Iran’s 2009 elections

Iranian women prepare to vote (AP)
Iranian women prepare to vote (AP)

Today, Iran votes. By the time I post this, many of you will have already seen footage of Iranians waiting in line to reach the polls. As we eagerly anticipate the results of thishistoric election, read coverage of the events here.

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Bidding adieu to 2008 (and – inauguration day is coming!)

Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)
Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)

December 31, 2008 – a few hours before midnight,  I momentarily set my perpetually poor-performing laptop  down on the floor. Upon returning it to my lap, I am given nothing but the error message “operating system not found.”

Fluff post? It may sound that way.  The point is – 2008 was ending quite aptly: nothing sums it up better than “operating system not found.” In fact, technology references seem mighty appropriate for 2008 – someone get me a fire wire to rapidly send all useful data to a stable-state hard drive, please. Call in the geek squad for a full system restore.

2009 didn’t start much better. On a personal note, I began today by committing a major misfire in text-message communication.  In context, the message was innocent. Sent to the wrong person, less so.  Smooth, Saraswati. I’m blaming that snafu on the fog of sheer exhaustion I’ve been living in over the past few months.

On a global scale, we’re dealing with one of the least promising conflicts in human history. We are at a death toll of almost 400 – mainly Palestinian civilians.

Yesterday, January 1, marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Sarah and Amina Said. Honor killings take some 8,000+ lives per year. Read about the case of Afsaneh, a woman whose sentence – death by stoning – is being upheld despite opposition. We have seen an increase in honor killings in places like Pakistan.

Two women in Kuwait were attacked recently, allegedly for not wearing the hijab. “Morality police” in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are stepping up their offensives against women.

The Taliban is threatening to blow up girls’ schools if they don’t shut down.

I could keep going – and the ladies at Muslimah Media Watch can provide you with links to even more stories like these.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do in 2009 – and, despite the enormous magnitude of the problems presented in the stories above, we have reason to believe that women and men can continue to make change.

See these women, who are taking action to end the conflict in Gaza. Subservient? Submissive? Not a chance.

Salima Ebrahim, a Canadian of Kenyan descent, is confronting injustice and prejudice head on. Her mission of  “dignity for everyone” is one many big-time activists claim in order to get the big bucks – but few actually make human dignity a priority. It sounds like Salima’s voice is a sincere one. Congratulations to this up-and-coming sister!

A Saudi doctor was able to save two girls – one 5 years old, the other 11 – from forced marriage. Doctors like her deserve to be commended.

I hope you’ll join me in seeing the hope these last stories can provide. I’ll need your help to make a difference. Stay tuned to the links at right for organizations and people who are with us in the struggle for dignity, equity and justice for all.  Happy new year.

Jumu’ah dispatch #3 – Friday news updates

As always, Muslimah Media Watch brings us the latest in news from the Muslim world, focusing on women’s issues. Check out this week’s (very thorough) update. Some selections:

* Women have started a group called Sisters Against Violent Extremism. The idea? Courageous dialogue will not just transgress national boundaries – but mobilize women to make positive change. They’re redefining the conversation from Sri Lanka to New York. Stay updated by subscribing to their newsletter.

* If you’re already at the Women Without Borders website, you’ll see a link to Men for Change. They feel that “to be free means being equal in every way” – and they’re taking on issues from honor killings in Pakistan to domestic violence in the United States. Mashallah.

* Iran steps up threats against Shirin Ebadi.

* A community in Uganda has banned female genital cutting. Community leaders are petitioning the country’s government to ban the practice nationwide. They’re not waiting around for the United Nation’s goal to “significantly reduce” female genital cutting by 2015.

* A Muslim woman was brutally attacked on her campus in Chicago. This follows a string of anti-Muslim incidents at the school, including the vandalism of the young woman’s locker with hate speech.

Check out the rest of MMW’s weekly links here.

Iranians protest honor killings after the death of another young woman

Iran Telegraf)
Iranians demonstrate against honor killings (photo: Iran Telegraf)

On August 14th, eighteen year-old Fereshteh Nejati was murdered by her father. Forced into marriage at 14, Fereshteh was seeking a divorce.

The details of her murder are gruesome. The response to the tragedy, however, shows signs of hope for Iran’s women.

Where am I finding this hope? Well, Fereshteh’s community decided that enough is enough. Some 2000 people – men and women – gathered in the streets to demand an end to honor killings, and to claim Fereshteh’s body for a respectful burial.

See photos of the demonstration here

As always, check out the International Campaign Against Honour Killings . There, you can join communities like Fereshteh’s in their efforts.

ACTION ITEMS:

* Please remember to keep taking action for Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman facing imminent stoning.

* Sign the anti-honor killing petition I’ve told you about here.

* Send letters to the Pakistani government demanding that they take action against honor killings.

* Work against the epidemic of rape in Afghanistan.

* Help protect women threatened with acid attacks.

Call on Iran’s leaders to release Kobra Najjar

August 9, 2008
August 9, 2008

I told you about Kobra Najjar in a previous entry. Thank you to one of my readers for sending along another way we can help her – and speak out against all stoning in Iran.

Consider signing this petition, written by Muslims and addressed to Iran’s leaders.

And, if you haven’t already – remember to check out the International Campaign Against Honour Killings – and sign up for their mailing list.

Jumu’ah dispatch #2

Last week, I posted a blog for jumu’ah, and have decided to do so every week. The subject will be likely be a spiritual matter I’ve been reflecting on over the week. I also welcome your suggestions for topics. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me  your ideas.

“Sectarian bloodbaths in Iraq … suicide bombers blowing themselves up in parking lots of hotels, taking innocent lives…female madrassah students in Islamabad waving cane sticks at shopkeepers and vendors … people being turned away from Islam from the harshness of many of those deemed “religious” …

There is a loss of mercy and gentleness around. Yet we see anger and harshness abound, and one wonders what has gone wrong.

In reality, Divine guidance and Prophetic teachings are nothing but a manifestation of mercy-and any understanding of religion lacking in mercy is lacking in true understanding.”

– Faraz Rabbani

Since last Friday, I’ve blogged about some of the most grievous things one human can do to another. Women in Pakistan have been threatened with acid attacks. Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman, is facing imminent execution by stoning after having already survived sexual slavery.

I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on both of the above items. Many of you – Muslims and non-Muslims – are taking positive action: writing letters to Iranian officials to support Ms. Najjar, and signing up with the non-governmental organizations working against things like acid attacks and honor killings.

By taking these positive steps, you’re exhibiting mercy. Mercy, and gentleness in judgement – are both commanded of Muslims. Those who perpetrate crimes like those above are acting in violation of some of Islam’s most fundamental precepts. That is why it is so important for the rest of us to step up to the plate.

Last night, after a meaningful email exchange about judgementalism, mercy, and values, I stumbled across this article from Islamica Magazine. In it, we are reminded that when confronted with insults – judgements – the Prophet (pbuh) insisted on responding with gentleness and mercy. He said that “Allah is gentleness, and loves gentleness in all matters.”

Not only should our actions for social justice come from mercy – so should should our daily interactions and reactions – no matter the vitriol, the tension, or even the hate we are faced with. A valuable reminder for me, and hopefully for others too.  

What does mercy mean to you? What does your faith/set of values say about judgement and mercy?

Iranian woman faces stoning – here’s what you can do

Kobra Najjar is an Iranian woman facing imminent execution by stoning. Why? She’s been charged with adultery – when what really happened is that her husband forced her into prostitution to support his heroin addiction. I mentioned her case in this post.

Iranian women’s rights groups report that Ms. Najjar has exhausted all legal remedies available to her domestically.

The only hope for her now is for Iranian leaders to be pressured into releasing her.

You can help. Here’s how. I join Equality Now and the International Campaign Against Honour Killings in asking you to do the following:

Please contact the Iranian officials below, calling for Kobra Najjar’s immediate release, the commutation of all sentences of death by stoning and the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in accordance with Iran’s obligations under the ICCPR. Urge the officials also to initiate a comprehensive review of the Civil and Penal Codes of Iran to remove all provisions that discriminate and perpetuate discrimination against women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Iran’s own constitutional provision for equality before the law.

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Ministry of Justice          
Park-e Shahr
Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: iripr@iranjudiciary.org, irjpr@iranjudiciary.com and info@dadgostary-tehran.ir
Phone:  +98 21 22741002, +98 21 22741003, +98 21 22741004, +98 21 22741005  

Note: your message may bounce back to you. Please keep trying.

Please also contact the Iranian embassy in your country.

* United States: Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington, D.C.

Tel:   202-965-4990  
Fax: 202-965-1073

* United Kingdom: Embassy of Iran in London

Tel: +02072253000
Fax: +02075894440                                                                                     

* Canada: Embassy of Iran in Ottawa

Tel: 613-235-4726 Ext 225
Fax: 613-232-5712

A comprehensive list can be found by clicking the link above or by visiting this page.