Church and State: February 2007 Archives

February 20, 2007

British politician opposes veil

United Kingdom: Britain's first Muslim peer has come out against wearing the veil. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said that they were a mark of separation and defiance against mainstream British culture, and that he felt the way they are used today is contrary to the original intention.

Lord Ahmed, who became the first Muslim peer in 1988, told the Yorkshire Post: The veil is now a mark of separation, segregation and defiance against mainstream British culture.

“But there's nothing in the Koran to say that the wearing of a niqab is desirable, let alone compulsory. It's purely cultural. It's an identity thing which has been misinterpreted.

“They were supposed to be worn so that women wouldn't be harassed.

Some of us would suggest that in these circumstances, it's the men who are at fault and should be kept indoors to stop them causing trouble, but this is a digression.

But my argument is that women, and communities as a whole, are now being harassed because they are wearing them.

He said that the veil was a physical barrier to integration.

He pointed out that Westerners in Muslim countries were expected to dress according to local norms, and felt British Muslims ought to return the courtesy:

The peer said that Muslims in Britain had to become more sensitive to their surroundings, in the same way as westerners walking around Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, would have to wear a head covering and long clothing before they could expect to engage with local people.

He said that he did not want to see a ban on veils, but added: Muslims need to have a debate among ourselves about whether we need them.

Veil should not be worn, says Muslim peerThe Guardian, 20th February 2007.

February 6, 2007

Eating your own dogfood

United States: No, not Gillian McKeith again. This time it's the Washington Defense of Marriage Initiative, which proposes some innovative legislation, insisting that marriage really is for the sake of the children, and for no other purpose.

If passed by Washington voters, the Defense of Marriage Initiative would:
  • add the phrase, who are capable of having children with one another to the legal definition of marriage;
  • require that couples married in Washington file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage automatically annulled;
  • require that couples married out of state file proof of procreation within three years of the date of marriage or have their marriage classed as unrecognized
  • establish a process for filing proof of procreation; and
  • make it a criminal act for people in an unrecognized marriage to receive marriage benefits.

So which bunch of fundies is behind this initiative? The answer is that it isn't—it's the work of some Americans with a sense of irony.

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court's ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a legitimate state interest allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this legitimate state interest, it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: using the initiative, we are working to put the Court's ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives. The first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage. The second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children. The third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.

Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstit[u]ional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

The chief executive of Allies for Marriage and Children, a fundie organisation which supports special rights for heterosexuals, spectacularly failed to get the joke. (Thanks Supergee).

February 4, 2007

Sunday miscelleny

A handful of stories from the last few days which I was too lazy to write about at the time:

  • Teachers get advice on how to spot signs of ritual abuseThe Guardian, 2nd February 2007. Note the word being repurposed to mean the abuse of children by Christians who believe the child to be possessed or a witch. Many of the signs are a bit crap, and others would apply to more mundane forms of child abuse too.

  • Brought to book: the poo lady's PhDThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007. Ben Goldacre find Gillian McKeith's PhD thesis:
    There are lots of grand statements about research, with nice superscript numbers relating to references in the back. But when you chase to the back of the book to see what these academic documents are, they include such august periodicals as Delicious, Creative Living, Healthy Eating, and my favourite: Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet.

    Some of it is plainly absurd. As we get older, she explains, the levels of RNA/DNA decrease. Okay. If you do not have enough RNA/DNA, she goes on, you may ultimately age prematurely. Stress can deplete your DNA, but algae will increase it. And that's not all. Chlorophyll within the algae is a powerful oxygen generator for human beings. Back to GCSE Biology: it'll only make oxygen if there's light inside me, Gillian ...
    I found You are What you Eat frustrating and full of errors—it cited the safe drinking levels which were revised upwards in the early 1990s, for example. There are some good recipes in there, but often they are made needlessly complicated, and use exotic ingredients which would put it out of the price range of mere mortals.

  • New Conspiracy: Israeli Genocide Against Lebanese — With Poison BalloonsThe MEMRI Blog, 1st February 2007. This sort of panic is well recorded, and has a long history. There are examples of similar panics during the First World War, but this one seems to have the added legs of organisations willing to exploit it for political reasons.

  • An indictment that the liberal left is oblivious toThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007, isn't on the web site, presumably due to intense embarrassment about the ungrammatical title. Oliver Kamm alleges that a mysteriously monolithic liberal left puts the rights of religious organisations over that of the individuals they oppress:
    In the past century, material betterment and the steady diminuation of discrimination advanced progressive goals. Much of the left have [grr...—F.] yet to come to terms with this achievement. At the extreme, some who were once on the left have adopted the language and outlook of the right. They argue for what by any objective standards are reactionary positions. These include promotion of religious obscurantism in place of secularism; segregation of the sexes at public events; abridgement of free speech in deference to the sensibilities of those who claim themselves victims of Islamophobia; and, most pernicious, the resurrection in political debate of some highly traditional motifs of anti-semitic conspiracy theory.
    If you can get yourself to the library, it's on page 31.

  • Tolerating intolerance is still this country's besetting sinThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 4th February 2007. More comment on a related matter to the above.

  • Muslims are now getting the same treatment Jews had a century agoThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 2nd February 2007. One major difference, which is mentioned, but not dwelled upon, is that 19th century radicals-who-happened-to-be-Jewish were not fighting to impose Judaism on the populace as a whole, nor were they the ones wearing traditional Jewish dress as they had pretty much rejected religion. The tiny minority of violent Islamist fundamentalists claim to be fighting for their faith.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Church and State category from February 2007.

Church and State: January 2007 is the previous archive.

Church and State: March 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Church and State: Monthly Archives

Resources

About this site
Contact the Prattle
Ego Corner

The Pagan Prattle
c/o P.O. Box 666
Edinburgh EH7 5YW
Scotland

Syndication

Licence

Creative Commons License
The original material in this weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.