Entries from February 2007 ↓

Little Mosque on the Prairie: Not liberal enough for Tarek Fatah

Muslim opinion, as far as one can discern it from reading a few of the blogs, seems largely lukewarm as far as the CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie is concerned. One of the reasons seems to be, among other things, it’s portrayal of the more religiously conservative characters on the show.

It was therefore somewhat amusing to read, via ‘Aqoul, that the ridiculous Tarek Fatah (of Say No to the Burqa fame) has charged the program with being racist and bigoted. But not for the reasons one might think. Fatah and Farzana “A Progressive Voice in Canadian Islam” Hassan wrote an opinion piece for the Toronto Sun which reads, in part:

To begin with, a completely false picture of the Muslim community has been forced into the homes of non-Muslim Canadians. CBC has validated the image painted by Islamist groups that Muslim lives revolve around mosques — nothing else. We don’t play hockey, none of us have 9-to-5 day jobs, love affairs, play poker or, dare we say, cheat on our taxes or our spouses.

After watching the fourth episode of Little Mosque, we question the motives of the writer, producers, and directors of the show for focusing singularly on the most conservative segments of the Muslim community. Although the characters are meant to reflect the diversity of Muslim society, a closer examination reveals the show is not about liberal or progressive Muslims competing with conservatives. Rather, the writer has created a false dichotomy of “conservative” Muslims vs. “ultra-conservative” Muslims; the former being disingenuously passed on as feminist and progressive. Muslims who do not pay homage to their Imams; the liberal, secular or progressive segments of the community, are conspicuous by their complete absence from the Little Mosque narrative.

Yes, that’s right. By not depicting Muslims as a bunch of progressive poker-playing, adulterous, 9-to-5′ers handy with hockey sticks, CBC has engaged in an orchestrated conspiracy to:

….exaggerate the incidence of racism and bigotry against Muslims in Canada to foster the culture of victim-hood and accentuate the chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada.

I might not find Little Mosque on the Prairie particularly funny but this stuff is hilarious.

FGM: time to rescue Western women?

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) has long been used as a hammer with which to beat Muslims, and especially us nasty wasty fundamentalists. The practice is confined largely to Sub-Saharan Africa, but as it is no longer acceptable to denigrate black people, they must be recast as Muslims so as to be collectively vilified. The small matter of the procedure being practiced by African Christians as well as Animists is conveniently ignored.

Enter stage left, the self-appointed protectors of black women who are largely white middle-class feministas with bright red-rimmed glasses, spiky hair and lips pursed tight with moral outrage and lipstick. These grim faced harridans always clutch the latest gospel (this week, it is the fraudulent asylum seeker Hirsi Ali’s tome, Caged Virgin).

However in a recent piece in the prestigious British Medical Journal, surgeons reveal the full extent and motivation of largely white women who pay top dollar to have their vaginas mutilated.

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The best we can hope for is tolerance

When my copy of The Spectator arrived earlier this week, my heart sank to see the now rather hackneyed image of a niqabi woman’s eyes staring out from the front cover. “Oh no,” I sighed. “It’s going to be an article against the veil. Again.”However, the piece by John Gray, described by The Spectator as “Britain’s foremost political philosopher” is actually quite good.

The article isn’t available online so we are reproducing it below.

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Kids today

Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine writes about kids, the Internet and the End of Privacy, characterising one perception of today’s kids as:

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.

Ouch.  It’s certainly harsh but is it accurate?

The American Conservative on the Fall of Modernity

The American Conservative features a somewhat long but thought-provoking critique of Western notions of modernity by Michael Vlahos that is worth a read.

…Our Islamofascist branding makes every movement of Muslim resistance an attack on us. Yet most resistance instead speaks to local yearnings. By seeing an enemy of civilization in every Muslim non-state actor, we unthinkingly widen the struggle. Alternative communities are indelible in the “evil” world landscape painted by the global war on terrorism—the ongoing metamorphosis of the global other into the Mordor of our imagination.

Then there are meta-communities of piety. Modernity’s greatest failure is spiritual—neon-lit in Europe, where old piety has crashed and burned. But among the global other scorched by modernity’s “creative destruction,” it is not that people have abandoned piety but that it has abandoned them. In globalization’s mixing bowl, the meditative power of old ethos has been lost. Yet American modernity offers nothing to take its place: just ask an Afghani or an Iraqi.

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Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA)

The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) is a useful resource for people interested in the study of religion and demographics:

The ARDA allows you to interactively explore the highest quality data on American and international religion using online features for generating national profiles, maps, church membership overviews, denominational heritage trees, tables, charts, and other summary reports. Over 350 data files are available for online preview and most can be downloaded for additional research.

It has a wealth of data and features, but along with the Quickstats section, one of the more useful is the ability to compare statistics for different nations. For example, here is a comparison of Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Australian Muslim Leader’s Flagging Patriotism?

The Weekend Australian are reporting today that a number of “Muslim leaders” — including the former head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and chairman of the now defunct Muslim Community Reference Group (MCRG), Dr Ameer Ali — are calling on Australian Muslims to fly the flag outside of mosques in order to prove our “loyalty” to Australia.

Muslim clerics yesterday urged Australia’s 300,000 Muslims to back the idea as a symbol of “integration” and pride.

The former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Muslim reference group, Ameer Ali, pushed the Australian Muslim community yesterday to adopt the flag.

“Even in Muslim countries in the mosque they fly the national flag … (such as) in Pakistan. If that can be done in a Muslim country why not in Australia?” Dr Ali said.

He said Muslims opposed to the flag being displayed outside mosques were religiously narrow-minded. “I think they are looking at it from a very narrow, religious angle,” he said.

As opposed, of course, to a very broad, public relations angle.

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Professor Israeli, an Israeli Professor, is misunderstood

A visiting Israeli professor named, rather appropriately, Professor Israeli has called for a “preventative policy” to be adopted by the government in a bid to stop what he sees as a two-pronged threat from Indonesia and Muslim immigrants who will otherwise swamp Australia.

The Australian Jewish News report:

In an interview with the AJN, Professor Israeli said radical Islam would not be defeated by a war of words.“You have to infiltrate all those circles where the Muslim radicals operate, to arrest them, and to limit immigration into western countries where these Muslims, who are bent on destroying western civilisation … to limit immigration, even students who apply to come from Islamic countries to the West,” he said.

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Burqini babes? Burqiniwatch?

Mainstream media has recently covered the ‘burqini’ phenomenon, extolling its virtues and gushing over the lifesavers who are adopting its use in what is, unashamedly, a PR exercise to dim the Anglo face of beach culture. For those living under a rock, the burqini is a “Muslim-friendly” swimsuit for women, which apparently covers the body without being clingy and shape-revealing.

The reactions to the burqini are, not surprisingly, quite mixed amongst Muslims.There is no doubt that the maker of these suits has done Muslim women a service by providing them with swimming attire that does not compromise their modesty, as even among women, there are certain standards of modesty that should be observed. Perhaps it may even be viewed as a suitable alternative for those not adhering strictly to Muslim dress; it could be seen as better than, say, a one-piece or a bikini.

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Faith-based arbitration in Western Australia

I couldn’t find the article online, but courtesy of the ever useful Factiva, here’s an interesting piece from today’s West Australian on the issue of faith-based arbitration and dispute resolution.

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