Muslims are burning ISIS flag

Some Lebanese Muslims started burning ISIS flag publicly. They put the burning pictures on social networking sites and asked people all over the world to burn the flag of the killer monsters. We must not forget that burning ISIS flag means burning the Arabic sentence that says, ‘There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.’

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Intolerant Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia says non-Muslims will be deported if they eat, drink, smoke in public during ramadan days.

Saudi Arabia has threatened to deport any non-Muslim foreigners who don’t respect the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan by eating, drinking or smoking in public.

An interior ministry statement on the official SPA state news agency urges non-Muslim expatriates in the kingdom to “respect the sentiments of Muslims by not eating, drinking or smoking during Ramadan’s daylight hours in public places, including roads and workplaces.”

Those who violate the regulations will be deported or sacked, according to the statement.

“They are not excused for being non-Muslim,” it said, adding that “anyone living in this country should follow the laws of the Kingdom, including respecting religious sentiments”.

The statement also asked companies to transmit the instructions to their employees.

Millions of Muslims from around the globe are preparing to observe Ramadan, the religious month of fasting.

For 30 days, they will not eat or drink from sunrise and sundown and refrain from sexual intercourse, smoking or profanity in a bid to become closer to Allah.

They are also encouraged to give back to the community and take part in charitable deeds.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict version of sharia law and it hosts more than nine million foreigners.

Last march, the Kingdom started a crackdown on illegal workers. The government issued an amnesty period in April 2013 giving illegal migrants seven months to gain legal status. Since then, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left.

The government created a task force of 1,200 labour ministry officials who raided shops, construction sites, restaurants and businesses in a hunt for foreign workers employed without permits.

What an unbelievably uncouth, uncultured, uncivilized country this Saudi Arabia is!

What if Saudis face the same kind of intolerance as foreigners? What if they get deported from the West for not respecting Western religion, culture and custom? The West won’t deport them, because it respects everyone’s freedom to not respect religion. Saudis learn from no one. They only learn from their ancient scriptures, the scriptures full of immorality, inequality, injustice.

Swimming against the tides

André Cohen is a guest blogger today. He wrote about the universal citizenship celebration in Paris on May 23 this year. I attended the celebration and felt how important utopia and other similar movements were.

May 23rd, the Universal Citizenship Organization (UCO), a Paris-based coalition of NGO’s, celebrated its first birthday with a bittersweet taste. The Danielle Mitterrand Foundation, Emmaüs international and the Utopia Movement, the three founding organizations, decided to work together after the Dakar World social forum, as they realized that the project of a Universal citizenship passport, symbolizing the right for every human being to travel and settle all over the world, gathered an overwhelming support from the civil society, especially that of the global South. The goal of the Organization is to promote this freedom of travel and settlement as a Human right – which it technically is, being the object of the Universal Human Rights Declaration’s thirteenth article.

This year’s event, hosted by Paris’ City Hall, saw the return of our partners from ATTAC (a French NGO which advocates the taxation of financial transactions to fund social and humanitarian projects) and a wide range of organizations that defend the rights of migrants. The symbolic Universal citizenship passport was handed to the European deputy, historical militant and internationalist Daniel Cohn-Bendit, to Argentinian anti-dictatorship militant and world-renowned pianist Miguel Angél Estrella, to Franco-camerunese athlete and reporter Maryse Ewanjé-Epée as well as to two militants who have gone through the hardships of life as an undocumented migrant in France. Edgard Morin, one of the most important philosophers of the late twetieth century, also accepted to support the project and receive the passport, but couln’t make it to the press conference for medical reasons. Sakharov- and Simone de Beauvoir prize-winning author Taslima Nasreen was also here to support us in our struggle.

Given such prestigious sponsors, what could possibly cast a shadow over this celebration?
Well, actually, almost all the rest. After the recent Indian general elections gave the Hindu-nationalist BJP a clear and massive victory, after the secession of Crimea from pro-European Ukraine and into Russia, this weekend clearly illustrated that reactionary and nationalist opposition to globalization, and to the fears – fantasized or justified – that it engenders, is a global trend. In Belgium, the Flemmish nationalist movement gained momentum. In Columbia, the staunchest right-wing candidate, who refused to negociate peace with the country’s marxist guerilla, came in first.
In Europe, most of the headlines after the elections of the European Parliament mentioned the surge of anti-european, anti-globalization nationalist parties. The Greek neo-nazi party Golden Dawn made a smashing come-back after its recent electoral and legal defeats. The UK independance party, a populist movement driven by a strong rejection of the European Union in Great Britain, has, as expected, achieved a great success, despite England’s traditionally bi-partisan model. The Danish People’s Party lead a xenophobic populist list to victory in this traditionally tolerant northern-european kingdom.

But the most shocking victory was that of the French National Front, which came in ahead in this election gathering around a third of all votes. In this country, famous for its promotion of Human Rights and Universalism, for its strictly color-blind and secular administration, the steady rise in influence of this anti-immigrant, nationalist, anti-women’s rights, xenophobic and anti-European party, with a rich history of racist slurs and sporadic acts of violence, is the unmistakable proof that all over the world, people are voting for groups that promise them a more homogenous country and sell them the nostalgic memories of a fantasized past of national unity and ethnic coherence.

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This is clearly the context in which we are struggling. This is why this year, the Universal Citizenship Organization chose to invest its energy into showing that, despite these trends, despite the entrenchment of racist and xenophobic political forces, and despite the general disaenchantment with globalization as it exists so far, there are people, in larger numbers than one might think, who still support freedom of movement and settlement for all.

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So, from the 21st to the 23rd of May, hundreds of people who walked past the Paris City Hall, and dozens more through internet’s hashtag #CitoyenUni, were able to take pictures of themselves in a replica of Universal citizenship passport, to show their support for this ideal. We then printed the pictures and glued them on to a seven meter wide banner, showing a small visible part of today’s universal citizens, fighting against the mainstream anti-immigration ideas being diffused through the media, swimming against the tides. The rainbow of faces on the banner finally made it obvious that in 2014, hundreds of individuals of all origins, genders and ages, are still ready to show support for migrant’s rights and for the principles of Article Thirteen of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
” (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
A fundamental right which, like so many others and despite its clear wording, has never really been upheld or enforced by the international community, but that every individual aspires to.

Erotic sculptures

These are erotic sculptures of medieval Hindu temples.
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The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. Some say erotic sculptures were made to please Indra, the king of gods. Some say more bizarre things. But I get somehow convinced when I hear that the Chandella monarchs built these temples under the influence of tantrism and devadasi tradition. Whatever the reason, erotic temples look strikingly beautiful.

Whenever I look at these erotic art, two things come to my mind.
Number one: these are just fantasy of men! Most men secretly dream of having sex with multiple women! And women, devadasis or housewives, are treated as sex objects, not as equal partners, by kings or commoners.
Number two: Alas! In the country of erotic temples and Kamasutra, sex is a taboo subject. And during sex, women are forced to be passive, because men must dominate. When different sexual positions are advised, missionary position is the only sex position which has been practiced by most Indians! These are India’s art, but not really Indians’ art.

Iran allows men to marry their adopted daughters

Iranian lawmakers passed a law that allows men to marry their adopted daughters.

Parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years.
Activists have expressed alarm that the bill, approved by parliament on Sunday, opens the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.
Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which vets all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to issue its verdict on the controversial legislation.
To the dismay of rights campaigners, girls in the Islamic republic can marry as young as 13 provided they have the permission of their father. Boys can marry after the age of 15.
In Iran, a girl under the age of 13 can still marry, but needs the permission of a judge. At present, however, marrying stepchildren is forbidden under any circumstances.

If you follow religion, religion will drag you backwards, you will end up in the darkness of ignorance.

“This bill is legalising paedophilia,” Sadr, a human rights lawyer warned. “It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture.”
She added: “You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that’s rape.”

“With this bill, you can be a paedophile and get your bait in the pretext of adopting children,” Sadr said. Some experts believe the new bill is contradictory to Islamic beliefs and would not pass the Guardian Council.
An initial draft of the bill, which had completely banned marriage with adopted children, was not approved by the council and it is feared that MPs introduced the condition for marriage to satisfy the jurists and clergymen. This is why Sadr fears it can pass the council this time.

Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran’s society for protecting children’s rights, has also warned that the bill implies that the parliament is legalising incest. “You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or a mother can be mixed with that of an spouse,” she said, according to Shargh. “Children can’t be safe in such a family.”
Execution of juvenile offenders in Iran has also been in spotlight in recent years amid confusion between the age of majority – when minors cease to be legally considered children – and the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is 15 for boys and nine for girls under Iranian law.

Some experts believe that the new bill is contradictory to Islamic beliefs. But they are wrong. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, married his daughter in-law, his son’s wife. He justified his marriage by saying that his son was his adopted son, not real son. It means you can fuck your adopted son’s life if you want. If you can do that, you can fuck your adopted daughter’s life too. If the prophet can marry adopted son’s wife, it is perfectly alright for Muslims, the followers of Muhammad, to marry their adopted daughter. Muhammad would not have stopped marrying Zainab if she were his adopted daughter.

Muhammad married 6-year-old Ayesha. So, Islam even allows men to marry children. The Hadiths are all about Muhammad’s sayings. If you want to be Muslims, you have to believe in the holy Quran and the holy Hadiths. It is as simple as it is. And if you do this, you have to be misogynist, rapist, pedophile, immoral men and spineless, voiceless, submissive, misogynist, masochist women.

What good does marriage do?

Why do human beings marry? For sex or for children! But why is marriage necessary for secure and safe sex or for children? Out of all living species it is only humans who feel the need to marry. But don’t all other animals stay together, procreate and bring up offsprings? Marriage is not even essential for trust or loyalty. There are many animals that happily spend entire lives with the same mate, the one they choose in early youth. Never again do they desire for a new mate, never again do they feel the need to start afresh with the new one. They are loyal and monogamous in the most incredulous way! No matter how far they go, how many seas they cross, how old they become, they come back to the old mate of years to kiss and live in love. They never get to know the meaning of adultery, what it means to be polygamous or how does it feel to be betrayed. Albatrosses, swans, black vultures, bald eagles, turtle doves, dik-diks, bonnet-head sharks, gibbons, French angelfish, grey wolf, snow leopards – there are many such animals.

Humans marry to live happily ever after. But how many of them do end up living happily ever after? Most marriages either fail or survive without love. People hold on to loveless marriages for varied reasons – children, financial security or in fear of what the society or people would say. But should such coexistence be called a marriage. Many, who already have a husband or wife, nonchalantly indulge in extra-marital affairs. When one romantic affair ends, they start a new one. Human beings are not bald eagles, or black vultures. Humans are hardly monogamous and often polygamous. But at the same time it cannot be said with utmost certainty that humans are purely polygamous. Humans are much more complex and complicated. They could be monogamous, polygamous, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual – all at the same time and many more things. And there can be no close comparisons to human beings when it comes to embracing the new and abandoning dead, old ways.

Most religions pronounce marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman. Apparently god preselects one’s partner prior to even birth. So come what may, marriages must not be broken – god warns. But as we know even the most loyal devotees of god do not care to follow this advice anymore. They utter the word talaq casually to abandon a partner who supposedly was chosen by god for someone they like. It seems god has failed badly as a ‘matchmaker’. Most religions intrude in matters of matrimony, laying out rules on what ought to be the ideal age, sex, caste, beliefs when two people marry and also the duties of the ideal husband and wife. Though marriage is a thoroughly personal matter, it is largely a social affair. Women, if not men, are certainly the property of a whole society. Did the woman have an affair before marriage? Was she a virgin? Does she have an affair outside of marriage? Who does she hang out with? What time does she return home? Does she have unknown men visit her at home? And it is not just her immediate family but the entire community that takes keen interest and follows her each and every move and action. The fathers and brothers lose honour at the drop of a hat because a woman’s life remains not only her private and personal life but a concern of the entire family, community and the society. Thus fathers and brothers are ready to even kill a woman to protect the cause of family honour.

Marriage is almost becoming extinct in progressive and liberal parts of the world. Some people still marry because marriage as an institution continues to exist and they just follow a much-treaded route without much thought. It is almost like observing the need of climbing Mount Everest because one feels its looming presence. If marriage goes out of practice many will not care to marry. People continue with traditions often out of mere habit. But very few take the initiative to renew traditions and customs that are dead. There are many lovers in liberal countries who live for years together, have children and raise a family outside of marriage. The patriarchal nature of an archaic tradition called marriage is but a joke for many such couples. Marriage is just like religion that lives on despite being proven as something that has no basis in reality. A set of irrational beliefs that have survived in the same way as some superstitions have continued for thousands of years. Yet most superstitions too meet with death. Hundreds of religions and hundreds of gods have died silent deaths. Where is the heroic Apollo now, for example? Where are Jupiter, Zeus and Hermes? Where are Thor and Odin? One day marriage too will go out of fashion just like the gods and religions of bygone eras.

There is another secret reason why some people still choose to marry in countries of northern Europe – in such places one pays less tax when married. The state also bears the expenses of raising children. A lot of people in those countries are reluctant to marry or have children. So the government tries to tempt citizens with benefits of tax rebates lest the institution of marriage completely dismantles and north Europeans become an extinct race altogether. Some actually do marry because of these social benefits but many still prefer to live either alone or with a partner without marrying. Many couples who choose not to marry and yet stay together receive the same kind of state support allotted for married couples. In the West polygyny is uncommon and the practice of polygamy too is less common than in the East. What is common in the West is known as serial monogamy.

Towards the end of 60s many people came out of the narrow confines of their homes to lead a revolution, challenge the politics of a past era and change society. Old and worn out ideas like women must protect virginity, purity and motherhood to be known as good were defied. The hippies of the era almost altogether stopped marrying. Many cohabited as a group, had multiple sexual partners among themselves and raised children as joint responsibility of everyone in the group. There was no concept of seeing a partner as one’s private property. The commune lives did not last long. Had hippies been successful, the institution of marriage by now would not have remained a living institution of the society but would have found a place in the pages of history.

Intellectuals in different countries have written flamboyantly on how marriage is utterly meaningless. “”A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers.” “One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.” Katherine Hepburn even in her times was not in the favour of a man and woman sharing the same house. “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” she said. She also added, “If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.” These are exceptional observations of exceptional personalities. “Marriage is a wonderful invention; but, then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.” “Marriage is a cage. Those outside are desperate to enter and those inside are desperate to leave.” Marriage is good for those who are afraid to sleep alone at night.” There are more. “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” “A husband is what is left of a lover, after the nerve has been extracted.” “Marriage is a bribe to make the housekeeper think she’s a householder.” French author Balzac wrote, ““The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin.” However, not that all sayings are against marriage. There are some that argues in favour of it. “I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”

When the West was swayed by a hippie revolution and women’s liberation movements, women in the East wore invisible chastity belt. Many men in the East still continue to marry for primordial reasons because of which the institution of marriage originated. What is needed is a womb, a womb necessary to bear the child born out of a man. The key purpose of marriage is to protect the identity of the father. It is actually women have sustained the tradition of patriarchy for thousands of years by marrying men and protecting men’s interests. The balloon of patriarchy would have burst with a loud bang long back had women revolted.

In Bengali societies I often witness women’s wings of freedom being clipped right after marriage. Women have to leave behind everything, their home, family, friends, the familiar neighbourhood, the city of their youth and childhood, a life and a past to make the husband’s home their own. They have to add the husband’s surname to their names and call home a house that belongs to the in-laws. The husband and his family decide on behalf of adult educated women whether she should hold a job. Once it was very common and even now some people say things like women must not do professional work after marriage. Women must aspire for a life of endless sacrifice and dedication, so they must stay at home, cook, take care of the family and children. Gloria Steinem once famously said, “A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.” In present times the husband and his family do not just expect educated women to look after the household but they also want women to hold a job for some extra money for the family. However, women’s earnings continue to be seen as the “extra” in ordinary Bengali homes even if they earn more than the husband. Being indoctrinated in values of patriarchy, women are happy to deposit their earnings in the hands of the husband and acquire the ‘good girl’ tag. Women in most cases have no authority on how to spend their own earnings and often it is men – no matter how unintelligent – call the shots in money matters. Even if they manage to earn well women – it is assumed – remain clueless on managing finances. Therefore, men take it upon themselves the responsibility of looking after these important matters. Most Bengali women do not know the meaning of freedom.

In Kolkata I often shivered to see married couples living on in cold and loveless marriages. “If the marriage breaks, let it break. Why take so much effort to make it last?” I often asked. I never got satisfactory answers. Women get used to living in unhappy lives. Children for whom couples often linger bad marriages grow up witnessing tensions and pains of a troubled family and that does more harm than good. It is difficult for women to live alone or raise children on their own if they are not economically independent and lack financial security. But does that mean one must compromise with abusive husbands? The thought of sharp rise in instances of violence on and homicide of women is chilling. And all this is such a brutal expression of misogyny that remains at the heart of patriarchy!

Societies that have more of educated, independent and aware women than otherwise tend to witness higher divorce rates and low marriage rates.
However, in the Indian subcontinent even educated and independent women – having imbibed the values of patriarchy – silently tolerate abusive and polygamous husbands and choose to remain married just like those who are not self-sufficient. Marriage in these societies is almost like a conquest for men and sacrifice for women. To some marriage offers a relief from loneliness and ties a heavy shackle of bondage on others. Barbaric acts are rampant in these societies. There exist caste discrimination, dowry, objectification of women, practices of treating the wife as sex object, slave or child-producing machine, want and constant pressure of having a male child, killing of female foetus, murdering or abandoning the girl child, divorcing the wife for not giving birth to a male child and remarriage.

While there are many who follow norms and traditions blindly, there are some others who break the rules. The old norms of marriage are crumbling as more and more people are becoming civilised. It is only a handful – and not teeming millions – that change society, while the majority holds on to archaic customs and traditions.Some daring women in the West no longer abide by rules like women must not work after marriage, must never disobey husbands or that widow remarriage should not be allowed.

Marriage too has evolved as an institution. The purpose of marriage has changed in some societies and so has the nature of marriage. In the West marriage is no longer seen as a way for men to have a line of descendants or to have women toil hard to raise children and a family in the West – in societies in the West there exist a long history of struggle for women’s liberation and women have come to enjoy equal rights and opportunities to a large degree. In those places it is hardly a matter of concern if there are no children in a marriage. And people realise that what is needed most for a healthy relationship and happy family life is not marriage – but mutual love and respect.

If there is love and mutual respect two people can remain faithful to each other. If marriage could ensure loyalty then adultery would not be so rampant. The couples who live together without marriage also remain faithful to each other by the same bond of love and respect.

But it is not that all couples want monogamy or commitment. Sometimes, to beat the monotony of monogamy or to add some variety to the relationship some couples – even though they love each other – invite other men or women to join them in sex. There are no hush secrets, no hide and seek – one more person or more than one, two or three can join a couple in their very own bedroom and in the very nuptial bed. Such orgy- many couples believe – add some flavour and variety to the relationship and recharge the married life. Some sociologists vociferously support the concept of group marriage. Rather than have an ugly divorce it is much more practical apparently to be in a group marriage and not disturb the lives of children. Group marriage basically means a communal relationship of some men and women who could be married to each other. There is something called group love or polyamory – the love of many. This means the love of some men and women who are each other’s lover. Polygamy has been common in many societies from time immemorial and it mostly means a man having multiple wives. And in some societies there exists a different kind of polygamy, when a woman takes many husbands – polyandry. Many such combinations have happened in the world and they continue to happen. Yet it is monogamous marriage that has remained the most common and dominant form. Of course! Because monogamous marriage offers the best form of leverage by one on the other.

Marriage is basically a license for sexual relationship – a social license that is acquired with much fanfare and hue and cry. It is merely a tradition that is archaic, patriarchal and illogical and serve no practical purpose. There are many customs that are already dead or in the process of dying – like sati or witch-burning. Many such meaningless traditions are allowed to live on by making people either too fearful or irrational so they fail to act with reason. But even then customs and traditions will have to die when they become out of practice among large communities. It has been proven over centuries that marriage has no role in making relationships last, to bring happiness in families or to help children to excel – therefore the future of marriage too does not look very bright. Our forefathers lost an extra tail to evolution because it no longer had any value. So, will evolution not banish a practice as worthless as marriage from our societies? Philosophers of the past – Nietzsche, Kant and Hegel for instance – were known to be extremely anti-women in their views. The intellectual practice of philosophy has evolved and those with extreme hateful attitude towards women would no longer be acknowledged as a philosopher.

Patriarchy was born out of extreme misogyny. Patriarchy has given rise to many anti-women traditions; marriage is one such custom. The more patriarchy is subjugated and won over, the more women will regain their independence and confidence. The more women will drive away misogynist religions and beliefs from the society. The more society will defeat barbarisms. The more society will enlightened. The more men will reform. Then more and more patriarchal traditions will perish slowly. We are already witnessing marriage becoming less and less common in liberal societies. It may still remain a prevalent practice in societies that are not enough enlightened. But even those societies will not remain uncouth forever. And what are the signs that a society has progressed? When women are no longer raped and abused, when women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, when women do not have to end up as sex slaves or menial slaves of men. But they are free to love, be in tumultuous romance and live in with a loved one and yet do not think of marriage. When marriage becomes extinct, a remnant of the past.

Marriage is nothing but a social sanction to dominate and subjugate women. Many feminist writers have been vocal against it. Andrea Dworkin thought of marriage as the other name of rape. And someone once beautifully said that marriage is but an ‘intimate colonisation.’ Many agree that women can never be liberated in the true sense in presence of a barrier like marriage. Most feminists at one point saw it as an extraordinary means of perpetuating the norms of patriarchy and some still think on those lines. Some even see heterosexual love as a form of political conspiracy, a conspiracy for which women fall and willingly agree to get married or surrender to the enemy. Had marriage not turned women into slaves, feminists would not have such objections.
At a time when educated heterosexual people in progressive societies are rejecting this institution, many homosexual groups are fighting for rights to marry. Many liberal countries have begun to recognise the marriage of same sex couples. Many progressive individuals, who otherwise do not believe in marriage, support same sex couples’ demand of rights of marriage because the majority in society does not accept and are against such rights. Supporting same sex couples’ rights of marriage translates to disobeying and challenging the rule of religion and the moral policing of conservative societies. But it also true that the possibility of equality of both partners is better in same sex marriages than in heterosexual marriages because there is no gender discrimination in the former. However, when marriage becomes a mundane and commonplace affair even in homosexual societies, then the ones who today clamour for rights of marriage will see it as unnecessary and oppose it.

One day marriage will become extinct. Archaeologists in days to come would discover the fossil of marriage, a social practice long dead and forgotten, in the relics of history and narrate the story of the past to an enlightened generation. “There was once a dark age in this world. In those days there used to be a tradition that lasted over generations. The tradition was known as marriage.” To explain the why and what of marriage, the subject of patriarchy would of course be raised. And human beings in such an unseen future would shudder imagining a horrific society of a long gone past – a horrific society that is our present.
Utopia? But, what’s wrong in utopia?
( My Bengali article translated by Suruchi Mazumdar)

Good news from Egypt.

Egypt’s new constitution limits the role of Islam.

Where the new constitution differs most significantly from the old one is on issues of Islam’s role in governance and law. The 2012 constitution included three articles that broadly defined and significantly expanded the role of Islamic jurisprudence.

Article 2, which dates back to the 1971 constitution, establishes the Sunni branch of Islamic jurisprudence as the basic guideline for legislation. The 2012 constitution added two others: Article 4, which stated that Al Azhar, Egypt’s highest institution of Islamic learning, should be consulted on how to define Islamic law, and Article 219, which effectively includes all Sunni jurisprudence since Islam’s founding as relevant to Egyptian legislation. Secular activists and constitutional experts have harshly criticized Article 219, saying it was open to overly broad interpretation and could effectively be used to affect every aspect of Egyptian law.

In the new draft constitution, Articles 4 and 219 have essentially been deleted.

This is not the best draft constitution but much better than Mr Morsi’s constitution. The new draft prevents people from their right to freedom of expression. Among 50 members who are working to draft the new constitution, only four are women.

I hope good sense will prevail and they will learn how to respect everyone’s human rights and treat women as equal human beings. In the meantime, it would be wonderful if Islamism died a natural death.