Other people’s flowers again

I start my internet day by checking the mail, the newspapers, and my Google Reader. I find so many things to share with you, to the extent that this has become one of the main functions of this blog. Well, why not?

1. Funny take on Julia Gillard

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Click the picture to see the whole DEUSEXMACINTOSH post.

2. Posts related to Islamic matters and/or immigration

# Tikno in Indonesia

tikno-about-me Lately, I feel very worried by unscrupulous users of Facebook who already out of the spirit of Facebook motto namely "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life". Some of Facebook users who use this site only for uploading pornographic images and shared it using private setting to certain people (not shared to everyone) and the other using it for spreading the hatred feelings, like a Facebook Group calling for Obama’s death.

Although a very controversial Pages on Facebook namely "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" which it created by Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris has been closed by Facebook after receiving protests from various parties including protests from the Indonesian government, the most recent controversy is the two opposing group on Facebook who mocked each other namely: "Everybody Draw Mohammed day (Indonesian version)" and the other one is "Everybody Draw Jesus day (Indonesian version)". As I observed on its language it seemed the both pages was created by Indonesian users. I saw it was clear that the hatred feelings on both pages still raging and releasing fracas on Facebook…

It’s very sad if the spirit of "connect and share with the people in your life" turned into a virtual battlefield. How according to you?

# Tanveer Ahmed in The Sydney Morning Herald

Africa is essentially a collection of 10,000 tribes forced by colonial masters to form 50 nations. How these ancient cultures from the cradle of humanity interact with modernity will be one of more interesting stories of the coming century.

African migration is just beginning to have an impact on Western societies like Australia. Most Africans who arrive here are Muslims…

The sudden prominence of the genital mutilation issue coincides with the release of Nomad, the latest book by the Somali-Dutch activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali, herself a victim of clitorectomy, asserts without evidence that the practice occurs commonly throughout all Muslim communities. An old World Health Organisation report from 1997 quotes a figure of 130 million cases worldwide, but primarily in East Africa.

In this respect, the practice is a cultural one. However, the African cultures in which it does occur are largely Islamic, although religious practice is often interwoven with local animistic beliefs. Male elders are able to harness Islam’s deep fear of female sexuality, the driver for many of its views on social organisation, to argue that the ritual is consistent with strict Islamic law.

The tribal history of Africa correlates closely with Islam’s origins. The hijab is a case in point when trying to discern whether practices are cultural or religious in nature…

According to this theory, keeping fertile women away from the gaze of foreign tribes and maintaining them in the role of producing offspring was deemed vital. Hence the idea of the hijab or burqa.

While this hardly justifies its use in the 21st century, it gives an insight into why it is a symbol of safety and modesty for Muslims, and not oppression.

What much commentary on the hijab misses are the varied reasons Muslim women in the West wear it. In my experience, it is rarely worn because husbands or fathers insist on it, although I’m sure this does occur. I have seen elderly women wear it as a link to their ancestral culture or, after becoming widowed, as a symbol of mourning. Among younger women, it is very much an expression of selfhood. In this respect, it is as much a product of the local, Western culture as it is of Islam.

While it may be a form of social protest, an expression of alienation from mainstream culture similar to abnormal piercings or joining obscure subcultures, it is very much an assertion of individual identity.

The average young woman who wears the hijab has little interest in regulating the male gaze, knowing the outfit will only increase attention from passers-by. Both the hijab and the disgraceful practice of genital mutilation illustrate the complex interaction between ancestral cultures, the modern West and religious decree. This interplay between culture and religion will reach new complexities among African immigrants. Their footprint on our own culture is just beginning.

Yesterday in the bus Sirdan and I noted two 15-ish young girls in hijab (and ugg boots) who were generally behaving and gum-chewing like 15-ish girls. We suspect blowing people up was far from their thoughts, which seemed much more focussed on hot guys, fashion, and so on…

Legal Eagle did a good post on this last month: Going Burq-o.

# Legal Eagle on Border Protection

… Much has been made in the news about “boat people” arriving in greater numbers. I think that one of the reasons why people react so viscerally to the asylum seeker issue is the symbolism of it — the desperate people on boats attempting to land on our shores — there’s a sense in it is seen as an invasion of our boundaries. We are an island, and we’re not used to people crossing our borders easily. The word “insular” means both “inward-looking” and “of, or pertaining to, an island”. If we shared a border with another country, perhaps we’d find it less challenging. I believe, also, that people find newcomers challenging because it’s a deep-seated human instinct. Rather than pigeonholing people who are afraid as inevitably racist, and writing off their fears, it’s better to engage with those fears and try to allay them, to ensure that integration can occur as smoothly as possible. It’s not good, either, to pretend that problems don’t occur from time to time – of course they do, and sometimes problems emanate from both sides of the fence, newcomers and existing residents (as I have discussed in relation to Sudanese refugees).

It seems to me that asylum seekers wouldn’t need to make the risky and possibly life threatening journey if it were easier to apply for a visa from outside the territory. So, rather than excising various areas from the migration zone (Christmas Island & etc) or detaining people who come here illegally, maybe it would be better to make it easier for legitimate asylum seekers to apply for refugee status from outside Australia, and to make sure that the visas you got were roughly comparable. That way, people wouldn’t feel the need to risk their lives to come here. To me, it seems really stupid to be putting all these resources into patrolling the seas, detaining people, prosecuting people smugglers and the like when perhaps there’s another way of fixing the issue…

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