Celebration of Life Ceremony – S. Budh Singh Dhahan – Sunday June 3rd at Khalsa Diwan Society in Vancouver


It is with a heavy heart that we announce the Celebration of Life Ceremony of Sardar Budh Singh Dhahan (December 5, 1925 – April 20, 2018) scheduled to take place in Vancouver this Sunday.

Sunday June 3rd
10:00 am- 12:00 noon
Khalsa Diwan Society
The Sikh Temple
8000 Ross Street, Vancouver
(Northwest corner of South East Marine Drive and Ross Street)

Budh Singh Dhahan passed away peacefully on April 20, 2018 in Nawanshahar, Punjab, India but his vision lives on in Canada and India. A visionary bridge builder among diverse cultural and religious groups, he demonstrated his skills as an international collaborator in education and healthcare, and a prosperity and peace maker. He turned his idealism and vision into reality by mobilizing groups and communities to cooperate on initiatives that brought about lasting change.’

Uddari stands by his wife Kashmir Kaur Dhahan, and children: Harinder Kaur, Raghbir Kaur (Bachittar Singh Jawanda), Manjit Kaur (Ajit Singh Thandi), Barjinder (Barj) Singh (Rita Janet Dhahan), and Kuljinder Kaur (Gurtek Singh Shoker); his fourteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

View Obituary
obituaries/vancouversun
Sign the Guest Book
budh-singh-dhahan-condolences
More information
theglobeandmail.com
View in Punjabi PDF
Budh Singh Dhahan – Obituary – Indo-Canadian Times
Contact the Family
Barj S. Dhahan: bdhahan@sandhurstgroup.ca
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‘Two Shortest Short Stories’ by Sana Janjua

Story # 1
Woman
She negotiated with every power structure till she reached the edifice of their desire. There stood her man. He touched her breasts, shook his head and said: ‘Too soft for my taste’.

Story # 2
Man
He said he had loved her all these years. So then he came, moaning, and said: ‘You are too good at it. Who taught you that, Slut?’
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Urgent Petition: Stop the Israel/Gaza violence!

Israeli gov., Hamas & Palestinian leaders, USA gov., European leaders: Stop the Israel/Gaza violence!

We, Israeli civilians living along the border with Gaza, civilians in Gaza and citizens from all around the world call to end the violence!
Every few weeks violence across the Gaza/Israel border surges. Israel air raids in Gaza, kill and injure innocent civilians, and rockets fired from Gaza into civilian populations in Israel, cause trauma, chaos and physical harm.

We have lived through this long enough, and will no longer sit by quietly.

We are people on both sides of the border who deserve the right to live normal lives. That’s it!

We call upon the Israeli and Hamas governments to end this violence once and for all. Find the ways to sit down and talk, end the attacks and the siege on Gaza, and stop playing with our lives.

http://www.change.org/petitions/israeli-gov-hamas-palestinian-leaders-usa-gov-european-leaders-stop-the-israel-gaza-violence

By Other Voice

uddari@live.ca

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Call for Submissions: Telling Truths – Creative Writing on Mothering & Motherhood – Jan 15/13

CALL FOR PAPERS
Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection entitled
Telling Truths: Creative Writing on Mothering and Motherhood
Editors: Dr. Sheena Wilson and Dr. Diana Davidson

DEADLINE FOR EXTRACT or ABSTRACT/SUMMARY: January 15, 2013
DEADLINE FOR FINAL COMPLETE SUBMISSIONS: June 1, 2013
Preliminary acceptance, based on abstracts, will be announced by March 1.
Completed manuscripts of 3000-7000 words will be due June 1, 2013.

“My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience.
It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness.”
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born

This collection of creative nonfiction aims to give voice to a diversity of women writers from various backgrounds, generations, and writing experience. We are proposing a literary collection that will speak to the experiences of mothering in all its ambivalence-both the joys and the struggles of women’s lives in ways that will cut across class, race, ethnicity, culture, geographical location (remote rural to urban Canada), age, sexual orientation, physical and/or mental disability (of child and/or of mother), infertility, abortion, miscarriage, and death.

Topics can include (but are not exclusive to) the following:
mothering in other/minority languages, cultures and religious paradigms, in Canada or other multicultural contexts; Canadian mothers mothering in another international context; mothering in poverty; mothering and the environment: environmental practice, ethos, resistance, failure etc; negotiating climate change activism and the struggles of living responsibly in a petroculture, especially as these issues relate to mothering and family dynamics; practices/ethics of consumerism and mothering; the pressures of intensive mothering for contemporary mothers of all classes; comparative pieces that reflect on historical versus contemporary practices of mothering; lesbian mothers; single mothers; teen mothers; late mothers/aging mothers; grandmothers as mothers; adoptive mothers; childless mothers (through abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, death, loss of parental rights); infertility stories; abortion stories; birthing stories; mothering young children; mothering grown children; mothering gay children of any age; struggles of co-parenting with partners for any variety of reasons: gender, culture, religion, socio-economic backgrounds etc.; mothering through mental illness (of oneself or other family members); mothering through postpartum depression; mothering having never been mothered oneself; mothering through physical illness and/or disability/ies; mothering disabled children; urban mothering and/or rural mothering; working mothers; stay-at-home mothers; mothering and memory; mothering & writing creative nonfiction.

Submission Guidelines
We are predominantly seeking contributions that might be classified as creative non-fiction, but we are also open to other multi-genre texts or texts in other genres. The essays in this collection must privilege the “I” and lived experience. They can certainly be supported by research and/or narrative inquiry practices but experience must be central. At least 50 % of the collection will privilege the experiences of Canadian mother or mothering in Canada. We look forward to reading your stories of motherhood.
Deadline for Excerpt or Abstract/Summary of 200-300 words is January 15, 2013
Please include a 50-word biography
Please send submissions and inquiries directly to:
Dr. Sheena Wilson and Dr. Diana Davidson
sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca, and diana.davidson@ualberta.ca

Preliminary acceptance, based on abstracts, will be announced by March 1.
Completed manuscripts of 3000-7000 words will be due June 1, 2013.

Again, we remain flexible on these guidelines in order to include a diversity of voices and genres.
Editorial review of complete pieces will take place over the summer months.
Final acceptance is contingent and will depend upon the strength and fit of the final piece.

DEMETER PRESS
140 Holland St. West, P.O. Box 13022
Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5 (tel) 905-775-5215
http://www.demeterpress.orginfo@demeterpress.org

Information from Joanne Arnott
joannearnott.blogspot.ca

uddari@live.ca
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‘Blasphemy, Religious Hatred, and the United Nations’ by Austin Dacey

In the wake of the furor over Innocence of Muslims, we are hearing renewed calls to criminalize blasphemy under international law from the halls of the United Nations. This comes a little over a year after the so-called Islamic states retired a discredited, decade-long campaign to combat “defamation of religions” (and legal coherence).

Meanwhile, the 1966 human rights treaty banning “advocacy of religious hatred” remains in force. Indeed, it is precisely such a charge that has the Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan and the Russian punks Pussy Riot locked away at this moment. What more could one want?

Those who study the history of blasphemy laws are condemned to repeat themselves: These laws don’t work. Unless what you are after is more blasphemy. Consider the case of India.

In September 1917, Muslim villages in the Shahabad and Gaya districts of the Indian state of Bihar were besieged by tens of thousands of rioting Hindus, who for days ranged in mobs looting and destroying homes, desecrating mosques, and stealing cattle. By their end, the Shahabadriots had resulted in assaults on 150 villages, 176 serious injuries, and 41 deaths.

What caused this carnage? The ceremonial slaughter of cows by members of the local Muslim community in celebration of the religious festival of Id Al-Adha.

British colonial records document eruptions of such inter-community violence throughout the nineteenth century. Today these tensions are ratcheted up by the opposing political agendas of Hindu nationalist and Islamist movements.

This tragic legacy has unfolded not despite but alongside robust laws prohibiting “outraging the religious feelings” of others. These laws were installed under British colonial rule ostensibly to manage and mitigate precisely this kind of interfaith strife.

The Indian Penal Code was drafted in 1837 by the Indian Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay and eventually adopted in 1860. It is “a truth which needs no proof,” wrote the Commission, that there are “many persons of such sensitive feelings among the higher ranks of the Natives of India” for whom “insults have as great a tendency as bodily injuries to excite violent passion.”

But the Indian Penal Code’s criminalization of religious offense in its Article 295 — the ancestor of the infamous blasphemy laws of Pakistan, as well as Bangladesh — has not solved the problem. It has institutionalized the problem.

The law legitimizes and incentivizes outrage. Where the incensed reactions might be seen as religious demagoguery inciting extrajudicial murder, in the context of Article 295 they can be seen as agitation for the reign of justice and the enforcement of a duly enacted law. Where they might otherwise be nothing but impotent rage, with the help of the law they can be tactics that succeed in removing the offending practice — if only for the moment.

Furthermore, the law expanded the meaning of blasphemy, generating new opportunities for outrage. Traditional Islamic law, for example, recognizes the offense of sabb al-rasul, insult to the Prophet. But an insult to the Prophet obviously is not equivalent to feelings of outrage about just any sacred values. A legal system crafted to encompass Hindus, Muslims, and Christians created a standard that went far beyond any of their religious doctrines: the standard of respect for all believers.

The law quite literally wrote new blasphemies into being.

Consider Urdu literature’s first “angry young woman,” Rashid Jahan. Jahan, a young medical doctor, made her literary debut in a 1932 anthology called Angarey (Embers), a critique of contemporary Indian Muslim society — in particular the conditions endured by women — denounced by local clerics and conservative papers as an “Absolutely Filthy and Foul” pamphlet of blasphemies.

Rashid Jahan and her three fellow contributors were threatened with death by stoning and hanging. In March 1933 the authorities of Uttar Pradesh state government intervened, confiscating and destroying all but a handful of copies of the book under Article 295’s protection of religious feelings. The law helped to turn a critique of Islamically-based gender inequality into a blasphemous affront to Muslims.

Whose interests are served by generating new opportunities for outrage that are legitimized and incentivized by law? Those who benefit most are the most extreme voices — like Angarey’s most implacable enemies — who anoint themselves as representatives of the outraged and thereby claim authority and consolidate power within the community.

The lessons of this history are clear. If you want to bring about greater reverence for your sacred values, laws against blasphemy won’t help. If, on the other hand, you want to boost your bids for power and authority within your religious community, they are a god-send.

From Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/austin-dacey/un-blasphemy-laws_b_1915920.html

Related content at Uddari
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique
The Clowns of Blasphemy by Fauzia Rafique
Blasphemy vendetta: Pakistan 1990-2009
Search Uddari with keyword ‘blasphemy’ for more.
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‘Iran resurrects Salman Rushdie threat’ by Robert Tait

Uddari condemns Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, an Iranian Imam, who has chosen, yet again, to target Author Salman Rushdie by reviving Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa. By doing this he has openly instigated violence against an individual; tried to delude Iranians with religious hysteria instead of addressing their real-life issues; perpetuated fear in artists; and, has continued with the vulgarity of using money as incentive to kill human beings.

The Telegraph, UK

Iran has seized on widespread Muslim outrage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad to revive the death threat against Salman Rushdie, raising the reward for killing him by US$500,000 (£320,000).

Ayatollah Hassan Sanei, head of a powerful state foundation providing relief to the poor, said the film would never have been made if the order to execute Rushdie, issued by the late Iranian spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had been carried out.

Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa sentencing the author to death in 1989 after declaring his novel, The Satanic Verses, “blasphemous”, but Iranian officials later indicated it would not be implemented.
“It [the film] won’t be the last insulting act as long as Imam Khomeini’s historic order on executing the blasphemous Salman Rushdie is not carried out,” he said in a statement.

“If the imam’s order was carried out, the further insults in the form of caricatures, articles and films would not have taken place. The impertinence of the grudge-filled enemies of Islam, which is occurring under the flag of the Great Satan, America and the racist Zionists, can only be blocked by the absolute administration of this Islamic order.”

Ayatollah Saeni’s offer appeared to be an officially-sanctioned attempt by Iran to harness anger across the Muslim world over the film, which was produced by anti-Muslim Christians based in the United States. The film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a derogatory manner, has provoked riots and violent attacks on western interests in several Muslim countries, including Libya, where Americans, including the ambassador, were killed.

Although Ayatollah Sanei has offered financial rewards for carrying out the edict in the past, he said Muslim anger over the recent film meant the time was now ripe.
“The aim [of the fatwa] has been to uproot the anti-Islamic conspiracy and now the necessity for taking this action is even more obvious than any other time,” he said. “I’m adding another $500,000 to the reward and anyone who carries out this order will immediately receive the whole amount.” The total bounty is now $3.3m (£2.1 m).

The increased bounty was issued on the eve of the publication of a memoir by Rushdie about his years spent in hiding and living under armed guard from would-be executioners intent on carrying out Khomeini’s sentence.

It also re-opens an affair that appeared to have been laid to rest after Iranian officials gave assurances that the fatwa would not be put into effect.

In 1998, Iran’s reformist then president, Mohammad Khatami, declared the Rushdie affair “completely finished” during an appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York. The Iranian foreign minister at the time, Kemal Kharrazi, also announced that Iran would not threaten the author’s life or encourage others to kill him.

The statements led to a restoration of diplomatic ties between London and Tehran, which Britain had cut in protest. It also prompted Rushdie to come out of hiding.

However, the fatwa – passed four months before Khomeini’s death – was never annulled and hardliners have frequently revived the issue as a political weapon in their internal struggle with more moderate elements in Iran’s theocratic regime.

It is unlikely that Ayatollah Sanei, personal representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the 15th Khordad Foundation, was acting without higher approval. In 2005, Ayatollah Khamenei himself reaffirmed the fatwa while addressing pilgrims preparing to visit Mecca.

In a speech last Friday, he decried the film as the work of US imperialism and “Zionism” and linked it to other perceived western attacks on Islam, including The Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

“Had they not backed the previous links in this evil chain, namely Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist, and the US pastors who burned the Holy Koran and had they not made orders for [production of] tens of anti-Islam movies to companies affiliated to the Zionist capitalists, things would not have lead to this great and unforgivable sin today,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the reports and take any threat to the life of a British National very seriously. Our diplomatic position has always been clear that threats to Mr Rushdie are completely unacceptable.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9546513/Iran-resurrects-Salman-Rushdie-threat.html
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15 September: Day of Solidarity with workers and their families

15 September
Day of Solidarity
With those workers of Lahore and Karachi
Who lost their lives
For the crimes they had not committed
 
Please join us
 
 Hyderabad demo: 1.30pm Old Campus Hyderabad
 contact: Bukhshal Thallo
034 4333 3888
 
Karachi demo:   4pm from Ghani Churangi SITE industrial area to the factory where 300 worker lost their lives in fire.
Contact:
 Nasir Mansoor 0300 358 7211
Lahore Demo: 3pm at Charing Cross Mall Road
Contact Rana Aslam 03004210024
Faisalabad: all power looms and textile factories to be closed and rally from Saddar at 10 am to the city centre
Contact Rana Tahir 0300 725 2295
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Contact
Farooq Tariq

Member
Federal executive committee
Labour Party Pakistan
Tel: 03008411946
Background:

The fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi, one of the worst ever industrial accidents in Pakistan that led tothe death of more than 350 workers on 11 September 2012 along with the other accident on the same day in asimilar garment factory in Lahore has brought into focus the critical issue of lack of workplace safety. This horrific incident shows the complete lack of safety regulation even in the organised manufacturing sector for which both the employer and government must be held criminally culpable.

The fire at Ali Enterprises, a five-storey garment factory located in Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE), at Karachi’s prestigious industrial area which is home to several global firms, killed more than 289 workers while the one in the shoe factory in Lahore claimed lives of more than 25 workers. Most of these workers were unable to escape due to inadequate access and the complete lack of emergency and fire exits. The building flouted all fire-safety norms and hence workers died due to asphyxiation and burns, unable to leave the building.

The Government is equally criminally liable for this negligence as the employer as it allowed flouting of all labour legislations and building safety norms.

Pakistan had ratified the ILO Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No 81) in 1953 under which, the government is bound to maintain a system of labour inspection in industrial workplaces. This Convention contains binding legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers, including industrial safety and health that is enforceable by labour inspectors. The working conditions in the industry in Punjab worsened after the abolition of labour inspections following an Executive Order issued under the provisions of the Punjab Industrial Policy 2003, which aimed at “developing an industry and business-friendly environment” to attract fresh investment. The routine physical inspection of factories was stopped by the then Provincial Government through an amendment to the Punjab Factories Rules, 1978 which replaced physical inspection of the workplace by labour inspectors with a self-declaration statement by the employers on compliance with labour laws in their units. There is no law to even check or take action against those employers, who do not submit this self-declaration.

NTUI condoles the death of over three hundred workers in the two separate incidents of fire and joins the Pakistani trade unions in their immediate demand for payment compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs to the families of the workers who were killed, and Rs. 20 lakhs to the injured workers and further that the workers should receive their wages until such time as safe and secure production resumes. We also support the demand that the Government hold the employer criminally liable of homicide and take action against the Labour Department and government authorities that failed to ensure the safety and health of these workers.

The NTUI also joins the call for the Ratification of the ILO Convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health and Convention 187 of Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health by all countries in the sub-continent that have seen several such incidents of fire at workplaces leading to innumerable loss of lives. Factory fires have alone claimed hundreds of lives in factories in India, Bangladesh, and now Pakistan in recent years – many of which are in the garment industry that are part of the global supply chain. This is not coincidental but is closely linked to the nature of the supply chain of this industry wherein capital is continually searching for areas of low labour costs for shifting production in order to keep the profit margins soaring. Hence lax implementation of even basic labour laws is critical for location of industry.

Trade unions across the subcontinent must come together to ensure that governments in South Asia arrive at a common minimum framework for labour laws including industrial safety and wages so as to prevent the movement of capital across borders in search of cheap labour and lax regulation.

We stand in solidarity with the call of the National Trade Union Federation for a Black Day on 15 September against the dreadful incident.

We will together build a safe and secure South Asian Work place!

An injury to one is an injury to all!

Gautam Mody,
Secretary
New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
B-137, First Floor, Dayanand Colony,
Lajpat Nagar IV,
New Delhi 110024
Telephone: +91 11 26214538
Telephone/ Fax: +91 11 26486931
Email: secretariat@ntui.org.in
Website: http://ntui.org.in

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325 workers dead in one day – Pakistan

‘Political gimmicks over the death of 300 workers’
By Farooq Tariq
Today, a smiling Asif Zardari emerged from his caravan at Mao Hospital Lahore waving hands to his sycophants, when he came to enquire the health of the five injured workers during a fire in a shoe factory while 27 died on 11th September 2012. Till today, no Pakistan People’s Party leader visited the factory or went to see the families of those who had died.
The 10 minutes visit to the hospital by the president of Pakistan who is also co chairperson of PPP was an immediate response to the visit of Mian Nawaz Sharif to a Karachi factory where over 300 had died on the same day in a similar incident. He announced Rupees 300,000 compensation for every worker killed in the incident on behalf of Punjab government while according to commercial media report; President Zardari offered flowers to the five injured workers.
Punjab is ruled by Muslim League Nawaz while the provincial government in Sindh is of PPP. During the last three days after the worst industrial incident of Pakistan history, a routine message of sorrow by these two leaders were printed and broadcasted by the commercial media. Once Mian Nawaz Sharif decided to go to Sindh, President Zardari decided to visit Lahore.
The both sides accused each other for negligence in providing all the health and safety measures to the workers in the factories. The fact is that during the last four years of the power of PPP and PMLN in Sindh and Punjab, no factory inspection took place and the factories literary became the concentration camps. It was general Musharaf handpicked Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Ilahi, who put a ban on labour inspection of the factories across the province.
The PPP and PMLN government did not lift this ban until an earlier shocking incident at the pharmaceutical factory in Lahore that killed 27 workers on 4th January 2012. The Punjab government did announced lifting of the ban on factory inspection but no practical steps were taken by the labour department in this regard.
Ironically, Pervaiz Ilahi of Pakistan Muslim League Q is at present deputy prime minister of Pakistan and was accompanying the president during today’s hospital visit.
On the instruction of the Punjab government, it was decided that no official will be able to visit any factory without the permission of PPP and PMLN. The DLO will not give that permission and hence no labour inspection took place in Punjab. It was worst in Sindh where PPP and MQM were in power and there was a complete ban on factory inspection.
The worst incident in the history of Pakistan leaving over 325 workers dead in one day was a routine for the ruling class for the last three days. The PPP leaders invited by the commercial media to debate with PMLN leaders during this time accused Punjab government for negligence and PMLN accused the other. It was blame game and a political gimmick.
Had 300 capitalists died in any incident or accident, the whole commercial media, the ruling class and all those who are putting a mum on their lips would have declared a national tragedy, a great loss and would have declared a national day off, at the least. The 300 deaths of the workers  were like a routine matter, “a message of solidarity, a compensation of 200,000 Rupees, a promise to provide job to the relatives and may be a visit to the families of the dead” that is it. It shows a complete collapse of morality of the ruling capitalist class in Pakistan.
The interior minister, Rehman Malik, a real joker, went further than every ones guess; he hinted that it might be an act of terrorism. What non sense. That shows the thinking pattern of the ministers. They want to link every incident to their war on terror so they could prove to the Americans that they are the victims of the war on terror and the Americans should give them more money.
Some of the anchor persons tried to divert attention from this grave incident by spreading rumors that the owners were threatened by some gangsters to pinch money and they might have started the fire. Although, it was dam bloody clear to everyone that a total negligence towards the environment within the factories led to these two incidents where state has failed to play any role. And this 9/11 of Pakistan was not an isolated incident, it is happening every now and then.
Apart from the rich ruling politicians who have always protracted the capitalist class, now judiciary has once again came to the rescue the class they are protecting. The three owners of the factory went to Sindh High Court Larkana bench and got so-called protective bail for eight days.
The real class based prejudice of the judiciary can be seen from the fact that those “Faisalabad 6” textile workers who are accused of burning a factory front room with no life damage are given 590 years of total jail terms and were not granted bail for a single day. While here in this case, a factory owner responsible for 300 deaths is granted a bail. It is no accident that the owners went to Larkana bench, the home town of Bhuttos family, instead of Karachi.
The Faisalabad six are facing anti terrorist laws while no life was lost during the strike in July 2010 for wage increase despite some incidents of violence from both sides, and here three factory owners responsible for 300 deaths are not charged under anti terrorist laws. There are other Karachi textile workers facing anti terrorist laws just for the crime of raising voices for better wages and conditions.
Ordinary people of Pakistan are in real shock over the incident. There is great sympathy for the workers who have lost their lives. On the contrary, this incident is a political gimmick for the ruling politicians. We must reject this rough politics. We must build a genuine movement of solidarity by fighting for decent age and working conditions for the industrial working class. It is wake call once again for all of us.
Farooq Tariq
Member federal executive committee
Labour Party Pakistan
03008411945
Labour Party Pakistan
1/7 Street 7, Mohammed Nagar, Allama Iqbal Road, Lahore, Pakistan
tel: 00 92 42 36315162
www.laborpakistan.org
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‘THE DISAPPEARED – How the fatwa changed a writer’s life’ by Salman Rushdie


Photo from Facebook page Joseph Anton A Memoir

PERSONAL HISTORY
The New Yorker
17 September 2012

1989
Afterward, when the world was exploding around him, he felt annoyed with himself for having forgotten the name of the BBC reporter who told him that his old life was over and a new, darker existence was about to begin. She called him at home, on his private line, without explaining how she got the number. “How does it feel,” she asked him, “to know that you have just been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini?” It was a sunny Tuesday in London, but the question shut out the light. This is what he said, without really knowing what he was saying: “It doesn’t feel good.” This is what he thought: I’m a dead man. He wondered how many days he had left, and guessed that the answer was probably a single-digit number. He hung up the telephone and ran down the stairs from his workroom, at the top of the narrow Islington row house where he lived. The living-room windows had wooden shutters and, absurdly, he closed and barred them. Then he locked the front door.

It was Valentine’s Day, but he hadn’t been getting along with his wife, the American novelist Marianne Wiggins. Five days earlier, she had told him that she was unhappy in the marriage, that she “didn’t feel good around him anymore.” Although they had been married for only a year, he, too, already knew that it had been a mistake. Now she was staring at him as he moved nervously around the house, drawing curtains, checking window bolts, his body galvanized by the news, as if an electric current were passing through it, and he had to explain to her what was happening. She reacted well and began to discuss what they should do. She used the word “we.” That was courageous.

A car arrived at the house, sent by CBS Television. He had an appointment at the American network’s studios, in Bowater House, Knightsbridge, to appear live, by satellite link, on its morning show. “I should go,” he said. “It’s live television. I can’t just not show up.”

Later that morning, a memorial service for his friend Bruce Chatwin, who had died of AIDS, was to be held at the Greek Orthodox church on Moscow Road, in Bayswater. “What about the memorial?” his wife asked. He didn’t have an answer for her. He unlocked the front door, went outside, got into the car, and was driven away. Although he did not know it then—so the moment of leaving his home did not feel unusually freighted with meaning—he would not return to that house, at 41 St. Peter’s Street, which had been his home for half a decade, until three years later, by which time it would no longer be his.

At the CBS offices, he was the big story of the day. People in the newsroom and on various monitors were already using the word that would soon be hung around his neck like a millstone. “Fatwa.”

I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the “Satanic Verses” book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I ask all the Muslims to execute them wherever they find them.

Somebody gave him a printout of the text as he was escorted to the studio for his interview. His old self wanted to argue with the word “sentenced.” This was not a sentence handed down by any court that he recognized, or that had any jurisdiction over him. But he also knew that his old self’s habits were of no use anymore. He was a new self now. He was the person in the eye of the storm, no longer the Salman his friends knew but the Rushdie who was the author of “Satanic Verses,” a title that had been subtly distorted by the omission of the initial “The.” “The Satanic Verses” was a novel. “Satanic Verses” were verses that were satanic, and he was their satanic author. How easy it was to erase a man’s past and to construct a new version of him, an overwhelming version, against which it seemed impossible to fight.

He looked at the journalists looking at him and he wondered if this was how people looked at men being taken to the gallows or the electric chair. One foreign correspondent came over to him to be friendly. He asked this man what he should make of Khomeini’s pronouncement. Was it just a rhetorical flourish, or something genuinely dangerous? “Oh, don’t worry too much,” the journalist said. “Khomeini sentences the President of the United States to death every Friday afternoon.”

On air, when he was asked for a response to the threat, he said, “I wish I’d written a more critical book.” He was proud, then and always, that he had said this. It was the truth. He did not feel that his book was especially critical of Islam, but, as he said on American television that morning, a religion whose leaders behaved in this way could probably use a little criticism.

When the interview was over, he was told that his wife had called. He phoned the house. “Don’t come back here,” she said. “There are two hundred journalists on the sidewalk waiting for you.”

“I’ll go to the agency,” he said. “Pack a bag and meet me there.”

His literary agency, Wylie, Aitken & Stone, had its offices in a white-stuccoed house on Fernshaw Road, in Chelsea. There were no journalists camped outside—evidently the press hadn’t thought he was likely to visit his agent on such a day—but when he walked in every phone in the building was ringing and every call was about him. Gillon Aitken, his British agent, gave him an astonished look… Continued

Read more
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/17/120917fa_fact_rushdie#ixzz26MSmJpga

From
“The Satanic Verses,” the Fatwa, and a Life 

‘Nine categories of new visa system’ (between India and Pakistan) by Imran Mukhtar

From The Nation, Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and India Saturday inked the much-talked and much-awaited liberal visa accord at the Ministry of Interior.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik from Pakistani side and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna from Indian side signed the agreement in the presence of high-level officials from both sides. “It is a sign of friendship”, Malik said while shaking hand with Krishna after signing the draft agreement.

This agreement will supersede all previous agreements on the subject and it can be amended by mutual consent through exchange of notes or by signing the supplementary protocols. The journalist visa category as earlier reported in the media is not part of that agreement.

Under the agreement, the applicants must avail the visa within a period of 90 days from the date of issue and if there are grounds requiring extension of validity, the concerned Mission will take a decision on such requests on priority. This provision will however not be applicable for the holders of business visa. A fee of one hundred will be payable for the issuance or extension of visa.

The draft of the visa agreement, available with The Nation, contains nine categories.

Business Visa
This visa will be issued to bonafide businessmen who intend to travel for business purpose between India and Pakistan. Businessmen with an income of Pak Rs half a million or equivalent per annum or annual turnover/gross sale of Pak Rs three million or equivalent will be given one year business visa, with five places for up to four entries.
Business with an income of at least Pak rupees five million or equivalent per annum or turnover of Pak rupees 30 million or equivalent per annum will be given one year multiple entry visas for up to ten places with exemption from police reporting. The visa shall specify that the period of stay at a time shall not exceed 30 days. The maximum time taken into the processing of a business visa will not exceed more than five weeks.

Visa on Arrival
Persons of more than 65 years of age will be granted single entry visa on arrival at the Attrai/Wagah check post for 45 days. This visa will be non-extendable and non-convertible.

Visitor Visa
A visitor visa will be issued to persons visiting the other country to meet the relatives or friends or for any other legitimate purpose. This visa will be valid for a maximum of five specified places and shall be for a period not exceeding six months. The visa shall also specify that the duration of stay of the visitor at a time shall not exceed three months.
A visitor visa for a maximum of five specified places may be issued for a longer period of up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (those above 65 years of age); national of one country, married to a national of the other country; and children below 12 years of age accompanying parent(s).

Pilgrim Visa
Pilgrim visa will need to be applied at least 45 days before the commencement of the intended tour. The visas will be issued at least 10 days before the commencement of travel. These visas will be issued for a single entry, restricted to 15 days validity and would be non-extendable.

Group Tour Visa
Group tourist visa may be issued to individual applicants intending to travel in groups, with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group organized by approved tour operators/travel agents. Such visa will be valid for up to 30 days and will be non-extendable. This visa facility will also be available to the students of educational institutions of both countries but it would not be for those seeking admissions in educational institutions of either country.

Transit Visa
Transit visa valid for up to two entries in the city/port of entry for 36 hours in each case will be issued to persons travelling by air or sea and proceeding to another country through Pakistan/India. Such transit visa will need to be obtained before undertaking the travel.

Diplomatic Visa/Non-Diplomatic Visa
A diplomatic visa valid for multiple entries will be issued to the heads of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, members of the Mission holding diplomatic or consular rank, their spouses and children and diplomatic couriers. Diplomatic visa valid for single entry will be given to high-ranking dignitaries holding diplomatic passports.
Similarly, a non-diplomatic visa valid for multiple entries will be issued to non-diplomatic members of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions, their spouses and children and the personal servants of members of the Mission holding diplomatic or consular ranks. Diplomatic visa shall be originally issued within a period not exceeding 30 days of application and non-diplomatic visa shall be issued within a period not exceeding 45 days of application.

Official Visa
An official visa valid for single entry will be issued to officials entitled to diplomatic or non-diplomatic visa of either country visiting the other on official business including participation in international conferences. This visa will be valid for 15 days for specified places.
Registration: Holders of visitor visas shall be required to register themselves at the check posts of entry and shall, within 24 hours of their reaching the specified place of stay, report their arrival, in writing, to the prescribed authorities or the nearest police station. They shall also make a similar report 24 hours prior to their intended departure from the place of stay. Persons of more than sixty-five years of age and children below twelve years of age are exempted from police reporting.

Entry/Exit Points
Under the agreement, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad from Pakistani side while Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai from Indian side have been designated as air routes, similarly Karachi and Mumbai as sea routes and Wagah/Attari from Pakistani side as well as Khokhrapar/Munabao from Indian side respectively have been designated as land routes for the entry /exit for the nationals of the either country going to/ coming from the other country.

From
The Nation, Pakistan
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‘Seeing, and not Seeing’ by Amarjit Chandan


Everybody was busy recording the Olympic torch relay
through the glass lens, except for two curious children

‘The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. … The camera records in order to forget. … All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. … Paintings record what the painter remembers.’
John Berger
In ‘About Looking’ (1980) and ‘Photocopies’ (1996)

In Spitalfields, East Lon¬don, hardly anybody was watching Olympic torch relay with the naked eye. They were all busy record¬ing the event through the glass lens, taking pictures, except for two curious small children. Watchful security was part of the spectacle. The camera was the screen between the eye and the event. The torchbearer was not the centre of attention (who was he?), the torch was – held high with the flame hardly visible in day light. They were filming live theatre. The void.

What was really happening? Was it a paradox of perception — seeing and not seeing at the same time? Why we don’t see any more as we used to up until only a generation ago? The world we experience around us is no longer free of all mechanical optic equipment. In events such as these, we tend to lose pres¬ence and postpone our palpable collective experience hoard¬ing digital images in memory cards (the highest capacity for flash memory cards is currently 128GB) to see them later seen through a tunnelled viewfinder – which is not first-hand experi¬ence — it is virtual, partial, and flat.
A glass lens ranging from fisheye to panoramic field of view has replaced 180-degree forward-facing horizontal field of view of an individual human eye.

Perhaps one of the spectators was a painter. One day he would draw the scene in the photo¬graph he collected retracing it on the canvas. Photographic memory?
Has the camera made our experiences richer?

IMAGE AND WORDS BY AMARJIT CHANDAN

First Published at
Daily Post, Chandigarh 19/08/2012
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Hero of Wisconsin – Shaheed Satwant Singh Kaleka

DailyMail.co.uk
Wisconsin Sikh Temple president killed after trying to fight off attacker

Wisconsin, US: One victim was confirmed as the temple’s president, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka who died as he tried to ‘knife and tackle’ the shooter. The other was Parkash Singh, a priest in his thirties, and a married father-of-two.

Satwant Kaleka died in the temple he helped build.

When a gunman opened fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on Sunday, Kaleka tried to attack the shooter outside of the temple, his son said. Wounded in his lower extremities, Kaleka, 65, made it inside, hid with others in a room, and died there.

“It was like a second home to him,” Amardeep Kaleka said of his father’s love for the temple. “He was the kind of person who, if he got a call that a bulb was out at 2 a.m., he’d go over to change it.”

Lakhwinder Singh, a member of the community, said the president “brought everyone together. He just wanted to make a good temple, a good community.”

Parkash Singh seemed to embody the line.

“He was a good guy, a noble soul,” said Manminder Sethi, a dentist who is a member of the temple.

Parkash Singh had been an assistant priest at the temple for six or seven years, said Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin.

Parkash Singh went back to India in June to bring back his wife and two children – a young son and daughter, both under age 12 – to live here. About eight weeks ago, he returned to Oak Creek.

“She was really shattered. Crying,” temple member Harinder Gill said of Parkash Singh’s wife.

Gill was at home, preparing to go the temple when the shooting happened. Gill said he did not know how Parkash Singh met his wife but added that many marriages in India are arranged.

Reunited with his family, the quiet priest was about to move from the temple to a new apartment with his wife and children. A priest may only live in the temple alone, not with family, said Gill.

Parkash Singh worked daily in the temple, said Gill, who called him “a low-key guy, and very religious. He would always come to help. When we needed anything, he was always there.”

Gill also recalled that Parkash Singh expressed concern about his age. He was nearing 40.

“He had three brothers in India, and the brothers died before crossing 40,” said Gill. “He was kind of concerned.”

“He was a real nice, quiet person. A gentleman. Quiet. Peace-loving,” Grewal said.

For Suveg Singh Khattra, 84, the Sikh temple was a place for worship and fellowship.

A native of the Punjab region of India, Khattra moved to America in 2004 to live with his son.

“He loved to come to the temple and talk to people. He speaks only Punjab. He’s a nice father,” said Baljander Singh Khattra, a taxi driver.

The son drove the father to the temple most days but on Sundays the assignment fell to the older man’s daughter-in-law, Kulwant Kaur.

On Sunday, Kaur was helping other women prepare meals at the temple and hid in a pantry after gunshots rang out. When police later escorted her to safety, she said she saw her father-in-law.

“When they brought her out, she saw my father on the floor with blood coming from his head,” said Baljander Singh Khattra.

“I’m worried about him. The way she saw it, she believes he’s dead,” he added.

As he waited to learn his father’s fate, Baljander Singh Khattra’s thoughts turned to the shooter.

“I don’t know what that person thinks,” he said, adding, “The Sikh temple is open to anybody.”

Some who had gathered at the bowling alley said they believed one of the victims was woman in her late 30s and the mother of two sons. She was standing and praying in the temple when the gunman opened fire, they said.

One of her sons fainted at the bowling alley shortly before 10 p.m. as authorities were letting family members know the fate of their loved ones, said a man who declined to give his name,

Source
DailyMail.co.uk, Bill Glauber, Georgia Pabst and Ellen Gabler of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

From
http://sikhsangat.org

Support the move to stop hate crimes. Visit the Facebook page of I Pledge Against Hate Crime:
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‘Child Porn Ring Uncovered Using Stuffed Toy Bunny’ by Denise Lavoie

Even though this story is about a porn ring operating in Europe and the USA but we know that similar establishments exist in other parts of the world too. We must be more careful about who takes care of our children regardless of them being relatives, friends or professionals. Sick minds who have the power over others even for short periods of time can make playthings out of defenceless human beings of any description. This group of people hunted babies and toddlers from 19 days to 4 years of age. The 43 men so far busted include a children’s puppeteer, a hotel manager, an emergency medical technician, and a day care worker.
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This is the face of one predator – Uddari.

BOSTON — The men came from different walks of life on two continents: a children’s puppeteer in Florida, a hotel manager in Massachusetts, an emergency medical technician in Kansas, a day care worker in the Netherlands. In all, 43 men have been arrested over the past two years in a horrific, far-flung child porn network that unraveled like a sweater with a single loose thread.

In this case, the thread was a stuffed toy bunny.

The bunny, seen in a photo of a half-naked, distraught 18-month-old boy, was used to painstakingly trace a molester to Amsterdam. From there, investigators made one arrest after another of men accused of sexually abusing children, exchanging explicit photos of the attacks and even chatting online about abducting, cooking and eating youngsters.

Authorities have identified more than 140 young victims so far and say there is no end in sight as they pore through hundreds of thousands of images found on the suspects’ computers. They are also trying to determine whether the men who talked about murder and cannibalism actually committed such acts or were just sharing twisted fantasies.

The still-widening investigation has been code-named Holitna, after a river in Alaska with many tributaries.

“They are the worst of the worst,” said Bruce Foucart, agent in charge of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency’s Homeland Security Investigations unit in Boston. “This isn’t just a child that’s nude and someone’s taking pictures of him; this is a child that’s being raped by an adult, which is horrific.”

The case began to unfold when Robert Diduca, a Sheraton hotel manager from Milford, Mass., sent the photo of the Dutch boy to an undercover federal agent in Boston. Diduca, a married father of three who used the screen name “Babytodd,” thought he was sending the picture to another man with a sexual interest in babies and toddlers.

Agents forwarded the photo to Interpol, the international police organization, and to several other countries.

An investigator for the Dutch police recognized the stuffed bunny as Miffy, a familiar character in a series of Dutch children’s books. She also traced the boy’s orange sweater to a small Amsterdam store that had sold only 20 others like it.

The boy’s photo was broadcast on a national TV program similar to “America’s Most Wanted.” Within minutes, friends and relatives called the child’s mother.

Robert Mikelsons, a 27-year-old day care worker who baby-sat the boy, was arrested. On his computer were thousands and thousands of images of children being molested and raped, including the boy holding the stuffed bunny.

Photos and online chats found on computers owned by Diduca and Mikelsons led to more than three dozen other suspects in seven countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Mexico. The oldest victim in the Netherlands was 4, the youngest just 19 days old.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, whose office prosecuted Diduca, said the demand for photos of sexual assaults of young children, including babies and toddlers, has increased sharply in recent years.

“This demand leads to the abuse of children, yet there is this misconception that somehow, viewing child pornography is a victimless crime,” said. “It clearly is not.”

Diduca pleaded guilty to child porn and sexual exploitation charges and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. His lawyer, Richard Sweeney, said Diduca was sexually abused as a child by a Boy Scout leader. “He gets it, he knows he needs to be punished, he knows what he did is wrong,” Sweeney said.

Mikelsons also received an 18-year sentence, followed by indefinite psychiatric commitment, after confessing to sexually abusing more than 80 children.

The horror did not let up after the Mikelsons case.

In May, authorities arrested Michael Arnett of Roeland Park, Kan., after finding pornographic photos he allegedly produced. Agents discovered the pictures when they searched the computer of a Wisconsin man who had been chatting online with Mikelsons.

What they found on Arnett’s computer was unlike anything some of the investigators had ever come across: long, graphic, online chats about his desire to abduct, kill and eat children. They said he had also made photos of a naked 2-year-old boy in a roasting pan inside his oven. The child and two other boys Arnett allegedly abused and photographed were later identified and found alive.

In July, authorities arrested four men they say had online discussions with Arnett about kidnapping and eating children. Those arrested included Ronald Brown, a children’s puppeteer from Largo, Fla. (A YouTube video shows Brown during an appearance on a Christian TV kids show in the 1980s. In the video, he tells a child puppet that he did the right thing by refusing to look at “dirty pictures” some other youngsters tried to show him.)

In excerpts of an online chat between Arnett and Brown from 2011, the two men appear to be discussing their desire to cook a child for Easter.

“he would make a fine Easter feast,” Arnett says.

“yes, his thighs and butt cheeks would be fantastic for Easter,” Brown responds.

A lawyer for Arnett would not comment on the allegations. Brown’s lawyer did not return calls.

Prosecutors said Brown acknowledged his online conversations but said that it was all a fantasy and that he would never hurt anyone.

“Obviously the discussions regarding their claims of cannibalism are disturbing and a concern to our agency,” said ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein. He said agents are following all leads “to make sure these individuals didn’t follow through on any of their claims.”

To find the young victims, investigators carefully studied thousands of photos, read hours of Internet chats and worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They also employed some forensic wizardry.

After finding a video on Diduca’s computer of a bound, 2-year-old boy being raped, investigators enhanced the images of furniture and carpet and determined the attack took place in a motel room in Bakersfield, Calif.

Then they pinpointed the date by way of a TV that was playing in the background in the video, figuring out exactly when a particular episode of “Family Matters” aired along with a certain Pepperidge Farms commercial.

A man from Black Forest, Colo., was arrested and is awaiting trial.

Similarly, in the Arnett case, investigators discovered that a water bottle in one of the photographs carried the name of a swim and scuba center in Overland Park, Kan. With the help of teachers at an elementary school, they identified three children shown in the photographs, including the toddler posed in the roasting pan.

The mother of one of the boys said she initially did not believe the allegations against Arnett, a family friend for about 15 years. She said her son, now 7, and several nephews often spent weekends at Arnett’s home four or five years ago.

“Well, when we first got the phone call, we thought there’s no way. You guys got the wrong guy,” she said. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse or their families.

But then investigators showed her photos Arnett had allegedly taken of her son with a shirt and no pants.

“Regret? For sending my son with a sick-minded guy, that’s the only regret I have. I had no idea,” she said. “It’s depressing.”

For the agents working on the case, the leads never seem to end.

Last week, they arrested another Massachusetts man after finding child pornography and photos of what appeared to be dead children on his computer. He allegedly had online chats with Arnett and Brown.

More arrests are expected.

“The agents that work for me are extremely driven on this type of investigation,” said Bart Cahill, assistant agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “They really believe that they are taking out horrific violators and saving kids.”

DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

Associated Press writers Maria Sudekum in Kansas City, Mo., and Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach, Fla., contributed to this report.

From
Huffington Post
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‘Male Circumcision is Not Mutilation – Period.’ by Sheryl Saperia

A regional court in Cologne, Germany has effectively banned the circumcision of young boys, subject only to medical exception. Such a position has been proposed by various individuals and groups throughout the Western world, and can be refuted along several lines.

For instance, neither the right to security of the person nor to gender equality should operate in such a way as to proscribe male circumcision on the grounds that it is comparable to the justifiably prohibited custom of female genital mutilation (FGM).

FGM is sometimes termed female circumcision, but this is a misnomer as it implies a minor operation equivalent to male circumcision. According to Doriane Coleman, a Duke University law professor whose expertise is children and the law, “This analogy can and has been rejected as specious and disingenuous, as the traditional forms of FGM are as different from male circumcision in terms of procedure, physical ramifications, and motivation as ear piercing is to a penilectomy.”

The World Health Organization is also clear that:

“FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.”
The immediate and long-term consequences of FGM are too numerous to catalog here, but include severe pain; shock; hemorrhage (which can be so severe as to cause death); tetanus or sepsis; infertility; and an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths. In a 1997 joint statement, the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA declared “FGM to be universally unacceptable, as it is an infringement on the physical and psychosexual integrity of women and girls and is a form of violence against them.”

What, then, does the WHO have to say about male circumcision?

That it “is one of the oldest and most common surgical procedures worldwide, and is undertaken for many reasons: religious, cultural, social and medical. There is conclusive evidence from observational data and three randomized controlled trials that circumcised men have a significantly lower risk of becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

Dr. Kirsten Patrick acknowledges in her 2007 British Medical Journal article that while male circumcision carries a complication rate somewhere between 0.2 per cent and 3 per cent, the procedure carries little risk if capably performed. She also notes its health benefits and draws a comparison to standard childhood immunizations, “a procedure for which the infant cannot give consent and which carries the risk of adverse events ranging from fever to anaphylaxis and aseptic meningitis.”

In the absence of strong and non-conflicting medical evidence that male circumcision regularly causes substantial harm to young boys, the arguments against the procedure are severely weakened. Since male circumcision and FGM are simply incomparable, gender equality should not demand the banning of the former just because the latter is illegal. And while the right to security of the person is certainly implicated by circumcision, the low risk of harm (and the fact that most complications are extremely minor) means that this right should be balanced against other compelling rights, such as religious freedom.

It is well known that the circumcision of baby boys is mandated by the Jewish religion. In fact, this ritual is so essential to Jewish peoplehood and covenantal identity that a former professor of mine specializing in minority rights once suggested that preventing Jews from circumcising their sons could amount to genocide. Such an argument elicits particular discomfort given that a German court has outlawed the procedure. Male circumcision within the first few years of boy’s life is also strongly encouraged by the Islamic faith. Perhaps the only positive outcome of the German ruling is that Jews, Muslims, and even Christians have united to protest the profound infringement on their religious freedom. They were not alone: the UN’s Special Rapporteur on religious freedom, Heiner Bielefeldt, and German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle also added their voices to the criticism.

According to the German court, the right to religious freedom “would not be unduly impaired” because the child could later decide for himself whether to have the circumcision. Aside from the court’s interference with a religious precept that the ritual must take place long before adulthood, the judgment could ironically cause greater harm to one’s bodily integrity because circumcision for adolescents and adults, as compared to infants, is more complicated and has a higher rate of adverse effects.

Here in Canada, a court could evaluate the right to security of the person as provided by section 7 of the Charter not only in the context of section 2(a) of the Charter, which guarantees freedom of religion, but also section 27, which provides that the “Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.”

Indeed, the German ruling makes for a compelling argument in favour of Canada’s multiculturalism policies, which are essentially grounded in the notion that individual rights are not always enough to protect a minority group’s traditions and values, and that the recognition of special group rights is therefore necessary.

In other words, failing to recognize the fundamental importance of male circumcision to both Jewish and Muslim religious traditions may be qualitatively different than undermining an individual parent’s right to make choices on behalf of his/her child.

Of course, the protection of minority rights must have limits. Inherently harmful minority customs like FGM and honour killings can never be justified. But male circumcision does not belong in that category so long as both parents consent to the procedure and, most importantly, it is performed competently.

Multiculturalism policies, when instituted properly, can enhance a society’s security by making minority groups feel welcome and accepted, rather than disenfranchised and disconnected from the state. Yes, lines must be drawn somewhere. But there are insufficient medical, legal, and moral grounds to draw that line at male circumcision.

Sheryl Saperia is the Director of Policy for Canada, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow her on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/sherylsap

From From Huffington Post, Canada
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‘Capturing the Essence of Patriarchy in Skeena’ by Shikha Kenneth

Book Review

Skeena
By Fauzia Rafique
Libros Liberated, Surrey, 2010
Pages: 206
Price: $20.00
Shikha Kenneth

A Vancouver-based South Asian Canadian writer of fiction and poetry, Fauzia Rafique captures the essence of patriarchy in her novel Skeena. The narrative, in fact, encompasses both the universality of patriarchal violence and the specificity of violence against women in Pakistan.

The story spans thirty years of existence of a Muslim woman named Skeena. Here the protagonist narrates her life history – from 1971 to 2001 – thereby lending an autobiographical touch to this fictional text. The novel is divided into four sections; each segment touches upon the various forms of violence introduced into Skeena’s life. The narrative focuses on Skeena’s interactions with her family, friends and community, and her observations about numerous aspects of social oppression such as patriarchy, religious fanaticism, immigration, racism, class distinction, war, etc.

The first section of the novel titled “The Inner Yard” opens with the image of a young Skeena finishing her homework which involves memorizing the phrase ‘thank you’ to store it in her vocabulary. The young protagonist is, in fact, continually and rigorously instilled with the code of femininity by the older women of her family. Obedience and submissiveness are required as feminine attributes within the socio-cultural ideology of Skeena’s community; however, Skeena is forbidden to demonstrate such qualities in front of lower castes and classes, thus throwing light on the hypocrisy and oppressiveness associated with social binaries. Rafique has, in effect, skillfully woven the complexities, contradictions, brutality and duplicity of various social practices into her narrative.

Since childhood Skeena is forced to witness the brutal consequences of the Islamic teaching propagated by a maulvi: “Good women are obedient to men” (41). According to him, physical violence is decreed by God as an apt punishment for women who attempt to transgress social conventions. The maulvi’s ideology – which he states to be authorized by religion – encourages village men to view violence as an essential factor which cements the male’s position of power within his community. Skeena witnesses several instances of violence inflicted on women often leading to the loss of their lives. For instance, a village youth named Gamu is not held accountable for his act of brutally murdering a woman because he is his mother’s only son. The lascivious Munshi’s marriage to young women of different ethnicities is lauded by Skeena’s community for he forces these Kafir women to accept Islam as their religion. Skeena’s best friend Nooro, a victim of the custom of dowry, is beaten severely by her female in-laws for daring to suck on a piece of lemon without their permission. All these instances instil a sense of determination within Skeena to attempt to transcend and overcome the violence-ridden social standards.

The second section of the novel aptly titled “Wild Elephant” shows Skeena entering her youth with an ambitious mind to challenge the injustices of society. Her family raises numerous objections to her plans. Skeena desires to attain a law degree but her mother and brother forbid her to enroll in any kind of co-educational institution. Her dream of participating in Asian Games for her college female hockey team is shattered for the mullahs issue a fatwa that it is “obscene” for women to enter any such sport (182). Skeena is prohibited by her mother from joining politics and advised to concentrate on learning her marital duties.

However, her association with a young Muslim woman activist named Ruffo proves a catalyst for Skeena’s breaking away from the shackles of societal conventions.
Ruffo drinks, smokes, and does not view woman’s virginity as being a requisite for matrimony. Her blatant disregard for narrow-minded social practices influences Skeena to oppose the patriarchal laws laid down by her mother. After Skeena is caught by the police for attending secret political conferences, her mother banishes her to their village, placing her under the servants’ surveillance. But this exile is not enough to suppress Skeena’s fighting spirit. She threatens violence to save Jeeno – wrongly accused of adultery by a maulvi – from the wrath of the villagers. Skeena thus ends up becoming the antithesis of the woman her community wants her to be.

In her introduction, Fauzia Rafique reveals that the name ‘Skeena’ has diverse meanings in different languages namely the “spirit of tranquility” in Arabic, the “indwelling feminine face of divinity” in Hebrew, and the “River of Mists” in Nisga people’s language. Skeena’s mother has raised her according to the values and qualities represented in her forename. But Skeena ruins all her mother’s efforts to cultivate her into an ideal patriarchal feminine figure. Skeena is self-aware, insightful, rational and empathetic to other women’s experiences of violence. She is aware that social biases are anathema to progress and she strives to rise above them. She is, in fact, the “wild elephant” threatening to trample the socially constructed patriarchal values promoted by her family. However, Rafique avoids turning her protagonist into a feminist revolutionary. The author keeps her writing realistic by showing Skeena being forced to surrender to familial pressure and married off against her will to her Canadian groom, a doctor named Ihtesham.

The next chapter of Skeena’s life comprises her nine-year marriage marked by domestic violence. Ihtesham basically relegates her to the position of a servant in their home. Moreover, he uses her to vent his sadistic impulses. Skeena’s mother-in-law is characterized as a “foul-mouthed, mean, selfish, and ruthless woman” (129). She too is a patriarchal subject who maintains her dominant status in the household by allowing her son to be physically abusive to his spouse. “Mumie Jee” deliberately creates conflict between the married couple by accusing Skeena of having illicit relations with one of their male acquaintances. However, she ignores her son’s extramarital affairs. The dynamics within Ihtesham’s family shows how patriarchy constitutes both men and women who would always associate themselves with different forms of violence to maintain control over others. Rafique also delves into the psyche of the victim of domestic violence. Despite witnessing violence throughout her young life, Skeena has never been a direct recipient of it until her marriage to Ihtesham. Moreover, her being an immigrant in Canada adds to her sense of detachment and passive stance towards violence. But once she manages to escape her marital home and reach a women’s shelter, her association with other battered women instills a sense of independence in her. She leaves behind her elitist notions such as viewing any form of help from women rescue centers as charity and despising menial jobs. With a broadened perspective Skeena relocates to Surrey, British Columbia.

The last section of this book focuses on Skeena’s quest for transcendence which involves her struggle to dissociate from the numerous social identities imposed on her. Living in Surrey as a divorced woman, Skeena comes across new people who pose a new set of challenges to her. She is forced to endure a dead-end job. Her boyfriend named Iqbal Singh comes off as emotionally abusive in his attempts to dissuade her from living an independent life. Moreover, she faces the brunt of racism when news of ‘twin towers destruction by Muslim terrorists’ hits the global media. Skeena is shunned by her close friends. She is put under police surveillance based on the past facts of her attending political meetings with Ruffo in Lahore as well as her persistent interest in women political activists. However, this “house arrest” has a different outcome than the previous two.

The novel ends with Skeena escaping from her apartment by jumping off the balcony with the notion “I have no history, I have no biography, I have no name” (206). The last chapter entitled “Teasing the Awake” shows Skeena facing hardships in her new environment but finally daring to take the first step in challenging patriarchal ideology. Skeena realizes that her social identification as an educated Muslim woman makes her the target of criticism and violence. Despite losing every relationship to different forms of violence, Skeena tries to disentangle herself from fear and oppression forced upon her by her biological, racial and socio-cultural history. The novel thus ends on a positive note.

Skeena can be viewed as Rafique’s detailed examination of patriarchy and the manner in which it operates in society. The author successfully captures those nuances of violence undergone by third world women which are often overlooked within the stream of feminism. Rafique puts forth various feminist realizations through Skeena’s perspective such as “it is difficult to fight for human rights when they are usurped by divinity” (182). Passive existence is often viewed as woman’s sole means to escape from violence. Indeed the fear of evoking the wrath of society forces most women to accept their own oppression. Moreover, most victims of violence are not able to cultivate the feeling of tolerance in their treatment of others. For instance, Skeena befriends a lesbian couple named Maggie who is a Jew, and Joyni, a Christian, in Surrey. But these differences that set them apart from social norms as well as from each other do not deter them from judging Skeena as their enemy after the terrorist attacks on America. Skeena is forced to battle the ideologies that hold men as being superior to women. Her brother, her husband Ihtesham, and her boyfriend Iqbal Singh (Gamu’s new persona to escape his past as a murderer) are all staunch followers of patriarchal ideology. Several scenes in the novel, in fact, shed light on the position of third world woman caught between the dogmas of their ethnicity and biology.

The novel makes it clear that the boom in technology and the rise of global media have not been successful in broadening the socio-cultural perspective. Instead these innovations may really be leading to an increase in insularity and violence. The novel takes a well-informed view of the way contemporary socio-political events have impacted women. Skeena’s interaction with women belonging to different ethnicities reflects the conflicting views that have arisen between Western feminist theory and third world feminism. For instance, there is a sense of impatience, lack of understanding, disdain, and frustration within the Canadian white women over Skeena’s failure to pull herself away from her cultural ties.
Rafique displays real authorial skills by managing to save her fictional work from turning into a sermon on feminism. She has been successful in uniting various contemporary topics of interest and presenting them in the form of an expansive, emotive, well-paced and realistic fictional work.

Published in
South Asian Ensemble
A Peer-reviewed Canadian Quarterly of Arts, Literature and Culture
Vol. 3, Number 4, Autumn 2011 &
Vol. 4, Number 1, Winter 2012
ISSN 1920-6763

Pages 223-28

For South Asian Ensemble
Contact
Editor Rajesh Kumar Sharma
sharajesh@gmail.com
http://kriticulture.blogspot.com
www.southasianensemble.com
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