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Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Happiness is a crime in Iran."

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness..."
                              ...Pharrell Williams....

Thomas Jefferson, the original architect, of the Declaration of Independence, is credited with the "often quoted phrase" that has revolutionized the world's thinking on the subject of "God-given" rights.
Jefferson writes, in the preamble of the famous declaration:

                 ....."We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness....."

Jefferson in his eloquent style, clearly outlined that there are certain rights given by God to men that are undeniable. His point is that no matter where one lives, they have certain unalienable rights that must be respected and recognized.
Life is a gift from God. Freedom is a gift from God..and then the famous last statement that is quoted most often...the pursuit of happiness.....

While it is true that happiness is often defined differently from other cultures and other peoples, the point is that happiness as well as life and freedom, is a "God given" right that should be respected by others and not suppressed by tyrannical governments.
Unfortunately, The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn't seem to agree with the famous words of Thomas Jefferson.
Recently six youth were arrested in Tehran for making a video glorifying the "God-given right" of expressing happiness. The video was a remake of the "Pharrell William's," chart busting hit single entitled, "Happy."
Williams had challenged the world in a global campaign to upload videos and photographs of every day people engaging in happiness. The youth of Tehran excitedly responded and with the help of a director put together a dazzling video showing them dancing on the rooftops of Tehran. The video was an immediate hit all over the world, scoring more than 100,000 hits. But there was one small problem..The Iranian Police were not so excited about the project. It is against Islamic law for women to appear in public without their hijabs and equally against the law for them to be dancing with males.
Within hours of the video being posted, the police descended on the "happiness project," and arrested the six participants. They raided the home, bashing and destroying everything, confiscating computers and hauled them off to the Vozara police station. On the second day they were transferred to solitary confinement and interrogated. The female participants were humiliated and forced to strip naked performing squats before female officers.
In the end, the youth were paraded before live state run television and forced to give a public apology for making the video. Each of the participants were fined for their actions and required to pay 40 millions Tomans ($10,000) bail.

It is beyond comprehension to me that these young, brave Iranian youth have had to suffer so much for simply showing the world, (in their own words)  "We still have moments of happiness even though we face so many problems in Iran..."
One of the participants, Siavash Tavarti, is quoted as saying, "They were only showing their happiness and they were arrested for that!"

Make no mistake, The "God-given" right of happiness, is considered a crime in Iran. A great example of this is demonstrated during the "day of Ashura." The day of Ashura is a very special event in Iran commemorating
 the martyrdom of Husayn Ali, considered by Shia Muslims, the legitimate successor of the prophet Muhammad. It is during this time that Iranians are supposed to engage in public mourning for Ali who was killed in the battle of Karbala for defending Islam against corruption from other nations. Many of the participants during this time of public mourning, bring with themselves chains and engage in a type of "self flagellation" showing their sorrow for what happened to Ali.
My point is, the climate of Iran, the culture of Iran, is a culture of sorrow and mourning based on the history and teachings of Islam. Many of my Iranian friends have privately shared with me their utter dismay for how the government expects them to always be sorrowful and be in a state of mourning for the Imams. When considering this background, one can now understand why making a video about happiness is really frowned upon by the Islamic Republic. It is more than just the fact that the participants weren't wearing their hijabs or dancing with the opposite goes beyond just that....Happiness is a crime in Iran...And the youth were desperately trying to make a statement to the let their voices be heard...They were literally shouting from the rooftops that, "We know how to be happy just like everyone else in the world!!"

Let me say emphatically..Let me shout this from the rooftops!!!  God has created you and me to express to the world that He is a God of great joy, of great creativity, of great freedom, of great love!! God is not a depressed, mean, angry Orge, who spends all of his time in mourning, rather God is a being of great Truth, joy, happiness, love..etc!!

I salute these brave and courageous Iranian youth for showing the world that they too can be happy regardless of their circumstances. They have taught you and me a great lesson that we need to learn. Happiness is a gift from God...He has given each one of us the right to pursue our own happiness.
The young people of Iran need our constant prayers every day. Despite living in a society where individual freedoms are not respected, they have chosen to "break the law" and make a statement to us in the west.
We really have no right to complain. We should be the ultimate examples of happiness because where we live there is true freedom!
Let's all celebrate freedom and happiness while we can. Please type the hash tag  #FreeHappyIranians on Twitter and support these courageous youth today!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Reyhaneh Jabbari: The crime of self defense!"

"I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by you....
 Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?"
       (Hadith 6, number 301)

During the 2012 presidential election, liberals accused conservatives of suppressing the rights of women. The common phrase that was used to describe their "discrimination" was the hot button term entitled, "the war on women."
I believe there is a "real war on women," that has nothing to do with the continuous political debate being waged between conservatives and liberals!
The real war on women transcends the political arena here in America! The real war is being waged every second of every day against women in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the middle east. This war has many scars, many casualties, many innocent victims..a deliberate hatred and discrimination against women!
 Recently I came across an article on the internet, (where else? lol) was a blatant statement made by an unidentified Saudi Professor ( who didn't have the balls to mention his name...) The Saudi Professor said,

"If a woman gets raped walking in public alone, then she, herself is at fault. She is only seducing men by her presence. She should have stayed home like a Muslim woman..."

Women all over the world should 
be outraged by this sexist and discriminatory statement! (As of yet I still don't hear any liberal women rising up to defend these women's rights in the middle east..) 
 Adding insult to injury, this man is a professor, a teaching professor at a university in Saudi Arabia!

In the Islamic world, women are treated like possessions, like property, and are considered little more than second class citizens. They are not allowed to travel alone and must obtain special permission from their husbands if they want to leave the country.
When you understand the male mindset against women in the middle east, then you can understand why a young 26 year-old girl is on death row in Iran.
Her name is Reyhaneh Jabbari. Her crime is self defense.
In 2007, Moreteza Abdolai Sarbandi, (identified as a former intelligence agent in Iran) contacted Reyhaneh and asked her to do some work in re-designing his office. According to Reyhaneh's testimony, she was driven to his apartment. Once inside the apartment, Sarbandi began to attack her and Reyhaneh did what any normal woman would do who is being sexually assaulted. She defended herself! In the struggle, Reyhaneh found a kitchen knife and stabbed Sarbandi. Later he died of his injuries.

The trial of Reyhaneh has been a travesty of justice, a perversion of the true judicial process! She was convicted of murder, coerced under pressure to confess and sentenced to hang! 
 Subsequent evidence of drinks laced with drugs demonstrated that Sarbandi had the whole scenario planned from start to finish and yet this vital evidence was suppressed along with many other facts in the case that would have easily exonerated Reyhaneh in any other criminal court!
 The simple question to be asked is, "Why wasn't Reyhaneh's testimony of the events accepted by the Iranian court?"

I think the answer lies in the view of women, according to teachings of Islam in Iran and all across the middle east.
In the Hadith, (The teachings and sayings of the prophet Mohammed not contained in the Quran) there is an interesting story:

Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
                                    (Volume 1, book 6, number 301)

In another Hadith, The Prophet Mohmmaed was given the news that the people of Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their queen, to which he replied,  "Never will succeed such a nation that makes a woman their ruler..."
                       (Volume 9, book 88, number 21)

When considering the weight of this evidence, it is easy now to understand why Reyhaneh's version of the crime was not accepted! She is a woman..her evidence is less than half that of a man's..she is deficient in intelligence and in her religion.
I know exactly what I speak of. Everyday I talk with my dear Iranian friends and they share with me story after story of the oppression and discrimination of women in Iran.
 Reyhaneh faces execution in Iran for the crime of self-defense! You ask any woman who has been raped and they will tell you in tears of how the scars and humiliation of this disgusting crime has traumatized their lives forever!
Reyhaneh has spent the last six years of her life behind bars for doing what any normal woman does when sexually assaulted.
 It is time for women, regardless of their political orientation or religion, to stand up and be a voice for the oppressed women in the middle east. This is where the real war on women is being waged!
 Please join me and be their voice!

"Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:
 Ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice!"
                           (Proverbs 31:8-9)