Updates from April, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 5:28 pm on April 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Yes, Western women can wear miniskirts in Muslim countries. 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

    A school in Pozuelo de Alarcon (a district in Madrid) recently became embroiled in a controversy over a Muslim girl wearing a headscarf to school. The school authorities banned the veil in school. Muslim activists, concerned that this prohibition might spread across other schools, are resolved to challenge the ban in courts.

    There are two interesting aspects in this case. First, as is quite common, anti-veil advocates claim that because in Muslim countries Westerners in general and Western women in particular are not allowed various freedoms, Muslim women in Europe should not be allowed to wear a veil (among other rights).

    Well, the fact of the matter is that the most insistent on wearing veil are very often Western women-converts. And since they are at home in Europe, it is hard to trace a logical connection between the alleged lack of freedoms for Europeans in Iran or Saudi Arabia and proposed limitations on the rights for European women in Europe.

    But actually, this maxim “they don´t let us, so we won´t let them” is not entirely accurate. Most of Muslims, let´s say in Spain, come from Morocco. And it appears that the Spanish women are not forbidden from wearing mini-skirts in Morocco. So, the reciprocity argument against the headscarf seems void of any serious basis.

    The second issue is that another uncalled for anti-headscarf regulation — and ensuing debate — completely overlook the fact that the local Muslim community has been for years peacefully coexisting with the majority community. Why would anyone want to disrupt this over a rather silly issue is beyond comprehension. But the disruption is very likely in this, and possibly many new cases that can now spring up like mushrooms after the rain.

  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 2:59 pm on April 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    What is to be learned from success of right-wing parties across Europe? 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH ProIgual

    The most recent electoral gains for another ultra-nationalist party, this time in Hungary, where anti-Roma Jobbik shoot from nowhere into the tie for the second largest chunk of seats in the parliament, brought up another round of discussions about the economic crisis´ impact on the voters. Mainstream politicians, especially the left-leaning, are going to get it wrong again. It is not the crisis per se. It is not even deep-seated xenophobia in many European voters. It is simplicity with which right-wing/nationalist leaders explain their message to the voters, something that the more sophisticated politicians do not seem to be capable of, and that keeps costing them votes.

    If we remember the previous elections to the European Parliament in 2004 (not at all a crisis period, on the contrary, a period of economic boom), right-wing parties had made considerable gains there. And elections, for example, in the early noughties in the Netherlands when Pim Fortuyn´s message was so well received, the country was not doing too bad economically, either. So, without discounting an economic crisis as a factor,  let´s admit that on its own it is not a decisive factor for people voting for right-wing parties.

    The message of xenophobic parties is always quickly dismissed by the mainstream and especially left-wing counterparts as not worth talking about. But perhaps this is a mistake? Perhaps, the message, and especially the way it is presented, needs to be dissected, studied and in some ways even used? Just listen to the brilliant simplicity of “2 legs bad, 4 legs good,” or “foreigners steal our  jobs.” Trying to explicate that foreigners actually take jobs that natives do not want and make contributions to economy through paying taxes, work product, etc., somehow muddles up the message.

    Perhaps, some liberals or even centrists are too well-educated and too sophisticated and that becomes a problem? Instead of using simple words, black-and-white images, and clear/memorable slogans they delve into all sorts of shades of grey — and get lost in translation, or even in their own message.

    Of course life, and any public issue, is more complicated than black-and-white. But the European voters have grown accustomed to information presented with a lightening speed, whether it is a toothpaste commercial or presentation of a political platform. To be ahead of the game, mainstream politicians should refine their message — without losing its integrity. And who knows, maybe when pro-diversity, pro-immigration, pro-inclusion politicians learn to present their messages with similar, enviable simplicity of their opponents, the political landscape of many European countries might become quite different.



  • Centro de Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos 4:35 pm on April 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Priests child abuse scandals: any justice in sight? 

    Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH ProIgual

    That was some Easter. Plagued by pedophilia  scandals all across the globe, Vatican had to provide some sort of explanation for — by far not an isolated incident of — child abuse by Catholic priests. The Pope´s verdict: society is corrupt, its corruption penetrates even the churches, and in accordance with this logic clergymen must remove themselves even further from society (and its laws?).

    But this reasoning is problematic for at least two reasons. First, there is law, it is (ideally) the same for everyone, and those who break the law should not be permitted to hide behind the Church walls from the responsibility. Second, if the  spiritual leaders are so easily corrupted by society, which they aspire to lead to salvation, then perhaps their leadership role is too big a job for them.

    When an ordinary John Loe or Jane Moe abuses a child, the overwhelming majority of us are indignant and expect that person to get punishment, and with steps to prevent something like this from happening again. How come then, that up to now, couple decades after church child abuse cases started to come up to the surface after being hushed up, still hardly any abusers are behind the bars? Not just bribed their way out of justice through offering monetary settlement to the victims, but truly were tried and sentenced? Or, for starters, stripped of their  church rank, rather than allowed to resign quietly or moved to another location where they continued to abuse other children?

    How come the authorities and the police in places where such abuses occurred hadn´t condemned these acts, and hadn´t pursued the perpetrators with all severity of the law during all this time? Or is the Church above the law? Is it also above the elementary decency and morality, upon which modern laws are ultimately based?

    Some analysts were quick to suggest that celibacy may be responsible for priests´ child abuse. But arguing whether celibacy is good or bad is beside the point. After all — at least based on evidence presently available — only some priests committed abuses. A much bigger issue is at stake: how Vatican deals with those who do commit abuses.

    The Church´s official position is clear: child abuse is wrong (we would not expect them to say otherwise). But why then have the Church authorities (including the then Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict) been for years so vehement to silence victims, shield the perpetrators, and cover up the story? It seems that if they fought child abuse with equal zeal, perhaps the current problem hadn´t snowballed to the same extent. Why didn´t they deal with the abusers?

    Is the Church´s reputation more precious than the wrecked lives and souls of thousands of children, some already with disabilities, who suffered sexual abuse by priests? What happened to the moral values and decency that the Church is supposed to be the guardian of? Have they all been “corrupted” by society? Isn´t Church supposed to be able to withstand “temptation” and “corruption,” by virtue of its self-acclaimed mission on Earth?


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