April 01, 2004

Support Our Troops'...Wives?

bush admin bad for women (sidenote: it's difficult to state this, for obvious reasons, but the truth of the matter is that when it comes to women's rights in iraq, women fared quite well under saddam's secularist regime--no joking...rape torture of dissidents aside):

[[by the way, lewis diuguid, the writer of the following article and a regular contributor to the kansas city star, has been on my list w/the rest of you guys for at least a year now...perhaps even two--i forget. =:) ]]

Bush's rhetoric doesn't match women's reality

The Kansas City Star
By Lewis Diuguid

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Bush administration has not had a good Women's History Month.

William Schultz, executive director of Amnesty International USA said recently that the Pentagon has been covering up reports of sexual and physical abuse of women in the military and of soldiers' wives. At a recent Senate hearing, Pentagon officials said that in the last 18 months, servicewomen in combat areas had reported 112 sexual assaults. Also in that time, more than 200 other cases have been reported in noncombat areas.

In addition, Schulz said wives and partners of servicemen report more than 10,000 cases of abuse a year. The human rights organization has included those assaults in its worldwide campaign to stop violence against women.

That's not good news when U.S. servicewomen are fighting and dying in the wars against terrorism. It also undermines the Bush administration's assertion that it's ensuring that equal rights, safety and democracy include women in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here's another international sore spot for President Bush during Women's History Month. For a second year the Global Women's Issues Scorecard gives the Bush administration low marks on reality vs. rhetoric involving Iraqi and Afghan women.

Speakers during a conference call with journalists said they hoped the report would force positive changes for women in Afghanistan and Iraq. The scorecard was released this month by the Women's Environment and Development Organization, the Feminist Majority, and the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

"When you look at what they have done, the strong statements are not met with actual action," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. She said the Bush administration got an "A" for rhetoric on women's rights in Afghanistan but a "D" on reality.

Afghan women won equal rights in the constitutional language and 25 percent of the seats in the Afghanistan parliament's House of the People and 12 percent of the House of Elders. But the constitution states the law can't contradict the "provisions of the sacred religion of Islam," leaving women at risk to extremist interpretations, the scorecard says.

Poor security for Afghan women and inadequate funding to rebuild that country also contributed to Bush's low grade.

"We simply do not put the money where our mouth is," Smeal said. "There are so many warning signs that we are not establishing the kind of peace to create a civil society."

June Zeitlin, executive director of the women's environment group, voiced similar concerns about women in Iraq. The Bush administration got an "A" for its rhetoric promoting Iraqi women's rights but an "I" for incomplete on its actions. "Women are underrepresented in all decision-making bodies controlled by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority," the scorecard said.

Women were able to get the interim constitution to set a 25 percent goal for women's representation in the future elected assembly. However, no clear method has been set to achieve it. "Without specific protections in the permanent constitution, Iraqi women's rights will be tenuous," the scorecard said.

Security for Iraqi women is another concern. Girls' schools have been bombed, and abductions and rapes have increased dramatically. Women are afraid to leave their homes.

The scorecard gave the Bush administration a "B" on women and the emergency plan for AIDS relief but a "D" on reality. Jodi L. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said Bush promised $15 billion for AIDS relief, but his budget requests fall far short. The Bush administration also makes abstinence-only the primary focus of prevention when there is no evidence that strategy works.

Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS infection rates for girls and women worldwide continue to rise. "The lack of full funding puts more people at risk," Jacobson said.

The negative reports don't make Bush look presidential, especially during Women's History Month.

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Star's Editorial Board.
To reach him, call (816) 234-4723 or send e-mail to Ldiuguid@kcstar.com


Posted by shereen at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

A Reminder of How THE Conflict Began

...just in case people still don't get it, this is how it pretty much all began and how it has continued for >50 years:

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/1/04


JERUSALEM -- Jewish settlers protected by Israeli police moved into a
crowded Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem before dawn Wednesday, sparking a
clash with angry Arab residents.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was an early supporter of an organized effort
to move Jews into the traditionally Arab eastern sector, and he bought a
house in the walled Old City's Muslim Quarter in 1987. Israel captured the
Old City from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

But Wednesday's move by the settlers could prove an embarrassment to Sharon
as he tries to convince President Bush this month in Washington that he is
sincere about plans to withdraw some settlers from parts of the Gaza Strip
and West Bank.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers dismantled two uninhabited Jewish outposts
in the West Bank, consisting of a couple of empty shipping containers, a
tent and a shack.

In recent years, hawkish Jewish groups have steadily strengthened their
footing in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and now an estimated
180,000 Jews live there.

On Wednesday, eight Jewish families moved into a new six-story apartment
building in East Jerusalem, and a dozen religious-school students moved
into part of an older Arab family compound.

After the move was completed, armed settlers and police officers guarded
the entrances and kept watch from rooftops...


Posted by shereen at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)

Germany Falling -AND- Muslim Youths Initially Blamed for Jewish Attacks

Agence France Presse, 4/1/04


STUTTGART, Germany - A conservative German state became the first in the
country Thursday to ban Muslim public school teachers from wearing
headscarves amid a fierce debate on religious symbols in public life.

The legislature of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, led by a
coalition of the Christian Democratic Union and the liberal Free Democrats,
voted almost unanimously for the new law. It will go into effect this month.

State culture minister Annette Schavan said that because Muslim head
covering was "open to interpretation" including a possible espousal of the
"Islamist political views," it had no place in the classroom.

Germany's highest tribunal, the constitutional court, ruled in September
that Baden-Wuerttemberg was wrong to forbid a Muslim female teacher,
Fereshta Ludin, from wearing a headscarf in the classroom.

But it said Germany's 16 regional states could legislate to ban religious
apparel if it was deemed to unduly influence children.

Six states have now put forward draft laws banning headscarves or other
religious symbols in public institutions.

The latest came this week when the left-wing government in Berlin agreed on
a sweeping ban on religious symbols that would cover not only Muslim
headscarves but also large Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps and apply
to police officers, judges and bailiffs as well as public school teachers.

Muslim groups have fiercely criticized the headscarf bans as compromising
their freedom of religious expression.


Reuters, 4/1/04


PARIS - Hatred of Jews and Muslims has taken root in France, with
anti-Semitism behind most racist crime and hostility towards Islam on the
rise, a national human rights commission says in its annual report.

The persistent high level of such hate crimes and the spread of racist
attitudes among school pupils are serious causes of concern, even if the
overall number of racist crimes fell last year compared to 2002, it said on

"The link with international events, already seen in recent years, was
confirmed in 2003 with a spike in the spring at the start of the war in
Iraq," Joel Thoraval, head of the National Consultative Commission on Human
Rights, told journalists.

Thoraval said outside events had a direct influence on hate crimes but did
not identify the perpetrators and victims.

The final version of a controversial European Union report issued on
Wednesday blamed "young, disaffected white Europeans" for the rise in
anti-Semitic violence. An earlier version had blamed Muslim youths for the
rise in attacks on Jews in Europe...

Anti-Semitic violence accounted for 72 percent of the hate crimes and
threats registered in France last year, or 588 out of 817, the report said.
In 2002, 932 of the 1,313 acts of racist violence were anti-Jewish.

By comparison, France registered 614 racist and anti-Semitic attacks and
threats in 1995, and 189 in 1990.

Regarding other racist violence, four-fifths of attacks and threats were
against Muslims, the report said...


Posted by shereen at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

To Quell Any Criticisms of Muslims...

Gloucestershire Citizen, 4/1/04


The message of "peace and harmony" is already a regular aspect at mosques
in Gloucester, a spokesman has said.

And that message will be reinforced in the wake of a letter sent by the
Muslim Council of Great Britain to all mosques in the UK. It calls on
followers to report suspicious activity to authorities and reminds them
that "Islam categorically forbids violence and killing of innocents, let
alone indulging in violence which can cause death and mayhem".

Ahmed Bham is secretary of Gloucester's Masjid-E-Noor, in Ryecroft Street.
He said: "We send the same message to young people as anyone else, about
living in peace and harmony and being law-abiding citizens. That message
has been very clear to all our members right from the outset."

He had not yet seen the letter, but when it arrived the executive committee
would give it every attention.

"Of course, we will co-operate fully with the police in terms of ensuring
that every member of the Muslim community, and indeed the wider community,
remains vigilant," he said.

The Muslim Council revealed that the letter had been sent out to mosques in
an effort to bring to their attention concerns that have been expressed
about an immediate attack taking place in the UK, in the wake of the Madrid
bombings which claimed 191 lives...

The council's intervention follows fears that fringe elements are
misleading young people for political reasons.

Its hope is that the letter will be used to get across the message during
Friday prayers that terrorism has no place in Islam...


Posted by shereen at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)