Friday, October 15, 2004

Burqa for a Halloween costume??!

For all you out there, Ramadhan Mubarak. This month marks the month of fasting (abstinence of food, drink from dawn to dusk) for millions of Muslims worldwide. Why do we fast is a complex questions that reveals physical & spiritual cleansing. It is not only eating & drinking that invalidate a fast - lying, cheating, hurting somebody also break a fast. Fasting is an opportunity for Muslims to discipline themselves to become better human beings. Read this for more on the benefits of fasting. Also, an interesting article from The Christian Science Monitor: "Multicolored strings of lights blink from shopping malls next to large "Ramadan Is Generous" signs. Restaurant stalls are draped with the traditional red, green, white, and black Bedouin textiles. It feels something like Christmas in America. When I arrive at my parents' house there are workers in the garden wrapping tiny colored lights around the palm trees, and inside they're painting the walls and arranging newly upholstered furniture."

Halloween is just around the corner with people fising for fun costumes. I have no problems with that except when the Islamic burqa (the veil like the ones used in Afghanistan) is sold as a unisex costume! Check it out here. Not only is this a disrespect for an Islamic code, it is a taunt to the Afghan women who suffered from brutal practices of the Taliban. Fun isn't a bad thing, but it has its limits. Speaking of which, "Sabrina Varroni, an Italian mother of four and Muslim convert, has been fined $100 for wearing a veil that covers her face in Drezzo, Italy, a small town on the Swiss border. The case has created a dispute involving politicians, civil rights groups and a fashion designer: "It's a question of respect for the convictions and culture of others," Mr. Armani, the fashion designer, said in a statement released late last month. "We need to live with these ideas."Mr. Armani's views were just one of the particularly Italian twists to questions facing much of Europe over its uneasy relationship with Islam.The case of Ms. Varroni is not a simple one about religious freedom...The case has been viewed by some as a telling clash of two ideologies: Islam versus Italian xenophobia."

More than a 100 economists, professors from various acclaimed universities around the country wrote a letter to President Bush: "Nearly every major economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office in January 2001. Real GDP growth during your term is the lowest of any presidential term in recent memory. Total non-farm employment has contracted and the unemployment rate has increased. Bankruptcies are up sharply, as is our dependence on foreign capital to finance an exploding current account deficit. All three major stock indexes are lower now than at the time of your inauguration. The percentage of Americans in poverty has increased, real median income has declined, and income inequality has grown."

Thirst Films and BulletProof Film, Inc. announce the New York City premiere of Patriot Acts, a documentary that explores the human cost of the Bush Administration's controversial National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS, also know as “Special Registration”). Instituted a year after 9/11, NSEERS facilitated the agenda embodied by the USA PATRIOT Act by requiring non-immigrant males, 16 and older, from predominantly Muslim countries to register with the Department of Homeland Security. Patriot Acts penetrates into the heart of a predominantly Pakistani and Indian community on Chicago's North Side and tells the stories of two men...the filmmakers followed Mr. Moti and Mr. Tariq as the two men navigated a maze of controversial, McCarthy-era based immigration regulations while under the constant threat of arrest, detention, and deportation

Speaking of movies, "Team America: World Police" is out - it is a puppet film made by the makers of the satirical cartoon "
South Park." I haven't watched it but you can check out the review from Reuters.

In Iraq from Informed Comment: "
Brig. Gen. Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, the head of the Iraqi secret police, has charged 27 employees in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad with espionage and sabotage...He claims to have seized from "safehouses" Persian documents that show that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its militia, the Badr Corps, served as Iranian agents in helping with the assassinations...SCIRI is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and there is some danger that if the neo-Baathists attack this Shiite party they will push Sistani into opposition to the government. Indeed, insofar as most of the neo-Baath are Sunnis, this sort of campaign could finally produce the kind of Sunni-Shiite violence many feared before the war, but which has largely so far been avoided...Personally, I find Shahwani's allegations fantastic...It was clear as soon as Allawi and the neo-Baath faction was put in power by the US in late June that they wanted to target Iran. Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan decried Iran publicly as Iraq's number one enemy this summer...Shahwani is an old-time Baath officer. In 1990 he broke with Saddam, who is said to have killed three of Shahwani's children in revenge. Shahwani came out of Iraq and to join US efforts to overthrow the dictator. This summer, he was appointed head of the Mukhabarat or Iraqi secret police, which the US Central Intelligence Agency is rebuilding with $3 billion. Shahwani is alleged to be a long-time CIA asset who is being groomed as a replacement for caretaker Prime Minister Iyad Allawi should the latter be assassinated."

Violence in Iraq has continued with two bomb blasts within the heavily guarded Green Zone (where the US & foreign nationals & the Iraqi govt operates).

Also, the
Cheneys are angry that John Kerry mentioned their daughter Mary's lesbianism in the third presidential debate. There is a lot of debate whether it was appropriate or not: it may have been a cheeky move, but to me, with Dick Cheney's huge influence on Bush, I don't think he is going to allow a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I think it's an empty threat by Bush to woo his Christian supporters. "Kerry and his supporters responded that Cheney had been first to discuss his daughter in relation to the issue of gay marriage, at a town hall in August...He also publicly disagreed with Bush about the need for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages, saying he preferred that the states settle the issue. Kerry said in a statement: "I love my daughters. They love their daughter. I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue. Several gay rights activists said they felt many Republicans were betraying their discomfort with the issue. They pointed out that Mary Cheney has been open about her sexual identity in political and business endeavors for years. Cheney also made no objection last week in the vice presidential debate when Sen. John Edwards complimented Cheney's "wonderful" willingness to talk about his daughter's sexual orientation."

A news station has been causing an uproar according to this NY Times editorial. "Sinclair, a Maryland-based company that reaches nearly a quarter of American households, would broadcast a propaganda film in the next two weeks that labels Senator John Kerry a liar, a traitor and a "willing accomplice" of the enemy during the Vietnam War. It claims, falsely, that his antiwar statements inspired the North Vietnamese to step up the torture of American prisoners, and it is filled with other distortions about the war in Vietnam. Sinclair has instructed its stations, which are heavily represented in swing states like Florida and Wisconsin, to run the film without commercials in the evening. The company already compels them to broadcast editorials and commentaries favorable to Mr. Bush and his policies." Just as no one can say Fahrenheit 9/11 is an objective news program, nor is Sinclair's Stolen Honor. The owner is a strong Bush supporter and contributes money to the Republican party.