banning the burkhas

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banning the burkhas

Post by megapulse » Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:49 pm

i saw an article yesterday saying that the dutch may ban the burkha.

i don't think i agree with such a sentiment. but i'm not dutch i'm an american who is protected by the first amendment.

i think, if you are really concerned about the plight and oppression of women you can number one stop worrying about the clothes they choose to wear in a free country, the dutch -- taking away a person's freedom to choose his or her clothing IS the same thing as taking away their freedom to do anything else and is far more akin to oppression than choosing to cover yourself. They could start worrying about the economic oppression of women in places where they haven't been free.

i read this discouraging remark on a message board. the poster was saying essentially what i am, and this is how she was treated:

"Danielle2010, you sound very young and uneducated. This is defintely a security issue. Something on one's head is entirely different than a covering of one's face. An open society is just that-open and expects all members to participate."

what an asshole to assume that someone is young and uneducated because she doesn't agree with the BANNING of something and the TAKING AWAY of SOMEONE'S CHOICE in the name of "protecting" them and society -- a question to this presumed older more educated woman, how many times has that fucking scare tactic been used right here in the good ole usa?

i'm buying my aunt a women for women bracelet for the holidays:

"Handmade by Afghan women participating in jewelry-making and stone-cutting classes through Women for Women International, a non-profit organization that strives to create viable work for women in countries damaged by political and social turmoil.

Years of conflict in Afghanistan have created thousands of Afghan families headed by war widows, women who were formerly forbidden to work by various oppressive governments and ruling factions. Now they are learning valuable skills to help them rebuild their lives and their country."

i hate shopping, i really really hate it, but i'm so grateful that these people have made me happy about giving again. if they hadn't started these programs i'd be the biggest grouch during the holidays -- a few years ago, in fact, the hubby bought me a tee of the grinch who stole christmas. it was funny, and i didn't blame him.

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Post by TragicPixie » Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:12 pm

on the burka issue I have to agree with the Duth's policy - as well as the French's on the subject (though I agree more with France since they are not targeting a particular religion - all overt religious symbols are not allowed in schools)

My first concern is that although I fully support a woman's right to Choose to wear a burka - or a habit, or nothing; when the question is fundamentalist groups - which are causing serious problems in the world overall at the moment - you can't be sure it's a *choice* ... Like is a 10 year old girl really able to make a choice? Furthermore, is a married woman actually making a choice - or is it something that she's being pushed into. I just think that at the moment fundamentalist beliefs are something that need to be dealt with and less tolerated.
I'm aware that with freedom of religion comes the responsibility to make sure that freedom isn't abused and in cases of fundamentalists in the world today I think it may be. One has the right to practice whatever religion they choose so long as no one is harmed: but a lot of religions are harmful - to women and others outside of their religions; so I think it's good that some lines are being made.

But second it can be an issue: in the West I think a lot of time people don't like to admit we do have a culture and distinct ones. A part of Western tradition is the face to face converstaion...
Especailly in the US - kids all the time retort to rumours with stuff like "say it to my face" or whatever.
While respecting cultures is also *somewhat* (cause I'm not going to say we do really, I don't think so, I think our ability to respect cultural differences is often hindered by the inability to admit one's own culture as something other than default or normal - since that makes anything else something other than normal) So - I think that's something that needs to be acknowledged; that there is this tradition allover a lot of the west. I read a really interesting article about some French professor who refused to debate with a woman unless she would remove the burka - because he could not see her face.

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Post by marky » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:02 am

I saw the news blurb on this as well, and proceeded to watch my opinions on the matter see saw back and forth without being able to reach a conclusion. I do think Pixie has brought up some very good points here, she says it outright - fundamentalism is causing grave harm in the world, and that may be reason enough why it should be controlled or banned. And she mentions the idea of well, does that woman really have the choice to wear the burqa? It's almost rash instinct on our part as westerners to assume that she is wearing it by choice. But surely this assumption is misguided. I imagine and have heard that it is an awful thing to have to wear a burqa especially in warm temperatures, etc. I was reading something someone had written online that said that these things aren't so much under the umbrella of Islam or the Koran or whatever, but just in ancient cultural traditions. I don't know if that is true or not.

Anyway, the one thing that does give me pause is the idea of the Dutch - out of all countries on earth - banning people to do anything like that. They are supposed to be THE most tolerant place on earth, pretty much. I read that they make people who want to be a citizen of their country watch a film that shows homosexuals kissing and such and if they can't take it, they can't be a citizen.

Anyway in a way it does make me want to pick the brain of this Muslim guy I work with. I mean he definitely seems far more concerned with his wife and family than being a terrorist for god's sake. I can't see anything wrong with the guy. He works very hard. And he said something the other day that really impressed me. He was asking questions of someone else in our organization on the phone and he said "oh take your time, clients are more important" (and they are! The clients we serve, the elderly etc. are more important!)

Anyway, I realize European countries are now getting swarmed with these Muslim immigrants and I respect their right to deal with that, I mean, we can't really pretend to be in their shoes with this stuff because we're not. Maybe it is good to say "hey not here - terrorist fundamentalism will not win here" And set up some boundaries. Doesn't mean you have to kill or torture them for practicing their religion, but...

I realize Sarah will probably get mad at me, but again I just don't feel firmly either for or against on this issue. Certainly it will make the terrorists that much more angry at the West.

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Post by marky » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:07 am

Also I do think security is a concern - imagine how many explosives could be hidden underneath one of those things?

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Post by marky » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:13 am

I would like to hear Sloth, the fervently anti-religious feminist comment on this one.

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Post by TragicPixie » Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:17 am

well - I think wearing the burka outside of fundamentalist Islam is entirely different than wearing it within. In non-fundamentalist Islam it's a choice: and a very creative non-western way of dealing with sexism: if you are wearing a burka, people take you seriously, aren't looking at you as a woman but listening to your words, etc.
But still - it's not *always* a choice and in the current climate of fundamentalism, I think something should be done about it. I also think there ought to be limits on something like religious freedom - if a group or person abuses that freedom, we can't afford as a world to allow it.

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Post by megapulse » Sun Nov 19, 2006 2:11 pm

:) i'm not mad. i think that part of the pregnancy hormones is gone. or at least only reserved for the hubby.

you both bring up interesting things and i'm glad for the discussion.

i've seen interviews with young muslims -- there is this channel, well two of them, link tv and current, which offer a great deal of insight into muslim countries and cultures, and many of the women who wear burkhas are not being forced to according to what i've seen -- there's an interesting show on now called "border cafe" about an iranian widow who doesn't want to have to follow the tradition of marrying her brother in law after her husband dies. she opens a diner so that she can be economically independent, which is a huge issue for most woman in a lot of cultures, pixie, i think we as women need to keep in mind that 70 percent of the world's poor are women -- that's oppression where it counts, for survival -- anyway, the iranian woman was wearing a burka the entire time i saw her, and that's not what she was worried about -- she was worried about how she would survive.

many women in the us / westerners are raised with parental / cultural influences. that doesn't mean they hold on to them -- my parents raised me to be a traditional christian from before the time i was ten, and at the age of ten i did not have the choice over whether i would go to church or not and many other things like eating my peas -- i hated them, i still had to eat them.

at ten, no i did not have the choice concerning what i would wear. i even went to christian schools. i do not practice the christian religion today. just because as a child i had no choice, i didn't end up a brain-dead vegetable following all of my parents ways. and i also didn't end up clashing with them about everything -- we talk about our differences and that's it. i don't understand the line of thinking that because a person is raised with certain values / ideals he or she won't end up thinking for himself/herself. i think that is a denial of our individuality and a victim attitude. i don't think women have to view themselves as cultural victims, i think that is part of the problem with oppression. we assume the role of victim -- they made me think this way, they made me do this to myself -- they made me -- no, i don't believe it -- we can think for ourselves in all cultures! and we can choose our clothing, whether it be a burka, a cross, or buck naked! look at a book like reading lolita in tehran -- here you have these women educating themselves, not choosing the role of victim in spite of terrible odds. here is an excerpt from the memoir about being taught to be a be a victim and being freed from that thinking -- the second photograph was taken just two years after they'd started their reading group:

"I have the two photographs in front of me now. In the first there are seven women, standing against a white wall. They are, according to the law of the land, dressed in black robes and head scarves, covered except for the oval of their faces and their hands. In the second photograph the same group, in the same position, stands against the same wall. Only they have taken off their coverings. Splashes of color separate one from the next. Each has become distinct through the color and style of her clothes, the color and the length of her hair; not even the two who are still wearing their head scarves look the same."

(they were wearing burkas that they were forced to wear, that did not mean they could not think for themselves and choose not to)

"But still - it's not *always* a choice and in the current climate of fundamentalism"

this is true, but i believe that in a *free,* like france or the netherlands your *right to choose* should not be hampered.

if they outlaw the burka then the individual has no right to choose.

i think it is an infringement upon individual rights to not be able to wear a cross to school if you want to -- and this is the thinking of the french. this is similar to what i was talking about the other day with the aclu -- they have defended our first amendment rights, so that all people have the freedom to choose how to express themselves, and i agree with that for us, now i don't know if the french or the dutch have the equivalent of the first amendment -- freedom of expression -- and if they don't then legally no one in their country has a leg to stand on.

"Also I do think security is a concern - imagine how many explosives could be hidden underneath one of those things?"

mark, have you seen the clothing that boys wear to public school? this is the exact argument that administrators make against puffy jackets and baggy jeans -- "can you imagine all the weapons they can hide in them?" the kids don't think it's fair, and i have to say in my experience, the kids are all right.

please understand, i'm not advocating wearing a burka -- i'm advocating the freedom of an individual to choose

and more than that i'm advocating that the dutch rather than spend time taking away the right to wear a burka -- take the time to figure out how to help women out of economic oppression, which on maslow's hierarchy of needs, is farther up the scale than clothing -- feeding your family is a more primary, natural human need than not wearing a burka.

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Post by TragicPixie » Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:50 pm

yes - I agree, the burkha is the least of Afghan and many muslim women in the middle east's problems. In fact - it's arrogant of western feminists to even suppose to come in and talk about their problems and do many well intentioned things - which are aimed at culture rather than actual survival.

But Dutch muslims are NOT these women - they may have previously been, and they therefore may be in a better position to help those groups - but they are a different catagory. They *should* live in a culture where they have a choice but many don't. They are not bound by laws to wear a burkha but that doesn't necessarily give them freedom not to.
In the case of fundamentalists - there is no choice. Just as for many fundamentalists christians there is no option of abortion or divorce or what have you - an I think these beliefs are just as harmful - but don't see a way to prevent this kind of oppression from happening.
However - on the purpose of being respectful of other cultures: perhaps its more about a more tolerant view of Dutch culture - which does not require a burkha and is currently being discriminated against.
There have been a lot of deaths recently to Dutch artists and many other activists worldwide - not to mention the bombing of Christian churches in the middle east.

It's not really about the burkha - it's more about curbing tolerance for violence; which is sending a message of intolerance of Dutch and western culture overall. By accepting practices of fundamentalism one is encouraging it: and at this present moment (and hopefully one day Islam will not be equated with fundamentalism) that's too dangerous.

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Post by TragicPixie » Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:55 pm

ah and kids in our public schools cannot wearing excessively baggy clothing - there's a 1 inch rule for bagginess in boys pants and hoodies - or the hoodies have to be removed and left in a locker.

St. Louis has highest violent crime rate in the US at the moment.

So - maybe because I live in a city that often has dealt with issues like this I have to say that when ruling one has to do what is best for *everyone* - and if a group has abused a freedom to th epoint of killing others - the behaviours cannot be tolerated until conditions change.
So in the case of the gang violence in this particular city: until the youth are no longer so disadvantaged and poor to cause this kind of behaviour. So until more afterschool programs attract kids, and etc.
In the case of fundamentalism - until the currant wave of violence stops. Though I can't really offer a solution of how to get it to stop.

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Post by megapulse » Sun Nov 19, 2006 10:10 pm

“In the case of fundamentalists - there is no choice. Just as for many fundamentalists christians there is no option of abortion or divorce or what have youâ€￾

Unless you're dead, there is always a way out, even if that way is just through your mind. You choose it. This is the difference between a victim and a survivor.

“But Dutch muslims are NOT these women - they may have previously been, and they therefore may be in a better position to help those groups - but they are a different catagory. They *should* live in a culture where they have a choice but many don't. They are not bound by laws to wear a burkha but that doesn't necessarily give them freedom not to.â€￾

No they are not these women, which is again part of my point. The dutch muslim women in question are twelve in number according to the article I read -- these dutch legislators are wasting time WORRYING ABOUT TWELVE WOMEN! not an army of terrorists hiding bombs under their skirts. They are by far a minority and their constitutional rights are being denied to them by the majority in the name of what is best for “everyoneâ€￾

The muslims in the Netherlands have a very big leg to stand on in a legal argument just as a big a leg as they would in the united states:

“Ms. Verdonk, said the ban also would apply to headgear like ski masks and full-faced helmets. Including those items as part of the face-concealment prohibition was seen by some as a way around the country's constitutional guarantee against religious discrimination.
The main Dutch Muslim organization CMO said a ban nevertheless would be a violation of civil rights. "This is a big law for a small problem," said Ayhan Tonca, who said that only a few dozen women in the Netherlands wear a burka.


This is the heart of the real issue I believe, in the Netherlands, not curbing violence:
Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, also of the opposition Labour Party, said he would like to see burkas disappear, although he did not advocate a ban.

"From a viewpoint of integration and communication, naturally it's very bad," he told reporters. "You can't speak with each other if you can't see each other, so in that sense, I'd say myself the less [it's worn], the better."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ ... al/Europe/

They are talking about the dangers of people who won't assimilate . . . And people who won't assimilate and follow the rules have always been considered dangerous and the general public has always been fed a line of fear to convince them that they are dangerous.

and I loved this comment that you made -- it's wonderful in general I think:
“and a very creative non-western way of dealing with sexism: if you are wearing a burka, people take you seriously, aren't looking at you as a woman but listening to your words, etc.â€￾

“It's not really about the burkha - it's more about curbing tolerance for violenceâ€￾

but like I said earlier, last year a study showed that the world is more peaceful now than it was after right after the end of the cold war -- so are media outlets really creating an informed populace or just an irrationally scared shitless populace?

Muslim does not mean terrorist. Burka does not mean violence or oppression -- this is what the burqa means to a fundamentalist muslim: Many Muslims believe that the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an, and the collected traditions, or hadith, require a woman to dress and behave modestly in publicâ€￾ nowhere is there a thing about violence. a cross at least was the instrument of torture and death, I can see how that would represent violence, but the burka no it has nothing to do with violence.

The more you allow your governments to take away the rights of any, the more you allow them to take away the rights of all -- and that goes for the fancy dance pants too. If you don't want to be told what is good and safe for you to wear, don't agree that it should be done to others because you've been told they're violent and made to feel afraid of them.

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Post by TragicPixie » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:18 am

freedom and rights are great - up to a point: afterall, running a country is about governing and it's the government's responsiblity to deal with that: and sometimes that means taking away rights.

Second - there is something to be said for some degree of assimilation into a country. Assimilation is the only way a country can ensure that all people in the society are aware of their rights and exercise them correctly. Frist and foremost it is the individuals who accept the responsiblities that come with rights: if you are born in a country, you can leave if you don't want that responsibility but you never get to say if you accept - it is automatically assumed. When you immigrate you do accept that responsiblity by choice entirely. If you refuse to assimiliate in public at least - you are somewhat at fault for how your government deals with you.
They are not being asked to give up their culture or their religion: merely being asked to take more of the culture they choose to move into it.
They aren't being asked to wear bikinis and headscarves aren't being banned: what's being banned is the full burkha - which at this point in time is a political statement as well as any religious statement but in and outside the West. If they are doing this for religious reasons, they can still meet religious requirments for modesty by wearing headscarves and even keep culture by wearing a burkha in their homes - but I don't think it's unreasonable to ban the burkha since it's more than anything a political statement in today's world.

And I don't necessarily think that freedom should be more important than saftey of a society; and I realise multiculturalism or metropolitianism requires tolerance from both sides - a fact that's often ignored. With freedoms comes responsiblity but overall, I think governements have a responsibility to their people to protect them and do what's best for the overall good: it's up to individuals to make sure they personally do not abuse systems or rights because only if there's no abuse of a system can that system stay in place. It's the same for freedoms just as it is for social security.

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Post by megapulse » Tue Nov 21, 2006 1:13 am

"Frist and foremost it is the individuals who accept the responsiblities that come with rights: if you are born in a country, you can leave if you don't want that responsibility but you never get to say if you accept - it is automatically assumed. When you immigrate you do accept that responsiblity by choice entirely."

right and these women chose a place that guarenteed them freedom of religious expression, the news article explained that it was their constitutional right to express their religious beliefs -- they did not try to go to a country and change the country; they in fact tried to go to a country and live by the rules that it had established well before they arrived -- the country then because of anti-muslim descrimination wants to change the rules and taking freedom away

"They are not being asked to give up their culture or their religion"

this is not true. they are being asked to give up both their cultural and religous heritage.

i think a quote that applies to what you're trying to say is with great freedom comes great responsibility, and i whole heartedly agree with it. and i could be misquoting, it's something like that though.

and following that line of thinking, what comes with lack of freedom -- ie banning the burka -- is lack of responsibility -- one of the most basic rules of human behavior is you get what you expect

"Assimilation is the only way a country can ensure that all people in the society are aware of their rights and exercise them correctly."

please, if you don't mind, explain why you think this is so.

this whole line of thinking is so very interesting to me. i mean i'm amazed when people associate themselves in some way with anarchy and then say things that seem very counter to anarchists thoughts. maybe it's just a song. maybe it's just me, but i think when a government does something like this it is one step further away from freedom, which is all anarchy is really about -- lack of governmental vice grips / control on every aspect of our lives. dunno, definitely an interesting topic, thanks for discussing. :)

and a little more food for thought:
"The decision comes days ahead of elections which the ruling centre-right coalition is expected to win."

this is a right wing thing here, and it's discrimination, and it is perfectly timed to scare people right into voting for the right. not very different from the usa at all.

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Post by TragicPixie » Tue Nov 21, 2006 3:37 am

Just because I would prefer anarchy doesnt mean that I'm not very aware that it's actually very hard to rule. I don't think anarchy at this point in human development would be good or beneficial - but I think it's a fine theoretical goal for human evolution. But really, I think that's a whole other discussion - I also think socialism works - in a more humane world; but since people are not evolved fully into human-ness yet, it does not - people are greedy and etc.
Some places, it works better than others; these are very small places who have much more humane culture. I was watching this show on the travel channel the other night with J where it's like one of those reality shows - like think The Real World - but it's following tribal peoples: they were more HUMAN than people in the civilized western world. They went to work for some part of the day - but the amount of actual culture and thought put into daily life was amazing. I have professors that consider themselves very culturally refined because maybe three or four times a year they go to the ballet or a theather: but a cultural activity isn't a part of their daily life. They don't even necessarily eat dinner as a cultural practice - they just are doing what must be done in order to sustain life to be alive. Whereas the tribal society everything has so much thought put into it. If the theory that we are human because we are self-aware or because we are concious (sp?) then they are much more human than most civilized people who can manage to go at least a day without really thinking about anything.
So I think that kind of thought is what making anarchy and socialism work: and because that is rare, it doesn't. So we need governments to govern - and I hope they govern well; which involves doing what is best for the good of the all - at least that's a democracy at the core.

Culturally and religiously, the burkha is supposed to represent modesty and humility. There are many ways for someone to get at this meaning without a burkha. In a way, it's almost like wearing a burkha is taking a short-cut - or at least that's the view I have seen from many of the African-Muslim students here. (We have a lot of Nigerian women at my university this semster who are Muslim and often talk about the difference between wearing a burkha - which is often seen as more of a fundamentalist statment to them and many western muslims - and practicing the modesty that all muslims, not just women, should strive for - and practicing modesty. So take these girls - for whom it is apparently equally cultural to wear a burkha - except that I do not believe it was required by law of any country they came from (which would be different than if you immigranted from Iran) - but they do not because they do not want to give the impression they are fundamentalists; they do wear headscarves (of all materials and colours and etc.) and always pants or long skirts and longe sleeves. But this is not the burkha and not what women are asked to give up.

And assimilation is important because that's how you can ensure that the people know what they are entitled to. In Missouri there are tons of Mexican immigrants - and one of their main problems is they have a language barrier; a study came out around here that stated it took three generations before they were able to take full advantage of things like healthcare, educational opportunities, and able to rise to lower-middle class status (which is distressing to me because I think Missouri is a fairly cheap place, so not making lower middle class status here isn't that difficult). Now - assimiliation is important to all people becaue these same kinds of things are happening all over the world to immigrants; I think something like wearing the burkha can put one at a disadvantage in the west especially in the currant climate which may or may not have been true ten years ago. And while a country may seem progressive in policy and general practice that doesn't mean that everyone there is so progressive or is completely free of prejudice and bias. I would think with the recent events surrounding the Dutch filmmakers deaths - by radical extrememsts for documentaries into fundamentalism - there might be a slight anti-Islmaic strain and the burkha makes these women targets.

And It hink the quote about freedoma nd responsiblity is from Stan Lee - ya know, the Spiderman guy. But I can't be sure, it's just something I associate with comics. I believe it's "with great power comes great responsibilty" but it's true. And although I think people *should* take responsiblity for themselves and have the most freedom possible; I also recognize that's not necessarily reality and you cant force that on society just like you can't force socialism on a society.

Which is probably why I'm a raver - I believe wholeheartedly in bubble anarchy and temporary automous zone theory: I think it's important to create anarachist spaces for a peroid of time like raves, festivals like Burning Man, internet boards ... these lawless, anarchist spaces are vitally important to art and to individual growth: but this is at the same time thoughtcrime. What's good for the individual is not good for society and so these kinds of things are often outlawed: afterall, raves are illegal largely for this reason - and ecstasy use (which is the cited reason for the anit-rave act) is a huge part of it for raving.
But these spaces work because individuals Choose to be there. They aren't forced into it so they are actually capable of taking that responsiblity - and if they're not, they usually don't come back or get blacklisted like my ex-roommate and the local rave scene. It doens't hurt to create these spaces in such a way that in cases of raves that you have to break at least one or two laws just to participate - but using prohbition as the classic example, if your entire population gets used to breaking one or two laws regularaly you have problems.

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Post by TragicPixie » Tue Nov 21, 2006 4:01 am

oh the sexism thing (yes, yes I really truely am avoiding writing a paper: I have a structural anaylsis due for Postmodern Politics tomorrow at 11 that's 8 pages and I haven't started yet ordinaraly I'd get into this sort of thing since I picked two songs to compare: Black Box Recorder's "Start As You Mean to Go" and Rasputina's "Diamond Mind" but frankly I have had a trying few weeks what with my peroid three weeks late and no matter how many negative pregnancy tests I had still I was like shit... and we are strapped for cash so the abortion option is tricky... I do not think it would look too good if the founder of the Missouri abortion fund used it - just to me that looks fishy, etc. Anyway I started bleeding FINALLY but I'm still upset... I just want to curl up and cry and write bad poetry. but I have this stuipd paper and so - I come to the board... lmao)

Anyway - like I mentioned I have a lot of conversations about the burkha here. One of my good friends and colleauges (woah, I've never used that word before, fuck, I'm a grown up...) converted to Islam from Catholicism a few years ago. She covers her hair but does not maker her daughter. Another friend, that I've known since thrid grade who's Saudi and I still keep in touch - tho' she moved back when she turned 13 and was married off at that age and now lives in Iran; which is completely differnet than my friend who choose to be Muslim here in the West.
And then there are the Nigerians - who are just some fun girls to hang out with in the first place. But anyway - at this Jesuit university issues of religion and culture are considered important for debate, so we do it a lot.

Of course - I am not impressed with this university at the moment. I just go back from telling off the Provost due to some issues with Rainbow Alliance the banning of the Vagina Monolouges - I refuse to agree that these things are just conincidences.

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Post by marky » Thu Nov 23, 2006 7:53 am

Oh my god! I'm shielding my eyes! Gasp! The other thread says something dirty about Britney Spears! Please shield my eyes from it I can't bear it!

I don't want to see.

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