Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is $12.5 million adequate compensation for being tortured, kept captive in a grave for over 10 months for being a "suspect", without proof?

from: altmuslim. com

In September 2002, Maher Arar was on a flight returning to Canada when he was detained in the United States, interrogated, and then deported to Syria where he was incarcerated and subject to torture for nearly a year. Last week, the Canadian government finally issued a formal apology and $12.5 million in compensation for its role in the Arar ordeal (background here).

But now critics are raising new questions about the compensation offered to Arar. Some complain that the money is too much, or that it isn't necessary. Others suggest political opportunism on the part of Arar. Certainly this is the largest sum offered to any single individual in Canada. But the amount is based on the Canadian government's assessment of what Arar would likely have won in a lawsuit. Moreover, this isn't simply a payout intended to appease Arar. It is compensation based on Canada's recognition of its commitment to the rule of law. When wrongs are committed, justice is pursued even if it means holding government officials accountable; in Arar's case, restitution came in the form of financial compensation.Arar's account of the ordeal is terrifying.

For months, he was confined to a grave-like cell and subject to repeated interrogation combined with physical and psychological torture. When he was finally returned to Canada – a broken man – he bore the burden of being considered a suspected terrorist, so much so that he found to his surprise that even members of the Muslim community were fearful of the social and political repercussions of being associated with him.

In fact, there remain sceptics who believe Arar is somewhat guilty despite the public inquiry that cleared his name after finding no evidence he was ever linked to extremist groups or was a threat to Canada's national security.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

How Mohammad Yousuf found greater focus in knowing that "cricket isn't everything"

Mohammad's mountain of runs
January 26, 2007

By Alex Brown from The Age

After the most prolific year in Test cricket history, Mohammad Yousuf could be forgiven for indulging in a little religious and cricketing triumphalism. Instead, the brilliant Pakistani batsman is more eager to discuss why Ricky Ponting is the world's leading batsman, despite his own 1788-run year, and his regret over his mother's reluctance to accept his shift from Christianity to Islam.
Yousuf is an unusual interview subject on several counts. Unlike many international batsmen, his moods do not seem dictated by runs scored, nor is his mind cluttered with personal statistics and batting theories. In fact, he gives the distinct impression that he derives as much personal pleasure from discussing his own batting as he does from a Brett Lee bumper - even after a stunning sequence of five centuries and a half-century in his final six innings of 2006.
Then there's religion. Whereas many converts and "born-agains" feel compelled to stand in judgement of all those who don't share their beliefs, the 32-year-old - whose decision to change his religion and name in 2005 dominated headlines in Pakistan and led to a split within his family - prefers to focus on the clarity of mind and inner peace he now feels as Mohammad Yousuf, as opposed to rubbishing his former life as Yousuf Youhana.
"I used to have so many things on my mind before, and now my mind is clear and my heart is peaceful," he told the Herald from Port Elizabeth, after Pakistan's defeat of South Africa in the second Test this week. "There is greater focus, but also knowing that [cricket] is not everything."
The fact remains, however, that, regardless of his attempts to deflect attention from his own efforts, Yousuf has still completed one of the more remarkable 12 months witnessed in cricket. And there is no avoiding the parallels between his embracing of Islam and the spike in his batting form.
A solid international batsman before 2005, Yousuf posted his highest Test score (223 against England) in his first series as a Muslim, then blasted 1788-runs over his next 11 Tests in 2006 to eclipse Richards's record, a mark many thought would never be bettered. In doing so, Yousuf set another record by scoring nine centuries, against India, Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies (the first three teams all ranked inside Test cricket's top five). ..."I never make too much out of getting 100, and never get too sad when I get zero," he said, attempting to explain the events of the past 12 months. "I used to always go to bat with failure on my mind. Now I work hard and give myself to Allah and everything is OK."
Yousuf presumably needed that clarity to deal with the emotive, and occasionally furious, response from country, family and media to his decision to switch from Christianity to Islam in 2005.
Almost from the moment Yousuf Youhana was seen in a mosque praying alongside his captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, the rumour and scuttlebutt began. Some suggested he had been pressured by his Muslim teammates. Others wondered whether his conversion was motivated, in part, by a desire to win favour with those in power and improve his captaincy chances. Others, still, criticised the influence Saeed Anwar, the former batsman turned preacher, was exerting on Yousuf and the remainder of the team.
But undoubtedly the most wounding comment of all came from within his own family, when Yousuf's Christian mother told the local Daily Times newspaper: "I don't want to give Yousuf my name after what he has done." Their relationship remains strained, he admits, with a tinge of regret in his voice that is unmistakable.
"My mother is still not happy with me," he said. "I can still talk to my mother and it is very nice. But it is with religion that she is not happy with me."
That aside, Yousuf seems very much a man content. Dismissing any suggestion that he was coerced into accepting Islam, he says that the discipline of his new life - he prays at 5am, lunch, stumps, 8pm and 9.45pm during each Test match - will keep him balanced as he embarks on a new season.
"I went to the mosque twice in Port Elizabeth during the Test," he said. "There is peace there."


Monday, January 15, 2007

Does the 'fashionable' hijab scream: "Look at us" or "Please, leave us alone?"

From: Comment is Free

Recently, I was strolling through Selfridge's in London when I saw something strange. At a make-up counter in the women's department, four young Muslim women dressed in the hijab, the veil that covers the head and hair but leaves the face on view, were trying on various shocking shades of lipstick and blusher, gaily chatting and giggling as they did so. "This shade makes my lips look fuller," said one, pouting in front of a mirror. Her friends agreed. "It's a must-buy," they chirped.

The hijab is meant to symbolise modesty and chastity. Yet here were four young veiled women, in their late teens or early twenties, painting their lips and reddening their cheeks, prettifying their faces for everyone to see. Even more strikingly, one of them had the word Fendi emblazoned in silver lettering across her black hijab - Fendi being the Italian fashion house best-known for its shoes, bags and furs, and which is beloved of those Sex and the City women. This was Muslim garb as high fashion. The girls' aim seemed to be to invite men's gaze, rather than repel it; they were screaming, "Look at us!", not "Please, leave us alone."

...Others discuss the veil in terms of fashion, saying how comfortable it makes them feel or how it compliments their body shape. And while they cover their hair and body, like the young women in Selfridge's, they often wear make-up, and even Calvin Klein sunglasses, on their faces. Forget the claims that these veiled women are covering up in order that people, especially men, don't stare at them; in fact, many of them are trying to look trendy and distinctive rather than bland and ignorable.

This article is written by a non-Muslim man, but often Muslims make the same point about whether the 'fashionable hijaab' isn't a contradiction in terms.

Umm Yasmin has an insightful post on how the 'One Veil Fits All' concept isn't necessarily true.

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