Archive for December, 2005

sisters and daughters for sale?

December 30, 2005

Are our sisters and daughters for sale? When will the horrors of dowry and bride-burning end?, asks Himendra Thakur June 1999:

Doesn’t the love of one’s country include love for one’s countrymen? Or is it merely a fashionable thing, patriotism merely to find pride in something but not to actually strive towards a better nation? A country is her people. Years ago, Rabindranath Tagore summed it up as: Desh mrinmoy noi, desh chinmoy The country is not a chunk of earth: it is a saga of consciousness. Without the conscience of our people, this consciousness will fade. We must rouse ourselves to the daily indignities that surround us. There are a thousand places and ways we can begin loving the people of our nation, and I offer but one here. It is a journey that each of us can begin quite easily, because the victims of this malaise – dowry – are within reach, they are our mothers, sisters, friends, neighbors. People who we normally think of as “one of our own”, who we ought to protect with our lives if necessary, and yet the normal course of things has fallen so low that indignities heaped on our women do little more than make us look away.

Geographical distribution of dowry deaths, 1994Source: National Crimes Bureau, Home Ministry

Andhra Pradesh – 396
Arunachal Pradesh – 0
Assam – 13
Bihar – 296
Goa – 0
Gujarat – 105
Haryana – 191
Himachal Pradesh – 4
Jammu & Kashmir – 1
Karnataka – 170
Kerala – 9
Madhya Pradesh – 354
Maharashtra – 519
Manipur – 0
Meghalaya – 0
Mizoram – 0
Nagaland – 2
Orissa – 169
Punjab – 117
Rajasthan – 298
Sikkim – 0
Tamilnadu – 83
Tripura – 6
Uttar Pradesh – 1977
West Bengal – 349
Andaman & Nicobar – 1
Chandigarh – 3
Dadra & Nagar Haveli – 0
Daman & Diu – 0
Delhi – 132
Lakshadweep – 0
Pondicherry – 4
Total – 5199

Let us begin, then, with the people whose suffering we have even ceased to notice, let alone empathize with. Let us begin with the women around us, those whose marriage through dowry we regard as normal when in fact it is apalling. Countless brides in India are constantly under harassment in their matrimonial homes because their fathers have fallen behind in the payment of endless dowry installments, or the dowry she did bring to her husband is regarded as too meagre.

Imagine the plight of a young woman, newly wed into an unfamiliar situation, and surrounded by those she has only just met, who regard her as a means to an end, little more than a device by which to enrich themselves. She knows only too well that a bride may be killed for lack of dowry … she too must have heard the same stories we’ve all heard … but she does not know what to do. She may have overheard her in-laws, even her own husband, talk casually about harassing her, and sometimes contemplate even killing her! the kind of fear that instills in a person is beyond our ability to comprehend. It isn’t even fear, it is terror.

The cruelest aspect of this menace is the role that brides’ parents play in perpetuating it. My inquiry at the Dowry Cell of New Delhi Police Department revealed that most of the parents of the bride do not want to take their daughters back. There is considerable social stigma in India against those parents who shelter a married daughter back in their family. In most of the cases, parents persuade the daughter to go back to her husband’s home, that is considered to be the highest form of behavior one can learn from the old scriptures.

The alternative for the scared bride is to go to one of those government shelters. However, these shelters are controlled by unscrupulous bureaucrats and their politician bosses who are accused of taking full advantage of the helpless condition of the victims who come to the shelters. The reputation and working condition of most of the shelters are so horrible that a bride will prefer to die at the hands of her in-laws than to move one of those “shelters”.
So, she stays in the house of her in-laws, resigned to her fate. Then, one evening, when she is working in the kitchen, someone throws a pail of kerosene on her, and someone else throws a burning match, and she turns into a ball of flames. Can she save herself by taking off her clothes ? There is no time. Petroleum products like kerosene or gasoline work very fast, aided by her own body heat. Once that splinter is thrown, there is no more chance of life.

Perhaps this sort of recital is gruesome, and we look away. We imagine that it cannot happen to anyone we know, that our education and money has raised us above these village truths. But that isn’t so – we merely glamorize the slavery we perpetuate, and pretend to endow our daughters and sisters with “gifts”. These aren’t dowries, we tell ourselves, this is just to help her get a good start. Conveniently, we overlook the fact that there’s more than one person getting married, we don’t ask often enough why this good start mustn’t come from both sides.
With these pretexts, we dismiss these as unimportant issues. And as we look away, an estimated 25,000 brides are killed or maimed every year in India over dowry disputes. Intellectuals pull out their calculator and say it is less than 0.003% of India’s population. They slide into research mode and throw a vast array of statistics about atrocities on women in USA, UK, Pakistan, and many other countries of the world. Foundation owners refuse to help because there are so many other problems in India like street beggars, lepers, street children, bonded laborers, etc.

continue reading article …

So, the brides keep on burning. Except, when she burns, the “problem” is one hundred percent hers, not 0.003%. She is NOT suffering from economic exploitation like bonded labor or economic deprivation like poverty : she is instead suffering from a very complex psychological set up in the minds of most of the people, the apathy of our times, and the stench of our unwillingness to eradicate dowry.

Many intellectuals do not like to talk about this subject. They open their speech with a presentation how India is doing very good in other fields like computers, space technology, etc., as if achievements in these fields can be used as excuses to burn the brides. A nation that trades in its people, sells its daughters into ready bondage, what words can describe these horrors? What kind of progress teaches us to ignore these problems, to pretend that these can never come past our doors?

One day, our daughters too will pass into slavery, and the jewel in our eyes will lead the wretched life we choose to look away from. When will it be enough? Himendra Thakur June 1999

Himendra Thakur is a founding member of the International Society against Dowry and Bride Burning in India, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt organization in the United States. He is currently Chairman of the Society’s Board of Directors and Subcommittee on Fundraising.

keeping April Glaspie under wraps?

December 27, 2005

Is the US State Department still keeping April Glaspie under wraps?
By: Kaleem Omar on: 25.12.2005 [16:51 ] (154 reads)

It is now more than fifteen years since that fateful meeting on July 25, 1990 between then-US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and President Saddam Hussein that the Iraqi leader interpreted as a green light from Washington for his invasion of Kuwait eight days later.

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The US State Department, which is said to have placed a gag order on Glaspie in August 1990 prohibiting her from talking to the media about what had transpired at that meeting, is apparently still keeping her under wraps despite the fact that she retired from the American Foreign Service in 2002. .

In all the years since her meeting with Saddam Hussein, Glaspie has never spoken about it to the media, never appeared as a guest on a TV talk show, never written an article or a book about her time as the US’s top diplomat in Baghdad. The question is: why? What has she got to hide?

April Catherine Glaspie was born in Vancouver, Canada, on April 26, 1942 and graduated from Mills College in Oakland, California in 1963 and from Johns Hopkins University in 1965. In 1966 she entered the United States diplomatic service, where she became an expert on the Middle East. After postings in Kuwait, Syria and Egypt, Glaspie was appointed Ambassador to Iraq in 1989.

Glaspie’s appointment followed a period from 1980 to 1988 during which the United States had given substantial covert support to Iraq during its war with Iran.

Before 1918 Kuwait had been part of the Ottoman province of Basra, and thus in a sense part of Iraq, but Iraq had recognised its independence in 1961. After the end of the Iran-Iraq War (during the course of which Kuwait lent Iraq $ 14 billion), Iraq and Kuwait had a dispute over the exact demarcation of its border, access to waterways, the price at which Kuwaiti oil was being sold, and oil-drilling in border areas.

It was in this context that Glaspie had her first meeting with Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990. Glaspie herself had requested the meeting, saying she had an urgent message for the Iraqi president from US President George H. W. Bush (Bush Senior). In her two years as Ambassador to Iraq, it was Glaspie’s first private audience with Saddam Hussein. It was also to be her last. A partial transcript of the meeting is as follows:

US Ambassador Glaspie:

“I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. (pause) As you know, I have lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country (after the Iran-Iraq war). We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. (pause) We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your other threats against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship – not confrontation – regarding your intentions. Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait’s borders?”

President Saddam Hussein:

“As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only one more brief chance. (pause) When we (the Iraqis) meet (with the Kuwaitis) and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.”

US Ambassador Glaspie:

“What solution would be acceptable?”

President Saddam Hussein:

“If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab – our strategic goal in our war with Iran – we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq (which, in Iraq’s view, includes Kuwait), then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States’ opinion on this?”

US Ambassador Glaspie:

“We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasise the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”

(Saddam smiles)

At a Washington press conference called the next day (July 26, 1990), US State Department spokesperson Margaret Tutweiler was asked by journalists:

“Has the United States sent any type of diplomatic message to the Iraqis about putting 30,000 troops on the border with Kuwait? Has there been any type of protest communicated from the United States government?”

To which Tutweiler responded

“I’m entirely unaware of any such protest.”

On July 31, 1990, two days before the Iraqi invasion, John Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, testified to Congress that the

“United States has no commitment to defend Kuwait and the US has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is attacked by Iraq.”

The trap had been baited very cleverly by Glaspie, reinforced by Tutweiler’s and Kelly’s supporting comments. And Saddam Hussein walked right into it, believing that the US would do nothing if his troops invaded Kuwait. On August 2, 1990, eight days after Glaspie’s meeting with the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein’s massed troops invaded Kuwait.

One month later in Baghdad, British journalists obtained the tape and transcript of the Saddam Hussein-April Glaspie meeting on July 25, 1990. In order to verify this astounding information, they attempted to confront Ms Glaspie as she was leaving the US embassy in Baghdad.

Journalist 1:

“Are the transcripts (holding them up) correct, Madam Ambassador?”

(Ambassador Glaspie does not respond)

Journalist 2:

“You knew Saddam was going to invade (Kuwait), but you didn’t warn him not to. You didn’t tell him America would defend Kuwait. You told him the opposite – that America was not associated with Kuwait.”

Journalist 1:

“You encouraged this aggression – his invasion. What were you thinking?”

US Ambassador Glaspie:

“Obviously, I didn’t think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.”

Journalist 1:

“You thought he was just going to take SOME of it? But how COULD YOU?! Saddam told you that, if negotiations failed, he would give up his Iran (Shatt al Arab Waterway) goal for the ‘WHOLE of Iraq, in the shape we wish it to be.’ You KNOW that includes Kuwait, which the Iraqis have always viewed as a historic part of their country!”

(Ambassador Glaspie says nothing, pushing past the two journalists to leave)

“America green-lighted the invasion. At a minimum, you admit signalling Saddam that some aggression was okay – that the US would not oppose a grab of the al-Rumalya oil field, the disputed border strip and the Gulf Islands (including Bubiyan) – territories claimed by Iraq?”

(Again, Ambassador Glaspie says nothing as a limousine door closes behind her and the car drives off.)

Two years later, during the American television network NBC News Decision ‘92s third round of the Presidential Debate, 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot was quoted as saying:

“…we told him (Saddam) he could take the northern part of Kuwait; and when he took the whole thing we went nuts. And if we didn’t tell him that, why won’t we even let the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee see the written instructions for Ambassador Glaspie?”

At this point he (Perot) was interrupted by then President George Bush Senior who yelled:

“I’ve got to reply to that. That gets to national honour!…That is absolutely absurd!”

Absurd or not, the fact of the matter is that after April Glaspie left Baghdad in late August 1990 and returned to Washington, she was kept under wraps by the State Department for eight months, not allowed to talk to the media, and did not surface until just before the official end of the Gulf war (April 11, 1991), when she was called to testify informally before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about her meeting with Saddam Hussein.

She said she was the victim of “deliberate deception on a major scale” and denounced the transcript of the meeting as “a fabrication” that distorted her position, though she admitted that i

The story of Bismillah

December 23, 2005

bismillahir Rehmaanir Raheem

He had only two dirhams in his pocket, and no other possession.

Bashar bin Harith gave the two dirhams to a perfumer and asked him to provide the best perfume he had. The fragrance was indeed refreshing to his whole existence. Bashar left the perfumery, and sat down comfortably in a corner, took out a piece of paper from his pocket, and started putting the perfume on that piece of paper with fondness, because on the piece of paper was written:

“bismillahir Rehmaanir Raheem”

The Qureish used to begin their writings with “be Ismika Allahumma”, meaning “O Allah! (we start) in your name.” The prophet (saw) had also kept to this because its meanings are in total conformity with Islamic teachings. Then the following Ayah of Surah Hood was revealed:

“wa qaalarkubu feeha bimillahi marjaha wa mursaha”

meaning: Embark on this! With the name of Allah this boat will sail as well as stop…”. This is the story of Nuh {Noah} (as). Here Allah (swt) is teaching His vice-regents to start all lawful activities with His name by saying “bismillah”, whether quietly or audibly.

After the revelation of this Ayah, the prophet [saw] started using “bismillah”. When Surah bani Israel was revealed, in which there is an Ayah with the meaning: “(It is the same) whether you call Allah or Rehman,, (because) all of His names are Elegant”, he started writing: “bismillahir Rehmaan”. After that was revealed the Ayah of Surah Niml, in which there is a reference to the letter written by Suleman {Solomon} (as) to queen Bilqees of Saba. The Quran tells us that letter started this way: “Innahu minas Suleman wa innahu bismillahir Rehmaanir Raheem” meaning: “Definitely this letter is from Sulemaan and he begins it with the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful”.

Now the prophet [saw] also started using this sentence in full. It is very comprehensive, plain and simple but sweet at the same time. The placing of words and their phonetics are such that it charms the heart. The smallest kid is easily able to say it. No other language and no other book carried such a sentence. The first person to use this phrase was Suleman (as).

Bashar bin Harith says that he was a very intolerant and prejudiced person, always ready to pick a fight. He started going somewhere from home, when he found a piece of paper lying on the road (remember, the road then were not paved or metalled like today, they were dirt tracks). On it was written this: “bismillahir Rehmaanir Raheem”. This sentence is an ayah of the Quran, and also appears at the start of every Surah, to distinguish it from the previous one. Except Surah Taubah, every Surah starts with this sentence. Respecting the words of the Quran (which is the Word of Allah) is part of our Faith. When Bashar slept that night, he was given the glad tidings that: “you made fragrant our name; We will also make your name fragrant in this world and in the Hereafter.

What we need to understand here is that “bismillah” means the way of the deen of Allah. To make it fragrant means to act according to Islam’s way. In Islam, everything depends on your action, which are determined by the intention.

In Surah alHajj, Allah says something like: “Allah does not get the meat or blood of your sacrifice, but He receives your piety.”

Abu Hureirah relates something like: “Indeed Allah Subhanahu Ta`ala does not (judge) your bodies or your faces, but He judges your hearts.

Muaad bin Jabl was being sent as governor of Yemen. Before departure, he asked the prophet [saw] to give him some words of advice. The prophet said” “Do not let your intention be corrupted. Whatever you do, do it for the sake of gaining Allah’s pleasure. Even the littlest action will suffice for you then”.

US monitors radiation in mosques!

December 23, 2005

I would say it is a very welcome service. 🙂

The cost of installing radiation monitors, and staffing for regular checks must be considerable.

It is very thoughtful of the US to think of radiation mnitoring for its Muslim inhabitants. It might jsut be discriminatory, and I expect that people of other faiths would bring in a lawsuit or petition the US government to provide the same service in their places of worship.

I guess another fat contract is coming in the way of Halliburton. 🙂

How to have your cake, and eat it, too

December 20, 2005

a very interesting piece of legislation!

bans torture, specifically.

wow! really. That is great.

However, do not as yet jump with joy for human rights, for
there is a catch.

No, the CIA is not exempted.

But there still is a catch.

“If the US does torture, the victims have no right to take
that up in court.”

Brilliant, simply brilliant!

The US says it will not torture; however, neither the US
government nor any of its personnel who do so, can be
challenged in court. And this is not from the President,
but the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Brilliant, simply brilliant!

Having your cake, and being able to eat it, too!

Is this what the US is all about?