For a few days this week, my son and I had some Muslim Arab kids from the Mideast, ages 8 and 12, up at the cottage. They've been in Canada for two years. Since it was Ramadan, we decided to fast with them. It's not mandatory for children but lots do it.
In 2006, the veteran journalist Marci McDonald wrote a feature for The Walrus magazine called 'Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons', a reportage story about her time spent among evangelical conservatives and their growing influence on Canada's political life. This article grew into her new book, The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. It is described as an urgent wake-up call for all Canadians who think that this country is immune from the righteous brand of Christian nationalism that has bitterly divided and weakened the United States.
On her blog today, Antonia Zerbisias discusses, in an item called "State-utory Rape", recent U.S. state laws that go the extra mile to force doctors' hand in trying to guilt women away from access to abortion. (Caution, this will get your blood boiling big time and may have you cancel vacation plans South of the border.)
From a New York Times report "Abortion Law Backers Vow Oklahoma Appeal": (...)In recent years, several states have passed laws requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion and at least three - Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi - require doctors to offer the woman the chance to see the image.
Today's New York Times has an interesting series of articles on women's rights, including an intriguing hypothesis about the role of the Web in giving way to what Virginia Heffernan calls the "feminist hawks" position: "the one that advocates the use of force to liberate Muslim women from persecution and burkas".
She argues, in an essay called "The Feminist Hawks", that the "ideological Web" created the perfect vehicle for conservatives to coopt feminist and libertarian sentiments in the war on the Middle East.
Barack Obama's speech in Cairo yesterday made me nostalgic. The feeling came on as he foresaw a time "when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be." In my undergrad years, I studied at Brandeis University, near Boston, a secular school but built by American Jews as their contribution to U.S. higher education. Its architectural centrepiece was a set of three chapels around a pool where, as the school catalogue said, "three faiths go their separate ways ... together."
Of course Hamid Karzai would support such a law. He wants to be re-elected president in August and to do so he must support his base: Islamic fundamentalists. Both sides of the conflict are fundamentalist Islamic. There is nothing else.
Indeed, while outrage caused Karzai to say he'd withdraw the law, many doubt he'll follow through.