The Niqab and Syria’s Private Girls Schools

CBS news reports that “The government of Syria has already reassigned hundreds of niqab-wearing school-teachers to administrative offices where they would not have contact with students.” AP’s Edward Yeranian writes that the recent ban “follows a decision last month to dismiss 1200 Syrian school teachers who wear the face veil in class. Education officials, at the time, stressed that Syria was a “secular society,” and that extremism is “unacceptable.”

Two Syrian women, left, wear the niqab, a face-covering Islamic veil, as they shop in Souk Al-Hamediah, Damascus’ oldest market, Syria, 19 July 2010

Al-Arabiya TV quoted an education ministry official, who argued the niqab was “against academic principles” as well as “campus regulations.”  He also called the practice an “ideological invasion.” Syria’s ruling Ba’ath Party denounced niqab-wearing at a recent conference.

Ayman Abdalnour writes that, according to sources he cannot name, the reason behind the new law is the rapid growth of private girls schools which encourage the niqab. Most of the private schools are run by religious organizations. Unofficial statistics reported by Abdalnour suggest that some 25-30% of female primary students are in private schools in Damsacus. There are some “200 private girls schools” in Damascus and “the majority of teachers wear the Niqab,” he insists. [A note of caution. These statistics are very hard to believe. How many elementary schools are there in all Damascus? Probably not more than 200, and that is including all private schools.]

Elizabeth Kennedy in her article, “Syria bans full Islamic face veils at universities” explores the notion that the niqab “is a religious obligation,” or reflection of personal freedom. As one women argued: “Wearing my niqab is a personal decision. It reflects my freedom.”

She also explores the notion of whether extremism is being brought on by the rapid income gap growing in Syria.

In an interview with Der Spiegel, ElBaradei said that if there were “no chance of a fair campaign,” he would call for a boycott.

Reports indicate that the presence of women in the Egyptian workforce “has not translated into any fundamental shift in prevailing attitudes toward women in public life.” According to the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Gender Gap Report (read the full report as a pdf), Egypt ranks 126 out of 134 countries. Syria ranks 121. In the political sphere, Egyptian women currently only occupy 8 out of the 454 parliamentary seats, spurring a new quota system that will guarantee 64 seats for women in the upcoming elections.

Thanks to POMED

The Economist published a new in-depth, 9-part, special report by Max Rodenbeck describing various aspects of Egyptian political, social, and economic life. The report considers the past three decades of “political paralysis” under the rule of Hosni Mubarak, but concludes that due to the looming presidential succession, and signs that Egypt’s “rising generation” may be more politically active than its predecessors, “the expectation of a seismic shift is almost tangible in the air.” Rodenbeck outlines three main possibilities for Egypt’s future: “It could go the way of Russia and be ruled by a new strongman from within the system. It might, just as possibly, go the way of Iran, and see that system swept away in anger. Or it could go the way of Turkey, and evolve into something less brittle and happier for all concerned.” The report also discusses Egypt’s resources and economic advantages; the lack of faith in the electoral process; the political promise of Mohamed ElBaradei; the changing role of Islam in Egyptian society and politics;the weakness of the Egyptian educational system; the implications of the socioeconomic gap; and possible scenarios for presidential succession after Mubarak.

The Economist article, When kings and princes grow old, about the Saudi succession …. paints the following fairly rosy picture: … Its $420 billion economy faces little risk of losing its place as the biggest in the Middle East, given steady oil reserves and production, around $150 billion in annual energy exports and a strengthening world oil market. The country’s net foreign reserves still nearly equal its GDP. Economists expect growth to accelerate slowly from around 4% this year, ensuring steadily rising living standards. These are seemingly impressive figures. Indeed, the Saudi economy is expected to grow 3.8% in 2010, but that is evidently in nominal terms. Since there is inflation of 5%, the economy is actually shrinking as the population grows. (This was copied from an email news letter)

A Decade in Power, part 1: Playing a double-edged game. Syria’s International Relations under Bashar

It was a tough act to follow: Hafez al-Assad Hafez was known to be a savvy head of state. He was able to sustain good relations with important Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Egypt and play on their differences. Where does Syria stand internationally ten years later, after a decade of Bashar al…

Netanyahu said something similar in his book, A Durable Peace:

Later on in his book, in a chapter entitled “Jewish Power,” Netanyahu assailed Israeli policy makers who had attempted to meet American land-for-peace demands, describing them as weaklings bent over in a “submissive posture.”

“It does not cross the minds of these advocates of capitulation,” Netanyahu wrote, “that the task of Israel’s leaders is to try to convince the American government that it is in the interest of the United States to follow policies that cohere with Israeli interests, not vice versa.”

Meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu last week, President Obama could not have been more effusive. “I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace,” Obama said. “I believe he is ready to take risks for peace.”

Bashar al-Assad’s tightening grip on Syria 10 years on
By Jim Muir BBC News, Beirut

When Bashar al-Assad was sworn in as Syria’s president on 17 July 2000 following his father Hafez al-Assad’s death, few would have bet heavily on the tall, callow-looking young man’s chances of still being in the job ten years later.

He was just 34 years old and the constitution had to be changed to enable him to take over. There was no precedent for power passing from father to son in a supposedly democratic Arab republic. ….. To mark Bashar Assad’s ten years in power, the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled A Wasted Decade…. the odds on him celebrating a second decade of rule would certainly be a lot stronger than they were in 2000.

Egyptian Leader’s Health on U.S. Radar
By: Eli Lake | The Washington Times

U.S. and Western intelligence agencies assess that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill, and the Obama administration is closely watching the expected transition of power in a nation that for decades has been an anchor of stability in the volatile Middle East and a key U.S. ally…. the 82-year-old Egyptian leader is thought by most Western intelligence agencies to be dying from terminal cancer affecting his stomach and pancreas…..An intelligence officer from a Central European service told The Washington Times last week that his service estimates that the Egyptian president will be dead within a year, and before Cairo’s scheduled presidential elections in September 2011….

A senior U.S. intelligence officer said: “We have access to, for lack of a better word, his court. We know he is dying, but we don’t know when he will die. You can be dying for a long time, by the way. Look at [former Cuban President Fidel] Castro.”…

In 2007, Mr. Mubarak pushed a new law through Egypt’s People’s Assembly that would make the speaker of the assembly president for 60 days while he oversaw arrangements for a special election. The new law requires anyone standing for that election to be in the leadership of a political party for at least one year.

While Mr. Mubarak has declined to endorse a successor, the new law on presidential succession provides a major advantage to Mr. Mubarak’s son, Gamal Mubarak, 47. The younger Mr. Mubarak is head of the powerful policy committee of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), the party that has led Egypt’s government for more than 50 years.

Other potential military rivals to Gamal Mubarak, whose nickname is “Jimmy” in U.S. policymaking circles and among the Egyptian elite such as Mr. Suleiman, are not formal members of the NDP.

T_desco writes: What would be the repercussions for Syria of a possible multi-front war in Lebanon (Hariri indictment > civil war > UNIFIL conflict > Israeli attack)?

Sami Moubayed:  Tribunal could shake up Lebanon
Gulf News, July 20, 2010

(…) However, Hezbollah officials believe that Israel, with the implicit backing of the US, is lobbying for the tribunal to name Hezbollah officials as the perpetrators of Hariri’s murder.

The Israelis believe that if that were to happen, Lebanon would erupt into chaos and it would become very difficult for the state to function, as Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri could not possibly continue “protecting and embracing” the arms of Hezbollah. The current rapprochement between Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites would collapse, Israelis believe, and Lebanon would become very hostile and unsafe territory for Hezbollah.”

The Israeli plot (courtesy Haaretz): Haaretz, July 19, 2010

“Nasrallah has good reason to sweat over the prosecutor’s apparent findings. They could mark the end of the coalition between Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son and current Lebanese premier, and Hezbollah. The findings could also make it difficult for Hezbollah to maintain its close alliance with the general Michel Aoun, a Christian, which would threaten Lebanon with a grave political crisis. (…)

In the military sphere, there is no force in Lebanon that poses a great threat to Hezbollah. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has turned from an enemy of Hezbollah into an ally and General Aoun embraces Hezbollah publicly at every opportunity.

But in the event that information is released that includes proof of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Hariri killing, this support will no doubt be dropped. In its place, calls to disarm and dismantle Hezbollah, the last armed militia in Lebanon, will only grow stronger.”

General Aoun’s “analytical” scenario:
Naharnet, July 17, 2010

“The FPM leader expressed fears that upon issuance of the indictment, Israel would launch a large-scale war on Lebanon, during which the resistance would be hit by “Israeli fire” from one side and “internal strife fire” on the other.

Aoun also warned that given this situation, some Christian parties would seek to impose a new status quo in their regions while fundamentalist groups in Palestinian camps would act the same way.

As Safir said that the FPM leader asked his allies, particularly Hizbullah, to ready themselves to confront such strife and review the current structure of the national unity cabinet, which according to Aoun would be incapable of facing such threats.

“They want to kill you once more,” Aoun reportedly told Nasrallah. “There is still a Lebanese team betting on a new Israeli war, that’s why … I advise you to change the rules of the game.”

A couple of interesting articles by Georges Malbrunot today:

Les capitales européennes divisées sur la mission de leurs Casques bleus
Georges Malbrunot, Le Figaro, 19/07/2010

(…) Mais, dans son insistance pour que la résolution 1701 de l’ONU soit appliquée – quitte à heurter les sensibilités de la population -, Paris se retrouve isolé, au moment où le Conseil de sécurité doit reconduire, à la mi-août, le mandat de la Finul.

«Nous ne voulons pas que les Français prennent en otage la Finul pour régler des problèmes face au Hezbollah ou à l’Iran», lâche un diplomate d’un pays européen contributeur, qui soupçonne Paris de vouloir durcir le ton contre le Hezbollah – et son tuteur iranien accusé de fabriquer la bombe. (…)

D’autant que la relation avec la Finul n’est pas au mieux. Le commandant des forces armées, le général Jean Kahwagi, est irrité par les «trop nombreux déplacements de membres de la Finul en Israël». Plusieurs officiers français et italiens seraient visés. Là encore, le Hezbollah n’ignore rien de ces entorses au règlement onusien. (…)

Pour permettre à la Finul d’exercer pleinement son mandat, l’un des projets à l’étude à New York serait de retirer les soldats français de leur zone de déploiement pour leur confier la responsabilité d’une force de réaction rapide, renforcée par rapport à sa version actuelle, c’est-à-dire capable de s’interposer, en cas de problème grave. (…)

“Un attentat est redouté Le Figaro, 19/07/2010

Trois jours avant le déclenchement des manœuvres onusiennes début juillet, à Beyrouth, le ministère de la Défense conseilla à la Finul de ne pas se déployer sur le terrain (so much for Lebanese sovereignty; t_d). «Je répétais aux Français qu’ils devaient faire attention», affirme de son côté Nabil Fawaz, le maire de Tibnine.

L’activisme français dérange le Hezbollah. Certaines de ses armes restent dissimulées sous les mosquées et les terrains de football. Mais, contrairement aux Israéliens, les experts militaires occidentaux ne pensent pas que le Hezbollah ait introduit une quantité importante de munitions au Sud depuis 2006. Sa priorité est au nord de la zone Finul et du fleuve Litani. Le «Parti de Dieu» y a camouflé ses armes les plus sophistiquées, venues d’Iran et de Syrie, y compris dans les zones chrétiennes.

(…) Mais personne n’est dupe. «Si les Français ne changent pas leur comportement, il y aura une autre réaction», assure Hola Ibrahim, de Kirbet Slem. Sous-entendu : un attentat contre le contingent français ne serait pas à exclure.”

(my emphasis)

Une reconstitution de l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri près de Bordeaux

Une reconstitution de l’assassinat de l’ex premier ministre libanais Rafic Hariri en 2005 à Beyrouth doit avoir lieu cet automne dans une base militaire au sud de Bordeaux, révèle au Figaro une source policière. Un enquêteur s’est rendu récemment sur place. L’organisation de cette reconstitution à huis clos poserait d’importants problèmes de sécurité. (…)
Georges Malbrunot, 19/07/2010

Robert Fisk: They’re all grovelling and you can guess the reason Classic Fisk on Obama.

US’ Unusual Security Assistance to Israel

A top Hillary Clinton aide laid out in unusual detail Friday what he called the Obama administration’s unprecedented security assistance to the Jewish state.

“Our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before,’ Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro told the Brookings Institution Friday.

Shapiro said the Obama administration would honor a 2007 commitment to provide Israel $30 billion in security assistance over the next ten years. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

The U.S. also gives Israel something it does not give to any other beneficiary of U.S. foreign military financing, he noted.

“Unlike other beneficiaries of Foreign Military Financing, which are legally required to spend funds in the United States, Israel is the only country authorized to set aside one-quarter of its FMF funding for off-shore procurements,” Shapiro said.

The Obama administration is also continuing to commit itself to preserve Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge – “its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties,” as Shapiro defined it.

That also means that the U.S. will sell Israel defense equipment that it will deny to other U.S. allies in the region.

“This means that as a matter of policy, we will not proceed with any release of military equipment or services that may pose a risk to allies or contribute to regional insecurity in the Middle East,” Shapiro said.

Iraqis to seek torture inquiry in Britain
Agence France-Presse – 17 July, 2010

More than 100 Iraqis who claim they were tortured and abused by British forces after the invasion of Iraq won a key legal battle in London on Friday in their bid to force a public inquiry.

Lawyers for the Iraqis said they had “incontrovertible” evidence the detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by British soldiers that included hooding, electric shocks and sexual abuse.

Judges Christopher May and Debra Silber ruled the 102 Iraqis should be allowed to bring a High Court action to try to force an inquiry into their allegations against the Ministry of Defence.

“The claimant’s case is sufficiently persuasive for permission purposes,” the judges said at London’s High Court.

“It sufficiently makes the case that the alleged ill-treatment may be seen as systemic and raises questions of its authorisation, or failure to stop it.”

The Democracy Obsession
Posted on July 9th, 2010 by Patrick J. Buchanan

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With the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and the Soviet Union, and Beijing’s abandonment of Maoism, anti-communism necessarily ceased to be the polestar of U.S. foreign policy.

For many, our triumph fairly cried out for a bottom-up review of all the alliances created to fight that Cold War and a return to a policy of non-intervention in foreign quarrels where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled.

This was dismissed as isolationism. Seeking some new cause to give meaning to their lives, our suddenly superfluous foreign policy elites settled upon a crusade for democracy as America’s new mission in the world.

Interventions in Panama, Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia followed, plus wars in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. To further advance the great goal, the National Endowment for Democracy and agencies like Freedom House set out to subvert authoritarian regimes in Belgrade, Caracas, Kiev, Tbilisi, Beirut and Bishkek.

Cold War methods and means were now to be conscripted — for democratic ends.

Yet, considering the high cost in blood, money and lost leadership and prestige since our victory in the Cold War, the democracy crusade scarcely seems worth it. For while we have been bogged down in two wars, China has become the world’s leading manufacturer, steelmaker, auto producer and exporter, and the second largest economy on earth.

Nevertheless, we are ever admonished, we must not flag or fail in our pursuit of global democracy, for only when the world is democratic will our providential mission be accomplished. And only then can we be truly secure…..

From the Mideastwire Blog: “Kurtzer on preventing the next Lebanon war: we can only manage it after the fact”

This piece by former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer is, unfortunately, yet another indication of the poverty of thought in Washington and the US in general when it comes to heading off another devastating war in Lebanon and Israel. It is also instructive of the danger of having high profile figures like Kurtzer comment on situations for which they are not specialists – indeed, Kurtzer’s short piece on US options for preventing the next war – for CFR no less – carries a number of basic errors in regards to Lebanon and Hizbullah that perhaps he would not have made if the piece was only directly related to his apparent specialist field of Egypt and Israel:

Fadlallah death likely starting point for war? The piece starts off with this incredible statement: “There are two plausible scenarios for war in Lebanon. First, Hezbollah could initiate hostilities. The recent passing of Lebanese Shia cleric Muhammad Hussein Fadl’Allah, a spiritual adviser to Hezbollah and a man with many enemies inside and outside Lebanon, could spark strife within Lebanon in which Hezbollah could decide to attack Israel as a means of unifying its supporters.”

There is little explanation offered for what is a baffling FIRST statement of contingency. The scenario he draws here as a first order of business is something I have simply not heard discussed seriously or at all here in Beirut – such that I had to conclude perhaps Kurtzer was confusing Fadlallah with Mughniyeah? In any case, this sort of wild speculation at the beginning of what purports to be a serious treatment of a complex subject immediately calls into question what follows… To read the full post, click here.

Syrian Market too Expensive to Enter, Turkish Bank Says (Syria Report)
The Syrian market is too expensive to enter, the management of Turkish bank Halkbank said in press comments.

Economy: Customs Register 30 percent Increase in H1 Revenues

Revenues generated by Syria’s customs stood at SYP 43 billion in the first half of this year, an annual increase of 30 percent.

The Syrian Business Council, which regroups most of Syria’s new business elite, has issued a rare statement criticising the relevance [accuracy?] of official statistics and their impact on investment and growth.

Finance: Half of Private Sector Banks’ Branches Located in Greater Damascus

The number of branches and offices run by private sector banks in Syria increased by around 13 percent in the first half of this year.

Finance: Central Bank Encourages Lending to SMEs

The Central Bank has issued a decision to encourage local banks to extend loans and other credit facilities to small and medium enterprises as well as to productive sectors.

Tourism: Syria Records Significant Increase in Tourists in H1, 2010

The number of tourists having visited Syria in the first half of this year increased by 63 percent compared to the same period of last year according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism: French Company to Build USD 22 Million Entertainment Centre in Homs

Loftus, a French company specialized in the construction and management of entertainment infrastructures, has signed an agreement to build an amusement centre in Homs. Read

Comments (37)

almasri said:

Looks like there is a lot in common between the Syrian Ministry of Education and Wilders so-called Freedom Party. I wonder if they are watching Wilders movie at the ministry,

So what exactly is this ministry trying to prove? Syria is on the same side as those European extremists defending Israel?

Or is it trying to achieve so-called ‘modernization’ by hanging on to the tails?

Or simply bankrupt? Or the regime feels threatened, perhaps?

Looks like whichever way you look at it the Syrian women have already proven they have lots of power through the veil and more so than their unveiled men counterparts particularly the minister.

Did this minister hear of some one called Abu Sayyah?

July 20th, 2010, 3:08 am


offended said:

Positive move. I approve 100%.

But we need more comprehensive strategies to protect our secular system and curb radicalism.

July 20th, 2010, 10:41 am


t_desco said:

Report: Bellemare Said Army Won’t Arrest Hizbullah Member in Case of Involvement in Hariri Murder
As Safir quoted Bellemare as saying that the announcement of his findings would include two rounds. They will start in September and last till end of 2010.

The first round will involve 3-5 names from Hizbullah while the second will include the naming of around 20 party members, according to the report.

However, the Hizbullah leadership will not be blamed for the killing, As Safir said, adding that his findings do not include names of Syrians.
Naharnet, July 20, 2010

By not implicating the leadership they would cunningly manage to avoid all the hard questions concerning the alleged motive of the attack.

Ex-U.S. Official: It Was Obvious Syrians Were Not Behind Hariri Killing

A former high-level U.S. official has said that Washington was lately aware that no Syrian stood behind the assassination of ex-Premier Saad Hariri.

“It was lately obvious to us that the Syrians were not behind the assassination. However, they probably knew about it (sic!),” the former official told As Safir daily.

Asked about the political intentions of Hizbullah, the official said: “We don’t know yet. We have thought about many scenarios.” (…)
Naharnet, July 20, 2010

(my emphasis)

There is certainly some creative talent required to figure out the ‘motive’. Perhaps they should ask Hollywood.

July 20th, 2010, 12:03 pm


almasri said:

Regarding Egypt, the article below describes clearly the widespread discontent. Unlike Syria where voices are stifled, voices in Egypt are getting louder and louder against the status quo, i.e. despotism. Security apparatus is even more lethal than its Syrian counterpart. Yet, people are not sitting idle. Dissent is still largely disorganized with the exception of one group,

Historically, when Egypt boils it usually erupts into a volcano that sweeps everything in its way and hopefully the rest of the despotic regimes. So it won’t be Turkey.

July 20th, 2010, 4:22 pm


almasri said:

More about niqab. So-called Arab liberals (or as the writer called it A’arab ‘liberalism’) have nothing to offer. They are opportunists. They will only strengthen extremism as pointed out in another article posted by OTW in the previous thread, also proving Arabs are just consumers (both so-called liberals and extremists), which also proves the Arabs are one and the same. The extremists, however, have the higher moral ground with their claims to authenticity and loyalty to Arab history.

كشف “النقاب” عن ليبرالية الأعراب!

(Unveiling the Niqab of A’arab ‘Liberalism’)
زياد الدريس
يجب أن نتفق أولاً على حقيقة جوهرية هي أن الإسلام أكبر بكثير من أن نستصغره أو نضيّقه ونحجّمه في مسألة نقاب أو حتى حجاب. لكن هذه الحقيقة توازيها أيضاً، بالمقابل، حقيقة أخرى سنشير لها في نهاية المقالة.


انطلقت شرارة الحرب ضد الحجاب ثم النقاب من فرنسا (بلد الحرية)، ثم انتشرت المواجهة إلى بلجيكا وإيطاليا واسبانيا وبريطانيا، وسيأتي المزيد.
وحين يُفتح النقاش الفكري أو الاعلامي حول هذه المسألة تتضارب الآراء وتسيطر العشوائية، ليس لأن قضية الحجاب والنقاب مسألة مختلف عليها في المجتمعات والفتاوى الاسلامية ذاتها، ولكن لأن مسوغات الموقف الاوروبي، من النقاب خصوصاً، غير واضحة أو مراوغة على الأصح!

فمنع النقاب يأتي تارةً من منطلق أنه رمز ديني يتعارض مع الأسس والقيم العلمانية التي وضعها الآباء الجدد لأوروبا الحديثة، وهي الحجة نفسها التي منعت بموجبها فرنسا الحجاب من المدارس والدوائر الحكومية… وتارةً أخرى يأتي منع النقاب من منطلق حقوقي، غير ايديولوجي، إذ يعتبرون أنه لا يتلاءم مع الكرامة الانسانية للمرأة. وتارةً ثالثة يبرر معارضو النقاب موقفهم من منطلق أمني، إذ قد تُستغل تغطية الوجه للقيام بأعمال مشبوهة أو مؤذية.

وإزاء هذه التفسيرات، الدينية أو المدنية او الأمنية، يصبح من الصعوبة تحديد الموقف في أي نقاش يثار حول هذه الزوبعة التي تشغل أوروبا الآن.

فالمبرر الديني أو الايديولوجي ضد النقاب مبرر متهافت إزاء المرجعية الليبرالية للدساتير الأوروبية التي كفلت حرية الأديان والمعتقدات لمن شاء وكيفما شاء.

أما المبرر المدني بوصف النقاب ممارسة ضد حقوق الانسان وكرامة المرأة، فيسوغ هذا في حال كانت المرأة مجبرة على النقاب. وحيث أن دراسة لإحدى المؤسسات الحقوقية الفرنسية قد أبانت أن الشريحة الأكبر من النساء المنقبات في فرنسا فعلن ذلك بقناعتهن ومحض إرادتهن، وأن القانون الفرنسي بمنع النقاب هو الذي سيشكل انتهاكاً لحقوقهن وكرامتهن في حرية الاختيار، فإن المبرر المدني يصبح ذا تأثير عكسي تماماً للرسالة التي أراد إيصالها للمجتمع المدني الفرنسي والأوروبي.

وإذا كان منطلق البرلمانات الأوروبية في منع النقاب هو الحفاظ على الكرامة الانسانية فإننا سندخل في منطقة عائمة وضبابية من أجل تحديد معايير الكرامة الانسانية، فهناك أشياء كثيرة مررتها تلك البرلمانات وهي لا تتلاءم مع الكرامة الانسانية، وأسوق هنا نموذجين فقط: منع الحديث عن «الهولوكوست»، وهو ضد الكرامة الانسانية في حرية التعبير، وإقرار قانونية الشذوذ الجنسي، وهو ضد الكرامة الانسانية في حفظ النوع والجنس والنسل.

يبقى بعد ذلك المبرر الأمني الذي هو أكثر مسوغات القرار جدارة بالنقاش، إذ من حق كل دولة أن تطبّق ما تشاء من قوانين وتحفظات من أجل الحفاظ على الأمن، الذي يحمي المنقبين وغير المنقبين من البشر! لكننا لم نسمع من قبل أن امرأة منقبة في أيّ من شوارع أوروبا رفضت الامتثال لطلب البوليس لكشف نقابها بدواعي اشتباه جنائي أو أمني. فما الحاجة إذاً لإصدار قرار إلزامي ضد سلوك غير ممانع؟!


فرنسا (المختطفة حالياً، كما أشرت في مقالة سابقة)، وهي بلد فولتير والحرية، هي التي قادت الزوبعة الأوروبية هذه.

وبريطانيا، بلد الرصانة والديموقراطية العريقة، هي التي قد تلجم هذا التراكض الأوروبي خلف فرنسا، وتقدم درساً جديداً في التعالي عن انتهاك الحريات من أجل حوادث طارئة، تماماً كما فعلت بكل رصانة النبلاء، بعد تفجيرات 7/7 الوحشية المفجعة.

إزاء هذا التفاوت الأوروبي في آلية المعالجة، تتجلى صورة الاحتقان العربي بين فصيلين: ديني متشدد يرى أن منع النقاب هو الصورة الحقيقية للوجه الأوروبي الذي أعلن الحرب على الإسلام والمسلمين وقيّد حرياتهم. وينسى هذا الفصيل أن ملايين المسلمين قد احتضنتهم أوروبا ورعتهم بعد أن كانت حياتهم كلها (وليس نقابهم فقط) في بلدانهم الاسلامية مقيدة ومهددة بالموت. وفصيل عربي آخر ليبرالي (اسمياً)، تخلى فعلياً عن ليبراليته ليحتفل بالقرار الأوروبي، المختلف عليه بين الأوروبيين أنفسهم! لنكون بالفعل أمام وضع، كالذي وصفه الليبرالي الملتزم عبدالرحمن الراشد، بأن المستفيد فيه من حالة منع النقاب هم المتطرفون على الجانبين، سيستخدمونه وقوداً للتحريض على العنف والانتقام.


وجوب حماية النساء من ضغوط الأسرة والمجتمع لإجبارهن على ارتداء النقاب، يوازي وجوب حماية النساء من ضغوط الدولة والبوليس لإجبارهن على خلع النقاب.

*نقلاً عن “الحياة” اللندنية

The writer presumes England would eventually put an end to this European hypocrisy. Would the A’arab ‘liberals’ then be happy with a ‘fatwa’ made in a European country (England) to change their minds about the niqab? After all they just follow like all other Arabs.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. These so-called ‘liberal’ A’arabs would probably like to continue to ‘enjoy’ the sights of half stripped women walking down the streets – That is progress for them. And they would still continue to compalin about women being treated as sex objects. So the Europeans still have hope to end their hypocrisy. The A’arabs have none.

July 21st, 2010, 1:29 am


Averroes said:


I really don’t appreciate your comment 4 above, bragging about dissidence for its own sake. Syria has a number of internal problems but there are a lot of reasons that would compel people to revolt in Egypt that are simply not there in Syria: Unlike the Egyptian regime, Syria is not blockading and suffocating a population of 1.5 million fellow Arabs and Muslims. Unlike the Egyptian regime, Syria has not allowed itself, its name, and its history to decay into the pathetic status it is now. Syria enjoys self sufficiency in food and medicine production, while Egypt is at any moment weeks away from starvation if supplies stop, thanks to your wonderful Agriculture ministry. Syria does not allow the US and Israeli foreign ministers to decide, on their own, to build an iron curtain on its own land, and then shuts up and obliges. I can go on.

I salute the patriotic voices and forces in Egypt that are moving toward a meaningful change. I wish them all the best and all the success. When they do success, and I believe it is a matter of time, they will find a good friend in Syria.

As for the issue of the Niqab, I really don’t understand your concern. The Niqab is a tell-tale of an ideology that rejects everything different, and that – if empowered – will have very little tolerance for almost everyone else.

I personally know of cases in Syria where these schools lure in youth and slowly assume total control over their minds. The sheikhs there preach hatred toward your own family, fathers, mothers, relatives, all going to hell, they tell them. I know of young teenagers who have attacked their own fathers in bursts of rage and said horrible things to them. This is the ideology that the Niqab represents. We don’t want that in Syria, thank you.

July 21st, 2010, 12:52 pm


almasri said:


Let me be clear on one thing. I am not Egyptian. Even though I know a lot about Egypt having lived there for some time. My real name is al-Makansy al-Husseini which is a well known Alepine family. Secondly, it was not my objective to gain appreciation from posting. So you may have missed the point.

I am not here to discuss comparative opinions on different Arab States. It will derail the discussion to street talk as we have seen not long ago. The ‘rosy’ picture that you have in mind about Syria is widely disputed by many Syrians that I personally know. In fact, you do not need to go further than Syriacomment to find that out. I would like to draw your attention to the fate of ex-MP Homsi who is now being forced to quit Lebanon as his refuge of the last few years, because of political considerations between Syrian and Lebanese governments, that are risking turning Lebanon into a ‘police state’ extension of the Syrian state – thus losing one of the last ‘liberal’ Arab countries that used to be the ultimate refuge of Arab dissent.

It is true that Egypt allows the US to meddle in its affairs to a certain extent but not as you imagine. Israeli interference in Egypt’s affairs does not exist as you described it, and it is governed by the stipulations of the ill-fated Camp David accords. But, please do not tell me how far the Assad regime is willing to go down for a glimpse of approval from Washington. We all know what muqawama means to him – an opportunity just like any other opportunity presents itself to him, example the latest European hypocrisy. On the other hand, being clever in playing on contradictions does not give you any leverage to determine outcomes of objectives as your strategy may dictate. It only gives you the ability to survive for a while. In that sense, there is no comparison whatsoever between Egypt which does not need to play on any such contradictions to assert itself. Hence Egypt is far more self sufficient than a Syria ruled by a minority seeking support from outside powers to gain legitimacy because it cannot trust its own people. For your information, Egypt proceeded with its policies after Sadat (I do not agree necessarily but I am just being objective) without need for any Arab help. In fact it was ostracised by the Arabs. And in fact, it was the Arabs who went back to Egypt and not the other way around.

If you do not understand the issue behind the niqab, then please allow me to say that is a disaster that will put an end to any meaningful discussion. The article above is very clear on what the issue has become. Unveiling the niqab off the Arab women (Syrian or whatever) simply unveils the niqab of those opportunists so-called liberals which the author described as A’arab. I am sure you know what A’arab means. For those who do not speak the language, A’arab is mentioned in the Qur’an describing those Arabs who are the most extreme in atheism and hypocrisy and are the least to know the limits (or hudud) set out by Allah. Now, obviously the writer is here referring to the Syrian government behaving as those A’arabs. I do not believe he is too far off the truth when we see the government just consuming what the Europeans have just produced as the latest hypocrisy to justify their attacks on Islam. Please see Wilders article in comment 1. The writer of the article in comment 5 was clear enough to make the obvious observation that Islam is not simply wearing or not wearing a niqab. If a woman chooses with her own will to wear a niqab then that is her own prerogative. No law on this earth should be enacted to force her to remove it. Those who are arguing niqab is not a Syrian tradition know nothing about such traditions. Having visited Aleppo on few occasions, I have seen women who wore niqabs (or face cover) much earlier than the current trends of the various types of niqabs. As everyone knows Aleppo is not a rural area to argue on that basis. In fact, I have seen women who would not give audience to men strangers. Anyone who approves of that behaviour of the government, then he or she should just come out truthfully and declare his or her atheism in the open for then he or she will at least spare themselves the accusation of being hypocrite? In this case let the lines be drawn clearly because there are a lot of Syrians and Muslims who detest the idea of being passive consumers particularly when the production is taking place in far off places.

July 21st, 2010, 2:38 pm


Nour said:


Your posts are representative of the dangerous thinking and mentality that the “niqab” represents that should be combated. You are quick to condemn anyone opposing the niqab as atheists, and we all know what that entails in the language of religious fanatics. But your arguments are nonsensical. Opposition to the mentality of the niqab is not an attack on Islam anymore than the condemnation of Christian fanatic figures such as Jerry Falwell is an attack on Christianity. But the problem is that your complete intolerance toward any viewpoint not in line with your interpretation of what is mandated by God instills in you a sentiment of utter hatred and spite toward people representing those views. It is to the degree that you even wish death upon them, as you have done before on this site. It is this type of attitude that “will put an end to any meaningful discussion” and not anything Averroes said.

July 21st, 2010, 3:01 pm


almasri said:


How ridiculous?
Are you going to tell us, Muslims, what the Qur’an commanded with regards to women’s cover? Is it mentioned in Antoun’s book?
Please go back and learn Islam from its sources and then come back and argue.

Or is it your presumption that Muslims need outside help to understand their religion? So, those who came before us the last 1400 years had no clue what Islam was all about until Antoun came and explained it to you?

Give us a break, please, and save us your pathetic orientalism.

July 21st, 2010, 3:33 pm


Off the Wall said:

Fist, It should be obvious now that I am against the Niqab not simply as a dress, but at what it signifies.

Although I am disappointed with Arab Liberals, they are not the hypocrites here. The true hypocrites are those abusing the liberalism and liberties offered them by the west to push radicalism to no-limits. It is those who are using women and convincing on coercing them to believe them that their religion is incomplete unless they isolate themselves even from fresh air, subjecting their health, their self worth, and humanity to draconian interpretation of religion so that they can score a political position. This is not only sick, it is abuse of religion as well.

They are, including the author of the article above, the last ones to have any right to talk about the failure of Europe’s liberalism and to attack the Syrian government for finally taking the brave stance against a abusive trend that has been on-going. Would they allow woman to go out without cover if they become the ruling power, the two examples we have say not, would they, or you, tolerate a woman wearing shorts in the streets if they become the rulers in power. And if you answer me, but have our values, then you are joining the band of hypocrites who allow themselves to enjoy and even abuse the fruits of liberalism, but would not allow it for their own people. Any one who say, but I am free to wear what I want, and then accepts the right of Saudi or Iranians to impose a dress code, simply because the code is acceptable to them, is the hypocrite.

To all of these I say, stop reducing Islam to a cloth, and stop making it look like its only goal is isolation and oppression of women. I am sick of their hijack of this great religion.

July 21st, 2010, 3:46 pm


Nour said:


Who are “us, Muslims” to whom you are referring? You problem is that you reject anyone not agreeing with you as a Muslim in the first place. And yes, anyone should have a right to challenge any and all books, religious texts, doctrines, ideologies, philosophies, etc. in a civil manner. Why is that such a threat to you? And when you say “learn Islam from its sources,” to what sources are you referring? Are different interpretations of Islam even within Muslim circles allowed?

I personally have no problem with looking any and all sources, but to claim that I have no right to form an opinion on the matter and no right to present these views publicly if they differ from your views is nonsense. This is the type of mentality represented by fundamentalists that is such a tremendous threat to society.

July 21st, 2010, 4:04 pm


almasri said:


The writer of that article has as much right as you have to express himself. In fact he showed more reason than what appears in your post. Freedom of speech or of belief is not the monopoly of so-called liberals. Muslims have practiced those arts when no so-called liberal existed anywhere in Europe or elsewhere. I do not see why you have to repeat what the author already pointed out at the beginning of his article about niqab being not the all and all about Islam.

Of course, Muslim rulers will not allow women to go out half naked. That is a given and is by no means hidden. It does not require any proof.

So exactly, what are you arguing about?

Did you survey those women who chose to wear the niqab and determine if they wear it out of belief or forcefully?

Having visited the link of all4syria site provided in the main post, I am inclined to think it is largely practised out of belief. I have also noticed that most parents find those privately funded schools provide better quality education than government run schools that are merely teaching meaningless slogans. So what really makes you so proud of a government that has more or less stagnated Syria in the last 40 years or so? Guess what? Those schools are quite expensive? Which means only those parents with means are sending their kids to those schools. Those parents will eventually send their kids to let’s say Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt or even KSA in order to get the education they desire for their kids if the Syrian government is going to force a certain agenda on the population. So what will be the end result? The previous generation was forced out of Syria with all its talents because of draconianism. The next phase, the new generation which are most likely the elites will grow up as ‘immigrant’ students.

So much for detaching Syria from its roots in the name of consuming so-called modernity produced in Europe!!! Good luck.

I linked few sources of Islamic scholars in a previous thread, one of them is for a well known Damascene. You can start with those. Then come back and we will carry on the argument. Actually the link of the Damascene (Ibn Kathir) will allow you to understand the whole Qura’n with interpretation by choosing the proper Sura and verse from the drop down menu. Good luck with your studies.

July 21st, 2010, 4:20 pm


Off the Wall said:

This is beyond freedom of speech. This is the essence of arrogance and hypocrisy. One can not give countries ruled by islamists the right to impose a dress code, and then deny that right to others.

You have read the main article, have you noticed that these “da3ya-teacher” combination have been abusing the trust of the families who expected their children to receive full education within an islamic setting, but mainly received religious indoctrination into a foreign cult (wahabism). To use a child so that one can coerce her/his mother into wearing niqab and create mistrust between child and mother is the worst betrayal of the role of teacher and is in my opinion a child abuse and those who practiced it should be held liable in court and their transfer from education into other jobs was rather soft. Circumventing educational curricula is intolerable because every child, despite of their parents wishes, should receive a basic level of education and cheating the children and their families was the primary function of these schools. If they close all of these schools, my reaction would be good riddance. I have seen good Islamic schools operating and these schools, based on the article’s description do not fit the standards, not the educational ones, nor the islamic ones. According to the same article, they were established using corrupt (i.e., un-islamic) means and protected, for long, by means akin to corruption. Good Islamic schools, like the one in my area, have a parent/expert boards that screen teachers for any sign of extremism. Ours has on several occasions, favored a secular teacher due to qualification in subject matter, not due to her Hijab and to her relationship to this or that da3ya.

Elite? in what, being rich makes them elite?

You are assuming that every parent sending their children to Islamic private school want their daughter to wear niqab? did you survey the parents?, to my knowledge, many parents, even those who are “returning” to islam do not favor the extremist view.

The problem is that once someone slaps an Islamic label on something, well meaning individuals feel compelled to support it or to defend it. This in fact is the dirtiest trick played by the Wahabis and whatever other cult that have emerged, or will emerge in the future.

I can easily see where my post gave the impression that I am denying people whom I disagree with the “right” to speech. This was careless on my side, and I should have used terms like ” the last ones to have any credentials or credibility” instead of “the last ones to have any right”. Sincere thanks for your note. I stand corrected and, as always, appreciate being corrected.

July 21st, 2010, 6:16 pm


Off the Wall said:

Syria does not want this

الرياض ـ يو بي آي: انهال سعودي بالضرب والشتم على طبيب في مستشفى الطوال الحدودي بمنطقة جازان بسبب سؤاله زوجة الرجل عن ‘مكان الألم’ الذي تشعر به.
ونقلت صحيفة ‘الوطن’ الأربعاء عن مسؤول قوله إن رجلا أحضر زوجته المريضة إلى قسم الطوارئ بالمستشفى، ودخل معها إلى قسم النساء في الطوارئ، وبدأ الطبيب في الكشف عليها بحضوره والممرضات، وعند سؤالها عن تاريخها المرضي و’مكان الألم’، ثار الزوج وضرب الطبيب وشتمه بألفاظ قبيحة.
وأضاف أن الممرضات وأمن المستشفى والمدير المناوب تدخلوا لإنقاذ الطبيب وأوقفوا الاعتداء، وتم تحويل القضية إلى الشرطة .
يذكر أنه صدر حكم شرعي في حادثة مشابهة أخيراً، بسجن وجلد مواطن اعتدى على ممرضة.

July 21st, 2010, 6:59 pm


almasri said:


You continue to use Wahhabism as they say mismar jiha (مسمار جحا). I do not support Wahhabism and I do not care the least if it disappears tomorrow. However, I do not shut my eyes and reduce all such trends to a mirage. I do not live in Syria. But I have been in contact. I have also been in contact with most Muslim communities in North America as well as in Europe. In fact, few years ago I spent a whole summer in Northern England where there is a huge community of Muslims. There was a gathering of over 100000 Muslims in one town (Dewsbury) from all over the world. We basically ran the town the whole summer. The police just handed us the town and left it for us and kept distance. I personally was involved in traffic control in couple days each week as part of my contribution. The purpose of the gathering was just introducing Muslims (not non-Muslims) to their religion. I met some of the da3yas (real da3yas) who have dedicated a life time for the effort. These are da3yas (mostly non-Arabs) who are as loathed by the Wahhabis as you loathe the Wahhabis. They know Islam better than anyone I have met and they have no political agendas and never talk about politics. Their knowledge stems from actual practice and not simple readings of books here and there. To them, this is their life and they can travel unimpeded throughout the world. They are well known almost on any border crossing. They have one of the largest followings throughout the world. A respectable percentage of them are Doctors, teachers, Professors, Lawyers, Engineers, etc… Needless to say, the majority of the gathering was made up of simple Muslims. However, the scholars who attended are among the most knowledgeable about da3wa that you can find anywhere in the world. So please, refrain from using that kind of argument because it is empty and has nothing to do with this issue.

Coming back to North America, I have been involved in several projects of building community centers which usually includes among other things building Islamic schools in various cities. These are government licensed schools with recognized curriculum which usually includes Islamic courses and Arabic language. The schools are not free like public schools and in fact are very expensive. And it is the same phenomenon you see in Syria. There is always a waiting list if you would like to enrol your kid. Some non-Muslims sometimes approach the School administration to enrol their kids and bylaw they have to go on the waiting list and have to be admitted if a vacancy arises. You know full well you cannot discriminate in North America with such things.

The issue of niqab is an issue of choice. A woman who chooses the niqab has the full right to wear it and no one should force her to take it off. A Muslim ruler is required to enforce decency in the public arena as failure to do so, will impact the most basic tenets upon which a society is built. I again emphasize that I am not endorsing any State claiming to enforce such behaviour. When Syria’s constitution claims Sharia to be the main source of legislation, then no law can be valid that violates this Sharia. Banning the niqab (or face cover, or mlaya) is a violation of the Sharia. Hence the writer in five is not too far off the truth. By the way, in most of North America solicitation for the purpose of prostitution is a criminal offense even though prostitution itself is not a criminal offense. You may say this is off the point of discussion but then why should you not be allowed to solicit for such activities in a ‘liberal’ environment? Or what makes us certain these laws will not be revoked in the future and the activity of solicitation becomes non-criminal.

Having the money may not necessarily make you elite. But if you have it, it would weigh the odds in your favour to achieve it.

I only saw one comment complaining about these schools in all4syria. The rest were all in favour. But then again we cannot rely on a website as this one to decide the issue.

From my personal experience and my travels, Syrian women are conservative by nature and by no means can we argue that niqab (or face cover or mlaya) is foreign to Syrian society – not to mention that sharia may require such practice. And please do not go back to Wahhabism again.

I posted this comment and then I noticed your number 14. It is ridiculous. You just cannot see issues without blaming outside effects which is the well known Arab behaviour of absolving self of responsibility. Besides what gives you the authority to speak on behalf of the Syrians? That is a big assumption on your part. I never spoke on behalf of any group or people. Can we just exchange personal opinions and experiences?

July 21st, 2010, 7:12 pm


Averroes said:


I am pretty sure that the first time I read a post by someone that called himself ‘Almasri’ here on SC, the writer presented himself as if here indeed Egyptian. Was that you? Or was it someone else?

So you are from my hometown of Halab.

I have to say that I’m getting conflicting signals reading your posts. You say you could not care less about Wahabism, and you want people to stop using that term, yet the Niqab is a flag that has Wahabi influence written all over it. You are exhibiting what looks like a severe allergic reaction to criticism of the Niqab, as if it were an attack on the essence of Islam.

The Niqab is a tell-tale of an ensemble of beliefs. It is an If-And-Only-If relationship between the two: When you have the Niqab, you have these other baggage, and when you have that baggage, you have the Niqab. They come hand in hand. It is this baggage that we’re against.

This baggage is intolerant, uncivilized, and outright dangerous. I have first hand experience with what I’m talking about, in Aleppo and in Saudi Arabia. In Europe and the US, these people live on the fringe of society, avoiding paying taxes if they can, totally detached from the system, from neighbors, from people in the streets, and they harbor models of reality that are truly scary. The young and impressionable are coarsed into the circle of influence of these “sheikhs” and “sheikhas” and they exercise outrageous tactics of control over them, driving deep wedges between these kids and their parents, brothers and sisters.

They are taught not to think, not to second guess anything the sheikh says, and to obey blindly. This is an investment that SOMEONE is making to be able to CASH IN on at some point in the future. Cashing in usually includes political gain for certain groups, and almost always is accompanied by savage violence.

I know some of those people and I personally have experience with them. I was close to being one of them at some stage of my life. They believe that Shiites, Alawis, Ismaelis, and all other sects should be eliminated. Eliminated as in killed, their property confiscated, their women taken as Sabi. That’s killed as in physically killed, sir, just to be sure.

I heard it with my own ears at a Friday Prayer sermon in Saudi that “when Islam prevails again, the Slavery system will be reinstated”. The sheikh was lecturing about the mulk al-yameen, the female slaves that you can own according to that system. I kid you not. I almost walked out of the mosque when I heard it.

This is what the Niqab represents and this is why countries are beginning to react to it the way they are. It is not about our right to see a person’s face. It is a symbol of a school of thought, and people are rejecting what this symbol represents.

As OTW commented, if you accept that a certain regime has the right to interfere in people’s dress code in some countries, how can you reject it elsewhere? And .. the level of interference by the Saudi and Iranian religious police vastly overshadows the level of preventing a face cloth.

July 21st, 2010, 11:36 pm


Averroes said:


Besides … you’re talking about ‘Sharia’. Which Sharia? There are as many Sharias as there are rulers trying to ride on people’s belief in Islam. And when a Sharia punishes a poor Bangladeshi by death for smuggling 100 grams of hash, while turning a blind eye to the truckloads of drugs and alcohol brought into the country by powerful people, then it ceases to be a Sharia. It becomes a deformed regime of tyranny that has nothing to do with any religion.

And how do you decide what’s offensive and indecent so that the “Muslim Ruler” may intervene so that the said indecency will not “impact the most basic tenets upon which a society is built”. (Doesn’t this choice of words strike you as obsessive? Is a woman’s clothing really the most basic tenets upon which a society is built? Have our standards deteriorated that low?)

In Saudi Arabia, the religious police representing the “Wali Al-Amr” apparently view full body covers that happen to have any other color but black, to be a threat! If an Abaya (body cover) is a tad tight then it’s indecent and a threat to society. If a woman’s toes are showing then it’s indecency (I know of a couple who were stopped in Mecca, asked to board the Hay’a truck, lectured about the white female’s toes showing and how they constitute a fitna to Muslims, and then handed over a pair of black socks that she had to promptly put on.)

Where does this end? Who decides what’s indecent? Those sick, sex-obsessed maniacs running around in malls with sticks in their hands? Not for me, thank you.

July 22nd, 2010, 12:06 am


Off the Wall said:


1. Of course I was not talking about the same type of du3at you mentioned.

2. Loathing is not a characteristic of mine, nor is hate.

Now to the serious stuff. Decency is the first thing advocated by many Islamic movements, not because of its value, but because it is visible, and easy to accomplish. All one needs is few bullies, and decency laws are established and enforced. Girls are covered, men and women are walking with distance separating them, and what appears to be an islamic state seems to emerge. Decency thus gives political Islam a sense of accomplishment and feeling that they have built an Islamic state, while in fact, they have done nothing of the sort. This is why the first order of any Islamic movement is to establish and enforce decency laws. It satisfies the followers, and may in fact make them feel ownership of the state as some of them volunteer into decency enforcement, while in fact, they are fully sidelined from any real political decision of the country, all of this without addressing an iota of the real porblems facing the society that may even have brought the islamists to power. What was simply a call for modesty amongst many other calls for different types of modesty in islam, becomes the main goal and a repressive apparatus that sees women as the weak link the religion (an insult in itself) becomes self perpetuating oppression. There is no need for economic platform any longer, unemployment, or unproductive employment become secondary, so would be workers right, quality of life, education, and development. As long as the society looks like the mythical construct of what an Islamic state should look like.

July 22nd, 2010, 1:46 am


almasri said:


I’ll try to go over your post in a question and answer dialog. Hopefully, that will make it some what easier.

“The Niqab is a tell-tale of an ensemble of beliefs. It is an If-And-Only-If relationship between the two: When you have the Niqab, you have these other baggage, and when you have that baggage, you have the Niqab.”

Explain that please. It is too vague, too general and lacks clarity. It looks propagandish to me.

“In Europe and the US, these people live on the fringe of society, avoiding paying taxes if they can, totally detached from the system, from neighbors, from people in the streets, and they harbor models of reality that are truly scary.”

That is a false statement. What experience do you have to support it? Muslims that I know are among the most accomplished. They all pay taxes and often in higher bracket incomes. Needless to say your paragraph is completely out of touch proving to me you may have never been outside Halab or the ME. Your English, however is quite good. But this is not a proof of a meaningful experience of life in Europe or the US.

“They are taught not to think, not to second guess anything the sheikh says, and to obey blindly. This is an investment that SOMEONE is making to be able to CASH IN on at some point in the future. Cashing in usually includes political gain for certain groups, and almost always is accompanied by savage violence.”

This is completely false here in NA and not worthy of consideration – unless you are talking about local practices in Syria or somewhere else. So please explain exactly who are They?

I cannot comment on the allegation you make in the next paragraph about some groups calling for eliminating such groups as alawis, ismailis etc…
Unless you can provide evidence I will consider it as propaganda not worthy of consideration.

I also cannot comment on your next allegation about what you heard in some Friday prayers. I never heard such sermons and I never miss Friday prayers. Believe me sometimes I may have to attend these prayers in mosques with Imams from Saudi as work conditions here in NA may dictate such attendance. I had no problem with any of their sermons. In fact, I do not find their khutbas different than other khutbas I hear from Imams from India, Egypt, Syria, lebanon etc…

As for OTW, I made it clear no one can argue and say face cover (or mlaya which is just another form of niqab) is not part of Syrian tradition. My objection to laying the blame on Wahhabism stems from this fact. Sweeping the issue under the guise of so-called Wahhabi influence proves the bias of those proponents of this illegal ban. I made it clear, if a woman chooses to put on this cover it is her own prerogative and she should be allowed to do it without government interference. FULL STOP.

And no Sir, the Sharia is one not two or three etc…. Ask sheikh hassoun. Some of you guys accuse him of being pro-Shia. He is not. He is an authority on Shafeism. Shafei was also accused of similar charges. But we all know who Shafei is.

“And how do you decide what’s offensive and indecent so that the “Muslim Ruler” may intervene so that the said indecency will not “impact the most basic tenets upon which a society is built”.”
May be you should read further down my previous post and ask yourself the same question on why solicitation for prostitution is a criminal offense in most liberal states. Why do they bother? That may give you clue.

“(Doesn’t this choice of words strike you as obsessive? Is a woman’s clothing really the most basic tenets upon which a society is built? Have our standards deteriorated that low?)”

The women have been explicitly ordered to cover their bodies in explicit verses in the Qur’an. I am sure you can find those verses on your own. I also quoted those verses under a previous thread, if you need any help. Do you not feel ashamed about your statement since the standard here is none but the Qur’an?

Finally, you still go back in circles and show consistent tendency to lay blame on outsiders. I do not speak for Saudis, nor do I endorse them and neither can I comment on your allegations about what you saw in hajj. I have not yet performed hajj myself. Hopefully, I’ll do so soon. Many of my relatives have done it as well as many acquaintances and friends. I never heard anything from them as you described. Most if not all are looking forward for a repeat.

I hope that answers your concerns.


I’ll have to answer your 18 later. I have to take care of other things now.

July 22nd, 2010, 2:30 am


Averroes said:


I see an inclination to convenience in your reply. You dismiss all the witness accounts that I’ve mentioned (very convenient, isn’t it) and revert to denial concerning the existence of some of very well known characteristics (also pretty convenient). You even go so far as to doubt that I’ve ever left Halab or the ME.

That’s a reply? Rejecting and dismissing anything that does not fit the model one has of reality? How can anyone hope to learn anything like that?

July 22nd, 2010, 9:50 am


almasri said:


So those were not the dua3t you meant? You didn’t explain which dua3t you meant.

Now to the serious stuff.

You blow things out of proportion. You turn an issue about niqab into a discussion about Islamic movements, Islamic States, education, development etc…

Wearing or not wearing the niqab will not advance or retard any of those issue.

The matter is much simpler. Syria as it is as of this moment has the sharia as its main source of legislation. The ban on the niqab is in contradiction of this sharia. It is also in contradiction of your preferred imported European ideologies that you believe are the panacea for a dysfunctional regime. That is all there is to it.


I see inclination on your part to provide misinformation. You have not supported any of your allegations. You have been asked to explain yourself on one paragraph. You failed to do so. You have been also asked to explain your position on explicit Qur’an verses. You failed to do so. You are misinformed (or conveniently dismissive) of Sharia. You continue to insist on relying on Arab’s usual method to absolving self of responsibility by manufacturing outside phantoms – Wahhabism or KSA. In all, your post would be a good worthless propaganda piece that Sham Press would probably love to post.
Finally, just so you may be aware, the last time I checked, the only Arab Universities that made it to relevant reputable world ranking (the Shanghai ranking was one of them) were Saudi universities. I do not know if that will open your mind to things going on around you. I believe OTW provided not long ago reliable information about Arab States (Qatar, UAE, Oman, Jordan, and Morocco) fast moving up on the scale of combating corruption. Good luck with your distorted sense of your so-called ‘Syrian distinctiveness’ under a dysfunctional regime.

July 22nd, 2010, 12:11 pm


jad said:

Syria is not an Islamic state and its constitution is very clear on that.
فالبند الثاني من المادة الثالثة من الدستور تقول: “الفقه الإسلامي مصدر)
رئيسي للتشريع”! وللذين يحبون أن يتجاهلوا اللغة العربية رغم معرفتهم بها، فهذا الجملة تعني “الفقه” وليس الدين، ولا الشريعة… والفقه يعني كل الاجتهادات التي تقع تحت هذا الدين. وهذه الجملة تعني أيضا أنه “مصدر” (نكرة) من مصادر مختلفة. ومن الواضح إذا أن الدولة السورية لا تتبنى دينا بعينه. وليست دولة إسلامية ولا دولة للإسلاميين. بل هي دولة لكل سوري وسورية بغض النظر عن دينه. ولا يختلف في ذلك حديث البعض الصريح أو المبطن عن أقلية وأكثرية.. فهذا حديث لا يستحق الرد.. خاصة في القرن الواحد والعشرين، وقد سالت دماء في محيط بلدنا أكثر مما يحتمله عقل.. بسبب مثل هذه المقولات..)

July 22nd, 2010, 1:30 pm


Averroes said:

No disinformation here, but apparently a lack of ability to understand very clear statements on your part, Almasri. You keep asking for explanations on really very clear statements, and you combine that with flat denial and rampage accusations to me of lying (disinformation). Can we try and elevate the level of conversation a little?

No, sir, there is not one Sharia, and there are as many Sharias as there are tyrants trying to control people using the tried and true weapon of religion. Every country (even every Mathhab and sheikh) has their own version of Sharia and that does not take away from Islam, but in fact should help us realize that Islam is not some magical, omniscience entity, but it is what Muslims make it to be. It is subject to the human factor like any other ideology in history.

And no sir, the Qur’an does not in any of its verses demand women to wear Niqab. My statements about Muslims in the west pertain to the minority that adopt the Niqab as a dress code. And I have indeed experienced the examples I mentioned to you. If you don’t have anything better than dismissal, denial, and accusations of ill will, I suggest you don’t waste people’s time.

And if you love Saudi Arabia so much, and look up to it that much, may I suggest you move there and see it first hand?

And I asked you a question that you did not answer. Are you the same Almasri that posed as an Egyptian person on SC not so long ago, or are you someone else?

July 22nd, 2010, 2:33 pm


Averroes said:


Thank you for that post 22. Right to the point, and I agree 100%

July 22nd, 2010, 2:48 pm


almasri said:


I am the same person that has been posting on this blog. And if I had said we in Egypt in some of comments, that statement does not make me one. I can certainly say so if I live (or lived in Egypt or have connection in Egypt). I may have been born on planet Mars. Does it matter to you? I do not give a damn whether you are Alepine or from Deyr el-Zor.

I do not care if you are Syrian, Saudi, Egyptian or a Zimbabwan when you come over and address me in 6 initiating a presumed discussion and end up provinding propaganda. I only look at what you say.

Now you to claim extra-ME experience. Please show me. How many years? Where? what were you doing?

You did not mention anything about Homsi’s fate? Is he no longer Syrian having been a refugee in Lebanon for 3 or 4 years?

I do not need to disclose to you which country I may love or detest in order to satisfy your preconceived biases.

Your comments about Muslims living in the west, whether they wear or wear not the niqab, are disparaging and should not only be dissmissed by any reasonable person but also condemned.

If you cannot carry on a discussion unless you have the complete postal address, the country, city, alley and phone number of the person you inend to address, then there is a problem with your own preconceptions.

Finally what is your knowledge about Islam or even the Qur’an to make such sweeping nonsensical comments about it? Where did you study? Are you a mufti? What you said is a fatwa and an ignorant one for that matter. Do you expect any person with minimum knowledge to take seriously the following ignorance:

“Every country (even every Mathhab and sheikh) has their own version of Sharia and that does not take away from Islam, but in fact should help us realize that Islam is not some magical, omniscience entity, but it is what Muslims make it to be. It is subject to the human factor like any other ideology in history.”?

You are right. Do not waste MY TIME.

Some one who keeps reading ignorance of midgets (Naissats) thinks he discovered the hot water. Street people are not worthy of being addressed but here is the definition of fiqh

وفي الاصطلاح هو : العلم بالأحكام الشّرعيّة العمليّة المكتسب من أدلّتها التّفصيليّة الصحيحة وفق أصول فقهية سليمة.

July 22nd, 2010, 3:22 pm


Averroes said:


Great entertainment. Thank you. I just wish you’d tone down your arrogant attitude, sir. I don’t think that Islam commands us to be arrogant.

Only augments what I already believe …

لسه بدنا فت خبز كتير

July 22nd, 2010, 3:31 pm


Off the Wall said:

I was talking about du3at whose only goal is to get a woman to cover additional parts of her body. This is what they start and end with. I have met others, especially in NA, and they are far from that. With them, one can really recognize the true spiritual potential of Islam.

That said,
Your non-answer to my accusation of the islamic movements of being out of touch and lazy is not convincing. You can not deny reality, from discussions in the Jordanian parliament, the Kwaiti parliament, the post-election phase in Algeria, and many other movements, banned or legalized, one can clearly discern that regressive personal status laws along with imposition of restrictions on women and rolling back whatever gains they have made over the past few decades, are the primary issues on their platform, right after grabbing power. This is why the MB failed in Syria during the brief democratic period in the country’s life, they were out of touch and they showed that they have no political program other than covering women and throwing them behind lock.

Show me the manifest of any influential Islamic party regarding workers’ rights, poverty, development, science, urban renewal, water, agricultural efficiency, or any of the real issues plaguing most Arab countries. There is barely anything on that except a call for going back to Sharia, but with no explanation how would that be done or who is sharia relevant to any of these issue. When one asks the answer is go and read sharia. This is a lazy, careless approach that shows not only political immaturity and ignorance, but utter contempt for the people these parties and movements want to govern. And please do not quote Quran for me, show me how these people intend to translate the relevant verses into action.

The primary assumption behind almost every Islamic movement is that only when all adhere to Islam, and when the society is fully following a mythic, far from reality, image of the early islamic society, the Umma will regain its strength and become powerful once more. Well guess what, piety is on the rise in every arab country, and productivity of workers is on the decline, social ills and poverty are on the rise. How come the increasing piety of a significantly larger segment of the society is not translated into improving their productivity, their industriousness. I am not saying piety is the reason for declining development, but the lack of a positive correlation between the two is something every islamist should reflect on, using the examples from our age, our areas, and not from the idealized images of 1400 years ago, may be they will discover why this piety is so damn superficial translating only into niqabs.

No one should be happy that what we see is a reaction to dictatorships, or the american invasion of iraq, or the war on islam. Real piety should never be reactive, it should come from the heart. You see, i am more muslim at heart than most of those lawyers hiding behind Shaira to advocate the marriage of 13 years old, and no he is not an isolated incident, he represents a rather increasing segment of my Syrian society. We deserve better representatives of Islam, and more than that, we deserve better lawyers and citizens.

July 22nd, 2010, 3:45 pm


jad said:

“Street people”
I guess you mean your family 😉
I totally agree.

July 22nd, 2010, 4:16 pm


Off the Wall said:

Congrats on discovering hot water, are you licensing it 🙂

July 22nd, 2010, 4:52 pm


Nour said:


The goals called for by so-called “Islamic movements” are contrary to the goals set forth by the Qur’an itself. Their calls for the inception of an “Islamic state” are a result of their departure from religion, in favor of religious partisanship, and there is a big difference between the two.

First when they say that everyone should become Muslim, they are violating their own religion, as they have distorted what the term “Muslim” really means. The Qur’an says:

{الذينَ آتيناهم الكتاب من قبله هم به يؤمنون. وإذا يتلى عليهم قالوا
آمنّا به إنّه الحقُّ من ربّنا إنّا كنّا من قبله مسلمين} (القصص: 52 ـ 53)

It further goes on to affirm the validity of the Torah and the Gospel:

{وكيف يحكّمونك وعندهم التّوراة فيها حكم الله ثم يتولّون من بعد ذلك وما أولئك بالمؤمنين. إنّا أنزلنا التّوراة فيها هدًى ونورٌ يحكم بها النّبيّون الّذين أسلموا للّذين هادوا … ومن لم يحكم بما أنزل الله فأولئك هم الظَّالمون} (المائدة: 43 و44 و45)

{وليحكم أهل الإنجيل بما أنزل الله فيه ومن لم يحكم بما أنزل الله فأولئك هم الفاسقون} (المائدة: 47)

The Qur’an thus affirms the validity of the Gospel as a reference for the Christians and the Torah as a reference for the Jews. The Qur’an then goes even further and states:

{وأنزلنا إليك الكتاب بالحقّ مصدّقاً لما بين يديه من الكتاب ومهيمناً عليه فاحكم بينهم بما أنزل الله ولا تتّبع أهواءهم عمّا جاءك من الحقّ لكلّ جعلنا منكم شرعة ومنهاجاً ولو شاء الله لجعلكم أمة واحدة ولكن ليبلوكم في ما آتاكم فاستبقوا الخيرات، إلى الله مرجعكم جميعاً فينبّئكم بما كنتم فيه تختلفون} (المائدة: 48)

These Qur’anic verses make it clear that there was no intent to enter into conflict with Christians and/or Jews as they were deemed people of the book, and “Muslims” themselves, as they were also in submission to God. There are of course many other verses to that effect, but I will stop here for now.

As for imposing a particular code on people, the Qur’an is clear in its two verses:

{ادعُ إلى سبيل ربّك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة وجادلهم بالّتي هي أحسنُ إنّ ربّك هو أعلم بمن ضلّ عن سبيله وهو أعلم بالمهتدين} (النحل: 125)


{ومن جاهد فإنّما يجاهد لنفسه إنّ الله لغنيٌّ عن العالمين} (العنكبوت: 6)

The problem with religious partisans, however, is that they distort religious text in order to serve their own political ends, which is contrary to the spirit of religion itself. They actually practice what the Qur’an warned about in the following verse:

{فويلٌ للّذين يكتبون الكتاب بأيديهم ثمّ يقولون هذا من عند الله ليشتروا به ثمناً قليلاً فويلٌ لهم مما كتبت أيديهم وويلٌ لهم ممّا يكسبون} (البقرة: 79)

July 22nd, 2010, 5:21 pm


Husam said:


One day I needed advise from an Imam close to our house in Sh’alan area. I was greated nicely and soon after, I felt inclined to take out 5k Syrian Pounds and asked the Imam to distribute it among the poor sitting outside the mosque. He laughed at me and stated “a guy like you should give us 50k minimum, coming from Canada!” in raising his arms I saw a Rolex. I know Rolexes real from fake, that one was real. Later, I asked my cousin who knows him well, he told me he has seen his collection of Rolexes. When you put his and his rude un-islamic comment together with Rolexes you don’t get a very good picture.

The morale of the story, even if he is innocent, does he speak for all Muslims? Does it change anything? There are scum bags disguised behind Islam, Allah (SWT) warned about those people very clearly? So what is new? I am sure there are sermons given somewhere in this world that may be questionable, but your attempt to bridge this with Niqab doesn’t cut it.

Everyone is all over the place. What Almasri is saying is that it is not as you say “Niqabi women are all brain washed into it”. None of my family (about 300-400 people I know) wear Niqab, but one day, my cousin decided on her own that this is what she wanted due to her faith. Nobody forced her, and she is happy. I also have to agree with Almasri’s comment:

“Wearing or not wearing the niqab will not advance or retard any of those issue.” refering to education, etc…

In North America, you have priest molesting boys every single day. Did secularism solve this problem? No! You guys make it sound like secularism is a cure-all. Well it is not, and never will be. Women must be covered according to Islam, let them wear what they want or not wear what they want man.

Aren’t you guys fed up with this story already?

July 22nd, 2010, 5:36 pm


almasri said:


“I just wish you’d tone down your arrogant attitude, sir. I don’t think that Islam commands us to be arrogant.”

Arrogant attitudes are perhaps associated more with the authoring of disparaging comments, in my opinion. Glad to know you have discovered such commands in Islam about arrogance. Would you retract your original comment, including what you said about niqab-wearing and non-niqab wearing Muslim women living in the West? I’ll be more than happy to oblige.


If you found my previous comment a non-answer to your previous post, you’d probably love this one:

I said in my comment 1:

“Looks like whichever way you look at it the Syrian women have already proven they have lots of power through the veil and more so than their unveiled men counterparts particularly the minister.”

I suggest that Arab men and particularly the so-called liberals should put on the niqab in order to achieve power parity with their niqabi women counterparts. They (so-called liberals) are just putting more weight on these poor women than they can and should handle. This proposal will solve all the issues at once. They (so-called liberals) had some 100 years to show the fruits of their labors. They are barren, and produced three disasters in the last 100 years. That should give you a clue why Egypt rejected the made-in-Europe (packaged in Damascus) Ittihad ishtiraki ‘arabi after 67.

Joshua recently made a comment about Arkusi and his vision of Baath. I do not know much about Arkusi and how influential he was in the party. But, if they followed his vision and had the proper experience to put that vision into practice, things would have turned different. My only objection would have been about the slogan that Joshua quoted that we all know. I would have chosen something else other than Umma ‘Arabiyya in that famous line. I am not sure which one I would have selected. But I narrow down the possibilities to three:
1) Umma Rabbaniyya
2) Umma Hanifiyya
3) Umma Ibrahimiyya
The last one could be objectionable to some because it associates the name with a person. But I couldn’t resist.
I wouldn’t use Umma Islamiyya because it follows from any of the above.

Having said that your post is still over blowing the issue we are talking about here. May be you should write a manifest about those things you mentioned and have it posted by Joshua.


You have the admirable talent of seeing the individual trees in the forest. Should we bring the Syrians over to Canada for proper brain washing? I am suggesting here all of Syria. Canada is huge and so diverse.

July 22nd, 2010, 8:21 pm


Averroes said:


Absolutely there are scum bags everywhere. They come by definition with every single great force that’s out there. They come as leaches that stick onto the hull of the ship. This sticking propels them forward but slows down the ship.

But, I would not be making my comments if I did not believe they were examples of something prevalent, not isolated exceptions exception. The practices that we’re talking about are indeed the norm and the standard practice in Saudi Arabia, and it is that very Saudi Wahabi influence that has plagues countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, and has been creeping into Syria for decades.

As a given, I believe that freedom is sacred, and that people should be able to do what they want, including covering their faces. But the world is not perfect, and most of the world sees ideologies as dangerous, and thus there are laws against wearing swastikas for instance, because of the message behind it.

One thing is for sure .. people that believe the Niqab must be worn by women, do not allow other people to wear what they want when they get the upper hand. We see that in Saudia Arabia, in Yemen, in Afghanistan, and in every single place that these fundamentalists take control. Can you name one single place on the planet where these extremist Islamists rule, where they allow women to wear what they want?

I agree with OTW that the core teaching of Islam in that regard is for women to dress modestly and unprovocatively. I do NOT believe that the Qur’an goes into the geography of a woman’s attire, and it certainly does NOT stipulate wearing the Niqab.

Some people interpret everything as an attack on Islam and end up crating more conflict than we ever had to.

How is it secularism’s problem when a religious institution is molesting children? And besides, secularism is not a goal in itself, but more of a means and a set of rules that have been proven to successfully reduce conflict. Organized religion generates a tremendous amount of conflict, and we have seen that throughout history, and not just with Islam. We see it today still, and it’s evident if one chooses to see.

There are elements in religion that are beautiful and necessary for humanity. Spirituality, modesty, ethics, doing good out of faith, and much more, all stem from religion, and no one is disputing that, at least not myself; I am Muslim.

July 22nd, 2010, 11:37 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:


A belated thanks and query as to when will we be reading your comments on SC again?


July 23rd, 2010, 11:08 am


Jad said:

Alex got married last week and he won’t join us until mid august, he is enjoying his honeymoon.
Mabrouk Alex 😉

July 23rd, 2010, 11:34 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Thanks for the update JAD.

Join you in the MABROUK wishes.

He is definitely a class guy.

July 23rd, 2010, 12:42 pm


Alex said:

Very funny JAD : )

Thank you for asking Ghat Al Bird, I’m happy to see you here.

And luckily, … and I did NOT get married yet.

I am working on a new article for Syria Comment. Being excessively slow, this task is taking forever.

And I am enjoying a bit of summer too : )

July 23rd, 2010, 1:47 pm


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