Tag Archives: ultra

Ultra-Orthodox Men Now Wearing Special Blinders to Avoid Seeing Sexy Things

By: Hugo Schwyzer

Feeling tempted by scantily-dressed women on the bus, or sexy billboards by the side of the road? If you’re an ultra-Orthodox man in Israel, you’re in luck: you can now buy special blinders to prevent sin-enticing images from sneaking into your peripheral vision. As the Times of Israel reported yesterday, an organization called The Committee for Purity in the Camp is selling special stickers that the observant-but-easily-vulnerable-to-lady-business can wear on their eyeglasses. The stickers “blur vision of anything beyond the range of a few meters and so diffuse immodestly dressed women to a harmless blot.” (If you don’t wear glasses, the Purity Committee sells a non-prescription pair with stickers for the soul-saving bargain price of around $32.)

On the one hand, this is good news. As the Times notes, these eyeglasses mark a “change in tactics” in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox campaign against immodesty. Rather than forcing women to cover up (and spitting on eight year-olds with exposed forearms), these blinders place the onus for avoiding temptation where it belongs: on men. If the choice is between harassing women for displaying bare skin and turning men into carriage horses, the latter seems like the preferable option.

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Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

The lies and triangulations of Imran Khan

By Saroop Ijaz

When the educated, prudent Imran Khan supporter is asked for her views on the unbelievably grand proclamation of the ‘dear leader’ stating that he will uproot corruption in 19 days and eradicate terrorism in 90 days, there are always two slants, often one after the other. The devotee will inevitably begin by arguing how Imran Khan will unquestionably and quite breezily achieve the said objectives in the self-stipulated time period. If the line of reasoning is further pursued (or reasoning used at all), they will gingerly and sheepishly concede that statements might not be susceptible to literal implementation, but making an invigorated comeback, state that he is better than everyone else and has built a cancer hospital and who else could they vote for etc? At this point a smirk breaks out on the face of the PTI foot-soldier; to them it is the clincher. The best argument for Imran Khan is something which can be vaguely phrased as some notion of the ‘lesser evil’. There is some difficulty in grasping the concept of how the subsequent quantitative judgment about less or more is precisely made, once the qualitative determination of ‘evilness’ has been reached.

Let me be plain on the matter, the proclamations of Imran Khan on corruption and terrorism and the arbitrary, flashy deadlines are untrue on their face. They require no elaborate refutation, and a child of 10 having average intelligence should see through them, unless of course they have uncritical love blinding them. This brings us to the question of motive, here again an unflattering binary is unavoidable; either he is lying by design or he does not possess the fortitude to understand and realize what he says. At a core level, it is a choice between deceit and self-deceit. I do not think Imran Khan is fantastically intelligent, but he is decent by cricketer/politician standard. Hence, because he is not severely mentally handicapped, it is safe to say that he does know what he promises is not only undoable, it is impossible that he will get anywhere close to these deadlines in the best of circumstances. The blatant misrepresentations cannot be attributed to Spartan simple-mindedness or childlike innocence; it is done with complete knowledge. Therefore, even to put it at its mildest, Imran Khan is deliberately and consciously lying.

Continue reading Saroop Ijaz on Imran Khan and the 19/90 days promise. Lying or stupid?

In Israel, women’s rights come under siege

By Ruth Marcus

Women are forced to board public buses from the back and stay there. Billboards with images of women are defaced. Public streets are cordoned off during religious holidays so that women cannot enter.

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Jewish court sentences dog to death by stoning

(AFP) – JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem rabbinical court condemned to death by stoning a dog it suspects is the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago, Ynet website reported Friday.

According to Ynet, the large dog made its way into the Monetary Affairs Court in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, frightening judges and plaintiffs.

Despite attempts to drive the dog out of the court, the hound refused to leave the premises.

One of the sitting judges then recalled a curse the court had passed down upon a secular lawyer who had insulted the judges two decades previously.

Their preferred divine retribution was for the lawyer’s spirit to move into the body of a dog, an animal considered impure by traditional Judaism.

Clearly still offended, one of the judges sentenced the animal to death by stoning by local children.

The canine target, however, managed to escape.

“Let the Animals Live”, an animal-welfare organisation filed a complaint with the police against the head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, who denied that the judges had called for the dog’s stoning, Ynet reported.

One of the court’s managers, however, confirmed the report of the lapidation sentence to Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

“It was ordered… as an appropriate way to ‘get back at’ the spirit which entered the poor dog,” the paper reported the manager as saying, according to Ynet.

Certain schools of thought within Judaism believe in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.

Courtesy: AFP, Google News

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gpVCUh9KzOc5uEutaeYfOTL_m2dw?docId=CNG.7cb7d99990eea60a7a2805cbbc294dbf.631

The hornet is dead, near the nest – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistani brass was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Doveryai, no proveryai! This Russian proverb, meaning ‘trust, but verify’, popularised by Vladimir Lenin and later by Ronald Reagan, has not rung truer than in the events surrounding the assassination of Osama bin Laden (OBL) earlier this week. And we may see it applied much more intensely in the months to come.

Phone calls from friends in Abbottabad about an ongoing military action there, were enough to suggest that something big was happening in what the locals had always believed to be an ISI-run facility, but the e-mail news alert from The Wall Street Journal announcing OBL’s death was still a major surprise. Against the norms of punditry, this time one hoped that we were wrong and this was not happening in Pakistan. But it was, and yes, we now stand vindicated: all of us who had been saying and writing for years that the US’s most wanted man was not under the protection of any major Pashtun tribe but was guarded by the clan that has anointed itself as the guardians of Pakistan’s ‘ideological’ and geographical frontiers. It is this same clan that had actually codified in its curriculum that “you are the selected lords; you are the cream of the nation”. Where else could this syllabus have been taught but at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul — less than a mile from OBL’s last lair?

There is no polite way of saying it but these masters of Pakistan’s fortunes got egg on their face and that too with the whole world watching. A Peshawarite calling in on a television show said it most aptly: “Koilay ki dallali mein haath to kalay hotay hein per moonh bhi kala hota hai” (Those, whose business is foul, not only get their hands dirty but a blackened face too). But they still have the nerve to say with a straight face that a million-dollar fortress under their nose had been “off their radar”!

Not only that but they also have the gall to mobilise the right-wing media to create the smokescreen of sovereignty yet again while simultaneously playing up their ‘role’ in support of the US action in Abbottabad. The world, however, is not buying that in a cantonment city, the army — which keeps track of every inch of land around its facilities — did not know what was going on in the high-walled compound next to its primary training academy. The paid spin masters will have to do better than this. No matter what President Asif Zardari or his ghostwriter is made to say in op-ed articles in US papers, it is the top brass that is under scrutiny. Using the civilian political leadership as the human shield is not going to work, as the calculus has changed dramatically.

Barack Obama’s token acknowledgment of Pakistan’s non-specific cooperation is being construed by the Pakistani establishment and its minions to imply that the US can be taken for a ride again. It is too early for the specifics to surface but conversations with several sources in Washington and Pakistan point only to the deep mistrust that the US has had vis-à-vis Pakistan. There was no deal initiated by General Shuja Pasha to ‘trade in’ OBL for a bigger Pakistani role in Afghanistan. On the contrary, in response to the chest thumping by the Pakistani security establishment and its ultra right-wing political acolytes, they were confronted with damning evidence about the Haqqani network and possibly the Quetta Shura, while the OBL lead was not shared. The no-fly zone over Pakistan was created through phone calls, minutes after the OBL operation got underway. While the Pakistani brass is clutching at straws like blaming the ‘two Pashtun guards’ for protecting OBL’s compound, it was caught red-handed and was not given an option to say no to the operation. But the Pakistani deep state still does not get it, for its ideological sympathies are elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton’s nuanced diplomatic statements notwithstanding, the mood of the US leadership is almost reflective of the immediate post-9/11 days and was conveyed well by Senator Carl Levin in his remark: “(Pakistan has) a lot of explaining to do … I think the army and the intelligence of Pakistan have plenty of questions that they should be answering.” In a complete paradigm shift, any leverage that the Pakistani junta was hoping to gain from the bravado that started with the Raymond Davis affair has been lost completely. What will follow is a steady demand within the US to hold Pakistan’s feet to the fire. While maintaining a semblance of a working relationship, a very tough line will be adopted in private. The question bound to come up is not just why Pakistan was hanging on to OBL but also if there was any connection of its operatives to the 9/11 tragedy.

From a tactical standpoint, the OBL operation is likely to serve as a template for future action against the jihadist leadership hiding in Pakistan, especially with General David Petraeus assuming his new role in the near future. To get closer to the strategic objective of a certain level of stability within Afghanistan and potentially a political reconciliation there, it is imperative for the US to neutralise the next two key hurdles, i.e. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Both these entities have so far been able to evade the US’s reach, thanks to the Pakistani security establishment’s patronage.

Members of the Haqqani clan have been roaming freely in the vicinity of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Khalil Haqqani has conducted several meetings in the previous few months to broker the ‘peace deal’ for the Kurram Agency. It is inconceivable that he could act without the knowledge of the Pakistani security agencies. Similarly, Quetta is home to the Pakistan Army’s XII Corps, ISI regional headquarters, the Balochistan Frontier Corps, an army recruitment centre, the Pakistan Air Force base Samungli and the Pakistan Army’s prestigious Command and Staff College. One wonders if the Pakistani brass would still be able to say that they do not know the whereabouts of Mullah Omar.

A window of opportunity perhaps still exists for Pakistan to make a clean break with the past but its incoherent blame-game and constantly changing story says otherwise. The Pakistani establishment has given the world very little reason to trust it without verifying — unless, of course, another hornet is to be missed hiding near a major nest.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201155\story_5-5-2011_pg3_2

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Wikileaks reveal parties behind Jeddah’s closed doors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia might be an ultra-strict Islamic society, but princes’ mansions in Jeddah hide a buzzing party scene replete with alcohol, drugs and sex, according to a leaked US diplomatic memo.

“Behind the facade of Wahabi conservatism in the streets, the underground nightlife for Jeddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing,” said the November 2009 cable, released by the WikiLeaks website.

“The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available – alcohol, drugs, sex – but strictly behind closed doors,” it said.

“This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants.”

The cable, from the US consulate in the Red Sea city, described a Halloween party attended by 150 people mostly in their 20s and 30s, including consulate personnel.

“The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume.”

Big Jeddah parties – also often attended by prostitutes – are a recent phenomenon, according to the consulate.

One Saudi told the consulate that wealthy locals try to throw parties at princes’ homes or with princes in attendance so that the religious police can be kept away.

It also said that the high price of smuggled alcohol – a bottle of Smirnoff vodka can cost 1,500 riyals, or 400 dollars – sometimes forces party hosts to refill original bottles with the harsh, locally bootlegged spirit sadiqi. …

Read more : DAWN