Friday, July 28, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
This week's column is on Dr. Shazia Khalid, a Pakistani rape victim. Copied below are brief excerpts:
Sometimes you find out about certain horrific events and are compelled to think, “Why?” Often people involved intimately in those events go unnoticed, yet triumph through the adversity and you are forced to ask, “How?” These same questions troubled me as I listened to a rape victim Dr. Shazia Khalid talking to a group of concerned Pakistanis, along with several others while she was recently in the city.
The Wisconsin-based Asian American Network against Abuse of Human Rights (ANAA), which I have written about in this column before, the founder and President of which is Dr. Amna Buttar, organized the event. Shazia Anam of the South Asian Health Project moderated the conversation and Robina Niaz, Founder and President of Turning Point gave opening comments. Turning Point is a social services agency for victims of domestic violence and their family members. Robina’s insight and expertise shone through yet again as she gave a comprehensive overview of Dr. Khalid’s plight, and also gave background information concerning the situation Pakistani women face in their native country. She spoke at length about the sense of shame that comes from being a victim of such a heinous crime and then to be re-victimized at the hands of society by becoming the accused instead of the victim. Robina also conceptualised the discussion by talking about the hundreds of women who are imprisoned because of the flawed Hudood Ordinance and what the implications are for women like Dr. Shazia.
Dr. Shazia is a quiet, modest woman who looks very much like your average Pakistani woman. She is a graduate of Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan, and after looking at her for a few moments I could not help but think how such a horrible thing could ever be done to a woman like her. Somehow, it has been ingrained in our collective mindset that the victims of rape come from the poor, impoverished families in Pakistan’s rural areas.
Dr. Shazia was sadly demonstrating that tragedy could befall anyone. She was also teaching me another important lesson that men need to be at the forefront of these movements, alongside women. Proof of this was the presence of Dr. Shazia’s husband at the event. Khalid is a petro-chemical engineer and at the time of the incident, was in Libya, where he was stationed for employment purposes. Khalid urged audience members to remember that we are all in this struggle together. A woman is not alone and it was evident that his being by her side must have been tremendously helpful for Dr. Shazia. The couple is now settled in London, where they are both content and satisfied with the way things are going for them.
A woman from Equality Now, a women’s group that strives for gender equality and women’s rights, also made comments about the discriminatory Hudood laws. Changes are being made slowly and steadily, but much work remains to be done. Meanwhile, Dr. Shazia has drafted a list of recommendations that she has presented to the Pakistan government and hopes someone takes heed. The law and order situation in Pakistan is bad enough the way things are, but for a woman they are especially so. Let’s not let the situation get any worse. Our women have suffered enough.
A Music Benefit for Lebanon and Palestine
A concert of Lebanese resistance music
Featuring songs by Fairouz and Marcel Khalifeh
Saturday, July 29th, 8:00 PM
Alwan For the Arts
16 Beaver St, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
All proceeds will go to humanitarian relief organizations.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Copied below are some updates (in chronological order) they sent via email to their mailing list subscribers, literally within a short period of time of the news actually breaking out. I have also added some of my personal comments for your pleasure :)
Muslim group urges disengaging policy from 'dictates' of pro-Israel Lobby
The New York Times reported today that Israel requested the expedited shipment of satellite and laser-guided bombs last week after beginning its massive bombing campaign against Lebanon's civilian infrastructure.
SEE: U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis (NY Times)
Israeli attacks on Lebanon have already killed hundreds of civilians. Attacks by air, land and sea have destroyed bridges, roads, electrical networks, airports, port facilities, and other civilian infrastructure in an Israeli attempt to "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years." (Israeli Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz issued the threat to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure.)
Israel today targeted transmission towers for television stations and mobile phones in northern Lebanon. Some 500,000 Lebanese have been forced from their homes under threat of death from Israeli attacks. (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that the current conflict represents "the birth pangs of a new Middle East.")
In a statement, CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed said:
"It is unconscionable that our government would rush weapons to a state engaged in vicious and indiscriminate attacks on the civilians and civilian infrastructure of a friendly nation. Thousands of our nation's citizens also remain in Lebanon facing death or injury from these American taxpayer-supplied weapons.
"The baffling decision to assist in the destruction of a nation that has been held up as a model of democratic reform can only serve to harm our long-term interests in the region. Aiding attacks on civilian targets in Lebanon also calls into question our nation's commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms.
"America must disengage its Middle East policy from the self-serving dictates of the pro-Israel lobby. Failure to do so will allow Israel to once again drag our nation into its self-perpetuating cycle of hatred and conflict."
SEE: The Truth About the Israel Lobby's Influence (Washington Post)
Ahmed added that many legal experts say Israel is in violation of international law and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act for using American weapons to target Lebanon's civilians and civilian infrastructure. He said CAIR has reached out to the Bush administration to offer the American Muslim community's help in achieving a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.
As the US expedites deliveries of amunition to the Israelis, why should it be surprising that the Iranians and Syrians follow suit by further arming the Hezbullah militants?
Life for Relief and Development (LIFE), a 501(c)(3) organization that is registered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has agreed to receive the humanitarian supplies and deliver them those in need.
CAIR is asking that actual relief supplies be gathered because of the severe restrictions currently placed on financial aid by the U.S. government.
"A strong humanitarian response by the American people will send a powerful message of hope and support to the Lebanese and Palestinian men, women and children caught up in the current humanitarian disaster," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:
CAIR is asking religious leaders of all faiths to announce this important humanitarian effort and to aid in collecting and sending the supplies to LIFE.
1. FILL A BOX with JUST ONE of the following items. (By only placing only one type of item into the box, you aid the collection effort and speed delivery by saving time spent sorting items in the warehouse): diapers, water purification tablets (can be obtained at most camping stores), flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil, powdered milk, lentils
* Food should be mailed in small boxes, no larger than 16"×12"×12."
* Diapers should be mailed in medium-sized boxes, no larger than 24"×18"×18."
* The maximum weight of each box should not exceed 40 pounds.
* Each box should contain only ONE TYPE of the relief supplies listed above. (Example: a box of lentils)
* No pork or alcohol products will be accepted.
2. MAIL THE BOX TO:
LIFE for Relief & Development
Lebanon/Palestine Relief Effort
17300 W. 10 Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48075
Tel: (248) 424-7493, Toll Free: 1-800-827-3543, Fax: (248) 424-8325, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator and Mayor Voice Support for Israel on Behalf of NY
New York, N.Y., [7/25/2006]— CAIR-NY is urging American Muslims and other people of conscience to voice their concern against Senator Clinton’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s comments. Tell them we will not stand for such biased attitudes to represent the majority of NY. Say we do not support the massacre of innocent unarmed civilians in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and we condemn ALL forms of terrorism, even state sponsored.
NY Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in separate statements, expressed their unconditional support for Israel on behalf of the citizens of New York. “We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones,” said Mrs. Clinton. The Mayor echoed an almost identical message when he said, “Israel rightly continues to defend itself from unprovoked attacks on innocent civilians… as Americans and New Yorkers, we must continue to stand with Israel as we have done for the past 58 years…” Mayor Bloomberg went on to say, "I have always believed that the fate of Israel and the future of New York City are deeply connected. If Israel's democracy is compromised, so too are our freedoms here at home”, as if New York City were an extension to Israel.
We can voice our opposition to Senator Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg by sending letters both of their offices. Below is a sample letter.
Hi, my name is [your name] and I am calling/emailing/faxing from [your city], New York. As your constituent, I urge you to retract your statement and condemn the Israeli attacks on civilians in both Gaza and Lebanon that have left hundreds of innocent civilians dead, and many more wounded.
Please join us in calling for an immediate ceasefire and release of prisoners. The unwillingness to call for a ceasefire gives the impression that the U.S. places less value of American citizens of Arab descent or Islamic faith. The humanitarian crisis that has come as a result of the ongoing attacks, require our immediate attention.
Furthermore, it is important that the U.S. set one standard regarding the value of life and of the definition of terrorism. We strongly oppose all forms of terrorism including state sponsored terrorism as displayed by Israel. We as New Yorkers and as Americans do not approve of you speaking on our behalf in support of Israel’s aggressive attacks.
We look forward to a positive response.
Please send your letters to:
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
780 Third Ave., Ste. 2601
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 688-6262
Fax: (212) 688-7444
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY 10007
Phone: 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)
Fax: (212) 788-2460
For any questions, please visit our website at www.cair-ny.org or contact Faiza N. Ali at Advocate@cair-ny.org.
How do both these - or any - politicians have the right to make comments on behalf of "New Yorkers" when there is clearly a population that does not approve of the actions?
PLEASE FORWARD TO OTHERS: Urge your friends, relatives and colleagues to sign up to receive CAIR-NET updates by going to: http://cair.biglist.com/cair
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com
Monday, July 24, 2006
When I found out about them, I replied back to my friend Maryum saying:
"I'd like to help in efforts but am weary of two things: 1) organizations who are involved in shipping and handling of donated/received goods (legitimacy, authenticity, etc.) and 2) how goods are supposed to reach people in need when ports, bridges, roads and airports are not a viable option for us.
Can we get minutes or notes from this and/or any other meetings you might attend?"
It's great to see people organizing in the hopes of not only helping people who are in dire need of assistance, but also to counter-balance what the Western media has come to show us as "Lebanon's fault".
Below are events of interest: