Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sex Exploitation in USA

December 26, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

It looks as if United States is like one of the orthodox Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Iran where sex done with women other than one’s own wife or wives is considered as a crime. Yet religious injunctions are not enforced strictly in most of the Muslim countries. In reality, the external sex is abundantly available in most of the Islamic societies. Barring Saudi Arabia, poverty could be the reason in other Islamic states for selling and buying sex.  Moreover, in Islamic societies, the polygamy is religiously permissible. In all other non-Islamic countries especially in Scandinavian societies and the Far East, there are licensed brothels offering no hold barred sex facilities.
However, such outlets are not possible nor available in American society. In 21st century with a rampant and interspersed galore of openness, civil liberties and human rights, America is bristling with frequent and unremitting cases of so called sex abuse entailing harsh punishments, financial penalties, dismissals from jobs and social disgrace. All such penalties are being imposed on the basis of the complaints by certain women who, in hey days had been the willing sex partners of those celebrities.
It has become a handy way to extract huge sums of money from the yester-years’ sex mates in later times when the sun of glamour has dimmed over these females and they are rather not young. The pity is that the law sides with these women who had no compunctions when they were young and did not resist or report the sleazy and sexual onslaughts of their counterparts after the occurrence.
There have been a galore of the settlements for sexual harassment claim cases. One gubernatorial such case is that of Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly settled for $32 million with a former legal analyst Lis Wiehl. According to a report from The New York Times Saturday, “This settlement is one of the biggest in recent memory, topping even the $20 million payment received by former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, who sued the late Fox News boss Roger Ailes, after alleging she was harassed.
“The O’Reilly Factor” was one of the biggest shows in Cable news, earning around $326 million a year in advertising revenue. But its host was forced off air after The New York Times broke news of harassment allegations earlier this year. Advertisers fled the show and 21st Century Fox owner of Fox News, parted ways with the host while he was on vacation in Rome visiting the pope. O’Reilly has rejoined the Fox News after the settlement.
In the wake of political hullabaloo caused by the advent of Trump as the president, several women have come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct. The allegations have been directed at some of the leading political heavyweights that were in prestigious slots and commanded powers to bestow money and perks on their women admirers or victims. Patently these accusations have now come to the fore with questionable or indecent intentions to make money by way of settlements through extortion of hefty amounts from the people accused of the misconduct. 
While in due course, these cases may be settled through payment of monetary quid pro quo, a pertinent question comes to the mind as to why these later-day chaste women did not complain about the misconduct of their powerful executives, directors, bosses or colleagues immediately after the occurrence. Why they didn’t resist the indecent advances of the sex seeking males. If they kept that ignominy unto themselves for all these years then why a sentiment of piety and rectitude has awakened in them now and they are brazenly naming the males with whom they were comfortable as long they worked with them on prominent jobs.
My contention is that while the sexual black mailers and sex predators are being proceeded in courts and in other such outlets, these women should also be interrogated for concealing a crime against their modesty though, they have acknowledged it now. In law, the perpetration and committing of crime is as serious as its concealment and abutment by the perpetrators or the victims.
It could be mind boggling for my readers to be aware of the gory fact that countless children and females had been target of sexual molestation for ages not only in the public and government departments but in Catholic churches and monasteries from time immemorial. It is a horrendous tale of absurd and unbridled spree of molestation and sexual abuse by the religious preachers for decades and centuries.
The perpetrator clergies and priests have been arraigned by the respective legal authorities and institutions. There have been numerous settlements by the respective churches and cathedrals.  But the fact is that there has been no foolproof mechanism to put a definitive stop to these crimes and violations both religious and social even now and with no hope for the future. It is known that the Church has been paying huge amounts by way of compensation to settle such heinous cases.
Now you may hold your breath with the names of the high profile and prominent politicians and celebrities, who indulged in this so called sleazy pursuit of sex abuse. Many of these luminaries have settled their cases by doling out hefty ransom or compensation amounts that makes the accuser to join the coteries of the rich individuals in this society. Let us begin with the incumbent president of the United States Donald Trump, being painted as Casanova of the present times.
Donald Trump, formerly a businessman and currently the 45th President of the United States, has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including non-consensual kissing or groping, by at least fifteen women since the 1980s.
The other list consists of the names from among the members of Senate and house or in Media or business tycoons. The names of their female partners who indulged with them are available in the media outlets.  
That list includes Tim Murphy Representative (R-PA), Roy Moore the Republican nominee for Senate in Alabama, AL Senator (D-MN), Joe Barton (R-TX) US Representative, Rep. Bobby Scott D-Virginia, Rep Trent Franks R-Ariz, Nevada state Senator Ruben Kihuen. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas (he settled sexual harassment claim for $84,000), Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest-serving active Congressman and a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. 
Seven women from separate incidents have accused former President George H.W. Bush of inappropriately touching them from behind while they posed beside him for photos. Some said he also told them dirty jokes.
NBC reports that “Many prominent men, including Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman and Matt Lauer, among others, have been accused of a broad spectrum of misconduct, from inappropriate behavior in the workplace, to physically groping victims' intimate parts. Forcibly touching another person without consent for sexual gratification is usually both a crime and a civil wrong.”
Yet, many of these allegations that emerged in the last few months will never see a civil or criminal courtroom. This is so because they happened too long ago and are outside the statute of limitations. The appropriately acronym-ed "SOL" is a set period of time, which varies drastically depending on the nature of the offense and the state in which it occurred.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

President Trump’s Jerusalem Statement is a Blessing in Disguise for Muslims

By Saeed Qureshi

American president Donald Trump’s announcement of recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of the state of Israel on December 6 is unacceptable and repugnant to the Islamic fraternity around the world. This decision reverses the USA stance maintained for several decades on this sensitive matter.
President Trump also plans to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which is also holy city for the Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. Although some of the previous presidents had been declaring to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state but those proclamations were never implemented.
However, in fact, this uncalled-for decision should be viewed as a blessing in disguise for the Muslims. In recent years and decades, the Muslims have never been united on an issue as the one announced by Trump. This combustible issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel has catapulted a combined reaction and nurtured solidarity among over 2 billion Muslims and 49 Islamic states irrespective of their mutual differences and discords premised upon faith, region and ethnicity.
Its is heartening and rather amazing to see the religiously and regionally mutually hostile Islamic states of Iran and Saudi Arabia joining hands against Trump and Israel. They have demonstrated collective reaction and solidarity on this grave matter that has been the fundamental bane of discord between Israel and Palestinians as well as between the rest of the Islamic world and Israel.
Palestinian officials have declared that the decision disqualifies the United States from peace talks. Palestinians’ militant group Hamas has called for a new Intifada following Trump's declaration. There have been demonstrations in Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia, and outside the U.S. embassy in Berlin. Four people were killed in clashes in Palestine including two Hamas members.
President Trump since his inauguration has openly manifested hostility towards the Muslims both living within the United States and across the globe by his myriad anti-Muslims statements and taking certain decisions to defame and harm the Muslims. With his peculiar and unpredictable temperament and propensity of taking kneed jerk decisions, he has come to be known as the most trenchant anti- Muslims president of the United States.
He has been issuing executive orders to bar and ban the arrival of the Muslims into the USA as genuine immigrants or for some other cogent reasons. Lately a ban has been placed on immigrants from six Islamic countries. Due to Judiciary’s intervention his anti-Muslims’ immigration orders couldn’t be actually implemented. He doesn’t show any inhibition in declaring the Muslims as terrorists. By such hard stance and rigid anti-Muslims bent of mind he has driven a wedge of hostility and discord between the USA and the Islamic bloc.
This doesn’t seem to be a prudent policy to antagonize the Muslims and thus alienating USA from nurturing and promoting goodwill as well as social, cultural and economic bonds which can be fruitful to both USA and the Muslim countries replete with productive manpower and natural resources.
It is no more possible for the militarily stronger countries such as USA and USSR to subdue the smaller nations by use of military force and imposing economic sanctions. As such the period of cold war and arm-twisting in the aftermath of the second world is coming to an end. If a tiny country like North Korea can browbeat and resist the hegemonic and intimidating threats of president Trump by counterpoising in the same bullying jargon and defiance, how could other countries with huge resources, manpower and strong armies can submit to the threats and use of force by the USA.
In the meantime, many countries both Islamic and non-Islamic have denounced Trump’s decision which they think could lead to fresh fighting between the Palestinians and Israel. There have been unremitting protests in all the Muslim countries generally and in Palestine specifically over this myopic decision by president Trump.
The USA seems to be isolated because of this colossally faulty decision which will be resisted by the Muslims until it was withdrawn. It is such a sensitive issue on which the Muslims particularly the Palestinians can never compromise. As such president Trump has alienated USA from most of the Islamic polities and it may limit the America’s goodwill in bilateral relations with those states.   
President Trump justified his decision by arguing that recognizing Jerusalem was a long overdue step to advance the peace process. He talked of brokering an agreement that would prove to be a great deal both for the Israelis and the Palestinians. About moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, president Trump claimed that this decision was part of his pledge that he made during his elections campaign last year.
The Arabs, Muslim and European leaders, have vigorously opposed and decried Trump decision which is believed to spark bitterness and unleash a new wave of violence across the region and renewal of fighting between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces as was done in the past for many decades.
Among the world leaders who decried Trump’s solo decision and considered it as a threat to the peace in the Middle East are European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, Pope Francis, and the Chinese foreign ministry.
John O. Brennan, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said in a statement that Mr. Trump’s action was “reckless and would “damage U.S. interests in the Middle East for years to come and will make the region more volatile.”
Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was rejected by the majority of world leaders. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on 7 December where 14 out of 15 members condemned Trump's decision. The Security Council said the decision to recognize Jerusalem was in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law, but was unable to issue a statement without the endorsement of the United States.
Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan were among the countries who criticized Trump's decision at the emergency meeting. Shortly before Trump's announcement, in November 2017 while 151 countries of the United Nations General Assembly voted to reject Israeli ties to Jerusalem. Six nations voted against the resolution, and nine abstained.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini emphasized that “all governments of EU member states were united on the issue of Jerusalem, and reaffirmed their commitment to a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. On 9 December, Turkey announced that that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be working with French president Emmanuel Macron in a joint effort to persuade the United States to reconsider its decision
Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was granted special status and was meant to be placed under international sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem's religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.
Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and most of the world considers it occupied territory. Jerusalem’s Old City has the third-holiest mosque in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism, making the city’s status a sensitive issue for Muslims and Jews alike. Jerusalem is also sacred place for the  Christians.
In the meantime, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason D. Greenblatt, have been working for months behind the curtain to arrange negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians without any tangible progress.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “President’s announcement did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem and it was very clear that the final status, including the borders, would be left to the two parties to negotiate and decide”.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Revolution Underway in Saudi Arabia

By Saeed Qureshi

 Following his appointment as the Crown Prince by his father king Salman on 21 June 2017, Mohammad Bin Salman(MBS) has moved fast to address two issues. One is to order arrest of scores of the members of the royal family on charges of corruption. The most important royal members among them are Muhammad Bin Nayef, prince Mutib bin Abdullah and the richest prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
These celebrities have been removed from their prestigious positions and placed under arrest. The incarcerated royal family members are barred from traveling aboard. According to reports 11 royal princes, four ministers and ten former ministers have been arrested. With the time passage the number of the arrested people might increase.
The other issue was to liberalize the Saudi society by lifting some of the harshest rules and restrictions relating to the day to day lives of the people. Muhammad has decided to restore civil liberties and openness as were prevalent prior to 1979. Of these numerous prohibitive religious laws and regulations, some were focused on the women. Under those laws, the women couldn’t drive, couldn’t go out without a male family attendant and had to wrap their whole body.
He has decided to revive the cultural centers and cinemas for the people to get together for social gatherings and even dance parties as these were in vogue prior to 1979 when these sanctions were imposed by the powerful clergy. In his interview given to New York Times’ senior journalist,  Thomas L. Friedman, the crown prince Muhammad told the interviewer that “in the 1950s women were without heads covered, wearing skirts and walking with men in public, as well as concerts and cinemas.”
In this regard scores of religious leaders and Islamic scholars have also been arrested to forestall any reaction or opposition from them to the restoration of civil liberties particularly relating to the cultural dimensions.
Friedman reported that during his stay in Saudi Arabia he saw that the people on the whole welcomed these measures. Particularly the youth and women were exuberant and supported prince Muhammad in his bid of releasing the society from many unnecessary shackles placed on the people after the takeover of the Salafi brand of Islam. Thereafter, the people came under a strait jacket of strict restrictions as if the Saudi Society had been rolled back in the past. 
Muhammad also holds the portfolios of the First Deputy Prime Minister and the minister of defense.  He is just 32 years but from his measures and decisions which he took after his advent as the crown prince make him look like a visionary and a forward-looking person who wants to erase the impression that Saudi society was closed, fundamentally puritanical and socially orthodox.   
From his public statements and interviews, it surmises that he possesses immense urge and determination to transform Saudi Arabia from a rigid orthodox and radical Islamic track to a more enlightened and forward-looking paradigm.
His removal and imprisoning of some 11 princes from the Royal family along with scores of other highly influential business figures and top-notches is stunning and rather a courageous step towards curbing the widespread culture of monetary corruption through devious means.
As already mentioned, Crown prince Muhammad’ drive is two pronged. One is to eliminate the rampant corruption particularly in the royal family and big corporate sector. The second is to restore a normal civil life and lift stringent conditions, rules and restrictions imposed by religious clerics.  
His sacking and imprisoning 57 highly influential individuals is being interpreted as an action to remove any bottlenecks and challengers to his office by the members of the royal family. One such person is prince Naif who has been the predecessor crown prince. King Salman removed him and replaced his son Muhammad with additional powers to be able to make decision that can liberalize the society to a certain extent and open up and ease the day to day and socio-cultural life of the Saudi citizens.
One giant step is to abolish the so call religious police (shurtas) which had been exercising excessive clout and no holds barred powers to catch anybody from anywhere, lash them in public and shove them in the most horrifying makeshift prisons. The women folks were not immune from their savage onslaughts and ruthless implementation of law that curbed the independence and civil liberties of the women with impunity.  
Mentioning about the level of corruption Muhammad claimed that “Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today to such an extent that 10 percent of all government spending was siphoned-off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom.”
Under order from the incumbent King Salman bin Abdulaziz-Al-Saud in 2015, a team prepared a list of 200 persons responsible for enormous financial malpractices. These are the individuals who made money through kickbacks, overcharging and through such projects which either were never accomplished or later turned to be white elephants. It is evident that more arrests would be made in due course of time. As to what punishment would be awarded to those found guilty might be known after the verdicts are announced.
It can be presaged that the switch over from a rigid Islamic system to the one compatible with the rest of the world with civil liberties would not be easy. If the orthodox Islamic groups resist this gubernatorial change there could be bloodshed or acts of sabotage and frequent demonstrations against both king Salman and his visionary son crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
We have also to watch and see what could be the reaction from other Islamic nations which are also under a rigid puritanical version of Islam and where Salafi Sharia(jurisprudence) is in vogue. One of such countries is Pakistan where Salafi /Sunni code of Islam is vibrant and where the reaction from these hardliners could be perpetual and strong.