Monthly Archives: May 2013

Egyptian teacher Demiana Abdelnour is the new victim of blasphemy case

DemianaAbdelnour

By: Alexandra Kinias —

Defamation of religion is a phenomenon that is practiced in societies where religious extremism is rooted. In such societies, zealots condemn, prosecute and kill those who speak out against their faith, while giving themselves the license to do and say the exact same against other religions.

With the rise of Islamists to power, Egypt is aggressively following in the footsteps of countries that have been labeled amongst the worse in human rights, freedom of expression and religion. The detention of 24-years old Coptic school teacher Demiana Abdelnour on May 8th is another reminder to where the country is heading. Abdelnour was arrested following complaints by the parents of three of her students at the primary school where she taught. The parents claimed that the social sciences teacher insulted religion and the Prophet Muhammad by saying that the late Pope Shenouda III performed more miracles than the Prophet. They also alleged that she placed her hand on her stomach to convey nausea when mentioning the Prophet. The accusations were entirely based on the testimony of the three students, all under the age of ten. Abdelnour denied all such allegations. And according to the school administration and the confessions of ten other students there was no truth to any of those allegations. [1]

The incident of Abdelnour is just another in the long strand of events that target the Coptic minorities and affirms that the religious intolerance is steadily increasing. It is only predictable that this phenomenon that has started growing roots in the society will eventually become a trait in the absence of the supervision of civil institutions. The ruling party is keeping closed eyes on the exploitation of the Copts, to threaten and control them. What more can prove that they are being targeted by the government than seeing the police forces standing aside while the Pope’s headquarters was  attacked by angry rioters? This incident was the first attack on the seat of Christianity in Egypt in more than 1,400 years. [2]

Amnesty International has called for the release of Abdelnour. “On numerous occasions, Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities not to prosecute individuals based on blasphemy laws, which criminalize criticism of or insult religious beliefs,” read a statement issued by the international organization. [3]

Unfortunately, there is a discrimination factor in cases of defaming religion because the majority of people accused are Coptic Christians, Bahá’ís or atheists and as labeled by Abdelnour’s lawyer; it is a one way street cases. [4]

Meanwhile Abdelnour was being held in custody based on testimonies of three 10-years old school children, the owner of the evangelical Islamic channel, Al-Omma TV, Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah, known as Abu Islam, and his son Islam, were also accused for the chargers of “insulting the Christian faith”. Abu Islam and his son tore up and set on fire a copy of the Bible during protests outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo against a US-made film mocking the Prophet Mohammed. None-the-less, both father and son were arrested, released on bail, but not convicted. The reason for his arrest might have been for the international media to affirm that the government doesn’t tolerate blasphemy from either side. But he was immediately released on bail and back to his show with intense aggression against the the Christians and the church.[5] [6]

His television show is the media where the notorious Abu Islam, (father of Islam) spreads his venom. He openly refers to Christens as infidels, feverishly insults the church, Jesus and Mary. His blasphemy is available on youtube for the world to watch. [7] [8] [9] In the spam of years, he was questioned a couple of times by the authorities only to return back with more aggression, disrespect and profanity against the Copts and Christianity. Abu Islam is still on  TV squirting his venom to his viewers and fueling the sectarian tension. [10]

The madness in his eyes and malignancy of his soul, the aggression in his voice and the hatred and intolerance in his words are alarming. But he is not alone. There are tens of Sheikhs like Abu Islam all over the television screens. The business is thriving.

With the high level of illiteracy in Egypt, the hegemony of the unqualified religious Sheikhs is causing the already decaying society to collapse. They preach intolerance through their malicious dialogue in mosques, schools, television, and anywhere they have an audience. They spread racism, fear, abuse, violence and ignorance. Their words are falling on suppressed psychologies where they give them false feelings of power and a delusion of supremacy as being God’s chosen.

It is quite an intriguing psychological relationship between these predators and their victims.  Religion is becoming a lucrative business. And the louder and more obnoxious these preachers are, the bigger contracts they get. The malignant control over the masses give them wealth, power and prestige. They manipulate their victims and control them like puppets. Suppressed in their own societies and feeling inferior, the Sheikhs throw them baits that give them a sense of superiority in an illusionary realm. They are promised a better life and are brainwashed to believe that following the rigorous doctrine of Islam would automatically transcend them into the vicinity of the powerful. It is not merely the fear of the other or the insecurities to defend their faith that create these chaotic behaviors. These dialogues also resonate more with the suppressed and abused who find in violence and abuse of the other a relief to their own maladies.

Abdel Nour will not be the last case of blasphemy Egypt will witness in the near future. And with no action taken to punish these Sheikhs or reform their dialogue, we should bid adieu to the country that was once a safe haven to all religions. A country that may leave its mark in the  twenty first century by reverting back to medieval times.  

* After going on a hunger strike, Abdel Nour was released on L.E. 20,000 bail. This amount is twenty times higher than what others have paid for similar chargers, except for Abu Islam’s. “This bail price is completely arbitrary. When you are forced to pay this much money it is not procedure, it is punishment.” Her lawyer said. [11]

References:

1. 4. Daily News : Coptic teacher remains in prison

2. Coptic Pope speaks out on Muslim Brotherhood

3. Amnesty International: Egypt releases teacher accused of blasphemy

5. Abu Islam burns Bible : youtube video with subtitles

6. Al Arabiya News: Detained Egyptian sheikh who said it is ‘halal’ to rape female protesters.

[7] Abu Islam Insults the Christians and the Church after his release. – youtube

[8] Abu Islam insults Jesus – youtube

[9] Abu Islam insults Mary – you tube

10. Egypt Independent: Abu Islam released on L.E. 20,000 bail, Feb 2013

11. Coptic teacher released on 20,000 bail

2 Comments

Filed under Human Rights, Women Rights in Egypt

Prayer leader; pedophile and murderer

Basmala raped and killed by the Imam of the neighborhood mosque.

Basmala raped and killed by the Imam of her neighborhood mosque.

By: Alexandra Kinias —

While Egypt was celebrating Sham El Nassim, the national day the follows Easter Sunday, the family of Basmala was mourning their daughter’s death. The 8-years old had gone missing a couple of days earlier. She had gone to buy laundry detergent for her mother, but never came back. After an extensive search by the police and the neighbors, her body was found in a garbage dump close to where she lived. Even though a similar incident took place a couple of years earlier when another young girl went missing, no one had imagined that a pedophile lives in the neighborhood.

Sheikh Mustafa, the 62 years old pious restaurant owner who often leads the people in prayers didn’t spare time or effort to assist the police in their search. And when the body was found he attended the funeral. Surveillance of the garbage dump where the girl’s body was found led investigators to the murderer. Within few days after her body was found, they arrested a man who was disposing a bag that contained the girl’s clothes. To everyone’s surprise the murderer was no one else but the pious Sheikh. Police raided his restaurant and found the box of laundry detergent that the mother had sent the girl out to buy.

Sheikh Mustafa after his arrest

Sheikh Mustafa after his arrest

As the police interrogated Sheikh Mustafa, he confessed to the crime. In his confessions he said that he lured the girl to his restaurant, raped her, strangled her with her pants and stole her gold earrings. He left the body in his restaurant all night. At dawn he went to the mosque, led the morning prayers, returned back to the restaurant, loaded her body in a burlap sack and dumped it in the garbage.

Repeat: The convict confessed that he raped the girl, strangled her with her pants, stole her earrings, went out to pray and returned back to dispose her body!!!!

Reference: Al Youm 7 Newspaper

1 Comment

Filed under Violence against women

Are we forgetting how to be humans?

From left to right: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight

From left to right: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight

by: Alexandra Kinias —

Three women who were abducted almost ten years ago in Cleveland, Ohio were finally reunited with their families after being able to escape they captivity. Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus were kidnapped between 2004 and 2007 by Ariel Castro and were held captive in his home since then. While in captivity, Berry gave birth to Castro’s child, a girl who is now six years old and who was delivered with the help of Knight.

Confined within the walls of Castro’s 1400 sq-ft home, their only contact with the outside world was the television. As time went by Knight and DeJesus accepted their painful reality, according to a law enforcement officer, but Berry was more forceful and determined to set them and her daughter free. Berry staged an escape and with the help of neighbors she was able to free herself and the others who, according to police, they were not constrained, but didn’t run out of the house when the neighbors broke the door down. They were fearful and brainwashed. Inside the house police found ropes and chains. No information is released yet on how they had been treated or how they spend their days in captivity. The women who are all safe and healthy were reunited with their families and Castro is now in custody. He’ll be charged on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

Investigators are questioning the neighbors, the suspect and the victims. They collected evidence from inside the house that would help them to put the story together. The case is clear and many questions will be answered. Psychiatrists will study the abductor’s personality and motives and their findings no doubt will be helpful in solving similar future cases. However, the question that will remain unanswered is how Castro was able to hide this side of his life from everyone around him for ten years?

Castro lived in an urban neighborhood. He worked as a school bus driver. His neighbors saw him on daily basis; on his way to work, out in his yard, toying with his car or motorcycle, walking with the young girl whom he introduced as his girlfriend’s daughter. He barbecued with his neighbors and listened to music with them. Yet he was able to conceal three women and a child in his home for ten years without raising suspicions.

As the story unveiled, Castro’s neighbors were shocked to hear about the double life he led. They wonder how had they missed all the facts and whether they could have done something to end this horror. Castro left behind some clues that nobody noticed, or cared to notice. Neighbors recall that he always kept people away from the house and brought bags of food more than what a single person could consume. They have seen the young girl whom he introduced as his girlfriend’s daughter. It sounds quite intriguing that no one has questioned the whereabouts of the girlfriend or how the girl was left inside the house by herself when he went to work.

From the photographs of the neighborhood, the houses seem at very close range from each other. I wonder how they never heard the screams of a woman in labor. How they never heard the cries of a born child. I can’t imagine how no one stopped to wonder what was going on, or whether people noticed, but they just carried on with their lives without caring to know since it was not their business. These unanswered questions make me curious to what extent one should mind his /her business or if people are minding their business more than they should. Is watching for suspicious activities considered interfering with the business of others?

Have humans become too absorbed in their own lives, or is it selfishness that drives people nowadays. In the middle of our chaotic everyday life, human relations have condensed into greetings and trivial comments about weather and sports. We are walking the fine line between minding our business, respecting the privacy of others and becoming unconcerned and uninterested in people around us.

If nothing else, this incident raises the concern about the deteriorating human relations. Relations between people are what differentiate us from other creatures. We are the only species that communicate with words, who is compassionate and helpful to those in need, just like the guy who broke down the house door when he heard Berry calling for help. We are social creatures and our everyday relations should become less superficial and more sincere. That’s what made us evolve to who we are and where we are today. If we fail to behave as humans, we will fail our species.

1 Comment

Filed under Violence against women

Egyptian Salafi preacher sentenced to jail for slandering an actress

Elham Chahine vs. Abdullah Badr

Elham Chahine vs. Abdullah Badr

By: Alexandra Kinias —-

After his appeal was rejected earlier this week, Egyptian police arrested the hard line preacher and television anchor Abdullah Badr on the charges of slandering an actress. He was arrested after he refused to turn himself in, and will be serving one year in jail.

Badr’s story dates back to 2012 when on his show, aired on Al-Hafiz TV, an ultra-conservative Salafi television, he referred to the famous Egyptian actress Elham Chahine as an infidel and a prostitute. He called her “promiscuous, naked and lascivious,” and condemned her movies as a source to women’s immorality and adultery. The appalling accusations were not well received by the masses while were applauded by followers of the hard-core preacher. Badr’s remarks came as a response to Chahine’s criticism of radical Islamists and their rigorous views of the arts and movie industry. Chahine who was insulted and humiliated, according to her lawyer filed a lawsuit against Badr and Al-Hafiz TV.

In her lawsuit Chahine accused Badr and Al-Hafiz CEO, Atef Abdel Rashed, of incitement, spreading chaos and disturbing public security. She also involved Al Azhar University in the lawsuit since Badr claimed he was a graduate of the religious institution and a teaching professor in its University. In its defense, Al-Azhar University issued an official document, denying Badr’s claims. The fake professor never even studied there and has no license to preach. The statement came as a surprise to everyone since it questioned the qualifications of these hard-core Sheikhs.

As a reaction to Chahine’s lawsuit, Badr organized a rally where he personally handed out photoshoped porn photo of Chahine; An act that was criticized by the media and the public. But unfortunately, that’s how their sick minds operate.

AbdullahBadr

Badr’s incident is not unique. The common traits of Islamist TV channels are misogyny and sexism. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the presenters sound perverts, sexists and extremely disgusting when it comes to the topics they choose to present and the manner they present it. Infatuated by female bodies and their sexual organs, they became famous as the sheiks who think with their lower body parts. Badr on the show that defamed Chahine discussed in details some of her movies, her revealing costumes, her body and intimate roles she played. On similar shows Madonna’s costumes (especially bras) were discussed.

These preachers are ambassadors of the medieval doctrine imported from an intolerant culture that resides behind the dunes of the Arabian Desert. In this culture, infected by physiological diseases that bred misogyny and chauvinism, Islam is misinterpreted according to the warped ideology of the Salafi sheikhs; the role models of Badr and his likes, who are effortlessly trying to integrate this distorted culture into the Egyptian society.

Armored by versus from the Holy book, these preachers’ vision of dominance is by suppressing women, and encouraging and supporting violence against them. Through their TV channels and mosques they spread their venom into the minds of their followers. In their sick minds women are created for sexual pleasures. They fantasize about them, loath them and fear them. Women are a source of threat and insecurity and their reason to sin, and thus need to be controlled.

Chahine’s only sin was that she is a female public figure living in a misogynist society that allows men like Badr to degrade women and mistreat them. Chahine’s courageous act opened the gate for people to rebel against these right wing conservatives, challenge them, and to demand for tolerance, acceptance and respect from them.

As the first sheikh ever to go on trial, Badr’s conviction came as a surprise to many. I am not optimistic that his jail sentence would convey a message to other ultra-conservative preachers to alter or modify their defaming dialogue used on their shows. On the contrary, it will unite them against the ‘secularist attacks’ that they believe is targeting Islam with the purpose of weakening it. However, on a more optimistic note, these charges may be the first step in the long battle for co-existence.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Carmen Blandin Tarleton’s Journey Through Hell

This photo combination shows Carmen Blandin Tarleton, who suffered chemical burns over 80 percent of her body when her estranged husband doused her with lye in June 2007. The undated photo at left, provided by the Blandin family, shows Tarleton before the attack. The center photo, provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, shows Tarleton in July 2011. The photo at right shows Tarleton on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, after her successful face transplant in February.(AP)

This photo combination shows Carmen Blandin Tarleton. The undated photo at left, provided by the Blandin family, shows Tarleton before the attack. The center photo, provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, shows Tarleton in July 2011. The photo at right shows Tarleton on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, after her successful face transplant in February.(AP)

— By: Alexandra Kinias —

Carmen Blandin Tarleton’s story is a tangible manifestation of human courage. Survivor of a heinous attack the doctors described as ‘the most horrific injury a human being could suffer’; she was finally able to go home with a new face. Carmen was the victim of her husband.

The Vermont mother of two was maimed by her husband in 2007 when after a jealous spree; he broke into her home, beat her with a baseball bat, doused her with industrial strength- lye and left her to die, burning from the inside out. The crime changed her life. After the attack which burned 80% of her body, Tarleton spent the next three and a half months in hospital in a medical induced coma. She woke up to the horrific news that she was blind and disfigured. After seven years of painful treatments during which she had undergone 55 surgeries, Tarleton was among sixth person in the US to get a face transplant. Her new face once belonged to a woman who died of a sudden heart attack.

The journey to recovery had been very painful; emotionally, physically and mentally. It is a miracle for her to be where she is today. Her chances for survival were meager, according to her doctors. And if she did, her future was anticipated to be gloomy and bleak. But Carmen showed the world that miracles do happen and that the strength of the human soul is unchallengeable. Undefeated by the disfiguration she was never able to see (Carmen is legally blind as the chemical burnt her retinas) she evolved more powerful than ever. Out there to share her experience with the world, she wants to help people find their inner strength to cope with their own pain and sufferings and carry on with their lives. And along the road of recovery, the former nurse has found happiness and forgiveness. “I learned that … forgiveness doesn’t condone anything he did and it’s not about him – it’s about forgiving him, it’s forgiving myself, it’s allowing myself to move forward and not getting stuck in the tragedy of that night,” said Tarleton.

Carmen could have just lived in the shadows of life simply surviving, but instead she integrated back in the world and realized the purpose in helping other Victims of Violence to reclaim back their shattered lives. Using her own experience, she demonstrated how to counter negativity to positive driving power. She shared her story to help people find their inner strength no matter how much pain they endured or for how long. With the endless reservoirs of strength and hope inside her soul and, Carmen became a motivational speaker and an inspiration to those around her.

In February 2013, Tarlenton had undergone the 14 hours face transplant surgery. The new face that was revealed to the public on May 1, 2013, is the gift that Carmen received at the end of this journey, which for most is an agonizing one, but which she refers to it as incredible. For her the new face gives a closure to a chapter of her life. One she had never anticipated, yet she was able to survive and defeat. “What a great way to move forward with what life has for me now.” Tarleton said.

http://www.overcomebook.com/about-the-author

1 Comment

Filed under Violence against women