Sunday, January 3, 2016

Perplexed, Confused, Angry

I keep hearing and believing that the faith of Islam is one of peace, love and understanding. Or those are lyrics to a John Lennon song or maybe George Harrison. Even there I am not sure. So when I read the news about the factions of Islam that behead, brutally murder and of course imprison and sexually assault young women as part of the faith they believe binds them I have a problem.

The problem is that conventional Islam seems to practice many of the same behaviors. So while I don't agree with walling off the country and refusing Immigrants/Migrants/Refugees, even there the name of which we refer is equally confusing, I wonder what that means when these war torn abused people will do when they arrive and how will they assimilate and integrate into communities that have diversity in every sense of the word?

I have written about Norway and their requirement that the men take a class on women and understanding the nature of their country when it comes to sexual expression, behavior and gender identity and roles. I somehow cannot believe that a lifetime of training, belief and practice is suddenly eradicated upon arrival or completion of a class.

When I read of this story of a young Afghan woman's brutal murder I noted that the perpetrators were men, there was no crime and the level and depth of aggression and violence was extreme. One could say it is mob behavior where group think takes over without understanding of the greater meaning of the action. But it is one of many stories where young women are accused and punished from stoning to death to acid in their face for wanting an education.

Something tells me that men who practice said behaviors will take more than a class or two to understand what that means when one lives in a Democracy. And the reality is that they won't openly practice this but they will live in isolation, socialize with their own and never fully belong. And with that comes disenfranchisement and a need to find those who feel the same way and that ends up in the same expressions we have seen in America, Europe and the Middle East.

Then we have this story about the women refugees and the sexual abuse by their fellow refugees, their husbands, and of course the men who are their agents to freedom. We have heard similar stories and one only needs to be reminded of the UN Peacekeepers who did the same to those under their protection.

And this is not just those women of the Middle East, the same of Africa and the genocidal rape and kidnapping of young girls and women is well noted as just collateral damage in war, as this story of Chad reminds. Or this in the Sudan And in case anyone forgets the #BringBackOurGirls campaign that to my knowledge has never occurred.

And let us not neglect the largely anti homosexual legislation and imprisonment in Africa. It is not just Putin who hates "the" gays.

And the role of women that includes lack of education, suppression of civil rights, genital mutilation, and the bizarre dress requirements that seem inconsistent at best, utterly absurd at worst.  At times they veer on costumes sending a mixed message if not odd juxtaposition to the idea of modesty which is the intent.

  • The hijab is one name for a variety of similar headscarves. It is the most popular veil worn in the West. These veils consist of one or two scarves that cover the head and neck. Outside the West, this traditional veil is worn by many Muslim women in the Arab world and beyond.
  • The niqab covers the entire body, head and face; however, an opening is left for the eyes. The two main styles of niqab are the half-niqab that consists of a headscarf and facial veil that leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible and the full, or Gulf, niqab that leaves only a narrow slit for the eyes. Although these veils are popular across the Muslim world, they are most common in the Gulf States. The niqab is responsible for creating much debate within Europe. Some politicians have argued for its ban, while others feel that it interferes with communication or creates security concerns.
  • The chador is a full-body-length shawl held closed at the neck by hand or pin. It covers the head and the body but leaves the face completely visible. Chadors are most often black and are most common in the Middle East, specifically in Iran.
  • The burqa is a full-body veil. The wearer’s entire face and body are covered, and one sees through a mesh screen over the eyes. It is most commonly worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (1996–2001), its use was mandated by law.
From what I understand the reality is not about respect of faith but to ensure that men are not attracted nor enticed by women.  And there again more confusion about if it is mandatory or optional when women are often beaten or imprisoned for failing to comply with that requirement. 

I watched this Frontline on Women and Islam and the idea of what defines Feminism in a culture that is historically patriarchal and learned that as women, we are responsible for all men's failures. Good to know I have something in common with my Muslim sisters. 

But again from India to Africa the stories about women being raped or assaulted walking home or riding public transport is a constant.  And yet that story is again another shared by women across the globe. 

So when I think of the men of Islam do I think of the crazed lunatics with swords, guns and bombs? No  I don't.  I do look at the men in my community, they are chatty, quite segregated from well anyone other then men of their cohort, their sons equally irascible and sadly not academic in the least.  And the girls, well to be frankly honest many of them are so confused and nasty I have little patience for them. Their outfits veer on costumes, their confused sexuality (as they are clearly not given any education in that at all)  and the lack of role models have placed them in such an odd place I don't know what life holds for them. They too seem utterly uniniterested in Education.  When I do meet the immigrant kid who is not from Asia, as they of course are usually (but no not always, as in the case of all kids there are always exceptions to most stereotypes)  highly motivated to the point of extreme,  I am relieved.  I think this will be a kid who has a sense of culture and a sense of place and that only opens doors and opportunities.  

But I do understand the fear and the suspicion of these diverse individuals who fall under the umbrella of Muslim.   As in any group, they are diverse but yet not. There are elements of their faith that once again contradicts and confuses people.  So who is responsible for that? That is the question that confuses me, perplexes me and makes me angry. I see so little interest in anyone who is willing to be a positive role model as they seem to have no problem in finding the opposite kind. 

And if you have the audacity to ask you are Islamaphobic? Racist or well an idiot.  Bill Maher constantly poses challenges about this issue and others but he comes from one who loathes organized religion.  I see his point but I do respect faith and the role it can have in one's life.  And there are always those who clearly are willing to represent the Church to espouse the ethics of the faith.  Some may be individual leaders of respective congregations or in the case of the Pope that of the entire collective.  So who is or are those who can do the same with regards to Islam.  Maybe that too may also be another problem.   I see the hostile Clerics and others who claim to call to arms those followers to jihad but none that demand the same with regards to Peace. 

And where are the women?  Well they are imprisoned, isolated and equally at arms as we have seen young girls suddenly now join the movement and kill those as we have seen here in America and abroad.

So you can see why I am quite perplexed, confused and angry.  

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