The Middle East and Feminism clash over equality: why tradition and change can coexist
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked controversial at the beginning of the week when he declared, “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing….” Where the traditional views of Muslims and Christians on the role of women in society often conflict with Western feminist ideals, most Westerners interpret both extremes in such a way that they can accept and adhere to both perspectives.
Where Asia is growing more “American” in the way it views women, in spite of an entrenched cultural history that objectified women, the roles of women in Islam are very well-defined while the overall Middle East has not culturally progressed as quickly as the rest of the world. What troubles feminists about comments by individual like President Erdogan is that he seems to thoroughly reject the notion that women deserve the same rights, freedoms, and legal protections that men enjoy in their democratic nation.
Looking at a place like Afghanistan, women are certainly not treated as the most revered members of society in accordance with Muslim beliefs. Instead, religion is used to justify the abuse, neglect, and thorough victimizing of women by the Taliban and other hardliner traditionalists. Clearly, government treating women in the same way as men creates a situation where women would also be entitled to equal treatment in areas such as economic opportunity to the dismay of traditionalists, but equal rights does not mean women must play the same exact role as men.
What it means is that women are given the power to ensure they are not victimized by people who abuse traditions. It also means women are empowered to ensure their needs, and wants, can be met. In terms of relationships, men and women can develop healthier, deeper relationships when one is not dominated by the other. If man has the same influence over his wife as his children, she can only be seen as a child, instead of a wife, while a man is not going to respect his wife in accordance with Islam when she is seen a child in his eyes.
Not only did the announcement of the much-anticipated decision of the grand jury that investigated the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson lead to two nights of protests and violence in the suburb of St Louis, the lack of an indictment triggered similar events around the country.
Thanks to days of professional media outlets obsessively regurgitating the same story on the potential for violence, as well as everything from fear mongering police officers to the deployment of the national guard ahead of the decision, the world has certainly taken notice of what is going wrong in Ferguson.
Whether or not Darren Wilson was justified in his actions, Ferguson is a city where black residents feel so discriminated against by their police force and other community leaders that they are driven to mass protests with the hope that someone will hear their plight. Instead, they have essentially been criminalized as a community by the media and the Nation.
Given that the violence sparked during the initial protests against the shooting of Michael Brown had been incited by those from outside of the Ferguson community and by a heavy-handed police response, the disturbing focus on the violence in Ferguson is only giving those who have committed violence the attention they crave.
At the same time, it is teaching people that they need to cause trouble to be noticed. In essence, the official response to violence in Ferguson has created a perverse incentive for violent attention seekers to cause chaos in Ferguson and elsewhere.
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict versus Indian-Pakistan Conflict: comparing the international response
Looking back on the lasted bout of violence between Israel and Hamas this past summer, the amount of attention and devotion the decades-old conflict has received is staggering. As the world struggled to address the Ukraine Crisis, the Islamic State was spreading like wildfire, and nuclear talks with Iran were at a critical juncture, the likes of US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon were running around like chickens with their heads cutoff literally begging for a ceasefire.
Given the broader instability of the region and security threats, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is now a tertiary issue that will largely determine the fate of Israel, not the Middle East. For Israel, the threat of a globalizing, democratizing Muslim world and globalized terrorism put the Jewish State in a position where their failure to resolve their issues with the Palestinians may well eventually result in a Middle East united against Israel.
Unfortunately, Israel has chosen to antagonize the Muslim world since a tedious ceasefire in August was declared by doing everything from taking property currently owned by Palestinians for new Israeli settlements to destroying the homes of alleged Palestinian terrorists, without a legal justification for doing so, to officially declaring itself the Jewish State. Even today, the International Community continues to heavily focus on the Israel-Palestinians conflict in hopes of finally resolving it, but the efforts appear to be seen as doomed inconveniences to the Israel leadership than a welcome undertaking they appreciate.
Russian and Islamic State threats offer the benefit of nationalism and patriotism
During the Cold War, the world was under constant threat of war that helped drive massive military buildups around the globe. Unfortunately, the Ukraine Crisis and other Russian aggression, including incursions into the airspace and waters of other nations, are helping to once again militarize the world. That said, there are benefits in addition to the costs that come with this old world order dynamic.
Since the Cold War, the governments of the International Community have largely turned their focus toward economic endeavors. Looking back on the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States was never truly a nation-at-war. In fact, the notion of a war on terrorism is more like a global policing effort than a military campaign done to help foster stability and growth of the global economy and the International Community.
As such, we never stopped focusing on a globalized economy. In many respects, the thinking of national leaders shifted away from building their own nations toward building a global economy and governing structure. Although Putin may well have helped unite countries against Russia, fears of a World War III are likely to awaken a sense of nationalism and patriotism in all who feel threatened by Russia, just as the threat of Al-Qaeda did for Americans following the 9/11 attacks.
Since the announcement that President Obama would announce how he wants to use executive action to tackle illegal immigration, the political world has pounced upon the issue with every ounce of speculation it could muster.
Casting aside fresh developments in the war on the Islamic State, the Russian-Ukraine Crisis, the global economy, nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Ebola outbreak, and several other pressing issues, the media has decided conjecture on illegal immigration should be the top story of the day, even though there will no new revelations until Thursday night.
That said, action on illegal immigration is important and should be about the issue, not the politics. For the political world, immigration is important, because the President is circumventing Congressional gridlock and America’s elected officials hate nothing more than having their power threatened.
At the same time, President Obama may be in danger of overstepping his authority, even with whatever legal rationale his advisors have formulated. Considering all the other critical issues Washington dysfunction has stalled action on, which have a larger impact on American citizens, immigration is probably not worth the power struggle for the American People.
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