Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Afghans have lampooned clerics over a proposed ruling for women. Cartoons emerged, such as one of mullahs trapped in a cage by a modern Afghan woman sitting on top of it.  After a council of Afghan clerics issued restrictive guidelines for women, later embraced by President Hamid Karzai, young Afghans streamed to social media sites to lampoon the rulings. "It's outrageous," wrote one young Afghan on his Facebook page. "The next thing they'll be saying is that Afghanistan needs to be divided up in two - one half for men and the other half for women." This was just one of thousands of comments posted on social media sites by young Afghans after their country's top religious council said that men and women should not mix at school, work or in other everyday situations. New sites have been set up to campaign against what critics are calling gender segregation. "The government's expenditure is going to rise sharply because they'll have to set up a special parliament for women, and separate universities, banks, and shopping malls," wrote a Kabul resident on Facebook. "Maybe, they should just divide the city into special sections for men and women." Though there has been an angry response others have decided that the best way to react is through humour:  "Ladies, you should not surface on Facebook without a male partner," wrote Mahnaz Afzal, an Afghan woman currently working in London.  
"We have asked the Facebook administrators to create separate profiles for women. You are not allowed to 'like' or 'poke' someone on Facebook or you will be cursed."
"Could I please ask the Afghan girls not to comment on my posts unless they have permission from their fathers or husbands or the Ulema council?" one man tweeted.
"Girls are only allowed to access Facebook if they are wearing their burkas!" tweeted another.
Cartoons have appeared on many sites. One shows a woman in a traditional blue burka reading the television news, her face completely hidden. Many young Afghans see the government's support for the recommendations as a throwback to the Taliban era and say the president is using it to reach out to the Taliban.
"It means the government is paving the way for the Taliban to control Afghanistan", says Zakia Nawa, a women's rights activist who fled to Iran when the Taliban came to power.
"I remember the bitter time when we were housebound by the Taliban and were deprived of education. This is another way of restricting women's rights."
Some members of parliament have also spoken out about the new recommendations. Ahmad Behzad, an opposition deputy from the western city of Herat says it contravenes the Afghan constitution. There are of course supporters of the proposed law by the brainwashed religious “I support the comments by the Ulema council because it is in accordance with Islam,” said a theology student. Most of those who have taken to Facebook and Twitter to protest are from the country's young, educated urban elite. But there is another Afghanistan out there, where people are deeply religious and protective of traditional values. "I support the comments by the Ulema council because it is in accordance with Islam," said a student of Islamic theology from southern Afghanistan.  "We are Muslims and we must obey what Islam and our clerics say," said a resident of Badghis. "I am surprised that our young people call themselves Muslims, but when it comes to Islamic rules, they make fun of it," wrote a Kabul resident on Facebook.
Muslims now it seems amount to twenty percent of the world population; how long before the world is back in the dark ages?

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