and signature etc.
    women in Islam is more then all this so has to have more secured in that sense veil is the best security with any cost by her self.

    and last as a Muslim we believe we will have to give our answers of to ALLAH.

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  • 255. At 1:23pm on 29 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    As with many of the topics on the BBC Euroblog, the issue (if we filter out the bigoted comments) comes down to relative priorities. As the Downing Street response to the e-petition (221) says "Laicite, a 1905 (French) law that separates church and state, is viewed as second only to universal suffrage in its importance to Republican values". This prioritisation means the French state feels entitled to suppress individual liberty to express your religion in the public sphere, so long as everyone is equally unfree to do so.

    In the English-speaking world the separation of church and state is part of the liberal tradition and not something used to suppress it. The separation of church and state is justified on grounds of tolerance, i.e. respecting the differences between the faiths of the various groups in society. We don't seek to crush these differences in order to make everyone equally unfree, or even to conform to some 'norm', because we don't believe a just society is one in which the loss of freedom for some can ever be made right by the greater good of others. This underpins the basic difference between the policies of multi-culturism and forced assimilation. Rates of taxation, whether the state spends its revenue on guns or butter, etc. are all fit subjects for political bargaining and votes in parliament, but not the basic rights of the individual.

    In my opinion, Laicite is a relic of an age when the French were seeking to root out the influence of the Catholic Church from an area of public life (the state) where it did not belong. But there is no place for suppressing individual liberty in the 21st century in the name of a battle won centuries ago.

    Now some comments here indicate the basic right at stake is not religious expression, but women’s rights; that a woman has a right to lead her life as she wishes and she cannot want to wear a burka, which is therefore a prison into which the menfolk of her community have placed her. If this were true then the state should intervene to protect her from her menfolk. But there is not much evidence from niquab-wearing women making comments here that it is true.

    Others comment that we are at war with Islam, implying the rights of women who wear the veil should be suspended for the duration of the conflict like the rights of those in Guantanamo to a trial. We are at war with those who fly planes into buildings or blow up trains and buses, and those who train and finance them, but not Islam in general or innocent muslim women in the streets. And i don't get the impression that those who make this argument plan on restoring rights once the conflict is over.

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  • 256. At 1:44pm on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    255. At 1:23pm on 29 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    "But there is not much evidence from niquab-wearing women making comments here that it is true. "

    You are selectively choosing a couple of comments to make this statement. Women that are forced into it are not likely to be commenting in this blog. But on this blog, muslims themselves have acknowledged that some women are made to wear the veil by their families. Why do you ignore those comments? I have myself had experience with young girls and women who hated it but were forced to wear it. I even know a young girl who used to step out of her house in the burkha to please her family and once out of sight remove it.

    "Others comment that we are at war with Islam, implying the rights of women who wear the veil should be suspended for the duration of the conflict like the rights of those in Guantanamo to a trial."

    This has nothing to do with islam really. Everyone needs to be show their face in public places for identification purposes, communication purposes, security purposes. There is no discrimination towards anybody. Same rule applies for all.

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  • 257. At 2:10pm on 29 Jan 2010, crash wrote:

    I applaud the French for this, really if you want to wear a burka do not move to France,pretty simple really why must the majority bend to the minority every time ?

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  • 258. At 2:20pm on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Editorial warning: I don't care if this post is removed either by some well-willing blogger or BBC; morally prepared to it. Who are we, after all, what we do on this planet, all is dust and will turn into dust. No difference at all if I am heard or not. Who cares if this blog exists overall. All is relative. Opinions aren't important. Important is to be shrewed and survive my time. In 100 years no one will remember anyway and even tomorrow.

    (I am busy growing a thicker skin. Currently looking at rhino fashions.)

    Protection of women seems not a point in burka French exercise. But I am not sure, would be sure only if knew the current well-being status of burka wearers in France. Burka-wearing lawers and doctors (as pointed up by the burka-wearers themselves) must not be the poorest people around, but quite able to provide for themselves. In this case the burka, apart from satisfying own religious drive, has a second advantage as a tool of the niche marketing, attracting specific audience as clientele. Nothing wrong with that, niche marketing is a known concept that works. So they are not going to become poor and are likely to thrive and good for them and all.
    Other professions of burka wearers were not mentioned so far.
    ?
    Only photos of shopping mall visitors, which also presumes availability of means for existence.

    If a research of that kind was done, on the 1,900 burka-wearers in France, I wouldn't wonder if all of them will prove quite well-off ladies, able to think for themselves what's better for them.

    Now, I've got a French freind, Isabelle. Suppose she becomes fond of Muslim religion and becomes a Muslim.

    (will continue in another post because this one might not last 2 seconds and I am not paid for typing it so why in fact
    Nothing but the bad habit, like smoking, hard to quit at once.

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  • 259. At 2:41pm on 29 Jan 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    255. At 1:23pm on 29 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:
    ‘In the English-speaking world the separation of church and state is part of the liberal tradition and not something used to suppress it’

    And that is precisely why the British have done such a half-assed job of the separation of the church and state. The very reason why the British liberal tradition of trying to accommodate everybody has led to some not at-all-liberal religious traditions being imposed on a society, which as a whole rejects them thoroughly.

    I need to ask you some questions, Freeborn John. Where do the Cable Street Riots stand in your opinion? Where they completely incompatible with your notion of a just society ’in which the loss of freedom for some can never be made right by the greater good of others’? Were the protesters against the lawful march of the fascists endorsing their notion of ‘forceful assimilation’ or were they protesting against something, which was the complete opposite of the ethos of their society? And finally, which side do you think was more representative of the general British public at the time?

    Now, you might want to claim that the people who oppose the ban on burqa are akin to the antifascists at the time. What I am sure about is, however, that at that time the British people were, and still are, able to recognise a ‘black shirt’ [pun intended] when they see one.

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  • 260. At 2:48pm on 29 Jan 2010, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    Stefano: On post 252 one Turkish view (that of a journalist who doesn’t wear a headscarf) on the Turkish law can be found here.

    In other news in the “if you don’t like it, move” vein, a native-born German family recently had their request for political asylum in the US accepted by an American immigration judge. Why? Apparently because homeschooling is against the law in Germany.

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  • 261. At 3:17pm on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    260. At 2:48pm on 29 Jan 2010, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    "Stefano: On post 252 one Turkish view (that of a journalist who doesn’t wear a headscarf) on the Turkish law can be found here."

    I found the following statement very telling in the article -

    "Typically, prohibition supporters don’t attack devout Muslim men, whose unacceptable ideas can be concealed behind a clean shave and a smart suit. Yet those men may be responsible for their wives’ or daughters’ headscarves."

    In other words the women follow the dictates of the devout men with unacceptable ideas. How does she know a ban will be a step backwards? That is only an opinion not really borne by facts. Turkey flourished when the ban was in place.

    However, the author mixes up headscarfs and face veil. Nobody objects to the head covering (even if we think it is silly and an unfair religious practice when targeted against one gender), only to the face covering.

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  • 262. At 3:38pm on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    - continued (temporarily) from post 258 -
    So, suppose my friend Isabelle in Paris becomes fond of Islam and starts wearing burka.

    Now, I've been once with her running from work to kindergarten to pick up her daughter. Work ends at 5, the child she had to pick up not later than 6, otherwise as she explained troubles with the kindergarten owners.

    So, suppose she was driving through traffic-laden Paris in full burka attire. Somehow can't imagine. We were anyway 30 seconds before/after being late, and were very sweeties sweet with the kindergarten folks, and anyway she talked about close escape for an hour after, in mad run drive, and the last thing she would want on her eyes is a film of black gauze in that traffic.
    Somehow burka doesn't fit that exercise, in my memoirs.
    Neither i saw a single burka wearer in her big multinational company office. many people on many floors, but all dressed ordinary. ?

    I don't know if one can work in a big multinational in that attire. Must be that can, but am not sure it happens.

    Take a job interview, for starters. One would think it is difficult to get a good job in crisis enough, without showing up for the interview in full burka. This would block it in the first place, though of course no one would admit it's "because of what you were". An employer will always find other reasons to quote why one is turned down.

    So, not practical, again.

    Over all I think that if someone is a poor body, who had just re-located to France from another country, and is going through all the asylums, documents, paperwork, badly willing to get a French citizenship - that person wouldn't like to stress the differences but will try to look as "ordinary" as possible, and will not make own life more difficult by visiting all multiple offices and places which one has to visit to obtain permit for living in another country or a new citizenship in the full burka out-fitt. Hard enough without.

    So what can one do in burka, apart from seeing customers as a doc or as a lawyer in a small office and going shopping.
    Do fully-dressed burka wearers work as supermarket cashiers in France? Hard to tell.
    Do they work as flight attendants on Air France?
    Hard to tell.
    Do they work in Renault conveior?
    Hard to tell.

    Even carrots at home you can't cut well on a cutting board in the kitchen if you are wearing the full out-fit. Hard to see what you are cutting. So for all home work a woman is relieved of burka by definition, otherwise she won't do it. Reasonable.

    My point is a burka life style requires a private shauffeur, in most of the cases, to pick up kids from nursery between end of work and kindergarten end, for example.

    It is expensive to allow oneself to wear a burka. Not all can afford.
    For couples where both parents are working, and there isn't a private driver, their life will be aggravated by many hardships, if one spouse will put on a burka.
    Well, when you don't work but are retired, I guess one can allow herself.

    I don't even know if it's allowed in France to drive in full attire. What about black film over your eyes and side vision?

    What I am saying is that women who can allow themselves a burka in France seem to be well-off. And for others who are not well-off - it's un-affordable a life style, for simple practical considerations.
    So no scare in this respect, unless of course all in France become so rich that can allow themselves to be cut of 90% of the jobs and all get equipped with private drivers. A natural limit on the fashion spread, if you wish.

    As to other women, both rich and poor, but MADE to wear burka-s in other countries - we aren't discussing them, are we? It's France, blog on France, in particular.
    Unless eh, well, some bloggers here put their paws on Saudi Arabia and are able to boss around there how to make them "normal" in own understanding - it's shaking empty air.

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  • 263. At 4:24pm on 29 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    Isenhorn #249
    Now if WA can get that boat from the French. We're talking about one happy Russian.

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  • 264. At 4:50pm on 29 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    Janaki (256) said "Everyone needs to be show their face in public places for identification purposes, communication purposes, security purposes ...."

    Not in the UK, where the rule is that the police do not have the power to demand identification from someone in a public place, unless they have good cause to believe that person is up to no good. (Special rules apply at specific places like airports, banks etc. but there seems to be no problem with woman who wear a veil not complying with those rules).

    Alice (258/262): There is a series on BBC2 Television at the moment "Muslim Driving School" which follows the lives of some driving instructors in Lancashire and their students. I only saw the latest episode, and can't quite remember the occupation of all the learner drivers. Nice program though which is available on iPlayer, but almost certainly not to view outside the UK. There is a little bit of text about each episode and the lives of the characters at the following location.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00q9k77

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  • 265. At 5:04pm on 29 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    janaki wrote:

    " democracythreat wrote:
    "It's a heck of a thing, I tell you, to harbour a prejudice against an entire gender."

    Yes, it would fall under the title "misogyny", "bigotry", which leads to "anger", "intolerance" and so on."

    The sound of your kind snapping shut like a steel trap momentarily distracts me from the spectacle of David swallowing his own tongue in a fit of excited fawning.

    To clear the air for the intellectual giants such as David, I would claim that my words were written in jest. I do not really hate women.

    I like women, David. In ways you can only imagine.

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  • 266. At 5:35pm on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    264. At 4:50pm on 29 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:
    "(Special rules apply at specific places like airports, banks etc. but there seems to be no problem with woman who wear a veil not complying with those rules)."

    Which is a problem. Who knows, maybe other countries will soon follow suit in banning face masks in public places. It is only sensible.

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  • 267. At 5:50pm on 29 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    WA
    I have recommended your post @ 236 to the moderators. Way to inflammatory. :}

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  • 268. At 6:16pm on 29 Jan 2010, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    janaki: Regarding post 261, the headscarf ban was lifted in February 2008, but Turkey’s constitutional court annulled the lifting of the ban in June 2008 ― and there is no appeal to that court’s decision. The article by the Turkish journalist in my last post is referring to the present day: the ban is now in effect in Turkey.

    Your “in other words” are overly broad: “the women could be following the dictates of the devout men with unacceptable ideas” would be closer to the mark. We’ve heard from a few Muslim posters here who wear head coverings of their own volition.

    The journalist didn’t mix up face veils and headscarves: in Turkey, both are banned (for those who attend university or who work on state premises, including [among others] teachers, lawyers, and journalists).

    If the burqa ban becomes French law, and it gets appealed up to the ECHR, then the case of Leyla Şahin v. Turkey might be looked at as a precedent, where the Turkish ban was upheld. One part of the commentary at that link caught my eye:

    The Court frequently refers to the legitimate aim of ‘protecting the rights and freedoms of others’. Several of the cases cited can be placed in this category, in particular the judgments of Chassagnou v. France and Young, James and Webster v. United Kingdom. The invocation of this legitimate aim and the passages from these cited cases, however, is highly problematic in the Şahin case, for two related reasons: (1) At issue in Şahin are not the rights and freedoms of others (those who feel threatened in the exercise of their freedom of religion by the wearing of scarves by others?) but the perceived threat to the structure and survival of the Turkish Republic; (2) The Şahin case does not concern the domination of a (religious) minority by an intolerant majority as a large majority of people in Turkey adheres to the Muslim faith.


    (My replacement of bold in the original with either plain or oblique here.)

    I’ll leave it to the real lawyers here to contemplate what the range of ECHR judgments could be.

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  • 269. At 7:18pm on 29 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    268. At 6:16pm on 29 Jan 2010, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    I have not been following the case of the headscarf in Turkey. There is no problem here with the headscarf (provided it is of one's own choice).

    "Your “in other words” are overly broad: “the women could be following the dictates of the devout men with unacceptable ideas” would be closer to the mark. We’ve heard from a few Muslim posters here who wear head coverings of their own volition."

    Maybe it was too broad and perhaps there I was injecting from my own personal experiences. So let me restate - "Some women are forced into following the dictates of the devout men with unacceptable ideas"

    "The journalist didn’t mix up face veils and headscarves: in Turkey, both are banned"

    However, what France aims is only the ban on the face covering burkha. I personally do not believe in headscarfs or any other piece of clothing aimed at any specific group, but I do not support headscarf ban. The face veil however, is a totally different thing and the author does not draw the difference between the two. Also, I think the argument- "if we ban the full burkha, then some women will be confined to the home" - as being totally incompatible with the principle of women's liberties. I don't buy the idea that a woman needs to cover her face to be seen in the public.

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  • 270. At 8:16pm on 29 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    looks like the Pro-Burka voices have run out of arguments...

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  • 271. At 9:04pm on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    MaudDib, now, how did you dare to refer my 236 ? The world will miss the content to the Doom's day!
    In fact I was guided in it by the old Sov. approach, now a Russian approach, the wisdom (that seems never to go out of fashion) goes:
    "One revolutionary stands by the subway and hands out leaflets. People take them, nod, "aha, sure, long due that someone said it", etc. Comes the police grabs the chap takes away.
    One foreigner sees the scene (he also took a leaflet) so he glances in it, turns it over, and understands in fact what he got is a clean sheet of A4. Asks a nearby Russian for explanations, what is going on here, the chap explains him "the police took the chap for the call to ovver-turn the government and current regime". The foreigner asks "How did you know, nothing is written there?"
    The Russian says "ah, what to write, everything is long clear"

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  • 272. At 9:47pm on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Cheryando, @270, I am sure most burka-wearers who read this blog took them off. One glance through the posts - at the iron step of all the good-willing people, you can't help it.


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  • 273. At 10:03pm on 29 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Isenhorn @249, well, if anything, may be will be cheaper than the other. It's an old Sov. thing left un-financed since perestroyka, and, how to say, radar development didn't stay in place since that, now none of them are alas "invisible". So it's about developing other plane qualities, in the most part. And this one is still a prototype, slightly more "prototypy" than the Sov. one, but still not the thing. Might be one, if India is happy with the show. Then they will contribute to it by electronics (our traditionally weak spot), but the main thing why we raised it from ashes is because they said if we will, they'll buy 250.
    Huge order, and they'll pre-finance their order, so that the factory has money to bring the plane, how we say "to brain". To the clever conditions.

    "TV says Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory ran a formal show, for potential customers, of the new invisible plane prototype.
    - And, how was it?
    - All fine. The customers said they didn't even see the plane."

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  • 274. At 11:28pm on 29 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    Gheryando wrote:
    "looks like the Pro-Burka voices have run out of arguments..."

    And so we are all blessed that the anti burka voices have won the day, and can now start telling us how to live.

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  • 275. At 00:22am on 30 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And what happened to the French fashion industry; the traditional weapon. Is it un-able these days to come up with something that looks more attractive to women than a burka?

    "Trade turnover between Russia and France grows.
    They are sending us perfumed water that we drink; Russians, in response, send France vodka, from which they get shadows around the eyes"
    :o)))))

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  • 276. At 00:27am on 30 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    o, two new.

    - A boy, or a girl? A girl, or a boy? A
    - Come on, do an ultra-sound finally!

    - Go away! We are talking here politics. Discuss 2nd round of Ukrainian elections.
    :o))))

    After previous elections, the 1st round, Putin hurried to congratulate Janukovich. Which, in part, costed Janukovich the president's chair. So, who did Putin congratulate this time?
    - Nobody. This time Putin accepts congratulations.
    :o))))

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  • 277. At 02:28am on 30 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    webalice,

    why do you insist on writing my name with a C?

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  • 278. At 02:29am on 30 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    at least write it with double "r" :)

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  • 279. At 03:04am on 30 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Apologies. Blind. And must be I wanted instinctively :o) more r-r- thus came up with Cherry Cheryando. (How will I do it now? What have you done? )
    I will think hard what can start with G to go with Gheryando.

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  • 280. At 03:28am on 30 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    What about Goofy. Just kidding. :]
    Although a well known movie star in US.

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  • 281. At 05:12am on 30 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    From Open Europe:

    MEPs on the European Parliament's Budget Committee voted on Wednesday in favour of increasing MEPs' allowances for hiring assistants by €1,500 a month. They are claiming that the additional cash is needed to help them deal with the new powers awarded to the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty. They also voted to hire an extra 150 staff to help with their increased workload. (European Voice, 28 January)



    This latest increase in MEPs' allowances will cost EU taxpayers an additional €13.3 million, and increase the European Parliament's budget to €1.6 billion this year. In total, MEPs already have around £360,000 available to them in salaries, and various allowances and expenses. (OE blog, May 2009)



    In response to the vote, European Voice Deputy Editor Tim King wrote an article arguing, "For 40 years, a near-secret agreement has governed how the three main institutions of the European Union divide up administrative spending...Forty years on, it is obvious to many outside observers that the Parliament has more money than it knows what to do with." (European Voice: King, 28 January)



    Separately the EP's Budgetary Control Committee published a document detailing the EP's budget in 2008/09, which reveals that the Parliament lost 54,000 sick days in 2008. It also reveals that the Parliament spent €2.3 million renovating its sports centre, €4.3million on a new visitor centre, despite the fact that it already has one, and hundreds of thousands of pounds on gas-guzzling luxury cars which emit as much as 260 CO2 g/km. It also shows that the cost of repairing the ceiling in the European Parliament's second seat in Strasbourg was €8.8 million. (Committee document)

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  • 282. At 05:21am on 30 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100024359/does-hillary-clinton-believe-in-national-sovereignty/

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  • 283. At 05:28am on 30 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 284. At 06:23am on 30 Jan 2010, U14312152 wrote:

    @179 Maria Ashot
    I agree with most of your arguments, based on what we call universal values and common sense. Of course, I should add that the said values have been shaped in a day-to-day struggle ever since the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord. The reference is pure historical.
    What I would permit myself to say as interpretation of the argument of those who in the name of the preservation of THEIR IDENTITY, try to impose their moral norms in our world (I mean within the EU), is very simple: if your world of traditions and rules of living is of vital necessity for your mere existence, you have nothing to do here, among us who do not share them. You are doomed to accept our rules and standards of coexistence, or go…
    Of course, this is not so simple to realise in a society where the human rights are the basic value of our existence. Where is the end of the compromise so necessary to make, and where is the beginning of the relatively acceptable coexistence between all ethnic groups? I think we should ask ourselves first if all the gains of our (Christian) civilisation do not represent a fertile ground for the many Muslim people to promote values and rules of their own that are nothing else than an illustration of the evident truth that THEIR WORLD is being continually destroyed by the pressing realities we face every day?

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  • 285. At 06:33am on 30 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    WebAliceinwonderland
    I read a comment addressed to me and other readers , in the Berlusconi Blog , that no matter what the subject, Literature should always be interesting to read . I so agree with you ! My father and Uncle were both highly educated and literary men , able to write on a serious scientific subjects that made them interesting almost racey reading .

    In my youth we lived in a castle , with thousands of acres , as far as the eye could see . There was a beautiful library , sacrosanct to my father . When I was about 11/12yrs old , on wet winter days when my father had gone out , I used to sneak into the library and spend hours browsing through wonderful books . One day my father came home unexpectedly early and caught me there . To my surprise , he wasn't cross ; he asked me if I was looking for a good book to read . Books , mostly leather bound covered all subjects , from Theology , with pages uncut , through sciences , histories , famous writers and poets , Graphic Arts , to modern novels . My father would select a couple of books for me to read that he thought would be interesting . The books he gave me were always beautifully written , interesting and exciting , unputdownable reading . Right through my teens , my father recommended books for me to read .

    When I was at school , we had set books for reading English Literature , many of which I found boring to the point of unreadable . I encouraged my children to read exciting even sexy books , that would get them started , later they too acquired the taste for well written books .

    Today I am so spoiled , that when I go to a bookshop to buy a book ; I open a book in the middle and read a couple of pages . I often find a new book by this years best selling author unreadable chit-chat .

    I am glad that you have found an outlet on these political blogs . I think many of us are beginning to enjoy your , wise , interesting , amusing comments ; which though they are not always on the subject , perhaps are parallel to it , give us pause for thought and make us smile .

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  • 286. At 08:38am on 30 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    Good comments, Web Alice...

    I've finally gotten back to work, this week, so, I am in a better mood.

    so, they are being zealous in moderating your comments? That is too bad.

    Unemployment benefits here are not good. My pay is just a little bit better - a very little bit),but

    I did miss the people alot. I had forgotten how nice co-workers can be, but the management is the same. (very stressed out and running hot/cold)

    We have people in headscarves here at work, but nobody in a burka. I always think its hilarious when people here say "foreigners come here to take our jobs,"

    because the actual jobs they do take are jobs few Americans have the ability to do--scientists, doctors, corporate head managers and CPA accountants. We NEED these immigrants...here.

    Oh yes, and engineer is a favorite job of Muslim immigrants coming here. I'm not good at physics or calculus (grade D was my average and THAT was after much much effort):O)))

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  • 287. At 09:08am on 30 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

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  • 288. At 09:14am on 30 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    @ Janaki

    From your erroneous statements, it is evident that you have very limited 'knowledge' about the condition of women living in Saudi Arabia.
    If, (as you incorrectly claim) I have ''no real liberties'' as a woman living in Saudi Arabia, then to put it quite simply, I wouldn't choose to live here.
    Calm down, stop letting off steam, you sound extremely angry; try thinking carefully before you post your ill-informed comments.

    It is pure arrogance to make so many presumptions about the lives of others, women that you know nothing about. What would you know about the interactions between Muslim women (converts) from the West, and their sisters in Islam from the East? What would you know about the ways in which I as a Muslim woman have engaged and inspired my Saudi sisters in faith or better still the many ways in which they have engaged and greatly inspired me?
    I am extremely grateful for the fact that I have lived, studied and worked alongside these women rich and poor, young and old; that I am privy to details about their lives that so many others will never know. Saudi women, contrary to popular belief are confident individuals, intelligent, and vivacious, loving their country and importantly loving their religion too.
    What have YOU done other than rant and rave at the keyboard, to fight for rights of the women that are tragically suffering from oppression in your own back yard? Women of ALL religions and ideologies, of ALL nations and cultures suffer, in one way or another from oppression and subjugation.

    You deliberately misrepresent the details of the tragic events that occurred when teenage girls died in a blaze at a school in Makkah and for what reason may I ask? Simply to score brownie points on a discussion board! That incident had absolutely nothing to do with the face veil; those girls were quite rightly and quite sensibly trying to escape from a fire in their school building without wearing any outer garments at all.

    I mean for crying out loud, what do you think I as a 'burka' wearing woman would do, if a fire raged through my house in the middle of the night? Fumble around searching for a head scarf? As a parent my initial concern would be to save my children and get out safely…it's human nature, and the dictates of my FAITH and CONVICTION tell me that that would be the correct thing to do in those circumstances. Anyone and everyone should be able to understand that. This is why following the incident of the fire at the school, public outrage swept across the country, the likes of which many had never seen before. I know what I'm talking about as I lived here at the time, people, men and women were very angry and wanted answers. Those girls R.I.P did NOT die in vain. Such events could not and HAVE not been repeated in the 8 years since. It is important to mention that the subsequent enquiry that followed found that appalling health and safety conditions played a major role in the deaths and injuries that occurred that day.

    Your claim that women in Saudi Arabia have no choice about the face veil is simply untrue. On a daily basis one will see plenty of women who do not wear the niqab going about their daily lives. One will also see a small number of women (particularly in the large shopping malls) without any head covering at all. These women are mainly foreigners as it is uncommon to see Saudi women without the full attire. The Saudi women are comfortable with their head to toe garments because along with its religious significance, many see the 'burka' which here they refer to as an 'Abaya' as part of their national identity of which they are proud.

    ''You cannot drive in Saudi Arabia''. Honestly if only I had a pound for each time someone spat that one out! There is nothing in Islamic law to prevent women from driving and the women here simply take it in their stride. Believe or not in their private lives Saudi women usually get what they want. Many families have resident/non resident drivers ready to chauffeur women like VIPs to any destination they choose. Schools, colleges and universities provide bus services for women that will pick students up and drop them off right up to their front doors. In most cases it is the men who foot the bill for such services so it's burning a hole in their pockets. Places of work usually provide free transport for their female employees.
    In reality women drove in Saudi Arabia before the ban and there is no doubt that women will drive again. It's more of a question of when and not if, many western women living here point out that it is actually nice not HAVING to drive. Incidentally the ban on women driving is only enforced in the cities and not in rural areas. Bedouin women, (for example) drive and many male relatives actually teach their female relatives to drive on family trips to these areas.

    ''You cannot stay in a hotel by yourself''. Oh really? Check this out:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7922279.stm

    It's brilliant! There are more ventures like this in the pipe-line, and this is why segregation of the sexes in public life is actually a good thing for Muslim women. Separate services for women ensure that our needs are met and brought to the forefront. Whole institutions and private sector initiatives run by women for women! This creates unique opportunities for women (of all class backgrounds) to work side by side without compromising their religious ideals.

    So whilst you continue to scour the internet, frantically searching for any scrap of information that you can find about this country. I on the other hand will continue to gain first-hand experience of life here as a woman. Every single type of oppression that any woman may face here is a cultural one, not an Islamic one. In fact Islamic education is the key to ensuring that women receive the many rights that ISLAM has afforded them. The right to life, the right to education, the right own property and keep their earnings. The right not to be forced or sold in marriage. Islam has given women these rights and many more.

    Janaki, you addressed me and I have responded. I've said my piece, and now I am done. Due to the unpalatable manner in which you write I will not be responding to you again.

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  • 289. At 09:16am on 30 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    Oops seems as if I accidentally double posted, my bad.

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  • 290. At 10:20am on 30 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    No offense to Janaki, but

    True Believer does raise an interesting point about cultural rules being more relevant than religion regarding rules in "Muslim countries."

    Society is more than just religious rules. Maybe some societies are more conservative and more likely to adopt Islam as their religion.

    But earlier, in some previous debate, someone said that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Maybe the reason for this is the poverty in so many of these nations.

    People need relief from suffering, so they turn to Islam. One should remember, though, 60 years ago (and after) many many poor nations turned to Communism or Socialism for economic relief and NOW, all those nations, except a few, have gone back to capitalism.

    So next, perhaps, these Islamic nations will turn to capitalism--some are capitalist already. Many Islamic nations are semi-socialist--and I'm not judging them--but these nations that turn to capitalism probably will retain Islam as their main religion.

    :) regards,

    David

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  • 291. At 10:30am on 30 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    Also, don't write off Janaki.

    Maybe she wasn't meaning insult to you. Maybe she is assertive in her opinions.

    One can use people as sources of information and change their/your opinions, someday.

    Malcolm X did change in HIS life, becoming more tolerant at the very time he went on a pilgramage (sp?) to Mecca.

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  • 292. At 11:20am on 30 Jan 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    When considering this particular topic of Female head-wear and every other aspect of Islam's influence on Human behaviours it is worth remembering the following:

    Every member of Islam is enjoined that, "..the Qur'an is the message of the All-Wise and All-Knowing God whose wisdom and knowledge are far beyond the ultimate in human thought and progress.."

    Oh look!

    There goes a Woman covered from head-to-toe in public in 2010.

    An 'All-Wise' and 'All-Knowing' 'God'?

    Yeah right...

    Next!

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  • 293. At 11:36am on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    David wrote:
    "But earlier, in some previous debate, someone said that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Maybe the reason for this is the poverty in so many of these nations.

    People need relief from suffering, so they turn to Islam. One should remember, though, 60 years ago (and after) many many poor nations turned to Communism or Socialism for economic relief and NOW, all those nations, except a few, have gone back to capitalism."

    That is an interesting comment, David. I would make only a few observations to qualify the general idea.

    Firstly, I wonder if, rather than suffering people turning to Islam, Islam turns to them? I was struck a few years back by an observation from an aid worker in Pakistan who noted the grinding poverty and suffering in the region, and the mere fact that Islam as an institution was the only charitable candidate on offer for the vast hordes of young children. There was nobody else willing to devote time and money and effort educating the unwanted mass of children in the region, except for the Islamic missionaries.

    Now these children were and are truly suffering. They are literally starving in many instances, and they are being neglected in the most profound ways. No education, no food, no shelter. And it is only the Islamic priests who are willing to sacrifice their lives towards the betterment of these children.

    In that sense, perhaps the analogy you draw towards soviet communism is also valid. The soviets, like the Immans, had a huge mass of uncared for people to assist with their ideology. And, despite the ideological arguments, they did help a huge number of people. They killed a lot, too, but then they were under sustained assault and military attack from the capitalist west. But whatever their crimes, the soviets dragged hundreds of million of people out of the grinding poverty and suffering of theocracy and feudalism and into the modern world, where children go to school and have enough to eat. Ideology aside, that change happened.

    And that is why the second reservation I have with your comments is the idea that former soviet nations have "gone back to capitalism". I mean, you are right. I don't disagree with you. But i have reservations about that concept. "Going back to capitalism" is a double edged phrase. It could mean evolving towards a richer and more fair society, or alternatively it could mean being bombed back into the stone age, and inhabiting a smashed country with no effective government.

    Capitalism has no favourites, in terms of regimes respecting human rights. Capitalism doesn't even favour technology over brute force and child labour.

    As the president of Iceland just remarked, western values are supported by the twin pillars of capitalism AND democracy.

    I would offer the view that it is not a lack of capitalism which cause so much suffering in the world, but rather a lack of democracy. And I don't mean the kind of corporate sponsored sham democracy the UK and the USA export to other weaker countries in order to exploit their natural resources.

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  • 294. At 1:51pm on 30 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    To TrueBeliever .
    I have carefully read your long message and set down to Janaka .

    With one breath you seem to shoot Janaka down as ignorant of women living in Saudi Arabia ; with the next breath you seem to repeat Janaka's comment .

    In the case of the girls who died in a fire , you say what you as a parent would do ; but that does not directly relate to the facts , evidently other adults like yourself did not .

    You say that their is no law against Saudi women driving a car , but they don't drive a car .

    At the supermarket there are women with their heads uncovered , but they are all foreign women . It is uncommon to see Saudi women without the full attire ; Saudi women are happy to be covered from head to foot .

    Every type of oppression Islamic women find here is a cultural one .
    The culture in Islam is Islamic , from basic education , through adult life .

    What Islamic women choose to do in an Islamic country has no bearing on this discussion . Visitors to an Islamic country are expected to adhere to the cultural norms and customs of that country . Islamic people are coming to live in Christian Europe ; bringing with them their ancient and primitive culture and customs and spreading them like a mantle over the culture and culture of France and other countries , which is causing grave offence to the indigenous people .

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  • 295. At 2:20pm on 30 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    288. At 09:14am on 30 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    "If, (as you incorrectly claim) I have ''no real liberties'' as a woman living in Saudi Arabia, then to put it quite simply, I wouldn't choose to live here."

    Except if you are convinced that you have a lot of liberties there as evidenced from your own subsequent statements.

    "What have YOU done other than rant and rave at the keyboard, to fight for rights of the women that are tragically suffering from oppression in your own back yard? Women of ALL religions and ideologies, of ALL nations and cultures suffer, in one way or another from oppression and subjugation."


    Is this rant a confession that you have not really done anything? News for you! Most other countries now have laws where are not biased against any one group of people. Don't discount the power of the keyboard or the pen, but to answer you, I am actively involved in a number of things of the activist nature which I don't intend to elaborate here.
    I notice you had no answers for the worth of a person in Saudi or the fact that you as a witness are worth only half that of a man.


    "You deliberately misrepresent the details of the tragic events that occurred when teenage girls died in a blaze at a school in Makkah and for what reason may I ask? Simply to score brownie points on a discussion board! That incident had absolutely nothing to do with the face veil; those girls were quite rightly and quite sensibly trying to escape from a fire in their school building without wearing any outer garments at all."

    "It is important to mention that the subsequent enquiry that followed found that appalling health and safety conditions played a major role in the deaths and injuries that occurred that day."

    Take a look at this - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1874471.stm - "One witness said he saw three policemen "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya".

    The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them".

    The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out. "

    I have not misrepresented this in any way. The women according to witnesses were not allowed out because they were not wearing the burkha. I am sure subsequent government inquiry will discount all such witness reports but some of us are not so gullible as you seem to be.

    "Your claim that women in Saudi Arabia have no choice about the face veil is simply untrue. On a daily basis one will see plenty of women who do not wear the niqab going about their daily lives. "

    I believe Saudi women are by law required to wear it. Non Saudi women need not wear the face mask but do have to wear the head covering.

    Oh, and by the way there are no minimum age requirements for marriage in Saudi. You did not address the issue of the 8 year olds given away in marriage which I consider as a more serious issue even than forcing a women to wear a face veil

    "You cannot drive in Saudi Arabia''. Honestly if only I had a pound for each time someone spat that one out! There is nothing in Islamic law to prevent women from driving and the women here simply take it in their stride."

    It does not matter whether it is in the islamic law or not. In the time of Mohammed there were no cars so possibly it is not mentioned in the sharia. But by Saudi law as it is today it is not legal for women to drive.

    "Believe or not in their private lives Saudi women usually get what they want. Many families have resident/non resident drivers ready to chauffeur women like VIPs to any destination they choose. "

    Ok, excuses and excuses. I am sure it is very liberating that you can't drive and are dependent upon some man to drive you.

    "In reality women drove in Saudi Arabia before the ban and there is no doubt that women will drive again. It's more of a question of when and not if,"

    Okay, okay. Work on it and after you succeed come and boast to us about liberties in Saudi.

    "many western women living here point out that it is actually nice not HAVING to drive. Incidentally the ban on women driving is only enforced in the cities and not in rural areas. "

    And that means that Saudi women have liberties? Here is the bottom line - Saudi women are not legally allowed to drive. Period.

    "'You cannot stay in a hotel by yourself''. Oh really? Check this out:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7922279.stm"

    Good. I am glad that they are finally coming up with one or two women only hotels finally. (Pity they need to be driven to women only hotels by men, though). But actually I am a little behind on this - I looked it up - the restriction on being accompanied by a male was eased last year. So a little progress! Good!
    Now why don't you work to getting the authorities to allow women's gym - http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2010/01/womens-fitness-center-forced-to-close-in-saudi-arabia.html

    "It's brilliant! There are more ventures like this in the pipe-line, and this is why segregation of the sexes in public life is actually a good thing for Muslim women. Separate services for women ensure that our needs are met and brought to the forefront. Whole institutions and private sector initiatives run by women for women! This creates unique opportunities for women (of all class backgrounds) to work side by side without compromising their religious ideals."

    And why exactly is gender segregation a good thing? What is so brilliant about it? Nature did not make women and men to be segregated, you realize that, don't you? Segregating genders to avoid temptation is like not having money because otherwise someone may steal it. Quite silly, really!! Why don't you go the whole hog in the segregation business - how about a separate women only government, a separate women only army etc.?

    And I still do not get any answers from muslim men, muslim women or converts on why men don't protect their chastity and modesty by covering their faces.


    "Every single type of oppression that any woman may face here is a cultural one, not an Islamic one. "

    Make up your mind. You start with no oppression in Saudi to Saudi oppression being a cultural one, not an islamic one. That statement may convince you, except that Saudi system is completely based on the sharia.


    "In fact Islamic education is the key to ensuring that women receive the many rights that ISLAM has afforded them. The right to life, the right to education, the right own property and keep their earnings. The right not to be forced or sold in marriage. Islam has given women these rights and many more."

    I don't know about that - Khadija the first wife of Mohammad had property, was educated and wrote her own marriage contract to Mohammad. That was before islam. On the other hand after islam, women have to get men's permission to work. Women's witness is only 1/2 worth of a man. Women get only part of the inheritance that a man gets and so on. On the other hand in today's secular societies there is no legal basis for gender bias


    "Janaki, you addressed me and I have responded. I've said my piece, and now I am done. Due to the unpalatable manner in which you write I will not be responding to you again."

    Thank you for your response. But I must admit to being dissappointed - out of all the examples of lack of liberty in Saudi you were able to disprove only one (the restriction of women staying solo in hotels). All the others you have only provided excuses or no answers....

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  • 296. At 3:11pm on 30 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    294. At 1:51pm on 30 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    "What Islamic women choose to do in an Islamic country has no bearing on this discussion . "

    It does not, of course. But I could not let pass her claim of having so many liberties in Saudi. It is patently untrue.

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  • 297. At 3:22pm on 30 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    293. At 11:36am on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:
    "I would offer the view that it is not a lack of capitalism which cause so much suffering in the world, but rather a lack of democracy. And I don't mean the kind of corporate sponsored sham democracy the UK and the USA export to other weaker countries in order to exploit their natural resources."

    Can you elaborate on that? If you are talking about Afghanistan what would you do?

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  • 298. At 3:30pm on 30 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    291. At 10:30am on 30 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    "Also, don't write off Janaki.

    Maybe she wasn't meaning insult to you. Maybe she is assertive in her opinions."

    What insult was that? Anybody who claims that Saudi society is liberating to women is either brainwashed, gullible or is lying. I was actually very kind in my choice of words of "brainwashed" and "gullible".

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  • 299. At 4:15pm on 30 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    Another general point (before I wind up for now)-

    "In fact Islamic education is the key to ensuring that women receive the many rights that ISLAM has afforded them. "

    "Islam in the above can be replaced with any other religion XXX

    "In fact XXX education is the key to ensuring that women receive the many rights that XXX has afforded them "

    But... all religions offer only limited rights to women and minority groups. Religions are always biased in favor of the powerful, the majority or the 'chosen ones'. Religion therefore should never be used as a basis for laws in a society.

    Religious education will only lead to knowledge such as "sun rotates around the earth" or that "earth is flat" and other such nonsense. The rise of terrorism can be traced back to those madrassas in Pakistan offering "religious" education.

    A secular scientific education is (I believe) the way forward. Secular eduction can include moral value drawn from various religions provided they are based on the idea of equality and justice for all, not harming others etc.

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  • 300. At 4:56pm on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    janaki wrote:
    "293. At 11:36am on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:
    "I would offer the view that it is not a lack of capitalism which cause so much suffering in the world, but rather a lack of democracy. And I don't mean the kind of corporate sponsored sham democracy the UK and the USA export to other weaker countries in order to exploit their natural resources."

    Can you elaborate on that? If you are talking about Afghanistan what would you do?"

    Well, the simplistic answer is that I wouldn't do anything because I'm not an Afghani. Indeed, it is precisely the preoccupation with Afghanistan by people like me (foreigners) that is the problem.

    However, that is far too academic. I think there is a very real case to answer for the responsibility of our western societies towards the client states we seek to embrace with "our" global economic systems. After all, that is simply the Nuremberg principle of responsibility for conquered territory which falls upon the invader in any given instance.

    Moreover, I think that it is spurious and futile to speak of doing nothing in Afghanistan, to make that place more democratic and self sufficient. We live in a world of competing empires. If the west were to abandon any policy of interference in Afghani domestic affairs, it is clear that we would be abandoning the country to Chinese, Pakistani, Russian and Iranian influences.

    My position is that IF the west were governed by functioning democracies and not by systems of elite representation calling themselves democracies, THEN we would be in a position to assist the afghani state achieve the benefits of real democracy.

    So it would seem logical that if we wish to assist other nations escape the terrors of the military robber barons who mar war for profit and who sponsor draconian regimes for the same motive, the first thing we must do is get our own house in order. I do not think the west can help small states escape the military industrial complex of the west at the same time as tolerating the military industrial complex in the west.

    Now that doesn't provide a short term solutions for Afghanistan's problems, but it does suggest a possible long term solution. If we somehow change our own western societies and establish real democracy, free of the corporate influence which sustains the global military industrial complex, then I think the small states will have a chance to work things out for themsleves. And indeed with our help. Our greatest help in such a scenario would be leadership by example.

    In terms of what can be done to create real democracy in the west, and to stay the erosion of democratic institutions by corporate power, I suppose all that an individual can do is to speak about it honestly, to condemn corporate power and to favour any organization or institution which promotes real democracy.

    That sounds pretty weak, and I suppose it is. Corporate power seems to be growing unchecked, and anybody who suggested the word was moving towards real systems of democracy and away from highly concentrated corporate power would be drawing a very long row to hoe indeed.

    However, I believe there are reasons to indulge in the hope of reform towards real democracy in the west.

    The public of the USA have overwhelmingly given their president a mandate for the reform of the corporate influence upon the US political system. An overwhelming majority of Europeans would like to see Blair put on trial for war crimes. These public reactions to world events are significant. Corporate power may be growing, but the public rejection of that same corporate power is also growing.

    Perhaps Obama is a hollow drum and he will change nothing, and likely Blair will be allowed to endorse a policy of war for regime change if it suits his own tastes, in total contradiction of the most fundamental laws of war.

    But in the coming decades, such behaviour may become impossible for the corporate sponsored elite. Public organization and intelligence may grow in complexity to the point where citizens of the west demand and actually receive change they can believe in. They may be granted the right to vote and veto actual legislation, and thereby render impotent the corporate sponsorship of representative government.

    If this happens, I submit that it is a mere certainty that the military industrial complex of the west will break down and be transformed into a force controlled by the mass of ordinary human beings, and so the west will then live by principles of real democracy which it can offer to states like afghanistan, in order to assist them developing their own social systems for the benefit of the inhabitants of those lands.

    But as things stand, "we" are in no position to assist the people of afghanistan achieve the benefits of real democracy, and to escape the bludgeoning vicious brutality of global corporate capitalism. We cannot even protect ourselves from our own bankers and stock market privateers, we ought not pretend we can protect anybody else.

    It is not only the civilians and patriots of foreign lands who have been butchered by Blair and his team of war criminals. It is soldiers from the UK as well. The spectacle of war for profit shames us all, and we are all victims of these people who turn blood into expensive sports cars and apartments in Davos.

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  • 301. At 6:08pm on 30 Jan 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    In the end, this debate is about the burka. Bottom line is: It is ridiculous, archaic and plain silly to believe that any supreme being would care about what you wear.

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  • 302. At 6:29pm on 30 Jan 2010, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Everybody who posts here should be interested in this:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100024237/geert-wilders-is-not-far-right/

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  • 303. At 7:00pm on 30 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    David wrote:

    ''Also, don't write off Janaki.

    Maybe she wasn't meaning insult to you''


    I hear what you're saying, and I have to say her comments are nothing new. Believe me I've heard it all before (and much worse). I'm confident and certain about my religion and way of life. That's never going to change. People may agree or disagree; may understand or not understand. However what I've never understood is the mad obsession with trying to convince Muslim women who are happy, content and getting on with their lives that they are not. LOL it's so desperate. Live and let live people!
    Muslim women are happily living their lives. Some people desperately need to get over that fact.

    Regards

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  • 304. At 8:31pm on 30 Jan 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Gheryando

    Re #301

    "..it (Burka) is ridiculous, archaic and plain silly to believe that any supreme being would care about what you wear.."

    Now, now... let's not be hasty - - some people believe the Earth was created in 7 days by a supreme being - - and the words 'ridiculous', 'archaic' and 'plain silly' simply do not do justice to People who 'believe' such a pile of...

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  • 305. At 10:10pm on 30 Jan 2010, Athony Baldin wrote:

    Burkas no doubt are about control, do as I say and not as I do. I can enjoy other women, but you my dear better cover up!! Any women foolish enough to willing submit to such pathetic display of control deserves the treatment directly associated with that life style, and that's all your self respect you have for your self to be consider a possession, then shame on your parents, we are not living in the middle ages!! But when you exspect to change the world, remember one thing, "when in Rome, do as the Roman's" Muslim's are one of a very few that choose not to melt into the pot that make us who we are!

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  • 306. At 10:26pm on 30 Jan 2010, harrydog wrote:

    I grew up in a christian environment...but, I do not necessarily believe that Christianity is the only path. But, if you ask yourself what would Jesus say about this issue...I believe he would say that if a woman wants to wear a burka she should do so...but that no one has the right to tell her to wear one...If we all followed this, there would be no problem.

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  • 307. At 01:09am on 31 Jan 2010, monicalavinsky wrote:

    I don't think the issue should be how these women (or their husbands) and I probably shouldn't say that being a liberal. The issue should be about protecting the basic rights of the greater community. Anyone walking around with a masked face (for religion or otherwise) is a threat.
    It draws attention to wear a hood into a bank. How much more a mask or burka.
    Hiding one's face is suspicious and I think a law banning that should be passed and enforced.

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  • 308. At 01:48am on 31 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    DTHREAT,

    My keybrd is s&^%% --pc dying slowly, but how do you explain China? Are they a Batista waiting for democracy????? Try telling that to them. Ouch they will excoriate you...as if you gave Taiwan independence.

    Corporate sham fits them too...btw. without the word democracy in sight.

    I respect Russia for going towards democracy...first. Also, I'm sure you dont make your living from govt assistance or from an NGO.

    I don't dislike you. It's you remind me so much of so many friends Ive had over 50 years, that I had to give up -- last one was hindu --he thot -- then ufo religion...couldnt cope w/that one. ..cheers

    and i could barely cope w/hinduism neither...just dont like breathing as a sinful thot....but he was intelligent..and that was the ..thing attractive bout him.




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  • 309. At 02:39am on 31 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    300. At 4:56pm on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "After all, that is simply the Nuremberg principle of responsibility for conquered territory which falls upon the invader in any given instance."

    Please note that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan qualify as "conquered" territories. Both nations were invaded after an unprovoked attack on the American homeland.


    "My position is that IF the west were governed by functioning democracies and not by systems of elite representation calling themselves democracies, THEN we would be in a position to assist the afghani state achieve the benefits of real democracy."

    How do you say that the West is not governed by functioning democracies? Our leaders are elected by us. Our Laws are passed by our elected representatives.

    "So it would seem logical that if we wish to assist other nations escape the terrors of the military robber barons who mar war for profit and who sponsor draconian regimes for the same motive, the first thing we must do is get our own house in order."

    This sounds like one of the Rosie O donnel conspiracy theories such as the attack on Iraq was to help the energy industries...
    There is nothing wrong in having an eye on profit. Trade has always been attached to a countries foreign policy. And that is true with all countries. And do not blame Western foreign policy for all ills that plaque the world. With or without US, warlords existed in Afghanistan.


    "The public of the USA have overwhelmingly given their president a mandate for the reform of the corporate influence upon the US political system."

    I am not so sure about that. Because "change" was not well defined.

    The rest of your thesis is all utopian fancy. Corporate world and the individuals are interlinked. The last time the masses took over the corporate and political world we got the Soviet Union which was a monumental failure. The West with all its weakness is the best model we have now.

    And our purpose in Iraq and Afghanistan is not to democratize their societies but usher a minimum stabilty, security and then hand over power to the locals to build (or mess up) their own societies.

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  • 310. At 02:53am on 31 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    306. At 10:26pm on 30 Jan 2010, harrydog wrote:

    "But, if you ask yourself what would Jesus say about this issue...I believe he would say that if a woman wants to wear a burka she should do so...but that no one has the right to tell her to wear one...If we all followed this, there would be no problem."

    Or maybe he would have said "And unto whom much means of communication was given much communication was expected. Woe unto him that did not use thy Lords gifts for thy Lords creations. They honor me with their lips and their mouths but their hearts are far from me"

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  • 311. At 04:40am on 31 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    To janaki regarding Truebeliever's Comments .

    " Methinks the lady doth protest too much "!!!

    It is clear that in Saudi Arabia girls and women suffer severe restrictions , a terrible lack of freedom to live normal lives .
    Only their devout religious faith makes such a life sustainable .
    To read in these blogs , people writing against this persecution of women in the name of Islam must be testing to their faith . Wearing a Burkha must be Soo unhealthy , re-breathing your own stale breath and making women sweat so much in a warm climate .

    In Europe it is not customary or acceptible for people to wear their religion or practise it in public , you do it in the privacy of your home or in a church . When women wear the Burkha in European countries , they show their feeble menfolk up , as potential lechers or in fear of their wife committing adultery . They do not command respect either of themselves or for their religion or faith . People feel only pity for them and disrespect for primitive customs and a religion that make them have to wear the burkha .

    In Italy , often the Mafia are seen as the most devoutly religious church goers .
    I have known devout church goers in England , who think that just attenting church services makes you a Christian and revile all those who don't go to church . Often they are people who would not lift a finger to help a neighbour or someone in need .

    In the west today , women like to be free to determine their own destiny , to wear what they like within the limits of common decency , not to offend , normal clothes of the current fashion . Western men like to see women as equal in life too .

    I live in northeast Thailand . I am so pleased to see how free girls and women are here . Many women seem to be the boss of their household ; more girls seem to be in higher education than boys . My wife is headteacher of her school , with my encouragement and support . The governor of the Bank of Thailand is a woman in her forties . Nudity is taboo in Thailand and men and women are very circumspect in their dress and behaviour . Farmers , their wives , sons and daughters will all labour manually in the fields together . Not everone has a proper bathroom ; one lady neighbour and her children bath at water butts in their front yard , wearing a Sarong which they hold open to soap and wash inside without exposing themselves . Passing on my bicycle one day , I called out Suai(beautiful)to the young mother . We both laughed , no offence was intended or taken . I find it beautiful that girls and women can be so natural and unabashed in their daily lives . Even adolescent girls ride a motorcycle around the village here with a little sister or brother behind or in front . Among the young there seems total equality , gender does not come into it at all .

    Fundamental Islam is a political movement intent on taking over the world , women are being used a pawns to further that cause . In the west , black is seen as a symbol of Death . Following 9/11 and other atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam ; we in Europe are justified in being fearful and offended by the sight of the burkha in our cities .

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  • 312. At 06:16am on 31 Jan 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @290 Devid
    “People need relief from suffering, so they turn to Islam. One should remember, though, 60 years ago (and after) many many poor nations turned to Communism or Socialism for economic relief and NOW, all those nations, except a few, have gone back to capitalism.”
    The comparison is not quite right. The countries of central Europe, including Czechoslovakia were not “poor nations” at all. They had little choice but to obey the decisions of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences which cemented their fate for the next 45 years. If it were “their own choice”, how can we explain the uprising in DDR in 1948, followed by the revolt in Hungary in 1956, by the Prague Spring of 1968 or by the Solidarity trade union actions in Poland in the late 70’s? It is true that the so called “real socialism” was a relief for the less educated and poorest part of the said nations, but that fact does not necessarily mean that they unanimously embraced the socialist idea as alternative to the free market economy and the appropriate democratic form of ruling (parliamentary democracy, presidential republic or constitutional monarchy).

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  • 313. At 09:07am on 31 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    harrydog wrote:

    "I grew up in a christian environment...but, I do not necessarily believe that Christianity is the only path. But, if you ask yourself what would Jesus say about this issue...I believe he would say that if a woman wants to wear a burka she should do so...but that no one has the right to tell her to wear one...If we all followed this, there would be no problem."

    Seeing as most of us do not have the power of Christ to protect ourselves and know about everything in a supernatural way don't you think, even if just for security purposes, that people should be able to see the faces of those around them and those that they interact with?

    As I mentioned before, what would those silly women think when they have to have a picture taken of themselves for an ID or when they have to identify themselves to police or at security checkpoints like at airports?

    Just on the security issue alone that is all the justification that is needed to ban such ridiculous outfits. It is the reason why here in America there are laws related to the wearing of masks in many situations.

    France should focus on that simple issue alone instead of the very obvious incompatibility to Western cultures. Then those against the ban wouldn't be able to claim France is being anti-Islam.

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  • 314. At 09:15am on 31 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    OK Cool Brush Work,

    You are an atheist. I, myself, do like atheists--not the Stalin type atheists. My younger brother (gay like me--genetics) is an atheist--self proclaimed.

    One thing I don't understand, though, is don't you want to live forever?

    I do and if it takes a superior race ..say ten thousand years in the future to ..technologically .. secure my mind/self/spark with memories and to provide a decent body (finally a decent body..for Me)

    I'd love it (if I were immortal) Go medicine research!! --for me now.( I did quit smoking recently..had to)

    Don't you want to see how it all turns out..the future?

    Children don't make us live on..no offense ..I wanted a child when I was younger... well, until I realized the possible expenses involved.

    But, if you want stay an atheist--it seems to open ones mind to life/art ....but, I find it interesting to see so many atheists in Europe. Also, is the UK a part of Europe ..atlas-wise?


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  • 315. At 09:47am on 31 Jan 2010, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To David (314):

    The problem is that there is no life forever. We all born, we all live, and we all die, that is the name of the game, and there is no getting over it. Yes, someday science may provide cure for getting old and we will all live to become 10 thousand years or few million years old, but at the end of the day, there is death, if not by anything else then by the death of our universe.

    Now this might sound terrible and scary, but it really isn't, it is just accepting the rules of the game. Actually once you accept that all die, and that all things we create and do die too, it is quite liberating, there is no pressure on becoming immortal, to leave a legacy, etc... because it is all in vain. What you and I can do is to just live our lives the best we can. In my case it means on concentrating on finding true love, having a family, doing things that intellectually give fulfillment and to obtain material possessions that for some reason or another make me satisfied and think that I have been successful in life.

    By the way, the reason why Europe is more deist/atheist has much to do with our education and the need for our societies to use ration and logic to survive. If you are wondering about the last argument, let me just say it like this: where ever there is oil, there is self-satisfaction, in Texas and in Saudi-Arabia it is the god who blessed the righteous, with education the god part turns into national ethos or spirit that promotes the nation over others, i.e. Norway and UK.

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  • 316. At 10:03am on 31 Jan 2010, sayasay wrote:

    One thing identifiable about the anti-burqa posters, you all suffer from what my Japanese friends call “manga inhibitions”. Which essentially is pooh-poohing all the story lines, esoteric and supernatural powers of “manga” characters and even worse denigrating the “manga” artists for being over imaginative! To “manga” aficionados, it is real only because it in print, on paper and it exists. Otherwise, it’s pure entertainment, thought provocative and satisfaction.
    I read the arguments of the anti-burqa faction, from religious inferiority, cultural superiority, and political majority rule to individual mental inadequacy, individual lack of dress sense and individual blind acquiescence to dogma. What you lack most of all is empathy and hence you have limited and biased imagination, what you have abundantly is suspicion that non-conformists are potential criminals, personal affront that some else can be “holier” than you, animosity to the powers of the supernatural over humans and distaste on how a quiet but “outspoken” minority project their thoughts.
    You have simply damn a part of humanity which is courageous, focussed and interestingly act out their thoughts in a “fashionable” sense. You have shown weakness in intellectualism by not looking at burqa positively. You are no different than that fashion expert who put out the list 10 worst dressed persons. Only your opinions that matter. But this fashionista, at least, dare not call for a ban of bad fashion or else he’s out of a job. So is that your real job: banning the burqas, what’s next? What religion, fashion,etc is next?

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  • 317. At 10:58am on 31 Jan 2010, David wrote:

    (to the previous poster)

    Officially proclaiming the end of French culture

    is their next job, because the dynamism of mixing outside culture with ones own culture to create New culture seems to be the mark of a rising society.

    "And the French so loved their own.. famous in the world ..culture, they killed it"

    will be the epitaph.

    Cultural dynamism--the clash and merging of 2 or more cultures ..the melting pot...which produces vibrant changes to our lives......
    is like an antidote to cultural inertia or decline.

    Now, I can SEE my need to go back to sleep:)

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  • 318. At 2:35pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    janaki
    "The last time the masses took over the corporate and political world we got the Soviet Union which was a monumental failure."

    Not correct example; there wasn't a "corporate and political world" in the Rus. empire in 1917, I think you've mentally mixed up constitutional monarchy and absolute monarchy - the last Russia had.

    Even with shoots of capitalism - for there was a fresh "capitalistic" world in Russia by that time - huge private businesses - these businesesses didn't "rule", didn't "lobby", any such business/factories etc. shipping line owner could have been ? evapourized by single ? click of tsar's fingers. Without going into explanations "oh what for?" :o))))
    We had an absolutely sacred tsar and the only thing you can do with him is to fall down in front, be you an owner of all Caspian oil fields or all metal working in Urals.
    So for Russian revolutionaries it was easier, they didn't have to fight with the whole corporate mafia, LOL, only a single chap - tsar.

    I'm afraid we haven't yet seen the debunking of the corporate glued together with political' mafia turn down in a single country. By active revolutionary means, I mean.

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  • 319. At 2:45pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Any way, one can be always inspired in such an enterprise by words of young Lenin :o))))) (there is a rational grain in every revolutionary of the past experience, to make use of :o)
    who said I think to his mummy.
    She was scolding him, for being a revolutionary, and persisting in his eh? un-reasonable pracices, after his senior brother, Alexandre, was hanged up for plotting against the tsar. (Lenin's brother Alexander was hanged up. simple as that :o(

    So his mum said to him, kind, "Vladimir! :o)))) What are you doing! as if I have many sons. Think what you are attempting at - three minor trifles: Russian Empire, absolute monarchy and Russian Orthodox Church.

    Easy, LOL, :o)))) three weak easy institutions :o))))

    you don't think it is kind of, ? too ambitious a plan, you'll break your forehead against this wall.

    To which Lenin replied, yes, a wall - but I feel it a rotten through wall. Touch it by a finger - and it will collapse.

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  • 320. At 2:54pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Americans don't read Lenin, and to this day wonder why USSR that looked such a trouble that will never go away, a block, collapsed so easily.

    While Russians remembered the prev. exercise, and the existence in nature of "walls, but rotten walls".

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  • 321. At 3:02pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    janaki wrote:
    "300. At 4:56pm on 30 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:
    "After all, that is simply the Nuremberg principle of responsibility for conquered territory which falls upon the invader in any given instance."

    Please note that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan qualify as "conquered" territories. Both nations were invaded after an unprovoked attack on the American homeland."

    janaki, you cannot make a fact disappear because you justify the action leading to the fact. That sort of thinking is precisely why so many people fear US nationalism. We understand that US patriots feel that a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre by Saudi's was a supposed justification for invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and we understand that US patriots feel the same action by Saudi nationals justifies establishing military bases in those countries.

    I understand US patriots feel this way.

    But as with Blairs' frank admission that he decided to invade a nation because he wanted to change the regime because it did not please him, it is difficult to apply the most fundamental moral principle to the situation and see how it can be acceptable to sane persons.

    In short, how would like it if it were done to you?

    That isn't a hard moral principle to grasp. If other leaders treated Blair's nation as he professes to treat the world, the UK could be invaded by any nation whose leader didn't like Blair. Or Brown. Or whoever.

    Just so, the USA could be invaded by any nation which felt the USA was sponsoring terrorism. Or any nation that felt the USA was dangerous because it might have nuclear weapons.

    In short, the position of the western "democracies" is only viable if one first abandons the fundamental moral position of doing unto others as you would have them do to you.

    The foreign policy adopted by the western "democracies" can only be described as raw dictatorship towards other states. We do not lead by example, and we do not obey the law we lay down for others. We use war and violence if we are displeased with foreign governments, and we demand absolute obedience from client states.

    The only way this sort of behaviour can be rationalized is if the individual rationalizing the morality involved chooses to believe that those who set western foreign policy are endowed with an unerring and divinely inspired righteousness.

    It is this insane hypocrisy posing as moral authority that makes our own leaders resemble Osama bin laden and other fundamentalist religious crazies.

    janaki then wrote:
    "DT wrote:
    "So it would seem logical that if we wish to assist other nations escape the terrors of the military robber barons who mar war for profit and who sponsor draconian regimes for the same motive, the first thing we must do is get our own house in order."

    This sounds like one of the Rosie O donnel conspiracy theories such as the attack on Iraq was to help the energy industries...
    There is nothing wrong in having an eye on profit. "

    You see janaki, this is exactly why folks like yourself inspire revulsion and hatred. First you insult the person making a case, then you confirm the case without reservation.

    You say it is a "conspiracy theory" that those who sponsor western governments make profits out of war, with the specific intention to insult, then you say there is nothing wrong with having an eye on profit.

    My question is this: why insult? What possible reason is there to insult the other person in the dialogue, if you fully intend to agree with what they were saying?

    That is what disturbs me about US patriots these days. The senseless, aggressive and frankly insulting stupidity of their arguments.

    I could understand if the USA was run by people whose only motivation was money, and perhaps that is the case.

    But it disturbs me when the patriots start going to war just to show they can kill something, and when people like you throw around insults just because you are an American.

    Janaki, you carry yourself as though you are a highly educated and rational human being. You speak to this blog as if you were one of the smarter, if not the smartest, person in the room.

    That typically american perception of your own intellectual standing is a profoundly disturbing microcosm of where corporate government has brought the global community. It is indicative of what happens when raw power is the only recommendation for a leader, and an indisputable characteristic of emerging totalitarian fascism.

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  • 322. At 3:08pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And what makes me concerned (sorry, will complain a bit and close up on deviation) is that we still have the same! Only much more difficult.
    The old trio to run changes to used to be
    Russian empire - absolute monarchy - the Russian Orthodox Church.
    By the first shallow glance we still have the same triumvirate, but it is shallow look only.

    Empire solidified became much more compact and monolithic.
    Absolute monarchy when it's enough to get rid of 1-2 LOL tsars is non-existent, the power lies in the wide circle of melt together money bags and political power together.
    Instead of one pillar the Orthodox church we are definitely about or already have two - The Russian Orthodox and Islam. The chief Russian muftui (head of Muslims in the Federation) speaks on TV state channels not less than the Russian patriarch.

    So the game has ascended to the next level of difficulty. :o))))

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  • 323. At 4:56pm on 31 Jan 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    Jukka #315
    "Now this might sound terrible and scary, but it really isn't, it is just accepting the rules of the game."

    Now isn't that the fly in the ointment. The rules of the game that is. Are you confident that you actually know the rules of the game?

    Scientist of today talk of parallel universes, extra-dimensions existing in the same space, most of the universe being made up of dark matter which we can't explain or quantify. The list goes on and on. So if you can't tell me how to cure the common cold or even explain why yawns are contagious then why should I think anyone including you understands the secrets of the cosmos.

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  • 324. At 5:32pm on 31 Jan 2010, janaki wrote:

    311. At 04:40am on 31 Jan 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    "To janaki regarding Truebeliever's Comments .

    " Methinks the lady doth protest too much "!!!

    "

    Funny! That was my thought exactly.



    321. At 3:02pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "But as with Blairs' frank admission that he decided to invade a nation because he wanted to change the regime because it did not please him, it is difficult to apply the most fundamental moral principle to the situation and see how it can be acceptable to sane persons."

    That is why US is phasing out of Iraq.

    "The foreign policy adopted by the western "democracies" can only be described as raw dictatorship towards other states. We do not lead by example, and we do not obey the law we lay down for others."

    The foreign policy of the West is based on the countries needs. There is no morality here. There is only self interest. This is true for all countries. No country pays anything more than lip service to morality in foreign policy.

    "You say it is a "conspiracy theory" that those who sponsor western governments make profits out of war, with the specific intention to insult, then you say there is nothing wrong with having an eye on profit."

    Rosie O Donnell and others like her have produced a number of theories without any sound evidence to back their theories. Therefore I call those theories "loony" (nothing personal in that). Where is the proof that we went into war for profit? We have lost big time with the two wars.
    Regarding having an eye for profit - that was not linked to the oil conspiracy theory. I am stating generally that trade is the cornerstone of foreign policy in many cases and there is nothing wrong with that. Take Japan and US for example. Sometimes corporations affect the mutual bilateral agreements and many times the outcome is good.

    (I will ignore the rest of your post since they are so interlaced with ad hominems it is difficult to get to the meat)

    318. At 2:35pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:


    "Not correct example; there wasn't a "corporate and political world" in the Rus. empire in 1917, I think you've mentally mixed up constitutional monarchy and absolute monarchy - the last Russia had.

    The point being that the Russian revolution was based on a mass movement taking on the powers that be. The end result was a complete take over - from schools to religious groups to private institution to corporations.


    316. At 10:03am on 31 Jan 2010, sayasay wrote:

    "What you lack most of all is empathy and hence you have limited and biased imagination, what you have abundantly is suspicion that non-conformists are potential criminals, "

    You wound us. We completely empathize with those who do not want to show their faces in public places and ask them to cover their faces as they wish in the private domain. That way they too can empathize with our limited imagination.

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  • 325. At 6:00pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Freeborn John, thank you, I processed the info :o), it is as you said "won't play in your area", but I see the burka wearers can drive in the UK and that there are special driving schools for them. Eyes open otherwise all the same.

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  • 326. At 6:20pm on 31 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    To sayasay's comment @ 316:

    Excellent summary. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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  • 327. At 6:31pm on 31 Jan 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    democracythreat wrote:

    ''You see janaki, this is exactly why folks like yourself inspire revulsion and hatred. First you insult the person making a case, then you confirm the case without reservation.''

    Very pertinent observation!


    ''That is what disturbs me about US patriots these days. The senseless, aggressive and frankly insulting stupidity of their arguments.''

    Exactly!


    ''Janaki, you carry yourself as though you are a highly educated and rational human being. You speak to this blog as if you were one of the smarter, if not the smartest, person in the room.

    That typically american perception of your own intellectual standing is a profoundly disturbing microcosm of where corporate government has brought the global community.''

    It's all of this and more. Couldn't have said it better!

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  • 328. At 6:49pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    janaki:
    "The foreign policy of the West is based on the countries needs. There is no morality here. There is only self interest. This is true for all countries. No country pays anything more than lip service to morality in foreign policy."

    Apart from the fact that this is a slamming indictment of the stated aims of the foreign policy (to "help the locals"), it betrays an incredibly simplistic view of politics.

    Janaki, do you really believe that your government does what it does for the good of "the country"? Or do you, at some level, understand that government spends truly vast amounts of money on contracts that enrich businesses which serve government projects? And that folks make a huge amount of money from enterprises such as war?

    In any case, even if we accept the idea that governments do act in the interests of everyone within their borders, how do you reconcile the lying?

    I mean, you are now saying that the aims of foreign policy are entirely selfish. But the government itself is claiming to be helping folks, and nation building. You can't both be right. Either your beloved government believes in a moral mandate and has betrayed it completely, or it doesn't in which case it is lying to you just as much as it is lying to me.

    Anyway, you need not answer, for frankly doubt you have either the intellectual honesty or raw mental firepower to comprehend the scope of the argument. You are continuing to parade your thoughts around the blog without shame, as if others might learn something from your insipid justifications for brute force.

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  • 329. At 7:04pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    I am fascinated by the doublethink on offer in Janaki's prose.

    Note the following belief it holds, all at once and without a hint of shame or confusion:

    1. The USA acts selfishly, as do all countries.
    2. The US is acting to the benefit of the people in countries it occupies.

    and further:

    1. The USA is withdrawing from Iraq because it is wrong to be there.
    2. The USA was right to go there, and is building military bases there.

    and even:

    1. It is madness to suggest that profit for trade interests was a factor leading to war.
    2. Trade interests are a legitimate and constant factor in foreign policy.

    Now there is nothing particularly exceptional about this level of doublethink. One can encounter it anywhere where dishonest patriots are being moderately verbose in order to wallow in the feelings of belonging that patriotism brings.

    What does strike me as exceptional is the speed, shamelessness and totality of the self deception. The author of these conflicting beliefs states them in writing not because it is confused, but because it thinks the arguments are sound and worth making.

    This is what happens to the human condition, I believe, when power without morality rules the land. This inability to be honest with oneself, and the inability to perceive logical stupidity and salvage even the appearance of dignity in a group, this seems to me to be the ultimate degradation of character that is the most alarming development within fascist society.

    Corporate control of government and war for profit are one thing, and lamentable enough i terms of what they do to politicians like blair and economies we all share, but the human cost of the janaki's of the world is far worse.

    Brute power and fascist thinking are not simply visited from above, in fascist societies. Everyone, even the janaki's, gets into the act. it is monkey see, monkey do.

    I suspect that is why we are seeing the call for a ban on burkas, and indeed even tesco's supermarket calling for a ban on night clothes.

    We are all caught up in the fashion make rules for each other, and to force others to obey our whims. It has become a "craze", and the small people are taking up the cue as if this is a proper way to live.

    I wonder what will be banned next ?

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  • 330. At 8:16pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    I would say overall it's good and clever not to do to others what you don't like to be done to yourself. I myself hardly :o))) ever follow that wise route :o)))) (realising own deficiencies), and, well, it's in human nature to forget about this rule.

    But from safety consideration , I mean, you can violate of course, and do to others nasty things (that you'd never wish exercised on your own self in reverse :o) but it helps when others are far away from you.

    How to say, hard to quarrel with relatives in the same apartment :o))), bounce back guaranteed, easier to eliminate burka in France :o
    )) (check out the amount of response on that easy target :o))))
    (we are all coyots attracted here :o))))
    USA simply forgets because absolutely everyone is far away from them, so they don't get kick-back often, Russia forgot entirely LOL that there is no border between Chechnya and elsewhere Federation :o)))) - when proving to Chechnya by steel and fire "Listen! There is no border! And won't be, don't even hope!" and got a kick back, from the dear family :o))) the reminder "don't do to others what you won't like done to yourself" etc. What I mean one can allow oneself to be nasty and name it beautifully in saga-s but first it's wise to get away from the chaps you planb to do something about, put several latitudes or longitudes in between. :o))))

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  • 331. At 8:28pm on 31 Jan 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Still, when left to own devices, people usually come down to this rule, check the society in this blog. Instead of vapourising away posts that are not to your liking (jesuit invention of self-flogging option :o)) -"refer to the mods") the society of old timers here tend to reply to those posts instead or nobly ignore them :o))) Because the acquired wisdom tells them "don't refer others you'll be referred yourself" :o)))))
    So a society is not that hopeless, but able to figure out ways of co-existence. how to say. naturally, and without much thinking ab it.

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  • 332. At 10:11pm on 31 Jan 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    Sayasay

    Re #316

    "...anti-Burka... suffer from 'manga-inhibitions'...lack of 'empathy'..".

    Now that is a curious argument in support of the general line of 'live-and-let-live', i.e. Burka wearers should be left to get on with it.

    It is possible to empathise with all sorts of things, but one does not have to agree, accept or indulge them all simply because mentally one could identify with a person or object of contemplation.

    If I empathise with the unemployed, hungry, WW1 Veteran German Citizen in 1932 does not mean I should accept his Vote for National Socialism was wise or correct.
    If I empathise with the desperately leg-weary, over-anxious, aspiring french footballer in the 91st minute handballing to ensure his Nation get to the World Cup Finals does not mean I should agree with such unsporting conduct.
    If I empathise with a Female who as part of her fundamental spiritual belief and commitment has chosen to cover herself from head-to-toe in public does not mean I should indulge her notion it does not offend other members of public.

    Infact, if I empathise with 'Manga-Comic' lovers who gain pleasure from a fantasised-surrealistic version of existence does not mean I should necessarily agree, accept or indulge in such literature myself and, like the 3 above, nor should I consider encouraging others to do so.

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  • 333. At 10:53pm on 31 Jan 2010, cool_brush_work wrote:

    David

    Re #314

    Aetheism is I suppose the label of someone like myself: Though I do think 'my' sort, much like your 'sort' (genetics? Nature/Nurture still in the debating pot...) should hijack another word and set ourselves up in that manner.

    My preference would be for 'Embryonic': We could have 'embryonic pride' marches etc. in every capital city and start having specific laws to ensure our views are taken on board with those of the supposed more mainstream elements of society.

    Why 'Embryonic'?

    Well, first off, why not!?

    Secondly, we 'embryonics' are literally unhatched off-spring: Nothing is hard and fast, there are no laws of physics etc. that are undeniable, incontrovertible, or un-disprovable (?) in the right circumstances. The World, the Universe, Galaxy we all it presently inhabit is our play-pen for spontaneous speculation!

    It is why the 'God' thing annoys us so much: These People going around declaring their 'Divine' one's message is the be-all and end-all of messages!

    You know, crackpot claims like 'Jerusalem' is the City given to the 'chosen' People by their 'divinity'! So, we point out no one can disprove it because it cannot be proved and the actual 'City' was about a twentieth in size and they get very nasty! Another lot proclaim ancient Statues of Bhudda are profane and blow them up because their 'divine' one wont permit images of other such 'divinity'! So, we point out that is a very insecure 'God' that cannot put up with some rock effigies or cartoons and they threaten death in reprisal! Then there are those truly spiritual people who proclaim their 'God' put the Dinosaur bones etc. in the rocks during the week of 'creation'! So, we point out that's only 60+ million years ago and no light from a Star reaches Planet Earth in the time-scale and that later on Adam & Eve must have had some help breeding or where did everyone else come from and they start quoting chapter & verse from scripture of a Book that was written barely 2,000 years ago!

    Anyway, first branch meeting of the 'Embryonics' is the nearest public house/coaching inn/hostelry at 25-hundred hours on February 30th this Year...

    Think about it, you'll get the idea.

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  • 334. At 11:04pm on 31 Jan 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @331 WA
    “So a society is not that hopeless, but able to figure out ways of co-existence. how to say. naturally, and without much thinking ab it.”
    Alice, no “society” ever reacts without thinking. If it is really democratic (and, in this case it is question of France!), it reacts quite “naturally”, i.e. very logically against any premeditated demonstration that would offend and discredit the secular character of what we call acceptable norms of behavior, or culture …
    Generalissimo

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  • 335. At 11:56pm on 31 Jan 2010, Freeborn John wrote:

    Gheryando (270) said "looks like the Pro-Burka voices have run out of arguments..."

    I would not assume no one replying to you is a sign we have ran out of arguments. The quality of your arguments in many previous threads often reminded me of the scene in "2001: A space odyssey" where the apes attack by throwing bones at the spaceship. But on this occasion you remind me of a scene from the old Henry Fonda film "12 Angry Men", where 11 jurors stand up and turn their backs in silence on 1 prejudiced juror ranting against the accused Hispanic kid.

    Ciao

    -------
    Juror #10: I don't understand you people! I mean all these picky little points you keep bringing up. They don't mean nothing. You saw this kid just like I did. You're not gonna tell me you believe that phony story about losing the knife, and that business about being at the movies. Look, you know how these people lie! It's born in them! I mean what the heck? I don't have to tell you. They don't know what the truth is! And lemme tell you, they don't need any real big reason to kill someone, either! No sir! 
    [Five gets up from his seat] 
    Juror #10: They get drunk... oh, they're real big drinkers, all of 'em - you know that - and bang: someone's lyin' in the gutter. Oh, nobody's blaming them for it. That's the way they are! By nature! You know what I mean? VIOLENT! 
    Juror #10: [Nine rises and crosses to the window] Where're you going? 
    Juror #10: Human life don't mean as much to them as it does to us! 
    [Eleven gets up and walks to the other window] 
    Juror #10: Look, they're lushing it up and fighting all the time and if somebody gets killed, so somebody gets killed! They don't care! Oh, sure, there are some good things about 'em, too. Look, I'm the first one to say that. 
    [Eight gets up and walks to the nearest wall] 
    Juror #10: I've known a couple who were OK, but that's the exception, y'know what I mean? 
    [Two and Six get up from the table. Everyone's back is to Ten] 
    Juror #10: Most of 'em, it's like they have no feelings! They can do anything! What's goin' on here? I'm trying to tell you... you're makin' a big mistake, you people! This kid is a liar! I know it. I know all about them! Listen to me! They're no good! There's not a one of 'em who is any good! I mean, what's happening in here? I'm speaking my piece, and you... 
    [the Foreman gets up and walks away. So does Twelve] 
    Juror #10: Listen to me. We're... This kid on trial here... his type, well, don't you know about them? There's a, there's a danger here. These people are dangerous. They're wild. Listen to me. Listen. 
    Juror #4: I have. Now sit down and don't open your mouth again. 

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  • 336. At 00:56am on 01 Feb 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    I can't comment on "Twelve Angry Men" other than to say it usually means somebody is about to get an ass wupping but your scene from "2001: a space odyssey" is none existent. After the implanting of the monolith, which we learn is associated with an alien entity, the apes learn the value of a thigh bone in settling arguments. They proceed to beat the hell out of each other with latest advanced technology. Sound familiar?

    It seems you perceive yourself as Juror #4 but others may see you a Juror #10. Maybe you are Juror #10.

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  • 337. At 01:35am on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    cool_brush_work, @333

    "The next meeting of the time-machine builders society will be held 2 weeks ago."

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  • 338. At 02:00am on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Generalissimo, @334

    The society - let it. We are - what doing here? We aren't the French society you and me. One would think France will settle down on a decision without our part-taking LOL. So, what are we doing here, discuss in wider terms? approx. fair-un-fair justified un-justified, will contribute to more safety - will not, will help to preserve "European" culture the French one in particular - will not, those kinds of wider scope issues. Oh, forgot "democratic-un-democratic" LOL. that is, "democratic - un-democratic LOL" (wrong place for brackets)

    From the bird eye view (from above) the picture isn't beautiful. Fuss with female clothes, with someone's private soul matters of religion, via direct prohibition.

    On the ground, oh. oh.
    sure, the picture is different. "the society" is scared, reacts normal, normal healthy reaction, they want to live! and not only "live", but live their habitual old accepted way. So all that danger and alien things are repelled - naturally. What else to expect a wrong monkey in the ? herd.
    However one must realise this healthy reaction is one thing and various noble aspirations are from another opera. I think.
    What's the honest way? You took aliens in, announced yourself free and for freedom - then you accepted them with all their deficiencies. You accept the cost of your freedom. The harm they might cause to you. (They can. I think.)
    So either you are all white and fluffy and suffer or you are ? any other colour and indulge in all kinds of "healthy repellent reactions".
    The choice is indeed troublesome, there aren't ready answers. I think.

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  • 339. At 02:30am on 01 Feb 2010, Gheryando wrote:

    @Freeborn-John

    "Applause"

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  • 340. At 02:35am on 01 Feb 2010, janaki wrote:

    328. At 6:49pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "Janaki, do you really believe that your government does what it does for the good of "the country"? Or do you, at some level, understand that government spends truly vast amounts of money on contracts that enrich businesses which serve government projects? And that folks make a huge amount of money from enterprises such as war?"

    I believe that the majority in public service (in the US and the UK for example) do try to act as per the will and for the good of the people of their constituencies. Whether the good intentions translate to sensible policy decisions is another matter altogether.
    Governments do support businesses and vice versa and there is nothing wrong with that. But I do not buy into your theory of recent war as an instrument of profit .

    "In any case, even if we accept the idea that governments do act in the interests of everyone within their borders, how do you reconcile the lying?"

    If you are specifically talking about the Iraq war, I believe they were misled by intelligence reports.

    "I mean, you are now saying that the aims of foreign policy are entirely selfish. But the government itself is claiming to be helping folks, and nation building. "

    Sure governments are in the business of helping folks of other nations and nation building provided such activity is in the country's long term or short term self interest.


    "Anyway, you need not answer, for frankly doubt you have either the intellectual honesty or raw mental firepower to comprehend the scope of the argument. You are continuing to parade your thoughts around the blog without shame, as if others might learn something from your insipid justifications for brute force."

    My! My! Hysterical rants now. I thought blogs were for all. Never mind. I can continue to be indifferent to your opinions. But please do not misrepresent me. I have not justified brute force. I simply disagreed with your theories on why said brute force was applied.

    329. At 7:04pm on 31 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    "
    1. The USA acts selfishly, as do all countries.
    2. The US is acting to the benefit of the people in countries it occupies.
    "

    (2) is true if it is in the self interest of said country (USA in (1) in this case). (1) is like the zeroeth law. (2) is based on condition that zeroeth law is satisfied. Thus there is no contradiction.

    As a corollary -

    No nation will enter into nation building efforts for another country if it is not in their short term and/or long term interests.


    "
    1. The USA is withdrawing from Iraq because it is wrong to be there.
    2. The USA was right to go there, and is building military bases there.
    "

    (1) is true. I have not stated (2), so either you have misunderstood me or are deliberately misrepresenting me.

    Again, let me state my points clearly so that it is understood -

    a) Neither Iraq or Afghanistan would not have happened if 9/11 had not happened. We were attacked first. So there is no justification for those who would like to keep portraying us as the villains in every piece.
    b) There is no evidence to support your theory that Iraq was a war for profit.
    c) The West is not responsible for all the ills that plague the world and cannot be expected to solve all of them. Sometimes people must stand up for themselves.


    "
    1. It is madness to suggest that profit for trade interests was a factor leading to war.
    2. Trade interests are a legitimate and constant factor in foreign policy.
    "

    Duh!! Trade interests are a legitimate factor in foreign policy and they do not necessarily lead to war. There can be trade between countries in peacetime too. For us to buy into (1) in the case of Iraq, to make it clear - PLEASE PRESENT SOUND EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT


    "Now there is nothing particularly exceptional about this level of doublethink. "

    What can I say? When you misunderstand a point why doublethink, there can be triplethinks and infinitythinks too...


    "I suspect that is why we are seeing the call for a ban on burkas, and indeed even tesco's supermarket calling for a ban on night clothes."

    Ah!! Finally!! There it is at last. Allah, Al-lat, Manat and Al-Uzza be praised we are finally here.


    "I wonder what will be banned next ? "

    May we hope for a self ban on these tedious theories linking corporate corruption, war for profit, bloggers and everyone's grandmother to the topic at hand?

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  • 341. At 05:26am on 01 Feb 2010, David wrote:

    I think France has awoken to the reality of great change on the horizon,

    and are reacting crazily like the USA did after 9/11. So, we got 8 years of Bush-looney tunes-republicans..they turned chicken salad into chicken S$@#.

    NOW, we are in no position to advise as we have become schizoid in USA (polarized)

    I blame marketing in news shows..."here we have a conservative and a liberal, lets have a (non-rational) debate."

    The movie "Network" IS/WAS genius.

    Web Alice,

    Faye Dunaway was in 3 classic movies -- Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, and Network.

    Sorry for seeming parochial...Im gonna watch more international movies.

    But, sorry for your "moderation tragedy." How traumatic!

    And regards the subject...I just don't ....

    know the answer. Peace!

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  • 342. At 07:58am on 01 Feb 2010, U14314013 wrote:

    I have decided that my culture, faith and beliefs want me to wear a big massive hat saying 'God doesnt exist, ban all religion" because I am agnostic - I wonder what would happen? Would I be appluded in all countries? Would I be hated? Would I be welcome or deported? I find it amazing that people are always so self centred and they have no consideration for others. I shall see if my new cultural massive hat hits off (I hope not, because if we are a minority I have more of a voice, or so it appears) - only time will tell :) Obviously, I am not intending to wear my new hat in certain countries that shall be nameless, as I need to ensure that my head remains firmly on my shoulders, or else my hat theroy simply will not work!

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  • 343. At 08:29am on 01 Feb 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @338 WA
    “What's the honest way? You took aliens in, announced yourself free and for freedom - then you accepted them with all their deficiencies. You accept the cost of your freedom. The harm they might cause to you. (They can. I think.)”
    Dearest Alice, we certainly cannot accept ANY cost for our freedom for the evident reason that it can destroy it.
    I will go back in the history of France. From 1830 up to 1962 France occupied Algeria. Algeria was a part of the French territory, BUT the Algerians did not enjoy the same civic rights as the French did. They were largely discriminated as second class citizens. Consequently, a war started in 1954 which ended by the signature of the ‘Accords d’Evian’ that formally recognized the independence of Algeria. The coast of freedom was too expensive – around 600000 casualties for the Algerian side.
    In the meantime, many Algerians remained in France. They are still there, like many other Muslim people (Moroccans, Tunisians, and Mauritanians). Most of them successfully integrated the French society. But it was not so easy to cure the wounds of the war and to ensure the proper conditions for the coexistence of two different ethnic groups. However, it worked…
    The radical Islam was another reason to create tensions among the French. But in that case we cannot put the blame on the French authorities. The abuse of the religion feelings of the Muslim people concerns all of us, even in Russia, even in Bulgaria… I consider this abuse as a direct attack of our civilization and of our freedom. Hence, the reaction of the French authorities seems to be logical and right.
    You are right to remind me that we are not French. You are Russian, I am Bulgarian. We share the same faith and we have very similar cultures based on the Slavic orthodox traditions and on the Cyrillic alphabet we, Bulgarians introduced in 855. However, we are citizens of Europe and I think it normal to accept and apply some code of norms of behavior which would guarantee a relatively comfortable coexistence among all of us, to start from the EU and to finish with the inhabitants of Kamchatka. There is no room for a burkha veil in it. (The late general de Gaulle was dreaming of a unified Europe that was stretching from the Atlantic up to the Ural mountain chain)…
    Sofia, Feb.1st 2010

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  • 344. At 12:47pm on 01 Feb 2010, janaki wrote:

    This is another reason why at the very least the face veil should be banned -

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8490819.stm

    This external manifestations of the female terrorist's inner spirituality had nothing to do with the West. This was a cowardly attack on a group of defenseless pilgrims. But I am sure certain people will somehow be able to link Western hand behind this.

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  • 345. At 3:00pm on 01 Feb 2010, U14312152 wrote:

    @338 WA
    Alice, in addition to my last post @343, I would just remind you that J.D.Salinger left this world a few days ago. I read his novel 'The catcher in the rye' in the same year (1968), when I read 'One day of Ivan Denissovitsh' of Alexandre Solgenitsyne. Needless to say, I was amazed by both of them. I have allowed myself to remind you the names of these two genius novelists for two reasons: first, Russia has always been considered as part of Europe, no matter who is in power there; second, the Russians, in their crushing majority, do not tolerate any hostile actions aimed at their traditional (orthodox) cultural norms of behavior. This said, I guess there is no room to put the blame on the French authorities for the formal prohibition of wearing the face veil in public. We, I mean Russians, French and other European nations are just in the same team…
    P.S.: the frost in Sofia is terrible. Thank Lord the “tchugunka” (russ. the stove) is still available in my villa and my wife Praskovia has no need to be much stressed out. Everything is OK. How about old Piter? Is the Neva covered with ice?

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  • 346. At 3:11pm on 01 Feb 2010, MaudDib wrote:

    Ironic isn't it? Today we see scores of people taken out by a bomb hidden under abaya. I wonder if the French will be inclined to be a kinder, softer, gentler nation. Grim reaper cloak comes to mind.

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  • 347. At 3:22pm on 01 Feb 2010, TrueBeliever wrote:

    Freeborn John @ 335,

    Never seen the film but enjoyed that….my mother always used to tell me that silence is the best answer to a fool….

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  • 348. At 4:27pm on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    generalissimo, @345
    Salinger total aaah. I didn't mention because have a feeling he is more loved in Russia than elsewhere :o))))
    When such writers go the world becomes worse, even that they don't write things. but simply exist - that's enough to feel the world is "correct" :o)

    oh who do we have as "writers" these imperfect days :o( , and all
    "and all", which each and every "and all" in my posts I own exclusively to the school old thesis type "American teenagers' slang" :o)))

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  • 349. At 4:33pm on 01 Feb 2010, Isenhorn wrote:

    347. At 3:22pm on 01 Feb 2010, TrueBeliever wrote

    ‘Never seen the film…’

    Nor are you likely to. Despite all the ‘freedom for women’ in Saudi Arabia.
    It is endearing, really, seeing all that support for the oppression of women in islam, coming from you. Bur after all, what can one expect- you have chosen that sort of life for yourself, you are not likely to start ranting about how oppressive it is. It is really telling that converts are the ones most vocal about the ‘beauties’ of islam and usually the first ones to don the vest with the ‘presents’.
    http://news.scotsman.com/latestnews/Muslim-convert-jailed-for-suicide.5470950.jp

    As to the reason why you have chosen to convert I can only guess; however, your writings about ‘muslim sisters’ and ‘female segregation’ are strangely disturbing. If Dr Freud were alive today, I am sure he would have had a lot to say on the subject.

    As a conclusion- there were people who thought the Nazi regime was OK back in the 30s and 40s of the last century. Those were usually the people who wore the black uniforms themselves. I leave it to you to decide how that fact relates to yourself. One thing is certain however- when the British decides to ban the ‘black shirts’ in UK, sooner rather the later they were proven to have been correct.

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  • 350. At 4:41pm on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    On the "ice" - the frosts stepped back here about 3 days ago. Barometer fell, all fine. If you had frosts during the last two weeks as we had - may be yours will also follow suit and will get away?

    Neva is frozen granted. Even Moscow river is frozen down-town, in spite of hot water being flushed down as I understand by their eneterprises here and there. Gave muscovites false sense of security, and some break-necks drove their river in a heavy Jeep yest and fell through. So, frozen, but not to Jeep -riding degrees.

    Though I guess it'll be safe by a Jeep between us and Finland on ice, shallow Gulf along the shore must be frozen to the bottom. And anyway it's shallow :o) nowhere to drown down to :o)))))

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  • 351. At 4:48pm on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    It's not so much the frosts that bothered us here but the barometer incredible heights. Moscow registered their record in 150yrs at 771 and all despaired "how to live?" - while St. Petersburg stood stiff at 791!
    I know Western barometers have diff. units, so can't tell what it is in European elsewhere terms, but Russian barometer in particular starts at 720 and ends at 800. We were only 9 ? degrees? or whatever, short of the end of the barometer! :o)))) I got prepared to buy a new one :o)))))
    725 as I understand is the lowest possible normally, when one is in the eye of a typhoon. where it is quiet-quiet, peaceful-peaceful :o)))) - until the world falls on you in the next minutes! :o))))
    800 is I don't know what.
    791 was dear darling St. Petersburg.

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  • 352. At 6:59pm on 01 Feb 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @ 348 @350 @351 W A
    Alice, we apply the SI (*) system for measuring the atmospheric pressure. The unit measure, called ‘bar’ equals 101 kPa, or 760mm mercury at the sea level. It’s simple. The higher the mercury is the better…
    P.S.: How about the fishermen in the Finish bay? Are they still present in these cold days?
    (*) SI means “Systeme International” (fr.)
    Generalissimo

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  • 353. At 11:51pm on 01 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Generalissimo, I was thinking what "a society" can do itself :o) without passing the matter to laws and state and court attention or whatever. But it won't apply to the EU case, where all are law-abiding (or else :) I mean, I have an impression it is dangerous to violate laws in the EU, so people rely on laws and refer to them, in problems, and rely on laws as a help. Say, in Russia, people will be more, how to say, relying on themselves, simply because laws are beautiful but where are they? to implement it is difficult. As we say (to complain) -"To God is high to Tsar is far". So, a hypothetic question, - what will happen to a lady wearing a burka in Russia?

    First answer you know - she'll be quoted the White Sun of the Desert movie along her way by all passers-by without exception: "Open up your face, Gulchatay!" (moderators, Gulchatay is a Turkestan-Azerbajan girl's name) As Gulchatay was a hero in that movie and the young man looking for her affections :o))) constantly besieged her with this one message :o) imploring her to "open up the face" so that he can have another look. He saw her face once, by mistake, and fell in love.

    So, this kind of attention and teasing by everyone along the road is quaranteed 100%. (great power of Art)(the humourous film, I mean)

    Next, I am afraid there'll be a problem with teenagers at some point. After theatre blow-up, by girls in burka shown by state TV, a burka means for Russians only one thing - the belt. I am afraid many Russian teenagers would want that dynamite. Whether she has it or not :o))))
    Boys are mad about explosives, and the lady risks simply being un-wrapped, so to say, at the first quiet street or behind the subway corner.
    I know what I am talking about, when gas-pipe layers in my dacha stumbled upon a piece of metal in the ground they evapourated in 10 sec. "call the sappers, we won't be back unless you carve out the thing yourself". I walked the street in thoughts is it really time to blow up dacha, or may be if this is a (usual) aviation bomb that lay un-disturbed for years we can lay a pipe by other route and simply leave it where it is, or what to do. Came across a friend of my younger brother and told him of the problem. He got spirited immediatelly "a bomb? no joking? it's mine! I'll be there in 10 minutes! don't give it to anyone!" Well, he wasn't quite a teenager :o)))) rather, 32 years old :o))) and I thought tghe Gazprom folks are overly cautious (granddad would have surely found it before, if it were a bomb) spo, with reservations, I let him ramble and excavate :o))) must confess (I don't like the guy :o))))) - but took cat and dog out into the street.
    (that wasn't a bomb, and no "old treasure trunk" alas either), still I remember holding him back (for a while)

    So, explosives and all that metal ware are attractive for young Russians. Un-wrapped at some point of the journey - that lady will be.

    Well, otherwise I don't see any problems, apart from everyone behaving like a wild monkey :o
    ))) quoting the film, and the necessity to prove "I don't have any dynamite, get lost!" several times a day :o))))

    Though... I am thinking.... Did anyone try to tickle way to serious ladies in burka?

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  • 354. At 01:40am on 02 Feb 2010, generalissimo wrote:

    @353 WA
    Dearest Alice, your last post is just another illustration of how the Russians would behave in case they meet, face-to-face, a veiled lady in the street, in the shop, or in the subway. "Open up your face, Gulchatay!" is a reference of the emancipation of all those veiled and humiliated beauties who perished in the harems of the omnipresent, medieval type of landlords, inhabiting central Asia and the Caspian sea region. (The movie “The white sun of the desert” is a classic example of it).
    Another type of, say, negative reaction, the Russians would have facing veiled ladies could really be inspired by the recent Moscow theatre slaughter, you were referring to. I clearly remember all of it. But in that case, it was not at all question of emancipation, but of a brutal Chechen demonstration against the secular society in Russia. The result of it was quite logical, and, in that particular case, I strongly support the armed intervention of the Russian authorities…
    Generalissimo

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  • 355. At 03:47am on 02 Feb 2010, Huaimek wrote:

    See News from Iraq today!
    Woman suicide bomber kills at least 41 and injures 106 with explosives hidden under her Abya . Whatever Islamics are brainwashed to believe; that she will go to heaven for killing the infedel and blessings rain upon her family ; she will rest in hell and eternal damnation for her wickedness against humanity. Women who wear the Burkha are seen as potentially"Tarred with the same brush"!

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  • 356. At 04:03am on 02 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Generalissimo :o) One thing is to tickle :o), ask for dynamite provisions :o), refer to the old movie, and, I also thought, can imagine the scene "I'll embrace her - No you won't, she'll blow you up - A bet :o))) Not between sober Russian men, of course. But the un-sober ones aren't deficit either :o))) And after all a very provokative attire like that only attracts un-due attention. and may be viewed (by some un-reasonable individuals) as a walking Russian roulette :o))))
    - and still ANOTHER thing is to make a law - take the burka off.

    Now, what family and school teach us? I mean, the White sun of the desert. Where have you seen there tovarisch Sukhov burka -un-dressing his harem?
    (for others, a Russian chap came into a sudden harem ownership by mistake, and temporarily, in that film. The previous owner died in battle)

    Even "tovarisch Sukhov himself" :o) - mind it - didn't go for these extremes. We all understand in reality it was not so sweetie-sweet as in the film, but reality all forgot, and the film is the only left over acting instruction (for Russians) how to deal with Islam extremes.
    Best demonstrated practices, vivid example and all.

    Even when very-very disappointed, the max that tovarisch Sukhov allowed himself, was to hang over a sign on the harem building:
    "The 1st Socialistic Hostel of the Free Women of the East". In red letters, of course.

    When he was beyond himself the other time, he again dashed around for a while, then came up with a poster, that he hang up in the harem quarters:

    "Tovarisch, remember! A woman is also a man!"
    (meaning "a human being")

    The rest of the time he simply bored girls to hell with lectures and political information sessions on the int'l situation in the world. That there is communism now in their quarters, or soon will be, that it's time to run and find yourself an own husband (1).

    To which the girls gave him no less convincing political information sessions :o))) type
    - Think how good it will be! Only you alone your husband loves, only to you he brings presents, etc. (Sukhov)
    - So, you say, only one wife? Let me see, one wife feeds the children, one wife cooks, one wife cleans the house, one wife takes care of the man, one wife washes, one wife brings water - and all of that work - ONE WOMAN?!
    (Sukhov clearly lost the battle)

    But nowhere - dear Bozhinoff - Sukhov was seen as against burka. No forceful take-offs of clothes or commenting on the female clothes. Or religion. Well, if only, they were akward in their adventures, running, hiding and in fire open on them conditions. The girls stumbled and fell.

    So, dear Bozhinoff, I don't know. What do I know? But White sun of the desert doesn't teach us anything of the kind, that you wish to extract of me, for I see where you are driving at :o))) in the last posts "Alice be like normal Europeans say that Russia is against, for you are Europe and how can you be not against, you, who liberated us from muslims, and "Europe from ? to Urals" quote and all.
    :o)))

    The only thing I know for sure is that the film ought to be translated into French immediately and shown on big screens in France FOC. ASAP.
    For it reconciles the Muslim and the Christian societies or at least did once on our side. Both sides see how stupid they are :o))))
    Where are the great masters of art by the way, it's a delicate issue, it is their work, to process the split in the society and mend it! By humour, by teasing, by showing both sides' sense, people are awful awkward in expressing their opinions, you need a glance in done by a master, into the depths. Someone to put a mirror in front of you.

    don't trick me into easy solutions. :o)
    where something can be made complex instead of straightforward :o)) - do you think I'll miss the chance?
    :o)

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  • 357. At 11:50am on 02 Feb 2010, U14312152 wrote:

    @ WebAliceInWonderLand 356
    “don't trick me into easy solutions. :o)where something can be made complex instead of straightforward :o)) - do you think I'll miss the chance?”
    No Alice, you won’t miss the chance, and this is my chance to make myself clear. I haven’t got the least intention to lecture you that the mutual tolerance between Christians and Muslims is the first condition for a peaceful coexistence between these two different ethnic groups within the EU. However, I will allow myself to remind you that civilized Europe is the MOST attractive place of living for the crushing majority of educated Muslims for the simple reason that THERE they enjoy civic rights and privileges they have not in THEIR motherland! It would suffice to remind you just several facts: London is the siege of international Muslim forums that take place there once a year; in my country, the Muslims are organized in a party which is the 3rd political power here, etc., etc...
    The article of Gavin Hewitt’s does not refer to the atmosphere of tolerance, carefully preached by all governments within the EU. It refers to the abuse of the religious feelings of many Muslim ladies here for pure economic and cultural reasons. It refers to badly covered actions of the radical Islamists who try to counteract our norms of behaviour that guarantee some relatively acceptable, peaceful coexistence for us, citizens of Europe. THEY are just afraid that THEIR world of medieval dogmas and cultural traditions is continually being destroyed by the pressing realities, i.e. by our civilization. (I do not believe in the existence of an almighty underground radical Islamist organization in Europe. The radical Islam could found the proper conditions in any poor and less educated Muslim family here. The radical Islam has got its social meaning and dimension; hence it should be counteracted by all the proper measures a democratic country has got in its arsenal, to start from the secular EDUCATIONAL system and to finish with the court of justice).
    And last but not least, our third kingdom owes its existence not only to our continuous struggles for independence, but also to the RUSSIAN bloodshed which put an end to the Ottoman medieval rule that humiliated and oppressed not only our Christian folks but also all those Muslim women, subjects of the Turkish Empire who wore their face veil for centuries. (The liberation war of 1877-78 created the proper conditions not only for the national independence, but also for the establishment of a secular state, capable to meet the European social & political standards of the late 19 century. Ever since, no burkha or other similar garments could be seen here. No need. We live in peace, and no Muslim has the right to marry more than one woman...)
    P.S.: Dearest Alice, I do not intend to lecture you more for another private reason: I have already one girl (just intelligent like you) at home for almost 40 years. I do not intend to open a second front in her native Piter. You two, will quickly ally against me... See you..
    Generalissimo

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  • 358. At 2:58pm on 02 Feb 2010, Nik wrote:

    The question of the Burka is simple. There is no need to enforce a total ban of this garment. However it is 100% legitimate for schools, shop owners, civil services, banks and hospitals to refuse the entry of people wearing such cloths. The right is the right. They have the right to wear what they want to wear, we have the right to see the face of the one enterring our property or state property. That is all. If they still want to live in our societies they will be either forced to partially wear it (which will end up in abandoning its use) or live a life more isolated being able to be served only through their husbands - at the end of the day, that is what they want anyway.

    Down to the basics, I cannot even believe this discussion takes place in a civilised society. It is hallucinating and shows in what low levels has the global level of culture fallen.

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  • 359. At 01:07am on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Huaimek, @285. I am sorry it took me long to answer, was ashamed with the compliments and didn't know what clever to say. :o(
    :o))))
    Thank you. And what happy childhood you've had. Read with pleasure about your home library affections. "on a cold winter day" "leather-binded" and all.
    Now, in reply, first I wanted to quote you a verse, with a book-case angle to it. Then I decided you are too nice to subject you to that :o))))
    Then I didn't know what to say but yest in the TV box saw a big round cosy babushka in red jumper and a cute neck-scarf, speaking very good English (both very un-usual behaviour for local babushka-s), wondered, listened, and remembered you, that now there is something useful I can tell you.
    (The British don't read further on)
    _________________

    So, as a book-worm to a book-worm :o)))) news, so to say, it's that we here have improved our already deply wrong debunker behaviour re who was Shakespeare, by adding up Francis Bacon to the picture (the picture in Russia has always been Roger Manners). (Sorry to say) The new twist of ideas is the sonnets - Manners exclusively; some plays - manners exclusively; some plays - Bacon and his young protege Manners combined.
    Accordingly, where was signed (in print. by the editors) "Shakespeare" - Manners alone. Where titled "William Shakespeare" - a brand name for the creative institution of both :o)))))
    Another piece of enlighting discovery is that the first Folio year 23 Portrait 1 (with both hands) is not "the famous portrait with two left hands" but if you think about it (the babushka in red jumper did. Moscow uni professor) the original from which the Folio was printed was a thing for engraving. Produced in the mirror reflection format. So the "two left arms" in fact (for a proof. Big Head :o))) mean that there are "two right hands" - two right writing hands of the author.
    ?
    Cute.

    And the next Folio year 43 I think? the 2nd Portrait (as only 2 are recognised as having anything to do with Shakespeare for sure) has got only 1 (right) hand, the other one is nicely covered by a cloak or a scarf or something.

    Well. That's the book-wormish news. :o))))
    She believes all knew times The Theatre and The Curtain because Manners house (Rutland mansion) was situated 100 metres from both and one could easily shuttle back and forward :o))) She also reminded all that Bacon's schoool patron saint was not for nothing Athens Pallada (don't know how it is correctly in English) as that goddess back in those time was shakimng her spear in all directions fighting someone. Illiteracy or silly people, something of the kind, and that Bacon could have been inspired in composing the name by his students' years' goddess.

    Well anyway I hope the new book will bring some peace as min amonsgt debunkers, who are fighting each other candidate No 25, or "candidate No 14" :o))) for centuries, as it hops 2 of the candidates list together. :o))))) 23 are though left overboard :o))))
    No, in fact my favourite Manners alone unites 9 in one flask :o)))) as his family and close friends circle includes heaps of candidates at once - all the suspects, so to say, orbiting around his figure :o))), and Queen Elizabeth, God Mother of his wife, and his wife, and aunt of his wife, and Ben Jonson best Manners' friends, etc.
    Now makes 10 together - out of 25 "suspects" - think that's an advance!
    (Though personallyu I am afarid I still debunk for Manners alone :o(
    :o))) Bacon isn't romantic enough for a Russian taste for the poets.
    (but then babushka says Bacon couldn't put poetry together, awful attempts, that's why he excused himself out on it, clearly). Well, if only this, as a consolation.
    We are long persisting in our Manners' delusion, I am afraid, approx. 15 years when Russia formulated its first big book "Russia - for Manners! " :o)))) approx. Not the book's name. But Nabokov I think was the first Russian in 1924 who became stuck on Roger Manners.
    That's all the book-wormie news.

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  • 360. At 03:38am on 04 Feb 2010, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Correction:

    Great/First Folio 1623 - two left/right arms. With dedication to Shakespeare by Ben Johnson.

    John Benson's (this far un-known to humanity individual :o)
    Edition of Shakespearer's Sonnets of 1640 - with the portrait where one left/right arm is curtained.

    And such wert thou. Look how the father's face
    Lives in his issue, even so, the race
    Of Shakespearer's mind, and manners brightly shines
    In his well-turned, and true-filled lines.
    In each of which, he seems to shake a lance,
    As brandished at the eyes of ignorance.

    (that's what Ben Jonson dedicated to Shakespeare in the First/Great Folio
    Introduced us the portrait :o)))) well-turned indeed :o))), the author :o), things... :o) Type, "Now ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you Shakespeare, with two left sleeves, a mask of a face, and a gentleman nearby whom eh, in which? "manners brightly shines" :o))))
    From the small letter, not "Manners".
    But "shines" not "shine", and that part of the phrase is separated from the prev. one by a comma. Not a mis-print, though traditionalists say it must have been either "manner brightly shines" or "manners brightly shine". But it isn't. :o(
    :o))))

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