Saturday, July 30, 2011

Prostitution in the 'Land of the Pure' - Translated by Fareeda Hussain

Transcription of the documentary.

Sister 1 (burgundy border scarf)
Sister 2 (blue)
Sister 3 (Blue/orange/ red combination)
Sister 4 (obscured face)

(Everything is speech, though I have omitted the speech marks)

Lady 1 : They phone us and ask to reserve a girl for them. Every third house in the neighbourhood, appears to be a brothel…I get paid between 2-5000 Rs.

Narrator: These are ordinary women of Pakistan but their circumstances have set them apart.

Sister 2: I have 3 brothers, none of whom are concerned wish to take any responsibility for me…husband is a drunk and a pot addict, who is abusive and violent, he tells me to either get him money, or get divorced!
…sometimes the clients just want company or someone to drink with…I can get paid 2000Rs for this…

Sister 3: My mother had borrowed 10,000 Rs,and only through prostitution , have I been able to pay off the debt.

Narrator: This is how they make ends meet;ever compliant, never questioning where they will be taken and by whom…

Sister 1 & 2: We are not concerned where we go..some take us to a mansion, some to a hotel. In any case we assume different names and never reveal our real identities…

Narrator: On one hand we have the women who trade their own bodies in order to feed themselves and their families and then you have women like Kaneez Fatima, who live under the relief that she does not have to at least barter her own body, only that of other girls’! 

(Sister 4): I came into this profession in 2005. I do not sell myself or any one else’s daughter, sister or mother…every girl that works for me does so as her own choice..A father has recently left his 14 year old daughter, who is extremely beautiful. Her story is that her brothers had raped and abused her, so her mother had said that since she had done ill by allowing herself to be thus used, she may as well do it with others and earn money thereby! I took the girl to Lahore and her mother sold her for 5,000 000 Rs.

Narrator: The women do this less for themselves and more for their families

Sister 3: When I see my mother and younger siblings happy, and enjoying my earnings, it pleases me although I realise that nobody would ever marry me….

Sister 1: there is never any question of love, it is just a single night which elapses…

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jewish Voice for Peace - Sign the Petition

Tell Clinton and Rice "It's Time."

The United States is about to cast its 42nd veto in support of Israel's human rights abuses and denial of freedom to Palestinians. . 

Please add your name below to tell them not to.

It's time..for Palestinian freedom and equality. The Palestinians are seeking recognition of their statehood at the United Nations. This vote is an important first step, please encourage the United States to vote Yes. 
To Secretary of State Clinton, and Ambassador Susan Rice: 

It’s time. 

It’s time for the United States to join nations all over the world in clearing the way for Palestinian freedom. 

Forty times in the past, one way or another, the US has been the lone voice standing in the way. This time, we implore you, don’t. 

This time, we join a chorus of millions of people worldwide in telling you that it’s time to for Palestinians, like Israelis, to determine their own future. The United States cannot continue to stand in their way.  

This time, vote yes. Vote for recognition. It’s time. 

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Turkey: Ethnic Tension Rises Further as Street Clashes Erupt in Istanbul - Kubra

    In the aftermath of a clash between army and separatist Kurdish PKK militants which claimed the lives of over a dozen from both sides earlier this month, ethnic tension in Turkey continues to grow. Marches in the already tense Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul broke out into larger scale street fighting on the night of 21st July 2011, when ultra-nationalist Turkish groups marched to the pro-PKK BDP party office and attempted to attack it. Police were deployed and after a few hours of clashes, were able take control of the area. Social media played a large role both in the making and in the reporting of the incident as many of the marchers organised themselves through social networks, such as Facebook.

    One of the Facebook pages used to gather more people on the way for the march to BDP office in the night of 21st July was 58 bulvar zeytinburnu. A Youtube video showing the ultra-nationalist marchers shouting “Martyrs can be Never Dead! Homeland can Never be Divided!” in the streets of Zeytinburnu was posted earlier on the page:

    This particular video garnered over a hundred “like”s and comments; some supporting, some denouncing.
    After the incident, another Facebook page “Zeytinburnu Mehmetçikleri” (i.e. “Zeytinburnu Soldiers”) was created and garnered over 6000 “like”s within a day. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s saying, “Ne Mutlu Türküm diyene” (“How happy is the one who says ‘I am Turk’”) was used in many of the comments on the page.
    Despite some news agencies later reporting that the ultra-nationalist march was spontaneous, videos of the march captured by eyewitnesses show an organised march, with large Turkish flags and music; such as the following by ozanisildar:

    Nevertheless, İclal Turan who was present at the clashes stated [tr] that the march didn’t look spontaneous to her:
    haberlerde genellikle “bdp'lilere tepki gösteren mahalleli” diyor ama bnm sokaklarda gördüğüm organize olmuş ülkücü bir grup
    “in news they have generally stated that [marchers were] ‘town folk reacting to BDP supporters’, but what I saw in the streets was an organised Ülkücü [ultra-nationalist] group.”
    She also mentioned [tr] the events in Zeytinburnu having started three days ago and has been on-going since then:
    zeytinburnu'ndaki olaylar 3 gün önce bdp'lilerin mahalede çöpleri yakıp evleri taşlaması ile başladı, sonra ülkücüler ayaklandı hala sürüor.
    Events in Zeytinburnu started 3 days ago with BDP supporters burning trash [cans] and stoning houses, then Ülkücü’s rose up [and] it is still going on. 
    Photographs of the events, shot by Ferdi Türk, show that most in the ultra-nationalist crowd had sticks:

    Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks
    Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk
    Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey.
    Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

    Apparently the crowd also attacked private property around the area in which they had gathered:
    Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged.
    Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged. Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk
    Alper Budka, a journalist who was at the scene of the incidents reported on Twitter [tr] that police were deployed to prevent clashes and the attacks:
    Polis, kalabalığa biber gazıyla karşılık verdi. Bu sırada caddeye doğru bi havai fişek patladı. Vatandaşlar dükkanlara kaçıştı
    Police responded to the crowd with pepper spray. At this moment a firework was thrown towards the [main] street. [Ordinary] Citizens ran away to stores.
    He also mentioned [tr] that riot police were deployed:
    Ardından 70-80 kişilik takviye çevik kuvvet ekibi geldi. Kalabalık dağılmıştı fakat biraz sonra yeniden aynı yerde toplandlar. Hala ordalar
    Later on an additional 70-80 riot police arrived. Crowd were dispersed but they gathered again in the same spot shortly after. They are still there.
    İclal Turan reported [tr] the use of pepper spray:
    her şey bir yana polisin biber gazı kullandığı yer insanların akşam gezdiği, yürüdüğü bi yer. küçücük çocuklar gaza maruz kaldı, ağladılar!
    In spite of everything, the place where police used pepper spray was somewhere people walk around, chill out at evenings. Small children were exposed to the gas, they cried!
    A resident of Zeytinburnu, gregorumsamsam reported [tr] that police helicopters were patrolling the area once the crowds were dispersed:
    Zeytinburnu'nda olaylar nihayet duruldu galiba. sadece devriye gezen helikopterlerin sesi var şu an.
    Events in Zeytinburnu are finally over, [I] guess. There is only the sound of patrolling helicopters right now.
    hty96, a Youtube user, posted a video of the clashes between some people from the crowd and the police:
    As the clashes between pro-PKK Kurdish groups and ultra-nationalist Turkish groups have been going on in Zeytinburnu for days since the incident on the night of 21st July, some have blamed both sides for being manipulated to order to increase the ethnic tension in the country. Sinan Dirlik commented [tr]:
    zeytinburnundan günlerdir içsavaş provası uğraşındaki türk ve kürt sersemler. yangın her yeri sardığında mı rahatlayacaksınız?
    Turkish and Kurdish fools attempting a rehearsal for civil war in Zeytinburnu for days. Will you be relieved when fire has spread everywhere?
    Some have claimed that regarding both sides equally liable is not fair in this situation. kafa_radyo said [tr], for example:
    iki tarafa da esit mesafeli olalim demek erki elinde bulunduran ezileni yok etmesine zimnen ortak olmak anlamina geliyor.
    saying “let’s be equidistant to both sides”, implicitly means complicity in destruction of the oppressed by the powerful.
    Gülçin Avşar, criticising the general use of violence by different parties in Zeytinburnu, commented [tr]:
    Zeytinburnu savaş alanına dönmüş.. Hâlâ yakıp yıkarak o çok mukaddes amaçlarına ulaşacaklarını düşünenlerin olması ne hazin…
    Zeytinburnu was turned into a battlefield. How sad is that there are still some who believe they can achieve their oh so holy goals by vandalising, destroying…
    There is still fear of more violence in Zeytinburnu and a lot of rumours, a resident gregorumsamsam commented [tr]:
    bu arada söylentiler doğru ise bugün Zeytinburnu'da olaylar daha da büyüyecekmiş. bu sefer diğer ilçelerden bdp'liler geliyormuş.
    If rumours are right, affairs in Zeytinburnu will grow even more. it is said that BDP supporters from other districts will be coming this time.
    He also mentioned [tr] how many residents of the district are going away temporarily:
    çoğu kişi diğer ilçelerdeki akrabalarına gidiyor. bir mal benim ya ben evde bekliyicem inadına. annemler bile gidiyor be.
    Many people are going to their relatives in other districts. Being the only stupid I will stay at home, stubbornly. Even my mother [and family] are going. 

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Malawi: Arab Spring Spreading South of the Sahara? - Steve Sharra

    It's winter in Africa, south of the Equator, but the temperature in Malawi feels more like Spring - particularly that of the recent Arab pedigree. The Malawian air is rife with tension and anxiety over what is expected to be a clash between civil society and the Malawi government on Wednesday July 20, 2011.
    Civil society activists have set that date as a day for the beginning of a series of mass demonstrations aimed at expressing their displeasure with the Malawian leadership.
    Rife with tension
    'United for Peaceful Resistance Against Bad Economic and Democratic Governance'. Image courtesy of 'DEMO YA TIYENI TONSE PA 20 JULY' Facebook page.
    'United for Peaceful Resistance Against Bad Economic and Democratic Governance'. Image courtesy of 'DEMO YA TIYENI TONSE PA 20 JULY' Facebook page.
    Malawi is currently undergoing a severe fuel shortage, which began at the beginning of June, one of a recurrent number of crippling shortages since 2009. The country has had severe foreign exchange (forex) shortages, at a time when it is supposed to have plenty of from tobacco sales, currently in season.
    On Thursday, July 14, the British Governmentannounced it had stopped giving budgetary support to the Malawi government, citing concerns with the suppression of demonstrations, the intimidation of civil society organisations, and an injunctions bill that prevents citizens from obtaining court injunctions against the government.
    The British Government also said Malawi’s currency, the Kwacha, was overvalued, resulting in chronic forex shortages “which are having a serious impact on the Malawian private sector’s ability to drive future growth. There are now daily fuel queues, tobacco exports have deteriorated and Malawi is off-track with its IMF programme.” The IMF has also suspended its support to the Malawi government.
    The political landscape has been tense since December 2010 when the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expelled the Right Honorable Joyce Banda, the country's vice president, for what is widely believed to be a ploy for President Bingu wa Mutharika to pave a political path for his brother, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. The vice president has since formed her own party, although officially she remains in her government position.
    President Bingu wa Mutharika has recently signed law bills that have been met with widespread criticism and resistance, including one empowering the Minister of Information to ban any publication deemed not to be in the public interest. A more recent law makes it impossible for individuals to obtain a court injunction and seek judicial redress against the government.
    The University of Malawi has had two of its constituent colleges, Chancellor College and The Polytechnic, shut down since February 2011 when lecturers started refusing to enter classrooms for fear of spies. The saga started in February this year when the Inspector General of Police, Peter Mukhito, summoned a Chancellor College political science lecturer, Dr Blessings Chinsinga, to question him for mentioning the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt during a lecture.
    The University of Malawi governing council is currently engaged in a court battle with the Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU), who are challenging the Council's firing of four Chancellor College lecturers, including Dr Chinsinga and Dr Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, the union's acting president.
    Fear of violent protests
    There are fears that the July 20 mass demonstrations may turn violent. Supporters of President wa Mutharika and the DPP have announced a counter-demonstration on the same day. There are reports that 800 police officers are being specially trained to stop the demonstrations “with zero casualties” according to online newspaperMalawi Voice.
    On Thursday July 14, the United States Embassy in Malawi issued an alert to US citizens in Malawi about about the demonstrations and the possibility that they could turn ugly. Titled “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens – Possible Demonstrations”, the alert first appeared on the discussion site Nyasanet on Friday, and later on the online newspaper Nyasatimes.
    One member on the Nyasanet forum observed that the mere fact that the US Embassy issued such a statement meant that there was something serious brewing underground:
    The Statement from the US Embassy means that the Chief of Station (Head of the CIA in Malawi) has done his/her homework. They are rarely off target.
    As the air grew tense with the countdown to Wednesday, there were reports on Sunday, which first surfaced on a Google forum, that a vehicle belonging to Zodiak Broadcasting Station, an independent radio station, had its windows smashed by men wearing face masks.
    Much of the news of the demonstration has appeared online, whereas the government's response has used state media with government spokespersons holding press conferences on television and radio stations. A Facebook event page has been created for the demonstrations with the title ‘DEMO YA TIYENI TONSE PA 20 JULY', roughly translating as a demonstration of one and all on 20 July. As of writing, 2,422 people have indicated they will attend the demonstration; the date on the event's page says 20 October instead of the July 20 event that everyone is talking about.
    The Facebook page gives a detailed description of when and where people should assemble for the demonstrations, a programme that has appeared in other online newspapers and in print newspapers. Comments on the page range from the biblical to the profane.
    A Bible-quoting commenter writes:
    There4,let us follow aftar the things dat mek 4 peace & things by which 1 may edify another” Roman 14:19
    One bordering on the profane goes:
    It's our right to demonstrate, that is the only way we can ring a bell in to an obstinate and gullible this stupid fool called ngwazi. Let us show him that Malawi does not belong to one tribe neither his family, gogogogogo! DEMO.
    Another comment sounds rather militant:
    It Has to be done…Malawians Stand Up and Be Counted! No One Should Abuse Our Hard Fought For Freedom!
    A more reflective commenter quotes Nelson Mandela:
    It always seems imposible until its done-Nelson mandela.
    Interest in the impending mass action appears to be spreading outside Malawi. A Malawian landing at Kamuzu International Airport on Sunday posted on their Facebook page about a group of foreign journalists aboard the same plane they were on:
    Had a contingent of foreign media in the same flight this afternoon coming into Lilongwe, looks like the Demos have attracted the attention on the international media!” One passenger even asked a question the Malawian chose not to answer: “Some one asked me, is it true Malawians are changing regime on 20th July? I didnt give hima any answer.
    But an observer of Malawian politics posted on Twitter about there not seeming to be a lot of international media attention on the looming demonstrations: “still nothing shows up in international news feeds on upcoming #Malawi demonstrations #20July”.
    The Twitter hashtag for the demonstration is #20July, says @chiume.
    Response from the top
    Uniting for Peaceful Resistance. Image courtesy of 'DEMO YA TIYENI TONSE PA 20 JULY' Facebook page.
    Uniting for Peaceful Resistance. Image courtesy of 'DEMO YA TIYENI TONSE PA 20 JULY' Facebook page.
    President wa Mutharika appears to have been aware of the mood amongst many Malawians, and has been planning a response. On arrival from a trip to the United States towards the end of June, he announced that he was going to give a public lecture, in which he would address the many concerns Malawians are expressing.
    No date was set for the public lecture, but immediately as the organizers of the July 20 demonstration announced their date, government announced the same date of July 20 for the public lecture. Government spokesperson Honorable Vuwa Kaunda, Minister of Information and Civic Education, and presidential spokesperson Dr Heatherwick Ntaba held a press conference, urging Malawians not to go to the demonstration, but to the president's lecture instead.
    Among the many reasons the two cited as to why Malawians need to listen to the president, Hon. Vuwa Kaunda performed his trademark praise song to President wa Mutharika, listing the many achievements of the DPP-led government. Hon Kaunda has become known for rattling off, in rapid style, President wa Mutharika's achievements: an end to chronicle food shortages, new tarred roads across the length of the country, six new universities being planned for the next ten years, new parliament building, a new five star hotel and international conference center in the capital city Lilongwe, and Nsanje World Inland port connecting Malawi to the Indian Ocean, among others.
    Up to until his re-election to a second term in May 2009, President Bingu wa Mutharika enjoyed broad support locally, and wide admiration abroad. Civil society activists held demonstrations in support of his policies against a majority opposition which was seen as only bent on frustrating his development plans. He introduced a farm input subsidy, which is credited for having turned Malawi from a food importer to a food exporter. He was Malawi's first president to become chairperson of the African Union for the year 2010, a development that added to his international credentials which earned him attention on the front pages of major newspapers in the United StatesBritain and elsewhere. There was renewed hope and pride amongst many Malawians, and President wa Mutharika was seen as the new face of a new Africa.
    Compared with the mood in the country today, a lot has changed in a space of two years. A Malawian development economist observed on Nyasanet in May this year:
    I was at the world economic forum last month. Only two years [ago] bingu was a hero. Now Malawi was a source of bewilderment.
    In an attempt to dissuade Malawians from attending Wednesday's planned demonstrations, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation has carried news bulletins, on three consecutive evenings, claiming that Malawians are being duped about the demonstrations, whose real aim, the state broadcaster claims, is to show support for gay rights, for which civil society groups have received millions of kwacha. The bulletins have been saying organizers of the demonstrations want to use photographs of demonstrators to show to donors that Malawians support gay rights and same-sex marriages.
    Reactions to the government's story have been derided as bordering on the desperate. One reaction posted on Twitter said:
    Malawians urged not to listen to MBC TV & Radio on 20 July - coz of its tendency to misinform in news coverage
    Another tweet sought to identify a possible irony in a television anchor's attire:
    MBC TB news anchor, Nyang'wa in a red tie - maybe in some dress rehearsal for the July 20 demo (dress attire is red)
    On February 14 earlier this year civil society organizations planned a demonstration to protest against fuel shortages, but it was stopped by police. According to online newspaper Malawi Voice, the demonstrators were hugely outnumbered by the police, who were over 250, against a few dozen protesters, numbering about 30, according to print newspaper The Nation.
    The leader of that foiled demonstration, Mabvuto Bamusi, has since made a 180 degree turn. He is now frequently invited on national television to provide analysis and commentary that supports government and lambasts his former colleagues in civil society.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Healing the Heart – Imam al-Haddad written by Khuram Zaman

    Healing the Heart

    By Imam al-Haddad
    "And devote your attention tot he heart and your inner state. Indeed he, upon whom be peace, said: 'Allah does not look at your faces and your deeds. He only looks to your hearts and your intentions.'
    Make your words a reality through your action. Make your actions a reality through your intention and your sincerity. Make your intention and your sincerity a reality through the purification of your inner being and the soundness of your heart, for your heart is your cardinal point around which all else revolves. 
    It has been narrated in tradition: 'Beware! In the body is a morsel of flesh when it is sound, the whole body follows suit and becomes sound; and when it sickens, the body sickens likewise. Indeed it is your heart!'
    It is an obligation to take care of the heart and to exert an effort to its health and to strengthening it. The heart, known in Arabic as the qalb, is susceptible to perturbation, turning and change, known in Arabic as al-taqallab so much so that he, upon whom peace said: 'It changes much faster than the cooking pot as it boils.' And he, upon whom be peace of Allah, used to frequently supplicate thus: 'O Changer of hearts, hold my heart steadfastly upon your religion.' And used to say: 'Hearts are in the finger-clasp of the All-Merciful One. If He wills, He holds them steadfastly upon righteousness. And if He wills, they go astray from it.' And when He, upon whom be peace wanted to be emphatic in an oath, he would say: 'No, in the Name of He who changes hearts.'
    The Exalted said the Prophet Ibrahim, His Friend (Khalil) said:
    "[And let me not be in disgrace] on the Day when (men) will be raised up, the Day when neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart." 
    (al-Shu'ara 26:88:-89)
    Show the utmost concern – may Allah show you mercy – to come to your Lord with a heart sound and free from associating partners, hypocrisy, innovation, vile characteristics like arrogance, ostentation, envy and dishonesty towards the Muslims and vices of that nature. Seek Allah's assistance and be steadfast. Work hard and exert yourself and say often:
    "Our Lord! Let nor our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure."
    (Ali Imran 3:8)
    (p 22-23 of "Taqwa and Knowledge" from al-Nasaih al-Diniyyah by Imam 'Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad)