Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Religion and politics

Kurdishaspect.com - By Peter Stitt

In response to the report: "Kurdish Parliament Pushed Through Disputed Religion Law" I must say that religion and politics should be kept very far apart in any society that wishes to behave in a rational manner in its treatment of its citizens.

It is one thing for a political leader to have certain religious convictions but to enshrine such views in a constitution is suicidal madness.

I remember Tariq Aziz the "Christian", and his uneasy relationship with Saddam as Saddam realised he had to pretend to be a Muslim in order to gain support within Arab states. I have seen the atrocities carried out in the name of God in Iran and Afghanistan.

As a man with strong religious convictions myself, I believe wholeheartedly in secularism. You cannot run a national health service, an economy, a ministry of defence etc on religious lines. That is crazy, that is Iran, a redundant backward country that relies upon natural resources to make up for the lack of innovation and imagination of its leadership.

When challenged about such issues Jesus responded "Give to Caesar what
is due to Caesar, give to the Father (God) what is due to the Father." Even two thousand years ago there was a realisation that the secular and the religious should be kept separate. Are the Islamists contradicting the words of one of their most celebrated prophets?

This law should be repealed immediately. Church is church, state is state. When the two come together it invariably ends up with the persecution of minorities, chaos and economic disaster, and international alienation and isolation.

I will gladly pray with Sunni or Shia brothers but I would never subject people to my own beliefs of what is religiously right or wrong. I have no right to do so, I cannot judge another human being. By putting religion into law making people are judging and going against the teaching of Jesus, and Jesus' teaching was precious to Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Can we not learn the lessons they had already learned 2,000 years ago? PUK and PDK, what are you thinking of? You are taking your people backwards.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Background of Murdering Dua

Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Showan Khurshid

Of course, the act of murdering the innocent girl Du’a was horrific and barbaric. Moreover, Kurdish people in general and specifically Kurdish men, should take responsibility and put their house in order. Anyone coming into contact with the Kurdish youths, who seek asylum in Europe, and witnesses the way they deal with each or with other people of the host countries will realize that there is something amiss. The countless years of abuse at the hand of occupying forces in Kurdistan must have had damaging effect on the Kurdish psyche. Most of these youth suffer because of cultural differences and their incapacity to adapt. Yet, although our own culture, whether its derived from the religions that dominate Kurdistan or other sources, is responsible for and is the manifestation of the miserable condition our people are in, the young men who come to Europe will very confidently dismiss the Western culture as decadent and immoral.[1] It is exactly these values that are translated into honor killing and a host of other mal-practices. Most of our critical writers concentrate only on the Kurdish authorities, yet they ignore the more important aspect of our society, namely, what kind of morality we want to guide our behavior and interaction. [2]
However, I feel that issuing a blanket condemnation against all Kurds, is counterproductive, if the intention is to reform. Many Kurds seem to want change and they want the support of the outside world to do so. There is currently a strong campaign by Kurdish women group as well as male supporters to persuade the Kurdish parliament to drop the Article 7 in the draft Kurdish constitution, which states the laws of Kurdistan should observe the Sharia Laws. So anyone who is sincerely interested in the plight of Kurdish women should lend a strong support to this campaign.
The same day kurdishapsect published the news, I received an email from Mr. Kameel Ahmady – I assume it must have been a group email which included my name coincidently, considering that we never had a direct contact before – I suggested to him to send it to Kurdishaspect.com and also to make a reference to an earlier incident which also involved women and the interaction with Islam. Mr Ahmedy, however, had already sent it and shortly afterward the news appeared on kurdishaspect.com.
The incident in question precipitated in an all out declaration of Jihad against Yazidis by, I think, by Sunni Kurds. Consequently, their temples, important historical and cultural sites, artifacts and literature were mercilessly burnt down and destroyed. It started because a Muslim girl who was trying to escape a forced arranged marriage was in a car with two Yazidi men. The girl was brought back and slaughtered by her relatives and the Muslims demanded the two Yazidi men should be handed in to them – I wonder why there were no similar protests then: that was also an unjust loss of life.[3] In any case, the slaughtering of the Muslim girl did not draw much attention and we do not know what measures were taken against the perpetrators of the murder and the vandals who destroyed a substantial part of the little that has been left from the Kurdish original heritage, after centuries of the Islamic systematic destruction – although this time while Kurdish authorities were in charge. Perhaps, had the Kurdish authorities taken the appropriate measures this incident would not have happened.[4]

On the other hand, our knowledge of the Yazidi culture and the social arrangement is scant. They are definitely a persecuted minority, beleaguered and slighted on every occasion at the hand of Muslims, not only the Arabs who brought Islam, but also by the Kurds who submitted to Islam and turned now against their kinship who stood their ground all these centuries. And like many minority in similar circumstances they became secretive so they do not attracted derision and insult. No doubt, Islam is full of shortcoming and very vulnerable to counterarguments and counter-derision. But as anyone knows, Muslims are also encouraged to attack and kill their critics and with suffering the numerical imbalance, the Yazidis know from their long history that they should compromise.

Despite that we come to know that the Yazidi society suffers serious shortcoming. It has still a caste system. We can also expect that they suffer all the ills that afflict and finally cripple any ideological systems, if not the world – the way Islam is currently besetting the world.
The next shocking aspect of Yazidi culture that I have discovered was the way women are treated. A few months ago, a Yasidi lady published a critical view about the treatment of women within her society. It was clear that Yazidi women are treated even worse than Muslim women. The impression one would get is that the sexual act within the Yazidi marriage does not differ considerably from rape. The man is expected to be as rough as possible without slightest regard to her feelings or humanity. However, here we cannot ignore that such an attitude might have been also influenced by Islam. It might be a case of impressionable victim taking after the aggressor, when the aggressor is not punish and left to make ill-begotten gains and claim glory on top of all that, as Muslims do.[5] It seems that Yazidis have been trying to convey a message to the Islamic neighborhood that although they differ slightly in their religions they share all other values with Muslims, particularly in regard to women, whose sexuality seems to have become the pivot of Yazidi and Islamic men’s honor.

In all ideological system one should expect the maltreatment of the weaker parties. The treatment of women was not in fact much better when Christianity dominated the political life in Europe. In any case, Christianity has generally been subdued and this turned it relatively benign. However, because of an unfortunate historical oversight on the part of philosophers and thinkers of the world as well as the modern superpower, Islam was left intact with all its ideological apparatuses to keep and use subsequently to haunt the world with.

One of the main points that Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics (KPCP) and Islam on the Couch (IC) underline is that the central point in the process of the formation and maintenance of political power and thus political history, is how to bring a group of people to subscribe to a unified set of moral rule (USMR). Guiding the behavior of a group of people according to certain set of moral codes means that this group is organized. Now, forbidding certain kinds of behaviors, by the group, means that – provided that there is a leadership, will and resources – the group may stand against those individuals, who favor the forbidden behavior. It is usually these latter types of individuals, whose behavioral dispositions are forbidden, who feel the power of the organized people. Such power would be felt regardless of whether the group displays the other properties and characteristics associated with modern states or not. Thus considering that moral codes and values support certain lifestyle and confront some other lifestyles we should expect people, whose preferred lifestyle may be constrained or outlawed, to stand against and try to prevent bestowing the status of ‘moral’ onto certain rules or values. From this point of view, for instance, having some women struggling for equality means that they want to accord the issue of equality the status of ‘moral’ so that the power of the group (a state, tribe or a political party) is deployed against those who violate the principles of equality. Similarly, having conservatives trying to keep the status quo implies that they want to prevent bestowing the status of ‘moral’ on equality, and to prevent the deployment of group power in the interest of women groups. Thus considering the practical entailments of adopting differing or conflicting moral position, we could underline once again that moral rules and values are always in favor of some lifestyles, and people who adopt these lifestyles, on the one hand, and against some other lifestyles and the people who exhibit them, on the other hand. Accordingly we should expect fierce disagreement over the knowledge involved in the background of these differing moral rules or values (no wonder for instance many Kurdish women activists have been subjected to death threats and other atrocious assaults, at the hands of Islamic groups and the Islamic state of Iran).[6]

As such, therefore, it is not a matter of course or easy to achieve agreement or consensus. This explains why some polities or groups (empire, states, tribes or parties) fall apart or why many potential groups can never be formed. However, as it is pointed out in KPCP and IC, humanity has so far come upon two basic, though contradictory, methods to bring about such an agreement or conformation. One of them is through ideologies, which includes religions, communism, fascism. The other is through liberal democracy. Ideologies, it is said, rely ultimately on using violence. The ideological method consists of decreeing a unified set of moral rules and then stifling or prohibiting ideational challenges against the sanctioned USMR. However, this is not possible through peaceful means alone. That is why all ideologies prescribe, condone, and sometimes even glorify, the use of violence to silence the critics. The need for violence forces ideologies to make concession to violent individuals, thus usually men are exalted over women (see also my new forthcoming article). As such it is expected that the culture of violence prevails. So the horrors of killing Du’a is not unexpected, it happens among Muslims, Yazidis, and all other culture that have not yet moved to liberal democracy method.
Of course, not every ideology is as equally well equipped ideationally to carry out acts of violence. Christianity, despite the fact that it was used as an ideology and employed in the use of violence is less equipped for violence than Islam. Christianity preaches love generally. Islam preaches hate to all non-Muslims. Islam is a perfect tool for a system based on violence. It does not allow even friendship or love between relatives, even among brothers and parents, if they do not share the religion of Islam. Islam even surpasses communism in effectiveness as an ideology. Unlike Islam, communism pride itself on its scientific and intellectual basis and communists usually try to project an image of intellectuals who love debating and discourses. Accordingly communists do not condemn argumentation although they did all what they could to silence or eliminate critics. But Islam regards all those who criticize it as enemy of Mohammed and Allah and thus demands annihilating them explicitly. So in prohibiting what Muslim call Kufr, (views dismiss believing in Allah and Mohammed), they do what other ideologies do, namely eliminating the intellectuals so they can dominate the crowds, usually by using the thugs. Exactly the same way Saddam was doing, but here in Quran this process is also sanctified. (Obviously, this should suggest that the extent and clarity of the statements in the Quran and Hadiths, which are geared for using violence and dismissal of all non-Islamic beliefs, makes Islam unreformable. Had there been a room for reform in Islam it would not have as it is now).
Within a culture based on violence it is all natural for women, who are physical and perhaps emotionally less capable of violence, to be treated unfairly and unequally. Within the culture of violence, one should expect that the weak will be despised and humiliated because, to benefit from the means of violence, one needs also to justify or moralize violence – e.g., in the same manner that judicial process sanction violence sometimes (see KPCP) – and to do so, one will need to depict the potential target of violence as morally inferior and harmful.
Weakness, in men is manifest when the man is not feared by his womenfolk and this can be reflected in having extramarital affair or having relation without the man’ permission. It is therefore also natural, in the course of vicious competition that goes on in the ideological system, that some men will use female sexuality as a means to undermine, blackmail, insult and humiliate their rivals (this strategy was used by Saddam extensively, moreover, in most Islamic countries, it is common, that when a Muslims man tries to insult another, he may mention sex with his rival’s womenfolk).

The problem with Yazidis, on this occasion, in regard to the young women Du’a, I think, is that they must have thought they took more insults and humiliation than they can bear. Firstly, they were subjected to the destruction of their most sacred sites just because of coincidence that an Islamic woman used a car to flee in the companionship of two Yazidi men. Then the authorities did nothing in public to restore the respect to Yazidis. Subsequently, a Yazidi woman elopes. She was given back with all cameras ready to film. However, it seems the Muslims did not think that the humiliation suffered by the Yazidis was sufficient enough, that is why they also killed 23 Yazidi men, under the pretext that she had converted to Islam, which is not likely, because had she converted they would not have allowed her to go back, unless they deliberately wanted to bring about this massive disgrace on the head of Yazidis. Otherwise, Muslims cannot claim that they are outraged because of the killing of a woman. A thing they do continuously.
Of course, the Yazidis are very unfortunate. They are the victim of their own religion which turns them into victimizer of others, in their case their own lower caste and womenfolk. Perhaps, the same thing can be said about Muslims, with the difference that Muslims are also geared to victimize non-Muslims on massive scale. Perhaps, taking these points into consideration, the noblest of causes in our time may be to try to free Yazidis and Muslims from their respective religions.

Yazidis are the victim of Islam. Yazidis, with a religion supporting such bleak morality that underpins social caste system, seem to have become prone to internalize some Islamic values, e.g. disregarding women and accepting violence against women. Perhaps, Yazidis might have thought, that to avoid being slighted at the hand of their oppressors, they should do their outmost to look and act like Muslims in regard to women. However, regardless of whether the Yazidis were manipulated to fall into a trap that disgrace them or not, their act shows deep inadequacy of their culture. No one, for instance, can set up European or Westerners to act in similar way. Some Yazidis destroyed a precious life and thus while they should accept submitting the perpetrators for punishment they should also free themselves from Islamic negative influences and also to free themselves from their own dated religion. It is time that they need to consider liberal democratic values to integrate within the peaceful culture of liberal democracy and become a part of the force that bring peace to other troubled regions of the world, like our own region.
[1] Unfortunately, there is equally important shortcoming on the part of our Kurdish critical writers, their main concern, seems to be the disparagement and scandalization of the Kurdish authorities. They are unaware of the importance of theories to change the vision and attitudes of Kurdish individuals and officials alike. There is little doubt that most of these critics will behave the same way as the officials have been doing if they are given a chance, without changing the intellectual outlook and the social setting. After all, most of these who now turned corrupt were once revolutionaries of reformers and the parties they are running were meant to support Kurdish people and not to dominate them.
The hodgepodge of social theories that dominates the minds of the majority of our people consists of the two subculture of Islam, (I mentioned in the Islam on the couch); to these are added some pragmatism to open up to Western power; moreover, there is still strong Kurdish nationalism, which though moderate in comparison to Arab, Turkish and even Farsi nationalism, it can be used to whip up the power of the main Kurdish parties; on top of all these remain some residues of Marxism which was once all pervasive, although, we Kurds and the Middle Easterners did not benefit from the only potential advantage of Marxism and that is its capacity to undermine religions, while suffering all its disadvantages (see The History of Southern Kurdistan at
http://www.kurdishaspect.com/doc0328SK.html). Unfortunately, I have rarely seen any argument to reconcile all these, often inconsistent elements.
[2]There are exception of course, see Dr. Roya Talouee (
[3] Grimmer atrocities perpetrated by Arab Muslims do not make news;
pukmedia.com Arabic section, reports a series of atrocities perpetrated and Fatwas issued by the forces of the Islamic Republic of Iraqi. Ridiculously, among the Fatwas are that women are not allowed to eat bananas, cucumber or ice cream or sit down on the chair. Men should not eat date or sweats because that it feels like sodomy. Among their atrocities is that in the course of execution of a woman they stomped and kicked her head until her face was separated from her skull (http://www.pukmedia.com/arabicnews/29-4-2007/news13.htm).
[4] Ardalan Abdulla (
http://www.bopeshawa.com/text-2007/04/03-duaa-pilan.pdf) suggests that the whole this episode may have been set up to discredit Kurds. He wonders why this incident should be recorded by 6-7 people, instead of being carried out in secret as usual. This act happens in all Islamic countries among all Islamic communities in other countries but Kurds are starkly single out for exposure and scandalization. Ardalan Abdualla wonders justifiably how come that the Islamic clerics and Islamic mobs now want to chase and kill the Yazidis for this crime while it is Islam which demands stoning so clearly.
[5] Muslims invaded the occupied the whole Middle East coming from the Arabian Peninsula originally. This act is still the highlight of their pride.
[6] Recently, Houzan Mahmoud was subjected to death threat from Islamic groups. Likewise, Roya Talouee was subjected to horrendous crime in Iranian prisons.