Canadian girls’ book club event with Nobel Peace Prize activist canceled because of potential “Islamophobia”

November 22, 2021 • 1:15 pm

Here’s a theory that is mine. And now, my theory: Canada is more woke than the United States. Why? Because although the innate degree of wokeness may be the same, Canadians are famous for their politeness, and thus don’t push back very hard on Woke insanity, like the article I describe below. Without pushback, Wokeness, with its drive for power, spreads inexorably.

So here’s the article, which you can get translated automatically from the French (at least I could with Chrome). It’s from Le Figaro. Sadly, the story it tells seems true.

Nadia Murad is an Iraqi who now lives in Germany. In 2018 she and Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize; she for her campaign “to help women and children who are victims of abuse and human trafficking, and Mukwege for “repeatedly condemn[ing] impunity for mass rape and criticiz[ing] the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war.

Murad’s drive came from personal experience, for as the Nobel Committee notes:

Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, and in 2014 the Islamic State (IS) launched a brutal attack on her home village. Several hundred people were massacred, and girls and young women were abducted and held as sex slaves. While a captive of the IS, Nadia Murad was repeatedly subjected to rape and other abuses. After three months she managed to flee.

Murad is the first Yazidi and first Iraqi to be awarded the Nobel Prize for anything. She was invited to a Toronto school book club, and what a catch she would be, for she was talking about her latest and autobiographical book. (There was another guest as well; see below.) But she and the other participant were canceled. As the paper describes (note: this is an automatic translation so I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it clearer):

The Toronto school board has withdrawn its support for a book club dedicated to young girls. The presence of the Nobel Peace Prize, committed to the Yazidi cause, could, according to its representatives, offend Muslim students.

Founded by Tanya Lee about four years ago, the book club where Nadia Murad is a guest welcomes young girls aged 13 to 18, from various secondary schools, themselves overseen by the said school board. Without being directly governed by the institution, the club is promoted by its members to the students. The organizer of this literary meeting told the Globe and Mail of her misunderstanding , explaining that the superintendent of the school, Helen Fisher, allegedly said that the students would not participate in the event, scheduled for February 2022 .

The reason given? Her book, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against Islamic State , may promote Islamophobia, reports The Globe and Mail . This is to forget that the 28-year-old Iraqi girl was, for three months, the sexual slavery of no less than 13 Daesh soldiers in 2014, before she managed to flee to Germany. Shocked by the exchange with Helen Fisher, Tanya Lee says she then sent her an email containing detailed information on the Islamic organization, coming from the BBC and CNN. “This is what the Islamic State means ,” she wrote to the superintendent.It is a terrorist organization. It has nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. The Toronto school board should be aware of the difference. ”

Apparently a council of the school board finally decided not to distribute the book to students. That’s absurd. What better role model for girls of that age than a woman who was abused and fought back hard—gaining a Nobel Prize in the end? The “Islamophibia” excuse of course comes from fear: that Muslims might take offense at the topic and cause trouble. But remember, Murad was abducted and sexually abused by an extremist group of Muslims. All rational Muslims should support Murad and her appearance. But of course religion has a way of eroding rationality. What the school board is doing is in effect saying that what ISIS did to Murad shouldn’t be criticized publicly, thus condoning religiously-inspired sexual slavery.

By the way, another person, also canceled, was supposed to appear with Murad in a joint event:

The event was supposed to carry discussion on two books in presence of their authors — Marie Henein’s ‘Nothing But the Truth: A Memoir‘ and Nadia Murad’s ‘The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State‘.

The board said it has withdrawn support to hold the October event with Henein, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants and one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers, because her book was “problematic” as she “defended” former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi when he was accused of sexual assault.

As far as I know, Ghomeshi was found “not guilty.” This is going too damn far, school board! Why aren’t Canadians objecting to this and writing letters to the Toronto school board?

h/t: Paul

Cancel culture alive and well

February 11, 2021 • 2:15 pm

If you laugh at the idea of a cancel culture, well, here’s a good example. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which I consider an Islamist organization, is trying to cancel tonight’s discussion with Bari Weiss and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, scheduled for the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

CAIR has a petition page where you can sign on to the cancellation (click on screenshot):

The grounds? Hate speech, which apparently doesn’t deserve airing:

CAIR-SFBA, American Muslims, and our allies across the San Francisco Bay Area are calling on the Commonwealth Club to cancel their planned February 11 event featuring anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian speakers Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Bari Weiss.

These fringe speakers are contrary to the Club’s mission to seek truth and insight about the issues we face as a society. Both speakers have a shameful track record of propagating Islamophobia, which exacerbates ongoing intolerance and hate towards Muslims, immigrants, and others.

Well, CAIR, Students for Justice in Palestine, and similar organizations, are, in my view, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, and themselves “exacerbate intolerance”, but I wouldn’t for a moment try to stop them from holding events. I’m not sure what “truth” is being effaced by the two speakers, but part of it is probably the religiously-based defensiveness of organizations like CAIR.

Apparently the Commonwealth Club, which seems to be a public-affairs group with a wide range of speakers, agrees with me, for at the bottom of the petition you can read this:

CAIR of course has a right to object to the speakers, and to petition the club to cancel them, but it would have better “optics” if they didn’t try to stifle the voices of everyone they think is “Islamophobic.” I guess Hirsi Ali better bring her bodyguards tonight. . .

h/t: Luana

Chelsea Clinton accused of causing New Zealand mosque shootings because she criticized Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism

March 16, 2019 • 11:30 am

What really saddens me about the killing of 49 Muslims worshiping at a mosque—beyond of course the slaughter of innocent Kiwis and the pain of their relatives, friends, and loved ones—is the immediate reaction of those who want to politicize the event. Some politicization is of course inevitable, as we don’t want this to happen again, but the sorrow and sadness of those in the West hadn’t even abated a bit before the anger set in (some even bypassed the anger to go straight to the offense). Who let the slaughter happen? Everybody must find a scapegoat, immediately.

The usual suspects were indicted: Donald Trump, the NRA (which of course doesn’t operate in New Zealand), the YouTube gamer PewDiePie, and so on. I haven’t read the suspect’s manifesto, and to be sure it may not be a complete account of his “reasons” for the murder, but people are seizing on every word so they can point a finger of blame. Right now, it seems more seemly to express solidarity with the victims (as many Kiwis, including Jews in NZ synagogues, are doing), and worry about the causes when the dust settles.

But people can’t wait. When Chelsea Clinton, now pregnant, went to a vigil at NYU for the massacred Kiwis, she was accosted by a Palestinian Muslim, whose attack was filmed by leftist Jewish activist Esor Fasa. The attacker (verbal attack!) blamed Clinton for the mosque murders.Read the Newsweek story below (click on the link) to see why Clinton took heat, as I doubt that you can guess. After all, the Clintons don’t have any history of “Islamophobia”. 

From the report:

On Friday night, the daughter of former president Bill Clinton paid her respects to the victims as she participated in a vigil at New York University in Manhattan.

However, a student at the event told Clinton “her rhetoric” had in fact contributed to help the attacks in New Zealand.

Esor, who describes herself as a “Jewish leftist, organizer & known in alt-right circles as ‘antifa chick R*se.;” then posted a video of her “best friend” lashing into Clinton, telling the pregnant mother that “it’s a disgrace that she came to the vigil, calling out Chelsea’s Islamophobia and hypocrisy.”

The video posted starts with Clinton telling Viva in reference to her supposed “Islamophobic remarks”, “I am so sorry…It certainly was never my intention..I do believe that words matter…I think we have to show solidarity…” The student then interrupts her and says, “They do matter…and this, this [vigil] right here, is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words you put out into the world, and I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deep inside. 49 people died because of the rhetoric that you put out there.”

A contemplative and patient Clinton begins to say, “I am so sorry you feel that way…” before the cameraman or somebody off screen yells, “What does that mean? Like, what does “I’m sorry you feel that way mean?”

Esor Fasa also posted a tweet (now deleted, because her account is deleted), that was this one:

The video of the encounter is below, thanks to reader cesar who sent it. Above that is the notice that Esor, who is a coward, deleted her Twitter account. I’m sure she received plenty of pushback for calling Chelsea Clinton an Islamophobe, but if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. The Muslim student is unidentified.

Notice the finger-snapping in the video, which is Woke Leftists’ way of applauding (it apparently doesn’t “trigger” those who are afraid of clapping).

The tweet below is what caused Clinton to be demonized; I wrote about it a while back, and it’s Clinton’s response to Ilham Omar’s anti-Semitism. Apparently it’s okay to be anti-Semitic but not “Islamophobic”, which is what you’re called when you decry anti-Semitism. It’s weird, though, because you’d have to say that Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats who also condemned Omar were complicit in the New Zealand murders. Such is the fury of the Woke Left.

We’ll see more of this, of course, and I don’t know how to temper the fury of those who want to demonize people who are completely innocent. I write about it, but I’m a small fish. All I can say is to urge readers not to put up with the kind of finger-pointing nonsense that this student engaged in.

Popular Kuwaiti beauty blogger complains about liberalized laws for guest workers (aka slaves); claims criticism is “Islamophobic”

July 27, 2018 • 9:45 am

This new article from The Independent highlights two aspects of Middle Eastern religious culture: the fact that a form of indentured slavery exists there, and that Muslims who are criticized for this little-known fact will cry “Islamophobia” to excuse it. (Click on screenshot to read the article.)

As the International Labour Organization reports, there are “32 million international migrants in the Gulf region,” and of those about 600,000 of these are victims of forced labor—that is, slavery. A quote:

Migrant workers make up the majority of the population in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (and more than 80 per cent of the population in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates); while in construction and domestic work in Gulf States, migrant workers make up over 95 per cent of the work force.

The system of labor contracts with foreigners in the Middle East is called the kafala system, and operates in the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Bahrain. As the preceding link documents, this is often akin to slavery, though with some wages (often not much at all). A worker is permitted into these countries only with a sponsor, who often takes away the employee’s passport, making them unable to leave freely. Sometimes they get no wages at all, but have to lie about that to finally leave the country. Working conditions are often horrible, with no days off and long hours. As Wikipedia notes:

About 1.2 million foreign workers in Qatar, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines, make up 94 percent of the labor force. There are nearly five foreign workers for each Qatari citizen, mostly housemaids and low-skilled workers.

Most of the workers labor under near-feudal conditions that Human Rights Watch has likened to “forced labor“. Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, stated “In late 2010 we conducted a risk assessment looking at basic fundamental labor rights. The Gulf region stood out like a red light. They were absolutely at the bottom end for rights for workers. They were fundamentally slave states. An exit visa system prevents workers from leaving the country without the sponsor’s permission. Employer consent is required to change jobs, leave the country, get a driver’s license, rent a home or open a checking account. Amnesty International witnessed workers signing false statements that they had received their wages in order to have their passports returned. The organization called for an overhaul of the ‘sponsorship’ system. Arab-American businessman Nasser Beydoun described their situation as: “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers. The local Qatari owns you.” International media attention increased after Qatar was named the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The kafala or sponsorship system practised by GCC nations has been stated as the main reason for abuse of the rights of low-income migrant workers.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has frequently criticized the kafala system, yet it’s rarely mentioned—and perhaps not well known—among Western liberals who defend Middle Eastern countries, especially in comparison to Israel’s so-called “apartheid state.” But what is more apartheid than this latter-day form of slavery? Remember, MOST of the workers in many Middle Eastern states are under labor contracts, many of them unfair and exploitative.

Kuwait, which has 660,000 migrant workers, passed a liberalization law in 2015 that, according to HRW, “grants domestic workers the right to a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a 12-hour working day with rest, and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of the contract, among other rights.”  That means that many workers were, before that, working with no days off, no annual paid leave, and were working more than twelve hours a day,. These are inhumane conditions, especially considering the life of ease their employers have. But HRW notes that the new law doesn’t go far enough, leaving many workers vulnerable to exploitation.

That’s part I. In part II, a popular Kuwait beauty blogger, obviously living the life of Riley, kvetches about the law because it makes things too easy for migrants. As the Independent story reports:

The beauty blogger who sparked outrage after complaining about new laws giving migrant workers better rights has refused to apologise for her remarks, instead accusing her critics of attacking Islam, the hijab and Kuwait.

Sondos al-Qattan has attracted global condemnation since she posted a video to Instagram last week in which she expressed frustration at newly implemented changes to Kuwait’s kafala system, which now mean Filipino migrant workers can keep control of their own passports and have the right to four days off a month.

“How can you have a servant at home who gets to keep their passport with them? If they ran away and went back to their country, who’ll refund me?” Ms Qattan said in the now deleted post.

“I don’t want a Filipino maid anymore.”

Despite widespread criticism pointing out Ms Qattan’s woeful understanding of migrant labour abuse in the Gulf state, and the fact that several leading beauty brands, including Max Factor Arabia, have severed ties, the Kuwaiti social media star has repeatedly defended her remarks.

In a new video posted to her now private Twitter account on Thursday, Ms Qattan called the backlash to her comments a “foreign media campaign” designed to attack Islam, the hijab, Kuwait and the wider Gulf region.

“Of course I did not have to offer any apology, because I was telling the truth.

“Keeping a domestic worker’s passport is deemed an enslavement and racism [by these people]. Why judge me [over keeping] my worker’s passport, with the aim of ensuring my safety?

“These people express more outrage over my remarks than they have over humanitarian crises and massacres in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. Are these humanitarian values?”

Ms Qattan also called on her 2.3 million Instagram followers to boycott the brands that have dropped her sponsorship deals.

The Internet is forever. Here’s al-Qattan’s removed video complaining about the easing of Kuwaiti slavery (with English translations; there’s some repetition):

I don’t have the video in which al-Qattan accuses her critics of Islamophobia, but I assume the Independent has verified its existence. And it’s execrable. First we have a hijabi beauty blogger, who clearly makes a lot of dosh off her popularity despite the fact that the hijab is supposed to hide women’s beauty from men, which is a bizarre and somewhat hypocritical situation. Then the blogger complains about her servant getting one day a week off and being allowed to keep her (the servant’s) passport? It’s just a defense of slavery, and al-Qattan was rightly called out and lost sponsors.

Her responding cry of “Islamophobia,” of course, is a familiar defense against justified criticism of religiously-inspired malfeasance. We need to stop taking it seriously in cases like this, as there is simply no bigotry in criticizing slavery conducted by Muslim employers. Indeed, those employers are bigots, for they think of their employees/servants as a lower species of human, not entitled to minimal dignity or privileges.

The two words that Leftists hate to be called these days, and will cower in fear (and give in) rather than be called them, are “racist” and “Islamophobe”. It is this cowering that enables the Control-Left to wield such power. Fortunately, in al-Qattan’s case, nobody’s buying it.

Here’s one of her beauty videos, should you be so inclined:

h/t: Grania

Macy’s sells hijabs; Linda Sarsour and Masih Alinejad debate the garment

February 21, 2018 • 11:05 am

In the article below, CNN reports on Macy’s (a department store’s) decision to sell fashionable hijabs. I don’t care whether they do or not, though it’s a bit incongruous (and oxymoronic) to talk of “modest, fashionable clothing.” As a veiled Muslim women, you’re not supposed to call attention to yourself, and a spiffy hijab (or makeup) will do just that, defeating the religious purpose of the veil—the “modesty” part. But Macy’s has a chance to cash in on Muslim women’s desire to look good, so why not?

Click on the screenshot to go to the piece.



What’s more interesting in this article is the debate it gives: a back-and-forth between Linda Sarsour, co-head of the Women’s March, professional victim, and rapaciously ambitious grifter, and Masih Alinejad, Iranian activist and founder of the admirable #MyStealthyFreedom campaign, which displays Iranian women illegally removing their hijabs.

I can’t quite make out what’s going on in the discussion, for it sounds as if Sarsour and Alinejad are talking past each other. Sarsour constantly wants to emphasize that her hijab is her personal choice, and she’s been the victim of “Islamophobia” for wearing it. In contrast, Alinejad calls attention back to the plight of women in Iran (and other countries) where veiling is not a choice.

Of course I’m biased in favor of Alinjad, and so my take may be colored by that, but it seems to me that Sarsour is, as she so often does, wallowing in her personal victimhood. In reality, Sarsour, while she may be vilified, is vilified more for her views on Islam, and her polarizing ideology—including favoring sharia law—than for being a Muslim.

That, at least, is what I get out of these exchanges, in which Sarsour reluctantly seems to decry oppression in the Middle East:

MA: I don’t see any Muslim communities in the West being loud and condemning compulsory hijab, especially you, when people of Iran are putting themselves in danger and risking their lives. I was loud enough to condemn both the burkini ban and travel ban, but I never saw the feminists in the West condemning compulsory hijab when they go to my country… They go to Iran and they obey it … All I see is double standards and hypocrisy.

LS: I will say on a personal level that I’ve been very vocal in support of Iranian women. For me, hijab is only a form of oppression when a government forces it on people, when a father forces it on his daughter or when a husband forces it on his wife. For me, as a woman who chooses to wear hijab, it is not a form of oppression and I will not be pushed into a position by anyone to say that hijab is a form of oppression.

Note Sarsour’s transition from saying that the hijab is often a form of oppression to asserting that she “will not say the hijab is a form of oppression.” That’s a movement from the personal to the general.

There’s this, too:

CNN: What are your thoughts on the current protests against compulsory hijab in Iran?

MA: Twenty-nine women who practiced civil disobedience, who peacefully took off their hijab, they are in prison. It’s a global issue and we should all condemn it. We shouldn’t let any feminists in the West downplay our cause and say this is a small issue, it’s not.

LS: Sister, I think I think the issue here is not whether or not we think it’s important … the issue is the narrative. In the United States, we as Muslim woman are attacked saying that we are upholding a system of oppression by wearing hijab. So we have a narrative we have to fight by saying we stand with women who choose not to wear hijab, and I will unequivocally say here that I stand with the brave courageous woman in Iran who are standing against compulsory hijab, but they also need us to create a narrative that says you also stand with my right as a Muslim woman in America who is having to endure Islamophobia.

Note that to Sarsour “the issue is the narrative,” not what counts as real and important oppression. Sarsour would rather maintain a “narrative” that gives lip service to the women in the countries of the Middle East (including the country of her parents’ origin, Palestine) but to always keep the narrative on Islamophobia, which of course Sarsour claims to be a victim of. That is what gives her credibility among feminists, even though Islam itself is one of the most anti-feminist ideologies I can think of.

There’s more, but I’ll add just one more exchange:

CNN: Why do you think hijab has become so politicized?

MA: I’m coming from a country where for four decades the Islamic Republic of Iran wrote its ideology message on our bodies. We won’t be able to get an education from the age of seven if we don’t wear it. We won’t be able to live in our own country.

LS: Hijab is solely a spiritual practice, but unfortunately there have been people who have taken it, including governments, to control women’s bodies. I hope we end this conversation by saying that you and I are actually a lot closer in what we believe that we think we are.

“Solely a spiritual practice”? I think Sarsour has it backwards. She wants it to be a spiritual practice, as that divorces the garment from its misogynistic origin, developed in post-Qur’anic Islamic theology. Every school of Islam, so far as I know, endorses the wearing of the hijab as a garment of modesty, so its wearing didn’t spread as a “spiritual practice.”

If wearing hijab was a “spiritual” practice by Muslims, then in the 1960s and 1970s, Muslim women in Iran, and Afghanistan would have been largely covered. But they weren’t, and protested when the theocracies made the hijab compulsory.  It has always been a “garment of modesty”, with some women choosing to abjure that modesty for choice and modernity. (Yes, I’ll admit that some Muslim women wear it not out of modesty considerations, but as a sign of their faith. But those motivations are deeply entwined.)

It is by wearing the hijab that Sarsour can claim victimhood. Yes, there have been cases in which bigots have ripped off hijabs or mocked their wearers to their faces. I find those actions shameful. Although that hasn’t happened to Sarsour, she claims the victimhood narrative of others, which she hopes to use as a crane to hoist her to Congress; and she’ll cry “Islamophobia” at every opportunity. Wearing the hijab is the best overt signal of your victimhood. In Iran it’s an unwanted one, but for Sarsour it’s a signal she embraces.

 

“History making” hijabi model steps down from L’Oreal campaign after her Twitter comments come to light

January 23, 2018 • 10:30 am

The other day HuffPo put up one of its usual hijabi-extolling posts, noting that model Amena Khan “made history” by being in a campaign for L’Oreal hair products—while wearing a hijab. I wasn’t going to post about it, as there’s not much new here beyond the usual “hijabi-is-a-hero” palaver, but developments yesterday changed that (see below). Click on the screenshot to go to the article:

As the article notes, “A blogger, model and co-founder of Ardere Cosmetics, Khan has called the new collaboration ‘game changing.’ She is the first woman who wears a hijab to be featured in a major mainstream hair ad.”

Well, you might wonder why L’Oreal would want to use a woman who covers her hair to advertise shampoo and conditioner. Khan explains it in the HuffPo video below:

Okay, fair enough. And, as Maajid Nawaz explains in this short video, although the decision to use a woman who covers her hair to advertise hair products seems weird, it’s based on financial calculations.

If L’Oreal wants to do this, fine. But what bothers me is the usual tactic of making a hijabi into some kind of hero. In this case, though, it’s a bit hypocritical. After all, why do Muslims wear the hijab? As I’ve discussed before, and as you can see on “Rules related to covering“—an Islamic website that mandates codes of dress—by and large the hijab is worn as a religiously-mandated sign of modesty: to hide a woman’s hair. The premise is that the sight of hair will arouse uncontrollable lust in men, and then bad things will ensue. The Muslim rules, which are patriarchal, deem it the woman’s responsibility to avoid exciting men by looking attractive.

But it’s not just the hair that should be covered: women must avoid any adornment or beautification that calls attention to them:

Their face and hands must not have any kind of beautification (zinat) on them.

Well, Khan wears so much makeup—including lipstick, eye shadow, eyeliner, blush, nail polish (also forbidden) and other products that women use that I’m not aware of—that it looks as if it’s been laid on with a trowel. (See other photos of her on her Twitter account). She also shapes her eyebrows, also a forbidden enhancement.  Have a look:

At the same time that she’s adhering to Muslim custom and covering her hair out of modesty, she’s doing all she can to call attention to her beauty,—to her face and nails and body. Well, she’s a model, and that’s what they do. But isn’t it a bit hypocritical to wear a garment whose purpose is to avoid exciting lust, while doing the exact oppostie with your face, hands, and feet? (Khan often wears sandals, a display of feet that is prohibited by the same dictates that prohibit showing hair).

I’ve said all this before, and felt no need yesterday to say to call out this dichotomy again, but then it was discovered that Khan has a rather dubious history of posting anti-Israeli messages on Twitter. These are not just criticisms of Israel occupying the West Bank or the like, but contentions that Israel has no right to exist—a sentiment that, I think, borders on anti-semitism.  Because of these, Khan pulled out of the campaign (it’s not clear to me whether she was actually fired.) You can see reports on her background and withdrawal at the BBC as well as  Israelly Cool. 

What did Amena Khan say on Twitter? Well, she’s deleted her tweets, but some were captured by the Daily Wire:

Another:

 

I won’t get into who is the deliberate murderer of children or whether Israel is an “illegal state”, but let’s just agree these tweets are clearly “anti-Israel”, and pretty much state that Israel has no right to exist.

When these tweets were revealed, Khan to “withdrew” from the campaign, offering a weird apology that said she didn’t really mean what she said about Israel:

L’Oreal, whether out of a dislike for Khan’s views or simple business acumen, was not reluctant to accept her “withdrawal.” From the BBC:

A spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris told Newsbeat: “We have recently been made aware of a series of tweets posted in 2014 by Amena Kahn, who was featured in a UK advertising campaign.

“We appreciate that Amena has since apologised for the content of these tweets and the offence they have caused.

“L’Oreal Paris is committed to tolerance and respect towards all people. We agree with her decision to step down from the campaign.”

I have to admit that there’s a bit of Schadenfreude here: while HuffPo and L’Oreal (and other places) were extolling this woman as a pathbreaker, a history maker, and even a kind of hero, at the same time she had a background of espousing hatred verging on the anti-Semitic. And to extol her “Muslim-ness” for wearing the hijab, while ignoring her attempts to call as much attention as possible to her beauty, smacks of either ignorance or hypocrisy.

I put a comment on the HuffPo site last night saying they should update their report, but of course they haven’t done it despite widespread reporting about Khan’s withdrawal from the beauty campaign. (Curiously, they’ve removed her Instagram posts from the site.)  Nor has HuffPo US posted any report of her withdrawal, although HuffPo UK has. But even HuffPo UK’s report is bizarre, putting scare quotes around Khan’s “anti-Israel” tweets:

A model who became the first woman in a hijab to feature in advertising for hair brand L’Oreal has stepped down from the “game changing” campaign after a series of “anti-Israel” tweets emerged.

Amena Khan, who announced her recruitment to the initiative just six days ago, said she decided to step down “because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver”.

She wrote on Instagram of her regret over tweets dating from 2014, which had prompted accusations she held “anti-Israel” views.

Why the scare quotes around “anti-Israel”? Does that mean it’s questionable whether the tweets shown above really were against Israel? That’s the only reason I can imagine for the quotes, and it’s shameful. There’s no question about what those tweets say!

********

Meanwhile, over at LBC Radio (“Leading Britain’s Conversation”), broadcaster James O’Brien, who appears to be an anti-Brexit liberal, makes clear to a Muslim mother why she shouldn’t force her eight-year-old daughter to wear the hijab. Click on the screenshot to get to the article and the 4.5-minute video.  Remember that while women in Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia have no choice about wearing the hijab (and, in Iran, demonstrated in the streets when the theocracy forced veiling in 1979), the issue of “choice” in Western countries, where girls are veiled very young, is often problematic.

My final remarks simply echo the sentiments of Alishba Zarmeen, a feminist activist from Pakistan:

One possible counterargument for people like Khan is that some women veil not out of modesty, but simply as a symbol of their religious faith. Fair enough, but, given the above, that’s like saying that some people waving the Confederate flag are only doing so as a symbol of their “Southern heritage.” Remember the “fucking history and traditional use of that symbol”!

h/t: Heather, Orli

A false report of hijab-cutting

January 16, 2018 • 9:00 am

I remember seeing this report four days ago on HuffPo (click screenshot to see the report).

The gist of it was that a young Canadian hijabi reported being attacked by a man wielding scissors:

An assailant, in two attempts within 10 minutes, cut the girl’s hijab using scissors while she was walking to school with her brother, a Toronto police spokeswoman said.

The hijab is a head covering worn by some Muslim women and girls. It covers the hair but not the face.

“I felt confused, scared, terrified,” Khawlah Noman, who is in Grade 6, told reporters at her school on Friday.

“I screamed. The man just ran away. We followed this crowd of people to be safe. He came again. He continued cutting my hijab again.”

Noman held a press conference at her school to report how terrified she was.

When I read this, I thought it was weird, as why would a man be carrying scissors around and b) attack the girl twice, the second time in a crowd? Wouldn’t someone intervene? While there are Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. and Canada, there have also been false reports of hijab-snatching (one, involving a Louisiana university student, is here; another, involving an 18 year old in New York, is here). I never automatically believe accusations unless there’s independent confirmation, but I didn’t write about the Canadian one because it was premature (police were investigating), and I didn’t want to doubt this publicly for obvious reasons.

Now, however, the story has proven to be false: the girl fabricated the story and police found that out (they won’t say how). This was reported by Global News Canada at 9 a.m. Chicago time yesterday and later by CBC News, which said this:

“After a detailed investigation, police have determined that the events described in the original news release did not happen,” police said.

. . . . “These allegations were extremely serious and not surprisingly, they received national and international attention,” police spokesperson Mark Pugash said in an interview.

“Investigators worked extremely hard since the allegations on Friday. They gathered evidence from a variety of sources,” before concluding the story was untrue, Pugash said, adding that the girl who reported the incident will not face any legal consequences.

Yet so far, 24 hours after the retraction, HuffPo US still hasn’t corrected its story (I’ve archived the story here). (HuffPo Canada, however, did report that the crime didn’t happen, as did Reuters, the source of HuffPo’s US story.) I can either wait to see how long it takes HuffPo US to correct its story—if it does!—or I can put a comment in the thread that they need to correct it. What should I do?

_________________

UPDATE: I see now that yesterday afternoon HuffPo US published a separate article saying the girl’s claim was false, but they haven’t yet corrected the original story. I’ll go leave a note that they should fix it.

_________________

At any rate, the main story here is twofold. First, don’t automatically believe such claims, especially if there’s no corroboration. The “believe the victim” trope is especially tempting if the reported victimization plays into your political narrative, as it does for Authoritarian Leftists who automatically defend anything connected with Islam.

Now I’m not going to come down on the girl. She’s only 11, and probably wanted to attract attention, perhaps because she feels marginalized or ignored. She’s young, though the other two cases are less excusable and, in fact, at least one falsely reporting hijabi has been charged with a crime. Those who seem more at fault are the girl’s parents, if they encouraged her to file a report and go public, or, more likely, the political climate in which cutting a hijab appears to be a “hate crime”—far more serious than cutting someone else’s headgear. (I’ve long thought that we should abolish the notion of “hate crimes”.)

The second lesson of this story involves the reaction of people when this occurred. Rather than what I’d consider a “proper” response—which would be something like “false reporting is reprehensible because it unnecessarily uses up valuable police time, and also may make future and true reports seem less credible”—various organizations didn’t say a word against the false reporting, but simply used it to advance their narrative. For example, from the CBC (my emphasis):

Amira Elghawaby, a human rights advocate based in Ottawa, said she was saddened to learn that the girl’s story was not true, adding it will likely only serve to embolden “those who do hold discriminatory views of Muslims.”

Saddened? Isn’t she supposed to be glad that an Islamophobic crime didn’t occur? No, Elghawby is saddened because what really happened undermines her own narrative. I’d think that people would be glad that this crime, or any crime, didn’t happen, even if there was a false report. No, Elghawby and others rush to exculpate the girl and just strengthen their narrative. More from the CBC article:

[Elghawaby] also stressed that, as an 11-year-old, “she probably doesn’t really understand the full implications of what she’s done” and deserves compassion from adults.

“Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m sure the police, and the school and everyone will be reviewing how this was addressed. And we, as community members, all we want to do is think about this young girl — give her support — we don’t want her to be vilified,” said Elghawaby.

Support? Well, if she’s vilified or harassed, yes, she should be supported. But the girl should be told in no uncertain terms that was she did was bad and harmful to others.

Here’s another from Global News, again lacking a condemnation of the report but expressing the fear that it would make future reports less credible. (Guess what—it does! Investigate such reports by all means, but don’t accept them as true on their face, which HuffPo US apparently did). Several people even use this incident to rehash other instances of crimes against Muslims. (I add that any such crimes are reprehensible, as is bigotry that motivates them):

Pugash [a Toronto police spokesman] said it’s “very unusual” for someone to make false allegations of this type and said he hopes it will not discourage others from coming forward.

A Canadian Muslim organization expressed similar concerns, saying they feared others who experience hate crimes may be reluctant to report them out of worry that they will not be believed.

Safwan Choudhry, spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada, said it would also be naive to ignore the risk of potential backlash against the girl and her family as well as other Muslims in light of Monday’s news.

“While this incident has proven not to be true, we did all witness that just a couple years ago a Muslim mother was brutally beaten up in Toronto while she was dropping her kids off at school,” he said. In that alleged incident in 2015, police had said the woman was kicked and beaten and had her cellphone stolen by two males before she fled to a nearby school.

And of course Justin Trudeau, whom I’m starting to dislike, weighs in, but without condemning the false report by the girl:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who strongly denounced the alleged hijab-cutting incident on Friday, told The Canadian Press on Monday he would not comment on the findings of the police investigation. But he said there is nonetheless a pattern of hate crimes against religious minorities, particularly women, that needs to be addressed.

“This is something that we need to take very, very, very seriously and the pattern or trend lines that we’re seeing is … one of those warning signs about intolerance,” he said.

“And reminding people that we are a country that defends freedom of religion, defends freedom of expression, defends people’s rights to goto school and not be fearful or harassed is fundamental to who we are.”

What a mealy-mouthed git! The story was false, and he should condemn false reporting, for that even supports his narrative of fighting bigotry! If you want to fight bigotry, after all, you should condemn false reports of it, which make genuine reports seem less credible.

This story reminds me of those people who go on the internet and manufacture stories about having cancer, or other woes, as an excuse to ask for money. When such false stories are exposed, there’s nothing but dislike and shaming of the perpetrators. (You don’t even hear the claim that “false reports make it less likely that real people with cancer will be ignored.”) There’s no attempt to exculpate these people or remind everyone that other people do get cancer for real. The difference, of course, is that the hijab story plays into the Leftist narrative of Islamophobia while the cancer story does not.

Oh, and there’s another lesson. Perhaps journalists, rather than jumping on a story that’s congenial to their ideology, and implying it’s true, might wait a bit until a police investigation is conducted or the story is corroborated. After all, this investigation took only three days.

h/t: Cindy

Jeff Tayler profiles Inna Shevchenko

January 2, 2018 • 10:30 am

Several times I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Inna Shevchenko, Ukrainian head of the feminist organization FEMEN. Morally and philosophically, she’s years ahead of her age (only 27)—as well as of Authoritarian Leftists and feminists twice her age. She’s also been jailed, physically assaulted, and had her life threatened at gunpoint for protesting against patriarchal religion and sexism in Ukraine and Belarus.

Inna is ignored or criticized by some Leftists because she strongly attacks the anti-woman bigotry of Islam, and so she’s simply written off as an “Islamophobe.” But her protests (usually involving nudity) aren’t just against Islam, but against all religions and states that turn women into second-class citizens. The nudity thing I have mixed feelings about, for while it brings attention to FEMEN’s causes, it does so by attracting attention to women’s bare breasts.  On the other hand, I can understand this tactic, and of course Inna and the women who do this regularly get beaten up and jailed for it.

Inna now lives as a refugee in Paris (pursuing a master’s degree in political science), and is always in fear of her life, for that’s the upshot when you repeatedly criticize Islam and once helped edit an issue of Charlie Hebdo. Having met Inna and heard her speak, I’m a big admirer.

So is Jeff Tayler, Atlantic correspondent and author who’s put a new article up on Quillette, “Femen’s Inna Shevchenko: Fear of causing offense has cost too many innocent lives.” It’s a profile of Inna as well as an interview, and here you hear a young woman speaking with a wisdom that has yet to trickle down to the Authoritarian Left or those feminists who refuse to discuss or even mention the crippling sexism of Islam (see here and here).

Here are a few excerpts from Tayler’s piece. Jeff also links to two videos about Inna (one a full-length movie in French), and be aware that there are topless women, so don’t watch the clips at work.

When it comes to Islam’s relation to terrorism and women’s rights, the betrayal by many so-called liberals has really stung [Shevchenko]. “So many on the left – in English they’re called regressive leftists, but here we call them Islamogauchistes — have ceded to manipulations by Islamists. For these leftists, “communautairisme” – ethnic identity politics, roughly, a negation of the French ideal of égalité – “has become like a new faith.” She takes a deep breath. “When you see so many who should be supporting you give in to manipulation by your enemy, you just despair. There’s this argument out there that to criticize Islam is considered racist. This is toxic for public debate. I don’t have any problem with being called an Islamophobe. I am indeed a religio-phobe. It’s not a crime to be afraid of religion. To be afraid of religion as a woman is normal.”

She categorizes the regressive left’s stance on Islam as “insulting toward the Muslim community. It suggests that all believers are a homogenous group of people. Because of the regressive left’s outcry and hysteria, moderate Muslims like Maajid Nawaz and ex-Muslims like Sarah Haider and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have to struggle to be heard.”

How does she feel when regressive leftists tell her that her stance on Islam is “offensive?”

“It’s a sign that someone is trying to deprive me of my right to free speech and impose censorship on me. It’s a sign that they’ve given up their own right to freedom of expression because of a wish for comfort and a fear of being called racist. They’ve given up the common fight and gone over to the side of the Islamists. But the right to free speech is the most precious right, the foundation for all other freedoms.”

. . . She reserves intense scorn for those liberals who urge against criticizing Islam because this would, in their view, amount to helping the “narrative” about Muslims advanced by Trump, France’s Marine Le Pen, and other right-wing leaders. Such “liberals,” she says, are really proposing “to give up on the defense of women’s rights, to give up on the security and well-being of little girls, to give up our fundamental right of freedom of speech, to give up even our right to our own lifestyles and to dress the way we want and to laugh loud in the street, and all this just so as not to be associated with opinions of the far right! For me, this is no solution – this is cowardice and really dangerous. It will leave xenophobes as the only critics of Islam and give the stage to the far right. But this isn’t a question for the far right. It’s a question for society as a whole. When I hear liberals talking this way, I understand that they and the Islamists want the same thing: the silencing of progressive voices. If you try to silence these voices, you become an ally of Islamism.”

. . . I ask Shevchenko how she evaluates the struggle with Islamist terrorism in Europe and the United States. Her response is scathing:

“It took [the authorities] two years to even name the enemy, to even use the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’ They were afraid to associate terrorism with Islam, and oh God, that they might offend anyone! They needed so many deaths of innocent people in bars or café terraces here in Paris, before they would even name the enemy. This was a huge failure, an unjustifiable failure that cost so many lives. And it took so many horrible terrorist attacks in Europe for countries to even begin sharing intelligence. But we have to fight not particular people with guns, but the ideas that lead them to take up their guns; we have to go to the root of the problem and challenge these ideas better. We can’t be afraid of naming these ideas or laughing at them. Charlie Hebdo does this, and look at what happened to them. They’re still being threatened. We see how Europe and the United States are failing in fighting fundamentalist ideas, in challenging Islam as a set of dogmas. After all, again, it’s not a question of guys with guns, but of guys with dogmas in their heads, dogmas that lead them to pick up their guns.”

A related piece by Jeff on Islamophobia appeared in Quillette about a year ago, and bears reading again: “Free speech and terrorism—Whatever you do, don’t mention Islam!”

Here’s a TEDx video of Inna:

NYT: Quebec’s new ban on the face veil is Islamophobic

November 9, 2017 • 10:15 am

The New York Times continues its move toward the Regressive Left (really, Lindy West as a columnist?) with the op-ed below (click to go to the piece). The author, Martin Patriquin, is a journalist from Montreal who writes for iPolitics.

The story is that in mid-October Quebec passed a law banning face coverings (not hijabs or niqabs, but any covering of the face itself, which would also include face-obscuring scarves, sunglasses, or anti-disease masks) for those receiving public services or working in government jobs. Face coverings are not banned in most other circumstances, but of course nearly all those affected by the law will be face-veiling Muslim women, which the article at the top estimates to be about 100 women in a province of about eight million Quebecers. The link in the first sentence of this paragraph leads you to this:

The Quebec provincial legislature on Wednesday barred people who are wearing face coverings from receiving public services or working in government jobs, a move that opponents criticized as unfairly singling out Muslims.

The law will prohibit public workers like doctors and teachers from covering their faces at work, and will effectively bar Muslim women who wear face veils from using public transportation or obtaining public health care services, although it will be possible to apply for exemptions.

Proponents said the legislation would ensure state religious neutrality, and Quebec’s minister of justice, Stéphanie Vallée, who sponsored the bill, said it would foster social cohesion.

But Canadian Muslim groups have long complained that the legislation, which languished for years before it was passed, 66 to 51, on Wednesday, would penalize Muslims, particularly in a province where few women wear face coverings.

But this bit is weird (from top article):

Quebec’s justice minister, Stéphanie Vallée, recently confirmed that the ban would include not only Muslim veils but accessories like sunglasses as well. This is ripe for satire similar to that inflicted on Quebec’s infamous language police, which must ensure that English on signs is less prominent than the French. It will be up to bus drivers to not only ferry passengers, but to measure the size and tint of their spectacles.

Now I don’t approve of the no-sunglasses on public transportation law, which doesn’t comport with any good reason I can see for the other bans, but in general the law seems reasonable, especially given Quebec’s long history, documented in the article, of laïcité: the kind of public secularism practiced in France. (France banned all public wearing of face veils in 2010.) But truly, if they really don’t allow women to cover their faces with sunglasses in government jobs, then they also must prohibit women from wearing sunglasses on public transportation!).

Patriquin, however, sees Islamophobia in this practice.

Canada is perhaps best known for its cheery multiculturalism and its equally cheery prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Yet Quebec, the province where Mr. Trudeau spent much of his life, last month put a ban on the face coverings worn by a handful of Muslim women, prompting a fractious debate over the place of non-Christian religions in Canada’s only French-speaking province.

The law says that anyone giving or receiving a public service must do so without a covered face for “security or identification reasons.” It doesn’t ban head scarves. It doesn’t include the words “niqab” or “burqa,” Muslim headdresses that cover all or part of the face. And public officials have gone to great lengths to argue that the vague and poorly written law is not anti-Muslim.

Still, it’s hard to escape the law’s anti-Muslim intent: Few people other than some Muslim women cover their faces. It will marginalize Muslims, especially women, who will feel scrutinized, if not persecuted, even if they wear only a head scarf.

The law does have roots in Quebec’s history and culture. Quebecers have chronic discomfort with public displays of religion. Many people in the province have bleak memories of the era before the secular strides of the Quiet Revolution in 1960 when the Roman Catholic Church dominated public life.

Perhaps some people who voted for this law did indeed have “anti-Muslim intent,” but in fact there are good secular reason—reasons having nothing to do with Islam—to show your face in the situations covered under the law. Imagine being taught by somebody whose face you couldn’t see, or be treated by a doctor or meeting a government official whose face is obscured! Yes, there may be few Muslim women who cover their faces, but surely there will be more, and at any rate what matters here is the principle of seeing your fellow citizens face to face in important situations, not the number of people affected. And no, I don’t want to be taught by someone wearing sunglasses that cover their face, so any face-covering in this kind of non-public situation seems odious.

I have to say that I don’t object to this law. Rather, I favor it, and for the same reason Christopher Hitchens favored the anti-veiling law of France passed seven years ago. Writing in Slate in 2010, Hitchens emphasized that the secular value of seeing someone’s face in certain situations overrides whatever religious arguments there are for veiling:

Ah, but the particular and special demand to consider the veil and the burqa as an exemption applies only to women. And it also applies only to religious practice (and, unless we foolishly pretend otherwise, only to one religious practice). This at once tells you all you need to know: Society is being asked to abandon an immemorial tradition of equality and openness in order to gratify one faith, one faith that has a very questionable record in respect of females.

. . . Not that it would matter in the least if the Quran said otherwise. Religion is the worst possible excuse for any exception to the common law. Mormons may not have polygamous marriage, female circumcision is a federal crime in this country, and in some states Christian Scientists face prosecution if they neglect their children by denying them medical care. Do we dare lecture the French for declaring simply that all citizens and residents, whatever their confessional allegiance, must be able to recognize one another in the clearest sense of that universal term?

So it’s really quite simple. My right to see your face is the beginning of it, as is your right to see mine. Next but not least comes the right of women to show their faces, which easily trumps the right of their male relatives or their male imams to decide otherwise. The law must be decisively on the side of transparency. The French are striking a blow not just for liberty and equality and fraternity, but for sorority too.

I dislike talk of “rights”, and of “right X trumps right Y”, as assertions of “rights” are not arguments. But what I believe Hitchens is talking about here are societal values: the utilitarian value in society of mandating seeing someone’s face in certain situation versus that of allowing religious people to dress in the way their religion dictates.

How I miss that man! At any rate, Patriquin apparently sees no public, secular value in seeing one’s face in these situations, and simply calls the bill anti-Muslim—a violation of the freedom of religion. Would he mind if his kids were taught by a teacher whose head was completely covered? Or that people with covered faces could walk into banks? Or if someone with a sack over their head testified in court? He argues this:

Religious face coverings are divisive, even among Muslims. Yet the freedom to practice one’s religion is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The National Council of Canadian Muslims, along with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and a Quebec Muslim who wears a veil, recently filed a legal challenge of the law, calling it a collection of “blatant and unjustified violations of freedom of religion.”

Quebec’s government has not only opened itself up to legal challenges, it has also put the province in the dubious company of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the governments also dictate what a woman can or cannot wear.

Sorry, but there is no comparison here. Muslims are allowed to cover their faces under the new law, except in situations where it violates the “equality and openness” principle underscored by Hitchens. (I still object to the public transportation thing.) In Iran and Saudi Arabia, all women have to veil, and for religious rather than secular reasons. Further, the law in Quebec applies to both sexes, not just to women, and so is not nearly as gender-oppressive as what Saudi Arabia and Iran do. As Hitchens points out in his piece, the issue of whether Muslim “choose” to wear the veil is up for grabs, and my own view is that this kind of “choice” very often reflects familial and social pressure that begins at an early age.

Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ homophobia

July 19, 2017 • 8:45 am

The new Jesus and Mo strip, called “homo”, came with this note:

Today’s strip is inspired by something that happened at last week’s London Pride march.

What happened is that ex-Muslims at the march were accused of “Islamophobia” by the East London Mosque because they were carrying signs that indicted Islamic countries and mosques for demonizing homosexuality, which of course many of them do. Calling that out is not “Islamophobia”; but of course Islam comes with an “I’m offended!” card that allows you unlimited license to conflate anti-Muslim bigotry with criticism of Islamic oppression and doctrine.

Here’s a photo of the demonstration and some reportage by The Free Thinker:

About 20 CEMB [Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain] activists marched on Saturday with placards bearing a range of messages from “We’re here, we’re kaffir, get used to it” to “Allah is gay”. Several wore body paint across their chests depicting eyes crying rainbow-coloured tears.

Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for CEMB and a Freethinker columnist, said the group was protesting the treatment of LGBT people in states under hardline Islamic leadership, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Iran – where homosexuality is a capital offence.

Namazie told the Standard it was “apt” to name the East London Mosque on the placards.

At Pride, we were highlighting the 13 states under Islamic rule that kill gay men – 14 if we include Daesh-held territories.

Namazie said that the signs did not say “Fuck Islam” but “Fuck Islamic homophobia”, adding:

In my view Islam, like all religions, is homophobic. Why is it not possible to say this without fear of reprisal or accusations of Islamophobia?

She said:

Pride is full of ‘God is gay’ and ‘Jesus had two fathers’ placards as well as those mocking the church and priests and pope, yet hold a sign saying ‘Allah is gay’ – as we did – and the police converge to attempt to remove them for causing offence.

For Regressive Leftists, of course, “Islamophobia” is a far worse offense than homophobia. And that prioritization is itself offensive to real progressives. But on to Jesus and Mo, in which Mo expresses the hypocrisy of the excuse-Muslims “soft racism”: