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Old 01-25-2005, 04:58 PM   #1
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wife-beating should be done "lightly"

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Fundamental union

When it comes to defining family values, conservative Christians and Muslims are united against liberal secularists, writes Brian Whitaker

Brian Whitaker
Tuesday January 25, 2005

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too.

With that much in common, they have joined forces to "defend the family" and fight progressive social policies at the United Nations.

Other members of the holy alliance include Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, who campaigns against condoms on behalf of the Catholic church, and Mahathir Mohamad, the dictatorial former prime minister of Malaysia who sacked and jailed his deputy for alleged homosexuality.

They all met in Doha, the capital of Qatar, last November for what was officially described as a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UN's Year of the Family. In reality, it brought together some of the world's most socially conservative religious forces.

Opening the conference, Sheikha Mousa bint Nasser al-Misnad, the wife of Qatar's ruler, announced that the well-being of the family was in peril. She warned against trying to "redefine the concept of family in a manner contrary to religious precepts" - though there was little danger of anyone at the Doha conference doing that.

In common with many Muslim states, Qatar rejects basic family rights legislation such as the international Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), using "religious precepts" as an excuse.

Qatar is a small but rich Gulf emirate that looks both east and west, and its relations with the United States are simultaneously warm and frosty. It provided a temporary home for Centcom's military headquarters during the invasion of Iraq while, from a studio just a few miles away, al-Jazeera television - owned by the Qatari government - criticised the war and broadcast tapes from al-Qaida.

In preparation for its family conference, the government of Qatar appointed the World Family Policy Centre to arrange a series of preliminary meetings in Mexico City, Sweden, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Strasbourg "to collect the best scholarship on the current state of marriage and family life" and make recommendations.

The Doha conference website gave few clues about the organisation that had been assigned to this important task beyond saying it was based in Utah. In fact, the World Family Policy Centre is an offshoot of Brigham Young University - run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).

A week after the Doha conference, the government of Qatar put forward a conservative resolution on the family to the UN General Assembly which was approved without a vote, much to the dismay of the European countries and several others.

"For the first time at the UN, we had the anti-family powers scrambling by surprising them," the Mormon magazine, Meridian, crowed.

"Anti-family" and "pro-family" are code words embracing a number of issues.

"Pro-family" (as the conservatives call themselves) usually means anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-gay and iffy about sex education. The "anti-family" side (as the conservatives delight in calling their opponents) usually take the opposite view on all of that and strongly support women's rights as well.

The Doha conference, and the resulting UN resolution, provided a striking example of growing cooperation between the Christian right (especially in the United States) and conservative Muslims - groups who, according to the clash-of-civilisations theory, ought to be sworn enemies.

It was the religious right who swept George Bush back into the White House for a second term and the Mormons played a bigger part than most.

Almost 90% of America's 4 million Mormons voted for Bush last November and Utah, where the Mormon church is based, gave him the biggest majority of any US state. Indeed, Bush was so sure of winning Utah that he didn't even bother to campaign there.

Among the Mormons' Muslim allies, Qaradawi believes that "resisting the invaders" of Iraq is a religious duty. He has been banned from the US since 1999 on the grounds that he advocates violence and more recently has been accused of supporting suicide bombers.

Last year, his visit to Britain aroused much controversy, mainly because of his statements about wife-beating and the death penalty for sodomy. Less controversially, in 2001 he visited the Vatican as a guest of the Pope.

Regarded by some as the foremost Islamic scholar of his day, Qaradawi is dean of the College of Shariah and Islamic Studies in Qatar but has become famous throughout the Arab world for his appearances on al-Jazeera television. He also supervises IslamOnline.net, one of the largest Muslim websites, to ensure that none of its content "violates the fixed principles of Islamic law".

IslamOnline, which is owned by a religious organisation based in Qatar, gave extensive coverage to the Doha conference. The website also has a special section called "The family under attack" where it makes common cause with various Catholic groups and United Families International, a US organisation which preaches sexual abstinence to the AIDS-hit countries of Africa and blames condoms and sex education for the spread of HIV.

Under Qaradawi's supervision, IslamOnline frequently attacks "western" values but also urges Muslims, especially those living in the west, to work with non-Muslims "in all laudable and beneficial projects", for example, "to make our streets free of drugs, alcoholism, prostitution and homosexuality".

"We must never have any hesitation or reservation about cooperating with our non-Muslim neighbours for such causes," it says.

By the standards of traditionalist Islamic scholars (and ultra-conservative Christians too), Qaradawi's views on social issues are sometimes unexpectedly liberal. He believes wife-beating should be done "lightly" and then only as a last resort; he supports voting rights for women, and accepts abortion under certain circumstances. Rather adventurously, he also says there is nothing in Islamic law to prohibit oral sex, though it is a disgusting western practice resulting from westerners' habit of "stripping naked during sexual intercourse".

But Qaradawi's relative liberalism on these matters does not stretch to homosexuality, which he describes on IslamOnline as an abominable, depraved, unnatural, foul and illicit practice. It is also a "crime" against women - and lesbians are as guilty in that respect as gay men.

According to IslamOnline, sexual orientation is a "choice" and gay Muslims have no option but to sort themselves out by conjuring up mental pictures of pain and suffering in the fires of hell. By going through this exercise repeatedly they "will eventually come to abhor and shun this behaviour altogether" and will then be ready for marriage.

Under the heading "Are we being misinformed?", IslamOnline has a series of articles discussing homosexuality in "an Islamic and a scientific light". Almost all their scientific content comes from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (Narth), a fringe psychiatric organisation in the US which promotes "sexual reorientation therapy" and enjoys support from the religious right. IslamOnline has no fewer than 26 links to Narth's website, and a news item on Narth's website reciprocates by welcoming IslamOnline's "very useful contribution to the on-going dialogue".

(Narth's views, incidentally, are rejected by all the main professional bodies in the US, including the American Psychological Association - with 150,000 members - which says homosexuality is not an illness and warns that attempting to "cure" it can be harmful.)

The idea of forging an international Christian-Muslim alliance to fight liberal social policies began to develop in 1996 when an event known to "pro-family" activists as The Istanbul Miracle occurred. It happened at a UN conference in Turkey called Habitat Two. Richard Wilkins - now head of the Mormons' World Family Policy Centre - was there and, according to his own account, helped to perform the miracle.

"The Istanbul conference," he wrote, "was convened - in large measure - by a worldwide, well-organised and well-funded coalition of governments, politicians, academicians and non-governmental organisations that were eager to redefine marriage and family life.

"Natural marriage, based on the union of a man and a woman, was described by professors, politicians and pundits as an institution that oppressed and demeaned women. The constant claim was that 'various forms of the family exist', and all 'various forms' were entitled to 'legal support'. The 'form' most often discussed by those in charge of the conference was a relationship between two individuals of the same gender."

Wilkins challenged all this with a four-minute speech on traditional family values which also castigated sex education in schools. He was hissed by some of the delegates as he returned to his seat but afterwards, he recalled, "I was approached by the ambassador from Saudi Arabia who embraced me warmly".

Wilkins gave the Saudi ambassador a list of suggested changes to the draft Habitat agenda, and The Istanbul Miracle was born.

"Thirty-six hours later, the heads of the Arab delegations in Istanbul issued a joint statement, announcing ... that its members would not sign the Habitat agenda unless (and until) certain important changes were made," Wilkins wrote.

As a result, the draft was altered to define "marriage" as a relationship between "husband and wife", and references to abortion were changed to "reproductive health".

International arguments about the family have raged ever since. The UN has said several times that "in different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of family exist". This is a statement of fact as much as anything, but it is anathema to religious conservatives who dislike the idea of unmarried couples living together, and especially those of the same sex.

The UN points out that ideas of what a family is have changed over the last 50 years. Worldwide, there has been a shift from extended families to nuclear families as well as an increase in the number of cohabiting couples and one-person households. Family structures have also been changed by lower fertility rates, higher life expectancy, migration and, especially in Africa, HIV/AIDS. The UN therefore urges its members to take these changes into account when developing social policies.

Qatar's resolution in the General Assembly last month was part of the conservatives' ongoing struggle to turn back the clock, and once again Wilkins seems to have worked a miracle in getting it approved.

Just before the UN debate, Wilkins sent out an SOS "to pro-family government and non-government contacts throughout the world", according to the Mormons' Meridian magazine.

"You responded to the SOS by answering our alert to email targeted UN missions that could make the difference on the resolution," the magazine told its readers. "Even though it was over the weekend, with only one day's notice, you responded by sending more than 70,000 emails."

In the General Assembly, the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and New Zealand all dissociated themselves from Qatar's resolution.

The New Zealand representative pointed out that it was highly unusual for the General Assembly to pass resolutions based on conferences (such as that in Qatar) to which not all member states had been invited. The debate was being used, he said, to attack a long-standing international consensus on the diversity of family structures and the advancement of women and children's rights. It was also seeking to promote one model of the family, at the expense of others.

The family debate certainly divides the world, but the divisions are not between east and west, nor do they follow the usual dividing lines of international politics. The battle is between liberal secularists - predominantly in Europe - and conservatives elsewhere who think religion has a role in government.

On this issue, with a president who sounds increasingly like an old-fashioned imam, the United States now sits in the religious camp alongside the Islamic regimes: not so much a clash of civilisations, more an alliance of fundamentalisms.
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:08 PM   #2
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This scares me. Are we being run by a small bunch of sectarian nuts? Mind you, I have nothing against Mormons or Muslims. But I don't want them deciding my morality for me, especially if some of them happen to think it's OK to beat up women.
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:45 PM   #3
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it's all a matter of boy beats girl.


















sorry bad pun.
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:49 PM   #4
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:51 PM   #5
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So what about husband beating then? Not that I approve of (or indulge in) either...
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:54 PM   #6
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I'm with you Sally. Wives do sometimes beat their husbands. Either way spousal abuse is wrong.
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:00 PM   #7
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How many women must suffer because their fundamental human rights are trampled because in the eyes of their religion they are property.

al-Qaradawi is a jerk ~ whenever the true nature of his preaching is exposed the cries of Islamophobia are used to discredit legitmate concern. The sell him as a moderate in the west (Red Ken Livingstone does it well) and excuse his decrees that are the polar opposite of what any secular humanist would consider acceptable (I am opposed to repression of homosexuals, wife-beating and blowing up innocent Jews). I certainly have a something against this particular Muslim.

On matters of giving women equal inheritence and those that question Sharia on the matter
Quote:
"Those misguided people cudgel their brains in finding out lame arguments that tend to give both males and females equal shares of inheritance."
But hey a little bit of male dominance in society is alright ~ just remember that a womans testimony is worth half that of a man as well, so ladies if you get raped and your the only witness the rapist(s) testimony will trump yours and you will be punished for putting these worthless allegations against him.

On matters of secularism
Quote:
"Since Islam is a comprehensive system of `Ibadah (worship) and Shari`ah (legislation), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari`ah, a denial of the Divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. (...) the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari`ah is a downright apostasy.
and we all know that apostacy is punishable by death in the eyes of the majority - he doesn't explicitly advocate this but it is interesting to not he doesn't contradict it
Quote:
"All Muslim jurists agree that the apostate is to be punished. However, they differ regarding the punishment itself. The majority of them go for killing; meaning that an apostate is to be sentenced to death."
Homosexuality seems to be a thorn in the side of pure Islamic societies
Quote:
"The jurists of Islam have held different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for zina, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements."
So while killing gays seems cruel you have to admit that it works to keep a society pure. He doesn't advocate killing gays, he simply says that some do indeed advocate this and that it has been suggested that it keeps a society pure.

Don't worry people the man is a strongly anti-terrorist
Quote:
"Islam, the religion of tolerance, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, this is backed by the Qur'anic verse which reads:

Quote:
Who so ever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind," (Al-Ma'dah:32).
"The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said, 'A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn't kill another person illegally',"
That is swell, a man of peace who doesn't support terrorism.

Except when Israeli's are on the recieving end.
Quote:
"An Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier."
Quote:
"I consider this type of martyrdom operation as an evidence of God's justice."
Quote:
"Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do".
Quote:
"Only force and jihad work with those aggressors. The assassination of Sheikh Yassin proved that the [moribund] peace talks with the Israelis are nothing but lies. This is the true face of Zionism, which pays no attention to any humanitarian value. My heart breaks for Yassin and I offer my heartfelt condolences to my brothers in Hamas, Palestine and Muslims worldwide. He was assassinated by blooded hands as he was returning from dawn prayers. He met his Creator satisfied and pleased [with his decades of resistance and struggle]. Truly, dying a martyr is the best death a Muslim can get. His martyrdom will not bring in security and peace to Israel as Sharon thinks. The assassination of Sheikh Yassin will rather put a curse on Israel and ushers in its end. All Palestinians should now unify ranks and heal rifts to avenge the killing of Yassin and his companions."
And Americans in Iraq
Quote:
"all of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately. The mutilation of corpses [however] is forbidden in Islam."
man of peace, but wait he never said such a thing and denies it entirely
Quote:
"I have not published a Fatwa on this issue. At the Egyptian Journalists' Union a few days ago I was asked about the permissibility of fighting against the occupation in Iraq, and I answered that it is permitted. Afterwards I was asked concerning the American civilians in Iraq and I merely responded with the question – are there American civilians in Iraq? It is a matter of common knowledge that in Fatwas such as these I do not use the word "killing" but rather I say "struggle," which is a more comprehensive word than the word "killing" and whose meaning is not necessarily to kill. In addition, I have condemned the taking of hostages on a number of occasions in the past and have demanded that they be released and that their lives not be threatened."
This man is exactly what I mean when I say a Janus figure. He will call for violence against Jews, Apostates, Homosexuals and Women while at home and then be invited to the west and dressed up as the voice of true moderation. While he is moderate when compared to others in the region that in itself does not mean we should be blind to what is said and advocated. It is violent hypocricy and the sooner everybody begins to wake up to the fact that there are plenty of Muslim scholars who advocate violence out there (remember it isn't terrorism if its against Jews and Infidels) the sooner the real voices of moderation can be listened too. There are moderate Muslims out there and I do not think that they are very appreciative of having their religion represented by these types.

link
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:23 PM   #8
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And I stand by it I am opposed to all manners of religiousity infringing peoples rights. I want to see a world where reason and respect for human rights trump superstition and opression.
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Wives do sometimes beat their husbands

not often enough for some
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Old 01-25-2005, 08:45 PM   #10
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could somebody please sumarize that please
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:18 PM   #11
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After terrorism has become a major concern in this country or any other, I don't think "islamophobia" is much of an irrational fear after all - mainly meaning the extremists who believe it's honorable to God to blow people up and beat women under any circumstances. THAT is definately something I find worth worrying about. As far as the Mormons, I've met a few of those in my life, but I respectfully don't buy into their doctorine. I don't think the ones I met would honestly approve of the wife-beating. Take note that these nutcases in this story represent the extreme of extremism. If you believe in wife beating by any means, you are anti-family.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:39 PM   #12
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Found a book that provided interesting views on Mormonism...

This is what they essentially believe about Jesus:
- He was a created being and the brother of Lucifer.
- He was born as a result of Mary having sex with God.
- Jesus had to earn his own salvation, just like the rest of the created beings.
- Jesus is a "greater" being than other spirit children on the earth, but he has the same nature.
- Jesus was a polygamist.
- The atonement of Jesus took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and was for Adam's sin only.
- Our salvation begins with the atonement but is made complete by our good works.

This is what The Bible says:
- Jesus is fully God and one with God the Father (John 10:30)
-Jesus was born of a virgin through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-20)
- Because He is God, Jesus didn't need to be saved (1 John 5:20)
- The atonement of Jesus took place on the cross, and it was effective for all humankind (Romans 5:18)
- There is no other way to be saved except by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9)

There is no evidence that Jesus ever married once, let alone several times.
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Old 01-26-2005, 03:16 AM   #13
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I remember Qatar well, and this doesn't surprise me. I also remember Sheikha Mousa bint Nasser, and she's a nasty piece of work - in some ways even worse than her beloved husband.

If you think Qatar's bad though, don't even start on Saudi.

Ant.
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Old 01-26-2005, 06:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Macfistowannabe
Found a book that provided interesting views on Mormonism...

This is what they essentially believe about Jesus:
- He was a created being and the brother of Lucifer.
- He was born as a result of Mary having sex with God.
- Jesus had to earn his own salvation, just like the rest of the created beings.
- Jesus is a "greater" being than other spirit children on the earth, but he has the same nature.
- Jesus was a polygamist.
- The atonement of Jesus took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and was for Adam's sin only.
- Our salvation begins with the atonement but is made complete by our good works.

What's the book?

I know we have a few Mormons who are members here hopefully they'll stop by and can answer some questions. I know a little about the Mormon religion, as I dated a Mormon for awhile, and a lot of these don't sound right at all. But I don't know for sure, I'll try and find out and let you know later this evening.
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Old 01-26-2005, 06:41 AM   #15
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Some of my best friends are Mormons. I know it can be a PC crock to get into the "not all of them are like that" but that's our dilemna, actually, being fair to all members of a faith and not judging all of them by the actions of a few. I know damn well the main character in the "Princess Trilogy" couldn't disapprove of the mistreatment of women any more than she does, she's practically risking the chopping block by telling us what it's like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia, and asking her government just when the hell are they going to get their rights? As long as there are people like that there's hope. It can be very hard to have hope, but if you don't have that what have you got? Damn little.
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