Saturday, November 13, 2010

UN Insanity

by Stephen Brown

Once again, the United Nations has damaged its own purported values and reason to exist when it praised Libya’s human rights record last Tuesday while condemning America’s. This time round, it was the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) serving as the vehicle for the world body’s latest exercise in hypocrisy.

After a review of Libya’s human rights record Tuesday morning, HRC members exhibited their moral decay when they lavished praised on the North African dictatorship of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadaffi. Almost simultaneously, it adopted a report containing 228 recommendations regarding America’s human rights situation.

The recommendations are based on criticisms from other countries and NGOs, some of which undoubtedly harbor anti-American sentiments. State Department legal adviser Harold Kohl alluded to the report’s political background when he called some of the recommendations “political provocations.”

But the HRC’s political bias and the questionable morality of some of its members did not prevent Michael Posner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, from spending three hours testifying before it last Friday. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, it was equally embarrassing Posner acknowledged before such human rights disasters as Cuba, Mauritania and Angola that there was “imperfection” in America’s human rights record.

“Though we are proud of our achievements, we are not satisfied with the status quo,” Posner said.

Considering the HRC’s political nature, one could almost have written the report condemning the United States in advance. According to one account, it included the usual indictments such as the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and accusations of torture against the US military. Also mentioned was overcrowding in American prisons, the need to ratify international conventions on women and children and that “discrimination permeates all aspects of life in the U.S.” All in all, standard accusations from the leftist, anti-American playbook.

The report on Libya, on the other hand, reflected a human rights paradise. The report drew praise from other UN members, including such paragons of human rights as Iran, which stated: “Libya has achieved significant progress in the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level, especially in such areas human rights legislation.” Syria, another bastion of domestic and international virtue, gushed that Libya’s “unique experience in democracy …has allowed for the growth and development and promotion of human rights in full conformity with its commitment under international law…”

Human rights organizations acquainted with Muammar Gadaffi’s Libya, however, are not hiding their anger about the glossing over of its atrocious human rights record and the farce that just occurred at the UN.

“Libya’s report seeks to cover up its well-documented practices of torture, violations of religion, attacks on migrants and refugees, oppression of journalists and opposition politicians, and the discrimination against women,” said Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, a Geneva-based group that monitors the United Nations.

And when one considers the human rights violations that are occurring almost daily in Libya, the UN’s HRC takes on the appearance of a Soviet court where decisions are made on the basis of a totalitarian ideology and not on evidence with regard to justice. Only last week, Libya’s secret service began to arrest journalists. Reporters Without Borders (RWB), a worldwide press freedom organization, reports that 30 journalists have been imprisoned so far. RWB called the arrests “the reaction of a draconian state, deaf to the need for protecting human rights and freedom.” Somehow, this latest Libyan violence against freedom of the press, a freedom the UN supposedly supports, escaped the HRC’s attention when assessing Libya’s human rights record on Tuesday.

But what the HRC could not avoid were submissions regarding Libya by the human rights organizations World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and Human Rights Solidarity (HRS). The submissions concerned a Libyan citizen arrested in 1989 who was tortured and murdered while in custody. He was one of many Libyan citizens who were arrested and disappeared that year.

“This state disregards its treaty obligations and especially its fundamental obligations to respect the right to life and physical and psychological integrity of its nationals,” stated an OMCT press release, issued last week.

While the HRC called upon Libya to open an impartial investigation into the matter and report back to the HRC within 180 days, the accusations levelled by the two human rights organizations obviously did not affect Libya’s favorable evaluation. The many other cases of Libyan human rights violations, too numerous to list, also had no visible impact on the report’s outcome.

The HRC’s hypocrisy is even more pronounced when one considers some of the world’s worst human rights abusers are among its current 47 members. China, Saudi Arabia and Angola do not conjure up images of states with great respect for human rights but rather of those who care little about personal freedoms within their own borders. Moreover, the HRC spends a lot of time criticising Israel rather than dealing with real human rights abuses occurring elsewhere in the world. According to UN Watch, as of last May the HRC had “adopted 40 censure resolutions, of which 33 have targeted Israel.”

But the HRC’s credibility sank even further when Libya was elected as a council member last May. The reaction in democratic countries was outrage, especially among human rights groups. But besides countries actually voting for Libya, it was pointed out at the time it was equally deplorable that Libya’s election was not opposed by the United States. There is a marked contrast between the Bush administration strongly and openly opposing Libya’s bid for the chairmanship of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights in 2003 and America’s current UN ambassador, Susan Rice, being unable “to condemn Libya’s specific human rights record” last spring, let alone express outrage.

When UN general Secretary Kofi Annan proposed establishing the HRC to replace the old Commission in 2006, the United States voted against it and refused both funding and to run for a seat. The Bush administration foresaw the sham it has become. President Obama ended that boycott and has supported the council while admitting it “remains flawed.”

But with time, these flaws are becoming more outrageous and actually constitute a mockery of human rights and disrespect for the United States. Such a development, in turn, diminishes America’s stature as the world’s true moral beacon, as she fails uphold the rights, upon which the UN was founded, while her own human rights standards are simultaneously being poorly represented.

Stephen Brown

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Islamist Clown

by Robert Spencer

Reza Aslan is an increasingly comic figure as he races around the country slandering freedom-fighters and trying to pretend that people have a negative view of Islam because of “Islamophobes” rather than Islamic jihad terrorism. It’s rather surprising that this diminutive Islamic supremacist snake-oil merchant still finds willing audiences of dupes, but such is the abysmal state of the public discourse today. “Aslan discusses causes, dangers of anti-Islam sentiment,” by Caitlin O’Donnell in The Pendulum, Elon University’s student newspaper, November 10:

A year following Sept. 11, a Washington Post poll found that 40 percent of Americans had a negative view of Islam – nine years later, that number has jumped by nine percent to almost half of the population of the United States.

Any rational and honest person will know that that is because Islamic jihadists just recently sent bombs via UPS to synagogues in Chicago and stormed a church in Baghdad, murdering 58 people. Then there was the Fort Hood jihad shooting, the Arkansas recruiting center jihad shooting, the Christmas underwear bomb jihad attempt, the Times Square jihad car bomb attempt, the Fort Dix jihad plot, the North Carolina jihad plot, the Seattle jihad shooting, the JFK Airport jihad plot, and on and on. But Reza Aslan is not an honest man, and so he doesn’t mention any of that, but rather blames “Islamophobes”:

Based on this and other statistics, author and scholar Reza Aslan discussed the apparent “Islamaphobia” prevalent throughout the United States Wednesday night, citing the dangers to security and national identity that results, as well as what can be done to end the trend.

“Dangers to security and national identity” — note the sleight of hand. Aslan is trying to get his hapless audience to think that it is those who are fighting against Sharia and Islamization, and in defense of the freedom of speech and equality of rights for women and non-Muslims that are denied by Sharia, who are the security threat — not the people sending letter bombs, shooting up military recruiting centers and military bases, plotting to blow up airplanes, etc.

“A lot of these anti-Muslim zealots have always been around, but for many years have been in the shadows,” he said. “What’s strange is that this kind of rhetoric, a year ago would have had no place in rational discussion, but has now become so commonplace that even mainstream politicians have adopted it.”

Translation: “I am fooling fewer people than ever, and I am getting desperate.”

Aslan noted Pam Gellar [sic] and Robert Spencer, who are some of the major proponents of an anti-Muslim movement with their organization “Stop Islamization of America”, as well as members of the mainstream media, such as Bill O’Reilly, who has associated all Muslims with terrorism.

SIOA is not anti-Muslim, of course, it is pro-human rights and against Sharia. For Aslan, that’s the same thing. He would abandon to their fate the Muslim women who suffer under the institutionalized oppression of Sharia, and who long to be free. We, in contrast, stand up for the rights of such people. So which one of is the bigot and hater? The answer is clear to anyone who can cut through the fog of Aslan’s disinformation and see the truth.

But how did the nation get to this point? According to Aslan, it’s nothing new.”Everything being said about Islam in this country, that they’re foreign, un-American, that they don’t belong here was said about Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Mormons,” he said.

At this point I would have expected Aslan to produce some shells and ask me to guess which one the pea was under. Once again, the difference between Islam on the one hand and Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Mormons is that Islam is frequently, repeatedly invoked by Muslims as the motivation and justification for violence and supremacism. Catholics, Jews, Quakers, Mormons were not plotting to bring down airliners, shooting up military bases, or demanding special rights that other citizens did not enjoy.

Aslan might respond, if he weren’t so hopelessly intellectually bereft and afraid of honest discussion, that all Muslims are not terrorists or even Islamic supremacists (although he himself is obviously the latter), and that is manifestly, obviously true. He would claim that working to stop “Islamization” — i.e., the imposition of elements of Sharia in the U.S. — somehow demonizes all Muslims. That is, of course, false. Any Muslim who truly values U.S. Constitutional principles and freedoms, and doesn’t want Sharia here, should stand with us instead of making ridiculous comparisons with Nativism. The Nativists were genuinely prejudiced. To equate that with a determination to defend the U.S. against a radically intolerant and supremacist ideology manifests an immense moral myopia, or a craven dishonesty. Or both.

While Aslan said Americans are using Muslims as scapegoats for political and economic anxieties, the foundation of this sentiment goes deeper, based on another poll that found the more one disagrees with President Barack Obama’s domestic policies, the more likely they are to believe he’s a Muslim.”Islam in this country has become ‘otherized’, become a kind of receptacle into which Americans are dumping all of their fears and anxieties, not just about the uncertain economic situation, but about the changing political landscape, changing racial makeup,” he said. “Whatever is foreign, exotic, unfamiliar, fearful is being tagged as Islam.”…

You mean like moo satay or feijoada, you dope?

“Do we want to live in an America in which we define ourselves as against another group of Americans?” he said. “Or do we want a nation that says ‘as you accept us, we’ll accept you.’ That’s the country I hope we continue to work for.”

Of course, if that were true, Aslan would not be a Board member of the National Iranian American Council, a group that is widely regarded as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has also called on the U.S. Government to negotiate not only with Ahmadinejad but with Hamas — that is, with some of the most barbaric and genocidally-inclined adherents of Sharia. “As you accept us, we’ll accept you” indeed.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

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Coming for Christie

by Jacob Laksin

The Justice Department under President Obama may be unwilling to investigate the New Black Panthers, but it’s apparently intent on scrutinizing that other menace to society – New Jersey’s upstart Republican governor Chris Christie.

This month, the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report purporting to show that Christie, who has built up a reputation as a spending-slashing fiscal conservative by taking on New Jersey’s bloated public sector, routinely overcharged the government for hotel stays while in his former job as a U.S. Attorney. Christie exceeded the government’s set rate for travel expenses on 14 of 15 trips, according to the report; on nine of those trips, his “lodging costs exceeded the government rate by more than $100 per night.” These costs, which went over the government rate by between $19 and $242 a night, ultimately totaled $2,176.

The charges are not new. They initially surfaced during Christie’s election fight last fall against Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, who seized on news reports about Christie’s hotel expenses suggest that he was out of touch with average Americans and lived by his own rules. (Never mind that with a net worth estimated at as $300 million, Corzine himself was hardly the obvious model for an everyman.) At the time, Christie parried the charges by pointing out, reasonably enough, that with just a few rooms offered at the government rate at every hotel, staying within the set government rate was not always possibility. Nevertheless, he explained that he tried to stay at a cheaper hotel whenever that was an option. Whatever view one takes of that particular controversy – and New Jersey’s voters registered their opinion clearly when they voted Christie into office – there is nothing revelatory in the Justice Department’s audit.

Why then is the Justice Department suddenly so concerned with the dated travel expenses of New Jersey’s governor? It can hardly reflect a broader instinct for austerity on the part of the Obama administration. This after all is a president who has presided over a massive spending spree in his first two years in office, spiking the national debt by more than $3 trillion. What’s $2,000 in travel costs, assuming they really are unjustified, next to the government’s two-year spending binge?

But to ask the question is to miss the point. On President Obama’s watch, the priorities of the Justice Department seem to be dictated more by politics than merit. Thus, in 2009 the department famously dropped a clear-cut case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party. Yet the department is bent on pursuing a long-settled, and far more trivial matter, against a popular Republican governor.

And not just a Republican, but a fiscal conservative. In his inaugural year in office, Christie has become a paladin for New Jersey’s overtaxed voters. He has vetoed tax increases, cut spending, taken on the powerful public sector unions, and made it clear that the country’s third most indebted state no longer can afford the combination of massive borrowing and spending that has brought it to its current mess. Just last month, Christie scrapped a long-stalled rail tunnel project that would have saddled state residents with billions in cost overruns — a project, it should be noted, that the Obama administration had championed. In so doing, he has not only remained popular in the state but he has become a national figure, sought out Republicans and the media. Despite his repeated denials of interest, his name is now routinely mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012.

Of course, Christie has retained his critics, both in the state legislature and now, it appears, in the Obama Justice Department. After all, what better way to embarrass a rising star in the Republican ranks and to undercut his credentials as a cost-cutting friend of the taxpayer than by releasing a report that portrays him as a spendthrift on the taxpayer’s dime?

It’s hard to imagine that the Justice Department really could be that petty and politicized. But as Quinn Hillier documents in The American Spectator this month, the audit attack on Christie is symptomatic of the wider political corruption of a department that repeatedly has abused its authority to target anyone who stands in the way of President Obama’s political agenda.

Considering the staleness of the evidence in its latest report, there is certainly a basis for the suspicion that Christ Christie is just the newest name on the department’s enemies list. If that is indeed the case, it’s unlikely to be New Jersey’s combative governor who emerges looking the worse from this fight.

Jacob Laksin is managing editor of Frontpage Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Weekly Standard, City Journal, Policy Review, as well as other publications. Email him at

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Russia’s Freedoms Fading Fast

by Rich Trzupek

The name has changed and the empire is smaller than it used to be, but there’s less and less these days to distinguish the Russian Federation from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Saturday’s brutal beating of crusading journalist Oleg Kashin appears to be the latest example of the resurgent Russian police state flexing its muscles to stamp out dissent; especially when it comes to journalists who refuse to follow the party line. A horrific video shows Kashin being repeatedly beaten by two men who appear to be wielding pipes or some other blunt instruments. Kashin, a journalist for Kommersant, a Russian political and business newspaper, suffered multiple injuries and is currently in an induced coma as doctors try to save his life. Most significantly, the journalist who has written so much to anger and embarrass the government had all of his fingers broken. As messages go, it does not get much clearer that. None of Kashin’s possessions were stolen by his assailants, which further validates suspicions of governmental orchestration.

The Russian authorities have naturally expressed their outrage over this vicious crime and have vowed to find and punish the perpetrators. In a just world, that kind of investigation would start at the top, with detectives questioning Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev. Eight journalists have been killed in Russia this year alone, and only one of those murders resulted in an arrest. “Russia’s courts and the police do not have enough strength – or enough interest – to protect journalists,” said Mikhail Kotov, editor of the Russian Gazeta online newspaper. With parliamentary elections scheduled to occur within the next eighteen months, efforts to suppress freedom of the press in Russia will surely get worse. The Russian edition of Newsweek, which has provided a strong voice of opposition in the country, appears ready to close its doors along with other media outlets that don’t play by Putin’s rules.

The West’s Cold War dream of a liberated, democratic Russia – a vision that appeared to be tantalizingly close to reality when the USSR dissolved nineteen years ago – now seems as distant and as unachievable as ever. As President, Putin was the most popular leader of any nation in the world, with approval ratings among Russians topping out over eighty per cent at times. The economic downturn means the Medvedev isn’t quite as popular as his mentor, but there’s very little to suggest that the majority of the Russian populace would want to change the way the country is run. Putin is widely seen as having restored Russian pride, and he was fortunate to be at the helm when the nation’s experiments with capitalism began to bear economic fruit. He’s a hero among much of the populace, and that counts for a lot more than the fate of one courageous journalist who sought to tell the truth.

While markets in Russia might be freer than they were under Leonid Brezhnev, the resurgent power of the police state in the country today would make Stalin smile. The method of governing Mother Russia through a thuggish ruling class has been a central feature of the nation since Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century. Under Ivan, the secret police were the Oprichniki, who used torture and murder to root out and eliminate enemies of the government. In turn, the police were taken care of very well by the Tsar. Down through the centuries, Russian heads of state have continually emulated Ivan’s example. The names have changed from the Okhrana under Nicholas II, to the NKVD, to the KGB and all of the incarnations in between. Today, the FSB has replaced the KGB, but apart from two consonants, there doesn’t appear to be much that separates the two organizations. Unless, of course, it’s that the FSB has more money to work with than its predecessor. The mission remains the same as it ever was: to ensure that the regime in power stays in power. The FSB seems to be accomplishing that all-important task with the same ruthless efficiency that its ancestors in this “state within a state” have displayed throughout Russia’s long, tragic history. In this case, the modern version of the Oprichniki are just looking after one of their own. Putin neatly bridges the gap between the KGB that he worked for in the USSR, and the FSB that he led in the Russian Federation.

Like modern-day China, Putin seems to have digested the lesson that while a free market – or at least a near approximation thereof – is desirable, the other, more troublesome parts of freedom need not go along with it. Russians are relatively free to ply their wares, so long as the state and the mobs get their cut, but freedom of the press, freedom of dissent and the freedom to have an opinion that conflicts with state policy are fast disappearing. After all, Oleg Kashin wasn’t an investigative journalist, he simply expressed his point of view, but that point of view was often critical of the ruling regime. For the crime of having an opinion, Kashin was beaten half to death and his life hangs by a thread. The old adage says that the more things change, the more they remain the same. In Russia today, that bit of wisdom remains as true as ever.

Rich Trzupek

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Why Hamas loves Bam (Obama)

by Amir Taheri

"Abu Hussain! Palestine loves you!!!"

This slogan, in English, appears on a poster and other products produced by the Palestinian Hamas movement and put on sale in Gaza. Yesterday, it adorned the front pages of several leading Arab dailies.

The "Abu Hussain" is President Obama. The poster pictures him wearing the signature Arab headgear, the kaffiyeh.

That the most radical Palestinian faction has declared its love for the president may be bad news for the stalled Middle East peace talks, which Obama has promised to help restart before the end of the year.

He's their hero: Mugs depicting Obama in an Arab kaffiyeh on sale right by similar Yasser Arafat curios in a Gaza shop Tuesday.
He's their hero: Mugs depicting Obama in an Arab kaffiyeh on sale right by similar Yasser Arafat curios in a Gaza shop Tuesday.

According to its charter, Hamas wants to eliminate Israel and to replace it with a single Palestinian state covering the territory of the Jewish state and the territories it occupied in 1967.

Iran, Libya and a range of radical Islamist movements, including al Qaeda, support Hamas' policy, sometimes known as the "one-state solution." But Obama has said he supports President George W. Bush's two-state policy.

If Hamas' declaration of love for Obama is based on a misunderstanding, the problem may lie in Obama's ambiguous approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

When Bush said he wanted a two-state solution, he saw the realities on the ground as the starting point. Obama and his special emissary, George Mitchell, however, have talked about a return to the pre-1967 "borders" as demanded by several UN resolutions.

But there were no borders in 1967 -- only cease-fire lines drawn at the end of the 1948 war. And there was no Palestine to have any borders -- the cease-fire lines separated Israel on the one hand from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on the other. Indeed, a return to those cease-fire lines would be tantamount to recreating a situation that had already led to two wars.

Obama also drops hints that he means to be tough with Israel. To advertise his toughness, he makes occasional statements about Jewish settlements. Yet this puts the whole exercise on a different trajectory, with talks focused on the settlements rather than the core issue -- the creation of a Palestinian state.

Pressuring Israel may look good to "Abu Hussain" and his Hamas admirers. But it may reduce the chances of agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state.

Fearful that its chief ally, America, might be trying to abandon it or, worse still, stab it in the back, Israel may revert to what Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called "the hedgehog strategy." Because Israel holds the lands on which a Palestinian state is to be built, there would be no progress in that direction.

History shows that Israel has made concessions -- including withdrawing from vast territories it captured from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon -- only when it has felt sure of its principal ally.

Peace is made when

1) the winner of a war (or a series of wars) is convinced that he can create a new status quo in his favor, especially by ensuring his security, and 2) the loser also feels that the peace offer is the best it could hope for under the circumstances. Obama's approach meets neither condition.

The winner, Israel, feels threatened by what it feels is a US attempt at bullying it into a deal. The loser, the Palestinian side, is deluded into thinking that, thanks to Obama's support, it can hold out for an ever-elusive better deal. Believing that they have US support, some Palestinians are even talking of declaring statehood without winning prior Israeli approval.

Obama's Mideast policy has made progress toward peace more difficult. His promise of achieving a peace deal before year's end seems destined to join a long list of other broken promises.

Amir Taheri is the author of "The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution."

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British Government Junior Partners in Amazing Turnaround on Israel

by Robin Shepherd

Don’t look now, but Israel has a new friend in Great Britain. Hitherto the most anti-Israeli political party in the country, the Liberal Democrats appear to have performed a volte face with Nick Clegg — the party’s leader and Deputy Prime Minister to David Cameron — saying that his party had got it wrong on Israel.

“I’m not certain that we have always made ourselves clearly heard on this, so let me say it again now: Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats,” Britain’s Jewish Chronicle quoted Clegg as saying. “No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable… There can be no solution to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict.”

True, these remarks were made at a lunch organised by the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel. We still need, therefore, to hear Clegg talking this way to a wider audience. Nonetheless, his comments mark a stunning departure from what we are used to. His party’s hostility to Israel in recent years has known no bounds with one senior member, Jenny Tonge, having even gone on record as offering a rationalisation for suicide bombings. The fact that he has not only effectively apologised for his party’s previous stance but identified the global deligitimisation campaign as “intolerable” is something to behold and may be a sign that the message many of us have been trying to deliver may finally be getting through.

Importantly, he also pledged his party’s support for changes to Britain’s universal jurisdiction laws which have been used by anti-Israel groups to indict Israeli officials. As a result, several high profile Israelis, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, have cancelled trips to Britain in recent years raising questions about Britain’s ability to conduct a meaningful relationship with the Jewish state. Foreign Secretary William Hague reiterated last week the government’s intention to amend the law so that indictments can only be made by the attorney general and not by ordinary citizens requesting warrants of their own through the courts.

“The issuing of such warrants should be a matter for one of central government’s senior law officers, not for local magistrates,” Clegg was quoted as saying.

This is significant because there have been concerns the Liberal Democrats may attempt to block changes to the universal jurisdiction law. Given Clegg’s remarks that now looks unlikely.

Robin Shepherd

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Abbas Vows to Walk in Arafat’s Footsteps to Palestine

by Khaled Abu Toameh

In Gaza, Hamas bans and disrupts events marking sixth anniversary of former leader’s death; PA president speaks at rally marking Arafat's death.

The Palestinian position remains unchanged – a Palestinian state free of settlements with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of refugees to return to their homeland, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared Thursday.

Abbas, who was speaking to supporters during a rally in Ramallah marking the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, also repeated his opposition to returning to the negotiating table with Israel as long as construction continued in the settlements.

Abbas added that he wouldn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state, for fear that such a move would harm the status of Israel’s Arab minority and deprive Palestinian refugees of the right to return to their former homes.

Thousands of Palestinians from all over the West Bank attended the major rally in Abbas’s presidential Mukata compound.

He said that since 1988 the Palestinians haven’t relinquished any of their main demands. He also reached out to the Israeli people, declaring: “Making peace is more important than everything else.”

In his speech, Abbas pledged to continue in Arafat’s footsteps until the Palestinians achieve an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the refugees return to their homes and lands and all prisoners are released from Israeli jail.

“There will be no negotiations with settlements,” Abbas announced. “The Arab city of Jerusalem, including the holy sites, is an integral part of the 1967 occupied territories.

Everybody knows that Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and that any solution that does not include Jerusalem is not a solution.”

He said that the issue of the refugees must be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and the Arab peace initiative of 2002.

Addressing Israel, Abbas said: “Making peace is more important than settlements. Comprehensive and just peace is more precious than everything else – more precious than the government coalition and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman and narrow interests. Our children and your children must taste coexistence, stability, security and mutual respect before it’s too late.”

Nasser al-Qidweh, a relative of Arafat, addressed the crowd on behalf of the former PA leader’s family.

Qidweh called on Palestinians to step up the struggle against settlements, which he termed a “big crime” that destroys any chance of achieving a two-state solution.

He blamed Israel once again for the death of Arafat and demanded an inquiry into the case. He said that the PA was continuing to work toward obtaining clear-cut evidence regarding Israel’s alleged involvement in the “assassination by poison of martyr Arafat.”

Qidweh said that the Palestinians had been convinced from the beginning that Israel was behind the “assassination” of Arafat. “But we want clear evidence and we will get it,” he stressed.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas banned Fatah supporters from holding public rallies to commemorate Arafat.

In Rafah, Hamas policemen raided the offices of Fatah legislator Ashraf Jumaa and arrested scores of activists who had been invited to watch a film about the late PLO chairman.

Eyewitnesses said Hamas detained a number of journalists in Rafah during an “unlicensed” memorial event for Arafat.

The Foreign Press Association issued a statement strongly condemning Hamas for targeting journalists. It said that Hamas security authorities detained television crews and ordered them to turn over news footage.

“The total ban by the authorities on all stills photographers wanting to cover the same event is unacceptable,” the association said. “This is the latest in what seems to be a systematic campaign by Hamas to harass and intimidate journalists. Our members are professional journalists working for respected global news organizations.”

Khaled Abu Toameh

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The Feminist Politics of Islamic Misogyny

by Phyllis Chesler

Studying honor killings is not the same as sensationalizing them -- but Columbia University professor Lila Abu-Lughod disagrees. Moreover, she believes that indigenous Arab and Muslim behavior, including honor-related violence, is best understood as a consequence of Western colonialism -- perhaps even of "Islamophobia."

On October 25, 2010, at the American University of Beirut, Abu-Lughod admonished feminists who ostensibly sensationalize honor killings, a position which, in her opinion, represents "simplistic, civilizational thinking." She "warned that an obsessive focus on the so-called honor crime may have negative repercussions" and that "people should be wary of classifying certain acts as a distinctive form of violence against women." (Her remarks are summarized in a press release published by the university. According to the university, the article on which the speech is based will be published early next year in Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.)

Abu-Lughod opposed the "concept of clear-cut divisions between cultures, which she viewed as a form of imprisoning rural and immigrant communities," and suggested that focusing on "honor crimes" allowed "scholars and activists to ignore important contexts for violence against women: social tensions; political conflicts; forms of racial, class, and ethnic discrimination; religious movements; government policing and surveillance; and military intervention."

What kind of feminism does Abu-Lughod represent? She is a post-colonial, postmodern, cultural relativist, a professor of anthropology and women's and gender studies who does not believe in universal standards of human rights. However, her allegedly feminist work primarily serves the cause of one nationalism only -- Palestinian -- and of one tradition only -- Islam/Islamism.

Abu-Lughod has long held the positions she expressed in Beirut. According to her 2002 article in The American Anthropologist, "Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?," Abu-Lughod believes that wearing the Islamic veil signifies "respectability" for Muslim women. More, it can be "read as a sign of educated, urban sophistication, a sort of modernity." She writes,

Why are we surprised that Afghan women do not throw off their burqas when we know perfectly well that it would not be appropriate to wear shorts to the opera? If we think that U.S. women live in a world of choice regarding clothing, all we need to do is to remind ourselves of the expression "the tyranny of fashion."

According to the photo which accompanies the Beirut press advisory and her Columbia biography, Abu-Lughod does not wear a burqa.

In fact, Abu-Lughod herself and her professor parents are all products of an American academic establishment: Her Palestinian-American father, Ibrahim, taught at Northwestern University for 35 years; her Jewish-American mother, Janet Lippman Abu-Lughod, did so for twenty years. Their daughter was raised a Muslim -- but in America, not the Middle East. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota and received her Ph.D. from Harvard. Abu-Lughod is married to another Columbia professor of Middle East studies, Timothy Mitchell, who shares her views about Palestine, Israel, and America. They and others represent an academy which has also sacrificed most real feminist values and curriculum for a hard-left agenda which masquerades as "feminism."

Abu-Lughod suggests that there are many reasons that a woman might veil -- and, if she's talking about hijab (a headscarf), I can agree with her. However, wearing a face- and body-covering that obscures identity, peripheral vision, and all normal social interaction -- that functions, in effect, like a sensory deprivation isolation chamber -- is not an empowered "feminist" choice or even a feminist way of rejecting sexual objectification. The growing Islamist pressure to veil is enormous, and women fear being beaten, never obtaining a husband, or being divorced, jailed, or even killed for their failure to do so. Face- and body-covering is a forced choice, not a free one. Muslim girls and women are punished, and sometimes murdered, for refusing to wear a face veil.

Regarding the benefits of polygamy, Abu-Lughod and others suggest that female relatives, including co-wives, may bond, keep each other company, share isolating and repetitive tasks, and so on. Sounds good -- but neither research nor personal memoirs support this theoretical possibility. Exceptions always exist, but the bulk of what is known presents a far different picture of female-female relations. Many accounts portray Arab and Muslim women mistreating each other, their female servants, and their slaves. They are also either directly cruel or indifferent toward impoverished and racially and religiously marginalized women in their own countries and households.

Even Abu-Lughod notes that pioneer Iranian feminist Siddiqeh Dawlatabadi "imposed on the nine-year-old daughter of her father's secretary a marriage to her seventy-year-old father when he was widowed. She later ignored the girl's cries when she went into labor and thereafter, when Dawlatabadi's father died, married off the girl to someone else, taking her daughters."

In addition, research on honor killing demonstrates that mothers, sisters, aunts, and second wives conspire in the murder of one of their own female relatives and often have a hands-on relationship to the actual murder.

To be fair, Abu-Lughod has also published some interesting work about Muslim women in the Middle East, and about Bedouin women in particular, including Writing Women's Worlds: Bedouin Stories. However, Abu-Lughod, like her Columbia University colleague Gayatri Spivak, views a Western-style fight for women's rights in the Muslim world as a dangerous diversion. In Remaking Women. Feminism and Modernity In The Middle East, Abu-Lughod criticizes Western "colonial feminism" as attempting to undermine local cultures and recommends that we continue to focus mainly on the "colonial enterprise." Why? Perhaps as a way of reminding Western thinkers -- heirs to the colonial adventure -- that, given their ancestors' past crimes, they dare not feel "superior" to the Islamic world, and above all, they dare not intervene to free Muslim prisoners from Muslim tyrants, jailers, and murderers. Indeed, Abu-Lughod is quoted in Beirut as saying that: "the easily sensationalized category [of honor killing] has the political effect of stigmatizing Muslim societies."

I am among a handful of both Muslim and non-Muslim feminists who humbly but adamantly question this approach. The politicization of the feminist academic world, especially in terms of its "Palestinianization" and its anti-Americanism -- has become the universal point of view for feminist academics. Abu-Lughod, Leila Ahmed, Suha Sabbagh, and Gayatri Spivak all share a profoundly negative view of the West and its values. This is their real passion. They may study women for complex reasons, but they use their work to condemn the West again and again. Sadly, they are all speaking the same politically correct "feminist" language from which a universal concept of human rights for women has been utterly banished.

Phyllis Chesler is Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies and the author of fourteen books, including the 1972 classic Women and Madness. She has published two studies about honor killings in the Middle East Quarterly and may be reached at her website, She wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She would like to acknowledge the assistance of Nathan Bloom.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Army's Fort Hood Report Draws Criticism

by IPT News

Leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are blasting an Army report into failures leading up to last year's Fort Hood shooting massacre by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. In a report issued Tuesday, the Army said it failed to properly identify the threat that existed before the shooting, the Washington Times reports.

While the report recommended greater education for troops on identifying "when individuals may commit violent acts or become radicalized," it did not mention Hasan by name, nor did it refer to the shooting as a terrorist attack, instead referencing the "tragedy."

Witnesses at a recent probable cause hearing described hearing him shout "Allahu Akbar" before opening fire inside a Fort Hood processing center.

A statement from Homeland Security committee spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said the report's findings "fall short of explaining why 13 Americans were killed over a year ago – namely that we are threatened by violent Islamist extremism and that an Army major who made public statements supportive of this murderous ideology was not stopped by his superiors. It is disappointing that these final reports fail to mention violent Islamist extremism and do not offer explicit policies or procedures to make sure that service members who become radicalized to violent Islamist extremism are identified, reported, and discharged."

Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking Republican Susan Collins of Maine promise their own report on the massacre and recommendations later this month. Collins issued a separate statement, in which she shared criticism at the absence of any reference to violent Islamist extremism in the Army report.

"This lack of guidance does not help service members distinguish the threatening and violent ideology of terrorists from the peaceful and protected expression of religious belief by Muslims, including the many dedicated and patriotic Muslims serving in our military," Collins said. "As a consequence, the Department of Defense risks either missing the next terrorist threat from within its ranks or focusing unwarranted investigative attention on innocent persons."

The report recommended enhancing information sharing on threats between the military and law enforcement, and the Pentagon will add to its representation in FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces. It also suggested troops be screened more closely for "behavioral indicators that a person may commit violent acts or become radicalized."

The Army report can be read here.

IPT News (Investigative Project on Terrorism)

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Would We Go to Israel?

by Nabil Sharaf Eldin

It’s hard for an Arab to find a safe place to visit in the region... except for the state our demagogues continue to call ‘the alleged entity.’

I have been haunted since early boyhood by an infatuation with Bilad al-Sham, or Greater Syria – the territories of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.

For me, this fascination started with recognizing the voices of singers like Syrian Sabah Fakhry (born 1933) belonging to the al-Sham region.

I conjured up these images and feelings as I was boarding a plane heading for the “land of beauty,” dreaming of soirées in Aleppo, touring Damascus’s old marketplaces and hanging around its cafés.

Such daydreams were flashing through my imagination until the “blessed” plane landed in Syria, when all dreams faded away within half an hour at Damascus Airport.

I was quickly singled out by a security officer, who checked my passport. He reviewed a list, and asked me to stand aside until he had dealt with a “routine problem” that would not take time. Ten minutes later, a grim-faced officer in plainclothes came and told me to follow him. When I asked if I should bring my luggage, he pointed to an office and said it was already there. It was a government office affiliated with a security department whose name was not disclosed to me.

Two or more hours now passed, with me sitting on a very bad seat inside a vault not much bigger than a jail cell. A third officer then presented himself. He hammered me with questions, starting with my “dubious” profession (journalism) and including my favorite brand of cigarettes, Marlboro Red.

I answered with composure and calmness, trying in vain to alleviate the sharp tone he was using. “Your case is under examination,” the officer said disgustedly, adding that he would let me know the result “shortly.”

An hour later, a fourth officer arrived, no less grimfaced than his predecessors. Addressing the would-be “ambassador of the devil,” he told me I was not welcome in Syria. It was “a sovereign decision,” according to him, and he said he was not obliged to give any explanation.

So I had to carry my luggage (which had clearly been subject to a stormy search) back through the airport.

Now, on board a plane heading to Cairo, I recalled all the opinion pieces and TV interviews in which I had been critical of the policies and remarks of some senior Syrian officials. That was the reason for what had happened! My expulsion from Syria took place almost 18 months ago. I preferred at the time to turn a blind eye, as I believed it wasn’t worth making an issue out of it, particularly with a regime ruled by a man who had inherited his power. Yet I cannot help smiling in bitterness whenever I listen to Syrian officials parroting the Ba’ath Party’s famous slogan: “One Arab nation with a timeless message.” I have now become totally aware of what that one nation and timeless message stand for!

I THOUGHT about visiting Beirut and attending a concert by Lebanon’s iconic diva Fayrouz that was scheduled at the Al-Bayal hotel, and actually began to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

I phoned a Lebanese friend and fellow journalist.

He was terrified by my daring thought, and taken by surprise by my naivete – merely thinking about visiting Lebanon with my record of dire assaults on Hizbullah (I had once dubbed the powerful Shi’ite group a “war contractor” and a proxy for Iran’s regional aspirations).

I was even oblivious to the fact that Hizbullah men are in de facto control of Beirut Airport – another source of amazement for my colleague, who feared for my safety.

Although it was once a part of Egypt, I don’t even feel safe visiting Sudan, due to my verbal attacks on the regime of Omar Bashir, who insists on presiding over a collapsing state.

I am sure that Muammar Gaddafi’s Revolutionary Command Council will not deny me access to Libya.

Yet I am almost as certain I would never come out again, just like many others.

RCC “knights” would not be any more merciful to me than they were to my late Libyan colleague, London- based journalist Daif al-Ghazal, whose body was found off the coast of Benghazi on June 2, 2005, more than two weeks after his disappearance. He had been tortured almost beyond recognition, according to Reporters without Borders.

No one assumes to know what kind of suffering the 32-year was subject to when he was taking his last breaths, the words he uttered when the electric saw was cutting through his fingers or his screams upon being burnt with mineral acids. Nobody knows.

Rather, nobody cared to know about his suffering, and Arab newspapers didn’t highlight Ghazal’s case; the story was covered only by Western papers, rights groups and some websites.

I remember that I published many reports and opinion pieces on the incident, recalling notorious precedents by the Libyan regime. This is not all; I also commented more than once on Gaddafi’s weird, comic remarks, particularly during Arab summit conferences. That’s why I couldn’t risk going even to Salloum, the Egyptian city bordering Libya.

Being one of those in the Middle East who refuses my assigned role as a regime loyalist, I sometimes face charges of seeking normalization with Israel, apostasy from Islam or designation as an American agent.

FAILING TO find a glimpse of hope across the greater Arab world, we must concede that Israel has become the only “safe haven” where one can be sure of his life and dignity. Yes, Israel, the state our demagogues continue to call “the alleged entity.”

Just like the Palestinian Helles family who fled Hamas “jihadists” in Gaza to Israel, I foresee a time when millions of Arabs might stand humbly in front of IDF soldiers, begging for protection.

So, I urge you, dear fellow Arab, to visit Israel.

Nabil Sharaf Eldin is an Egyptian journalist and political analyst.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama, State Dept., EU, media Concoct Phony Tempest in a Jerusalem Teacup

by Leo Rennert

Haaretz and other Israeli left-wing media concocted an anti-Israel gotacha piece a few days ago when they discovered that authorities were soliciting public comments on previously announced plans for construction of some 1,300 housing units in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Planning for this additional housing has been public knowledge for a long time and it may take several more years before any construction actually gets under way.

But this didn't matter to correspondents of the New York Times and the Washington Post, which saw an opening to portray Israel as hampering efforts to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. And, predictably, President Obama, the State Department and the European Union also let fly with condemnations of Israel -- without even first checking with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for some clarification.

What is utterly ludicrous about this concocted tempest in a Jerusalem teacup is that the bulk of the new apartment units are to go up in Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood of some 12,000 residents in southeast Jerusalem. Two thirds of Har Homa is on land purchased by Jews after the First World War. The other third is owned by Arabs. The entire existing Harm Homa neighborhood was built on Jewish-owned land and plans for additional housing units also are confined to this part of Har Homa. None of this appeared in media reports or in the criticism leveled by Obama, the State Department and the European Union.

Nor did they bother to point out that, under any realistic scenario for a two-state solution, even with a division of Jerusalem, Har Homa will remain on the Israeli side.

With typical historical amnesia, these Israel-bashers also failed to point out that, during Israel's War of Independence, Jordanian forces attempting to eliminate the Jewish state used Har Homa as a vantage point from which to fire on the Old City of Jerusalem and other neighborhoods of the city.

In their cramped and selective sense of history, none of this matters. Their historical perspective begins with the last day of the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel prevailed over Jordanian and other Arab armies intent on destroying it, and in the process reunified Jerusalem.

Thus, Washington Post correspondent Joel Greenberg describes Har Homas [sic] as an "area of the West Bank annexed to Jerusalem." New York Times correspondent Isabel Kershner, in similar vein, calls it a "Jewish residential development in southern Jerusalem in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, and then annexed."

So never mind that Har Homa has been on Jewish owned land from well before Jordan illegally occupied it in 1948, in clear violation of the 1947 UN two-state partition plan.

All that history is brushed aside. What matters to the Times and the Post -- as well as to Obama, the State Department and the Europeans -- is their own brand of historical revisionism that ignores all Jewish ties and claims to Jerusalem for several thousands of years before the Six-Day War of 1967.
For his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu countered with a sharp retort to Israel's critics by treating them a post-1967 history lesson of his own.

"Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the capital of Israel," he declared. "Israel does not see any connection between the peace process and the policy of planning and construction in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. For the last 40 years every Israeli government built in every part of the city. During that period peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan and for 17 yers [sic] direct negotiations were held with the Paletinians [sic]. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never interfered with the peace process."

Leo Rennert

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ban the Burqa? The Argument in Favor

by Phyllis Chesler

Should other Western states follow the Belgian and French examples and ban the full Islamic body and face-covering veil—or more specifically, the burqa and the niqab? In other words, should the West ban any and all clothing which obliterates one's identity? Most Europeans, according to recent surveys, seem to think so.[1] Still, significant numbers, especially in the United States,[2] and including quite a few feminists,[3] have viewed such a ban as religiously intolerant, anti-woman, and anti-Western. They maintain that the state has no place in deciding what a woman can and cannot wear—it is her body, not public property; [4] that given the worldwide exploitation of women as pornographic sex objects, wearing loose, comfortable, modest clothing, or actually covering up, might be both convenient and more dignified;[5] that because of the West's tolerance toward religions, the state cannot come between a woman and her conscience for that would betray Western values;[6] and that women are freely choosing to wear the burqa.[7] Some Western intellectuals oppose banning the burqa although they understand the harm it may do and the way in which it may "mutilate personhood."[8] Algerian-American academic Marnia Lazreg, for example, implores Muslim women to voluntarily, freely refuse to cover their faces fully—to spurn even the headscarf; however, she does not want the state involved.[9]

The phrase "the Islamic veil" refers to variety of female clothing that differs from country to country and from century to century. The "veil" ranges from hijab, or headscarf, which does not cover the face (and is not the subject of this article), to a full head, face, and body covering (burqa, niqab). The Afghan burqa, for example, covers the entire head, face, and body and has webbing or grille work over the eyes that allows the wearer no peripheral vision. Another version of the burqa exists (or existed) among Arabs in southern Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, which covers the mouth, part of the forehead and lower jaw, and the head. The niqab can cover the entire face with a small space cut out for the eyes. It can also cover the lower face, but leave more room for the eyes. In Saudi Arabia, women wear the burqa and the niqab in a variety of forms. The chador (in Iran) and the abaya (in Saudi Arabia) are not synonymous with a face-covering. In Iran, women do go in public with their faces unveiled. Add-ons to the chador and abaya may cover the face, especially in Saudi Arabia. Many online websites offer examples of these garments.

It is arguable that the full body and face cover is not a religious requirement in Islam but represents a minority tradition among a small Islamist minority; that it is not a matter of free choice but a highly forced choice and a visual Islamist symbol—one that is ostentatiously anti-secularist and misogynist;[10] that the Western state does have an interest in public appearances and, therefore, does not permit public nudity or masked people in public buildings; and that it is strange that the very feminists (or their descendents) who once objected to the sexual commoditification of women "can explain to you with the most exquisitely twisted logic why miniskirts and lip gloss make women into sexual objects, but when it comes to a cultural practice, enforced by terror, that makes women into social nonentities, [they] feel that it is beneath [their] liberal dignity to support a ban on the practice."[11] To this may be added that face-veil wearers ("good" girls) endanger all those who do not wear a face veil ("bad" girls). But before addressing these arguments at greater length, it is instructive to see what political and religious leaders in the Muslim world, as well as Muslim women, have to say about the issue.

The House of Islam Unveils Its Women

The forced veiling and unveiling of Muslim women, both in terms of the headscarf and the face veil, ebbed and flowed for about a century as Muslim elites strove to come to terms with the demise of the Islamic political order that had dominated the Middle East (and substantial parts of Asia and Europe) for over a millennium. Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, for example, generated a new and vibrant brand of nationalism that sought to extricate Turkey from its imperial past—and its Islamic legacy—and to reconstitute it as a modern nation state. Iran's Reza Shah distanced his country from Islam for the opposite reason, namely, as a means to link his family to Persia's pre-Islamic imperial legacy, which is vividly illustrated by his adoption of the surname Pahlavi, of ancient Persian origins,[12] and the name Iran, or "[the land] of the Aryans," as the country's official title in all formal correspondence.[13]

During the 1920s and 1930s, in this new international environment, kings, shahs, and presidents unveiled their female citizens, and Muslim feminists campaigned hard for open faces in public. They were successful in Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran, to name but a few countries.

As early as 1899, the Egyptian intellectual Qasim Amin published his landmark book The Liberation of Women, which argued that the face veil was not commensurate with the tenets of Islam and called for its removal.[14] According to photographs taken by Annie Lady Brassey in Egypt in the 1870s, Egyptian women wore heavy, dark coverings with full niqab (face covering) or partial niqab when possible.[15] In 1923, the feminist Hoda Hanim Shaarawi, who established the first feminist association that called for uncovering the face and hair, became the first Egyptian woman to remove her face veil or niqab.[16] In the following decades, the veil gradually disappeared in Egypt, so much so that in 1958, a foreign journalist wrote that "the veil is unknown here."[17]

In Afghanistan, Shah Amanullah Khan (r. 1919-29) "scandalized the Persians by permitting his wife to go unveiled." In 1928, he urged Afghan women to uncover their faces and advocated the shooting of interfering husbands. He said that he "would himself supply the weapons" for this and that "no inquiries would be instituted against the women." Once, when he saw a woman wearing a burqa in a Kabul garden, he tore it off and burned it.[18] However, Amanullah was exiled, and the country plunged back into the past.[19] Turkey banned the Islamic face veil and turban in 1934, and this prohibition has been maintained ever since by a long succession of governments that adhered to Atatürk's secularist and modernist revolution. Moreover, from the 1980s onward, Turkish women have been prohibited from wearing headscarves in parliament and in public buildings, and this law was even more strictly enforced after a 1997 coup by the secular military. In recent years, the Islamist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, has tried to relax this restriction, only to be dealt a humiliating blow on June 15, 2008, when the country's Constitutional Court annulled a government reform allowing students to wear Muslim headscarves at university on the grounds that it contravened Turkey's secular system.[20] In recent years, women wearing both hijabs and burqas have been seen on the streets of Istanbul.

As early as 1926 in Iran, Reza Shah provided police protection for Iranian women who chose to dispense with the traditional scarf.[21] Ten years later, on January 7, 1936, the shah ordered all female teachers and the wives of ministers, high military officers, and government officials "to appear in European clothes and hats, rather than chadors"; and by way of "serving as an example for other Persian women," the shah asked his wife and daughters to appear without face veils in public. Ranking male officials were dismissed from their jobs if their wives appeared with face veils in public, and the police began breaking into private homes to arrest women wearing chadors there. A report from the city of Tabriz stated that only unveiled girls could receive diplomas.[22] These and other secularizing reforms were sustained by Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, who in September 1941 succeeded his father on the throne and instituted a ban on veiled women in public.

Lebanon has always been the most Westernized Arab society, owing to its substantial Christian population with its close affinity to Europe, France in particular. A Palestinian-Lebanese-Syrian woman visiting the United States said, "In the 1920s, my mother, a university professor, was the first woman to take off her veil in Beirut. She had to remain at home under house arrest for one year due to the violence threatened by street mobs. Then, things changed for the better."[23]

Since 1981, women in Tunisia have been prohibited from wearing Islamic dress, including headscarves, in schools or government offices. In 2006, since this ban was increasingly ignored, the Tunisian government launched a sustained campaign against the hijab. The police stopped women in the streets and asked them to remove their headscarves; the president described the headscarf as a "sectarian form of dress which had come into Tunisia uninvited." Other officials explained that Islamic dress was being promoted by extremists who exploited religion for political aims.[24]

In 2006, in neighboring Morocco, a picture of a mother and daughter wearing headscarves was removed from a textbook. The education minister explained, "This issue isn't really about religion, it's about politics … the headscarf for women is a political symbol in the same way as the beard is for men."[25] However, the government could only go so far in its ability to restrict the face veil or headscarf. In 1975, Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi described the lives of Moroccan women as circumscribed by Ghazali's view of women, including women's eyes, as erotically irresistible, and as such, dangerous to men.[26] In 1987, Mernissi analyzed the Islamic veil in both theological and historical terms.[27] Clearly, as fundamentalism or political Islam returned to the historical stage, "roots" or Islamic identity, both in Morocco and elsewhere, was increasingly equated with seventh century customs that were specific to women and to the Prophet Muhammad's own life.

Public servants in Malaysia are prohibited from wearing the niqab. In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that the niqab "has nothing to do with [a woman's] constitutional rights to profess and practice her Muslim religion" because it is not required by Islamic law.[28] On July 18, 2010, Syria became the latest Muslim state to ban full face veils in some public places, barring female students from wearing the full face cover on Syrian university campuses. The Syrian minister of higher education indicated that the face veil ran counter to Syrian academic values and traditions.[29]

In October 2009, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, perhaps the foremost, formal spiritual authority in Sunni Islam and grand sheikh of al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest institution of religious learning, was reportedly "angered" when he toured a school in Cairo and saw a teenage girl wearing niqab. Asking the girl to remove her face veil, he said, "The niqab is a tradition; it has no connection with religion." He then instructed the girl never to wear the niqab again and issued a fatwa (religious edict) against its use in schools.[30]

In 2010, at a time when Britain's department of health relaxed the strict National Health Service dress code by allowing Muslim nurses and doctors to wear long sleeves for religious reasons—despite the high risk of spreading deadly superbugs—the Egyptian ministry of health outlawed the niqab (which often included glove-wearing) for hospital nurses, threatening those who failed to comply with dismissal or legal prosecution. The Iraqi religious authority, Sheikh Ahmad al-Qubaisi, supported this Egyptian decision and issued a fatwa which stated, "People have the right to know the identity of the person they are in front of in order not to feel deceived. The obligation of niqab was only for the Prophet's wives as they were the mothers of all believers."[31]

Free Choice or Forced Choice?

These examples challenge the increasing number of Muslim women in the West, including converts and educated women, who claim to be freely choosing to wear the burqa and the niqab. They are doing so in stark contrast to the ethos and values of their adopted societies at a time when governments in the part of the world where this custom originated have been progressively unveiling their women.

These supposed defenders of women's rights appear oblivious to what is implied by the phrase "to cover," namely, that women are born shamed—they are nothing beyond their genitalia, which can shame or dishonor an entire family—and it is this shame which they must cover or for which they must atone. Qur'anic verse (7:26) states, "We have sent down clothing to cover your shame." Certainly, this applies to both men and women, but patriarchal customs have almost exclusively targeted women. Ironically, this verse also says that "the clothing of righteousness is the best"—a point lost on Islamists and their unwitting sympathizers in the West.

The fact is that Muslim women are increasingly not given a free choice about wearing the veil, and those who resist are beaten, threatened with death, arrested, flogged, jailed, or murdered for honor by their own families, by vigilante groups, or by the state.[32] Being fully covered does not save a Muslim woman from being harassed, stalked, raped, and battered in public places, or raped or beaten at home by her husband. Nor does it stop her husband from taking multiple wives and girlfriends, frequenting brothels, divorcing her against her will, and legally seizing custody of their children.[33] A fully covered female child, as young as ten, may still be forced into an arranged marriage, perhaps to a man old enough to be her grandfather, and is not allowed to leave him, not even if he beats her every day.[34]

Moreover, after decades of attempted modernization in Muslim countries, the battle to impose the veil was launched again by resurgent Islamists. The establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran sent shock waves throughout the region and set in motion a string of violent eruptions. These included the 1979-80 riots in the Shiite towns of the oil-rich Saudi province of Hasa, the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to topple the secularist Syrian Baath regime in the early 1980s, the Algerian civil war of the 1990s, the ascendance of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. All these developments placed substantial areas under Islamist control and influence with dire consequences for women. As one Egyptian man lamented, "My grandmother would not recognize the streets of Cairo and Port Said. The women are covered from head to toe; the mosques blare hatred all day long."[35] And this in a country where the authorities go to great lengths to fight Islamist influences.

The Taliban, for example, flogged women on the street if their burqas showed too much ankle while Islamist vigilantes poured acid on the faces of Afghan and Pakistani schoolgirls who were not sufficiency covered.[36] As an Afghan woman noted, "For nearly two decades, we wore no chadors and dressed in modern ways. As the war against the Soviet occupation intensified, women were again forced to wear chadors. Now, even under an American occupation, they are again fully covered."[37]

In Algeria, a leading Islamist group proclaimed that all unveiled women are military targets and, in 1994, gunned down a 17-year-old unveiled girl.[38] In 2010 in Chechnya, roving vigilante bands of men harassed and threatened women for not wearing headscarves. They punched women and taunted them with automatic rifles and paintballs. The vigilante groups have the backing of Chechnyan president Ramzan Kadyrov's government, which also encourages polygamy.[39]

In 1983, four years after the Iranian revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini instituted a ban on women showing their hair and the shape of their bodies. The chador, which does not cover the face, is, nevertheless, a severe, dark, heavy, and shapeless garment that has demoralized and enraged what was an essentially Westernized and modern upper and middle class.[40] Thereafter, the Iranian government beat, arrested, and jailed women if they were improperly garbed and has recently warned that suntanned women and girls who looked like "walking mannequins" will be arrested as part of a new drive to enforce the Islamic dress code.[41] Saudi Arabia does not have to resort to such violence. No Saudi woman dares appear open-faced in public. In 2002, when teenage Saudi schoolgirls tried to escape from a burning school without their headscarves and abayas (black robes), the Mutawa, or religious police, beat them back. Fifteen girls were burned alive.[42] According to Tunisian-French feminist Samia Labidi, an increasing number of Islamist husbands force or pressure their wives—whose own mothers went about with uncovered faces—to cover.[43] Then, they pressure their new sisters-in-law to do likewise. In the West, some families have honor-killed their daughters for refusing to wear hijab.[44]

A man from Istanbul remembered that his grandmother had fully veiled but not his mother. But, he explained, "It is mainly peer pressure that makes things happen in Turkey. Neighbors tell you to go to mosque; they watch how young girls and women look and behave very closely. The pressure to conform is tremendous."[45]

Westerners do not understand how pervasive such pressure can be. On July 17, 2010, for example, the newspaper Roz Al-Yousuf addressed the coercive nature of hijab in Egypt. Wael Lutfi, assistant chief editor writes in the first person feminine:

Society persecutes women who do not wear a hijab. Of course, I wear a hijab. If I want to be practical and interact with this society while [sustaining] minimal damage, I must wear a hijab. A woman who does not wear a hijab is guilty until proven [innocent]. Why should I waste my time proving that I am a respectable and educated girl?

Lutfi tells "Suha's" story. She comes from a prominent Egyptian family and does not wear a hijab. At work, she is cajoled and harassed by hijab-wearing women who bombard her in person and via e-mail; they give her pro-hijab audio cassettes and invite her to hear a popular preacher whom hijab-wearers follow. Suha loses one marriage proposal after another when she refuses to promise that she will wear the hijab and stop working after marriage. Finally, Suha's married male boss questions her closely, agrees with her anti-hijab position—and then asks her to secretly become his common law wife. He views her as a prostitute because she is not wearing the hijab.

Likewise, Walaa was verbally insulted and her brothers were assaulted by neighborhood boys because she was not wearing a hijab. Now, she dons one when she leaves home, removes it elsewhere, returns home wearing it again. Another young girl wears the hijab because her father has asked her to do so and because her beloved younger brother said that his friends were judging him harshly because she did not do so. She says:

I wear a hijab because we live in a society that allows the preacher Safwat Hijazi to call women who do not wear a hijab "prostitutes," and I do not want to be called a prostitute.[46]

Thus, one can hardly view the covering of one's face as a free choice but rather as a forced choice. One must also realize that non-veiled women, including non-Muslims, who do not veil are then seen by Islamists as "fair game" or "uncovered meat that draws predators," to use the words of a prominent Australian sheikh.[47]

To be sure, some religious women dress modestly, not "provocatively," because they view this as a religious virtue. Yet only Muslims engage in full face covering to satisfy the demand for modesty, and there is a crucial difference between a free choice and a forced choice. A forced choice is not really a choice at all. One either submits or is punished, shunned, exiled, jailed, even killed. A free choice means that one has many options and freely chooses one of two or one of ten such options.

Many children who are brought up within fundamentalist religions or in cults are trained, by a system of reward and punishment, to obey their parents, teachers, and religious leaders. As adults, if they wish to remain within the community (and the opportunity for leaving did not and still does not exist for most Muslim women), they must continue to conform to its norms. Most are already socialized to do so and thus, some Muslim women will say that they do not feel that anyone is forcing them to wear the headscarf; they will, in a private conversation, denounce the face veil, the burqa, the chador, and the Saudi abaya.

In the West, young Muslim women may feel they are responding to perceived racist "Islamophobia" by donning the headscarf or the face veil as a revolutionary act,[48] one in solidarity with Islamists whom they may fear, wish to please, or marry.

Europe Debates the Veil

The Islamist resurgence throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world has triggered a mass migration to the West; Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents and feminists as well as Christians have exited Muslim lands.[49] Still, it has taken Westerners decades to understand that the battle for Muslim women's freedom as well as for Western Enlightenment values also has to be fought in the West.

Thus, in 2004, France became the first European country to legally restrict Islamic dress by passing an ethnicity-neutral law that forbade the wearing of religious clothing in public schools. Veils, visible Christian crosses, Jewish skullcaps, and the hijab were all forbidden. Also in 2004, eight of Germany's sixteen states enacted restrictions on wearing hair-covering veils, particularly in public schools.[50] Since then, many European governments have debated whether or not to ban the face veil.

In February 2010, the French government refused to grant citizenship to a Moroccan man who forced his wife to wear a burqa;[51] later that year, three women actually engaged in a physical fight after a burqa-clad woman supposedly overheard another woman making snide remarks about her choice of dress.[52] In Norway, adult neighbors and their children came to blows over the question of whether Muslim women should wear the headscarf, [53] and in March 2010, a ban on the burqa in public places was proposed although defeated in the Norwegian parliament.[54] On April, 29, 2010, the lower house of the Belgian parliament approved a bill banning the burqa and imposing a fine or jail time on violators;[55] three months later, Spanish lawmakers debated banning the burqa in public although they ultimately decided against it.[56] In August 2010, Sweden's education minister announced his intention to make it easier for Swedish schools to ban the burqa.[57] In July 2010, by a majority of 336 to 1, the lower house of the French parliament approved a government bill that bans face-covering in public, and the bill was approved by the French senate on September 14.

While these bills await ratification, local European officials have already taken concrete steps against the burqa. Since January 2010, the Netherlands has limited the wearing of burqas in public spaces.[58] In May 2010, a local council in north Switzerland voted to introduce an initiative to ban the burqa in public places while, in 2005, the Belgian town of Maaseik passed a law mandating a fine for anyone wearing a face veil.[59] In April 2010, a French woman was fined for wearing a burqa while driving,[60] and in the same month, a girl wearing hijab was sent home from her school in Madrid.[61]

Britain, by contrast, has conspicuously refused to consider banning the burqa. There has, of course, been the odd case when a radical Islamist has been taken to task for unlawful insistence on the Muslim dress code, such as the Manchester dentist who refused to treat Muslim patients unless they wore traditional Islamic dress,[62] but efforts at a ban have gone nowhere in parliament.

In response to the French parliamentary vote of July 2010, Britain's immigration minister, Damian Green, stated that "forbidding women in the U.K. from wearing certain clothing would be 'rather un-British'" and would run contrary to the conventions of a "tolerant and mutually respectful society."[63] The following month, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim cabinet minister in the U.K., defended the right of women to choose whether or not to wear the burqa, claiming, "Just because a woman wears the burqa, it doesn't mean she can't engage in everyday life."[64]

Many non-Muslim, Western, female politicians have been cowed by doctrines of political correctness, cultural relativism, misguided beliefs about religious tolerance, and by the fear that if they oppose the burqa, they will be condemned as "Islamophobes" or racists. Ignorance about Muslim jurists' rulings that the full-face covering is not religiously mandated and about the history of the Islamic veil in Muslim lands has led to a curious Western and feminist abandonment of universal human values as they bear on the Islamic veil.

Ironically, powerful Western women, while claiming to represent an anti-colonialist or post-colonialist point of view, are reminiscent of Victorian-era and early twentieth century British colonial administrators who believed that the needs of empire would not be well served by interfering with local customs. This British position was very different from the position of American, Christian missionary women who tried to help, teach, and sometimes save Muslim women from their plight.[65]

Thus, both U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have donned the hijab when visiting Arab and Muslim countries whereas Arab and Muslim female dignitaries and spouses do not remove the hijab or the niqab while visiting the West. On July 18, 2010, British Minister Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary and second most powerful woman in the cabinet, described the burqa as "empowering." She said, "I don't, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can't wear. One of the things we pride ourselves on … is being free to choose what you wear … so banning the burka is absolutely contrary to what this country is about."[66]

On July 2, 2009, as Muslims demonstrated in Antwerp to oppose the banning of headscarves in two schools[67]—then-Swedish head of the European Union, Justice Minister Beatrice Ask, stated that the "twenty-seven-member European Union must not dictate an Islamic dress code … the European Union is a union of freedom."[68]

The Grounds for a Burqa Ban

There are a multitude of specific problems associated with the burqa and niqab. To begin, full-body and face-covering attire hides the wearer's gender. In October 1937, Hajj Amin Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem and Adolf Hitler's future ally, fled Palestine donning a niqab as did one of the July 2005 London bombers.[69] From a security point of view, face and body covering can facilitate various acts of violence and lawlessness from petty crime and cheating to terrorism. This danger, which has been highlighted by a number of experts, notably Daniel Pipes,[70] has been taken very seriously by Muslim authorities, who have banned the burqa on precisely these grounds.

In Bangladesh, the largest state-run hospital banned staff from wearing full-face burqas after an increase in thefts of mobile phones and wallets from hospital wards.[71] In a number of Egyptian universities, women were barred from covering their faces during midterm exams and were prohibited from wearing niqabs in female dormitories after it transpired that men had snuck in disguised as women.[72] Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has banned the niqab in all public offices to fight "unrestricted absenteeism."[73]

There are also numerous cases of bans for security. In Kuwait, for example, female drivers are barred from wearing the niqab for "security reasons." The regulation came into effect about ten years ago when the authorities were pursuing sleeper terrorist cells and feared that individual cell members could use the niqab to slip through checkpoints unnoticed.[74] Saudi Arabia's antiterrorism forces have begun a battle against the niqab after discovering that many "Islamic terrorists have used it to hide in order to commit terror attacks."[75] These concerns are not difficult to understand given the widespread use of the burqa and niqab for weapons smuggling and terror attacks, including suicide bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Palestinian territories, among other places.[76]

Beyond these abiding security considerations are equally compelling humanitarian considerations. André Gerin, a French parliamentarian, has described the burqa as a "moving prison."[77] This is an apt definition: In a burqa, the wearer has no peripheral and only limited forward vision; hearing and speech are muffled; facial expressions remain hidden; movement is severely constrained. Often, no eye contact is possible; niqab wearers sometimes wear dark glasses, so that their eyes cannot be seen.

A burqa wearer may feel that she cannot breathe, that she might slowly be suffocating. She may feel buried alive and may become anxious or claustrophobic.[78] Just imagine the consequences of getting used to this as a way of life. But perhaps one never gets used to it. Many Saudi and Afghan women toss their coverings the moment they leave the country or enter their own courtyards.[79] For example, an unnamed Saudi princess describes her experience of the Saudi abaya as follows:

When we walked out of the cool souq area into the blazing hot sun, I gasped for breath and sucked furiously through the sheer black fabric. The air tasted stale and dry as it filtered through the thin gauzy cloth. I had purchased the sheerest veil available, yet I felt I was seeing life through a thick screen. How could women see through veils made of a thicker fabric? The sky was no longer blue, the glow of the sun had dimmed; my heart plunged to my stomach when I realized that from that moment, outside my own home I would not experience life as it really is in all its color. The world suddenly seemed a dull place. And dangerous, too! I groped and stumbled along the pitted, cracked sidewalk, fearful of breaking an ankle or leg."[80]

The burqa is harmful not only to the wearer but to others as well. The sight of women in burqas can be demoralizing and frightening to Westerners of all faiths, including Muslims, not to mention secularists. Their presence visually signals the subordination of women. Additionally, the social isolation intrinsically imposed by the burqa may also be further magnified by the awkward responses of Westerners. Several Ivy League college students mentioned that classmates in burqas and dark, thick gloves make them feel "very sad," "pushed away," "uneasy about talking to them." "When one woman is asked to read aloud, she does so but her heavy gloves make turning the pages slow and difficult." The students feel sorry for her and do not know how to relate to her.[81]

A burqa wearer, who can be as young as ten years old, is being conditioned to endure isolation and sensory deprivation. Her five senses are blocked, muted. Sensory deprivation and isolation are considered forms of torture and are used to break prisoners. Such abuse can lead to low self-esteem, generalized fearfulness, dependence, suggestibility, depression, anxiety, rage, aggression toward other women and female children, or to a complete psychological breakdown.

Wearing the burqa is also hazardous to the health in other ways. Lifetime burqa wearers may suffer eye damage and may be prone to a host of diseases that are also related to vitamin D deficiency from sunlight deprivation, including osteoporosis, heart disease, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, depression, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain. It is ironic that women in the Middle East, one of the world's sunniest regions, have been found in need of high levels of vitamin D supplementation owing to their total covering.[82]


The same Islamists who subordinate women also publicly whip, cross-amputate, hang, stone, and behead human beings. Iran continues to execute women and men by stoning for adultery.[83] The burqa reminds us of such practices. Many Westerners, including Muslims, ex-Muslims, and Christians, Jews, and Hindus who have fled Muslim lands, may feel haunted or followed when they see burqas on Western streets. Does their presence herald the arrival of Islamist supremacism?

Many Muslim governments know something that their Western counterparts are just learning. Covered women signify Islamist designs on state power and control of political, military, social, personal, and family life. Were these designs to be extended to the West, it will spell out the end of modernity, human rights, and the separation of state and church, among other things; in short, the end of liberal democracy and freedoms as now practiced.

Apart from being an Islamist act of assertion that involves clear security dangers and creating mental and physical health hazards, the burqa is a flagrant violation of women's most basic human rights. However, were the government to attempt to ban the burqa in the United States, a team of constitutional legal scholars would have to decide whether to follow the French ethnicity- and religion-neutral approach of no "face coverings," "face masks," etc., or whether to ban outright the public disappearance of women's faces and their subordination in the name of Islam as a violation of their civil rights.

It is impossible for Western governments and international organizations to prevent the acid attacks or honor killings of women in Muslim countries who refuse to cover their faces, but why tie society's hands on Western soil? Why would Western countries prize the subordination of women and protect it as a religious right at a time when many Muslim states refuse to do so? When it is understood that the burqa is not a religious requirement but rather a political statement—at best merely an ethnic and misogynistic custom—there is no reason whatsoever for Western traditions of religious tolerance to misconstrue the covering of women as a religious duty at a time when the vast majority of Muslims do not see it as such.

[1] "Widespread Support for Banning Full Islamic Veil in Western Europe," Pew Global Attitudes Project, Washington, D.C., July 8, 2010; United Press International, July 17, 2010; The Toronto Sun, July 28, 2010.
[2] New Atlanticist (Washington, D.C.), Mar. 1, 2010; Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2010.
[3] Martha Nussbaum, "Veiled Threats?" The New York Times, July 11, 2010; Naomi Wolf, "Behind the Veil Lives a Thriving Muslim Sexuality," The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Aug. 30, 2008; Joan Wallach, "France Has the Burqa All Wrong," Salon, Apr. 12, 2010; Joan Wallach, "Don't Ban Burqas—Or Censor South Park,", May 21, 2010; Yvonne Ridley, "How I Came to Love the Veil," The Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2006.
[4] Marnia Lazreg, Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009), p. 62.
[5] Wolf, "Behind the Veil Lives a Thriving Muslim Sexuality."
[6] Nussbaum, "Veiled Threats?"; Leon Wieseltier, "Faces and Faiths," The New Republic, July 27, 2010.
[7] Nussbaum, "Veiled Threats?"; Wolf, "Behind the Veil Lives a Thriving Muslim Sexuality."
[8] Wieseltier, "Faces and Faiths."
[9] Lazreg, Questioning the Veil, pp. 62-3.
[10] Bernard-Henri Levy, "Why I Support a Ban on Burqas," The Huffington Post, Feb. 15, 2010; Samia Labidi, "Faces of Janus: The Arab-Muslim Community in France and the Battle for Its Future," in Zeyno Baran, ed., The Other Muslims: Moderate and Secular (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 116-9; Melanie Philips, in "Should France Ban the Burqa?" National Review Online, July 23, 2010; Elham Manea, in Valentina Colombo, "Europe: Behind the Burqa Debate," Hudson Institute, New York, Mar. 12, 2010.
[11] Stuart Schneiderman blog, "Burqaphilia," July 17, 2010.
[12] Farvardyn Project, "Pahlavi Literature," accessed Aug. 25, 2010.
[13] M. Sadeq Nazmi-Afshar, "The People of Iran, The Origins of Aryan_People," Iran Chamber Society, accessed Aug. 25, 2010.
[14] Amin Qasim, The Liberation of Women and The New Woman: Two Documents in the History of Egyptian Feminism, trans. Samiha Sidhom Peterson (Cairo: American University of Cairo Press, 2000).
[15] Reina Lewis and Nancy Micklenwright, eds., Gender, Modernity and Liberty: Middle Eastern and Western Women's Writings: A Critical Sourcebook (New York: I.B. Tauris and Co., 2006), pp. 36-7; Afaf Lufti al-Sayyid Marsot, "The Revolutionary Gentlewomen in Egypt," in Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie, eds., Women in the Muslim World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), pp. 261-76.
[16] Colombo, "Europe: Behind the Burqa Debate."
[17] Sarasota Herald Tribune, Jan. 26, 1958.
[18] Rhea Talley Stewart, Fire in Afghanistan 1914-1929: Faith, Hope, and the British Empire (New York: Doubleday, 1973), pp. 127, 376-8.
[19] Rosanne Klass, Afghanistan: The Great Game Revisited (New York: Freedom House, 1987), p. 39; idem, Land of the High Flags (New York: Odyssey Books, 1964), pp. 202-3.
[20] The Muslim Observer (Farmington, Mich.), Jan. 31, June 19, 2008.
[21] Hamideh Sedghi, Women and Politics in Iran: Veiling, Unveiling, and Reveiling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 85.
[22] Ibid., pp. 85-7.
[23] Author interview with the wife of an Arab ambassador to the United Nations, New York, 1980.
[24] BBC News, Sept. 26, 2006.
[25] Ibid., Oct. 6, 2006.
[26] Fatima Mernissi, Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman Publishing Company, Inc., 1975).
[27] Ibid.
[28] Nurjaanah Abdullah and Chew Li Hua, "Legislating Faith in Malaysia," Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, 2007, pp. 264-89.
[29] BBC News, July 19, 2010.
[30] The Daily Telegraph (London), Oct. 5, 2009.
[31] Colombo, "Europe: Behind the Burqa Debate."
[32] Phyllis Chesler, "Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2010, pp. 3-11.
[33] Phyllis Chesler, The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), chap. 6, 7.
[34] David Ghanim, Gender and Violence in the Middle East (Wesport: Praeger, 2009), chap. 2, 4.
[35] Author interview, New York, 2008.
[36] "Women's Lives under the Taliban: A Background Report," National Organization of Women, Washington, D.C., accessed Aug. 25, 2010; The Daily Telegraph, Nov. 12, 2008.
[37] Author interview, New York, 2005.
[38] "Equality Now Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee: Algeria," United Nations, New York, July 1998.
[39] Reuters, Aug. 21, 2010.
[40] See, for example, Roya Hakakian, Journey from the Land of No (New York: Crown Publishers, 2004); Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran (New York: Random House, 2003).
[41] Associated Press, Apr. 23, 2007; The Daily Telegraph, Apr. 27, 2010.
[42] BBC News, Mar. 15, 2002.
[43] Labidi, "Faces of Janus," pp. 117-8.
[44] Chesler, "Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings."
[45] Author interview, New York, 2010.
[46] "Egyptian Newspaper Roz Al-Yousuf Criticizes Phenomenon of Compelling Egyptian Women to Wear a Hijab," The Middle East Media Research Institute, Sept. 6, 2010.
[47] The Times (London), Oct. 28, 2006.
[48] Los Angeles Times, Jan. 12, 2005; Al-Jezeera TV (Doha), Sept. 17, 2008.
[49] See, for example, CBN News, Oct. 15, 2009; David Raab, "The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas," Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jan. 1-15, 2003.
[50] "Discrimination in the Name of Neutrality," Human Rights Watch, New York, Feb. 26, 2009.
[51] The Guardian (London), Feb. 2, 2010.
[52] The Daily Telegraph, May 18, 2010.
[53] Islam in Europe Blog, Aug. 4, 2010.
[54] The Foreigner (Raege, Norway), May 28, 2010.
[55] BBC News, Apr. 30, 2010.
[56] Associated Press, July 20, 2010.
[57] The Swedish Wire, Aug. 5, 2010.
[58] Benjamin Ismail, "Ban the Burqa? France Votes Yes," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2010, pp. 47-55.
[59] Associated Press, May 6, 2010; "Brussels Barqa Ban Backfires When City Ends up Paying Fines for Muslim Women on Welfare," Militant Islam Monitor, Aug. 26, 2005.
[60] The Daily Telegraph, June 3, 2010.
[61] Ibid., Apr. 16, 2010.
[62] The Daily Mail (London), July 2, 2009.
[63] ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 19, 2010.
[64] The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2010.
[65] Penelope Tuson, Playing the Game: The Story of Western Women in Arabia (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003), pp. 149-50.
[66] The Daily Telegraph, July 18, 2010.
[67] Islam in Europe Blog, July 2, 2009.
[68] The Jerusalem Post, June 30, 2009.
[69] BBC News, Feb. 20, 2007.
[70] Daniel Pipes, "Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats," Lion's Den: Daniel Pipes Blog, Nov. 4, 2006.
[71] The Daily Times (Lahore), Mar. 23, 2010.
[72] The Daily News Egypt (Giza), June 7, July 27, 2010.
[73] Colombo, "Europe: Behind the Burqa Debate."
[74] Kuwait Times (Kuwait City), Oct. 9, 2009.
[75] Colombo, "Europe: Behind the Burqa Debate."
[76] Pipes, "Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats."
[77] The Daily Telegraph, June 22, 2009.
[78] See, for example, Reuters, July 7, 2009.
[79] Edward Hunter, The Past Present: A Year in Afghanistan (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1959), chap. 4, 5.
[80] Jean Sasson, Princess: A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (Georgia: Windsor-Brooke Books, 2010), pp. 94-5.
[81] Author interview, New York, 2009.
[82] Reuters, June 25, 2007.
[83] The Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 13, 2010; "Iran: End Executions by Stoning," Amnesty International, Jan. 15, 2008.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Nathan Bloom in the preparation of this paper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.