Friday, March 16, 2012

INFIDEL by: Ayaan Hirsi Ali - a book report

Another brave woman risks her life to challenge the authority of Muslim customs which denigrate females who are born into the Muslim culture. The vast majority are doomed to live their lives dominated by the males not only fathers and husbands but brothers and other relatives.
Ayaan was born into this life in Somalia. During her young years her family also lived in Saudi Arabia and Kenya. She did her best to learn the teachings of the Koran, attending school, reading, memorizing text and wearing burkas covering her from head to toe. As the years passed by and being exposed to other cultures particularly in Kenya she began to have doubts. She was forced into a marriage arranged by her father. He lived in Canada and had returned to Somalia looking for a “good” Muslim wife. The kind that would be obedient to him as a “good” Muslim woman should be. She was allowed to fly to Germany with the intention of continuing on to Canada but instead she entered Holland and applied for immigrant status which was granted. Her location was discovered and she had to face her husband-to-be together with older leaders trying to persuade her to marry. She did refuse and as a result was disowned by her father.
I was amazed to learn how generous the Dutch government is to immigrants. They were provided housing, food, clothes and health care for extended periods of time. The problem that developed was the refusal of immigrants of the Muslim faith to learn the language, assimilate and become productive citizens. They also sent their children to separate Muslim schools keeping them from associating with Dutch children. There were many instances of “honor” killing of girls whom became friendly with boys not of the Muslim faith. As Ayaan became more aware she began to distance herself from Islam. She learned the language, graduated from high school and went on to college. She was an avid reader trying to gain wisdom from the great authors of Europe. During these years she earned income by interpreting between the authorities and immigrants from Somalia. Many of these had to do with wives being severely beaten by their husbands. They rarely ever testified against them out of fear of being turned out of the Muslim community.
She began to speak out and over time became a sought after speaker and writer. She ran for public office and was elected. Her main goal always was to improve the lot of females. She collaborated with a film producer Theo van Gogh to produce a ten minute film depicting four punishments women could receive for various offences. It was called “Submission, Part One”. There were death threats. Finally in September 2004, Theo was murdered while walking down a street. His throat was slit and a knife shoved into his chest with a warning to Ayaad that she was next. The Dutch government provided her with protection. To this day she faces death threats and has been moved to America where she continues to speak out. In March 2005 Time magazine named her one of 100 “most influential people in the world today”.
Finally I want to quote from a statement she made. You can find it on page 349. “When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance, and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so”.
I will continue to read and write reviews of books such as this. It is the least I can do.

Jack B. Walters
March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Something's wrong here

Do you ever wonder about decisions made on our behalf in establishing relationships with leaders around the world? I will confine my remarks to the Middle East although it could easily be expanded to include South and Central America where for decades we have supported Dictators who oppress their own people.
I loved the picture of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein when Iraq was at war with Iran. We gave him Billions in aid including poison gas he used not only against Iran but also Iraqi Kurds in the North where thousands were killed.
After Gadhafi capitulated on weapons of mass destruction he was welcomed into the United Nations with our support.
We went to war with the Taliban and al Qaida in Afghanistan ostensibly to punish them for the 9/11 terror attack based on the assumption that the terrorists received their training there. I always thought that was a mistake since 16 of the 19 involved were from Saudi Arabia.
Under the rule of the Taliban, women were removed from the work force, girls from schools and they were forced to stay in their home and only be allowed out with a male escort wearing burgas that covered them from head to toe.
When the Taliban were defeated we supported Hamid Karzai in becoming President. Now I read in the Star on 3/7/2012 that in order to help persuade the Taliban to live in peace he has instituted the same shameful rules which amounts to subjugation of all women in that country. This is the same man our President apologized to recently over the burning of Quran books. I never read that Karzai apologized for murdering our soldiers indiscriminately in retaliation for that act.
I guess our strategic interests are more important than promoting freedom and justice for members of the female sex. Not in my book. After spending a trillion dollars and the loss of thousands of lives this is what we have to accept for our effort. I say shame on all our elected and military leaders. There was a time when they valued human rights issues.

Jack B. Walters
March 8, 2012