A Defining Moment in History: Civilians Unite Against Radical Islam
by Phyllis Chesler
On Sunday, May 3rd, at noon, in Times Square, in New York City, a gathering of eagles and of angels will take place. Come rain or come shine, the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam is holding a rally. Please join us. The coalition is composed of Muslim, ex-Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist, and human rights leaders who are "calling for the defeat of radical Islam."
Note: I have not written that the coalition opposes "Islam" (although some may—they view it as a totalitarian, imperialistic, and apartheid political force, not as a "religion of peace"). Nor have I written that the coalition opposes "Muslims" (no one does).
The groups who are sponsoring this rally include, but are not limited to: Hindu Human Rights Watch, Indian American Intellectual Forum, 911 Families for A Secure America, American Coptic Union, Americans for a Safe Israel, Damanga (Darfur Muslim Council), R.E.A.L. (Responsible for Equality and Liberty), AMCHA, Chinese Community Relations Council, Muslims Against Sharia, Namdhari Sikh Foundation, Women United, Sudan Freedom Walk, Center for Security Policy, International Foundation of Bangladeshi Hindus, ACT for America, Foundation of Nepalese, Alliance for Interfaith Resistance, Stand With Us, etc. There will be many speakers, myself included.
This amazing coalition makes sense: Radical Islam is a global phenomenon and we must oppose it globally as well. Radical Islam is a global phenomenon. What happens in Israel or India does not stay there; if the world refuses to defeat localized jihad, radical Islamists go global very quickly. If the Pakistani government cedes control of the Swat Valley to the Taliban—it is only a matter of days before the emboldened Taliban marches on Islamabad
Radical Islam's greatest crimes are Muslim-on-Muslim crimes and include the cruel subordination and persecution of Muslim women, Muslim apostates, and Muslim independent thinkers. Islam is the world's largest and only practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid. Such apartheid and barbarism is indigenous to Islam. It was not imported by western colonial powers. Now, Islamic gender and religious apartheid have penetrated the West and have grown even harsher, more barbaric in Muslim lands. Children, as young as five years-old are used to blowing themselves and others up. Women are raped, then forced into becoming human bombs to "cleanse" their shame. Both Palestinians and Al-Qaeda are doing this.
Radical Islam is an obvious threat to human rights all over the world.
In India, in 1991, Kashmir was ethnically cleansed of all Hindus when the Mujahadeen fighters from Afghanistan were sent to India; overnight, the entire Hindu population of Kashmir fled. The world remained silent. By the way: Hindus have endured more than ten centuries of Islamic jihad, centuries in which they were slaughtered, forced to flee, forced to convert to Islam, persecuted, taxed, impoverished. The recent terrorist attack in Mumbai is only one among thousands of such Islamic jihadic attacks in India.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a country which is threatening to genocidally exterminate Jews and Israel, and which tortures and murders Iranian Muslim women for imagined crimes and gays for the "crime" of being gay. Iran is holding 35,000 Iranian Jews hostage and will not let them leave. They are infamous for their persecution of Iranian Zoroastrians and Iranian Ba'haii. The United Nations and the President of Switzerland recently honored President Amadinejad of Iran who was the only world leader invited to speak at Durban II, the conference that was supposed to counter "racism."
Europe also finds itself on the frontline. Islamic/Islamist bombings, assassinations, riots, an attempt to impose Muslim religious law is going on in every major European country. Hate propaganda against Jews and against the Jewish state, so well funded by the Saudi Lobby, is rampant in Europe, as it is all over the Islamic world. North America has seen its campuses "occupied" by pro-Palestinian propaganda; diverse views, especially any criticism of radical Islam, is met with heckling, shouting, and physical menace which requires speakers to have serious security. I am talking about western students and professors, about American and Canadian citizens.
Today, hate speech against infidels and women is being defined and protected as "free speech." Truth speech is being censored and defined as "Islamophobic." The battle of ideas and of propaganda is as hot as all the other explosions combined.
Here's one reason, among many, that I will be speaking on Sunday.
Today in Kabul, when women march for women's rights and for women's lives, they risk being beaten, arrested, and murdered—by the mob that stalks them, by the police, by the Taliban. Still, they have marched twice now in the last month.
They could not be here to join us today. Although I lack their bravery, I am here to speak for them.
For those of you who do not know this:
In December of 1961, I escaped from captivity in Afghanistan. (That's another whole story. What's a nice Jewish girl doing in Kabul anyway? Having a grand and dangerous adventure, that's what!) Anyway, at the time, few westerners understood what living in a Muslim society was like for a woman, an infidel, a Jew, or a budding intellectual, nor did they view Third World countries as inherently dangerous, barbaric, or misogynistic.
What I learned in Kabul rendered me immune to the romanticization of the Third World or to the glamorization of tyrants and terrorists that defined my generation of 1960s and 1970s radicals and activists.
When I was there, many poor women were shrouded, they moved like ghosts in the bazaar, and they were forced to sit, quite literally, at the back of the public buses. Poor women always lost their place in line in the bazaar when a male servant pushed them to the back of that line too. This is all pre-Soviet and pre-Taliban, a time when Afghanistan made great strides in terms of modernization.
Still, most Afghan women, including foreign wives, did not socialize with men other than with their immediate male relatives. Polygamy was the custom for men who could afford it, and the custom caused havoc among the children of different wives, all of whom longed for their father's attention, approval, and inheritance. Male homosexual pederasty was rampant although tabooed and hotly denied. Fathers treated their children as if they were their servants, which they were.
To my horror, Afghanistan has followed me back to America in many ways. It is always in the news: The Taliban, al-Qaeda, American boots on the ground, child suicide killers. Here, in America, in New York City, and in other cities around America, Canada, and all over Europe, one can see an increasing number of shrouded, face-veiled women in public. Honor killings, (which are not like western-style domestic violence), have taken place all over America and Canada and are even more epidemic in Europe where there are many more Muslim immigrants.
I have often said that my feminism was, perhaps, forged in Afghanistan because when I came home to America I was a very different person. I had seen and experienced Islamic gender apartheid up close and personal. I had nearly died there. Despite their relative powerlessness, some Afghan women were exceptionally kind to me. I think my abiding concern with women's rights in the Muslim world is an expression of my gratitude and everlasting sense of kinship with them.
Please join us on Sunday. It will be a defining moment in history, the day civilians began to fight back.
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