Tuesday, May 19, 2015

America Snores When Christian Terrorist Threatens to Massacre Muslims - By Dean Obeidullah - The Daily Beast



05.18.1510:00 PM ET

America Snores When Christian Terrorist Threatens to Massacre Muslims

An ordained minister pleaded guilty to threatening to burn down a New York town full of Muslims. Where's the FBI press conference and Fox News panic?
Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law-enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.
So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as an independent, espousing far right-wing views.
But don’t dismiss Doggart as some crazed wingnut howling at the moon. He served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, worked for 40 years in the electrical generation business, has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from La Salle University, and claimed he had nine “committed” men working with him to carry out this attack.
No, Doggart can’t be dismissed as simply a loon; he’s a lethal threat. That is why Muhammad Matthew Gardner, the spokesman for the local Muslim community in the Islamberg, New York, community that was Doggart’s intended target, explained to me, “Our community has been traumatized.” Islamberg is a hamlet in upstate New York, right along the Pennsylvania border, that was founded in the 1980s by a group of Muslims who left New York City to escape racism, poverty, and crime. Gardner added, “Our community consists of veterans, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. We are true American patriots, unlike Doggart, who is not representative of Christianity, but more like the American Taliban.”
The criminal complaint against Doggart, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee, paints a bone-chilling picture of a plan to launch a violent military-style assault on Islamberg, home to about 200  predominately black Muslim Americans. Right-wing media outlets have in the past made outlandish claims about the town, which have been consistently debunked by local law enforcement.
Doggart came to the FBI’s attention via postings on social media and a confidential informant. Why attack these Muslims? Doggart’s own words highlight his motive being grounded in at least partially in his view of Christianity:“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God.” Doggart continued, “We shall be Warriors who inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”
Doggart, who was also recorded via wiretaps speaking to militia members in Texas and South Carolina, didn’t mince words about his plans for the Muslims of Islamberg: “We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings [Referring to their mosque and school.] ...and if anybody attempts to harm us in any way... we will take them down.”
He also detailed the weapons he would use in the attack, including an M-4 military assault rifle, armor-piercing ammunition, explosives, pistols, and a machete, because “If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”
Doggart expressed a hope that he would survive the terror attack, but explained, “I understand that if it’s necessary to die [in this attack] then that’s a good way to die.”
Doggart planned to travel to Islamberg on April 11 to do some reconnaissance. However, the FBI arrested him on April 10, before he could depart. Doggart was charged with violating a federal statute that makes it a crime to damage or destroy any religious property (or attempt to do so) and to use interstate communication to plan to injure persons. Astoundingly, however, he was not charged with any terrorism-related crimes.
On April 24, Doggart entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to one count of making threats via the phone, and he will be fined up to $250,000 and spend as much as five years in prison pending a judge’s approval of the deal.
It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage. Fox News would have cut into its already-daily coverage of demonizing Muslims to do a special report really demonizing Muslims. And few can doubt that a Muslim would’ve been charged with terrorism-related crimes.
One big reason for the lack of media coverage was that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest. In contrast, the FBI office in Knoxville, the one that handled this investigation, has posted press releases for numerous other recent arrests, such as for drug crimes and robbery charges. (My calls to the FBI about this issue have not been returned.)
However, when a Muslim is arrested in a sting-type operation, as we saw recently in Brooklyn, the FBI touts that arrest to the media with a detailed press release. We have also seen U.S. attorneys hold press conferences to announce the arrest of Muslims, as we witnessed recently with the six Minnesota men charged withplanning to join ISIS. But not here.
Doggart didn’t mince words about his plans for the Muslims of Islamberg: “We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings.”
In fact, this incident would have likely been ignored but for the local Islamberg community reaching out to the media. They even posted a powerful photograph on social media of the children of the town sitting under a big banner that asked: “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?”
But here’s the reality: This will likely not be the last time we hear about a planned attack on Muslim Americans by right-wing groups. Alarmingly, a recent poll found 55 percent of Americans hold anti-Muslim views, the highest numbers ever recorded. 
Obviously the images of ISIS committing horrific actions has fueled this sentiment. But Republican politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindhal claiming Muslim Americans want to create “no-go” zones, where Islamic law rules, and other Republicans alleging that Muslims aren’t loyal to America has ginned up the hate to levels that take some to the doorstep of violence.
And there’s another issue of great concern here. If Doggart had succeeded at his attack and slaughtered Muslims, ISIS would have been ecstatic. ISIS is hoping for these very types of attacks, which is why they release videos when they kill Christians. ISIS desperately wants Christians to attack Muslims in the West so that it makes ISIS’s recruitment pitch resonate more strongly with young Muslims.
Even though Doggart has been arrested, this case is far from over. As the Islamberg community’s spokesman explained, “We will not feel safe until he and his co-conspirators are behind bars.” 
The FBI should be commended for its work in arresting Doggart before he could complete his terrorist plot. But the FBI needs to publicize these types of arrests the same way as when they arrest a Muslim on similar charges and also not hesitate charging non-Muslims with terror-related crimes. That sends a clear message that the U.S. government is taking these incidents seriously and that Muslim lives matter. Plus, it serves as a powerful deterrent to the Doggarts of this country. This not only upholds our nation’s values, it protects all Americans by undermining ISIS’s sales pitch.

Garland, Texas Is a Hotbed for Anti-Muslim Bigotry By Zaid Jilani - AlerNet.com



Garland, Texas Is a Hotbed for Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The narrative being told about Sunday night's shootings is woefully incomplete.

May 4, 2015

On Sunday, there was a shooting in Garland, Texas. Two men opened fire outside a Muslim caricature event hosted by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller, and were shot dead in response. One security officer was reportedly injured in the attack as well.
There are many unanswered questions about the shooting, and we don't know much about the identity of the perpetrators or their motivations.
But the narrative that is being told about the events is incomplete. Geller is being portrayed as an advocate of free speech, who was holding a Muhammad cartoon contest that was simply about affirming First Amendment principles. This is simply not the case.
Geller is not a “critic of Islam,” as the Los Angeles Times wrote last night. Her goal is to cleanse the Western world of Muslims in much the same manner Slobodan Milosevic wanted to cleanse the Balkans of its Muslim population. On her website, she promoted a British activist’s solution to that country's Muslim migration:
If a government wants to learn how to manage growing Islamic problems, take some advice from Ottoman army officer Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk abolished Islam by putting a complete ban on Islamic materials, demolishing mosques, and removing any traces of Islam in his country to get rid of the evil. Those who tried to revolt were put in their place, or basically killed….
It is time for the UK to stop wasting their military abroad, but bring them to patrol their own streets and begin to remove Muslims. And it is vital time to plan and arrange deportation programs – and even arrange new deportation programs for practicing Muslims born in England to be deported to their parent’s country of origin.
She has posted bus ads around the country saying that “Islamic jew-hatred: it's in the Quran,” leading to the New York Metro Transit Authority banning all political ads in its system after her provocative material was placed. She hascalled for all Muslim migration to the West to be banned. 
None of this is to justify the attack that occurred last night, whatever its motivation. Violence is abhorrent, whether it be a shooting, or demolishing mosques, or killing people from the air with explosive weapons.
But we should understand the political climate in Garland, a city with a nearly 10 percent Asian population, much of which is Muslim immigrants. Last January, a group of Muslims held a conference titled “Stand With the Prophet Against Violence and Hate.” The conference was focused around a fundraiser to build a new center to combat extremism and negative perceptions of Islam. In other words, the conference was an organizing point for those “moderate Muslims” we often are told do not exist.
This is how these Muslims were greeted in Garland, by thousands of protesters:
Holding signs saying “You are not Americans. Don’t fly our flag,” protesters complained about the Garland Independent School District allowing the group to use the facility.
“We pay our taxes to that school, and I don’t want them here,” one woman, Lavona Martindale said.
Another protester, identified as Greg McKinley, said, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.”
McKinley added, “If they want to live their life like the Middle East, they can go back to the Middle East.”
Some of the protesters came armed, and many screamed at the attendees as they walked into the conference. Because the facility they used was a public building, protesters also packed the Garland School Board, asking that the permit to hold the peace conference be denied. Said one man, “I certainly don’t think you need people there who want to destroy this country.”

It's pretty obvious that Geller and her friends in Garland believe the United States is at war with Islam, and Muslims are not welcome here.
Although we do not know the exact ideology or identity of the attackers, one thing is immediately clear is their attempt to do violence upon Geller's event will be seen as validation. Immediately after the attack, Geller appeared on Fox News, saying, “There's an enemy among us.” In other words, the attackers, no matter what their motivation is, have only helped Geller spread her hate.
In the days to come, the attack will likely provide new fuel for the fire of those who want to demonize Muslims and say that Muslim Americans cannot be trusted. These rare events are broadcast as crisis moments, and given disproportionate ink and screen time, creating the perception that Muslim terrorism is both common and a mortal threat to the United States. The most pernicious idea that will likely spread from this event is that it is somehow dangerous to criticize Islam, because if you do, a Muslim will try to kill you, because Muslims are infamous for taking offense, and for acting out wildly from their zealotry.
A rational response to this may be to ask why, if this were true, is there an entire successful cable news outlet dedicated to demonizing Muslims? Why do both major political parties hold them at arms' length, treating them as political kryptonite?
But maybe what radicalizes the few Muslims who actually do take up terrorism has little to do with perceived offense about Islam's prophet or cartoons.
Last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad and anti-ISIS organization, claimed to have found evidence of 52 Syrian civilians being killed in an American airstrike. The news was but a blip in the radar screen of American politics. There were no calls for investigation, no angry pundits and politicians on TV. It was just normal, a shrug, as if these are the people that we expect to die, so why get outraged about it?
The idea that Muslims in the West are most enraged about a cartoon is like claiming that the greatest grievance African Americans have is watching an idiotic politician don blackface at a party, an event that occurs every so often. Yes, it is annoying, but it's simply a symbolic insult on top of years of direct and systemic violence, persecution and discrimination. The violence against Muslims is simply brushed off as an unfortunate but expected occurrence, but when a rare event like Garland occurs, it is evidence of a grand and deadly conspiracy against which we must all arm ourselves.
Overnight, Twitter users claimed to identify one of the possible attackers, who goes by the handle @atawaakul. The account did tweet out a message right before the attack saying:
The bro with me and myself have given bay'ah to Amirul Mu'mineen. May Allah accept us as mujahideen. Make dua #texasattack
— Shariah is Light (@atawaakul) May 3, 2015
But what might be interesting to people wondering why young Muslims are radicalized in the first place and why they choose to do things like what this man may have done last night would be the rest of his timeline. The user didn't tweet a whole lot about debates about religion or blasphemy. Yes, he did use political rhetoric, but much of his timeline was dedicated to talking about deaths of Muslims he perceived to be killed by their enemies. There was a retweet about a massacre from a U.S. air strike, tweets about horrors of barrel bombs dropped by Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and even retweets about police violence in Baltimore.
In their hearts, America's Muslims know that our grievances in the West have nothing to do with cartoons. Comedy Central comedians crack jokes at their expense, and Fox News and CNN hosts televise hysterical exaggerations about the threat Muslims pose to the American way of life. Muslim Americans have plenty to be offended by, and there is no real threat to anyone who wants to offend a Muslim. But in a political climate where Muslims in Texas are threatened with assault rifles for attending a peace conference, and Muslim blood overseas is so cheap that a massacre barely registers on the news, there may just be more grist out there for extremists to seize on to radicalize Muslim youth.
Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.


My comments posted on a reply to NRIndian group posting by Tanwir Alam

My comments posted on a reply to NRIndian group posting by Tanwir Alam:

Indian Muslims should thank their stars that India is a secular country granting all citizens constitutional freedom of religion. Some extra wise Indian Muslims are ever eager to hand over this freedom to a government which itself is relentlessly striving to snatch all freedoms from its citizens.

An Urdu saying goes: aa bael mujhe mar.  آ بیل مجھے ما ر

We must learn from history that when we could not manage our freedoms, we invited outsiders to come and rule over us. We lost centuries getting back even semblance of our freedom.

To compound the irony, we are, or rather some of our wise men, calling on professedly anti-Muslim government to intervene!!!

We should be prepared to manage our affairs and should not give even an inch of space from out of our constitutional freedom of religion.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Former Dean of Delhi University’s Law Faculty and former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities Prof Tahir Mahmood is an internationally recognised expert on Muslim Law. He speaks on the system of divorce among Muslims and how maulvis and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have thwarted reforms that could have benefited the community. Excerpts from an interview:

In your book, Introduction to Muslim Law, you have written, 'In India Muslim law is applied as a part of the country’s civil law, and not as part of the Muslim religion. It does not enjoy any special status so as to be protected by the religious-liberty provisions of the Indian Constitution.' Are you saying Muslim Law is subject to changes?
Muslim Law, as also Hindu Law, Christian Law and Parsi Law have been chapters of Indian Family Law. They continue to be applied even now, subject to changes, amendments, alterations, deletions and abolitions made by the competent authority, that is, Parliament and the Supreme Court. There is absolutely nothing, not even a word, in the Indian Constitution protecting the personal law of any community, nor exempting it from the jurisdiction of Parliament or state Assemblies or any higher courts.

On the contrary, there is a specific provision in the Constitution giving power to Parliament and state Assemblies to amend and repeal existing laws or pass new laws in all those matters which were on August 15, 1947, governed by personal laws. This is Entry V in the Concurrent List.

But Muslim leaders and clerics insist that Muslim Personal Law is derived from the Quran and, therefore, cannot be altered.
Well, it is absolutely foolish to say any personal law is protected by the Constitution. None of the freedom of religion clauses in the Constitution, from Article 25 to Article 28, even remotely talks of personal law. On the contrary, an explanation in Article 25 says that freedom of religion will not preclude the state from introducing social reforms and enacting laws on subjects traditionally associated with religion.

Muslim Personal Law has changed in other countries, hasn’t it? Why are clerics in India so resistant to change?
I suppose this question is best asked to them. But ignorance, obstinacy, blind belief in religion and morbid religiosity are undoubtedly the factors.

Muslim Law is viewed to be tilted against women. The most evocative symbol of this view is triple talaq, namely, that Muslim men can divorce women by simply pronouncing talaq three times. You have rejected the concept of triple talaq, saying that it doesn’t adhere to the correct Islamic procedure. What is the correct procedure?
The law on this point is absolutely clear in the Quran. There are two verses in the Quran pertaining to talaq. One verse says, “Divorce is only twice.” The background to this verse was the social condition prevailing in the pre-Islamic period – husbands would divorce their wives temporarily, because every divorce was revocable till the iddat period [This corresponds to roughly three months, the expiry of which leads to couples separating]. They would divorce their wives, revoke it on the last day of iddat, enjoy them for some time and again divorce. Basically, they kept playing hide and seek with wives all their lives.

To stop this devilish practice, the Quran declared that a person can revoke his divorce only once. This means if the husband divorces his wife the second time in his life, the marriage is instantly dissolved. She will not remain his wife, iddat or no iddat.

The other Quranic verse says a person can’t divorce his wife unless there is an arbitration or reconciliation process, which requires representations from both sides. The maulvis have assumed the power of deciding that the first verse is Quranic law and the other is just Quranic morality, not law. Who has authorised them to make this distinction? The Quran does not speak of law and morality. Whatever the Quran says is Quranic.

So how did this practice of triple talaq come to India and why is it entrenched in India?
It was there everywhere. But, other than India, it has been reformed elsewhere. Islam didn’t introduce this practice of triple talaq. Islam, on the contrary, tried to stop this, as I have already explained. But custom was deeply rooted and it continued thereafter.

Since triple talaq doesn’t have the Quranic sanction, would you say this practice should be banned in India?
Triple talaq has been banned all over the Muslim world. Why should India be sticking to this 7th century law?

I assume you must have spoken to the supporters of triple talaq and tried to make them see reason.
I have spoken to them enough. I don’t want to waste my time anymore. I can’t convince the fanatics. They will remain what they are.

What arguments did they cite to you for insisting on continuing with triple talaq?
These people say they are not competent to understand the Quran. They say they are bound by the interpretation of the Quran by this or that Imam who lived in the first 100 years of Islam’s advent. Just as the Constitution is what the Supreme Court of India says it is, the Quran is what Imam Abu Hanifa (699-767 CE) or Imam Shaefi (767-820 CE) said it was. It doesn’t matter to them that the Quran at the outset asks the reader to go deep into its meanings and decide it for himself. Nor does it matter to them that the revered Imams cautioned people against following them blindly. Read the Quran and decide for yourself, they said. Unfortunately, we in India are going in the contrary direction.

Islam enables couples to divorce without having to go to the court. Do you think it leads to exploitation of women, even though not taking recourse to the legal system is inexpensive?
There is a concept of divorce by mutual consent that is embedded in modern law. The policy behind [it] is that if both the husband and wife want to divorce through mutual consent, the court isn’t allowed to probe their decision. Similarly, Prophet Mohammad wanted couples who thought their marriage had broken beyond repair to walk away from it, either together or alone, by following the prescribed procedure. This procedure is separate for men and women, and there is also one by which couples can divorce through mutual consent. Prophet Mohammad didn’t want such couples to go to courts.

Under Islamic law, is it possible for couples to stipulate in the marriage agreement that the wife shall have the right to dissolve the marriage by her own action?
Yes, it is called contractual divorce.

But do wives have equal rights to divorce under Islamic Law?
Wives have equal rights through khula, which is the counterpart of talaq by men. Khula is divorce at the behest of women. She can tell her husband that she does not want to live with him. The husband can’t even ask her why. Khula is her decision. So if the husband agrees to give divorce, it is well and good. The only thing he can ask for is that he wouldn’t pay her mehr or dower. It is possible the husband might not listen to her and agree to divorce her. In that case, the woman can go to the qazi to have khula enforced.

But muftis say that if the husband doesn’t agree to divorce her, then the wife has to stay with him.
Rubbish, the law has already been interpreted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that in khula the decisive voice is that of the wife.

So is the woman’s right to divorce equal to that of the man in Islamic Law?
Almost equal. In fact, the wife has more powers than the husband, who can divorce through the process of talaq only. The wife has khula, contractual divorce, and, on top of it, the power of faskh, by which she can approach the court for divorce on a ground or allegation and prove it. These grounds have been codified in India, through the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. In contrast to faskh, khula is unilateral.

Under Islamic law, is maintenance to a divorced woman after the iddat period recognised?
Yes, it is. I have been asking the maulvis to cite me any verse from the Quran or any Hadith [tradition of the Prophet] that says paying maintenance after iddat is haram [forbidden]. The Quran says maintenance has to be paid to the divorced woman during the iddat period. Since she can’t remarry during iddat, maintenance for this period is mandatory. After the expiry of iddat, in the Arabic society during the Quranic days, the woman used to get remarried immediately.

The correct interpretation of the law is that maintenance up to the iddat period is mandatory, but if she gets remarried then the liability is of her new husband. Otherwise the maintenance continues. So maintenance during iddat is the minimum period, not maximum.

But are there examples of husbands paying maintenance to their divorced wives beyond the iddat period in earlier centuries?
Under the law of contractual divorce heavy amounts were paid even in early times. This is known as mata or compensation for arbitrated divorce.

Why did the Shah Bano case then trigger such a controversy?
The Shah Bano case wasn’t on Muslim Law. The simple issue before the Supreme Court Bench was whether the CrPC [Code of Criminal Procedure] law is applicable to Muslim divorcees. The Bench should have simply said, yes, it is applicable. Instead of saying that, the Bench tried to prove that the law is in accordance with the Quran, conveying the wrong impression that the Bench was reinterpreting the holy text. Then in its judgement, as it always happens, the Bench ended with a lament for the Uniform Civil Code.

What is your position on the Uniform Civil Code?
If the UCC means modern Hindu law, then I’d say no. In fact, 99% of people use the UCC as a synonym or euphemism for modern Hindu law. The minority communities, not Muslims alone, will never accept it. The lady sitting there [in his drawing room, where the interview was conducted] is a Christian. Can you ask her not to go to the church to get married, that she should instead do so under Hindu Law, with pheras and all?

Secondly, Hindu Law is itself not a modern law – it is full of gender- and religion-based discrimination. For instance, if a married Hindu woman were to become a Sikh or Buddhist or Jain, she continues to enjoy all her rights against her husband. But if she were to become Muslim or Christian, she instantly loses all her civil rights. It is a bias of Himalayan proportions. Or if the husband wants to give his child in adoption to someone else, he needs the consent of his wife, provided she hasn’t converted to Islam or Christianity. If she has converted to Buddhism or Sikhism or Jainism, her consent is still mandatory.

Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, if a son becomes Muslim or Christian and he dies in the lifetime of his father, then whether the son’s children can inherit from their grandfather depends on whether they were born before or after their father’s conversion. This was enacted by Parliament of modern, secular India six years after the adoption of the Constitution of India. What is the fun in talking about the UCC?

What about that Muslim law which treats two female witnesses as equal to one male witness?
This is a non-existent provision which maulvis cite. It is a concoction. There is no Quranic sanction.

How come nobody attempts to address the anomalies that have crept into Muslim Law?
It has been answered by the state all over the world. India is the only exception.

How do we get out of this rut?
We can’t, as long as we have the minority syndrome. Bangladesh has 12% Hindu population, but Hindu Law there remains where it was on August 15, 1947. By contrast, Muslim Law has undergone changes in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In the subcontinent there is a minority syndrome, which is deepest here in India. The hold of maulvis over the community is so strong that there is absolutely no scope for reform of Muslim Law in any foreseeable future in India. For any reform, we will have to look at the judiciary, which has been introducing it through a circuitous way. The judiciary is the only hope.

Do you think the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been an agent of change?
Frankly, I want the Board to be abolished. Its members are paranoid and they speak rubbish. Every time the Supreme Court delivers a judgement, the Board members say it is interfering with Shariat. They are doing disservice to the community. They have succeeded in making the community believe that Muslim Personal Law means the Quran and that there is no difference between the two, and that both are divine.

In my autobiography, Amid Gods and Lords, which was recently released, I have cited an anecdote. A maulvi and a pandit go to God and both complain that their communities don’t accept social reform. After a long argument, God counsels them to be patient with their community and that a time would come when they would accept reform. The pandit asks, “When would that time come?” God said, “Not in your lifetime.” Then the maulvi asked, “When would that time come for my community?” God said, “Not in my lifetime.”

Every sensible Hadith is declared false, every sensible verse of the Quran has been abrogated.

How do you abrogate a verse of the Quran?
I will give you an example. There is a verse in the Quran which says that every person who is dying must make a will in favour of his wife. There is also a verse fixing the wife’s share in the husband’s property. The maulvis say the verse relating to the husband’s will has been abrogated and the share of wife is just 12.5%. They quote a Hadith which says the wife’s share can’t be augmented even through the husband’s will. Whatever is convenient to men the maulvis say that is law.

I must tell you about a seminar in Chennai. It was on false Hadith. In one session there was a question, why do maulvis say Muslims shouldn’t keep dogs as pets? The maulvis cited a Hadith to back it, while others claimed that this particular Hadith was a concocted one.

I was chairing the session. There was an hour of discussion. Several reasons were cited, the principal one being that the dog is a dirty animal, etc. At the end of the discussion, I gave my opinion: “Dog is the only animal bestowed by God with common sense. But maulvis can’t tolerate common sense. That’s the only reason why they don’t want dogs to be kept as pets.”

Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist from Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, published by HarperCollins, is available in bookstores.

'Anyone who hasn’t been raped is the exception': Egyptian officials accused of 'systematic' sexual violence - By Rashika Sanghani - THE TELEGRAPH, UK



'Anyone who hasn’t been raped is the exception': Egyptian officials accused of 'systematic' sexual violence

Women and girls in Egypt are being subjected to sexual assault and rape by police, security and military officials in an atttempt to quell protests and force confessions, according to a new human rights report

The situation for women has worsened in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, while Iraqi women now suffer greater violence and discrimination than under Saddam Hussein
Egyptian women protest to condemn the army's use of violence against female protesters in Cairo Photo: EPA/MOHAMED OMAR
6:00AM BST 19 May 2015
Sexual violence against women and children is being used by police and military officials to 'eliminate public protest' in Egypt, according to a new report.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said there has been a surge in sexual violence carried out by security forces ever since the military takeover in 2013.
Victims are generally women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, students and activists.
The report found they have been subjected to sexual assault, rape with objects, electrocution of their genitalia and vaginal ‘virginity tests’ – a practice supposedly aimed at determining whether a woman has had sexual intercourse.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government has publically announcedthat fighting sexual violence is a priority. But FIDH’s report - ‘Exposing state hypocrisy: sexual violence by security forces in Egypt’ - revealed “widespread sexual violence.”
Sexual violence was said to be carried out indiscriminately at checkpoints, university entrances, and at detention centres during security checks.
“Sexual assault is virtually systematic in the case of arrest,” said a member of an Egyptian women’s rights organisation who wanted to remain anonymous.
The report also said young women were sexually assaulted as part of a “policy of humiliation”, and that women’s niqabs were ripped off by security staff and police.
Women wearing veils have been targeted by supporters of General el-Sisi, while women not wearing the veil are perceived to be Christians and have been threatened by Islamists.

'They tried to rape me, to make my husband confess'

The report also highlighted claims made by female political prisoners and activists around sexual violence, with women arrested during demonstrations “regularly subjected to sexual violence and other abuses.”
Egyptian army soldiers arrest a female protester during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo back in 2011 (Reuters)

They said their scarves were pulled off or used to drag them along the ground, while obligatory body searchers by police officers and soldiers would be used as opportunities to grope, or rape them.
Women were also found to be arbitrarily detained and used as bargaining tools by police who wanted their husbands or fathers to confess to a crime.
One wife of a detainee said she was taken to Medinat Nasr police station where her husband was, and beaten in front of him.
“They tried to rape me. My husband begged them to leave me alone, shouting, ‘let her go, I’m going to talk.’ They said to him, ‘speak first and we’ll let her go after.’
“They pulled off my veil and started again; I began screaming. My husband said to them, ‘for pity’s sake stop, tell me what I have to say, tell me what I’m accused of, I’ll say everything that you want me to.’”
The report also found that women were regularly sexually assaulted inside detention centres and prisons, where they were usually guarded by men, in breach of international UN standards.

'Anyone who hasn't been raped is the exception'

In September 2014, a police officer in Imbaba was charged with raping a disabled female detainee after video recordings provided evidence.
The woman was being detained after filing a complaint of sexual harassment, and was awaiting a ‘medical examination’ when she was raped.
Egyptian women protested against army attacks on female demonstrators back in 2011

Her detention was then extended by a further 24 hours, and she was forced to undergo a second ‘examination’.
Children were also found to have been systematically sexually assaulted in juvenile detention centres, typically by adult prisoners, while security guards failed to investigate allegations or take measure to prevent attacks.
A former employee at El Eqabiya detention centre said: “Anyone who hasn’t been raped is the exception. The director is fully aware.
“There are many deaths but they are not even reported.”

Anti-gay discrimination

Mass arrests of LGBT citizens were also found to be recurrent, with one human rights organisation suggesting 77 homosexuals and transsexuals were arrested between October 2013 and May 2014.
Though Egypt does not explicitly ban homosexuality, those arrested are charged with ‘debauchery’, or ‘sexual indecency’ and ‘endangering public morals’.
Many reported forced anal examinations, rape with batons and sexual assaults by guards, according to the report.
It found that sexual violence has increased in the last two years.
The Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms, said: “Previously, arrests in the street mainly targeted men and young people.
“But since 3 July 2013, it has been clear that they also target children, women, young girls and older people of both sexes.”
FIDH is now calling on the Egyptian authorities to publicly condemn all sexual violence, ensure victims have access to justice, investigate detention centres and end ‘virginity tests’.