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Haiti, Oxfam – In Defence of Mary Beard; Contre Priyamvada Gopal. 

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“Familiar posture of wounded white innocence” says Priyamvada Gopal.

I confess, I really like Mary Beard.

She wrote one of the best ever books on Roman history, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome  (2015).

Since the Renaissance at least, many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury and beauty have been formed, and tested, in dialogue with the Romans and their writing.

From that you can guess she is not a reborn 18th century writer who uncritically admires the ‘glory that was Rome’, lauds the Republic, and ignores issues about the role of slavery, class conflicts, the position of women, and above all the violence that went with Empire in its history, up to the Caesars.

On the last issue the BBC last week showed Beard’s latest programme, Julius Caesar Revealed  which put his genocidal conquests at the heart of his rise to power, and underlined the narrow nature of the ‘republican’ claims to defend liberty against the ‘populist’ rise of Caesarism (a term used by a variety of political thinkers, including Gramsci, to refer to the role of a “great personality” in conditions where catastrophe looms).

Mary Beard has recently published this book, Women and Power.

As Rachel Cook outlines its theme,

Beard’s primary subject is female silence; she hopes to take a “long view on the culturally awkward relationship between the voice of women and the public sphere of speech-making, debate and comment”, the better to get beyond “the simple diagnosis of misogyny that we tend a bit lazily to fall back on”. Calling out misogyny isn’t, she understands, the same thing as explaining it, and it’s only by doing the latter that we’re likely ever to find an effective means of combating it. The question is: where should we look for answers? Beard acknowledges that misogyny has multiple sources; its roots are deep and wide. But in this book, she looks mostly (she is a classicist, after all) at Greek and Roman antiquity, a realm that even now, she believes, casts a shadow over our traditions of public speaking, whether we are considering the timbre of a person’s voice, or their authority to pronounce on any given subject.

She continues,

Personally, I might have found this argument a bit strained a month ago; 3,000 years lie between us and Homer’s Odyssey, which is where she begins, with Telemachus effectively telling his mother Penelope to “shut up”. But reading it in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it seems utterly, dreadfully convincing. Mute women; brutal men; shame as a mechanism for control; androgyny and avoidance as a strategy for survival. On every page, bells ring too loudly for comfort.

Mary Beard now has her own confrontation with efforts to shout her down.

After this,

The Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard has been left “sitting here crying” after a provocative tweet concerning the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal exposed her to a torrent of abuse on Twitter.

The Academic tweeted on Friday that “Of course one can’t condone the (alleged) behaviour of Oxfam staff in Haiti and elsewhere. But I do wonder how hard it must be to sustain “civilised” values in a disaster zone. And overall I still respect those who go in to help out, where most of us wd not tread”.

The tweet has sparked controversy over the last two days. One of hundreds to engage in the Twitter backlash was fellow Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal whose series of tweets against Beard included “this kind of thing is the *progressive* end of the institutional culture I have to survive day in day out” and “Cambridge desperately needs a Breaking the Silence on racism. About time and beyond”.

In a following tweet Gopal directly satirised Beard: “Obviously it’s not a great idea to randomly get your dick out, rape people etc. But it’s not easy to be politically correct while in shitholes. And overall I still respect people who head out to shitholes ‘cos I sure as hell wouldn’t dream of it’.”

Cambridge Student.

A Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal,   “an upper-caste woman from a liberal-ish Hindu family in India” as she puts it, has taken the time to Lecture Beard.

Gopal is keenly aware of her caste, but who’s had “a lot painful listening and learning from Dalit and other non-upper-caste intellectuals and campaigners”.

Associating Beard with the “genteel liberal racism that is the very lifeblood of Cambridge social intercourse” she talks, as they do over a cup of Earl Grey, of Theodor Adorno, and wishes to tell Beard about the Heart of Darkness, Black Agency,  Michel-Rolph Trouillot and the history of Haiti.

Not to mention “civilised values”.

Or to put it another way Gopal offers and over-intellectualises by a kilometre and ten by a “post-colonial”analysis of an emotional tweet.

Response to Mary Beard

I’m afraid that your good intentions notwithstanding, it is precisely this genteel patrician racist manner and this context of entrenched denial in which your tweet on Haiti, ‘civilised’ values (scare quotes noted but not enough, I’m afraid) and disaster zones was received. It was, as you now know, received with enormous shock. (Not by me though — I’m used to this kind of casual magisterial apologetic coming out of the mouths of my Cambridge colleagues; it’s the stuff of everyday college lunch table conversations and hence I’ve taken the simple step of not dining in colleges as far as is feasible ).

Your subsequent blog post, to not put too fine a point on it, did little to help your cause and is regarded by many as a ‘no-pology’, a stubborn refusal to see what was wrong with your original post and taking refuge instead in the familiar posture of wounded white innocence. This too is familiar to me at Cambridge: on the rare occasions I’ve bothered to raise questions of, let us say, ‘racially dodgy’ remarks that bring Cambridge or particular colleges into disrepute, I’ve been instantly shut down by what you would recognise, I am sure, as ‘snowflake’ behaviour: outrage, wounded innocence, protestations of good intentions, and finally the declaration that it’s not the racist pronouncements that are the problem but the person (me, in this instance) who calls them out. It is accompanied by another gesture which also manifests in your blogpost: a pronouncement that self-evidently the person who made the remark cannot possibly have made a racist observation because they do not consider themselves to be racist. Imagine if every misogynist you encountered made the same gesture — and they usually do: ‘I love women, OF COURSE I am not sexist, everyone knows I am not sexist.’ What would you say to him?

Your blogpost is not an adequate intellectual response to your, well, frankly outrageous tweet; it’s a series of postures of innocence and a continued refusal to analyse a problem in all its thorny difficulty. To those who felt violated and aggressed by the original tweet, your blogpost was a further slap in the face: a stubborn refusal to see what was so profoundly and deeply wrong with your claims in addition to bizarre, indeed cringe-making comparisons between the French resistance and aid workers. What is striking in both tweet and putatively exculpatory blogpost is your inability to see beyond Western agency: Western aid workers as resistance fighters, white aid workers as Mr Kurtz figures caving in the strain of ‘The horror, the horror.’

It is very generous for Gopal to speak for the Haitians, the French Resistance, and for all those who “feel violated” by a Tweet .

No less open-hearted and welcoming is her invitation to Beard to “come and meet my third years who next week will be discussing precisely Haiti and the Haitian revolution as they read Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s work on the elision of black agency in European historiography and European habits of thought. “

Yes, we Europeans have definite “habits of thought”…..

The row proceeds.

Some would say that another shouter-down made a pretty racist tweet.

The following is about the only sensible Tweet I have found.

********

More Background.

Launching an impassioned defence of her actions in the wake of the backlash, Beard tweeted “I am amazed that after decades of Lord of the Flies being a gcse English set book we haven’t got the point about the breakdown of morality in danger zones!! Just saying and this is NOT to condone the actions of a few aid workers”.

Beard then took to her Times Literary Supplement blog to further her defense, but admitted in a tweet that she was left “sitting here crying”. Her blog told of the torrent of abuse she had experienced: “the predictable name calling ‘pervert’, ‘sick cow’, ‘disgusting creature’ or gross misreadings… ‘how hard is it not to gangrape women in a disaster zone?’. ‘you’ve lost your house, your family are dead, fancy a shag? Do you take PayPal?’ (I didn’t really want to include that, but I felt that you needed to see the tasteless too.)”

She added: “I find it hard to imagine that anyone out there could possibly think that I am wanting to turn a blind eye to the abuse of women and children” and that ” while we deplore what has happened and expect better, it is worth thinking of the context in which it took place. 99% of us have no idea of the stresses of working in these environments (and yes, living in them is worse, as there is no escape route). Most aid workers deal with that, I suspect, by drink and cigarettes. But that kind of societal, infrastructural breakdown provides a space for much worse.

“That is not to condone the awful things that happened but to contextualise them. And that is what we need to do, if we want to stop this happening again.”

Cambridge Student.

Update (from Roger). Gopal’s previous ordure:

9/11 and the Mumbai attacks

In the title of her December 4, 2008 Guardian editorial on the Mumbai attacks, Priyamvada Gopal asserts that “Comparing Mumbai to 9/11 diminishes both tragedies.” But even this title is deceitful, since, as her readers soon discover, the piece is not concerned with the particularities of the two events. Nor does the danger of “diminishing” 9/11 give Gopal pause. On the contrary, diminishing and displacing 9/11 from our active preoccupations is her intent. Allowing the November attack on Mumbai to be deemed “India’s 9/11” would be, she argues, “to privilege the experience of the United States” and to be complicit with India’s “relentless Americanization.” 9/11 is either another brand name in McWorld or something even more sinister, an event so “fetishized” as to “sanction endless vengeance,” even as it obscures “the experience of millions [elsewhere] who have suffered as much” as those who died or were injured in the attack on the U.S. on that day. 9/11 “legitimized a false war,” “created legal abominations,” and “strengthened neoconservatism.”

While Gopal’s piece makes perfunctory mention of the suffering of the victims of 9/11, it says nothing of the actual contours of that event, much less the intentions behind it. The U.S. reaction concerns her more than the attack itself does. Rather than offering any analysis of the event about which she was writing, Gopal strains to change the subject. Presumably the killing spree that took place in Mumbai from November 26th to November 29th 2008 (and has now come to be referred to “11/26”), requires no analysis. But when we actually specify what 9/11 was, can the comparison with it really be so easily avoided?

The crucial point to be made about 9/11 — and the one that Gopal studiously avoids — makes the comparison with the Mumbai attacks inevitable: both were attacks inspired by Islamism on intensely cosmopolitan urban populations with the intention of inflicting the maximum number of casualties. Moreover, like New York, Mumbai is an old colonial port city with a rich if submerged history of radical democratic struggle. Like New York, Mumbai is the commercial and cultural, though not the political, capital of a pluralistic democracy. In short, like New York, Mumbai is one of world’s great nerve-centers of contemporary capitalism. Also, the attacks on Mumbai were not on the Hindu chauvinist politics of Bal Thackeray, just as the 9/11 attack was not on the neo-liberalism of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg. In both cases, the targets were the profane pleasures of modern society. In both cases, the attacks were made, so to speak, in plain view, so that the fascistic menace was unmistakable (albeit in the absurdly comic form of expressionless young men who might, but for the assault rifles in their hands, be easily mistaken for ravers en route to Goa). Finally, as with 9/11, the regional strategic consequences bound to flow from the Mumbai attacks are profound.

In a certain respect, the semiotics of the attacks in Mumbai were even more ghastly than those of 9/11, since it witnessed the deliberate hunting of Jews qua Jews, especially at the Chabad House, where Jews were subjected to savage beatings before their execution, unlike even the Americans and Britons who were also singled out. For those who planned the attacks killing Jews was a priority and it was executed in the midst of a police siege by killers who had, in all likelihood, never so much as seen a Jewish person before. Though the murderous anti-Semitism on display in Mumbai ought by now to be an all-too-familiar aspect of Islamist ideology, Guardian correspondent Richard Silverstein, like Gopal on the editorial page, declines to acknowledge the obvious. Instead he insists that the attack on Chabad House was “not necessarily anti-Semitic,” claiming that the attackers were seeking “redress for crimes against Palestine” [“Why did the Attackers Choose to Attack Chabad House” Guardian 12/4/2008, cf. Alex Stein “Inspiration from India” Guardian 12/4/2008]. From this we may safely conclude that, for Silverstein, anytime a Muslim kills a Jew he need only utter the magic word “Palestine” to have his guilt absolved: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza means that it is open season on Jews all over the world. In the same vein, William Dalrymple, informs the wised-up readers of the Guardian that “the horrific events have to be seen in the context of. . . the abject failure of the Bush administration” and the “ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir” [“Mumbai Atrocities Highlight Need for a Solution in Kashmir” Guardian 11/30/08]. In Arundhati Roy’s column, too, we rely upon the terrorists to tell the truth and to remind “us” of the “things we don’t want to talk about any more” [“The Monster in the Mirror,” 12/13/08]. It is one thing for a journalist to report the content of authoritarian manifestoes or the statements terrorists make in the course of an attack; it is quite another matter to rationalize such statements in the manner of Silverstein, Dalrymple, and Roy.

Highlighting the political significance of the attack on Chabad House cannot be allowed to obscure the fact that there was also something quite discriminating about the seemingly more indiscriminate killing of commuters at the Victoria Terminus. It is not enough to say simply that, compared to the foreigners and the rich people at the Taj and Oberoi Hotels, the victims there were poorer, working people, though this is true. It is also worth pointing out that at the train station, the attackers fired directly into crowds. The Muslims among the dead there were not unintended victims. They were punished for living and working in peace in secular democratic India, i.e. of having failed to join the jihad. Of course, the Hindus regarded as pagans were positively marked for slaughter. As for the attacks on Mumbai’s elite hotels, likewise, the clear intent was to comingle on their marble floors the blood of dying unbelievers of all sorts — Zionist, Crusader, and Infidel. There again was the same unbridled murderousness that has been a significant feature of previous attacks, such as the 2006 commuter train in Mumbai and the serial bombings earlier in 2008 in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Delhi, to name just a few. These rather elementary aspects of the politics behind the Mumbai attacks rarely merit mention in the analysis to be found in the Guardian. But while the “Left” cannot remain at this elementary level of analysis, neither can it afford to ignore the obvious.

While Gopal is right to claim that in many respects 9/11 is not unique as a point of comparison (there have been many other Islamist terrorist attacks besides 9/11), her aim seems not to locate the attacks in an alternative history of recent Islamist terrorism, as, for instance, in relation to the bombing in Pakistan in September of the Islamabad Marriott that killed 53 and injured more than 250. Rather, the Mumbai attacks are treated as have no determinate character whatsoever, Gopal preferring to speak only of a “massacre of defenceless innocents.” Presumably the same is true of the bomb detonated December 5th, 2008 in a market outside a Shi’a mosque in Peshawar in which 22 people were killed and more than 90 were wounded. While 9/11 posed for everyone worldwide the question of modern Islamism, Gopal’s editorial reveals once again how the Left continues to rely on its old reflex responses — supposed “anti-imperialism” — to defer any confrontation with the full scope of the barbarism in our time. In this way, the piece tends to obscure or deny what is salient for advancing (or even imagining) a politics genuinely capable of both countering fascism and reconstituting an emancipatory politics in South Asia.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2018 at 1:41 pm

As Women Arrested In Iran for not wearing the Veil, Foreign Office promoted ‘World Hijab Day’ .

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Iranian Students Protest Against “liberation, respect and security” enforced by Religious Police.

Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

In an internal memo, the Foreign Office said that the headscarf is worn by some women who see it as representing “liberation, respect and security”

According to reports, an email sent to staff said: “Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event.

“Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

Evening Standard.

How Iran uses a compulsory hijab law to control its citizens – and why they are protesting

In 1985, it became mandatory for women to wear the hijab with a law that forced all women in Iran, regardless of their religious beliefs, to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. The hijab became a tool for implementing the government’s strict religious ideology.

A symbol of oppression

The new law marked an ideological way of governing that continues today. The compulsory hijab law has been used to exclude women from various areas of public life, either by explicitly banning women from certain public spaces such as some sports stadiums, or by adding restrictions on their education and workplace etiquette. More generally, it is also used to exclude anyone who disagrees with the ideology of the regime, who are branded as having “bad-hijab”. Not adhering to hijab continues to be seen as a hallmark of opposition to the government.

The law is also used to justify the regime’s increasing involvement in citizens’ private lives. From an early age, girls are forced to wear headscarves in school and public places. Teenagers and young people in Iran are routinely stopped by the “morality police” responsible primarily for policing people’s appearances and adherence to wearing the hijab.

For women it is the way they wear their headscarves and the length of their overcoats. Men are prohibited from wearing shorts, having certain haircuts that could be seen as Western, and wearing tops with “Western” patterns or writings. In recent years, it has become common practice for the police to raid private parties, arresting both girls and boys on the basis of not adhering to the hijab law. Punishments range from fines to two months in jail.

NSS criticises Foreign Office for “fetishising” the hijab

The National Secular Society has criticised the Foreign Office for “fetishising Islamic head coverings” after it encouraged staff to mark ‘world hijab day’.

The Foreign Office sent an internal memo offering employees the chance to wear free hijabs on 1 February. Since 2013 some have called this ‘world hijab day’. Others have responded, particularly on social media, by declaring ‘no hijab day’.

The memo claimed “many” women see the headscarf as representing “liberation, respect and security”.

“Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

“Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.”

A Foreign Office spokesman told the Evening Standard the event was for staff at its London office who wanted to learn about ‘other cultures’.

‘World hijab day’ was created by a woman in New York in 2013. Its organisers say they created it “in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty”. They also say it is designed to “fight discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education”.

They claim the support of politicians including Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland.

Stephen Evans, NSS chief executive, said: “This appears to have been a well-intentioned event, but it is dubious whether civil service staff need their bosses to educate them on religious issues.

“If government departments wish to teach their staff about religion, they should do it warts and all. That means understanding that women are forced to wear the hijab across large parts of the world. And it means understanding the social pressure that encourages many others to wear it as a sign of ‘modesty’, submission to male-dominated religious authorities and a visible sign of commitment to one particular faith and community.

“Women who choose to wear the hijab should be able to do so in peace and without facing discrimination. But a critically-informed assessment of Islamic head coverings would not fetishise them. At a time when women in Iran are fighting for the right to remove their hijabs, the Foreign Office should be the first to realise this.”

More solidarity with the Iranian religious police:

On Feb. 1, Rabea Ali brought World Hijab Day to perhaps an unlikely place – Manhattan College, the Roman Catholic school she attends in the Bronx. Nazma Khan, who grew up in the borough, started the annual event in 2013 to promote religious tolerance and encourage non-Muslims and non-Hijabis to wear the hijab for a day.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:
#STOPAFRINGENOCIDE#

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.

 

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

As Protests continue, half of Iranians say No to Compulsory Veils.

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https://asiapacificreport.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Girls-of-Revolution-Street-680wide.png

The “Girls of Revolution Street”.

Iranian authorities have arrested 29 people as part of a crack down on protests against the compulsory hijab.

The movement, which has been named “the Girls of Revolution Street”, started after a woman took off her headscarf in central Tehran. (BBC).

Woman Arrested For Removing Hijab in Tehran Refuses to Repent Despite Facing 10 Years in Prison.

Centre for Human Rights in Iran. February the 6th.

Narges Hosseini, who was arrested for protesting against Iran’s compulsory hijab, refused to appear in court to face charges punishable by up to 10 years, including “encouraging immorality or prostitution.”

“Ms. Hosseini did not even appear in court to express remorse for her action. She said she objects to the forced hijab and considers it her legal right to express her protest,” Hosseini’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 5, 2018.

Hosseini, 32, has been in detention since January 29, 2018. She was unable to pay the $135,000 USD bail set by the judge presiding over her case.

She was arrested on January 29, 2018, for posting a photo on social media of herself standing on a bench holding her white headscarf like a flag on Tehran’s Revolution’s Street.

All women in Iran are required to cover their hair and bodies in public.

Vida Movahed was the first woman to be arrested after she did the same thing in late December 2017 in Tehran. The act of removing your headscarf in public and waving it like a flag has become a symbol for the “Girls of Revolution Streetmovement, which advocates choice over compulsion for women’s clothing.

“Ms. Hosseini is being held in difficult circumstances in Gharchak Prison [south of Tehran] but she is not prepared to say she is sorry,” Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, told CHRI. “She believes she’s innocent.”

Hosseini is facing the charges of, “openly committing a harām [sinful] act” and “violating public prudency” under Article 638 and “encouraging immorality or prostitution” under Article 639.

Compulsory Veils? Half of Iranians Say ‘No’ to Pillar of Revolution.

New York Times.

The office of Iran’s president on Sunday charged into the middle of one of the most contentious debates over the character of the Islamic Republic, suddenly releasing a three-year-old report showing that nearly half of Iranians wanted an end to the requirement that women cover their heads in public.

The report’s release comes as dozens of women in recent weeks have protested in public against being forced to wear the veil, a symbol of Iran’s revolution as much as it is deemed a religious requirement.

The decision to release the report — which found that 49.8 percent of Iranians, both women and men, consider the Islamic veil a private matter and think the government should have no say in it — appears to pit President Hassan Rouhani directly against Iran’s hard-line judiciary, which on Friday said that 29 people had been detained in connection with the protests. They have called the demonstrations “childish,” insist that the large majority of Iranians support Islamic veiling and have called for harsher measures against those protesting the veil.

At least as striking as the report’s findings was the timing of its release. The study is from 2014, and publishing it now suggests that the president saw this as a moment to challenge the hard-liners, who hold ultimate power, about such a symbolically potent issue.

Observers said the release of the report, by one of Mr. Rouhani’s closest advisers, was probably a politically calculated decision by the president, an Islamic cleric, to bolster support for social reforms and to signal to the authorities to temper their response to the veil protests.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan under Formal Investigation after Rape, Beating, Forced Sodomy, Urinating on Victim, Accusations.

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Image result for tariq ramadan oxford

Don alleged to have forcibly sodimised victim, dragged her to the bathroom and urinated on her.

A French judge has placed prominent Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan under criminal investigation on two charges of rape.

The 55-year-old was questioned by police in Paris earlier this week and has now been remanded into custody.

He denies wrongdoing and is suing one of his accusers, a former radical Islamist, for slander.

Mr Ramadan teaches at Oxford University, but took leave of absence after the claims surfaced in October.

An examining magistrate will now compile a case, and determine whether Mr Ramadan will stand trial for rape and assault.

BBC.

The BBC with its customary deference to an Oxford Don, does not mention the distressing substance of the charges.

RT France however does,

Le 2 février, l’islamologue Tariq Ramadan a été déféré au parquet de Paris en vue d’une mise en examen pour viol après confrontation, le 1er, avec une victime présumée qui a évoqué des faits de viol, violence et humiliation insoutenables.

Passage à tabac, sodomie, viol avec un objet, traction par les cheveux… «Christelle» (nom d’emprunt), victime présumée de Tariq Ramadan en 2009, a accepté de faire face à celui qu’elle considère être son bourreau, durant trois heures et demie d’interrogatoire le 1er février.

On the second of February Ramadan faced  charges at the Paris Public Prosecutors, being put into formal investigation, after having confronted his presumed victim, who talked of the horrific details of her violation, violence and humiliation.

Alleging beatings, sodomy, rape with an object, hair pulled, Christelle (the victim’s assumed name) agreed a face to face confrontation, which lasted three hours with the person she considers her executioner during his first interrogation on the first of February.

RT bases its report on a long article that has just appeared in the French edition of Vanity Fair.

The magazine gives a harrowing account by  ‘Christelle’.

Tariq Ramadan : le récit de celle qui a fait basculer l’affaire

It contains this memorable passage,

l l’aurait sodomisée de force, l’aurait traînée par les cheveux jusqu’à la salle de bain et lui aurait uriné dessus.

He (she alleges) forcibly sodomised me  and dragged me by the hair to the bathroom where he pissed on me.

She also asserted that Ramadan had a little scar on his groin that could not have been noticed without being in close contact with him.

The Telegraph, which does summarise these claims, notes,

During three months of investigations since the allegations emerged, police have interviewed dozens of people close to both Ramadan and the two women, and examined email and social media exchanges between them.

In November, Oxford University said Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.

He has also denied allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s published in the Swiss media, denouncing them as “a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

Lawyers for Ramadan have accused Ms Ayari of slander and suggested the women colluded to try to disgrace him.

As part of his defence, he has presented investigators with Facebook conversations in which a woman identified as Ayari allegedly made explicit advances towards him in 2014, two years after the alleged rape.

The accusations have sparked furious online exchanges between supporters of Ramadan, who commands a following of more than two million fans on Facebook, and his opponents.

“Despite his leave of absence from Oxford, Ramadan continues to head the Islamic Institute for Ethical Training in France.”

And that the other of accusers remains  menaced by Ramadan’s supporters.

“Ms Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats.”

There are reports that Ramadan, as a Swiss Citizen, will be denied bail for fear he will abscond.

He is clearly not a man to be trusted, as this effort  last year to make political and religious capital out of the plight of the Rohingya,  passing off African massacres – and Indian killings – as those in Burma, indicates.

Image result for Tariq Ramadan le monde

Le Monde states that the Muslim professor is no longer welcome in the Qatari kingdom, the sponsors of his Oxford ‘professorship’.

Tariq Ramadan mis en examen pour viol et viol sur personne vulnérable

Le théologien suisse a été incarcéré vendredi soir en attendant un débat différé sur son placement en détention

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Oxford Professor Tariq Ramadan Detained by Police to Face Rape Charges: Accuser Identifies Intimate Scar.

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Image result for tariq ramadan

Islamic Scholar’s Intimate Scar Identified by Rape Accuser.

French police on Wednesday detained prominent Swiss Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, a legal source said, months after two women filed rape charges against him.

France 24.

The Oxford professor was summoned for questioning to a Paris police station and taken into custody “as part of a preliminary inquiry in Paris into rape and assault allegations”, the source said.

Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement, has furiously denied rape allegations from two women that emerged late last year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfurled in the US.

Henda Ayari, a feminist activist, says Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012, while an unnamed disabled woman also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in Lyon in 2009.

In November, Oxford University announced that 55-year-old Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.

Popular among conservative Muslims and a regular panellist on TV debates in France, Ramadan faces regular accusations from secular critics that he promotes a political form of Islam.

Ayari, a self-described “secular Muslim” who used to practise an ultra-conservative strain of Islam that she has since renounced, detailed her rape allegations in a book published last year, without naming Ramadan.

But in October she said she had decided to name him publicly, encouraged by the thousands of women speaking out against sexual assault and harassment under the “Me Too” online campaign and its French equivalent, “Balance Ton Porc” (Squeal on your pig).

Ayari, who lodged a rape complaint against Ramadan on October 20, charged that for him, “either you wear a veil or you get raped”.

“He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” she told Le Parisien newspaper.

Ramadan has denied the two women’s accusations, as well as further allegations in Swiss media of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s, as “a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.

The key facts that emerged during his interrogation with “Christelle” who has accused him of rape are that Ramadan has admitted trying to “seduce” his accuser and that she recognised an intimate scar (cicatrice) which the Islamologue possesses. He refused to sign the record of this confrontation.

Lors de ce face-à-face, l’islamologue a reconnu une relation de séduction mais nié avoir eu un rapport sexuel avec cette femme. Celle-ci a cependant identifié une cicatrice chez le prédicateur, qui a confirmé ce détail. Le Genevois n’a pas expliqué pourquoi sa victime présumée avait connaissance de cette particularité. Au terme de cette confrontation, Tariq Ramadan a refusé de signer le procès-verbal, selon des sources proches du dossier. «Chacun est resté sur ses positions», a précisé l’une des sources.

20 Minutes.

This is a reaction from one of Ramadan’s best known critics:

It has been striking how the British media has, until now, not given the case the prominence it merits.

It seemed to some as if the Islamic Scholar Don was being protected, both because of his relations with the British establishment and Islamophile liberals and left, and his support amongst Islamists.

As the Guardian notes today, after a campaign put pressure to remove the man from his teaching post led to “leave of absence”.

Ramadan said in a statement in November, after he took a leave of absence from the University of Oxford: “Contrary to reports in the French-language press, I have taken leave of absence upon mutual agreement with Oxford University, which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students’ need for a calm academic environment.”

 Ramadan indeed mounted a strong defence campaign.

Last October the British Islamist site 5illars published this,

Ramadan, who is a professor at Oxford University and a prominent Muslim theologian with a large following in the anglophone and francophone world, wrote last night: “For the last several days, I have been the target of a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my longtime adversaries.

“As announced, on Monday, October 23, my legal counsel filed a suit for slander with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s office. A second suit will soon follow, within a few days, in response to the campaign of lies launched by my adversaries.

“I extend my gratitude to those who have expressed their support and affection, either publicly or in private. Thanks, as well, to my family and my closest friends for standing with me in love and solidarity against these baseless accusations. Unfortunately, it appears as though this will be a long and arduous battle for us.

“Slander is always reprehensible. Unfounded allegations can never take the place of concrete truth. These accusations are simply false, and betray all the ideals I have long strived for and believed in.

What a shame it is to see our adversaries clothe their fraud and deception in the garb of virtue. Their underhanded methods tell us all we need to know about them.

“Justice must now speak. My legal counsel is handling these accusations with utmost diligence and seriousness. We anticipate a long and bitter struggle. I am calm and determined.”

On the 30th of January Ramadan seemed unconcerned about his impending confrontation with his accusers.

Update.

Tariq Ramadan to be charged over rape accusations in Paris

Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar and Oxford university professor, will face criminal charges in Paris today after being detained over rape allegations.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 2, 2018 at 12:23 pm

French Petition Attacking ‘Totalitarian’ Feminism, Feminists Begin to Respond.

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Image result for catherine deneuve petition balance ton porc

« Nous défendons une liberté d’importuner, indispensable à la liberté sexuelle »

Reads the controversial public statement that made headlines published in Le Monde this week.

Le viol est un crime. Mais la drague insistante ou maladroite n’est pas un délit, ni la galanterie une agression machiste.

Rape is a crime. But chatting up,  however pressing and clumsy, is not an offence, and compliments are not a macho aggression.

Note: the French verb drageur comes from the English to trawl, to drag line as in Fish.

Variety sets out the story,

Iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve is among 100 women who have signed a public letter blaming the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for creating a “totalitarian” climate that unfairly punishes men for flirting “insistently or clumsily,” infantilizes women and undermines sexual freedom.

The letter says that #MeToo, the hashtag that emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has led to a campaign of public denunciation and summary justice. The victims have been “men who are sanctioned in their work, pushed to resign, etc., when their only wrongdoing was to touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, speak about intimate things during a professional dinner or send messages that are sexually loaded to a woman who wasn’t attracted to them,” the letter says.

“Rape is a crime. But flirting with insistently or clumsily isn’t a crime, and chivalry is not a machismo aggression,” the letter says, adding that men should have the “indispensable freedom to offend and bother” women and that the #MeToo movement encouraged “puritanism.”

French star Catherine Deneuve defends men’s ‘right’ to chat up women.

France 24.

France’s most revered actress, Catherine Deneuve, hit out Tuesday at a new “puritanism” sparked by sexual harassment scandals, declaring that men should be “free to hit on” women.

She was one of around 100 French women writers, performers and academics who wrote an open letter deploring the wave of “denunciations” that has followed claims that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed women over decades.

They called it a “witch-hunt” that they feel threatens sexual freedom.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack,” said the letter published in the daily Le Monde.

French feminists were not slow to note that Deneuve was also a very recent defender of Roman Polanski.

 

In the continuing case against the charge that he had violated a minor, she stated last March that that the 13 year old woman was brought to Polanski’s by her mother and that she did not act according to her age, and that the word “rape” was excessive in the context. (En mars dernier, l’actrice Catherine Deneuve avait déjà fâché des associations de défense des femmes en estimant à la télévision que Samantha Geimer, la jeune fille de 13 ans dont Roman Polanski avait abusé en 1977, « avait été amenée chez Roman par sa mère », et « ne faisait pas son âge de toute façon ». « J’ai toujours trouvé que le mot de viol avait été excessif », . BALANCE TON PORC: BATAILLE DE TRIBUNES AUTOUR DES VIOLENCES SEXUELLES FAITES AUX FEMMES

 

I note that one of the signatories, Elisabeth Lévy, is a writer at the contrarian magazine Causer. 

This is her most recent article,  9th of January, denouncing ‘totalitarian’ feminism.

2017, l’année des balances Le totalitarisme féministe a (encore) progressé

Bang on cue Spiked on Line defends, er the same line.

 

Background, from the Petition side:  Une tribune de femmes face à une “guerre des sexes en train de prendre un tour absolument absurde et hallucinatoire”.Abnousse Shalmani explains, or tries to explain, that the petition is against “puritanism” not in favour of any kind of sexual harassment (drague lourde). It is against the idea that women are not all “victims”. Shalmani does not like the idea that ‘balance ton porc’ (grass up your pig) is a kind of call for a puritan purge.
The author also claims the title, which could be (very easily) interpreted as an apology for ‘importuning’ in the English sense of the word, was supplied by Le Monde.
Comment, she spends a lot of time trying to wriggle out of the way the Petition was obviously going to be interpreted.
More from their critics here:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 10, 2018 at 12:23 pm